Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Great Tree Adventure

The holidays are a time steeped in tradition for me. Every year, one of the first big events for our family was heading out the tree farm to choose a tree. DP and I haven't done this many years, mostly because he doesn't seem as keen as me to spend hours trudging around the acres of tree farm, trying to find the most perfect tree. The last year we cut and decorated a traditional tree was the year I was pregnant with Eamon. The year Eamon was nearly a year, I crafted an alternative, toddler friendly non-tree, and last year we had a simple rooted tree that we kept outside (apparently it wasn't fantastic enough to blog about, but I did snap a few pictures of it.)

This year, our tree fetching plans have been delayed quite a bit. Though DP's new work schedule allows us more time together on weekends, the busy nature of the holiday season and the unpredictable weather mean we haven't been able to get out to the tree farm until this weekend. When I mentioned going to the tree farm to Eamon, the conversation looked like this.

"Eamon, Daddy and I would like to go get a Christmas tree this weekend. How does that sound?"

"That sounds good. Can we go now?"

"Well, we will go in a few days. We are going to go the Christmas tree farm and pick the perfect tree-"

"The most perfect one? Can we please go to the Christmas tree farm right now?"

"It's not open today. We will pick the perfect tree to bring home with us."

"Yes! I want to get my favorite tree."

"Then we will cut it down and-"

"NO! I don't want to cut down a tree! I don't like that!"

What's a family to do when the three year old is opposed to cutting a tree, even when you explain that Christmas trees are grown to be cut, and that another will be planted in its place? Head off to the local nursery, of course. 

But then... The nursery was closed, and Eamon was asleep in the car. Perfect opportunity to cut a tree and him be none the wiser (he thought we were going to the Christmas tree STORE to find a tree and no, we wouldn't have to cut it down.) We headed over to the farm in the pouring rain. I decided to go in search of the perfect tree, leaving the boys in the car to stay snug and dry. When I found a tree, I texted Chris a picture, and he came out and cut it down.
This is the picture I sent to Chris. "I want a tree like this one this year, okay?"
When we got the tree home, we had to cut a fair bit off. See what happens when we are in a hurry, trying not to get soaked to the bone, and not out there together? We cut down a tree taller than our ceilings. DP came in and said, "There's thirty dollars worth of tree on the front porch. I hope you do something really good with it."
Eamon pretending to be the tree!
Adding his baby's first Christmas (but not really) ornament.

All Eamon cared about was putting the star on top... He wanted to do that first.

The finished product. It just needs some presents and stockings!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Some Recent Montessori Work

As the boys and I move further into our Montessori journey, I find I'm spending more and more time reading Montessori blogs, and my pin board is growing really fast. I try to introduce two to three new materials a week, depending on what the boys are showing interest in. Here's a few materials I've introduced recently.


The sand tray with pre-writing symbols. This work is wonderful because it will be useful for a long time - as the boys master the current cards, I will add more complex symbols and then move into numbers and letters. This tray is actually filled with baking soda because it is a finer texture and provides a new tactile experience, and because sand=play to these boys.


Various closures on a turkey. I saw this on Pinterest, but each feather was attached with a button, and I wanted to add some variety. We have dressing frames, so this is just another way to practice. In addition to attaching the feathers, we talk about the names of each type of attachment and where it might be found.
Another fine motor activity. The tiny loops on these ornaments are fussy even for me, so they provide a big challenge for the boys. This work also incorporates balance - if you put all the balls on one side of the tree, it falls over.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cozy Cavy Cave

It's cold outside, and I feel a little sad that our sweet little guinea pig has to sleep all by himself, while our family all piles under a plush down duvet. It's time for a homemade cuddle sack, I think.

Step 1: Find entertainment for three year old.
Step 2: Find suitable fabrics. Fleece is wonderful because it stays dry and it's cuddly. Plus, Oscar McSqueakerson has already shown his preference for fleece.
Step 3: Gather materials. Fleece for inside, coordinating cotton for outside, a strip of plastic for the pop-up entrance (no worries, all will become clear soon).

Step 4:  Fold your materials, then cut to your desired size. I made mine about 8 by 11. I figure he'll need a new one when he's full grown but this will work for now.

Step 5: Sew down the long sides of your materials, using a  slightly wider seam allowance for your inner pouch. Turn the outer pouch right side out, then slip it inside the inner pouch, so they are right sides together. Trim the seam allowances on the inner pouch. 

