The End of Things

This will probably be my last post. We will hopefully be moving in the next 30-60 days. I will not have my knitting space, or be able to work on projects for a while. We hope to move to Minneapolis, MN, while my husband continues on to Ft. Meade, MD. The separation will be for a few years, with hubby coming home on shore leave, as the Navy permits. It’s not a done deal, but the alternatives could be much worse.

Making a Difference?

If you read a few blogs back, you’ll see me ranting about volunteering and miscreant parent drivers in our school parking lot. Parents who behave badly teach their children to do the same. After lobbying for school and military police help, I had an idea to make the parking lot safer.

Working with our principal, I drew up a rough draft of a relatively cheaper way to fix some of the safety issues. The drawing a was forwarded, worked on by our CE section on base, and several months later, (this weekend), it was implemented. We redrew the parking lot.

I don’t have ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos. I didn’t think they’d ever actually do it. Before, the parking lot had 3 vertical rows of double column parking. There were frequent mishaps with children running behind cars, and cars backing out into on-coming traffic. Not to mention, cars backing out and into each other.

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My solution was to turn the rows from vertical to horizontal. Teachers have reserved spots on the front two rows. They park and go in. The parents can park, then pull thru when leaving, in the third row. No backing out, the crosswalk is clearly designated, marked correctly, and crosses the entire parking lot. There is now one entrance and one exit. Traffic only moves in one direction. Visibility is improved.

Bad points- parents will still behave badly and recklessly. There are only enough parking spots for staff. (This is a negative and positive. No parent parking means less traffic).

Other schools in the area have little or no teacher or parent parking. The goal was to make the lot safer. It has.

How do you deal with parking parents? Incentivize walking. It is healthier and greener for our society. Most of the families in the school live within a quarter mile radius. Why drive? Last year, it was suggested that we start a ‘walking school bus’. This promotes safety and community, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. A few volunteers, a few manpower hours, et voila- it would reduce the number of kids running in the street, cut down on crosswalk confusion and get kids to school safely.

Am I trying to create a utopia? No, just a safer way for kids to get to school. Now, I need a charismatic parent to push the rest into motion. I’m a sledgehammer. I need a silver tongued parent to sweet talk the rest.

Trunk Sale… And Catch-up

Imagine a large parking lot with cars filling every other space. To the right of each car, each vendor sets up their stall to sell various and miscellaneous goods. Up at the front, a bake sale with home made goods, coffee and hot chocolate (molten magma). If the weather had been cooler, you’d have known it was fall. Instead, those of us dressed for the early morning chill started shedding layers earlier than expected.

The vendor in the stall behind me was selling anything he didn’t want in his house, to include a sleeper sofa that my husband bought. The stall to my right was selling used clothing from brands that cost more than my car payment. Over to the left, with a tented stall, an older couple was selling interesting odds and ends. They also had hats, hand knitted by their college student daughter.

The trunk sale idea was to fill your stall with what you could fit in your trunk. There were lots of trucks, SUV’s, and minivans. Used and unused household goods littered the lot. Clothing racks, tables and camp chairs were typical in most of the stalls. Each vendor paid $20 for a stall. Not a bad deal.

The customers were very unique. There were men in fishing hats trailing behind their wives, whose arms were full. Young and expecting parents trying to save money. There were not the usual garage salers, that I expected to see. The bake sale adults gave their kids trays and wagons of goodies so that the vendors wouldn’t have to leave their stalls. It was worth buying a donut, just to see their eyes light up. The disappointment when a vendor didn’t buy a little something, was apparent on their faces. The lackluster turn out, didn’t dampen the atmosphere of bargaining until a few hours into the event. Spirits were good, even after the expected crowd didn’t show.

…..

I’ve been busy. I managed to knit up 11 ruffle scarves, 1 hat and neck warmer set, a long cabled scarf, and a cabled slouch hat. I sold exactly none of them at the Trunk Sale this weekend. Color me disappointed. Six weeks of prep, down the drain.

The boys are finally getting into the school routine. I’ve got my volunteer schedule set. I’m dropping Physical Therapy due to lack of enthusiasm on my part and the techs. My physical therapist understands, as long as I work at home.

And all that effort to grab knitting time, proved wasted. Yes, it was supposed to be a flea market/garage sale, but the organizers didn’t get the word out. It was also the weekend before pay day, vice after. We are also looking at a possible government shutdown, again. I can hope for other opportunities to arise, but I now have to plan for Christmas with no surplus cash on hand.

