Knitting, Books, School, Spanish, Social, and Writing (YA/SS/7QT)

Linking up in two places today: CatholicMom.com‘s Small Success Thursday with Sherry and Yarn Along with Ginny at Small Things.  Tomorrow I’ll link this up with 7 Quick Takes with Jennifer at Conversion Diary.

Cheating?  Maybe.

I’m not above cheating.

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My bag is coming along.  I learned a new skill: picking up stitches from an edge.  It wasn’t difficult at all.  This is also my first time knitting in the round. I began with double-pointed needles, but one broke (!), despite the fact that it was my first time using them AND they are quality Brittany needles.  I’m going to write Brittany and see if I can’t get a free replacement.  I bought them at store closing sale (the owner retired), so taking them back there isn’t going to work.  Obviously.

The only mistake so far is that I dropped a stitch on my second go-around when transferring my work from the double-pointed to the circular needles.  One mistake out of all the possible mistakes I could have made isn’t bad!

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Reading: I started St. Francis de Sales’ Roses Among Thorns.  This is a new translation from Sophia Institute Press.  Early verdict: amazing.

I’m also still reading Ven. Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ for my morning meditation.  I’m on a big Sheen kick at the moment; I also read The World’s First Love for Lent.  Can a person ever get enough Sheen?  I’m thinking not.

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Ben started school this week.  Technically, it’s summer camp, but it’s held at the school he’ll be attending in the fall.  Getting him up, dressed, fed, and out the door is no small feat, but we’re managing.  Success!

He seems to be doing okay so far.  Not sure if he likes it yet or not, given that he’s not into communication and feedback and what have you.  Time will tell.

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I have every intention of working on Spanish.  Do good intentions count as a small success?

My dad and I have been wanting to learn Spanish since I was, oh, ten years old—23 years?  That’s a long time for wanting to do something!   He’s in China at the moment for extended business, and being by himself without his family for months at a time grates on him, as anyone would imagine.  I suggested we work on Spanish together over Skype as a way to spend time together.  Good idea, huh?

A few weeks ago I scoped out DIY Spanish from our local library—I have a bad habit of checking out every new language learning book I see—and thought its approach to learning the most immediately useful language first would work well for Dad and I as not-quite-beginners.

Problem is, I haven’t started.  But I intend to!  Sorry, Dad.

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Who knew Twitter could be so fun? Two months ago I hated Twitter.  Now I really like it.

Solution: Hootsuite and custom lists.  I needed a way to manage it so that I could use it.

I’m enjoying my bon mot conversations with Erin, Barb, Cristina, Colleen (of course), and others.  It’s also great fun to promote other people’s projects via Twitter—such a simple way to show encouragement.

Jared’s also learning to use Twitter for the Saint Benedict Forum.  (Follow SBF, will ya?) His questions are largely about Twitter etiquette and what, exactly, to tweet about.  I think he likes it, too, even though he still doesn’t want it for himself.

I also started a Tumblr blog.  (I feel so… expansive.)  I’m not posting there directly; it’s acting as a feed for this blog, for Real Housekeeping (did I mention that Ethel is tweeting, too?), and my Instagram pics.  I’m told that Tumblr attracts a younger crowd, and given that it requires zero work on my part at the moment, well, what the heck?  Right?

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Writing: there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ve been clearing stuff off my to-do list and SAYING NO (that is a BIG success!) to other projects, in order that I have the mental and chronological (?) space to WORK ON MY NOVEL.

Saying no works, FYI.

I’m going to do a big push today in order to have the next several weeks of Real Housekeeping ready to go in WordPress.  Then it’s novel time, baby.

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I’ll stop here, but not without pointing you in the direction of something awesome: free retreat contest!

Ciao, bellas.

Laundry. That’s All I’ve Got. And Maybe That’s All I Need. #GoodEnoughMom

I had grand plans for today. My alarm was set for 4 a.m. so that I could rise, shine, give God the glory-glory, and get to work on the book.  I was going to enjoy a morning of joy-giving writing before pausing to ready the house, kids, and Ben’s lunch for his first day of school.

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You’ve anticipated the punch line.  That didn’t happen.  At least, not the way I wanted it to.

Mimi’s taken to that 8-month-old, let’s-nurse-at-night-again thing. Unlike when the babies were newborns, I haven’t been accepting of uninterrupted sleep.  Last night was a doozy and I’m tired this morning.

So no grand feats of writing.

But, I do have laundry! Last week our dryer was out-of-commission for a few days.  I’m still catching up.

Laundry and I have a love-hate relationship.  On the one hand, I don’t mind doing it—at least, not in the way I mind doing the dishes (hate dishes).  On the other hand, I’m terrible about keeping up with folding and putting laundry away.  We have the issue of clean clothes piled up all around the house, waiting for someone (usually my husband) to put it away.

The idea of doing laundry at the moment sounds—blergh.  But what are my other options?  I’m too brainfried for serious writing or editing, and if I indulge my preference—surfing the internet—I’ll feel emotionally, mentally, and physically worse.

