Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last day of 2011

and what a year it has been.  My post today is not going to necessarily reflect on what was, nor do I plan it to be a resolution list for what will be.  Rather, I just want to think about today.

It blows my mind that on Jan. 31st I can be running around outside wearing my nightgown (ok, just in the back yard, and to put out and bring in the dogs) and barefoot, and be only the slightest bit chilled on my feet. I am so grateful for the sunshine today, after the clouds and grey of yesterday, and that the wind has died down some. The grass is even still green, despite our 4 hour window we had snow a few days ago!

I have been delighted watching Skye play with her babydolls this last week.  She got three of them for Christmas and she loves them all.  One is the Bitty Baby from the American Girl Doll collection, one is a Baby Alive for littlest kids (all cloth, but makes sucking and cooing sounds when you hold her cloth bottle near her mouth, and makes Skye giggle), and one that is a Cabbage Patch girl, with blonde curls and blue eyes. She tries to carry them all together, she pushes them in her new stroller, and she puts them to bed in the wicker cradle or plastic buggy basket of the stroller. She talks to them, she feeds them, and she even has tried sharing her own food with them!  She blows them kisses after tucking them in and pats them as I do when I put her down for a nap or bed, and she copies other mannerisms she sees me do with her or her dolls, and makes me smile. I realized in the past few days that she really isn't "baby" anymore, and is truly a toddler--she has slimmed down and gotten taller; she looks more like a little girl than a baby, and while her language skills are still minimal, she understands so much that my guess is when she does start talking it will be in sentences and not just random words. I have really enjoyed my time with her watching her grow and change.

I have also been counting my blessings.  My son continues to do better than I have seen in a long time, and while things are never gonna be perfect (he is a teenager, after all), I am pleased to see him more "himself" again.  Perhaps things are finally starting to click for him.  Aurora is eager to return to her classes, and has missed the structure and activities of being in school over this break.  I think she is surprised how much she has missed it! Patrick is planning to move home sometime this week (as far as I know--haven't talked to him since Christmas Day), as things are not going as smoothly between he and his housemate(s) as he would like, and he wants to regroup. The nest continues to get fuller instead of emptier! Brie got word that her unit is NOT deploying after all in April, so things are rapidly being revamped for her; from health insurance to education plans, she is trying to set a new course, and is frustrated by all the various complications that are arising.  Her boyfriend (and his daughter, on a regular basis) are guests here in our house too, so we can have anywhere from 8 to 10 people for dinner on any given weekend, or no one at all other than Eric and I. Once Patrick is back we need to sit everyone down and review house rules and expectations!

Eric is working this weekend, but had last weekend off and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I was grateful that all my tests came out "normal ranges" so now it's just a "wait and see" if something changes. I am so done stressing over all of it! We had a lovely Christmas and plan to have a low-key new year too--playing Everquest with friends, sharing a bottle of wine, and probably even going to bed early (as Eric has to work tomorrow too).  His term resumes next week, as does school for Rei; my new class starts on the 9th, and I am not sure when the girls start their new term(s).

I was thrilled to get a new serger for Christmas from my husband. It's something I have been talking about for a couple of years, and while it hasn't been a priority, it is a wonderful accessory to my sewing (makes professional finishing on raw edges, sews delicate fabrics or knits like a dream, and does rolled hems or decorative finishes to items); it will also aid in preventing ravelling of my needlework linens because it locks the edges into place for hooping etc. I plan to go work in my sewing room after I get done with this post and rearrange a few things so that I can finish up the two quilts for my grandchildren in MN and get some embroidery done on a few other things.  Oh, and there is also some mending to do...  I hate mending!

Anyhow, I guess the biggest reason for wanting to post today is to say I am content. God has been gracious to us this year, has seen us through the ups and downs we have had to deal with, and has provided abundantly for our needs. I am reminded of a quote I read awhile ago that says "Do not fear for tomorrow, for I am already there" and I know it to be true: God is with us every step of the way and holds us firmly in the palm of His hand, regardless of what the day brings.  In that I place my faith and look confidently forward,

My wish for all is that you too have a blessed New Year, and that your days are filled with grace and wonder.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Trying to feel the Christmas spirit...

I am trying really hard to find and feel the Christmas spirit. It seems to be missing this year. Some of it (for me anyway) is the weather, which has been fluctuating between temperate and cold, grey and rainy, with some sun, and all the grass is still green even though the trees are bare. It just doesn't feel like Christmas is next weekend. It still feels like early November.

