Sunday, May 8, 2016

Signs of A Legacy

Recently, I've really begun to look at ways to improve myself, better my life experiences, enrich my existence, and get the most out of what the world has to offer. I'm hesitant to call it this, but in essence, I've been addressing my "bucket list." There are many things on my list, but certain ones seem to step forward and really take hold of my heart. For this season of my life, it is learning ASL.

Many of my readers may know that I grew up with a basic understanding of the deaf community, and a very basic understanding of American Sign Language. Some may not know that my grandfather was deaf and my grandmother has hearing loss. They met in the deaf community, and although they have eight hearing children, and (nearly) countless hearing grandchildren and great-grandchildren, signing was a part of our family culture.

Some in my family may say that learning ASL now, a full year and a half after my grandfather's death, is too little too late. And I have to say, in some ways I agree. I think back on the last few times I saw him, how I was so busy chasing after a toddler, my sign vocabulary was so out of use, our visits were so short... The list of excuses goes on and on, and it hurts my heart to know I'll not ever be able to have a full conversation with Pap. But I also know he is smiling down on this new chapter in my learning, and I hope he knows that part of learning ASL now is to honor his legacy.

I want my children to grow up with an understanding of deaf community. I want them to seek out those who sign, and help bridge the gap between the hearing world and the deaf world. I want them to be free of the misconceptions that are so rampant in our ignorant hearing world. I want them to be bilingual, and have a useful skill for their future.

I want them to know the joy of meeting a deaf person in a public place and being able to communicate. Baby sign is wonderful, but there's not much call for talking about animals or food using ASL unless you frequent the zoo.

I remember a moment just weeks after Pap died when a man approached me in a fabric store and asked about my pregnancy. He was so delighted with the very limited signing I provided, and proceeded to chatter with me for about ten minutes. Those moments sealed themselves in my heart, and wintered away in the snows of e's infancy, the season of transition we experienced last fall. Then, early this spring, as e's signing vocabulary started to expand, and E's interest in signing again exploded, that little seed started to blossom. I've found myself pouring over ASL distance learning courses, and I've found a wonderful, affordable course that has short lessons, building on the skills I already have. I'm excited about this journey!

"Hi! My name is Kristin. I am learning ASL to communicate with the deaf community and other people who sign. #whyisign #myasljourney"

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Appearances Are Often Just Illusions

This morning our world seems a study in illusions. From our nest, cozy and snug inside our double hung windows, the world seems to have that classic snow-muffled hush. The trees are iced and the ground is white. 

But the moment we swung open the door, the cacophony descended. The heavy drips from tree branches. The mad twitter of hungry winter birds. The crunch of melting ice, and snow sliding from the rooftop. The snow plow, the neighbor scraping a windshield. Even the cat is making more noise than usual, her footsteps echoing with a crunch as her paws warm the ground and her weight breaks the surface. 

And it's not just the ear that is deceived. The eye also has much to take in - what we see at first isn't the truth. 

To the east, we see the grey fog and heavy cloud cover of yesterday. 

To the west, clear blue skies and the hope of a warming trend. 

In just a few hours, the evidence of this winter storm will melt away. Today will end as a warm, muddy day, and we will barely remember the bone chilling cold that made us miserable just a few days ago. Today we will emerge from our warm den, shake off our cabin fever, and embrace the sunlight. Even as I write, the icing is dripping into wet heavy pools on the already saturated ground, reminding me that late winter storms never leave their mark for long. And as the tops of my daffodils begin to peek out of the melting snow, I'm reminded that spring will envelope us in a few short weeks, and I am comforted. 

Monday, February 15, 2016


On January 11, I embarked a new journey with my health and wellness. For the first time in my adult life, I started a thirty day gut cleanse and body restoration protocol. I researched the protocol for safety, and felt really comfortable with it because it's quite gentle. The protocol includes three ten day cycles - the first being a preparation period, which includes herbal support for the filtering organs and digestive system. Many people pair this cleanse with a very strict dietary guideline, but I decided on just limiting white - refined sugar and salt, flour, and grains. I wanted to be able to be successful, and was afraid a very restrictive diet would sabotage my success. 

I'm accustomed to taking supplements, but this is just the morning capsules! 

The first two days, I was hungry all the time. This is the usual state of affairs, but unlike usual, I was being forced to make better food choices, instead of grabbing the first crunchy snack I could find. I woke on the third day and wasn't really craving my morning cup of decaf. I didn't feel as hungry throughout the day.
This was the quote in my Passion Planner during week 1.
It's surprising to me how often there is a bit of magic - a bit of kismet - in my planner quotes.

My first real revelation was on day 7, when I ate sweet potato pancakes with honey on top, and the honey was almost too sweet to eat. By a week in, I had started to notice some other things too. The low sugar, low gluten diet was positively affecting E's behavior, or my reaction to it. I seemed to have more patience, and he seemed to have more capacity to regulate his emotions and avoid a meltdown. 
Sweet potatoes were a staple during the cleanse - we ate them at least twice a week!
Salads are always a part of my diet, but I bet
I ate a cubic ton of greens during my cleanse!

Day 11 marked my first day with the GI cleansing agent. I was nervous to start this one, because so many people report having issues with it. Thankfully, I had only a little bit of cramping, and no other detox symptoms, such as headache, irritability, rash, fatigue, or upset stomach.
DH made sweet potato fries one night for dinner, and I GORGED myself !

The end of January brought some challenges - we had little e's birthday party and served some sweets, but I allowed myself a small amount, and didn't feel bad about it. Our grocery budget was woefully small for the last week of the cleanse, but I managed to stay creative and not fall off the wagon.
Smoothies are always a part of my diet, but during the cleanse
they were a great way to beat the mid-afternoon munchies! 

By the last week, I was feeling really good. My mood was good and I'd lost some inches and some pounds. But mostly, I had gained. I had gained better control of my sweet tooth. I had gained a healthy respect for my body. I had gained some insight into my "food triggers," the circumstances that cause me to make poor food choices.

ALL the salads. I took so many pictures of my food
during the cleanse, because healthy food is beautiful!
I'm excited to do this again next year, and hopefully it will be my New Year's ritual for a long time. In cleansing my body, I also cleansed my mind and my soul, and I found a lot of room for growth!

Eggs were a staple as well, and I filled them with
whatever was left over from the night before
These sweet potato and black bean burgers were SO good - they
will be a part of our dinner rotation from now on!
Just another beautiful meal!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

One Trip Around The Sun

Today we celebrate one year of Etta, who tries and tests me every day, who forces me to grow in order to be the mama she needs. She came into this world on her terms, and she lives every day on her terms. She is bright beyond belief, and keeps us on our toes in every moment of her life. She's engaging and friendly, and she loves to study what makes people tick.

She's the perfect compliment to her brother, and she makes our family whole. She represents a turning point in our relationship. She is the living example of healing in so many ways. She is exactly what we can handle, exactly what we needed, and exactly perfect for us.

Many people will say, "I can't believe she's one! Where has the time gone?" But I'm not feeling that so much today. I know exactly where the time has gone. It has gone into these two souls with whom we've been entrusted. It's gone into the ordinary daily life, into the adventures, into the love and the stress and tantrums and the cuddle puddles. It's gone into the making of us.

Today will be a "regular" Wednesday, except it's a snow day and we are headed out on one of our favorite small adventures. We will have a little cake tonight after dinner, and we will reflect on our first hours with our sweet girl. But mostly, we will be us.

enjoying cake at home on her birthday

birthday party with friends and family