Wednesday, August 29, 2012

On second babies, and being different

My friend Christine had her second baby recently. My cousin, too, is expecting her second. Hers will be 13 months apart, and I keep finding myself wondering--when will our next be?

And I only mean exactly what I say--I am wondering. Not planning, not trying, not anything like that. Just wondering. ;) (If I have any illusions about being ready for the next one, days like today shatter them.) I keep finding myself thinking ... if our next one is born when Michael is [insert age here], that means I'll be pregnant [insert time here].

Standing at the tender age of four months ... ;) 

I guess I shouldn't be, but I'm always a little surprised by how often people ask if I plan on having another one. I know that it's common for people to try and plan their families down to the last detail, much the same way they sketch out career goals and when they will buy a car, a house, etc. I think this approach carries the danger of relegating children to the role of making you feel complete and accomplished, rather than a good in and of themselves, individual people to be valued for who they are rather than what they give us. (And then there's the fact that people assume everything will go according to their plan--that they 'll be able to conceive when and where they want to--especially when most people seem to wait until their most fertile years are over to start trying. Twenty-five is a great age for your body to bear children!)

But I spend so much time with friends who hold the same values as I do, I am still taken aback when people ask. If I'm going to have more, if I'm going to have one--and when I plan on looking for a job. (Do people really leave their four-month-olds in daycare? That makes me so sad.)  (Also, I need to figure out an answer to that question that isn't defensive. Maybe just a gleeful "Never, God willing"?)

The fact is, I don't know when, and I don't know how many. When the people who ask find out that we want more than, say, three ... they are shocked. (For some reason three is considered by many to be a large family, which I find baffling!) But I don't know whether we'll have a large family, either--growing up I always wanted five or six kids (which I consider medium sized ;) ), but again, planning numbers in advance seems so silly when you don't know what your life (or your children) will be like in the future.

I know that as I have more children, this gap between me and others--my bafflement at them, and their bafflement at me--will only grow. Today I carried Michael into a Carter's store to buy a button-down shirt for a wedding we're going to next month. Everyone smiled at how cute he was, asked his age, and so on. But what if I'd walked in there with four kids? I know from experience--from my friends who have come from larger families, from watching how those families are treated and looked at in public, from listening to mothers older than me talk and tell their stories--that often people with as few as three kids under five get weird looks and, even worse, rude comments in places like the grocery store.

Sometimes it's enough to make you want to live in a Catholic village in the middle of the country somewhere, where you are understood, where you are not so radically different from the world around you. And I say that as someone who has a pretty awesome Catholic circle of friends to run in.

But of course, that is not the point. If I am isolated and making no impact on the world around me, I am not living my vocation properly.

So I will continue to be baffling to a large portion of society, and to speculate on when Michael will have a sibling to keep him company. :)

Big Little Things

Tomorrow I am bringing dinner to a friend who just had her second baby. Yesterday, while Michael and I chilled on the bed (one of his favorite places), I told him we were making beef stew. And he laughed out loud. Each and every time I said it. Beef stew, beef stew! I made sure it wasn't just the way I was saying it, by repeating it in an absolutely flat tone; I buried it in full sentences ("Tomorrow we are going to make beef stew for Tom and Christine"). Each and every time, a laugh. He even did it again for me later that evening after Keith came home, which I wasn't expecting. Apparently beef stew is hilarious.

I think he might also be starting to respond to his name. This could be over-eager Mama imagination, but it seems that within the past day or two he's been turning to me when I say it, opening his eyes a little wider or smiling.

Little things like this are consolation for these stretches of days when he refuses to nap, despite the deepening bags under his little eyes. This little man needs a lot of mama-love lately. (I feel like half of my Facebook statuses are about Michael's sleeping patterns, or lack thereof...)

And Monday was his first feast day--Saint Augustine! We didn't really do anything for it, unless you count the cardamom lime sweet rolls I made, which have already all disappeared. (And let's be honest ... I would have made those even if it wasn't anybody's feast day.)

My afternoon tea. The cup and Fiestaware sugar bowl make me happy.
Right now he's half-frustrated and half-happy on his playmat. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the frustration takes over, so I will finish this up. No yarn along today!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hey look, I'm blogging!

