Monday, June 27, 2011

No Knitting in Vegas

I spent the past weekend visiting my dad in Vegas. I had high hopes about getting some knitting done. Didn't happen.

My stepsister has an autistic son who basically lives with my dad and stepmother. He is 10 years old but doesn't talk or really communicate much at all. He watches television or plays video games most of the day. My kids get along really well with him, as long as they give him whatever he wants when he wants it. This isn't a problem for my kids because they are compassionate to his autism and understand that's just the way God made him. I understand that, too, but dang. It was impossible to knit around him.

I was knitting on double-pointed needles, which made the project very appealing to him, three needles in a triangle shape with a yarn tube hanging down. What kid wouldn't be drawn to that? Unfortunately for me, he was fascinated with my knitting and tried to grab everything, yarn, needles, my project, whatever, anytime I had it out. Okay. I put my knitting things away except for what I could hold in my lap, and continued adding inches. Until I had to go to the bathroom. Big mistake.

I, stupidly, left the project on the bed in our room, door closed, and dashed into the connected bathroom, taking three minutes tops. When I came out, I gasped in horror. There he was, holding two double-pointed needles and tossing the skein yarn with them like he was tossing a salad. My heart stopped when I saw him holding two needles because that meant he had pulled at least one out of my project, which I was more than halfway finished with when I put it down. My eyes quickly discerned ALL the needles were pulled from my now limp project, and they were scattered on the bed. It was a knitter's worst nightmare.

I approached him cautiously, not wanting to startle him into grabbing the project and running, and said, very gently, "Hey, buddy, what are you doing?" He replied, in his high-pitched voice, still tossing the yarn with the needles, "I'm making socks!" Wow. How can you stay mad at that? Seriously, my heart just melted. Even if I had to completely redo my project, it was worth it for the connection that was made with him through the knitting. If I hadn't been knitting, if he hadn't seen someone knitting socks somewhere at sometime, the moment would have never happened. Knitting reached an autistic boy. I love it.

I smiled. What else could I do? Once again, knitting is the great equalizer. Eventually my stepmother came in and, "Oh dear, where did he get those needles?!" and she got them back for me and ushered him out of the room. I then returned to my previous state of panic, gathered my limp project into my arms with the needles and severely disheveled yarn, and ran into the bathroom. I deposited everything on the floor and looking at it said, "Shit." That's right, I cursed. Once. Then I felt better and got to work. I managed to reinsert the needles to every stitch without dropping any, miracle of miracles! I do have one stitch that is only halfway through the strand of yarn, making a small whole, but compared to what could have happened, this is no problem.

I gave up the idea of trying to knit at all for the rest of the weekend because it just wasn't worth the stress. I was stressed out trying to knit and that just shouldn't happen.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Indians Opening Day

This weekend Professor X had opening day for his baseball team. The season has started off kind of rocky. I signed him up late, but luckily he got on a team anyway. Unluckily, he got a real jackass for a coach.

This coach called a ten minute parent meeting without a scheduled practice. So I had to go all the way to the park just to hear him introduce himself and repeat everything he said three times. I had reservations about this guy from the start. In his introduction speech, he mentioned that parents shouldn't get upset if he yells at their kid, that he's just a loud guy and not to be bothered by that. Hmm. Sounds to me like he's already had some problems. Another thing is that he doesn't have a kid on the team. He's a volunteer coach recruited by the park staff since his kids used to play sports there but are now too old. The point is he gets to practices late and doesn't schedule anything ahead of time. It's almost all spontaneous as he can work it into his work schedule. And did I mention he's ugly? Yep. He's really ugly. Our coach is a really ugly guy who yells. Not good.

My biggest issue with this guy is that he has totally slacked off on getting uniforms for the team. We had plenty of time to order them for opening day, but beyond a, "yeah, we'll have uniforms," not one word has been said. Opening day uniforms were gray baseball pants and plain blue t-shirts, whatever cap the boy wanted to wear. Really? That totally sucks! These boys need to feel like a team on opening day! They were a ragtag group of mismatched shirts and caps walking behind their banner. Almost all the other teams were looking good in uniform shirts with names on the back, team caps, and big smiles, as you can see in the photo. Our team, the Indians, looked like a group of kids pulled in off the street to hold the banner. Totally sucked.

