11.23.2011

In Twenty-Twelve.

Is it too early to start thinking about 2012? Or too late?
In any case, today I'm pondering the new year and what is to come, and I have a few predictions and a couple of resolutions to share:

In the year 2012, I'm pretty sure I won't return my library books or DVDs on time.
I will forget to put the trash out on Wednesday night.
I won't refill my prescriptions before they run out.

I will lock myself out of the house at least once.
I will go way over on my oil change.
I will neglect to clean my tennis shoes, telling myself that the mud/dirt/dog poo will get walked off anyway.
I will leave leftovers in my refrigerator until they are unrecognizable in texture, color, and smell.

I will set a bad example for my son.
I will disappoint my parents.

I will get a parking ticket.
I will not pay my parking ticket.

I will fold a lot of clean laundry.
I will throw a lot of dirty laundry on my bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen floor.

I will sing along with the radio while driving my car.
I will be crying too hard to sing along with the radio while driving my car.

I will hold a newborn baby who isn't mine.
I will promptly hand her back to her momma when she starts to cry.

I will apologize for things that aren't my fault.

I will get my hair professionally cut once and then neglect to have any maintenance done on the style, even though I love it.

I will get a pedicure.

I will remain single.
I will write my (first) memoir.

I will be full of hope.
I will be disappointed.

I will be overflowing with creativity.
I won't have any words.

9.11.2011

Eep.

Eliot: "Isn't it funny that my brother turned out to be a boy?! What if he was a girl?"
Mommy: "Well, if he were a girl, he'd be your sister."
Eliot: "Hahahaha. That's funny. How is he a boy?"
Mommy: "Oh, I dunno. Some people turn out to be boys and some people turn out to be girls."
Eliot: "Mom, how are babies made?"
Mommy: *gulp* Oh, you know...Mommies and Daddies make babies.
Eliot: "I know THAT, but I mean HOW do they make a baby?"
Mommy: They just get together and they...well...It's...uh...kind of complicated. I'll explain it in more detail when you're a little older.

I was SO not prepared for that question. :)

8.26.2011

When preschoolers attack.

He doesn't look like a boy who is being traumatized by school three times a week, does he?



I really thought we might be able to do the drop-off this morning without tears, and though he was brave, when faced with entrance to the classroom, he lost it.

His behavior was hideous all day yesterday, just wild and whiny and demanding of my attention all day long. And then at 7:00 in the evening, he started fake crying and boo-hoo-ing. Sure enough, he was already bulled up about school. I tried to engage him in a conversation about school. "What is it about school that you don't like?" I asked, gently.

Eventually, he told me that he doesn't like it when they're in the gym or on the playground and there are too many kids and he's afraid one of them is going to attack him. That's what he said. "I'm just afraid a bigger kid is going to attack me." (Accompanied by sniffs). Now. This is ridiculous. But, it could be true. Eliot is a tall but slender, wiry little kid. He's "slight," we'll say. He's not exactly timid, but he is a thinker. He thinks things through before acting. He was (and remains) the only baby I've ever seen who would stack blocks on top of one another to build a tower and then carefully dismantle the tower block by block rather than knocking it down. He does not like chaos, unless it's a carefully controlled chaos of his own making. So I can understand how a gym full of running, yelling, playing 4 yr-olds not only offends his sensibilities, but scares the living shit out of him. I totally get that.

 I assured him that while accidents happen, no one is out to attack him. I reminded him that the other kids were telling him it would be okay and trying to help him to feel better. I reminded him that Miss_____ is there to make sure everyone is safe. We talked about how kids can sometimes be rowdy and that people do sometimes end up getting hurt. I had a tough time determining if this was a legitimate concern of his or just one more made up reason why he hates school, the real reason being separation anxiety.

I told him I would give him something of mine to always carry with him so that when he gets sad, he can look at it, and touch it, and think of how Mommy will be there soon. We looked around my craft room and decided on a "special Mommy bracelet," which is a piece of embroidery floss tied around his wrist. Every school day, he gets to choose a color of Mommy's floss and wear the special Mommy bracelet, and he thought that was a pretty cool idea.

It was an idea that got us all the way out to the car, through the grocery store for a special breakfast donut, and all the way into the very school building. Once in sight of the classroom, however, the special Mommy bracelet was powerless against his sorrow.

I'm looking forward to picking him up this afternoon and hearing how his day went. Maybe the bracelet helped a little? I hope he had a good day. I hope he got to be the line leader, or better yet, the person who feeds the fish! And on Monday, we'll try again.

After all, if this is a kid who requests a pear for a snack when he's hungry,  ("Don't cut it up, Mom, just wash it and give it to me." My kid eats fruit! On purpose! I have photographic evidence!) I'm convinced he can do anything.

8.24.2011

I'm too sad to go to school.

