Christmas Issues

Did you believe in Santa?  I never did.  I don’t remember my parents telling me one way or the other, but they didn’t emphasize it, and there were no gifts from “Santa” under the tree and no talk of not having presents if I was naughty, so I grouped Santa with Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse–fun, but imaginary.  David wants to do the same thing with Ruby, even though he believed in Santa as a child, but I am sort of conflicted.  I don’t feel like I missed out on anything, but what if I did?  On the other hand, it seems that telling your kid that Santa is real is taking a gamble–maybe she will gracefully grow out of it, or maybe she will believe until she’s 12 and have an embarrassing encounter at school and feel totally betrayed.  Thank goodness we have another year or two to decide. 

We did let Ruby sit on Santa’s lap last weekend.  Her sweet cousin wanted to tell him “what everyone should get” for Christmas (Toy Story toys, in case you were wondering), so we stuck Ruby on his other knee and snapped a picture before she had her “why did you give me away” meltdown. 


He was a nice looking Santa, I will give him that. 

Anyway, so it’s December now.  Last year, I decided to make an advent calendar by knitting 25 mini-mittens, which I would be able to stuff with treats or fun things to do printed on slips of paper.  I got to 13 and then quit.  That means I’ve only got 12 to go!  And listen to this: I was going to scrap the whole idea because I couldn’t remember which pattern I’d been using for the mittens and couldn’t bear to have 13 in one size/style and 12 in another, but then I felt something inside my stocking, which I was hanging (by the chimney) (with care) and LO! It was the pattern, written on an index card!  Oh 2010 Jillian, you were one smart cookie.

Gimme gimme gimme

In the movie Bed of Roses, Christian Slater describes Christmas morning as an “0rgy of greed”.  I saw that movie when I was 14 or so (my sister had a weird thing for Bed of Roses, sort of like the thing I had for The Sound of Music, but less wholesome, I’m sure) and for some reason, even though I didn’t know what an 0rgy was at the time, that phrase continues to knock around in my head during the holidays.  So that is what I’m thinking all morning when we are supposed to be celebrating the birth of Christ.  0rgy of greed 0rgy of greed 0rgy of greed.  I’m sure my mom is very proud right now. 

Anyway, here’s what I want for Christmas!

Clip-on Earrings!  Here is something you should know about me before we go any further.  One of my ears is normal.  The other is bionic.  I had my ears pierced when I was 6 and my left ear stayed pierced, but my right ear closed right back up again. This has happened about 4 times now.  A million years after I die, someone will probably stumble across a lone, pristine earlobe while walking across the Ohio Valley, because I’m pretty sure that my ear will never decompose.

So I want some clip-on earrings.

Lands End Cozy Fleece Coat.  Now that I will be running around outside with a child, I think it’s time for me to get a more….athletic coat.  This is athletic as I can get, though.  I mean, it has a zipper, so that’s about my limit. 

Tiny stork scissors.  I have always (for the last year) wanted these. 

African Baskets - African Bolga Baskets, Extra Large

Extra Large African Baskets. I have seen these all over the internet and passed one up this summer at a local festival.  I have major regrets about that decision.  Anyway, I think these are beautiful and would be a great way to tote all our stuff (toys, snacks, knitting projects, extra layers) in and out of the house–to the park, backyard or just to the next room.

Felt Coaster Set.  Yes, $88 is a bit much for coasters, which is why I haven’t bought them.  Which is why I want someone to GIVE them to me. 

Vintage Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilt.  My love for blankets of all kinds is boundless, but vintage quilts have a special place in my heart.  And Grandmother’s Flower Garden happens to be my favorite pattern.  As an aside: Who are the horrible people who sell these?  Listen, descendents, I do not spend hours making things just so they can be sold to STRANGERS on Ebay! 

  A sweater’s worth (5 skeins) of Malabrigo Rios (superwash merino worsted). I still haven’t knit myself a sweater.  Isn’t that sad?  I even have yarn for one that has been languishing away for nearly two years now.  I’m not giving up though, and I think that once I finish one, I will be on a roll.  This is my new favorite yarn, so maybe that will inspire me to get started?