But, wait! There's more. As the team is getting ready to approach the field, a good 5 minutes before they were announced, I walked over to the team, now holding their banner, and called out to Professor X that I was going to take a picture. As I moved in closer, the coach grabbed Professor X, who had turned toward me and smiled,  told him to turn around, away from me, and to pay attention. Jigga what? I could not believe the nerve of this guy. I felt myself getting angry, like I wanted to laugh in this guy's face and tell him off, but instead, I got a little closer, said X's name even louder, and took the picture as soon as he looked at me. Then I looked straight at that ugly coach and just laughed and shook my head. What a jackass!

I'm happy Professor X is on a team. He really enjoys playing sports and being with other kids his age. I don't know about this jackass of a coach, though. I have a feeling it's going to get ugly, even uglier than he is.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ideas to Improve the Track

I like to hit the track every day if I can. There's is something so invigorating about exercising outside. I love it. The interesting thing about going to the same track every day is that you start to recognize people, if not specific people at least characteristics of groups of people. Such as...

Older people walk just like they drive, slow and erratic. You never know when is the right time to pass! When I try to speed up and pass on the right, they swerve to the right and slow down. If I try to go left, they suddenly speed up a little and stagger left. There should be a separate lane them, lined with blue.
Incredibly overweight people are another group. God love them, they need to be out there, yes, but not in spandex, Lycra, or anything other body-hugging material. They take up extra space on the track, too, and move incredibly slow. They should walk have their own area around the outside of the track on the grass. A few extra inches per lap would be great for them.

Groups of people should not be allowed on the track at all. I understand walking with one friend, maybe even two, but more than that causes a traffic jam of humanity. These groups tend to walk slowly because they aren't really there to work out or get sweaty. They are there to chitchat while they walk in circles. Sometimes there will be a group of old people and the whole track will be jammed as we are only able to pass one at a time around the elderly organism.

There is another set of people who really blow my mind, the ones who sit next to their car, about 20 feet from the track, and smoke. Yes. They are smoking right next to the track. Isn't this illegal anyway? The wind blows the smoke right onto the track and those of us really exerting ourselves end up with two lungs full of disgusting pollutants that were just exhaled out of someone else's body. Isn't it common sense to smoke away from where exercise is taking place? Of course, these are the people who probably aren't exercising so maybe they are purposely to punish the rest of us. In a display displaced guilt, they attack the healthy with their secondhand smoke.

What we need is a referee at the track. Someone needs to have a Segue or scooter, a black and white shirt, and a whistle. The referee will check IDs. Old people inside the blue lane. Obese people stay to the outside. If their clothing is too tight, you can throw a flag down and the referee will provide a giant shirt or mumu to the offender. Group of people are not allowed within 50 feet of the track at all.

Then the referee can monitor the rest of us. Walking on the inside? Penalty! Running on the outside? Penalty! Talking on a cell phone or texting? Double penalty! And the penalties will all be enforced in the form of physical exercise, like push ups or sit ups, and you won't be allowed back on the track until you're done. The referee could also do helpful things like pass out water bottles and sweat bands. Maybe there could be a log and frequent visitors could qualify for the good parking spaces.

In the meantime, I have no choice but to get there early enough to find parking, make my way onto the track when traffic clears, turn up my iPod, and find my groove amongst the elderly, obese, and hordes. Boo.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Some Thoughts on Lingerie and Wedding Showers

Last night I went to a wedding shower for a young lady I have known since she was 12, about 10 years. I met her when she was in junior high and got to know her and her family, helped her struggle through her teen years, and now see her on the brink of marriage. I feel old. Ten years ago, I was 26, almost 30 but not close enough to really think about it. Now I'm 36, almost 40, something I think about quite often. Instead of being a young friend of the bride, I was sitting there as the older mentor. Really? Me? I don't feel that old.

I actually won the first game we played, which was a surprise since I usually don't win anything. I should clarify this to say that I don't really try to win. My experience at these kinds of parties is that those women play to win and the prizes are probably not worth the effort. (I won a cute stack of notepaper and a super cute pen tied up with an even more super cute ribbon, though) There is one such ambitious participant at every party. This woman wants to win, must win, will argue until she wins, even a consolation prize. The woman yesterday was competing to win a guessing game of South African vocabulary. Now, come on lady, you don't really know ANY of these terms. None of us do! Is it really worth arguing over one lousy point for a word you think should be the answer even when it's not? And don't you realize that girl over there has a South African boyfriend and is going to win it all anyway? This lady caused quite a scene for that prize of organic brownie mix. It appears she has nothing else to look forward to beyond this shower. Why make such a big deal otherwise? Did I mention she took my cake? Yep. She did.