I put Michael down for a nap about twenty minutes ago, and he is still sleeping. Oh, blessed baby! So, after getting dressed and brushing my teeth and whatnot, I decided to treat myself to a second cup of coffee (since I am super sleepy today) and a zucchini cupcake. Yum. When he wakes up, we'll go visit my dear friend Stephanie; meanwhile, I'm enjoying a nice quiet moment to myself with my caffeine and my blog.

I am glad the weather seems to be getting cooler. Two days ago Keith and I went shopping in Shadyside with his dad, and Michael's little legs seemed chilly, so last evening I cast on a pair of legwarmers for him. They're easier than pants when it comes to changing diapers, can be taken off and stowed away if it gets too warm later in the day, and perhaps most importanty: stripes!

It's a quick and easy pattern; my only problem is the jogs running up the back. I know there's a technique for avoiding this, but I was too lazy to look it up yesterday. (Plus as I recall I was sitting on the floor knitting next to Michael and if I tried to get up and walk away he protested quite a bit.)

While we were out, we stopped in Banana Republic so I could try things on while Keith held the baby. It was my first time really shopping there (as opposed to just window shopping), and I was happy to discover they had a petite section. Unfortunately, none of their pants fit me. :( I blame part of it on the post-partum belly that is still slooooowly shrinking (we won't talk about the post-partum butt ...), but I've always had trouble finding pants that fit. Right now I'm down to one pair of jeans and one pair of black denim tousers in the pants department, so I think I'm due for some new ones!

I did get two new shirts, one of which I'm wearing right now, and it's wonderful how new clothes can make you feel classy and polished--two things which I have not felt much of late. I'm also due for a haircut, and I'm rediscovering how amazing concealer can be. I am way too lazy to wear makeup on a daily basis, and when I do it's usually just mascara and maybe some powder; but I've worn concealer to Mass the past two Sundays and gotten compliments on looking good, so, yay!

(Granted, one of them was sort of a backhanded compliment. "You're looking so much better Rosemary ... after the baby, you looked kind of unhealthy!" Personally, I find it kind of hilarious. And I know it was well-intentioned.)

This post is getting kind of rambly. My cupcake's gone, but I have half a cup of coffee still left, so I will go read some yarn along posts to accompany it until the baby wakes up. :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yarn Along--where to pick up?

No more socks on the needles. Yay! (Although I have a lone Jaywalker that's still awaiting its mate ... not happening this month.) This week I've knit a few hexipuffs from the leftovers of my Wind and Willow socks, and now I'm ready to pick up one of my abandoned shawls and get back to work.

When I say "ready," I mean I spend a lot of time looking at them and thinking about it. Because I have no idea what row I've left off on, for either of them. And the one on the left was even abandoned mid-row. Not sure if that will make it easier or harder to discover where I stopped knitting. The one on the right is a Swallowtail for my friend Nicole; the one on the left is a Cloud Illusions, probably for myself.

Meanwhile, after having consumed Children of God (sequel to The Sparrow) in five days, I have picked up the second Laura Ingalls Wilder book and am enjoying it immensely. It's a huge switch from from Children of God, which was an intense book and is still very much on my mind. I shall miss those characters very much. I would like to write a post about those books--but there are so many posts I intend to write and don't get around to. We'll see.

Joining up with Ginny's yarn along.

Friday, August 17, 2012

All words, no pictures

I was going to write about this in a "Quick Takes" post, but then I realized it's something that's really bothering me--has been bothering me quite a bit lately, in fact--so I decided to give it its own post. 

When do you decide to unfriend people on Facebook? It's funny how much of a blessing and a curse Facebook is all at once--it keeps us in touch with people you would otherwise lose contact with, but it certainly has a way of unnaturally prolonging certain relationships past their actual lifespan. (Zombie friendships?) And sometimes "keep in touch" basically means "Facebook stalking," which isn't actually the same thing, is it? Some of these friends are people I used to be quite close to, and still care about very much; but our values have become radically different. 

Which is okay. Life happens like that, even though fading friendships are sad. Facebook makes it harder, I think, by keeping those people in our lives, no matter how superficially, reminding us tangibly of what's been lost.

