Sunday, January 25, 2009

how to have a ball (knitting part 1)

Some days, I feel like I am floating along on a cloud of bliss and nothing bothers me. Other days I feel so annoyed and so intolerable of little people, it takes only the slightest bit to set me off. Usually and quite thankfully, whenever I'm off, Charlie is on. And vice versa. On a very, very rare occasion, Charlie and I are in complete mood synchronicity.

Alas, today was one of those days where the kids were driving us both batty and it took everything in our power to not completely snap at them - or each other - or grab a bottle of scotch and start chugging.

This morning we ran out to buy a birthday present for a surprise party we were scheduled to attend today. Once we completed our 10 minute shopping errand, we walked to a local sandwich shop where we planned to have lunch. We walked in the door and while I quickly scanned the menu on the wall to figure out what to order, Charlie jumped in line.

My plan was to tell my husband what to order and then, I would take all four children to a table where we would wait for the patriarch of our family to rejoin us before enjoying our lunch, together.

But in that forty-second span of time where I looked over the menu and was relaying our order to Charlie, William started flailing his arms around and knocked over his sister. Henry started screaming and thrashing about in his stroller. And despite the line of customers that was forming around us, one of the girls who really wanted a bag of potato chips at that very precise moment, collapsed on the floor - with her dress jacked up to her arm pits - and was crying, "PuhWEEZE!!! PuhWEEZE!!! PUHWEEZE!!!"

Of course I could have just made an immediate exit and informed our children that partial nudity and temper tantrums in public will not be tolerated. But when you are a slave to convenience and you have little to no food at home because you haven't been shopping in a few days and you are suddenly fixated on a bowl of broccoli cheese soup in a sourdough bowl, the best solution might be to kneel down and between clenched teeth tell your child that if they don't knock it off immediately, they will be lunch.

We come home from our outing and although both Charlie and I would LOVE to lay down and rest, no one will take a nap or have quiet time. Except Henry who sleeps for his requisite 45 minutes and wakes up fussy and tired and demanding to be held. I've just finished wrapping the present for the birthday party and while the sound level in the house nears a dull roar, Charlie and I take turns smacking ourselves in the head with the empty roll of wrapping paper.

Usually we are packed full of solutions for keeping the children happily occupied. But today we just couldn't get our game on.

Just then we receive a phone call from our neighbor and she asks if Charlie can please find some way to distract her husband for an hour so she can put the finishing touches on her house for the party. She suspects that her husband knows something is up, but she wants him out while she welcomes guests.

Charlie wracks his brain.

Maybe they can go to the store. But that's weird, because why would two guys go shopping together? Maybe Charlie can have him come over and help him move something heavy. But, nothing needs to be moved. So, maybe he can come over and watch a game. But there are no games on today. Maybe they can organize tools. Or, I know!! Maybe he can come over and Charlie and he can watch the kids so I can go meditate at Target.

After several minutes of trying to figure out how to distract him, I suggested that Charlie take him out for a beer at an upscale brewery that recently opened near our house. My husband looked at me in stunned disbelief. Here we have a house full of crazy kids and in the MIDDLE of the day his wife suggests that he go out for beer in a new brewery?! Almost as quickly as the words left my mouth, my husband was in the car and peeling out of the driveway.

But shortly after Charlie leaves, I need to get the kids ready for the party.

A party for which we absolutely cannot be late.

I help get the kids dressed in clean clothes and tell them that while I'm changing Henry's diaper, they need to put their shoes on. Ten minutes later, once there is a new diaper in place, and I've gone to the bathroom and brushed my teeth and packed a small bag, they are all running around in their underwear with one shoe on one foot.

Freak out session occurs wherein I act like a crazy lady.

A crazy lady that knows better than to act like a four-year-old in front of her four-year-olds because good heavens, they are only four-years-old after all which is why she can do twenty things in the amount of time it takes them to do one. But that doesn't stop me.

We make our way to the party. Despite my best intentions, we are 10 minutes late. Still, we are among the first to arrive. While my husband is in a nice brewery drinking a nice beer, I'm in I'm in a house that is the least child-proof house of any house I have ever been in, in my entire life, with all four children, by myself.

