Friday, February 25, 2011

Mother -Son Time

I have really been remiss in my posting,and I apologize. This time of the year there really isn't too much going on.

Yesterday,though,Zach and I delved into decluttering his bedroom. We were able to get rid of VCR tapes,old books,most of  his Legos,and assorted toys he hasn't touched in a long time.I didn't realize how much little stuff he had. It was crazy. We have everything that was in decent shape boxed up and ready to be donated.

Today we are going to organize his closet. I am sure there are clothes that no longer fit,or that he no longer likes. Each fall we go through his clothes to see what he needs for school,and if shirts have stains on them or the pants are a wee bit too short,we save those for "bang around" clothes. However,he is now growing so fast that I think even some of the play clothes may be way to small.

I am very proud of him. He wanted to keep a lot of things,but after I asked him things like," Are you really going to watch this again? " "When is the last time you actually used it?" he realized he  didn't need these things after all.

Today we have a snowstorm going on. We are projected to get anywhere from 6"-12" . So far we have 5"-6".The snow is heavy,so some power outages have been reported. I am really over the snow now,but if one lives in New Hampshire,one gets used to snow up until May sometimes! There is nothing we can do about it,so we just deal with it.

I can't remember if I mentioned this,but Rick,Brother B and I are all on the 17 Day Diet. We saw it on Dr Phil,and it sounded like it might be worth a shot. We started a week ago Wednesday,and so far I have lost 7 lbs in 8 days. Last time Rick weighed himself a few days ago he had lost 8 lbs. Brother B is not weighing himself. But he has noticed a change. So far, so good.

The wind is picking up. Hopefully we won't lose power. If we do,that's fine,I have a good book and some knitting I can do.

My thoughts go out to the folks in New Zealand who are dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake.

I hope all is happy and peaceful in your little corner of the world!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Being Mindful

One of the many common themes that I have read about in the some of the blogs I follow is mindfulness. Webster's Dictionary has the definition of mindful as "aware." I am so used to associating being mindful with simple living,etc.,that I was a bit taken aback when Ken,Rick's PTSD counselor,told Rick that he should try to be more mindful.

We were discussing Rick's hypervigilence,especially in stores. We came upon this subject because after our meeting,Rick was going with me to the grocery store. This is something he does not normally do anymore.He goes to Walmart,etc.,but rarely where I buy our food. The store I go to is a family owned business,and they have many stores throughout northern New England.However,it is not on the size of,say,Walmart. The store is about half the size and the aisles are closer together. Rick's hypervigilence spikes in stores,but it is worse in close space areas. He will leave his sunglasses on, which he says helps him observe people without them seeing him do so,and,because he is not a small man tends to look rather intimidating .Especially when he appears to be looking straight ahead and standing up straight with the cart in front of him. I hate grocery shopping,so when I go by myself I am in and out as quickly as possible. When Rick is with me,it increases my own anxiety because I know he's uncomfortable,therefore I want to get the groceries done even faster. Ken said that Rick needed to be more mindful,aka more in the moment. Instead of letting his emotions take him back to the market place in Ramadi,or thinking about what he could do if the guy behind us decides to do something rude or threatening,he should stay in the NOW. Ken told him to notice how the cart handle felt in his hands,how cold the dairy aisle is,how fresh the veggies look,etc. Don't let your mind go to the past,or to the future while you are doing something-keep your mind on the present.

This struck a chord with me as well. I am the type of person who always has something swimming around in her brain. I am always thinking of something that has happened,or worrying about something in future. I have been like that my whole life. Even when I am chatting with someone,they could be talking and I am thinking about what I am going to say next.It's a very bad habit,and a rude one  (I apologize to all my friends!!!).  I could be doing something fun,and thinking,"I really need to finish this," or "I should have done it this way,"etc. You get the picture. So I applied what Ken said to our store experience. I didn't keep thinking about the rest of day,or how quick I wanted to get out of there,I was in the moment,at the store, looking for Kefir drinkable yogurt.(It makes kick ass smoothies with frozen mixed berries and a bit of Truvia,by the way).

