Thursday, December 5, 2013

Seasons greetings!

I have to be honest here: depression is kicking my butt right now, for many reasons. I am still grieving with Liisa her loss/our loss of her and Zack's much wanted baby. I feel blessed to be able to share this burden with her, and am trying to be upbeat and positive for her, and I am so proud of the steps she is taking to deal with everything. It takes a special kind of courage to look what is in the face and begin the process of learning acceptance. 

The holidays too are taking their toll. Eric has taken on overtime for his two weekends off, working down in Columbia Missouri at the hospital there because they are short staffed. They are putting him up in a hotel and covering meals, mileage, and so forth; I am going with this weekend because he is doing overnights Saturday and Sunday; I can then help with the driving home when he is tired on Monday morning. He will be on day shifts for the other weekend, so I will stay home and focus on getting ready for Christmas. Our plan is to try and get stuff done on the few days off he does have, and I will focus specifically on things once my class is done. When I am at the hotel I will finish up my final project for the class and will be done with my master's program on the 13th. It will be good to be done with this chapter of my life and begin the next.

Christmas this year for me is going to be more focused on Christ and family than the more commercial aspects of decorations and conspicuous consumption. I am making things and focusing on heartfelt versus expense. Technically I should be doing that right now, but my mojo isn't where it should be, despite two cups of coffee.  It doesn't help that I am sitting here in dim lighting, listening to the sleet hit the siding and window screens, and seeing the clouds and gloom out the window. I think my next. Step is to turn on some lights, put on some bouncy music, and sit down at the sewing machine. Bright colors, productivity, and creative expression is what I think I need right now.

I'm sorry this isn't terribly upbeat or chatty this time, but I am working to get there. I know this is hormones, and weather, and stress all talking, and I also know it will pass. As some of the stress lifts (the end of the term) things will ease and I will be more cheerful. I just needed to vent a bit.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mid-November blahs...

As some may be aware, it has been a hell of a month and a half. My beautiful Liisa found out she was pregnant in mid October, and was very excited about it. It was confirmed at the doctor's office, and an ultrasound was scheduled to confirm the baby's location, given her previous ectopic pregnancy a year ago May. They couldn't find the fetus on the ultrasound,  and the tech rather blasély suggested it was probably ectopic, not knowing anything about Liisa's past history. Liisa talked to the clinic, they rescheduled an ultrasound, and she was told any signs of spotting to go to the ER. Sure enough, she started spotting, and followed up at the ER and the multiple clinic appointments and further ultrasounds that ensued. At first it was thought that the fetus was just too small/young to be seen, given her hormone levels, and everything else looked good, so we were cautiously hopeful. Then, on Halloween she got the sad news: the pregnancy was ectopic, in her remaining Fallopian tube. They attempted a chemical termination in the hopes of saving her tube, and she had a rough time of it--the medication made her quite ill-- but it didn't end the pregnancy. At her follow up on 11-6 they found the fetus, with a heartbeat, still developing, near her left ovary. The heartbreaking decision had to be made to terminate surgically, ending all Liisa and Zack's hopes of having a baby of their own "the old fashioned way" (IVF is a possibility, but horrendously expensive). 

Liisa physically came through the surgery just fine. The surgeon found extensive endometriosis and concluded that was the probable cause of her ectopic pregnancies: there was tissue in the tube, and scarring, not allowing the fetus to travel where it needed to, and nothing anyone could have helped or predicted. Emotionally, we are all heartbroken that there is another little soul in heaven with my dad, waiting to meet us "someday".  I am sure my father has his hands full with my sister's two lost babies, and now Liisa's two as well. It makes me smile to envision it, remembering back to his one time changing Tony as a baby and putting the pampers on backwards... Liisa and Zack are dealing with this as well as can be expected. In some ways this time is easier, having been through it before, while in others it is so much harder, given the finality of the outcome. We are confident that God is with them, and that there is a purpose and a plan, but we sure have been angry at Him for how this has gone. 

On a separate note, my final class has been extremely stressful, as I try to learn about, and understand the processes of group therapy. I have co-facilitated groups; I created and ran a group (obviously based on what I am learning now, completely by the seat of my pants...); and I have facilitated groups using planned materials. But I never really studied groups before (other than in sociology classes) or group therapeutic processes. So where I generally give 100% to my studies, I feel like this class, (like with the neuropsych class) I am working and giving 200% so that I understand the materials fully, rather than just giving lip service to them, as some students do. Eric says I am looking for the grade above an A+; I just want to understand the material fully. Call it my own insecurities, but the closer I get to working with real people in real settings, the more I fear screwing up because I misunderstood something, or used a technique wrong. In some regard I do see myself as perfectionist as I hold myself to high standards, but I also take very seriously that I am "messing with people's minds" and I don't want to steer anyone wrong or cause harm.

There are other stressors too, some positive, some not so great. Money remains tight given the economy, along with school and family obligations, so I ended up not going to MN to be with Liisa during this time of sadness. Thank God for technology though: we have spent hours on the phone or iPad together, and she told me she feels very loved and supported. Her work has been great, and family and friends in MN have wrapped their arms around Zack and Liisa with love, comfort, and support. 

