About Me

Having Fun

I have a confession to make: I am a nerd.

Okay, so we probably already guessed that, with the whole “fantasy/sci fi writer who plays video games” thing that I’ve got going on, but it’s good to be clear.

Long story short, for Christmas I got an embroidery machine with the goal of learning how to make my own designs for it, because otherwise buying them would turn into a giant money-sink (and I’m stingy). ENTER OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE.

For the month of January, I’ve been learning how to use Inkscape, and the InkStitch extension. The kids are thrilled that I took some of their drawings, traced them, then had the machine embroider them onto shirts for them. It was seriously cool.

So while I was riding the whole, “This is frustrating yet fun!” high, I decided to figure out GIMP, an open source program that’s kind of like Photoshop with more headaches.

‘Cause yeah, sure, why not go crazy.

Hence, graphics.

You’d think that I have enough hobbies by now.

About Me

The Accolade

Accolade_by_Edmund_Blair_Leighton

Wikipedia Link

I first saw this picture during one of my babysitting jobs as a young teenager. I don’t remember much, but the dad had been one of those geeky sorts who liked computers, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars, so a large copy of this painting was hanging in the front room that was intended for guests (not children).

After putting the kids in bed, I tiptoed downstairs to study it. I loved the solemnity of the scene, the folds of shimmering fabric of the woman’s dress, and the way her long hair caught the light. It was beautiful.

As I grew, I learned to hide a number of things while out in public. No one knew that I liked The Chronicles of Narnia, Neopets, or The Legend of Zelda. I wasn’t outgoing enough to obtain any sort of popularity with the normal kids, but the stereotypical geeks saw me as too “flighty” to have anything to do with me. As an outcast, I did everything I could to blend in and be invisible, because, as I so painfully learned, people are capable of enormous cruelty towards each other.

The image of the woman and the knight was permanently in my head. I wanted to grow my hair out, but was too scared. I bought shirts with flouncy sleeves whenever I could, but always defaulted to t-shirts when it came to school or work. The idea of being Obviously Different on a daily basis was terrifying.

Until skinny jeans and messy buns came along.

I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.

It was too far away from what had literally taken my breath away several years before.

I KNEW what I thought was beautiful, and fashion was moving in the exact opposite direction. I balked at the idea of following along just to be invisible.

This happened during a major transitional period in my life, so while I was busy dropping out of college and eloping with my soulmate, I embraced being Different. I quit wearing jeans and t-shirts altogether, and that opened the floodgates for everything that was me.

Video games, fantasy novels, horror movies, sewing, pink, glitter, etc. All of it. I became myself, inside and out, no matter where I was. I quit hiding.

Sometimes it’s still awkward. I’m still introverted, after all, and people can’t help but notice me out in public. Not only do I wear unique clothing, I have a growing number of children running around me as well. I often don’t know what to say in reply to the comments I get — especially the compliments. One thing is certain though: my family and I are memorable.

And I still aspire to be that serene woman draped in shimmering fabric with cascading locks.

About Me

The Doldrums

Every single year, January finds me feeling sluggish and unmotivated. I prefer to hibernate on cloudy days, and avoid having anywhere to go or much to do. I don’t mind — its nice having a break from the usual activities that keep me occupied throughout the rest of the year.

But it also means that I’m not in the mood for blogging.

Cuz meh.

I’ll be in my sewing room, learning how to make smocked bishops.

About Me

Birthday

I’ll be turning 32 at some point during this month.

I grew up with the whole, “Hide your real age and try to look younger,” shtick, but I’m really enjoying the whole process of growing older and more mature. It wasn’t until my 30th birthday, for example, that I decided I didn’t care what sort of hairstyles everyone else said would look good with my face type, and that I would do what *I* thought was pretty instead. Personally, I like the way I look much better now than I did ten years ago.

I enjoy being a weird homemade bohemian goth with a gazillion kids WAY more than I ever liked wearing t-shirts and jeans, and working a full time job.

