Sunday, October 25, 2015

Cousin Calvin!

My new nephew was born Friday! Calvin Hugh was 9 lbs. 14 oz., and measured 22" long.  He has blue eyes and his hair seems a tiny bit blond.  He's a good nurser, and has alert eyes.  We all love him a lot already!  I took some pictures over the weekend.

Evelyn and Ellis played pretty well together.  Levi and Sara and I are so proud.  Laine and Robert are champions, as usual.  All the grandparents are lovestruck baby fools.  And little Calvin is a very beautiful and extremely welcome addition to a ready and loving family.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Always a process

After Evelyn went to bed last night, I spent 30 minutes or so pulling out some cool-weather clothes and putting away the warm-weather ones.  While I was making a mess in my bedroom, I went ahead and went through bent or gross hangers and tossed them into the trash. I put shirts and pajama pants I don't wear into a bag for donations.  I made enough space in the closet to hide a chair that's been sitting in the middle of our living room for months.  And I went through papers on top of my dresser and tidied it into something that looks nice.  Baby shoes and diaper bags I don't know what to do with are still in the closet, but I have room for them.  Trash is in the dumpster.  Donation items are in the trunk of my car, along with a birthday present for a friend so that I can be ready the next time I see her.  Her birthday was in August, and I don't know when we'll get to meet up, but it's good to feel prepared. 

I also changed the shower curtain liner, and that's just life-changing.

I've been letting things pile up for a few weeks.  We hit a bit of a busy life period, and things were a bit stressful, and it feels easiest to just let a few things slide.  Evelyn brings home a minimum of  3 pieces of paper from school every day, but it's usually more.  Some of those notes need to be held as reminders until a certain event has passed, but we can't find them when they're lost in the shuffle with the receipts and bank statements and whatever else it was that was on top of my dresser--instead of on the fridge, in the trash, or saved in a folder or box designated for that.  Cody's been keeping the apartment clean, but clutter doesn't bother him so he tends to keep it around.  I, on the other hand, start to feel pretty smothered when I see it.  Stress feeds the clutter and clutter feeds the stress. 

Several years ago, I realized I was letting a pretty toxic person take over my life and I didn't really know what to do about it.  Ending things was messy and difficult and it's still not super resolved.  But we don't have contact and that's a huge source of peace in my life.  But every now and then, I have dreams where we're hanging out.  I don't want to listen to the story they're telling, or I'm laughing politely at a joke I don't find funny, or we're making plans and then I realize "Dang it, I let this happen."  Like I just backslid into a friendship (like a lot of break-ups, our friendship was kind of like that because I resolve to distance myself and then I'd buckle and let this person invite themselves along to events with other loved ones and dominate everything with unpleasantness) without realizing it.  In the dream, I'm irritated but usually not too upset--until I realize I've let this person into a life that now has Evelyn.  I wake up in a panic.  I usually have the dream when I'm starting to lose a little much control over the small details of everyday life until they start to be big stressors.

I had the dream earlier in the week.  So I started a library book about boosting personal productivity--I've already re-checked it out once--and made a structured to-do list for myself at work (I'm not following it very well, but at least I'm not nagged by the sense that I'm forgetting what I should be doing) for all the tasks I'll try to get to Monday.  I cleaned my room.  I took out the trash.  I found my gratitude journal, even though I didn't write in it but I do like to have it around. 

I can't say I slept the sleep of the physically active and perfectly at peace kind of person I want to be.  But I woke up a lot more ready for the day than I have in a while.

Monday, October 12, 2015

You all have to believe me now

When Evelyn was a baby I would take her through the shops and galleries downtown for the Friday Night Art Walks we have around here.  I don't do it as much as I should now, mostly because I forget to look at the calendar.  And I thought that Evelyn wasn't enjoying them as much as she used to.  But maybe she does.

Anyway, when she was a few months old I would pop her in a carrier and drag her through a few places.  I was always terrified to take her into Greg Thompson Fine Art--I still am, really--but we'd go because I love some of the paintings on display there and there are usually a few good sculptures.  Solid, blocky sculptures.  Girlfriend was mesmerized.  I would tell people that she liked sculptures best, but I think people thought I was a crazy mom who was straining to believe my child was amazing and gifted and unique.  Even the people who know me!

Look, I know Evelyn is special to me.  I think she's the best being to ever grace this earth.  But I can also know, in as objective of a way as a mom can know, that she's really no brighter than your average bright kid.  But I will swear to you that baby loved sculptures.  Cody would scoff a little--actual audible scoffing--when I would tell him until he had a night off and came with us.  Her face would change, her voice would change, her whole body would change.  She was into those shapes!

