Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Learning to Knit

A few years ago, I was browsing through a catalog of courses being offered in our town.  When I came to the knitting class, I thought "I wish I could do that," and kept going.  Somewhere along the line, I had ascribed to this view of myself as a person with limits.  I was generally quiet, funny with friends, smart, a former-teacher and now mommy...  There was no room in this identity for new interests or pursuits.

A few days later, my friend emailed and asked if I would take the knitting course with her.  I felt like I had to.  First of all, because that's what good friends do (which I don't necessarily agree with anymore, but that was then).  Secondly, because I really wanted to and I felt like I couldn't come up with any more excuses.

So we took the class.  I actually left the house, learned something new, had fun with other adults...  I didn't expect I'd learn to knit (which is strange because that was the point), but I did.  Kinda.  And with the help of YouTube and lots of practice, I got the basics.

Some bunny slippers I knit for my daughter.  Cute and easy.

Last year my mom met a lady who told her about our local knitters guild.  She wrote down tons of info on a tiny piece of paper and gave it to my mom who passed it along to me.  And guess what?  I again thought "I could never do that."  So I threw away the paper.

Six months later, a new friend heard I was a knitter, and invited me to the guild.  So I went (probably following Rule #1 above).  And I realized I was a complete amateur.  These ladies were the real deal.  One lady even raised her own sheep, sheered the wool, and did everything else to make her own yarn, and THEN she knit it.  

I decided to make a shawl after seeing some really beautiful ones at the guild fashion show.  I went to the yarn store, and it was packed with knitters.  Probably 50 or so.  Eating pizza.  Talking about knitting.  Sitting in front of the yarn and smiling at me as I paced the store.  I didn't even know what kind of yarn I wanted to buy (who knew there were so many options).  I almost ran out and swore off knitting forever because I was so overwhelmed.  But for some reason, I didn't.  I stood in a corner out of eye shot and talked to myself (in my head-I'm not completely nuts-I swear).  I realized, all these ladies (and a couple of men) had once been amateurs, too.  They weren't better than me.  They were people who had gotten help and learned to knit.  So I went and got some help from the shopkeeper.  I came home with some gorgeous yarn, and I started in.

It's a little darker, and has some shine, too.  
I'm sure there's knitter terms for it, but I'm still newish.

I'm still working on the shawl.  It's coming along well.  I've probably spent more time undoing and re-knitting than anything else, but I'm learning.  And in some ways, that's way more valuable than the finished product will be.  My knitters-guild-friend and I meet up and knit often.  She's given me some really good advice and helped me learn what to do when I mess up.  

It's easy to say "I could never do that."  Although it's not much fun.  But it is safe.  In order to really learn something, I've found I have to get up and do some work.  And I usually have to interact with other people.  It turns out that's more fun than scary (at least most of the time).  

But I keep running in to people who admire my knitting and say "You are so talented.  I wish I could do that!"  And I say "You can!"  And they say "I could never do that!"

In my own life, there are still times I put things off that I'd like to try.  I'm realizing how important it is to keep learning and trying new things.  It makes life more fun.  And I get to meet fun people.  Taking time for myself throughout the week helps me to be a better wife and mother.  It's easier to play Batman (for the millionth time) or to calm a crying two-year-old when I know I've got a break coming.

Tonight I'm going swimming.  I've wanted to swim laps for exercise for the longest time.  And subconsciously I've told myself "I can't do that."  Because I have to watch the kids.  I have to make dinner.  I'm not sure I can commit to going on a regular basis.  I would have to wear a bathing suit.  I'm not sure how many times to do the front stroke.  Or how fast to swim.  Or how long I can swim for.

But I'm going.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Feeling a Little Odd

My husband recently posted the famous Flannery O'Connor quote: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd."  That sounds about right.

The other day, a loved one mentioned she was going to start taking yoga classes.  So I took a deep breath and threw out a few cautionary comments about Hinduism and the occult and whatnot.  And as I listened to myself, I realized how weird I am.  I sounded like the Church Lady: "And who likes to practice yoga?  Could it be...mmmmm...SATAN?!"

But I know the spiritual world is real, full of angels and demons and battle.  So I have to speak up.  At the risk of sounding like the Freak of the Week.

Today I'm thankful for the many friends I've made over the past few years who make an effort each day to do God's will.  It's a lot easier to be Strange when you've got company.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lent 2012

Life is busy, and tiring, and requires a lot of calories.  Especially from chocolate.  So for Lent this year I decided to stick to smaller, more manageable sacrifices.  I've been offering up all the lost sleep.  And cleaning up my two-year-old after lunch when she's squirming, and fighting me, and somehow covered in more food than I initially served.  And emptying the putrid diaper champ.  All simple things that I should be offering up but often my mind is elsewhere and I lose out on these graces (which I could really use).

Yesterday I was reflecting on Lent.  It seems like it's been going on forever and yet I don't have that feeling that I'm really any better off than when I began.  I started feeling bad that I hadn't put more thought in to my sacrifices (although I really have been making them).  I wished I had spent more time learning and praying.

