Monday, July 31, 2006

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Roxie's sacrifice of the Lindor balls must have worked, because we not only made it there and back again but the house was still standing and the animals still breathing when we returned. I told my B(eloved) S(pouse) that the last five days were the quietest my creative brain chatter has been all summer, and I think that's the hallmark of a successful vacation, so I guess it's a good thing we went. Of course, now that we're back, I've got two and a half weeks left before I go back to *shudder* work, and that's hard to face, so I think I'm going to do the following.

A. Recap vacation. With pictures. And commentary. Because it's obligatory and we had fun.
B. Try, for the remainder of my summer blogs after this one, to remember one funny/inspirational school anecdote per post that will remind me that I love teaching because of the students and that the clueless, imagination deprived, anti-knitting pro-hypocrisy adults who obstruct my path to the students can take a bath in the crapper while I flush.

Ready? Okay!

So... vacation moments:
At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Trystan went for long explores. I think the big guy was really tickled that he is old enough for us to say "meet us under the big whale at 4:00" and then he can go to movies and tell us about them. I'm glad he got to do this, because, quite frankly, BS and I got to see very little of the actual aquarium, because BS was too busy chasing the cave troll, and I was too busy pushing the stroller that was loaded down with six people's worth of assorted crap, and one tiny person. So basically, when Trystan WAS with the family, he spent his time doing this:(I'd insert a picture of Trystan chasing the cave troll, but my browser isn't working...c'est la vie.)

In fact we all spent some of our time chasing the cave troll-- after I took off to feed the baby (more of my boobs in public--good times!) Matt (BS) and I met up again and he showed me pictures of Kewyn playing in the interactive center of the Aquarium...sort of. (Curse you browser for making this so less cute and amusing than it would be if I could actually upload ACTUAL PHOTOS!!!) There were a lot of pictures of Kewyn's eye, or his fuzzy head, or his backside as he took off, usually followed by a picture of his older sister hot on his tail. "Yup..." Said Matt with a wince, "There's a lot of pictures of Kewyn on other people's cameras." And right after he said that, as though the gods were listening and laughing cruelly, Kewyn dis-a-f*&^ing-peared.

We couldn't find him. I stood centrally, complete with the overloaded stroller and snoozing baby, and ordered Matt and Bryar and Trystan into search patterns around the aquarium which was PACKED and tried not to fall completely apart. I must have maintained just a little (there were no Hollywood longshots of me screeching my son's name in a totally crowded public place, if that's what you're imagining) and I flagged down an aquarium employee asking for help, and she directed me to the information booth. In fact, all four of us searchers converged on the information booth at the same time, and there was Kewyn, grinning unrepentantly and playing with the little shark toy he'd conned from the gift store people when he'd toddled in asking for help. ("He wouldn't tell us his name." Said the matron at the info booth with palpable disapproval. "His name's Kewyn--I'm sure he tried, it's just hard to say." I replied, trying not to fall weeping to the floor in relief. The lightbulb went on over the matron's head and she looked on me with much less reserve, as though now she believed I was worthy of that completely charming little person who had placed himself in her care.) So it ended well, but Matt and I both agreed that we're definitely not living to ninety now because that moment took at least ten years off of our lives.

Bryar got to go scuba diving as part of the aquarium's scuba program, and it looked like a lot of least we hope it was fun...when she was done Matt asked her (a little wistfully) if it was neat,and Bryar replied (a little laconically) that it had been coooooldddd and then had dropped fun litte details about the experience like golden kibble for the rest of the trip. But I think she liked it... and at least she has something to talk about at camp. Oh, yeah...because, yes, we got home last night, did a truckload of laundry and shipped the pre-teens off to Camp Winthers this morning... I hope they have underwear, that's all I can say.

Oh yeah... and as for Arwyn? She spent the trip collecting admirers. Think I'm kidding? BS and I LOST TRACK of the times I stood with her looking over my shoulder, only to turn around to a crowd of people making eyes at my "adorable baby" or my "precious little angel"... and, for this trip, SHE WAS JUST THAT!!! (Damn that browser...I've got the cutest picture of her in the little hat I finished using Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino that was so adorable it would make you cry and it won't #$$##@#$$$## upload!!!!) Anyway, besides making me flash my boobs a lot in public (the side effect of breast feeding never mentioned in the brochures) she was perfect--she was cute, she didn't get a sun burn, she didn't have a poopzilla in a public place (flash to me, changing the cave troll's diaper on the counter of a tiny bathroom at the Bubba Gump Shrip Co., begging every woman entering the two available stalls to give me another handful of toilet paper because I forgot the f*&^ing wipes)... and every night, we laid her down in the top half of her bassinet which doubled as a carrier for crackers and juice in the car, and she slept like...well, like a baby, which is usually like a hyperactive gorilla hopped up on cocao beans, but, in this case, was really like a peaceful, innocent, cuddly, happy infant who brought only sweetness and light.

It was the cave troll who slept like an oranguataun on meth. We sent the kids off to Camp with bags under ALL of our eyes...I hope some of us get a nap today... Maybe tomorrow I'll have pictures, yes? We can only hope...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Off to Monterey...

No pictures or links's a quick post before we go on four days of vacation, and I'm sure I'll come back and bore the ether with vacay stories when we're done. Just want to say, for those of you who've been visiting (so far just Stephanie and Roxie commenting, but I think a few more people have been haunting the blog...) that when school starts, I'll be down to one post a week... and I'll have to lock myself in the bathroom to write that...but that I WILL continue to blog... I'm having too much fun not to!