Step 6: Sew the tops of the pouches together, leaving a hole for turning.

Step 7: Turn and press (be careful pressing fleece, of course). Then, cut a thin strip of plastic about 1/2 inch shorter than your pouch. My strip is 1/2" wide. This basically just keeps the end of the pouch open so your piggy can climb in more easily.


Step 8: Sew a casing for your plastic strip, slide the strip in using the turning hole, then secure the ends of the plastic with a line of stitching. Be sure to have a little tension on the plastic (IE: if your plastic strip is 10 inches long, sew your securing stitches 9.75" apart) so it arches up and holds your pouch open.

Step 9:Sew your turning hole closed.

Step 10: Fill the pouch with timothy hay and watch your cavy dive in! Oscar McSqueakerson is frequently found sleeping in his pouch.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A New Chapter

Today I breathe a little easier. My road has been rocky the past few years, and nearly impossible to navigate early this summer. The past few months have been much easier, but I've redrawn my maps, and familiar places are brand new again, they look and feel different.

Today, though, a major road block has been overcome. There has been a constant threat that has prevented my full healing, but it seems that threat has lost its frightfulness, its power over me, and I no longer need to worry.

I took a deep breathe and looked around, and I liked what I saw. The road in front of me is full of light and hope and positive changes. My surroundings are comfortable and familiar again. I don't have the constant nagging feeling that the bottom is going to drop out at any moment, because no one has power over me except me.

This is likely to be my last post with the label "life lessons." It's been a summer full of change and learning, of discovery, heartache, love, hurt, and healing. Now, a new season begins in our life. That chapter is closing, and we begin writing our next adventure.

And now, as part of that new adventure, I'd like to introduce DP (Dear Partner), formerly known as POSSLQ. The internet is full of acronyms, and none are truly fitting, but Dear ______ is pretty standard in the blogging world, and the man I used to call POSSLQ is just that - dear to me, and my partner in all aspects.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cables & Hoods Notes

For knitting this pattern as one piece, some changes are needed.

After finally committing to a cast on number, I finished the 2x2 rib and started the cable set up round.  I realized about halfway through the back set up that my cables didn't match up to the rib, and that it would drive me nuts.  I decided to adjust the set up row, but after I did that, I realized it would make more sense to adjust the rib, so I'm restarting.

If I had this to do over, I'd adjust the center back cable (cable C) so it's a mirror image on itself.

Two weeks in, I'm finally making decent progress.  The cables are relatively simple, and right now it's just the monotonous straight part of the sweater.  I'm nearly halfway to the armpit decreases, which I assume is where all the fun will start...


Modifications:

CO 146, do 2x2 rib (start with p since it's a WS) for 38 stitches, PM, restart 2x2 rib.  You'll have 4 purl stitches together here.  Continue rib for 70 st, PM.  Restart 2x2 rib again, having 4 purl stitches together again.

Knit as shown for 1.5 in, slipping first stitch on each row, then start cable set up round.

I decided to chart the cables as a continuous chart so I could follow it easily.  Again, there was some modifications, since I used a size 3 on the fronts and size 1 on the back.


Decreases for arm:

Work R front panel to 14 in, Row 1 of cable E


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Haha.

Tonight, I'm just amused. Sometimes people think they have a lot of control over others' lives. They say and do things to try to illicit reaction. I'm guilty of doing so myself.

Tonight, though, I realize that I've become mostly unshakeable. Information that was meant to hurt me actually did the opposite -it served to show me that my heart is mending, that my sense of humor has survived, that my relationship with POSSLQ is strong and resilient.

And speaking of POSSLQ, you'll see a new blog moniker for him soon. Maybe POSSHLS - person of opposite sex sharing heart life soul. Maybe something even better than that. We'll see. But in any case, I'm retiring the moniker POSSLQ.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Autumn Bounty

Autumn is my very favorite time of year. I love the crisp air, the mulched smell of decaying leaves, the bright sun and brisk breeze. I love the look of a frost-bitten garden and the long shadows on autumn afternoons.

For most people, autumn symbolizes the tucking in of the harvest, the start of the long, cold, dark seasons. For me, it's always been a time of renewal. Perhaps since my birthday falls just after the autumnal equinox, I feel my year starting anew just as everyone else's is winding to a close.

