Sunday, April 28, 2013


i came home last night to find this hanging up in my living room.  i was sharing my glass of water with my plants, when i caught a glimpse of it, and it both scared the shit out of me and delighted me.  we all know i'm kind of afraid of clowns, but the last few years have seen my turn this fear into a morbid obsession.  my sister and i make up clown names for everyone, we look up creepy clown dolls on ebay and then send each other the links, i even made our sweet baby boy a clown-y quilt. yet...they still scare me a bit.  in that watching-a-scary-movie sort of way. a slight frisson of fear in my spine when i encounter one i wasn't ready for.  the boychik and a friend of his snuck it into the house while i was out, and then just waited for me to find it.  i love them.  

yesterday i got exactly nothing done.  the day before, i totally finished an awesome project that i will show you after i get it in the mail and it gets to where it is going.  i'm proud of it, but i do honestly want it to be a surprise.

today i plan on the following,
  • taking my sewing machine in for a tune up.  it hasn't had a proper tune up in years, has been moved across states and sat in storage once for a long time.  it needs some TLC.
  • going through all my in-progress projects and figuring out which ones will be finished, which ones will be frogged, and which ones are WTF worthy.
  • laundry.  i think i used up my last pair of comfortable clean underpants yesterday.  meaning today is bound to be slightly uncomfortable.
  • grocery shopping.  condiments are great, but they are even better with food to put them on.
i got through a whole week at my new desk, and there was no crying or gnashing of teeth. i totally had some deer-in-the-headlights moments, though, and i hope i'm smart enough to keep up.  i also worked on power point for the first time in my life on friday, and that thing sucks.  it seems so terribly redundant! i missed that phase of microsoft office in college, and never had to learn it since.  i wish it could have stayed that way!  otherwise, i have no complaints.  i'm so happy to be in a new place, learning new things, and going to the bathroom whenever i please.  whoo!

*also, this is post 1500! crazy talk.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

two days in

i now have two days of my new position at work under my belt. i realize it's entirely too early to make any grand, sweeping STATEMENTS or DECLARATIONS, but i can tell you this: so far it's going really well.

there are a few reasons for this, one of them being that the new group of people i work with are honestly nice.  there's one woman doing my "on-boarding," which is just the way they describe training.  she's gone over some of the new tools i'll be using (hello microsoft one note!), and the very basics of what i'll be doing.  i spent all day with her yesterday, and a big chunk of today with her, but i also had some alone time practice.  when i have questions, there's two or three people willing and happy to help, every time.  my new boss checks in often, but doesn't hover.  (i miss my old boss, i have to say.  she really is the sweetest woman on earth, and without her i don't think i would have been so prepared and motivated to apply for this job.)  i have a bit of that old-fashioned deer-in-the-headlights feeling often, but i feel good about what i'm bringing to the job.  i've mentioned this before, but this new position puts me in contact with a billion other departments, and it is truly fascinating to see the behind the scene stuff.

and!  i finished this blanket for my nephew calvin.  it's not a real quilt, more of a panel and a quilted backside.  even then, i didn't quilt the whole thing.  my machine really isn't big enough to do much quilting (the fabric and batting gets all smooshed under the "arm" of my machine), and i'm not very good at that part.  the piecing, the putting it all together, i'm good at, but i can only master free-form quilting, and more than anything with calvin's quilt i just wanted to stabilize the batting.   

my sister and i were going through a clown phase when we bought this fabric; we were busy giving everyone clown names (mine is always Mumbles the Clown), and i was doing a lot of clown drawings, and so when we found this fabric it seemed appropriate.  she was 6 months pregnant, and the little dude is almost 9 months, so it only took me a year.  oops!  bad sister.  although in my defense, my nook wasn't really set up for sewing for a while. 
i bought two of the front panels in case i royally messed up the front, and i ended up fucking up the first back i made instead!  of course.  so when i re-did it, and knew it was good, i cut one of the clowns out of the other panel and put him on the back.  he's the bonus clown!  ha. i hope calvin doesn't end up with weird clown phobias like me.  for years i couldn't stand the sight of them. now my interest in them is kind of morbid.  like a kid who learns to love scary movies, you know?  i still won't let one touch me, or be in the same room as one if i can help it (or within a hundred yard), but i can appreciate their weirdness. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


 the quilt is done!  i used a fold-over binding, thanks to this handy tool, which was easier than doing a traditional binding.  however, on a quilt this size, it probably didn't matter.  working with a piece this large in any machine, for any reason, is a pain in the ass.  true story. 
it's big enough to nap under, and nice and long.  i'm happy with the way it came out, and think it's a very solid, functional quilt.  i haven't made a quilt in so long that more than anything, this was a fun project to work on color, piecing, cutting, and basic quilting skills.  it was a super low pressure project too, and i don't know if i just got more patient and/or better at sewing, but i feel like it went together quickly.  the whole time i worked on it i looked forward to coming home from work and pulling it out.