Now onto the lingerie. I remember being a young bride and having a wedding shower. I recall getting a lot of skimpy lingerie that we all giggled and blushed over. I also remember three months later seeing it all hanging so beautifully in my closet when I shoved it to the back to hang up my clothes for work. See, that's something you don't know when you're that young. There should be a handbook (there probably is but no one told me). Someone should be explaining that the lingerie is pretty and what you expect to get and wear, but ultimately you wear it for about 30 seconds and it ends up in a lovely pile on the floor. And most of it isn't that comfortable to sleep in, either. You end up getting tangled in straps and strings all night. Waking up in that lingerie is not ideal at all. Your hair is messy and your make is worn. No, it's not good. I'm not the only one to know this! My friends say the same thing! I remember that I had to return a cute little number someone had bought for my shower and I was shocked at the cost. It cost over $50! Now that was money that could have been better spent, like on a coffeemaker with all the trimmings. Lingerie is great, I'm sure there are those who will disagree, but it just doesn't stay on long enough to be worth that much money!

Then there is the party aftermath. This is the multitude of feelings you experience by reflecting on your own wedding shower, wedding, and following years of marriage. This can be a great rush if you have had a superb marriage. But let's say you're struggling. This wedding shower could be a big, fat downer. You walk out and think about your life and how it  all just didn't turn out the way you thought it would. Just saying.

A Good Morning

Today was one of my favorite mornings.

I didn't get up with my alarm but woke up at a good time nonetheless. I had about an hour of time to read and just enjoy the morning breeze coming through the window. No June Gloom today so the sky was blue and the sun was bright even early in the morning. I was stretched across my bed, a fresh mug of coffee in my hand, reading on my Kindle, a most perfect way to spend some time.

Then I got to greet Mr. M, my earliest riser, as  he stumbled into the living room and got the Wii going. I think the Wii is like his coffee, the day just isn't right if it isn't started with some video game stimulation. I don't mind his playing games at that time because that means I get some more time to myself before the demands of food and beverages begin.

I haven't made pancakes for a couple weeks, so that was on the menu today. I really enjoy serving up a good breakfast to my children. It's one of the things I never had growing up. I always ate very quickly before school, usually cereal or PopTarts, never a fresh made meal. I love greeting each of my sleepy-faced kids as they make their way from their beds to the couch, stopping for a hug and kiss from me.

I even got to talk to my sister this morning which made the day start even better. We used to talk every other day, but life gets busy and it's been a while since those days. We both homeschool so sometimes we just chat real quick before starting the school day, but it's not the same. I want the long, rambling conversation that lasts for an hour where we are laughing and talking and it almost feels like she's just around the corner instead of hundreds of miles away. I miss her.

The cherry on top is always a conversation with my bff, a very satisfying, fun conversation today. The day starts better with some encouragement and a Scripture or two from a kindred spirit.

So now I am settling in for a knitting marathon, two hours at least, with a mug of hot coffee and my mind filled with good things.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Quote Blog Prompt (I'm not good at thinking of titles!)

