Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Hi, folks. It’s been a few months since I’ve gotten in here, and I’m sorry. Crazy abounds around here, particularly lately, and it makes keeping up the way I’d like difficult.

We’ve been very lucky (knock on wood) to have avoided contracting the virus, which is all to the good, but quarantine is definitely taking a toll. Because of underlying health conditions, even though restrictions have been lifted somewhat, we haven’t been taking advantage of that fact. The kids are still streaming their classes, despite school having reopened part time, and they probably won’t be going back this year at all. The lack of social contact seems to be very much affecting Bryony, and last month we had to admit her to inpatient care at the hospital. My ten year old child had several plans in her mind for committing suicide, and had been cutting herself as a coping mechanism.

Ten years old.

My heart broke. There is no other phrase for it.

As a family, we sat down and discussed it with her. We told her that the fact that she had made actual plans meant that we were officially over our heads. We could no longer deal with things on our own, and she would have to go to the hospital. She agreed; she wanted to go. She wanted to get well. And her mama just fell apart at that point.

Bryony told me to think of it as a really long sleepover at a friend’s house. And she told me that no matter how close or how far she was from me, she would always be with me. My youngest child, my baby, so brave. I was a wreck.

And so, I drove her to the emergency room, where she was admitted, and we were told that she would be there until such time as a facility opened up that could take her. Until then, they acted as a holding facility, keeping her physically safe, but not doing any actual treatment. I would be the only point of contact because of Covid rules.

There has been a distinct division in the family lately. On top of everything else, Aneira had come out as trans, feeling more comfortable identifying as male and pansexual, something that I am struggling to reconcile within myself. Understand: I love my children. There is nothing they could do to change that. And I am not phobic in regard to the LGBTQ community. I want to be supportive of my child, but where he says he has been thinking about this for years, this is an entirely new concept for the woman who gave birth to two daughters, and now has a son and a daughter. Loving him and supporting him does not mean that I don’t mourn the daughter I no longer have, and I hope that makes more sense to someone than it currently does to me. I have a son who is a stranger to me in many ways, who has the face and form of the daughter I bore, and it’s very hard for me to wrap my head around. And because she is now he, I am no longer the go-to parent. He and the hubby have become very close, where he and I have lost that closeness. He feels more in common with my husband, particularly in light of my husband’s own preferences. So there is a division right down the midline of the family, with Bryony and I on one side, and Aneira and the hubby on the other.

With Bryony in the hospital, and the buddy-buddy closeness of the other two, I felt very alone, and I pulled back. I spent all of my time either in the studio or the bedroom catching up on tv shows I hadn’t watched in awhile. And though both of them professed to be missing Bryony as well, I couldn’t feel that they did. They had each other, while the child that remained close to me wasn’t there. I was depressed and scared and sad, and it didn’t feel as though anyone else was, so I withdrew more and more.

Bryony stayed at the hospital for two long weeks, with me visiting as often as I could. She wasn’t the only child there, and in fact the doctor said that they are seeing a spike in the number of children in the pediatric behavioral health ward, believing that parents are seeing more behavior issues because of the quarantine. Because of that spike, beds were in short supply at treatment facilities, and Bryony was released to outpatient care after two weeks because a facility never opened up for her, and it was decided that it would be worse to continue her exposure to those who had worse mental health issues than she did, so home she came. In addition to ADHD/ODD, she has been diagnosed as borderline bipolar, something we feared happening because we had our own issues.

But the familial division has made itself felt. I haven’t quite come back all the way from my own withdrawal, and I still feel very much in the middle. Bryony is still acting out, though a bit less than before, and her brother and father have very little patience with her, so I am acting as a buffer between one child and the rest of the household, while struggling to maintain my own equilibrium and failing. It doesn’t help that I can see both sides of the problem, because I can’t seem to find a way to fix the problem.

I’ve continued working on different projects in weaving and crocheting, and even cooking, and I’ve posted on Instagram (@sibelabmom, if anyone is interested in following me there), and I’ve begun therapy myself, but this is the first time I’ve felt settled enough to blog in awhile. So, sorry for the long ramble!!

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As we were sitting in the living room the other day, Bryony asked me a question: if I could do anything, have anything, be anything, what would I do, have, or be?

