Friday, October 28, 2011

Picking my battles

Elizabeth is firmly in her “clothing optional” stage of life. It all started with potty training*. We’d let her run around without any bottoms to save on laundry, and she got a little too used to it.

We went through this with Ella when she was the same age. We eventually had enact strict rules about not being naked in the front yard and wearing panties at the dinner table. She outgrew the phase, so I’m confident Elizabeth will, too.

Requests to put on panties, let alone actual clothing, are usually met with shrieks. Then she runs away, making me chase her down, pin her, and forcibly dress her. All this makes getting out the door for preschool drop-off a real challenge, even on the days when Elizabeth doesn’t have preschool.

But then there are the days when we don’t have anyplace to be or anything special to do. On those rare days, I don’t even bother to try to get her dressed. I’m happy if she’ll agree to wear panties.


Yes, she does have three pigtails. She has to have exactly three of everything because she’s three. Even if I hand her five M&Ms, she’ll only eat three of them. Goofy girl.


Today I managed to get her dressed, which was good. Our weather has changed, and it was all of 60. Brrr. An added incentive was getting to wear her new hat from Knittergran.

*Blatant mommy-blog stuff – after a week of peeing everywhere except the potty – the floor, the porch, in her car seat, on the main square in Comfort, TX – it was like a switch suddenly flipped, and Elizabeth was potty trained overnight. And the baby angels sang hallelujah.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In her happy place

This past Saturday, Ella and I woke up before dawn and drove out to Enchanted Rock so that she could climb in the Granite Gripper, her very first competition in the wild.

The climbers were released to climb at 9:00 am and told to report back with their score cards by 5:00 sharp. And off we went. Our coach, who was one of the event’s coordinators, rounded up a great climbing guide for our group since we had lots of younger kids and no adults who climbed. All the other climbers teamed up in groups of at least three.

It was such a good day. The weather was perfect. We hiked up and down and back and forth. I felt pretty good about being able to hike past a group of Boy Scouts who had collapsed in the middle of the path about halfway up.

The best part, though, was watching Ella. She smiled the entire time. She also climbed the entire time, even when she was supposed to sitting, waiting for her turn to climb. Ella climbed all of her routes, and some were tough, without falling.

When she was in the bouldering area, she pulled off a climb that had stumped a bunch of 20yo guys. The clapped politely and then started muttering something about Ella’s being able to climb the problem because of her muscle to weight ratio. That’s when our coach’s wife rounded on them and said, “I am so sick of guys like you claiming the only reason she climbed that problem was because of her muscle to weight ratio. You know that was a hard climb.” They had the good sense to look at their feet and kick rocks in an embarrassed manner.

Once the climbing finished, everyone gathered back at the Pavilion for a group dinner, raffle, and silent auction. Ella won a great messenger bag in the raffle that B and I keep trying to steal. We also won a Metolius Hang Board in the silent auction. Ella plans to hang it over the door in her new bedroom.

Ella ended up winning her division, which meant she got a cool trophy and $100 in cash. I could see the smoke coming out her ears when people asked her what she was going to spend it on. She thinks she might buy a slackline, because what else would an 11 yo girl buy with her loot?

As we drove home at 8:00 pm, Ella declared it “the best day ever” in her life and made me promise she could go again next year.

I am beyond grateful that B and I have found, with the help of a neighbor, what Ella loves to do and that we are able to support her doing it.

Pictures like this one taken by one of the team moms, make it all worth while.

enchantedrock1She was truly in her happy place. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

House News

We’ve sold our house! We actually accepted the offer two weeks ago, but B put an embargo on any online discussion of the sale until we got through the 10-day option period. He knows of people who have had house deals go south because the seller said something like, “I can’t believe they didn’t notice all the mold in the shower!" and the buyer found the comment online.

Accepting the offer was very bittersweet. On the one hand, we were very glad to have a decent offer and to have the house sold. On the other, we loved living there, and we love our neighborhood and neighbors. We’ve lived in this area since we got married. Three of my babies came home to that house and slept in the cradle in the closet. We’ve spent years building amazing friendships with the neighbors, people we could call on in an emergency, even at 2 in the morning, and vice versa. I’m worried we won’t find that sense of community again.

We’ll close on the sale of the house on November 30. Which means we need to get our rears in gear finding a new one for us. B spent yesterday sorting through hundreds of possibilities and narrowing the candidates. We have a couple of areas we’re focusing on, based on the neighborhood, schools and styles of houses.

We’ll be spending every child-free moment we can manage this week looking at house. Our goal is to find a house this week. Yikes.