Brianne has found 2 jobs now, one as a part time seasonal sales clerk, the other as a bank teller. James is still job seeking, and he and Skye manage the home front while she works. I will have Skye again this weekend as Brie is working and James has a guard mission to go on. She is thrilled to be coming to MyGrandma's and I am trying to get assignments done ahead (two due this weekend) so I can devote my attention to her. 

Patrick has started working again at Pizza Hut and it's interesting to see what he occasionally brings home for leftovers... His schedule is pretty random right now, but we are glad he's working. Aurora is getting a little burnt out, between bowling, school, and working, although she doesn't work a ton of hours. Poor kid just has very little free time! We went out for her birthday dinner, and Eric is shaking his head that his baby is now 20... I have til May before I experience that. Then there will officially be no more teens in the household! Aurora is overall doing well at school, and is keeping her grades where she wants them. She is struggling a bit bowling though, so Eric is spending some time when he can just going to the lanes with her to "support" her in her practice. Reimond seems to be doing well his first semester as a college student, and I am going over to meet him at SWIC tomorrow to look at registering for his spring semester (needs moral support).

Wow, Eric is up after only three hours of sleep today... It's his day off, but still. Time to enjoy my spouse being home.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Really? October first already?

This past month has flown by, what with final projects for summer session for me, adapting to the new schedules of Reimond and Aurora, fleeting trips north to see Skye, Brie, James, and Liam, and adjusting to medication changes...

We are fine here. The government shutdown, which went into effect today, is causing some issues for James and Brie, as he lost his government job the end of September, and is in full job search mode, but hasn't affected us too badly (at least as far as we are currently aware of) because Eric's job is an essential function. We haven't heard how it will affect services on base yet (e.g. The commissary or the bowling alley), but we have at least options. 

I had a full blown freak out earlier today when I got an email from my school telling me I was no longer eligible for financial aid, with one class left and graduation approved. After a few phone calls (to financial aid, and my academic advisor) I just heard back that everything is fine and I am set for the final term, fully funded. Supposedly I had too many credits for my degree program allotment, but it was an internal glitch because my multiple programs weren't being taken into account. It is all good now and I can breathe again.

Health-wise I am doing well. The beta blocker is working effectively to slow my pulse back to more normal parameters, and while they have changed the brand (and hence another round of tracking pulse and b/p for a month) I am feeling 100% better and able to be more active. In fact, Eric and I went to the Strange Folk Festival on Saturday and had a lovely time walking around, talking to various acquaintances and artisans, while on Sunday we took the metro to St Louis and attended Taste of St Louis.  The food was great and reasonably priced, the beer was outrageous, and the music entertaining. We got off at the arch, then walked to Soldier's Memorial Park (we screwed up--thought that is what the arch grounds were called) about a mile away, but lined by beautiful gardens, fountains, and buildings I had never really seen before. We had a wonderful time and the weather was amazing!

School is going well for our students, and I resume classes next week. Skye is growing like a weed, and is truly a little girl now rather than a baby, although when she is with us she likes to "pretend" she is "small" or "baby Skye".   It's so sweet!  One funny anecdote: the other day she ran up to auntie Aurora and informed her "you are on my panties!" ( referring to princess Aurora, aka Sleeping Beauty). It made us all laugh!

My Minneapolis family are doing well too; Liisa and Zack still don't have their new roof, but negotiations continue between the public adjustor, her insurance company, and her contractor. Hopefully they do something soon because the rains and snow are coming in the not so distant future, and she still has a tarped hole over the bathroom...

Here are a few pictures from the month just past:

Reimond's still life assignment

A purse I made with a coordinating bag (for holding knitting projects)

The mystery socks I finished for September's sock challenge:

And of course, Skye wearing Papa's t-shirt as a nightgown and eating a homemade cinnamon roll in grandma's bed....
I found a wonderful recipe that is easy to make and makes 2 dozen huge rolls! They were gone in a bit over 24 hours!

I have been doing other machine embroidery as well, and knitting too on the two shawls I have in progress, and a second sock that is slowly coming along... I have also been trying out new recipes and varying up our diet a little; and I have started appliquing block 4 of my Cat Acatemy Quilt.  I would say September was an overall productive month for me, and is am looking forward to the cooler days of fall.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September the First

It's a new month, so I figured I should probably post something. 
This is Reimond on his first day of college at Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC). He is now two weeks in and seems to be both liking it and staying on top of things. We finally got his financial aid confirmed so he was able to start buying his books. We are just waiting on his getting the tuition refund so he can get the art supplies he still needs. He is really liking his two art classes, and has proudly share what he is learning to do; I helped him (sat by him) with his first psych packet (because he had no book and was working off his notes alone); and I have heard no complaints about freshman English...   My baby is so grown up! (Man I feel old!)

The results of the Holter monitor said, like the echocardiogram, that everything heart-wise is fine. I just have a really fast pulse. In talking things over with the doctor on Friday I pointed out that even if a fast pulse is normal for some people, it has never been normal for me, and I am so tired of being winded and light headed from doing the simplest of things, especially when I feel like I am crawling out of my skin when it is racing. She switched me to a beta-blocker, which I started on Friday, and this morning, for the first time in about three months, my pulse was under 90s to 120s: it was 85.  I am so happy!  She said I have no activity restrictions, and can do whatever my body lets me, but to respect what my body tells me and rest when needed. I can do that!

