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Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

I have a little announcement to make…  No wait!  Close your mouth — I’m not pregnant.  In fact, I could make this announcement even more shocking than that if I followed the lead of a friend of mine who made my announcement in an email to her friends with the opening words, “Strawberry is dying!”

I’m not.  She’d misspelled it.

The thing is, you all know that ever since I left my job to become a stay-at-home mum, I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to do when I eventually go back to work.  Knowing I didn’t want to go back to what I did previously, I’ve spent several years casting about for what might be the right career to go into.   Well, this is not it, but it is an itty-bitty baby step toward doing something I love.  A tiny step, and a huge step all at the same time.  And I am immensely excited about it.

I have been dyeing lately, quite a lot — that’s dyeing with an ‘e’  — and at some friends’ very enthusiastic encouragement, I have opened a shop on Etsy, called SpaceCadet Creations, where I sell my hand-dyed yarns and fiber.  Take a look:

I can honestly say I haven’t been this excited in a long time.  Mixing the colours myself (from the three primaries and black), seeing the results come out of the dyepot, putting the yarns and fiber up on Etsy, getting the email to say that someone has bought my stuff…  It feels fantastic.  When I grow up, I want to do a job that I love doing, and this — opening this shop, taking one bold baby-step towards that goal — has made me feel that that might actually be possible, for the first time in a long time.

Come, have a look at my shop and dance a little excited-dance with me!  And if you know anyone — anyone at all — who knits, spins, felts, or crochets, please, please send them my way.

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Going into this week, it was not without a little trepidation, but I wasn’t fully aware of my own feelings.  I just knew there was an uneasiness hovering, lurking, in the back of my mind.  When I finally put my finger on it, I realised that I wasn’t wrong to be a little uneasy.

Blogging has not come easily to me lately.  I’ve chalked it up to everything that’s been going on, but I know that’s just an excuse.  After all, we’ve been through a lot of fraught and stressful times in the past few years, and I’ve been able to blog right through them — no sooner would I sit down at the computer than the words would spill forth, so fast that I could hardly type them all out.  But, just lately, the words have… stopped.  Just stopped.  I sit down at the computer and nothing comes.  My mind goes blank, even as only moments before I had been writing blog post after blog post in my mind.  When I come to type those thoughts out, I find they are no longer there –just gone — and trying to force the words out is as futile as trying to push a pile of sand up a hill.  And that has caused me to panic a little inside, because I don’t want to stop writing.  I don’t want there to be nothing there.

I have never been overly keen on those blog posts that recap and look back at other blog posts from the past.  I know they’re useful and relevant sometimes, but they remind me too much of when you turn on your favourite television show and find all the characters are sitting on the couch, drinking coffee and laughing, and saying, “Do you remember when…?” while the screen fades out to various clips from old episodes.  Arghhhh… I’ve seen all this before, and I switch over to something more interesting.

But, wading through the deep sand of this dry spell, I’ve considered doing one of those “looking back” blog posts, to sail through this drought on the coat-tails of what I’ve written before.  I know I’m not writing anything of worth these days, but look!… look!…  I’ve written good things in the past! So I sat down for a moment and looked back at my past posts, from this time a year ago, two years ago.  Of all the weeks in the year, and with that strange feeling of foreboding looming in the back of my mind, I choose this week to look back.

It was a year ago almost to the day that we rushed E2 to the Emergency Room for the first time, as her breathing grew slower and slower and more laboured and we finally realised that this was serious.  It was the night that they gave her breathing treatment after breathing treatment that had little effect, and the doctor finally explained to me — exhausted and hardly believing what I was hearing — that if she didn’t respond to this last treatment, they would have to cut a hole between her ribs and insert a tube into her lungs, because her muscles were going becoming fatigued and she was not going to be able to keep breathing on her own.  It was the first sighting of her (now diagnosed) asthma.  It was the night I realised that my daughter had nearly slipped away…  that had we been living only a couple of generations ago, she probably would have slipped away quietly as we slept.  And that was the night I realised that her own mother hadn’t spotted the seriousness of the situation and that, if I’d been left to make the call on my own, she might well have died.