This year, autumn is especially poignant. My life started many new chapters this summer. I started a new job, as did POSSLQ. I found strength I never knew I had and am overcoming the trauma that shadowed my summer. My relationship feels brand new.  Even my car is new (to me). This fall it seems we are finally reaching some sense of normalcy, restoring balance to the upheaval of our life.

I've been stepping out to my garden with less frequency as the weather cools, and I made my final harvest today. It was wonderful to wander the rows and see every plant preparing itself for winter.
I was planning to harvest seeds, but one day I saw four birds
eating from this flower, and decided they needed them more than me!

My marigolds were beautiful this year, and look striking with deadened blooms and dried stalks.

The herb spiral, filled in very nicely.

Peppers I saved just before a hard frost. 


Dried beans. We only have about 1/3 of what I hoped for,
since most of our plants gotten eaten by rabbits.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Recovery

The last twenty four hours have been marked with good progress in recovery. Open and honest communication has led to better understanding and a greater sense of peace, and this morning I took a big step toward restoring my personal sanity. I made a small change that will have a big impact on my daily routine and, hopefully, a big impact on my ability to look forward from now on.

Our recent family vacation helped recharge the parts of me that felt sucked dry. My stores of good emotion have been refilled, and I can feel myself returning to the happier person I once was.

Recovery from trauma is slow and tiresome for both POSSLQ and me, but I can already see the fruits of our hard work - we are becoming the sort of couple we always should have been. We are open and honest and affectionate and happy to be together.
Fresh out of the hot springs

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Third of My Life

A decade. Ten years. Nearly a third of my life.

That's how long I've spent making a life with POSSLQ. What started out as a casual friendship quickly developed into more, and somehow slipped into a shared vision of the future.

Time is a funny thing. I'm always amazed how a part of one's life can seem so long ago and so very recent at the same time. I can remember the early days of our relationship so vividly, but it also seems like I can barely remember the time before he was a part of my life.

In ten years, we've have quite a ride. All relationships are full of ups and downs, and ours is no different. We've weathered a storm recently, but seem to have come out the other side stronger and healthier, more committed to our future and each other.

October 2013
January 2004, four months into our adventure

Friday, September 27, 2013

A New Normal

This summer has been full of change. Change for nearly everyone in my life. We have friends who have lost their jobs. Friends who have moved home. Friends who have changed careers and moved home. Friends who are moving away, getting married, having babies.

In June, our life changed dramatically as well. Our reality was turned on its head. Truth became fiction, dreams were forgotten, heartache ensued, hard work began. Summer is always a busy time for us, but this summer has been so full we've barely had time to breathe. Just as we came up for air after the crash, the next event loomed on the horizon. As that passed us by, another popped up. We planned and attended, and then POSSLQ headed out of town for two weeks. He arrived back just in time to start a new career. Within a week, it was time to throw ourselves head first into a project of love, an annual event that demands all our time and attention. As soon as we finished that, it was time to start the next planning project. Then, E and I went on holiday for a week.

Now, as summer slips quickly into autumn, I look at the calendar and realize we have a few more events moving in on us. It seems we have kept ourselves busy and distracted this summer, and we've done our rebuilding quietly, fitting it in to our busy lives.

For many years, we lived an alternate existence - a disengaged shell of a life. We talked, but not about real things. We shared a life, but only because we shared a home and a child. When the bottom fell out, we were forced to change that way of life. We chose to find a new normal, but we've been too busy to find it so far. I wonder what will happen when life settles down and we try to find our new normal.

Many things are drastically different, but many things are the same. We live in the same town, see the same people. We both have new jobs, but our old haunts are still our favorite haunts. Sometimes the past, the pain, shows itself unexpectedly. Sometimes it catches me off guard. And sometimes, it knocks the wind out of me.

I look forward to meeting our new normal. Our new life, our new love, our new happiness, will undoubtedly have its busy times and its rough patches, but it will be ours. It will be the normal we purposefully set out to create, and it will be wonderful.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Grand Romantic Gesture

As a child, I always remember being awed by the grand romantic gestures you see in movies. I remember being certain that everyone's story came with a turning point, a moment when one of the people sharing the story would make a sweeping declaration of love that altered the course of the story.

Growing up in an era of night time soaps and teeny bopper movies like "She's All That" and "10 Things I Hate About You," my teen years were just as filled with grand romantic gestures - boys singing in front of the whole school, girls rushing to the airport to declare their love.

I've been in and out of a few relationships, and I've been waiting for my grand romantic gesture for a while. I kept hoping it was right around the corner.

