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our dance card

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 in dailies | 0 comments

During our new swim session a few of the homeschool parents descend on me at poolside – almost ravenously. It had been a couple years since I connected with the group. Touchingly, even though I have been absent for a while, and I don’t remember their names nor their children’s, a few ask about my daughter. I tell them about Phoenix enrolling in school, and how she’s doing. There is a bit of a flutter as a few of them seem to be deciphering that in some way. One woman says, “You can write on your blog about how you can go from unschooling, to [successful] schooling. Most people I talk to think unschooling won’t work.”

Why YES I CAN! And what a great idea that is! And – you are right! And – thank you for the reminder! I am a little delighted. My brain is all rusty and cobwebby.

I only discovered there was a six-week class an hour before the class, so I’m just glad we made it here on time. I’m not quite ready to publicly interface in a graceful way. I have a pen in my hand and I’m meeting a friend and I’m watching my son in the pool – I’m watching him learn a bit more about proper swimming technique. I’m so glad the sun is shining through the windows and I’m so glad to be here with him.

I am not used to getting invasive questions but today I am not minding much. I am mellow like Ben Murphy. Since I don’t feel I owe anyone an explanation sometimes I just let the questions or assumptions roll over me like water.

And hell sometimes, I think directness (in the form of, “Why are you doing this? Why do you do that?”) can be refreshing. Because let me tell you, I have encountered some weird behaviors in my day. People who hint so many layers deep I know they’re fucking with me but I can’t figure out exactly why. People who aggressively compliment. Can’t figure that one out either. People who, like today, corner me and start telling me very detailed stories about a specific cultural aspect of their home – even though I am sitting with a workbook on my lap and I was busy writing in it when they approached. I am not here to socialize – not today, at least.

Nels is the last out of the pool; it is so warm out I simply wrap him in his towel and hold his clothing under my arm. Home for a bath and then to enjoy the sun. It’s a good day to walk this Earth.

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developmentally on cue

Posted by on Apr 9, 2014 in dailies | 0 comments

“I’m so thirsty,” my son says. “I could kill a cow for its BLOOD.”

You know. Not its milk or anything.

“A gallon would be fine,” he continues.

“Of blood?”

“Of water,” a suddenly docile young man amends.

Today is rough. Several responsibilities, and I’m feeling off, and tired, and anxious. You know a few years ago, for about fourteen months, I had this prescription for Klonopin and took it nightly. A small era in my life but sometimes I miss it. It’s hard to relax. Sometimes.

But I don’t get bored of “chores” (housework, errands, cooking, appointments) on days like this because these so-called menial tasks are bookended by some brief but really unsavory ones. Since I get to do shit I don’t want to do, and deal with shit I occasionally wish wasn’t happening, anything short of physical agony or emotional bankruptcy is still pretty cool.

My daughter burns some homework; symbolic of her Spring Break:

Later she emails me: “Google up ‘bigfin squid nope’. You won’t be disappointed. Or maybe ye will.”

Yeah, so. Days like today I cling to kindness: the kindness of friends, who support me in so many wonderful ways. I cling to humor: my kids have got it right, a lot of times when I simply don’t. I cling to the knowledge I tried to help others. Today I helped facilitate a meeting with about fifteen young addicts and alcoholics. Statistically, something like three of them will get and stay clean and sober. Today I tell them, “You’re the lucky ones. No one’s life is over yet! You know why you’re all young, right?”

And I wait to see if they get where I’m going with this.

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a tender shoot

Posted by on Apr 8, 2014 in dailies, sewing journal | 0 comments

Frost Flower Hoodie

My son *thinks* this is his birthday hoodie; however, it is a decoy hoodie. I was drafting a deep hood and a tall, slender fit. I am waiting on fabric for his actual birthday hoodie. Let’s hope it all works out before the birthday party on Saturday!

A roomy hood:

Frost Flower Hoodie

MacGuffin or no, this hoodie is fabulous in its own right. It is constructed of luxurious 100% cotton fleece – very soft on the inside. I pieced the body using the “mock-serge” on my Pfaff (tutorial here).

