Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Day at Home

Early this morning I got up and ready for bus duty.  It's one day a week, and I really don't mind.  I like the time with other teachers and greeting the students as they come off of the buses.  Today was different.  As I was getting my last few things together to walk out the door Sarah asked me why I was up and stirring around.  "You don't have school.  It's all over Facebook." 

I don't have Facebook, and I had checked the river level anticipating it might be high, but I didn't check the school web page or I would have known that it was cancelled.  At least I didn't go to school and then find out....

I have done that before ;-)

I've enjoyed the day at home.  I ran some errands and while I was out snapped this picture of the back way into town.  Unless you drove on the overpass...you couldn't get in or out.  Once the river crests, it goes down quickly, but the back water can linger.  I didn't get over to the bridge to take any photos..but I'll try to remember next time it floods. 

Flooding is a way of life in our county.  School regularly cancels for running water that covers the mountain roads and back water that sometimes takes days to allow access to many who live behind it.  Snow is also crippling for us.  For the past three years, school has been cancelled at least twenty to twenty-five days during the winter and flooding months. 

Since I live in town, I can generally go just about anywhere I need to go and today was the day to get caught up on some things like car maintenance and stocking up the freezer from our local meat market. After holiday weekends, I'm never quite ready to get back to work and this day was just the thing I needed.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Busy Days

It's been a busy few weeks and I have so many things to write about, but for today...I'll update with pictures.

Big news....I PASSED!  I found out last weekend that I am now a National Board Certified Teacher!  What a relief!  This was one of those things I took on last year and wish I hadn't.  It was so hard and time consuming.  I'm glad it's over. John brought flowers to me :)

Ben is back on the swim team.  He stopped swimming several years ago to focus on scouting and karate.  The coach finally talked him into coming back.  I'm a swim mom again!  I love this activity and have been so happy that we encouraged our children to do this.  They are all good swimmers (which is truly a skill to carry through life).  Emily and Sarah are lifeguards.  I hope Ben gets his certification now too.

None of my siblings could make it in for Thanksgiving, but we still enjoyed a quiet dinner at my Mom and Dad's house. The lighting isn't great in these...but I'll share them anyway....photo editing is definitely something for me to learn soon.

Dad and Mom

Me and John

Ben, Emily, and Sarah

The meal was amazing....and the company just as good.  
I think we may have all had a little too much to eat :) (especially Emily)
I love this picture... (Sarah looked just like the other two until she saw the camera in my hand.)
  I think they enjoyed the meal!

Wiley enjoyed a little turkey too!

Cutting and stacking firewood the next day.

Broccoli growing in the garden....maybe we'll eat it for Christmas if it doesn't freeze too hard.

And Thanksgiving dinner leftovers....
I sauteed an onion, some chipotle pepper, sausage and rice dressing with salsa, threw in a little leftover chopped turkey and served it with melted cheese over chips.  YUM!!! Better than eating out.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Changing Life

I didn't take a close up of the ladies, but this is the college pool.
 In Januay we will move to a new HEATED therapy pool!
When I finally got the nerve up to start this blog, I was going through a lot of life changes like getting older, my children growing up, and just generally not feeling well.  I wasn't sure if it was in my mind or if there was really something wrong. Now I finally have an answer.  I have hesitated to blog about it, not wanting to complain, but it is changing my life and  is part of what I deal with now.  I knew I hurt more than I should and after ten months and lots of blood work, I now have the "official" diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis.  While I was working through all of that, I learned that I also had early signs of macular degeneration and osteoarthritis.  Recently my eyes have gotten worse due to dry eye causing corneal abrasions (probably a side attraction of the Rheumatoid arthritis). Thankfully this is improving quickly with treatment but my vision was compromised significantly for a while and really caused some frustration.

All in all, it's been a lot to take in at once...crippling arthritis and loss of vision! I find that I go through the adjustment pretty quickly...first, disbelief, then tears and grief (usually over in about thirty minutes), and then resignation.  The only thing is, I know I have been a little more quiet and pensive to those around me....not always responsive when I should be. I've tried not to feel sorry for myself and most of the time am successful, but it does get a little overwhelming at times.

I often remind myself how these conditions are treatable.  However, it has and will significantly change my life.  The rest of my journey is going to be much different than I ever envisioned.  I have always been in control and independent.  The bigger the challenge the better.  Now, big challenges are just too big. Things have gradually changed.  I am now really glad when I don't have to drive so much (teenagers are coming in handy!).  I no longer work myself to death getting something finished.  I'm in bed much earlier at night. I have to pace myself.  For the most part, I've been able to keep doing everything I've wanted to, do but with a little more difficulty.  Take the garden project...that would have been tackled completely two years ago.  I think though...this more methodical way might be better. The things I love to do like sewing, needlework, playing piano at church, gardening, backpacking and hiking may become harder and at some point, even impossible.

I'm learning to take better care of myself.  I am watching my diet, taking preventive steps, and investigating all the treatment options available.  I started water aerobics back in the spring (at the college) and have met the nicest bunch of ladies there.  We meet three nights a week (I go as much as possible, but some weeks don't make it at all!).  They are the sweetest people full of nothing but kindness.  Exercise is a little iffy other than that...but I have hopes to work on some core strengthening. 

