I'm not even sure how to say what I want to say right now. Just dive in, I suppose? Alright, here goes.
Sunday (Mother's Day) I saw a post from a young artist whose work I really admire and enjoy that brought me to tears. This young man and his brother were abused by their birth mother in really horrible ways - the one incident that he described makes me ill. The result of this abuse, naturally enough, is that he has tremendous difficulty with the idea of family as a safe or positive thing, and I would guess that his brother does as well.
I hate that anyone has to deal with abuse. Hate it. But for some reason, this guy's post really, really got to me in a different way. Maybe because I feel such a connection with his work, maybe because my daughter loves it so much too, maybe just because I'm (sigh) old enough to be his mom and it just breaks my heart to think of anyone carrying so much hurt around. At any rate, my first response was tears and an overwhelming desire to crawl through my computer monitor and hug the daylights out of him. A couple days later, though, there's more to it than that.
I want to tell him that, first of all, I know that there are people who love him. Really truly love him. Because I see the response to what he does, and his interactions with his brother and other bandmates, and there is love there. And he needs to remember that we can choose to love, at any time. He can have a beautiful family of his own someday - wife, kids, dog, cat, whatever - because he has the ability and the strength to choose to love, and to love well.
Nothing can change what has happened to him and his brother, and for that I am so, so sorry. If I could take that away from him, I would. Honestly, I can't even begin to imagine having those memories etched in your brain. But mostly I want him to know that people care about him - even people who have never met him. I hope that helps. And I still want to hug him, because that's something real moms do for the kids they love, and he needs to feel that.
.....do not always get me down, although I admit to feeling a bit waterlogged right now! It's been raining since Friday, and I'm pretty sure there is more to come. I'm not crazy about the grey skies - I like my sunshine! - but the rain is good for the green stuff. The trees are all looking happy and my little garden is actually growing too!
Wait, did I not tell you about my garden? I haz a garden! :-) Well, okay, I haz a little raised bed with a few veggies in it, but for me that's a garden, so I'm happy. Even though I was raised by gardeners extraordinaire, who planted enough to feed the whole county and somehow never had a "bad year", I've not had the best luck with growing things. I gave up on house plants for years because I killed them so fast, it was embarrassing. My few attempts at gardens were.....well, let's just say they did not end well. But since I've been following the Paleo diet and eating lots more veggies (more on that in a bit!), I decided it was time to give gardening another try.
Our property here is pretty much all sand and pine needles, so I was fairly sure we'd need to do something to improve the soil - and our chances of growing anything but cactus and more pine trees. (Seriously, slash pines are everywhere down here! People worry about zombies, but sheesh, if pines became sentient we'd be in deep doodie!) After some research and consultation, I asked Jon to build me a raised bed so I could experiment. I wanted to keep things small-scale this year, given my abysmal track record with gardening, and a raised bed seemed like our best bet overall. So Mr. Wonderful complied, and I planted, and voila!
As I said, it's very - very - small-scale this year. I have squash, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, watermelon, and some dill and spearmint started, and that's it. I love fresh tomatoes, so I have three or four varieties of those, and I've been going through the broccoli like crazy, so I'm hoping it takes off for me. It would be nice to have enough to freeze for next winter. My mom would laugh herself sick if she saw it, but that's okay.....baby steps!
Now, back to my diet - it is going very, very well. By my scale, I'm down 18 lbs since mid-January, which makes me super happy. I've been able to wear clothes that I couldn't last spring and summer, and I just feel so much better. My blood pressure is back to being perfect, instead of borderline high. Really, this is more than just a weight-loss plan for me.....it's a lifestyle change. I'm eating healthier than I ever have, and it's something that is absolutely sustainable, unlike so many of the other things I've tried. I could be stricter and be losing more/faster, but I'm really content with my current rate of loss and how I feel overall. My back is also improving slowly (gee, ya think getting some weight off could be helping there too?) and I plan to start a modest exercise plan soon as well. Pretty cool, huh?
So that's the latest for me! Hope everyone out there is doing well too!
WOW, I am soooo behind! Sorry about that.....of course, y'all should be used to me by now, yes? But still, sorry!
Let's see....Mom and Melinda came for a (much too short) visit in February, and we had a blast. They loved the weather, the house, the palm trees - pretty much everything. Melinda is very insistent that I need to plant palm trees near the pool. "For atmosphere, silly!" Yeah. Jon's not so sure. I may compromise with some of those little potted palms, but we'll see.