While Rick still had some hypervigilence,our time at the store was much more relaxed,and actually fun. We discussed our accomplishment,and vowed to work on being more mindful in all aspects of our lives.It does make a big difference.Paying attention to the details,feeling what your hands touch,noticing the sounds,smells,and all that is with you in that moment seems to help center ones spirit.It's a great tool for living.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It Feels Like Christmas 1976

The other day, I recieved a wonderful surprise.

I got an email from Margo,my brother Val's former wife. She told me she has been reading my blog for about a year,and she read my post "Happy 144th Birthday". I mentioned her and Val in this post as they are the ones who bought me my beloved,well used,yellow Little House set.I finally had to throw it away a few years ago because all the tape I have used throughout the years to hold them together just didn't cut it anymore (for those of you who haven't read that post).

She told me that she found the yellow set on Ebay,ordered it,and wanted my mailing address so they could ship it to me directly.She hoped it was in the same good condition they claimed.

My precious yellow set...with those lovely Garth Williams illustrations! I believe it was the first printing from Harper and Row,in 1971. I recieved them for Christmas 1976. I had been thinking about this set lately because I read in Nancy Cleaveland's blog section"As A Laura Ingalls Wilder Researcher Thinks" that the pencil sketches by Garth Williams had recently gone up for auction. You can read about it in the blog section of her website under the post "Sold!"

Yesterday,we heard someone on the porch...or should I say,the dogs heard the screenporch door open and started barking like crazy. When we went to investigate,there was our mail,and a box. I knew it was the books,and I was excited as I opened it up. And there,still in plastic wrap,were the books that I have treasured since I was that little nine year old girl:

A perfect set, just like I opened on Christmas Day,35 years ago! I felt like that little girl again as I hugged the box to me tightly.Rick looked at me,standing there,clinging to childhood memories,with a big smile on my face,giddy with excitement,barely able to speak except for "My yellow set!!!!" and he said,"That's one thing I love about you. You appreciate and get happiness by things like this."

I almost didn't want to unwrap the plastic,but how could I enjoy those beautiful drawings if I didn't? Combined with Laura's words,they created a vision of  what life was like for the Ingalls ( and Wilders!). In my mind,everyone looked exactly like how Garth Willimas portrayed them. I placed them on the computer desk and finally unwrapped them this morning. They now have a place of honor in my bookcase. I look forward to enjoying these wonderful drawings combined with wonderful words once again. Everytime I look at one of the covers,I am nine years old again. What a great feeling that is!

Thank you,Margo!!!!!! You are a goddess!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bathroom Dilemna

There has not been too much going on here,I must confess,which is why I haven't posted much this week. Each day seems to be a repeat of the next,and no one needs to hear that. One thing we did do was start to gear up for our bathroom remodel. My dream was to have a clawfoot tub with a hand held shower and a standing shower.I envisioned nice,leisurely soaks with candles and soft music. Even though I have only used our tub once,I just knew that with the tub of dreams I would bathe all the time! Well,after seeing the costs,I couldn't justify it. Then I thought a whirlpool tub would be lovely. Until I learned we would need more electrical installed. Maybe we should get a brand new regular old shower/tub combo,like we have now.Then Rick mentioned just getting a nice, big shower stall. My bone of contention is if we ever want to sell the house,wouldn't just having a shower be a negative?  So now I am back to square one: a nice big shower ,or a tub/shower combo? My goal is to create more room in the bathroom.

We are going to get a new toilet,one that isn't so low,and we are getting rid of our cabinet sink for a pedestal sink,so it takes up less room. The floor is getting ripped out,new sub flooring put in,and a hexagonal black and white tile is getting put in. New dry wall is going up as well,plus a medicine cabinet ( we only have a mirror now),new light fixtures,ceiling light/fan,and all new trim. Plus new paint and  new storage.

It's tricky when one lives in a small house. Things take extra planning,because you want the space to be used to it's full potential,and storage is very important. My brain swims from trying to figure it all out!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Come On Spring!!!

It's been a few days since I posted. Tuesday I was down and out sleeping in bed all day with a migraine. This one lasted until nighttime. Yesterday,I had groceries to buy and assorted other errands to catch up from Tuesday. I actually missed Zach's Honors Assembly because of the migraine. It's the first one I have missed and I felt bad about it,but there was no way I could go.Zach was very understanding about it. Rick and Brother B went and represented the family,so that was good.