Anyway, my topic of the day (and I'll visit this one a lot...)is the freerange Western adolescent and why some people might think they need to be either jailed or shot.

My husband and older daughter had a ten minute conversation about how to water the lawn today that went something like this:

Dad: "Is the lawn getting watered?"
Daughter: "Yes, but I set it up so the water goes on most of the lawn and about three feet of concrete, which is really not bad considering the ratio of lawn to concrete, and if I'd set it up differently not as much of the lawn would get watered and we've got two really bad brown spots that I'm trying to get but I don't think I can get them if I wasn't watering the sidewalk and I would have set it up the other way but I didn't want to hit the garage window, because when I did that it really freaked out the outside cats but I guess it's a hundred and ten out there so they can afford a little freaking out don't you think?"
Dad: "Was that a yes?"
Daughter: "Well, yeah, but did you want me to do the backyard too? Is it bad that I'm watering concrete in a hundred and ten degree heat will it make it crack or something and do the bushes need water too? Will the cats get sick if they get hit by the water..."
Dad: "Can you move it off the concrete?"
Daugther: "Not if you don't want me to water the WHOLE lawn because I have to set it out diagonally and that doesn't work very well, somethings going to get watered that shouldn't..."
Dad (muttering to himself and going outside to see a sprinkler settled half-assed in a brown yard dripping water down the driveway) "Shot. They should definitely be shot."

I've been saying it for years--when they hit the double digits, their hormones explode, causing their brains to swell and pushing their common sense (in the case of girls) out their ears, which explains the need for seven different kinds of perfumed facial concoctions on the damned counter and (in the case of boys) out the soles of their feet, which explains A. Why they can't seem to do any sort of work at all without enough bitching to disgust the female dog and B. That hellific stench.

I'm about to lock myself in a Dodge Caravan with two middle schoolers, a toddler, an infant, and a spouse who just had a very delicate medical procedure for a five to six hour trip. May Goddess have mercy on us all.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Grocery Store Gomorrah

Grocery Store Gomorrah

Okay, so I guess the mark of a successful blogger is knowing how to avoid TMI, which means that my visit to the OB/GYN to close down the Amy Lane Baby Factory is definitely out.  (Suffice it to say it was “unpleasant” and let’s leave it at that.)  As you all know, it is a bajillion degrees outside, and we are all ‘body space huddling’ in the air conditioning as though moving too much will actually cause the humature to go from ‘apocalyptic’ to ‘the devil changed his address to the church across the street’(seen here).    With this in mind, I used my return trip from the doctor’s office to go to the grocery store without my entourage of loud, adorable, easily pan-fried children, and consequently had time to reflect on the grocery store as the wellspring of my moral decay.

To prove it, there’s this photo, (or there would be, but it refuses to upload!) in which you will see juice boxes, apple juice and Fruit Loops.

Yes, this is where we keep them--next to the water cooler, against the wall.  You might keep them in the pantry, but that is where we keep food in boxes that we tried but didn’t like and now feel too guilty to throw away.  Now, the Fruit Loops, are, of course, alternately named Fruit of Satan’s Sugar Tree Loops, but there’s a reason we have them with children in the house.  Or more specifically, with this child in the house. (Please picture a perfectly adorable snapshot of the Kewyn the Cave Troll in this space...$#%^#@ computer.)     

This child doesn’t eat much.  Now looking at the rest of us, you may think that people in my family can afford to skip a meal or two, and you’d be right, but this one is perpetually underweight, so when he asks for food, any food, we jump right on that, and right now the thing he asks for is Fruit of Satan’s Sugar Tree Loops.  Besides, he’s the most constipated toddler I’ve ever met, and they make him poop.  Oops—TMI.  

Now that we’ve covered that, let’s move on to the innocuous looking baby-crack known as “apple juice”, and the pre-adolescent methadone in the foil pouches.  For some reason that has not quite translated to my husband and I—both college educated adults mind you--our pediatrician has blamed both the toddler’s ectomorphism and the middle-school children’s obesity on juice.  Please don’t bother me with the technical explanation—I’m sure there is one, and she’s given it, but it’s sailed over both our heads, and now I am  skeptical of this idea, and my husband openly mocks it.  He calls the doctor the ‘juice nazi’ in front of the older children.  We are obviously not nice people, and here’s proof that we don’t listen to the wisdom of the medical profession.  Somebody call CPS.  

I refuse to show pictures of my freezer—for one thing there’s little Ziploc packages of breast milk falling out which is an embarrassing fact of life, like having feminine protection falling out of your purse or something—but let’s just say that other than breast milk, it’s full to the brim with stuff you can cook in the microwave.  With the exception of the creamed spinach, which I bought with more blind optimism than good faith, this is not health food, nor is it stuff I can cook.  Did I mention the fact that it’s a bajillion degrees outside and my kitchen faces West?  It seems like cooking, actual cooking, right now is unpatriotic or something—I’d practically be renting the moving van for the devil, and we seem to be going to hell quickly enough as it is!

Which is why I bought the ice-cream—I figured it would make the trip more comfortable.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sins of the Mama

Bless me, Goddess, for I have sinned…

It’s was a quiet day here at the homestead.

I was so proud of my last blog that I gave myself a day off to knit…I finished a project (lookie lookie, they’re done…)

and then promptly cast on two more (I never did make up my mind) for a total of four, and then bought enough yarn for six more.  Isn’t that some sort of sin against the math gods?  Which got me thinking to what a rotten person I am all around—it’s time for a full confession, so you know what a sewer of moral rot lurks here in this deceptively titled blog…and then you can decide whether to hang out and decay in decadence with me or haul arse for someone of a more decided moral purity.

