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Two steps back January 11, 2012

Filed under: she's crafty — gleefulbarbarians @ 4:50 am

Dear Julie,

I’m feeling a little frustrated with myself and my lack of good time management skills and general laziness.  I decided over the weekend that I needed to go to bed earlier so that I could get up earlier and get some exercise in before the boys get up.  Once they’re up I’m on the clock.  Excellent plan.

And then the alarm went off.  At 7am. I hit snooze 3 times (apparently my ipod gives me 6 minutes of snooze??), and then I just didn’t want to put my contacts in first thing in the morning so I decided to review the kids’ work from the previous day over a cup of tea and set up the schedule for today.  At which point it was 830, the boys were up and I needed to keep them on task if they were going to get their work done in time for us to leave for the park in the afternoon.   Dan’s cousin MB flew in on Saturday with his grandparents who have a winter “house” on the other side of the city.  The boys really wanted her to go with us to the park and she was willing to go.  That meant a 40 minute drive to go get her followed by 45 minutes to the park.  Working backwards, that meant leaving around noon if I wanted to get gas, pick up lunch (because I haven’t been to the store in 5+ days because of assorted things going on, so while there IS food in the house there isn’t “easy to make for lunch” food), pick up MB and get to the park around 2 so that we could play for several hours.  We left the park at 5, got home at 6 (yay!  Rush hour traffic!), picked up dinner (nearly devoid of nutrition) and ate.  That brought us to 715.  The kids asked to use computers until bedtime (at 8 ) and Dan took MB home.  I put the kids to bed with several rounds of “it’s a toilet, not a library” and “the floor is not a hamper” and now it’s 930 and oh look – almost time for bed.  Exercise = 0.

I should look at the kids’ work NOW so that I don’t have to do it in the morning.  I should look at it as soon as it’s done (and update the next day’s schedule appropriately – I’m using an online schedule tracker this year to see if that’s any easier, and it is in some ways).  I just don’t want to.  I want to be off the clock now.

So, I’ll go sit in the couch and knit some socks for a little while and then put myself to bed.  I’m going to need to come up with some plan other than “exercise first thing in the morning” because I’m realizing that  contacts problem is a recurring one – I just don’t want to put them in first thing if I don’t have to.  It’s much nicer if I’ve been up for a couple of hours first.   I’d consider exercising (right now I’m just thinking “walk steadily around the neighborhood for 30+ minutes) in the afternoon, but  I can’t do that Tuesday or Wednesday because of other commitments.  Maybe i could do it after dinner those nights?  I talked to Morley once and she would run three miles after dinner most nights while John dealt with dinner clean up and evening house things.  Perhaps I just need to buck up.

How do you fit exercise into your schedule?  Do you have some suggestions for me?

Running out of things that fit,



Taking it easy on yourself January 3, 2012

Filed under: Brain Chatter,Children & Insanity — gleefulbarbarians @ 12:12 am

AL, I thought I was going to be so brilliant and kick the year off by posting after what seems like eons, years, months since I’ve written. I just looked at our site and saw 2 posts that I missed! How did that happen? I’ll tell you–it’s a lack of sleep going on 5 years now. I saw a journal entry, in my little notebook that I only seem to write in on vacations and major holidays, from November 2009. Brenna was 2 months old and I had slept 7 hours the previous night. So why does she wake 3-6 times now? Because I’ve allowed it. Because I’ve been too tired to make the change and cut out the night nursing. It’s time. She and I have been talking about it. It’s the new year and people make changes, right? Sometimes when I tell her no nursing she just rolls over, I sing her a sleepy version of Twinkle Little Star. Other times, she says “no tinkle ittle star!” and goes to sleep. My girl is growing up.

I didn’t reflect on 2011 very much. I reflected more on how I felt at the end of it, which is thankful. I don’t know whether it’s good or bad, but if people are alive, I’m pretty much happy now. Anything else is just sprinkles. At midnight the other night (yes, I was awake for new years), David said it’s going to be an interesting year–we’ve got a lot of travel planned, Ainsley starts Kindergarten in the fall (which makes me want to cry when I think of it, namely because I think of Dave Barry’s article every time. I read the last few sentences and get teary.) and lots of other adventures on the horizon. Ainsley will be a big girl as she walks in the school doors for the first time and I will cry.

Can I add that even though I’ve lived in Colorado for 12 years, New Year’s to me is still at 10 pm because that’s when the ball drops in NY? I mean, I’m from New York, how is new year’s at any other time? I was finishing a puzzle at 10 pm this year and missed the ball drop (for reasons why, see paragraph 1).

