Friday, July 30, 2010

Upward Growth

This is the view from our kitchen table.


I literally drink it in most mornings as I sit with a cup of coffee. Some mornings are quieter than others, today was quiet and I took a little walk out to see how the growing of things are going. I love looking for new flowers and fruits. The vines give me special pleasure because I love those curly shoots they send out, seeking a hold on any willing bit...sometimes twining around other plants, sometimes climbing the metal grid, purchase found.


There have been set backs...the ants marching along the straight sides of the raised beds, farming their aphids and impervious to my attempts to eradicate their efforts. I let it go sometimes. Others day I dump non-toxic detergent on all the edges and watch as they slowly let go of that path and then, yep, just find a new one. Persistent fucks.
But this was not going to be a post about the garden. Things grow once established and I am learning when to step in and when to be patient. This is going to be a post about upward growth. obligatory Blogher post.

I am going to Blogher10 this year....will be on a jet plane headed East next Wednesday morning. I bought the ticket on impulse months and months seemed like the perfect way to get back to NYC, a place I left in 98' and have yet to visit again. It seemed empowering and exciting and a chance to be with Me...and thousands of other women. It stills seems like those things.

There is also the fairly prevalent feeling of doubt and worry. I went to a pre-Blogher meet up in L.A. proper and met some lovely women. And finally met Neil. I had no cards to give and stumbled a bit when telling people what my blog is about but everyone was very nice. It was loud, when is it not when more than a few women gather? It was eye opening because I realize I do not know/read many blogs lately so I swam a bit trying to 'place' people. Overall, it was a good experience, a tiny taste of the conference maybe and I came home and ordered some cards so my hands do not feel so empty. I don't know, it might look a little weird if I wander around the Hilton knitting a hat or hand stitching a cathedral pane cube.

I have decided to allow this to be an experiment in Vertical Growth. I see that my garden has all it needs and is doing it's thing. A good lesson...

I am excited in a heart in the throat way because I am leaving my family (I decided on a full week because I want time outside of the weekend to see the City (and Marnie :)). I get a quick heartbeat when I realize that the boys and Tim will be quite a plane ride away for 8 days. I get excited to think about waking up for a few mornings and be able to stare at a blank wall in my friend's loft for a few hours if I so choose. I am going to take a class with a Master of African dance who has a smile that shines like brilliant sunlight. I am going to swim in a sea of 1000s of women. I am going to the Cloisters because it is serene and I might need some serenity after a few days.

And though I have fallen out the habit of reading and writing blog posts, though time has been scarce to connect to some of my online people, I want to meet you. I want to say hello to you. I want you to say hello to me. I want to learn about your life and grab your card and give you mine (given that they are delivered in time) and get tipsy and laugh and maybe stumble in my pair of Blogher heels (another obligatory).
Blogher shoes

This is me....and I will be looking for you too.
Me now
Say hi here or there, pretty please?

(Smeary eye make up at 7 a.m.? That's how I roll. You'll see).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just right now...

Today is a new day and I did not want to leave that post hanging there. It felt good to write it out and those feelings are still all there on this day but somehow they all feel lighter. Your comments and words of support made it all feel lighter, eased some of the heaviness I was feeling. So, I want to say thank you for that, my friends.

It also helped that after work I collapsed on the bed with the boys and read them five library books then proceeded to fall asleep with one on my face and nap for a half of an hour during which time I profusely drooled on myself. And we had Taco Bell for dinner because it was Taco Tuesday.

Today, as I write this I am sitting next to my car, locked my keys in there, wouldn't you know? Tim just pulled up to unlock it and I might as well think of it as an opportunity to give him a mid-day kiss and realize that my fried laptop and messed up schedule don't have to define my day. Much, anyway.

Like I said, the feelings are not gone but manageable. Thanks again, folks.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Sometimes I just can't.
I can't find the time to blog, much less breathe.
I can't finish anything correctly, not my paperwork or my cooking of dinner or even a conversation.
I can't figure out if my boss has some secret agenda, whether my kids are going to be okay or where the line between work me and home me falls.
I can't see the end of it, the solution, the fun in a situation and it all starts to feel like obligation.
I can't get away from the fact that my responsibilities are bigger than they have ever been, that I am leaving it for a week and I am not even sure how I feel about that.
I can't even play.

