Monday, October 27, 2014

That Time I Vlogged and But Then Didn't Post It, and Other More Positive Things!

(Vintage Halloween clipart courtesy of The Graphics Fairy!)

Hi friends!!!

I've written and re-written the following blog post several times in the past week or so. You know those times that many of us go through, when sad things happen or stressful things, many all at once And for some of us, we just end up feeling truly overwhelmed and blue? Well, that's how I've been feeling lately, which isn't normal for me, at least not the"blue"part.

I ended up making another "vlog" update for all of you, (thank you for your interest!) talking about what's been going on lately. But just before posting this "vlog", I re-thought everything. I worried that my post was too much of a downer and too personal, so I decided not to publish it.

Then I sat on the post for about five days, and now I'm back. I still don't want to publish a rambling "vlog" that I end up tearing up in,  Just know that we're fine, everyone is totally fine. Life is full of  a few challenges right now. Everything is work-out-able though. It just takes time.

(Here is a still from the vlog.)

I mentioned in the vlog that: "Life is life, you just do your best, do what you can."  \('-')/ So that's just what I am doing, trying not to stress when things don't get done around home like they used to. Trying not to stress when my anxiety rises or when I feel sad about my dear friend who is going through chemotherapy. Trying to roll with the punches of a new school year off to challenging start. I am attempting to slow down and to focus on the important things and the people and animals that need me right now. I'm also trying to figure out how to take care of my emotional self a little more. Which, oddly is much more difficult than taking care of others!
I FINALLY ordered my very own copy of my all-time favorite , Cheryl Richardson's "The Art of Extreme Self-Care." WOO HOO!  I've mentioned this book before many times. When your life feels a bit out-of-whack, like you're running, running, running and never catching your breath, this is the book for you!

The Art of Extreme Self-Care" has helped me to learn and understand important life skills like setting boundaries with others, asking for assistance when needed without fear or shame, and creating a successful daily routine. Now though, I need to revisit the book's principals. I need to check-in again, re-prioritize, re-balance my day to day life.

So, that is what I am pondering today. Life is such a gift. Within reason, we sometimes get the extra gift of having the ability to shape our lives. Isn't that wonderful!?

Ok! Enough about ME!

  This was Josie last week after falling asleep. My phone conversation must have been really boring to her. ;)

(This past Friday, Jon and I took Noah to Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village. I talked about it a little in THIS post from last year. If you have the chance to go, do it! You walk through the grounds of Historic Greenfield Village and come upon lots of spooky and spectacular live Halloween vignettes. It's great. Noah wanted to be a wizard again this year. He added a beard and a flashing wizard's staff!)

We've only left Josie in her crate for about two hours or so at a time. She tuned four-months-old on Saturday, and I know if we needed to, we could leave her for a bit longer, but I just feel hesitant and badly about that for some reason. So, we needed someone to babysit her while we went to Greenfield Village. We're lucky to have my Mom and Stepfather just five minutes away, and they are big dog lovers. Josie ADORES going to their house to run and run and run in their large backyard with her Aunt and Uncle dogs, Lucy and Buddy! They have the best time together. It also wears her out, she plays like crazy the whole time. They fly like the wind!

Here is a group shot from the other day. Josie and Lucy play non-stop. It's kind of amazing how long they can play the same game. Hours!

Recently I purchased another Susan Branch book. For those of you who don't know Susan, she's wonderful! Susan is an author and illustrator who paints lovely water color pictures in all of her books and calendars and other gift items. She writes about seasons, good cooking, decorating, travel and all sorts of things. I loved her latest book: "A Fine Romance, Falling In Love With the English Countryside." You get to travel all over the gorgeous, quaint English countryside, learn about amazingly beautiful little stops along the way and hear about all of the food and cozy things that Susan and her husband encounter.

This time, I've bought the newly re-published "Autumn, From the Heart of the Home". It's full of delicious and warm autumn recipes, ideas for holiday entertaining and dressing your home in a cozy fall glow. I love Susan's watercolor pictures illustrating each page.

