Category Archives: Hobbies

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!

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.

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.

Distraction

Can I just be honest right now? Because of course, everything else I’ve written on this blog is completely made up.  Just kidding. But seriously. I want to be lazy. I want to abandon my responsibilities and sit, curled up on the couch all day crocheting or reading or playing Farmville. But there’s this nagging voice, and my hunch is that it is the Holy Spirit and I don’t want to admit it, that says I was made for more, and that being lazy is not God’s purpose for me. I know that God places value in rest, that He commands it even, but how do I know when I’m taking it too far? I wish I had a cut and dried prescription that says you need ‘x’ amount of rest on these days, and ‘x’ amount of time you ought to be working. It’s probably true that I need more rest than the average 40 year old woman, since I have MS, but that doesn’t really make this dilemma any easier to solve. I’m in better health than your average woman with MS, so there’s no template for me to go by. Not that I think there should be one. I’m just thinking out loud here.

Journaling is very helpful. It helps me focus, and especially helps because I treat it like a prayer. All of my journaling is really just a conversation between me and God, and He often speaks to me through my journaling. He probably speaks to me a lot more often than that, of course, I just don’t hear it because I’m distracted by everything around me. But when I’m typing, there’s no distraction. I’m entirely focused on the conversation.

So what I feel like God has been whispering to me over the past several months (yes, I’m a slow learner) is that I am too distracted. So I asked for His help and guidance with life and time management and finding a balance between work and rest and all the other stuff I want to do, like writing my book, running, baking cookies and crocheting.

This is so silly, but the biggest distraction I’ve allowed into my life is a little game called Farmville 2. Heard of it? It’s super addictive because there are always things to do, missions to complete, challenges to meet. And it’s fun, but it sucks the life out of you. Or at least it does for me. I’m sure there are people who are able to balance games like this with real life, but I’m not one of them. I am the demographic they built this game for. I know they devote lots of money into research to know how to keep people addicted to their games in the hopes they will spend money, but I never spend money in the game. I am firm about that rule. So the joke’s on them, right? Wrong. Because I have still let it steal hours and hours, days even, of my life. I’ve decided I’m done with it. For good, I hope. Please.

Romans 7:15 ESV “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

Hebrews 12:1 NIV “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I feel better, I think. Last time I uninstalled the game I think I made it a full three days. We’ll see if I can make it longer than that this time. The last time, I hope. Gee whiz.

I’ve been crocheting

I’ve been busy, but not really busy. What I’ve been busy NOT really doing, is all the things I want to do, like taking care of our home and writing my book. What I’ve been doing instead is playing Farmville. And crocheting. But at least the crocheting serves a good purpose. See, I’m making hats with all the leftover yarn in my possession, and I plan to give them to the cancer center where I get my monthly infusions. I noticed this last infusion that they had a bunch laid out for people to take and when I asked about them they said they were from volunteers, and they can always use more so they would be happy to have me donate. Hats are fun because you can play around with different patterns and if you don’t like it, you know quick enough and you can just undo and start again with a different pattern. And I’m so thrilled I found a place to make them for. I love crocheting, it’s like therapy for me, and even better if it’s going toward a good cause.

I went for a run yesterday after a sort of long hiatus and it felt really good. I need to get better at running on a regular basis. A friend and I are planning to run a half marathon together next fall so I have something to work towards. I think she’s been a lot more disciplined than I am at the training, and she has five kids! So I have literally zero valid excuses. Unless you count the MS, but I don’t ever like to give it that much credit. There may be some day down the road MS decides to take away my ability to run, but until then, I need to do it. Because I can. And because it’s good for my physical and mental health.

As for the book, I am still writing it and I suppose you could say I’ve made good progress, but I kind of got stuck. I don’t know where to go next. So I’m giving it time and praying that I get some more inspiration to write more. There’s no question I have a lot to say, and the story I’m ultimately trying to tell has lots of details. It’s just that my mind doesn’t work as well as it used to and it’s hard to make connections. Disjointed, I suppose is the best description of my cache of memories. I’ll get there though. I’m persistent and stubborn and I refuse to give up.

So we are in December, folks! Did you know? Which means Christmas and time with family, and snow. We’ve purchased all our gifts for the kids via mail order (hello Amazon Prime!), and I believe most of them have arrived, so I think I might wrap them up early so I don’t feel like I have to rush to do it at the last minute. Plus I love the look of wrapped presents. We tried not to go overboard with the kids this year, but I’m still excited for Christmas morning. We all understand and recognize that Christmas is all about celebrating Jesus, but we are still human and enjoy seeing our kids light up when they open their presents. I kind of feel like God has a similar sense of joy when He gives us good gifts. Maybe. I’ll have to ask Him some day.

What else? I’ve still been baking cookies. It’s been a lot of fun to get that love back, and I have a lot of people around who love cookies and can appreciate them. I’m a one trick pony with the chocolate chip though. I tried to make something else and it totally flopped. Tasted fine, but didn’t set up like they were supposed to. So, kind of a literal flop. But I suppose cookies don’t really have to look good as long as they taste amazing, right? It’s all about the flavor. I’ve got that awesome vanilla from Mexico and dark chocolate chips so I’m due for another batch or three in the next few days. Come on over! I’ll make cookies and coffee!

