Fatty's ornament

I was up early for a Saturday morning. Jane took the ACT (how is that possible?!?) and I wanted to make sure that she had everything she needed plus a decent breakfast. I had set the alarm for 6:12 and then reset it for 6:30. I could have slept much longer, the result of a late night out. Still, I am a mom and I had mom things to do.

I feel like this year has blown by and at the same time been excruciatingly slow. Most of it was marked by my suffering feet. From March until (dare I say it?) very recently, I have been suffering from plantar fasciitis in my left foot. I woke up one morning, stepped out of bed and let a loud expletive out of my mouth because once you've had this particular pain in the foot, you know when you have it again. I have spent hours and hours treating it – physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractor – and, just like last time, it took about 9 months to heal. It was almost gone until I took a particularly graceful (not really) stumble one Friday night in late August while walking on a sidewalk in downtown Asheville, NC. I landed hard on my right heel, my good heel, and spent the following few weeks on crutches, all of my weight supported by my left foot, my bad foot. I had to laugh about it because if I didn't, I would cry. And still, I did cry. Of course I did.

My girls are growing up. Both are in high school. Jane is 17 and drives. She still does theatre and art and loves history and analyzes literature in a way I just cannot. It is pretty amazing to listen to her talk. Her artwork is good. Two of her pieces this year have involved embroidery with drawing on paper. Seeing her use needle and thread made my mom heart happy. We have visited some colleges and have more visits scheduled. It's an exciting and anxiety-ridden time for us both. She has her heart and mind set on a small liberal arts college where she can study anything and everything she desires. When I think about her leaving in 18 months, I get weepy. Naturally, I try not to think about it. I am not sure that is the best idea, but it is how I cope.

Kate is 15 and playing lacrosse. It's a new sport to our family and I am not sure that I understand all the subtleties yet. I give that girl credit for going out there and playing hard, learning the game and gaining skills as she goes. That takes a certain kind of courage – one I don't possess. She is finding her way in a new school, with all the wonderful and truly trying things that being a teen today entails. She likes to write. I have no idea what kind of writing she does – I don't read it – but I have no doubt that it is good stuff. We bought her a laptop for her birthday and she types faster than anyone I know. She, too, used embroidery for a recent biology project where they had to illustrate the process of mitosis without drawing. I loved that, too.

I have made more quilts this year than I had made previous to 2016. Not really, but it feels that way. I should really count how many…I'm guessing that they number around 15, possibly more. I credit all the finishes with two things: machine binding and not giving a crap. Seriously. I used kits, I used other people's patterns and whole fabric lines. I decided that sometimes originality is overrated. I know that sounds bad. I know it does. BUT it was how I got my creative legs back underneath me. I went through the motions of making and, lo and behold, it made me want to make more. That's when I started designing again. I have made a whole lot of things that never made it to the blog. Sometimes I consider going back and documenting them all here, but then I think, "Nah. Move on, Erin." Moving on looks a lot like writing a second book so that is what I am doing.

We painted our house, changing the color from a pale yellow to a dark blue-gray. Navy, really. The door, which used to be a bottle green, almost black, is now a brighter green. Parrot green is the name. I love it. Blue and green is my jam. We have lived in this house for 11 and a half years and it feels more "us" than it ever has. I have taken over the entire third floor as a creative space. It used to be the girls' playroom and I would sew in the small walk-in closet. As they grew up, I slowly took over more and more of their space until I claimed it all. I still share with them – there is a TV with Netflix and a queen sized bed. It's a great place to hang out when it's clean, but it is messy most of the time. I have entirely too much fabric and I like giving away what I know I am not going to use. I would like to prioritize really paring down my stash, but the process (and the stash) overwhelms me. I would love someone to do it for me, but that is just fantasy. I would also like to replace some carpet and demo some bathrooms. A girl can dream and then plan, which is what I intend to do.

I've accumulated a decent stash of sock yarn, but, hey, I am using that. 2016 was the year I learned the magic loop and knit all the things on small needles. Five pairs of socks to date. Had you told me in January that I would enjoy sock knitting by the end of the year, I would have laughed in your face. I like surprising myself. I finished the sweater I started in the fall of 2015 and I actually enjoy wearing it. I have another one on the needles, but I am stuck at the sleeves. I can't figure out how to make the math work so I have set it aside and will probably ruminate about it until next fall.

Fatty is still the best. He really is. We have so much fun together even if we aren't doing anything other than sitting across the kitchen table as we are at this moment. He's reading the paper while I type away. He does that every day – reads a couple newspapers front to back just like his father does. He also rides his bike, but doesn't race much any more. He works hard and plays hard and really loves life. Someone recently asked me what my favorite thing about him is and, other than how great of a father he is (the obvious choice), I would choose his zeal for living. He has such a positive outlook that has most assuredly rubbed off on me. He is also extremely loyal and has wonderful, long-time friendships that enrich both of our lives. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this summer on a cruise boat in Alaska with our kids, one of my brothers and his family, and my parents. It was a great trip. We also took family trips to Florida and Colorado and the two of us spent five days in New York City. He still picks out most of the books I read, but I occasionally will download a Janet Evanovich or Mary Kay Andrews novel or other fast read to the Kindle. My favorite books this year were Purity by Jonathan Franzen and Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, both of which I read in paper form. We celebrate the occasional Tuesday with a bottle of champagne and watch certain TV shows (Fargo, House of Cards, The Killing, Night Manager, Parenthood, The Crown) together. I'm a lucky lady.

I have gained 8 pounds since the foot stuff started. It's not coming off easily, but I chalk that up to my wishy-washy commitment to putting the work in to make the pounds go away. Some of the wishy-washiness is certainly because cardiovascular exercise has been difficult and some it is because I tend to eat my feelings. I'd like to work on that (I need to work on that), but life is full of messy moments and this year has been downright difficult and depressing at times. I am trying to be gentle with myself and, most of the time, I do fairly well in that department. I have good friends who listen when I need to get it out there. I have Fatty and the girls. I get massages and the occasional pedicure to lift my spirits. I dyed my hair this week. This was a monumental move for me. My red hair is the thing I like most about my physical self and I never wanted to mess with it. That is until I couldn't pull my hair back without being overwhelmed by all. the. gray. It was time. No one noticed. I think that's a sign that it was the right move. Also, less gray. Thank goodness.

And speaking of thankfulness, I am committed more than ever to my gratitude practice that I started in November 2015 on Instagram. I can honestly say that I am a happier person for taking the time to note the good, especially in the midst of all the bad, and being grateful for the big and little things that make up my days. I like looking at life through this lens and I am so appreciative of the encouraging comments people have made about it. I should add that around the same time last fall, I hired a cleaning lady every other week. I'd be lying if I said that decision didn't add to my happiness. It does. Much more than I had anticipated, in fact.

So, yes. This is where I stand mid-Decmeber of 2016. If you have made it this far, thank you for reading. I've had this blog for over 10 years now. It has definitely changed, but so have I. I miss writing in this space and would like to make it a habit going forward, but no promises. The whole being gentle with myself thing, you know. Well, that and a book manuscript that is due in April.

I hope 2017 is a good year for us all. Onward, my friends.


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