At least I feel a little better acknowledging this somewhere.

Brought to you by a maelstrom of hormones, jitters and fatigue.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Why Owen wants a Doll

Finally, finally some of our closest friends are having children. It was iffy there for a bit. Tim and I were some of the first to have babies and then we went and had two and for a long time we were like pariahs, not because they did not want us around but because friends without children don't quite do the same things friends with children do. But now (cue evil laugh) they are coming over and it makes me supremely happy.

I have decided to reward my wonderful friends by making their children things...sewn things, to be exact. The latest gift went to a sweet baby girl who went from newborn to one like a race car goes from 0 to 60. At least that is how it felt to me...I am sure that is not so for the parents. Here is the little sweetie (her Mama made that bday hat. So cute).

I wanted to make her something girl but not too girly because her dad is really cool and punk rock and I wanted to skip the whole tutu thing. I used a pattern which I found at Bolt in Portland. (I can't find a link to the pattern but here is the blog of the pattern maker and her etsy shop).

It was designed by a mama local to that area and Owen fell in love with the sample dolls at the store. It is a great pattern, simple and enjoyable with a little bit of hand sewing and a little bit of time at the machine. I also found that JoAnn's now stocks bamboo stuffing for her insides so this little girl is as wholesome inside as out.

I highly recommend this pattern for anyone that would like to try a doll...the biggest challenge was picking out her 'clothes' and then stuffing her evenly so she did not look too lumpy.

She has Chucks
I had to switch out the feet for a custom pair of Chucks as I have never seen any other pair of shoes on her Daddy. Isla was actually the recipient of all the the outgrown pairs we had sitting around here. But on her big birthday she was wearing....wait for ones. Guess her Daddy caved like every other one out there eventually does.

During the making I had a little guy named Owen at my elbow requesting that I sew one up for him.
he loves her

He very specifically asked for a 'girl with yellow hair' as in the picture included with the pattern. I am not sure if I should be thrilled that he wants me to make him something or a little worried that he is already requesting a tall blond to carry under his arm. What a ladies' man.

Nothing quite like sewing for littles that I know I will be seeing around for years to come. Makes me all giddy inside.
Much more to come as babies are popping up all over the place around here. Yippeee.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

39th Month

I don't really count the months anymore...they are just three to me. But in keeping with those early times when there was one every month...well, here it is. My latest musing on the mothering of my twin boys.
Two at Three

Sometimes I feel like a broken record when I start to talk/write about my twins. I know I have said before that they are so grown and different than ever before. I know I have said I thought I understood what it would mean to watch them ‘grow up’. I know I have said that before my very eyes they have become boys. But I really had no idea.

I am starting to realize that this is the way it is always going to be. Because you cannot catch and hold your children with words; fingers can never type fast enough, shutters can never click as quickly and as often as they should, video will let you glance at the moment but not let you slide a finger over the baby softness that does not disappear so much as shift…shift…shift.
Two at Three

So, now I will repeat myself like the record needle that stutters over the same gap. Because what I once thought was ‘boy’ has been disproved and now I see a new version of boy daily. The ones I watch are able to tap into an imagination I had misplaced for awhile where every view is a vision of something other. Reality rarely intrudes or is flexible enough to bend to their will. And I see that slowly accumulating body of knowledge inside of their heads filling in spaces that make sense sometimes only to them.
Two at Three

The world of storytelling is theirs now, their unique voices tell night time versions of their days that morph into emergency adventures where they drive fire trucks and lock up bad guys in small jails, securing them with tape. They begin each oral story with the words “Laaaaast tiiiiiiiime…..” syllables drawn out for effect. They do this because every story I have told begins with the words ‘Once upon a time’ even if it about fire station 144 just down the street. I find it beyond endearing that they adopt my practices in their own ways. And so for our evening bedtime ritual now I listen rather than speak, I listen to them occasionally compete, then complete, then complement each other as they spin out their yarns.

