Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to keep the holiday crazy away ...

I would tell you, start as soon as possible. August, lists should be made. September should be used to piggyback back to school purchases and easy presents. October should be used for prodding parents of any residual nephews and nieces that have not been purchased for if that is how your family works and November should be spent on hostess gifts and forcing your child to prioritize his list for Santa. If you're feeling over-achievery, aim to complete writing your holiday cards by the end of Thanksgiving weekend.

This allows one to really get her "ho ho ho" on, smile at all things tinsel and shiny. It prevents complete and total annoyance at holiday commercials on t.v. It makes thinking about holiday recipes ... fun! Best of all, it prevents you from having to drop a load of cash in a short period of time. (Careful with the credit people!)

But seeing how it's already the piss end of November and I have not followed my usual method. (I didn't even send out holiday cards the past 2 years) I have to find another way to keep the holiday crazy away.

Someone tell me what you've got. Ha!

Okay well a smart person should have a contingency plan right? Or at least be prepared to make one on the fly.

So this is what I've got:
  • Go back to the list. I swear even if it seems overwhelming the amount that you have to do. Write it out, confront it. Reorder and prioritize it. 
  • Shop online. If you can support local businesses or small businesses (crafters & artists!) that's great. However if you're feeling constrained by time, do not rely on this unless you know specifically what you are going to get, for whom, from where.
  • Buy boxed cards and start writing/addressing them out. If you actually get off your holly jolly butt and take a photo and decide to share it with the world between work and family obligations and festivities you are a) my hero b) still with the option to have the prints inserted into pre-addressed cards. 
  • I find people prefer visuals of their friends and families and expect more of the written if they just receive a stock card. But most of all, people are happy you remembered them. (crap, I really need to send them out this year).
  • !! bonus point - from your pre-addressed card, make an excel list of addresses that become your "Holiday Card List". I have an old handwritten one (what? I'm a lazy beast!) that I've been using for years. Honestly, everyone in your address/contacts are not everyone you send family photos to right? 
  • Timing. If entertaining, make a general plan. In other words, put out a basic menu. Pick out the main entree and main side you know you are going to do. Figure out how long you're going to need to "clean". Are you volunteering for a school, work or church function? Are you going to need to take time off to clean, cook, volunteer? Determine it now, ask now. 
I could go on, but then I'm doing that "Ellen thing" and making things more complex when really we are trying to simplify. The above allows us to see what we have to do. Whether you block out time or you chip away at it, it can be done. You will have to prioritize, you will have to be honest. If you have a deadline at work that is going to keep you long hours until the 20th, perhaps you shouldn't have 25 people over for Xmas eve. especially if you cannot take any time off. Your nephew wants a lego set for $75 and has not listed anything else, give them a gift card with what your budget allows and let them put it towards that gift.

How do you support this plan, and lower the anxiety levels while doing so?

1) Let's face it. If you don't have any anxiety about a lot of crap getting done in a short amount of time, I worry you may be an amoeba. "Anxiety"is a close relative of "Drive". Use your powers for good.

2) Make sure you insert plenty of truly happy festive, selfish happy things in here. Me? Obviously I make sure I get my holiday knitting time in, I'm planning on some visits with friends I've been swearing I'll see before the year end. I'm going to bake a new pastry (theoretically) and try some new wintery recipes. The Kid and I are going to whip out the old holiday/Christmas books that he used to love and I'll read aloud just like when he was a tattertot. I'm going to pretend like there is mistletoe even when there is not.

Now get out there and start putting some jingle in your jangle.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Post Turkey Day Sadface

Today is Saturday and we have a kick about with the other soccer families and then I think it's back to the eating agenda.

I will admit I am already sad about the impending doom of Monday ...

I will hold it at bay for the joys of today and tomorrow.

I will also need to reanalyze my Christmas Stategy.

I had this brilliant idea to buy myself something I wanted (within reason) and put it under the tree to unwrap on Christmas morning. The Manfriend and I like to have a gift each, but sometimes one or more items to break up the rotation of our only child unwrapping his presents. I ordered this thinking I was brilliant. I was so happy putting the order in I tell you. Anyways Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the husband comes home with a bunch of groceries to prep from Berkeley Bowl West. It seems like we are on top of this Thanksgiving thing but his face is sour.

