Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Month of Me :: No Mas

Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol


They help. They hurt. It is all determined by the circumstance, the intake, the history, the person. I am voting yes on Prop 19 here in California because it is pot. Not junk or meth.
And I like beer. A lot.

I thought I would give a nod to the whole 30 day thing.

So, uh, I left the 30 day thing way back when because I got a regular (but temp) paying job a week back. It is lovely. It is mundane. It is different. It is money. It is breathe of fresh air into my practice which had become 'what it was' since the birth of my children.

It keeps me from them for more hours than I am accustomed to. I leave and now as the Fall approaches I come home sometimes close to dinner time. The light is limning. I am only wanting to see them.

Then I have to make dinner. Or jam in sewing. Or have a glass of wine. And then make dinner. Listening to Pandora set to The Smiths radio, of which I am all kinds of enamored right now. I think that has something to do with turning 35 next week and feeling my roots, you know?

And I ask myself "What is this? This excitement to work at my 'job' again?". Because this is good stuff. And they are good stuff, obviously. And the pull of guilt begins, as does the need to assuage the pull.

I do it through library books read to them, watching them play, letting them play, some wine and beer, talking to Tim about the pull, listening to my Mama fill me in their latest endeavors which I missed, talking to their teacher/my friend on the phone about their latest school endeavors, making dinner.

There is no road map for this life. This one that we are living. I mean, me and my family. There is no longer clarity; just this is what I want, this is what we need, this is what they need and this is what we can do. And the delicate balance of it all makes it that much more alive.

As do they. Oh, as do they.

*And really, on the drug and alcohol front, really? Who cares what I think? This is what happens when I sign on for some internettens 30 day thing.

All pictures by Tim. Just so you know.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

You Can Be a Hero Too!

So, I spoke of a tutorial on Cape Making and Marnie really wants one so I shall oblige.

A note :: These are simple enough but take a rudimentary knowledge of sewing, a sewing machine and an iron and, er, that's about it. I tend towards the picture heavy, so follow along if you please and make your little peeps or yourself something fun for All Hallow's Eve or any day of the week when you need to feel like a Hero.

(Ooooh, I feel so clever for linking back to my last post. Dork.)

You will need two fabrics, solid or print, and felt from the bolt, not those small paper size squares sold at JoAnn's (unless you want to sew more than you have to).
Be safe and get about a yard of both fabrics.
cape tutorial
I made a few with a cute print from Ikea. If you have an Ikea near, check out their children's fabric section. They sell it by the yard, it is super wide and the prices are great.

Okay, so on the measurements. I was making these production style so I tried to optimize fabric. The reason for my measurements is that a yard folded in half yields about a 22-23" bottom width of the cape .. feel free to adjustment measurements as you see fit.

cape tutorial

The cape length is about 24-26" long as I am sewing for very little people. Fold your fabrics in half, matching the clean selvage edges and stack them on the cutting board.
cape tutorial

I marked them for you so you can see the cutting dimensions but you should avoid marking them (especially with Sharpies because it bleeds like a mofo).

Cut along your preferred dimensions and then cut a nice little scoop for the neck area and a shallow scoop for the cape bottom.
cape tutorial

Pin both fabrics together RIGHT SIDES together, very important if you are using a print fabric. Not so much if you are using solids (eh, they are 4 and do not notice things like fabric grain and side).
cape tutorial

(And by the way, I realize that my cheap cutting mat is horrifically dirty because it is stored on the floor and other places that it should not touch, but I did not clean it and you will just have to ignore my inattention to that detail. Okay?)

Start at the bottom of the cape and sew all the way around the cape to join the two sides (remember, RIGHT sides together) and leave a nice sized opening for your hand to fit through so that you can turn it.
cape tutorial

IRON your seams (trust me, ironing forgives many seaming sins) and turn the piece RIGHT side out and poke the corners with a knitting needles to get them fully poked out (technical term, of course). Then IRON it again until it is all nice and flat and crisp.
cape tutorial

Now, for the neck line. I used felt from the bolt. It is long and you can get a lot of mileage from it. Also it does not require seaming and bends nicely to fit the neck curve. Cut a piece about 3 inches wide and 24-26" long and fold it long ways and IRON it well.
cape tutorial
cape tutorial
(God that cutting board is disgusting. Not a word, you. Not a word.)