We had each been doing our own respective things in the same room, which is pretty common. She was engrossed in Minecraft because she’s somehow managed to lose Animal Crossing — again — and I was wrapped up in weaving, vaguely listening to her chatter. It’s not that I don’t listen to her, it’s that she is a child whose tongue starts wagging the second she rolls out of bed, and it literally does not stop until she rolls back into it. I’m not the worst mother in the world, but neither am I the best, and I simply cannot listen actively all the time, or I’d never get anything done. So, vaguely listening, but she insistently repeated the question, and I picked up on it the second time.

My first inclination was to laugh — only a child could ask such a question and think it was simple to answer, but then I realized that it actually was. If money was no object, who and what would her mother be? What dreams would I fulfill if I could do so, just because I wanted to?

It didn’t even take much thought. I’d move the family north, probably to the New England area. I’d build a house. Not a mansion or something ridiculous, just a house. I’ve never felt that a family of four needs a house with thirty bedrooms and sixteen bathrooms, with a home theater built in, complete with reclining leather seats. I don’t want a place so large that maid service is pretty much a requirement. Five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen with plenty of storage, living room, dining room, and a weaving studio with lots of windows for natural light attached to the house. Maybe a barn, so we could have some horses. The house would be on a couple of wooded acres, but still have city water, sewer, and gas, because I don’t ever want to deal with a well, septic, or propane ever again. Central air, of course. A pool? No, darling, probably not. Maintaining animals is one thing, maintaining a pool is something else again.

Was that it? Was that all I wanted, just an awesome house to hang out in? She wanted me to take it further. Well, okay, I’d also like to travel to different places and learn different weaving techniques from different cultures.

She grinned at that, completely unsurprised by that answer, and I laughed. My kids know me pretty well. Mama is fairly predictable.

Then came the big question, the one I suspect she really wanted to know: would I still have her, her sister, and their dad? Absolutely!!! That didn’t even need to be asked; I would never give them up! They are my family, and I love them. They go where I go!

She went back to Minecraft after that, curiosity — and maybe insecurity? — satisfied. I, however, was daydreaming about the things I would do if I could.

Clearly, I need to hit the lottery.

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Several rows of Apache Trail of Tears in Scheepjes Catona.

The governor of North Carolina has issued a statewide “shelter in place” order, effective this coming Monday. Not that we weren’t pretty much doing that anyway, but now it’s official, and it’s a class 2 misdemeanor if you don’t follow it. Not a problem; I have every intention of following it. But sanity, what little of that I can claim, is now seriously lacking, what with the girls home until at least May 15th, and having to homeschool Bryony.

I have learned that I am not cut out to be a teacher. I’ve always respected them, but my respect has increased since dealing with Bryony’s schoolwork. She knows exactly what buttons to push to piss me off, and does so every chance she gets. I know she doesn’t behave like this at school, at least not with adults, but at home, when it comes to schoolwork, it is the stuff of nightmares. Teachers have twenty or more children to deal with per class. I can barely tolerate my one. If I had to go into a classroom to teach, I’d be out of work in less than a week. I don’t know how they do it. My hat is off to them!

As you can see, retaining my temper and staying out of prison is key at this point. To that end, I’ve got a number of works in progress going. As mentioned previously, there’s the attempt at soutache, a weaving project, and a spinning project. I’ve added another one, as if I didn’t give myself enough already. But there’s a blanket pattern I really, really love, and I’ve wanted to try it for a couple of years. And it so happens that I also have this box of Scheepjes Catona cotton. There are 109 little skeins of yarn, the entire colorway, and they’re perfect for this blanket, which has what I consider an odd name: Apache Trail of Tears. It’s odd, because historically speaking, the Cherokee move west to Oklahoma is called the Trail of Tears. I’ve never heard anything Apache referred to by that name, except for this blanket pattern.

Educational note for those interested: Cherokee and Apache are the European names for the nations. They don’t call themselves by those names. The Cherokee call themselves Tsalagi. The Apache call themselves Inde.