Two appliques: the “frost flower” on the right arm – using knit and woven scraps, matching zig-zag topstitching, and paint/thread drawing for the “eyes”:

Frost Flower Hoodie

The left arm – more subtle still. Nels’ name in a “Super Mario U” font – self-appliqued.

Frost Flower Hoodie

Frost Flower Hoodie

For the hood drawstring, I first constructed eyelets free-hand on the Pfaff, made a casing using a 2.0/2.0 zig-zag topstitch, then knit a cotton i-cord for the drawstring itself. Ralph knit about half the i-cord yesterday – after I taught him how. The yarn itself was a gift from my friend Tammy at Main Street Books.

Frost Flower Hoodie

Piecing knitwear as a home sewist is really wonderful. I am able to line up the grain perfectly which is not something you will see in ready-to-wear construction. The result is a garment that feels, fits, and wears better – while looking fabulous for a lot longer.

Cutting knit pieces so carefully would be tedious if not for the fact that knit garments are usually made with far fewer pieces than woven ones. That said, some of y’all remember that I am willing to go balls-deep in fussy-cutting. It really does make a difference even if people looking at the garment can’t tell exactly why it looks so good.

Spring is here, spring is wet, and my Little Guy looks all set!

Frost Flower Hoodie

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luck is toil

Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 in dailies | 0 comments

 
Last night my son and I shared a few quiet moments, right at the same time in the deep of night when he was born. His hair was wet and slicked back from his bath, and although he is much taller and thinner and seems woven in many spells over the last ten years, the spiritual offering seems the same as the night he was born.

 
Nels has had a hard six months or so. At least that. As he has suffered, so have I. There is little one can do about this. At times my life has felt like drowning; knowing I have a responsibility, doing my best, but floundering all the same.

When I fell pregnant with this child, my mother uttered a horrible fortune: “Don’t get your hopes up.” She thought – I suppose – to save me from pain should I miscarry again. As if anything anyone could say could alleviate pain like this! Never say that to someone: don’t get your hopes up. It’s utter rubbish.

My son and I joined hands all those years ago when he was first born. We were awake when all others fell asleep. Like friends on an adventure, on a starry night. Time has not always been kind. I remember him then, though, on that night. He was a dark wet jewel, and perfect, and a Promise when he was born. Later he bloomed into a sunflower.

In a way my mother was right. Hope is only fleeting; it flowers from the same tree as despair. Faith is real. There will be a time Hope will die and those are dark days. But Faith, one can cling to it and resist drowning.

Your heart will break and things will fall apart. But if you can’t have Faith today, then no one can grasp it tomorrow.

My son is Tomorrow.

***

I gave birth to my son ten years ago today. Every year I post his birth story on this date. Several families have told me the story has influenced their birth choices; several women that it was the (beginning) inspiration for their home birth! I am humbled – and, as always, grateful.

Nels David Hogaboom
a birth story

Born at home to mom Kelly, dad Ralph, and sister Sophia [/Phoenix]
1:20 AM Wednesday April 7, 2004
8 pounds 7 ounces
21 inches long

April 6th, 9 AM – is it or isn’t it?

A couple hours after I wake up on Tuesday I’m having mild contractions that are only a tiny bit more intense than the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d had throughout the last half of my pregnancy. These contractions are only slightly painful and certainly not too intense. Nevertheless, they are somewhat distracting and never truly subside, coming anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes apart. Ralph senses things are going to go into motion and comes home at noon, starting his two weeks off of work. He calls my mom at about 3 PM and tells her to head up to see us (she leaves about 5 PM). At this point I am hopeful of labor but also feeling somewhat silly at the thought I might be treating everyone to a false alarm. My mom arrives at about 9 PM time and she and Ralph start writing down my contractions, calling midwives, and cleaning the house up a bit.

