Category Archives: WAHMness

Work, work & nothing but work (sometimes)

The Tenth Circle of Hell

Therapeutic squats.
The tenth circle of hell.
Squeeze the blanket, down slowly
(One, two, three,
four, five, six,
seven, eight, nine, ten.)
And up.
Knees hurt, but we can do this.
Two
(one, two, three
four, five, six,
seven, eight, nine,
ten).
Slowly up.
Three. Four. Five.
Six. Seven.
Fire spreads through
Quads and calves.
Slowly up, feel the coolness
as muscles ease their strain.
Eight. Calves wanting to cramp.
Nine. Burning fire. Blessed cool.
My sore left knee protests,
“What did I do to deserve this?”
Just one more.
Ten. More fire. More cool.
I’m done for now.

Streaming jungle.
Tiger cage. Crouching inside.
Muscles scream, cramp.
Mosquitoes whine and bite,
spreading pain and disease.
Skin splits, festers, oozes.
Fetid water, small break
from the cage.
Bones pop and creak,
Tight muscles scream and stretch.
Tiger cage. Endless crouch.
Muscles scream in protest.
Squats are the tenth circle of hell.
Some have survived the eleventh.

We So Fly (Lady)!

We live in CHAOS – Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.  Yes, it’s true.  Between teaching and canning and running the biz, cleaning happens randomly (grabbing something of mine as I walk out of a room), and it’s so frustrating getting on the troops to clean up while I’m doing something in the kitchen or my workshop.  Those aren’t my Legos or dolls!  Those aren’t my clothes left in a heap on the living room floor.  That stack of mail doesn’t have my name on it.  Ugh!  Then when company wants to come over, there’s the 5-hour, really stressful blitz to get everything picked up.  With Christmas coming, who wants to deal with that???  I want to decorate on my schedule, not be cleaning instead.

It showed up in a homeschooling group:  The Fly Lady Holiday Control Journal, which promises to help one conquer cleaning, making gifts, baking, hosting, and shopping.  Seems like a pretty audacious claim, doesn’t it?  The Fly Lady premise tackles cleaning in small, 15-minute chunks, claiming you can do anything for fifteen minutes.

The original Fly Lady

The original Fly Lady

As soon as I discovered and printed off this journal (it’s in a handy .pdf), I sat the family down and said, “This is what we’re going to do.”  I don’t want to be stressed this Advent season, and I want to be doing something other than last-minute present making/assembling on Christmas Eve.  The Troops got it.  We’ve done the 15-minute blitzes twice now; the only problem we face is, some of us don’t want to stop once the 15 minutes are up; a still-cluttered space – just this morning, in fact – can make one of us say, “But that area still needs to be cleaned.”  That was my older daughter.  I know the struggle, but I say, “Nope.  We’ll come back to it after moving on.”  At the end of each blitz, I make everyone come into the room.  I ask them to remember what the room looked like before we started, then have them take a good look at what it looks like now.  What do they think of it?  Everyone agrees that there’s a lot of improvement.

We’re a family of four, and the children are both old enough to help clean.  No one wants to be stuck cleaning a room by her- or himself, so if the room is big enough, we all tackle it together.  Think about it:  Fifteen minutes times four people…  That’s like an hour’s worth of cleaning in that one room!  Darn straight, there’s a lot of improvement in a short amount of time!  I was even able to seize a teachable moment by grabbing one of the teaching clocks and explaining this concept to my younger daughter.  It’s like a competition against the clock – how much cleaning can we do before the timer goes off?  That means there is very little second-guessing – things get thrown away, there’s little squabbling over “that’s not mine” (it all gets put away), and there’s a real sense of teamwork.  At the end of it, I get the cleaner home I want, I get the help I need, none of us are spending all day cleaning, leaving us free to enjoy other activities.  That’s a win all the way around!

Random Reflections on Today

It’s nearly 11:30 p.m., and I finally get to sit down for an appreciable amount of time that doesn’t involve crafting soap or eating a meal.  It’s been a very full, busy day.  I rolled over this morning, well rested, saw the sun, and thought, Woohoo!  Feeling great!  It’s 7:30ish, and I can grab my shower, eat breakfast, and run to the winery early, then have hours to work.  Then I looked at my phone, which told me it was almost 9.  So much for that idea.  I threw down a mere 3 batches of soap today, but in my defense, I also delivered soaps, filed my 4th quarter sales taxes, and had other attention-grabbers.