Looking forward to this “interesting” year ahead, I’m scared my grandmother won’t be there at the end. She’s 90 and feisty, but I began to cry as I kissed and hugged her goodbye last week. Her voice broke too. You just never know. I am not sure my dog and canine companion of 11+ years won’t make it through the year. I’m scared Inja will continue to live in a sub-optimal place or bad things will happen to the good people I know. I’m also hopeful–that I’ll actually be able to lose 8 lbs, that our travels will be exciting and not as exhausting as they currently promise. I’m hopeful I’ll make some money to afford what I spend and that I’ll sleep more. I would settle for life and sleeping more.

Did I tell you to read The Night Circus? If not, go read it. I’ve read it 3 times in the past month or so and would start it again tonight. Truly.

My friend Kate gave Brenna a little doll–stupidly named Belly Brites by the marketing person for a toy company–her belly lights up, changes color and plays a large portion of Clair de Lune. It’s very sweet. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve heard Clair de Lune over the past few weeks. One night she played it 16 times before going to bed. First thing in the morning, Ainsley came in the room and turned it on. I might have thrown up in my mouth a little.

I’m heading downstairs to make dinner. Tacos with chicken breast or ground beef, beans, avocado, cheese, lettuce, salsa. It’s incredibly exciting. I’m going for Americana tonight. I might even use paper plates and not compost afterward (not really).

Hugs to you and happy 2012. How do you think it will be an interesting year?


May the long time sun shine upon you December 31, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — gleefulbarbarians @ 4:02 am

Dear Julie,
I broke down and posted on my knitting blog – just a little post about the end of 2011.  Tomorrow I’m going to try a “looking ahead to 2012” one as well. – in case you want to read along at home.

Thinking of you often.






Belated finishing November 2, 2011

Filed under: she's crafty — gleefulbarbarians @ 5:49 am

(which is better than premature….  well you know what I mean).

Dear Julie,

I know it’s your turn and I’m sure you’re as busy as me or probably more so, but I’m cutting in line.  Maybe to get us back in the habit or something.  It’s nothing exciting, but “they” say blogs need pictures, so you got some.

I knit.  I’m inconsistent about completely finishing things.  It often depends on how badly I want to wear or mail the thing I’m making.  MONTHS ago I posted on the Facebook about some yarn I had and didn’t know what to do with it.  Emanon said her youngest could use a sweater.  I just checked.  It was April.  I probably made the sweater in April (it’s a baby sweater – they usually go quickly)  It needed buttons, though.  It probably took me a month to get the buttons (this is not a monumental trip – I just never brought it to Joann’s when I went there for other things).  I sewed the buttons on TODAY.  November 1.  I now need to find a new home for this because E’s baby is much bigger (what with that growing thing babies do).


Picture quality = crappy.  It’s after 10pm in my kitchen, and I’m using the crappier camera.

Also, every Tuesday when it’s under 100F (so October to May, generally speaking) we go hang out with a wonderful group of homeschoolers at several different parks around the city.  The kids go play or ride bikes or sit (somewhere ELSE) while the parents chat.  Some of us work on handcrafts (I’ve been watching a quilt be pieced for a couple of years now), some do other work, some just chat.  I usually bring knitting because that’s my thing.  Today, continued working on this (it will never end) blue hooded sweater for Thing 2.  I’m up to the armpits and currently working on the sleeves.  When I couldn’t stand doing that anymore, I finished some socks I had been putting off finishing up.  When you’re done knitting, you aren’t supposed to just put a knot in the end and call it done.  You weave that end back and forth in the stitches a bit to sort of lock it down without creating a lumpy knot.  In the picture that follows the two mostly red pairs were done over the summer (the adult ones while I was in NY, the baby ones were started there and finished here, but done in August) and the green pair were started last Christmas.  My dear friend Terri and I were in Joann’s on December 22.  She says to me, “Hey!  If we get this yarn, we could knit socks together to have for Christmas!”   See that date?  Also, Terri has never made socks.  They generally take me 2-3 weeks.  Maybe I could do them faster if I could ignore everything else in my life.  Still.  What the hell was I thinking?  I said, “Sure!” and bought yarn.  Terri didn’t even bother to start.  I don’t remember when I finished them, but definitely not in time for Christmas.    I took care of the ends on all three pairs today.  So, 2 “new” pairs of socks for me, and one for some baby (again, the baby for whom I made them?  Much bigger now).


This picture?  Super crappy.  Bad lighting.  Camera that doesn’t like to focus on variegated yarn.  The weirdo background of my kitchen table:  Nicholas’s halloween loot in the upper left corner, new KnitPicks catalog at center top, placemats I’ve shoved out of the way on the right.

All of this to say, I finished some stuff.  And now, I’m finished and going to bed.

Audiobook: From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris.  Daniel’s listening to the Hitchhiker’s Guide series and enjoying it.  I didn’t think my kids would find this really funny, but they do.   Nicholas is reading anything left around the house.  I don’t think he even knows what all he’s reading.