Boone-puppy is still growing at an alarming rate. He's almost as tall at the shoulder as Zeus now, and has crazy-big paws. He is also extremely enthusiastic in his greetings, which is sweet but can be dangerous if you're not expecting it. He's big enough now that if he jumps up on the guys to say hello, well, he hits them....you know....there, which makes them very unhappy. So we're working on not-jumping now. He's starting to get the idea, but sometimes he just gets so happy he forgets! Hey, he's a puppy, right? :-) Over all he's doing very well, and he is a sweetheart.
March 19th was our 25th anniversary (crazy, huh?) and Jon and I celebrated by taking a little getaway trip to Savannah. What a beautiful city - if you've never been, you're missing out. The historic district is amazing. We took one of the trolley tours and had a fabulous guide - she really made it fun and interesting. We could have easily spent an entire week there, there's so much to see and do, but we made good use of our two days and had a great time.
On the 20th we left Savannah and I proceeded to drive to Melinda's (near Dayton, OH) so I could take her in for oral surgery on the 21st. It went really well, and we had a great visit, but my stars.....I wasn't sure I was going to be able to walk by the time I got to her house that night. Construction and accidents on I-77 meant that a stretch which usually takes me about 45 minutes took over two hours. Not fun. Thankfully I didn't have that issue on the way home......nooooo, on the way home I got to drive through a winter storm, complete with freezing rain and heavy snow. In the VW, which is very light-weight and does not have winter tires. I was ready for Depends by the time I got to clear roads. :-/
I've been able to spend some time with my torch lately, which has been wonderful. I really, really missed it! There's just something so satisfying for me about that whole process. I want to get as much time in as I can before it gets too hot - there's a window a/c unit in the workshop, but even with that, the combined heat from the torch and kiln will make it unbearable in the summer. Sooo, I torch now and then make jewelry in the nice, cool house later! See? I can so plan ahead!
Well, that pretty much covers things for now. Have a great day, folks!
Twice, actually! And lived to tell the tale! But before anyone freaks out, no, it wasn't gunshots. I had epidural pain-relief injections yesterday.
I really didn't know what to expect when I went in to the Pain Center yesterday. Having never had an epidural with any of my deliveries, I had only the vaguest idea of what that entailed. I knew the action was all going to be in my back, but beyond that? Clueless. Thankfully, the process was quick and only a little uncomfortable. I got two shots in my lumbar region, one on each side of my spine, with a combination of anaesthetic and a steroid. The idea is that the anaesthetic provides some immediate relief, while the steroid will hopefully decrease the inflammation in the discs and allow them to start healing. I'm hopeful that this will be effective, because I'm getting a little tired of hurting!
The funniest thing, to me, was what a bad case of jelly-legs I had afterwards! Apparently that isn't unusual, but it was disconcerting. I'd think I was walking forward, but my legs kept wanting to go sideways. Picture the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, just after Dorothy helps him down from his pole, and you'll have some idea of how I looked.
Otherwise all is well. The diet is still progressing nicely - I'm averaging about 2 lbs per week weight loss, which is good. I still feel really good, too. Boone is growing like a weed and keeps us all laughing with his puppy antics. And my mom and sister are coming to visit this weekend! Yay! So life is good. Hope the same is true for all of you.
I believe I mentioned a couple posts back that hubby and I decided to get serious about the whole weight loss/get healthier issue this year. Since I need all the accountability I can get, I decided to update you on progress thus far. And thus far, progress is good!
I've been following the Paleo plan - basically eat like a caveman. Lean protein, fruits and veggies, but no grains, dairy, processed foods....you get the picture. I will gladly confess that I'm not going 100% with this, but I'd say I'm about 95% true to the plan. In just over three weeks, I'm down about 7.5 lbs, which is a pretty healthy rate of loss. I feel really good, too - I'm even sleeping better, and I've noticed my legs are hurting much less. I also am not experiencing the mid-afternoon slump that I used to get. I'd say the plan is a success, wouldn't you?
It's been really chilly here this week - yesterday it only reached 31 degrees, which is kind of unpleasant when two weeks ago it was hitting the 70s. The koi pond actually had a skin of ice on it, and the cats were staying curled up in the barn, cuddling for warmth. Today the sun peeked out, though, and temps were much milder.
We've got a new little source of sunshine inside the house now, too. In typical Grouchy fashion, we decided that having an odd number of dogs was an affront to nature, and so we set out to remedy that. This is the result.