Today my family and I went to a service celebrating the life of our neighbor and friend, John.  While there, I learned that another neighbor died this week.  After we got home, I checked Facebook while I wanted for oils to melt and discovered that a friend had had her baby this afternoon.  “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…  A time to be born, and a time to die.”

I told Sheila, John’s widow, that we were going to look out for her.  She’s perfectly able-bodied, only in her 70s.  She and I serve on our HOA Executive Board together, and we have a meeting Tuesday.  Sheila told me she’s feeling overwhelmed and ready to get back to…  I knew what she couldn’t say.  It won’t be normal, because her life won’t be what she thought of as normal ever again.  She’ll find a new normal, though.  The family members will go back home, the children and grandchildren will go back to work and families.  The girls will deliver hugs and we’ll take food over, mindfully caring for her through this first year and beyond.  John liked Tootsie Rolls; I wonder if I should add 23 February (the birthday of Tootsie Rolls) to the bereavement care calendar?  “To everything there is a season…  A time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

I received an order for 300 bars of soap and 200 lip balms this week.  I was only prepared for 150 bars of soap, and that’s on top of another order I’ve been putting together.  I sat down with the girls while a batch of soap was going and watched Bambi.  Even as a Disney girl, it’s not my favorite movie, but even with the sadness of the mother getting shot, I can still laugh at the whole twitterpated scene.  (I can’t help but wonder if my girls have yet made the connection between the role of Man in Bambi and the venison they like so much.)

“To everything there is a season…  A time to cry, and a time to laugh.”

And now it’s nearly bedtime, thank God.  Literally, I thank God that it’s close to that time when I can get horizontal and snuggle down under the warm covers.  I worked.  A lot.  And there is more work ahead of me.  My wicked fantasy for tomorrow includes two 11-pound batches of soap along with chauffeuring the eldest child to youth activities and enjoying the Superbowl with my family.  I’ll have three hours between church and chauffeur responsibilities.  “There is nothing better for a person than they enjoy their work, for that is their lot.”

And now comes a time for rest, a time for sleep, a time to find peace in sweet dreams and deep slumber.

 

The Will of God

“God, thy will is hard.”

So prays Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in the awesome rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar.  My husband and I are heading to a doctor’s appointment for him this afternoon, and we’re both feeling very anxious.  If his doctor is extremely legalistic, my husband could lose his license – and most likely his job – for a year.  Our state will let those with DUIs drive after multiple offenses, but let someone have a medical condition, and it’s all over.

Night before last I was tossing and turning with worry, and I prayed,” God, please let this go our way if it’s your will.”  Praying for God’s will to be done is a scary thing.  I remember teaching a group of senior adult ladies one time, and the question came up, “Why is it hard to pray for God’s will to be done?”  (I just LOVE teaching seniors, because all their responses come from years of experience and 60+ years of living their faith, so they can come up with some very valuable gems.)  One lady responded, “Because we’re afraid that God will use us to do his will.”  And isn’t THAT a scary thought!?

If today doesn’t go our way, then it could mean a tremendous change in our family situation.  It could mean my husband being the stay-at-home parent and home educator while I go out as the wage earner.  Since I’m a minister, that very well could be the situation.  I was fretting over the job market, about how hard it is for degreed professionals to find jobs that pay them what they’re worth.  But it came to me as I vented to my best friend:  If God wills for me to work as a minister in some paid capacity, then the position will be there.  My friend said, “Stop!  You’re trying to determine the color of the egg before it’s even laid!”  I said, “Yeah.  Actually, we don’t even know if we’re dealing with a hen or a rooster.”  And that’s the case.

So we’ll go and we’ll hope.  We need to get him the help he needs, and as scary as it is, we have to risk the sacrifices for him to get better.  We’ll deal with the chicks if they even appear.

Tips for a Worn Out Mom

housekeeping

housekeeping – I love irony! (Photo credit: karamchedu)

Part of the purpose of this blog is to remind us women – Moms, especially – that we are God’s masterpieces, even in the midst of fighting children, car troubles and peanut butter smeared on the walls.  This gem has shown up on my Facebook stream twice, and it’s a wonderful reminder of OUR reality versus that Pinterest fantasy.