Here we go—my list of recent sins, in no particular order:

Bless me Goddess, for I have sinned.   My last confession was the last time I had a complete thought which was sometime around 1992, before my oldest was born, and I sincerely regret all the things I’ve done but not enough to change.

  • Forgive me, I’m not a vegetarian.  I should be.  I knit, I teach English, I love children and small animals, but I grew up on top ramen and meat was a blessing, and dammit, I don’t care if it was my pet rabbit, it was the best thing I’d eaten in a month.  If fluffy has to die, well, that’s the way God intended.  Amen.

  • Forgive me, I’m fat.  I know, I know, the most heinous sin in American society and I practice it in spades…I was getting thinner.  And then I got pregnant again.  And again.  We’ll work it out, we’ll lose it again (because every time mom gains five pounds the kids gain three) but for this summer we’re not exactly svelte and fit.  Sue me, the devil really is made of chocolate ice cream.

  • Forgive me, I still like acrylic yarn.  I’m on my way to a true natural fiber yarn snobbery, but my son’s binkit was acrylic, and although dead dinosaurs seem to be taking his punishment with aplomb, I’m just not sure if the gentle sheep or its fur is ready for the destruction a two year old can hand out.  I’m so sorry—I just don’t trust sheep, although they, along with pet rabbits, can be very tasty.

  • Forgive me, I don’t take public transportation.  I live in Northern California—once, long ago, before kids, I tried to take a bus from Sacramento to Loomis to spend the day with my parents and my spouse (who was working on our car at my parents house) and the 20 mile distance took 3 ½ hours.  This was before I knit—I will never get that 3 ½ hours back.  

  • Forgive me, sometimes the toddler dumps his diaper in the recycle bin.  We try to move it when he’s not looking, but sometimes the little goober is hecka fast.

  • Forgive me, I kicked our cats outside (because they wouldn’t stop crapping on the floor) and now they’re feral.  They’re fixed, they have their shots, but they hate me and mine like the plague.  Or rather like a plague they can crap on, because the cat boxes in the garage are perennially full.  We have one indoor kitty who loves me but hates the littlest ones—he goes outside to escape them, but I’m confident that if he lives long enough to see the baby turn three, he’ll come back in.  

  • Forgive me, I forgot to buy oranges for a month.  Since I buy bananas and melons and other fruit and veggies this normally would not be a sin, but we have a guinea pig and my daughter kept telling me he was getting scruffy looking but then she brought him out today and apparently THIS is what a guinea pig looks like when it hasn’t had oranges in a month.  This is one sin I’m hell bent on rectifying, because, although I know part of it is the heat, it breaks my heart to see the pig look this sad…we’ll nurse him back to health, I swear—for one thing, there’s just not enough meat on him to make eating him worth our while.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

In Defense of Hausfrau Porn

Grace and Arturo are cruising right along—being much closer to Grace’s age than Cory’s (my main character) I’m very pleased that our favorite supporting couple is looking sooooooooo hot…  which brings me to my promised topic…

See this? This is the bookshelf in my room--it is not to be confused with the bookshelves in my living room, and never with the bookshelf in my kitchen, which is exclusively for crafting books. The bookshelf in the picture is special because it is full to the brim with what I call

Hausfrau Porn.  

Hausfrau Porn is my pet expression referring to romance novels—not chic lit, per se, because chic lit is often not romantic; there are few things as un-romantic as a woman completely fouling up her life and blaming it on others, and occassionally chic lit devolves into this sad genre so we're going to leave that alone.  So not chic-lit, but romance—and I’m talking all fields of it, from sweet Harlequin Romances to spicy Vampire Lit to action/adventure romance to what is commonly called Romantica. Your flavor of choice is up to you--and it all has it's place. In fact, one of my absolute favorite moments of romance has nothing to do at all with romance--it's the one moment, on two pages, when two people who have had each other's backs for four books, actually take off their armor for something OTHER than to check wounds. But still, it makes my heart beat faster and my mind stop what it was doing and my body to go "whoa...there are other functions here than running around in circles." You know...ROMANCE--engaging, emotionally resonant characters and hot sex, either implied or graphically described—THE GOOD STUFF!

Unfortunately, for all the good that this literature does, Hausfrau Porn gets maligned by the people who should appreciate it the most—men.  Why should men appreciate this much abused genre, you ask?  Because they benefit from it in ways they will never know. This is not their fault--it is the fault of their faulty internal monologues, but that's just genetic hardwiring. If you ask a man, he will tell you that he is cursed with a rather shallow internal monologue--the stuff that runs through a woman's head is as alien to a man as Plutonion Blood Leeches, and a man, even the most sensitive, balanced man, would take one look at the hyper-frenetic nest of metallic nettles that is a woman's mind at rest, run around in circles, get dizzy, and fall down in a dead faint. The fact is, women are cursed with an internal monologue so deep it borders on black-hole-esque implosion. Men know this--they're often the victim of the meltdown, even if they don't know what set the reactor off. Are we ready for an example? (Say yes say yes say yes...I’m just dying to give you an example...please?)  

All right then--let’s take a look at the internal life of a man (my husband has verified the truth of this; I’m not slandering an entire gender here) and a woman—at this point a woman who stays at home during the summer because she teaches school--shall we?

Man:  Get up, take a shower, shave, sex, get dressed, sex, say hi to the kids, kiss the spouse goodbye, sex, drive to work, sex, sex, sex, get to work, sex, log in to the computer, sex, sex, sex, sex, sports, sex, talk to co-workers about sports, get to work, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex.