In every room, there are glass tables and delicate ceramics. Antique figurines. An ivory chess set and bowls of glass marbles. There are plates of carefully arranged food with various dips at child-eye-level, and on the ground, bowls of cat food and an automatic watering apparatus that Henry thinks is a potty and tries to sit in. Within minutes of arriving, the children discover that this is a two-story house with hard wooden stairs and an open banister that lead out to perches 15-feet above the room, below.

Almost immediately, I realize that THIS IS NOT THE PLACE TO BE WITH KIDS, so I herd everyone in to the backyard. The kids bee line to a dog that is poking it's head through the fence and stomping over the delicately manicured plants, jut their hands through the fence to pat it.

Henry wades in to a rose bush, dense with thorns and quickly falls down. I pick him up and he toddles over to a rusty hacksaw on the ground. Elizabeth and William clamor on top of a hammock - and Carolyn in an attempt to rock them - instead, flips them both over and they land with a CRASH on the ground.

Wailing ensues.

After thirty minutes of pure madness, I'm on the phone with my husband telling him that it is time to PUT DOWN THE BEER and come to the party. By this point, the guests that have arrived are looking at our children and saying, "Oh, aren't they adorable!" and I can't tell if they are being sincere, or blowing smoke to make me feel less conspicuous.

Regardless, I feel like I'm part of a show. A show where I need to put on a smile and pretend like I am having a GREAT time, when in reality, I'm miserable and would rather get my hair caught in a fan than chase children for another 10 minutes.

Charlie finally arrives, we shout SURPRISE! and although the party would be going for several more hours, moments later, with Henry secured under one arm, I'm making my way to the door. As if it wasn't rude enough to let my children roll glass marbles all through the host and hostess's house, I didn't even say good bye. I tucked my toddler and ran. My husband followed me home a few minutes later, with three children that I could hear screaming from a block away.

What are the lessons learned?

Until the kids are at an age where their etiquette skills have evolved to the point that they don't show absolute strangers their boogies, or ... dip their fingers in hummus and then rub them across glass tables, or .... crawl on the ground and notify a room full of party goers that the woman in the pink dress is wearing red undahwear... it's best that Charlie and I attend social functions WITHOUT our small children.

Although, it is still possible for parents with small children to have a ball.

Necessary, in fact, if one plans to knit.

(How'd you like that segue?)

Now, I've knitted before without wrapping my skein in to a ball, but it always happens that at some point, the skein will turn in to a knotted mess and I am hard pressed to get it untangled without relying on scissors. Transferring your skein only takes a few minutes and in my opinion, is well worth the minor effort.

When you take the paper off your skein, take the leading end of yarn and begin wrapping it around your fingers.

And wrapping...

And wrapping, up and over, and side to side...

Until your yarn begins to form a small ball.

Just keep wrapping, up and over ...

Side to side...

Until, you have a large ball o' yarn.

Hopefully, tomorrow I'll have some time to write about casting on and stitches.

Stitches for knitting, that is.

Not the kind that are used to close a wound.


  1. That sounded like a "blast"! I'll make sure to invite you guys to my surprise 40th birthday in a few months. hee hee hee hee hee.

    Okay, I think I figured out my iPod. Now I've got to figure out my workout plan. I'm going to be one super svelte hot momma by my 40th, thanks to you!

    Hopefully we'll be in our new mansion by then............

  2. I really hope that writing out your story is soothing and helpful to you, because it made me feel very anxious! And I felt bad laughing so much!

    You poor thing...that feeling of not enough adults with too many children in a place where everyone is watching--it's not good. BTDT. I shouldn't laugh. Maybe you shouldn't be such a good writer. (But thanks for sharing!)

  3. BTDT - not a fun place to be when outnumbered by your curious little ones. Aww - such memories..LOL

    About the knitting. You may inspire me a bit to try it out. I have knitted a few things thanks to a class of talented ladies at church, but I was not good enough to "get it" and skillful enough for it to be a de-stressor. In fact, it was just the opposite. But who knows, maybe I'll try and find where I hid those needles that I knew would become either makeshift chopsticks, or even worse, swords for swordfighting.


  4. That's a great segue! My favourite part of the post!

    (I thought it was ony me that got the skein all time I'll make a ball!)

