Monday, January 31, 2011

The Grande Finale (of January, not the Blog)

So... knitting first or navel gazing first? I think I'll do the knitting first, so that people who click over here from Ravelry don't have to indulge my neuroses.

January has been a great month for churning out the finished objects. Many of them were already in progress on January 1st, but not all. So far this year I've finished off 2 sweaters (Paper Crane and Dark and Stormy), one pair of colorwork mittens (Fiddleheads), two pairs of socks (Event Horizon and Ember, below), and one lace shawl, Annis, also below. That's an impressive list, even if I do say so myself!

The Ember socks are the final pair I knit for the stripey sock KAL on Ravelry. The yarn is, once again, Playful by Twisted Fiber Art, one of my favorites:

The stripes on the socks don't match, but I don't care. Interestingly, one foot has four of the dark stripes, and the other one has three, but by serendipity, both socks reached the point where I needed to start the heel right at the point in the orange stripe that matched the heel and toe yarn I had. I love this yarn so much -- the colors are amazing. Even colors I don't normally like, like orange, manage to fascinate me in Twisted yarn. The base makes a really warm and cushy sock that knits up quickly enough to be satisfying without making an overly thick sock.

My final FO of the month is another gift. A friend of mine is having her bat mitzvah in a couple of weeks. She's already hosted her daughter's bat mitzvah, and has another three years before her son's. Even though she converted years ago, now is the time she gets to fulfill that goal.

I thought back to the gifts I got when I was bat mitzvah'd and the gifts that Sr. Jr. got this summer and realized that a grown woman does not need pen and pencil sets, iTunes gift cards, luggage, contributions to her college fund, or shiney satin stuffed animals. All her hard work and dedication deserves something special, something just for her.

I knew exactly which yarn to use -- Wollmeise's Hortensie, a blue/purple colorway like Hydrangeas. C has dark red hair and gorgeous blue eyes, so this yarn will look fabulous on her.

I looked about for an appropriate pattern. I needed something pretty, but not too lacy. I settled on Annis, from Knitty last spring. I cast on 363 stitches and hoped that I could finish it in time.

6 days later...

The pattern was very nice to knit, notwithstanding the initial 363 stitch row! I want to knit one for myself now, too.

And now I really don't have anything on the needles. No socks, no sweaters. I have one shawl I'm knitting with my handspun, but I'm not sure if I like that pattern. I may rip it and turn it into an Annis.

I also plan to knit another Paper Crane, but in a pullover version. So yes, I'm just confirming how crazy I am by knitting another laceweight sweater on teeny tiny needles.


Ok, the navel-gazing section.

I never thought parenting would be easy, but I also never expected how much I would second-guess myself and how much I would wonder whether I were doing the right thing. I suppose I should have, given that I do that in the rest of my life, but I didn't.

An older colleague of mine once said that she laughed at all the women who thought that being home with their kids when they were two years old was so important, because in her experience, it wasn't until the kids hit puberty/middle school that the kids really needed more hands-on parenting. This is absolutely true.

I constantly wonder: am I too hard on them? Am I not hard enough? Too involved? Not involved enough? Too indulgent? Not indulgent enough? Do I model the lessons I want to teach them? (Well, clearly not when it comes to cleaning their rooms. But I hope that I do in terms of what kind of person I am, and how I treat other people.)

How do I motivate them to want to do their best?

Sr. Jr., at 13, is at that age where all of these questions start popping up. He's so bright, but he coasts through school. He doesn't have to put too much effort into his schoolwork, which sometimes gets him in trouble. I think he gets surprised if he gets a bad grade, even if he hasn't studied. He wants to rush through things, do math in his head, skip steps. Then he gets discouraged and down on himself. He hides things from us, so that instead of having us help him get back on track, he just gets himself in deeper.

He also thinks that it's middle school, and grades don't really matter that much. But several of the classes he's taking are high school level classes and his grades will go on his high school transcript.

This is how he got a C in math first quarter. If he had come to us early on in the quarter, he probably could have ended up with a B or even an A. Most of the mistakes he made on tests were stupid mistakes made because he was rushing or being sloppy. Instead, it was a fight to wrestle him back on track. But he did get back on track, and his second quarter grade was much better.

But -- and here's the important thing -- in order to get into the IB program that he wanted to do, he had to have all As and Bs, even in quarter grades. It doesn't matter one bit to them that the one quarter he got a C was an isolated event. It was enough to disqualify him.

This is not a tragedy. Our home high school is one of the best in the country. His teachers have recommended an all-intensified class schedule for him. He will be fine. I think he would have liked the IB program. It suited his interests.

And in the end, I think (I hope) that he's learned a lesson about the importance of really doing his best in school.

After years of refusing to do anything even vaguely academic during the summer, he's decided he wants to do a summer enrichment program at UVA this summer. So maybe, just maybe, we're moving forward.

I'm shocked I don't have more grey hair than I already do. (And yes, I recognize that we could be experiencing much more difficult parenting issues! I'm very thankful that we're not.)


Sharon said...

Hey Loren: Just now catching up on a month's worth of your posting. This one really hit home hard! I have many of the same worries about Samantha--she's mastered the art of doing well in school (not all A's but that's not necessarily her goal) by putting in the least amount of work. I think high school will be much more challenging, and I fear the frustration and disappointments she may be facing when her current modus operandus no longer works for her.

I've been on a pretty intense inner journey thes past few months--a good and long overdue thing. Life is good though--kids, marriage, work all flourishing, although my exhaustion level is becoming more chronic.

Your work is lovely as always, Loren. I've been spending much more of my "free" time with my yoga practice lately (so that in teaching a class at our temple on Sunday mornings, I can continue to bend over without groaning! :-) ).

It is such a pleasure to see your work. Such excellent craftsmanship.



Loren T said...

Sharon, I guess we'll be commiserating next year when the kids hit high school. I don't think J has any idea how much work he'll have to do next year.

Inner journey, huh? A lot of people I know seem to be doing that. I'm glad to hear everything's well. Right now I'm working on my external environment, getting the house in shape, preparing for more construction, etc. I'm not looking forward to it.