Woman:  Get up, do laundry should I do laundry now while he’s in the shower but I’ll need the shower when he gets out so maybe I can slip in a load when he’s closing down the works? Will I get the shower done before the baby wakes up because she’s going to want to eat, and the cave troll is going to want to snuggle and maybe I can take a shower between these two events and do the big kids have stuff they can make themselves for breakfast or do I need to go to the grocery store, and does the cave troll have stuff he can eat for breakfast or do I need to give him a cookie and beg forgiveness and if I drink a soda this morning to wake myself up how long does it hit the baby’s system? Shower.  Get dressed o gees does the entire household have to talk to me as I get dressed or can I root through the pile of clean clothes without scarring my adolescent children for life and for criminy’s sake has anyone let out the dog?  Oh yeah.  I did.  When I was doing the laundry.  “Get out of my room I’m tired of being naked in front of you people!”  Do I need to water the lawn?  Gees, did I forget to do the dishes?  Do I have time to go to the gym?  Oh look, Judging Amy’s on—I haven’t seen this one…and is it just me, or is Bruce REALLY hot…yeah, he’s hot…but the baby needs to eat and I need to clean the kitchen and I need to water the lawn and I need to call the dentist oh crap and when do I make that orthodontist appointment anyway and why did the baby just  barf over the floor and does my daughter have an attitude or have we just been closed up in the house to long oh for crap’s sake the house will never be clean let’s just get out of here before I lose my ever loving mind.  “Kids, we’re going to the gym.  Now.” Exercise, Grace and Arturo should they dance what’s she wearing did I remember to call the orthodontist, no no no this is me time, I need to write, he’s really hot, remember to mention his capped teeth and her sculpted curls and she is a vampire, something nice about that and did we water the dog?

Man: Food coma, sex, work a little, sex, work some more, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, commute home, sports, sex, sex, sex, the mortgage and the phone bill? Sex sex sex sex sex sex I paid them right? sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex Did I get the dog from the vet?  New vet.  sex sex sex sex sex sex.  How old is that girl in the Miata?  SEX, SEX, SEX, SEX, SEX, SEX, SEX, SEX…home at last, what the hell is that outside the front door?  Can’t she get rid of it?  Oh, look, she’s wearing shorts and a T-shirt and just gave me food, SEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEX…
Time to play video games.  sex, oh gees I’m getting creamed, sex, but my character’s wearing this really hot dress, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, and my wife just gave me ice cream sexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsexsex and she’s taking a shower and breathing SEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEX SEXSSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEXSEX
Bed Time.

I ate too much, did I record that, have I recorded anything how much do I weigh anyway? No don’t remember that you want to keep the will to live. I’m in the car so I can think about the book will I get home in time to put the cave troll to bed or will he skip his nap and become a walking explanation for child abuse--oh, it's a stoplight...time to knit socks...and no baby don’t wake up now we’re ten minutes from home we’re nine minutes from home please don’t cry I can’t think I can’t breathe *whew* we’re home the baby’s eating and I’m pinned to the couch, at last an excuse to read.  The cave troll has a bottle nap time for one of you go back to bed “For the love of God turn off the television so the babies can sleep.  No I’m not mad at you.  No, unpacking from vacation doesn’t count as allowance.  I have no idea how much allowance you have.  Okay, that sounds about right.  KEWYN GO TO BED!!!!” Was that wrong should I have yelled at him but he’s tired he’s making us all crazy oh gees have I called the dentist yet?  They’re on vacation?  When I remembered to call them when it’s not lunch time?  Well, I guess dentists get vacation too, the bathrooms are falling apart maybe we can go shopping for them this weekend does being able to see the table cloth count as having a clean house or do I have to get the crap out of the corners to has anyone seen the cat.Hey...I've got a moment to knit...what're the odds of that happening when I'm not at a traffic light? Oh, hey, BS is home--damn, time to fix dinner.  “Hi—how was your day?  Could you hold the baby while I make dinner?  Thanks.”  I hope that’s okay is it bad that the house is thrashed is the house always thrashed and I don’t greet him with a pipe and slippers but with a fussing infant?  Will I lose the June Cleaver of the Year award, is there such a thing, and can you get it without the twenty-eight inch waist?  Oh wait we’ve got dance lessons, and I need to sign the toddler up for gymnastics because the other kids have activities and I can’t just skip him because I’m busy I’m sure there are busier mothers out there who wear a size ten and have clean houses what’s my problem oh, gees, how much did I eat again and everybody’s in bed now and I smell like baby barf I need to wash that off.
Bed time.  

Woman:  “Oh…really?”
Man:  sex?
Woman:  “Did you really want to do that right now?”
Man:  sex?  Please?
Woman:  “I was really just sort of thinking about going to bed…”
Man:  seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeexxxxxx…pleee-eeeee-eeeeee-eeeeasseee God I need some seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeexxxxxx.
Woman:  “But if you can give me ten minutes or so to read my book, I might feel a little different.
Man:  Thank you thank you thank you Harlequin/vampire romance/romantica book thank you thank you thank you I’m gonna get me some…

Well, you get the picture.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


If you people could see the complete disaster my house was at the moment, you'd realize what a total slacker I was and be too disgusted to have anything to do with me...good thing I control the camera, hah?

Oh--here's a cupcake...
It was inspired by this book, HERE except I crocheted it (because I like crochet for fiddly sculping work, sue me...) made it bigger, and instead of stuffing it, added a button pocket and put bags of M&M's and Skittles inside...I can't let anything that looks that sweet not taste that sweet.