Other benefits of being in my 30s include finally working up the courage to self-publish my fiction, without taking it as a criticism when I didn’t instantly turn into an overnight success story. I’m rather glad I don’t have that burden right now.

I think it will be an absolute blast when I hit middle age and start speaking my mind without worrying about what everyone will think of me. Hopefully for everyone else, leggings will have fallen out of fashion by then.

Truthfully, sometimes I fantasize about being more publicly visible and influencing people away from that particular trend. Because seriously, it’s a pretty stupid when women dictate to me that leggings are more “comfortable” when I’m wearing culottes. Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that attributes like “breathable”, “nonrestrictive”, and “flattering” didn’t count as comfortable. My bad.

Besides, I’m nearly 32 and I have a gazillion kids. I have no interest in trying to flaunt every detail of my body like I’m 22. I’d like to age with dignity and keep my cellulite to myself.

Lol, tangent.

Anyway, I remember being that t-shirts and jeans person, lying on the floor of my studio apartment, staring at the ceiling and wishing more than anything that I could quit my job and be a full-time author. I wanted it so badly it hurt, but every inquiry I made to publishers went nowhere and I was too terrified of failure to strike out on my own.

I wonder why, when I had all the time and energy I could possibly need, my approach to the world was so limited and fearful.

Oh, my darling young self, you have no idea what could have happened if you had been courageous enough to create your own path.

Live ‘n learn. I was the best I knew how to be, and that was enough to lead me here. After all, 32 is hardly decrepit.

When I think about the future, I see myself overflowing with creativity and surrounded by a gazillion loved ones. I look forward to my birthdays, and marking another year of growing and maturing with the people who matter the most.

About Me

Journal

Christmas is looming ever closer. We’ve started the official countdown.

Finally feeling ‘second trimester-y’, which means less gagging and more energy. And baby wiggles.

Wanted to make coffee this morning, but discovered that we forgot to clean out the french press from . . . forever ago. Yuck. Chai tea instead.

Spent the entire weekend making gingerbread houses with my husband and kids. Still haven’t cleaned up the dining table. So. Much. Candy. We had tons of fun.

Christmas sewing. The pants I made for my son are absolutely perfect and very dapper. I’m not sure why I decided to do puff sleeves on the girls’ dresses when I have such a tight deadline, because going sleeveless would have been considerably faster. Maybe because puff sleeves are just too adorable. With any luck, I’ll get them finished in time.

Child #2 came down with a fever. I’m expecting everyone (myself included) to get sick before the end of this week. Might throw a wrench in the works. Curse you, cold and flu season!

At the very least, the next eight days will be interesting.

About Me

Christmas Shopping

It’s my tradition to take the kids out for some one-on-one Christmas shopping. It’s a rare occasion when I get to focus on just one child at a time, so the trips are quite special to me.

Naturally I can’t stand the crowds or the traffic that come with the Christmas season, so I always aim to get it done in early December, during the week and before noon. You know, when the people who have jobs are working, those who don’t haven’t gotten out of the house yet, so my main companions are sweet old ladies looking for presents for their grandbabies. Yep, those are my people.

As a side note, in elementary school I used to spend summer vacation practicing embroidery while watching Matlock, so my husband likes to tease that I’ve always been a little old lady at heart. I also climbed plenty of trees and played with plenty of dolls, but that retiring aspect has always been a part of me.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter how many times you explain to a three-year-old that we’re shopping for others and not ourselves, they will inevitably shout something like, “Mom you’re stupid!” when you leave without purchasing at least one of those super mega awesome toys that they wanted for themselves. It always makes me laugh when they do. Those moments of disappointment can be so big and overwhelming when you’re still so little, and childhood is precious. I don’t take it personally — I try to help them constructively phrase their emotions instead. No biggie if it fails, because sometimes you just gotta be upset for awhile, and that’s okay too.

Hopefully, my children are learning that giving to those you love is just as important as receiving, and to do their best to get something that the other person would actually enjoy instead of being lazy about it. Maybe 60 years from now, they’ll be the sort to go out on a Tuesday morning to buy toys for their grandbabies.

