Time with Oma

It’s always a bit sad on Oma’s last morning with us. We have such a limited circle these days that it is even more of a highlight to have her visit. Belle helped her scramble up the eggs and cook them. She absolutely loves being a kitchen helper. Oma served them up with reheated blueberry pancakes she had made the other morning for them. Food has always been a language of love for us. Wholesome, healthy meals made to nourish those you care about.

My husband and I took a few hours for ourselves one night, my mom and I took an afternoon for some mother-daughter time, and having my mom here means we don’t have to do all the parenting or entertaining. It’s a wonderful reprieve. It’s also wonderful to have another like-minded adult around. I love the conversations and debates my husband and I get into, but I often forget what it’s like to have such a fluid conversation about hot topics. I mean, she did raise me.

So now that the house is more orderly again (my mom is amazing at keeping up on those daily tasks that pile up when you skip a day or two), I should be able to maintain this for about a week or so. With the girls help of course. I really love my mom’s visits for the time my kids get with her. They become these amazing people around her. They can also be absolute terrors too, but I try to focus on the positive. They’re still figuring it all out. I expect them to get frustrated and overwhelmed a lot.

As usual, it was a pretty brief visit, but we cherished every moment and look forward to her next one. Even my husband.

Trying to do Some Fall Cooking

Now that the weather is turning cooler, my cooking mojo is beginning to return. We had BBQ pulled pork with steamed asparagus the other night. I neglected to take pictures. It was quite delicious though.

Then, grilled cheese with bacon and tomato bisque. I bake bacon in the oven to avoid a lot of mess and grease splatter burns. Then I made the grilled cheese on the stovetop. I usually use a grilled cheese press, so I’m a little rusty with a pan and burned a few. I ate them anyway, and they were still good. I just use the tomato bisque as a dip, hence the tiny cup of it. This is definitely one of my favorite chilly/cold weather meals.

I love having frozen ravioli on hand and I’ve taken to stocking up on chicken tenders, so we had ricotta and spinach stuffed mini ravioli and chicken tenders. It always makes me happy. The kids usually like it too, but they didn’t seem very excited this time. And it was another missed picture.

My mom and I have been a great tag team on dinner while she’s been here visiting. I tend to have a plan and get started while she finishes it up. I had plans for rotisserie chicken with roasted potatoes and vegetables. I picked up the chicken on my way home from work while my youngest helped Oma pick out what to roast. We have mixed baby potatoes (red, butter, and purple), broccoli, baby carrot, and apples in this version. It was delicious!

And another sheet pan meal. Sausage with purple sweet potatoes, peppers, cherry tomatoes, and green beans. Another hit! I’m really enjoying this cooking meals thing again.

Rest is Important Too

Some days you just have to take it easy. The last two days have been those sort of days. I have gotten a few things done around the house. The girls and I have actually packed their lunches the night before two nights now and have had their clothes ready for in the morning. In a little bit, I will get my things ready for work tomorrow and the morning should be fairly smooth sailing. Now, just to get myself to bed early enough to wake early. That would be perfect.

The last two days I have been focused on my yarn work. It’s been really relaxing and just what I need before another busy week. The kids have been extra needy, which is kind of to be expected with all that is expected of them these days. Masks in school. Keeping their distance. Washing their hands a lot more. School days not running like they use to. It’s a lot to handle. I have been trying to keep life fairly low-key at home because of it.

Like tonight. The girls have collected enough change to turn it in and buy themselves something fun. About once or twice a year, their coin jars become full enough with our spare change and change that they collect and we make an outing of it. Tonight was not as successful as usual, but they all came home with somethings that they like and I picked up a few shirts and cooking magazines myself. I’m really searching for some inspirations.

The down side of taking it easy is all the housework that piles up. While I have been keeping up on a few things, a family of five creates a lot to keep up with. Now that I’ve had some good rest, I feel a wind brewing. Soon I’ll have everything all organized again.

Seasonal Wall Decor

It happened again. I can’t find the crochet decorations for the main wall in our living room. A winter or two ago, I couldn’t find the Solstice/Christmas crochet snowflakes. I worked up a batch of new ones, which actually made me really happy. When I found the old ones, I just found new places to put them. Guess that’s what I’m doing for end of Summer/early Autumn this year too.