Souper hobbies

I have recently discovered that I love making soup. Something about the slow pace of the process, and the room for creativity (i.e. mistakes) really appeals to me. And then the satisfaction after all that work and waiting, when you have a delicious meal to enjoy! And at my house, since no one will eat my icky vegetable soups, I get to enjoy the leftovers for days!

Last weekend my dad and stepmom were in town for my son’s football game and I invited them over afterwards for beef stew. I had most of the ingredients but still needed to prepare everything. They both love to cook so they helped me put together an amazing stew. It was so much fun to work together as a team. Not rushed, just chatting in between tasting and smelling. Soup-er fun.

So, it’s been ridiculously warm for October lately. Seriously, 80 degree temps is nuts, even for Michigan. However, it looks like the cold weather is finally moving in as of this morning. It is currently 39 degrees, right where it should be. I turned on the heat, of course. Earlier this week I had the a/c on. This makes me chuckle, a little. I made vegetable soup yesterday and so of course I’ll be eating the leftovers today. Cold days are perfect days for eating hot soup.

But! As excited I am to eat some hot soup and snuggle on the couch with my crocheting, I’m nervous about running a 10k race tomorrow. That’s right, the 10k is finally here! I decided on my 40th birthday in March that I wanted to run a 10k, and though for awhile I wasn’t sure if I could do it, I know now that I can. Training works! This cold weather has me a little nervous though. I had my race clothes all picked out but now I’m wondering if I need to wear something warmer. Will I need gloves? A hat? Will my headband keep my ears warm? See, I don’t have much experience running in cold weather because the cold weather hadn’t yet come. So maybe today I’ll go out for a trial run and see how it goes. Yes, that’s what I will do. Practice run, and then cuddle up on the couch with my hot soup.

 

Rainy days

It’s raining today. Storming, actually. It’s been awhile since we had a thunderstorm during the day like this. We’ve had a couple overnight, but those are no fun because I can’t hear the thunder. I don’t wear my cochlear implants overnight. Usually my daughter tells me all about the storms the next day because though she usually sleeps soundly, she is sensitive to the noise. That and she worries about lightning striking and all that. So it makes for rough nights for her, while I secretly envy that she can hear the thunder.

So. Today’s storm is nice. It’s dark and cloudy though, which makes me want to go back to bed (which I did) and stay in my pajamas all day (which I am). I’m also roasting a butternut squash to make soup, so the house smells like autumn. My sister and I have our annual retreat to the monastery this weekend, and this year we decided against planning an elaborate menu and instead are each bringing a homemade soup. We think between soup, salad, and snacks, we should be set for the weekend.

My plan for this year’s retreat is to get a big head start on my book. I want to read through the past five years of journals in order to get an outline or map of sorts of what I’m going to say. That’s a giant task and not something I feel like I can do sufficiently while I’m here at home. Distractions and all. I am very easily distracted.

I still feel like I have this nagging voice that tells me I can’t write a book, not one worth publishing anyhow. That voice I need to just keep telling to shut up. Lots of people less qualified than me have written books so I have no reason to believe that voice.

What else is going on? I started leading Financial Peace University this week for my church. We have a small group but it happens to be very diverse. People from every walk of life. Newlyweds, single, married with kids, empty nesters. It should make for some really interesting discussions as the weeks go on. I’m very excited to be doing this class. For one thing, I needed the refresher, for sure. But also it just feels good to be able to give back and serve God in an area I feel like He’s given me a passion for. I was a ball of nerves this first week, because my vision loss and difficulty hearing still give me great social anxiety, but everyone was extremely understanding and gracious. I’m confident it’s going to be a life-changing class for everyone.

Speaking of social anxiety, I’m also in a women’s weekly Bible study and yesterday was my first time going. I attended last year and loved it so much, I’m doing it again. However, I had a lot of trouble hearing people in the discussions as well as reading the materials they hand out every week. There’s not a whole lot I can do about the discussion because you can’t expect to completely retrain people to speak a different way just for that one hour a week, so I’m learning this is an area I have to accept not being able to hear everything. I just have to accept and be thankful for the words I CAN hear.

As for the lesson handouts, I had been scanning them into pdfs every week so that I could read them in high contrast on my computer or tablet. That was kind of a pain, but it worked well. It only occurred to me after the class had ended that I should have been scanning my answers to the questions as well, because every week I would get to class and struggle to read my answers during the class discussion. This year I am super excited because they offer the lessons and questions in pdf format, so I don’t have to do all the scanning! It may be hard for others to understand my level of joy here, because until you’re faced with the daily difficulty in seeing and hearing things, you just can’t imagine it. I know it’s something I took for granted, for sure. If you are reading this and you have fully functioning eyes and ears, will you please just take a moment to thank the Lord? Because not everybody has that luxury. It’s so hard, people. Not impossible, just hard.

Well, my squash is roasted so I need to go saute some shallots and garlic and get the soup assembled. After that perhaps I’ll do some crocheting. I’m on my third of thirteen afghans for each of the nieces and nephews. A perfect rainy day activity, wouldn’t you say?