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Piles…..

Slowly, very slowly, I am working through piles of stuff.

Yarn…

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Fabric…

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Quilts….

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And for those of you who always feel that every blogger has a clean house, the pile on my buffet….Image

 

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Autumn

The return of autumn means the return to blogging, not that I ever think to announce an official break.  Summer is fun, but tough, and heat makes my family a cranky mess. By the time August rolls ’round we’re all ready for school to begin, but I also I head back to the classroom 20 hours a week. It’s not until the air turns crisp and we have a few weeks of school under our belts that I feel a bit normal, a bit more able to focus on anything for more than ten minutes, able to breathe….

We welcomed Autumn on the North Shore. Image(That would be the arrowhead on the western shores of Lake Superior, for you non Minnesotans…) We camped at Gooseberry Falls and in our typical fashion, arrived in the dark and in the rain. As usual, we plowed on through and awoke to the most beautiful site…Lake Superior in all her glory. I’m not just saying this because it’s local to me, but Lake Superior is pure and absolute magic. Everyone should see it. The other Great Lakes are gorgeous. I adore the ocean. But there is something about this lake….maybe it’s the cold, or the fact that it is so beautiful and so dangerous at the same time. Maybe it’s the rocks rather than sandy beaches. Every time I am there, I feel like there is nothing amiss in my world. 

ImageImageImageImageImageAnd for all my sewing/knitting/dyeing/baking/build-your-own-boat (yes, boat!) readers who need an even better excuse to visit this place: North House Folk School

 

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Whip Up guest post….

Hello readers! If you didn’t get a chance already, catch me over at Whip Up this weekend. Kathreen has a lovely series on creativity going right now,  and I was lucky enough to be invited to participate. It’s been a very inspiring month, so check it out!

I’d also like to say a big welcome to any new friends stopping by! Nice to have you as a guest!

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Summer’s here….

And we’re off! What a start to the summer. We’ve already crammed in a night of camping, a lot of gardening, and I’m starting to uncover the floors in all the boys’ bedrooms. (Seriously, the floors were just GONE and a piles of toys and laundry in their place). We always have this rough transition when I’m still teaching and The Skeptic has a massive amount of very large shows to put together. So May turns into “trash the house and eat junk” month and then I spend June getting us back to normal.

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So what’s happening? We had a great Father’s Day in which I reminded myself that I can’t do everything, gave up on making a gift and took the boys to Target to buy a belt. We did use very fun form “All About My Dad” from All for the Boys to fill out, and the boys also used some old artwork to wrap the belt. The funniest  was that they decided Dad is 6 feet, 21 inches tall. And The Skeptic is really only 5’8″.
The rest of his gift was a day to work on and FINISH a project. He designed and built two trellises for our hops vines. They still need to be put in the ground, which is why this one looks way to tall yet, but you get the idea.
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We also have early morning art projects….(much to my chagrin, as helping with this at 6:30 was not my favorite way to wake up)

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Lastly, today’s excitement is a rain garden installation! We received a grant from Metro Blooms, which mean the plants and installation are FREE. Love free plants and the folks who plant them. This is the current site, plants to be put in later today.

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Camp Mom

I packed up my classroom today for summer break, and wow did that feel nice! This has by far been my most challenging year yet. I’ll be glad to have those 2.5 days a week back to myself for awhile. Thanks to all of you for your good advice after my last post. I took it all to heart.

It did dawn on me yesterday, the other thing that has made this year such a tough one. The boys are in such different developmental stages right now. Math Boy is growing fast. School projects, homework, friendships, hard questions….there is a lot on the mind of a nine year old boy who doesn’t even seem to fall asleep anymore before 9:30, no matter how early he is in bed. Then there is Spinner, right in the middle of that 3 year old must-unroll-toiletpaper-draw-on-mom’s sewing-machine phase. He doesn’t want to sleep at all. Then poor Knittykid, right in the middle. A big kid? A little kid? Changes by the minute. It was easier when Spinner was still a baby because they were all still little then. But now….a lot going on at once, no wonder I’m tired!!

I’m excited that summer is here. I’m excited to reset this household. To have a relaxing summer of Camp Mom again. Swim lessons, VBS, playing at the park, hiking, picnics, and some fun activities to keep us busy at home. I decided last summer that I wasn’t going to over-schedule our summer, and I loved the freedom that went with it. With this many kids, it’s too easy to get sucked into the constant hauling of people around the city, and I hate that. Maybe if everyone could go to one place it might be different, but between the cost of so many camps and the driving/biking, I’d rather figure it out for myself!

