Sunday, November 13, 2016

Do Over

To enlist. To slam the door impulsively on the past, to shed everything down to my last bit of clothing, to break the pattern of my life - that complex design I had been weaving since birth with all its dark threads, its unexplainable symbols set against a conventional background of domestic white and schoolboy blue, all those tangled strands which required the dexterity of a virtuoso to keep it flowing - I yearned to take giant military shears to it, snap! bitten off in an instant, and nothing left in my hands but spools of khaki which could weave only a plain, flat, khaki design, however twisted they might be.
Oh, how this quote speaks to me. I am certain that, at least on some level, this is why I enlisted in the military at 17. I enjoy moving, not only for the new experiences, places, and people, but because I have the constant opportunity to remake myself. I can, if I so choose and have the discipline, toss aside the flotsam and detritus that is floating about my personality and life.

Note: I think that one of the wonderful things about starting an active reading practice is that I'm also creating the practice of journaling in a conscience way. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?

When I was a young mother, after Gabriel was born, but before Xavier was born, I had a weight problem. My weight problem was that I was too skinny. No matter how much I ate, I couldn't gain weight. I was skinny in the way that causes you to have to get a weight waiver for being underweight, even though you have DD breasts. I was skinny in the way that you could buy the smallest size clothes in the store and still have them hang off you. I have a child like that, 6 feet tall and 135 pounds.

Anyway, I was complaining to Nonnie, my maternal grandmother, about this weight problem. She told me that Grandma Cat, her mother-in-law, had hated being skinny. People made fun of her for it. When she put on a lot of weight, my Grandma Cat refused to lose weight because she was so happy to not be skinny anymore.

You might ask yourself where I'm going with this story, but I suspect you already know. Before I got pregnant with Xavier, I weighed about 95 pounds. After I had him, I weighed 120. It was glorious. I weight a lot more than that, now, but I'm not unhappy. Certainly, I'd like to get back in better health. After my hysterectomy in April, my get back in shape train got completely sidetracked. But, honestly, I'm happy carrying a little extra weight. I hated being skinny.

So, why did I think of this? I have just started reading A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas, recommended to me by a friend. I love it when friends know what I like to read. The main character absolutely adores food, and she reminds me of myself in that regard. I adore food, love it almost as much as I love my family. I like all kinds of food, and like to try new foods. In fact, if you want to prove your love for me, the best way to do that is to give me food. So, when the main character is described thus, "And Charlotte, whose one true love was food..." I fell in love. How can I not love a character who is both extremely intelligent and loves food?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Knit-A-Longs are very popular in the online knitting world. Some yarn stores and knitting groups host them, too. Lattes and Llamas hosts a very special knit-a-long to please the geeks in the knitting world while helping Child's Play Charity I discovered the geek-a-long in 2014, close to the end of it. I started to make the 2015 blanket, but found that the blocks didn't interest me enough. This year, when I found out the theme was going to be video games, I decided to make a blanket for each of the boys. I started out well, staying on top of the blocks as they were released. Then, I had a hysterectomy. Then, we started getting our house ready to sell. Then, we moved... You get the picture. I'm a little behind. Here it is November and I'm only halfway done with a year long project I had planned as Christmas gifts. Ah well. I think I can still get the blocks done in time for Christmas, but they'll have to wait until after Christmas to be joined. We'll see. I thought I'd show you some of my favorite blocks.

We're big fans of Plants vs Zombies here.

Isn't he adorable?

Mortal Kombat

Who didn't die of dysentery during the '80s?

Batman- need I say more?

This is what I have done of Xavier's blanket so far.

All the blocks I've completed.

I'm working on Duck Hunt, now.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


As I said in yesterday's post, Gary and I are both returning to school full time in January. Our younger two boys actually started public school in September. With Gabriel in college as well, this means that our entire family will be in school full time come January. Also, it means Gary and I will be college sweethearts.

But... It means I have to finally make a decision about what I want to major in. I am considering a liberal studies degree because that would allow me to pursue more than one path. I may even do that and add another major. We'll see.

Right now, I'm debating between Art Education, Native American and Indigenous Peoples Studies, Spanish, Art, English Communications, and adding Sociocultural Anthropology minor.

I think I can throw the Art Education, Spanish, and English Communications into a liberal studies degree. I can't be sure until I see my advisor on the 21st. In the meantime, I have to figure out all the choices I have and prioritize them.