It was two years ago exactly that I finally couldn’t take another moment of this mysterious, excruciating pain in my breasts and, with all the doctors’ offices closed on a Sunday, spent seven hours waiting to be seen in the Emergency Room, where the doctor examined me and thought she found an “irregular lump” and — eight days into our new life in the United States — I contemplated all the dark and frightening scenarios that come rushing in after those words.  It was the day that we tumbled head-first into the ridiculously complicated pit of confusion that is the American healthcare system, with only a high-deductible temporary policy to break that fall, and learned first-hand that it is not only the uninsured who face misery when disaster strikes, but America’s under-insured as well.  It was the start of the difficult journey to eliminate soy from my diet that led me to realise not only what a detrimental effect this seemingly innocuous food can have, but also to nearly turn my life upside-down in order to avoid the all-pervasive soy in the typical American diet.

So, two years and two trips to ER.  Two years and two stressful days that I’ll be glad never to repeat again.  And then I cast my mind back one more year, to three years ago…  You can’t read about that day — I wasn’t blogging back then — but we spent that one in hospital too.  We made another rushed and stress-filled journey along icy roads in the dark of night.  And there were hours of pain and an awful lot of blood, and that strange sensation of time slowing down and everything coming into sharper, excruciating focus.  And it went on for hours and then… it stopped.

And I looked down and asked the midwife in surprise, “Is it a girl?!?”, because I’d been sure we were having a boy.  And the midwife nodded, and my baby took in a great lungful of air and let it out with a loud cry, and we all smiled with relief.  And then without any delay — without even cleaning her off or even cutting the cord — the midwife lifted her onto my belly, so the baby and I were skin-to-skin, and she latched on and began to feed hungrily, drawing comfort from the warmth of my milk and the warmth of my skin, and slowly letting go of all the fear and stress that the last few hours had been — for her as much as for us.

E2 is three this week — and she is beautiful… wonderful… everything I could have hoped her to be as I gazed down on her in my arms that night she was born.  Over the next few days, we will sing “Happy Birthday” to her and open gifts and celebrate these amazing three years and the miracle she is to us.  And I will thank God that she is with us — because there are so many ways that she might not have been.  And I am aware of them every day.

And if we don’t end up in hospital this year (touch wood), that will be fine too.  Because things come in threes, and we’ve done our three, thank you very much.  This year then, perhaps just a nice quiet birthday, eh?  And maybe another slice of that (surprisingly good) egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free birthday cake.

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Just lately, several people have written to me or left comments on the blog, wondering where I am, whether I’m ok.  The happy-spin answer is that I’ve been taking some time off, basking in the glow of the love of my family.  The truth is, it’s felt a lot more like hanging on by the skin of my teeth, and so I’ve found myself  cutting out anything that’s not about what needs to be done now.  With the emphasis firmly on needs and now.

Things began ramping up round about the time we ended up in the Emergency Room three times in five weeks.  That’s going to be a rough time by any standard but, more than that, it was the fear and unsettling of it that exhausted me.   Would it always be like this?  Is this a spate of bad luck, or is this the beginning?  And I wanted to go to bed and curl up for a while.

But there was no going to bed, and no curling up.  There was work, work, and extra work to be done: holding and loving and comforting and night-feeds and breath-watching and breathing treatments and lots of cleaning up.   All mess and the putting away and tidying up seemed to multiply exponentially, and I don’t know why.  But it did and it called my name and I had to answer, because I am the only one who hears it.

