so very Gray…

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So very Gray.

Gray very rarely allows us to take his picture anymore. Be it introversion, or social anxiety, or Aspergers. Or none of the above, and he just doesn’t like it.

It’s okay. As much as I miss having as many pictures of him as I do of Annie and Max, I respect his decision. And occasionally, if I ask with the promise that no one but our little family will see it, he’ll allow me to snap one or two.

But there are so many ways to capture Gray in photos, without him even being there. I was taking some laundry into his room, and this was on top of the little set of shelves near his drawing table. (There were actually even more sets of other brands of pens and markers, all laid out in rainbow fashion with these, but I couldn’t get in position to capture them all with the camera.)

I couldn’t help but smile.

So very Gray.

babblings: moving forward…

Lots of ruminating going on here since I wrote my last post. Of the pensive variety, not of the chewing the cud variety. (Personally, I’m grateful I have only one stomach.) Thinking about how I might begin to live that more deliberate life, a life that is more acting-as-opposed-to-reacting.

Then I got this email from Chris in response to that post. There’s a reason he’s such a phenomenal therapist. Not that I see him as my therapist, obviously. Just that a lot of the things that make him such an amazing, amazing friend surely play into making him an amazing therapist too. Without demeaning my struggle in any way, he was able to remind me of what was already “right” with my life, remind me of the ways I was already leading the life I want. Essentially he reminded me that I don’t need to start from scratch here.

With that in mind, I figured out that there were two types of changes I wanted to make: the real honest-to-goodness changes in behavior, and the more subtle, but nonetheless real and important, changes in perspective and attitude. For example, I so often let myself get frustrated, even resentful, of the overwhelming amount of time I have to spend on homeschooling. It’s not that I want to beat myself up for those feelings, but maybe I could work on redirecting my perspective. Because when I look at it, every moment I spend on homeschooling, I’m living a giving life. And in some very concrete ways, it’s helping me live a more informed life as well.

So over the next month, I’m going to adopt two strategies. I’ll evaluate after the month is over to see if they’re actually helping. Now it may be that I end up mentally turning them into something else for the to-do list, in which case I’ll ditch them and try something new. But I have high hopes.

The first is to just keep myself a tally sheet, with the categories of “a more appreciative life,” “a more informed life,” “a more sustainable life,” “a more creative life,” and “a more giving life.” Every time I realize that I’ve done something the qualifies for one (or more) of those, I’ll add a tick. My hope is that this makes me more mindful of how I spend my time, and helps me view the life I already lead with a brighter perspective. I’d love to find that after a couple months of this, I won’t need to do it anymore because I will have internalized this brighter perspective.

The second is a little more proactive. Each week, I want to add more of each category to my life. I’m going to start small, with half an hour for each category, but would love over time to up that amount. And I’m not talking about things I already do, but about setting aside the time to add, with deliberate mindfulness, more of the things that to me make for a richer life.

We’ll see how it goes.

babblings: lost at sea, yet feeling inspired…

I can’t even count how often I’ve just thought of ditching the whole blog thing. Keeping a blog, that is. (I can’t foresee ever giving up reading blogs.) Thing is, my idea of what I want my blog for–a place just to record my life and work through my thoughts–always gets distorted the second I start thinking that someone else could read it. I somehow can’t get past the paralysis of that thought. Anxiety sucks.

Been sort of feeling lost in a lot of ways lately. Adrift. Not sure how to get my footing. I’m talking about life here, not my blog. Though it does sort of apply there too.

Thing is I do know what I want. I say so right there in the tagline. I sort of wrote that as my mantra a few years back, and it still applies. A more creative life. A more sustainable life. A more appreciative life. A more giving life. A more informed life. Yep–still want all those things. Still know those are the things that matter to me.

But it’s not the life I live in my heart. I feel like the life I live is “an obligated life.” A life of “musts” and “shoulds.” And I know to some extent there is no escaping that. Being human comes with responsibilities. And while I’m sick to tears of even the mention of fibro, there’s no avoiding the fact that it is of late sucking much of the optimism from my life.

Ah, but on the flip side, I’ve been feeling inspired lately. By my dearest friends.