On the bright side, we did manage to sell or give away almost all of our baby and toddler gear. That cleared a quarter of the garage, so that I can spread my little corner out even more. That is exciting.

Jamie and the neighbor boys just busted up a ton of styrofoam all over the garage and my work space, so perhaps we’ll be able to clear them a play area, as well. I will probably be finding styrofoam in my yarn for a while.

I’d put pictures up, but iOS 7 has me thwarted.

And Then School Started

School started for our school district August 22nd. The sighs of relief from the moms of school age children weren’t really heard until today. I think they all probably occurred around 9 AM. I know that this Friday, the base Starbucks will be full. The line might even reach out the door, into the PX, also known as the Exchange or small shopping center. The moms will congregate with friends they haven’t seen since school let out. New moms, who’ve recently moved into the neighborhoods, will be meeting and making friends. I will probably be sipping my coffee at home on Friday. I have no urge to go join the brutal melee of a pack of on-duty airmen, jonesing for their coffee, retirees who have no idea as to why the line is so long, and the rest of the moms who are really just looking for familiar faces and catch-up news.

Two of my boys are quite happy to be back at school. Despite the autism, they relish seeing people and getting out of the house. My middle son, not so much. He’s a lot like me. He’s serious, set in his ways, and thinks that if he says it, it must be so. That last one only works if you are Momma. On Thursday, he went to school, played at recess, then ate lunch. After lunch, he looked at his teacher and told her that it was time to go home. Veni Vidi Vici, or so he thought. Lo’ and behold, he did not come home after lunch, he had a few more hours of class.

Thwarted by his teacher and an aide, he was quite grumpy coming home. During ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), he did not want to work. He’d been building up frustration from the day and weeks before. His tantrum lasted 45 minutes. His tutor, was taken aback. She also has an autistic son, but she disagreed with how things went down. I, as his mother, was a bit dismayed. We knew something was coming, but not what. You can watch my kids like a pressure valve’s gauge. You know they are gonna blow, you may even know why, but sometimes, you just have to let them blow.

Part of autism is the inability to regulate emotions, or express them in a proper, social conformity kind of way. For most people a tantrum is not productive. For my kids, learning to control them is very difficult. My youngest has multiple, little tantrums to bleed off the pressure. But my middle child is a pressure cooker. He simmers and compresses until he can’t hold it in. So, he hits his emergency relief valve. It has to be done. We can only guide and plan so much. Preparation can’t take care of everything. But it sucks. No ifs, ands, or buts. It hurts to watch your kid in pain. They have to learn to let go, and I don’t know that I can teach him that.

As a parent, you are supposed to relate to your kids, just not too much. I do know that after that tantrum, my middle child has improved greatly in his demeanor, and you can see that he’s got less stress pushing on him. That doesn’t mean he’s ok, but he’s back to his normal, serious self. I often find a good fight or explosion helps me level off. It’s just not done in society. I’m supposed to take him to the gym and let him work off his stresses, or find a creative way for him to express his anger. The problem is that those solutions don’t work for everyone. So I will have to help him find some way of getting rid of some of that frustration. But how do you tell a 6 year old that?

Time Flies

The alarm went off this morning. I checked my watch and saw that it was a quarter to six. I rolled over to nudge my husband- after all, it’s his Darth Vader alarm clock, telling him to get up. He bonked it on the head for one more snooze and a last few minutes cuddling his wife.

He’s off on the start of a business trip, before the rest of the house is awake. My alarm is not a clock. It is the sound of Ghenghis, howling his head off. As I entered the kitchen/dining room, I saw the back door was open, and he was running in and out. The puppies and Victoria, frothing at the gate, jumped up and down like popcorn to be let out. Ghenghis sleeps with my oldest, which means my oldest in a zombie state put him out this morning. Ghenghis turned the latch and opened the door. Oh joy!

We survived last week’s antics with some very tired boys. I thought last week would be a once off. Sometimes, I wish my calendar would tell the future. This week will be twice as crowded, but a bit more organized. Two field trips, all three boys to the dentist, one boy to his pediatrician, five nights of ABA (Applied Behavior Therapy) with only three people, school supply give away to attend, and my birthday, which will not be celebrated this year. Oh yes, and Hubby will be gone, so I’m on my own.

