Monday, September 18, 2017

Hindsight, Empty Nest, and Grief

Hindsight, as a mother, is something I struggle with now that my children are leaving the nest. I just don't know how we got here so fast. One day they were all little, running around barefoot in the backyard, playing with the dogs....the next day I am helping one of them move into their first apartment and saying good-bye to what was.

All I ever wanted to be when I was a child was a mother. I had dreams of having a large family. 8 kids was my magical number. :) Infertility took much of that dream away, but I was given 3 gifts...my son and my 2 daughters. I dove into motherhood with ferocity. I loved every moment. I cherished every hug and kiss and crayon colored love note. I made mistakes. I agonized over decisions. I cried. I hugged. I loved. I cheered and encouraged. I cooked and baked and sewed. I was there for every moment. And then one day led to the next and the next and now...they are all grown up and I am facing a deep abyss of loneliness.

I miss my children.

No, they are not far, no they are not lost. They are just not children. They are grown ups living their own lives in their own ways. I do not see them every day. I don't always hear from them every day. I'm very proud of who they have grown to be...but I miss them. I miss her laughter. I miss her playing the piano. I miss his quick wit and nutty sense of humor. I miss summers together and camping adventures. I miss the daily hugs and conversations while I make dinner. I miss helping them with schoolwork and showing them how to do things. I miss it all...every single moment I had when they were growing up. I miss it.

As I type these words, tears are streaming down my face and I'm blowing copious amounts of snot into Kleenex. For many of us, empty nest is a loss felt with enormous grief. I am grieving the loss of those precious years raising my beautiful children. I grieve the quick passage of time. It could have slowed down a bit. Then I begin to wonder if I cherished it enough....did I take the time I should have for each of them? Did I hug them enough? Did they get enough time with me one on one? Did I listen well enough? Did they get enough encouragement? Do they know, deeply enough inside of themselves, that their mother loves every last molecule of their being and thinks the universe revolves around them?

In hindsight, I know there are things I could have done differently. I see mistakes I made as flashing red lights of "oh shit, why did I do that?" Emotion kicks in and regret washes over me, then ration kicks in and reminds me that I'm only human and no parent is perfect. My husband keeps reminding me that no child could have asked for a better mother. I know in my heart that I loved each of my kids to the point of exhaustion sometimes. I wanted each moment of their lives to be wonderful. But why did it have to go by so quickly? I'm not ready! I'm not done! I was just getting started! I'm so wise and weathered! I could do it again and be even better at it!

All this to say, I am grieving. I cry a lot. I walk a fine line between letting her have her space and wanting to text her every moment of the day to see how she's doing on her own. I try very hard not to always wish him a "good day at work" too much. I try to take the moments I have with them and absorb it into my skin so it will last until they come by again. When they come over, I try very hard not to smother them with hugs that take just a few seconds too long. And at the very same time, I try not to smother the one remaining child in the nest. Clinging to her like a life vest. Grasping at time with her in a needy greedy way. I walk a fine line between crazy, clingy mom and healthy, easy-going, go-with-the-flow mom. It's a war inside my head as these 2 women duke it out for supremacy.

I don't really know where to go from here.

Friday, September 15, 2017

I'm bringing crafty back...

This time of year, I settle in for a long winter with crafts. I am a felt crafter. I love to make things out of felt. The past 2 falls I've made table runners for the holidays. 2 years ago I made this one for Halloween:

Image may contain: table

Last year I made this one for Thanksgiving...

Image may contain: flower and food
This year, I making this one for The Holidays:

Silent Night Frosty Night Wool Applique Pattern

Now, generally, I look on Pinterest for ideas. I'm not entirely artistic or creative in coming up with my own ideas, but generally, I will find something I like and making something *similar*. I will either print out coloring book outlines for certain pattern pieces, or draw my own. The Halloween one is nearly identical to the one I found online:

Primitive Halloween Penny Rug~Jack~Ghost~Moon~Autumn or yo yos in these colors for kitchen table.... I absolutely LOVE this !!