My child is desperate not to be left at preschool. Over the summer, he was excited about the prospect of going to school in the fall. We talked about how he would make new friends and learn more about the alphabet and counting, and he was pretty positive about all of that. Once we visited the classroom, he couldn't wait for school to start. Now that the time has come (this is his second week of school), he does not want to go. Well, he DOES want to go, he just wants me to come with him. And stay with him. And if I'm not there, he doesn't want any part of it. I have heard all of the excuses listed below, in addition, I'm sure, to some I'm forgetting:


But what if I have a fever?
I'm too sad to go to school.
How will I ever find you when you come to pick me up?
Does my teacher even know your phone number?
I have a headache.
I can't do it.
I don't like school.
We don't learn anything there.
It's not even a REAL school, like big kids go to. It's not even kindergarten!
I'll just stay home by myself.
I'll just come to work with you.--You can leave me in your office while you teach.
What is my dad doing today?
Can't we just ask someone we like to babysit me?
Three times a week, I carry him into the building and down the hall to his classroom. He refuses to walk into the building. He refuses to stand up. Three times a week, his teacher, Miss____ gets the job of physically peeling him off of my body as he cries hot tears and snot onto my shoulder. This morning he snagged his foot in my knee-length skirt and accidentally flipped it up over my hips, giving the entire 4 yr-old room a nice long peek at the tie-dyed men's underwear I was wearing. (Don't judge! Men's underwear are comfortable, and tie-dying them makes them pretty, too.)

I know that Eliot enjoys at least some part of preschool. When I come to pick him up in the afternoons, he is invariably sitting alone, waiting for me with red-rimmed, watery eyes, BUT there is also proof that he has not cried all day long. After he shakes off the sorrow and injustice of parental abandonment, he smiles and holds my hand and calmly walks out to our car telling me stories about his day. He proudly tells me he was the calendar person, or the lunch person, or the line leader. He made a ladybug with googly eyes (!), or he drew his name in glitter, or he beat the first level of an "I Spy" computer game. He had a corn dog for lunch, and he dipped it in ketchup.

He told me on his second day that he had made friends, "a girl friend, and a boy friend," and that they had tried to make him feel better. Unfortunately, "their ideas didn't work," he reported, shaking his head. So it isn't as if the other kids aren't nice to him, or that he doesn't like his teacher, or even that he doesn't enjoy the classroom. He has no trouble with lunch. He reports that he uses the bathroom on his own just fine, and Miss _____ helps him with zips and snaps if he needs help. The problem seems to be that he is just absolutely determined not to like preschool. Just because. Probably, it is due to the fact that, like all children, his purpose in life is to break his mother's heart into tiny pieces. Repeatedly.

I hope it gets better.

I'm sure it will get better.

It has to get better.

8.22.2011

Back (that ass up) to school.

Today was the first day of classes at my lovely little Midwest university. I've been ready for awhile. Sort of. I've been ready for the routine late August brings, the renewed sense of purpose, the eagerness on the faces of new students, and the bouquets of newly sharpened pencils.

Nope. No one gave me a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils. Damn. Where is Tom Hanks when you need him the most?

In any case, both my a.m. classes went rather well--students seemed attentive and ready to get the show on the road. My 2:00 section seemed like they would rather be taking naps than doing anything else. I was a little punchy myself. I DID tell them that every time they plagiarize, a tiny woodland fairy dies. "So turn in original work--if not for my sake, for the fairies'. Do it for the fairies!" I begged them. I kind of wanted to gauge how many of them were listening and see how many would roll their eyes or laugh nervously, or look frightened of my apparent mental issues. We'll see how that goes.

Since I have put on so much weight recently (Food is yummy. Exercise is not fun.), I have no decent work clothes. I've traipsed around town this summer in gaucho pants paired with baggy, unflattering t-shirts or too tight, unflattering tank tops. I've been seen in public like this so many times that I'm not even very ashamed anymore, only about 7% shame, and 93% kiss my grits. Luckily, one of my sweet sisters who has lost weight recently and my mom both combed through their wardrobes for skirts and tops to donate to my cause. (The "Friends Don't Let Rachel Wear Gaucho Pants to Work" cause--we don't have a kickstarter or anything, but we DO accept Paypal.)

So here's a little peek at my back to school outfit:



I only added the Wonder Woman button to my lapel after lunch, because I had a chili cheeseburger and slopped it on my white jacket. Necessity is the mother of fashion choices, right? I think that's what they say. I'm pretty sure that's what they say.

Today was also remarkable because I am now in receipt of my new glasses! Yippee! I bought a pair of vintage frames at Brooklyn Flea late this summer and had my prescription put in them. They are darling, if I must say so myself. And even my mother commented that she is glad I got a different pair, because while she liked the purple frames, she's "over them." For reals. My mom said that. "I'm kind of over the purple frames," she said.

In other news, I also learned today that young people do not use Twitter. But they are very aware of the existence of Twitter, and they DO use Twitter-like hash tags in their Facebook status updates from time to time. But some of them report that they are "kind of over it." #I'mtoooldtobehipanyway

8.08.2011

All I need is a time machine...and a quiet place to stitch.

One of the reasons embroidery has become my favorite crafty pastime is because it's all so portable. I can gather my floss collection, needle, scissors, and whatever piece I'm working on, throw it all in a canvas tote bag and carry it around with me. I've stitched in the coffee shop, the library, in my front yard on a blanket (back when it wasn't so deathly freaking hot).

The other reason is that it's so full of possibilities. I can stitch anything I want! Anything! It's like coloring, but with a needle and thread. Here's the first project I've completed without a pattern. Inspired by Robyn, I wanted to stitch a Delorean. (If you haven't listened to Robyn since the '90's, you should check her out again. She's a fellow Gemini--a mere three days older than me! Also, according to her Facebook fan page, she's "the most killingest pop star on the planet." If that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is.)

