Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

You know you are getting older when, not only have your children grown out of trick or treating- you don't know any of the children who come to your door.  Not a single one!

Obama's symbol carved by Austin Sherwood

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy is still with us

Nick and I went out briefly this afternoon just to see how the world looked.  The Reston Town Center was pretty much shut down, including the movie theater.   The one thing that was open was Starbucks.

Mainly we have been alternating watching storm news with watching some of our cache of recorded British shows we like.  We even sat and watched Family Feud for a while.

Nick and Austin have been taking buckets of water out of the basement and dumping it down our steep driveway- away from the house.   There is a big Rubbermaid bin beneath the leaky window.  This catches the water and then , the water is gotten rid of.

When we were out for our little drive we notices the wind blowing some flags at a gas station.  I took these pictures both to show the intensity of the wind and the direction.  You will see that the wind shift and the flags go all over the place

And then there is this little creature who lives in the basement window well.  Nick name "Sandy"  clever huh?

Waiting out the storm

 Hurricane Sandy aka "Frankenstorm"

It started to rain last night.  The powerful wind is supposed to start around 8 am.  It's 5am now.  I just couldn't sleep any more.

I think we are prepared, but I guess we won't know until after the storm is all over and we see if we lose power or now.

Yesterday the anticipation was making me crazy.   This storm is all that you hear about on TV.  Everything is closed today; schools, government, who knows what else.

I think I will go downstairs and wait .  Maybe I will watch TV, maybe I will fall asleep on the sofa.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Babies babies everywhere!

After not being very busy, I am almost overwhelmed by the number of new moms and babies needing my help with breastfeeding.   It is wonderful.  I love the babies.  I love helping the mothers learn.   What I don't love is how many of the mothers I see have the exact same issues.   So many of these moms were told to give bottles, and are now facing a battle trying to learn how to overcome the frustrations that they and their babies face. 

Oh well.  I can only change the world one mother at a time.  And sometimes more than one baby.  I saw twins this week.  They were so tiny- the girl was just over 4lb and the boy just over 5lb.   So little and so perfect!

This evening my friend Maureen went on a home visit with me to see "how it's done".  She got to see first hand how a baby can find the breast and latch himself on.   She was amazed.  I am always amazed and I especially love the mother's reactions when they see how smart and competent their babies are!  Yes, I do love what I do.  Getting paid for it is so amazing!

Now, what I am not looking forward to is Halloween.   Too many creepy costumes of vampires and creepy stuff.    Oh well, maybe it is because I'm not making costumes for my gang I am just not all that into it.

I am more excited about the upcoming election!  We have to win!

Look at my previous entry and you should be able to figure out who my guy is!

Oh, and the other thing I am excited/ freaked out about is the storm that is coming our way.  It is being called "Frankenstorm".   I hope it is just strong enough to be exciting, but not enough to be too destructive!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkins I have known

Since it is getting to be that time of year, I decided to post pictures of two of the many pumpkins we have carved over the years.

                                                 Last year we had a chalice pumpkin

      In 2008 we had an Obama pumpkin.  I think we will have another Obama pumpkin this year!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mothers Can be Artists and not Realize it

October 21, 2012
After midnight

I have been looking at Facebook and have discovered an organization called TAFA:  The Textile and Fiber Art List.  What an amazing collection of people and their art.  Fiber art to be specific.  Some of it is weaving, some quilting and all sorts of other  artworks, all employing the use of fiber.

I want to do this.  I want to be this.   I am a kid in a candy shop looking at their art.  I have played around only a little bit with fiber art, but it looks so wonderful.

Some of it reminds me of the things I did with the kids when they were younger.  I used to put a plastic tablecloth on the kitchen table so messes wouldn’t be a worry.  We would paint with watercolors and occasionally finger paints.   I made play dough and we kneaded the color into it while it was still warm.  I brought rolling pins and cookie cutters to the table for making shapes with the play dough.  I even discovered that a garlic press makes some cool play dough stuff- hair or grass or whatever you wanted it to be.