i'm trying hard not to wish the week away, because we all know i really want to be in my new job NOW.  three more days, and then i'll probably be here complaining about how hard and overwhelming everything is.  i'm trying to just relax and go with the flow.  i'm just excited! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

five more days!

then i move to my new cubicle.  whoo!

i had my first meeting with my new team yesterday.  of course my bladder did not cooperate and i had to sneak out at one point to use the restroom.  by "sneak out" i mean, i had to cross in front of the projector so everyone could see me, which was embarrassing.  my bladder, she does not wait, though, and i had entirely too much coffee and tea yesterday.  totally my fault.  i felt sheepish, but my new boss was totally cool about it.

today i'm going to try to finish a quilt.  or two.  it's rainy and awful out, and i have been listening to a lot of pandora lately, which i am loving.  although they think i like the strokes a lot more than i actually do. 
and this is the silly sheet that's going to back the pinwheel quilt.  i remember when i bought these sheets in college, they were a little out of my price range (they were like 25 dollars) but when they went on sale, i snatched them up.  they were so cheerful and ridiculous!  i'm excited that it's going to get a new life as a quilt backing. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

progress report

 check out these cute birdie ornaments!  they are wooden and i love them and maybe some will go on the tree next winter, but for now they are cheering up my nook. 
 not that the nook needs cheering.  man, i love that little room. i love to sit and listen to music and podcasts and make stuff.  also, i'm loving this old school thread holder.  i had a plastic one, one of those giant square boxes that the lid never quite fits right on, and finally i was like, "i hate this thing. i'm going to buy a new one." genius!
this quilt is almost done!  i have some brown i need to sew along the sides to tie it all together, and it might actually be one strip too long.  i'm not sure.  i have a great old sheet to back it with, and after i get the sides on, i'm going to tie it so mom can lend me her fancy binding tool and i can finish it this weekend.  i don't know if i'm just getting more patient or better at sewing, but i have never in my life made progress like this.  these projects feel like they are flying by, and happily so.  this might not be the most modern or stylish quilt, but it makes me so happy to see the little bits of fabric with history.  the triangles of skull fabric anne bought me, the bits from the bunting we made for the wedding, the funny red "wood" fabric i made my first pair of pajama pants out of, it's all there! 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

it's so rare

for me to think to myself, "i need to clean this thing."  i mean, i'll do laundry, and my fridge is better than it has been ever (in my life), and the toilet gets scrubbed and no one comes over to my house and gets the plague, but still.  tonight i actually hauled the vacuum down to my room and used it in the nook.  when i trim threads off stuff when sewing, i just throw them on the floor.  probably that's one of the least-adorable habits i have, besides nose-picking.  (shut up, i know you pick your nose too!)   i actually do it when i embroider too.  in fact, whenever i trim a piece of thread, or yarn, or embroidery floss, or snip of fabric, i just throw it down.  i only litter threads, though, i swear.

ahem, this story doesn't need to be this long.  i just looked in my nook and thought, "yeah, this needs a hoover-ing."  i also moved some stuff around and threw out some trash and sorted all my bobbins for my sewing machine and hung up some cute birdie ornaments i got for xmas.  they are too cute for a tree, they are now strung on a line and hang above a doorway in a happy row.  now i'm going to try to put things back in place and get my bed ready for sleeping, since it's covered in fabric. 

i had a meeting with my new boss today, because i have only 8 more days on the phones (squeeeeee!) and HOLY SHIT i am excited about this new gig.  the main reason being: everyone who works in this department is excited about working there.  they are full of ideas and ideals, they want to make health insurance better for customers and they love spreadsheets and research.  i was shown something today called a "config" file that was essentially a gorgeous spreadsheet of information, easily searchable and data driven, and i swooned.  it's nerd-vana over there.

