what’s up in january twenty sixteen

Lucy asked this week if she was adopted. I may have laughed out loud.

This month in my life I am up to the following:

Writing – still working on the rewrite of my first draft. I’m about halfway through, and I’ve just worked through a seriously aggravating section. I have a new beta reader, bringing my team up to three. I feel pretty good about it. I’ve also started an unrelated secret writing project, and I’ll talk more about that later. Also, blogging! I’m going to try again. But don’t expect anything less than sporadic posts, as usual.

Parenting – it’s tough right now, not gonna lie. After six and a half years of this gig, I’m getting antsy to move on. But of course I’m a mom forever, so it’s not like applying for a new position. It’s just the diapers and snowsuits and tantrums and throwing  food stage that I’ve done three times and I’m getting fed up with. Probably related: I don’t have babysitter day this year. I’m going to bring that back, and hopefully it will restore my parenting joy. I love my kids to pieces and they’re absolutely the best; I’m just not the  best at day-in-day-out parenting. It’s taken me a long time to start admitting that. I’m still committed to my course, so I need to find ways to make it work so I don’t go postal and end up on the news.

Knitting – Happier things, hooray! I knit daily for Lent last year and I’ve pretty much never stopped. I don’t think I took two days off knitting in a row last year. I’ve currently got socks, a cabled cardigan, and a lightweight sweater on the needles. Stay tuned for a master post of everything I knit last year! I’m on a yarn diet for now, because my queue is massive and I have all the yarn I need for it. Of course, as soon as I said that, I bought two skeins from someone else’s destash, but it goes against all my principles to pass up $5 skeins of quality sock yarn.

Working out – I almost gave up running in the fall. I took a break when my knee started yelling, and then it was harrrrrd work to claw my way back. But I’ve started from scratch three times in five years, and I am NOT giving it up now. Running keeps the voices in my head to a dull roar. I’m trying to bring yoga back in with a 30-day challenge, after doing a bunch of research on how I felt about the yoga-as-cultural-appropriation debate. This article, and also this one, helped a lot. Unravelling issues of cultural appropriation are complex, but crucial. Also, I finally got a new yoga mat that isn’t shredding and is extra long, and that helps too. It’s ridiculous how many things are impacted when you’re a woman over six feet tall – yoga mats and running tights are but two of the issues.

Reading – I read twenty-eight books in 2015 and I think that’s pretty awesome. Also, it doesn’t include books read out loud to Lucy. Thus far (I know), my 2016 favourites have been Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I’m not exactly cutting edge, but I don’t care. Also, when I finished both of those, well past my bedtime, I had that beautiful terrible feeling of not knowing what to do with myself. That’s the marker of a good book. I hope with all my heart that I can evoke that feeling in my eventual mass market readers.

So there it is. My current interests and goings on. My goal for 2016 is to be honest with myself about who I am and what I can do, what I need and what is needed of me. I’d rather be perfectly self-sacrificing or perfectly selfish, but neither are right, or healthy. I think that if I can burrow right into honesty, 2016 will be a good year for my whole family.

christmas break

Hello friends. I’m taking a break for Christmas, but I’ll be back in January. Happy Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! I hope you enjoy the festivities you celebrate at the darkest time of the year.

Love,

Annemarie

deep breath out

Today was a giant relief on many levels. The biggest one is that at this moment, my living room is really quite clean and tidy and you would not believe how much easier I breathe when everything looks like it’s supposed to. It is astonishing just how difficult it is to do basic stuff like shower and clean and cook with the current assortment of small children – it’s probably at its most challenging. It won’t last – I expect that it will be considerably better in six months. I’m doing my best to hold on to the lovely things about the final moments of Clara’s baby time, and Rowan’s toddler time, and Lucy’s preschool time (kindergarten is basically preschool, let’s be real) because I know that I will blink and it will be gone, just like the entire last difficult, amazing, awful, wonderful year. But you guys, one day I will be able to have enough of a brain to read real books again, and clean my house on the regular, and maybe even have the energy to work out and eat properly. O glory and trumpets.

The other giant relief is that during my mama time off, I got my eyes checked and I was right. They’ve devolved since before Clara and I need glasses now. I picked some green ones from this company, and they’re totally flexible, like Lucy’s baby glasses were. The company makes children’s glasses too, so I’ll be getting some for Lucy next time hers need replacing. I went here, in case any local people want a good optometrist or children’s optician (in addition to Whitworth’s, downtown, which is also fantastic). You can hold your breath for a week until I get them and post a picture.

I am not quite yet relieved about tomorrow’s Advent narrative, as it’s not finished and I am in the wrong headspace to work on it. I keep looking at it and feeling annoyed, and I’ve written enough of these sorts of things to know that it will feel right at some point, but good grief I am nearly out of time. Being a works-best-under-pressure sort of person is great in terms of the efficiency with which I can crank out my writing when crunch time strikes, but I do feel like a pressure cooker getting up to pressure right now.

