Monday, 10 September 2018

A Whole New Year

Here I sit, the second week of school upon us, and I already have Tertius at home, sick. That said, he's done three pages of curriculum work in his summer book, and helped me to empty and reload the dishwasher. I'm rewarding him with a documentary on Netflix now.

Here's how the fam-jam is doing:

Primus is in his second-to-last year of school, and the pressures of life are beginning to weigh heavily on him. He came out as bisexual last month, and I feel that we as a family have dealt with the news well, assuring him of our love and support. Things in that respect are going well, but we've known for some time that he is given to anxiousness and sadness, and that takes a toll. We hit a crisis point over the Labour Day weekend, and are now trying to figure out the new normal. These are completely uncharted waters we're wading into, and Hubby and I are hoping that we are making sound decisions, supporting Primus while still having clearly defined boundaries, and helping him to become a healthy, whole, and contributing member of society. I feel like we've somehow lost the sweet kid who loves and feels deeply, but we're working towards rebuilding trust and hope to come out on the other side stronger for what we're now coming up against. He excels academically, he's athletic and musical, and has a large circle of friends; he has a lot going for him. I love this kid like crazy, and desperately want him to know that with every fibre of his being.

Secunda is now the top grade on her middle school, thanks to a massive district-wide grade reconfiguration. Last year, she was new to the school, and this year, she's a peer leader, helping the two new grades to find their footing. She's really enjoying this opportunity, and I think that it will do wonders for her self-esteem. Over the summer, she had a crisis of conscience when asked to keep a secret that she felt was unhealthy. We helped her to work through it and come to terms with the first and best rule of secrets: if it harms you or someone else, it shouldn't be a secret, and you must tell an adult you trust. I am constantly blown away by how poised, articulate, and caring she is; I'm so proud to be her mother.

Tertius is now in Grade 4, and seems to be enjoying school more than in the previous two years. I can't help but feel like his elementary school experience has forever been coloured by the death of my father; Tertius' attendance began to be an issue around the time of Dad's final hospitalization and death, and he has seemed like he wants to avoid school. He adored my dad, and that love was returned in spades; his death hit Tertius hard, and he became a sadder, more quiet child as a result of the loss. He will still talk your ear off if you let him, but there is an undercurrent of melancholy that wasn't there before. I worry about him. That said, he is a generous and loving child, whose boisterous energy when he speaks on a favourite topic is somewhat infectious.

Quarta is now in Grade 3, and finally becoming a person in her own right. She has very clear likes and dislikes, and is my "Drama Llama". I am hoping that this is the year that she outgrows the temper tantrums over not getting her way. She is also a remarkably affectionate child, free with her hugs; I often spend the praise and worship portion of our church services holding her hand, or with her arms wrapped around me as we sing. She is learning how to knit and do cross stitch, and shows an interest in helping others.

Hubby got the best possible news this Labour Day weekend - he has finally successfully posted into a permanent teaching position in the district, which means that he no longer gets laid off at the end of June, clears out his classroom, and waits until the first week of July to see where - and what - he'll be teaching the following year. He is at the school he likes best (having taught in almost every single school in this district over the last 11 years), teaching subjects he loves at levels he loves. When he went through the interview process over and over in the spring, without a job posting, I told him not to worry, because his job was coming. This position is what he's always wanted, and I'm so very happy for him!


I am trying to establish more of a routine for myself this year, and that starts with remembering to do some self-care. And blogging is a part of that. I honestly feel more balanced when I blog, so it really needs to be a regular part of my week. I never work on a Monday or Tuesday, so I will work weekly blogging into the schedule for one of those two days. I'm working part-time for myself as a house cleaner, and have devoted this year to knitting only things for me and mine - nothing knitted for sale in 2018. I'm still taking commissions, but I'm being very selective about what I take on, to ensure that my family and I are warm and cozy, too. I spent most of the summer both working and teaching crafts to kids at the cultural centre again, and really enjoyed the work. I look forward to teaching again at Spring Break.

Well, that's us in a nutshell. I will try to come up with a topic to write about for next week. In the meantime, be well, be happy, and I'll see you on the flip side :)

Friday, 5 January 2018

Borked.

I am really beginning to feel my age. I am 45 years old. I have been an embroiderer since the age of 8, a knitter from the age of 14, and engage in a number of handcrafts that I've picked up over the years including (but not limited to) knitting, crochet, counted cross stitch, surface embroidery, blackwork embroidery, hand sewing, calligraphy and illumination, tablet weaving, and scrapbooking. I also play a few musical instruments. All of these require the use of my hands.