(also, thanks so much for reading my long and self-pitying post about the kid's bio-mom.  i try not to be a bummer, but parenting is new to me!)

Sunday, April 07, 2013

the nook is getting a workout

 this really is the year of my sewing machine.  i've gotten all my pinwheel blocks pressed and in strips, and now i'm adding the brown in between.  the funny thing about this quilt is how random and old-fashioned it is.  i'm going to back it with some old nick and nora sheets i have that don't fit our bed.  they're my old-school pink kitten sheets.  i'm sure D will love having a crazy old quilt around the house! 
 this quilt is one i picked out with my sister before my nephew was born. she really liked the big circus panel, and i couldn't say no.  it's been nicely washed and sitting in the nook forever! today was as a good a day as any to start putting it together.
 of course, i couldn't stay home all day sewing.  i always think that i can, and will, but at some point i need to get out of the house.  D and i went to home depot, where i got this handy pegboard.  i used to have one of these for sewing, and it i like how it makes organizing stuff in a visual, easy to access way.  space in the nook is always at a premium, and this is handy and uses space that would ordinarily be ignored.
 don't touch me!  no, you can, i took the needles out.  this is what i look like as i shuffle in and out of the nook, from the sewing machine to the ironing board.  i have two pincushions i use, but sometimes i move one and then i'm sitting there, with nothing to put my pins in.  except my shirt.  i'm also going to use this space here to talk about how D and i got into a huge fight on friday, and now i feel kind of delicate and sad, and am not getting hugged anyway, so i may as well put pins in my shirt.  fighting with him is my least favorite thing to do, and what bothers me the most is how he pushes all my buttons, makes me cry, and then won't just say he's sorry for hurting my feelings.  i'm not asking for a liver, i just want a "sorry, that was maybe a little mean."  we're still wary around each other, and i can't tell  if he's still being kind of a jerk or if now i'm just sensitive to it.  either way, arguing with your spouse is bullshit.  we can all agree on that. 
the baby of the baby quilt is just simple stripes.  i didn't want to make it too fussy, and to be honest, my mom is such a better quilter/sewer than i am and has already made calvin a few quilts. the kid's going to be plenty warm, for a long time.  thanks to mom's amazing abilities, no one really expects much from me! 

after i get this one done, i have another panel coming in the mail that i'm going to use to make a quilt for my niece's new baby boy.  i found this really pretty, modern design, that i think will make a great blanket.  i'm going to try to be good, though, and finish up these projects first.  cross your fingers!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

this one is kind of long. sorry.

for those of you that don't know this, my kid's bio-mom isn't in the picture.  not because of anything heinous i did, not because of anything heinous anyone did, as far as i can tell.  she was young when the boychik was born, about 17, and only just 21 when the girlchild was born.  my husband was older (probably too much older, he'll be the first to admit), although neither of them were exactly grown-ups when the kids came along.  about 12 years ago, she decided that she didn't want to be a mom or girlfriend anymore, and she and D split up.  for a bit they worked on co-parenting, but that fell apart quickly.  there were drugs and parties involved, but it's probably not entirely fair to blame the falling apart on that alone.  i think, more than anything, that she resented having so much responsibility, and wanted a life of her own instead.  when i was 21, i had very little responsibility.  i had a part time cat, a share of the rent to pay, some homework to do, and many parties to attend and bars to go to.  it was wonderful, and i'm glad i had that time for myself.  unlike the bio-mom, though, at 17 i had also graduated from high school, came from an intact family and wasn't in a big rush to be an adult.  when she was 17, she was a high school dropout who had essentially run away from home and gotten pregnant for the first time.  she's only a year older than me, but our lives are pretty different. 

for ten years she was completely absent from the kid's lives. no child support, no birthday cards, no calls on the phone.  she practically dropped off the face of the earth.  the boychik took it harder than the girlchild, because he remembered her, had grown up with her.  the girlchild remembers nothing of her parents being together.  two years ago, right about the time D and i were getting ready to get married, she friended the kids on facebook.  i guess if you're going to parent long-distance, with as little effort as possible, hitting the "like" button is as good a place as any to start.  her sudden reappearance caused shock waves both big and small, and we all had to adjust to knowing she was around.  unlike a lot of stepmoms, i had never had to deal with the mother of my kids.  there wasn't a lot of memory about her either to compete with, no "wrong" way of making mac and cheese, no struggle to assert that i was actually doing parenting, or to fit in and/or complement a style already in place.  the kids already had a parent who was a bit outside the norm, and they made a place for me as easily as you would put down another plate at dinner.  i've always understood how lucky i am to have had an easy, good relationship with them.  it didn't take me long to fall as in love with them as i did their dad, and to be frank, marriage to me meant primarily solidifying our family.  i always referred to it as "our" wedding, because it was about the four of us.