I wonder if the kids remember weaving paper together?  We could cut colored construction paper into oddly shaped strips and then wove them together and got interesting, wavy and wobbly patterns in our weaving.  And ever since I was little I have loved weaving together little heart baskets from red and green paper for Christmas time.

I am an artist in my own way.  By allowing and encouraging my children to explore making their own art, I was able to be the artist too.   We have always cooked things together.  We made gingerbread houses and boller, that wonderful Norwegian doughy treat.

I made angel food cake for birthdays, and Nick always made the frosting.   Some years when they were young we got fancy.  One year I made a cake for Courtney that had a rainbow on it.  We were in Tromso at the time, and all of her little Norwegian friends wanted the rainbow cake more than the Norwegian cake that was frosted in whipped cream.   That same year, Morgan wants a cake that looked like a frog.   Somehow he was satisfied with the green cake with a few M&Ms on it.

Some of my fun projects were not such a big hit.  For Courtney’s fifth birthday, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I made little flowerpots to look like they had dirt and worms and flowers in them.  The pots had ice cream covered with chocolate powder (the “dirt”) and a few gummy worms on the surface.  To top it off, each pot had a real flower stuck into the dirt.  Well, the kids just wouldn’t eat the “dirt” treats!

Being a mother really brought out my creative self.  I was not always artistic, but I was creative.  We played pin the goggle eyes on Cookie Monster and the kids were awarded “ribbons” I had made out of a deck of cards with ribbon stapled to the backs.

The kids never had store bought Halloween costumes.   This time of year, right now, for 20 years or so, was the busiest time of the year for me.   They told me what they wanted to be and I made it.  One year Courtney was a #2 pencil, complete with a pointed hat that was the point with the lead.  Morgan was several super heroes of his own creation; he was “Thunder Bolt” and “Tidal Wave”.  Austin was a headless horseman and also a space alien that turned out to look more like a baked potato wrapped in aluminum foil.  Darcy was a pumpkin when he was about 14 months old (living in Tromso)
Chance as a Ninja I think- also for a Comic con

Totoro- to be worn at a Comic con
I stressed and sweated over the costumed every year.   I have saved every one of them. 

Sarah as a lady bug courtesy of Great Aunt Nancy (that's me)

About 10 years ago, there was a sort of slow down.  Kids were off at college or all grown up and moved out.  The ones at home were getting too older.  They did have me make some comic con costumes though.  I remember feeling so sad not to be making costumes for the kids.  Another weaning.  I entered new stage in my parenting and the kids grew up and established themselves as independent adults.

Now, here I am with all of my mothering talents and not enough little people to share them with.  I watched Sarah from under the age of two and her little sister, Jessica, from 12 weeks old.   They kept me going as a mom-type.  Always busy. Also exhausting.  Now that they are both in school and after care full time, I don’t see them often.  Mostly it's just nice to play the retired thing.  I still do my lactation consulting and my La Leche League work.  They keep me going!

I do knit almost constantly when I am sitting still.

When I look at the artists I envy, I have to remind myself that a lot of children have apprenticed under me as they became grown ups.   I am an artist.

I am also a tired mom/ wife/ friend/ sister/ great aunt and more…

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall, the Leaves and the Weather are Changing

When I was out today, the clouds were looking very serious.   In a beautiful way.
The leaves are starting to change and I am always, every year, amazed at the drama of it all.

I took a few pictures today and plan to get out with my tripod this weekend and really go to town.  Thank goodness I don't have to pay for film and developing like we used to!

The hostas in the front yard are changing colors
                                         A close up of one of the leaves of a hosta plant

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Everything and the Kitchen Sink too

Went to a La Leche League meeting this evening.  Of course I am the oldest person there- I am grandmother age now.   But not a grandmother, which surprisingly, I am alright with.