I once had someone tell me that students shouldn't be allowed to skip grades because they were to immature to decide what they wanted to study in college if they did so. This, because I skipped a grade and dropped out of college because I couldn't make up my mind. The Navy was the right place for me at 17, though. And, obviously, my varied interests haven't reduced in number. Well, I'm not looking for a degree in accounting anymore. I did add art ed, which I'd never considered before a couple years ago. I'd also love to get a degree in fiber arts, but my school doesn't offer it. Maybe, after Dominic graduates from high school, Gary and I can go get our Masters degrees somewhere that offers fiber arts. ;)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Quote of the Week- A Separate Peace

I read A Separate Peace by John Knowles my freshman year of high school. I absolutely hated it. As a move to expand my mind, I decided to revisit it. So far, I still hate it. However, I can appreciate parts of it now that I could not then.

Everyone has a moment in history which belongs particularly to him. It is the moment when his emotions achieve their most powerful sway over him, and afterward when you say to this person "the world today" or "life" or reality" he will assume that you mean this moment, even if it is fifty years past. The world, through his unleashed emotions, imprinted itself upon him, and he carries the stamp of that passing moment forever.
For me, this moment- four years is a moment in history- was the war... American is not, never has been, and never will be what the songs and poems call it, a land of plenty. Nylon, meat, gasoline, and steel are rare. There are too many jobs and not enough workers. Money is very easy to earn but rather hard to spend, because there isn't very much to buy... The war will always be fought very far from America and it will never end. Nothing in America stands still for very long, including the people, who are always either leaving, or on leave. People in America cry often...
There are just tiny fragments of pleasure and luxury in the world, and there is something unpatriotic about enjoying them. All foreign lands are inaccessible except to servicemen; they are vague, distant, and sealed off as though behind a curtain of plastic. The prevailing color of life in America is a dull, dark green called olive drab. That color is always respectable and always important. Most other colors risk being unpatriotic.
It is this special America, a very untypical one I guess, an unfamiliar transitional blur in the memories of most people, which is the real America for me.

This passage, and I left some of it out for brevity's sake, hit home to me today. My grandmother always said that a person reaches a certain age and never grows older in their mind. I thought that John Knowles did a spectacular job describing that phenomenon. Then, as he went on to describe the world of the main character, it felt as though he was describing America today. Certainly, not the lack of goods and other things to spend our money on, but the never ending war, the idea that we are not all that we claim to be.

And, perhaps this is just my perception of the America that we live in, as he says in that last sentence. Today, Gary turned in his active duty ID card in favor of a retiree's ID. In August, we left Kentucky to move to Colorado. Our world has been turned from a sedate olive drab to a kaleidoscope of color. There are no more leavings or being on leave. There is only us, immersed in all the colors that exist in the world. I can only hope that my moment in history is yet to come.

Monday, May 2, 2016

It was a Hail of a Storm

Yesterday, we had a fantastic thunderstorm. It was here and gone in 5 minutes, but it left a large amount of hail and flooding behind.

If you've never been to our house, it's hard to appreciate the flooding. Our driveway, to the right is flooded. Water is pouring over the driveway because it's not fitting in the storm drain. This is the first time in 9 years of flash floods that's happened. Our trees to the left were swamp land. In the background, you can see the aftermath of the storm, the 'steam' coming off the wet ground. Again, this happened in approximately 5 minutes.

In hail storms, our deck always collects a lot of it. It just pours off the roof onto the deck. This time was exciting because it was pouring off the roof, and blowing from the other direction.

All dogs like to eat ice, right?

Have you ever really looked at hail? It's quite beautiful when it's not causing damage. It looks like geodes. Gary brought these in for me to see. If you watch the video below, you can hear him explaining to Dominic how hail is formed. In this picture, you can see the multiple layers representing the many times those ice crystals were thrown back up into the clouds.

And then there was Bear. She loved the hail. When she was younger, she was terrified of thunder, but seems to have gotten over that fear completely, for which I'm thankful. We have a lot of thunder storms here. Perhaps that's why she's gotten over it. Who knows. Anyway, she loved snow, and seems to think hail is pretty fantastic.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

On Forgiveness

When I was 13, I became a peace loving hippy. That's what Gary calls me, a hippy.