In my 20s, I developed tendinitis in both hands from working too hard trying to cross stitch too many Christmas gifts. I bought medical Lycra wrist supports to use when stitching, which helped to some extent. This was somewhat troubling, as it made me concerned for my hand health, and how it would impact my crafting long-term. When I was 26, I was assaulted in the workplace, and the aggressor bit me on the back of my hand. He broke the skin in 11 places, causing further damage to my right hand, and a really nasty infection (the human mouth is a disgusting place). I received a week of IV antibiotics, a few weeks off work to recover, and PTSD from the subsequent attempted assaults once I returned to my job. I blew out both carpal-tunnel nerves at 29 during childbirth; I had no feeling in my thumbs and first two fingers for 6 weeks, followed by painful tingling in those fingers for a further 6 weeks. This was both worrying and frustrating for me as a first-time parent, and further worrying to me as a crafter. I underwent hand physio twice, with limited results. I have hand fatigue, aching hands, and weak wrists.

In my 30s, I developed a ganglion on my wrist from hefting a faulty grocery cart, in an inconvenient location that prevents surgical remedy. I've had it lanced and drained twice, to no avail. There really isn't anything I can do to make this better.

Last year, after months of increasing pain, I was referred to an orthop├Ždic specialist and was diagnosed with tennis elbow in both arms. This is as a result of my job cleaning houses; another repetitive stress injury. Now my arm up to and including my elbows are messed up. Really getting worried now.

Yesterday, my van got stuck in the snow while helping Secunda with her paper route. I ended up wrenching both shoulders pretty badly trying to push my van out of the spot we were stuck in, and further injured my elbow; I now get flashes of searing pain from mid-forearm to mid-bicep. It feels like someone is holding an acetylene torch to my arm.

 I try to mitigate these injuries by wearing wrist braces when I sleep to avoid waking up with numb hands; I wear the wrist braces and an elbow brace while working to allow me to function, and I use oral painkillers as a preventative measure, and also use more painkillers and topical analgesics to deal with the associated pain. But the pain is all day now. On the pain scale, I function daily at about a 4, with spikes up to 8 if I do silly things like press the buttons on the microwave with the wrong hand, or pick up a piece of paper, or try to hug my kids, or sit still. Or engage in any of my crafts, but I do it anyway, because *not* doing them makes me feel worse mentally and emotionally.

I clean houses for a living, and I think my job is breaking me. I can't *not* do my job, because my income is relied upon to support our family. I really don't know what to do.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Tea Time!

I love tea. And, it seems, I love collecting tea. We have well over two dozen different types of tea in our cupboard, and overflowing onto the counter and the shelves near the kettle. I am so much a creature of habit that I make the same kind of tea almost every day. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely ADORE my Dilmah - a single origin Ceylon tea with no tannic acid, meaning I can enjoy it any time of day without suffering from heartburn. Hubby's favourite tea is Earl Grey, and we also enjoy that regularly, as well as the cheap but very tasty Chai from Trader Joe's, but I keep going back to my Dilmah.

I have very thoughtful friends and family who have gifted us with interesting teas, herbal infusions, rooibos, green, matcha, and the like. But I drink three kinds of tea most of the time, leaving all of these other delightful varieties languishing on the shelf.

So I decided a few days ago that I was going to try a new tea every day or two. Here are my tea adventures so far...

Day One (December 30):
 Tea: Let It Snow
Source: David's Tea, from their tea advent calendar; sample given to me by the stellar J.
Type: Green, with cinnamon, clove, and custard
Remarks: This was a lovely, light tea, and it's one I would gladly drink again. Perfect for a stand-alone cup, or with cookies; I'd suggest sugar cookies or anything with an uncomplicated flavour profile.

Day Two (December 31):
Tea: Cardamom French Toast
Source: David's Tea, bought on sale
Type: Black, with cardamom, cane sugar, and cinnamon
Remarks: This was a truly delightful experience, and I would absolutely buy this tea again. I liken it to a dessert tea, and would enjoy a cup of it after a meal.

Day Three (January 1):
Tea: The Earl's Garden (currently out of stock)
Source: David's tea, bought in the summer
Type: Black, with marigold petals, strawberries, cornflower petals; strawberry and bergamot flavouring
Remarks: I love Earl Grey, so this was going to be a slam-dunk. It smelled heavenly! And it tasted lush! And it made my heartburn flare up, so I think when I drink this again - and I will - I'll brew it a minute or two less and see if that helps with the tannins.