But don’t go thinking that I’m some sort of sainted angel. I also make sure that my husband takes the kids out Christmas shopping for me too, because motherhood shouldn’t be all self-sacrifice and nothing else. With how much I bust my butt to make Christmas special, I earn those earrings and scented candles.

About Me

December

It’s December.

I love Christmas. I love having the kids make ornaments to add to our mishmash of a tree; decorating gingerbread houses with royal icing and a huge assortment of candies; and, of course, the traditional cookies for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

It’s also my tradition to sew matching clothes for all of the kids, so December is a very active month for me.

My morning sickness is lingering longer than I had anticipated, which has put me behind schedule with my sewing. I know, Pinterest is chock full of “Easy One-hour” patterns, so for the uninitiated it probably looks like sewing is No Big Deal and that I should have plenty of time. And yeah, sure, I could cut some rectangles, tie some ribbon, and have a three blocky dresses made lickety-split. However, I am not an “Easy One-hour” sort of person. Skirts should be twirly, and a few rhinestones to accent hand-embroidery never hurt anything. By the time I finish doing all of those little touches, 10 hours for one dress is pretty good time.

And I still haven’t quite made up my mind about what I’m going to make for my son. He likes dinosaurs, robots, and randomly punching things, so he’s going to want something completely different from his sisters.

Anyway, I’m not trying to stress out here or anything. All told, I really love the mad rush of projects that come with preparing for Christmas, and find it more exhilarating than anything else. I’m more worried that I won’t be able to indulge to my heart’s content, being pregnant and whatnot.

Oh well. It will all work out in the end. Always does.

About Me

YouTube Kids

I don’t let my kids watch YouTube.

I used to.

Once upon a time I had a three-year-old who liked to let herself out the front door and go on grand adventures down the street, until her panicked mom came running to find her. Those “baby proofing” door handles didn’t cut it, and I needed to keep her occupied so I could shower or wash the dishes. Enter YouTube.

I found a bunch of children’s music videos that I thought were cute, so I pulled them up whenever I needed turn my back for a few minutes. It didn’t take her very long to figure out how to navigate to other videos, and before I knew it “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” had turned into overly-hyper people playing Roblox.

I let it be for awhile. It wasn’t until the kids started finding Elsa x Spiderman videos that I started to feel uncomfortable, especially the ones that featured “pregnant Elsa.” Something about them really didn’t sit well with me, so I stepped in and put an end to it. I mandated that the kids were only allowed to watch YouTube as long as I was there with them, and they had to get my permission before they clicked on a video.

Shortly afterwards, I learned that a number of those Elsa x Spiderman videos were being used to imitate porn and other questionable activities. That further solidified my decision to never let them watch anything unsupervised. (See Elsagate)

Thankfully, by this point my daughter had stopped letting herself out of the house, so that little problem had become a non-issue and I could shower in peace.

However, the more I watched YouTube with them, the more intense my anxiety about it grew. To top it off, the kids were turning into materialistic little snots, and I was growing tired of constantly explaining to them why we were never going to buy them any of the toys they saw on YouTube. I felt that I was becoming a paranoid nervous wreck, so I eventually declared that the kids were only allowed to watch one channel.

As time went by, I realized that the children were much better behaved when they didn’t spend any time at all on YouTube. They slept better, fought less, and listened more. My husband and I decided to block YouTube entirely on our main computer, and our children settled down into manageable little monsters instead of psychotic tyrants.

I’m a crazy strict mom amongst my peers for it, but that decision has improved our lives. I strongly believe that it would benefit most families if they “unplugged” more and started interacting with each other and the real world instead of being constantly glued to the Internet. We need to teach our children how to fully engage with life, instead of dealing with parenting issues the easy way. I had to learn that through experience, but I’m glad I figured it out.

About Me

Slow movement

I was first exposed to the “Slow movement” through sewing, when I skimmed through a book that was all about stitching by hand because of aforementioned movement. Hilariously, the author also advised using knit fabrics instead of woven, and I was all like, “NOOO WAAAY,” and put the book back down.