  5. You poor thing - and not one adult offered to help - why?

    My motto is when the children run a muck (and we had 5 at the ritz carlton for brunch yesterday for 5 hours), tough - it takes a village yada yada yada. Yes, you gave birth to them, but you can only do so much (without going insane) - when injury is imminent - sure you have to take desperate measures (like take them home) - but you should not have been left to shoulder that responsibility alone (and this is not a shot at Charlie) -other adults were there - why didn't they get off their behinds and help?

    Shame on THEM - not on you. Keep going out - the world isn't perfect, kids misbehave - that's life, they are KIDS, it's their jobs to push the limits as far as they can, it's your job to make sure you can live with the limits.

    Keep going out, keep taking them - go for it.

  6. Oh how I felt your pain at the party! I have been in that position a few times myself as I'm "yelling" through my teeth while all eyes on on us because we have triplets. The kids act worse because they know you won't do anything too embarrassing in front of everyone.
    I'm in on the knitting got my stuff yesterday. My DH asked what the knitting needles were for and I said to stab you if you get on my nerves enough. He didn't say anything else but all hell would have broke loose if he knew I planned on started another craft project!
    Thanks for showing us how to knit!

  7. I can't help but laugh. Hey, I figure my time will come. My trips are 5 months and I'll know what to expect ;)

  8. Jen in Jakarta: I don't take it as a shot at Charlie because he wasn't there. But even when he arrived, it was still difficult because we were outnumbered 2:1.

    It is so challenging to go to a function in an un-kid proof house, especially when the hosts don't have children of their own because they might not know what is involved in preparing for small children in their home, or keeping them safe and entertained once they arrive.

    They want the kids there and invite them to participate, but it's a nightmare for me because I am trying to figure out what they can play with, while at the same time, keeping them out of things that are unsafe or breakable. So although I'll keep going out with them, I won't go there for social functions until they are older.

    I think as a parent you have to realize what you can do and what you can't do - where you'll have fun and where you won't. And then, don't put yourself through torture to be in a particular environment, when you can just as easily hire a sitter for a few hours. Or, not go at all!!

  9. I am having a bad morning. It's a Monday and baby boy was up nursing about 6 times last night and I had to rip him away from Sesame Street to go to the babysitter's (whom he normally loves but today couldn't bear to part with mommy for). I miss my kid and want to be home.

    I have beeen at work 9 minutes and the first thing I did was open your blog to see if there was a new post.

    Thank you for the play by play of your party experience. It made me smile. It also helped me remember that sometimes work is a break from my baby boy:)

  10. It is so hard when you're in an unchild-proofed home. We went to my great Aunts' for Thanskgiving and while everyone was oohing and ahing over my twins, all I could do was try and mitigate the hazzards all around. My aunt told my mom I needed to "relax" and just let my kids be kids. Easy for her to say. I turned my back for less than a minute and my 18 month old daughter had a martini glass in hand and her twin brother was holding an ashtray full of paperclips. That's why I try to host everything at my house - more work for me, but at least I know my babies are safe.

  11. Can't wait to have you guys over this Saturday???? OMG! Haha.. just kidding! Sort of...
    Email me your info so I can pick up your packet for you...

  12. For things like you just described (parties where there is really nothing to do for kids, or a long dinner at a restaurant, or a long car trip, etc...) the "magic" answer for us was the Leapster. Otherwise known as "the gift from God" in our household. The games are all educational and the preschool games are the perfect starting point for your kids at 4+ years of age. They can sit quietly and play while you get to enjoy the party and only have to chase after 1 small child. The Leapster is hands down the best money I have ever spent on a toy for my kids. I cannot tell you the number of parties/functions we have attended where there was nothing for kids to do and I would just pull out the Leapsters and everyone was happy!!!

    Obviously, you would have to buy
    3, so it wouldn't be super cheap (If I remember correctly they are around $89-$99 each plus the cost of games and you want to get the LeapsterLMAX because ALL games work on the LMAX, but not all games work on the regular Leapster), so perhaps the Easter Bunny could bring them???

    At 6 1/2 my boys only want to play the Nintendo DS now and I miss the Leapsters because the DS games aren't really educational and I feel like they are rotting their brains when they play them!!!


  13. Actually, if you start from the other end of the skein, by reaching inside the skein and pulling the end out, it shouldn't tangle at all. When you start with the visible piece, it does end up in a tangled mess though!
    I love your blog, by the way, and read it all the time!