And the singing, oh the singing. Gone are the days when I sing the lullabies to them. Now they sing along to Twinkle Twinkle and Teapot. And once Owen made up his own song, his little voice ringing sweet and clear as he sang, “’Nana, ‘nana, monkeys call on the ‘nana phone” (his own idea and lyrics, I swear).

That one is a study in contradictions. All sweet clear voice, then growling lashing out anger.
4th of July festivities

He can cradle and crush with the best of the three year olds and though I find it hard to deal with his wild swings when they happen, with his overt meanness and goading of his brother when he is off his game…well, it is always hard to hold onto the frustration. Not in it, but right now as I try to find it. It is not there….all I find is him, Owen, my boy, a boy that will keep growing stronger in will, in his challenges to us and the world.

But as he grows his empathy does too. I watched him sit next to a friend at the park the other day, a pouting sad/mad friend and ask her what he could do for her. And then he just waited. And then asked her again if she wanted to play. And she did. No prompting brought him there, just his internal desire for things to be right. In those moments I see the way he will grow, the depth he has.

And Mace. Oh, the Mace.
Two at Three

He is like wild sweetness all over the place. Like a naughty cherub or a grinning pixie. His eyes hold such a sparkle, a desire to tell stories and let his words and world run wild. He talks and talk and talks, gives us as many words as we ask for and more. He never holds back the words, tossing thank you and I love you with abandon at anyone that will catch them. He has a wicked laugh and pout now that he uses to full advantage.
Two at Three

He is easily wounded by correction or my freak out moments. And I find him alone, playing in his own world, no need for reassurance from play friends, just creating them as he goes alone. Mace is always willing to join me in my gym trips, open and willing to go to the kid’s care without his brother at his side.

But on the way home he asks for Owen, and Owen is looking for him. Because that it how is goes with twins. I am starting to see just how intertwined their lives are, will be.
It is fascinating and beautiful and I am struck by the privilege….of having children, of having twins, of mothering, parenting. It ain’t easy…hell, no, three has had some really rough days, hours, minutes…and in those moments, three feels almost unbearable.

And then those moments end and I find myself playing at legos, ridiculously entertained as I try to piece together a floating spaceship that will navigate the waters of their small pool. Drawing silhouette tow trucks and police cars with sirens just so and spelling out letters as they demand more words and pictures and sirens. Or snuggling between their sleeping bodies at 1 a.m. because I cannot sleep and their sweet deep regular breathing brings me such peace. And as I settle into my own sleep I feel so clear in the knowing that they are my people, some of the most wonderful things I can claim to be part of.

And I am sure you know what I will say next, my loves, if you are reading this. Your mama loves you, loves you so very much.
Two at Three

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Finished Dress

I am feeling quite pleased with myself today because I am the proud owner of a new dress…one that I sewed up myself. It is the first time I have ever worked with jersey material and a sewing machine and actually turned out a wearable garment.
First sewn knit fabric dress

I shied away from sewing jersey in the past as it always bunched up and seemed so intimidating…all that stretch and mystery. This time around I found my handwork with knit fabric has brought me a confidence I lacked in those early knit sewing attempts and this was an encouraging experience overall. I sense many more knit dresses joining the wardrobe sooner than later.
First sewn knit fabric dress

So, how did I do it? I actually drafted the pattern myself using one of my very favorite jersey wrap dresses. I have had the scheme bouncing around in my head for some time but the close out skull fabric found at JoAnns sent me into frenetic motion on Friday. I laid out the original dress on paper (freezer paper in this case as it was on hand) and using one of those spikey wheel tools (technical term, of course) traced the panels of the dress onto paper… first the back then the two side wrap panels.dress drafting

Once I located the faint lines, I simply traced the shape and cut out the paper to use as the ‘pattern’. Knit fabric is pretty forgiving so I figured it would all line up and was pleasantly surprised when it did. I skipped sleeves as that is a whole other animal and I have no idea how to ‘trace’ set in sleeves for a garment at this point. Summer = sleeveless.

