Monday, March 26, 2012

I Have A Clean House

I have a clean house.


No, you don't understand.  It's really, truly clean... at first glance, you might even think kids don't live here!  (Please, let me entertain my fantasies... you know this 'clean' thing won't last.  I probably won't see it with any regularity for, oh, at least 15 years.)

I have been obsessively working my ass off for a week... getting various rooms cleaned, and maintaining others.  Along the way I have also been tackling a few small projects.  Today I finally spray-painted two fugly, worn-out hand-me-down barstools into cute, shabby-chic looking 'pieces' and refurbed our tacky, faded, worn mailbox.  I have also dreamed up a floor 'treatment' for the laundry room... that will be a long process, though, so that will have to wait for a little later....

Ahh.  Did I mention I'm also caught up on laundry?
The kids' rooms are cleaned?
My room is clean?
All floors have been vacuumed, swept, mopped?
I have cleaned and organized my sewing room?

Yep.  I'm on it.  I've found it's a fabulous way to keep centered, and keep my mind off depressing things.  I wish I'd discovered how cathartic and helpful keeping crazy-busy could be YEARS ago!  And not only does it do the trick keeping my mind from wandering into bad territory, I get a gratifyingly clean space at the end - bonus!

The only problem is that now I daydream about Home Depot, and keep adding projects to my to-do list.  :)  It's a good thing!  Now, I shall flay anybody who dares mess with my hard work - consider yourselves warned!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Swagger Wagon Meets Motorcycle

I've still got it, even in my Swagger Wagon.  Yeah, baby!

Ha.  Seriously, I just assumed that minivans were hot man/cool people/good time kryptonite... it's a logical conclusion, right?  Minivan = tied down, boring, soccer mom/dad... you get the drift.  Nobody looks twice at someone driving a minivan - it's not sexy, edgy, or even interesting.  (No use arguing, everybody knows it.)

Well, today I'm sitting at a light in the aforementioned rugrat-bus when a hot guy pulls up beside me on a motorcycle.  Yeah... I looked.  He was H.O.T.  Muscles (but not too much) in all the right places, a moderately broad and muscled upper-body, confident posture, young, smooth skin, tan....

*pauses to wipe drool off keyboard*

Oh yes, where was I?
So, I'm looking (OK, staring...) at this guy (hey, I'm married, not dead) and very much enjoying the view when he catches me looking.  Of course, I immediately flush a fetching shade of pink and quickly look away... who wants to be ogled by a minivan-driving, middle-aged, harried mother?

Apparently this guy.  At the very least, he sure as heck didn't seem to mind.

I look back over right as the light was changing... he looked over, grinned a big, slow grin, and peeled off at the light.  Then... then, he popped a wheelie.  On his motorcycle.  You can tell I don't get out much, because that macho display impressed the hell out of me.

Woo whee.  Is it getting a little hot in here?

Yeah.  I don't get out much.
It's kind of nice to know, though, that the minivan doesn't immediately add 30lbs to your visage and turn you into a hairy-mole pariah as I'd previously feared.

Score one for the Swagger Wagon!

Batik Braids

This is my Batik Braids quilt I started at the Atlanta sewing expo... the top is finally finished!
I love this thing.  And I'm really digging the stained glass effect when it's hung in the window... so much so that I'm strongly considering some patchwork batik curtains (handmade, of course) in there.  I just love the look!

*Click on the picture to see its 'true colors'.  My pictures always appear washed-out.

A Good Life

This week has been pretty darned awesome.


The weather is amazing, I have been motivated and productive, and feeling pretty hopeful and peaceful.  Control is an exhilarating thing, and I feel so in control of my life and everything in it, and it's been a long time since I felt that way.  It's good.  Very good.

It's been a long time since I've sincerely described 'ordinary life' as awesome.  This week was awesome even with no vacations, no big purchases, no 'big' moments....  Things didn't go perfectly, and the kids weren't total angels (or drugged - ha!), but it was still really good.

Anyway, that's all.
I always talk a lot when things don't go well, so I figured that I really ought to shout it out once in a while when I feel great.  :D

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Déjà vu

Déjà vu.  
Totally freaky sensation, and it always seems to hit me at the weirdest times.  Like today... today I was sitting at my desk with Facebook open, playing Castleville.  (Specifically, waiting on energy so I could feed a cow to get milk.)

