Saturday, December 1, 2012

Time flies!

Goodness, how did a month go by already?

Since my last post I have logged ten knitting/crochet projects totaling 1,640 yards of yarn (nearly a mile!), and made more progress on my sweater (which often gets set aside to complete something with a little quicker gratification).  There have also been a few projects started that weren't going to work out right so they were undone.  I don't consider that a waste of time, though - there is always something I can learn about using different yarn or needles, or whether it's really the kind of knitting I wanted to do.  Sometimes I'm so captivated by a knitted item I decide I must do it, without taking into consideration that it incorporates a style or method I really don't care for.  Here is one that I couldn't resist, even if it does get a bit fiddly: a Norwegian baby hat that I knitted for a new great niece.  DW has been a great model for some of my projects and she always shows things off to great advantage :-)

Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap

Both kids are doing all right, alternating between sailing along and struggling in rough seas depending on the day or issue.  Girlie will get to ride in the equine therapy program through December (which she loves) until they quit for the winter.  Boyo is busy with preparations for The Nutcracker and looking forward to starting basketball.  This will be the first time he has been involved in an organized school sport and we hope for the best.

My mother's live-in caregiver left unexpectedly so there was a bit of a flurry trying to decide how best to handle it, and several meetings and long emails/phone conversations with siblings.  At this point I think I'll call it 'so far, so good', and leave it at that.

We are preparing for an IEP meeting next week with Girlie's team and I'm sure a lot of the focus will be on how best to work on transitioning her toward high school (eep!) next fall.  That, and the holidays fast approaching with extra rehearsals, tech week, gift and charity knitting, and starting basketball practices is quite enough to be going with for the moment!  We'll concentrate on the good parts because, after all, time flies whether we're having fun or not!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dr. Switzer's method doesn't always work...

I've been so caught up in life and love and loss there just hasn't been time or motivation to write about it. In the same way I treat living with a chronic condition, going long periods of time during which I avoid medical intervention by telling my head to shut up and letting my body get on with taking care of itself*, I have just lived each day as it came and tried help everyone get through it as best we could.

A pair of socks I recently finished are full of processing and 'knitting through it'. The color reminds me of a great gift my daughter Carey gave me when she was eight or nine years old - a very wise show of her support when I was trying to quit smoking. The color reference is because there are green beans in the can - which Carey says are actually 'grean' - and it's the exact color as the green stripes in the socks.

My very own can of Fancy Whoop-Ass!

That can of Fancy Whoop-Ass is still in my cupboard and has served as a reminder many times that yes, I am accountable to other people in my life, but ultimately to myself.  Sometimes I have to think of taking out that can o' Whoop-Ass and using it to power through a situation; not to 'get over it', or get around it, but get through it. Any other route one takes is a risk because there is healing and learning that must happen, and it usually starts in the middle of the path. A crass symbol of that thought process, maybe, but very effective for me!
Sunrise Socks by WendyKnits in Lion Brand Sock-Ease

For those of you who haven't heard of Dr. Switzer, here is a favorite video.

This has been a great reference for me, along with my can of Whoop-Ass, but here is some important advice: Dr. Switzer's method does not work in the middle of a full-blown meltdown. Now we've come to the point where I have to admit to coming to that realization. Ages ago, you must be thinking, right? um... no. In fact it only became crystal clear today. Maybe I should have opened that can years ago when I wasn't figuring that lesson out!

*Not necessarily a recommended method of self-care, but one that works well for me as I tend to dwell on things too much. Surround me with chocolate and I'll think of chocolate - immerse me in medication and specialist appointments and I'll think more about being unwell and unfortunate and less about how to really be!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Little Reminders

Sometimes, life takes us in so many different directions that I end up not being in the right place to catch one of the endless balls in the air. Keeping a calendar helps, and sending myself text and email reminders has been a great technological advantage. Appointments, rehearsals, meetings, classes, work assignments - there are very few days when at least one of us doesn't have to be somewhere, or have a deadline to meet.

