Category Archives: Family

I am now the mother of a teenager

Yesterday was my son’s thirteenth birthday. He is now officially a teenager. How quickly time seems to pass, until you are put in pandemic lockdown and time seemingly stands still, of course.

Normally, we would have thrown a party for this guy. Pizza, ice cream, video games, and a house full of rambunctious, stinky boys. I was a little heartbroken that we couldn’t do that but Luke took it really well. Besides wanting spending money so he could purchase the exact graphics card he’s been wanting for awhile (he’s a bit of a computer geek) he requested Taco Bell for dinner and my homemade cheesecake for dessert. (*Just want to toot my own horn here, but Mom’s cheesecake ranks #1 on his favorite foods list!)

Grandma drove an hour and a half each way to bring Luke a box of donuts for breakfast and visit with us in person. It was raining, so we all huddled in the garage and talked with Grandma from a safe distance away. While it sucked to have to visit that way, it was really nice to see her and I’m so glad she made the trek.

Overall, it was a pretty chill day. As you can see from the photos above, the cheesecake turned out beautifully and was a big hit. Between all the donuts, the tacos, and the cheesecake, Luke was pretty full. That second photo is good evidence that he was in a food-induced coma by the end of the day.

Now I’ll leave you with this, a lame haiku for my son:

Happy birthday Luke
Now a teen in quarantine
He loves his cheesecake

Crochet and Books

I hopped on today and saw that I hadn’t posted in nearly a month. Which is crazy, because it’s not like I’ve been on vacation or anything. Cuz, you know, the coronavirus and all. I live in Michigan, and if you’ve heard, we are under an executive order from our Governor to stay at home. I’m not going to go into all that because I’m so tired of all the political talk and the pandemic news and it’s all very emotionally exhausting. Which I suppose is why I haven’t been posting.

That is not to say I haven’t been up to anything. I completed an afghan for a nephew and started another one for a niece. I have 14 nieces and nephews and I’ve completed 6 blankets, so I’m almost halfway done! It’s a great way to pass the time. The pattern I use is very repetitive so I don’t even have to think about it much. I will usually crochet while listening to an audiobook or a podcast or watching tv.

I also have acquired a couple new gadgets. Mom toys, if you will. I bought myself a Ninja Foodi pressure cooker/air fryer thingamajig to celebrate my 21st wedding anniversary last month. I figured it was like a gift for both of us, because I have fun using it, and my husband gets to enjoy the food I make in it. Then for Mother’s Day my husband bought me (us) a robot vacuum. Like a Roomba but an off-brand. I didn’t think I would love it, and it’s such a cliché thing to buy for the mother of your children, but I am having fun with it. There is an APP you can use to operate it, and I’m a big fan of apps, so that kind of sold me on the whole idea. That and I believe our house is starting to smell a little less like dog and bacon grease.

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately. I recently finished Where the Crawdads Sing and I absolutely loved the entire story. It ended in a way that I did not expect, and it was beautiful. I’m not one to re-read books, but that’s one I think I could read over and over and not get tired of.

I also finished the audiobook, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, as read by it’s author, Stephen King. I haven’t read many of King’s books but what I have read I’ve enjoyed, and I love the movies that have been made based on his stories (Stand By Me, The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption). I’m not generally into sci-fi or paranormal and I definitely don’t enjoy downright scary stuff, but those were all stories I enjoyed. And for all the crazy stuff he writes, Stephen KIng is a surprisingly normal guy. In this book he gave a lot of great advice for aspiring writers, so if that’s you, I highly recommend reading it.

Last night I stayed up super late reading The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. I had to stay up late in order to finish it before the library loan ended, but also I just had to know how it ended! This was a great book based on a true story and was extremely thought provoking. Worth a read, for sure.

I think that’s all for now, folks. The month of May is crawling along while I hide away in my little turtle shell. Until I poke my head out again, I wish you all well!

Seeing the whole picture

I had a good weekend. I can’t say it was much different than most other weekends, but after last weekend it was just nice to have some positive moments. Last weekend I was faced with a pretty frustrating situation. I had been informed on Good Friday that my long term disability insurance claim (the one they’ve been paying me on for 6+ years without issue) was being terminated. The letter of explanation detailed my level of activity with running and Bible study and so forth (based largely on what they read here in my blog) and my 20/20 vision that was noted in a recent visit to the low vision specialist.

Now, most people probably assume that 20/20 vision means perfect vision, but that’s not the case. I have a visual field defect, and that means I only see a portion of what others see. Of that portion that I can see, I see clearly, i.e. 20/20. So, to say someone has 20/20 vision does not always mean they are seeing the whole picture. And while I love to think about how this concept can be applied to life in so many abstract ways, my brain isn’t ready to go down that rabbit hole today. So maybe another day. Or maybe not.