One has been inspiring me to grasp opportunities and live in the moment and be open to the awesomeness of life despite it’s capacity to hurt us. She’s been reminding me of the joys that sharing brings. She’s been reminding me that being alive is a blessing, and that nothing could be more important than the connections we make with others. I love her so. damn. much.

Another friend has been inspiring me to accept what is. To grasp what good and wonderful and beautiful we can from even the most heartbreaking and painful of circumstances. And he’s been reminding me that we’re all full of contradictions, and that that can be confusing…but that sometimes we just have to roll with it. I love him so. damn. much.

And yet another friend has been inspiring me to embrace the magic of quiet pursuits. Ours lives are very different in some ways, but her deliberateness in choosing how she spends her time has been reminding me that I could choose more wisely myself at times. And that I should count myself as a worthwhile recipient of my time. And yep…I sure do love her too.

So have my babblings gotten me anywhere today? I suppose it remains to be seen. But I hope like hell that I can start living those inspirations. And that I can remind myself more often what it is I do want from this life. And that maybe, just maybe, I can drop a few of those shoulds.

in the craft room: an update

My experiment in blog scheduling has taught me a few things. 1.) My current life circumstances don’t fit with making blogging a priority, so keeping up a schedule of 4-5 planned posts a week just isn’t going to happen. And 2.) While that may be the case, I’ve also found that having a little focus does help. So I might give simplifying the schedule a try–Saturdays for book stuff, Wednesdays for crafty stuff, and another day for good stuff/around here these days sort of posts. We’ll see.

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So how did I do on the goals I set myself in my last “in the craft room” post? Not so great. And I had three weeks to meet those goals, so it makes me extra sad that I did so poorly.

  1. Make that damn schedule.

I DID NOT meet this goal. In fact, I sort of went backwards in this regard. Instead of scheduling all the projects I want to complete for Christmas, I went and added a bunch more projects to the list. I’m an idiot. 😉

2. Finish crocheting granny squares that I currently have the yarn for. (I still need to buy quite a bit.)

I DID NOT meet this goal. I worked on it, but didn’t come close to actually finishing. I had nine skeins waiting to become granny squares, only four got there.

IMG_74043. Begin crocheting granny squares together.

I DID NOT meet this goal.

4. 60 hours on in-progress cross-stitch picture.

I DID NOT meet this goal. Doing the math, I find that I only got 2% of the way towards this one (which is why I didn’t even bother to take a photo). For whatever reason, I just have not felt like cross-stitching lately.

5. Get supplies for Ana’s gift.

I DID NOT meet this goal. Though I did make an effort. The store just didn’t have what I wanted. So I bought yarn to make Max’s afghan and for Mom’s scarf instead, and will now have to wait until next pay day to try another store.

6. Work 5 hours on Mom’s tote.

I DID meet this goal! Woohoo! But the whole project is taking longer than I’d hoped, so 5 hours didn’t get me as far along as I’d imagined. I figure I have slightly more than 1/3 of the “fabric” made for outside of this tote. I’ll be buying fabric for the lining, and haven’t definitely decided how I’m going to do the straps.

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7. Find good piece of wood for Gray’s pencil holder.

I DID NOT meet this goal. In fact, I’d completely forgotten about it. Doh.

8. Make Annie’s variegated cowl.

I DID meet this goal. Despite deciding partway through that I didn’t like how it was turning out, ripping it all out, and trying something different.

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9. Decide which Pokemon to make for Gray.

I DID meet this goal. At least sort of. I’ve narrowed it down to six (Chikorita, Cyndaquil, Jigglypuff, Lugia, Mew, and Pichu), but I’m just not sure how many I’m going to actually make for this Christmas yet.

10. Make Max’s hat.

I DID NOT meet this goal. Completely forgot about this one too. Oops.

I did do a few things that weren’t on my list though. As mentioned, I bought the yarn for Max’s afghan, and last night I began crocheting. Obviously, I’m not far yet, but at least it’s started so will now be easy to pick up to work on any time I have a few minutes.

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I also made a pair of mittens that “match” the cowl I made for Annie. So yay, together that makes one of her Christmas presents done!