Since I can't draw worth a good goddamn, I did a google search for photographs of the car, found one with an angle I liked, saved the picture and used Picnik to transform it to a line drawing, then traced most of it onto some tracing paper and taped it to my fabric.


Then, I simply stitched through the tracing paper. (If you're going to do this, it's better to have a larger sheet of paper and hoop the paper along with the fabric so that it doesn't move around. Tape worked out okay, but was definitely more tedious.)


After I had the basic outline of the Delorean stitched, I ripped the tracing paper away to reveal just the stitches. This process can sometimes suck--you often have to use a pair of tweezers or your needle to remove the bits of tracing paper from beneath the stitches--but I think it's worth it when stitching a complicated pattern, or one with lines too close together to use the iron-on transfer pen effectively.

All the supplies I need fit nicely
on the arm of a comfy chair in the library.

Well, and at my feet. :)
There's nothing better on a too hot day than finding a comfy indoor spot, soaking up some air conditioning, popping in the headphones with some Pandora radio on, and stitching up a Delorean. That's what I always say.

The picture is somewhat dark, but here is the finished hoop:


I might have to work on some LMFAO inspired stitching next. Eliot is a pretty big fan of "Party Rock Anthem."

8.01.2011

Either I have adult ADD, or I'm just really lazy and lack focus.

I have a talent for starting projects. Oh, yes I do! I am the self-appointed Queen of Good Intentions when it comes to...well...just about everything. Crafting, writing, blogging, lesson planning, sending thank you cards, walking the dog (Wait...I don't have a dog. Thank God!), Basically, you name it--I've got big ideas for it. And that's all I've got.

Initiative? follow-through? tenacity? Hmmm...what do those words mean? I couldn't possibly tell you. Most of my ideas languish and die without ever escaping the black hole of my good intentionism.

But enough of that. Here's the beginning of a project that I might someday finish, thereby surprising myself and the world at large. It's a Cate Anevski facebroidery pattern. (She's amazing, by the way. Check her stuff out!) I've got five facebroidery patterns, and my plan was/is to stitch each of them up in a single color and frame them in a differently colored hoop.

(Does that even make sense? I'm getting distracted by the woman sitting in a chair across from me here at the library. She's in a very deep sleep, possibly a coma. I'm so in awe of people who can sleep in public spaces. I would never feel comfortable enough to lose control that way. Seriously. I could go over there and draw on her face, and she wouldn't even know.)

So, theoretically when I finish the series, I'll have a rainbow of facebroideries. One stitched in orange, framed in yellow, one stitched in red, framed in orange, etc. 


With this one, I also experimented with using scrapbooking paper to back the hoop, rather than fabric. Because I have a ridiculous amount of patterned scrapbook paper. Ree. Dick. U. Lus.



I still haven't really found the best method of backing my hoops. I've experimented with a couple of different tutorials. These are my favorite two, from Polka and Bloom and Maximum Rabbit Designs, if you're interested. I've been using a sort of variation that lands somewhere between these two. Once I figure out my preferred method, I might just post my own tutorial. (Hahahahaha. Yeah, right! Remember what I said about good intentions?!)

Disclaimer: The fabric on this try looks like crap; I'm usually not that bad at it.

The moral of this story is: in a few weeks, someone needs to ask me, "Hey, Rachel, by the way, did you ever finish those facebroideries you were working on?" and give me all kinds of shit about it, because otherwise, they will not get finished. I'm serious, people. Set an alarm in your cell phone right now that says, "Ask Rachel about her rainbow facebroideries." I need you to keep me in line here. Cause you know where good intentions lead, don't you? I do. I was raised on Randy Travis.



Thanks, y'all are the best. :) 

7.29.2011

This is my saturday night, people. Be jealous.

I am 32 years old, and I just urinated on my own clothing.*

Seriously. I'm not even joking. I was wearing a dress, sitting at home on the couch, working on some cross stitch on a Saturday evening (I'm a wild woman!); I went to the bathroom, forgot to pull my dress up, and just peed all over my damn self.

I haven't even been drinking. (I did eat some Greek yogurt that I suspect may have been outdated...but who can tell with yogurt? It all smells funny.)


*I suppose that's better than urinating on someone else's clothing, right? Right?

edited: Oh, shit. This is also Friday night. Not Saturday. I think I may have just had a mini-stroke. How else to explain this lapse in brain activity?

7.27.2011

Go where it will lead you.

Peace Like a RiverPeace Like a River by Leif Enger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Great book--I recommend it highly!

Though set in the early sixties, Peace Like a River reads like an old Western, with the Land family trailing after the outlaw older brother. I loved the descriptions of the hard North Dakota winter as much as I loved the characters, especially Swede, the narrator's precocious and romantic writer sister. Reuben Land narrates the family's story; he is the second son, burdened with debilitating asthma and a hero's worship of his dad and older brother Davy.

As a reader, you're led along with Reuben as the drama matures him. I admit, I shared his starry-eyed admiration of Davy and his defense of him almost right up until Reuben finally admits to himself that what Davy did was wrong. I found Reuben interesting, partially because the descriptions of his asthmatic affliction felt right on--I know what it's like to have your lungs seize up and turn against you, and Enger conveys the awful sensation well--and also because Reuben, despite having witnessed various miracles, remains somewhat of a skeptic. He's a likeable kid, naive at times, and too hard on himself most of the time. He's also cognizant of telling the story. (I love novels with a sort of "meta" quality to them, works that comment on the act of storytelling itself.) He explains in the beginning that he believes his purpose is to be a witness, and I like that he is telling the story, rather than Swede, whom he often refers to as better equipped to write it. She may be the more talented writer, but Reuben is a better witness.