What will us busy? These are my favorites for this summer:

Action Pack The smart idea of Kathreen at Whip-Up. The boys are excited with every new issue!

Alphabet Glue  I just discovered this, and I have to say how excited I am. My boys love books, so this is great!

Kiwi Crate  It’s mail. And I don’t have to make a trip to JoAnn’s. Everyone is happy!

Summer Camp Adventure Club  Just found this today. Not sure if we’ll do the whole summer or just a month. We have a lot of other fun things to do, but this also seems too cool to pass up.

And of course, paint. Lots and lots of paint.

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How will you spend your summer? Do you have little ones to keep busy or do you get some down time?

We will also be heading out to the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming for our first real family vacation in years and to celebrate a dear friends wedding. Any travel tips?

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Stop. Breathe. Think.

There have been a few situations lately that have made us realize things have gotten a bit too busy. 

1) I had a concert. A crazy, busy concert that I had put months and months of some very tough, stressful hours into putting together. (The fourth of an insane spring concert schedule). This also included conning The Skeptic into borrowing staging from the audio company he works for to loan to my school, something that should have been simple but became really complicated. After I had put on this concert and the staging was hauled out, we sat in the back yard, recuperating. It was agreed that when The Skeptic returned his truck, he would pick up some Thai food for dinner. 

He left for the shop. And called me an hour later.  “I’m leaving, you want to call in the order?”

20 minutes later, a phone call: “What did you order? They don’t have it.”

45 minutes later, he returns with food: “Yay, Daddy, Thai food!!!!!”

              The Skeptic: “Yeah, too bad we didn’t get the good stuff.”

              Me: “What do you mean? They make the best.”

              The Skeptic: No they don’t. It’s never as good at True Thai.

              Me: “But you went to True Thai. That’s who I called.”

              The Skeptic: “No. I went to Tum Rup.”

              Me: “So we have another $60 in Thai food sitting at True Thai. Crap.”

Luckily, the True Thai guys were so nice they said don’t worry, we did not need to go pick up the other order. But yeah, we never even bothered to discuss what food and where. No brain activity what-so-ever.

2) I mess up the alarm. The Skeptic oversleeps and nearly misses a load-out from a show. He calles me frantically, missing keys (about 15 work keys) that he though he left sitting on the back of the semi. Me, driving all over South Minneapolis for an hour looking for them in the road. He sheepishly calling me back, they had been in a padlock the entire time. 

3) Tonight: Target. 2 hours of wandering, trying to buy everything from swim-trunks to toothpaste to something for dinner, no list, ending up at 6pm in the ice cream isle with two starving boys, (one of them lying on the floor, crying, the other sitting in the cart, crying…) spending way too much money and buying crap that I never, ever even consider buying. 

Honestly, we’ve been having events like this every other day for the past two months. And I realized tonight, we are out-of-whack. Do you ever have that happen? LIfe gets busy, too crazy busy. And you get tired, so you let things slide. Like grocery lists. Or actually listening to your partner when he or she is speaking to you. Or thinking the tiniest bit about what you might be buying and what the plan is when you go into the store. 

So my title tonight is my new mantra. Because The Skeptic and I were talking during dinner about how we have been so busy, we’ve stopped thinking, stopped planning, stopped paying attention. Letting it all slide. We’re just doing and wow, does it make it harder that way!! So I will be stopping. I will be breathing. I will be present in what I’m doing. 

And I will never, ever go to Target again at 4:30 with two hungry boys and no plan.

Do you ever find yourself in this rut? How do you reset your world? Image

 

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Oh, Flickr.

You may have noticed that I’m missing pictures on this blog. A lot of pictures. Pretty much all the pictures from the last year. I noticed it last week when on Ravelry and saw that a lot of my project pictures were blank with  “Not Avaliable on Flickr” written across them. I go to my Flickr site and yes, all gone. Gone on this blog too. I’m still (after a week!!!) waiting for a reply from Flickr to see what happened, but from  my reading around, this is what I’ve come up with.

1. I began using Flickr through my iPhoto in about late 2011, which is when the gap in my pictures begins.

2. In switching to a new computer and generally cleaning out/organizing my pictures, I decided to delete the huge list of Flickr links down the side of my iPhoto bar. The thing is, I only use Flickr for blog/knitting/sewing stuff. I pretty much use Snapfish for all my personal stuff. So whenever I uploaded a photo to Flickr, it would be a few random shots. So three different photos all shot on April 13th would become three separate little icons on the sliding bar in iPhoto. Annoying and cluttered. And I figured if I deleted them it was just deleting them from iPhoto.