But on top of all this, I found out we’ll be having a flea market at the end of September. A glorified yard sale. I’m working on two baby blankets, a hat and a sweater. Now, I will also be knitting up quick doo-dads and what-nots, to put on display. Of course, I also have two bikes with helmets, a bike buggy for two and a bunch of baby stuff to sell. I’d like to get the garage cleaned out 🙂

Yup, us housewives, we sit on the couch eating Bonbons and watching soaps 🙂 The funny thing about that- I do kind of watch tv, but not really. I think the old radio shows from the 40’s and 50’s would be better. I sit and knit, or iron, or even get on my exercise bike and knit while I play some show off Amazon or Netflix. I listen more than I watch. I rarely do just one thing. What happened to letting your imagination fill in the pictures? I knit while reading a book on an e-reader. I have to multitask. There are not enough hours in the day. It’s a shame that audio books are so expensive, as well.

I’m still wearing the brace on my hand. I’m knitting much less, right now. Two more weeks, and I will quit wearing it. I suppose I should schedule my follow up with the doctor. Maybe I will. I’d like to see the look on his face when he sees that I’ve dropped a bit of weight.

Before he called my kids obstacles, I’d already taken care of how to get my exercise in. Putz. I was waiting on this new thing called a FitDesk. Bike and a desk, low rate cardio, I can hang my knitting bag from the desk, watch my laptop, and knock-out 45 minutes of work. No need for the gym, which won’t watch my special needs kids. I’ve also been taking the boys on outdoor bike rides, to prep for riding to school. Yup, I suppose there’s room in there for Bonbons, but I’ll settle for my morning latte- cut down from two or three to just one. I’ve been tracking my calories and increasing water. So far I’m down five pounds.

Our house was rented as of the first. School starts next week. Hubby’s gone this week, then the last week of August. There’s another trip planned in September. Strangely enough, I’m a bit less stressed. Ready to take control of all the things hubby’s been doing for the the last few months. It’s been a nice break, not doing all of the appointments or fighting with the insurance company, but all of that is mine again. Of course, the sound of Beethoven’s Fifth, I have to do the grocery shopping too. Ugh.

They say time flies when you’re having fun. Time just flies, especially if you are busy. I will be very busy!

Upside Down

Have you ever felt like the world has gone mad? Or maybe your world, or your space in it has skewed itself? Mine has.

I have regular schedules. I try to keep everything spaced out and well planned. I don’t like last minute additions, but I can be flexible for once-offs. But this week, as my yarn goes flying across my yard, so too, my careful planning goes all to hell, in the blink of an eye.

My kids were given a chance to sign up for another ‘camp’. It’s actually four days of field trips, accompanied by ABA tutors. It’s a fantastic opportunity. The times and dates are irregular to accommodate the locations. It’s free. We found out last week. Not a lot of notice, but doable.

We have had a neurology and cardiology appointments on the books for weeks now. They don’t interfere with camp. Our ABA company decided to reschedule our times without checking with us, or anyone else for that matter. We’ve had screw ups on my part and our tutor’s due to the lack of communication.

This whole week has turned from a mildly chaotic week, to full blown chaos. We managed to get the ABA schedule readjusted to fit some of our needs, but I’m going to have 3 people tomorrow and 5 people on Thursday, in my house. Not counting my family of 5.

Tomorrow’s schedule:

0800-1130 Kids Gone Wild (bouncy house heaven)
1130-1315 lunch, calm down and chores
1315-1515 ABA introducing new tutors
1515-? Cardiology for Jamie

Kids crave structure and routine. Kids with autism REALLY crave structure. I expect by Friday, I’m going to have some out of sorts kiddos. There will be tantrums, fights, all kinds of mayhem.

The tutors are nice. They are not my friends. They come to work. I have to keep an eye on them. Sometimes, they don’t catch my kids manipulating them, or they exceed what they are supposed to do- in a not right way. Two of them are new. They lack experience with the job or my kids. So I have to communicate with them. I also watch what they do, to see if I can correct some of my parental fubars. I make them, we all do. But it’s not comfortable. It’s like being in a doctor’s office for 2 hours. My home becomes not my home. The kids know it, and so do I.

And my yarn, it flew across the yard in a yarntainer that fell out when I tried to unload the truck. It wrapped itself around the wheel well of the Otomobile, and ran across the grass, with the hat in progress, still sitting in my purse on the front seat. Ever tried winding a ball of yarn while the wind’s blowing 20mph? Not fun.

Top it all off, I was right. The neurologist evaluated Lukas’ EEG, and he’s now on seizure meds. It wasn’t as hard as getting my diagnosis or Jamie’s. having a family with two seizure freaks, made getting the testing a lot easier.