I've been enjoying this foray into new and interesting teas, and I'm going to spend a bit of time sorting out which ones I'll try next.

See you in a few days!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Now Is The Summer Of Our Disorganization

Oh, have I fallen off the organization wagon.

This summer has been a combination of work, teaching, and trying to relax in the down time, along with spurts of madly tidying the living room, dining room and kitchen and scrubbing the bathroom before friends arrive to visit.

While I love having my family home during the summer, I have to admit that I'm really, REALLY ready for everyone to go back to school and for our home to slip back into a routine. My laundry day got completely derailed, and I'd like to not have to scramble to put a load of wash on so that I have underwear. Sorry if that's TMI, but that's reality at Geek Central.

I have taken the last two weeks off of work so that I could actually, legitimately relax, and while we took four days to travel 6 hours away to visit friends, and I did relax and enjoy that, I feel a bit at loose ends now that we're home. I want to get stuff done! I just want to kick everyone out for a day and get a bunch of stuff done, because painting the bathroom when five other people want to use it is not fun. I have a lovely, huge spice rack that was custom built for me, and that I painted, and it's just propped up against the kitchen wall where it's to be mounted because of stupid things like actually getting to the store for the drywall anchors and making the countersink pilot holes. I have the paint upstairs, waiting to put the second coat on the dining room and living room, but I can't move the bookshelf by myself. I really want to get the painting done, so that we can start enjoying life in our dream house the way we want it to look.

Oh yes, I had mentioned teaching. Have I told you about that?

I was asked to be an instructor at our local cultural centre for their kids' art camps, so I taught cross stitch for two weeks, blackwork embroidery for a week, and knitting for a week. Average class size was 5 students, except for the knitting class, which had TWELVE kids in it! The first three classes were really relaxed and enjoyable, but that week of knitting was a challenge!From students having crying jags in frustration, to students not bothering to try because they didn't do it perfectly the first time, to giving up on teaching them how to cast on, it really tested me as an instructor. But by the end of the week, most of the kids had a significant chunk of knitting completed to show their parents, and at least one of them had already gone out and bought knitting supplies to do more at home.  If even one child picks it up as a hobby, I consider it a resounding success :)

The day after the last class, we took off to visit our friends, and arrived home a week ago. There was a whole mess of birthday gatherings in the last week, as we celebrated my 45th birthday, as well as my in-laws' 45th anniversary, and my father-in-law's *mumblemumble*th birthday.

But enough about my summer of (relative) sloth; Hubby is ready to go get those drywall anchors, so it's back to work for me!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Feeling Crafty!

I've had something on the go, craft-wise, for as far back as I can remember the past couple of years. So here's what I've been working on:

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Once More, With Feeling.

So very much has happened since my last post on here. And my heart can't bear to go through it all.

The good news is, shortly after my last post, we were given the opportunity to move to a much larger stand-alone house in a good neighborhood, and we made that move on October 1, 2016. On October 9, we hosted our families for Thanksgiving - minus my dad, who was too unwell to come over. A plate of food was packed up for him to enjoy. On October 10, my dad was admitted to hospital for the last time. Between our regular day-to-day busyness, and ferrying my mother to and from the hospital, and the added trips to the grocery store and pharmacy and wherever else my mother can no longer drive herself to, life swept us up and carried us along at breakneck speed, and this blog fell by the wayside.

We lost Dad on October 27th.

It's still hard as hell to write that.

With Dad's final illness hot on the heels of our move, unpacking was really the last thing on our minds, and blogging was the last thing on mine. Grief took over, and I made my family the priority, a decision I will never regret. I ended up being treated for hypertension, and it really shouldn't have surprised me that my blood pressure was through the roof, considering all that was going on.

I'm now almost 6 months out from that day, and I finally feel like I have my feet under me again. The blur of work/errands for Mumsy/kids' activities/church activities has slowed some, and we've settled into a better, less frenetic routine. And that means that I feel like I can start blogging again.

So, here we go again - once more, with feeling.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

My Journey of Hope: Craft Room Conversion!

Hubby said the sexiest thing to me this past Saturday. He took my hand as I was about to head out of our bedroom, smiled at me and said, "How about on Sunday, we stay home from church, and..."