All that to say, this letter of determination from the insurance company completely left out the details of my visual field defect. Of course, I’m appealing the decision and I have an attorney working for me to file the appeal. I’m really hoping and praying that God is in my corner on this one and that I’ll be able to restore my long term disability income. But if I’m being honest, I was livid when I initially received the news. Trembling, fuming, crying in the shower livid. However, I’ve had lots of time to pray about this and to hash out all my feelings with a few friends and family members, and I’m doing much better now. I’m still holding onto a little bit of bitterness, but I’m working hard to let that go. Last night I had written an entirely different blog post and I felt God nudging me away from the Publish button and towards reading James chapter 3. I’m so glad I responded to the nudging because James chapter 3 was all about taming the tongue. It was definitely a message meant for me. I love how God speaks to us so clearly, when we take the time to listen.

In other news – I haven’t been running much but I’m trying to get my stamina back up because I need to run a virtual 5k this week. I’ve never done a virtual race before but I signed up for this months ago and this is the week we are “supposed” to be running. I went for an almost 3 mile run yesterday, and only had to walk for a short portion at the end. In the first mile though, I nearly fell. I always wish I had these moments on video, because in my mind they are quite comical. I was running alongside the curb, on the street because there are fewer cracks to avoid, and at a whopping 13 minute mile pace, I ran directly into a fallen tree branch. I whispered profanities as I scrambled not-so-gracefully forward in order to escape the clutches of the evil tree branch. (If I don’t have a video, the least I can do is describe it Dramatically lol) I did not fall, thankfully, but I’m sure the van that was passing as I struggled to free myself got a kick out of the sight. I sustained only one tiny injury, a scrape on my shin, and am ready to get back out again as soon as the temperatures climb back up above 40 degrees.

This past week I’ve had a lot of great interactions with family members I don’t talk to nearly often enough, and that has been refreshing. Phone calls to and from my big brother and my oldest younger sister. A refreshing Zoom call with my cousins here in Michigan and down in Georgia. And grilling out with my husband and kids. All in all it was a great week. This coming week is when the online learning officially starts for the kids, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m winding down with BSF and FPU so those will be out of the way very soon. I’m looking forward to warmer days and praying that God would heal this world quickly, and sustain us in the meantime. Be well, my friends, be well.

School is back in session

This past week has been a challenging week. I was hit with some pretty crummy news on Friday, but I’m dealing with the situation and am trusting God at every step along the way. Pray for me, if you would.

We recently informed the kids they could no longer play video games all day long. From the hours of 10 am to 3 pm on weekdays, they are not allowed to be playing video games. Instead, they need to be cleaning their rooms, completing their regular weekly chores, and doing schoolwork. If all those things are done and they are feeling bored, they are welcome to do extra chores, take the dog for a walk, read a book, etc. Now if they have everything done and they’ve not given us any attitude, we are willing to negotiate extra video game time. Because we’re not monsters, usually.

We’ve known that the teachers at our kids’ schools have been working feverishly to establish online learning programs for the kids, so we’ve been warning them that the corona-vacation is ending any day now. Well, that day has come. We received instructions from all the teachers this week, and tomorrow morning we’ll have our first round of online meetings with teachers. I’m excited that the kids will have something to be working on that’s more engaging then say, Minecraft and Roblox, but I’m so nervous about how this new format is going to work. This is new for everyone so I’m hopeful that we can all be patient and gracious with each other. Again, pray for me.

I don’t know if I had mentioned, but we are still meeting for Bible Study Fellowship, only we meet on Zoom in order to comply with the social distancing. It’s worked out rather well, but I do miss seeing my ladies in person. We only have one week left as a group, and that makes me kind of sad, but relieved at the same time. Especially with this online learning for the kids ramping up. I had decided back around the Christmas break that I wouldn’t be returning next year to be a group leader, but I haven’t told my group yet. I don’t think they’ll care much. People hardly ever get assigned to the same discussion leader. And Lord willing, they’ll still see me around at regular Wednesday classes.

Oh my gosh, y’all. It snowed yesterday. Seriously. I woke up to see the ground covered in white stuff. It was a crazy day. And then here in Michigan we had a bunch of people protesting at the Capitol, which is all political nonsense that I try very hard not to get mixed up in. I absolutely despise politics and I know that probably makes me less of a grown-up, but I don’t care. I just want to stick my fingers in my ears (or just take off my cochlear implants, HA!) and pretend for awhile that it’s not as screwed up as it is. Don’t ask me how I went from snow in April to politics. All of it’s bizarre, and beyond comprehension. Moving on.