He had a bad day at work.

And then he says, "I think someone stole our packages."

The packages arrive during the day at work, and he throws them into the trunk of the car. I feel bad that I have them shipped to him where they usually arrive during the lunch rush, but on the other hand, I am not allowed to have things shipped at the office.

Well he says he is pretty sure they were in there when he went to the grocery store a few blocks from his work, but he didn't notice them being there when he put the groceries in.

He said there were two packages.Such a sadface to wear during the beginning of the holidays. So hard to hold back the bile and the anger. But what can be done?

I hope someone really likes Debbie Bliss Paloma.

I hope that someone cannot fit into size M underwear for men or M for little boys. I hope they get a good price for the size 7 shoes -- they were almost 50% off anyways.

I will replace the boys things. I will replace my yarn. I will not allow theft to taint my love. However, I am fortunate to be able to "replace" so easily. The shoes, were whimsy. I will let them go and not be too greedy.

Here's to beginning the holidays with an understanding it should be enjoyed, but nothing is guaranteed, even when you're trying.

Friday, November 25, 2011

First there was a whole turkey and now there is only some.

The Manfriend's turkey was/is not just impressive but tasty. I admit, my eyeballs sort of bugged out when he brought home all eighteen pounds of it. I made some serious magic in the fridge to accommodate it's behemoth size.

Brined by The Chonicle technique, not stuffed. (He made classical stuffing two ways: 1- with apples and 1 - without apples. Creamy mashed potatoes, (so glad he took my "more butter" advice), and there were sauteed green beans and roasted asparagus.

There was also some wine involved that involved yesterday being a bit of a tired haze. However I went out and about, had my meeting at the bank wore my new boots downtown on black Friday and had lunch with The Kid and The Nephew and the parents. They found a new lunch shop in Chinatown. I had soup with chicken and leek dumplings. I want to try the Bun Bo Hue, which is the El Dorado of eating soup out for me. So hard to find a good one, which makes me so tentative to order it. I saw my sister order "the wrong soup" and her food envy. Very sad business.

Yesterday I got hungry again around 4pm. So we took the little boys to Super Duper where my little country mouse nephew was chatty. (Look at the people! Is this the MUNI?) They were happy for a snack for fries. Little one ate half a mini burger and ""saved the rest for later".

Yet somehow, 2 hrs later when we had reheated "The Day After Thanksgiving", I still managed to put another plate down my gullet. ha!

Half the family stayed in the living room with me while I weaved in those annoying ends on the baby blanket and worked on my sweater. The other half played a relentless game of 5 card draw poker in the kitchen table. I think the little one still requires a little family assistance, but seeing how he's just turned 5, we'll cut him some slack.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Two Tired Ladies Craft Together

At the end of my mother's first evening with us, she pulls out this squishy fuzzy yarn. It looks like terry clothe boucle. She tells me that people think it's really cool in Thailand. I'm like, "who is knitting thick yarn in Thailand" (apparently my cousin N)

I work on a crochet border for the baby blanket, trying to ignore the wonk. I finally put it down when I cannot remember if I have already done round 2 or not. (As I told Little Snoopy, can't let it turn into a rug.) And I went to bed.

Moms has been struggling with the sleep regulation I think between Thailand and her wild ways in Vegas with her BFF. So she gets up in the middle of the night and reads some People and works her scarf.

The next morning she waves it around in irritation. It's like suddenly she's lost gauge, or she picked it up with larger hook. Maybe she was off on her stitch count? It definitely has it's wonk factor.

That evening she can't take it. She rips it out and starts again, only to discover the same problem. It turns out that's just how the yarn was made. Thick in some spots (say 4 inches) and then thin in another. She just wants a button now. She said she's moving to Kansas, she needs a pink scarf and no-one will know.

I on the otherhand, can't even look at the baby blanket. I still haven't blocked anything. I still need to finish my sweater body for Mothed. (so close!). But since none of these items are very portable ... I cast on a pair of alpaca armwarmers for my long wait at the DMV.

