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Archive for the ‘Ramble’ Category

It’s been a rather emotional weekend, full of ups and downs.

Mom works for a national grocery chain. Right now the union that oversees her job is negotiating with the store bigwigs over things like wages, health insurance, and the like. Friday evening they canceled their agreement to extend the old contract– so in essence, the workers are at this moment not working under a contract, and a strike can be called at any time should the negotiations break down again (which was why they canceled the extension in the first place). As of this writing, they are still talking, which is positive… no real updates, but I’m flying with the “no news is good news” route. Still nerve-racking, but better than the alternative.

And Friday’s non-post was due to Projects That Do NOT Want To Be Made. Many crafters have wrestled with this beastie– whether it be sewing, knitting, or whathave you… the project that takes FOREVER and causes aggravation and dismay. Well, the planets aligned here at Squirrelhaus where most everything decided that it would be fun to instill gobs of frustration into the normal bit of insanity.

Like… the crocheted hat I’m trying to make for Preschool Rockstar to give her a little variety in her chapeau selection. I don’t know what in the world’s going on, but it’s turning out BIG. I’ve already had to frog once, and it’s still coming out roomy (and this is supposed to hug the head). It’s time to frog again, rip it down to a smaller crown and try it again before I reduce hook size.

And then… the housecoat. I’m plodding along, pinking the seams, fighting the blind hem function (which I have mastered! hahahaha!), when the project comes to a screeching halt, due to the fact that one of the pattern pieces has disappeared into the ether. Which wasn’t a total loss since I tend to copy patterns onto interfacing (more durable, and I can make modifications and notations onto it) so I have the original pattern. But the fabric… not so much. And this is a piece that’s going to be seen rather than a lining piece which can have a substitution of a solid color fabric. So that entailed a trip to the fabric store, and the fabric’s being washed now.

I have a third project that I’m working on for a friend, which still needs iron-on numbers of a certain type that I’m trying to find with little to no luck. And this can be trying enough… but on top of having very little time to devote to these projects makes the snafus and the fubars all that more pronounced. It’s doubly frustrating to realize that I need to rip out several rows of crocheting when it took me three nights to get that far. It’s nearly time to break down into tears when a toddler’s insisting  you read them Good Night Moon for the FIFTH TIME IN A ROW and all you want to do is try to sew in one damn sleeve. 

But within the crazy, some fun can be had which keeps life in balance. Last Saturday we had an opportunity to go to an event held by a local organization that put together a temporary drive in movie theater. There were some neat food trucks, and a Roller Derby team raised money and awareness for their group by acting like car hops– you let them know what you wanted, and they would go to the trucks (or several of the local joints by the parking lot) and get it for you. It was nice to have the younger two (Eldest Daughter was with her biological father last weekend) in their jammies, the van set up so we could sit with the girls and watch the movie (Ferris Beuller’s Day Off– which was sorta unfortunate since a cable station was also showing the same movie THAT DAY). It seemed to be a success; the organizers are talking about having another one. I think we shall attend!

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About once a month, Hubs and I get the chance to esca… er, have an opportunity for a date night. Usually we try to do an activity that we may not normally be able to do with the younger girls, or perhaps try something out that we’ll take the whole family to later on. Frankly, there have been times where we just go to the corner coffeeplace and laugh maniacally in the corner at the fact that WE ARE ALONE! YET NOT! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (The baristas don’t seem to mind; it’s either a more common occurence then just us or that we leave a decent tip when we get our coffees)

A neighboring town has an Old World shopping area; when it was first started, it evoked a fairly Continental air, with ethnic stores and whatnot. Nowadays it’s a wee bit away from that startup, but it’s trying to recover its luster, and one of the ways it does that is by throwing an Oktoberfest. This past weekend was the first weekend of their celebration; we never had been even though we’ve lived here for years, and figured what the heck? How bad could it be?

I really, REALLY should learn that the Universe loves it when I say the above line. Because the Universe can and will show me just how bad it can be.

We get there, park the car, and I notice…  you know, for a holiday where drinking is not only allowed, but rather encouraged there was a noticeable lack of revelers. Ah well, it’s early still and–

a banner on one of the buildings mentions that on weekends, to get in was $15. As it turns out, this particular area didn’t just let all the crazies loll about drunk as lords. They did have a special beer garden-esque setup where you could go, get your ticket, get your oom-papa on and drink yourself silly. But this we found that out later.