Say hello to Boone, the newest member of the Grouchy family. He is a 10 week old mixed breed, and he is a charmer. We can already tell he's going to be a big boy - he's 16 lbs and has HUGE paws - but he also has the sweetest temperament you can imagine. Nothing fazes this little guy, and I do mean nothing. Even his shots didn't elicit a whimper. It took the other dogs a little bit to warm up to him, but they're all getting along pretty well now. At this point Frodo and Boris can still roll him over, but I'm guessing that's only going to last another week or so. He's growing like crazy. The vet thinks there's probably some hound, some Lab, maybe even some Rottie in there, so he may very well outgrow Zeus eventually. His coloring is very unusual, too - it's hard to tell from the picture, but he's sort of greyish-brown, with darker shading on his muzzle, legs and tail. The tips of his toes, a splotch on his chest, and a little spot under his chin are white. And he is sooooo soft!
Of course, Shyla can't be replaced. But Boone is a happy distraction from the sadness, and we're all enjoying him a lot.
Happy New Year, everyone! Yes, it's the 12th (I think?) but at least it's still January! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday time. This year we were able to go to Ohio for Christmas to stay with my mom. Sister and hubby came too, and we got to visit Jon's family also, so it was a good time. We even got snow, which made the kids and I very happy! My little dog Frodo was with us, and he really enjoyed the snow as well.
We came home a few days after Christmas (and wow, was that a looooong trip - traffic was horrible!) and began unpacking. Sadly, one of our barn kitties disappeared while we were gone. The friends who were taking care of the cats for us never saw him the whole time we were gone. There was no sign of any sort of attack, and I drove all over the area looking for him, so we're guessing he just decided to go traveling. Hopefully he's fine and getting spoiled somewhere else. Still sad, though, as he was my favorite cat.
New Year's brought an unexpected blessing - some dear friends from Michigan were traveling back from Florida and were able to stop and spend a couple nights with us. It was wonderful to see them and get caught up on all the news. Plus, they had their 6-month-old Jack Russell puppy with them and he wore Boris out! They were hilarious to watch. Rocky was not above playing dirty, and if all else failed he'd grab Boris by one of his back legs and just tow him around. We all just sat and laughed at the dogs playing. Nothing fancy or formal, but one of the best New Year's we've had in a while.
Jon and I have been talking about diet and exercise for quite a while now, and that's as far as we'd gone - talking. But after the holidays we decided to get serious. Several of Jon's co-workers set up a weight loss challenge, so he joined in on that. I decided to "play along" at home and see if I could beat him. (evil chuckle) Rather than adhering religiously to any one plan, we're mostly just cutting the junk and focusing on lots more lean protein, vegetables and fruits. And surprisingly enough, it seems to be working! At our last weigh-in Jon was down 4 lbs and I was down 3, which I consider a good start. More important - to me, at least - since I started changing how I eat, I am not experiencing heartburn (which had become a daily issue), I no longer have the "bloated belly" feeling, and I just generally feel better. That's pretty good motivation to keep going, wouldn't you say?
Unfortunately, this morning all the good news is shadowed for me. Yesterday I had to make the difficult decision to put our dog Shyla to sleep. As I'd mentioned in earlier posts, she hasn't been doing well and we knew that there was some sort of mass in her abdomen. Yesterday exploratory surgery showed that we had very few options - extensive and risky surgery to remove the growth, along with parts of her intestines, etc., which may or may not have worked; closing her up and continuing to manage her symptoms, while she grew continuously more miserable; or allow her to go to sleep. Given her age and how she's been obviously more and more uncomfortable and unhappy, I chose to let her sleep and not wake up.
This is one of the hardest things I've ever done. I cried so hard yesterday that I still have a headache and my vision is blurry (although that could be today's tears....I don't know anymore). I loved Shyla, and I'm torturing myself with the fear that I made the wrong decision. My one comfort is knowing that for the five years she was with us, she was well-loved. I miss you, Shyla.
Wow, I am SOOOOOOO far behind! Sorry about that! Let's see, a quick recap of Grouchy life: non-working cars, sick dog, migraine, blah blah blah.....yeah, that was it. So where are we now?
At the moment we all have driveable cars again (yay!) and hubby and eldest son are working diligently to get the shiny red lemon fixed so it's not a lemon, at which point we will sell it. Eldest son's "old" car has been repaired and he's driving it for work, which is going well. Also on the driving front, youngest son got his learner's permit, and yesterday I took him on the road for the second time ever. I'm happy to report that he didn't kill anyone, nor did he cause his old mother excessive angst. In fact, he did really well - I think he was more nervous than I was, but that's okay!