Then fit it to your curved neckline and pin in place, then seam it from end to end making sure to catch all edges in the seam.

cape tutorial
Cape Tutorial

And guess what? YOU have made a simple sturdy cape for your child's pleasure. Or yours if you are going with the adult HERO theme for Halloween.
Done and Done

Cut an initial from felt and hot glue gun in place. Or use sticky Velcro. And for the neck you can tie it on or put some more Velcro at the neck closure area (so your kid does not keep asking you to tie it on .... no take it off! ... no put it back on! ... no) (you get the idea, I sure did).

JoAnn's carries a nice iron-on Velcro that I am using. And then you really are done.

And then you can make a pirate eye patch from some felt left overs and t-shirt material.
Pirate Buzz Light Year
And have the cutest Pirate Buzz Light Year who will not wear a cape because he has wings to fawn over.
Pirate Buzz Light Year

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Month of Me :: 15 (But really 14)

So the prompt read something like "A hero that has let you down" "write them a letter". Jeez. Like any hero needs to hear a letter about their failings. I bet they never asked to be a hero in the first place.

1605–15; back formation from ME heroes (pl.) < L hērōs (sing.), hērōes (pl.) < Gk hḗrōs, hḗrōes

Super Mace

I took Latin for four years in high school. This does not make me a hero. Just a dork. But it always makes me curious about the origin of the words we casually toss about on a daily basis. Or use on a stale prompt (that as I read through the rest of the questions just seems to get staler) (Is that a word? Stale-r. Hmmm).

Anyways, heroes should not have to read letters about the letting down of others. Instead I think we should all consider ourselves heroes of something or another. Unless you are bad and mean and act in nefarious criminal ways that do not resemble Robin Hood. Then you should not reach for the status of Hero.

So, the root of the word is to sing. Because someone sings their praises; you cannot be a hero without a story, right? But we are all so unsung in our lives in so many ways.

I have to admit that this post is coming from a place of reading other blog posts today. I have highly censored myself in the world online blog reading because my involvement in the 'craft' as it is tends towards the 'taking things too personally' when I read posts that strike a nerve, not a chord. these today happened to be of a few brand new mommas totally blissing out on the first few days of their child's birth. Which is awesome. Believe me, if you can bliss and birth, that is awesome. And if you can take amazing pictures in sepia tone when it is happening, even more so.

But it made me thing about heroic people in my life right now. And they are not a totally unsung lot, I mean they have their own website and stuff, but man, newbie twin parents should get a totally awesome letter about how despite the fact that they always feel like they are letting someone down (because they have two)(or more sometimes) they get through it. They sometimes miss the perfect newborn pictures and deal with complications and small babies and feeding issues and coordinating sleep and juggling responsibilities and giving each child enough and never really getting that 'me' time in the beginning and, uh, did I mention, two? But they do it.

And sometimes they blog about it and sometimes they don't. But they do it.

And that makes them heroes in my eyes that actually deserve a letter telling them that they have not let anyone down. Not one of their children. Not older siblings or ones that follow. They were just introduced into a class of Hero that they may never have considered, well, Heroic.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Month of Me with a Segue

Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.

I am hitting these up combination style because somehow the days just keep flying by and I laugh a little at the idea that I could even try to blog daily.

So, 11 :: People seem to like my smile. And my kids.

I get multiple compliments on both. Which is really nice. The kids more than the smile.

Which lets me segue into talking about my kids. Actually not about them but other people liking them.

The Duo
The Duo

This has turned into a very tough year financially and the things we took for granted have slowly fallen off as we tightened the proverbial belt. There is enough for mortgage and food, etc. There is just very little else. This hurts a lot less since we have been practicing at buying less and using less for some time but it still can hurt.

Some things are just not in the budget this year. This includes things like school tuition. Tim and I were very disappointed in this but 'school' for three year olds falls more into 'want' vs 'need' at this time.

The really disappointing part was that their teacher broke away from the small preschool the boys attended last year to form her own even smaller school with a focus on learning her style (which is an awesome style, believe me). She and her teaching partner are a wonderful and dynamic duo and it was exciting to hear them form the idea for their own school but we realized that we would likely not be able to be a part of their inaugural class.