It’s going to be one helluva(n) upside down week. Cheers

A Marriage of Words

Somewhere along the way, I might have mentioned that I was in the Air Force. Eleven years of my life were dedicated to Arabic and then Azerbaijani. Six of those years, I was also a supervisor. I can’t say that I was a good supervisor, but I tried.

The most amusing and uncomfortable moment happened when I told a guy that he was finally getting a supervisor in his section. He asked me out on a date. Definitely awkward.

One of the most challenging aspects was writing evaluations. Two of my airmen won quarterly awards, both going up for Airman of the Year. One lost by one point, the other, while being outstanding, could not compete with other career fields. They made my job easy. Their evaluations could be written off of their award write-ups. The others, not so easy.

The Air Force was using a bloated method of eval. Everyone got fives across the board, unless they were dirt bags. Heaven forbid you give a mediocre airman a four. You were saying that they weren’t ready for promotion. You were holding them back. Even if you were playing by the rules. The unwritten rules would bite you in your bottom. They did mine.

In the eval, you had to take a brag sheet of all their duties, volunteer work and whatever else you could fit in, to turn a mouse into a lion. I was a used car salesman, selling a Ford as a Cadillac. It was inflation on a grand scale. But, I learned to write. I became a very good bullshit artist, studying under some of the best. The bs was a great mask of poetry, covering up whatever needed to be hidden.

My husband, although his research skills are great, he can’t lie or exaggerate very well. So after many moans and groans, as he wrote evals and awards, we found that together, we make a good team. With the boys in their beds, we’d stay up all night to write. My career was gone, but I still had the magic. He’d do the layout, and then we’d match wits to do the write ups.

While Navy and Air Force evals are completely different, their goals are the same- to accurately proclaim the good deeds and job performance of the sheep in our flock, within a word limit and preset stylized writing. As linguists, we value the use of words. We are exacting in our meanings. We portray a picture of an individual.

Every year, I help my husband on his brag sheet and eval. Not only to help him, but get an idea of what he’s doing at work. A big picture, if you will. I’ve learned to pull out the details and polish them into shining jewels. After all, he brings home the money. It’s one of my favorite times a year. We stay up late, reread sentences over and over, tweaking each word, getting the exact meaning that we want to convey. We’ll bandy synonyms from room to room. We test meanings, so that a stranger could understand what we are saying. Not too long, not too short. We’re Goldilocks on the quest for perfection.

My hubby is a wall flower. He doesn’t brag or boast. Really, he’s quite self-effacing. But that doesn’t get you promoted. These days, it might not get you retained. New policies require a supervisor’s recommendation to reenlist. We have four years left. I’ll bullshit with the best, I love it. I love working with my hubby, even more.

After the finished product is submitted, his supervisor makes changes, then his supervisor makes changes. Eventually, the final product goes into his file. Last year, only superficial changes were made. This year, we’ll see.

But it was fun. I look forward to next year.

The Long Game

Have you ever heard of chess players who can keep the game in their heads, so much so that they can keep the next 20, 30 or even 50 of their next moves in their heads? They play the ‘long game’. Their objective is clear. They aren’t surprised or distracted. Each move played against them has a counter move. They may win or lose, but the idea is to hold on to that goal. A child prodigy could lose to an old fox, not by lack of intellect, but experience.

Chess can be a short game or a long game. Knitting is the same. Your first goal is the knit stitch, then the purl. After that, the world is your oyster. You can make scarves the rest of your life, or you could learn to knit in the round to make a hat. From there, sweaters with cables and then lace… the possibilities are endless.

At some point, you may want to sell what you make. Maybe you want to do your own designs. You start to play the long game. What do you need to do, to make your ends look good, hide your loose ends, tighten up your ladders. You find yourself drooling over technique books, not just patterns. You start playing. If you can afford it, you take classes. All of this is a long game. You have a goal- to make the best, maybe even to be the best. Or, you could just be a very good hobby knitter. It’s up to you.

To play the long game, you have to have a goal. As knitters, we tend to find one thing and repeat. Generally, we call them our hat phase, top down sweater phase. Some knitters become spinners. There are distractions, some new yarns that call to you, some pattern you have to knit. That’s okay, as long as you refocus back to your goal. Or maybe you find your goal needs to change. Knitting, like life, is adaptable. Sometimes your chess piece disappears. You adapt and go on.

My right hand is in a brace. My chess piece got swiped. I spent the weekend watching knitting classes. I can always improve my technique and learn new tricks. One of the instructors had a funky left handed purl. I copied it, adjusted it to my needs, and while not perfect yet, I’ve adapted.