I have done almost no writing throughout this quarantine business because, well, it’s hard to write when your mind is distracted by a global pandemic. So I hear. What I’ve been doing instead is reading books and listening to podcasts. I’m actually finishing books I had started but was unable to finish in time. I recently finished The Boys in the Boat, The Greatest Generation, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, The Glass Castle, and Know My Name. Many of the books have been audio versions, which I find refreshing because they give my eyes a rest, and I can crochet while I’m “reading”. True multi-tasking!

The other hobby I have, at night when I’m too tired to do much of anything, is watching tv on my laptop (the smaller screen helps so I can see most of what’s going on while I read the captions). I have discovered an absolute gem for mental health and getting to sleep at night – Golden Girls reruns on Hulu. Check it out, and let me know if it doesn’t make you smile.

I’m hoping to get out this weekend and run a Bob Ross themed virtual 5k. We shall see. I haven’t run that far in awhile so it might end up to be a lot of walking. The original plan was to run this with friends, but now that we have shelter in place orders, that’s no longer an option. So I’m just going to run three laps around my neighborhood, and call that a race. I may even wear the bib!

I hope you are all doing well, and are safe and healthy. If you’re feeling a little lonely and blue, watch some Golden Girls. They’ll never let you down.

Skating with Piper

It’s been rather rainy the last couple of days but last week my son and I got out for a couple walks with the dog. My son is very active and full of energy, and he’s been doing surprisingly well during this period of quarantine. In the past he’s been pretty busy with sports so I don’t always get a lot of one-on-one time with him. Now that he’s in isolation, he’s been coming around and chatting with me about whatever is on his mind at the time. Folks, I am loving it. And the fact that he loves getting outside to walk the dog is pretty awesome too. Our last trip out before the rain came was with Piper on a skateboard, pulling Luke. She was a little confused about how it was supposed to work, but towards the end she almost had the hang of it. Almost. And you can tell by the smile on her face below that she was absolutely loving the attention.

There’s a new sheriff in town

For the past week and a half I’ve been allowing my kids to sleep in and stay up late, playing video games in their rooms all day. However, I’ve been listening to Celebrate Calm parenting podcasts and now I’m feeling motivated to be more intentional and proactive with engaging my kids in healthier daily activities. We will see how I feel about it in the morning, but after talking with the kids this evening, I think they understand that their state of total freedom is ending. They were laughing and joking and even offering up ideas for activities. So tomorrow I’m going to try to stay up when my alarm goes off at 7 am. I’ll have my coffee and devotional time with Jesus, and then I’ll scribble out a daily plan. Hopefully a plan better than the one I proposed this afternoon (pictured below).

I’m going to try to make this a fun, adventurous time. I’ll still want them to incorporate some official schoolwork, using the resources their teachers have been sending us, but I also want to capitalize on this time I’m having with them. This is like bonus time, and I want to take full advantage of this and use it to get to know my kids better. I’m looking forward to this and I’m praying God will bless this time. If all goes well, they will look back on this year with fond memories*.

*I wanted to call this new endeavor “Corona Camp” but my son didn’t think that was a very good idea. Not age appropriate, or something, I guess. I’m open to other suggestions if you’ve got any!

Slowing down has its perks

When times are tough it helps to look at the positive right? The proverbial silver lining. So here is my list of things I’ve enjoyed about this mandated social distancing:

  1. All meetings are held online, so I don’t need to concern myself with arranging rides.
  2. More time to crochet blankets, hats and coasters.
  3. More time to read the ridiculously long list of library books I’ve started reading and wasn’t able to finish before the loan expired.
  4. I don’t have to arrange the family dinner around evening activities.
  5. I can make breakfast for my family on Saturday mornings.
  6. Walks around the neighborhood with my kids (well, so far 1 kid and the dog).
  7. Running nearly every day.

I feel like last all last week I had a lot to say, a lot to blog about, but it didn’t feel right to publish anything just yet. I wanted to hold it close for awhile and see how I felt about things first. The first part of the week was busy because we had to do all our BSF meetings online. It was a little nerve-wracking but it all worked out very well. The second part of the week was a whole lot of nothing, giving me more time to really process the gravity of the situation we are all in. So now I’m feel a little less unsettled. Now I can comfortably get back to boring you all with my daily minutiae. I’ll probably keep talking about running, crocheting, and maybe even about the books I’m reading. I’m sure I’ll throw some tidbits in regarding the dog too. Be on the lookout!