The most wonderful thing about this whole year has been that I've slowed down.  I'm taking things in, pacing myself and just enjoying each and every moment.  I've noticed that now I don't procrastinate as much and even though I don't feel like I'm working as hard, it seems like more is getting accomplished. I'm really feeling good about moving forward. 

For the next few months, I'll have more appointments, more adjustments, more acceptance....but best of all, more chances to soak in this beautiful, wonderful life. It has been a hard year.  I've lost special people in my life and had some unpleasant health news....but I've also developed closer friendships, I've met new friends, stretched my faith, learned to accomplish things slowly and to savor every moment. 

No...life isn't the same anymore...but these changes seem to be bringing as much good into my life as not...maybe even more.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Garden Update

     Back in the summer, I began making plans for downsizing our garden and relocating it due to growing trees blocking out the sunlight. I drew them up and then decided that I didn't want to take on too much.  We settled on building two beds to see how it worked out.  We ordered our garlic and onions (first time for garlic!) from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. 

 Last weekend we bought the wood, compost and peat that we'd need and then on Tuesday, Ben and I got started since school was out for Election Day. 

 In keeping with my new rhythm of working in small increments, I stopped when I got tired....even though only one bed was finished.  It turned out to be the right decision.  I took time over the next few days to read more about raised bed gardening and spacing.  Then I modified my plans accordingly.

When we placed the second bed on Saturday I felt good about how it will work out. Later, I'll add another bed in between these two.  I wanted to build several beds to be used for extended season growing, so I planned this covered wagon set up. In the spring I'll cover the frame with plastic to shelter fragile plants.  The tubing is removable for summer growth. I like it so far.  I feel very comfortable with this new way of growing things.  You can see the old garden just beyond the new beds.  I'll slowly fill in the low parts and seed it over starting at the tree line.

I sorted the garlic and planted it.  I'm planning on keeping a garden journal ,so I took the time as I planted to note the date, conditions, and the planting location of each variety.

It was a beautiful fall weekend that was perfect for outside work. Beds were cleaned out....and I used my pine straw mulch that I had gathered a few weeks ago. 



We've been steadily working toward winter.  Slowly but surely, we are tidying up garden beds and winterizing the house and outbuildings. There is nothing more peaceful or gratifying to me than working outdoors.  The sun was shining and the wind was blowing steadily, bringing storms to us later in the night.

I'm coming to grips with the upcoming cold weather and instead of dreading it as much as I was, I'm beginning to appreciate the change of seasons.  I've always liked winter...but this year have been slow to welcome it.  Being outside makes me appreciate every aspect of the changes heading our way.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Busy Week

This past week has been so full of activity.  I have really tried to just live in each moment.  I'm working on letting go of the stress of everything that still needs to get done around the house.  I'm looking for a new rhythm and think I'm on my way to finding it.

I've tried to take more pictures, but haven't been very consistent.  I need to learn more about taking pictures with my phone because it is just so convenient.  I also haven't spent much time learning to use photo editing software...that's just another item on my "things I'd like to learn" list. I could also add to that list not moving my phone too quickly after I've taken a picture! 

Here's a picture of Ben before a Halloween party last Friday night.   Unique, easy, and comfortable....I loved his costume choice!

Before John left for active duty on Sunday, Ben tried to give him a tutorial on "hashtags on Twitter".  I love this picture.  It is such an example of the generational differences in how we deal with technology. 

(not sure if I got that right...I"m still not on "The Twitter" as Betty White would say).
John loves technology,and so do I, but not quite as much. A lot of days I could just live without it. I think limits are incredibly important when dealing with it. Sometimes it seems the whole idea of Clouds, Twitters, Facebooks, etc. just are too big to wrap your head around. Neither one of us is on Facebook.  We made that decision two years ago and I have not felt left out enough yet to sign up.  Sometimes I'm the last to find things out, but I don't mind the trade off. 

Tuesday was the busiest day of the week with a dog appointment, college admissions fair, eye appointment, and evening Mass.
Wednesday morning dawned and was amazing.  I was at work extra early to meet a student teacher and was treated to this incredible site outside my classroom window......

It has been a reminder to me all week to look for the beauty everywhere.

We celebrated my mother's birthday Wednesday night and I realized as we left the restaurant that I hadn't taken any pictures....I'm going to have to do better on that front. My parents moved closer to us three years ago.  After living away from them for over twenty years, it has been a wonderful time together.  I am cherishing every moment.

The week closed out with afternoon tea with my neighbor and friend.  I chose to ignore all of the things needing my attention at home and we spent several hours just having "girl time".  I believe it is so important for women (and men) to establish a network of friends.  Afterward, we took a walk down the street to the college for some fall pictures.
This is one of my favorite trees in our whole town, but it wasn't quite at peak that day. 
Ginkgo trees are absolutely amazing in the fall!

John came home for the weekend before heading back to Fort Knox on Sunday afternoon.  Too late, we realized that if I had joined him at Fort Knox, we could have had a get away weekend. 
 As it was, we enjoyed our new rhythm and got two projects we've been planning underway. That will be another post (I've tried to remember to take pictures).

All in all....life is so good. Even when days are difficult or frustrating with a variety of challenges, I have to remind myself of all the good.
I could spend every minute of every day being thankful and it still wouldn't be enough for all the blessings in my life.