A pair of Toms.

Meal planning notepad.  We already have the All Out Of checklist on our fridge for grocery shopping, which comes in super handy. Menu planning is one of the few organizational endeavors that I will keep up with, and this would make that even easier. 

…and World Peace.


Ruby will be 9 months old this week! Since January, it seems like our lives have begun to move very quickly.  I fall asleep on Monday night and wake up on Thursday morning, blink my eyes and I’m starting the work-week again.  I feel like I’m running down a steep hill, at first it was so exhilerating to just pick up my feet and let gravity do the work for me go go go. And I did go faster and faster, and now I am feeling like I can’t sustain this pace, but we are stuck in it–we certainly can’t just stop. This seems to be the pace we are at now.  Our schedules make it difficult to have any time together during the week, and our desire for Ruby to know her out-of-town grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins means we are often traveling or entertaining guests on the weekends.  We can’t keep this pace up.  And so we talked and discussed and did budgety things, and then we decided that in December I will just stop.  I will just quit my job and stay home with Ruby. 

Now, we have made some  pretty drastic, life-changing decisions in the past, but none has freaked me out like this one.  I’m not really sure why, though.  I have so many worries associated with this choice–will I be bored? will I be any good at being a stay-at-home mom? will I still be interesting to talk to? will I ever get a chance to take a shower? will we make it financially? For now, I’ve got grand plans of homecooked suppers, freshly baked bread, a thriving vegetable garden, daily walks, library story-times and a folk-music class… And this is my “trying to be reasonable” list.  Am I replacing one insane life with another?  Maybe.  But at least my new one will be self-inflicted and I will have some control over it. 

I will say that I’m feeling more and more at peace with this decision as the weeks go by.  And Ruby is making things easy by being the sweetest little lady.  A lady with a TOOTH. Who can CRAWL*. 


*Ruby has possibly the least efficient crawl ever, but she is on hands and knees and there is forward motion, so it counts.

Nomads No More

David and I have been somewhat nomadic for the past 6 years, but last February, we actually renewed a lease for the very first time. This December we will have lived in this house longer than any other we’ve inhabited (including the one we owned!).

We love our house, but that old feeling is returning. The one that makes me consider what my stuff would look like in another setting. We’re getting restless. Our current house is the right one for us for now, though, so a couple weeks ago, we started trying some things to help us suppress our urge to move.

So, we switched our artwork around, we moved my sewing table downstairs, we reorganized our bookshelves. We made resolutions to use all of our CSA produce, to only put Ruby in disposable diapers when we absolutely have to, to go on a family walk every day, and then we broke them all before the week was out. We talked about me quitting my job to stay home with Ruby. We did our budget. We got a little freaked out and decided to revisit that later.

Surprisingly, all this superficial rearranging did the trick. But I’m sure that come January, we’ll both be checking out craigslist just to see what’s out there.

Other new stuff on my mind:

Shouldn’t we get chickens? I would make this coop and they would be Easter Eggers.  Do I even have to tell you that David is against this idea? I am working on him, though.

Ruby needs a Christmas stocking! To knit or to sew? Hmm

The GED class I teach just finished reading The Hunger Games.  Next up:  Catching Fire.  Thank goodness students filter out, or else they would surely catch on to the fact that all the books I choose are young adult science fiction with strong dystopian future themes.  Hahaha

5 Months!

Newsflash: having a baby takes up ALL OF YOUR TIME. So, I’ve neglected this blog for a while.

Here are some things:

I have become the person who only posts pictures/updates related to their baby. Someone actually told me that usually that annoys her, but she really enjoys all my pictures of Ruby. I know she was lying though, because even I am slightly annoyed at my own self when I post baby item after baby item. I don’t care, though, because I think Ruby is the best thing on Facebook and Twitter. Also the planet.

