Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall will always feel like a bittersweet time for me. As the leaves change, the temperatures cool and I wrap myself in corduroy and sweaters I feel a certain kind of peace I don't often feel, bringing me toward deep breaths and toward feeling most like myself. The cool air is refreshing in a way that humid air just can't match and I feel a pull to slow down even more, to craft, create, bake and explore. Grocery runs can be made without worry about things ruining if I don't pack a cooler and don't want to return home right away. Fires are made in pits and clothes left smelling like camping. Jackets are pulled out and fill the rack by the door, but a certain sadness also fills my heart as all of these pleasures make their way in. 

As the air cools and the leaves begin to change I am pulled back to an October five years ago, recalling a phone call, tears, a hurried drive toward a hospital through a torrential down-pour that just wouldn't let up. As the clouds shifted above I moved in a cloud of my own, one of disbelief, of confusion, of anger, of doubt. When we arrived my hand held his - unresponsive - my face in a perpetual state of redness and eyes pooled with tears, leaving his side to make room for others but quickly filling that space again when nobody else moved forward. The colostomy bag let off a smell that made me feel guilty for not wanting to be near it, so now and then I would turn my head for a breath of fresh air all the while machines forced fresh air into his lungs as well, the background to my whispered pleading for him to please wake up, to please show us a sign, the artificial filling of his lungs to provide him with the oxygen to sustain slowly whooshing in and out, in and out, in and out, the very thing which he lacked for too many minutes, the lack of which left us all here, gathered around him and helpless. Wires were attached, tests performed, poking and talking mixed with my silent begging for all of this to end, for all of this to just be another hurdle to overcome, another thing to just make us all stronger and something that would open his eyes to the changes that needed to be made. His eyes though, they would not open no matter how hard my guts were twisting with pleas, so we waited and waited and waited some more.

Later I had my first and last moments alone with him in order to say goodbye, but even as I did - the organ harvesters waiting not-so-patiently in the wings - I struggled to believe he would not at last open his eyes and give us all a surprise ending I was so desperately hoping for so I continued to beg in whispers and hope until I thought my body would explode with the pressure of such emotion, but in the end it was the end and there was nothing I could do. The next days continued in a haze of which I only remember certain details - the questioning of what truly happened, the forced hugs, the misunderstandings, the umbrellas, the pizza in a town where I no longer felt welcome, my recording his last voicemail so as to not lose the sound of his voice, the familiar sights passing by as my head rested on the window, the country air on my cheeks and cows grazing in Uncle John's fields, the knowing this would be the last time I would for sure be back in that place, the heartbreaking trips down memory lane. When we pulled away from the small cemetery, leaving my father, grandmother and great-grandparents there in dust sent up from tires on gravel I tried to look back, tried to see them lower him in to the ground for the closure, but I did not receive it and with a four hour round trip I am not sure when I will.

Now we continue on as you do and it doesn't get easier. For some people it may, but I no longer believe it ever will. I don't think a day will come when a stranger in my rearview mirror reminds me of my dad and my eyes don't swell with tears. I don't think a day will come when the scent of cigarettes and old spice don't make me think of him and the bear hugs he gave best. I will always credit my loves of nature and of treasure hunting to him and I will always think of him when I see a freshly plowed field ripe for an arrowhead hunt. I no longer blame anyone else for what happened, time has provided clarity on that if nothing else. Addiction is strong, it is stronger than any bear hug I have met, stronger than the harshest of storms and unfortunately it is stronger than my dad was and will ever get a chance to be. While it's not the way I wish things were it is a reality I live with and one I have and will continue to learn from with each passing year. So as the leaves fall and the seasons change I continue to move forward, constantly trying to live the life I have imagined and practice gratitude for something each day even on the hard ones. I love my daughter with all I have and try to find forgiveness and understanding when it is not so easy to come by because I now know that some second chances are over way too quickly and every story must eventually come to an end.