Skye got a package from her paternal grandma and decided to make a boat out of some left over styrofoam packing things we had laying around to open it in. She was so cute! She got a lovely assortment of much needed clothes, and was quite pleased. We haven't seen her for over two weeks now, because she, Brie, and James are in Wisconsin, where James had a job that has been extended out. They will be home by Friday and have drill this weekend, so my house will be ringing with the sounds of joyful preschooler. We have missed her.

Eric goes back to days on Monday so our sleep schedules can get back to normal (whatever that is), and I am on my last two weeks of this course. In October I will start my (hopefully) last course before finally having my master's degree done, and I can't wait! This is unless I still need to retake one class given it has a slightly different focus (counseling theories vs. theories of psychotherapy). I will be calling the school to verify that after the holiday.

The weather has been miserable this week, with highs in the upper 90s to 100s (kinda like my pulse, heehee) and we had storms and power outages last night, with more expected today. Then is should be nicer all next week. Eric is on vacation the second week of September, so we hope to get some things done around here and pray the weather cooperates. It hasn't been a terrible summer, until this past week, so we have lots to be thankful for.

Aurora is back to the grind of school, bowling, and working part time hours. She will have very little free time, but is looking forward to the money and the activities. Things are status quo with the rest of the kids.

Happy fall!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Another quick update...

This is me of late... Although it's more like so much to do, so little energy to do it.  I had my echocardiogram today and the tech said everything looks structurally sound, but of course the cardiologist will still need to read it, and my pulse galloped thru it at a rate of 109-129 bpm. Then I got wired up to the Holter monitor, and while I have tried to be somewhat more active, there is probably more I could do, especially since I fell asleep while reading and didn't realize I had dozed off until the phone rang. I apparently slept about an hour, because I last remembered looking at the clock at ten minutes to six and it was just after seven when Eric called me. Who knows how long I would have slept otherwise! Eric had an interesting observation though- perhaps my need for sleep/tiredness is because of how hard my heart is working. 

Anyhow, after we were done at the hospital we went to Walmart and picked up some refills on meds the base pharmacy didn't carry, and we wandered around a bit. I also vacuumed the main floor, which was in dire need of it, even though I just did it a couple of days ago. Then I knitted on my new shawl (a quickie, mindless knit, but using my hand spun yarn) for a bit, came upstairs to keep Eric company while he readied for work, and had my nap.  I decided to go for a walk, from the house to the trail along the south on the sidewalk, then followed it back to the back of the house... I was winded and got my pulse pounding, so if there is something going on hopefully it will show. Then I had dinner, tried to read but got bored (research papers for my project due Sunday) and knit for a bit. Now I am trying to decide if I am ready to go back to sleep or if I should try reading research again and fall asleep for sure :)

We went out to a Japanese buffet and seafood grill for Patrick's birthday yesterday, and the whole family was there. Little miss Skye looked adorable as always and was my girl. 

She is so sweet and loving! I miss her this weekend but she is staying with James' mom and some of his other nieces and nephews, and it is probably for the best. She would have a hard time with my monitor, wanting either to wear it too or help take care of me. Brie and James came back down for the night to be closer to the armory, and will be gone bright and early. 

Eric ran out first thing this morning to be in line at the local IRS office when it opened for tax transcripts for Aurora and Reimond's financial aid. Not sure what the timing is for when Aurora's is due but Rei had to have his in either today or Monday at the latest or he'd be dropped from his classes. He ran them over this afternoon, so hopefully all he has left to do is buy books and school supplies. 

Ok, I am yawning.  Just a couple more photos before I go:

This was Eric and I before we left for our fifth anniversary dinner.

This photo made me smile, taken at Reimond's graduation party in Minneapolis: me and my dear friend Debbie;

And this is the first useable amount of yarn I have spun and plied using my drop spindle, the yarn I am using now in a shawl similar to the one I made for Deb. There is 151.5 yards of it.

I think that's all for tonight. I will update again when I have results from the cardiologist.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Quick update

I have been taking my meds faithfully (all ten of them, with a hope we can reduce a few of them soon), and I have been taking my blood pressure daily, which is responding well to the med, but my pulse continues to be fairly high 90-130's. I am scheduled for an appointment with the cardiology department tomorrow to have an echocardiogram and then be fitted for a Holter monitor (24 hour EKG). So hopefully we will know soon what it is that sets my pulse to racing so. I also have a Gino appointment coming up to check for endometriosis, something my sister had severely enough that it caused he monthly abdominal pain that didn't show on any tests (until she had an exploratory laparoscopy), and resulted in her having a hysterectomy. And I see the gastroenterologist soon too. We are gonna get me figured out, hopefully sooner than later.

I am a little sad we won't be having Skye over this coming weekend, given its a drill weekend, but it is probably for the best, with my needing to run back and forth to the hospital with wearing and then returning the monitor, and I have a 15 page paper due Sunday night. Sit, I am going to miss her because I love our time together.  I am also missing not having Justin and Alexis here, but again, it is probably for the best, despite my sadness. 

Eric and I had a fabulous 5th wedding anniversary. We went out and had an amazing, Italian gourmet style dinner with multiple courses, pair with exquisite wines. We truly enjoyed ourselves and it was such fun. Exactly what I was hoping for in celebrating this first milestone anniversary. The restaurant is called Acero and we were at the "more laid back" location, versus their higher end version in downtown St. Louis. The meal lasted for 2.5 hours, and we spent that time talking, counting our blessings, and planning for the next five years.

