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December 2010

The Kids are Alright

Soundtrack. . .


I've always been the kind of mom . . . who likes and appreciates my kids at whatever age they ARE.  Although I have many happy memories of their babyhoods and childhoods and adolescenthoods, I'm never wistful about "days gone by."  I never wish to return to the days of diapers or kindergarten or middle school (really not the diapers. . .).  I just like being a part of my kids' unfolding lives. . . at every stage.


That said, I can express, with total truth, that Tom and I had no trouble adjusting to The Empty Nest earlier this year.  We love the kids.  We like it when they come home.  But.  We like having our own routine, living by our schedule, only doing 2 or 3 loads of laundry each week.  We've become accustomed to knowing where the remote controls are. . . being able to find a pair of scissors when we need it . . . only running the dishwasher a couple of times a week. . . actually planning to eat leftovers AS ANOTHER MEAL. . . never running out of milk.  That kind of thing.

So it's a bit of an adjustment when the nest fills up again. . .  and I have a recurrence of my Worst Laundry Nightmare. . .


and it quickly becomes apparent why I can never find a clean glass (let alone a pair of scissors). . .


(Brian is on "Dishwasher Patrol" . . . but his standards are, well, different from my own.) 

My mudroom hallway has become an obstacle course of footwear. . .


and my family room has taken on that "man cave" look only appreciated by college boys ("What's wrong with it, Mom?").


The funniest thing, though, is that. . . I never SEE the kids (except at dinnertime). . . I just see their detritus.  Because they are really vampires.  They sleep all day (until dinnertime) and stay up all night.   Brian stays in the "man cave" playing "Black Ops" (and other equally loud games) . . . or goes out with local friends.  Erin misses her boyfriend and spends all her time in her room on her computer.


Even though her boyfriend is at home in Florida and she is at home in Michigan, thanks to the interwebs, wi-fi, and Skype, they can play games together, watch movies together, and chat together ALL of their (waking) hours!  It's almost as good as being together (except. . . not. . . as Erin so poignantly explains).

It's good to have them home for a time.  The kids are alright!  (But their . . . stuff?  It's got to go!)

You Just Never Know

Soundtrack. . .


By now, you all know that when I knit. . . I hear music.  Songs, specifically.  Songs that come from somewhere in the depths of my mind.  Songs from the Soundtrack of My Life.  Sometimes the song I hear is inspired by the pattern; sometimes by the yarn; sometimes by the person I'm knitting for.  This fall, as I set out to knit a shawl for my sister for Christmas, I waited to hear a song.


I chose the pattern and yarn for the shawl with intention.  I wanted it to be, well, a bit symbolic.  The pink yarn represents my sister (who always, Always, ALWAYS wanted the pink as a little girl), and the brown yarn represents me (who willingly gave up the pink as a little girl).  The solid portions of the shawl represent our very separate lives -- she has hers; I have mine. . . but the stripes show how we come together, giving each other comfort and warmth. 

And then. . . I waited to hear what it would sing.

I just naturally assumed I'd hear the Beatles.  Because my sister loves the Beatles.  I listened for Hey Jude.  I listened for Yesterday.  I listened for Eleanor Rigby.  I listened for Long and Winding Road.  But I didn't hear anything from the Fab Four.


Instead. . . I heard Rob Thomas.  And Santana.  Smooth.

Funny song for a SISTERly project?  Hot.  Steamy.  Sexy.  Definitely not a SISTER song.  But, then. . . it was Rob Thomas, after all.  And my sister loves Rob Thomas.  (Not as much as the Beatles, but still!) And then, I caught the lyrics -- out of context, I'll admit -- but then I knew. . .

And if you say, "This life ain't good enough". . . . I would give my world to lift you up. . . I could change my life to better suit your mood. . .


Definitely a Sister Song!  You just never know what a project will sing.  This one . . . was just SMOOTH!



Live With Intention

This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is Ten Intentions for the New Year.  I keep this magnet on my fridge:

Live with intention

It's a pretty good list, as is (even though there are 11 things. . .).  But I'll use this list as a springboard for my own.  Here are my own inTENtions for the New Year:

  1. dig in
  2. encourage
  3. balance
  4. be nimble
  5. breathe deeply
  6. embrace what IS
  7. simplify
  8. reuse
  9. give
  10. just do it

How about you?

Now That It's Over!

There has been knitting!  A lot of knitting, actually.  And, now that the gifting is all over and done, I can show you!

Soundtrack. . .

Hark how the bells. . .


Sweet silver bells. . .


All seem to say. . .


Throw cares away. . .


Merry. . .


Merry. . .


Merry, Merry Christmas!


(And . . . one more. . . tomorrow!)  Ravelry links here, here, here, here, and here!