I love going to the meetings because I feel like I can help and I know that occasionally I really make an impact on a new mother’s life and her mothering.  That is a wonderful feeling and something that I feel good about.  I don’t always help mothers as much as I would like, but I do my best and my goal is to help them feel that they are doing their best.

I have been so stressed lately.  We are trying to re-finance the house.  We have so much debt that it makes me get the shakes.  Honestly, how do we do this?  Today I tried to fax the papers off.  I was using Nick’s fax machine and I couldn’t get it to do what I wanted.  I finally ended up going to Kinko’s to send the fax.   After running errands all day, when I got home, Nick said we got our credit score in the mail.  We may not get the refinance after all.  Then what?   I wish I could be calm and mellow, but instead I am a basket of crazy.  I get the shakes and feel like crying. 

I know we will live through this too. We have lived through so much.  I just get myself all worked up and feel so hard on myself and defensive when things don’t go just right.

Ok, so here is something that has nothing to do with any of what I just wrote.  The kitchen sink.  Yup, the kitchen sink.

I love a clean house.  I unfortunately have standards that are almost impossible for anyone to live up to, so I think it is al lot easier to not even try.   I have not felt much like doing the cleaning either.  As a result, guess what?  Things are not how I would like them to be, but I don’t feel like doing the work either.

The other day, the kitchen was really in pretty good shape.  Nick had done the dishes and cleaned up very nicely.   But nobody sees things the way I do.  I looked at the sink and decided to really scour it.  I soaked it with Soft Scrub for a few minutes.  Then I ran hot water in it and scrubbed it with a kitchen brush.  The sink was not only clean, it was shiny and bleached white.  No dirt of crud or stains at all.  

I cannot explain it, but a simple thing like that shiny sink can make me feel so happy!    I just wanted to sigh and soak in the clean.  Yes, I am strange I guess.  But that’s me.  

I am not the spotless, organized person I fantasize about being.  I could put more into housework, but I am, after so many years and so many children, a little tired of it.  But when I the spirit moves me and I accomplish something as simple as a clean sink, I feel at peace.  At least for a while. 

Yes I do.

And as I get ready to get into bed for the night, I am enjoying the sounds of the rain pouring down and the thunder rumbling.  I love the rain!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thoughts on Mothering

This is some of what I wrote to my daughter in response to her thoughts on having children, or not:

My feelings about having children are mine alone. I have had my children and now those adult children have to live their own lives and make their own choices. 

It doesn’t matter if the choices are about having a family or what you do for fun or where you live or who you marry or or or…. I love you all with a depth unimaginable to anyone but a parent (that is not meant to be patronizing, just a fact)

So, I am the mother of five. Former children now adults. I parented five children. 

Maybe I didn’t do the best job, nobody does. But I am glad I did. However, I am not totally defined as a mother. I don’t feel that I ever “lost” myself by being a mother. I am the same unique, extroverted, opinionated person I was before I was ever a mother. 

Courtney nursing at about 6 months old.  1978

Morgan nursing in Nick's office, Chiang Mai, Thailand 1983

Darcy nursing in our home, Tromso, Norway 1984
Chance nursing on our deck in Reston, VA 1993
Austin nursing while I typed up a report, Taipei, Taiwan 1989
Maybe being a mother has helped form how I express myself and how I see the world. But I am still me.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday morning

Well, it is actually after noon, but since I still have my pajamas on, it feels like morning.

Yesterday there was frost in the morning.  What a welcome sight!  I will probably be complaining about the cold weather soon enough, but for now, it is wonderful!  I don't mind heat too much, but humidity, I hate it!   Yuck on humidity!

I went on a call (lactation call) yesterday, and on the way there and back I drove by some of the new Metro construction near Tyson's Corner.   When I first sighted these huge beams (I guess that's what they were) lying on their side I felt a gasp come out of my mouth.  Weird huh?  But it was more a gasp of amazement at how gargantuan and beautiful these structures were.  Am I strange?    I love nature.  The Grand Canyon was rapturous and more than words can ever touch.  but there are things that we humans make that effect me the same way.  This was one of thos things/ times.