Today is Patrick's birthday so will will be doing his family dinner tonight after Eric gets home from his overtime shift. Not sure where we are going yet, but it should be nice. 

I am doing okay. Eric has been wonderfully supportive of everything I have been dealing with these past few months and I am hoping our answers are easily fixed. As my sister told me one day last week, there is nothing wrong with "Better living through chemicals" and I will do whatever is necessary to regain my ability to function as I think I should. The hardest part for me is slowing down and accepting that I cannot overdo anything because it sets my heart to racing and I feel winded, like I ran an obstacle course instead of just running the vacuum. One day at a time is my mantra, along with a strong belief that God is with me every step of the way, is in control of my future, and has a plan for what is to come. God's grace is sufficient for me and I am blessed.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Slightly overdone...

For those who didn't know, I was in the hospital for 5 days, from last Saturday to Wednesday. I woke up with excruciating abdominal pain early Friday morning, it lessened some through the day but remained sore while Skye and I got Reimond enrolled in college at SWIC (Southwestern Illinois College), but by Friday evening I was flat on my back in bed, and wasn't much better Saturday morning, so around noon we headed to the ER. After numerous tests, morphine for pain, and being poked and prodded, they couldn't find a specific underlying cause because almost everything came back normal (my blood pressure and pulse didn't always cooperate by being in the normal ranges). so they labeled it "gastritis" or "irritable bowel syndrome" and sent me home on an additional 4 medications.  I am feeling better, and haven't needed any pain meds stronger than Tylenol since Wednesday, so I am cautiously optimistic that whatever was bugging my system has worked its way through. I am still easily tired and my pulse remains too fast (90s to 120s) at rest, but I will be following up with my own doctor this week and the gastroenterologist in another couple of weeks. I am on high blood pressure meds now, which has me kinda freaked, but I know it's necessary.

I have to admit to being fairly stressed though over being gone so long--there are things to be taken care of that didn't get done, and Eric did an amazing job of keeping Skye entertained and loved while I was incapacitated. They visited me at the hospital every day and Skye was happy to "take care of " me. I am almost 2 weeks behind on my assignments but I kept in contact with my professor and she said as long as I stay up on the current ones, I can submit the late ones without penalty so long as it is in a timely manner. If I am honest I hardly know what day it is right now because they all blended tedogether when I was in the hospital. I am extremely grateful nothing serious was found, but a bit concerned that it wasn't easily identified so that I know how to prevent it from happening again.

On Thursday Eric gave me permission to go on the last chance summer yarn crawl for metro St. Louis. He drove and helped with Skye while we went to the first five shops on the list, then I finished up the last four today with Skye, which was far more challenging, although she was as good as can be expected for almost 3. I did my best to keep my purchases focused on specific objects or colors of things I really liked so I have more sock yarn and lace-weight yarn for making shawls. I also finished spinning my roving into two balls of singles, so after plying them together yesterday I now have 151.5 yards of my own spun yarn to make something out of.  I am very excited to figure out what I want to make with it--obviously nothing too big because there isn't a lot of yarn to use... Skye and I spent some quality time sitting outside today enjoying a shared ice cream cone and watching people, dogs, and babies go by; we also saw a couple out with their macaw and cockatoo, and she was thrilled to be able to pet both. The lady even gave her a feather from the macaw that dropped while they were out and about which made Skye's afternoon. We did a lot of walking today though because St. Charles MO is a very busy and historic place, so parking is at a premium and we didn't have a stroller.  Passers-by seemed to really enjoy Skye's exuberance as she danced, flew (flapping her arms like wings) and waved her magic wand at things (a stick she picked up), all the while singing to herself and bouncing along.  She really is quite entertaining and engaging. Now though, I am glad to be home and able to sit, along with hoping that Skye goes down to bed at a reasonable hour.

I am a bit disappointed that my two grandkids from MN won't be coming down to stay with me for a couple of weeks after all. It's both an issue of money for two round trips, as well as concern that it might be too much for me (which I strongly dispute, but they are the parents, and I don't have the funds to finance the trips either). I am sure the kids are going to be crushed too when they get told because I know they were counting on coming down to see me and all the things we generally do when they are here. I will have to go out and pick out belated birthday presents for them to send north as the plan had been that they would pick out what they wanted while they were here with me as one of our outings. I am sad, but understand completely where they are coming from. I just am disappointed because I treasure my time with those two little ones and having them to myself for a few weeks.

Brie should be home sometime on Sunday afternoon to get Skye, and I don't know yet if they will be spending the night here or not. I am sure they are exhausted from all they have been doing. She is probably going to be disappointed in me that we didn't push potty training harder. We did the first week, and she did well, but once I went into the hospital diapers were just easier for Eric to manage and deal with, plus the stress of change made it harder for Skye to be sensitive to her needs, hence lots of accidents. I have really enjoyed my time with her here though, and we have played and laughed and danced and cuddled.

Everything else with all the other kids is pretty much status quo, with Rei and Aurora getting ready for school to start mid August, and hopefully Patrick and his girlfriend will find jobs so they can move forward with their lives too.  Anyhow, that is the update for today. Tomorrow is Liisa and Zack's first wedding anniversary and what a year it has been for them!  Hopefully as things settle down with the house (and the roof getting done finally) they can have a peaceful second year of marriage.  Now it's time to get some dinner for the little one, and as I said before, I hope it's an early night of baths and bed!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mid-July and summer is here!