Anyway, I’ve started the blanket after watching several tutorials on it. I had to do that, because for some reason, anything that involves front post crochet is difficult for me, which means waffle stitch and this blanket, among others. I don’t exactly hate front post crochet, but it’s not my favorite thing to do either, simply because it never seems to look right when I do it. I’ve seen other crocheters do it, and it looks perfect. The front post stitches are absolutely ramrod straight, where mine are invariably curved or diagonal or some other nonsense. And I have a lot of trouble keeping track of which stitches to skip because I’ve crocheted around a post. The good thing about this particular pattern is that once you’ve got the first row of “tears” (ie front post crochet) done, every row thereafter, the post goes next to the one from the previous row, so I don’t need the stitch markers, or to keep track of too much. The repeat is an odd number of stitches, as in odds/evens, not strangeness. I chose to do mine as a repeat of 7, so it’s six single crochet, then a triple crochet tear, and it continues that way across the row. Since I know where the next tear is going to be, I count backward six stitches from that point to my most recent tear, instead of moving it aside to see what stitch to skip. It seems to work better for me that way.

I’m truly loving the Scheepjes Catona. I really wish the larger skeins were available locally! The skeins in the Color Pack boxes are tiny, 10 grams each, which works out to 25 meters of yarn per skein. I’m horrible with math, so I couldn’t even begin to tell you what that is in our American math system, and I’m not even going to try. Suffice it to say, it’s not as though you can use a single skein to make something like a scarf. My blanket is 322 stitches across, so I’m doing one row in each color. I do still have yarn left in the skein at the end of the row, but I don’t know that there’s enough to make it across a second row. I guess I’ll find out after I’ve done 109 rows, then I’ll pick up some of the leftover yarn and try to get across a second row!

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As you may have guessed, I am having a bit of trouble in that department. I did start a new warp. The sett on the thread I used this time was 12 ends per inch, which drastically reduced the number of ends I needed to create. This is awesome, as far as I am concerned. We’ve gone from 432 ends to 216. I am very happy with this. So it’s still five bouts, four of 50 strands, one of 16. Wonderful! …except I made two mistakes that I didn’t see till after the fact.

The first one was that I had gotten so used to following one path on the warping mill, I forgot I had moved the guide thread over by one peg, and wound one bout short. I, of course, did not see it until the bout was done. One of the 50 thread ones, of course. Life would have been so much easier had it been the 16 thread bout.

The second mistake came when I put the five bouts on the loom. Once again, a 50 thread bout…I lost the cross. The bout is a mess.

At this point, I rage quit. Temporarily. As in, I will return to this when I calm down. Probably once the children are back in school, and I have a bit more time.

We’ve celebrated our first Yule and Christmas here in North Carolina. We had a family over for Yule that is as pagan as I am, and for  Christmas it was just the four of us. And I’ve decided I’m going to stop with these huge dinners that I’ve hung onto all my life. We’re only four people. Aneira eats less than a sparrow does, the hubby eats only a tiny bit more as he doesn’t really care for either turkey or pernil, I don’t eat a lot as I’ve been in the kitchen all day and am sick of looking at food, and Bryony will pick over what’s on her plate and complain about nearly all of it except cranberry sauce. For Yule, we had gone simple: a huge vat of chili, to feed eight people.  It was perfect.

Why didn’t I do the same thing for Christmas? Well, based on my own self-psychoanalysis, I can only come to the conclusion that it’s my mother.

My entire life, right up until I had Aneira, my mother did Christmas, and she did it up big. A turkey and/or ham, a zillion sides, dessert, dining room table decorated with a nice centerpiece, and special dishes and silverware that were only seen during the holidays. Some of my best childhood and teenage memories are tied into those holiday meals, and I think they kind of act as my last link to my mom. But Mom has been gone for 13 years now, and I think it’s time that I realized that the holiday meals she cooked also included our extended family, where mine do not. I am hundreds of miles from my closest relative, and hubby has none left on his side. As much as I love seeing those meals hit the table for the memories they evoke, they’re largely a waste of food in the end, because the four of us are never going to finish that much food. So I’ve decided I’m not doing it anymore. Instead of a turkey, it’ll be a chicken with a couple of sides. Maybe I can find a small version of pernil, who knows?