But, in 1999, my older brother drowned less than a year after getting out of prison. The pain and grief was immediate and inconceivable. In 2000, we moved back to Oklahoma, and that pain and grief expanded as I realized that the church I had grown up in was making it impossible for me to re-integrate into my family.

Then, 9/11 happened. That grief and pain exploded into anger and fear. And for eight years, I rode a wave of grief, anger, and fear. During that time, I had my remaining three grandparents die, my father died, and a year after him, a beloved uncle died.

We moved to Kentucky, and my best friend, the love of my life, began to travel. He was gone as much as he was home. And during his first deployment after moving here, he was gone over the month of April. The April that was at the end of a line of Aprils in which close family members had died. My emotions took over, and subconsciously, I wrote him off as dead. When he came home, I was already in the depths of grief. I didn't know how to turn that around. Of course I was thrilled that he was home, but I hated him at the same time. And that, that hatred for the man that I loved more than life itself, that broke apart the shell of grief, pain, anger, and fear that I'd been living inside for ten long years. It allowed the light that had always been present, but buried deep beneath the darkness to shine through once more.

It truly was a breaking. I had to work hard to stitch together the pieces of my soul. I had to reach deep inside myself and find that light and let it shine again. And then, after all that work to repair myself, to remember who I am and what I believe, I had to forgive myself. That may well have been the hardest part of all.

A friend recently asked the question, "What would you tell your 21 year old self?" She got many answers, most of them about dreaming and believing in yourself. At 21, I was one of the biggest dreamers I've ever met. If I could tell my 21 year old self one thing, it would be, "Don't let fear and grief change you. Hold on to yourself. And, if all else fails, forgive yourself in the end."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Work in Progress Wednesday

Our house is super busy with projects right now. All of them in progress. We're trying to clear out the clutter in our house, while simultaneously painting, replacing the carpet, and packing.

Gary and I decided to combine our bureaus. So, after 15 years of having two bureaus, we're down to one. When we replaced the carpets in our bedrooms, I refused to allow anyone to move anything back in the rooms that we aren't keeping. Since we're planning to downsize considerably, that means getting rid of a lot of stuff. That box is stuff Gary and I are getting rid of out of our closets and bureaus. It doesn't include all the shoes that were tossed!

My grandmother always said, "Five moves equals a burnout; you should move every five years." This is sort of my philosophy when it comes to moving. I take it as a chance to get rid of as much stuff as possible. It's harder this time. I have very sentimental children.

I am almost done with my Rocky Coast Cardigan. Since taking these pictures, I have finished the sleeves and am now working on completing the collar and trim. It's been my bedtime knitting, as I haven't been doing much knitting these days.

My socks haven't gotten ANY knitting done. I really want my cardigan done, then these will be next on the agenda.

This is a downsizing project. We were going to get rid of the chair, but it's incredibly comfortable. I decided to replace Dominic's pile-o-pillows with this chair. After we move, Xavier and Dominic will be sharing a room, and I plan to put the gaming systems in their room. I think they'll need somewhere comfy to sit. After wrestling with those arm cushions for quite some time, I decided to just cut them off. Everything has gone smoothly since. I expect to finish this tomorrow, since I'm not going to be home most of the day today.

Our poor puppy got spayed yesterday, which is a good thing, but she did not react well to the anesthesia. She's a little more mobile and wiggly today, but still pretty subdued. We'll be watching her pretty closely. At least she's eating without vomiting today.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Gabriel's Out of Touch

This is a repost from March of 2009. It showed up in my Facebook feed and made me smile. It's still true today. He's much more aware of things going on in the world, but his ideas and fascinations are still not those of the typical 18 year old. He is still obsessed with history and loves mythology. He is incredibly interesting to talk to.

And, it's not my fault. I mean, let's get real. I am not a big fan of non-fiction books. Gabriel lives and breathes them. I have never been a fan of history, although I am starting to enjoy it, now. Gabriel has always loved history. I would much rather do math or read smut any day of the week, than force myself to sit down and read a book about the fall of Rome. Now, don't get me wrong. Now that I am an adult, I am learning to love history. In fact, I think it is one of the most fascinating subjects we study. But, it isn't something I do for fun. Most children don't obsessively read about the Greek gods. Gabriel does.

The other day, Gabriel was preparing for a Tae Kwon Do tournament. I told him that he needed to stop thinking, and just let his body do what he'd taught it. I told him, "Just do it. Like Nike says."