My next blog is going to be fun...I've been wanting to write a defense of hausfrau porn (wait, wait, I'll explain with the next entry) for a long time, but today, I'm going to wallow in Arturo and Grace (I'm very pleased with this chapter btw--thanks to everybody who wanted to hear more from our sexy older people...well, Arturo IS 3000 years old...) and I'm going to explore my next project conundrum.

My B(eloved) S(pouse)has, Goddess bless him with many a Swedish massage, allowed me to accumulate a truly decadent stash, and much of this is truly good sh--! So now I am torn in many a place for my next project...I've narrowed it down to a project for my Ladybug, shown here, doing what adorable babies do best...(nothing. Adorable babies suck on their fists and look adorable--it's the world's best job, and these little jokers never let it last long enough...)

So anyway, my choices are the cover sweater from this book here... ...I even have (get'll plotz because this never happens ever) THE EXACT YARN CALLED FOR IN THE PATTERN!!! And it will be beautiful, because the pattern is actually so simple, even I can follow it...I mean, that's a tempter, isn't it? But my other choice is a dress I've been planning for a month using this yarn in the picture which is three times as beautiful in real life when you can touch it... If anyone has a leaning either way, let me know...of course, I may treat your opinion just as I treat my BS' opinion--as a reason to go completely the other direction, but still, it helped me make up my mind, so that's okay...

Oh, yes...I'm almost done with these Offline socks... the colors are so pretty they give me a reason to knit...and btw? Can anybody tell that I've learned pictures and linking and I'm so proud of myself I can't hardly fit in the same hair? And if you'd seen my hair, you'd know that's something big...

So tune in tomorrow (or the next day, either or) when I follow up on my teaser about hausfrau porn...
trust me, it'll save your marriage. Or your romance book collection. Or it'll just kill your spare hair still fits after all and I'm pretty sure this blog won't change the world... CIAOU!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Can I Do It?

Can I do it? Can I actually manage pictures… I can only try…lessee…this first one is the cave troll…in a rare moment of quiet…(notice the well worn binkit, crocheted by yours truly…and the sock in the background, now finished and waiting for a mate…)

This here is Big T—with his tiny sister whom he adores…

More tiny sister…too perfect for words…

How NOT to knit a sock on two circular needles…I’m so tickled a made a mistake so heinous that didn’t actually need to be ripped out…(it’s all in the needles…)

A scarf I knit for a friend, modeled by Bryar, who looks terribly embarrassed.

And that’s me—the fuzzy one with the non-opposable thumbs!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Pleased to Meet You...

Hope you get my name... (hee hee hee... I've always loved that Rolling Stones song...)

Anyway, the older kids are gone, the toddler is bored silly but it's 103 degrees outside, so we're sort of limited as to options... (we've done the wading pool... the wading pool is done...) and the baby is too young to put sunblock on and too fair to even venture into anything resembling sunshine without it...

Looks like a good Saturday to blog.

This time 'round I thought I'd introduce the people in my solar system... (when I only had two kids, they were the twin suns around which my world revolved, but now that I have four I've had to revamp my figurative cosmos as it were.) This would also be a good time to get my mate to teach me how to import photos so you could see their stunning beauty and greatness for yourselves. (Okay...for the record...I've now tried three times to post pictures...there will eventually be pictures, but this entry is not will have the honor of being bored with bad pictures of my children apologies...)

Now as I've said before, if you read my books the names of my kids on the back are not really their names. I did this for a couple of reasons--the primary one being my own bizarre sense of fun. If I was going to have a pen name, then they were too. The secondary one related to frightening and half-formed visions of my children being persecuted by the religious right should any of them care to read my books, but since it's likely that not only will only a few people ever read my books but that even fewer will actually read this blog I figure they're safe from the religious right, and I'd really like to brag a little.

My oldest is Trystan--I'm sure there will be a photo somewhere by the time this is published. Trystan, known as Arthur on the back of the book, is also known as T or Big T. This stems from a moment in Kindergarten--T was born with a communication handicap which I'm sure people will get tired of reading about, but since communication is the basis of percieving personality, much of figuring out who my son is has needed to be filtered through his handicap. Anyway, he couldn't say his own name, and his teacher (bless her heart, wonderful lady!) asked that we figure out some sort of signifier for him--Trystan had too many consonant clusters, thank you very much. My first thought was 'Pooh', as in Winne-the, but his teacher (rightly) thought that maybe he'd be stuck with this for a while...'Ms. Mac', she said gravely, 'He can't be Pooh forever.' A very wise thought, since now that T is nearing 6' tall at the ripe old age of 13, I am very grateful we didn't subject him to the indignity of being called 'Pooh' in middleschool. It's bad enough that he's a sagitarius and thinks he's funny. (It's hard to be funny when you have no sense of wordplay and 'pun' is right out of your whole cognitive sphere...his most recent joke "What kind of drugs do frogs take?" "Croak-aine." Has tickled him so much that I just haven't even wanted to tackle that whole inappropriate golly, he's thought of something funny and we're not going to take that from him.) Anyway, a stand-up comedian he's not--but he's got a heart as big as the world, and as far as keeping your karma pure, nothing ranks higher in my book than being kind to my good boy.