I can't get enough of Susan's blog posts about fall on Martha's Vineyard where she lives. Click on the previous sentence to see what I mean.  :)

I just took this picture of Noah before school this morning. I can't believe that my little boy is almost TEN!? Where did the time go? This has been the shortest, longest ten years of my life. One of my favorite sayings about parenting, or about anything for that matter, is "The days are long, the years are short." This is exactly TRUE! Exactly.

I'm feeling a little sad that the "little kid" years are over, especially because I have just one child, one chance to experience parenting at each stage. I'm glad that he's been, so far, slow to become a "tween." Noah doesn't seem to be in a hurry, and that's ok with me. :)

And I will leave you with this totally, random note: for my crochet friends, aren't these crochet maple leaves from Happyberry Crochet adorable!? I can imagine making a garland of red, orange and yellow leaves to decorate the house with! I tried making these the other day while sitting with Josie, but she kept biting the yarn, just like the cats!

Oh wait, one more random note, because we all love fall! I really enjoyed this post from Dwell Beautiful on 10 Cozy Home Ideas for Fall! We still have a third of fall left, so take a look for yourself and see some fun ways to make your home even more warm and welcoming for autumn.

Until next time, celebrate the happy and just do what you can!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I've Been Eaten Up by A Puppy! And Other Things.

Hi everyone!!! I miss you! I miss blogging! I miss my old life!

Here's what I've been doing. I'm not exaggerating.


Basically, now everything is just puppy! My life is puppy! I love this dog so much, but how could we have not realized that a puppy = total halt to life as we know it? I should have learned when at six months pregnant with Noah I said to my best friend: "Oh, don't worry, things won't change THAT much. You'll still see me, I'll just bring the baby along!" Yeah right. Do you think that ever happened? No it did not. Noah wasn't a very "portable" type of baby. Neither is the puppy for that matter.  And she likes to barf in the car.

This whole puppy ownership thing is a bit extreme. Everyone forgot to tell me just how all-consuming this is. At least, if you have a puppy like mine, one who tries to eat every single pebble, wood chip, pine needle, cabinet pull, chair, rug, table, dish cloth, button, zipper pull, hand, leg, foot or face that she comes in contact with. Oh, and given the opportunity, she'll pee on all of those things too.

Today while I was sitting half-naked in my dermatologist's office, waiting for my yearly skin check, (check your skin people!) it dawned on me that puppies are basically ten-month-old babies who put everything in their mouths, and are already able to RUN, but refuse to wear a diaper.

K. Miss you. Gotta go. Byyyyeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!

Just kidding, (not kidding.)  Josie will be up any moment and I've been too lazy to get up and change the laundry for the past ten minutes, so I should probably go soon. Here are some super quick updates:

I promise to quit with the puppy spam soon. The other day I took my big camera out with Josie and I. Here are a few pictures that I took. She looks kind of sad to me, but I assure you, she was thrilled to be out running in the rain on this day.

Noah is slowly becoming less apprehensive about Josie. She's still teething and chewing everything and everybody that she can get her mouth on, but we've gotten better at directing her to "appropriate" chew items.

Josie and Hector. It's complex.

We spend a lot of time in the backyard these days.

Josie won't leave the poor chipmunk holes alone. She's trying to dig into them! This is what we came up with, a tiny picket fence. I need to get a daytime shot of it.

No potty accidents in the kitchen this week! YAY!!!! (The family room is another story...)

(The cats are less scared, more curious these days.)

Beyond the puppy update, things are ok, but there are some stressful hurdles at the moment and I am feeling more overwhelmed and exhausted than I have in a long, long time. I'm not sure if I really want to talk about specifics here on the blog, but rest assured, everyone is totally fine. It's nothing major, just several medium size stressors piled on top of each other creating long days and less sleep. Things always have a way of working out though. Just takes time and problem solving. I have faith life will settle down soon.

Before when I would feel stressed out or anxious, I'd exercise or write on the blog or try to do something creative to manage my worries. Now it's tough fitting it all in. I've made exercise one of my top priorities. This is because it makes your body and brain feel good!