at the back of my mind, though, has always been the fear that she's going to want more of a relationship with the kids.  that facebook isn't going to be enough, that soon the phone calls will start, and the awkward visits will commence.  (after two years of nothing but random facebook messages between her and both kids, this anxiety should be lessened, but anxiety not being related to logic or reality, is still just as strong to me.)  being an official stepmom is great and all, but as much as i love the kids, as much as i consider them my own, she's the wildcard.  bio-moms have precedence, you know?  bio-moms are THE important mom, stepmom's are never "real" moms, and there's this prevailing idea that the love and connection a woman feels for the children she's carried is the most noble, enduring, deepest bond two people can have.  which means that even though she walked out, she loves them more than i do or could, and secretly pines for them to return to her loving bosom.  or something.   

the point of all this is this: a year ago the bio-mom had another baby.  she told the girlchild about it last week.  she's never told the boychik, but he figured it out a few months ago after a lot of photos of her with a baby showed up on facebook.  D figured it out doing a google search a few months ago as well. ( i was the last to know.)  my initial emotions were all about the kids; how did they feel, were they worried, was it strange for them, did they want to meet their new brother, would this make the bio mom more involved?  the girlchild at first was shocked and excited, and wanted to know about the baby and meet him.  she's since settled into a more cautious interest, probably in solidarity to her brother.  the boychik said he didn't care, that he doesn't know or have a relationship with his bio-mom, and that he doesn't know the baby and just because they share a parent doesn't mean they're siblings to him.  "it takes more than some shared DNA to make us family, you know?"  i admitted that it freaked me out, but that my experience with my mom is pretty different than theirs is as well.  if my mom had done something like this, i'd be heartbroken, but i grew up with my mom.  i know her.  they don't.  i was also furious at the casual way she brought it up with the girlchild, and couldn't believe that this was how she chose to act. 

after all that, after the kids had gone to bed, i was swept by other, more selfish emotions.  anger that she would treat the kids like mere acquaintances who hadn't needed or been important enough to be informed she was pregnant, or that they had a new brother.  more upsetting to me was the overwhelming grief i felt.  marrying D meant no bio-kids of my own.  i had a choice; i could have him and the kids, or a theoretical baby with someone else.  i knew him and the kids, i loved them, and i don't regret my decision; but i was a woman who thought she would have children in a more conventional sense.  which is hilarious when you consider i wasn't so sure about marriage.  knowing that she can just have babies when she feels like it, that she gets to be THE MOM no matter what, that she was reveling in new motherhood while i get to deal with parent-teacher conferences and arguing over whose turn it is to clean the bathroom and all the tedious parts of parenthood that sitcoms are written of, made me break down and weep.  it's so easy for her to get to be a mom, and no matter what i do, i'll always have come later, and i'll never have that easy assurance that i'm a parent.  i never get to say, "just do it because i'm your mom and i asked you to." 

and while all that's true, it's also all bullshit too.  family isn't just DNA and inborn emotional connections.  you don't parent your kids because you have to, obviously.  our biological imperative doesn't automatically make us good people.  just because you make a person, or are related to a person doesn't mean you have anything in common with them or even like them.  our veneration of mothers isn't always honest or accurate.  i might not be a real mom, but i am a real parent, i do have children that i love and would do anything for.  unlike their bio-mom, i can't imagine severing ties with them, for any reason.  if D and i were break up tomorrow, i'd still feel like the kids were mine, i'd still want to live with them and care for them, and cajole them into taking out the trash.  i miss them when i'm away for just a day.  i can be sad and cry about the kids i didn't have, i think that's fair. i can be upset that she can make babies when she wants to, i have that right.  more than that, though, i have a family right here and right now, who i love and am grateful for.  my theoretical bio-baby would have been cute and chubby and had a ridiculous name, but i wouldn't trade the kids i have for the kid that might have been.  i hope their new brother has a mom that sticks around, and i hope someday the kids have some sort of relationship with him.  i think he'll like them.