His sister, Bryar Rose, is a whole other kettle of fish. To begin with, be careful what you name your children. If Trystan Bard means (roughly) sorrowful singer, and hello, communication handicap, then naming your child 'prickly flower' is going to get you a personality set that you maybe didn't bargain for. My daughter is beautiful, sturdy, bright, and extremely passive/aggressive. Middle school has not been kind to Bryar, and she's developing the sense of humor that will start leveling her enemies at any moment--my fault there, it was the only thing I could pass down to her of any value-- the freckles and the weight problem just don't help at all in American education, wordplay was the best I could do. But on the upside, she's kind, creative, funny, and loves her little brother and sister with so much passion and pride that she frequently brings me to tears. The picture I didn't take but will be cemented in my mind forever is the one of her measuring her little brother against the wall, because I forgot to do it, and she wanted a reminder of when he was this small. She's often so determined to be mature that I forget that she's 11 and I get all surprised when she rolls her eyes at me and gets a 'tude... then it hits me...13/14 is just around the corner and it's going to suck HUGE!!!

Now for the toddler... Does anybody remember that part in Fellowship of the Ring when our heroes are trapped in the mines of Moria and the orcs are rushing in? Boromir (played by the ever appealing bad guy, Sean Bean) risks a glance outside and says, "They have a cave troll..." and his voice is dry and disgusted--here they are, completely outnumbered, and doesn't this giant force of blind destruction feel just a teeny bit like overkill? Yeah...we call the toddler "the cave troll." My beloved and I were feeling outnumbered as it was... kids, cat, dog, obligatory children's animals that die... (rats, fish, cannabalistic mice, that sort of thing...) and then we had Kewyn. (His name on the back of my books is 'Gawain'--Kewyn is a variation thereof...) Kewyn means hawk, his middle name, Tor, means prince...remember that whole 'watch what you name your children' thing? Yeah... he rules the roost...he's an adorable dynamo of foot pattering destruction, a walking disaster, a demolition man...he's a toddler with an attitude and we knew we were in trouble when we realized that his ripping-metal shrieking sound as he played was his way of bitching at inanimate objects for not positioning themselves exactly where he deigned them to be. He talks--when he wants to--and it's funny that the commands I have the most trouble getting him to obey are the first things out of his mouth. When I hug him too tight because I'm trying to balance nursing the baby with snuggling the cave troll? He tells me to "Be Nice." When I'm washing his hair (he's a scorpio...he doesn't get along with water unless he's had a long introduction period...) he tells me to "Stop that." When I offer him food he doesn't want he says, "Don't want it." When I tell him, "Say Please." He looks at me with a smug little smile that's the toddler equivalent of "I'm sorry, I don't speak your language strange lady, now give me a bottle of chocolate milk before I make the neighbors call CPS."

He's our cave troll, our grace note, our BBQ, our little prince...our lives would be bleak and sterile if he had never deigned to bless us with his sturdy little presence.

And now for baby-to-be-named later... see, the problem with having a nine year gap between Bryar and Kewyn is that my spouse and I developed the idea that if we were going to have another baby, it would take another nine years...and since we planned to close the entire works down at the age of 40 (only a year and something away) well, we didn't have to worry about getting pregnant between 36 (when the cave troll was born) and 40. Can you believe we both have college degrees? For the love of crap, I teach HIGH SCHOOL for sweet wool's sake...and it's not like we don't know what causes the little goombahs to go squirting out like watermelon seeds... we'd DONE THIS BEFORE!!! But as brain damaged as we seem to have been, I couldn't be happier to be stupid. She's only three months old, but Arwyn Star is delightful, beautiful, and addicted to chewing on her fat little fists. On a good day, she can shove both of them in her mouth at once, and we couldn't be prouder. She is the only one of our babies to have blue eyes, and her hair was red at far, her only problem is that we're both terrified to take her out in the sun... I would imagine that with more than fifteen seconds or so exposure, she might explode. Our little Ladybug thinks the cave troll is the best and most interesting interactive video a baby could have...some things never change.

And that's children. To my reader they will be cute, badly taken photographs, amusing anecdotes, prisms through whom life's broad light is reflected. To me they are the sun and the moon and the sweet bright stars, dawn, daybreak, twilight and dark. They're my world, and it's huge and delightful and amazing... may all you who read them and send them good will through this blog be blessed.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Random Midnight

Fleeting fears... I did a search on people on this particular blog server interested in knitting and I found a slough of people who started blogging, went once or twice or even five times and just... stopped.

So I panicked, and what was supposed to be a day off while I concentrated on a chapter inspired by a friend at dinner last night (for some reason people just can't get enough of Grace and Arturo, and while I hadn't been planning to give them a chapter this time around, I've had too many requests for their company not to give them some time in the spotlight) has now turned into a little tiny panic blog. I mean...I commited to this right? I can't just stop?

So while I have nothing profound to write about, I'll bore the ether with the details and hope they make someone blink and say, "Hey, it could be worse, my life could be THAT boring!"

The older kids aren't here today--they've gone on their annual "Camp Grandma" oddessey--my mom takes my kids and my sisters kids and her best friends' kids (although some of those kids have aged out) up to Lake Sugarpine once a year. More power to her--by July of summer vacation I surely am ready for my kids to belong to someone else for a while. And while my house was much more peaceful today, I've realized how much I depend on the 11 year old and the 13 year old for the closest thing I get all day to adult conversation. (Too sad for words, right??)

The worst part of the situation of having the kids gone is that I do most of my living on these days inside my head, which is great for working out the ol' neurons, but it makes me the worlds' most boring conversationalist. I was at a dinner party last night with my husband's friends (I love them all--they are young, bright, educated, elegant and witty... I feel like a landed whale surrounded by exotic fish in salt water aquariums, but the view is surely entertaining and exciting) and I found myself talking about how I can't even go to the bathroom in peace--the only thing I've managed to teach the middle schoolers is not to tell people I'm on the pot when they hand me the phone. Not necessarily dinner conversation, no, but I couldn't seem to help myself, and that's when I realized that my extended maternity leave had done it's damage--social ineptitude syndrome has settled in.