Gabriel looked at me with a funny look on his face and said, "No, she didn't."

*sigh* How many 11 year old male children would immediately leap to the Greek goddess, Nike, instead of the shoe company? He's obviously out of touch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Finding Peace

Dear Mom,

You see that kid in that picture? He's 12. He's going through a really great spell right now. His attitude is fantastic. He's ever helpful. When he is in a bad mood, he apologizes for it afterward. He does his work willingly and throws himself into everything with joy. We consistently get compliments on his behavior and manners from strangers. He is an absolute joy to parent and homeschool.

Several months ago, everything was hard. Everything. Everything was hard for him. Everything was a struggle. He wrestled with his emotions. He wrestled with his reactions. He wrestled with every single thing. It was so hard for him. So, of course, it was hard for all of us.

I remember being like that. I remember when every emotion I felt had to be analyzed and struggled with, even when the emotion was joy. Remembering doesn't make it easier for me to parent him. I think, in some ways, it makes it more difficult because I know what he's going through and empathize with him.

I also have other children. One is 15, the other 18. Sometimes, they are a joy to parent. Other times, I want to curl up in a ball and cry. Sometimes, I do. If only I'd developed an app to track the number of hours I've spent balling my eyes out over my children, I could have been the big winner. 

It's hard to be a parent. When my children are depressed, it makes me depressed. When my children are happy, it makes me happy. I cannot completely separate my own emotions from theirs. When my chronically depressed child is struggling through depression, it feels as though our walls are drenched in tears dripping down the walls like wet paint applied too thickly. The darkness seems to close around all of us, keeping us from leading normal lives. But, especially me. It is hard to parent someone who is in the throws of depression. Sometimes, I get angry at him. And, while anger is a valid reaction, it is not the one that will help us. I need him to help himself, but that's not how depression works. 

So, I call my husband. He's my anchor in the middle of the emotion storm that rocks our house. He calms me, and listens. He holds me and understands. 

Moms, you don't have to go it alone. Reach out. Find an anchor. Look for the lighthouse. We, the human race, are all in this together. We can help you. Find someone who cares. Keep searching for that light. It will guide you safely to shore.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Chicken Soup Recipe

This recipe literally took me 10 minutes to throw together before we ran out the door for an appointment. It is more of a formula than a hard recipe. I would like some ideas to make it creamy. Maybe add potatoes, thicken the broth with flour at the end? Ideas?

1 piece of chicken for each person (we prefer chicken thighs, but you can even just cut the chicken off a rotisserie chicken for ease)
1 c vegetables for each person (We use carrots, celery, onion, fresh ginger, and garlic)
1 quart chicken broth

Place the chicken on the bottom of the crock pot. You don't have to cut it up. At the end, you can just pull it apart with a fork. Dump the vegetables on top. Pour the broth over everything.

If you want noodles, add them at the end and let it cook for another 20 minutes.

Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Work in Progress Wednesday

I haven't made much progress on my Rocky Coast Cardigan. It sure is going to be beautiful when it's done, though. (Stash yarn)

I'm starting to work on the legs of my afterthought heel socks. I'm doing a bit of reducing and I'll start the patterns on the next row. I'm very excited about these. They're made from Ella Rae Lace Merino and it is my very favorite sock weight yarn. It's beautiful, rich, and so incredibly soft. I'll admit, it's a little spend to use on socks, but I'm going to love these socks, and it was in my stash. (Stash yarn)

I'm almost done with the back of Gary's Penobscot Bay Pullover. I'm pleased with my progress on this. The past two weeks have been hectic around here, so my knitting time has been limited. This has been a quick knit so far, but now that I'm to the moss stitch, it's slowing down just a bit.

I've got three of each of these colors balled and ready to knit. That means I can start knitting the boys' geek-along-blankets. They'll have to wait until I finish my socks.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Work in Progress Wednesday

I was doing well, working on two projects for myself from my stash yarn. But, today, my yarn order came in. Now, I have 6 projects that have to be prioritized. Gary's gets top billing, so my Rocky Coast Cardigan has to go on the back burner. I know I said it was my year of stash crafting, and it is. But, I needed enough yarn to make Gary a sweater, and the boys are getting blankets for Christmas. Quite frankly, I actually don't have that large a stash. (Of which fact I'm inordinately proud.)
Toe up, two at a time, afterthought heel socks- something outside my comfort zone

Rocky Coast Cardigan and cat

So. Much. Yarn. 