I was knitting on the armwarmers last night when my sister started sneezing. I think she's allergic to alpaca -- which she asked, "is that the south american sheep?" um no ... It's alpaca. "Yeah the sheep that they make yarn out of down there." um no ... It's not a sheep, it's an alpaca, that's why they call them alpaca. "Hmm, but it looks like a sheep?" No, really not at all.

We still love each other.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful Spoiled Brat.

I really need to manage my whining. When I get myself in a pickle it's usually my own fault! I figure I have to remind myself of the things that make me happy right?

When I was looking forward to this week, I was really excited. I was anticipating a lot of happy things.

The ability to pick up my kid early from school and hang out. I could walk down to coffee with the Manfriend without rushing, I could go to the dentist without rushing. I would see my mother and hang out in the kitchen and the livingroom chatting and crafting. We'd have a simple family Thanksgiving, with smiles. I'd have a little extra time to spend with my family and take care of items in the house long over due.

Well, the good things have come but not without price and consequence.

Friday I stayed a little bit later, but work items were still not where they should've been. I said I have the option of doing some work from home, knowing how difficult that could be. Definitely a contributing factor to not sleeping well.

I did the 5k run/walk for The SF Foodbank. It was smaller than I expected and it was raining as predicted, but it REALLY rained. My ipod was runninng out of batteries and I was on sensory overload anyways, with the rain and the body heat, and the road.  At one point I took off my rain shell and tied it around my waist until after the race and put it back on. Before and after I checked my pockets which contained my license, public transportation card, and my bank card (still unsure why I took that in the first place). The boys were going to pick me up, but I was making better time than them, and already near the N Judah and opted to meet them at home. I pulled out my "cards" for the public transportation card and got on MUNI.

I beat the boys home and peeled off my clothes and hung them in the bathroom to get into the hot shower. My arms were red from the rain still. I spent the rest of the day at home. (In retrospect I should've been icing my knees -- when did I get my mother's old lady issues?) So I didn't think about my pocket gear much. I remember taking my ipod out and putting it on the kitchen counter b/c I didn't want to leave it in the bathroom. I made wet footprints down the hallway.

We took The Kid to school together and then I realized I didn't have my license and bank card in the jacket pockets. I thought, hmm. I must've pulled them out. But when I got back and ransacked the appropriate clothing and areas, I began to panic.

Self loathing set in, since obviously this is my sloppy fault.

Well at least I didn't have to rush to the dentist that morning! I had to wait a little bit to do the impressions for my retainer. I used the time I had to pick up some lunch for my lovely ManFriend who was trying to Mom-proof the house. She's not very high maintenance, but we like to at least put a little effort into it. I also managed to pick up a few gifts, I had been meaning to get to.

Sister picks up mother bird and delivers her to the house. She does not stay because little nephew is being a brat and she has plans later that evening. The rest of the day is pretty relaxing. Cooking and crafting.

I think that first day off, together set the tone of, "We're going to have a good time together people ... but we're still gonna have to work at it."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another List

I have thought of a lot of (what I would consider) witty things to say in the past few days. Not so much to impress, but more for the exercise of putting words into sense making expression. So the list is back to jump start my consistency again.

Reading: BFF lent me A Visit From the Goon Squad and even though I'm more of an escapist kind of reader and not as smart as her, I really enjoyed it. I was worried that it was going to be some "woe is me, I'm a victim character study", but it's not as simple as that. The way the stories of multiple characters are interwoven was truly interesting. The atmosphere is centered around "music culture", in the sense of wanting to be a part of the music industry, which is not necessarily a topic of interest for me, but the author had a style and voice I really appreciated. I liked being squeamish, uncomfortable and grossed out. I liked feeling angry at a character. I liked some of the personal reflection of my own youth that is now not so dangerously close, I can allow for gentle rewrites (ha!). Also the chapter using Power Point Slides was really fun. Seriously ... I don't even like Power Point Slides.