If you know anybody like this--someone who's spent years in a country where they don't speak the language, mommies stuck at home with their wonderful yet non-vocal children, people put in solitary confinement for unspeakable crimes--have pity on these people. You can spot them because the rhythm of their speech is off--they seem unacustomed to listening and when they do speak, it's like watching a train lose it's brakes on the top of a hill--you don't know where that bad boy is going but it's definitely out of control and that's one wreck you don't want to be there for. It's almost like watching someone switch to a language they don't know in midsentence...they don't know what they're saying but they've got to finish the sentence and then all their listeners are just sort of at a loss to respond.

Yup. That's what it's like to talk to me right now. It sort of explains the four blog entries in four days, doesn't it?

Tune in next post when I talk about the nasty growth on the cave troll's hand that the pediatrician has ignored for the last year and is now really hurting the poor little guy and scaring the crap out of me...

But that's another post, and for now, Grace and Arturo (and a pair of socks I need to either finish or dispose of) are waiting for me in the midnight hour while my husband kicks the crap out of some poor dragon in World of Warcraft. No wonder I'm socially stunted.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006



  1. Find out if I can e-mail commentators because the idea that Lisa T. followed me from Steph’s site because she liked my comments tickles me silly and I’d like to say ‘hullo’ before school starts and I completely disappear.

  2. Learn how to import photos because I did say something about knitting on the blog description and I’ve got some stuff to show off.

  3. Finish the stuffed cup-cake for my husband’s friend’s b-day—and don’t forget to take a picture.

  4. Learn how to import photos because my children are so beautiful the whole internet must be exposed to their beauty.  (And that way I can embarrass them in front of a whole different circle of people.)

  5. Decide what I shall name my beautiful children on the blog.  (Because Amy Lane called them one thing on the back of her books, Shanny Mac calls them all sorts of nicknames, but I personally chose their names for a reason and have the tattoo to prove it…it leaves me in a quandary, that’s for certain—anyone with an opinion is welcome to venture forth(

  6. Remember to smile for the baby as she watches me type because she’s completely charming, adorable and perfect, and I know from experience that this stage never lasts.

  7. Pay a hairstylist to do combat with the rabid squirrel currently doing the cha-cha on the top of my head because it’s getting ready to burst into song and nobody needs to hear a round of I’m Henry the Eighth from a middle-aged woman’s singing hair.

  8. List ideas for future posts because when the cave troll is screaming and the baby has gas, thoughtful introspection is about as possible as getting that damned squirrel to shut up.

  9. Lie to my mother about not finishing my next book, Bound, (I’m getting very close) because I’ve just written the (ahem) climactic sex scene and I’m tired of smiling bravely and asking my parents what they thought of my book and hearing that they’d rather I not write dirty books with bad language.  The last time my dad said something about this I told him “This is from a guy who dropped two F-bombs and a s*&^ in front of my 13 year old in a 5 minute conversation?”  His response of, “Well, that was in real life—you’re writing fiction!”  Still haunts me with its implications.  All in all I think it will just be easier to have mom and dad read my blog.  

  10. Tell mom and dad to skip this entry of my blog.

  11. Work on the book a little… I’ve only got a month before I’m facing hostile teenagers and adolescent bureaucracy and I need to put it on the back burner and let it simmer after I finish, or I’ll never spice it just write.

  12. Cast on my baby’s dress with that enchanting fingering weight merino I just bought.

  13. Figure out why now, when I have no time and no free hands with which to knit, my fixation with teeny-tiny perfection yarn should suddenly rear its cross-eyed head.  

  14. Get off the blog and work out so I can fit out the door come mid-August.  Blog y’all later!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My Beloved Has a First Name...

I'm so socially stunted that I totally get off on the whole 'pen name' thing. It feels like a game, a scam, adventure--like that scene in Bourne Identity when Matt Damon opens his safe deposit box and there's scads of cash, a truck-load of fake ID, and a gun. (Except without the cash and the gun.) Maybe it's a residual from all that daydreaming I did as an adolescent--or even further back there with that Dr. Seuss book I Want to Be Somebody New. (Wasn't that a book? That big yellow thing with the spots? Yeah... that was a book.) I mean--which one of us didn't want to be somebody new? In fact, I'm still waiting for the day I wake up as a thin blonde European woman sunbathing topless on the French Riviera, but until that happens, I'll just have to live with my four names.

Yup--four. My real name is very official sounding and it's on the inside front cover of my books. She's the one who does the housework and occasionally makes it to the gym and who goes to her parents for dinner. She's the one who daydreams frequently, buys truckloads of yarn and sometimes regrets it and who can't seem to shepherd four kids anywhere without the drama of keys falling out of purses, middle schoolers making inappropriate comments and toddlers running amok. She's sometimes shy, a little distracted, and extremely self-deprecating.

At work, I'm either Shanny Mac or Mz Mac (depending on whether it's the teachers or the students talking to me) and I rather like Shanny Mac. She's tough, and fearless, and has been known to drop the F-bomb in staff meetings when something really absurd (and nothing more absurd than the California public education system has been proved to exist) is dropped in her lap--although that hasn't happened in a while. Shanny Mac is often completely unafraid to say what she thinks, in spite of the bemused expressions of her students and the occasional derision of her peers. She's often nothing like the real me, but she's a lot of fun--Shanny Mac can get up in front of thirty-five high school students and convince them that George Orwell was a frickin' genius. Shanny Mac knits in staff meetings because it helps her keep her mouth shut and she doesn't give a trundling turkey if the administration thinks she's listening or not. (She is--listening to administration is the wellspring of her contempt.) Shanny Mac takes no crap from kids, but is willing to hug them when they need it and cheerfully offers to teach them knitting or English (no, not in that order) if only they will ask. I like Shanny Mac. I frequently wish I were her.