Sunday, October 12, 2014


Just as we have transitioned into fall we are also preparing for more big transitions for our family. Just one more season to go and then sometime in February my second daughter will transition into my arms and we will once again figure our way through to a new normal. 

Pregnancy has passed by much faster this time, leaving me at around twenty-one weeks with no real clue how I got here so quickly and with a holiday season on the horizon I can only imagine the coming months will slip by in a similar fashion - I feel as if I'll take a breathe and wake up at thirty weeks, take another and have a baby in my arms. All the while I am keeping that time-frame in mind and trying to look ahead to any transitions that need to happen in our home or with Izzy and to slowly work toward them so when February comes we can keep the rug from being pulled out from under her to such an extreme. Life will change for all of us in ways that will be beautiful and hard and so many things we won't understand or be able to prepare for until we are in them, so anything we can prepare her for and anything we can do to make that transition go a little more smoothly is definitely on my mental to-do list and all is well so far. much as everyone says that Izzy will be a great big sister and as much as I agree due to her total love and adoration of babies, the way she tends to those both real and stuffing-filled, I still think there will be times when she tries to throw the baby out of my lap - and those are waters we will just have to tread once we reach them. 


Monday, July 28, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 18 & 19

This year I aim to complete 52 projects - here are some of them:

Project 18: Large photos for our walls. I waited around a few months for a good coupon code and was finally able to order three 20x30 and one 12x18 prints at an affordable price. Paired with coupons and sales for the frames I was finally able to add family photos to our walls that were begging for them. The two on top are above our bed, the black and white one is in our wild bathroom and the one on the right is on a wall in our dining room area. We have a long way to go to fill our walls in a way that feels right, but these have made a huge difference and make me really happy. 

Project 19: A larger knit blanket for my Dora-Do. This is the giant project that kept me away from others for so long, but it was worth every stitch as I love how it turned out. I saw something similar on Purl Soho ages ago and it never left my mind for long so I knew one day I would have to do a version of it. I finally found the colors I wanted with Blue Sky Alpaca Organic Cotton and got to work - a few months later here we are. I could have saved time using larger needles, but I didn't want to wait until I could get them so used what I had. It did take longer using 7s instead of 10s, but it makes for a nice tight knit and a super cozy and comfy blanket to snuggle under for story time.

Are you a knitter? Have you knit anything lately? I do love the time with yarn and needles, but am thinking I need to become better acquainted with my sewing machine too for a few projects that can be finished in a night or two rather than a month or two. I would probably get more sleep that way at least!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Good Stuff

Summer has been moving along quickly and I know before we know it we will be welcoming in our next season. The other day the air was perfectly cool, with a light breeze and warm late afternoon sun streaming down and at that moment I almost thought Fall had already come and started daydreaming about those cool walks outside with a sweater to keep me warm, the days of open windows and cool breezes, the snuggling up with some knitting and a hot cup of tea when the sun goes down early in the day. Then I snapped back to reality, picked some goodies from the garden and gave thanks for bare toes and sun on my skin, for I do love a good trip to the pumpkin patch but am in no hurry at all to get there. Our summer has been filled with lots of time in the garden and yard, trips to the farmer's market, weekly trips to our library to complete summer reading club and take in the community gardens there, and mostly just trying to stay afloat while working on keeping our house in order and all seven of us alive.

One of our dogs, Jasper, has been sick since the beginning of the year and we have tried just about everything to make him well. Many trips have been taken to the vet with an equal amount of phone calls to check-in and plan the next thing, he has been on eight different medications and been given more natural remedies we have researched and we are currently working on switching him over to a different food in hopes that maybe just an allergy could be at the root of it all. Our next step is contacting a specialist to set up an appointment to check for polyps or a tumor and going from there - poor pooch is only four years old but he sure is having it rough. He started life stricken with parvo at only five weeks old and we nursed him to health in our kitchen, E sleeping near him on a camping pad at night. Half of his litter didn't make it but our swirly wonderful boy pulled through and I can't help but wonder if this current illness is so stubbornly hanging around due to his system being so compromised at such a young age, but all we can do is keep moving forward, loving him well and trying to get him healthy, so here's hoping we have more answers soon.