So here is the start of this year’s side project. I’m pretty pleased so far. I’m going to be making a few more of the green leaves and maybe some maple leaves. On each side of the posts I hang this stuff as well, so I’m going to make apples and acorns for that. Maybe put the maple leaves on the sides. I’ve got some ideas for Halloween ones too. Maybe if I have a set for each phase of Autumn (early, Halloween, and Thanksgiving), I won’t keep misplacing stuff every year.

I also found a pumpkin spice coffee I like. I’m not really sure why I have been so determined to find one, but I do enjoy it at the end of a cool day. And I couldn’t pass up this rich pumpkin roll cake as a treat for the family.

A perfect pairing. I’m looking forward to a slow paced, cozy Fall. The girls seem to be needing the down time too. In another week or two, I’ll have this place looking ready for the harvest season!

Anxiety is Fun

I had a small twinge of it when I woke up this morning. That’s not all that unusual and my morning rituals typically take it down a few notches. It gnawed at me while I drove to work. Today’s version was wondering what I was forgetting to be anxious about. I paid rent, so that’s not it. Bills aren’t due yet, that’s not it. Did I have plans today? Yes, but that’s not making me anxious. Do I have an appointment I’m forgetting about? No. Breathe. Deep breaths, music, relaxing drive to work.

Maybe I forgot to say something to someone. No, nothing that would cue my anxiety. Maybe I said the wrong thing to someone. Again, nothing more embarrassing than usual. The process of getting ready and setup at work took the edge off, but every time I stopped moving my anxiety sat there nibbling, itching, worrying at me. At this point, it was still a bit like white noise.

Part of what I love about massage therapy, is that- for the most part- it keeps my anxiety at bay. I ground myself each time and suspend myself for a while. Sounds strange now that I say it, but it makes sense if you really think about it. Anyway, I become focused on listening to someone else for a while. To the slightest signal from their muscles, their connective tissue, their interstitial fluid. I work my way through the puzzle of created pathways and learned responses. It amazes me every day. The story of a person’s life mapped out in their body.

My first massage of the day was wonderfully anxiety free (I always have a sliver of anxiety, a little critter sitting somewhere never letting me forget to worry about nothing). Then I caved and made a run to the craft store to look for a particular yarn and they’re out, just like the other one is. I haven’t come across it in a couple weeks and it’s making me anxious. I can’t find a decent substitute either. This began a spiral of me looking for it online and not being able to find it that way either.

This is also when it began to dawn on me that I actually was having what I call a high anxiety day. My next two massages were great, but keeping my anxiety at bay was an effort. I had to talk myself through cleaning up and making sure I was set to leave. Even changing my clothes to go home (yet another ritual of mine) was a chore I had to talk myself through. Lots of calming breaths. I picture all of it leaving me and my body feeling relaxed because of it.

As I drove home I realized just how many people are back in town. I work in a college town and we have been without college students for so long, I had forgotten what it was like to have them everywhere. The buzz and the thrum. It’s a lot of noise. Especially on a Saturday. Once I got home, put on my ‘house clothes’, and sat back, I began to feel better. So, long story short, as people begin going back to normal (even with masks) I have to remember to prepare for it. Here’s to relearning how to manage my anxiety again. Yay!

Getting Ready for Fall

My favorite time of year is coming up and I’m trying to put hints of it around the house. I know it’s not Fall yet, but school has begun (and is going well so far!) and so we begin the annual ritual of cleaning and packing up the Summer stuff. Then, I bring out the early Autumn decorations with a few Halloween pieces- just because.

I can’t help but get a few new items every year as well. One can never have enough Autumn or Halloween decorations, so I added a few gnomes around the house. And a couple cinnamon brooms. Mmmm. Also, as my girls get older what we can put up changes. My husband and I never decorated until we had kids, and even then, we waited until they were old enough to notice. So I have been slowly building our stock for each holiday/season.

This space is usually never empty. This is where I put all the crochet items I made for each season. Back when I liked doing that. I may like it again as these pieces age and my need for variety grows. (I even have two sets of snowflakes for the two parts of winter. I should probably start working on two sets for Fall.) Anyway, I took all the Spring stuff down (I know. I never took Spring down and nothing was ever put up for Summer. Its been a weird year.) and all the Autumn items for the wall are in the bin I did not bring down. Maybe I’ll get to it later today. I mean, I have two large bins for early Autumn and Halloween, and one bin for Thanksgiving. It all gets a bit jumbled. I’m going to have to add a third bin for Autumn this year.