Recently, my grand romantic gesture came in the form of a subtle romantic gesture. It was something that caught my attention when it happened, but the true implications weren't immediately apparent. The CHOICE that was made didn't sink in right away. I've come to realize that the grand romantic gesture is not always that. It's not always grand. Sometimes it's subtle, and it's only in hindsight that you realize just how truly life altering and romantic it really was. I'm no longer waiting for my swept-off-my-feet, public declaration of love moment. It happened quietly and sweetly, and I feel swept off my feet each time I catch that guy's eye.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Prefix used with the meaning "again"

Reassess.
Redefine.
Reconnect.
Rekindle.
Rebuild.
Recommit.
Rediscover.

The past three months of my life have been full of a prefix used with the meaning "again." As we muddle through to find our new path, POSSLQ and I have run across an abundance of verbs we need to do again. And again and again.  We've come so very far in a very short time, but we have a lot of travelling yet to do.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Harvest

Having a garden is always a learning experience for me. It seems there is always an applicable life lesson in getting my hands dirty. This year, I had a lot of work to do before I could plant. We moved the garden space, so it had to be tilled and tilled and tilled again. It was hard, boring, painful work. Then, I fertilized by incorporating chicken compost into the soil. Load after load, I scooped compost out of the chicken run and into the wheelbarrow, then spread it on the garden. The planting was the easy part, though planning how to fit everything in was a bit of a challenge. Now, for the past few months, we've just been watching it grow. A healthy growing garden takes little work, except encouraging the growth in the direction you want (like, not sprawling all over the yard). The harvest came early and full force - first zucchini, then cucumbers. Now our tomatoes are glowing red all over the vine, and the popcorn is starting to dry on the stalk. Pumpkins are in various stages of growth, a few yellow and full sized, a few very young and dark green. It looks like our harvest will be bountiful, and extended - we have squash plants that are just now starting to flower.
We've got cucumbers everywhere - it's time for pickles!

18 cups of shredded zucchini, ready to be added to breads and muffins throughout the year!

My first tomato. There's many more coming ripe now.

Pumpkins. Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite things, so I'm glad
to be able to make it from my garden this year.

Winter squash. I've never grown (or cooked) it, but I had the seed, so I wanted to try. 

Like our garden, our relationship has taken a lot of work this year. We are re-building from the ground up. It's tilling, and more tilling, and fertilizing, weeding, planting, watering. Hours have been spent pruning away the dead branches, encouraging the new growth. We still have a way to go, but the fruit is starting to show, and the harvest will be sweet, bountiful, and extended.

An old, old picture, but one of my favorites of us. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Crazy Crazy Crazy

Sometimes, a realization comes crashing in on me. It's fast and obvious, and all the evidence supports it.

Sometimes, a truth is slow to reveal itself to me. I suspect it, but can't be certain. Then, over time, the evidence just keeps piling up, and there's no way around it.

Every now and then in life you come across a person who is truly crazy. A person whose definitions are so warped and whose experiences are so colored by their desires that the truth is barely there, barely visible under all the delusion.

It's not lies. No, no. That's a talent of a different sort. This is the ability to paint a picture that looks very true to the painter. But those observing, those who have enough of the facts to make an assessment, can hardly see the facts under the paint.

It's an emotional defense mechanism. When you've been severely emotionally wounded, it only makes sense that your psyche would rearrange the facts to aid your healing.

And that's the thing about truth. As I've said before, it's not set in stone. Each person's truth is a little different (and sometimes drastically different). And in the end, does it really matter, as long as you learn and grow from your truth?

Reconnection

POSSLQ and I are exactly two months into our new journey. It's been nine weeks since our lives were turned upside down, our relationship tested, our love pushed to the breaking point. We had tough choices to make, and night after night of challenging, heartbreaking discussion. It was hard, but we were both committed to the changes we need to make. There were days when it seemed like we would never be above water again. There were days when it seemed like we just couldn't get on the same page. But there was never a day when it seemed easier to give up.

Suddenly, a few days before he went out of town, things started to look up. The black cloud that was polluting our relationship rolled back as we both started to heal, as understanding and forgiveness started to overtake hurt and confusion. Love was always there, but it was now beginning to rise above the pain. Things were looking up.

