Getting my granny on

In our family, there is a reverence around the art of crochet. It is a skill, a talent, a craft that has been passed down generation to generation to generation on our mother’s side. We grew up watching Memere, our mom’s mom, whip up blankets and granny squares and Barbie clothes and crazy quilts and baby clothes and pillow covers and decorative bed dolls and giant comforters and soft baby blankets and baptismal wraps and and and…she was a machine. And we all coveted what she had.

Draped over my couch, warmer of all my little family, made by my Memere.

Draped over my couch, warmer of all my little family, made by my Memere.

We’d all ask her, pleadingly, as her fingers whipped the yarn around her hook and magic transformed string into works of art, to teach us! The company line was, “When your fingers get bigger. They’re too small now, but I will teach you when they’re bigger.”

We all waited, with bated breath, for our fingers to grow to the perfect length, width, size to handle the hook and yarn and learn how to crochet like our Memere.

And then, finally, finally, we’d be her students and she our teacher, and we’d try so hard with tongues stuck out and fingers too rigid and nerves on edge as she taught us a chain, a single crochet, a double crochet, a triple crochet and then we’d finally have a wonky looking scarf and voila! We were magic too.

But time goes on. And perfect finger age turns into teenager age and then early 20s age, and then…you realize, you haven’t crocheted in eons. In fact…you may not even remember how. It’s a sin, considering how eager we all were to crochet, what a lasting gift it was from our grandmother, and what a handy skill it is to have some sort of craft under your belt.

Time marched me right into my hairdresser’s chair for my yearly hair cut (yes, really) and style, where I sit alone, with no babies around, and in the middle of my head massage (oh, yes, really), she asked me, “What do you do for you?”

I was pregnant with Isaac at this point, about ready to pop, and had Lillian running around and Sophie gearing up for school, and I had no idea. What did I do for me?

And then she told me what she did when her babies were young. She crocheted. She’d get everyone into bed, and then the hook would hit the yarn and she’d be off.

When she said that word, crocheted, filled with enchantment and childhood wonder, I got it. Instantly.

Crocheting is for adults. It is a ‘Mommy-only’ activity. It can only be done when little fingers aren’t trying to get all up in it. It can only be done by ME. AND?? It takes a tiny bit of brain power. In fact, it’s almost zen-like in its ability to make you focus on one thing and one thing only.

So, I went home and found all of my crocheting stuff. I had one hook and some sad yarn. I went to a crafting store and got a fancy set of hooks. I grabbed my sad yarn and thought about what I should make.

I settled on dishcloths, because they are USEFUL. And baby items. ALSO USEFUL. And after 5 dishcloths and 5 sets of misshapen booties, I decided maybe useful wasn’t the best idea.

And then, I let it drop again. Because BABIES EVERYWHERE.

But this Christmas, I really wanted to make stockings for our family. We don’t have uniform stockings. We have mismatched stockings that were free or purchased for other people (visiting family)…but no real stockings. I found a pattern online and planned to have all five of them whipped up over the month of December in time for Christmas. HA. It didn’t happen (clearly), but I did get the yarn at a killer price after Christmas, and have made it through 1 of 5 stockings.

The top cuff...it's finished now...and I just have to get the rest of them going. I should be done by Christmas.

The top cuff…it’s finished now…and I just have to get the rest of them going. I should be done by Christmas.

And then my sister-in-law, the fifth sister, Kim, asked if someone could make this headband:

Photo and pattern by Tender Moments Crochet

Photo and pattern by Tender Moments Crochet

I told the sisters that I was planning on making it, and they wanted in! Yarn-shopping adventure was ON! And then, of course, a granny night, complete with Friends on Netflix and homemade cookies and a rekindling of everything good about crocheting.

Granny Dee and Granny T

Granny Dee and Granny T

Granny J and Granny JQ

Granny J and Granny JQ

The finished product was gorgeous! Everyone who made one and got one LOVED them…and Kim?? Looks SMASHING!

Hot mama!

Hot mama!

I’ve been crocheting pretty steadily now since the New Year, and currently I’m working on a super-secret mission (if I told you, I’d have to kill you), but I’m getting to be pretty good! So good, in fact, that yesterday morning, when we were getting ready for a nice leisurely day of lounging around (it was a holiday here), the girls asked me if I could make them clothes for their lovies. Sophie wanted a sweater for the puppy stuffie she had received from Aunt Toni for Valentine’s Day, and Lillian wanted a Spider-Man dress (she LOVES Spider-Man) for her Baby (her most prized possession). After some Pinterest hunting, I came up with two patterns and got to work. It took a couple of hours for each, but both girls LOVED the final results.

Sophie and her sweatered puppy! Pattern from Knot Your Nana's Crochet

Sophie and her sweatered puppy! Pattern from Knot Your Nana’s Crochet

Spiderman Baby with Spiderman Lillian! Pattern from Mamma That Makes

Spider-Man Baby with Spider-Man Lillian! Pattern from Mamma That Makes

It was fun, being able to say yes to something, having the tools and skill and supplies to fulfill requests on the spot, and of course, magic, watching the girls pick out their yarn colours and then help me do fittings and watch me with the same eager eyes that I had watching my Memere whip up yet another something.