Tangled up in blue September 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — gleefulbarbarians @ 5:27 am

Dear Julie,

You’ve posted several times about Inja, and I keep meaning to post comments, but then I end up blathering along about my own stuff and never get back to her.   I’m finally getting back to that.

Dan scanned the “mostly in focus” pictures I had from our CIT year so many moons ago.  This is one of them.  I can’t remember what we were doing there – just walking to Rafters (and dammit, I’m still calling it Rafters)?  Heading to lunch?  Just wandering the trail?  Who knows.  The look on her face could be so many things – you can probably read it better than I can.  I found myself wondering: “patient?  annoyed? (her face looks too relaxed for that) just plain ‘fierce’?”  Who knows.  It’s Orbi – standing in the woods at camp.  That’s enough.

I was excited to find her again on Facebook.  It was neat seeing her boys do some of the same things mine do.  I was excited that the two of you ended up so close together even in a completely different part of the country.

I wish I remember more than just the highlights of that summer.  I have my CIT notebook, but it’s only mandatory writing since I’m not really a journal writer (and I’m sure all my other writing time was taken up by the boyfriend).  I do okay with letter writing – it seems more purposeful than just journaling, which is probably why my other attempts as a blog have largely failed.  I wish we could get all 6 of us together again and revisit more of what happened then.  Each person remembers somethings different as important, so together the memories can be revisited in a way they can’t when you’re alone with only your thoughts.   I wish I could remember more, though, because there are things in there that I don’t understand because I’ve forgotten.    Of course things that seemed OMG huge at 17 seem like “I was upset about what now?” as a 30 something.  For example, in my positive strokes, Orbi wrote “Al, you have such strength both physical and emotional that I look up to you (I look up to you anyways, ha!).  No, but I don’t know if I could be as strong as you are in all the spots we’ve been put in.  It takes a good person to do both.”

Reading that again now I think, “as strong as I am?  me?!  compared to what you’ve been thru?  honey, I’ve been lounging by the pool eating grapes compared to what you’ve been thru.”  What were those hard spots?  Were they things that summer?  Things in life we’d been talking about?  Something else?  Just dealing with Ams?  🙂

Hearing about her illness and slow recovery is an emotional struggle for me.  As I lose more and more of the faith I was raised with, I find myself turning to stories like hers and wondering how people reconcile God and this situation.   I can’t find logic in it (which is why it’s called “faith”) and it ends up making me angry.

Argh.  maybe I can’t write this post.  I am getting all jumbled up and weepy and …

So, I’ll just stop, but end on a humorous note.  How long did it take you to get all the sand out of your suits?







Holy Crap! August 31, 2011

Filed under: Brain Chatter,Uncategorized — gleefulbarbarians @ 5:23 pm

Dear Amey,

Ainsley has been saying “Holy Crap!” quite a bit recently. And for very simple things. If she likes the images in a book, she’ll exclaim “Holy Crap! I love these pictures!” I just let it go. I read in a magazine that a mom was driving with her daughter and the girl asked “Where’s the effing pharmacy?” Mom was just about to yell at her daughter for cursing when she realized the child was asking “Where’s the F in pharmacy?” We are always so quick to jump.

So I saw you just a week and a half ago. You met my husband and daughters, and enjoyed a diner breakfast all in one fell swoop.  It was lovely to see you and hear you converse with my girls. (plus you made me feel good for saying I looked great.) I enjoyed hearing about camp as well, which is a subject best left to another post. It’s very life-affirming being with you. Thank you for taking the time to come visit with us for a while.

What’s interesting on my end? Let’s see: yesterday, I met up with Inja and her parents who are visiting for a week. We went to the Fifth Element Ranch nearby in Loveland, CO. Tara, the therapist and a new friend of mine, facilitated a very interesting session. I believe Inja’s parents brought her expecting Inja to participate in traditional equine therapy. What it became was mostly some help for her parents to realize that things may not change. The extreme fears and frustrations they have regarding their daughter and what she endures in her home and life may not change. And rather than fight those feelings, to be nice to them, welcome them, to relax and say “these are my feelings.” It doesn’t mean you have to accept the situation, but accepting your feelings about them can give you an opportunity to be more grounded–or maybe just more okay with the groundlessness. It is strange to know people your whole life, but to experience something so intense where–gasp!–feelings are talked about, it’s really unusual and a little awkward, even after going through Inja’s illness together. Her dad talked about being at the hospital 3 weeks after it all began nearly a year ago and Inja was showing few signs of any awareness. He said I came in to visit and as I started talking, Inja’s eyes began to twitch. And when I left, Inja moved her mouth to say “bye.” He talked about how tremendous that was. That felt really good, to know that I was so much a part of her person that her person “came out,” even in the darkness. I’m going to carry that with me.

As we sat in a “sacred circle” together, I watched Inja’s daughter, Nona, climb up and sit on her mom’s lap. Seeing them cuddle, love and connect is such a gift. I have to remember that.