And yet, "unfriending" someone on Facebook means something. It has an air of finality to it. It is a decision to walk away, rather than a natural fading. 

So I don't do it. I unsubscribe from newsfeeds so that I can't see posts, sometimes. Instead I occasionally visit their actual pages, which is less passive anyway--taking more of an active interest in that person and how they're doing.

Here's the part that bothers me. I get married. I have a baby. Big and happy life changes that go by without commentary from old friends. For all I can tell, they never notice my Facebook page. 

Except that I post something pro-life or conservative ... and they are all over it, explaining how wrong I am. 

I have friends I disagree with, even argue with, but who actually care about me and what's going on in my life. Instead, these people that I used to be close to seem to not care at all, and yet take the time and energy to tell me they think my values suck. 

It hits close to home. And it is really hard for me to respond with love (which often means not responding), rather than going all passive aggressive and pulling out the "used to be friends" card. 

I guess I have to learn to let go of things that other people do ... because you can't just go around "deleting" people in real life anyway, can you? 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Yarn Along--almost done.

Yes, that is still a pink, lacy knee-high sock on the needles. But it is almost finished! Honestly, I am on the ribbing now, so I might even be done by tonight. Tomorrow at the latest. 

Last night I started rereading Little House in the Big Woods for the first time in years. I read half of it before bed, and will probably finish today. I just read the chapter about the dance at Grandpa's, complete with maple syrup candy and Grandma jigging. :) It is SO GOOD. I know Keith is skeptical about this being a book little boys would enjoy, but honestly, I can't wait until Michael is old enough for me to read it to him. 

Last week I finished Milo vest for him, to wear in the fall months. I knit the six month size, so he should fit it by then. 

Forgot to rotate this one--you'll just have to turn your head sideways. :-P
And from the leftovers, I knit two leaves. And because I was on a roll, I knit a leaf from the remains of his baby blanket. The pattern is from the Family Tree Afghan, and I think it would be neat to make him this blanket out of the leftovers of other things I make for him. At the same time, I'd like to make this pattern with colors that complement each other, rather than having that looks super scrappy. So we'll see! Either way, it's definitely a long-term project.

Linking up with Ginny's yarn along.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


In the past three weeks we've made two trips to eastern Pennsylvania (or "back east," as my family calls it). The first was to celebrate my Grandad's 85th birthday and introduce Michael to the McMillen side of the family. 

Michael with Great Granddad
We carpooled with my family. Michael was none too happy about spending so much time in a car seat, especially on the ride back. But he loved being able to sit at a table with more than just me and Keith and look around at all the faces, and he understood that he was the center of attention!

We also got to visit my Aunt Kim and Uncle Andy while we were there. Aunt Kim is my mom's dearest friend, and not really an "aunt," but that's what I've always called her. I was excited for Keith to spend time with them, because Uncle Andy does all sorts of urban gardening and has built additions on their house with his own hands (including an amazing four-seasons room with walls of windows and a floor of flagstones). Keith came inside from a tour of the gardens munching on fresh kale, and I knew he was almost in heaven. :) 

The second trip was to visit Keith's side of the family, and since we were traveling by ourselves, we took the train. It was my first train ride as well as Michael's, and I was surprised by how fast it went. It was easier to keep Michael happy, because we could hold him and walk the aisles with him, but again the return trip was harder (more on that further on).

It was nice spending some time with Keith's relatives, since the only other time I'd met them was at the wedding. His cousins (11 and 12 years old) loved Michael. There was a heated swimming pool and Michael went for his first "swim," which went surprisingly well considering how tired and grumpy he was at the time. He was pretty zoned out for most of it. 

First swim!

The train ride back was ... interesting. Not bad, but Michael was fussy, we didn't have the best seats, and about halfway through a very interesting character sat down immediately behind us. He was definitely under some sort of influence. He was harmless and relatively happy, but he kept "preaching" the whole time he was on the train about how he hoped Mick Jagger would be in heaven, among other things. He also sang quite a bit and quite loudly, so we were treated to a lot of music. :) 

Next month we'll fly to Colorado for a wedding, so Michael will be one well-traveled baby by the time he's six months old. But I'm glad we get a month to just chill at home until then.