3. WRONG. According to many other complaints on the Flickr forums, it also took them off of Flickr. And it blows my mind that  for one, Flickr would let them sync it up this way and two, that there was no warning, such as “Hey, delete this and you’ll also delete your pictures from Flickr!!!” Because I can pretty much guarantee I never would have deleted them if I knew that the case.

So there you have it. A years worth of pictures gone. Could be worse…at least it is just crafting pictures. But it messes up most of my blog for the last year. And there is no way I have time to go back and rephotograph it all, and some just couldn’t be redone anyway. I’m just mad I never thought to backup my crafting photos. I backup family stuff like crazy. I guess I’ll back up these too now.

And there is the question…do I stay with Flickr? I’m not happy that it’s been a week and still no answer from them. And I’m not happy that they made it so easy to lose these pictures. Might there have been fine print? Sure, but how long ago might I have read it? Computers warn us all the time when we delete stuff. But not with this??

I hate having no pictures, so here’s a few to start fresh. Knittykid lost his first tooth, and we needed a tooth fairy pillow. The long, narrow design was his idea. “It’s more huggable that way.”
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Of course Spinner needed a pocket pillow too. This is his “coughing pillow” to cough into, because he had a cough. Makes sense, right?
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Also very huggable!

I would love to hear what you do about blog photos and photo storage. I’m still just fuming about this…….

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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See you in a week!

I’ll have a new tutorial and pictures from April and March’s Monthly Apparel. In the meantime, take some time for yourself this week. See you soon!Image

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Ennui….

I seem to be experiencing some sort of creative ennui.

1. I haven’t knit a stitch in over a week. The last time that happened I had a newborn.

2. My spinning wheel has sat untouched since November.

3. My Monthly Apparel aspirations are barely keeping me in the game, but my March effort was a simple knit skirt that still needs some finishing. And if it wasn’t for the fact that Monthly Apparel was my idea, I’m not sure I even would have sewn that.

4. No quilting since the quilt-in I attended in February.

5. Writing? This blog? I made a list of ideas with a very inspirational note to myself, “Write every day!” Yup, that worked.

6. Patterns? Three great ones I should have typed up, proofed and put on Ravelry. Hasn’t happened.

7. Needlework? I bought thread and loved the idea of it. That’s all

So what gives? I’ve been trying to figure that out. It’s been a bit of a dismal winter. And a challenging one, both at home as well as work. And I’ve been tired, more tired than usual. The kind of tired where it seems like too much work to pick up some knitting needles and so I just sit there and watch Netflix. I’m not sure I’ve sat around and just watched TV  (too tired to do anything else) since I was in college. Trapped in a creative ennui, that’s me…

So how do I get out of this funk? I had one realization that I think I’m going to try to work with, thanks to The Skeptic.

He’s been “getting in shape” these days, and as he’s been adding muscle and I, well, haven’t…I decided I needed to buff up and shed the five pounds I put on or else I was headed for the same downward, 2lbs a year problem so many people have. But I was complaining to him that I just can’t find the time, can’t make it work, I needed things just so first: living room tidied up, chores done, boys asleep, carpet vacuumed, early enough that I still had time to do other things before going to bed, blah blah blah. The Skeptic’s reply? “Babe, you just gotta go do it and stop worrying about all that.”

So tonight I did my push-ups and sit-ups and down dogs in my messy bedroom, while to boys were still awake. I cursed the dirty run with every down dog but I did it.

And then I realized, that’s my block with everything. I can’t sew, the room is too messy. I can’t knit the lace shawl, it’s too late and I’ll just fall asleep after two rows anyway. I can’t do that needlepoint, because I don’t know what I’m doing yet and it will take too much time to figure out the stitches. I can’t sew, because I need to go to bed in 30 minutes. Much of my reasoning seems to center around the fact that in my mind, I need these large two or three hour time blocks, a tidy house and no impeding bedtime. And oddly enough, I keep waiting for this to happen.

People, you know me. I have three boys. My imaginary time block never happens. Now and then, when The Skeptic takes them to a movie, but then I still spend half the time tidying. So I’m realizing that enough is enough, time to stop looking for the “just right” time and get my mojo back.

Lastly,  little something to show I’m not totally off my rocker here. I am somehow, producing a scrappy short sleeved cardigan of sorts. Stopped at the sleeves, because that means I have to think and it’s already 9:30. Who can do sleeves at 9:30 at night? Apparently I’m going to try anyway….

Bottom up short sleeved cardigan

Am I doomed to have that bottom garter stitch edge roll up? I think I am.

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An essay in which motherhood is not made to look easy…..