I really like coming up with a new center piece every year for each season too. It’s a new thing for me. Again, the kids are old enough to leave it alone now. Mostly. And of course my Autumn wreath is up. I’ll wait til October for the Halloween one. Maybe.

Hooking Again!

I have been having fun with these granny squares and since I don’t enjoy changing yarns frequently, I have started making the squares in stages. I make about four centers, then I move up two steps and make a few dc rounds. Then back down for a few chain six rounds. Then a couple of the final sc borders. It keeps it interesting and allows me to really get the colors right.

I’ve had to start balling up some of each yarn cake in order to get to the shade I need to keep it all balanced. I would just keep making more squares until the color ran out, but I want to start working on my other daughter’s granny squares too. I like to have a couple of different kinds of squares in rotation to keep things interesting.

I also recently bought another shelf for my yarn to keep in the living room. This way my main projects can stay close at hand. I can also fit all three granny square projects into this bin. It has been so much easier to grab what I need, work for a bit, and then put it all away. Now I’m all set for a morning of knitting and crocheting.

Too Much Knitting

I’ve done it again. I’ve knit too much. There are a few other factors causing my right hand and forearm to be stiff and unhappy, but knitting as much as I have been has really set it off. I was so lost last night. I had no idea what to do with myself if I couldn’t knit.

It has been a long time since I have crocheted. My granny square jacket is the last item I hooked and am in love with granny squares. So, I started making some. I took frequent breaks (every few minutes) and found it actually helped loosen up my right arm. I’m still taking it easy, but it feels pretty good to be crocheting again. I want to make a bunch of squares and then stitch them together into sweaters, vests, dresses, etc… It’ll be fun.

I’m doing my stretching again and wrapping my arm in a heating pad every so often. I’m only working with yarn for 10 minutes at a time. I’m also massaging my arms and hands with a foam roller and golf ball more frequently. I need to start icing them down at night again.

I also bought some “swiss army knife” crochet hooks that are so much kinder to my hand than anything else I’ve used. The thick handle creates less strain and I love that all the hooks I need are in two of these. I also bought some granny square books that I’m already having fun with. There are so many interesting designs. I must admit, I have grown to really dislike the color changing necessary in a lot of squares, so I like to use variegated or self striping yarns that take care of that for me.

And I finally bought some blocking mats. This square was a lot of fun to work up. It only takes a time or two through with a new granny square pattern and then it’s in my memory for the rest of them. I am not blocking it yet, I just wanted to pin it out to show it off. These will be for my kids. I’ll figure out what it will be when I get there.

I must say, it feels pretty good to be crocheting again.

Our New Normal

The last few weeks have been rather crazy. I thought we had enough on our plate with planning for this new back to school and trying to get normal life (whatever that is) under control, but life decided that just wasn’t enough chaos.

It started out as a really nice day. I got done with work early and decided to take the girls on a short hike in the woods. This is something I have never done before. I have only ever gone hiking with my husband around here. Or much of anywhere, really. The weather was beautiful and the girls were pretty great on the hike. I was pretty darn proud of myself. There was plenty of time to get home and relax before daddy came home from his new job (which he found shortly after being laid off due to Covid).

As soon as I hit the highway to come home, my cellphone started going off like crazy. I had a couple of voicemails and a few text messages. Now, the place I had chosen required driving away from home to take the closest exit to turn around and head back towards home. As I’m doing all this, I glanced at my phone and saw that my husband was at the hospital and I needed to get to him. He had had a stroke. My husband is 39.

Now, this did not come as much of a shock as maybe it would have for most people. I definitely still panicked a bit, but what’s the use until I know what’s going on? With our kids in the backseat, I just drove. I stopped at my mother-in-laws hoping I could drop the kids off with her and go, but she had already headed to the hospital when I wasn’t answering. As I stood in her driveway talking to her, that’s when I began to get a little frantic, but deep breaths. I would drive to the hospital and she would drive the kids back to her house. Ok. So I drove some more.

My husband has what’s called hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, or HHT. It’s an inherited genetic disorder that causing excessive bleeding in the skin and/or other organs due to malformations in the blood vessels. It’s only in the last decade or so that they have been able to test for it specifically. And a few years ago, they finally decided to test his father for it due to health issues and so all three sons got tested and all of our kids. All three of them have it (the middle one’s is benign). And our middle daughter is the only grandchild with it. So far, her tests on each organ has come back free of issues, but we’re still working our way through. My husband, his brother, and his father are a different story. It’s a painful comfort to have them go through this together.