The enchantment carries on here and I’m already getting bombarded by, “Can you teach me to do that?” and “I want to learn.” and “Can I try?”

And I’ve already delivered the line, one that is as generational as the crochet hooks and yarn – “Yes, when your fingers are big enough, I will teach you.”

~ Julia

Date night, Mills-style

When you get married, people tell you that you should never stop dating each other – make plans, go out, talk, ensure you never lose that connection.

When you add kids to the mix, the advice gets louder – don’t just focus on babies all the time, make sure you take time for yourselves, remember to nurture the couple relationship you had before you became parents.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Now, you have to organize child care, steal time where there are no appointments or responsibilities, ensure no one is sick, and, the big one, rally the energy so you are able to not only stay up past 8 p.m., but be interesting past 8 p.m.

It’s a tall order for any parent.

Ben and I have been all right at keeping the romance alive while we are elbow deep in poop and potty training and tantrum taming and crazy wrangling. Not perfect (most months go without any date at all), but we’re doing okay. We make sure to go out on our dating and wedding anniversaries, spend time together on the 21st of each month (both of our anniversaries are a 21), and remember to look up every once in a while and say, “Hi! I know you!”

For Father’s Day, I thought that maybe I’d give both of us a present – a night out! I purchased tickets for us to go see Les Misérables at our local theatre, The Dunfield Theatre. I had seen the movie in theatre with Kim, sister-in-law extraordinaire, and Andrea, cousin-in-law extraordinaire, and LOVED it. I knew Ben would love it too, because he’s a band guy, so he’d appreciate the music, and the French revolution backdrop was action-packed enough to override the fact that the actors sing. The. Whole. Time. After buying the movie and having our own private viewing of it, Ben did indeed love it. So much so that he downloaded the soundtrack to listen to at work. The tickets to the local production were a slam-dunk gift – a night out AND a fun activity. Woohoo!

Two tickets to childless freedom!

Two tickets to childless freedom!

Date night, of course, means the usual getting rid of children. Now that there are three, the number of people willing to sit on all of them at once has gone down…considerably. Note to child-wanting couples everywhere: this is something to consider when figuring out how many kids you want. Thankfully, the grandmas are still both game, so the babies had a sleepover at Nana’s house with Grammie and Grandpa Mike pitching in. It was the first night that we had no children since Isaac had been born…11 months…normally we wouldn’t wait so long, but the three kid thing made it tricky. And at that point, only having Isaac at home and getting rid of the older two IS a vacation, so we had done that lots of times already.

Next on the agenda is the prettification of the parents. Also known as having uninterrupted showers. Or putting on clean clothes that have a good shot at still being clean after a few hours. I think we did an okay job.

We're so pretty! And clean!

We’re so pretty! And clean!

Next is the decision – have a rushed dinner first, then the play OR go to the play hungry and come home to a late, yet leisurely dinner. We ultimately decided on late dinner, easygoing to the theatre.

Touristy picture in our hometown.

Touristy picture in our hometown.

We literally drove for two minutes and were at the theatre. If it hadn’t taken us so long to ditch the kids and get gorgeous (taking layers of stickiness off of one’s person takes time!), we would have walked. Next time! We parked and found the Les Misérables van! Totally had to take a picture. And totally got dirty, incredulous looks from the couple that was waiting to park in the spot beside it. Whatever. We took the picture. They waited. The end.

Our seats were AWESOME. We were in the middle of the row, third row from the stage. We could see everything, even the spit from the mouths of the actors. (No, seriously.)

Reading over the program...no kids touching us...noting the "No Babes In Arms" rule...loving the grown-up time.

Reading over the program…no kids touching us…noting the “No Babes In Arms” rule…loving the grown-up time.

The production was INCREDIBLE. The music was amazing, the singing was perfect, and the story was well-told. It was beyond cool to see something so polished and familiar in our little local theatre.

For me, the stand-out player was Thom Allison who played Javert. He was awesome. I loved his voice and presence. He was far and away my favourite.

Thom Allison as Javert - my absolute favourite player

Thom Allison as Javert was excellent.

Runners up were the kids – I don’t know how they performed in front of such a big crowd…and the parent in me couldn’t believe how awake and alert they were since the show began at 8 p.m. and didn’t end until 11! Wonder children.

Brooke Bauer, the young Cosette

Brooke Bauer, the young Cosette

Drew Davis, spunky revolutionist Gavroche

Drew Davis, spunky revolutionist Gavroche

After we gave our standing ovation, it was time to go home. It was after 11, so we were considering not eating the meal that I had prepared and picking something up…but we chose wisely. We went home, Ben barbecued, and we ate a little-people-free dinner together. It was divine. And probably tasted even more incredible because of how hungry we were.

Steak and shish kabobs - YUM

Steak and shish kabobs – YUM

We went to bed late, woke up late, and had a decadent breakfast of banana bread toasted with butter and coffee, while watching some House (Yay for Netflix!). It’s the little things.

Holy yum.

Holy yum.

We had a super fun, adult night. It was exactly what we needed and the entertainment, food and company didn’t disappoint (Hello?! See how handsome my date was???). It was perfect.

And when we picked up the babies they were happy to see us and had suitably tuckered out both grandmas and a grandpa.

All in all, a date night success! Seriously can’t wait for the next one.

Seriously.

~ Julia