1. Lower your standards for cleanliness and order.

2. Did that? Lower them even more.

3. Your house will never look like a magazine spread, period. Embrace that.

4. No matter how many baskets you buy to contain toys, they will always be visible. Embrace the Toys ‘R Us/ frat house-chic decor.

5. You can never have too many Popsicle in the freezer. How many bad moods have been fixed by a simple Popsicle?

6. If you can’t change them, change your perspective. For example I read recently – probably on Satan’s website Pinterest – that toothpaste is great for cleaning things like faucets. So now when I go into the bathroom every day and see toothpaste splatter all over the bathroom faucet I think about how my children have done half the chore of cleaning for me. How considerate of them! Then I wipe it off while cursing.

7. Those chores that no one ever wants to do. Decide if you would rather do it yourself, badger your child to it, or let it go. If you are confused about what to do, see Number 1 on this list.  (My best friend recently asked how I deal with the clutter in the house.  I told him I can yell at everyone else to help pick up, do it myself, or live with the clutter.)

8. No one cares what is stuffed under your child’s bed, why should you. Unless it is old food. In that case, you should get a dog.

9. If you have boys, your bathroom will always faintly stink like pee. Invest in some Febreeze and count down the days until they move out and you can go visit them and pee on their bathroom floor.

10. Don’t buy white furniture. Unless you enjoy screaming at your children every time they go near it.

11. However bad a situation might seem, one day it will be funny. I have a few for which I am eagerly awaiting for the funny to kick in. Any time now….

12. When your child is a young teen there will be nothing more embarrassing than your very existence. Use this to your advantage. Start planning early.

13. Do not paint any walls in your house with flat paint.

14. Be okay with letting your kids stumble sometimes. Whether that is turning in an assignment late because they didn’t do it or wearing an outfit so hideous you have trouble looking at them without laughing.

15. Noise cancelling headphones are great for blocking out whining, bickering and the endless episodes of Sponge Bob.

16. Socks do not have to match. Every day is Crazy Sock Day at my house, which is infinitely better than Crazy Mom Day.  (I think this is my favorite tip, because socks get divorced in our house daily!)

17. The crayons will break and it is okay to throw them away rather then save them to make some sort of craft that involves the hair dryer. In fact, I give you permission to not feel guilty about all the crafts you know you will never do.

18. Your children will not die from eating the occasional hot dog or frozen pizza. And by occasional I mean more than you are really willing to admit.

19. If your children are driving you crazy arguing with each other, start an argument with them. Then your children will bond over their mutual hatred of you and be quiet.  (I need to remember this one for days like yesterday.)

20. Children do not appreciate top sheets or high thread counts. Buy neither.

21. Homework time is the worst time of the day. Help your kids and yourself by having a designated time and a quiet place to do homework. Preferably in a neighbor’s home.

22. Just say No to ironing.  (Hanging it in the bathroom while I shower is a GREAT way to avoid ironing.)

23. Last, but not least, some chocolate and some really bad TV makes everything seem a little better.  (Or dark chocolate and ridiculously funny TV – perfect for de-stressing.)

A lot of us moms see the pictures in the magazine spreads and on Pinterest, and we strive for those picture-perfect houses.  Right now, I’m looking at a level of clutter in our living room which is driving me nuts and which we’ll have to work on today.  I extend to myself the grace not to have a picture-perfect house, because I have happy, intelligent, well-adjusted children who feel free to live joyfully in this home which belongs to them, too.

Which of these tips spoke to you the most?  Can you give yourself the grace to have a cluttered home?

How to Wash a Cat

This is another one of those “Does anyone else go through this?” posts.

Yesterday, my toddler, the Wee Princess, had had her nap and she was revved and recharged for all sorts of wee mischief.  It started when I heard the back sliding glass door open.  The air conditioner was on, so I wanted that door shut.  I told her to shut it, and she did.  A few minutes later, I heard it again.  Then I heard the screen door open.  What?  That was supposed to be locked way up high where she couldn’t reach.

I called her name, and she responded, “I outside.”  I told her to come back in, and she did, as I walked over to the door.  Then she said, “Sassy outside.”  Ugh!  I told Sassy, the girls’ cat, to get inside, and she did.  My husband had forgotten to lock the screen door when he came in last night.  Great.  I locked both the screen and the sliding glass door, and Wee Princess followed me to the living room.