I always enjoy novels that are character driven, probing the inner workings of another human being and his or her motivations and thought processes. Peace Like a River manages to combine rich character development with a plot that leads a reader to wonder where it's going next and how it's going to get there, and where it will eventually leave us. To me, that's a nice bonus.

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7.23.2011

Charmed, I'm sure.


The heat wave we’ve been experiencing lately has translated into many hours indoors, planted firmly within the range of the air conditioner. Eliot and I have put together Legos, played video games, watched an insane amount of Netflix streaming offerings, and read piles and piles of books. We’re both going a bit stir crazy at this point. Today we ventured out into the heat for a change of scenery, just to have lunch and then soak up some of the public library’s air conditioning. I’m not sure if we’re both a little delirious from the heat and cabin fever, but our conversations seem to have gotten even more ridiculous lately than usual. Okay, wait a minute. Actually when I say “our conversations,” what I really mean is the totally random nuttiness that Eliot comes up with.

This morning he asked if we had any skeeters.

“Skeeters?” I asked.
“Yeah, like the kind we eat. Do we have any of those?”
“Ummm…we don’t eat….mosquitos…?”
“NOoooo, not THAT kind of skeeters, the other skeeters!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, dude.”
“The round kind. Skeeters. Kind of like M&M’s, only different.”


“Skittles?!”
“Yeah, that’s what I said, “skeeters,” do we have any of those?”

At lunch today, he ordered biscuits and gravy, which is generally his favorite. If biscuits and gravy can be had, then that’s what he’ll have, regardless of time of day. As the waitress set his plate in front of him, Eliot grabbed his fork, eyed the biscuits and gravy and yelled, “Hey, you, biscuits and gravy, I’m gonna eat you up, and then I’m gonna PEE you out!”

When I shushed him, using his first, middle, and last name, admonishing, “We. Do. NOT. Talk. That. Way. In. Public,” through tightly clenched teeth, he laughed and said, “Oh yeah, because I wouldn’t pee it out anyway, right? I’d have to poop!” Yes, Eliot. That is why I scolded you. Not because you’re loudly talking about bodily functions in public, but because you were incorrect about said bodily functions. Obviously. *sigh*




Sometimes when I meet friends for lunch and Eliot isn’t with me, they act disappointed. I don’t know if the disappointment is genuine, or just feigned out of politeness. I suspect it’s only genuine if they haven’t eaten lunch with my son before. It’s not that he’s so bad, necessarily. He’s not one of those kids that gets up and runs around and yells and causes all kinds of pandemonium. It’s just that he makes any kind of meaningful conversation pretty much impossible. He wants everyone’s attention on him. Because look how devilishly clever and funny he is! Look, everyone! Look! I can’t really complain too much; after all, I’m pretty sure he comes by the attention craving honestly. In my own defense, I’m a middle child. Out of all my four parents with our blended families (I have 9 sisters total, 0 brothers), I’m neither the oldest nor the youngest for my mom, dad, stepmom, or stepdad. I’m firmly ensconced between other girls who brought (bring!) their own drama to the family. All my life, I’ve been jumping up and down, waving my arms in the air, screaming, “Notice me! Notice me!” hahahaha. So, yeah, Eliot is definitely his mother’s son. And, shit, he’s also ridiculously, devilishly clever and funny. So there’s that.

While dining out, he will inevitably “accidentally” end up with food on his arms and face, or let escape some not-so-quiet, “accidental” gas, or spill syrup on the tablecloth and then drive a matchbox car into it and exclaim, “Oh man, looks like this car is leakin’ oil!” If all else fails, he’ll crawl up into my lap and try to kiss my face, murmuring, “Oh, Mommy, I love you, I loveyouloveyou, mommmmmmy.”

The truth is, I don’t mind his hijinks all that much. It doesn’t bother me personally as much as it embarrasses me. I wish I could put the fear in him thoroughly enough that he would sit there and behave. Kind of. Then again, I don’t want him to be the kind of meek, personality-less kid that I was at his age, clinging to my mother’s purse straps and not daring to look any adult in the eye. So I guess I alternately admire him and am embarrassed by him. I don’t want to be THAT mom, the one whose kid is incredibly fucking annoying, and she thinks it’s charming. Sometimes I worry that I’m that mom. Am I that mom? *hanging head in shame*

In any case, I have to go now. We’ve got Batman to watch and Skeeters to eat.  

7.21.2011

Here lately.

Stitching:

Reading:


Listening:


Wandering:

Drinking:


Not all simultaneously. ;)

7.20.2011

Read me.

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your NameLet the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a great summer read. While my body was trapped here in the middle of a Midwestern July heat wave, my mind was in Lapland at the Ice Hotel with Clarissa, a young woman in search of her biological father.


Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name was a fast read, and I really enjoyed the simple, but lyrical quality of Vida's writing. Some of her descriptions were just completely wonderful. One of my favorites comes as Clarissa ends up spending a night on a bench at the train station in a town just outside the Arctic Circle. She says: "I slept with my purse held close to me, like an infant. On a nearby bench, a woman slept with her baby held close to her, like a purse." I cannot tell you how much that description delighted me.

Yes, I'm a dork. I don't care.