Then, POSSLQ got on that bus. The first few days were tough but not impossible. Then, after a week of separation, my mind started to get dark again. I was getting drawn into the things that made forgiveness hard, the facts that made the hurt feel impossible to escape. And when I expressed those feelings to Chris, he responded in truly heroic fashion. He turned my focus around in just a few hours. As I said in Feeling So Loved, he began to shower me with little messages, and changed the topic of our conversation away from the mundane day-to-day. We started talking about our relationship and our future, our hopes for ourselves and each other, our dreams for our family. We concentrated on how to reconnect and strengthen our relationship, and had many revelations about how to prevent a relapse of the disconnect we've felt for so many years.

When I finally picked him up after his adventure, I couldn't believe how close we felt, even though we'd been apart for two weeks. We are in tune in a way we haven't been in years. He is a person who I thought was lost. I thought the fun-loving, silly, sweet side of him had been lost forever, but the truth is, he was buried under years of poor communication, lack of connection, and the burdens of a routine you feel like you can't escape. The past few days have been a blast. We have rediscovered a facet of our relationship that we haven't seen in years. We can sit on the couch and just be, and actually feel connected. We can talk for hours and not run out of things to say. We feel young again, and energized, and happy.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Big Latch On


The Big Latch On is a special event that began in 2010 in Portland, Oregon, and went nationwide in 2011. It is an opportunity for nursing mothers to come together in love and support. It's an opportunity for future mothers to learn about breastfeeding. It's an opportunity for women to share their successes, and talk about their challenges.

Eamon and I have been very privileged to participate every year. When E was seven months old, I found out about the BLO and started looking at events close to us. Then I discovered we would be travelling to Arizona during the event. The closest event listed was over an hour's drive from Tucson, and it was scheduled for the day after our cross country flight, but I figured I would get the details anyway, just in case we wanted to go. A few days before our flight, I double checked the address of the event, and an event had been added in Tucson! We were able to sit and latch at the local mall, less than twenty minutes from where we were staying while on vacation. We met many friends, including a year old baby who was fed donated milk via a supplemental nursing system (SNS). Feeding via SNS for a year is a huge commitment for a mother - what a rock star. We also met a preschooler who refused to nurse at the mall, because "nanas are only for home, mommy."

In 2012, we were planning a road trip to Pennsylvania and Ohio on the date of the Big Latch On. I looked at the map, and realized that there was an event directly on my route from PA to OH. I would just need to get off the interstate and drive around a small town to find the park. Again, we met many interesting mothers. At nineteen months old, Eamon was among the oldest nursling at the event.

In 2013, we would be home, so I started to plan our hour long drive to reach the nearest Big Latch On event. It only took a day or two to realize that my sister, who has a new nursling, wouldn't be able to make that drive, but I really wanted to share the Big Latch On experience with her. Together, we cooked up the idea to host our own event right here in Small Town Virginia. We were very fortunate to have the pieces fall into place, and we were able to host an amazing event. I set my goal pretty high, and was hoping to have a dozen mother/baby dyads latching. When we got our count at 10:31, we had 13! I was so proud of all those mamas, and all those babies. We had one mother who was nursing in public for the first time that day. Again, Eamon was the oldest nursling (now 31 months), but there were two children there around two years old, and several nearing the one year mark. For an area with a pitifully low breastfeeding rate, we did incredibly well!

I don't know if Eamon will still be nursing for next year's event, but I know I will be there to help plan and host. The Big Latch On is an important event, and it deserves our support. Thank you, Big Latch On organizers, for conceiving the idea and seeing it to completion.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Feeling So Loved

POSSLQ has been out of town for nearly two weeks. I miss him something terrible. Over the weekend, I slipped into a sad place, and started to feel really down.

We've started a new chapter in our life, and part of that change has been a complete turn around in the way we communicate. We've always been pretty good at reading each other's feelings, but expressing what is causing those feelings has always been hard. On Sunday, when I was feeling really low, I was able to articulate how I was feeling and why.

Shortly after that, I got the first of what is probably now close to 1,000 text messages. It was just a little uplifting message, but it started a cascade of conversation that has been almost constant since then. For nearly four days, I've been showered in 'round the clock sweet things, heartwarming notes, and, most importantly, BIG BIG LOVE.

It's amazing that someone can be so far away, but feel so close. I miss the little touches, glances, hugs, and kisses, but I can feel that love just oozing out of his beautiful words.




Monday, July 29, 2013

As July Draws to a Close...