That's when it hit me... playing a stupid FB game, with a glass of wine in front of me.  I swear, everything in the world seemed familiar... exactly as it 'was', presumably, at some point in the past.  The game, the action, the smells, the wine... even the temperature.  Everything seemed eerily familiar, as though God just decided to rewind to a different time in the past and let me have another go at it.

Sometimes I think "Man, if only... there are definitely things I'd like to have another stab at"... but I usually talk myself out of feeling that way.  I tell myself that every single thing that happens is a lesson, a gift, a chance for growth, or a new opportunity... sometimes I even believe it.  :)

Everything happens for a reason, and there is good in everything... that's my motto.  Sometimes it's a bitch to remember in the thick of bad times, but I know that to be true in the deepest part of my heart.  

So, why do some déjà vu experiences leave me so wistful?  Yeah, I know everything happens to lead me to another place, another time, another level, and I shouldn't look back...  but sometimes these experiences just make you wish for a simpler time.  :)

Thankfully some things never change...  like FB (until they decide to eff with the format again) and wine.  And we can all agree that wine is always good, wistful or not!

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Better Day... Thank Goodness.

Today's been a far cry better than yesterday... I am thankful for that.  Yesterday sucked.  They don't say "Beware the Ides of March" for nothing, I guess!

I spent a good part of today cleaning, arranging, and purging my sewing room.  It's weird to some, but I get emotionally involved in my projects, and sometimes the leftover fabric from a project that went badly or didn't end well tends to have some bad juju connected to it, somehow.  Sometimes, seeing it, touching it, etc just isn't good for me.  I got rid of a bunch of fabric leftovers today, and started organizing everything (since Christmas I've acquired a few new things that need their own space).

Now, I am having some pudding, a nice Shiraz, and am kind of meditating, I guess.  Poking around passively and gingerly at the things going on in my head and my heart.  I couldn't sleep last night... I was up until the wee hours of the morning thinking, berating myself, and generally being contemplative and miserable.

Today I feel a little better.  Today my resolve seems to be returning... I am not a quitter.  I can't roll over and let everything get the best of me... if I don't seize power, I will never have it.

Everything is tender, but not as 'breakable' as it has been, I guess.  I'll get through.  I'll hate myself for some things for a while, and I'll hate others for some other things, but I'll live.  I'll live, I'll forgive, and someday I will flourish.

To end, I will leave you with the song that's been stuck with me all day - I woke with it playing on a loop in my head, and since there was no alarm this morning, I can only imagine that it must have featured in my dreams:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What A Day

Boy.  Yesterday was rough.  After I got the kids off to school, I just lost it.

There has been so much loss, stress, and upheaval in my life lately, and it's all just been building up.  I'm having to learn how to move on - how to get by without friendship I once depended on, and how to deal with big changes in other close friendships.

I don't want to say this, but I feel like if I don't say it somewhere, I will scream.  A is stressing me out.  Big time.  Well, actually, it's the Asperger's Symptoms that are stressing me out, if you want to get technical.  I just feel so in over my head sometimes.  Before I knew what was going on with her, I didn't really KNOW she wasn't 'typical'... somewhere inside I suspected it, but didn't believe it.  I thought she would learn to interact better at some point, that she would 'outgrow' her quirks, that she would get the bathroom stuff any day now, that one day she'd calm down.  I think believing that she would somehow outgrow it is what kept me sane before.  Now I know that she won't outgrow it, and that it's going to take a herculean effort to manage these things so that she can be as 'normal' or 'typical' as possible.

My child is a force of nature.  When she spends the day at home, it looks as though a tornado has ripped through my house.  Food, scraps of paper, blankets, rocks, bugs... they are EVERYWHERE.  No amount of talking gets her to understand that this isn't OK.  No amount of goading, punishing, or rewarding makes a difference.

At nearly 8 years old, she is still only what I'd consider partially potty-trained.  Pull-ups are a way of life... unfortunately they cause UTIs, so the doctor is also a way of life.  :(  I'm left to choose between my child sleeping in a puddle of pee, and ruined mattresses and belongings (because she won't come get us at night when she has an accident) or recurring UTIs.  Every time she poops I have to wipe smears of it off the walls and toilet.  She won't ask for help, and thinks nothing of just wiping it wherever... just as long as it's off her hands.