Nick harvested his garden before the first frost.  Here are his crops!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Crop Circles?

Spot-bot leaves these lovely spots of clean on an otherwise un-vacuumed, dirty carpet

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Feeling Invisible

I keep hearing a wooshing sound.  It sounds like a vacuum cleaner- oh, no, I know what it is, it's the SpotBot.

 Be still my heart.

 I thought someone was actually cleaning the house. Nope, just cleaning the spots on the carpet.  What would anyone want to actually clean anything but the spots?    Everyone knows how much I love crap on the floors.

 Insanity rears it's ugly head again.

Maybe I will go and see if the grocery store has the right kind of toothpaste.  You know, the kind that doesn't burn my mouth and give me blisters on my tongue.  yeah, that sounds like fun.  If they don't have it, I will go on a quest until I find the right kind.

Maybe I will buy myself some gluten free foods to have in the freezer.   Yeah, that would be nice.  And maybe some vegetables.

I am hard to please, I know.  I just have to take care of myself I guess

Monday, October 8, 2012


Tired.  Going to bed soon.  I was tired all day. Last night I couldn’t sleep and was up until close to 4:00am.  Hence the tiredness today.

I went to the chiropractor this morning which helped my sciatica.   Then I spent the day collapsed on the sofa watching TV and occasionally shifting laundry from washer to dryer to said sofa for folding.

It was cool outside today- in the 50s, which was absolutely wonderful.  I went out back a few times with the puppy.

I was too tired to go to my women’s group.   I am rarely that tired.  In fact, I came upstairs and took a nap until Nick said diner was ready.

I love it when I am writing at my computer as I am now, and I get tired and I lean back.   I close my eyes and maybe I sleep some.  I don’t know.  I just know that I will often open my eyes and wonder for a nanosecond where I am.

Depression and stress and sadness can contribute to fatigue.   I have all of those things.  I think I am pretty good about keeping them all in a balance that allows me to function and enjoy my life.

I am going to the gym in the morning.  I know that will make me feel better.  I am meeting new moms at a Breastfeeding CafĂ© at Starbucks tomorrow.  That will make me happier too.

Now I am going to bed to sleep.  That will give me energy to get through tomorrow.

Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing over and expecting different results.   I guess that I am insane.  I expect (hope for?)  flowers and accolades and I get dirty dishes and a lawn with no grass.     Am I am optimist, or just insane.  I doubt I will ever know

5 Wishes

1.      Be happier

2.     Be healthier; lose weight and get exercise

3.      Get more sleep- get to bed earlier

4.     Find time (make time) to do the things I enjoy such as sewing, knitting, photography and writing

5.      Do away with debt/ money worries

Saturday, October 6, 2012

October 6, 2012

Today was a day of ups and downs.  I am not totally sure why, but I was feeling pretty bitchy for parts of the day.  Actually, I do know some of why.  I just don’t know why it is that the things that I just ignore some days really get to me on other days.

I am afraid that I feel that I am not being treated with the respect I should be.  I could say, “deserve”, but that sounds more combative than I want.  

I would love to have a spotless house and a beautiful yard.  I feel overwhelmed by how much needs to be done and by how little anyone else in the house seems to care.  And I don’t live alone.  And I often felt that I am the only one who notices the messes or cares.  

We have had many homes over the years.  Houses that we made into our home.  By bringing our personal effects into these dwellings, and then by actually living there, they have become our homes.  Every time we moved to a new place, it was so hard to adjust.  Nick had his work and his role already there, defined and waiting for him.  I didn’t.   I had to learn about the neighborhood, shopping, transportation, customs, new money as well as make friends with people I had never met before and might not ever meet again after out time or theirs’ was up. 