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I’m not a huge chicken fan. I never have been. I love my red meat. The only chicken I ever liked is fried, whether cold or hot, doesn’t matter which. However, since being told I am diabetic, I am trying to eat healthier foods. I don’t always succeed, but I’m trying, which means that I’m eating healthier than I was previously, but not quite as healthy as I could be. Moderation is what I’m going for, and a lot more likely than cutting things completely out. A lot of that has to do with shopping for groceries. Eating healthy isn’t cheap. It’s a lot more expensive to buy the healthier yams or sweet potatoes than it is to buy regular white potatoes, especially when you are feeding a family. So we cut back on some of the less healthy items and increase the healthy a bit: moderation. I have no problem with the idea of eating more fish, but the other half is deathly allergic to it, so I only do fish on those nights when I’m in the mood to have to cook twice, or when there’s a little extra money for him to have his beloved Taco Bell (yuck), and the girls and I can have whatever we prefer. Given the choice between fast food, so-called Mexican food or seafood, my girls nearly always choose the gifts of the ocean.

Since I can’t always do fish, and I’m cutting back on red meat, and fried chicken is about as unhealthy as it gets, I’ve had to be more creative in getting myself to eat chicken. It’s difficult. Offer me red meat in almost any form, and I am totally there, plate in hand, saying “Please, may I have some more?” But chicken? Meh, not so much.

Cue a trip down to Greenville this summer to get Aneira’s eyes examined. I couldn’t get an appointment in town until well after school started, and she needed new glasses before that, which meant going elsewhere. I couldn’t remember what time the appointment was, exactly, and couldn’t reach the office before leaving the house, so I decided to err on the side of caution and head out early in the morning, because I assumed that was when the appointment was, and the office was an hour away. Better to be early than to be late.

Oh, boy, were we ever early! The appointment wasn’t until the afternoon! Well, I wasn’t driving home just to turn around and drive back again, so we decided to wander around Greenville, which is a bigger town than the one we ended up in. And by lunchtime, while browsing a downtown shop, we got a recommendation for the Indian restaurant across the street as being not only inexpensive, but actually good. So off we went.

Now, it should be said that Aneira is not wild about trying new cuisine. But she’s opening up to it as her taste buds mature, so she agreed to this venture, and we ordered the buffet, which offered plenty of vegetable dishes, but there was only one meat on offer: chicken. And being the carnivore that I am, meat is always first on my list, even if not my preferred type. And the tandoori chicken was the least spicy offering, so I tried it.

This is what chicken dishes aspire to be. I pretty much melted on the spot. It surpassed every chicken dish I’d ever eaten in my life. I got Aneira to try some, and she gave it a tepidly favorable response. Well, that’s okay, better than I expected from a fourteen year old trying something new.

Several weeks passed, and Aneira made an astonishing request for dinner: she wanted tandoori chicken. There are no Indian restaurants in our town, which she knew, and that meant I would have to make it. Oooookkkaaaaaay…I have zero experience in cooking actual Indian food. However, a lot of Caribbean food is influenced by the Indian populations in the islands, and I do have some experience with Caribbean. But I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get the ingredients I needed, and I certainly wasn’t sure if it would taste anything like the restaurant’s version. But the fact that she had enough faith in my cooking to ask was enough for me. I found a recipe online at a site called Simply Recipe, and headed off to the store, where I did find garam masala. It’s fairly easy to find even Asian ingredients at a normal grocery store, even in a smaller town, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the garam masala at the local Harris Teeter.

Garam masala wasn’t the only thing I didn’t have on hand. I also needed ginger, which is not as big a deal to find. And I always have ground ginger in the spice cabinet, but fresh ginger, no. Same for plain yogurt. All three items are now a normal part of my kitchen supplies.

The recipe was easy to follow. The hardest part of it was making the marinade, and that wasn’t difficult, just time consuming and something that needed to be done early in the day, which is when I am least likely to want to do it. Dinner isn’t until evening; I generally don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen until I have to. As much as I like to cook, this smaller kitchen has been a challenge, and I’ve been avoiding it.

I am proud to say, the tandoori chicken was a hit, at least with the kids. Hubby, not so much, but the kids loved it. And I did too: it tasted just like the restaurant, and is also delicious cold. I was so happy with the results that it is now, much to hubby’s dismay, a part of the kitchen repertoire. If I must eat healthier, I’m going to find the tastiest way to do it!

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A soon to be done chain maille bracelet in rainbow niobium.