I am posting this picture because it makes me happy. This is a sunflower that was more than likely planted by the birds in my planter, but it is lovely and makes me smile.

June got away from me with being sick, and at my doctor's appointment a month ago my pulse and blood pressure were high. I was put on an antibiotic, which took care of the sinus infection, but I continued to have random episodes of feeling light headed and easily winded. At my follow up appointment my blood pressure and pulse remained high and my doctor started me on a dose of blood pressure medication, which I began taking today. I also bought my own blood pressure cuff and she wants me to track it for the next three weeks, with a follow up appointment in early August.  I am grateful for the medication and look forward to positive results from it, but am concerned with what brought it on (other than a family history of heart disease) when there have been few significant changes in my life over the past few months (other than stress, perhaps). Eric is of the opinion I need more exercise, which I don't dispute, and I would like to lose some weight, but while I don't see myself as an athlete by any means, I also don't see myself as terribly sedentary either.  I agree in principle that I should step things up a bit (to which end I have my sisters old school Nordic track) but I will also admit to being very self conscious about exercising where I have an audience because of bad experiences when I was young in gym classes and so forth...  I do enjoy walking, and I wouldn't mind getting out more to go to the base gym if I had a regular way to get there.  

Skye is definitely keeping me active right now though. She has been here for a week and we have spent lots of time swimming in the smallish pool we put up in the back yard (emptying it and moving it around every couple of days). It has been a god-send inn burning off her energy by mid afternoon and getting her outside and keeping her cool over the heat of the day. She is also practicing riding her two-wheeler on the sidewalk once the front half of the yard is shaded and she is getting the hang of it. As much as I am enjoying her, she is wearing me out too and I look forward to bedtime.

My class is going well and I am keeping up despite the interruptions to my days. I am really enjoying the subject matter (counseling skills and procedures) and feel like I am refreshing rusty skills. Of the kids Aurora is the only one with a job still, and she is working her butt off at the kennels. Reimond is getting organized for school and is (I think) looking forward to it. I am still riding him to get thank you notes written for graduation before the summer ends, but he has his own time tables and they don't necessarily reflect mine (although I guess that could be said for all the kids). Eric is back on overnights so our sleep schedules are a bit screwy as we navigate who sleeps when, and I am doing my best to keep distractions to a minimum for him.

Liisa is starting to get he work done on her house and got her first insurance check to pay for things. The electrical is done, the central air is limping along while parts get ordered etc. and the roof is still under negotiation between her roofing contractor, the city, and the insurance company. Slowly but surely it is coming together for her and I am so happy for her and Zack. Tony and Andrea are doing fine. My kids are in summer school and seem to be enjoying it. We still need to coordinate schedules for the kids to come down to me, but we are still looking at the beginning of August for that.  

I am getting drowsy so I think I will go for now. I am still around and we are doing ok, just busy busy busy!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rainy days and Mondays...

For those of you NOT on Facebook, I have some photos of the storm damage at Liisa's house from Friday afternoon/evening. The old maple tree in the back yard lost half its crown in the straight line winds, taking down Liisa's power lines, ac unit, fence, and putting holes in the roof, along with lost shingles and gutters. The power mast to the house is damaged and she is awaiting info from insurance, the power company, et al on the order she needs to get things done: she has had no power since Friday.

 View from the back door...

What is left of the top of the tree still standing...

Needless to say, it's heartbreaking. Tony and Zack took a chainsaw to the branches in the yard on Saturday, and tarped the holes in the roof.  Now it is just a matter of organizing what needs to be done and getting it done. 

We had storms down here all weekend too, so we didn't go riding on the motorcycle as I had hoped. We did go see Man of Steel and it was good, although I thought the fight scenes and damage was over the top. I started with another sore throat on Sunday, almost identical to the one I had for round one of that viral crud, and today am congested, coughing, and frogged voice again. Obviously the antibiotics helped the sinus infection the original turned into, but my resistance is apparently low enough that I have round two on the virus...  Really sucks!

Eric is working his long week this week, and we are waiting to hear if we will be making a fast run to MN to pick up a friend of mine for a couple of weeks visit. She has some things going on and isn't sure yet if she is able to come down, but hopefully will have a better idea in the next few days. We could potentially be a busy household over the next 6 weeks--for sure from mid July thru mid August. I. Am all set to resume coursework on the 8th although I still need to order my books. 

Life is never dull, that's for sure.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

This is a picture from 1970, taken on board the Lake Champlain ferry, in New York. My dad was almost 41, and he died just shy of his 64th birthday. I miss him so much. I had a really rough night the other night and when i finally fell asleep dreamt I was at my parents house. For whatever reason, in my dream I decided to lay down on my parents bed, and as I drifted to sleep, I felt my father's arms wrap around me and hold me close, like I was a little girl again. The sensation of being held was so vivid, and felt so real that the next morning I asked Eric if he had held me in the night without my being consciously aware of it, and he said he hadn't; it makes me smile to think my dad knew I needed comforting and hugged me in my dreams.