The slightest noise or interruption when she's doing her homework sets her off.  She tells her little sister that she is 'stupid' because she doesn't know the same things she does.  A doesn't think that it's any excuse that she's two years younger... she considers her stupid because E doesn't know her multiplication tables, doesn't know how to spell much, can't read long books, or spout off a bunch of random facts.

E's self-esteem is eroding to the point that she is anxious, clingy, and angry.  Just yesterday she lost it, screaming that she hated A, hated us all, in fact.  She said she wishes she had a 'real' sister, and that she hates us all.  Apparently that bad morning carried over, and she had an awful day at school... she got in trouble for telling other kids that their work was 'stupid' and then lied about it.  Hmmm... who does THAT sound like?

I feel like there is never any harmony in this house, and I'm losing hope that there ever will be.

There is so much change and upheaval in my life right now that sometimes I just want to lose it.  All of this is really testing my limits, and stretching my strength to the breaking point.  Do I have it in me?  Do I even have a choice?

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Sewing And Quilting Expo

So.  The Sewing/Quilting Expo.

The classes were out of this world... I loved them, and I wish I'd taken more.  I now have about 84,000 half-finished projects lying around, and I can't wait to jump on them and finish.

My favorite class was Crazy Quilting.  Here is my quilt square I finished in that class:

I didn't get to choose the fabrics, and I wasn't terribly keen on the ones I was given, but all in all I think it looks good, and I can't wait to dig into my scrap pile and start my own!

Another one I took was Batik Braids... awesome class!  I discovered that I absolutely LOVE batik fabrics, and I even got a pattern for another quilt/wall-hanging using batiks at the show after this.  :)   Here is my effort from that class... I got most of a *topper done (I still need to put the sashing in between, and put on the border):

I must admit that until this weekend, I thought that free-motion quilting was easy.  I. Was. Wrong.  SO not easy.  Hard.  The feed dogs are down, so the machine does none of the work feeding the fabric... your hands stay close together, move constantly, and develop cramps from this 'whimsical, care-free' style of quilting.  Plus, it's really easy to mess up your design... especially when your fingers/hands are cramping up.  Anyway, some of my efforts from my Free-Motion Quilting class (on the left a leaf motif, on the right swirls, loops, flowers, and whatever the heck I could get my tired, cramped-up hands to cooperate for):

That weekend was worth EVERY penny!  I can't wait to do it again!  Now I know why people come back year after year after year to these things... if you love to sew and love to learn, it's heaven.  :)

* BTW, the colors are MUCH brighter in person, and in the pictures.  For some reason, they appear washed out when I post them here.  :(

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Random Stuff

I made this last night:

Sweet Potato Manicotti with Carmelized
Onions and Walnuts in an Alfredo Sauce.

And boy was it good.  I don't normally post about food, but I'm pretty proud of this, so I decided to toot my own horn just a little bit.  I made this up myself... no recipe or anything, and not only was it edible, it was DIVINE.


Tomorrow I am going here:

Four whole days of indulging in my geeky love of fabrics, quilting, sewing, etc.  And I get to do it all by myself (well, with my BF) and have a lovely, stress-free mini-vacation while I'm at it!

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5th

March 5th is a day of remembrance for me.
It used to be a day of profound sadness and tears, but now after more than two decades, it's a day when I let my mind drift back to childhood and a great man who was a part of it.

On March 5, 1989 I received the worst news I'd ever heard in my eleven years of life.

My brother Tony was dead.

The enormity of death is something that no eleven year-old is prepared to deal with.  It was like a sucker punch to the gut... surprising, painful, unbelievable, and it took my breath away.  I'd never really known death before, and facing this reality was like sleepwalking... I felt like I was moving through a bad dream, waiting to wake up.

The heartbreak was unbearable.

Tony was 18 years older than me, and he was a great big brother.  He was fun, he took me places all the time, and he was so loving and loyal.  He lived with us at Mom's at the time of his death, and he would take me and my brother skating every single week, take us to see the Christmas lights, play games with us and hang out with us.  Some of my best memories are of him coming home from work late at night and waking me up to come play Mario Brothers with him in living room.

