Thursday, June 28, 2007

Now I've Done It!

I went and got my hair cut again. I loved my other hairstyle -- it was very cool and funky. But terribly impractical. My hair was EVERYWHERE -- in the vaccum, on our clothes, down the drains, in the way every time that I went to put on the baby sling, impossible to put up or leave down . . . so it had to be cut.

But the problem is that I only specified a length, not a style when I went to see the hairdresser. I thought that since she'd given me such a cool hairstyle last time, she would have some brilliant insight again this time. Unfortuantely she was running behind and since I didn't really know what I want she just gave me the default hairstyle.

You all know what the default hairstyle is. It is the style that any hairstylist in the known multiverse would cut your hair into if not given instrucitons to do otherwise. For me, the default hairstyle is a bob. So now I have a slightly above-shoulder length bob. It has a few layers in the bottom, but that's it. It looks pretty good and is easy to take care of. But its the default haircut. The one I've always been given since I was 4 and had enough hair to bob. Sigh.

So now I've done it. I'm going to have to either grow my hair out or keep getting it cut. And we both know which one of those options is more fun. Stay tuned to the continuing saga of Jill's hair.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Bitter with the Sweet

Last weekend I took my kids on a youth group camping trip. The teenagers had a great time, thanks to the two other competent adults I asked to come and help me. They both love camping and know all the tricks and have all the tools to have a really great camping trip.

Then there was me. I did pretty well. I set up the tent. I had the mosquito repellant and the sunscreen and the warm, long sleeved clothes and everything we needed. I did not, however, have the plug to my air matress, which made for miserable sleeping conditions.

As some of you know, Andrew is not a prize winning sleeper. Getting him to sleep has always been a chore, and he did not accomplish the feat of staying asleep all the way through the night until he was almost two. We still have our sleepless nights, and the two nights on the campout were among them.

Since he is a very high needs child, we have had many frustrating days, as well. I wish sometimes that I could go to the bathroom without him, or do a load of laundry without hearing "Where are you, mommy?" from somewhere in the house. When I was at the retreat, I was wishing I could unpack food for the campout or go and get my flashlight or nurse the baby without having to wait for him to walk with me from the main campsite to the site where our tent was pitched. I was wishing he would stay with some of the other people while I trekked to the bathroom or went and spent time with the youth kids. Or even that I might have been able to drip him off with someone for the weekend, like many of my friends do, and go by myself.

This got me thinking about the comment older women with grown up children always make. "Enjoy these years. They go so fast." I always think, "How can I enjoy them? I spend the entire time cleaning bodily fluids off myself, my children and the carpet. I am losing the upper range of my hearing from all the shreiking I have heard in the last two years. Have maybe had 30 days when I have slept 8 hours straight in the last 3 years. I am constantly harried, distracted, screamed at, clinged to, spit up on, tired, sore and numb from answering a thousand questions every day. Motherhood sometimes feels long and bitter. I can see why many women never seem to recover themselves at the end of it.

But then we went to the beach in Waskesiu. After a trying time getting into the car to get there, a long tiring walk with one boy in the stroller and one baby in the backpack, and having to repeat the mantra "we will go to the beach AFTER mommy finishes her coffee, Andrew!" a thousand times, we actually had this beautiful moment on the beach. Some of the girls were amusing the baby, and Andrew and I took off our shoes and socks, rolled up our pants and waded in the water. We looked at the boats and the birds. We laughed at the cold water on our feet. We squelched our way up and down a good portion of the beach. We saw hordes of butterflies and dragon flies. It was a perfect moment. One that you want to breathe in and hold onto and never let go.

I realized that these moments are not hard to come by when you are parenting young chilren, if you stop and take them. I realized that this is the sweetness and joy I longed for when I chose to have children. And I realized that it is the bitter times, the angry, frustrating times that make these quiet, beautiful moments even more precious. I love happy little moments with Andrew because I can hold them close and remember them when I am way past the end of my rope. I can enjoy my time with my children when I let go of all the frustrations, give in to the reality that I will not be at my best for the next ten years or so, and take time to experience the simple wonders that surround me.

When I am in the bitter moments, I try to find a little morsel of sweetness to help them go down a bit easier. Instead of complaining about the frustrations of my day, I'm learning to ask myself what we can do to let go of the day's tensions and enjoy a little moment together. A few moments walking on the beach, digging in the sand, or eating pretend food out of a book together is usually all it takes. I just have to remember to stop and find the sweetness and savour it when it comes my way.

Warning . . Juggling Unicyclists Ahead.

What, precisely, is this sign supposed to communicate to me? That the circus is coming to town?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Just Wanted to Boast a little . .

and let you know that Aaron did his first longish unassisted sit yesterday. Yes, my super strong baby sat up on his own for a minute or two at 5 mos.

I have much more to post about but no time. For the first time in a month Andrew is having a nap and guess who just woke up from a 3 hr long nap? As usual, no rest for the mommy. Sigh.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What Was I Thinking?