Nope, I’m not a Game of Thrones fan. Before anyone who is flips out, I did read the books, years before the series, and didn’t like any of the characters. I’ve gotta be able to connect with a character, and pretty much none of them were really likable people. I re-read them again after the series began, and tried the series itself, and just couldn’t do it. The only characters I liked were the direwolves. Sorry, no converts here.

But the post is more about the fact that winter is coming, which means the holiday season, which starts with Halloween in this house. And which honestly didn’t occur to me until just this second. After I’ve started on the Yule-themed tatted bookmark. Well, it won’t be the first time I’ve had more than one project going at once! Time to find my Halloween thread!

I started Yule shopping for the kids a few months ago, so I’m just about done with that, except for two items. Which I’m not going to mention, as Aneira is now more internet connected and may read this! I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m done a couple of months early, actually, and now I’m thinking in terms of handmade things I can add to the mix. Fall, winter, and holiday themed things maybe. Some amigurumi toys. Bracelets and necklaces. Bags, although I did that once already. Fortunately, they’re girls, and we can never have too many bags, bracelets, necklaces, or stuffed animals. And don’t think I don’t have my own stuffed animals, because you’d be dead wrong!! There’s a whole box up in my bedroom waiting to be unpacked as soon as I make enough room for them! And I’ve no shame in admitting it; I even sleep with a Stitch pillow, and no one better touch him!

L – R: beaded kumihimo, Byzantine in niobium, Byz in titanium, box weave in aluminum, JPL3 in aluminum, and three more JPL3 in niobium.

I’ve worked on a few things since we’ve been in the new house, all portable crafts, since I can’t justify tying myself to the looms just yet, until the house is fully unpacked, as much as I’d prefer not to wait that long. But I have to be a responsible adult for some things, so there you go.

I finally learned some beaded kumihimo, which is somehow both challenging and yet easier than I expected it to be. I learned a couple of new chain maille weaves, and expanded the tatting shuttle collection a bit. One day, I’ll have to photograph that as a group. And the plier collection has grown as well.

I honestly thought I was crazy with that one. I think I have about ten sets of pliers currently, and I thought I was going overboard with that many, but I’ve since discovered that many maillers have a lot more than ten!!

Dreamlit tatting shuttle

As much as I usually say something pro/con about my many tools, it occurs to me that I’ve never said a word about my pliers! Never even thought about it! I think it’s because the other tools I’ve talked about here have been tools specifically made for fiber arts, where pliers are a common household tool almost from birth. Yes, the ones I have serve a specific purpose, but still fall into the category of pliers, and I’ve never thought much about them. So that’s an idea for a future post.

There’ll be one about the Dreamlit tatting shuttle too…those are new, and I’m just trying them out for the first time.

Ooooo, and I learned to make tandoori chicken!!! What a hit that was with the kids! Not the hubby, so much, but the kids loved it. Aneira and I had gone to lunch at a little Indian restaurant while waiting for her eye exam, and it was the first time we’d had tandoori chicken. SOOOOOO good! And Aneira asked me a month later to try making it, so I did. I didn’t expect it to come out all that great, not the first time, but it tasted just like the restaurant! Needless to say, that’s been added to the repertoire!

Well, the dogs have just put in a howling appearance, so I’d better go see what’s going on with them. Happy crafting!

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Yes, we made it to North Carolina. We arrived April 18, closed on a new (much smaller) house on May 2, the movers arrived toward the end of May, and we have been unpacking since then, trying hard to get everything done and in place so that we can catalog everything that got broken in the move and make a claim on it all. Sadly, so far there is quite a bit.

The ferrets stayed behind in Colorado with friends, until we could get settled. I didn’t think having incredibly aromatic animals in a hotel was a good idea. The gliders did go to the hotel, and the dogs went to boarding.

Unlike our last move, the long-term hotel was very different. The last time, in both hotels, there were separate bedrooms. This time, we were all in one room, with a kitchenette, which made for some tension. Nobody wanted to be boxed in like we were, but we had to deal with it. There were definitely some days, though, where it was tough.