If you can believe it, I’m on top of my game for Christmas. The to-do list is ticking itself off merrily and the gifty knitting proceeds apace. I love the stuff I’m giving this year – I obviously am not going to spoil things for the grown-up literate people who read my blog, but the kids are getting Wedgits, this fire station, and bugs in a jar. I leave it to you to determine who is getting what. I have a plan for my baking, we have an itinerary for our road trip, and the Christmas cards should be ready to mail on Monday, provided I can find my return address labels. I feel that return address labels are a true sign of adulthood – I have learned to prioritize my time, and writing 100 return addresses is not a valuable use of time.

I have a post percolating about the dichotomy between Advent and the festive season and how I am working through that, particularly in relation to the small ones, but it is not ready to be written yet. Soon, I hope.

Happy second Advent!

saturday, snow, and other items of perfection

Today was about as close to perfect as Saturdays get these days. With the help of a little Benadryl to deal with the runny nose I picked up from Clara, I finally got an entire night of sleep and woke up feeling glorious. Last night was Clara’s first ever bedtime without me and she was a little sad but just fine. Even though each little milestone is another move away from babydom, it’s so great every time I get a little more independence. Mama needs breaks, yo.

So this morning I got my morning snuggles and loves, and then abandoned ship for the Third + Bird craft sale. It used to just be the Vineyard craft sale, but they clearly needed to hipsterize their brand. At least half the vendors were “blank and blank,” and half of those had an x-styled logo, but trends, hipsters, what ya gonna do. The stuff was pretty awesome. I found something for each of the girls and a couple of things for me, and also cinnamon buns.

It snowed like Narnia in the night, so I forewent the car and took the bus to the sale, which was an ace decision. I miss taking the bus without children because it’s so relaxing. I am not concerned for the wellbeing of the vehicle, and I can read my book and just chill out. I had university flashbacks in the very best way.

When I got home, I was sure that Clara would be desperate for me, but instead this happened.

Mama, you were gone too long.

So I went right back outside to shovel the driveway. It’s pretty big, and a bit tricky, but I secretly love shoveling snow so I had fun, even if my back is a bit cranky now.

Then I took the girls to the Christmas at CMU concert, to mixed reviews. I’m hoping that it’s one of those things that is better in memory than it was in actuality, because Lucy was unsure about having to sit and listen to other people. “This is just like church but we don’t get to do any singing” was her comment. But one of her beloved babysitters was in the women’s chorus, and we went to the Grinch reading and the interactive children’s session, so all in all it wasn’t bad. I said hi to at least fifty people in the Plenert tradition.

And my agenda for the evening is tea & blankets & knitting & something fluffy on Netflix, so that should round out the day just right.

Except that every half hour I remember that I have to do my Advent story in church tomorrow and I have a moment of panic. But if things were perfect it would be terribly boring. Or something.

Look at my cute wintry house!

Our house looks so cute in the snow.

And scene.

a bit of catch up

I missed blogging.

With three smalls who are still very small, I have a difficult time finding any sort of balance, consistent or otherwise, between everyone’s needs. Even when it’s just me finding a balance is hard, and currently it’s the Battle of Five Armies for my attention. And I feel like Bilbo, knocked unconscious wearing a ring of invisibility right at the start. Three children accounts for at least three of those armies.

So what have we been up to since the summer? We did a road trip and we’re going to do it again, this time with bonus prairie blizzards and probably more wrathful baby sounds. The driving part is not going to be spectacular, especially since there’s always a blizzard at some point, but I can’t wait to be festive the Plenert way.

We trek to school twice a day now, bundled up to the eyebrows. Lucy is continually asking me to slow down because walking in snowpants is harrrrrrrd. Clara is fully, 100% prairie baby, because she fell asleep in the stroller when it was -20 with wind. Rowan has made friends with a pickup truck that we have to walk around every day, and when it is not there when we pass, he is distraught. Why are vehicles such a thing?

I have hardly had any time to knit this week and it’s been terrible. Woe. I’ve had to use my spare time to write a thing for the Advent series at church. It’s not done yet and my deadline is Sunday, but it’s a self-imposed deadline for the latter three Sundays so it’s just not going to happen. Tomorrow is the big Christmas craft sale and also the CMU Christmas concert, so I am busy. I also have some actual parties this year (parties! plural!) so that requires attention.

Tomorrow we are also setting up the tree, so you can look forward to some great pictures of Clara trying to pull it down. And that’s all I’ve got for now. My blogging muscles are feeling stiff. So rather than a clever denouement, here are my children. Look! Cute!

She's so funny.