Pie safe, with a new lease on life!
There are other reminders that serve to keep us on our path, and help us remember what's important. Dearest recently 'rescued' the pie safe that I grew up with; cleaning, refurbishing, and tightening all the joints after it spent several years gathering dust and falling to pieces in my mother's garage. It's a piece of furniture that has always given me comfort, because it was there when I was too young to know about the very hard things in life. It came out of an old house when Dad was working in demolition, before I was born, and he just couldn't bear to toss it aside. Hard to believe that glass has survived all the roughhousing when us kids were growing up! My brother took it when my parents moved, and stripped the old black stain to reveal the warm oak color. He gave it to me when my big kids were little, and I felt as though I was welcoming an old friend.

Lately, with Carey and her family moving, there has been a flood of reminders wrapped up in the house next door. The house where Dearest and I decided we'd have children, first through fostering, and then adoption. Where Girlie came to us only weeks after we'd made the decision. Where we said 'hello' to a brand-new-born babe that we thought was going to be our own, and then - with only two hours notice - 'good-bye' six weeks later (I choose to believe his story has a happy ending, because with confidentiality laws I will never know for sure). Where Tall Boy and Carey finally came to live with us full time, then Boyo came - and through one thing and another we ended up with two more for a total of six children in that little house (four of them teenagers), for eight months! The pie safe was there then, but had to be moved a few years later due to a severe case of us bustin' out at the seams in that house. Considering there was one person in particular, not to mention any names (coughBoyocough), who literally climbed the walls, and a couple little people who threw things during meltdowns, the pie safe was no longer safe in my care in such a little house.

No matter how many times I thank him, Dearest can't completely know the importance of this gift. Just a piece of furniture? No. In fact, although the photo shows it empty, it never was. The pie safe has always been full of reminders of comfort, safety, and the assurance that we can endure. ♥

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Take a breath!

I kept thinking time was getting away from me, and mentally counting up the days since the last post - hard to believe I let three weeks go by!

So - we've been busy with horseback riding, extra rehearsals, performance at the fair, fundraising for the ballet academy's fall production, preparations for school, repairs (and some more repairs) to my van, a couple of home projects, a day trip north to visit family, checking on Mom more often while her caregiver was out of town, helping my oldest daughter and her family move out of the house next door :-(

Yes, the last item on the list was hard - still is - and has been an interesting thing to experience on many levels. I tried to ignore that it was happening right up 'til the first night they didn't sleep in their beds next door, just because there was no way I could get myself emotionally ready for it to be real.  It took the kids even longer; Girlie mentioned a couple times that she was waiting to give something to her niece and I had to remind her they really didn't live there any more. It's been most of the three weeks now, and I'm less often thinking along the lines of running next door to chat, and getting used to not hearing the squeak of the gate and fast little footsteps on my porch.

Milo 7 months - 6/12
It's a good thing - shouldn't that make it easy? No; in fact, I just realized the three weeks of not writing here was a way to delay the very last reality of it, which is putting it down in black and white. And I may have just stepped away from the computer for a bit to grab a tissue. Of course we still talk every day in some manner, but I don't have access to an immediate fix of hugs from the grandkids. And no more giggles and squeals from the yard.

All right, enough of the maudlin, let's move on to the practical. When Girlie's schedule came in the mail I noticed immediately that she'd been assigned a locker. In considering for a while it seemed like a plausible way to work on a new life skill in preparation for starting high school (!) next year. I had Girlie sit down at the table to practice with a combination lock and found she could only open it on the first try about 50% of the time. I don't even want to know how that would translate in a hallway full of kids with a time limit, so no locker for Girlie. It wasn't a problem; the school counselor had assigned it by mistake and Girlie can continue to keep her things in a cubby in the life skills classroom. The problem with the combination lock is due to her dyspraxia, which is a huge variable at any time. Girlie can sit in her room and do some beadwork in a quiet, relaxed environment, but when she is stressed or in a hurry she still has difficulty manipulating buttons on her clothes. If she must have a locker at any point, it will have to be with a keyed lock.