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7.18.2011

Public/Private

One of my New Year's resolutions was to post to my blog once a day. Epic fail! I have actually written fewer blog posts this year than any year since I started blogging in 2007. :(

It's not that I don't have anything to say--you all know I have, as my ex-husband so lovingly called it, "diarrhea of the mouth." (Such a charming man, that one.) I'm not sure what it is keeping me from blogging. I often come here, write a few lines, and then don't hit the publish button. Maybe it's the Facebook feed holding me back. I write more honestly and freely when I can pretend I'm only talking to myself. Seeing my posts show up in my newsfeed and on my profile page makes it all uncomfortably public. I feel like Naomi Watts' character in I <3 Huckabees in her bonnet alternately screaming "Look at me! Don't look at me! No, look at me! No, don't!"

When I began Stop. Drop. Roll. I had a clear purpose: I needed a space in which to slow down, take a deep breathe, and think things through before I could move forward. My blog acted as a thought dump, an empty space where I could gather together and articulate my feelings and then leave them behind. Every time I hit "publish," I felt like a weight was lifted from me. Or, to use the metaphor I began with, like the fire was, not out, necessarily, but under control.

Now, I don't know what my purpose is here. I feel guarded, and there's so much I can't say. Maybe it's time for a new, private blog. Or just password protect this one? On the other hand, the thought of making it all private grates against me. I guess it's my Gemini personality giving me fits--I have always been simultaneously very open and yet painfully shy. Balance is elusive. Everything in my life swings wildly back and forth, to and fro. Sometimes I'm not sure balance is even desirable...and...now I'm definitely rambling.

Anyway, this is what is on my mind lately. Push and pull, private and public, what needs to be shared and what needs to be kept quietly packed away.

I don't have the answer yet.

7.07.2011

It has everything you never dreamed of.

Yesterday, Eliot and I toured the classroom where he will be attending preschool this fall. He was apprehensive, probably picking up on my nervousness, and he told me as we were getting out of the car, "I don't want to meet my teacher, Mom. I'll go in there, but I don't want to meet my teacher." I don't know why I was surprised that that would be the scariest part of the whole experience for him. "But...but..." I found myself stammering, "Teacher's aren't scary! They're there to help you!" (Way to go, nerd mom.) As it turned out, he did meet his teacher, and she didn't make any sudden moves or lunges towards him, and didn't even try to bite him, so he allowed that she was probably "okay" after all.

He was delighted with the classroom. He looked at me with an expression that seemed to say, "I cannot believe that you, my own mother, would be hiding the greatness that is this SCHOOL from me ALL THIS TIME." They had pink sand. PINK. SAND. areyoukiddingme?! And train legos! Can this place get any better?!

I love the recognition of my own (and his father's, if I'm being entirely honest) genetic (environmental?) contributions to Eliot's personality. He looked around the place calmly and coolly, like, "Yeah, I guess this will do. Whatever." I could tell he didn't want to seem too into it. We stayed for twenty minutes or so while I filled out paperwork and he played. On the way back out to the car, he tugged at the bottom of my shirt. "Did you see the pink sand, Mom? There was PINK sand!"

It's not that he is a particular fan of pink--his "favorite" color changes on a minute to minute basis--the anomaly of it seemed to be what captivated him so. And I totally relate to that--the pleasure of the unexpected. It's like...if there exists this place with pink sand, that I never knew about until this very moment, and it's been there the whole time...think of what other unthought of wonders this amazing universe holds in store for me! I love that. His whole life is an amazing adventure just waiting to unfold.

So is mine, for that matter. So is yours. Sometimes we just forget. :)

6.28.2011

Maneki Neko + giveaway

I'm not content these days unless I have at least one stitching project in the works. Embroidery is so much fun to me--it's like coloring, but with thread. When I stand in front of the DMC floss display at the craft store, I have a tough time not drooling. All those soft skeins of floss aligned in every color of the rainbow...It's like candy! How can I not want one of each?!

For inspiration, I've been following the monthly Stitchalongs hosted by the very lovely embroidery blog Feeling Stitchy. June's Stitchalong calls for us to stitch up any free pattern of our choice, so I went with the Maneki Neko pattern from Badbird. Never heard of Maneki Neko? I hadn't either.

But due to the magic of Google...

I found that this pattern was perfectly apropos, since I just returned from Las Vegas. I guess I could have used the lucky beckoning kitty BEFORE my trip...



I must point out that I did not do the pattern justice. In my stitched version, the kitty's raised paw pad looks sort of like butt cheeks and the background fabric is a bit puckered at the top. Steven claims the whole thing is creepy and he anticipates it giving him nightmares.

In an effort to alleviate his fears and give him a good night's sleep, I'm going to give this little kitty away to one lucky reader.

Just comment on this post if you'd like to offer my stitched version of Maneki Neko a  loving home, and I'll pick someone at random to be her new adoptive parent. (I'll be finishing off the hoop before I send it, so this piece will be ready to hang and display right near your bed where she will bring you many riches in your dreams.)

Cheers!

6.27.2011

Chuffing down the track.

Yesterday Steven and I took Eliot to Monticello, where there is a railway station that offers train rides every weekend. One weekend out of the month, the train is pulled by a steam engine. It's pretty super cool, especially if you happen to be a four-year-old boy who loves trains.


The ear to ear grin in these photos speaks for itself.


