Archive for just life

Winding Yarn is Believing in Miracles

I stand on my warm front porch and I gently slip the ball band off a skein of beautiful handspun yarn.  I take a deep breath, wrap it over a chair and start winding.  And I realize that it is a step of faith.  I wind and I think and I realize that I am steeped in miracles.
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Anyone who knows me, knows that I have been a knitting maniac ever since I learned to put sticks to string 4 years ago.  And if you know my journey, you also know that my immune system has been slowly turning against its own body in the form of MS and that my hands have suffered because of it.  I stopped knitting a while ago and haven’t picked up needles or yarn for quite some time.
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I had several unfinished projects here that I thought maybe I would be able to finish someday.   But it became apparent that my hands are altered too much to handle thin yarns and the projects have been a sometimes painful reminder that something I loved is gone.  I finally sent those projects off to internet friends who agreed to finish them for me.  The first finished shawl came in the mail today and instead of being sad as I had thought I might be, I was excited to open the package.  The shawl is gorgeous and I realized that instead of being reminded that I couldn’t finish the project myself, I am looking forward to wrapping myself in the attentions of a faraway friend, who – though we’ve never met – put time and love and thousands of stitches into this lovely shawl.
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I wind the yarn and my thoughts turn to Colorado.  The events this last week grieved me so deeply.  I can’t explain why, but it has been so heavy on my heart and difficult for me to listen to the news or read the details.  I wind my yarn and I watch my little boys from the front porch. Little boys who don’t understand that mama’s hands don’t work, don’t understand men who shoot into dark theaters, don’t even think about these things that are constantly on the minds of the grown ups around them.  I think about Colorado and I pray for the people there.  And I pray that my boys will grow up to be men who throw themselves in front of bullets to save the women they love.  I think of the miracles that happened in that theater and the miracle of two little boys and warm sun and cool water.

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This yarn is the color of a stormy sea, and I think how amazing that a short time ago it was fluffy and white and stuck to the back of a sheep!  Now it is the color of a mermaid’s tail and some skilled spinner has teased it into a twisted barberpole of yarn.  It occurs to me that the act of winding it means that I believe that I will knit it.  The act of wrapping it into a ball is an act of faith.  Friends bought this yarn for me, now I wind it and think of amazing people who love me.  I think of the miracle of friends who drive me to infusion appointments and friends who show deep care and concern for what this diagnosis means to our family.  I wind my stormy sea yarn and I believe that I will knit it and I think how very grateful I am for the friends in my life.
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A boy runs up and I give him a kiss and the thought comes that all of mothering is an act of faith.  We hug them, we chastise them, we fill wading pools with water, always believing that what we are doing will somehow guide them into being lovely, caring, thoughtful, ethical humans who will make the world better in some small way.  We have faith that these boys will grow up to be part of a miracle for someone else.  That they will grow up to be the husband who says that a debilitating disease does not change one thing about his love, that they will tread lightly on the hearts of those around them, that they will report child rape at the risk of ending their sports career, that they will be miracle MEN.  I wind my yarn and have faith in my mothering and in my children.
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I finish the winding.  Reluctant to leave the warm porch, I stay for a minute and watch the boys splashing water, listen to an older sister lovingly dote on them, soak up the sunshine and admire my miracle of a wound ball of yarn.  I dream about what I will make with it, because of my hands….in spite of my hands.  I have faith in the miracle that I will create, the miracle I will be a part of, the miracle I will watch unfold and fall off of my needles.  And I revel in the miracle of life that goes on in a wading pool, life that marches on in Colorado, life that lives in wonderful friends and eight amazing children and one breathtaking husband.  And I say a prayer of thanks and take my yarn inside and wait for the miracle.

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Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping

I ran into a friend at the grocery store last night and we chatted about meal planning, budget and how I do my shopping & planning.  I think I’ve blogged about this a bit before, but I thought it would be worth another post.  Here’s how I typically do my meal planning & grocery shopping.