This one was being sold on Ebay. The Thanksgiving one I made slightly different:

Primitive Leaves and Pumpkins Table Runner w/FS

I usually try to make them look similar, but as I don't have exact pattern pieces, they come out unique with my own flare to them. As with the winter holiday table runner, it will look similar, but will have my own touches. I bought sparkly, black felt so the night sky will look twinkly. I'm pretty sure my snowflakes will be completely different and honestly, I'm not sure how it's going to be cutting snowflakes out of felt. My tree will be different and I have an old shirt of my husband's for the snowman's hat fabric. :)

This table runner should keep me busy for a month or so, and then I'll switch to finishing my another project I've been working on for a couple years now: My Tardis with 12 Doctors! And now I'll have to make the 13th and SHE'S a woman! YAY!





Monday, September 11, 2017

Power Outages, Emergency Preparedness, and why I didn't get to watch Outlander last night.

As I settled in, last night, to watch the season premier of Outlander, we had a major power outage. I heard 3 gunshot type sounds, then total darkness. I reached for my cell phone to call the power company and report the outage, then went outside to see if I could see what might have happened. That's when I heard emergency vehicles coming close. Many people in our neighborhood started to get in their cars to see what happened, so my daughter and I did too. Turns out, someone ran into a power pole.
 

Our friends live at the top of the street where this happened. They were having dinner when they thought a bomb had gone off outside their house. They discovered the wreckage. The woman was drunk and she had a child in the car with her. Our friend said she was arrested and child protective services came for the child. It took the power company 4 hours to restore power to 1370 homes. Ours included.

After 2 hours, I got worried. See, in Idaho, Idaho Power is the power company and outages like this only last a max of an hour. They are really on the ball. PGE, here in Oregon, is not so great. Sorry, not sorry to say that. In the winter, power outages can last days to a week. This is unacceptable in my opinion. Now, all that to say, I know that's quite the "first world problem". But when you have $100s of food in your fridge and freezer that could go bad because the power company can't get their shite together...well...that's when I get a wee bit bunchy.

Luckily, we are always prepared for emergencies. We have a generator. We bought it last winter because EVERYTHING in our rental is electric. From the heat to the appliances. Nothing on natural gas at all. We'd had a very bad winter last winter and power outages were a real threat. So we bought a generator that would at least be powerful enough to keep our fridge and freezer going for as long as we needed. As for heat, we had alternative sources too. BUT, there was one problem. My husband went out of town last night and hadn't taught me how to operate the generator. (I know, I know.) So I had him on the phone so he could help me get it operational. I got it going. It was out on the back deck, so I slept on the couch in case it should stop or something. I mean, who knew how long the power would be out? After 2 hours, the generator just stopped. I had a really hard time being able to tell if it was out of gas in the dark. I had flashlight and lantern, but it wasn't enough light to really tell. So I got into the garage for a gas can and started to top it off when the power came on. 

When I woke up this morning, I got to thinking about how I get very comfortable letting my husband be the only person with certain knowledge about certain things. I'm not totally un-self-sufficient. I can be quite resourceful and am able to survive quite nicely without creature comforts. But last night was a clear indication that I can't leave some operations information to only 1 person. It's important that not only I know how to operate certain emergency procedures, but also my kids. In talking to my husband on the phone this morning, we both agree that it's time for some emergency preparedness training for everyone, not just the parents, nor one adult. 

I am happy to say that none of this was life threatening for me and the whole experience showed a great hole in my knowledge base that needs to be filled. So this particular incident was a good one. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Home

I was driving home from work today. I have a 30 minute commute. It's beautiful. Lots of rolling hills, trees and farmland. I had a terrific day at work. I work in a cafe. I am 2nd line cook. I love it. I love who I work with (except one person). It's a good place to be. After a really good day today, as I was driving home, I realized how happy I am. We moved to Oregon, from Idaho, a year ago. It's been a year full of ups and downs. But we are finally at a place where we are happy. We love the house we are renting. We've met some really great people we call friends. I particularly love how green and wooded western Oregon is. I was overwhelmed with a real sense of "home". I wasn't sure I'd ever get there. But now I am...and I'm grateful.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thoughts on Food Preservation (Published 08/05/2008)