Sometimes Lent starts out so well and within a week, it gets so messy!
Printable from

Reading through St. Faustina's diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, I found consolation in the following excerpt:
1029 The doctor did not allow me to go to the chapel to attend the Passion Service, although I had a great desire for it; however, I prayed in my own room.  Suddenly I heard the bell in the next room, and I went in and rendered a service to a seriously sick person.  When I returned to my room, I suddenly saw the Lord Jesus, who said, My daughter, you gave Me greater pleasure by rendering Me that service than if you had prayed for a long time.  I answered, "But it was not You, Jesus, but to that patient that I rendered this service."  And the Lord answered me, Yes, My daughter, but whatever you do for your neighbor, you do for Me.

I think I've been missing the churchey experiences: holy hours, rosaries, the Good Friday service.  I miss the bells and smells.  But a lack of those things doesn't mean I'm not making a good Lent.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  I have to be obedient.  Sometimes that means missing out on good things in order to carry out God's greater plan.  

Well, the Easter Vigil is now well under way.  I wish I were there.  But I know I'm doing the right thing staying home with the kiddies.  Tomorrow is the big day.  And with that, I'm off to be the bunny...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

To Blog or Not to Blog

I quit the blog.  I was afraid that I might be showey-offey without meaning to be.  Then I got really critical of all my thoughts.  Then I quit.

I am hesitant to write again.  I really don't have time to blog.  I don't have time for anything.  I have little kids.  But there is a part of me that really enjoys writing.  I feel like I shouldn't start if I'm not ready to make a long term commitment.  But my husband has been telling me blogs aren't like that.  Maybe he's right.  He usually is.

I also fear being overexposed.  I was starting to feel like random people I didn't know might know me.  Or know my kids.  But I think I can be careful about that.

I guess it's all about balance.

Anyways, now that I've lost all my readers, I have nothing to fear.  I can write for myself.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bedtime for Little Boys

My son is 3 and a half.  At this age I think the half makes a big difference.  Anyways, some days he naps, and some days he can't so he has rest time.  He reads books quietly in his room for a little while.  I mean it's his version of quiet.  He doesn't speak or sing.  But his feet are very noisy as he runs from his bed to the bookshelf to grab the next treasure, and then back again.

Trying out his sister's big girl bed.

Depending on where we are on the nap cycle, bedtime behavior greatly varies.  The whole cycle is rather fascinating:

Day 1 Nap: Good and long.  The kind where I have to wake him up and he's still groggy.
          Bedtime: His body is going in every direction.  He's trying to test the limits of his muscles and gravity           and the sturdiness of the walls.  He's squealing and grunting and noisy.  He's well behaved but wild.  Sometimes this wildness lands him in trouble.  The trouble is more a consequence of his exuberance than the actual problem.

Day 2 Nap: Short but still counts.
          Bedtime: Probably the best bedtime.  Less wild.  Less trouble.  Still needs lots of reminders to put on his pj's, sit on the pot, quiet down so as not to wake the baby...but he's 3 (and a half).

Day 3 Nap: Non-Existent -it's to be expected
          Bedtime: More unruly.  Louder in an unpleasant, crying, disobedient sort of way.  A little out of control.

Day 4: Nap: Again, no nap.  But today he needed it.  He's tired.
           Bedtime: Very unpleasant for everyone in the home.  Let's just rush him into the bed as fast as possible because any consequences will just make it a million times worse (not that there are no consequences, just that we try to keep him busy enough that he doesn't earn any).

Day 5 (this is SUPER rare)
          Nap: No nap.  WAAAY too overtired.  You know you're in trouble for the afternoon and evening.
          Bedtime: He asks for it early.  He lays on the floor and sucks his thumb.  He doesn't even want a story. He just wants to go to bed.  Bedtime was too easy.  You spend the night checking on him to make sure he's ok because he must be sick.  Only he isn't, he's just finally worn himself out.

So many blurry pictures of this little man.  He's always runnin'.

I have yet to find a way to alter the cycle.  I can run him ragged, but he will sleep or not sleep depending on where he is.  Little boys are amazing.  And exhausting.  But in the best way.  At least most of the time.

Monday, January 9, 2012

How Little Boys Decorate

My son attached monster trucks to the swing's mobile.  
Considering how much he loves monster trucks I think it was a very loving gesture.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The First Noel

Saturday as I reflected on the Joyful Mysteries, I again marveled at the gift we were given on the first Christmas.  Emmanuel.  God with us.

from flickr by Lawrence OP

In the first decade we remember the Annunciation and pray for humility.  I put myself in the place of Our Lady.  Because God sent Jesus to Mary, and He also sent Christ to us.  To teach us and to save us.  When Mary humbly gave her fiat, she received the gift of God's son in her womb, and so we also received our savior.  I pray for humbleness in receiving such a gift.

In the second decade we remember the Visitation and pray for charity.  Mary brought the gift of Christ to Elizabeth.  She literally brought the baby with her, but she also brought His love to Elizabeth through her service.  Blessed Mother, pray that I may bring the love of your divine son to others.

In the third decade, we remember the Nativity and pray for poverty.  Lord, make me poor in spirit.  Especially at Christmas when we should be focused on Jesus but the world is focused on things.  It really is distracting.   

As I walk through the house and pass piles of new toys and piles of old clothes and toys waiting to be donated it's easy to be frustrated by stuff.  But if I remember that this stuff is not eternal (I can almost imagine it's gone) I can remember God's will and focus on that.  Then I can deal with the stuff.

I am thankful for Christmastide.  I'm thankful it lasts many days.  After all the anticipation and preparation of Advent, I can be still and adore our Lord.