April 6th, 10 PM – the real thing

My mom and I are watching a movie together and my contractions are still coming about 10 minutes apart. I still claim I am unsure if labor is going someplace. But everyone is noticing I pause the movie during each contraction so I can concentrate on getting though it. I’m undecided if I should walk around to “get things moving” or lie down and rest in between contractions. I’m trying not to be too fearful of another long labor like I had with my first child. Suddenly at about 10:30 PM I hop up from the bed and turn off the movie, since contractions have sped up to about 4 minutes apart. Naturally my mom and Ralph are very excited and go about making phone calls and preparations while I pace the floor and cope with each contraction. It is going quite well but I keep telling myself these are the “easy” contractions and I try not to worry about what’s to come.

Around 10:30 my midwives and my doula start arriving and I am focusing inward in the classic “Laborland” manner. I notice peripherally how efficient and friendly everyone is, setting up the bed, laying out blankets and birth supplies and getting snacks. Everyone is wonderful to me and provides me with water and encouragement between contractions, respectful silence and privacy during. I feel very protected and honored and so it is easy not to be fearful. My doula Elizabeth arrives and strokes my back and speaks softly to me. She puts me nearly to sleep in between contractions. I am feeling so grateful for the love and encouragement I am getting. I know I am coping very well and in fact since I am doing so well I don’t think I am very far along.

April 7th, Midnight – silliest labor quote

Things are intense but I don’t want a check to see how far I’ve dilated. I am somewhat afraid to discover all the work I am doing hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Laura (one of the midwives) suggests I get into the tub. I’d always thought of the tub as what you use as a last resort toward the end of labor so I tell her I can wait. After a few more contractions I decide to get in, hoping for some pain relief. I spend about 40 minutes in the tub with contractions edging up their intensity. Everyone is around me encouraging me and vocalizing though my contractions. Elizabeth holds my hands and breathes with me through the contractions, then puts a cold cloth on my head and neck in between. Everyone helps keep me calm and focused, as does the knowledge I have to take each contraction one at a time. Close to 1 AM I feel the urge to have Ralph hold and kiss me while I rest, and help talk me through contractions (he’s repeating something I read from Birthing From Within: “Labor is hard work, it hurts, and you can do it”). I don’t realize at the time but I am going through transition. After a few contractions I start to feel a little of that, well — grunting urge. I know it is perfectly okay to grunt and push a little to help with the pain and I instinctively do so. The midwives clue into what I am doing and are back in the room. Laura says, “Gee Kelly, it sounds like you’re pushing” and I reply (idiotically) “I’m not really pushing, it just feels good to bear down a little bit”. These contractions are pretty rough but everyone is helping me so much it is still very manageable.

April 7th, 1:10 AM – OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!

Kathy convinces me to let her check me and informs me not only am I completely dilated, but that the baby’s head has descended quite a bit. I am completely amazed at this (despite knowing I am feeling the urge to push) and even accuse everyone of just saying that to make me feel better! (I feel a little silly about this later). During each contraction I am feeling the pain in my hips, all the way to the bone, which my midwives tell me is a sign the baby is moving. Kathy tells me later I comment that it is like a crowbar prying my pelvis apart. Despite the pain I am coping well and in between the contractions I am still calm. I comment that I am not feeling any pressure in my bottom yet and I think to myself this means I have a ways to go. Oops, I speak too soon — with the next contraction I feel the baby AT THE DOOR, so to speak. This takes me by surprise and my labor sounds change from low and powerful to very alarmed and – well – a little screechy. Everyone is talking to me and trying to help me calm down and focus. I am amazed at the pain and pressure and overcome with an almost frantic need to push. I am pushing, pushing, pushing, before I can tune into my midwives telling me to ease off. I do the best I can and manage to ease off a bit and direct my energies more constructively. Despite the pain I am overjoyed to know I am so close and my baby will be here any minute. “I know I will feel so good when I see my baby”, I tell myself and this helps me. Kathy tells me to reach down and feel the head and after an initial hesitation I do, surprised again at how soft and smooth it is. I can feel each part of the child’s head I deliver. It hurts! But I know I am close. The head is out and then I am surprised by the fullness and difficulty of the shoulders, which I do not remember from my first birth.