This is a bit different Father's Day for us because Eric is working today and his dad is in the hospital with pneumonia in IN. The viral crud he had while here never fully left him and settled into his lungs, so he was admitted for some iv antibiotics, fluids, and breathing treatments for a couple of days. It sounds like he is doing ok, for which we are all grateful, and we send him lots of love and prayers to be better soon! Everyone here is still coughing as well, to a greater or lesser degree, dependent on when it started, and given how rapidly it spread, I am so glad Eric took the two days off he did when he was at his worst. The VA hospital didn't need that stuff floating around...

Patrick and his girlfriend decided to be in charge of dinner tonight, which is very nice of them, so I have been doing laundry and working on my appliqué squares (Cat Academy). Now that the rain has quit I have a few other things to do as well, and my spouse is on the phone, so it's time to get going.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Wow, June has passed by quickly!

Tis is what I have been working on over the past month or so, to relax from all the partying and traveling we have been doing.
This is called a spun single. It is part of the first half of the hand-dyed braided fleece I used to spin on this spindle. 
These are the completed spun singles I did, about 5,580 inches of spun fiber. The ball on the left is thicker and smaller than the one on the right.
This is the ball on the left plied with itself on the spindle to make my very first two-ply yarn. Some of it looks more like colorful rope than yarn, because it took a while to get the hang of spinning singles and keeping them consistent, but ball two turned out significantly better.
These are both balls plied with themselves, approximately 74 yards of two-ply yarn. It fluctuates between being really chunky to being more worsted weight, which is closer to what I wanted.  I soaked them per instructions to set the twist, and now they are drying in the bathroom. When dry, I will wind them into balls and use them to make something:).  I can now officially call myself a spinner. Not an expert by any means, but a spinner.

That is what I have spent a bulk of my free time doing lately; that and reading. We had a lovely visit with Eric's parents over last weekend, however we all came down with a nasty, communicable virus that swept the household, so things were pretty low key while they were here and I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in bed, and part of yesterday still hanging in my room. Other than Aurora, who is still pretty miserable, the rest of us are on the mend, and Eric went back to work today. She had yesterday and today off, so hopefully will be on the mend tomorrow when she is scheduled to work again.

Today I have spent some time sitting in the yard, and I am going to start focusing on some specific projects here in the house, things I am committed to getting done this summer. I had to enjoy the gorgeous day thou, because rain is predicted for the rest of the weekend. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Graduation day for Reimond and happy birthday to me!

Reimond's graduation went off without a hitch, and we had a hot, humid day for it. Thankfully the gymnasium was air conditioned so the poor kids didn't melt. Rei wore his dress pants, dress shirt, tie, and robes, but I let him wear his Avengers shoes in place of dress shoes, because they represent him.
This is him in his assigned seat after the procession in;
This is the entire graduating class;
He is Reimond getting his diploma from the Vice President of the school board, who happens to be the father of a friend of his and asked to have the group Reimond was in;
Me and Liisa before the graduation--I should have used her hair spray as her curls stayed immaculate, while mine very nicely fell apart (pout);
Reimond and I post ceremony (the odd thing sticking up is his hanger from his robes);
And, Reimond with two of his good friends.

Jim, Liisa, and Zack came down on Thursday afternoon and were here thru Sunday. We had a lovely time with them, and spent time grilling, visiting, and getting ready for the ceremony. We also took them on a tour to the Anheiser Busch brewery on Friday, along with Brie, James, the babies, and Patrick. It was a fun outing! Just wish we had had more time to do the touristy stuff.

My birthday was yesterday and I am now officially on the other side of the hill at 51. Eric made me a nice breakfast, we played some Everquest, and we had a quiet morning. Then, we went and did some browsing of some local places, followed by a late lunch and a movie. We saw the new Star Trek movie, and it was really fun. For the first time I was able to watch and enjoy a movie in 3d, something I have never done before (and it was really cool!).  We didn't know about the tornado in Oklahoma until we got home, and we followed some of the coverage on tv. We had some thunderstorms they the night that were loud, but nothing too bad, and today has been gloomy.

I talked to my academic advisor today at Capella, and I am registered for my class beginning July 8th.  I have also been working on getting ready for our trip north tomorrow. We are taking two of Rei's friends with us (in the picture above) for his party, while aurora stays home because she is dog sitting, and had a job interview today at a local kennel; and Patrick and his friend also stays home because of other commitments.  Brie, James, and Skye are also not going (unless something changes) because they are in LA on a work-related trip and their trip north would become 19 hours long... It'll be sad they can't be with us but they were all here for the party we had on Saturday after the ceremony.

That's all that's new since I last blogged, and I will post more pictures after we get home.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What I have been working on:

These are photos of finished projects and other things I have been working on lately:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Puppy love!

Liisa posted this on Facebook and tagged me in it, entitled "all my puppies!" Love it! Those are Popcorn, Sweet-tea, Kodie, Bailey, and Kajsa, taken tonight, while the snow fell outside. Just wanted to share Liisa's puppies :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013


No, I haven't stopped blogging...

I just took a break for a bit because I had my LASIK surgery and my eye was more uncomfortable than the lens replacement (which confused me a bit, given how invasive that was, but then realized the surface cutting was greater with the LASIK). The surgeon told me to limit my time on the computer while I initially healed so I took that to heart. My vision is amazing now, and I have 20/20 vision in both eyes, with little to no blurring. I can now do everything I did before, with an added bonus that I see rainbows in my peripheral vision on bright days or when the light hits just right (off the artificial lenses I now have, just as they give me "cat eyes" when the light hits them just right which freaks out the people around me...