We decide to wander around, and we go into a small bar (it said it was open for dinner, and hey, dinner equals food!). Down the narrow dark stairway we went, the dim illuminated by neon beer signs. Into what I swear to the heavens looked like Hotel California’s seedy lounge area, or if The Regal Beagle never was allowed to remodel and was left to molder. There was a scattering of patrons, some employees talking to patrons (they did look up when we came into view from the stairwell and back to their regular people). In the corner, there was a DJ, who alternatively mumbled and pressed his mouth to the mic so all you heard was a constant stream of BLARBLARblarblarblarblarblarBLARBLARBLARBLARhahaha… What did it for Hubs was when he started singing something that sounded vaguely German (but for all I knew it could have been Swahili. it was blarblarblaaaaarBLAAARRRRblarblar with what can be called a melody). We scooted up the narrow stairway, seeing the night sky framed by pink and yellow neon.

Across was a German restaurant… that has a Taco Tuesday night. Against our better judgement we decided to eat there (blood sugar trumps judgement). They also had German Pizza. When we asked our waitress what she liked on the menu, she looked a little taken aback, then said, “Well… I’m German.” The beef Goulash I had was rather nice, as was the beer I indulged in (hey, Oktoberfest, c’mon!). Hubs was happy with his saurbraten and amber… one time I looked up, and saw a man wandering around with a grey felt pointed hat on. It was almost like an escapee from Unseen University had made an appearance, and at that point? It probably would not have thrown me if he was.

We bought a slice of delicious torte from the market (that had a LOT of headcheeses and sausages. And candy) and wandered. Found the very quiet beer garden– I would have pegged it as closed,but then I saw people go in and pay for tickets. At a nice wee coffeeshop we shared our dessert with some excellent coffee. Most of the shops were closed but we enjoyed wandering around and looking at the storefronts.

Even on the nights that are a little off-kilter, we do try to make the time to do a date night so we can connect as adults and as a couple, rather than always be Mommy and Daddy. Plus nights like these give us something to laugh about in the middle of tantrum meltdowns and exploding diapers. It would be nice to find an Oktoberfest that’s a little more rocking… but perhaps we’ll be back to the area. After all, Eldest Daughter can practise her German with the waitress… and every Sunday they have dachshund races!

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A typical exchange these last couple of weeks. Preschool Rockstar would be acting squirrelly (a common thing right before school), and Hubs would comment, “You are a monster!” to which Rockstar will say in a loud volume, “I’m NOT a monster, I’M A PRINCESS!”

I know there’s been quite a dustup over the whole princess deal. There’s some concern over how princess tales and the marketing of the princess label might be damaging to little girls, making them into shallow consumerist spoiled little whiny brats. And how it might be undermining progress the feminists have fought over, making for a generation of girls who are going to swan around waiting for their prince to come.

I’m not concerned. Because at Rockstar’s age, it’s about exploration. It’s about learning who you are. Right now she’s a magpie, and seeing a glittery dress and a jeweled crown? Heck yeah! Who’d NOT want to be a princess when they get to wear sparkley stuff??? She pretends to be a princess and five minutes later, she’s Mommy, putting her baby doll up to her chest and announcing she’s taking care of her baby. Ten minutes later, she’s playing with her horses, or her cars, or whatever.

In a couple of years, we’ll venture out of the modern depiction of princesses who have talking animal companions and princes who may or may not have names. We’ll delve into the original Grimm Brother stories, the original Hans Christian Anderson, the original tales (although the animated movie depiction of Mulan? Didn’t stray too far from the poem it was based off of which was a pleasant suprise). I have several collections like The Serpent Slayer: and Other Stories of Strong Women (which do include princesses).

Tangent alert: I once attended a storytale class, and I realized I was in trouble when the professor declared, “The original Grimm Brothers are just too… SCARY! for children.” The woman didn’t have kids of her own and never really worked with children, only teaching to adults what to tell kids. I should have brought up the Goosebumps books, the Are You Afraid of the Dark? and other stories. I didn’t and I sorta regret not even if she would have flunked me out.

And of course, there will be the talking. What do princesses do? What do you think they are like? I will fully admit to playing the Princess Card when it comes to reminding Rockstar about manners: “Would a Princess stuff her mouth like that?” “Does a Princess leave her room so messy like this?” stuff like that.

Eldest Daughter had been enamored of princesses when she was young– still is to a point, and loves watching the movies and reading the books with her little sisters (I tease her that she does that because she secretly wants to for herself and doing it with her sisters makes a great excuse. She smiles, neither confirming or denying). She’s turning out a stong woman in her own right– and we’ve talked about the downsides of being a princess (how you don’t have any privacy, you have to have perfect manners ALL THE TIME, and how doing things can be complicated and you can’t just pop off to Starbucks for a latte when you have to get your security team to be assembled and scout out the place and and and). But she still will indulge in a fantasy of glittery dresses and balls and feeling like the most special girl in the world.