Cut to present day.  Sunday.  I took her to the Historic Arkansas Museum because it's air conditioned and almost never crowded and has free exhibits.  They currently have an exhibit on artists in Arkansas with samplings of the work of several artists from around the state and a small area where you can watch short videos about each person.  This has been going on since July, and I think we've been there 4 times now.  So far the family favorite is Violet Hensley the fiddle maker.  But this past weekend, Evelyn was interested in sculptors.  I've shown the sculptures to her before and read the names of each one to her, but on this visit she was more interested in going straight to the videos of the sculptors.

After re-watching a potter's video, and a quilter's video (my pick), Evelyn selected a sculptor's video for out last one before we went home.  So we watched a video on Robyn Horn.  Lo and behold, some of her sculptures had been on display at the art gallery a few blocks from us!  We were watching the video of her woodworking (seriously, click that link.  It's great.  The whole series is great) when the camera panned up to a piece and Evelyn perked up and called out "In Between!".  I shushed her and we watched the rest of the video.  When it was over, I asked her if she wanted to see the sculptures made by the lady we just watched.  She ran over to the three pieces on display nearby and was shouting as she hopped, "'Golden Triangle!' 'In Between!' Mom, what's this one? Read the sign for me!"

Oh.  Well then.

I read the other title to her ("Fault Line," if you were wondering), and we checked out the pieces and some baskets and went along our merry way for the rest of the afternoon while I was slightly awed and slightly creeped out by my bright little girl.  Who--and you will never convince me otherwise--loves sculptures.

The exhibit runs until mid-February of next year if you're so inclined.  Goodness knows Evelyn is.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Book list for September 2015

Hark! A Vagrant. Kate Beaton.* I saw this on the shelf and snatched it up before anyone else could. I've enjoyed the comics online and was so convinced that everyone in the world would want to check this out from the library as soon as they saw it.  What's not to love about comics that are history jokes!?

The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love. Jill Conner Browne. I hadn't read this in years, and noticed it after it somehow wound up in a spot on the self with our Bibles. Evelyn liked the colors.  It was just like a fun chat with a total stranger you relate to.  And it's funny.  It's just good silly fun, and I liked it a lot. 

Teach Your Children Well. Madeline Levine.* I checked this out during Evelyn's first week of school.  I knew she would be fine and so did every other adult in her life, but it was hard to know how the transition would go--especially when she kept insisting she didn't like school (but only when we were trying to get her to go to bed earlier or stop playing so she could put on her shoes to leave for school).  Her fantastic coloring skills went downhill, her handwriting became nearly illegible, and if I didn't know better I think she completely forgot how to count.  I knew it was normal since her mind was so full of learning all the new routines and rules at school, but it freaked me out a little.  Evelyn does everything in her own time and she doubles down if she thinks you're going to try to rush her or slow her down.  I wanted a reminder about focusing on the important parts of parenting and this seemed like a good book for it.

And it was.  Levine talks a lot about realistic expectations, understanding your kid's personality and learning style, emphasizing values like a love of learning and kindness.  And calming down (that part's for the parents).  A lot of it is stuff that people already somewhat know, but it's hard to remind yourself when other people are talking about their kids' accomplishments and asking you about yours.  It's always well-intentioned, and genuine, but I'm quick to feel defensive because well, raising her is a big deal and I always worry that we're not doing as great a job as she deserves. But Evelyn's loved and supported, which is really the best foundation we can give her, educationally or otherwise.

And: I read some bound volumes of some comics. They were okay.  I don't even remember the titles, but they were about Batwoman and Captain Marvel.  Every now and then I read comics and then I remember that I don't want to read comics for another couple of months or years.

Friday, October 9, 2015

October things

I guess Christmas is coming soon.  Someone in the neighborhood was practicing Christmas carols on a bagpipe.  I could hear it through the open window. The living room is nice and cool right now.

I went to a work thing earlier this week and it was pretty great, except for a mishap in which there were two holds on my debit card and now I am having issues with not murdering my bank over the phone.

The bank has been giving me lots of little signs lately that make me think maybe we should break up.

If more places would take cash I would just hide my money in my newly organized sewing box.  Except not really because I just told you where I would hide my money.

We do still like Evelyn's school, and she likes it too.  She's pretty enthused about going and came home today with a drawing from another girl in her class that read "I [heart] you" across the top.

Who wouldn't love this fancy dinosaur?

I am currently working on at least 3 granny square projects.  It makes me happy.

Also, I am currently reading books.  Yes, multiple books.  Sometimes I even finish them.  It's been nice.

I'm wearing glasses again.  Putting things on your eyeballs is terrible and allergy season doesn't help.

I wrote a blog post for Leisure Arts a couple of weekends ago and I'll write another one this weekend.  They've got a line of coloring books and I've been playing with them.  Coloring makes me about as happy as granny squares and readings lots of library books.

My morning glories are nearly done for the year.  They were lovely this time.

I'm also knitting two shawls for myself, and that makes me happy too.