We both suffered from homesickness and wondering what we had gotten ourselves into.  I wish I had been able to look at the bright side of every move and the wonder of the places we were living.  Of course, after the first six months or so, the places do become home.   But I can sure remember saying “I look forward to being nostalgic about this place”!

In many of the places we lived I had household help.  It’s a mixed blessing.  Yes, the burden of the routine chores is lifted.   But the presence of outsiders into your every day life is not easy.  It is impossible not to get caught up in the lives of the people who work for you and become attached.  But they are not people with whom you socialize.

Having another woman to help with the housework, a maid is a sort of bonding/ female energy that gets you through the days.  It means having company without having to go looking for it.  I never thought of our servants as subservient, but rather as helpers.   My best friend in Bangkok from 1976-78 was also my maid.   More than 30 years later we are still friends.    But, she is back in Thailand and I am here.   She now has maids of her own, and I feel pretty much on my own.

I am not sure how I got started on this vein.   I guess I am just feeling so much like I would love to have help.  I would love to have a friend who I could just hang out with and with whom I could share and swap chores.  Someone who would come and have coffee with me while I sweep the kitchen and fold the laundry.  

Instead I live with two men, one my husband and one my son, who don’t seem to even see me.  Or so I feel.  Yes, we engage in conversation. But when I see something that needs doing such as raking the leaves or vacuuming the carpet, unless I specifically ask for these things to be done, I am ignored.  

I do have to say that Nick has done a good job of taking over the cooking most days.  I have cooked so many meals for a family of seven over so much of my life that I am just tired.   I feel like I would like to be done.  I am a good cook.  Maybe even a great cook.  But when there’s only the two or three of us to cook for I just have a hard time caring a whole lot.

Today was my sister’s 65th birthday.  We spent a very nice evening with her and her grandchildren, son and daughter in law and Nick and myself.   My sister is my best friend here, and has been my best real, permanent friend all of my life.  When we lived overseas, before the Internet, she and I were the best pen pals.  We each wrote to one another at least once a week.  Sometimes more.  I hope that we have many more happy, healthy years together.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I want winter to come!

I am so ready for the cold weather to come.  Bring it on!  Today got up to 81 and was really humid.   I hate it.  Hot and dry I can take- though people joke about the expression “it’s a dry heat”.  But it really does feel better than humidity.

It is so strange having Nick at home every day.  I cannot tell what day of the week it is.  It feels like a perpetual weekend.   Honestly, if I didn’t have things scheduled I am not sure I would ever get off the couch.  I can sit and watch TV and knit for hours.

One of the differences between Nick and myself is that when he sits there, he just does it.  I don’t think the carpet that needs to be vacuumed stresses him out.  I don’t think he feels like he is wasting time.  I do.  I always have had that guilt thing going. 

When the kids were at home, I used to have a snack for them pretty much every afternoon when they got home from school.  Sometimes I made cookies or banana bread.  Most often I would have a plate full of cut up raw veggies or cut up apples.  When I was in the process of cutting, of course I would eat some of the food I was cutting up.  Even then I felt guilty for eating the kids’ snack.  A carrot or cucumber slice would make me feel like I was stealing from them how silly is that?

I am getting to enjoy the puppy a lot.  His name is Buddy.  He is a funny little fellow, full of energy and silliness.  Then, after running all over the place he will crash and sleep like a baby.  I guess that’s because he is a baby!

In the morning I am going to the post office for a passport appointment.  I cannot believe that I don’t have a valid, current passport.  The original plan was that I might go on a cruise with my sister this January.  I am not sure if that plan will play out.  But it will be nice to have a passport again.

My sciatica is killing me.  Maybe I sit too much.  I cannot go out for walks a whole lot right now because the bugs eat me alive.  Even when I am covered in bug spray they find me and chew on me.   Going to the gym helps.  I am going to the gym tomorrow.  That will be so good.  I need to start swimming again too.

Ok, that’s all the words I can come up with tonight.  

Nite nite.