Seeing Stars

As many of you have noticed, I read a lot.  Like. . . a lot.  I'm always reading something.  I really love books -- the feel of them, the look of them, the smell of them.  I even purchased my current house because it has a "library."  (Well, that and the fireplace.)  These days, I tend to do much of my reading by listening to audiobooks.  While it did take a little getting used to, once I got the hang of it, I love this new method of reading -- mainly because I can do other things WHILE reading.  Things like knitting or walking or household chores.  Having a good book in my ears can make even the most mundane chores pleasant and engaging.  And, with so many books on my to-read list, this makes the choosing between competing activities much less stressful.

Anyway, I keep track of what I'm reading (actual book and audio book) in the sidebar of my blog.  When I complete a book, I give it my personal star rating.  I got thinking about my star rating system this week, as I was reading a book that kept slipping. . . slipping. . . .slipping. . . until it nearly fell out of the universe altogether!   I thought it might be fun to share the thinking behind my star rating system with you.

FIVE STARS -- The Holy Grail of my personal star rating system!  A Five Star book is rare for me; I reserve these stars for a book that, ultimately makes me gasp.  What are the elements of a Five Star book?  Compelling characters; dialog that sings; surprises and unexpected connections; a plot that just . . . unfolds, and, of course, language, language, language!  A Five Star book stays with me . . . for a long, long time.  (Examples:  A Prayer for Owen Meany and  The History of LoveStill thinking about them - with an occasional gasp!).

FOUR STARS -- Because I'm, well, particular (some might say "picky" or even "snobby") about the books I read - and because I rely heavily on book review sources and other readers I trust for referrals - most of the books I read tend to be in the Four Star range.  Four Star books are Excellent Books; books that keep me fully engaged; books with compelling characters, wonderful dialog, beautiful language, and interesting - sometimes surprising - storylines.   (Examples include The Widower's Tale, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Cutting for Stone, and The Elegance of the Hedgehog.)


THREE STARS -- There are plenty of things to love about a good, old Three Star book -- engaging dialogue, interesting characters, a plot that "fits" together in a beliveable and (usually) unforced way.  Three Star books tend to be entertaining, light, kind of fun to read; something that captures the imagination, but doesn't necessarily stretch the mind!  The problem with most Three Star books is that they start to wander into that realm of . . . predictability.  Too often, you can see the resolution of the story coming -- from the opening chapters  You know they'll end up together in the end, for example, or that they'll forgive each other, or she'll find her true calling. . . etc.   There are few surprises in a Three Star book, but they are fun to read.  (Examples include The Help, The Broken Teaglass, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.)


TWO STARS -- Ah, the Two Star books!  Here's where I tend to get into a bit of trouble.  I have my own personal give-it-time rule -- or what I refer to as The 75-Page Rule.  Life is too short to read crummy books -- so, I never make myself complete a book that I really don't like.  But I always make myself read the first 75 pages before putting it down.  (There have been Four- and Five Star books that really needed those first 75 pages to get going!  It's not always love-at-first-sight!)  Anyway, if I find myself "talking back" to a book I'm reading, it's probably going to do no better than Two Stars!  If the plot tedious and predictable; if the characters are tedious and predictable (AND unlikeable); if the dialogue is forced; if I feel like the author is dragging me along a path to the story's (already painfully obvious) conclusion. . . I'm likely to start making comments.  Out loud.  If I'm listening on my iPod, and you can actually hear me saying. . . "oh, brother!" or "oh, what a surprise!" . . . you can bet it's a Two Star book!  So. . .why am I reading a Two Star book if I hate it so?  Why. . . I made it past the 75-page mark and feel somewhat committed!  (An example is Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.)

ONE STAR -- Totally tedious.  Totally predictable.  Sophomoric plot.  Forced dialogue.  Stupid characters.  One star books. . . never make it past page 75!  (Only one recent example -- The English American.  Don't waste your time!)

So.  Read any good books lately?


Under the Wire


This week, Ten on Tuesday . . . has us making a list and checking it twice!  This week's topic. . . Ten Last-Minute Gift Ideas.  For me, "last minute" means just that . . . LAST MINUTE!  Like. . . at that point, I need to stop ON MY WAY to the party/gathering/event and be able to pick up a suitable gift at a run-in/run-out store. . . and then be able to deal with any wrapping/cards/ribbon IN THE CAR.

Does this ever happen to me?  Duh.

So, here we go.  Ten (TRULY) Last-Minute Gift Ideas:


  1. A bottle of wine (topped with a ribbon cascade or . . . knitwear!)
  2. A couple of six-packs of fine, craft beer (topped in a similar manner)
  3. A bottle of Bailey's Irish Creme (again, topped)
  4. A poinsettia plant
  5. Or a Christmas cactus
  6. Or some other lovely blooming plant
  7. A festive box of candies
  8. A festive box of nuts
  9. A festive box of candies mixed with nuts
  10. An appropriate gift card

There you have it!  Just remember to bring along a gift tag, curling ribbon, and tape . . . and you can cover any last-minute gift situation right in your car!

Happy gifting!