Our old dog, Shyla, is (sadly) not better. She's been slowly getting worse, and last week we did blood work and x-rays, which showed a suspicious mass in her abdomen. Right now we're trying to decide which way to go for treatment. She doesn't appear to be in any pain, thankfully, but we don't know how long that will be true. The fact that we don't know her true age is making things a bit more complicated as well. Any prayers for wisdom for us (and comfort for her) would be great right now. Shyla has been a wonderful dog for our family, and it's hard to see her declining.
Thanksgiving....ah, Thanksgiving! This year was a first for us. Not only did we stay home for Thanksgiving, we had family come to us, and I prepared my very first holiday dinner! I feel so adult now....it's a bit scary, actually. Seriously, I was really nervous about the whole thing. Jon's parents and his older brother's family were all here, and while I'm not worried about general cooking for groups, cooking Thanksgiving dinner was another story. I was a turkey virgin, folks - never cooked a bird before in my life. Let me tell you, those roasting bags are magic. The turkey came out perfectly, and everything else was yummy too! I was SO relieved! :-) Nobody was hungry, and I didn't have to worry about the in-laws sneaking off to order pizza afterwards either.
Now I'm trying to get things organized for Christmas. I'd say I'm about halfway done with my shopping (actually, that may be generous...probably more like one-third finished. Sigh.) and I have some decorations up. For some reason I'm having a hard time decorating this year. Usually that's one of my favorite things about the season, but this year I really haven't done much. I'm not sure if it's because we've been busy with other things, or that I can't figure out what to do with the new house, or maybe simply that I'm lazy. The last option is the most likely, but I'm going to choose to believe the first one instead. It's also been bizarrely warm, even for South Carolina - temps in the upper 60s and low 70s for the last couple weeks. Somehow hanging snowflakes seems inappropriate when you're wearing capris and flip-flops. :-/
The weekly Bible study I attend has been fantastic this fall. Silvia, the leader, is a firecracker - the woman has such a gift for teaching, plus she has a great sense of humor. I'm really learning a lot, and loving it all. Silvia joined us for Thanksgiving dinner and fit in like she'd always been part of our family, which was wonderful. Her only flaw is that she doesn't like dogs....we're working on that!
Otherwise, it's pretty much business as usual. Laundry and dishes know no holidays (darn it!). Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying this holiday season.
Grouchy posting ahead.....proceed at your own risk!
People say that life is like a rollercoaster ride - lots of ups and downs, unexpected turns, and so forth. Most of the time I can buy into that analogy. However, lately it feels like my rollercoaster has a bumper-car segment, and I think I'd like to get off for a bit!
Oldest son finally found a job (yay!) as a delivery driver for a pizza place. He knows the assistant manager, it's fairly close to home, he gets decent tips, it's all good. The problem is that he got rear-ended a few days before he was supposed to start working, and his car was seriously damaged. (Thankfully he is fine. ) Hubby and I agreed to loan him the money to get another car so he'd have something for work, and he could repay us once the Miata was fixed and sold. Unfortunately, he got a lemon. A big, shiny, red lemon. I'm not sure if son had a brain-fart or what when he drove the thing, but it was a baaaaad purchase. The menfolk have already put far too many hours and dollars into that car, and it's still not right. So son has been driving my VW Bug to work, hubby drives the van, and I do whatever I have to do when there's a vehicle available.
Then came yesterday. Son called me from work to tell me that the Bug was acting up. After some back-and-forth, hubby wound up driving home early from his job to meet son at the pizza place and follow him home, because we weren't sure what was going on with the car and I had no way to help out. Which means that, of the five - FIVE! - vehicles that we currently own, only one is both available and safely driveable. So this morning hubby drove a rental car to work.
At this point, I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry. The situation is simply ridiculous. To add to the joy, son wasn't feeling well by the time he got home yesterday and our old dog is acting funny and displaying some unpleasant physical issues (don't ask, you really don't want to know). I woke up this morning with a migraine and we're almost out of milk and bread. I'm waiting for a hump to appear on my back and a wart on my nose, because that's just the way things are going, you know?
I know things could be much worse, I do. Just sometimes the constant stream of minor frustrations gets a bit overwhelming, and I want it to stop. Just stop, give me a break, let me catch my breath, okay? Maybe then I could help out the friends and family who are also getting hit with all sorts of stupid crap, without feeling like I'm letting go of my own life preserver to hand one to them.
This will pass, I know....it always does.....but oh, the waiting!