I am still in the process of getting my knitting more accurate. I have completed one pair of socks: one is bigger than the other and one has a messed up seam on the toe,so my toes stick out. Sigh. Now I am starting another set of mittens,but his time I am not allowing for mistakes.So I have started and restarted the one mitten 6 times( I am still not good at picking out stitches).

We are gearing up for our bathroom remodel. Everything is coming out.Initially I wanted a claw foot tub with a curtain surround,standing shower head,and hand held shower. I love claw foot tubs. Until I saw how much everything would cost. Even if I bought a second hand tub,the pipes,etc would still run more money than I wish to spend. So we are going to look at a whirlpool tub. We are also replacing our vanity sink with a pedestal sink,and our low toilet for a higher model. Our floor is going to be tiled with black and white tile. We are going to Lowe's and Home Depot tomorrow to do some comparison shopping.

Also on the agenda is sitting down to figure out how big our garden is going to be. I am so anxious for Spring to come. It means a lot of work,but it's such gratifying work! Now that we are in the end part of Winter,I have visions of lush green gardens growing in our yard,warm sunshine,the smell of fresh air,and  hearing spring birds singing. Ahhh..... just a couple more months!!!

Of course, when the weather is warm during the day and chilly at night,the sap will start running in the Maple trees,and we will try our hand yet again at making syrup. That should be taking place in March or April. Of course, we don't get a whole lot of syrup because we only have about 10 trees,and not all of them are Sugar Maples ( you can make syrup out of any maple sap,but Sugar Maples are used more because they have a higher sugar content).Our neighbors at the end of the dirt road have offered us use of their trees this year,so we are going to take them up on their offer. We are going to walk their property and see how many buckets we will need.

Come on Spring!!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy 144th Birthday!!!!!

One hundred and forty four years ago in a little log cabin in the Big Woods of Wisconsin,a  girl named Laura Elizabeth Ingalls was born. No one on that February day could have foreseen that she would be become one of the most beloved authors of all time...or that her family would become synonymous with the pioneer movement.

I was a little girl just entering first grade in the Fall of 1974. I had never heard of Little House. Then, lo and behold,the pilot for the TV series aired,and the series picked up,and Monday nights at 8:00 PM were for "Little House On The Prairie." I finally read "Little House In The Big Woods" in second grade,thanks to my teacher,Mrs Whittier,who thought I would like the series. Having been introduced at first to the television show,I didn't instantly like the book version. But shortly, I changed my mind. Then in third grade,I received the whole series from my brother Valmore and his then wife,Margo. They were the famous yellow set,with the lovely Garth Williams illustrations. I read and re-read them. Life in the 1800's had a strange, almost romantic quality. It was a lot of hard work,but families were close. I liked that notion. I also thought it was cool that Laura was born in 1867,and I was born in 1967! A hundred years apart! That had to mean something,didn't it?

Now that I will be 44 in November,I still love Little House. I had to throw out my precious Yellow Series about four years ago because they were beyond repair. The book spines were ripped,and "These Happy Golden Years" had finally split in three pieces (after my attempt in 6th grade to use tape to hold the book together when it became two pieces).Never fear,though,I bought a newer set,which Zach has enjoyed. I know some folks out there don't quite understand how a grown woman could still love and read books meant for young people. My response is if they don't get it,they never will. There's no use in trying to explain it.

So...Happy 144 Laura! Those of us who are fans thank you for sharing your life with all of us!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Filing Cabinet Purge

Those of you who have or had a spouse in the military know that the military tends to lose documentation. So one has to have multiple copies of EVERYTHING: orders,medical records,etc. It's really quite ridiculous.One does not dare throw anything out. You never know when they might call and say,"We need  this yesterday." Going through med boards or VA disability, one needs as much info on hand as possible.

Because of this,we had two plastic file organizers and a strong box for military and VA records,as well as household documents,birth certificates,etc. I got sick of having items in three places,so early last year we bought a two drawer file cabinet.

