Thursday, December 31, 2009

Home again, home again, bloggety blog

We made it back from our Sojourn to the South late Monday afternoon, tired, sore, cranky, and overwhelmed by a carful of crap that had to be unloaded, sorted, and hopefully put away. We made it to unloaded. I'm still stepping on doll shoes and magnetic mosaic squares, and dozens of other toy parts that I will probably never identify properly.

By Christmas Eve, everybody seemed to be feeling pretty good. I had managed to get Devon off to daycare for two days, thus obtaining 12 hours in which to organize and pack and quietly panic for the trip ahead. We rousted everyone at 3:30 am Christmas Eve morn, and in remarkably good spirits we headed for Tennessee.

The girls slept for the first few hours while we maneuvered the dense fog in northern and central Virginia. When daylight finally appeared, we stopped for breakfast and then fired up the new dual-screen, portable DVD player that I got just for this trip. By the end of the day (about 13 hours from when we started) there was a whole lotta whining coming from that backseat, but there was just as much coming from mine. Midway through the day, my head started to feel as though someone had shoved a couple balloons up my nose and had started to blow. Did we bring anything that contained decongestant? No, we did not. Did my parents possess anything in their pharmacopeia that contained decongestant? No, they did not. Why my head did not spectacularly explode that afternoon, I am not sure, but I managed until the next day, when my beloved and allergy-ridden sister arrived with several medications in hand.

I was sure that I was on the path to a horrible, wasting illness that would render me immobile for the duration of the trip, but by the end of the second day, I was doing pretty well. Between my sister's decongestants and the AMAZING showers at my parents' house, I was feeling pretty good.

But let me digress for a moment. My parents' house. I have never spoken about it here, and am somewhat reluctant to now because they just might read this humble blog from time to time (Hi, Dad!), but this house. Is freaking huge. You would think that I would have pictures to show you, but - and I am quite serious - I do not have a lens wide enough to capture the hugeness. Every shot I try to take, I am jammed up in a far corner of the room, trying to get as much in the frame as possible, and I still just get a fraction of it, and it looks like a normal room, but IT'S NOT. Square footage? I dunno. Several million, considering how tired I am from just going from the kitchen to the living room over and over. Huge.

Why do two retirees have such a huge house? Ah, well, ask my Dad and he says it's all Mom's fault. Though he was the one who consulted with an architect and helped draw up the plans, and showed up those plans every time we visited their PERFECTLY REASONABLE HOME WHICH WAS ONLY THREE HOURS AWAY IN PENNSYLVANIA. They felt that house was "too big" and "too much work." Because they were getting older. And needed to simplify. So they built a freakin' mansion in the middle of Nowhere, Tennessee.

Really, I could go on and on about this. But I'll move on.

I really wish I was a better photographer, so I could have taken pictures of the insane meals my Dad prepared. I have no idea what gets into this man's head when people come to visit his house. Apparently, he thinks we need to be bludgeoned with cheese and starch in order to have a pleasant visit. Here is what we ate:

Thursday dinner: chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes, green beans. My dad asked if we wanted bread as well. I opted to be able to poop the next day.

Friday Breakfast: Breakfast Strata. This is a concoction, made the night before in a casserole dish, comprised of layers of cheese, english muffins, cheese, ham, and more cheese, with an egg/milk mixture poured over the top, and a final layer of...wait for it...CHEESE. The most artery-clogging, acid-reflux-inducing, gastrointestinal crisis in a Pyrex dish I have ever eaten. Good? Well, shit, yes, it's good. It's also disgusting. In a good way. But the CHEESE!

Friday Lunch: Make your own paninis. And what did we have available to put on our sandwiches? Turkey, salami, proscuitto. Cheddar, provolone, American, fontina, swiss, mozarella, Colby, CHEESE CHEESE CHEESE.

Friday Dinner (Christmas dinner was on Sunday, when the whole family could be together): Leftovers (Dad was going to attempt something else this night, but had a brief moment of clarity and went for leftovers instead. I'm sure it would have involved CHEESE.).