Originally published 8/5/08

The harvest is coming along here in our little wanna-be homestead. It's coming along slowly right now. We have several Better Boy tomatoes that are in the orange stage. My husband is checking them everyday because he's dying for home grown tomatoes. Our chiles and peppers are nearly ready to be picked, but I'm going to give them a few more weeks to get sweeter. I am harvesting cucumbers like crazy and boy are we loving it! Some people would cringe at the amount of cukes we have, but we are a family of cuke lovers. What we don't eat fresh, I am pickling. Our strawberry production is minimal. I've grown strawberries before and I'm not expecting a huge outcome this year. It will be in the years to come. Pumpkin, watermelon, and cantaloupe are spreading like crazy and we have many, many of them growing. Zucchini is abundant and yellow squash is catching up. Corn is amazing and we planted 3 more rows last week for a late harvest.

I find myself walking into my canning pantry and standing in amazement of all I've canned so far and my thoughts think ahead to what I will begin to can as fall arrives. I've never in my life put this much food by. We used to be buy in bulk people at Costco and so my pantry and freezer were always filled and ready for anything. We still do buy much in bulk. Things I cannot do myself. But doing the bulk creating is new for me. The harvest food preservation count is modest yet, but is as follows:
  • 3 quarts of canned oranges (yes, I had to try it, it was a pain in the butt)
  • 2 pints canned blueberry/apricot jam
  • 2 pints canned strawberry/apricot jam
  • 3 pints canned apricot jam (I did have 4, but I gave one to my Dad!)
  • 2 pints canned raspberry/apricot jam and 2-1/2 cup jars of the same.
  • 7 pints spear pickles
  • 5 pints pickle chips
  • 1 quart, 5 pints and 4-1/2 cup jars of dill relish
  • 8 quarts frozen apricots for eating
  • 6 quarts frozen apricots for jamming
And that's it so far! My further plans for my crop?
  • Freeze corn on and off the cob.
  • Can salsa
  • Can tomatoes
  • Can spaghetti sauce (or rather a multi-purpose sauce for spaghetti or pizza)
  • Perhaps can pumpkin....I need to check on this first before I decide
  • More pickles
  • More jam (this winter)
  • I am thinking about canning a soup starter too...but I haven't decided yet.
It's small. It's modest. But I'm working my way up. This being my first year gardening of this level, I needed to start out small. It's a good feeling to do this and my husband literally will sit for hours in the kitchen talking to me while I can because he says he gets a comfy feeling watching me. Isn't that cute? He always tells me there is something so comforting about watching me can our crop. He's hilarious.

*********


The above picture is of my canning efforts that year. What a bounty!!


My first garden was a huge success. It was small, but produced a big crop. I had spent the previous winter and spring reading and learning all I could about how to garden. I'd joined several gardening groups on Yahoo (before there were FB groups!). I bought a book on food preservation and taught myself all I could. I was SO PROUD of my garden. In the years to come, I expanded the size of my garden (future posts). But when we moved into this house in 2004, we had a great spot for a future garden and an apricot tree. Later we would have raspberries, apricots, peaches, and more!

I miss my garden a lot. It was beautiful and it was special. I can't even imagine what it looks like now. The people who bought our house before we moved to Oregon were delighted to have a home where they could garden and have chickens. But who knows if they've used it or if it's overgrown. The house we live in how is a rental. The soil is VERY rocky. I made a raised garden bed out of Rubbermaid storage bins and I have 3 hens (did have 4, but a coyote got to her). I have plans to expand my garden, but since this is a rental, I don't have the heart to put so much energy into a garden I can't really take with me. I don't want to plant fruit trees, only to move. So for now, what I have is good. 



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Applesauce Wars (Posted 10/20/2008)

Originally Posted 10/20/2008

Ever since my kids quit eating the ultra silky smooth loveliness that is baby food applesauce, they've refused to eat any other type of applesauce. I've tried and tried and tried and finally gave up. My husband likes it. I can take it or leave it. I usually take it.

I then figured that perhaps it was store bought applesauce they don't like. So when I began the Applesauce Marathon of 2008, I thought FOR SURE my kids would LOVE my applesauce and eat it with a vengeance (Don't you love how cocky I was?). The whole time I was making the applesauce, I kept singing it's praises to my kids:

"You're gonna love it!"
"It's way better than store bought!"
"It's like apple pie without the crust!"