I have both quilt tops done now. Did the second one over the last two days, and my muscles are feeling it. I need to pin baste them out, but don't have the energy to tackle it right now. Probably tomorrow. I am looking at sending out the gifts when we have them ready to go, and if they are late, so be it. I can send out some of them before the holiday, but we still really haven't done any shopping, and I haven't even thought about wrapping or anything.  I want to be able to spend some time baking this week, and our plan is to get and set up the tree tomorrow/Tuesday. I have a medical procedure to get through tommorw still (cystoscopy), so I am not looking forward to that, but it is the last test on my agenda for this year. Rei has a couple more appointments in these last two weeks of the season, and then he is done as well. 

I must say, I am glad to see this year coming to a close. It has had it's fair share of ups and downs. I am not complaining, exactly, but it has been stressful in many ways. I pray next year is better for us: more peace, more time to enjoy each other, and more time to focus on the things that really matter--each other!

I got my paper done and turned in. I am guessing I will have a B for the term. My instructor is a really hard grader, and despite her positive feedback on a few things (very few), she has been stingy with grades, and not just mine. I am guessing many in the class will barely pass, if the grades she has given me are anything to go by. I am not trying to sound snooty; I just know how my work stacks up to the other discussion topics I read over the term, and mine was up near the top. I worked my butt off this term, and feel really proud of the work I did, I just wish it had gotten better grades (or feedback about how I could have improved it).

I read a really awesome book over the past couple of days: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe.  I really enjoyed it, and I had a hard time putting it down.  Very cool story, with some twists I hadn't expected (although a few were sorta obvious, still well done). Now I am reading Stephen King's latest, about JFK's assassination. It's interesting so far, and typical Stephen King (I love the conversational tone he takes in his books!)

I feel really lost because I am NOT knitting any socks at the moment. The challenge socks for the month are threefold: do an atypical technique; do socks from an assigned designer; or do a pair of "monster socks" using up leftover sock yarn accummulated from other completed pairs.  I really don't have a lot of that as yet, so that is out, and the new technique ones call to me, but are too complicated for where my head is at right now.  I am thinking about just doing a designer pair so that I have some on the needles, and I have until the 31st to start them, and the 31st of next month to finish them (plus start the January pair, lol). I am thrilled with how my socks are turning out, and I am also thrilled that Eric loves wearing my handknit socks!

I do have both a sweather (mindless knitting) and a shawl (complicated knitting) in process right now, along with the sewing, so it's not like my hands are empty.  Then there are the three cross stitching projects I have nearing degrees of completion. I just really like the satisfaction that comes from making socks.

The kids are all doing ok here. Aurora has a bad cold right now, and a sore throat. Rei is doing better than I have seen in a while, and Brie is relishing being done with her term. Eric is also on a two week break. Dan and Rei have been spending quite a bit of time with Patrick of late, and that has been good to see. He too is doing fine. Our little bit is growing and babbling non-stop, and even makes sense now and again! Today she tried to climb out of her crib and landed on her head, poor baby. Has a lovely bump and bruise, but is fine otherwise.  What a munchkin!

Anyhow, that is the update from the lower mid-west...  I will probably post again before Christmas, but if not, a blessed holiday season and Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Almost bedtime...

Just a quick update to say we are all still fine.  Baby Skye is bouncing in her crib and hooting at her mama, auntie, and Dan (who are watching a movie), while Rei is on his laptop in his room, and Eric and I are relaxing in ours. Eric and I had a date night tonight and it was much needed. We went out for a lovely dinner, complete with a bottle of wine and dessert, and I am so glad we did it. I really enjoyed it!

This is my last week of class for the term, and Brie's too. Eric starts his second week of his term, and spent part of today doing assignments for his online class. Rei's IEP last week was really emotional for me (and him too) and he was moved from his regular classes into an alternative program the school started this year; small classes, lots of 1:1 support, and structure. So far it's going ok. We have some mixed feelings about it, but it was the school's answer to his needs for academic support while he gets things back on track. It will be for this term, perhaps longer, but should be helpful to his grades. At least that is the hope. I am hoping this was an answer to a prayer rather than another hurdle to get through. His new med seems to be helping and he has generally done a good job of staying med compliant since the last issue.

I finished my Nov. sock knitter's annonymous challenge sock, but don't think I will do one for December. Too much else that needs to be focused on, from my final paper, to gifts, to quilts to sew (and doll clothes), to house stuff to do in prep for Christmas decorating.  I feel bad we didn't get further this weekend, but we had other priorities, and it is all good.