First, I make a meal list.  Typically I make a list of 10-12 meals and this serves us for the 2 weeks between pay periods.  I do 2 “big” shopping trips each month, planning my meals and going to several stores for the different things we’ll need.  When Alex works 2nd shift, I tend to be even more on my game and we definitely go through almost all the meals I plan.  When he’s on first shift, we often end up only eating 8 to 10.

I write out my meal list and then go back and make the grocery list.  I usually have 1 page for Costco, Trader Joe’s & Central Market, with the page broken into sections for each store.  Then another page for the main grocery store trip (usually Albertsons or WalMart) and  I write out categories – fresh, frozen, dairy, meat, canned/misc – and then as I make my list I add needed items on the page or in the section where they belong.  This helps tremendously when I’m shopping!

I use the crockpot 3 or 4 nights a week and then I try to plan a few meals that are easy enough for the kids to make.  I also try to keep everything in the house for spaghetti or Sloppy Joe’s or something easy like that.  So for this round of meals, here’s what I planned:

All of the starred (**) recipes are new ones that I am trying.  I try to keep my list pretty full of tried-and-true stuff that I know the kids will really like and I know to be successful recipes.  The Gnocchi soup came recommended by a friend, so I’m confident in that one as well as the Indian food as I’ve cooked from that book a bunch and we love it EVERY time!  Everything else on my list, I have made a few times and most are “everyone loves it” type of recipes.

On this round of shopping, I hit Costco, Trader Joe’s, Albertsons & Central Market.  I just recently made a trip to the Bread Outlet so we are set on bread right now.  Sometimes I’ll go to the Grocery Outlet or Cash & Carry too.  Central is usually where I go to get any specialty produce I need or bulk foods or for their great bulk spices.  Trader Joe’s is the go-to for snack items for the little boys and for Alex’s lunches.

My totals this time around were:  Costco – $144.82, Trader Joe’s – $58.68, Central Market – $52.07, Albertsons – $142.75.  That will be our groceries for the next 2 weeks, with the exception of going to pick up milk or maybe fresh veggies for salads once the stuff I got from Costco runs out.  This includes toiletries, laundry detergent, paper products and other misc. household stuff as well as staples like cold cereal, lunch meat, yogurt, eggs, etc. for lunches and breakfast.

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I’m a doula??? Holy *pewp*! I’m a doula!!!

I recently blogged about my desire to make 2012 the year that I finally “became” a doula.  Well, it happened.  Ok, actually it’s been happening for some time and my head finally caught up to my heart.  Let me explain.

The word doula means “a woman who assists women during labor and after childbirth”.  I’ve done that.  Several times.  I have recently been asked to do that again.  My life over the last 13 years (since my first homebirth) has consisted of learning about and being passionate about birth, mamas & babies….absorbing all the information I can through first hand experience, friendships & conversations with friends who are midwives and doulas and care providers, reading everything I can get my hands on about birth, watching videos and YouTube clips about labor and birth and just generally being a “birth junky”.

Going to a class doesn’t somehow magically make me a doula.  I’m not a “doula-in-training”.  I don’t need to “become” a doula this year.  I am one.  I’ve been becoming one for quite a while now.  My head was convincing me that I needed the class and the certificate to prove it.  My heart was whispering “you’re already there.”  I needed the nudge I got from a phone conversation with a friend to have this concept sink in.  What a lovely, amazing phone call that was!  (thank you, friend.)

My plan is to follow this path where it leads.  I want to continue to learn and educate myself.  I will likely move forward with the doula training that I was planning on doing in the Spring.  But that’s not “the last step”, it’s really just continuing education!  At some point, I will consider hanging out a shingle and really getting serious about the business end of it, but for now I’m ready to offer myself to my wonderful friends who are expecting new little ones.  My dream is to support mamas (& daddies!) as they welcome their babes earthside and I am ready to do that. 

Holy cow, I’m a doula!

*Footnote* – this has been a draft for over a week.  It took another phone call with a different friend and me emailing this draft to her before I finally was able/willing to post it.  GULP.

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