"Take Eliot for a train ride" was number one on my uber-list this year, so it's kind of ridiculous that it has taken me this long to do it. I still want to take him on AmTrak at some point, and I'm sure he'd love the El or the St. Louis Metro...all adventures that await us.


But the steam engine was just right for our maiden railway voyage. We sat in an elegant old passenger car at first, and then moved to the caboose for the return trip. It was probably a 45 minute ride, total.

Eliot still wants me to hold him and carry him around, and he likes to sit on my lap whenever possible. Yesterday, his perch atop my knees was particularly important because it gave him just the right amount of extra height to gaze out the window of our train car as we chuffed along the track. I love this photo. I know when I look at it years from now, I'll still be able to feel the cool breeze and smell the watermelon shampoo scent lingering on his short, big kid haircut. I will remember the two of us looking out together at the same sights, and I will remember how his perspective allows me to see old scenery with new eyes.






It was a good day.

6.19.2011

Guilty as charged.

It's 4:20 a.m., I can't sleep, and I have a few things to get off my chest:

1. Over the past few years, I have completely neglected to write thank you cards. There's really no excuse for it. My momma raised me better than that.

2. Sometimes I have orgasms in my sleep. The last time it happened, I was dreaming that I was eating a really good piece of cake. Yes, I like cake that much. Apparently.

3. I don't like dogs. I don't care how cute they are. I just can't respect an animal that has no respect for itself. And if your puppy is wearing a sweater with "I'm spoiled" spelled out in rhinestones, and you are carrying it in a purse...that kind of makes me want to kick your puppy.

4. I feel guilty about sometimes throwing away items that are recyclable, but I do it anyway, mostly because I'm lazy.

5. I truly do believe that my own kid is the coolest kid in the world. I realize that makes me that Mom. I don't care.

Okay, now that I've gotten all that off my chest, perhaps I can get some sleep. Thanks a million, Internet.

6.16.2011

Ms. Kitty

I rarely keep anything that I stitch for myself. Handmade gifts are too much fun to give away. Ms. Kitty, though, is gracing our wall for now, and I think she just might stay. She was kind of a pain in the ass to stitch, frankly.

pattern: Ryan Berkley via Sublime Stitching
This was also my second try at finishing off a hoop for a nice looking backside. (Everyone loves a nice looking backside.) The first time I tried finishing a hoop, I used glue, some of which bled through to the front and pissed me off. So this time I used only fabric tape for adhesive.


It still doesn't quite suit, as the patterned fabric is a bit bunchy in the back. Oh well, perhaps the third time will be the charm...

I attached a bit of ric rac for hanging, just because it seemed kittenish. Although, clearly Ms. Kitten is much to sophisticated to do such a thing as play with ric rac. She has more dignity than that.


Don't worry; her permanent home isn't outside. Just better lighting for pictures. She's currently overseeing all important goings-on in the living room.

I've really caught the stitching bug lately. Check out my Flickr stream to see most of my completed projects to date.

6.13.2011

This house needs more estrogen.

It's so true, what they say. "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got til it's gone." (Well...I don't know if they say that, but Joni Mitchell certainly says it, and I believe her.) I grew up in a household full of women. At one point during my adolescence, there were five of us living together, my mom, two of my sisters, one teenaged friend of my sister, and me. No men. It was paradise. And then they paved it. And put up a parking lot.

Now I am the sole female inhabitant of my home, and sometimes, it's lonely. Don't get me wrong, I love my boys. But...they're such...boys. All the time. Day and night. So much video game playing and wrestling/punching, and sarcasm, and dirty feet.

Tonight, Eliot is at his dad's house, so I figured I could sneak in some super selfish girly me time. I was going to watch Muriel's Wedding, work on some embroidery, take a long coffee break with a good book. Ahhhhh, bliss. Quiet. Quiet house. Peaceful.

I failed to factor this into the scenario:


The remaining Y chromosomes. The ones to whom a childless house means a house in which one can play marathon M-rated video games, trash talk one another, and be generally loud and obnoxious.


Please know that these photos were not taken at the same time. It's just that these two have occupied the exact same space for hours. Hours. The exact same space.





And the running conversation goes something like this:

M1: "Any good guns? The surplus rifle? Oh, yeah! I'm buying the surplus rifle.
Oh my god, instant kill! This gun is amazing. I'm dealing 40 damage to this mo-fo.
He regenerated!"
M2: "What? We killed him!"
M1: "Kidding. I just wanted to scare you. Is this level eleven? How do you throw grenades?"
M2: "R1. I leveled up. Did you?"

Their voices are punctuated by explosions and gunfire and video game person screams erupting from the television. And so on. And so forth.

So much for Muriel's Wedding.

The thing is, I'm not a girly girl, by any stretch of the imagination. I don't wear makeup. I don't wear perfume. I don't "do" my hair. I usually don't shave my legs. I'm domestically challenged. I can't cook. I'm lazy about keeping things clean. My inability to perform my assigned gender does not mean I revel in "boy" things, however. Sometimes (tonight especially), I dearly miss the smell of perfume lingering in the upstairs hallway. The co-mingling scents of lotion, hairspray and floral or fruity shampoos in the bathroom. I miss the freshly washed lingerie hanging over the shower curtain to dry. The high-pitched laughter. The hum of my mom's sewing machine, and the smell of whatever wonder she had in the oven. The routine of getting ready for the day, squeezing past one another in the hallway, hoping against hope there would still be hot water for the shower, raiding my sisters' closets, finding someone willing to braid my hair.