I've been doing Element's Pilates Weight Loss for Beginners DVD nearly each night for about six weeks and LOVE it! To be honest, I only do the 20 minute "Cardio Pilates" workout, and even then, I skip the lunges and squats and still love what it is doing. I skip the DVD's leg work, only because I broke my ACL in half in my right knee during a Teakwondo class in college (don't laugh). I found the squats were hurting my injured knee. Even so, with the ab work and then my own, modified versions of leg exercises, in just six weeks, I've gone down about one size and have taken inches off my waist and hips. Everything just feels tighter and my core is much much stronger. I can plank ! :)

Part of the toning up is probably due to walking multiple times a day with the puppy. We live at the top of a very steep, large hill, so that can't hurt either. And, I've decided to try to challenge myself to not eat after dinner. But really, I'm just too scared to go downstairs after 8:30 at night, in fear of waking up the puppy! That's a good weight-loss tool. ;)
For the record though, my goal was to just keep up with the exercising habit that I began last year, and to make healthy choices. It's not about weight-loss, although that would be welcomed, it's about being healthy.

I mentioned that creativity was one of my outlets. It totally is! I never "create" anything important or of worth, but just the meditative act of cutting and pasting paper and dreaming up cute window decorations has been so nice for me. October is my favorite month, and the BEST month if I should say so! I really wanted to make some decorations for our front windows, just to get everybody in the Halloween spirit. So, over the course of about four days, I spread my paper and crafting tools out on the kitchen table, and spent an hour here , an hour there, trying to make my "Trick-or-Treaters" until they were done. It was a lot of fun, and I'm really glad that I figured out a way to make time for being creative. Nighttime worked the best, but I also asked Jon to watch Josie a couple of times, and he gladly obliged.

I was inspired by Paper Source's "Halloween Paper Dolls Kit."  They're cute! I wanted to make my own, with a twist. I'm not a huge fan of all the overly- gory costumes out there these days. I wanted to make six trick-or-treaters in more traditional costumes, so I came up with a simple ghost, a pumpkin, a cowboy, a non-spooky witch, a robot and a princess! We still have the children from the nursery school down the street walk by on their class walks, so I wanted to put up decorations that they might enjoy! Here's how they came out:

I liked the finished product, and this time I covered them in clear, matte contact paper. Hopefully they won't fade too much and I will be able to use them again sometime!

A lot of you dear readers, come for the gray hair posts! I'm so sorry that I haven't had anything new lately. Before, when I would post about my hair, I would take time to dry my hair nicely or style it, or I would take a picture right after the salon. These days, I just haven't had the time to get all gussied up. I'm sorry, I do feel badly about this, but again, just like a puppy doesn't stay a puppy forever, one day I will get back to my old hair-self. LOL. That sounds funny, doesn't it? I won't have to rush as much in the morning when Josie is older.

What I do have for you on the hair-front, is this picture of me from today, hiding in my bedroom, trying to be reeeeeeeallly quiet so Josie would nap. I'd been outside three times already, in the RAIN, by the time I took this picture, so I'd say for ME, on a frizz -scale, my hair held up pretty well! I've been using White Hot's range of products and LOVE them still. I think their Shooshing Creme helped me today with all of the rain!

Also, I was sad after I recently trimmed my hair, but glad to get the scraggly,old ends off. They were yellowed and purple shampoos and clarifying shampoos were just not helping. It was time. Now my hair feels a lot thicker to me, and it's growing. Having to grow my gray hair out has taught me patience. If you're doing the same, you probably know what I mean! So now, waiting for the 3" or 4" that I cut off in August to grow back, doesn't seem as upsetting as before I was gray. It's just hair. 
Can you relate? For whatever reason, new trims and cuts, it just doesn't feel so monumental. I'd like to be able to take more things in life in stride just like this! :)

What else........? Let's see........