My final reason I don’t worry about Rockstar and the Princess mindset? At school, she’ll go up to a child– could be in her class, could be another class sharing the same playtime as hers– grab their hand, and announce, “you are my friend! Let’s go play!” and drag them off to play. When I was told this, I was initially mortified, but the teachers quickly reassured me that she is never mean about it, and is always so sweet as she strongarms her new friends (and if they pitch a fit, she will be respectful and let go). She’s strong, independant, and yet can be kind and lovely. So if she likes to pretend to be a princess? She’s one of the best kind out there.

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Sorry that there’s no tutorial for this Friday. This week has been Medical week, with running about making and going to appointments for all three kids, with the added fun of tracking medical records for schools and the like.

On the bright side, a persistent ear infection that Preschool Rockstar’s been battling seems to be gone for the time being. We were worried as the doctor was pushing for tubes (and she wouldn’t be able to swim with tubes inserted. My girls LOVE the water. This would be A Big Problem). We also found out she has an array of allergies, but they are something we are working on getting down. Some of them, like animal dander, are semi-easy to avoid altogether or be able to circumvent. Others, like the native plants she can’t tolerate… we try to deal with as best we can. Hopefully she’s also been able to build a good Herd Immunity on her first year of Preschool, and this year won’t be rife with illness (and I’ve probably had Murphy laugh hard on that one, didn’t I?).

On the bummer side, Toddler Terrorist has a slight case of anemia, so I have to up her iron levels and take her in for another blood draw around my birthday this month. I’m hoping my present will be that her red blood cell count will be normal. I’m good with that.

So instead of a half-baked tutorial, I’ll throw a few things up that I’m working/will be working on. Especially when the older two girls go to school. Not that I don’t love having them around but… well, there you go.

Birthday Banner— yes, it’s another tutorial. I did something similar for the girls, but I want to make one that’s reversible, with HAPPY HARVEST! on one side and HAPPY BIRTHDAY on the other to celebrate the fall birthdays. And maybe a few for other holidays. I already made one for the girls; that one I’ll have to put up for a picture.

Another Housecoat— I finished my first one last week and I love it. I need to get a DECENT picture (hated the ones I tried to take) so I can showcase the squirrel material I used. The pattern was pretty straightforward, and good instructions were included.

We are in the home stretch for turning Eldest Daughter’s room into her Moroccan Mecca (or some facsimile) as the primer’s getting on the walls. It might not get done by the time she goes to school, but it’s nearly there. I also have wall decals to put up for the younger set’s room as well as a bi-fold door to set into their closet instead of the regular door that came with the house.

That’s about it. There’s a holiday weekend, so Hubs is off work. Enjoy your day, your weekend, your holiday if you are celebrating. I’ll hopefully have an actual tutorial next week.

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“Jeans” made out of stretchy material? A microwavable bowl with a lid that can drain? A plush animal my kids can sleep on (isn’t that most stuffed animals?)? A chopping tool that I can use to chop herbs or nuts without having to learn knife skills?

Psh. That is useless crap. Here’s a few things I need.

*A device I can attach to my remotes/cell phones/iPods/random bits that can emit a signal when I need to locate it. Especially when the cell phone is dead and I can’t call to find out my Dunderbolt’s in the bottom of my purse.

*A Cone of Silence for when Preschool Rockstar and Toddler Terrorist are in their screech modes.

* A silencer for my sewing machine so I can sew in the same room that the family’s in, while they are watching a show.

* A nail polish that can last more then five minutes before getting chipped, smudged, or otherwise screwed up.

* A camera/video recorder that’s always ready so I can catch the kids being cute, instead of having JUST ENOUGH LAG that by the time the picture’s taken or the video starts, the cute has ended and I end up with another fuzzy picture of An Eye. Or the top of the kids’ head. Or someone crying.

*A bra that is actually supportive in front, eases the strain on the back, and does not have underwire. Because underwire is of the devil.

* A call screener to be able to tell the bazillionth telemarketer that no, we do NOT need home improvement at this time.

*More time in the day, more days in the week.

A few things really…

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Fantasy vs. Reality

Would you like to hear a fantasy of mine?