Family Stuff: Dudes, 16 candles all over again. Sis was turning 30 on Monday (such a baby! ) and on the fence about celebrating. So being the older and wiser sister I know better than to push someone into doing something they say they don't want. I have to try and remember family have FREE WILL. However I think they should just freely and willingly follow me. I couldn't resist completely and asked her gently again on Sunday morning if she wanted to come over and "hang out". This means eating and chatting and watching the t.v. at our house. We did with mini cupcakes, beer, thai food and of course a simple present. So we celebrated but mildly.

On Parenting: My mother is coming to stay with us for a few days next week. Why is it when she stays with me, I get all tense? I revert to bratty "I just want to hang out in my room. I just want to read ... alone" 15 year old Ellen. I get impatient. Is it simply because my space is small, and I like my space? When I visit her and The Colonel I revert to my sweet 12 year old self, reading/crafting on the couch, baking cookies and talking about crime shows on t.v.

On Parenting: The Kid was shaking the other morning because he was so cranky. Any attempts at soothing him are met with such impressive hostility; side eyed glares, various methods of harumphing or grunting. I just wish he would go back to making me coffee. I think he was discouraged when I implied his methods were rather messy when I mentioned there were coffee grinds all over the floor. (This does in fact render the coffee less delicious.)

Spousal Support: 9th Anniversary, of legally tolerating each other has come to pass. Though we've been co-dependent much longer than that, we both decided to celebrate by purchasing "Modern" anniversary presents. This year is Leather. Oh you dirty birds. We bought each other boots. How dorky right? yeah I know, but that is why we love each other. I got him practical work boots that hopefully will prevent him from slipping and he got me "more formal boots". This means they are not rain boots and are tall and not hookery, not trendy with lots of buckles or a Peter Panish slouch and most importantly sensible and mature enough to walk around the city in. They are taller than anything I've worn before (not heel height, but up to my knees).  Haha. Category decided: Nice Mom boots.

Knitting: Oh sweet Jesus. Will I ever knit anything with proper proportions? I think about it all day long. I must really love it if I produce so many wonky items and still want to keep going. I am inspired by so many people's works. One day I can make something pretty too! I can't go into it right now. The knitting is killing me. Maybe next week.

Domestica: ManFriend thinks they are going to close the restaurant during the Turkey Days, since Staff is revolting. 4 days off. That's going to be a lot of time together. I'm sure I can get him to help me clean out a closet eh?

Knitting ps: With all the wonkiness happening in my knitting I have lost my desire to try a first pair of socks. Sock knitters are tough people. I'm just not that tough. I think if I have to pick right now ... I'm going to continue trying to make less wonkified sweaters. I think the pressure of having to create matching socks might ruin me.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Something is about to slip through the cracks

For various reasons, my focus is again shifting more than a 3 year old waiting to pee.

One reason could be my pure enjoyment of knitting Paper Moon. I'm using that Madelinetosh Vintage in Fathom, which if I'm correct the proper knitting term is "Squooshy" vibrant goodness. I was so in love I admit than rather get to work early and get a jump on the day I sat on the edge of my bed and knit two rows of the band. I'm aiming to get half way through the hat body tonight.

The baby is here, the blanket is languishing. I'm horrible I know. Hats before babies. Madelinetosh before babies.

Speaking of babies, I see a battle royale brewing between The Kid & The Manfriend. It's that stormy smell you get when you wake up early in the morning and know ... it's going to rain on the way to work (and are ill outfitted for this.) They both are teasing too much, and posturing in their demands and humour. Tears will be shed, fists will be shaken, 'ere the sulking side eye glances in my flat.

Everyone should just do as I say. In fact they should anticipate what I might do and say regardless of my usual erratic and indecisive behavior. For the most part they do that. But this behavior is again throwing me off.

There are children's social schedules to plan, spelling tests to prep for, dinner parties to block out and work potlucks to bake for. There are forlorn sister's birthdays and anniversary presents and Holiday presents and ugh ... holiday cards to procure. There are unicorns that need wrapping (seriously this is what Princess M. asked for her birthday this year) and visiting parents that need to be properly welcomed (and cleaned for).

Oh and there is a kitchen window that needs fixing.

They called The Manfriend and said, "We need access to the apartment." He said, "I'll ask my wife if she can come home from the office."

I said, "No, tell them to come by btwn 10am and Noon on Friday."