So what about the sly old foxes? In this long game, it doesn’t hurt to shut up and learn, to ask questions. Sometimes losing teaches you new tricks. In knitting, you learn as much as you want to. That’s the beauty of it. The game can be long or short, takes twists and turns, but it never ends. You are your own competition.

Good Morning People!

I’m throwing as a lefty. I can’t not knit for 4 more weeks. I can’t do it. Sooooo… I’d say 10 years of piano lessons is paying off. As a teenager, I taught myself to write left handed. I’m not really sure why, but it seemed like a good idea. Maybe it was the geeky coolness factor. Piano lessons definitely played a part. All that training on teaching my left hand to think independently seemed like a superfluous thing, but it wasn’t.

If you’re a knitter, you might know that ‘throwing’ and ‘picking’ are labels for English vs. Continental styles of knitting. Throwers hold their yarn in the right hand, and use the fingers to wrap the yarn around the needle. Pickers hold the yarn in their left hand and pick the yarn up with the needle. I’d never heard of those terms, until someone asked me if I was a picker or a thrower. Me, clueless, doesn’t happen often. I had to look it up.

Both ‘picking’ and ‘throwing’ require right wrist motion. I also seem to have a problem convincing the yarn to comply with my needles’ request. I discovered that I can still throw with my left hand. I’m working on my gauge, but after a few attempts, I think I have it down. It’s still a bit slow going, but if I ever need to teach a lefty, I have more experience. It might even help with double stranded color work. I must admit, I was rather jealous when someone posted a video holding a yarn on each hand, knitting beautifully. I tried. I couldn’t do it.

My mother told me to start reading again, to kill the antsy crawling up my fingers. I quit reading books a little more than a year ago. I had been reading a book a day. 350-500 pages, is nothing to me. The books are started and done.

Alas, I gave my Nook to my oldest when I sent him to her. Now, knowing that he is her favorite first grandson, much like my daddy was his mother’s favorite second son, my mom wants him to be able to keep his Nook. She’s sending me her old Kindle, to help avert major disaster. After several months, he wouldn’t want to give it up. It’s quite funny, really, how we both spoil this child!

Of course, I will have to work on a few things. I used to Nook and knit. I do watch the TV and knit, but I usually prefer books, as they provide a more in-depth view of a story. Working left handed and reading would be a challenge. The idea, though, is to not knit.

There’s just one problem with all of this. Knitting can be set down, the television turned off, but a book has page after page. I can’t put them down. Not until the end. I will have to cross that bridge, and it won’t be easy. I’m an addict, and I know it.

It’s going to be a long 4 weeks.

Dear Lt. Jones

Dear Lt. Jones,

You walked into your chop shop of a medical clinic, with your uniform looking like you’d slept in it and unshaven, to find a fat housewife with two kids, one wearing a portable EEG on his head. She had a brace on her arm, and hey- a little overweight. Okay, a lot overweight. You made assumptions. And while you were being politic in your phrasing, you called my kids obstacles. Impediments to me getting excercise. Let me tell you about those obstacles you nodded at.

I have three children. The oldest is 13. He has autism and ADHD. He is also behind on the growth charts. We held him back a year due to his difficulties, but he’s too smart for his own good.

The oldest twin has a portable EEG once cause we are trying to catch him having a seizure. He also has autism, but he can think at logic levels that would astound you.

The youngest twin has already been diagnosed with seizures, and you guessed it, autism. He’s the drama queen and prankster. He also had heart surgery at 33 weeks, 2 weeks after he was born. I’ve watched him quit breathing and turn blue time and time again.

My husband serves in the Navy and has done so for the last 16 years. He periodically travels for his job, and until this post, he had been absent 65% of our marriage.

Yes, I see how you, maybe a year out of residency might think they are obstacles. But for me, I have sacrificed my career, my needs for them. So when I actually make an appointment, it’s because regardless of those obstacles, I hurt and made the time to come in.

I dare you to carry my load and maintain a perfect body. I dare you to see what’s in front of you. You can’t even look presentable in uniform, how would you deal with the blows I’ve been dealt?

I know I’m fat, or if you want to call it medically, obese. I’ve gained and lost with the ups and downs. I’m just like anyone else with obstacles. Either help or don’t. You just told me I can’t knit for the next 6-8 weeks.

You are an obstacle, not my kids. You are an impediment. You have no clue. I’d tell you to go to hell, but I don’t want company.

Sincerely,

The Fat House Wife

My hubby wouldn’t let me email the bastard.