Saturday breakfast: Sausage gravy and biscuits, eggs, bacon, leftover Breakfast Strata (Or there would have been leftover strata, except the dish exploded in the microwave! And it was Mom's fault, according to Dad.) My dad makes excellent sausage gravy, but by this point, my gut was so bloated, I looked pregnant. Kinda felt like it, too.

Saturday lunch: I don;t remember this meal at all, so I think we all just ate whatever. I'm pretty sure my survival instincts kicked in and I skipped this meal altogether.

Saturday dinner: Mexican Night. CHEESE enchiladas, tamales, tacos, burritos. WAY too much food. This was the point where it was very clear that Devon was sick again, and I couldn't eat much because I was upset. But even if I had, Dad, it wouldn't have made a dent in all that FOOD.

Sunday breakfast: French toast, eggs, bacon. Miraculously, no cheese.

Sunday lunch. Since dinner would be early, only snacks. Which were sausage balls (loaded with CHEESE), crackers with creme fraiche, smoked salmon and caviar, and pigs in blankets.

Sunday dinner: Standing rib roast, turkey breast, mashed potatoes, brioche rolls, yorkshire pudding, AND MACARONI AND CHEESE. I am not kidding. Macaroni. And CHEESE. Again, my dad makes the most amazing mac and cheese known to man, but GODDAMN. THE CHEESE.

Seriously, I will smack a bitch who tries to feed me cheese right now.

All in all, it was a good visit, just exhausting trying to keep two kids happy in a strange, HUGE house. Devon wanted to stay downstairs most of the time, which is where the guest bedrooms (yes, plural, but only two) are as well as a big TV, a bar, snacks, a fireplace, foosball table. I'm not kidding. The place is HUGE. Fortunately, David was well enough to look after her much of the time, so I could spend some quality time with my mom. My dad was too damn busy cooking, and then recovering from cooking, to spend much time with anybody. I know it's his way of showing love, but I cannot emphasize the words "gastrointestinal crisis" enough here.

Did I get ANY pictures? Yes, a few:

My Dad, reading to Devon. She wore that dress for the entire visit.

Harper, with Mom and Dad's dog, Tessie

Harper and her beloved cousin, Erin. Erin is my sister's daughter.

Harper and Erin's daughter, Sophie.

The Smith Women. My mom likes to segregate everyone for family photos, for some reason. I never did get a shot of the menz.

Somewhere, on another camera, I guess, I do have a picture of the bar downstairs. If you're a drinker, this bar is probably where you'd like to spend the rest of your life. Me, I was too worn out all the time to risk any of the after-effects of alcohol, which for me range from massive headache to vomiting and wishing for death, and that's after ONE BEER. I'm kind of a lightweight.

There is much more I could tell you, but I've talked your ear off (written your eyes off?) already. I'm very glad to be home, even more glad that David is off until Monday, glad that Devon is back on major antibiotics, even if she is MUCH nicer to be around when she's really sick and doesn't have the energy to yell at us.

I can't believe that tomorrow is the start of a new year. Perhaps I'll have some thoughts on that then. Right now, I'm going to take a bath in Pepto Bismol while sipping on a Maalox milkshake.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


devon is sick again. it looks as though her ear/sinus/eye infection has returned.

i give up

Friday, December 25, 2009

I KNEW it!

Halfway between Maryland and Tennessee: fever, congestion, body aches. Perhaps I'm being punished for saying "fuck" too much.

Still, it's good to be in the bosom of my family again. Can't wait to tell you all about it, if I live.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sucking up means more at Christmas

I am taking a brief break from cleaning and packing and obsessing over whether I have forgotten to pack something vital, like tampons or pants, and am taking to my trusty laptop to once again say, Thank You.