Well, in September when classes started they approached us and asked us if we would please please put the boys in, that they could waive tuition for us but they did not want to lose the boys. They were so eager to have them participate in the program and I was totally humbled and thankful for their generosity. We formed our own agreement as to how to approach the next few months and in they went.

The one hard thing to do was not give somehow so I asked them to let us know if there was anything we could do trade wise. This month they approached me with the request for sewn capes that the kids can incorporate into their letter play.
Super Mace

And so that is what I have been working on instead of daily blogging. And I have to say, it is both rewarding and fun to know these will be a part of their school for a long time to come. I've always wished to live a little outside our monetary system but it feels cool and surreal to actually be doing it.
Capes :: sewing
Capes :: sewing

So, yeah, people may like my smile but I am really really happy they compliment me on my kids in this way. It makes me feel like I am doing something right.

12 :: As for something people never compliment me on ... I think that would have to be my ability to swallow what some may call pride (but I tend to think of as ego) to allow these things to happen, to allow our lives to not be dictated by what we lack, but shaped by that which we have, and those who are willing to participate in it.

I know they say it takes a village to raise a child, but I also like to think it takes a village to help us as adults find ways to function when things get tough.

And if I get the chance, I will post up a quick tutorial on the making of the capes. It was fun and easy and involved a lot less sewing/seaming than one would expect.

Friday, October 08, 2010

We Interrupt the Broadcast ...

Gawd, eight days in and I am thoroughly sick of speaking about myself. It is making me feel all itchy and stuff. I am taking a break to talk about something that I like more than this Month of me. And that would be Heather Ross.

I have a pretty solid crush on the woman, her fabric and her fabulous-ness. She has long been my favorite fabric designer, her patterns hold so much whimsy and life. I have a really bad habit of buying her stuff and then hoarding it in small devoted piles, occasionally taking them down to fold and re-fold. On the rare occasion that I actually use the fabric, I can be found to wince as I slice through a character or two. I've got it bad.

Well, right now, Tim is in the midst of making the boys a bed frame for their queen size mattress. It is walnut and oak and mortis and tenoned and I realized they now need a big boy quilt. Sewing had fallen of the radar for a bit, but we had a solo weekend in Tahoe planned and I saw this quilt which shot me full of inspiration.
I also realized that the boys will only be in the 'rabbits and race car' phase for a few more years and I might miss my chance to drape their days (and bed) with the lovely Heather Ross hoard.

So, all the special and precious boy prints came out and I half-formed a basic idea and identified a few great solid colors.
heather ross quilt
I spent the better part of Friday and Saturday slicing, pinning, piecing and playing and I am beyond happy with the results.
heather ross quilt
heather ross quilt

The quilt top is far from done, but it is well underway. I also found a use for the bits that were trimmed from the light colored blocks I sewed up...
heather ross quilt
These little patchwork scraps took on a new life when sewed up together. I can see using this as the center for a pillow.
heather ross quilt
I am so glad that this is what comes from carefully piecing favorite fabrics together.

And I can say that I cut the HR stuff down with such precision that this is about all that I was left with as discards...
heather ross quilt

Funny how careful we can be when we truly cherish something.

I bet this post makes me sound even crazier than the previous 8, right?

And if you do not, you should really read Heather's personal blog. She is such a great story teller, she is a twin and (this, oddly enough, does not freak me out at all) she and her sister used to sew up little outfits for dead mice that their cat would kill and bring to them in their old Vermont home where she lived as a child (just read the damn post before you freak out, okay?). I ask, who would not want to crush on this lady?

As for the 30 days, it has definitely lost its shine, but I think I will pick and choose the days for the duration of the month. In between, I plan on posting about the knitting, sewing and life that is happening behind the scenes.

Whew, I feel better already.

One last thing... if you are a HR fan(atic) like me, you will note one print that is not of her design. Anyone spot it?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A Month of Me :: Eight

Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.

I had to reach waaaaaay back for this one. It totally sounds trivial even to myself. But the only folks I could come up with for this were the other girls in my 1st grade class at my Catholic school. And who does not have a memory like that lurking somewhere back in their past?