... the garden grows even more bountiful.
The tomatoes are finally getting a little touch of red.
The pumpkins are turning a beautiful yellowish orange, 
and a furry little watermelon has popped up.
The herb garden is starting to fill in a little, too.
I've got marigolds!

And just for good measure, a little boy caring for his chicks.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Quick (and Outdated) Pop Culture Reference

To help pass the boring hours between E's bedtime and my own (which, admittedly, are not very many hours), I've been re-watching Dawson's Creek. As a teen, I identified strongly with the characters, and I used to set my alarm for 2:45 AM in college when the WB dropped the show, and we could only get it locally at 3 AM. When POSSLQ and I first started "courting," he would sit and watch episodes with me after he came home from work in the mornings.

The other night I was watching the episode where Joey breaks up with Dawson. She basically says that she doesn't have a definition of herself outside of the context of him, and that scares her. She needs to figure out who she is without him, so she breaks up with him to find herself.

I was struck with a sudden realization - THIS is the difference between women of the Dawson's era and women of the Twilight era. At a critical time in our development as adolescents, we were given very different examples.

For those of us who can now see age 30 in our rear view mirror, Joey showed us that we must find our own way before we can be happy in a relationship. Only once we have become strong, independent women can we let ourselves become part of an "us" definition.

In stark contrast, the main character in the Twilight series, Bella, completely loses herself in her boyfriends. She has very little definition of self, and crumbles to pieces when Edward leaves, feeling that she is nothing without him. I remember reading the series and becoming more and more enraged and disgusted by her behavior, especially as she moves away from Edward, and instead of getting to know herself, immediately begins to define herself in terms of Jacob.

I must say, it was brilliant on the part of the author to create Bella as a blank canvas. She is incredibly easy to relate to, particularly for the teens and young adult women who were the target audience. I've heard many young women comment, "Oh, Bella is just like me!" Because her only true characteristic is her clumsiness, she is a blank screen onto which any reader can project herself.

Unfortunately, I feel Twilight has given many women in their early twenties a very distorted view of relationships. These women see the men in their lives in an unhealthy way. They lose themselves in their love, will do nearly anything to maintain the love, and collapse completely when that love is lost. My hope is that most young women will eventually learn how to be in a relationship without this happening. That they will learn to cultivate healthy images of themselves and grow into independent women who are with a partner because they choose to be, not because they need a partner to define themselves. In the meantime, I see many young women whose lives are falling apart for very little reason, other than the role model they were shown at a crucial stage of life was (in my opinion) seriously lacking in integrity, self worth, and confidence.

The Power of...

Vinegar!

I'm often surprised when I hear someone doesn't have vinegar in their house. I'm not really sure how a household survives without three ingredients: coconut oil, baking soda, and vinegar. We use copious amounts of all three around here. I could spend all day extolling the uses of white vinegar, but today I'll just talk about one: restoring cast iron.

I found a cast iron pan outside a friend's house recently that was left by the previous renters. It was in terrible shape - covered in rust and dirt. I did some trolling on Pinterest to see the best way to restore it, and was saddened by the frequency with which I was reading "oven cleaner." I won't even use that stuff on my oven, so I'm certainly not going to use it on a pan that will be in direct contact with my food. I finally ran across a blog which suggested soaking the pan in white vinegar. I put it in and let it sit, and suddenly it started fizzing. A few hours later, I could see sheets of black yuck lifting off. When I took the pan out of the vinegar, the rust came right off with a wire brush. The following pictures show my progress over the past week or two. Most of the information I gathered from a blog called www.biscuitsandsuch.com.
The pan after letting the first area soak. The top is how it looked after I
scrubbed the loose, flaky rust off.
Wow. 
Still needs a little work, but it's pretty amazing for a $3 gallon
 of white vinegar and very little elbow grease.

After all the scrubbing and soaking. 
I put some oil in it on the grill to help remove the last of the rust in the corners.

Sitting next to her new buddy, just after the first seasoning.

Happy re-birth day, cast iron!


Monday, July 22, 2013

Truth

Truth is a fickle thing. It's hardly absolute. It can change for someone as his or her perception changes.  Truth seems open to interpretation. Two people involved in the same situation may have very different truths. Neither person is right or wrong, since truth is influenced by emotion and circumstance.