Before I go back to work, I’ll also tell you that a few weeks ago, I started working on another grant for the WOLFF foundation. Years ago, at the age of 15, I became penpals with a boy named Bill Wolff. We were the kind of creative teens who wrote long letters (on paper!), streams of consciousness last went on for dozens of pages. He was a year or two older than me and chose to go to college at Binghamton University. When I went to visit him at 16 or 17, it was totally awkward. He knew me so well, and yet not at all. I had a lot of fun, fell in love with the school, and of course, ended up at Binghamton as well. Over my 4 years there, I’d see him from time to time, but we never really connected in that same way we did through writing. As I started to write this grant, he came to mind and I decided to Google him. I was shocked to find he existed–like in real life! I’ve wondered where life took him. It turns out: all over. He is an incredible sculptor who received some sort of special “masters” in Japan. He’s a professor in Rochester and does incredible pieces of work: I reached out to him and we have connected. For how long, I’ve no idea. But it’s nice to know what an interesting life he’s had. I also realized that I have often sought out situations, like this, where I can write. Where I can think, comment, pose questions and learn more about myself. I’ve kept a journal my whole life and have, over the years, found people who enjoy this type of writing exploration. I need a creative outlet in my life. And I’m so happy you are not just a part, but a contributor to that creativity.

How do these “letters” always end up so much longer than I anticipate?

Yours in creative chatter,


Computers – making our lives easier. July 19, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — gleefulbarbarians @ 7:04 am

Dear Julie,

I know I owe you comments and reflections and I do want to talk about our dear friend Inja, I just know I won’t give it the attention it needs right now.  Hopefully while we’re on vacation.  Dan did scan the pictures, so I need to sort out the best way to let you see them.

So, we leave for a month away on Wednesday.  I’ve been making lists, new lists, revised lists, adjusted lists, lists for me, lists for the boys…  I was feeling pretty organized.  I had plotted out the several days before we leave with what needed to get done so that Tuesday wouldn’t be a crazy frantic mess.

What’s that about best laid plans of mice and men?

This morning I decided in a moment of sheer insanity to agree to update the software on my ipod touch, as itunes has told me the past several times (“Hey you – there’s an update.  don’t you want it?”).  I updated and then, apparently itunes and the ipod were no longer speaking to each other.  The ipod had only a usb plug and an itunes logo on the screen.  We are PC people.  If it weren’t for the amazing portable googleness of the ipod, I wouldn’t own one.  It makes me nutty several times a year in a way my old Sansa mp3 player never did (I couldn’t play We Rule on my Sansa, though…).  So, I restored the blasted thing, then had to move all of my apps back on it and then tackle the rough work.

I spent much of last week finding and downloading audiobooks for the trip.  Books for me, books for the kids in the car, more books than we’ll probably listen to, but now I’ll have CHOICE.  I got books 6 and 7 in the Jack Daniels series by JA Konrath, books 2 and 3 in the George RR Martin “Song of Fire and Ice” series (39 hours EACH), all of the Vampire Betsy books by MaryJanice Davidson that the library had (9 books, at least 5 hours each).  The kids got Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Dr. Dolittle, Eragon, The Moffats and we already have Harry Potter.  I’d moved many of these to my ipod already.   That factory restore, though – POOF!  All gone.  And since most of those were never actually stored in itunes (Overdrive from the library just uses itunes as a translator), I’ve had to translate and transfer them all again.  ARGH.

Tomorrow was supposed to be a “stay home and get crap done day” and yet I still need to leave the house.  I need to:

  • Pick up Dan after he drops off his motorcycle for a recall repair
  • Return all the library books (after we find them all)
  • Finish the laundry: my pants, the (2?) loads of pretreated stained laundry, kitchen laundry and maybe towels (I can only do laundry until noon, and then after 7pm because of the electricity costs)
  • Pack for me
  • Supervise packing for the children
  • Decide what knitting is going with me/ignore dan when he complains about knitting in the luggage.
  • Figure out where we’re going to dinner so that the kitchen can be shut down
  • Clean out the fridge
  • Cut up and freeze the cantaloupe I insanely thought we’d eat this week
  • Decide if I’m going to take my tea filter and loose leaf tea or tea bags with me
  • Decide if I’m going to have Dan transfer itunes to a memory card (it’s currently on an external drive) or if I’ll be able to manage without it for 4 weeks
  • Make car rental arrangements for Albany
  • See about taking Daniel’s pants back to Costco so he can get the right size

What I want to do?  Seam my sweater.  I’m going to have to bring all the parts and seam it in North Carolina and hopefully finish it.

Holy Cats, it’s midnight.  Did I mention that our flight leaves at 630am?  That we’ll all need to be up and in the car by 430 to be at the airport by 5?  I’m going to go have a lie down.