And then there was the book-balancing.  For every trip to ER, there was a follow up appointment with the paediatrician (or sometimes two) and then maybe one with the allergist as well (or two),  and a prescription (or… many), and maybe even a vaccine just for good measure.  And so for every one of those, there is also a co-pay.  In a matter of weeks, we racked up hundreds — hundreds — in co-pays.  And this at the same time that M’s hours were going through (yet another) stage of fluctuating wildly.  One week he’d barely get 40 hours, the next he’s scramble to clock up 30… and then would come a week of 60-plus hours, which provided the blessed relief that almost brought us into the black but also tore the stuffing out of M in the process.  And then start over: short week, short week, work-to-death week; short week, short week, work-to-death week.  M was shattered, I was trying to ride this financial roller coaster, and the copays cut right through whatever cushion we might have had.

And the pressure on M to workandworkandwork was immense.  Every day that he came home early felt like storm clouds gathering.  Every day that he worked late was… oh so good as I looked at the clock and watched the hours mount up, but his work is back-breaking and those extra hours exhausted him, and then the girls went to bed before he got home again.  And then the on-call rota changed: instead of being on call every four weeks, it would now be every three — which sounds more benign than it is.  Because they line up the jobs for the on-call days, what this effectively means is that he works a normal week, then twelve days in a row, and then a normal week, and then twelve days in a row…  Combined with the fluctuating paycheques and the feeling that work had become everything and everything was work, the pressure on M cranked up another notch.

M has never been one to handle stress in a particularly healthy way.  He internalises everything, expresses nothing, pushes everyone else away, and allows his mind to run away with worries.  And then the worry increases his stress, and he falls into a vicious spiral, and he can’t break free.  And as I watch him go down and down and down like this, I feel that I must do something — I must do something — to lift the pressure from him.   And then I am heaping the pressure on myself:  I must get a job,  I must start a business,  I must clean the house more… or maybe better.  I must keep the children quiet, I must give him more room, I must try to talk more, I must draw him out, I must leave him alone.  et répéter: I must make some money, I must get a job…  or work from home… start a business.  And he asks me when I’m going to start a business, when I’m going to pull in some money.  And my mother asks me why I don’t just start a business, or find a job working from home…  And a quiet voice in my head tries to point out that if starting a business were easy or work-from-home jobs weren’t like hens’ teeth… but I feel the criticism so keenly that it never gets much further than that.

The truth is, I don’t know how I’d do it.  The balance between us is off-balance: he works (so hard!), and does the grocery run, he takes the trash out, and cooks about half the time; and I do everything else.  By that I mean everything else that keeps our lives running: not just all the housework and the childcare 24/7, but the taxes, the banking, the bill-paying, the letter opening, the form-filling, all the problem solving, the bureaucracy navigation, the appointment making, the car maintaining…  Every decision that impacts our lives rests squarely on my shoulders.   And the more stressed he is, the more I try to take on to lighten his load.  His pressure spills over to become my pressure too.  I want to take as much of his burden as I can, but thought of adding a job to that — or starting a business – just stops me frozen in my tracks.   And so there I stood, frozen, right next to him, frozen.

So it makes sense that, one day a few months ago, something inside him finally snapped — quite literally.  He came home from work and showed me a protrusion in his lower abdomen, an area about the size of his palm where the muscle wall had torn and his intestine was pushing through under his skin.  It’s not the first time he’d had a hernia — he’d had an umbilical hernia all his life that he’d finally had corrected about eight years ago — but that was nothing like this.  This was big and, with his kind of work, it was only going to get worse.  So a specialist was consulted (co-pay!) and a surgery date was scheduled.  And I asked… how long is the recovery?  How long? Because he gets no paid sickdays.

And here was a bright spark of good news!  The hernia was caused by work, so the surgery and recovery would be paid by Workers’ Compensation.  Oh, thank goodness for that.  And though Workers’ Comp pays reduced wages in order to encourage you back to work as soon as possible, it would be enough.  It would be enough.