I went back to my work, and she toddled off to the office – and shut the door.  This can’t be good.  I waited, ears open, tuned toward that corner of the house.  After a minute of silence, I went to see what she was doing.  She’d found a sample of lotion and was rubbing it on her legs.  She told me she’d gotten some on the floor (“That’s OK, sweetie.”) and proudly announced she’d put some on the cat, too.  Oh.  god.  I look at Sassy and see that she has lotion all over her back that she wants desperately to lick off, but she can’t stand the scent.

It’s now past time for me to start getting ready to meet a friend for dinner, but first, I have to bathe Sassy.  So, here’s the heart of this post:

(1)  Carry the cat upstairs, being careful not to get lotion all over you, and being careful of the razor-like claws.

(2) Go into the bathroom and shut the door.  Lock it so curious children can’t open it and let the cat escape.

(3) Ignore the loud, plaintive cries of said cat.

(4) Start bath water, letting it get to a nice, warm temperature.  Get shampoo and towel ready.

(5) Ignore cat-from-hell screams now coming out of cat.

(6) Assure daughters that the cat – and you – are perfectly fine and no one is hurt.

(7) Put cat into tub, being sure to get her head and face wet.  Ideally, this will calm her down so you can bathe her.

(8) Dodge kung-foo swinging claws and ignore cat-from-the-very-deepest-bowels-of-hell screams.

(9) Quickly shampoo cat and rinse the shampoo out of her fur.

(10) Grab a towel to wrap around the cat when she jumps out of the tub.

(11) Still avoiding the knives on the tips of her paws, towel dry her fur.

(12) Give the cat a sprig of catnip and a can of salmon in an attempt at making things better.  It won’t work, but cats like their humans reminding them who really runs the house.

A Life of Sacrifice

Budgeting

Image by 401K via Flickr

It’s January, and this is the time of year when people decide to make sacrifices – they resolve to lose weight, stop smoking, stop drinking or whatever.  I don’t make resolutions, but I do make goals for my business, my home and my personal self.  There’s a subtle pressure, though, to make sacrifices.  In our Sunday morning small group, we started a study of fasting as Daniel fasted (restricted himself to a vegetarian diet) with the understanding that each member would undertake a fast of some sort.  My husband and I talked and batted ideas around.  We thought at first about giving up meat for a week, but we easily go vegetarian some days, anyway, so this wouldn’t be much of a challenge for us.  He also suggested coffee, but didn’t want to subject our girls to me without my morning cuppa (besides, I’d just drink green tea, and I only drink one mug of coffee a day).  I was intentional about giving up sweet snacks – cookies, chocolate, candy, everything.  I started this this past Monday and said I’d go a full seven days which will end tomorrow night.  Thursday morning in the shower, I thought, I could do this another week.  Thursday at lunchtime, when I cleared the halfway mark, but Thursday afternoon was tough!  I’d stashed all the chocolate and candy on the top shelf of the pantry where I couldn’t see them easily, but Thursday afternoon, my mind kept drifting to the container of Trader Joe’s chocolate cat cookies.  I’m proud to say I resisted, but it was close!

At the same time this was going on, Peter and I started attending a Financial Peace University class.  Talk about sacrifices!  First, I sacrificed the $50 I was going to spend on a new pair of clogs for our course materials.  Today we spent a couple of hours creating our cash flow plan (aka, budget).  The goal was to create  a zero-based budget, one with no money left over and no overspending.  We did it – sort of.  It doesn’t allow for any saving this month, though.

The course instructors told us – pretty much promised us – that we would fight during the budget making process.  I’m glad to say we didn’t.  Shoot!  I was psychologically ready for it, because we seem to fight about money most of the time, anyway.  Seriously, when Dave Ramsey says that couples fight over money more than anything, absolutely believe him.  Men, when he says your wife’s feelings of security are tied to money, believe him – and when finances are tight, give her lots of hugs and spoon her as you sleep.  Women, when your husband is feeling like he’s less of a man because he’s not making enough to keep your security anxieties from flaring up, tell him all the ways he’s doing great and insist you create a budget together – and STICK TO IT!