With two glaring exceptions, the trip across country was pretty uneventful. Flat all the way, although the Mississippi River gave me some trouble, with my fear of heights. The next thing to terrify me was the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee. I think. You don’t realize you’re going up until you reach the point that you have to go down, and it’s a very steep grade that also twists and turns all the way to the bottom. And the speed limit is 55. With trucks and cars speeding by you. Needless to say, I thought the speed limit should be 10 mph. By the time I got to the bottom, white knuckles all the way, I was shaking and crying, and couldn’t bring myself to take the truck above 60 (it was a 75 mph speed limit). This is saying something, as I’m a leadfoot and always have been. I’ve been much better since having children in the vehicle with me regularly, never going more than five mph above the limit unless I’m alone–then all bets are off. But I couldn’t even get to the speed limit after that experience!

Oh, wait, there was a third harrowing occurrence! This one involved the dogs. Well, one dog. The youngest one.

I’d bought a topper for the truck bed, specifically for this trip. Brand new. I had it one day before putting the dogs in it to hit the road. Within an hour of getting in the truck, miss Valkyrie ripped out the wiring of the topper. How kind of her.

Then we made it almost all the way to NC without incident, until Hwy 20, where she proceeded to rip the screen out of the topper window, and tried to jump out of the moving truck. Mind you, all dogs were anchored to the steel loops of the bed. So hubby, in the rental car behind me, was honking and trying to call me, and my kids are having a meltdown, while I, having already seen what was going on, was trying to get off the highway. We rearranged the dogs at that point, so she couldn’t get to anything. And I was very happy to drop them off at the boarding kennel, finally, that afternoon.

I’ll leave the story of our move here, and get back to it next time!

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I haven’t done any crafting, of any kind, in days. It’s been too insane around here. Way too much stress. There’s so much going on, and I’m feeling more than a little edgy. We’ve finally had people coming in to fix things on the house warranty, which is good. The PIP has finally gotten to his car so he can get it ready for a show, which means at long last it will be done…or at least it had better be. If he finds one more thing he wants to add to it, I may just blow the thing up. It’s been his only topic of conversation for the last year: what’s wrong with it, what needs to be done to it, what he’s already done to it, what he wants to do to it…I’m very much over this car, and this is coming from someone who loves old hot rods.

Then the kids have been fighting nonstop for at least a week. Housetraining the puppy. PIP not feeling well. A ridiculous tax debt owed to the IRS due to what we spent building the house and staying in hotels until it was done. Trading in my beautiful truck for an equally beautiful older one because registration on the Sierra was way too high. Trying to cut out unnecessary bills or lower necessary ones in order to make ends meet. Aneira’s problems and therapy. The PIP’s schizo-affective disorder. My own bipolar disorder. The discovery that I’m diabetic. Fighting with the PIP. A visit from the police because that fight got a bit too loud. School nearing its end for the girls. Trying to get the housework under some type of control. Trying to get the girls to do chores. Finding out there is structural damage to one of the vehicles that wasn’t disclosed to us on purchase. The replaced hip giving me trouble. The knee on that side joining the party. I’m sure there are things I’ve forgotten to add to this list.

Sometimes you just have those days where you’re totally overwhelmed and you don’t even know where to start trying to unravel the knot of stress you’re carrying with you. There are a billion ends in this ball, and if you pull the wrong one, you tighten the knot further, and it makes you nervous about trying another end to see if maybe that one will loosen things up enough for you to breathe for just a couple of minutes.

It’s times like this that adulting really sucks. You don’t know what to do, you don’t know where to start, you want someone to tell you what to do, but you’re it. You’re the boss here. And you’re so overwhelmed you’re standing still because it’s the only thing you know to do to keep things from spiraling even further out of control.

That’s where I’ve been the last few days. Falling apart when no one is looking, like in the shower, so no one can tell I’ve been crying. I don’t want to worry the kids, and telling the PIP what my headspace is like right now is something that might set him off, and that would circle right back around to me as another item I’d have to handle, and I just don’t think I can.

And the worst of it is, is that there’s no running away from it. Where do you go? I know that there are people who escape into drugs and drinking, but that’s not my style. I’ve never been a big drinker, I don’t like drugs, and, let’s face it, those things are far more likely to make things worse rather than better. So at this point I’m fighting my own depression and anxiety, as well as everything else. I’m one of those people who would rather worry something to death and have it turn out that I didn’t need to, than be that person who doesn’t worry and then finds out they should have. Of course, the downside to that is that you’re always stressed.