So laundry it is.

That’s my Good Enough for the day.

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Dreaming the Writing Dream

Your morning laugh, courtesy of Yours Truly.

Last night (this morning? Probably this morning), I had a dream.  I dreamed that I wrote a one-off novelette, an allegorical story about the Fall, for the Catholic Writers’ Guild contest (there is no such contest, sorry).  I illustrated my novelette with hand-drawn cartoons (a la Mama Knows, Honeychild, but I colored them in) and artwork pinched from the internet.

Apparently, this took a few hours to write and create.

I submitted my book.  And, wouldn’t you know it? I WON!

Guess what I won?

  • $50,000 in prize money from CWG!

(This is where CWG President Ellen Gable Hrkash chokes on her morning scrambled eggs.)

  • A publication offer with a $1,000,000 royalty advancement!

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And… (y’all ready for this?)…

  • Offers from the Vatican to publish my book, complete with being flown out (on them) for a private audience with Pope Francis!

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And all for my little novelette/graphic novel.

If making it as a writer is just this easy, then why haven’t I done this before?

Oooh-da-lolly, Robin Hood: a Plot Analysis

Ben’s been watching Disney’s Robin Hood lately.  A lot.  As in, every day if I’d let him.

There are certain advantages to the three-year-old tendency to stick to familiar things.  I’ve had plenty of time to study this movie.  Conclusion?

Robin Hood has fantastic plot structure.

It may get away employ certain jokes Disney could never make now—I told Ben that he’s never, ever allowed to wolf whistle a woman, no matter how funny it is when the foot soldier whistles at Little John in drag—but the movement of its plot line is pitch perfect.  I’m learning a lot, watching it.

Let me go scene by scene.  I’ll be referring to both Michael Hague and Larry Brooks’ plot structures. Continue reading

Yarning Along, Making a Bag

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I’m knitting a bag right now (and am much further along than this picture shows). I’m working on the base in seed stitch, and once I’m done with that I will knit the sides in the round using double-pointed needles. It’ll be my first time working in the round AND my first time working with double-pointed needles.  We’ll see how it goes.

I plan on lining the bag with fabric to increase its strength.  A friend‘s daughter suggested a light pink fabric to go with this dark teal yarn.  Smart girl, that one.

Reading: I just finished North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (thanks for the recommendation, Heather) and am almost finished with A Waste of Shame and Other Sad Tales of the Appalachian Foothills by Geoffrey Smagacz.  Two very, very different genres, but, hey, I’m diversifying.

I Gave Up On Parenting Books (#GoodEnoughMom)

When Charity said her Good Enough Mom prompt for this week was parenting books, I thought:

Oh. Boy.

I have some resentment issues surrounding parenting books.  I (still) blame parenting books (and parenting pressure) for much of the non-serenity I had toward the beginning of mommyhood.

It wasn’t PPD.  It wasn’t normal first-child transitioning.  It wasn’t my own crazy thinking.

Nope.  Parenting books.  I BLAME DR. SEARS!

Heh.  Maybe a bit of an overstatement.  I’m not anti-Attachment Parenting per se. But I do like to point fingers at the not-central-issue.  Don’t we all?

I’m pretty sure my underlying assumption to this parent thing was that I could produce The Perfect Child.  I read and misread a lot of parenting books before Ben was born, and coupled with my classroom teaching experience, I thought I was ready to outdo the effects of Original Sin.

If you had asked me this straight-out, of course I would have rejected the assumption as preposterous.  Perfection?  Not this side of Heaven.  Of course.

Of course.

Of course?

Not so much.  Heck, I was afraid of putting Ben down so that I could turn over the laundry, lest I psychologically damage him.  So thought the woman completely and utterly and totally lacking psychological stability (at the time).

Hee hee hee.

That being said, I can name a few parenting resources I’ve found helpful.  In no particular order:

  • A series of talks about Catholicism and the Montessori method given by Montessori teacher Maggie Radzik.  The idea of the prepared environment saved our heinnies when Ben became mobile.  I can’t even imagine the number of battles we did NOT fight because we took greater care to prepare our home for him.  Talk One / Talk Two / Talk Three / Talk Four
  • Dr. Dan’s Last Word on Babies and Other Humans. My friend Beth gave me this book, and, ooh da lolly, what a great corrective to the uber-seriousness of many parenting Methods (with a capital M) out there.  Dr. Dan’s message could be summed up in two words: chill-lax and laugh.  I needed to read this book at the time.  Thank you, Beth.
  • Spirituality and the Twelve Stepsby Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P.  I know of no better practical wisdom out there, other than the Wisdom books of the Bible, than Twelve Step wisdom.  Fr. Emmerich Vogt takes that wisdom and shows how it finds its roots in historical Christian practice.  I love these talks and, though they aren’t strictly about parenting, I think they have a lot to offer parents.
  • Diaper-Free Before 3Now, I do not have a toilet-trained child in this house, but that’s because I did not follow the advice of this excellent book.  We did early training and had a lot of success until I tried to go no-holds-barred (not recommended) and he resisted.  He was excited to use it until I pushed too hard.  It’s been a battle ever since.