From there it was mainly careful cutting with a sharp rotary blade and pinning. The construction is so simple..just the back and two front wrap panels seamed down the sides then shoulder seams joined. Here is where two things came in handy.

First sewn knit fabric dress
1) Ball point needle. Sew knits with a stretch or ball point needle. Just do it. It makes all the difference.
2) Careful pinning. I pinned the heck out of this thing before I seamed to make sure that it did not shift (much).

I don’t own a serger so I used a zigzag stitch for the seams and they came out just fine. Not very professional but functional.

The finishing was fussy and challenging but it worked. I finished the neckline of the dress with folded fabric, ironed and ‘serged’ to the raw neckline with my machine overlock stitch (glassy eyed yet, non sewers?) which left a nice clean edge to the front. Same for the armholes but those are a little messy in the armpit area which no one shall every see (or if you do, comment upon). I realize this may look like a close up shot of my chest, but it is intended to be a close up shot of the finishing techniques used. Okay?
First sewn knit fabric dress

The ties are just more fabric folded right side together, zigzagged stitched and turned right side out and attached. And wa-lah!!! A dress.First sewn knit fabric dress

This project taught me loads about sewing knits and how truly forgiving the fabric can be. Patience and experimentation was the key and I feel as if a great hurdle has been taken. Now if I could just ditch my day job as therapist and night job as mom and sew for myself 24 hours a day….
First sewn knit fabric dress

See, I told you I would be posting more. Even if it makes no sense to half the reading population here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Playing Catch Up

The Playtime title might be a little misleading...there has been precious little time to get all the Play I want into our daily lives. The boys? They play all day, of course. That is what three year olds with no obligations or schedule are wont to do. Me? Since our return from the uber trip I have had to make myself ultra available for work in order to, let's say, catch up.

And so work work work has been going on and very little blog blog blogging. For me, blogging is my playtime and I have missed it a bit. But when those Play moments are spare I like to choose to devote them to offline time and that is where I have been. Mainly.

I know I said I would make some time for trip posts but that time feels long gone. It was a good trip. We went many many places, the boys loved it and I already miss the feel of unpacking our lives in a new space every few days. I finally sat down to look through the 'real' pictures from the trip on the desktop and I found a few that I loved. Something about the clarity of a good shot from a real camera... it strikes the memory and I can almost smell the air in each location.

Bellingham, WA

Orcas, WA

chucks on scene
Whistler, Canada
A playground

A boy. Named Owen.

found heart
Found heart.

Can you miss a place that you have never really lived and don't truly know? I think so. One thing that was clarified in that trip is the desire to head North again. Next year, Summer 2011, we will try to go and stay for months and months if we can. What a dreamy idea. And what I have learned is put the dream out there to let it breathe.

So there was that. Now I will tackle the 4th. I was almost a perfect repeat of last year; town parade, town fair, town fireworks. We really just stayed close to home and walked everywhere with the stroller which was great fun in itself. I wore a dress. And spent time with the family. Here is the evidence....My fave ore the ones with my sister.

I love how ridiculously happy we look. I think we were.

parade hat
He made the hat at Library Hour. With Daddy. Makes me so proud. Which is kinda' ridiculous too.

ladies of the 4th
The Lindy sisters do-whopping (or something).

horsie? not
Does not like pony. Absolutely does not.

1st pony ride
Absolutely adores the pony...he is shining in his happiness, right?

Okay, so now that I have that out of my system, I will return to some semblance of regular posting round here. Or not. Just depends on work. Family. The gym (oooh, we are new best friends and I have been taking a weight 'lifting/sculpting' class and I am not sure if it is helping but I love it and feel awfully powerful). The library and the actual reading of books (Goodreads, are you on it??). Stuff, you know.

But I miss this sometimes and you my ether friends. So say hi if you would.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Playtime :: Part Two

God, I am loving summer this year. I am not sure if it is due to the gentle reassurances the Dream Lab keeps shooting my way (think photos of Love notes on sticky paper showing up in your inbox and telling you that you can Rest and Slow Down) or the fact that hot hot weather has held off and we are settling into the high 80s and low 90s while watching the boys water the garden and attend to all things in a naked state. Whatever it is, I will take it.