No one ever yelled, "I have an incendiary shotgun!" or demanded, with a snarky grin, "Pull my finger!"

*sigh*

I think my best bet is to barricade myself in my craft room with some sewing, plug in my earphones and turn on the Florence + the Machine Pandora channel on my phone. I need to find some female companionship soon...

5.30.2011

On the origin of tic tacs.

Mog is always curious about the origins of things. Today he asked, "Mom, what are tic tacs made of?"

I replied, with a thinking frown, "Sugar, mostly, I'd guess."

Holding a little orange sample up close to his face, examining it, he says, "So...they take the sugar, and they put the orange stuff on it, and then they round it off...and then they put in the tacs and sell it to Walmart?"

"Pretty much. That sounds about right."

"Hunh." He turns it around one more time in his little fingers before popping it into his mouth.


Orange tic tac ingredients, for the curious: "sugar, maltodextrin, tartaric acid, natural and artificial flavors, rice starch, gum arabic, magnesium stearate, ascorbic acid, yellow 6, carnauba wax"

Yum. Sounds appetizing, right?!

5.29.2011

Larkin may have had the right idea.

Sometimes Mog tests my patience to its limit. What?! Surely not! A four-year-old boy? Nah. Look at this face:


Is he not the very picture of innocence and adorability?

Don't let him fool you, people. That cuteness masks a whole lot of stubborn, highly demanding, often clingy, four-year-old hijinks. Add that to the Momma from whom he inherited all those traits, a Momma who is domestically challenged, yet playing stay-at-home Mommy for the summer WITH NO DAYCARE, mix in a bit of muggy weather, and you get some real crankiness. Did I mention that Mog is not going to daycare this summer? At all? Any days? Okay, just making sure.

Today was one of those days where really, I was just about done in. I can only participate in couch cushion fortress assembly, Matchbox car races through the entire house, dance-a-longs to an entire CD of songs whose lyrics reference tractors, and other such delightful shenanigans for so many days in a row before I begin to go insane.

It has come to my attention that I have absolutely no ability to balance my other responsibilities with taking care of my son. When he is here, it is ALL Mog ALL the time. It's like I'm a grandparent instead of a parent. I focus 100% of my attention on him and push aside all the not so important stuff--laundry and other household chores, paying bills, grocery shopping, etc.--and during the school year, this kind of semi, sorta-ish works because I jamb all of the other life crap into the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when I work, and then Tuesdays and Thursdays, when it's just him and me, it's party time! This approach (and honestly, I didn't even realize it was a pattern with me until here lately) clearly is not going to work all summer long. Not only am I going to end up getting my utilities shut off for nonpayment, but also, I am going to go shit ass crazy. Shit. Ass. Crazy. This is not your normal, run-of-the-mill "this kid is driving me crazy," crazy, people. I'm talking about clawing at your own face, pulling out your hair and eating it crazy. Hyperbole much? No. Not at all.

Ahem. Where were we? Ah, yes. I have to find a way to balance things. A better, more responsible means of parenting. I won't deny that part of my parental style probably has to do with being divorced. Who doesn't want to be the "fun" parent, after all? In the back of my mind, no matter how much I tell myself to grow up and be rational, lurks this terror that someday, he won't want to live with me. Someday he'll choose his dad over me. Someday I'll lose him. He'll leave me too. Just like his dad did. (Oh fuck off, Freud! What do you know?!)

Then again, I had these tendencies before the divorce too. The 100% undivided, all my attention on the baby/kiddo. When he was born, this little guy was suddenly my whole world. How could it be otherwise? (Don't worry--I've already begun a savings account for Mog, which I try to contribute to regularly in order to offset the cost of the extensive psychotherapy he will need later in life.)

Philip Larkin's "This Be the Verse" keeps running through my mind, in a closed loop.

 All of this is just to lead up to the ridiculous irony, the fact that all day long I've been thinking (okay, I may have also said it aloud ONCE) "Thank God he's spending the night with his father tonight." When is he getting picked up? What time is it now? *checking clock repeatedly* And yet the very minute I hear vehicle tires crunching over the driveway gravel, my deliverance(!), I am bereft. Even before the hugs and goodbyes, and the last-minute grabbing of essential toys, my stomach gaps with the wide open emptiness. I don't know what to do without him here. He's gone, and I'm a shell.

I realize how dumb this all sounds. And whiny. It sounds whiny, even to me. As though I just refuse to be happy, either way. I kind of want to smack myself and yell in my own face, "Shut up, you with your fake problems!"

Sometimes I tell myself Mog would be better off if I turned him over to his father entirely: surely Eli couldn't fuck him up as badly as I am bound to. And then pretty quickly, I think, "Nah. ... That dude's got issues too." ;)

So tell me, oh wise Internet, what is the answer? How does one raise a child, this walking, talking, thinking being of whom one is in near constant awe, without turning him/her into a spoiled rotten, ungrateful little punk with a sense of entitlement OR a sniveling, non-functioning adult with severe Mommy issues? Because honestly, some days I have no idea.


Also, I'm pretty sure my water bill is past due.

5.27.2011

Stitching up work from one of my favorite artists.