April 7th, 1:20 AM – Nels is born

With one final push I feel my baby being delivered and I am surprised it is already over. I have been kneeling in the tub and so immediately turn around and Ralph tells me later I am saying, “Give me my baby! I want to hold my baby!” to the midwives who are doing their thing. I have a vision of my baby’s long, smooth body floating in the water, the room lit by candlelight in a soft glow. Within seconds he is in my arms and I am crying and Ralph is crying and the whole room is full of a collective soft and surprised murmur. I am holding my child to my chest and saying, “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it” over and over, feeling so filled with surprise and happiness. The child is perfect and so soft and I feel wonderful. I realize I have done it, I have given birth to a healthy baby in my own home, with my own power.

April 7th, early morning – getting to know you

I stay in the water crying and holding my baby for several minutes before anyone thinks to discover the baby’s sex. I hold my newborn away from my chest and in between squirming legs and the umbilical cord I see we have a boy! Of course, this is perfect. Everything feels perfect! After a few more minutes I am ready to get out of the water and get cleaned up, but I know we have to wait for the delivery of the placenta. I feel like this takes forever but it probably is only a fifteen minute wait. Another surprising feeling of fullness and then the placenta is delivered. Kathy has to pull the cord a bit and gently massage my tummy to get the whole thing in one piece. My mom is on the phone with my dad and has to pass the phone around so she can cut the cord. I am ready to get out and dry off and nurse my second child.

I am helped out of the tub and into some dry clothes. I am so happy to have so much loving help. I prop myself up on the bed and hold my son to my breast. He latches almost immediately like a pro. I keep asking my husband, “Is this really happening?” because it has gone like a dream and I am so happy. After some time of nursing the midwife eventually takes my son to the foot of the bed to weigh him and check his limbs and reflexes. Elizabeth brings me food — cheese, bread, apples and oranges. My pulse is checked and found to be high (100) so I am encouraged to drink a huge glass of water (this happened with my first child, too). My afterpains are intense, more so than with my daughter’s birth, but I know this to be normal. I breathe through them. My daughter Sophie wakes up and is brought into the room, looking cranky and confused. I kiss her and introduce her to her brother (she is unimpressed) and Ralph takes her back to the bedroom to settle her back to sleep. Kathy checks my bottom out and finds only two tiny tears, no need for sutures. The energy of the house is settling, people are packing things, Elizabeth says goodbye. Laura leaves too and I take a shower with Kathy’s help. She stays long enough to give postpartum instructions and asks me to page her when I can pee. I am a little anxious about this myself, for vague fear of a catheter. Kathy leaves about 3:20 and as her car is pulling out I am able to pee, feeling now finally that everything is alright.

My husband is looking dead tired. I am wired and unable to sleep. We send my mom off to bed. I hold my son who is still awake! He is drowsy though and wants to snuggle. At about 4:30 AM I finally fall asleep on the bed, Ralph on the couch, holding his son. We are awakened just before 7 AM to the joyful sounds of our firstborn running through the house talking excitedly to Grandma. Grandma looks like she really needs a cup of coffee.

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no bigger ‘n’ a minute

Posted by on Apr 5, 2014 in dailies | 3 comments

A week from today, we are hosting a swim party and a birthday party for my son. We are celebrating his 10th birthday. If you are reading here, and you are a local, and you haven’t been invited but would like to be – let me know. We will be having a lovely luncheon after swimming, and it should be a wonderful gathering.

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We made a Wish List based on things Nels wants, or loves. Last time we did this, for my daughter’s birthday a month ago, I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. It ended up working out very well. She didn’t receive any duplicate items and she didn’t receive any gifts she didn’t love, and doesn’t use.

That said, mostly as we approach this celebration – his actual birthday is April 7th – we are grateful not just for our comfort, our home, and the extras that make life fun – but for our loved ones, and for the incredible honor of enjoying this life together.

Some portraits of Harris that Nels took the other night:

Nels' Photo Essay Of Harris

Nels' Photo Essay Of Harris

Nels' Photo Essay Of Harris

#snoopin

 

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bravery is required

Posted by on Apr 1, 2014 in dailies | 0 comments

Spring emerges. Skunk cabbage, and newts in the small freshwater streams. Flowers have erupted from the still-cold and seemingly-inhospitable earth. It felt like things weren’t going to change. It was dark. The light is spilling in.