It was to the point where you could barely open the first drawer,it was so full. There were hundreds of papers in our poor used and abused file cabinet.

Now that we are pretty much set,there is no need to hang on to 15 copies of his orders to Ramadi.Or his orders to Fort Gordon. Or 100 pages of his VA paperwork that is actually duplications ( all 135 pages of it!) I got rid of some folders. I saved important medical paperwork-his TBI screen,etc. All his  Fort Gordon/Fort Drum med board paperwork is in one folder instead of being in four separate folders,for example. I got 3/4 of the  the first drawer done,and wound up with a pile of papers about 8" tall,which was quite heavy. I still have the rest of the top drawer and the whole bottom drawer to do - papers from Rick's 1980's Airborne days to do and our personal/home papers as well.

What to do with all that paper? Throw it out? No way,Jose'! We are using it for fire starter in the wood stove. I also use Zach's old homework as well. No waste. And it helps keep us warm!

What do you do to keep documentation neat? Anyone else have the need to purge?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

One More Storm....

The big old Nor'easter that has swept across the country finally hit us yesterday early in the morning. Zach's school had cancelled Weds classes on Tuesday night,as did most,if not all of,the school districts in NH,ME,and MA.Bear in mind,we New Englanders are used to getting snow,but not just so many storms in a short period of time. There is possibility of another system leaving a few inches this coming Saturday,and even another one coming through next week.While I am not a huge snow and cold fan, ( in fact, I only go outside when I have to in the winter months)I can't imagine living someplace without snow. We have gotten our money's worth out of our new snow blower we bought in October.For a while we thought it was going to go unused.

You can't see the snow falling in the above photo,but it was falling at a good clip. We have tarps on top of the woodpiles,so they won't get completely wet.
A little while later, the above photo shows how heavy the snow bands were. Can you see our next door neighbor's house? Just barely. It made me think back to "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The blizzards were so thick they couldn't even see the house next door,let alone a light shining in the neighbor's window. It made them feel like they were all alone in town.Can you imagine it being that heavy?
Here is our house. This was taken by Rick on his way out to snow blow. He and Brother B worked hard to try and at least take the base away,and as soon as they were done,it looked like they had done nothing at all. You can see Rick's footprints heading down to the street on the path. That was all cleaned up earlier.  Our poor mailbox is going to to get buried soon!

While the menfolk were outside, I was inside cleaning the bathroom,one of my least favorite jobs. I also got two loads of laundry washes,dried,and folded. I kept hot coffee going for the men. They both were covered in snow,and red faced when they came in. Brother B even had a three inch icicle hanging from his moustache!

Today we are back to normal. Zach is in school,and we are having light flurries. I am not sure how much snow we got,but we certainly got at least 12". Happily,the Groundhog did not see his shadow yesterday,but when does the early spring kick in?

Thoughts and prayers going out to my Aussie friends...hope you survived the cyclone OK.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spelling Bee Champion!

Yesterday,Zachary was in his school spelling bee. He was up against 8 other 7th and 8th graders. There were about 5 rounds...and he won!!!

His winning word:feverishly. He  gets a one year on line subscription to learn a foreign language,and an on line subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica for a  year as well. Zach has decided to learn French.

His next step is going to the regional in early March.The state is divided into nine regions for the spelling bee. He is in the Rochester region,and will be spelling against 25 other students from 25 other schools. Each region will have 2 representatives (I believe I read that right) that will go to the state bee. The winner of the state bee goes to the national bee.

He is very excited,and we are very proud! Below are a couple of photos-for some reason they did not download in the order they should,so the end is first. Sorry!

Principal Mr. Woodward,Zach,and Zach's Language Arts teacher,Mrs.Manter

                                               The last three spellers...

Today Zach is having an early release because we are having a snowstorm. Today we are suppose to get 3"-6",but tomorrow is going to be the Big One. We are going to get hit with 12"-16". So we could get 2 feet of snow or more. Needless to say,I don't think that Zach will have school tomorrow-especially if  we get 1"-2" an hour like they are predicting. Tomorrow is Groundhog Day,so hopefully the Groundhog won't see his shadow so we will get an early Spring!