I was kinda' funny looking as a kid and also was cursed with a very present case of eczema that mostly manifested itself in torn up hands and lots of inflamed skin all around those visible areas like ears and mouth and eyes and elbows. It hurt, it itched and it was far from pretty. The thing about little people is that they have no censor, no filter and lots of innate self preservation. Especially in a school yard that houses lots of kids in uniform that go largely unsupervised.

It's not like they were overtly cruel, just lots of things like "Ew, I can't hold your hand". My standard by-line in school was "It's not contagious". I tended to prefer having reading contests with Rob Littlejohn at recess rather than navigate the waters of girl play out there on the blacktop.

(What is a reading contest, you ask? Why, it is when you both get the same book out of the library and then see who can read it faster. All on the honor system, of course. There is great integrity in reading. And yes, I was a total unabashed nerd in school.)

I do think my early exposure to this type of behavior from others just gave me a bit of a tougher skin. A little more empathy too. It also made me realize that folks can only make your life a living hell if you let them.


If you take that power away from them, they just become people. People who do not have the power to do anything to you that lasts longer than the seconds it took for them to push that energy your way. And I like to think if you let that energy bounce off you, it redirects itself squarely back at them. I think we call that karma, right?

A Month of Me :: Seven

Someone who has made your life worth living for.

Makes me feel so good to say there is not Some One ... but a whole slew of Some Ones. All of them family in some way or another. All of them blessings and challenges.

My Some ones

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Month of Me :: Five/Six

Something you hope to do in your life.

I want to do this LIST. Maybe not everything on it will happen, but I imagine that many many things can and will. It is not a life list, rather it was generated during an online course that I took last January called Mondo Beyondo. It is about dreaming wild and free and believing in the potential and possibility of this Life we Live.


I made bold the things that have happened in the months since that list hit paper. Not a bad start. Especially during a challenging year that tried to beat the dream right outta' me. One anecdote in relation ...

On that list it says "Go to Bhutan as a volunteer PT for three months. Take the family too." I first heard of Bhutan through Michael J Fox in a TV documentary during which he goes on a search for Happiness. During the program I had this odd vision of the boys running down one of the ancient streets in long clothes, smiling with a full radiance and hugging a little girl. The vision and idea of Bhutan fascinated me so I googled around to learn more. I found DWB and their yearly program that sends a volunteer PT to Bhutan and I called them. This was Spring 2008. I added my name to a list of PTs that had showed interest. And then life kept moving on and the idea faded a bit until I wrote in down last January.

Forward to April 2010 and I receive an email from the coordinator of the Bhutan program. We talk and she tells me I am first on the list and they had a cancellation and is there any way I can go in September? Like, this September. And it is not three months, but four. Oddly enough, a few days before this I was thinking about Bhutan and how our Canada trip will be a great initiation to the boys for living life away from home.

I had to decline; we were on our way North, we would need to rent the house out for four months, raise airfare money for four. It made my heart break a little but we had to say no. And the coordinator told me that it was okay because the person next in line was all ready to go and was eager to take the position. And the she offered me the position for 2012 which I promptly accepted.

It is just a list. Words strung together from thoughts and fancies and wishes and Dreams.


It is so much more than just a List. It is a Life.

Which brings me to Number 6 ...

Something you hope you never have to do.

I hope I never have to give up my belief in Dreaming this life into being.
I hope I never forget the Power that resides in Dreaming.
I hope I never abandon the way the simple act of Dreaming can make Life so much more lovely.

Big Sur :: 4.10
Photo by Tim

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Month of Me :: Four

Something you have to forgive someone for.

100 cranes

This one was both hard and easy. I say that because I had to think really hard about the above prompt. And then it became easy when I realized there is no one out there that needs my forgiveness.

I don't think this is because I bring any less wrongs unto myself in my contacts with other people. Of course, I have been hurt or offended or felt insulted or misunderstood or judged over the years. I am not immune to these things. But I realized upon reflection that none of those things stick in my craw. I cannot pin point a person, a some one.