School got off to a great start; now it's time to get all we can out of the last sun-shiny weekend of summer with one more road trip before the real extra quiet time starts for me next week. Well, it will provide the perfect opportunity to learn how to use the knitting machine a friend gave me last week...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

Well, really, the games are nearly over, and that's partly why I haven't written lately. This is the first year the kids have shown any interest in The Olympic Games so we've been watching for a while every evening, and the kids are watching some events in the morning, as well. Girlie has been interested in equestrian events - big surprise, huh? No; in fact, she is about all things 'horse' and has been enjoying riding again lately in the HeartStrides Therapeutic Riding and Horsemanship program at Healing Hearts Ranch. We discovered in the two years since we'd been there that the ranch owner has become a Centered Riding instructor - a method that was developed by Sally Swift who happens to have been one of Dearest's relatives! I'd like to think she'd be pleased to know that she has reached out to help us, in another of those little ways in which we are all connected.

School starts in three weeks, but it hardly feels we've had time off because Boyo chose to continue with ballet and music lessons through the summer. Next week at The Southwest Washington Fair there will be a sneak peek of some of the dances being prepared for the October production of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". Boyo spent last weekend working hard with the Wenatchee Youth Circus when they came to the Thousand Trails Campground in Chehalis. The kids do a lot of the set up - pounding stakes, raising awnings and apparatus - then he joined them as part of a performance!

With all the busy-ness going on, my knitting has taken a back seat, and I miss it! Ravelry puts on some fun events around the theme of the Olympic games (formerly known as Ravelympics; now known as The Ravellenic Games), wherein one is part of a virtual team and joins in with a knitting project named tongue-in-cheek for an Olympic event. Although I did earn a couple of 'medals' in the 2010 games, I'm not sure if I'll accomplish as much this year.  Oh, well - at least I finished my first pair of gloves a couple weeks ago.  So: on my mark, get set, keep going!  :-)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pictures Worth At Least 1,000 Words...

But I'll add a few more just to explain:  we've been anxiously awaiting a homecoming.  The Puppy Department of Guide Dogs of America called last week; Cyrus (formerly known here as The Pup) was working hard and learning, but indicated being a Guide Dog wasn't what would make him happy.  We were informed that he would be a Career Change dog, and wanted to come home!  Raising him from a 7.5 week old puppy really changed Girlie's life - maybe he figured he was supposed to be her dog all along :-)

Things lined up perfectly, and another Puppy Raiser from our area was vacationing near GDA in Sylmar, so Cyrus was able to hitch a ride home, enjoying the scenery along the way.

Stopped to see the Redwoods
Stopped for lunch along the coast

Welcome home hug ♥

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Needs Must

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" Leonard Nimoy as Spock in 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan', 1982.

Probably one of  Spock's most famous lines, right up there with "Live long and Prosper" and "Illogical".  Captain Kirk's shaky reply was, "Or the one."  It was obvious that Spock's self-sacrifice was the only way to save everyone else.

Moms get this.  It's what we do, right?  It's the hallmark of a good mom, right?  No. In fact, it can be a sign of impending doom before becoming a (hopefully only temporarily) broken mom.  Many women are raised with a 'needs must' attitude, and the belief that we must get the job done no matter what the cost to our personal health or emotional well-being.  Otherwise, we fear being thought of as selfish or inadequate if others perceive we are putting our own needs before those of our families.

Guess what? You are not going to be capable of giving your best help and support if you are at less than your best.  Worst-case scenario, a woman can allow herself to be driven to the point of emotional implosion and/or serious illness, no longer able to provide for herself or anyone else. Yes, it sounds dramatic, but just because we don't talk about it doesn't mean it isn't happening a lot more often than we think.

There is a balance.  We need to raise our children - especially our daughters - to listen to their needs in a productive way.  Not because we want them to lie around on the couch playing video games, but because a little solitary time weeding the garden or shooting a few hoops, reading, quiet time/meditation - or knitting! - is an effective way to regroup and gather one's energies after a class or meeting.  Teach them to know what that is, and how to value it as a tool of good self-care.

If caring only for others can leave us drained and unwell, and caring only for ourselves makes us selfish, it makes sense that striking a balance is the only way to be healthy and whole. What greater gift can we give our children?

One nice way to take care of oneself is with a hot water bottle to sooth away
the aches and pains of too much gardening or yard work! This is my slightly
tweaked version of the Cabled Hot Water Bottle Cosy by Alexis Layton,
a free pattern on Ravelry!