We are in the final count down towards Reimond graduating, on May 18th, and his grades are doing fantastic, although he is having issues with sleep--he stays awake for up to 40 hours straight because he can't sleep, then crashes and sleeps 12-18 hours straight, missing school in the process. We are on the second new psychiatrist since his original one left the practice, and so far we haven't necessarily been satisfied with either of them. A lot of it is on Rei and his decision-making, but some of it is also chemical, and we need to have his meds synced with his body... He just says he should go nocturnal and everything will be fine, but I want to see him get thru this next month first. Liisa is getting things ready for his MN graduation party, and I am getting things ready here for her, Zack, and Jim to come down for his graduation. Announcements will get mailed out next week.

Brie is not graduating in May; there were some issues with her classes and having enough credits, so she is in the process of deciding what her next step will be (continuing at SWIC or moving to a state college closer to where they live and finishing up there). Eric still needs to figure out how he is going to get his diploma from ITT (whether he needs to pick it up in person or they are going to mail it) as we haven't heard anything yet about that. Aurora is plugging away at her classes and doing well, with lots more free time now that the college bowling season is done, and. Ae reminding all of our young adults that the time to job hunt is now, before the schools let out and competition for positions gets more fierce. Dan has been working only minimal hours at the gas station, and Patrick still hasn't found anything. Patrick has had a friend staying here with him who is also unemployed, so the house is starting to feel really crowded at times, but we are managing.

Skye has been living life "loud and proud" of late, which is sometimes a challenge when Eric is working overnights... She is into singing almost opratically (not sure if that is a real word as spell check doesn't like it) and she sings la la la as we walk outside, as she plays, and as she colors at the top of her lungs! She figured out how to pedal her trike the other day. After getting really frustrated on her two-wheeler (pedaling back triggers the brakes and she can't go anywhere on it); she is very proud she can now pedal on the trike, and weather permitting we have been outside a lot when she is here. She has also been playing "tiny baby" and wanting to be held/rocked as though she were an infant. It's a game, but I think somehow related to Liam being just 16 months old and in her eyes a "tiny baby". Skye also is learning words to real songs and she loves to sing and dance. Her vocabulary is wonderful although sometimes one has to listen carefully and she is quick to correct if we don't understand (I repeat to her what I hear, she say no, and says it again). Most of the time we get it, but not always and she gets frustrated with us for being dense.

My mom has gotten good reports thus far from the cardiologist. Her blood pressure has stabilized at a good rate, her heart beat seems to be regular, and the swelling in her legs has gone down considerably. She has consistently felt good through all of this (been a symptomatic) so she has no complaints that way, and has been told she can do whatever she wants so long as she pays attention to what her body is telling her. She had Easter Sunday at her house for the family and while everyone made a point to pitch in, she enjoyed the process. Everyone up there is sick and tired of snow, and while it isn't usual to have so much snow so late in the season, it isn't common either. We of course are dealing with rain down here, and flooding from it. We are not looking forward to the melting up there which will affect the water levels of the Mississippi River down here, among others. We are up on a hill, so the flooding of silver creek only affects us by covering the walking trail out back. It is pretty to see the snowy white egrets standing in the small ponds of dirty water where the water has flooded out of the tree line and into the grass.

Liisa had a wonderful time at the Diamond Awards gala last weekend. She bought a lovely cocktail dress for the occasion, Kristi did up her hair for her, and she looked beautiful (sent me lots of pictures). She didn't win the service award, but her interim general manger told her repeatedly that she was robbed, that she deserved it, and how proud everyone from the hotel was of her. She handled the "loss" with grace and generosity, and thinks she knows the woman who won it ( someone she thinks was a former co-worker back when she worked at sears almost 15 years ago). We are all proud of her that she was one of over 400 candidates and ended up in the top five. She was acting guest services manager during her boss' maternity leave, and now that she is back is still functioning in a supervisory capacity. Her and Zack are working lots of hours between them, and almost have to make appointments to see each other, but they are doing well, and Zack's kids are growing like weeds, as are Justin and Alexis.

Tony and Andrea too are doing fine. Tony went to Myrtle Beach this year with Jesse, my nephew Colin, and a friend of theirs to show a street rod they built together. They won the award of having traveled the furthest for the show, had a fantastic time, and got "pulled over" numerous times by curious police who wanted to know more about their vehicle ( it has it's own Facebook page at Ten Bolts, which is also its license plate). Random people have taken pictures of it and shared it on Facebook-total strangers to the boys- and they are really proud of the buzz it's created. It's a 1968 limousine body welded onto a pickup truck frame, and it is really cool looking. Tony is a certified welder, so he did a lot of the body work, and the boys are all auto mechanics, so it is sound and runs well. I will do a follow up post of pictures (my blog doesn't always let me insert the photos where I want them to be within the body of the text). Andrea is planning out the summer for the kids, and they are planning to let Justin and Alexis come down to me for a couple of weeks after summer school gets out, which we all are looking forward to. If Justin (and Tony) had their way, the kids would be down here all summer long with me /grin. I miss my kids something fierce and am looking forward to "my" time with them.