Ten days before his surgery, I felt a tickle in the back of my throat.  M could not get sick — a delay would put the surgery to the other side of Christmas and mess everything up.   I got worse, he stayed away.  I felt rotten — rotten — and then E1 fell ill too, and he couldn’t take care of either of us.   So I did everything — all the childcare, all the comforting, all the while just wanting to crawl into bed — and waited for E2 to come down and the inevitable trip to ER.  It would surely end in the trip to ER…

And here was another bright spark, shining through the dark: E2 not only didn’t end up in ER, she actually never even got sick.  This child who has not been able to come within ten feet of a single germ without coming to the brink of not breathing, without scaring us all half to death…  this child kissed us, she cuddled us, she shared a drink with her sister (aughhhh!!!) and yet she never even so much as coughed.  Saints be praised!  Steroids, how wrong I was to distrust you!

And then, one last bright, shining spark.  The surgery is  done, the patient recovering and, by coincidental timing, he is enjoying what is truly  Christmas for him: days on end away from work.  Days and days and days to just rest and relax, in a way that I haven’t seen him do since we arrived in the States.  And as the days have passed, the worry has fallen away, the vicious spiral has stopped swirling around him and…  he has changed.  Today, I caught him looking at E2 in wonder — the kind of wonder that parents should have when they contemplate the miracle of their own children…  but which I haven’t seen on his face in months…  or even years?  I had forgotten what that looks like.   And yesterday, as I as dashing out to the shop, he floored me by suddenly looking up and suggesting to the girls that they make the gingerbread house that had been overlooked in the run up to Christmas.  He offered to make the gingerbread house! I left the house in shock.  Dear reader, I say this in all honesty: I had forgotten what it was to have a partner who wanted to be a part of the family.  I had spent so long watching him want to escape us — really wanting to escape us and the bother and the chaos — and suddenly here he was,  sitting the girls at the table and breaking out the icing sugar…  Volunteering to do something with them.  I left the house hardly recognising my own husband.

And as I drove to the shops, I felt like I was floating on air. Floating on air! The way I felt inside, in that space right behind my ribs — so light, so warm — I can hardly describe.  Like… like maybe we weren’t falling apart.  And suddenly I realised that, with a little more of that behind me — just a little more — I could do anything.  I could do everything!  I could keep this house running, I could make some money, I can put our world on track.  I can get us home.  I just need the love in the house, I just need the strength it gives.

I worry that when he goes back to work, the spell will be broken.  I worry that life will overcome us both again and we will slide down again.  But at least we have seen it, seen how it might be if we can make things change.  …If we can make things change, and keep ourselves up here, up here with our heads above the surface.

Here’s to a fresh start and God’s blessings in 2010.  Happy New Year, everyone.

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Quiet For Awhile

I’ve had a lot of emails and messages from a lot of you who are a wee bit worried about me, because I seem to have dropped off the face of the planet, and especially after my last post.  I just wanted to let you all know that that I am fine — we are all fine.  I’ve just taken a little unintended break from the blog…  and from the internet in general, really.  After all those trips to ER and the being ill and endless nights of no sleep, I just needed to take a little time to regroup, I guess.

It wasn’t a conscious decision.  I just found I wanted to sit on the couch with my husband, instead of going over to spend the evening with the computer.  And I’ve felt an urge to do a lot more knitting and spinning — my fellow fiberistas will understand how healing that is, and how the fact that I felt that call shows that I’ve been needing its healing.

But mostly, I just suddenly couldn’t think of anything to say.  Night after night, nothing came — a complete blank — despite the fact that there’s actually been quite a lot to blog about.   Normally, the words just bubble up, but these past couple of weeks, nothing came to the surface.

I’m hoping the that dry spell will come to an end soon.  Maybe even just posting this will help start it off.  We shall see.  In the meantime, I just wanted to say thanks for everyone’s concern.  I appreciate it.

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There are days when I wonder how other people do it.  Really.  They keep blogs — multiple blogs sometimes — they do 365 photo things, they make, they sell on Etsy or their own shops, they design, they Twitter, they Facebook, they work out, they…  they… they…

I am so impressed by them, and jealous, and… I beat myself up a bit.  And then I remember: generally speaking, these people I am admiring so much don’t have toddlers.  Plural toddlers.  And toddlerdom is a whole different world — much more so than I ever realised it would be.  And multiple toddlerdom…  you know, M warned me that two is actually exponentially more difficult than one, and I refused to believe him.  Twice as hard, yeah… sure… but exponentially?  Surely he exaggerated!  Turns out, he was telling the truth.