The good news is that it looks like the months-long nightmare of uncertainty and worry may be coming to a close. If things go well for us, we’ll be in a new house at the beginning of December and be able to celebrate Christmas there.

Keep your fingers crossed, light a candle, say a prayer, dance in the moonlight – whatever you believe in – that everything goes according to plan.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oh yeah, knitting

It’s been a long time since I’ve bored my non-knitting followers with pictures of my finished projects. But I’m going to do it anyway.

Two weekends ago was the annual Hill Country Yarn Crawl. I made it to six of the nine stores on Crawl, skipping those in San Antonio and Marble Falls. The highlight of the trip was driving out to Comfort to visit The Tinsmith’s Wife. It’s a great little store, even if it does take two hours to get there. I went out there with Elizabeth and Ella, and we made a fun day of it, eating lunch on the main square in town, where Elizabeth left a puddle on the sidewalk. I don’t know that I’ll ever make the trip out there again just to go to the yarn shop, but if I’m ever within 30 miles, I’ll make a detour.

I also drove over to Paige, which is between here and Houston. I stop in at Yarnorama pretty much every time I have to make the Houston run. It’s a nice pit stop. Plus they have angora bunnies in the store, and they are so soft and sweet.

I drove back from Paige through Bastrop, and I was stunned speechless at the devastation from the fires. I was on the phone with Knittergran, and I honestly couldn’t come up with the words to describe how bad it was. I knew it would be bad; I had no idea it would be THAT bad.

But now back to yarn.


This is some of my haul from the Yarn Crawl. There’s some Dizzy Lettuce, Noro, Rasta, Unisono, and Ella Rae in there, along with some skeins of indie dyer yarns. Yum.

Going to all the yarn stores inspired me to just finish Elizabeth’s dang sweater already. I had gotten stuck with 25 rows to knit on a sleeve, and I just couldn’t make myself sit down and knit. I even tried not allowing myself to knit anything else until I finished, but it turns out I don’t follow my own directions.

finished sweater

Finally, though, I sat down and knocked out the last sleeve. Just in time, too. Today’s high is in the mid—70s. Positively frigid.

Last Wednesday, I carefully packed a bag of stuff to take to keep everyone entertained during Lily’s ballet class. I included snacks, spare clothes for Puddles, and a new skein of sock yarn for me. My swift and ball winder are both in storage, so I had hand wound the ball the previous night, and it took forever. At the last moment, I also threw a bottle of water in the bag.

When we got to ballet, I pulled the bag out of the car, and water came flooding out of it. The water bottle had leaked and emptied itself all over the bag, its contents and the car floor. Including my precious ball of Unisono sock yarn.

I fired off a few frantic e-mails to knitting friends, asking if they had any tricks for drying the yarn without unwinding the whole skein. Unfortunately, they didn’t. So I spent half an hour unwinding the yarn around the back of a chair on the porch. It turns out the thing was soaked to the very core. Waiting for it to dry in ball form might have taken years.


And then the next day, I wound it all back up again. But the results have been worth the effort. I am totally in love with this yarn and the way it’s knitting up. I was expecting stripey socks, not color blocks.


I am having so much fun watching how the stripes turn out. I’ve already ordered two more skeins of the stuff in different colorways.

Finally, during the past month or so, I’ve kept myself knitting washcloths. One of the local yarn stores was collecting them for Bastrop fire evacuees, so I went to Hobby Lobby and bought way too much cotton yarn. I knit four for the collection and then another three that I gave to friends. I’ve discovered they’re the perfect project to carry around.

I’ve also cast on a Clapotis shawl, but it’s sitting in timeout right now. I tend to get resentful of any project that requires four pages of spreadsheets with instructions like “Knit rows 1-12 another 12 times.”

Now I need to get busy on Christmas presents. I think it’ll be washcloths and locally made soap for everyone.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

11 years

Today, as is tradition, I’m going to bore Ella by telling her the story of her birthday. Of how my water broke at 1:00 am and then it took another 21 hours for her arrive. Of how the on-call OB, the third of the day, had light-up skeleton earrings and a scrub cap with pumpkins. Of how Liz came and hung out with me two different times because things were taking so long. Of how her granddaddy was so thrilled that she arrived on his birthday. Of how her great-grandmother drove all the way to San Antonio to buy her a special doll. Of how technology was so slow then that we had to take film from the camera to the store to be developed and then overnight the pictures to Knittergran and Runnderdude so they could see what their first grandchild looked like.

But most of all, I’ll tell her story of how she made me a mom – the most terrifying and amazing experience of my life.

And I’ll tell her how I still feel like she is connected to me and that everything is right in the world when she sits in my lap even though she no longer fits there.


Happy birthday my Ella-bella.