Socially Distant but not absent

So, there is a coronavirus pandemic in full force. For the past week, we’ve been practicing social distancing. This a term that one week ago had to be explained. Now it seems everyone is using it as if it’s been a common part of speech all our lives.

As a mostly introverted person, social distancing is not very difficult for me. Mostly. I’m happy to stay home. But even for this introvert I’m concerned. I wake up each morning with a panic rising in my belly. I worry about how long this is going to last. Is it even working? What upcoming events were we looking forward to that will need to be cancelled or drastically altered? How will my kids be affected? Am I going to have to start homeschooling them? What activities and experiences are they missing out on? And the biggest question – how can I continue to parent well and keep my panicky feelings from spilling out on my children? I do not want them to be negatively affected by this. I want them to become strong, resilient human beings. The way survivors of The Depression and World War II turned out to be incredible human beings.

The real truth is that almost all of my nagging questions are things I can do pretty much nothing about. Worrying is futile. And all it does is feed that panic, allowing it to rise further. So, knowing this truth, I repeat it to myself and I remain rooted in my faith in Christ. He knows I’ve lived through uncertain times, and He was the one who helped me live through them and come out stronger. I have no reason to believe He won’t do the same thing again, for all of us.

Stay home. Stay connected. Stay well.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 NIV

2nd Mondays

It just occurred to me that today was in fact Tuesday, not Monday. I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten those two days mixed up before. If that tells you anything about where my head is at. To use a phrase from Teri Garr’s character in Mr. Mom, I’ve been feeling kind of floopy.

I have made some sloth like progress on my memoir, in that I’ve done more research on HOW to write one, and have almost settled on a writing program to keep all my notes and chapters, and I’ve started writing my outline. I will share it with all you readers because I love ‘ya:

I. Introduction
II. First Act
III. Second Act
IV. Third Act
V. Conclusion

I still need to write a one sentence premise that includes the character (me), the situation (loss of hearing and vision), and the lesson (still narrowing this down). And of course fill in all the blanks in the outline. I might take the advice I gleaned from one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird. She advises her writing students to use the following format when they are writing: ABDCE: Action, Background, Development, Climax, Ending. Which looks like more like the beginning of a workable outline, if you ask me.

So, I can’t say I’ve written anything lately, but I do feel like I’m making progress. And that is all that matters. I’m gonna knock this book out, bird by bird. You’d have to read the book to get the reference, and I highly recommend it if you are also a writer.

The other thing I’ve been up to is crocheting. I finished a nephew’s blanket and am already started on the next nephew’s. So far each kid has chosen very different colors from all the others so it’s been really fun to see how each blanket turns out. This one I’m working on is yellow and orange and with spring right around the corner, I’m in a springy sort of mood.

Or, I guess you could say I’m feeling floopy.

Good days

I came back from tonight’s Financial Peace class really energized and excited. It was the baby step 2, dumping debt lesson, and that one always gets me a little emotional. We had really great discussion and everyone seems to be coming from very different places in their financial journey, yet we were able to have mutual respect for each other and a cohesive, lively discussion. I’m super stoked and looking forward to next 7 weeks.

Also, I’ve been working hard to not hate cooking lately. I get myself psyched up for each meal by streaming music to my cochlears and I wear a fancy apron and I dance while I’m cooking and stirring and measuring. When I started this ritual a couple weeks ago I made several really bonehead mistakes and screwed up some of the easiest dishes. Tacos, mashed potatoes, rice, stuff like that. My family takes it in stride but I think only because they love me and I laugh with them when they are laughing at me. It’s all good. Tonight we had baked herb chicken with salad and stuffing. I didn’t mess anything up and nobody complained so it’s a half win. If anyone had raved about it I would have called it a winner and made a note to add it to the list of regulars, but it was just meh.

I’m doing really well lately, all around. I’ve got some minor health issues but I’m working with my doctors to get to the bottom of things and I’m not in any pain or discomfort. For now, anyway. It comes and goes but it’s nothing serious.

That’s a little cryptic but I’m leaving it there. I’m trying to focus more on positive things that are happening around me and less on the other stuff. For now. We’ll see how long I can keep up with it. Ha!

Oh! I’ve been stuck writing my memoir but I received some great encouragement from other writers. One, it’s a very long process and I would do good to stop rushing myself. Two, I need to keep my primary purpose in writing the book front and center. And three, I need to write an outline. That last one seemed so simple, I was kicking myself for not having thought of it, but sometimes it’s hard to see clearly when you’re in the middle of it. So this week that is my writing goal. Start writing an outline.

That’s all for tonight folks. I leave you with these nuggets of wisdom given by our guest preacher at church today:

“Wilderness living is designed to make us willing.

Even Jesus had to be perfected through suffering.”