The top yarn is Gary's sweater. The bottom 4 are for the boys' Geek Along blankets. That's going to be fun.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Transformation Tuesday

Last year at this time, I was taking lots of pills. I was doing things with my kids on my bed because I was too tired to do things elsewhere. Chronic illness had taken over my life. I even broke down and wrote a blog post about it. (If you haven't read it, it's here.)
I'm better now. When I started working out at the beginning of December, I was scared. The last couple times I'd tried to exercise, I thought I was going to have to go to the ER. Once, I was just doing some light jogging/walking on the treadmill. The other time, I was doing gentle yoga. I spent days in bed afterward. But, it's been better this time. I've been able to keep my workouts restrained so that they don't drain my energy or cause me more pain.

At the beginning of 2015, I was scared. I was scared that I would die young, and scared that I wouldn't die young. I was at a point in my life where I felt like a burden to my family.
This is the beginning of 2016, and I am excited. I am hopeful for my and my family's future. 

I'm going to admit to something. These are really hard for me to post, and that's embarrassing to me. It's embarrassing and frustrating because I'm the first one to encourage people who don't like their bodies. I truly believe that everyone is beautiful. Still, to stay consistent, I need motivation, and here it is.
These are my before/after pictures of four weeks. My goal was not to lose weight. My goal for December was to increase my stamina, and I can honestly say that I did. I started the month barely able to do any of the exercises, and finished it with being able to do most of them with several heavy modifications.
I am so incredibly proud of myself. This may be one of the hardest things I've ever done. I only lost two pounds, but I lost a total of 17.25 inches! 3.25 each around the bust, waist, and hips. I am beyond thrilled.

When I started this journey in December, I was doing it for my health. I knew that goal would impact my family because I would be able to do more with them. I chose to become a Beachbody coach because it gave me added accountability. I didn't realize how much it would impact my family's health. 
My mom started her 21 Day Fix the day after Christmas. In two weeks, her Systolic blood pressure number has fallen 40 points. 40 points. She's still got a ways to go, but I'm astonished and grateful.
Add to that the fact that my children are making healthier choices and working on their own fitness and I'd say I'm pretty much loving Beachbody right now. I'm so grateful to my coach for inviting me to join her and believing in me.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Finished Object Friday

These are the projects I've completed this week. I'm trying to use up as much of my fabric and yarn stash as possible this year. This is my year of stash crafting. All of these were made with stash supplies.

First up, a dirty Santa gift. I chose to make a Princess Leia slave bikini, because everyone needs one. Right? 

Sheep Ball
This is my second sheep ball, and I love both of them.

The only problem with putting your knitting projects on Facebook is that your friends want them. I happily knit this for a friend after she saw the ones I made for the boys.

The Yipes Stripes Cowl is a great stash busting project. I modified it a little by changing out yarn anytime I ran out of a color.
Buddha was cold.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Quick Health Update

The problem with being chronically ill is that you can never use the well entrance- Gabriel

In April, when I wrote this post, I sat each member of my family down and interviewed them. I wanted to know what it was like to live with a mom and wife with chronic illness means to them. I intended to share those interviews with you, but they ended up being very personal. I decided that my children's and husband's privacy was important. There were a few things that struck me, though.

Xavier and Dominic cannot remember a time when I was not sick. That is hard for me to hear. I say "is" because it is still hard for me to think about. 

In April, Gary got tired of me reacting to more and more foods each time I ate a meal or snack. Finally, he decided to put me on a juice fast, or, as we like to call it, a juice infusion. Part of my problem is that I don't uptake vitamins properly. Vitamins in pill form didn't seem to be having a huge impact. We got desperate and tried juicing.

It made a huge difference. My brain started functioning again almost immediately. It was amazing. My brain suddenly started being curious again. There were once again times I couldn't shut it up. That hadn't happened in so long. And it feels so good. In fact, it feels incredible. 

Now that my brain is starting to work again, I'm working on my body. My energy levels are better, but not perfect. I don't know if I'll ever have the confidence in my body that I had before I got sick, but I'm hopeful now. I'm hopeful in a way I haven't been in a long time.

Without hope, we give up. We're scared. We don't plan or dream. I'm hopeful again, and that, more than anything else, makes me happy.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


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