This is something that is seen a lot in police work and in psychiatry. When police arrive on scene, they rush to gather factual information before our brains have time to put that information into the context of our life. Once we have time to process, the truth is tainted by our experiences. What we were certain about, we are suddenly unsure of. Psychiatrists see this truth-bending in the forms of repression, false memory, and escapism. Truths are so ugly or painful they need to be retold in a different way, or simply forgotten.

Sometimes in painful situations, your version of the truth must change to protect yourself. For your healing, your sanity, and your peace of mind, your truth morphs. The truths you never before saw suddenly come to light, and truths you knew for certain fall away, becoming lies or just plain forgotten facts. Treading through the remains of a painful situation means picking up partial truths and lies told to protect. It means traversing an emotion-laden battlefield and trying to piece those truths and lies together. It means reliving sad memories, and learning that happy ones now look like a farce.

Treading through the remains of a painful situation is a journey I'm done with. The future looks bright, and I'll keep my eyes there. The truth is, the past is the past and you can't take it back. No point in wasting energy there.

The Little Things

Whenever POSSLQ is out of town, I miss him terribly. With every thing we've been through this past month, we've drawn closer than we've ever been, and I miss him something fierce already. I miss his presence, but it's surprising how much I miss the little things. Those things that almost go unnoticed until they aren't there anymore. Those things that make you love a person all the more, without even realizing it.

Because E still nurses to sleep, I take care of bedtime by myself, though POSSLQ often comes up just as E's eyelids are sliding closed. For some reason, I often get quite thirsty at bedtime. Whenever I ask for a glass of water at E's bedtime, POSSLQ brings me a glass stuffed full of ice and a straw. I love it. It's so much more than a glass of water - it's a reminder of the early days of nursing, when he was constantly at my side with a glass of ice water. It's a loving gesture that's existed for the past three years, not quite a night time ritual, but definitely a thoughtful action at least once a week.

When E is playing by himself, sometimes he says and does really hilarious things. I know I can look up and catch POSSLQ's eye, and we will share a smile over this funny little person we created. It's amazing how much a glance can convey. Even when we are in a bad place, E's antics can bring us together and make us laugh. He has a talent for diffusing a situation with his silly little boy humor, and when he plays alone he doesn't even know he's being funny - he's just being himself.

When we are driving in the car, POSSLQ will often reach his hand out and place it gently and silently on my knee. It's something he's done for years. I can't remember exactly when it started, but I know how it makes me feel, and he often reaches out even when we've been arguing. It's not exactly a peacemaking gesture in that context, but more of a "this too shall pass." It's a comfort, and often melts my frustration away. His hand rested on my knee most of the trip to the bus station on Friday, and my knee felt awfully cold on the drive home.

POSSLQ has a knack for knowing exactly what I'm craving at the grocery store. He'll go to get dinner supplies, and come back with my favorite ice cream. Right now there's a box of ice cream in the freezer, but I know when that is gone, I'll have to remember to treat myself, or be without ice cream until August.

Often I come home from work and the dishes are washed, or the living area tidied. Many mornings, I come downstairs and the toys that were left strewn about at bedtime are all in their proper places. The last few days, things seem to be exactly as I left them - messy.

After E falls asleep, POSSLQ and I often lay in bed together cuddling or talking. This is a new ritual for us, and I'm missing it now. When we first started dating, we would lay in bed for hours and talk. Somewhere in the middle, that stopped, unless we were arguing. But now, we've reclaimed bedtime for sharing thoughts and experiences from the day, insights into our relationship, and exchanging funny anecdotes. He usually takes care of locking the door, turning out the lights, and switching our bed lamp off at night. The past two mornings, I've woken at 3 AM to see the lamp still burning, and crawling across the empty bed to turn it off makes me a little sad.

It's the little things that make us fall in love, and the little things that keep us in love. It's the little things we miss most when our beloved is away, and the little things we treasure most when they return. I can't wait for the day he returns home - his warm hand on my knee on the car ride home, sharing a smile at some adorable action from E, trading hours of adventures while cuddled with our sleeping boy next to us.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Distraction

In just a few hours, I'll begin my first two week stint as sole parenting figure. Each year, POSSLQ heads north to work and play at a medieval event. For the past six years, this has meant saying goodbye on Saturday, missing him for a week, and eagerly awaiting his return the following Sunday. After E was born, I started providing myself with distraction - the first year, we traveled to Arizona while POSSLQ was in Pennsylvania, and last year, we headed up the road with him and took some time to visit my extended family.  This year, he has the opportunity to attend for two weeks, which I'm glad he's taking advantage of. However, the event sneaked up on us, so here I sit at home, trying to figure out how to entertain myself and my little one for half a month. Thankfully, my sister has moved home, and some of our best friends are here and will help keep me occupied. But my main source of occupation will be knocking out my extensive to-do list.