I think that updates everyone on what has been going one in our lives, and we are staying healthy, busy, and focused!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rainy days and Sundays

Oh how I miss the sun. I know we need the rain, and I know that it is mild out, but oh how I miss the sun. Between that and the time change I feel all sleepy and discombobulated. I have no drive to go and do anything today that relates to chores or other "jobs". Eric worked today for part of the day and then had a bowling tournament this afternoon. Aurora had a bowling tournament this weekend to (regionals I believe) "somewhere in TN" and she hasn't really said how they (or she) did. The boys as usual, are off doing their thing, and as I have no car, I have been home playing games on my iPad and computer, reading, and ignoring the rest of the world. Eric has the next few days off se we can play catch up then.

We had some sad news on the Soulak side of the family this week. Jim's aunt by marriage died of lung cancer on Wednesday. The irony is I knew her mother quite well when I was just a teenager, before she married Jim's uncle, and we were able to reconnect at the wedding. Karen was a lovely woman and will be dearly missed. She was warm, gracious, and loving, and she leaves behind a family who treasured her. The cancer was only diagnosed a month ago, so she went quickly, and was only 69. So sad! Liisa and her dad will represent the family at the funeral on Tuesday and I will send a card. I am grateful the Soulaks still consider me family and keep me in the loop. After 20+ years as a part of them, it's hard to step away.

I started sewing up a dress I had cut out, and it is coming along nicely. It's a little more fitted than I would like, but if I pay attention to what I am doing, it should be fine. It's a nice linen dress, which I thought might be nice for Reimond's graduation, so I have a few months yet. It's strange to realize I have already had my sewing machine for 3.5 years, as it still feels brand new to me! It was brought home to me though when I had it cleaned recently and I got the memo that the extended warranty we had put on it is due to run out the beginning of November and is NOT renewable. I have had very little trouble with it for the most part, but the cleanings and routine maintenance are expensive without that plan so it's something to be aware of.

I am finishing up on a pair of socks I have been knitting for Skye. She is so excited about the one being done and she hands me my knitting to be sure I finish the other one for her. She has taken to saying "fantastic", complete with fist pump, when she is happy with something, and she started saying "absolutely" when I used it to agree with her one afternoon. It's so fun to heart what she is gonna come up with next. She also knows how to pinkie promise and she has been a ball of energy of late, as well as a bottomless pit--she has been nibbling nonstop, mostly stuff that is good for her like fruit or string cheese, but I am getting tired of her helping herself to things in the fridge because she thinks she is big enough to so it on her own...

That's basically all the news from here. Hope everyone stays warm and dry!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Making changes

Lately I have been feeling stuck. I look in the mirror and see myself looking old, colorless, bland. To that end, I decided to make a few changes.

First, I found a hairstyle I like that I think I can pull off:

Then, I made an appointment at the salon and took a "before" picture:

Then I shard the photo with the stylist and had her cut my hair and wax my eyebrows. I also went to the makeup counter at JC Penny's and bought some new lipstick and a new, waterproof mascara (because the one I have gets washed away by my eye drops) and took this photo:

When I got home, I added makeup and took this picture:

I am a little disappointed in my stylist because she doesn't know how to "round brush" hair, which I think would have added volume and curl to my cut, making it look closer to the inspiration photo, but I am going to try that myself today. I also think she was intimidated by how long my hair actually was, and despite cutting off almost 4 inches in length and adding layers, she placed the layers fairly low down, so while they are obvious, they are not as obvious as they are in the inspiration picture. I am going to play with it and see how this style works for me, and if nothing else, I can always try again when I am in need of another haircut. I have. Round brush, my hot rollers, and my curling iron. She did clean up and angle my bangs, which I am trying to grow out (as much as they bug me right now) and we will see where this takes me. My goal is to daily put on subtle makeup (mascara and blush) because my eyes are so small looking otherwise, and to wear lipstick when I leave the house to add some color to my face and define my features a bit.

I bought a weight watchers brand scale yesterday as well, to help monitor where I am at, and will again resume counting points (I easily get off track and then give up). I have gone through my closet and dresser drawers and pulled out a huge bag of things I no longer like, wear, or want, and will put them out for the clothing drive on Thursday, and I have made a point of putting away my clothes as soon as they are folded. I am trying to work on reducing the clutter in my life so I feel better about me, and by extension my stuff, realizing that it is a process and wont change overnight. I figure Reimond is graduating in May, which will create a new turning point in MY life, so my goal is to slowly prepare myself for the next phase, that of being a parent to adult children who are responsible for themselves (at least for the most part). I am looking towards finding an internship, and perhaps a part-time job, something that will help with the budget as well as allow me to do something meaningful outside of the house.

For me, it's about taking small steps forward in faith, dealing with one thing at a time, and learning new habits. Change is, and always has been scary for me, but as the old saying goes: change occurs when the pain of staying the same is greater than the fear of moving forward. I am tired of feeling stuck and spinning my wheels. I know this time of stasis has been a blessing in so many ways, but I am ready to start letting go of some things so that there is room for new blessings. I trust in God's plan for my future, and I look forward to this new chapter in my life, one that is focused primarily on my relationship with my husband and our life, while encouraging the "children" to be independent adults, responsible for themselves and their life choices.

These next few months are going to be works in progress, and I highly doubt things will be finished by the time Memorial Day comes around, but at least I am making a start.