May 11 be a wonderful year for you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You’d think I’d be a pro by now

Warning, this is a blatantly mommy-blogging post about potty training. My apologies in advance.

At the beginning of the summer, I made a few half-hearted attempts at getting Elizabeth to use the potty. She didn’t seem ready, so I didn’t push. I learned with Ella that turning the process into a power struggle just makes it take longer.

Then we went to my parents’ house, and I wasn’t willing to let Elizabeth run around naked and pee on the Oriental rugs (You’re welcome, knittergran). After three weeks there, we came home to absolute chaos, what with the moving from house to house for a month, and I decided not to add to mess by trying to potty train Elizabeth then.

We’ve been in our cute little rental house since the end of August, and we’ve all settled into some semblance of routine and order. That, coupled with the fact that Elizabeth turned three last week, made realize it’s time to get her out of diapers. Her preschool teacher, who is an angel, was completely on board. Elizabeth is the only one in the class who still wears diapers.

So, on her third birthday, we took away the diapers. And it did not go well. She wore panties all morning at school, and held her pee the whole time. She must have a bladder made of steel. Despite my sitting her on the potty every fifteen minutes and offering lots of bribes, she didn’t do anything. But she did pee on the floor three times. Our floors are really clean now, thanks to all the bleach wipes I’ve been using.

It’s been a week, and things haven’t gotten much better. When she’s not at school, Elizabeth runs around bare-butt naked, refusing to put on underpants. Yesterday she was outside playing with Ella and her friends, naked as a jaybird.

She’ll sit on the potty without a problem. We have it in the middle of the living room like a throne. We let her watch TV or play on our iPhones while she sits on it. And the rare times she does actually do something in the potty, she gets happy dances and cheers and M&Ms.

Most of the time, though, she’ll sit on the potty for 20 pointless minutes, get up, walk across the room and pee on the floor. Each time she has the nerve to look surprised – “Mama, I peed?!”

I am running out of ideas. Bribes of M&Ms don’t work. Sticker rewards don’t work. Doing happy pee in the potty dances with her doesn’t work either.

People have suggested we take a break and go back to diapers, but I hate to go that route now that we’ve already started. I don’t want to use pull-ups because Elizabeth thinks they are just fancy diapers.

So I continue to let her run around naked and to mop up the puddles she leaves behind. You’d think that on the fourth kid, I have this whole potty training thing down cold.

Friday, October 07, 2011

A Rodent in the Kitchen

From the first time Ella asked for a pet, I have sworn up and down and backwards that we would never, ever have a rodent in the house. That meant no hamsters, no gerbils, no guinea pigs, no rats. I loathe rodents, even “cute” domesticated ones. There’s just something about their rodent feet and their rodent tails that gives me the heebie-jeebies.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Lily made this announcement last night at dinner: “Guess what! I have the best news! I won the gerbil lottery!!!!” My heart fell, and I understood how a townsperson in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” must have felt drawing the black stone.

Instead of death, winning the gerbil lottery means that Lily gets to bring home the class pet, Fluffy, for the weekend, the long-extra-day-off-school weekend.

Lily is beyond thrilled. She loves, loves, loves animals of all shapes and sizes. Fluffy is in definite danger of having Lily hug her and squeeze her and call her George.

I, however, am not so thrilled. I will spend the weekend making sure the kids don’t let Fluffy escape and make a break for the sofa cushions. The creature could live the rest of its life in there quite comfortably.

My other fear is that it will get into the sofa and have babies. When Lily heard me say that, she rolled her eyes and said, “Fluffy needs to have been around a boy gerbil for that to happen.”

Fluffy got sent home with an exercise ball that allows her to roam the house. Having a rodent roll past my feet while I’m working is not my idea of a good thing.

If you need me, I’ll be sitting on top of my desk to work until Tuesday when Fluffy goes back to school.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Not a baby anymore

The weeping you hear is me, facing the sad truth that my last baby isn’t a baby anymore. This is the first time I’ve had one of my kids turn three without already having another baby or having one on the way. It’s sort of a rude awakening. Not only is she not a baby, my baby days are done. No more babies for me.


Elizabeth is really not a baby or even a toddler. She’s a little person with her own definite personality, and boy is it a doozy. She’s got a temper that can peel paint; a giggle that can melt hearts; and a smile that can light up a room.

Even though she was very much our surprise baby, I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world (although right now I might be willing to loan her out to anyone who can get her to use the damn potty already).


Here she is, five weeks early and a whopping four pounds, nine ounces.


And here she is today, full of sass.

Happy birthday Teenie Beanie. I love you more than cake.

And now I’m going to go sob while I clean up puddles of pee.