Don't worry about knowing people; just make yourself worth knowing." -- Unknown

I have so many things going on in my mind that I just can't blog about here. So in an effort to write something every day, as the adage goes, I found some writing prompts to help me out. The quote above caught my attention and so, ahem...
There was a time, a couple years ago, when I went through a Black Summer. It was a time of real soul searching, questioning God, and looking at my life. I came out the other side a much stronger person who finally stopped living solely for the needs of other people. I made the decision to choose things that I wanted to do, things I had always thought I would do, and take some action. Here are some things I did.
I started ordering different food at restaurants. Now, that seems very basic, but when you are in a chicken strip rut, taking that first step and ordering fajitas can be life-changing. I ordered new toppings on my pizza. I tried new sauces on my pasta. I even ordered new dishes of Chinese food and tried some chow mein for the first time. It felt so adventurous! Even the times when I got food I really didn't like, I was still proud of myself for trying something new. A whole new side of my culinary personality opened up at home, too. I started gathering recipes for food I wanted to try, like Thai peanut chicken and fried rice. I may not be a gourmet chef, but through practice I added some new flavor to my repertoire. 
I started going to a writer's group. I let my grandmother read some of my writing. She's a published author and has been writing for years, so I respect her opinion. We have great conversations about learning the craft, and she encouraged to find a writer's group. I try to go regularly, but it's really hit and miss right now. I enjoy going to the group if only to glean what is being said about the writing of others, not my own. There are a couple published authors in the group and they really know their stuff. I have learned a lot, mostly that I have so much more to learn. But I chose to go to this group as a way to propel myself into the world of writing. I wouldn't ever call myself a writer, not until I'm published somewhere (anywhere!) but this group is one more step in that direction. 
I started reading more books. For a few years, I only read nonfiction. I think I've read every book about being a mother and wife that has been written in the last 10 years. I read a lot more fiction now. I read books that look interesting. I like to judge a book by its cover, sad but true. 
I taught myself to knit. This has become one of my greatest passions. When I am knitting, I'm in another world. I can still keep track of what's going on around me, but I get lost in the stitches. I'm knitting dreams and purling reality. I'm counting stitches while I'm saying your name over and over in my mind. I'm creating a pattern and weaving a fantasy of the future. After knitting for a little while, my spirit is settled and relaxed, sleep comes easier, and I find that my worries are lined up in neat rows of yarn left on the needles. 
I'm not sure how interesting that makes me to other people, but it makes me more interesting to myself. I'm happy with the person I've become. I just wish I had gotten here sooner.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

ABC's of Me

I just really need something to do right now. My BFF is so busy at work I am feeling so neglected. (no, not really!) I saw this on someone else's blog and it looked like fun. (but seriously, my BFF is way too busy for me) :D

A. Age - 36 and working it!

B. Bed size - Cal King - and it's way too big! I may as well be sleeping alone! I prefer a bed where I know there's another person there, close enough to keep me warm and touch feet with.

C. Chore you hate - Cleaning the bathroom - but I'm working on getting over that one.

D. Dogs - I am a total dog person. My favorite is a French bulldog, but I think my chihuahua is pretty cool, too.

E. Essential to start your day - coffee, most definitely, almost every day since I was 20. I love my legal addictive stimulant! Also the morning kisses from my kids, every day, without fail, for the past nine years.

F. Favorite color - pink, any shade on anything, hands down.

G. Gold or silver - silver, I've always been a silver girl. I even prefer my gold to be platinum, not yellow.

H. Height - 5' 4", unless I tease my hair up and then I could easily be 6'3".

I. Instruments you play - flute, since 4th grade and all through high school in the marching band, tambourine and shaker at church when I'm forced.

J. Job - Mom of all trades, homeschool teacher, taxi driver, reader, writer, sometimes a biter (also a poet, ha ha)

K. Kids - two lovely redheads and a brown-eyed cutie that I couldn't possibly live without.

L. Live - Southern California, land of the perfect weather for people with naturally curly hair.

M. Mom's name - Catherine, also answers to hey lady.

N. Nicknames - Hmm, there are just so many. To my dad, Pokey, because I have always walked slow. To my sister, Roachel, because she's just so mean.

O. Overnight hospital stays - 3, one for each bouncing baby.

P. Pet peeve - people who whistle in the car to the music playing, seriously, that's like number one.

Q. Quote from a movie - only one, hmm. There are so many. Let's go with, "You can't take it back! It's already out there."

R. Right or left handed - Right.

S. Siblings - Three sisters, one estranged, one is simply strange, the other is one of my best friends.

T. Time you wake up - whenever I want! Yuuup. But usually before 7am, lately.

U. Underwear - yes, every day, whatever looks best under my jeans. (seriously, what kind of question is that?)

V.  Vegetables you dislike - peas! Unless they're in a pod. Also, broccoli, bleh, hate the stuff. And cooked cauliflower.

W. What makes you run late - Usually just waiting too long to get ready, but I'm rarely ever late. I show up exactly when I intend to.

X. X-rays you've had - the most interesting was the ones of my head after the camper wreck we were in when I was 7. I had to get stitched in my head and I really don't know how the doctors managed that with my little afro.

Y. Yummy food you make - potato soup! No doubt, that's the best thing I can make.

Z. Zoo animal - anything that cannot escape on its own, therefore, none. You know those animals can get out if they want to!