Here I sit again. It’s 9pm and the exhaustion of the day has caught up with me. Most days I just collapse, blindly make a cup of tea and fall onto the couch, knit a bit, catch up with some reading, listen to the radio or zone out to whatever looks good on Netflix.

Some other nights I really think about how much work it really is, like tonight, and I just feel the need to throw it out into the world. I need to create some sort of cosmic balance. I love the posts I read about family and home…the sweet, sweet posts that remind me about the joys of raising my children, the importance of creating purpose in our family and my own life. Balance and breathing, wholesome foods and organized play spaces. It’s all good, it’s all important, it’s all beautiful. But I also wish I heard more of these moms say exactly what I’m thinking right now:

CRAP, this is HARD. This is really, really HARD.

And I don’t mean this in a whiny, poor me sense. I feel that too some days. I mean it more in a sense of honoring how incredibly difficult this thing called motherhood truly is. I don’t think we do that enough. We think it to ourselves, we complain to our friends, but we (and I’m talking bloggers here) are not very good at honoring the work and effort we put into these people. We like to make it look simple and beautiful but the truth is, it is so so very hard, especially when you make all the efforts to do your best to just not suck as a mom.

I think about my day today….5:30am up for school, big boys out by 6:45, clean up, Spinner off to speech class, grocery store, rush home to meet Knittykid’s bus, Empty six bags of groceries (“stocking up?” “No, ha ha, I have three boys. This will be gone in a few days”) Throw out some yogurt and grapes, rush to an appointment, drag sleeping boys out of van and have them miraculously stay asleep only to fall asleep yourself and realize you’ve lost a precious hour of quiet. Stare at paperwork and computer for an hour and a half trying to make some sense of your finances and to-do lists for the week….wake boys up so they might still go to sleep tonight and welcome home Math Boy, who is starving. Watch as they inhale a pound of pasta, more yogurt and a bowl of grapes. Manage the chaos of three boys playing, try to pick up, tackle a days worth of dishes and then put them all back in the car, drop of at Kung Fu, the littles to the park to try to burn off some energy, back to make a dinner everyone decides they hate. Feel extra crabby that the Skeptic is stuck working past bedtime yet again. Clear dishes, argue about clean-up, nearly have a stroke watching Math Boy pick up 1,000 legos one…..by…..one for 30 minutes. Throw littles in the tub, clean up two gallons of water, get them all in pj’s and then remember…Lent.

I’m tempted to skip the weekly devotional. But I remember what’s important. I think “it will calm us” and we circle up, say the blessing, light the candle and I think I almost feel like I’m having one of those beautiful blog worthy moments, when I notice that Math Boy is secretly playing with legos behind him, Spinner has found a harmonica and is now blowing it loudly, Knittykid is grabbing at the matches and they are arguing over the jar of water…. that blissful moment of peace we had is gone, just like that. I sigh loudly  and tell them to just go to bed but bless his heart, Math Boy picks up on my disappointment  and somehow convinces his brothers they should sit down and “let mom finish” (even though a minute earlier he had been saying this was boring). And finish we do….off to bed, tuck in, read stories and stumble down to do the dishes. It’s 9pm and things are done enough.

Which is when I think about the t-shirt I have half finished up in my work room, still waiting to be my February Monthly Apparel item and I how I am just too tired to sew. And I think about my father, one of four brothers, who ends each story about his childhood shaking his head with a slight chuckle saying “Poor, poor mother…”

I decide I need to just write rather than sew. And instead of posting a sweet picture of three pairs of little boy hands around a candle (which I could have done, and just written about that precious peaceful minute of calm we four had, making you all think I spend my life raising these boys in some sort of peaceful boy-bliss) I will also take the time to honor the challenges, To ramble, (which I know I’ve done), to balance what we all see out here.

Worth it? Every difficult second, hands down is worth what these beautiful boys give back to our lives. It’s what will get me up at 5:30 tomorrow to do it all again. But tonight I’m just going to let myself say that these amazing little people are really, really hard work. Mothering is not easy and it’s okay for it not to be easy, or neat, or pretty. It’s supposed to challenge us, push us.

So if you’re a parent, take a moment to honor the work and the effort you put into your family every day. And then don’t feel bad if all you want to do right now is lie around on the couch. There will be another day to sew that t-shirt or finish that hat. As for me, I’ve got a Project Runway finale to go finish up and a cup of tea with my name on it. You’ll see that t-shirt another day! (There really is a t-shirt, I swear….and a dress.)

Image Lovely place settings??? Nope, this is how we set the table around here…..

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