Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Only five more days before the kids go back to school. We've been enjoying a relatively lazy winter break, staying home and trying not to spend money. Yesterday we ventured out to Walmart for groceries and picked up several skeins of yarn because my children are suddenly feeling crafty. (By the way, older child and younger child will henceforth be referred to as Bookman and Sunshine on my blog.)

All winter break I've been working on crochet projects, mostly hats for other people and an afghan. On Monday, Sunshine dug some soft fuzzy yarn out of her craft box and decided she wanted to make a scarf. She doesn't have the patience yet for the fiddliness of crochet, so we dug out the 'Knifty Knitter' set we got many years ago. She chose the smallest loom, and cranked out a scarf in about 24 hours. It will also double as a hand/arm warmer on the playground. Check it out!
Sunshine's Scarf
Bookman was impressed, so much so that he is now half-way done with a cozy hat for himself. I made a super-cute baby hat, but will be sticking to crochet. For some reason the loom knitting thing killed my hands.

I mentioned the afghan I'm working on... *sigh* I've been working on the same afghan for at least three years. It's for Sunshine, but I guess I've had some sort of mental thing about finishing it--she's known to be tough on blankets sometimes, and I want her to be able to pass this one on to her children. So I guess I was waiting until she was old enough to appreciate the time investment before forging ahead to finish it. I think she's about there now, and I'm more than half-way finished. My goal for January is to get the darn thing done!

I have discovered over the last decade that I do like crocheting for other people, something I undoubtedly absorbed from my Gramma. When I start a project with someone else in mind, loving thoughts and prayers for well-being are embodied in every stitch, so I end up with a finished piece composed of long bits of yarn and lots of love. I'm watching my kids knit, and I'm hoping maybe I can pass that on to them by encouraging them to make a hat for Head Huggers or similar program. That's another goal for the year :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Modern medicine

Every year about this time, I say a prayer of thanks for modern medicine. Particularly for Dr. Matthew M. Weinecke, the pediatric cardiologist whose experienced eye recognized that my weeks-old daughter was very very sick, and for Dr. Lawrence Fox and Dr. Jeffrey Heinle, the pediatric surgeons whose skilled hands performed the open-heart surgery on that tiny heart and saved my baby's life. Were it not for modern advances in diagnosing and repairing congenital heart defects, our family would be very different without our Sunshine.

Today I am again thankful for modern medicine. My mother-in-law is in the hospital with an abscess on her jaw that isn't responding to antibiotics. She's in a lot of pain, and apparently has a lot of swelling. She had a CAT scan earlier this morning to hopefully locate the abscess so they can surgically remove or drain it. The doctor likely won't even see the results until later tonight, so for now we're just waiting. The toughest part for us is that she's three and a half hours away in Oklahoma, and it's hard to worry long distance.

So if you read this, please take a moment to give thanks for the blessing of skilled doctors and for the healing power of prayer.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New identity for an odd room

I'm kind of excited. As creative a soul as I am, dabbling in nearly anything crafty, I've never had a dedicated craft space. Lately I've been using the dining room table, among other places, and consequently our family has eaten many dinners sitting together in the living room, or picnicking on the patio or on the trampoline.

Well... about a week ago, I had a flash of inspiration, and devised a scheme to set aside a corner of our front room JUST for all my crafty cra-- er, stuff. Our house is odd. The front door opens into a room that is, I believe, intended to be a formal living room, but it's fairly small. For seven years, it has functioned as an office/computer room and library (with three large bookcases stuffed to the gills). When older child started middle school, I bought a 6' folding table and added 'homework space' to the room's identity. It then transitioned to 'homeschool'. But then he went back to the middle school...

That folding table came in handy for doing craft fairs, and it's been riding around in the back of my SUV for a month. Now I'm done with craft fairs for the season, so... I'm putting it to new use!

Scratch the homework/homeschool identity for the front room. It shall henceforth be known as the COLC (computer/office/library/CRAFT) room! I am, at this very moment, taking a break from getting my craft stuff organized in my new craft corner. The dining table is almost clear and I'm trying to figure out how to best utilize every precious inch.

I can't wait to have it done so I can sit down and make it messy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Trapezius injury

I had a very sore neck yesterday. It was weird, because I could think of nothing I'd done that might cause it. I hadn't worked out at all (though I really need to), I hadn't slept oddly (no more oddly than usual, anyway), hadn't tweaked it... nothing.

Being the hyper-cautious person that I now am (damn that accident), I researched possible causes before I went to bed last night, and felt a little better knowing it was nothing serious, just... an unexplained sore neck.

Well... in the wee hours of the morning, I suddenly sat up and went, "Aha! I know what it is!" Are you ready for this?

I listened to "Bohemian Rhapsody" THREE times on Tuesday.

Yeah! I know! I totally earned that sore neck!

For those who have no idea why a song would cause residual muscular pain, particularly in the neck region, you need to log off your computer and go watch Wayne's World on DVD RIGHT NOW. It's okay, I'll wait. (Here's a link to just that particular scene on YouTube)


You back? Okay, now I can proceed with the story...

Bohemian Rhapsody came on the radio as I was taking kiddos to school. Fortunately I got stopped at the light in front of the school as the song got to the head-banging part, but I'm imagining what parents around me thought... "Is that our PTA president rockin' out? Oh wait, sshhh...If you listen, you can hear her singing... And her windows aren't even rolled down."

I was still jamming when I got home, so older child (whose school starts later) asked me what I was singing. Of course I had to pull the song up on Rhapsody and let him hear (his toothbrush sings "We Will Rock You" so he already has an appreciation for Queen). And of course I had to sing along and rock out.