Anyhow, I am getting weary so I think I will get my nightgown on, and start planning out my schedule for tomorrow.  Research articles need to be read, another quilt top needs to get sewn, and then two quilts need to be layered to machine quilt on.  It is gonna be a busy week!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rain, Sleet, and Snow

Yeah, that describes our day today.  Another day of grey skies, gloom, and chill. I almost miss the MN cold and snow, especially the sun sparkling off of it.  So tired of brown, mud, and damp.

Some ups and downs around here, but nothing too major at the moment. Aurora got her driver's license on Wed. of last week and is loving the freedom it gives her. I too love the freedom it gives me from driving her back and forth on a semi-daily basis. She is in finals this week, then off til after the holidays. She is looking forward to the time off, but has done well as far as she can tell this term.

We had another set-to with the school over Reimond that I ended up addressing with both the principal and vice-principal.  They were going to give him an out-of-school suspension for telling a sub that "this is bullshit" and the shutting down after the principal and vice principal started rehashing things and he didn't agree with them.  I blew a gasket over this.  First of all, he started on new meds the previous evening to help him sleep, and he had asked to get a drink at the fountain because he felt nauseous and he had cotton mouth from the meds; he was told not until he finished his HOMEWORK (not a test, or something they might be concerned he was cheating on), and despite his being polite, explaining himself, and then getting frustrated (hence the comment) to being told no, he wasn't otherwise verbally abusive, out of line, or in anyway aggressive.  When he was sent to the office he explained his side of things and when the two continued to get him to agree he was in the wrong for not accepting no, he shut his mouth, as we (and his therapist) told him to, rather than be verbally abusive, disrespectful, or otherwise get himself into further trouble.  I pointed out he was on the new med because of another suicidal episode resulting in a night spent in the emergency room in St. Louis (the psychiatrist on call elected not to admit him, despite recommendations to do so, so I brought him home), and the hope was that the two meds (one in the morning, one at night) would work to calm the "seizures" he was experiencing in his emotional-regulation centers and help him to get on course.

I explained the situation to them in some detail, only to be told that my conversations with the school SW, my son's guidance counselor, various teachers, AND his IEP case coordinator had not been shared with the the principal, and she was willing to work with me rather than against me in trying to implement some changes that will support his IEP, which has not been followed this year (we have an IEP review tomorrow morning at 9 am). The principal gave me her card and asked me to keep her in the communication loop, and she would then forward info to the teachers etc. as needed, and that Rei would be allowed to take a couple of minutes to cool down if needed, or get a drink of water, and the IEP would be honored. I left the school feeling better about things, including the fact that while he did go home with me for the rest of the day, he was allowed to return to class the next day, serve an ISS for the first two hours, then return to his classes as scheduled.  I could support that.

I saw the eye doctor for the glaucoma check and she said the results came back as borderline normal (slight loss in neural bundles, but still on the outer edge of normal), so we need to keep track of it yearly, unless I experience significant change.  Then, I saw the urologist on friday, and I had a CT scan today for the microhematuria (blood in the urine). There was continued blood present in the sample, but I was called today and told no infection was present (which could be a cause). I was more freaked out about the CT scan than I thought I was, because I didn't sleep most of last night.  I read in bed til after 3 am, was still awake when the alarm went off at 3:45, then dozed thereafter until a little after 7, when I was again wide awake. Eric went with me to the appointment, and I was glad knowing he was there.  The IV was no big deal, but when they put in the contrast it felt really wierd.  I won't get results from it til the end of the week, and in two weeks I'll be having a cystoscopy in the office to look for internal issues.  Not looking forward to that at all, but I guess if my granddaughter can deal with it, I can too. The joys of getting older!  When I was at the urologist appointment, I was the youngest person there, and (I think) the only female patient. The rest were elderly men in the waiting room, with their wives.  It felt akward!

The rest of the kids are doing fine. Patrick was here for our family thanksgiving dinner the sunday after the holiday and he continues to be managing. We sent him home with leftovers. Brie is still busy with school, drill, and work, along with Skye, and is doing a better job of managing her time when here at home. Skye is trying hard to talk and mimics some words, but nothing consistent as yet. She is having night terrors on occasion, but we are getting through them a night at a time. Eric started his new term tonight, with two evening classes and one online class. It's gonna be a challenge, but he is close to being done. I too am getting to the wrapping up the term time, and am looking forward to a few weeks break.

We are NOT going to MN for Christmas afterall, my decision, because Brie is not eligible for any time off, and I didn't feel right about taking Skye for a second year over the holiday, leaving her home alone knowing that she won't be with Skye at all next year (she'll be deployed). I am ok with it, and am looking forward to getting the house ready to decorate and making things Merry around here.

That's my latest news from the damp and chilly state of IL!