Anyway, I figured fighting with Peter in the course of making a budget (something we so rarely do) wouldn’t be that bad.  After all, we might be fighting, but fighting is still a form of communication, and we’d be fighting in the midst of doing something positive.  See what I’m saying?  To me, it’s better to fight as we’re doing something to change our current situation.  I’m proud to say, we did not fight.  We did not raise our voices.  We prayed together before we started, we gave it over to God and we listened to each other.  I see where we are as we go into February, but I also see where we are going to be.  The first cut is Peter’s AFLAC policy.  Why pay that money to AFLAC when we can put it into our emergency fund and draw interest on it?  The second cut will be cable (after the Super Bowl).  Some expenses that have to be lump payments now will be 1/12 payments hereafter.  Sure, we’re sacrificing some things, but I get excited thinking about where these sacrifices will take us.  I’m excited, too, that Peter and I are finally on the same page with this!

Since we’re a family, we are approaching this as a family.  One of our line items is to pay our older daughter commission for doing chores.  She will get $1.00 per chore per week, paid in $1.00 bills.  She’ll have three envelopes – “Save,” “Spend” and “Give.”  One dollar will go into “give” and she can divide the other four dollars however she likes.  She’s ready to do chores and she’s totally excited about depositing her money into her accounts and earning “Rainbow Bucks” from the bank that she’ll be able to redeem for gift cards.  Talk about motivation!  She’ll be able to watch her money grow through the month, then watch her savings grow.

Follow along as I tell you about our saving journey.  I’m trying not to read ahead, but apparently we’ll learn how we can also pay our mortgage off quicker, so I’m greatly anticipating being 100% debt-free.

Too Tired

Nermal the Kitten, self-proclaimed "World...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m tired.  I’m not talking the kind of tired that comes from working in the yard all day or maybe not getting enough sleep one night.  I’m talking about bone-deep exhaustion that takes over your body, mind and, yes, even your spirit.  I’m homeschooling and working and keeping the household going and trying all that I can to take care of myself, and…  I’m falling down on the job.

I’m dealing with physical exhaustion.  When our school day ends, my work day begins, whether my to-do list includes making soap, making cosmetics, blogging, getting out my newsletter, packaging, processing orders or doing taxes.  It’s all work, and for the time being, it’s all falling on me to do.  My husband often wonders why I stay up so late.  I tell him, “I stay up until my work is done.  It’s not like some elves are going to sneak in during the night to do this work for me while I sleep.”

I’m mentally exhausted.  My brain is full of to-do lists.  Shop for Easter baskets.  File the state income taxes.  File and pay my sales taxes on my business.  Make soap… and more soap… and more soap.  (I have at least 7 batches of soap to make.)  Take my firstborn for a hair cut.  Follow up with this customer.  Call this one.  Complete this form and mail it in.  Reply to this email.  Do laundry.  Order my daughter’s year-end achievement test.  When does it end???

I’m spiritually exhausted.  A Christ-following coworker once told me that Christians should never be spiritually tired, that we should rely on God to supply us with our spiritual energy.  I think I would be best served to spend quiet time in meditation so God can renew me.  However, I can’t even go to the bathroom without at least one person (sometimes two or three) needing something of me right then and there.  I’m not Mother Theresa!  When instructed to rest from her labors, she told her friend, “I’ll have eternity to rest.”  I need more regular rest breaks than that!  On top of that, my older daughter keeps making demand upon demand on me.  We spend hours together every day – 2-4 of those just the two of us – and then she demands tea time and stories and hair cuts and shopping.  Can someone please wave a magic wand and give me two more hours each day just to meet her ever-increasing demands?

If I were to be completely honest, I need to be left alone for a spell.  Maybe a day or a weekend.  I need a chance to seize my own renewal.

My husband came home yesterday from work claiming he was tired and feeling a little loopy from being out in the heat all day.  I started dinner – planned overs – then my older daughter and I reclined on the loveseat for a few minutes while it reheated in the oven.  I was suddenly swamped with fatigue!  I fell asleep, only for her to wake me up telling me how nice they’d be and let me sleep if I were still asleep when dinner was ready, and then if I slept through snuggles, Daddy could do snuggles and I could do snuggles tomorrow night and…  OK!  Enough already!  I’ll never sleep with all this talking!