So, we have been learning as we go. It’s messy when you have a multi system disorder. We’re going to different hospitals and seeing multiple doctors. Then we also have these emergencies and we have to explain what HHT is and they have to contact the other hospital to get all his medical files. It seems more doctors are learning about it. Not sure if it has anything to do with my husband coming into the ER a few times now.

So finally, I get to the hospital and get the kids into my mother-in-law’s car, double back to my car for my mask, and finally head in to the ER and find my husband. He was doing ok while I sat with him. A doctor and a few nurses came and went. Then, when the doctor came back to ask some more questions, another stroke started. Well, we know now that it was a TIA (I think that’s what they said), which basically means it looks like a stroke, acts like a stroke, but is not actually a stroke.

It was frightening to watch. He couldn’t move his hand, his tongue seemed to swell, the side of his face began to sag slightly. He kept trying to talk. I kept telling him to stop. Then, slowly, it began to subside and he could talk again and move his hand and his face began to balance back out. After that, they called for more tests and started getting a room ready for him. He spent the next two nights in the hospital, was almost transferred to another one, but they decided to release him home to rest and the rest of this will be by appointment and spaced out.

Now he’s taking several medications and is on iron for the anemia that HHT can cause. I’m back to work. My mom and stepdad have gone home. And we are still dealing with his mother’s hurt feelings about that, but I’ll save that for another time. Our new normal is dealing with life threatening health crises as though they are an every day occurrence. We explain as much as we can to our kids and do our best to keep it hopeful and, yes, as normal as we can. I’ve been sorting through my own emotions about all of this and oddly, I feel it has strengthened us in a lot of ways. It’s also shown us how amazing the people in our lives are.

And I’m still proud of myself for taking the kids on a hike by myself. And I’m proud of them too!

Turning Thirty-five

35. That’s how old I am now. I like the way that sounds. 35. It feels like such an important number. I’ve been pretty excited for this birthday. Not as excited as I was for my 30th, but a quiet, subdued, excited. I also gave birth to my third and final baby four days after turning 30. It’s crazy to think about how much we’ve been through since then.

Five years ago we had basically just moved into this apartment with almost nothing. At least it feels that way when you look around our home now. It’s as though the walls and the floors and the furniture just barf up clothes and toys and books and weird odds and ends. It’s strange to look at pictures of those years and see how barren the place was when we were a small family of four. Now we’re a family of five and about to work on getting the younger two into the larger bedroom so our oldest can have her own room. I think it will take this time. We tried it before, but they all wound up in the same room anyway. That was two years ago.

All three of our kids had their first day of school while living in this house. Oh the excitement of the first day, the craziness of the mornings, how big their backpacks use to be on them. Now our oldest is getting closer to middle school and our youngest will be in her second year of school, kindergarten.

When our youngest was born, we agreed it was time for their father to go back to school. He graduated with high marks and an associates degree just days before we found out that his recently diagnosed genetic condition, that can cause capillary deformities, had created an aneurism in his brain that was actually quite large, along with some other clusters on the other side as well. We have spent many days in a hospital over an hour away to get his care over the last two years, and I have perfected knitting in a waiting room. Or sewing together a long granny square jacket in the ER. Several medical procedures later and we’ve got his brain healing and our relationship. He had massive personality changes during the years leading up to us even knowing anything was wrong. Explosive fights. Such a rage I had never seen in him. It was miraculous the change in him as the pressure in his head waned. After not even realizing I had lost him, I had my husband back. The girls had their father back.

I also made a life altering job change over a year ago. I had held down a job that was draining me and undervaluing me for years. It was my life’s passion. Is one of my life’s passions, but I was not in the right place for it. It wasn’t all bad. I loved my clients and a few of my co-workers, but it was not a healthy place to be. Especially with all my family was going through. A few things happened over a few months and it gave me the kick I needed to make the change. Now I work in one of the most amazing environments and have been able to flourish as a massage therapist and energy worker. I also have the control over my schedule I have always dreamed of to be able to be with my kids. That was always the plan. And now we’re living it.

So this year I just wanted to spend some time in the woods, buy some books, and knit while relaxing with my family. And we did just that. It has definitely been some character defining years from 30-35, and I have earned my age. I have earned the sprinkling of greys that started before I even turned 30. And I have earned quietly enjoying my birthday. Here’s to being 35!