Did I post the hat that I crocheted? This is about a month late, but for several weeks I was working on a hat for one of my best friends who has breast cancer and is going through chemotherapy at the moment. :(
I really enjoyed making this hat, and I just want to help my friend in any way that I can. Purple is her color! I used a free pattern called "Hope" from Oombawka Design. I added my own flower and leaves.

It's funny because while I was making this hat, two very sweet readers asked me if I ever sell the crochet hats that I make. Thank you so much you guys! I would consider it if I had more crochet time, but at this rate, I'm averaging one hat a month. I'm a liiiiiittle slow. Lol. Maybe sometime though!!! :)

 (Simply wrapped with some tissue paper and yarn.)

I don't write too often about "the saga of the mini-pool!" but let me tell you, it IS a saga! I would have to say, that this small, 18" deep pond, pool, bathtub-thing-a-ma-jiggy, has cost us more money and more head-scratching and more stress than most anything on this 150+ year old house! You just have to laugh because who would have thought a little thing like this could make us so annoyed? It all started when we bought the house in the early springtime, and after the snow melted, found that there were major cracks throughout the pond. And, that the filter and parts of the pool/pond pump were broken. It took two years and three tries with different pool companies and different materials to finally keep this thing from cracking and having the earth collapse in. In the end, the mini-pool had to be totally resurfaced. The old cement walls were sandblasted down and rebuilt. It was an ordeal. We can barely afford a mini-pool. Omg.

Anyway, one of the problems with a mini-pool is that in the fall it fills up with dead leaves and gunk, and in the winter, you have to drain it, but also keep it from cracking. It's complicated. We've found that leaving a tiny bit of water in over the winter, exerts pressure on the walls and against the earth pushing in on it. Actually, we didn't "find" this out, we were told to do this from our pool company, and it did help! We've tried different types of temporary pool covers over the past three years. All total eye sores, most not doing a great job. (Don't even get me started about last year's bright blue tarp idea.)  A custom cover for our oddly "L"- shaped "mini-pool" would run about $1,500, something that none of us really wants to spring for. So, Jon and I figured that we could make our own! And guess what!? It worked!!! A BIG "thank you" to our friends, the "B. family" and to our friend Colonel, who came to help. Here is a picture of just the frames. After this, the individual covers were primed and painted to seal in the wood and brackets to waterproof them a little. Then each frame was covered with a nylon mesh to keep leaves out. So far, they're working great! And, it cost a tiny fraction of having a custom cover made. I was pretty impressed. Good job guys!

I put up some of our fall decorations inside. Hector enjoys them.

And finally, here are a couple photos from our backyard this week. I just can't get over how beautiful the leaves are right now. It's amazing! Fall is incredibly beautiful, isn't it? 

Nothing else is very new. Noah only has school two days this week due to conferences and teacher in-service days, and we have a full week planned. Wednesday included hosting a playdate, Jon home painting our storm windows so that they can go up soon, and my Dad coming into town and going out to dinner. Today we are hosting another playdate, then have plans with friends to go to the cider mill, and then parent-teacher conferences. 

Oh, also, I know I have said in the past that I rarely watch television, but whilst trying to get the ironing done over the weekend, I looked for something fun to watch from our cable's "On Demand" section. Have you ever heard of the History Channel's show: "The Curse of Oak Island?" Oh my gosh, it's gripping! At least to me. They have the first season up on On Demand at the moment, and the new, second season begins on November 4th. (Oh! You can watch the full episodes of last season online here!)

Basically, two brothers and their team hunt for ancient treasure in the north Atlantic on Oak Island. There is a long history and  back story with legends of pirates, possible Knights Templar, and they have found hidden tunnels, boobie traps, and ready...COCONUT FIBER from the 13th century! (That might not make sense but go watch the show!) Anyway, the only show I follow is Madmen and that won't come back on for a while, so my new show will be the next season of The Curse of Oak Island. It's great!

And that's the scoop folks! I'll be back with more soon. Until next time, thank you so much for reading and for all of your nice words in comments and letters. Gosh I love you guys. :)
See you soon!!!