He loved me, and I loved him.  He was my best friend.

I went to Girl Scout camp on Friday night.  He teased me saying that he was going to embarrass me in front of my friends, but wouldn't tell me what he was up to.  Just before I left, I found a mushy note tucked into my sleeping bag... I took it out and tossed it on top of the TV and yelled at him.

Sunday afternoon he was gone.
I am so glad I have that note.  It's one of my most prized possessions.

I grieve for myself... for the loss of my big brother.  But I also grieve for him... for the things he never got to do/see, and the dreams that death robbed him of.  He was only 30 years old when he was killed in a freak accident... he never saw it coming, and neither did anyone else.

He didn't get to see his baby grow up.
He didn't get to graduate from college like he wanted.
He didn't get to go to England with my Mom.
He never got to quit working at that stinking mill... he wanted to so much, and it kills me that that's where he died.

When I look back today, I know one thing:  I have no business being ungrateful or disappointed in life.  I am 34 years old... I have already outlived my big brother by 4 years.  I have been able to do things and see things he never had the chance to experience.  I am blessed to be here.  There are no guarantees in life.

I love you, Tony, and miss you so much.
I hope you can see me from heaven... I hope you can see all of us, that death hasn't robbed you of knowing that you are loved, and thought of.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Things We Do For Peanut Butter Patties....

Someone upstairs has it in for me... weather-wise, anyway.

The weather has been SO nice lately that it makes me smile from ear to ear.  It's been just beautiful!  Having said that, you're probably wondering what in the world that first line was all about, huh?

Yeah.  I should clarify.

I am a Girl Scout leader of a lovely troop of Daisies/Brownies: 8 girls, between the ages of 5 and 8.  We are at the tail end of Girl Scout Cookie season, and have been up to our eyeballs in cookies... and cookie booths.  You know cookie booths... you've run into them.  You decide to go grocery shopping, and before you can step foot over the threshold, you're accosted by a bunch of tiny hyperactive, high-pressure salesgirls all pushing their sugary wares.  Yeah.  That's a cookie booth.

We've had three cookie booths this season (three hours long each) and every. single. time. we have gotten the shaft from Mother Nature.  The week will start out beautiful... sunshine, blue skies, the whole nine yards... until the fateful day of our cookie booth.  On the day we are due to sit outside and peddle Type II diabetes to the masses, the temperature drops, the sky turns grey, and the wind starts to blow.  One time, it even rained.

In short, I've been freezing my tush off every single weekend for the last three weeks.  In the company of anywhere from 3-6 small girls at a time.

Did I mention that 5-8 year-old girls are champion complainers?  No?

Well, they are.  Champions.  They complain about the cold, they complain that they are hungry, they complain that they didn't get a turn, they complain that they have to pee, they complain about the other girls, then they complain about the cold some more.

It's been bloody cold.

Today was my last cookie booth, and holy hell am I happy about it!  I just sat with 3 girls for 3 hours in the freezing cold wind outside Harbor Freight Tools.  It's not even 4pm, and I need a glass of wine.  (Helloooo, Chardonnay, my friend.)

On the plus side, we were outside a hardware store... main customers, MEN.  Men who cannot say no to little girls.  Men who almost always have cash.  Men who are a sucker for peanut butter.  We sold quite a lot of cookies, and got rid of every single box of peanut butter patties, peanut butter sandwiches, caramel de lites, lemonades, and thin mints.  SCORE!  Hooray for men!  Lord help them, they are suckers for teeny-tiny little females batting their eyes.

It was almost worth it this week.  But darn it, am I glad to be done.  DONE.

I don't even want to see another box of Girl Scout Cookies.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Get Lost, Winter!

It's warm!  The sun is out, and the trees are blooming... it's a beautiful day!

It's March!!  With the exception of March 5th, I generally love this month.  :)  March, for me, signals the end of winter.  Winter is by far my least favorite season of the year, so I'm always happy to see it go!  Everything starts to come alive again in March... flowers start blooming, the grass starts to become green again and leaf buds start to appear on the trees.  If you walk outside in the morning, you can literally smell the earth starting to warm up again... the musty, earthy smell of soil, trees, flowers and rain breaking out of the barren prison of winter.

It's just gorgeous.  Spring is on its way, and I'm a happy, happy girl.  :)