And I take some comfort in that, because I want to do all these things that I see others doing.  I really want to.  But I am all go from the moment I wake until…  oh, about 10pm — and it’s none of it about me.  It’s making food, and giving baths, and wiping bums, and wiping noses, and breastfeeding, and changing clothes, and chasing, and tidying, and cleaning spills, and stopping fights, and teaching patience, and teaching speaking quietly, and more food, and more bums, and more noses, and more tidying — always more tidying…

And then it’s 10pm.  M is asleep on the couch, the telly is flickering away in front of him, and I have seen to E1 for the last time and I think — I think — she is finally going off.

Make?  Do?  Design?  Photos?  At 10pm?  No, tooooo tired.  Sit and have a cup of tea.  Watch some rubbish on telly.  Maybe blog, a bit.  And collapse.

But someday, I will be busy making and doing.  I will be productive.  I will be fantastically productive, slicing through my days  in straight lines, with drive and purpose.  And I know that when I do, I will look back at this crazy, chaotic, toddler-driven time… and wish it all back again.

Quite right too.

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Just lately, I’ve really had something of a writer’s block.  It’s been so odd, just to have my inner voice fall suddenly silent.  My inner voice is never silent.  My inner voice rabbits on so much — every moment of every day — that sometimes it drives me a bit nuts.

But not at the moment.  Well, that’s not true — my inner voice is still chatting away to me, but when I sit down to write, it just shuts right up.  Doesn’t have anything to say, won’t talk.  I sit and look at the computer and… get up and wander off again.  Nothing there.

And yet, when I am away from the computer — cooking lunch, doing laundry, wiping mucky faces — the voice is there, chatting away, and I can compose blog post after blog post in my mind.  Until, that is, I finally get the chance to sit down and write it up and then… I can’t remember it.  Not at all.  Not one jot.  What was I going to write about…?  What was it?  Nope, it’s gone… well and truly gone from my head.  Bah!

Last night, however, I was inspired!  The voice came back and the words flowed.  I stayed up too late writing — far too late — and knew I’d pay for it come morning, but I was so pleased to be blogging again that I ignored all that.   I finished, proofread, corrected… and hit ‘Publish’.

And the little icon spun round and round…  and round and round… and then the computer told me it couldn’t make the connection.  My ISP, as it turns out, was having some ‘trouble’ and I hadn’t been connected to the internet for nearly 45 minutes.  I hadn’t published, and I hadn’t even saved what I’d written.  The voice spoke, and the computer choked.

The internet access didn’t return all day — and I discovered what an interesting world it is without the internet to pull me away.  I spent the day with my girls — really, truly engaged with them: we played, we told stories, we cuddled a lot.  And I got so much housework done!  The place has gone from disaster to shipshape in one day.  I was almost disappointed when I finally saw my homepage pop back up on the screen.  …Almost?  Er, no… I really was disappointed.  I’d enjoyed my little holiday from my demanding taskmaster, and considered whether I ought to extend it further, or take steps to make the internet a less invasive part of my life…

But, it did give me something to write about at last.  A day without the internet, a day of quiet isolation from that unreal world, a day engaged in real life…  Now, that is something to talk about.

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I am Chopsticks

If I could blog as beautifully as I aspire, I’d be producing something like Breeding Imperfection.

But I can’t, so I don’t… but at least I can follow her lead and tell you that I am Chopsticks, apparently.


You Are Chopsticks


People see you as exotic, unusual, and even a bit intimidating.

You are a difficult person to figure out.

In truth, you try to live a very simple life.

But most people are too frenzied to recognize the beauty of your simplicity.

Actually, I don’t know if I believe any of that…  What do you think?  Do I sound like chopsticks to you?

And hey, if you leave a comment, let us know what you are too.

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