I think one thing I know how to do well is leave things behind. I might actually be a little too good at it and sometimes I establish too great a distance from the things that might harm. But I know that things that hurt that I hold too close and too long become a liability to my own happiness, my own ability to focus on the happenings of 'now'. And the folks that hurt do not always know that they do, do not look deep enough to know how to stop.

And if they do it on purpose, you better believe they ain't people I'd bother to be around again so what is there to forgive?

And so letting it go seems to have become a way of comfort. Which is just fine with me.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

30 Days of Me :: Three

Something you have to forgive yourself for.

My PPD. Post partum depression. And not for the actual PPD, but for the way I hid it and denied the help and waited too long to seek help. That is the hard part to forgive.

I am a medical professional. I know the signs of clinical depression, etc. I was a pysch major before PT school. I have been through Panic Disorder and meds. And I find it difficult even now to glance back at the woman/mother/person I was in their earliest months without cringing and wanting to cry a little bit. I should have known. I did know. I waited too long get help.

I remember the morning that I knew it was too much. They were almost 8 months old. I was feeding the babies with my Mom and I told her I figured I would just kill myself because the boys would be much better off without me around. That I was so bad at this and that I could not do it anymore and any more of this would kill me so I might as well just do it myself. I remember the shock in her face, but even more I remember the relief I felt to finally just say it, tell someone and let them deal with it. And deal with it we did.

But, oh god, the months before, the internal grief and guilt and fear and anxiety. It is hard to forgive myself for letting that happen to me. For feeling so alone and thinking I was the only person that felt this way. For feeling so ashamed of the internal Me that I hid it well, buried it under layers of fake smiles and rigid schedules and isolation.

I thought there should be joy. I think there was. But to be left with memories of despair, thoughts of windows and babies and Me because it could not be them (and uh, we live in a ranch style home, so there is total delusion for you). To worry that my pregnant sister, that any pregnant friend I knew would feel like me. To know I probably should not feel that way and that I probably should tell someone and then not doing it ...

It makes me cry even now and I am so sorry that I had to be one of the woman that experiences early motherhood in this way.

It got better, immensely so after I started seeking treatment. In my case it was intense acupuncture but it changed my life and allowed space to breathe and then stop and then sleep and then, finally, finally feel present and then finally JOY. And for that, I am grateful.

So, Amiee, you ... you crazy, too independent, too proud, sometimes too scared person. I forgive you. Did you hear that? Good. Now, we can move on.



And if you are a Mama and feel or felt this way or are going to be a Mama and worry about feeling this way, please, just tell someone. Ask for help. Do not let the shame and guilt and fear associated with 'not doing this right' rule you. There is help, there is another side and you cannot let it wait. Not 8 months. Not 8 days. Not 8 minutes. You have to know that this is not normal and that this can be treated and that there is nothing wrong with you. Okay? Okay.

Friday, October 01, 2010

30 Days of Me :: Two

Something you love about yourself.

Airstream @NY Public Library
Buildings and bridges
are made to bend in the wind
to withstand the world,
that's what it takes
All that steel and stone
is no match for the air, my friend
what doesn't bend breaks
what doesn't bend breaks

Ani Difranco

Hands down, my flexibility. Both physically and in other ways. As a dancer, flexibility is key. It lets you get there. To that place, that deep and open and perfect place. It lets you move in ways others sometimes cannot. It makes you free.

I have flexibility of mind and faith and belief. I am really good at that. I love that.

Now, what does that mean, though? Maybe it sounds a little wishy washy. Like, I cannot commit to a faith structure/belief system/way to live, right? But in my mind, no loyalty is something to love. When you do not sell yourself to something and stay open and questioning and seeking, then information comes to you and informs you. And being informed is my best way to live. In my humble opinion.

A long time ago, I was raised Catholic. It takes a lot of hard work to become Un-Catholic when you have learned from a young age to only be that. But when the questions started, when my freshman year of high school my religion teacher was a gay woman, then my junior year teacher of religion was a gay man (I realize the school did not realize this consciously, and neither did I until a few years later) well, then they opened the doors. And I never looked back. I credit them for the first freedom I ever experienced. They never spoke against the Church, never tried to manipulate what they taught, instead they offered a different point of view. They just brought a view that did not exist in my experience until then. In doing so they introduced the idea of being flexible into my formative teenage years. And it gave me a voice.