Finding a small cottage, where there’s a nice huge fireplace that could warm the house as well as provide a place to cook. It’s cozy, easy to clean as it’s so small… far enough away from the hustle and the bustle so you can breathe. Woods the kids can play in, enough of a clearing for a nice vegetable patch and a herb plot, with a nice little area that has ample light for an afternoon of reading. There will be a pony for the girls and me to ride and spoil. A couple of corgis to rub bellies, and a flock of geese for territory protection (don’t laugh. Those birds can be FIERCE). A nice tea set to have afternoon tea while working on some handwork, like my knitting. This is my Peaceful Place, where I like to dwell for a few minutes of wistful pondering.

The Universe then laughs and hits me over the head with the clue by four called reality.

Recently we went to IKEA to check out single beds for Eldest Daughter. Every year they have a sort of Theme, where they gear their products on the showroom floor to this idea. This year it’s Small Living Spaces (which has always been one of their themes, but seems to be their current focus), so when you step off the escalator/elevator you are greeted with Small Spaces, wee little areas that are “showing” how one (or a family) can live in a space that is WEE. Like less than 1000 square feet wee. Less than 500 square feet (one of the showroom areas showed their concept of how “six friends can live in 430 sq. ft.” And this is a direct quote from the 2012 catalog Their secret? Bunk beds. bwahahahahaha… guess these friends are going to either be very tolerant of noises or they all have very understanding SOs…sorry to be crude but sometimes I wonder if the concepts went beyond the “how do we stick six adults in this space” into “how do we stick six adults in this space and have them be able to live real lives as well as tolerate each other by the end of the lease”?).

We do what most everyone does at IKEA. Play in the show areas, look at the products, marvel at some of the concepts. Meanwhile, Preschool Rockstar (who’s a little too short for the play area) and Toddler Terrorist are doing their level best to test the durability of Swedish design. I swear, those “special testing” areas that they have to show off how many times a chair can have weight applied, or hinges being opened and closed… put your prototypes in a preschool and see if it lasts the day. Just saying…

The girls are running amok within the space, Hubs and I are trying to check out beds and converse above the dull roar, Eldest Daughter’s playing with her sisters or just hanging about. The cold hard fact hits me. My wee little cottage just won’t do. Besides the epic destash we would all have to do with all the crap we have, we barely fit in the rooms, and this is with two small children– how much room will we need in five years? As it is, we barely fit into this house which is about 1500 square feet with a sizable yard. Our needs are more than what the concept wee spaces, which mirrored my fantasy.

If I had to, I’m sure we can downsize, and I’m sure we could make it work. But honestly, I do love having my own actual bedroom (instead of a loft bed in the living area, which was another concept from the IKEA designers). Some of the concepts were rather fun, but gotta say I was glad to be able to check it out… and leave my fantasy for home. It may be big and messy and insane, but it’s my reality and one I’m glad to have.

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Insert Witty Title Here

Today’ll be interesting, as I got VERY LITTLE SLEEP last night between Preschool Rockstar deciding to turn sideways in the bed and Terrorist waking up at every little noise. Coffee is my friend.

Today starts the last full week of summer vacation out here. Which is both good and bad. Good because all the kids are in that twitchy cabin-fever mode and everything they do seems intended to tick off the other sisters. Even Toddler Terrorist, who hasn’t started school yet, has gotten in on the act. GAH.

The bad part of this being the last full week is that… well, it’s going to be a very busy week. Eldest Daughter has her last week of volunteering at the preschool’s summer camp (I elected to not put Rockstar in because I wanted time with the girls to do stuff, then the teenager up and signs up to do exactly what I didn’t want to happen *sigh* so we ended up not being able to travel or do much since nearly every morning Eldest Daughter was going in to work. I shouldn’t complain, as it does give her an exposure to different situations and helps her accrue hours for a volunteer scholarship to help pay for college. BUT STILL), a doctor’s appointment to get her clearance for participating in swim team, and she has to finish  up her summer assignments that she’s still barely started. She also has to go to the school and get her paperwork in and her class schedule (and I still need to fill out said gazillion forms and whatnot for her). Rockstar’s medical clearance needs to be filled out (I just need to get it into the doc), and find all the bits and bobs for her school. On top of this… Terrorist has her 15 month well baby appointment (OH YAY SHOTS) this week.

I’m feeling even more tired looking this over. Maybe I need more coffee…

This week will be getting back in the routines of School Night bedtimes, getting the kitchen ready for packing lunches (like finding all the lids and containers that match them). Making sure we have the stationery supplies necessary for the girls to do homework/workbook. Making sure we have uniforms/spirit shirts mended and clean and ready to go.

…where’d I put that coffee IV?

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