Thank you so much to every one of you who comes by to read this humble blog on a semi-regular basis. All 6 or 7 of you. Every single person who has ever commented here deserves a personal response, but I'm afraid if I started down that path, I'd never have time to sew and thus nothing to blog about, and THAT would suck. But I hope you know how much all your comments mean to me. You have buoyed me up when I felt utterly low, have celebrated my successes with me. It is no exaggeration to say that I love you all. Really. If you ever need blood, or a kidney, give me a holler. I'm oh-poz.

I hope you all have the happiest of holidays, and that 2010 brings you fabric, fun, and frivolity.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Free Motion Follies

Would you believe that in the midst of all the insanity of the last 3 weeks, I actually managed to do some sewing? Of course, I had to sneak it it when the kids weren't aware of it, because whenever they notice that I am trying to do something that doesn't involve watching them, sitting on the floor next to them, or aimlessly going from room to room with them, they tend to attack me with their tiny little fingernails until I submit.

Harper found a punching bag in a toy catalog and it was one of the things she put on her Master List to Santa this year. So sure is she that Santa will come through that she asked me if I would take two of my fat quarters and make her a mat for standing on while she is throwing punches. She chose the two fabrics she wanted, and I cut, basted, stippled and bound it over the weekend.

The best part was binding it, because I could carry it with me from room to room, as the munchkins demanded it, and work on it while I claimed to be watching every move they made. It occurred to me that it would be nice to have something like that to work on while we're in Tennessee, so I dug out some of the old sushi fabric I had bought way back when I was going to make a Bento Box quilt with it, and cut placemats!

I took the opportunity I had today (with Devon finally back at daycare for a couple days) to experiment with some free motion quilting other than stippling. It looks like hell on the solid side, but over the pattern, it ain't too bad.

I'm making 4 altogether, and if I can get binding cut and machine stitched in the next 24 hours, I'll have a handy tool for ignoring my children while we're away! Sweet!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Things are looking up

I awoke Sunday morning to more snow than I've ever seen in my life. In 1996, we had a snowstorm that dumped about 17 inches and another one in 2003, but this was at least 22 inches, which I say I am allowed to call "2 feet" even if it is an inch or two shy. Needless to say, our cars were hardly visible under the mess, not to mention the driveway, the sidewalks,and, well, everything else. While Harper was beside herself with joy, I found myself in despair again: how would I dig us out? I blew out a disc in my lower back while shoveling out the car in the '96 storm, and I couldn't risk doing it again. David is forbidden to exert himself in any way, and certainly not in below freezing temperatures. I prayed that some enterprising kid would come along and offer to do it for only 22 bucks - the amount of cash on hand that David and I had between us.

And indeed one did. But before he showed up, I looked out my kitchen window, and there were my next door neighbors, shoveling the walks, the driveway, and clearing off both our cars. I shouted out the window that I sure as hell hoped they liked pecan pie, because I was making them one right then. They refused the pie, so I gave my 22 bucks to the neighborhood kid and had him help them out. Before we leave for Tennessee, I will leave a six-pack of some yummy microbrew on their doorstep. If they refuse that, I'll just have to egg their house.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What War on Christmas? Christmas is waging a war on ME

So, hey! How are ya! Good? That's great! I'm so glad to hear that. Me? Oh, you know. Just hanging out. Chillin'. While the frozen wrath of God buries us all and we smother underneath several tons of cold, wet, white HELL.

There's 14 or 15 inches out there already, and it's supposed to continue for the rest of the day and into the night. I have been stuck inside for the last week with a sick kid, and now I am stuck inside with a sick kid who is getting better, so she's back to being her cranky, bossy, rude, irascible self. AND. MY. HUSBAND. HAS. PNEUMONIA.

This was Devon last week:

This is my husband today:

And this is me. For the foreseeable future.