My husband went to bed early, claiming dinner wasn’t settling with him.  I felt sympathy, worry and, yes, even a little resentful.  Newly recharged from my rest, I caught up with a dear friend and got a little work done.  It was about 12:30 before I got to sleep.  This morning when the baby woke me up before 6:30, I thought, maybe I should “get sick” or “not feel well” once a week so I can get some extra sleep.  I could abandon all the housework to my husband and daughter and then sleep in the next morning while someone else gets up with the baby and starts breakfast.  After all, it seems to be working for my very well-rested husband.

But no, that doesn’t work.  I’ve been sick a time or two, and have had to subjugate my to-do list to the demands of my body.  I thought, Peter will take over my duties while I’m sick; he’ll step up and knock out the dishes and those two loads of laundry.  He’ll fold that load of towels I took out of the dryer right before I started feeling not-so-hot; that’ll only take five, maybe ten, minutes.

And I spend the time wallowing in my illness.  I sleep, I medicate, I down fluids.  I do everything in my power to knock the bug out so I can be back into fighting form quickly – my goal is 24 hours.  I wake up, maybe a little weak still, but feeling in my body that I’m stronger, my fever’s broken and I’ve conquered yet another bug.

Then I want to weep.  As I stumble bleary-eyed into the kitchen, a stack of dishes even larger than the one I left greets me.  How can this family generate so many dishes in one day???  I peek in the dishwasher, expecting – hoping – that my husband’s at least knocked out one load, but no.  It’s pristine, clean… and empty.  Shoulders slumped, I start my coffee.

A noise from upstairs alerts me to the fact that our baby is awake.  Her hamper is still full, her cloth diapers still not presoaked.  I summon up a smile for her as I pick her up.  I reach into her wipes container to get a wipe ready, and it’s empty.

Later that morning as I get ready to take my shower, I notice the towels and washcloths are still in their pile on the floor.  I grab a clean washcloth, only to discover – oh crap! – one of the big cats has peed on the fresh laundry in a moment of pique against the enthusiastic, Nermal-esque (think Garfield – “the world’s cuuuutest kitten!”) kitten.  So, on top of laundry not getting done, there’s now a load I have to rewash.  I want to scream, “It’s NOT FAIR!!!  The cat wouldn’t have been able to do this if they were folded and put away!”

I shut the bedroom door and fall across the bed, hoping for a few moments of privacy to weep, to wail, to despair.  Even though I want nothing more than to crawl into the cool, welcoming embrace of the sheets, I know that’s a luxury I don’t get, for there is school to be taught, a baby to wrangle, soaps (and more soaps) to make, dishes to wash, now three loads of laundry to do and countless other tasks that waited for me to get well.

Running the Race

A little dexterity is helpful in working with ...

Image via Wikipedia

Life isn’t about finishing fast, but about running with endurance.  Sprinters can run short distances very quickly, but marathoners can consistently run long distances without faltering.  My life lately has been a marathon.

It’s been busy, with homeschooling merging with business and daily life.  How’s all this going?  Very well.  My daughter’s thrilled that we started multiplication just before Thanksgiving and she likes how the work is getting more challenging now.  Business is growing by leaps and bounds lately.  And daily life…?  In the words of a good friend of mine, “It is what it is.”  There are more good times than bad, but it all comes together into one very interesting life.

Today life got even more interesting.  Our baby got sick yesterday (Thanksgiving day), but despite the high fever and stuffy nose, she rarely stopped.  She was like the Energizer Bunny with boogers – she kept going and going and going.  Yet, I could look at her eyes and know she wasn’t feeling good.  She’s still sick, up in bed with a healthy dose of Motrin and some juice.  Our older daughter claimed she was tired this afternoon when we returned home from my parents’ house; long story short, she’s sick now, too.  So, for the weekend, the Academy for Exceptional Children is the Pediatric Clinic of Exceptional Children.

In the midst of this busyness, I started feeling the urge to create something with my hands that would last longer than a bar of soap.  I made two pairs of braided barrettes for my older daughter – pink and purple, and red and green (accented with a gold star button).  I made pirate-themed bags to hold the soaps I created for my private label account, a project that required me dusting off my “how to use a sewing machine” skills.  And finally, I picked my knitting back up again.  My mother-in-law taught me how to knit last Christmas – my husband’s aunt Maria and she are master knitters – but I hadn’t touched my needles since last January, knitting a few rows then ripping them out because they weren’t perfect.  I’d like for what I’m working on to be a washcloth, but it’s not perfect.  I wonder if I can just call it shabby chic?