    Point being, I agree with the book’s premise that going in the potty is simply what we do.  The idea of “readiness” is misused to the point where kids (like mine) are in Size 6 diapers when, in most other countries around the world, they’ve been out of diapers for years. Knowing what I do now, I’m going to try again with Mimi when the timing seems right and see how it goes.  

    So that’s Diaper-Free.  It’s the one “how-to” book that I wholeheartedly agree with, even though *I* didn’t employ her wisdom correctly.

For further parenting advice, I rely on family and friends.   We all have people in our lives whose parenting skills—and kids—we admire.  I will turn to them before I think to turn to a book or (worse) the blogosphere.  Many books and blogs fail to bring me peace, and unless they come highly recommended, it’s hit-or-miss as to whether one will help or not.

So that’s that on parenting books and me.  How about you?

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Off to a Good Start

After yesterday’s Life Planning Session (I hope you didn’t read it too terribly closely), I was determined to make a good start.

I was up at 5:30 a.m., which is not as early as my previous wake-up time of 4 a.m., but it was better than my more recent 8 a.m. wake-up call—i.e. getting up with the kids.  We all know how wonderfully getting up with the kids is (not).

Prayer and meditation until 6ish.  Then I started work on my novel.  Stopped around 6:40; showered, dressed.  Ate some food.  Put dishes away, cleaned the bathroom (!), wiped down the kitchen counters, started some laundry, and folded half a basket of clothes.  Fed some children somewhere in there, too.

By 9 o’clock and the arrival of my sitter, I was ready to go for my weekly long day of work.

I worked on my novel all morning.  ALL MORNING!  It felt great.  After lunch I worked on the novel for another 30 minutes or so before switching to Dappled Things (finishing touches on the next issue, woo hoo!).  15 minutes, there.  Email, then Real Housekeeping stuff.  And now here.  12 minutes more to go before time is up.

I doubt I would have worked so long or so well on the novel had I not gotten up this morning.  And tonight will be less stressful because I did my chores this morning.

Lesson learned:  Keep asking my Guardian Angel to wake me up in the morning.

I am writing.  Amen.  Alleluia.

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Life Planning Session (Because We All Know How Well Our ‘Best Laid Plans’ Go)

Before I begin this stream-of-consciousness ramble/organizational session/why-am-I-sharing-this personal post… a poem:

To a Mouse
Robert Burns
(audio version here)

Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ wast,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Och! I, too, backward cast my e’e, and forward, tho’ I canna see.  I am not foolish enough to believe (anymore) that my life operates by my “best laid schemes”—no, life can only be lived one minute, hour, and day at a time.  My good intentions are nothing unless I choose to live out those intentions, now.

That being said, I’ve been in need of a life planning session.  And what better way to do it than write a blog post?

Commence the meandering babbling and gossamer strings that form the inside of my world.  Now’s your chance to exit the premises.

Really.  I mean it.

Still here?

Aaaaalrighty, then.  You may stay.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you. Continue reading

Anything but Supermom: The Beginning

Charity over at The Wounded Dove is hosting a new link-up called Confessions of a Good-Enough Mom, which I learned about from my awesome RH lady, Cristina.

I’m all over that link-up.

Since Charity shared her story about her first few weeks of motherhood, I will do the same.

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Perfectionism, thou art my middle name.  And like Charity, I spent a good deal of time reading Ida May Gaskin and registering for cloth diapers.  And prepping cloth diapers.  And folding cloth diapers.  Because, you know, we got to do this whole parenting thing right.  Right?

Labor and delivery?  Awesome.  Eight hour labor, no back labor, loving husband coaching me through natural childbirth at a hippie-dippie Oregon birth center.  Love Oregon.  Cloth diapering? Great.  No issues there.

Nursing? Bonding?  PPD?

Yikes.

Day Two RestingI hadn’t understood the importance of bonding until Mimi came along and had something which to compare Babymoon #1.  Ben and I had a rough start.  Nursing and snuggling were overwhelming for him, and I was such a train wreck that I didn’t have the wherewithal to enjoy my new baby.

Knowing what we do now about Ben and myself, it’s understandable… but understanding something in hindsight doesn’t make the experience any less challenging or painful.  We struggled to bond, and I still struggle to forgive myself for circumstances outside my control.

Yet, without the difficulties of our first babymoon, I would have never hit the rock bottom that brought me to my knees before Christ, seeking help. My life has been transformed—radically so—and for that, I’m grateful.

As I’ve become healthier, the emotional bond with my son is strengthening.  Before Mimi was born, Ben and I had a sort of “second Babymoon”: we went everywhere, did everything, and enjoyed plenty of snuggles.  I wanted us to enjoy the last little bit of just the two of us as much as possible.

Our second Babymoon was a time of healing. No matter how rough the start, things can always get better.  And they did, and they have.

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Join the rest of the Good Enough Moms at The Wounded Dove.

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