I am taking 8 teenagers (possibly 9) on a camp out this weekend with two other adults and my 2 small children. Of course because we are going camping this week, Aaron is cutting his two bottom teeth and Andrew has decided that he is not going to eat anything but yogurt and fruit and ice cream and juice, and that he is not going to listen to me or do anything I ask him to do, and go around whining and complaining all day and pull apart and destroy everything in my house. This is also the week I have to have a nagging beginning of a head cold complete with headaches, sore throat and spaceyness. Which means I will get the full blown cold sometime while we are camping, which will exaserbate my asthma. And that i can't seem to think or get myself together enough to get anything done.

So I still have to do all the laundry I need for the trip, pack, grocery shop, and get our house in a reasonable state for Dave to stay home for the weekend and have something in the house to eat. By 3:30 tomorrow. Right now I don't even know how I am going to make it through the afternoon, never mind the entire weekend.

But, my history with this youth group has been that everything comes together at the last minute, my children behave well, and the kids are great and have fun anyway. So I should just relax and get the laundry done and get to bed early, and worry about everything else tomorrow.

The annoying thing is that I wasn't even anxious until everyone kept telling me how crazy I was. I'm tired of people saying "You're doing ______? I would never try that. You're so brave." When they say this, I start thinking "maybe I can't do this after all" and its all down hill from there. So I'm going to ignore all those people who think I'm crazy, slather my children in bug repellant and sunscreen, let the teenage boys light big fires and the girls lie on the beach and enjoy the great outdoors, secure in the knowledge that we will all survive and my children will be fine, if a big mosquito-eaten at the end of the trip, and the youth kids will more or less take care of themselves (or the other adults will take care of them) and all will be well.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Taking a Tiny Break from Quilts

I felt the need to take a break from quilts, so I made this bag. Also, I needed a larger bag now that I have two children's stuff to lug around, and since Andrew usually rides in the stroller while I carry Aaron, a backpack just wasn't working. So, this is my un-diaper bag.
Here is a close up of the fabulous fabric that is inside the pockets, lining and inner strap:

This will give you a good idea of the shape of the bag when empty:

This last photo is a close up of the very cute charm fabric I appliqued onto the front pocket, just for a dash of extra panache.

When I make another one of these (one of my friends has already hinted that she would really like one for a shower gift), I think I will put inside pockets into it, too. This one just has the small pocket at the front and a large medium sized book pocket on the back (7 x 11, I think).

The funny thing about this bag was that when I looked at the bag I made it off of, it seemed like a simple and elegant pattern that I couldn't possibly mess up. In reality, I took the sides off this bag twice (once becuase I messed up the sewing, and once because the strap was twisted) and had to cut the lining apart and re-stitch it because I should have sewn it into the bag earlier than I did. Oh well. Now I know for next time. And I'm very happy with the resulting bag. It is cute and slouchy and funky, but just the right size for a diaper bag. And if I ever go back to teaching or school, it will be big enough to carry all my stuff for that, too.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Thread of Continutiy

Let's sit on the VERANDA font and chat about me for a moment. Who comes up with these font names, anyway?

While I was machine quilting my niece's quilt, I had a thought. I realized that I was really enjoying machine quilting, despite it being a slightly hellish process. For those of you not familliar with the quilting process, this is what happens. You take forever putting the tiny bits of fabric into bigger and bigger pieces until you have a whole quilt top. Then you put the middle part (batting) and the bottom fabic under it and safety pin it all together so it doesn't shift. Then you manouver this rather aukward, large bundle of fabric around as you sew through all three layers to quilt it together. When you are quilting one end of the quilt, the rest of the quilt is all sort of hanging everywhere, and bunching together, and you are trying to balance it by surrounding yourself with tables and chairs and rolling up various parts of the quilt to stuff it through the small space between the sewing machine arm and body . . . its quite ridiculously complicated. This is why most people either hand quilt their larger quilts or send them away to a professional with a special quilting sewing machine.

Anyway, I quite enjoy the whole process of quilting. I like finding patterns that I can follow to make it easier to quilt and do the longest amount of continuous sewing that i can. So for instance, with Kaylee's quilt I found that I could actually continously quilt 4 blocks without cutting the thread. This sort of small victory give me great pleasure. I started wondering why it was, exactly, that such an odd thing made me so content. And that is when I had my thought.

I realized that the think I like about quilting is the creation of patterns. In fact, I most naturally think in patterns. This is why my thoughts seem so random to everyone else. It is because my brain is organized not in straight lines but in pinwheels, checkerboards and spirals. I started making connections back through things in my life I have enjoyed that seemed unconnected. Until I put the pieces together (ha ha). Let's look at a few.

1. Quilting -- I already explained this one.

2. Curriculum planning -- I love it. I am one of the few teachers I know that actually enjoys looking through the curriculum and planning specific units. I like to see how many learning goals I can cover in one unit, and I love figuring out how I will gradually teach larger concepts through smaller, incremental activities. I love matching up learning goals, activities and resources.