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All told, it doesn’t seem like I accomplished much on the crafting front in the last three weeks, but it felt like I was working away. Not sure why that disconnect.

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Goals for the week:

  1. Make Annie’s ornament.
  2. Make Gray’s ornament.
  3. Make Max’s ornament.
  4. Finish making granny squares with the yarn I’ve currently got for Rich’s afghan.
  5. Get through at least two repeats of pattern on Max’s afghan.
  6. Finish making “fabric” for outside of Mom’s tote.
  7. Start Mom’s “tweed” scarf.
  8. Find sticks for experimental project. 😛
  9. Find piece of wood appropriate for Gray’s pencil holder.

Ever the realist (HA!).

in the reading room: more RIP, Dewey’s Read-a-thon, FrightFall, and #15in31

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SalemslothardcoverLast weekend, I asserted that I didn’t care much for vampire stories. So why did I choose to read ‘Salem’s Lot? It was a combination of little reasons, I suppose. After finishing up The Sharing Knife series, I wanted a new audiobook to listen to during the many hours it took me to paint Max’s room. And I was sort of in the mood for a Stephen King book. And I do have that reading challenge going with myself to read/reread all of his fictional works. And Scribd had this one available. (I listened to slightly more than half of it before quitting Scribd. The library didn’t have it in audio, so I finished it reading my print copy.)

Anyway. I read this oh-so-many years ago. Like in high school. So yeah, 35-ish years back. And back then, I loved it. This go round, well, not so much. Yep, disappointing.

King’s books tend to have things that I find problematic in them. But I usually find so much that I love about his books that I can enjoy them in spite of problems. I generally find his stories quite interesting, often downright gripping. But even more than that, what makes me love his works so much are his characters. He makes characters come to life so damn well. I usually feel like I know these people. Some I love, some I hate…but I always feel something. And that’s where I feel let down this time. I just didn’t connect with anyone, accept possibly Matt Burke. And maybe Jimmy Cody. Oh yeah, there were people that I didn’t like, but they felt a little flat. And it’s not that I disliked the main characters, but I just didn’t feel like I got to know them well enough to really care all that much.

And frankly, an okay story with okay characters just didn’t do enough to make me put those problematic issues in the background. Unkind ways of referring to fat people, certain sexist elements, a mention of rape that felt inappropriate (not really in a dismissive way, but more in a I-don’t-think-you-truly-understand-what-it’s-like way) and others that weren’t quite gratuitous but came close to being so. So yeah, this reread wasn’t an awesome one for me. But at least I get to cross it off my list…so that’s something…I guess..

parasiteI had much better luck with Parasite by Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire). Much better, as in I loved this book! This is my favorite kind of sci-fi. The medical sort. And there was definitely enough creepiness, enough unsettledness, to make me feel this is RIP-appropriate. Heck, the character of Tansy alone is enough to make it RIP-ish! 😛  So yep, we’ve got unsettling medical “breakthroughs,” and some intriguing, slightly off characters, and sweet dogs, and some characters that you’d like smack their smugness right off their faces, and science, and that overall feeling that you just don’t know who the hell to trust. I’m not sure if what’s revealed at the end of this book is meant to come as a surprise, but I tend to think not. Anyway, I am eager as all get out to start the second in the series, Symbiont. 

I listened to this as an audiobook; audiobooks have suddenly become my new best friends. It’s hard to believe that just a few months back I never listened to them…and now I always have at least one going.

death atAnd finally, there was Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn. Another audiobook. Eva had mentioned the series on Instagram just when I was needing a new audiobook. I figured if she was enjoying them, I would too. And a cozy mystery sounded perfect for my addled brain.

And yep, I did enjoy it. Quite a bit actually. I adored Daisy Dalrymple. Independent, extremely kind, ambitious, intelligent. She didn’t completely abandon the “rules” of upper class life, but she didn’t feel the need to judge people on ridiculous notions of what’s proper.

I was a bit annoyed with the events at the end of the book, but then was made less so when it was acknowledged that such a “solution” was a privilege only someone in the upper classes could have gotten away with. So yeah, I do think I’ll be giving the next one in the series a go.

And hooray for me! I actually completed Peril the First! In fact, these are books 3, 4, and 5. And four was the goal.