Took him to school, then came home to get to work on laundry, and had Rhapsody (the online music service) playing, which now had Bohemian Rhapsody in my playlist. So when it came on yet AGAIN, I had to stop what I was doing and REALLY rock it (Hey, I was home by myself, so there was no one around to go, "Uh... Is mommy having some sort of seizure?").

I know what you're thinking, and yes, it was worth it.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Alzheimer's sucks beans

My Gramma used to be the best Gramma in the world. When I was a kid, I loved going to her house because she had an enclosed front porch full of old toys and old furniture and lots of cousins to play with. There was almost always something yummy on the stove top or in the oven. She's not Italian by birth, but assimilated herself by marriage as quickly as she could. Holidays at her house included tables spilling into the living room to accommodate 30+ loud and laughing relatives. Her meatballs and braciole--oh, makes me want to reminisce with a Sicilian accent. (Inconthievable!!)(Sorry. *ahem*)

Even as recently as three years ago, we baked cookies and pitzels together in my mom's kitchen, talking about genealogy and great-great-great-great aunts and uncles. She was a wonderful great-Gramma to my kids.

Now, that Gramma is gone. No, she's still alive. She's just a mean, angry, resentful person, her former self eaten away by Alzheimer's and dementia. She lives full-time with my mom, about ten miles away. (You can read more about the accident that seemed to speed up her decline in this post.)

Now, she gripes at my kids for silly stuff (she once barked at younger child to 'Quit dancing! Do you behave like that at home?', threw a fit because older child stood at the counter to nibble some cheese and crackers). She makes up hateful things about me and my older child to tell her caregivers, sometimes even when I'm in the same room! She tells my mom's dog to eat my dog. She squints her eyes and covers her ears with her hands whenever there's a noise she doesn't like (like my voice speaking to my mother). She accuses all of us of stealing her stuff when she can't find something. She especially dislikes my son simply because he's a boy.

We see her every weekend, but it's hard sometimes, especially for my kids, because they don't really remember 'Great-Gramma'. I constantly remind them (and myself) that it's not really her--it's the disease, but that doesn't make visiting any more pleasant. How can we enjoy being with an old woman mean enough to make my teenager cry?

Okay, so what spurred such a depressing post? My mom recently started a blog to catalog the daily struggles and triumphs of my grandmother's Alzheimer's (if you know/remember my grandmother, check out The Butterfly Net). Yesterday I made some custom graphics for the blog, and this morning I found a picture of my grandmother to put up. As I was adjusting the brightness and contrast of the photo and reducing the glare on her glasses in Photoshop, I got to thinking about how she used to be. And it made me sad. It's difficult to hang on to the good memories when our more recent experiences are so...daunting.

In all fairness, I must admit that she's been more mellow in recent weeks. On Thanksgiving day, she didn't gripe even once, not even at my son. It was such a departure from her normal self, that we all noticed and marveled. Let's hope she's still mellow tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bailout Soapbox

I just have to roll my eyes and sigh loudly every time I read or hear the word 'bailout'. I am not a financial whiz by any means, so my understanding of what is actually happening is likely very limited, but what I see this week is a bunch of extremely high-paid execs whining to Congress about how they deserve to be rewarded for their stupidity.

Okay, I can kind of see where the bank bailout was reasonable. Banks are, after all, federally insured, so the government has somewhat of a responsibility to assure the solvency of those institutions. I DO believe that the executives who contributed to the failure of said institutions need to be held accountable for their reckless spending and poor leadership--especially those bozos who celebrated their bailout with a $440,000 spa trip.

But a bailout of auto makers? Puh-leeze. GM has been operating at a significant loss for at least five years, Ford for at least three. They have already received the tax breaks associated with that.

Umm... Hello? Taxpayers should bail out these companies why?

I understand that there are tens of thousands of regular people employed by these companies, who will very likely lose their jobs in a time that is already financially challenging. And that is certainly something to take into consideration.

How about this for a solution: Every single person at GM, Ford, and Chrysler who makes more than $100,000 a year should sell off ALL their assets. The houses, the boats, the luxury cars, the timeshares, the hulking flatscreens. They should accept a salary of $60,000 a year, buy one small house (less than 2000 square feet) with no pool, two compact cars with cloth seats and no DVD players or satellite radio, and one 25" low-def television. Keep one iPhone ('cause we all need a little luxury), but nix the $40/month internet service fee for it. The combined difference from all those executives would certainly take a huge bite out of that $34 billion shortfall, and perhaps show those hoo-ha's what it's like to get by on a regular guy's salary.

*deep, cleansing breath* Okay. I feel better. I'm going to go back to ignoring the whole situation.

I am thankful that I drive a Toyota :-), that we don't work for the auto industry, and that people keep flushing stuff labeled 'flushable', thus assuring that plumbers have plenty of work to do.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I hate cold

I hate cold, and by cold, I mean anything below 40 degrees. I did my time as a kid in New York, Alaska, Denver, Ohio, and Germany. Got all that youthful enthusiasm for frozen fingers and snotcicles out of my system. That's why I live in Texas. Texas is nice and warm and dry, and usually not very cold.

It's 32 degrees outside right now! For the record, that is NOT nice and warm.... Okay, by winter-in-Fairbanks standards, it's rather toasty, but for ME, it's dang chilly. It makes me dang thankful that I have a warm (if a bit drafty) house, fuzzy thermal socks, a grungy-but-warm sweater, and a huge cup of hot tea. *sigh*

This month's theme for NaBloPoMo is 'Thanks'. I'm not gonna commit to a post a day, but I'm sure I can find stuff--every now and then--to be thankful for that I can share!

Another thing I'm thankful for today, is that my older child had a good half-day back at public school. I had two and a half kid-free hours. I ran to the bank, spent some needed time doing PTA stuff at the elementary school, and didn't stress about needing to be home to prod older child to do his work. *sigh*