Seriously. I'm at the end of my rope. It's Devon's 3rd birthday today, and I ruined her cake, and I can't get out of the house to go buy more eggs or milk, and I'm just on the verge of tears all the time. I have 3 days left to prepare for our drive to Tennessee for Christmas, and there is every possibility that my husband will not be well enough to come, and I don't think I can drive all that way with two kids all by myself. But if we don't go, my parents will be heartbroken; they live for seeing these kids, and have been counting down the days to Christmas, so I guess even if David bows out - WHICH I GUARANTEE YOU HE WILL - I have to do it. But with the girls home, I can't get anything done, and now I can't even CLEAN OUT THE CAR because I can't even GET TO THE CAR.


Worst. Christmas. Ever.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My demise is imminent

It is 3:17 a.m. Devon awoke at 1:30 with a massive coughing fit. Apparently, she is done sleeping. This is the same thing that happened last night.

I am so not going to survive this week.

UPDATE: Ear infections. I predict that tomorrow will bring either ringworm or headlice. Or alien facehuggers. Or gout.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So the last seven days have been...interesting, to say the least.

Last Tuesday, both my girls had dentist appointments; Devon would be seeing the dentist for the first time, so Harper was scheduled to go right before her, thus providing the example of how utterly fun getting your teeth cleaned can be that would compel her to open her own mouth nice and wide when asked to do so. And, in spite of my prediction that she would lose her shit the second anyone tried to pry open her lips, she was quite the trooper:

However, the dentist informed me that her upper jaw is malformed because of how hard she sucks on her pacifiers, and so now it is time for her to give them up. When he saw my look of despair, he said that cold turkey is the best way, and the Binky Fairy should come and take them one night and leave her a nice prize in return.


Next day was one of the marathon meeting my boss likes to have with me. I'm sorry, but in general, I have no desire to be in anyone's company for more than 2 hours, and 1 hour to discuss work seems ample to me, but she likes to have meetings of three or four hours, or more.

The following day, my older daughter, Harper, had an appointment with her pediatric opthalmologist. Harper has strabismus, which is a muscle imbalance, and Brown's syndrome, which has to do with tendon sheaths, or something, and her eyes are crooked and she could lose vision in one eye if we can't get her to start using them together. The doctor said that it is now time to try surgery, and so we scheduled her to go into the hospital on January 20. Since I have had the same surgery for the same condition 4 times in my life, I was able to tell her a lot about what it would be like, and this was the sole topic of conversation for the rest of the day.

Friday, among approximately 874 other things that HAD to be done that day, I attempted to prepare for the arrival of the Binky Fairy. I tore through the house, looking for every errant silicone nipple, then drove to several toy stores to find a toy makeup kit to give as her "prize". We attended her daycare provider's holiday party that evening, then went home and took away her only comfort object.

That night there was only 10 minutes of screaming before she fell asleep, but that was becasue she was tired. The rest of the weekend was unadulterated hell, made worse by the fact that my husband was sick AGAIN, and was just too, too frail to be of any damn use. I'm not saying he does it on purpose, but I will say that my husband always manages to get sick at the MOST INCONVENIENT TIMES, times when we have extra kid considerations, like a 4-day weekend where both girls are home from school and daycare or GIVE UP THE BINKY WEEKEND, which he had admitted was too scary for him to even think about beforehand.

I'm not going to go into details, but I am going to admit - because we have that kind of relationship here - that on Sunday afternoon, I caved. I gave in. I folded. She found a binky that I missed, and I let her have it. I am the worst of all possible mothers: The Mother Who Couldn't Take The Binky Away. My heart was never in the process to begin with. I never felt that just taking them all away and forcing her to deal with it was the best method for her, but with everything else going on, I had no time to think about it. Had I been able to, I would have realized that I needed to find a way to make giving them up seem like her decision, even if it is really mine. I don't know how I will manage to do this yet, but I can tell you it won't be until after Christmas. I don't have the heart to do this to her again this calendar year.

And now? She is sick. Up all night last night with a fever, chills, and a horrible cough.

How is it possible that she and David have gotten sick twice in two weeks, Harper once, and I have yet to have even a sniffle? It's coming, I have no doubt. Just in time for the drive to Tennessee on Christmas Eve.

