Friday, May 29, 2009

Not Always Shangri-La

I just looked over the last couple of posts and realize I'm making things sound like Shangri-La around here, with my kids being little nature freaks and me quietly sewing in a corner, humming.  Don't get me wrong--there actually is plenty of that.  But also, there are tensions.  Eric is struggling, for sure, with the work stuff.  I have my moments of fear and uncertainty. 

And then there is Nolie, fiercest two-year-old in the West.  Statistics:

Height:  3 feet
Weight:  35 pounds, solid like a linebacker.  Likes to jump on groins
Hair:  brown, tangled
Eyes:  Brown, mischievous
Wanted for:  Screaming "no," whenever possible.  Forcing you to call her "princess" or "cucumber pinka" at will.  Wanting to be carried everywhere.  Refusing to eat at meal times, but crying that she is hungry all day long.  Limp noodle tantrums.  Screaming "you are NOT my best mommy" as loud as she can.

Summary:  Major pain in the butt.  It's been a while since I've described my kids as "annoying," but that is exactly what Nolie is right now.  Majorly, totally, capital-A annoying.  I mean, also totally adorable, charming, yummy.  But mostly ANNOYING.

Just to keep the record straight.

In Praise of the Mini-Vacay

The girls have been home from school all week, which in the past has filled me with a sense of dread.  Not because I don't like my kids, but because I used to really struggle with the transition from full-speed-ahead at work to full-speed-ahead at home.  I've worked a lot on this in the last year, and it's much easier for me to turn off the work stuff when I'm at home and fully be in mom mode.  The transition period is still there, but it doesn't last as long.  And the girls are older now, and so it just gets easier and easier all the time.  Props to all the moms with the wee babes and toddlers right now--it's precious time, and also the hardest.

Anyway, because we are in a bit of a financial transition, we've cut back quite a bit on our spending, and are now looking for things to do that are inexpensive and fun.  We've never been big on fancy vacations, anyway, but I think the fact that we can't travel this summer could have caused us to feel deprived.

Instead, we made the decision to make every day this week a "mini-vacation."  We have allowed ourselves to spend a little money every day (always under $20) but do something fun, too.  We've hit the Butterfly Pavilion, an indoor miniature rain forest with dozens of species of butterflies fluttering all around (and cages of oogy bugs, like South American cockroaches and tarantulas!).  Friends had a free pass to the Railroad Museum, where the kids climbed on antique train cars and picnicked in the grass.  Other firends got us into the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  We've gone for ice cream, and spent the day at a tiny lake beach ten minutes from our house:

The water was cold, but Nolie kept running in and doing this happy dance that Eric thinks is like Mick Jagger but which reminds me more of Steve Martin in The Jerk:

Eric's making a music video, which I'll post later, and we'll let you decide.

We're supposed to cat-sit for some friends on a real vacation, but Addie and I decided to crash their pad last night, eat their snacks, drink their tea, and watch their cable, which was fun.  Of course, we loved up their kitties in return.  Addie was very, very stoked.  And I got to have coffee at my favorite coffee shop in the old neighborhood this morning, so that was excellent.  Mini-vacation, right? 

And don't forget about what's in our own backyard.  The family of bunnies living under our deck come out every morning and evening to forage in the grass.

Today, I'm hoping we can head to the little mountain town of Evergreen, maybe for a picnic at the lake and some fresh mountain air.  Colorado is insanely green and beautiful right now, and we know everything will be brown and dry soon, so we want to enjoy the unreal green now.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Marrying Adam

"Addie's going to marry Adam," Eric tells me over dinner last night.

"Who's Adam?" I ask.

"I'm going to marry Adam!" says Addie, giggling.

"Who's Adam?" I ask again.

"He chases me around the playground, trying to kiss me.  He says to me, 'You are just SO beautiful!'  I am going to marry him.  Even though Sadie and Zoe say, 'Don't marry him!  Don't marry him!' I am going to.  I am!"