1) I can't just bail on work. 2) They obviously lost our keys ... again.

So what does someone who is not very organized do when she can see the cracks just up ahead? She knits. Oh and makes LOTS of lists to be left all over the place.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What's Next

I tell you, I'm trying to haul ass at work simply so I don't have one more thing to feel guilty or anxious about. I'm not talking about perfectionist behavior, but a decent attention to detail and respect for timelines you know?

Also, worrying gets in the way of other fun things. I'm reading The Night Circus. I bought The Lord of Light and if it's any good I'll lend it to Harrigan if he's interested. He gave me this Sci-Fi recommendation. It's the least I can do.

I finished Baby Sophisticate on the US 9s with Ella Rae Classic Chunky - size small. Hmm. still smaller than I'd like. And no, it's not blocked and I don't have pictures. But YES it is "finished". I should've done the larger size just to be safe. sigh.

And I should pick up a grown person's sweater. However I'm feeling something else small. Maybe this hat? Seems so 20's and fun. Dunno, I have something else in mind as well ...

We are going to celebrate Lindita's birthday. I sense a very tasty HM meal on the horizon. I'll see if I can give you a recap later.

I am going to wait for the building manager to fix my kitchen's broken window. It was broken when they were "fixing" our electricity, which somehow was just adding in outlets in the kitchen -- right where the kitchen table is. How ... convenient...

Dear friends, I can say I'm living in a flat with a boarded up window. Oh Moms, I wish you could see us now.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Damn I'm Boring

I won't lie to you. I've been trying to post. But I'm glazing myself over.

I had big dreams of a knitting progress post with pictures and the whole thing. But we all know what happens when I try for original photos ha!

I was going to talk about the weather (rolling my own eyeballs I know) and how it was sort of inspiring me to try and cook and bake again. Seriously how boring is that? You wanna know how my sinuses are doing with the drizzly weather as well? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Well we just wrapped up a totally chaotic Halloween weekend. Lots of fun and family and elementary children. But I've recapped this for enough friends, family and co-workers that I'm thinking I am borderline parroting now.

I don't like to reference work too much unless it's socially awkward behavior which I think can be related to no matter if you work at home in your jammies or if you are a coffee house barista with customers of a very particular foam ratio / consistency preference. I got nothin'.

I thought that maybe I'd try and make some witty parenting commentary. I can't, mainly because there is no need to complain extra about the kid right now. He's doing pretty good, and even I know when I need to enjoy and be thankful.  --Though I could go on about how much his teeth are going to cost me and how the school is calling us to pick him up for sneezing allergy attacks... nah. Total snoozeville right?

I think I have been contemplating writing celebrity commentary more than anything. Simply because it is the best case of gawking we can share together. Kim Kardashian single-handedly is destroying the sanctity of marriage with her fame-whoring family. Oh I'm sorry they are just "uniquely open". ugh. Taste that? It's bile. Lindsey Lohan? I have to refrain from telling HM I actually feel kind of sorry for her, that all that potential has just been obliterated by completely entitled, self absorbed, hooker with a heart of gold behavior -- oh and the whackjob parents that let this happen. I feel sorry for them all, because their way of life is going to end very soon, as this girl is never going to be able to work enough to support them all again.

But see this just proves how boring I am. I'm reading the DailyMail and learning about UK tabloid fodder as well. Sheesh Christmas, have you read those headlines? I love how they pick out the WORST of the worst in US News. We're all going to hell in a hand basket based on the items they find. They have one headline for the UK that says a poll says adults think that UK children are becoming more feral or something. Seriously?

This made me feel like I needed to overcompensate and talk some "Occupy - fill in the name of the town here" crap. But I can't... it's just too much. I can tell you that the problems in the Wild West of Oakland are more inherent and systemic than what's being reported on now. Norma Jean my dds receptionist and I managed to solve the problem ;) though while waiting for the DDS to finish with an emergency appointment.

Well I've managed to bore the both of us. Sorry about that. However I cannot emphasize enough (I sound like a politician or teaching administrator) how boring does not mean unhappy. I'm happy. I am not cartwheeling through a field of sunflowers but you know, it's good. I wish more good to people than my cranky drivel shows.