Now that I’ve lost you . . . Lol.

Basically, I don’t align myself with any movements, because I strongly feel that it’s putting my identity second to whatever ideals the “leaders” of the movement promote, irregardless of whether or not they actually fit with my individual lifestyle/circumstances. In other words, “labels label me not.”

Now that you REALLY don’t have a clue what’s going on . . . LAWL.

ANYwho, the Slow movement is the counter swing to the break-neck pace of modern society. It’s savoring the process of cooking instead of going to the microwave. It’s having a timeless wardrobe of well-made garments, instead of getting an entirely new set of clothes every season. It’s giving yourself time to do whatever suits your whim in the moment, instead of scheduling every second of every day. It’s “stopping to smell the roses,” so to speak.

It’s also how I have naturally lived my life.

And it’s a major reason why I don’t fit in with my peers.

I’ve learned that there is exactly as much (or as little) time as you make for yourself. It’s one of those “secrets of the Universe” sorts of things. The result is that I get A LOT done, and all my peers think that I’m privileged/lazy. My secret? I enjoy the journey.

I have no clue what exactly it is that everyone else spends all day doing, but I have observed two major differences between myself and others:

1) I don’t use social media. When I first quit Facebook, I would crochet every time I felt the urge to check the site. It was eye-opening, because while I was a “lite” user compared to everyone else I know, I was completing crochet projects at a surprising pace. And I only used one site.

Even with blogging, I don’t put any effort into networking or promoting myself. My “traffic” is “growing” at a snail’s pace, but who cares? I barely check the stats anyway, because it’s not like I hinged my self-worth on it or anything.

2) I’m at home most of the time. This one is a pretty big difference, since NONE of my neighborhood peers spend time at home. I have often sat outside and watched them come and go as fast as possible, with all of their group meetings, lessons, memberships, and free lance jobs to keep up with. The kicker is that they don’t realize that it’s a choice that they are making every single day. Trust me, Jimmy doesn’t need ballet and tuba lessons at three-years-old, and you don’t need to buy memberships for every children’s activity in a 20-mile radius. Chill out and let them play in the mud in the backyard — kids like doing stuff like that.

And no, I don’t neglect my own kids so I can run off and sew or whatever. My one-year-old might as well be glued to me, because I am very much not allowed to sneeze without her accompaniment. I actually keep a drawer with markers and paper in my atelier, and the kids help themselves to it whenever I’m at the sewing machine. We’ve learned how to coexist peacefully.

So, anyway, I guess my ultimate point is this: What the heck is up with that Instant Pot thing, and why is it so popular? I can’t imagine it producing the same complexity and depth of flavors as a slow-cooker, but it’s not like it takes any less prep time.

About Me

Food

I love food.

When I say that, I mean that putting an hour or more into making dinner is typical for me, and words like “quick,” “convenient,” or “frozen,” don’t have a place in my kitchen. I strongly believe that food should be a celebration, not a punishment. Eating should make your heart sing with joy, not feel like a chore.

So it’s killing me that I’ve had morning sickness for over a month now. I don’t want toast and peanut butter, I want real food. Preferably without vomiting afterwards.

I’m starting to have the irrational fear that this will drag on forever and I’ll never be able to eat properly again. Are those blissful afternoons spent cruising around a kitchen filled with scrumptious smells over with forever?

Logically, no. But pregnancy isn’t meant to be experienced logically, and I really just want to eat something delicious for once. I’ve been living on bland for far too many weeks now. It’s wearing me down, and I’m more than ready for this phase to be over.

I could really go for a hearty Irish stew, with lots of potato and onion. Or chicken paprikash with spaetzle. Heck, I would even love some simple homemade bread with enough gluten to make the neighbors cry. I just want to be back in the kitchen.

Barefoot, of course. I wouldn’t want to suffocate my feet and interrupt my connection with the elements. I’m far too free spirited for shoes.

I just wish I could eat fo’ realz, instead of tiptoeing around random nausea triggers.