More coy giggling.  Is that what it is?  Coy giggling?  From my five-year-old?  It is, though.  All self-aware and grown-up sounding.  And excited.  It's eerie.  It gives me chills, in fact. 

"Well," I swallow.  "You have plenty of time to make that decision.  You get to live with mom and dad for a long time first."

"No!  I'm going to marry Adam!  I really am!"

"Okay, okay, Addie!"


"Are you going to go live with him, or will he be joining us?"



I give up.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Things and things

Some of you read this blog just to find out what's going on with things, so here's a quick summary of recent events:

1)  Eric had a really good interview with a small company in Boulder ten days ago, but we haven't heard anything yet.  We're expecting good news soon.

2)  Everything appears to be moving forward with the refinance on the house (we appraised above what we bought for, miracle of all miracles), except that underwriting at US Bank is so swamped we've been given a fifteen-day extension to close.  We're expecting good news soon.

3)  Nolie graduates from the "toddler house" this Friday at noon, and will officially start preschool in June.  Heavens.  Cucumber Pinka grows up.  Good news, too soon :).

Doing So-Sew

I took some half-days off last week (okay, I took, like five half-days off, so technically the whole week).  I'd check email in the morning, flesh out a to-do list, maybe work on a revision a little, read a little.  Then I'd go nuts in the sewing room, cutting apart t-shirts and applique-ing everything not moving.  I spent an afternoon on a friend's back porch, sunning myself.  It was great.

And at the same time, there was some nagging guilt, quiet but persistent, about not getting started on the several major projects I have to make time on this summer:  the article, the article revisions, the book revisions, the class preps.  Time's a wasting, that little nagging voice would whisper.

Fuck off, I would whisper back.  I'm sewing, you.

Then I was reading one of my many books last night, which some of you folks might classify as "self-help" but which I think of a spiritual ballast, and came across this idea.  Make time, plenty of time, to do what you really want to do.  Then do it wholeheartedly.  Then, when you have to do things that maybe you aren't so passionate about, you won't find yourself wishing you were somewhere else.  You can devote yourself totally to the task of the moment.

I was applying it this way:  I should just schedule in a few hours every day to work on projects I really want to do, and then I won't resent having to work because I will have given myself that time.  I might even enjoy work more!  Weird, isn't?  Work less, but work better!  Play more, and play better!

I like it.

So, this week, I'm working, supposedly full-time.  But on my list everyday is written "time for sewing" or "talk a fancy nature walk" or something like that.  And it's just as important as the other stuff, and I give myself over to it, guilt-free.  That's the plan, anyway.  So, I may not get 40 hours a week done--I'm deciding that doesn't matter.  What matters is to do whole, focused work everyday, and whole, focused play.  And have faith things will fall into place anyway.

See full size image

I'm also putting it out to the universe that I need a new sewing machine.  I have an old Singer (like 1972 old), bought used for thirty bucks from Craig's List.  It's moderately reliable, but when it decides not to work anymore, it just doesn't work anymore.  And, dare I say it, I'd like something with a few more bells and whistles.  Not a Rolls-Royce, necessarily, but a good Toyota.  Just inviting the universe to bring that into my life, one of these days.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What are poets for?

This popped in my inbox the other day, as part of the Poem-A-Day program from  "Write a poem" is one of the items in my joy jar.  I haven't pulled it yet, but am anticipating it with excitement.  I haven't written a poem since Addie was a baby and will be glad to have permission to do it again.  Anyway, this one struck me, and I keep re-reading it, over and over again:

Poetry as Insurgent Art [I am signaling you through the flames] by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am signaling you through the flames.

The North Pole is not where it used to be.

Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.

Civilization self-destructs.

Nemesis is knocking at the door.

What are poets for, in such an age?
What is the use of poetry?

The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.

If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic.

You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words....

Nakey-Nakey Kung Fu Dance Class

Does it seem weird to you that my girls' favorite thing to do in the evenings, after bath, is to run around the house naked, having a "naked kung fu dance class"?  This involves their naked little bodies slithering and jumping around, booties out, arms and legs whacking at the air like broken windmills, while they scream "HI-YA!" and "nakey-nakey!" at each other.  Does that seem weird?