And then I just decided that information is freedom and flexibility is god. If you cannot move, you cannot live. If you cannot bend, you will break. I see it modeled everyday in my work with the class we fondly call 'geriatric'. Of course I hold core beliefs about not hurting others, or trying hard not to anyway. Of living life with respect for Self, and Others and Life itself. I am just not that into thinking that I know how to do that better than others.

Whether it is on my yoga mat in class, wringing my body into odd twisted shapes or in my daily life making decisions or approaching the next great experience, I feel best when I feel flexible. I am glad I can honor that in my Self.

Now, off to stretch...

A Month of Me

It is a little much, I know, but I am declaring October the Month of Me.

Is it because I have little to no blog inspiration lately? Because it is my birthday month? Because I am totally into talking about myself (that was blogging's origin, right?). Probably all of the above. But it is also intriguing to think about writing more than just the old 100 things list.

You can find the 30 Days of Truth list here. Will I make it through? Probably not.
Without further ado...

Something you hate about yourself.

I skipped over the first thought (my body, duh, so predictable). And I don't really hate it. It is what it is, so onward.

So, it is my memory. I hate the way my memory works. I have a memory like swiss cheese. It does not store and read back well, sometimes it does not store at all. This did not start with children, or the various other abuses I have visited on my brain tissue. Nope. I was born this way.

It is not even a selective memory. It is just faulty. And now that I am writing this, it is getting harder to describe. This post sounded better in my head.

The thing is that I rarely feel like the events of my life happened to me. If you asked me to recall what it felt like to carry twins in my body, I cannot tell you. I see the pictures but I cannot tell you the feeling. If you ask me about those extended trips I took to Africa or Hawaii or Canada or Ireland, it is like a vague happening, like watching it from a TV screen happening to another person. There is a certain amount of distance, separation. I am right now sitting in a condo in Tahoe where we have come annually for the last 7 years and those 7 years jumble and twist around each other, none of them discrete or fixed.

And then there are those times when I tell Tim about something and he reminds me that he was there. Right. I mean we have been together 17 years now, when would he not be there? Or those times I find myself in a picture at my sister's wedding rehearsal dinner and I have absolutely zero recollection of the event. Or when I realize upon a return to NYC that I lived there 5 years and had friends and danced on stages and walked those streets every day and it all feels like a dream most times.

And it has always been like that. I would love to speculate that it is due to living life so fully and varied that I cannot retain it all. I would love to say it is because I live in the moment, because the past does not matter. But it does. It is a part of us, a part that resides embedded in our brain tissues. And I have never really liked the way my memory tissues function.

The strategy I took in earlier years was to write. I used to write these long rambling letters to friends and family and Tim that described life in detail and went on and on. In the last month, since my return from New York actually, I have crossed paths with many of these letters and they totally freak me out. They make me squirm. They are my words in my writing, but I scan through a bit dumbfounded and wondering why I would have forgotten the events that occurred of which I wrote so thoroughly. I think one shocker was a letter I wrote to Tim explaining that on that particular day in NY I had walked by the scene of a accident where there were dead people and also I was pissed because it was Valentine's Day and couples were draped all over each other everywhere and we were a country apart (same sentence, I swear). Dead people? How did I forget about seeing dead people? Jeez.

It disturbs me a lot when I think about it (Getting a bit agitated right now). And then there is this blog. Ostensibly I started it because I wanted to chronicle knits. But it quickly was usurped by my mother role and I began to write the boys monthly letters in their first year. You know why? Yes, for them. But also for me. Because I felt panic at the idea of forgetting what was happening to us, panic at the idea of forgetting them as they were. Panic that they would ask and I would not recall. And I am still glad I did but a new fold has developed in the memory game...

Now this blog shapes my memory. I go back to archives and read about the month of September 2009 and remember accurately and vividly... but only the blog moments. Ask me of the others... go ahead, ask me. And they are not there. I am not complaining, just weird. Because this online memoir will shape so much as I go. I want it to be real and true and accurate but it is filtered just like everything else.

My strategy has become a new source of unease. And the memory thing .... I will probably just go on hating it a bit.

Soho, 8.10

Come on, it was just last month, I can remember that far back. ;)