Sigh. I’ve pulled out both yarn and weaving thread several times over the last few days, but just can’t find the creativity to do anything but stare at the thread. If I had the money right now, I’d go on vacation. I don’t even need to leave town, just hole up somewhere that no one can find me!

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The Three Musketeers: Vanir, Valkyrie, and Thor

It is unreal, the amount of trouble a puppy can get into, even when supervised. To say that Valkyrie keeps us on our toes–constantly–is to vastly understate the situation.  I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to have an Arctic breed puppy, but Val is by far the most mischievous one I’ve ever been owned by. Vanir was shy when he first joined the family, which may explain why he wasn’t ridiculously difficult to train, and Thor was already three and an adult when he arrived. But Valkyrie is something else!! There is nothing sacred. She’s just barely tall enough to see over the counters when standing on her hind legs, but that doesn’t stop her. We have to police everything: floors, counters, closets, and even then, she will find what you miss, no matter how small! In the house, she is either on a leash attached to one of us, or she is in the crate when she can’t be watched. Crate training has begun in earnest!! She hates it, of course, because the boys don’t have to be crated at all, and she absolutely does, no question. On those rare occasions when she sleeps with us, she’s on the leash, and the wrist strap is around my ankle all night.

It’s hard, because she’s utterly adorable, and it breaks your heart when she cries because it’s bedtime or you’re going out and she has to go in the crate, but the house would be a disaster if we didn’t do it. The one night we allowed her to sleep with Aneira, she got loose and tore up the main floor. Garbage everywhere, papers shredded into tiny pieces, a dish broken…which is how she was caught. Bryony heard the crash at 3 am and came to get us after catching the little turdbrain. After that, the strict rule is crate at bedtime.

She definitely has a mind of her own, like all of her breed, and the ability to make you love her no matter what devilry she gets up to. She loves to kiss your face when she hasn’t seen you all day, her whole body wagging. Annoyingly, though she was my birthday present, she has a definite affinity for the PIP. She’s starting to include the rest of us, though, so it could be worse!

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It seems that the dragon loom and I have finally come to an agreement. I have a system now that helps me keep better track of where I am in the pattern. It seems kind of obvious in hindsight, but it took me awhile to realize the way the pattern worked, because I wasn’t looking for it. I was simply following the directions by rote, not really paying attention to it. Once I did see it, though, it was easy to work with. The pattern sequence is 8 turns of the tablets, made a bit more complex by the fact that I’m actually working with five packs of tablets, and they go in two different directions for half the sequence, and in the same direction for the other half, but it’s two consecutive picks for each turn. So I started counting off each pick, one and two, change direction, one and two, change direction, etc. That wasn’t working, because while yes, the two picks were identical, the next two weren’t, and carried the same numbers, so I was still losing my place. I had to count them off as one through eight, and once I started doing that, everything flowed much better. If I’m in pick five, I know exactly which direction the cards are turning, and therefore which way I need to turn them next in order to continue the weave, or to unweave in case of a mistake. It has been much easier!

Aneira is doing well with therapy, and she and I talk each night at bedtime about how her day went, rating everything on a scale of one to ten. Lots of hugs and kisses are given, along with lots of “I love you”. There are those who would say that all the repetition of those words devalues them, but my personal belief is that your kids can never hear them too often. Kids too easily fall into the habit of believing that their parents hate them. Not only that, but there’s also the fact that anything can happen during the course of a day, and sometimes whatever happens can mean that you never have the opportunity to say those words to that person again. So I say them as often as I can, to make sure the girls know how much I love them. So far, I’ve been lucky, and both of them are still tightly bonded to me. I don’t know how much longer that will last; Aneira will be thirteen in a couple of months!

Valkyrie is rapidly becoming the queen terror of the house. It’s a good thing I’d bought a whole bunch of Clorox wipes at Costco, because they’re getting a lot of use as we work on potty training. She and Vanir are very close, but the old man, Thor, still wants nothing to do with this little upstart. And she’s way too smart for her own good: she has already figured out that doorknobs are what allow one to open the door and escape a room. I have watched her working on them, and she’s going to get it right sooner rather than later! She stands on her hind legs, takes the doorknob in her mouth and tries to twist it. If she had opposable thumbs, I’d be in deep trouble already!

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