I am not tired, because Ruby sleeps for 12+ hours every night. While I was pregnant, I assumed I’d spend most nights rocking in the corner and singing Do-A-Ditty-Ditty-Dum-Ditty-Do loud enough to block out the screams coming from the sleepless baby in the crib. Instead, David and I sit on the porch drinking wine together or, alternatively, watch 5 consecutive episodes of Scrubs after eating our homemade dinner in total peace and quiet after Ruby goes to sleep at 7:00.

Breastfeeding got much easier!

Sometimes it feels like everyone wants to make you feel like every parenting decision you make is LIFE OR DEATH and you had better make the right one or YOUR BABY WILL SURELY DIE/BE OBESE/NEVER SLEEP/BE AUTISTIC/HAVE ADHD/HAVE A PEANUT ALLERGY/HATE YOU FOREVER/GO BLIND/GO DEAF/GO BLIND AND DEAF. This is no exaggeration, and I think it’s one of the saddest things about being a parent.  In all honesty, the best thing anyone can say to a new mother is that most things don’t really matter that much. And that she looks awesome.

I often wondered if I would know if I had an ugly baby, since all mothers seem to think their babies are cute, even if their baby looks sort of…funny. Unfortunately, I gave birth to the most adorable baby to ever live, so I guess I’ll never know.

A visualization.

Imagine, if you will, lying face-down upon a wheeled apparatus that holds you so that the only parts of your body that touch the ground are your nipples. Then, imagine that you are pulled across town, nips dragging along the blacktop. When you arrive home, visualize yourself sitting down next to your Dyson (never loses suction!) and placing the hose attachment gently upon the end of your raw and bloodied breast, then turning it on for 20 minutes. Switch sides and repeat.

Do this every 2 hours for 4 weeks and you will have an idea of what breastfeeding felt like for me for the first month. It occurs to me that this was a contributing factor to my dark weeks as a new mom. They say that if breastfeeding hurts, you are doing something wrong. FALSE. I went to my first La Leche League meeting after having Ruby filled with rage and expecting an explanation and formal apology. The lady there looked at Ruby breastfeeding and declared it “fine.” OH, REALLY?? I haven’t been back there.

However, after four weeks of nightmares featuring my baby’s sweet sucking maw, I turned a corner. And I am still breastfeeding. I attribute my steadfastness in this to two factors: inertia and David. Poor David, because I hated him a little every time he said, “Let’s just try for one more week/day/feeding and see if it gets better”, after all, HE wasn’t the one living with the injustice of bleeding nipsies being piled on top of the horror show that was Childbirth. But he was right. It got better.

I do sometimes think I should be able to beat him with a stick for a few hours, in an attempt to even things out between us, pain-wise, but it would be such a small drop in such a cavernous bucket that I think I’ll just let it slide.

I wrote this with one hand

So, I’ve been a mom for seven weeks now, and am doing a great job, as evidenced by the fact that Ruby is not addicted to drugs, hasn’t joined a cult and isn’t sneaking sips of David’s bourbon while we aren’t looking. Despite these obvious signs of success, however, parenting is hard. Really hard. And we’re just now starting to recover from the shock of it.

The first week home from the hospital was maybe the worst week of my life. I feel bad saying that, but there you have it. I would just stare wordlessly at David and wonder why we ruined our carefree life and easy relationship. Was this a mistake? This is possibly the most frightening thought, as you are stuck with the baby forever, regardless of your conclusion. We spent most of the first month of Ruby’s life weakly trying to convince each other that having a baby had been a good idea, and that things would get better.

And then, things actually did start to get better. Eating and sleeping patterns began to emerge, and lo, we could take a sleeping baby grocery shopping instead of a starving, hysterical one. Breastfeeding went from excruciating to manageable, and Ruby, god bless her, started sleeping for 6 hour stretches at night.

With Ruby happily snoring on my shoulder, I’m optimistic about this whole endeavor. The arrival of spring feels symbolic–winter and all the dark feelings that went with it are ending, and we’re finally ready to celebrate our new life.


January 2020
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