Tonight I flush a pain prescription; yet, afterwards, I feel foolish and uncertain. What I’m really trying to do is stop struggling. The most insane of struggles that I take up, time and time again: fighting my fears.

Stop worrying. I am beginning to think one day I will lose a kidney. Despite my efforts, despite the care of physicians. For a person who has a severe fear of even minor surgical procedures, the concept of something like that is very difficult.

And it feels wasteful to flush drugs I could sell on the street. Yes, I am shocked I even have such a thought, however fleeting. I have never sold drugs and I do not think that is ethical behavior. I know it isn’t legal. And yet the thought occurs because my mind has been overrun with fear. How will I provide for my family, how can we make Rent.

It is the most powerful seduction: there is something I can do, there is an action I can take Right Now, that will sort out my life.

In the car the other day, a beloved friend and I were talking. I said – in gratitude – “God supports me,” and she responded, “Well. I support myself. I provide for myself.” I drove on for a bit and then I said, “There is a lot of suffering in that idea.”

I am going to stop saying “God” when what I mean are the three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha. I am shy about Buddhism because where I live it is a minority faith tradition. If you say “God” people might be prejudiced but at least they might not be outright bigoted about it all.

I can be a little bit brave. A little at a time.

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only the young can say / they’re free to fly away

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in sewing journal | 3 comments

A project I’d dreamed up a while back: custom athletic “school pride” hoodie. Here ya go, my lovely daughter of mine. You are one thousand percent f*cking awesome so. Here you go!

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

I had some trouble with this garment, but not the trouble I thought I might run into. The original pattern instructions had some errata and I was a bit frustrated, and the back center panel was missing a few helpful notches. I made some changes to the pattern – specifically, in the hood, the pockets/pocket tabs, and the cuffs – and I omitted the facings. But then there were fabric issues – the stripe fabric. I made a quick purchase online and neglected to get yarn-dyed stripes. So these stripes are printed on. Kinda ass, quality-wise. They look great, because A. the print was printed properly and B. I am a bad-ass at matching stripes. But next time I might do a little more hunting for a great stripe.

And on that note, let me talk about hoodie fabrics a bit.

I used to joke about old rock and roll bands who’d leap around stage and do high kicks while wearing ball-framingly tight DENIM jeans. Ralph and I will still say, “touch of Lycra” when, say, a Journey song comes on our Google Music radio. Then we laugh because SERIOUSLY

Touch Of Lycra

Now those are snug.

Now, I’m no stranger to 100% cotton knits. I’ve made an awful lot of great garments with the 100% cotton Michael Miller knit stripe.

But hoodies, like Mr. Perry’s grape-smugglers above, benefit from the performance only provided by a bit of synthetic fiber. Even six percent (or less) of spandex or some other stretch fiber, can give the hoodie a bit more wearing comfort and a better drape. Now I am such a natural fiber snob (wool, linen, silk, cotton) – but sometimes SCIENCE delivers us seductive advances. So yes: spandex is my friend (or in this hoodie’s case – 4% lycra is my friend).

More pictures of today’s piece:

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie
The back. Looking great. Perfect stripe-lining! BOOM

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

I like the size of the hood – and I like the overlap at the neckline.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

I sewed the seam allowances of the thumb holes together before turning them, which made for a non-topstitched thumbhole. Better looking than topstitch efforts IMO.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

Construction: a zig zag, then a three-thread serge finish. Very tidy hoodie interior.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

My old-skool freezer-paper-and-Solvy method, for the “screenprinted” lettering.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

More Fabri Sticky Solvy, everywhere everywhere, for a good-looking applique “P” on this very thin knit.

Wishkah Loggers Hoodie

Peeking inside the pocket. A nice, roomy, kangaroo-style pocket.

I just ordered fabric for my next custom hoodie: self-drafted, for my son. I have some artistic plans and I only hope the fabric comes arrives such that I can complete the project in time for his birthday.

I’d love to just sew people hoodies pretty much all day long. VERY FUN

 

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