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deweysIt’s almost time for Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon again. October 17th, to be exact. I’ve come to the conclusion after all these years that this will always be bittersweet. It can never be anything but. Sadness and joy. It is what it is. I will never, ever not miss you, Dewey.

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frightfall2015button_zpspqsxncayI think I’m going to leisurely participate in another readathon during the month of October as well, the Fright Fall Readathon. It’s one of those more laid-back weeklong sort of readathons, and it runs from the 5th through the 11th. It does have the requirement that you read one scary sort of book as one of your reads, but that’s not a hard rule to follow, considering we’re smack in the middle of RIP.

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15in31I also signed up for Andi’s #15in31. I tried to resist, really. Largely because I know I’ll fail. But what the hell, huh? Knowing I’ll fail is a horribly lousy reason to forgo trying. So yep, 15 books in 31 days.

October, you’re going to be awesome!

these days around here…

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…loving having a new family member…loving how completely he’s made himself at home…loving his sweet, affectionate personality…not loving that he feels the need to wake me up several times every night to pet him (dude–my sleep problems are epic even without your demands for attention!)…

…listening to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” on repeat…happens every October…who the hell am I kidding–it happens other times of year too…also in heavy rotation at the moment are “Conversation 16” and “Cold October”…what can I say–I’m a creature of habit…

…enjoying the colors of autumn…not to mention the cooler temperatures…and atmospheric skies…and shorter hours of daylight…

…attempting to keep the overwhelmed and panicked feelings in check…what gets done gets done and what doesn’t doesn’t…and fibro fog will lift and that will help immensely…

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…reading too many books at once, some more diligently than others…as usual…oh, and there’s The Twelve by Justin Cronin on audiobook…yep, forever my own worst enemy…

…anticipating Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon…and a possible girls weekend if the guys take their camping trip (though Annie will probably have to work most of it)…hearing all about Ana’s latest adventures…fall baking…return of The Walking Dead…and more immediately, my second cup of coffee…

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…feeling relieved that Max’s science project is done…he and his partner spent 12 hours over the past week at our house working on it…almost $50 spent between the two families…total of 4 trips to the hardware store…they had 1 1/2 weeks to come up with a project, do their research, design an experiment, perform that experiment, analyze their data, and put together a presentation…

…thinking that it would be an awesome weekend for Rich to make chili…and me to make pumpkin snack cake…

good stuff: early autumn joys…

Oh Debs, you didn’t even get through an entire month of following your blog schedule. But well, that’s hardly the end of the world, is it? Nope. Life, and fibro, just got in the way. So not a big deal. And in this first month, I did learn that I actually like having a schedule set out for myself for the month, and I think I’ll stick with it, at least for the time being. Well, starting this weekend anyway, as I think I’ll just give myself this week offline. But I remembered this draft I had started (that according to my schedule should have gone up yesterday…but you know, I’m trying to get rid of superfluous “shoulds”).

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*As much as I love open windows at night, there’s a new sort of giddiness inside me these last few weeks over the fact that we occasionally need to close them because of the temperatures are sometimes getting down into the lowers 40s.

*Oatmeal with dried cranberries for brunch.

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*Wow. I’m now a parent to three pretty damn awesome teenagers! (Happy Birthday, Max!!!) How lucky I am to get to be a part of all of their lives?!! Yep, very blessed indeed.

*Jean. Her generosity and kindness. I got an email from her that utterly left me in tears. Tears of utter gratitude for having her in our lives. It matters less than zero that we didn’t take her up on her unbelievably generous offer.

*Wow. And now another email that made me cry. Ecstatically happy tears. One of the many wonderful things about loving people is getting to share their joys. Even if it’s not in person, but across an ocean and through an email. I feel I was witness, if after the fact, to one of the best moments of Ana’s life to date. The ineffable happiness it brought me feels almost criminal.

*Dmitri. He finally got his clean bill of health and was able to come home with us. And you’d swear he’s always been a part of our family. He’s such a lovable kitty, all 20 pounds of him. Nothing makes him happier than being pampered with endless attention; his purr-er works overtime for sure. Five humans completely smitten with this beautiful nine-year-old cat.

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