3. Samuel Beckett -- This is also what I love about his writing. His works are all about repetition -- the making, repeating, and breaking of psychelogical patterns.

4. Personality Profiles -- I am fascinated by them. Categorizing people by their patterns of behaviour.

5. Poetry -- I was always really good with poets like bp nichol who play with word structure and form a lot. I am also annoying good at identifying and discussing poetic devices -- I love finding rhyme, alliteration, repetition, rhythm, etc, etc in a poem and seeing why the poets use the patterns they use.

6. Archetypes -- I love finding the repeating archetypal figures and stories that run through literature. I love finding trickster figures, hero's journeys, etc in literature. It fascinates me how most of the world's stories are based on the same patterns of plot, character and relationship.

7. Algebra -- I always did great on the parts of math that involved balancing equations. It seems sort of intuitive to me, while random formulas for calculating the circumference of a whatever never made sense to me.

8. Those Drawing I Used to Do In Highschool -- Okay, that one only makes sense if you knew me in highschool. But I used to make these sort of free-form twisted checkerboard and swirly line drawings all the time in highschool. I found them soothing and would spend hours making entire pages full of tiny, slightly skewed squares and swirls. They were incredibly soothing to me.

So, now you know an interesting, but completely useless piece of information about me. I like patterns. A lot. They make me happy.

So why can't I organize my household? I'm not sure, but it quite likely extends from some pattern of behavior.

I know you're out there . . .

Okay, so my sitemeter is telling me there's a lot of hits from Thunder Bay this week, so I've just go to ask: Who in Thunder Bay is lurking on my blog? Come on, I know you're out there. Fess up.

Friday, June 08, 2007


Why do I always realize AFTER I invite a new friend in for coffee that my son has dismantled the shoe rack (thus dumping shoes and sand all over the entry way), spilt juice on the kitchen floor (making it sticky underfoot) and emptied all the couch cushions and toys into a pile in the middle of the living room floor? Oh, and my husband has left his motorcycle helmet, two types of cereal boxes, and a bowl on the kitchen table. And we have accumulated a stack of magazines and books on one end of the table. And I am out of dishwasher detergent (on the list of "things to do later today") so my sink has a stack of dirty dishes in it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Filling in the Blanks

Andrew has decided that he needs to understand everything. Right. Now. And that the source of all his answers is the Encyclopedia Jilltanica. I spend my entire day answering questions. "What happened, mommy?"
"Well, Andrew, the man walked by and he said "hi" to us."
"What did you say?"
"I said hi back."
"What did he say?".
"Nothing, he just kept walking."
"What did you say?"
"I said hi."
"What did he say?"
"He didn't say anything."
"WHAT did HE say, mommy?"
"Nothing Andrew."
"What did you say?"
"No more questions, Andrew."
This goes on all day long. Every thing that happens must be analyzed and discussed in the minutest possible detail. And repeated endlessly until Andrew has discovered every morsel of wisdom, truth, and knowledge from it.

Aside from the old "What happened, Mommy?" (by far his favorite question), he is also fond of simply adding prepositions so that I will fill in more details.

"Where are we going, mommy?"
"We are going to the store."
"With . . . "
"To buy . . . "
"We are going to the store with Aaron to buy some groceries."
"So that . . . "
"So that there is food in the house for us to eat, Andrew."
"In the . . . "
"In the car."
"With . . . "
"Mommy and Andrew and Aaron are going in our green car to buy groceries so that we can bring them home and eat them. That is the end of the sentence, Andrew."

I used to always think it was heartless of moms to say, with exasperation, "NO MORE QUESTIONS." But now I think there is a time when you just can not answer anymore questions. I think I need to come up with an error report phrase, like "Failure to boot". or "I can not perform that function". and repeat it endlessly until the questioning stops.

Aaron Circumnavigates the Kitchen Floor

So, Aaron is on the move. Not very quickly or very well, but he has discovered that if he arches his back just so and squirms in just the right way he is capable of incrementally moving himself around. If I place him on a slippery blanket on the kitchen floor, he can actually turn himself a full 360 degrees. Its kind of funny, because I'll set him down, and I look over a few minutes later and he's kicking the dishwasher, or chewing on the leg of his bouncy chair, or batting at a Weeble that I thought was completely out of reach.

He also tried to throw himself off the couch the other day. I propped him up in the corner of the couch so I could do something for Andrew, and next thing I know he has thrown himself forward onto his tummy and is rolling himself off the couch, face first.

I think I should enjoy his happy and mellow temperment now before he gets too much more active. Because he's going to be one of those under-the-gate, on-top-of-the-refrigerator, half-way-across-the-parking-lot kids. Ah well, that will mean Andrew can keep his spot surgically attached to my leg without any competition.

Who Knew?

Jill --

A person with a taste for acorns

'How" will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

Friday, June 01, 2007

You know you need to clean your oven more often when . . .

you hear your two and a half year old saying "oh no, the smoke alarm went off. We'd better open the door to our little house" while pretend playing in a box house you made for him.