Garden news :: This year the raised beds hold a special soil mix suggested by the Square Foot gardening and it has made all the difference. The soil is light and supporting all types of combination planting. There is basil mixed with carrots, strawberries that are slow to give fruit but so sweet and tangy, tomatoes working their way up to maturity and the pumpkins are loving the sun.

Garden :: June 2010
Garden :: June 2010
Garden :: June 2010
Garden :: June 2010

It is a wonderful thing to look out the kitchen window and see the growing things. But I will say this. We do not make enough to truly feed ourselves. Three strawberries a day does not a breakfast make. Growing food has given me a new respect for farming and the sheer amount of land and water and effort that must be required to grow the huge amounts of produce that we do. A cello bag of carrots at the market make me stop and think about how much effort that must have been....and it scares me a little too when I think that if it collapsed one day, would we really know how to do this. Guess it is a learning curve and next year we will be devoting even more ground space to food production.

Slow Stitching :: I am still deep in the stitching love and finding all types of fabric laying around to play with. This skirt is in the works, hopefully finished for this weekend.
Simple Skirt
It is a busy stretch knit print layered over plain pink and then I tried the felled seams as illustrated in Studio Style.
Simple Skirt
Super fast and simple and the result so far is pleasing. The seams break up the business of the print and I have high hopes that this will be comfortable and pretty. I did learn a few things this round:

- I tried the skirt as a single layer with felled seams and it was way too light to support that construction. I picked out the seam and layered with the pink and it feels much more substantial.
- I went with a small size because all the skirts I have made grow and grow as I wear. I think I made my grey skirt a medium and the first bloomers a large and both hang once worn for a few hours. We will have to see how the small works out. I'll let you know.

Exciting Finds :: I never did get to those recap posts from the Trip but I have a few pretty bits that I brought back with me. I found a sweet little antiques shop on Orcas Island right before we jumped on the ferry back to Mainland and there were buttons and books and an old tomato timer with a jarring ring (That was not really entertaining trapped in a small Subaru with boys who thought it was hilarious to hear it ring again. And again).
Button Finds
And then the oilcloth at the Mill End store in Portland. Oh, the oilcloth. These were some type of absurd deal, maybe 1.50 a piece.
Oil Cloth
I just used my 50% off coupon from JoAnn's to get this...which holds all the regular Martha brilliance and a few projects using oilcloth. Yippee.

Kitchen:: One word. J E L L O.
Cannot stop eating it. We made it with the boys the other day, floating berries in the red and mango in th orange. One taste and I was a kid my best dress out to dinner at Michael J's, the local family friendly restaurant in town. It was the only one my parents dared take their brood, 8 rambunctious kids that always ended up sliding the slippery peach halves across the table at each other, sans dish in which they had been served. We were heathens. We always anticipated dessert, jello served in parfait glasses, perfect firm cubes crowned with the mandatory whipped topping.

They just tore it down, Michael J's, it was crumbling slowly and fed only the seniors from the mobile home park up the street. And then it was probably only on Fish n' Chips special night. It will now be a new Panera. That makes me a little sad. But I can always make Jello at home for the boys. And me. Might even be sneaking some of the whipped topping into our diet because it is mandatory, you know?

And I am over the Moon about....Babies! Not mine, of course. But finally our friends have jumped on the bandwagon know as parenting and I have so many little people-to-be to sew for. Right now there is a doll coming together for a little girl almost one and then it is on to the newbie stuff. I am so excited about these additions to all of our lives and so glad mine are big enough to send out into the yard naked to play while I sew.

Now, off to finish that skirt so I can sport it at the local 4th of July parade tomorrow. I know, it is the 3rd tomorrow but all of a sudden La Verne fancies itself Christian and apparently we cannot hold the holiday festivities on the Lord's Day. Except for the fireworks...those are fine in God's eyes. Whatever. I will be playing tomorrow with the boys and watching the fireworks burst on Sunday night. I'm easy.

Hope if you holiday, that yours is lovely and fun and special and bright. Cheers.