Amy Lane is the name on this blog. Amy Lane didn't exist until I was nineteen and waiting at the BART station in Daily City at ten o'clock at night, and wanted a nice way to talk to people and not seem stand-off-ish but really didn't want any of the other people on the bus to know her name. Amy Lane was going to be a WRITER, not an English teacher, and Amy Lane had a really dangerous boyfriend who drove a tricked out Mustang with a 302 engine. (Hey--didn't she marry that guy?) Amy Lane was dreamy and indifferent to publich opinion, and was someday going to be a contemporary of Robin McKinley and Patricia McKillip. Amy Lane looked at life through slantways eyes, and what went on behind those eyes was fantastic and odd and adventuresome--she could wait in the Daily City BART station at night and not worry about the bad things that could happen. Amy Lane writes all my stuff--in fact, I'm pretty sure it was Amy Lane who took my masters classes for me until I dropped out, and Amy Lane will continue to write until she simply evaporates one day like a bubble after the real me passes on. I like Amy Lane, but her very oddness frightens me. It's scary to know she spends so much time in my house.

And as for my other name? My other name--and you will hear a lot from this person--is Mom. And as much as I'd like to keep blogging, my toddler just wandered out in a sopping diaper with a desire to sit on my lap. Mom is needed. In fact, right now, she's the one who's needed most.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Yarning To Write

Okay... so I'm one tormented housefrau at the moment...

I have two self-published books out (Vulnerable and Wounded both by Amy Lane) and I'd love to write professionally--I mean, I've read my own work and besides an uncontrollable urge to hide it under the couch when my parents drop by, it's not bad. Let's just say I like it better than Laurell K. Hamilton's last four books, but not better than her first five. I would like to write professionally. I'm even searching for an agent--and haven't we all heard THAT before--but the writing is not the tormented part--I have no problem writing. I write in the shower, I write in the car, I write when I'm cleaning the house (don't laugh. I clean the house occassionally.) I write when I'm reading to the cave troll (otherwise known as Kewyn the toddler), and when I'm singing to the most beautiful baby in the world at this moment in time. (She's my fourth and final child, and they have all been the most beautiful baby in the world at this moment in time.) The lovely thing about at least self-publishing is that when you would normally be given a ration of crap about daydreaming or talking to yourself, you can now respond with a perfectly equable "Leave me alone, I'm writing." It makes you sound very respectable, and people can sometimes forgive even my craptacular housekeeping.

So the writing is not the tormenting part, and neither is the yarn. Yes, this blog is called A Yarning to Write because I, like so many inspired by our Beloved Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-MacPhee, also knit and (unlike our Beloved Yarn Harlot) crochet. I love yarn. I love it's texture, it's color, it's possibilities, it's bajillion pattern books that have taken over two bookshelves (only 1/2 as many as my sci-fi fantasy collection) and it's 30 (count 'em, 30) un-biodegradable plastic crates lining the shelves especially built for me by my beloved to hold the color, texture, and possibilities and make the utilization of those pattern books possible. So no, the yarn doesn't torment me. It has never tormented me, it has only showered goodness and grace upon my cluttered, wacco life.

What torments me is the choice between them.

Because I am also a high school teacher and a mother of four. My spare time is at a premium. It's funny how that happened. When I was in college and working I thought I had little spare time and had no compunction about watching copious movies until the odd hours of the night because I felt I deserved it. Now that I teach high school and mother four incredibly spoiled children, I only watch movies when I can knit something for my children because I think they deserve it. I often listen to movies while I write because I think my fans (all 20 of them, may they live forever) deserve it. I'm not exactly sure how the pass times I loved became a gift for the people I love, but they have, and what torments me is that there is never, never ever in a million years if I could live that long enough time to pass. Ever.

So when my husband said, "Hey, honey, why don't you blog." I first responded with, "I don't have time." I don't. But God, Goddess and other, I long to write. I long to knit. I long to write about knitting and the wierdo things that happen in my brain and the adorable things my todder does and the brain damaged things my middle schoolers do (all middle schoolers are brain damaged--I've taught that age, don't let anybody convince you differently) and the squishy-squeezy-cute things my most beautiful baby in the world is destined to do.

So I figured I'd do a blog. I'd make a commitment. If I'm writing for the lovely people out there in the ether, then I will feel obligated, and in serving them I will satisfy myself. So here I am blogging... I will blog about yarn, I will blog about sci-fi, I will blog about knitting, I will blog about my students, I will blog about motherhood, I will write about whatever dumbass thing that enters my little teeny tiny pea sized overtaxed grey matter, and I will hope that somewhere out there in the ether, I will find someone who will enjoy it. When school starts, I may only blog once a week, but still, that's a commitment, and I'll stick to it--probably more assiduously than I will stick to grading papers, but so be it.

Comment as you will... I will reply if I can... maybe one handed while I'm nursing a baby or cooking a dinner or knitting a sock and I will ask myself why, oh why, did I decide to put one more big greasy helping of country-fried steak with chocolate sauce on my corelle non-breakable plate, but we all know why.

I have a yarning to write.

Shanny Mac