I think I blogged about this project when I first started it, but here it is finished: 


My niece Zayda is forever drawing pictures and writing stories to mail to Eliot and me. I have a never-ending source of embroidery inspiration in her artwork! It was surprisingly easy to transfer this picture to fabric without ruining the original drawing. I just used a piece of tracing paper to trace her lines, then flipped the tracing paper over and traced over the design with an iron-on transfer pen (had to flip it so that the words would iron on correctly). Then ironed the design onto some plain white fabric, and voila! stitched over it. Easy peasy.

I'm going to frame it, so I've mounted it on some self-adhesive board. I wrote on the back "Drawn by Z___, Embroidered by Rachel Panepinto," along with the year. That way I won't look at this someday and wonder what the hell it is.

It's ready for an 8x10 frame, and then I believe it shall hang in Eliot's room.

I love collaborating with the kiddos. They're much more creative than I am!
Here's the next of Z's drawings I'd like to translate to embroidery:


I was informed by the artist herself that this is a picture of her thinking about Eliot. They're very dramatic about missing one another.  As we live an hour away from my sister and her family, Eliot and Z don't get to see each other nearly as often as they'd like. They'd prefer to be joined at the hip 24/7. Of course, it only takes twenty minutes or so of each other's company for them to start squabbling like siblings, so the 24/7 thing would probably grow old rather quickly. LOL.

We're actually quite lucky to live as close as we do. And if we weren't at least this far away, we wouldn't get happy mail all the time! :)

5.12.2011

In the moment.

Currently, I am:

*Playing Words With Friends on my Android phone. I'm mrs.breadpony, should you wish to start a game with me. Is it weird that I'm delighted that Steven can totally kick my ass at this game?!

*Listening to the Florence + the Machine channel on Pandora Radio. I may never change this channel.

*Crying over this stoopid rental house:



Roaches, water leaks, broken air conditioning, plaster falling from the ceiling?! I'm very afraid of what's next...

*Being cheered up by these two serenading me in the car. "When I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change...":



They always know how to make it all better.

I have the day to myself today. I predict a lot of lounging about, pointless internet browsing, and sitting on the porch with bare feet, reading a book and/or stitching. These are my goals.

5.09.2011

And then our creative vision began to diverge.

Remember the embroidered tractor quilt project? Yeah, that one. The one in the post below this.

Well, Eliot must have decided that the tractors were a bit too minimalist for his taste. What they really need, apparently, is smoke roiling from the smoke stack, forks on front and back, with big black bales of hay on each, and a cab. He assures me that this one has air conditioning and a television inside the cab. (Oh, you thought they looked like random scribbles? Well. You're wrong.)


 *sigh*
Oh well. I'm not one to stifle creativity. Just wondering how the hell I'm going to stitch it...LOL

5.05.2011

Collaboration.

This summer will be the first time since Eliot was four months old that I've really been a stay-at-home Mom. I'm both looking forward to and dreading spending so much time together. ;)

Today is a Mommy and Eliot day, and so far...we're both surviving. He has built a fort out of the couch:



and generously helped Mommy by opening the mail:


I have a feeling I will be ready for school to start again once August rolls around...LOL

Having a constant little helper is not all bad, though. He's been entertaining me with his hilarious thoughts and questions: "What's inside of a carrot? You wanna play cops and robbins with me? What's inside of walls? *pounding on the wall with his fist* I think I hear bricks inside this wall."

And...he likes being crafty! Usually this involves paper and scissors and results in a million tiny slivers of paper all over the floor and him standing in the midst of it, shaking his head, "Mom, this is ridicleous! I think we're gonna need the vacuum for this."

We've gotten started on a more productive collaboration, however. Every time Eliot sees me stitching something, he asks two questions: 1) Is that for me? and 2) Is it a tractor? Finally, I can say, "Yes. And yes."


My mom found a package of quilt blocks with tractors, and after debating a bit how I should stitch them (Admire the lovely chain stitch on the tire, which is supposed to look more like "tread."), I decided this was something Eliot and I could work on together.

He's coloring; I'm stitching. Our first block is John Deere:



There are five more tractor blocks left. We're thinking Allis Chalmers, Minneapolis-Moline, International, Ford, and Massey Ferguson...

Wish us luck. We may need it! :D

4.28.2011

Learning to dance in the rain.

I've been an admiring follower of the Feeling Stitchy blog since sometime last year, but this is the first time I've attempted to join in one of this year's monthly stitch alongs. April's pattern from Digital Misfit was all too apropos for the weather we've been having this month. When I saw this pattern, my first thought was of a quoted sentiment my mom shared with me last year: "Life isn't about weathering the storm; it's about learning to dance in the rain." I can relate to that.

I choose a light pink patterned square of material and started stitching in gray, not really knowing what the finished project was going to be. This photo is kind of awful--can't see the individual stitches, but I used a simple back stitch for all of it. The color is off too. The thread is really not that dark.


I think embroidery may be eclipsing scrapbooking in terms of my crafty hobbies. It's so much easier to sit back on the couch and relax in the evenings with some cloth and a needle and thread than to spread out all those messy papers and bits and photos.

I'm still not entirely sure what I'm going to use this block for, but I'm kind of thinking it could go into a quilt, maybe using this pattern from Sew, Mama, Sew. I'd love to incorporate this stitched block into that pattern and then maybe embroider the above mentioned quote somewhere else on the quilt. Although putting this together could be tricky, as I didn't exactly leave myself any room for a seam allowance. Hmmm...could probably use some help from my sweet momma on this one...