And so on. Out of what can only be described as utter love and devotion toward their Mommy, all three gave it a try. All three small bowls came back full and apologies with them.

"I'm sorry Mommy, I don't like it."
"Don't be offended, but it's not my thing." (THAT was the 7 year old!)
"I don't like it."

When it was all said and done, I had canned nearly 2 dozen quart jars of this glorious applesauce and only 2 out of the 5 people in this family will eat it. However, I am determined to win this food war. Oh yes...it is a war!
I am finding all different ways to put applesauce in things. I happen to think my kids need this nutritious food I SLAVED over for weeks! It has nothing in it but apples and cinnamon. So good for them! No sugar! They.Will.Eat.It.
I put it in pancakes last tonight. They don't know that. They think it was just regular pancakes. They gobbled them up! Wanted more!
Mommy = 1
Kids = 0
I plan to be undefeated. Oh yes I do......
*************

This post cracked me up when I reread it 9 years later. Ultimately, my kids began to love my applesauce and now they all eat it by the spoonfuls. So I guess I won the war? :) I've canned a lot of things in my life and my kids loved and hated different ones. Pickles? No. Pickled green beans? Yes. Applesauce? Yes. Canned peaches? No. Apple butter? Yes. Jam? No. They're so funny.

I started growing and preserving during a really bad time no our life. We were losing our business to the economy crash of 2008 and I wanted to make sure my family got fed. Sometimes it was pay the mortgage in order to keep our house and there was no money for groceries. So we ate what I had preserved. It might have felt like a chore to do all that, but I honestly loved it. I haven't canned a great deal in the past 3-4 years. Now that my kids are all grown and most of the time don't even eat at home, it's hard for me to want to can so much when it's just my husband and me. I'm sure I'll get back to it at some point when I find balance in my life. Right now, I'm trying to juggle work and home. Our rental house isn't really set up for a great garden. Most of my days off of work are spent trying to catch up on housework, errands, and such.

However, since our property has 3 acres of blackberries, we have started to think of ways to use them. My husband wants to make blackberry wine and blackberry infused vodka. Yum. I made some jam. We have a you-pick farm down the road from us and I might see what I can find there next year. My small garden this year has tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, chamomile, basil, cucumbers and carrots. But in very small quantities. I've been drying the herbs.

I do plan on canning salsa....to which all 3 of my kids licked their lips and let me know how much they approve of this! :D

Monday, August 28, 2017

Cutest 2nd grader in the world! (Posted 09/03/2008)

Originally Posted 9/3/08
One of the many reason I love homeschooling....she is just so darn cute when she's working!! :)


In 2006, I started homeschooling. I had no idea what I was doing. The picture above is of my youngest child, age 7, homeschooling 2nd grade in her little desk by the fireplace (Which incidentally, I still have that desk. My dad refurbished it and I haven't had the heart to part with it.). I nicknamed her "Duchess" for my blog in an effort to protect my children's privacy. "Duchess" is now 16 1/2 and entering into her *Junior* year of homeschool. She is 95% unschooled, unlike my 2 older kids (who are now 21 and 19) who were schooled according to their learning type and how they needed to be schooled. Duchess is the kind of person who likes to be the author of her own days. She likes to go with the flow. She likes to learn what she wants to learn, when she wants to learn it....much like all of humanity once they enter post-college adulthood. This year she wants to work as a lifeguard, teach swimming lessons to little kids, and learn to cook. I want her to learn how to manage her finances so when she enters the world, she will be able to function debt-free in a debt-full world. 

Homeschooling is quickly coming to an end for us as a family and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Last year Duchess and I wanted to travel around Oregon and visit all the state parks. We got derailed by various personal issues in our lives. Upon talking to her about picking up where we left off this school year, she wasn't too excited about it. She has her own ideas about her life and how she wants to spend her days. I sorta burst into tears during a moment of weakness - I'm so ashamed - and she felt like it was her fault I was so sad. It isn't. And I told her as much. I am sad that the little kid years are over and that they went by so quickly. I'm sad that we didn't make more of an effort to travel when we could last year. I'm sad that a HUGE part of my life (homeschooling) is coming to an end and soon I will have no chickies in my nest. It's a huge adjustment for me.