Does it also seem weird that their second favorite thing to do in the evenings, after bath, is to run around the house naked, with their underwear on their heads?  Like drunken sorority girls?  And, sometimes, they put the underwear on their head in such a way that they can't see, and then run into walls, with underwear on their head?

Does it seem strange that Nolie jumps out at me from nowhere, several times a day, and screams, "I AM CUCUMBER PINKA!  SAY 'PLEASE' TO CUCUMBER PINKA!" 

Does that seem weird?

Does it?

Monday, May 11, 2009

What's Up

I was going to write a post yesterday about how the girls brought me breakfast in bed, and I got to spend a portion of the day sewing and going to the church and to the bookstore for my mother's day treat.  I was also going to write about how grateful I was to have a conversation with my mom yesterday morning, how it is not even remotely lost on me what a privilege that is after we came so close to losing each other last year.

But, instead, I'm inspired by the blogs of the members of my tribe, all the crafty mamas out there sewing their asses off and creating sacred and nurturing spaces for their little ones, who can laugh and create and think big.  Here's what has been up around here lately:

We've been in this house for two years now and are finally starting to make some progress in the garden.  Here's our new bed (made with rocks from the many oogy rock gardens scattered all around the house), with our new seedlings nestled in.  Who knows what will make it in there?  But it's fun turning our own compost and growing things from seeds in our kitchen and seeing what might produce for us this summer.  We're lucky that our backyard already had some great things going on, like flowering fruit trees, lilacs, and tulip bulbs:

The last five weekends or so have been cloudy, rainy, or cold, but the weekdays have been beautiful.  Here's the fairy house Addie and Nolie and I worked on last Monday after school, while Eric was at racquetball:

Our insides have been getting a bit of a makeover, too.  Eric's home a lot right now, and has been doing some great projects around the house, like painting Addie's room, and hanging blinds we found at the thrift store, so that her room stays cool in the summer but we can still see the glorious trees in the backyard.  Translation:  me handing Eric the paintbrush (wha...?) and then hauling crap out of Addie's room.  "Guess what?  You're painting today!"  I'm SO glad to be rid of that freaking acoustic popcorn on the ceiling.

Here's a close-up of the stencil I did on the wall (free-handed onto poster board from a design in this great book of stencils):

Addie wants a mermaid on the other wall, which may be beyond my capabilities.  We'll see.

Lots of sewing and crafting going on, too.  I made this bunny out of some of gram's vintage sweaters from this free pattern:

My friend Ashley is having a baby boy--for her baby shower, she got five of these, all in different fabrics and colors, strung on one long ribbon, as a mobile, or wall hanging, or baby toy.  I made my first sale for another one to a mom at the shower, which was pretty exciting.  And a little uncomfortable.  More on that later, maybe.

Here's a silk scarf for my friend Ellen, who has been clean and sober for one year:

Toni brought me a pair of her mom's old shorts (I don't know--25 or 30 years old?) and asked me to make something from them.  I put together a little beach bag, and this picture ("Shark Love") and pillow, made from the shark print on the shorts:

When Addie was home sick one day last week, we worked on this project, suggested by Soule Mama:  A Princess and the Pea activity bag, drawn and sewn with Addie's big-girl help.

And, finally, we've been celebrating cinco de mayo for days now, making Mexican wedding cookies, agua frescas, and these beautiful little luminarias, out of aluminum baking tins from the grocery store:

Thanks to Dandelion Bones for cluing me in to the Book of Days, which is an awesome way to organize crafts and activities and adventures with your kids.  You're a huge inspiration :).

I've been making some great clothes from pillow cases, but won't scare you off with any more pictures.  I was at the thrift store this morning, finding big t-shirts to repurpose into a skirt for Nanny, so that and the bunny mobile order are up next.  It's been an awesome, lovely spring, and I am so excited for the coming days, where the weather is fine and the pace a little slower.