Luckily the rest of us are healthy and while I sometimes feel like there are too many piles on my plate we get by and have fun and we are all looking forward to some possible changes for our family in the next few months - ones that give me a bit of hope that there is a way for us to get to a bit more stable footing and a bit deeper happiness, but more on that later if there is anything more to say. Here's hoping!

Lately I have been so very grateful for other women in my life. You see, a bit of that deeper happiness has already been wiggling it's way in since connecting with other moms around this time last year. Over the year since I first walked in to a local nursing mom's group I have found so many other women who I am now happy to call friends. Other women I can count on and turn to and cry with if the need arises. Women and their families we can camp with and dream with and talk about crafting and gardening and anything else under the sun with. It's what I always knew I was missing but never felt there was true hope in finding. Sometimes my upbringing gets the best of me and I cower into myself feeling as if I am just extra, that really my presence isn't all that important in a given interaction or group, but if I am honest I try to let myself feel the care coming my way from others, to allow myself to feel welcomed and loved and to try to give that back in the ways I know how. Some of us have committed to getting together at least once a week and it often turns into two and seeing the bonds forming between our children, as well as ourselves, gives me hope for a happier future for all involved. There was a time a couple of weeks ago when Izzy was sick and we had to stay home by ourselves and it really sunk it what a difference this community has made in both of our lives. When she was a baby I was constantly lonely but with my siblings living out of town, my mom working full time and no friends with kids I felt a bit hopeless and as if things would always be that way. Knowing there was nothing more to lose and that soon it may be even harder I took a chance and walked into a meeting and on the way home I cried, but then I went back week after week and slowly the connections started falling into place and here a year later it is hard to imagine it has only been that long. Us moms get to the point pretty quickly, allowing vulnerability sooner than one might otherwise be accustomed to and it was pretty easy to find the ones, those ones you know you have more in common with than just changing diapers and running on two hours of sleep, those ones you connect with beyond being a mom - not just because you are a mom - and I am so glad to have found a few of my own. I look forward to an endless amount of years of friendship and am grateful every day for having found them. And now? Now with my family all back and fresh friendships in our lives I feel like my cup is so much fuller of the good stuff.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Year of Projects: Projects 15, 16 & 17

This year I aim to complete 52 projects - here are some of them:

Project 15: Simple swing set for our family. We didn't want a large framed set for the limited space we have in our yard, so we looked up plans and ideas and E put them into place to build the wood frame, adding a swing our daughter received for her birthday and another swing with brackets that can hold up to 350lbs so any adult we know could enjoy some swinging too. We then dug out the dirt, lined the edges with pavers and moved lots of wood chips in to fill in underneath. Grass would have been perfectly fine, but we have a dog that loves to dig and dig and dig, so we were trying to minimize the amount of tripping holes and the amount of mud being tracked into our home, so this is perfect. I requested a hanging planter on each end to brighten the place up and then we called it complete. 

Project 16: Water Table. I wanted something simple for outdoor water play but didn't want another big plastic thing in our backyard or to spend the money on one, so I found this under the bed box we already had and E and I put our heads together to settle on a simple plan and he found enough scrap wood to throw it together one night while I put our daughter to bed. This table is used every time we are outdoors by our own family and any visiting children and I love the simplicity of it. When the weather turns cooler it could also be used for sand/gravel/dirt. I'm thinking dirt with different rocks scattered throughout so our rock loving girl can go hunting for them.

Project 17: Pin Cushion. This one is plain and simple enough. Just a quick little project for a quick feeling of accomplishment. Plus, I'd been saving this little milk glass cup around for this purpose for ages, so glad to finally throw it together. 

Where has your creative energy been directed lately? Any fun creations or plans for those to come?