I've always found that making a list for everyone to see helps me actually accomplish the things on the list, so here goes:

1. Finish the duck enclosure. This is a three step process - finish their house, complete the fencing, and add a drain to the pool. I want to be able to drain the swimming water into the garden eventually, and adding a hose hookup seems pretty simple, I just need to get to the hardware store to do it.

2. Freeze excess veggies. I'm overrun with certain vegetables from our garden right now, and I really need to take the time to freeze them before they go bad. I really dislike wasted produce, especially when I grew it.

3. Finish the bathroom. I'm just going to hang my head in shame and say, it's been six months and there's still blue painter's tape in our bathroom. I need to knock it out, it would only take a few hours.

4. Work on lesson plans for Montessori. I recently started working with a few children E's age, and have been introducing a Montessori inspired school day. I need to work on some of my materials to build vocabulary and engage their minds.

5. Complete some sewing projects. I have a few projects that need to be started or finished, but sewing this time of year is difficult because my sewing closet exudes a heat that rivals the fiery gates of hell. Hopefully I can spend some early morning time working, and maybe some late nights when the heat finally relents.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Turning It Around

Some days, just a few words or actions can turn my whole day around. I tend not to be a person who lets a few negative things turn me sour for the day. I've always tended toward happiness, and I usually find myself more happy than sad. Just like everyone else, though, I have my sour days.

Today was shaping up to be one of those. It's warm and humid, my least favorite weather. I had the worst grocery experience of my life this morning. Long lines, not finding everything on my list, and forgetting my credit cards were the fuel, E tossing all our items out of the cart and carefully dropping our checks one by one on the floor were the ignition. By the time I got us out the door and into the car, I was fuming.

As I walked in the door, arms full of grocery bags, I saw the dishes had been washed while I was away. I chattered on to POSSLQ about my terrible grocery trip while he started putting the food away. E wandered back in, and asked for some "O's" cereal. As I pulled the box from the cabinet and finished up my angry story, E interrupted to say, "Mama, thank you for buying O's at the grocery store." It was so sweet, and made me stop what I was doing to bend down, hug him, and smile. You're welcome, little wise one. How did you know I needed to hear that?

A few moments later, I opened my Facebook account to see an uplifting message. Just two sentences, but in less than two dozen words, my day was turned around. I didn't even realize those words had been missing from my story until they were written. It takes a great deal of character to overcome anger and hurt, to issue an apology, when you have been wronged as well. The situation is complex, and those few words won't heal me, but they certainly help. I hope they help heal the speaker as well. A month ago, when my world first started to crumble, I ran across a quote one day that spoke to my heart. "Forget what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you." 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tokens

Shortly after the bottom fell out of my world, when I was just starting to pick up the pieces, I spent the morning completing a purge of sorts. I gathered up all those things that existed as evidence of life before the change. Photos. Letters. Cards. Journal entries. Trinkets. Gifts. I put them all in a paper bag and labelled it, then set it in the attic to be forgotten. It seemed very symbolic. Like I said, a purge. If I could get all the past out of the way, the future would be apparent.

A day or so later, it became clear that objects only have what meaning you assign them. Putting all those things out of sight didn't really change my perception of my world, my situation. It didn't make some memories less painful, didn't make any truths more bearable. It certainly didn't erase nearly a decade of living and loving. Now, nearly a month later, I'm certain those objects are only objects. They are not symbols of anything, unless I make them so.

What jumpstarts healing is not a purge, but a change of mindset. A determination to show love and compassion and understanding, to be gentle and kind as much as possible, to be true to yourself and your situation. Healing will take a while, I know that. But I won't travel that road alone, and I won't be haunted by the things that are just that, only things.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Garden is Good For The Soul

My totally repurposed fence. It needs a coat of paint and some lovely flowers yet.

Tiny canteloupe!

And tiny watermelon. It's the size of my big toe.

Zuchinni

A hint of a cucumber

E's popcorn. Lots and lots of popcorn.

The bunnies have been brutal on our runner beans, but this vine managed to escape them,
and it's all the way to the top of the teepee now.

Tiny green tomatoes. Yum.