So if I ever manage to post here again, it will be proof of the afterlife, because I will surely be dead within the next week.

Monday, December 7, 2009

We have a half-assed, crappy winner!

Wait. that didn't come out right.

Giveaway Day has been so much fun, and I truly enjoyed reading the reasons that you all wanted me to send you my crap (and by "crap" I mean "extra fabric," Mom). I truly wish I could have picked several winners, because everyone who said that they would use them for charity quilts or other noble and worthy causes deserves to have lots of free fabrics rolling their way.

But I am very pleased to announce that Corvus has won this year's Half-Assed, Crappy Giveaway! Corvus commented:

I like to work with scraps and unknowns. The more crappy and halfassed my supplies are, the more I display my awesomeness by creating something mindblowingly amazing.

So, Corvus, I hereby challenge you to make something mindblowingly amazing and send me pictures, which I shall post here in order to inspire the masses with your awesomeness.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Table Runner that Ate Cleveland

For the last couple weeks, my mom's table runner has been sitting idle while I mulled over how to quilt it. I finally decided that I would create a sort of flower design in each square and quilt that, following the lines that I would draw with chalk or some other fabric marking device. The fact that I haven't done any free motion quilting in weeks and weeks was clearly not a deterrent when I decided to start in on this little plan.

I completely choked on the first attempt, creating what looked like an amoeba or a puddle of vomit in the center of the first square. That I managed to rip out, but the second time, I had the machine running so fast, and I was moving the fabric so slowly, that I actually created sub-atomic particles with my stitches. It may, in fact, be a portal to another dimension now.

So now I have a vague circle-type thing and three petals that look like ass and I can't rip them out. So, what do I come up with as my solution? STIPPLE OVER IT.

I then stippled every square, and then stitched in the ditch (sorry, Leah) around the squares and around the main border. When I got to the border, one of those demons I clearly loosed from hell with my portal lodged in my walking foot and every 20 inches or so, I ended up with a gi-freaking-normous rat's nest. This happened over and over, but I didn't get any photos for you, because every time it occurred, I ripped the threads out with my teeth and spat them out with all the bile and hatred I could muster.

Well, I was mad.

Now I have a quilted table runner that looks acceptable, save for the errant circle and petals in the middle square. Which probably aren't that noticeable. I should just leave well enough alone, right?



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Half-Assed Crappy Giveaway!

Husband is back at work and kids are at daycare/school, and I am relatively awake, if not completely caught up with everything that went to HELL while I was playing nursemaid. The windows still rattle all through the night from the percussion of three nasty coughs, and the toddler has decided she doesn't feel like falling asleep until 10 p.m. or so, but the snot wave has receded somewhat and I'm all about finding that ol' silver lining.

Since I beat the seriously astronomical odds and won a layer cake over at Confounded By Quilting, I realized I hadn't done a giveaway in a long time. Then I discovered that Sew Mama Sew is sponsoring a Giveaway Day, and I thought that would be a cool way to unload some of my crap - I mean, bestow upon my beloved readers some quilty goodness. Aw, hell - I'm unloading crap.

When my mom broke down her sewing room, she gave me what was left of her fabric. Unfortunately, my taste and my mother's do not exactly coincide. I tend to use a lot of bold colors and jewel tones, and I prefer large scale or modern, stylized prints. I've been hanging onto these for 8 months or so, and haven't touched a one, so I thought perhaps someone out there would like to have them.

Now here's where the half-assed and crappy part comes in: I have no idea how many fabrics there are, nor how big they are. I am assuming that most are at least the size of a fat quarter, but I think many are bigger. I do not know if they are "quilt shop quality." I am, however, certain that there are no hidden hypodermic needles or poisonous snakes. Hey, there's that silver lining again!

Deadline for entry is December 6 at midnight, EST. To win, leave a comment to this post, explaining why you want to win my crappy, half-assed giveaway, and the winner will be chosen at random and announced on December 7.

Good luck!