Importance of Family

My mother always raised us to understand that family is the most important thing.   Whether it is your immediate/nuclear/birth family or your extended family…. they are important.

Image result for family is important

My mother lived this.  As the baby of her nuclear family, she often said that she felt that she was an only child and often left out of things.  However, she was the sister that helped to take care of 3 of her 4 sisters when they were sick and/or near death.    She talks fondly of her nieces and nephews … some of which are closer in age to her than her siblings.

 

Even now, with her brain cells damaged and dementia in full swing, she often thinks of her family.  She regularly asks about her parents, or one of her sisters… or sister-in-law… she talks about her nieces and nephews with great regularity.  Yesterday,  Jerry Lee (Jake) was the topic of conversation.  Most of the time it is Katie Saintenoy or one of the Saintenoys.  She is especially fascinated with that family.   Now, please understand… she isn’t talking about them in a manner that makes sense or is even truthful… it is just that those names and people come to her mind and her mind makes up some story about them that she believes is real.  For example:  Jake was supposedly at the “senior center” and doing something with the old ladies there.  Katie is her most frequent family member in stories… she gets to do all kinds of things.  

 

HOWEVER…  while I think it is OK that she loves her extended family and thinks of them.  Hardly ever/never do her stories include her own children or grandchildren.  She doesn’t bring them to mind as easily as she does nieces/nephews that she rarely sees.  This makes me sad.   I wish that she talked about her grandchildren or her children.  It is almost like in her mind we do not exist… which is probably partly true since she often thinks she is still in school and lives in Akron.

 

I have generated a family tree, of sorts, that lists all her siblings and their spouses and their children.  I wrote DEAD across all the people that are… well… dead.   Today we had to reference this again… almost always when she looks at it she tells me:  “You are not dead.”  Which I confirm is a fact and remind her that my name doesn’t have DEAD written over it… and then I know that she thinks I’m her sister Dora.  While Aunt Dorie was a lovely aunt, we hardly ever spent time with them. I didn’t know her overly well and I know that I do not look like her.  They only thing we can figure is that when my mother was 10-12, Dorie would have been the only sibling still at home, so maybe she had to take care of her?  

 

I have tried to raise my children to understand that family is important too.  Sadly, that is harder and harder to do these days.  Sometimes family members don’t like to “play nice” and it is hard to be around them.  Sometimes you are not treated as important by family members, so it is hard to hold them up as important as well.

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In 30 years… when I am making up stories and incorporating family members, the only people I envision being in my stories are my own children (and hopefully grandchildren).  We hardly ever see any of our nieces and nephews and when we do, we just don’t have that close of a relationship with them.  Just the way times are these days, I suppose.   This makes me sad.  

 

Family is important.  It is the most important thing in your life.  Without your family, you are nothing.  Whether you are born into a family, adopted into a family, have chosen your own family from friends, or are in the process of making your own family, please remember that.  What names and faces do you want to be in your dementia stories when you are old?  Make those people important to you now.

 

Are you a Hugger?

So sorry about being gone.  I doubt that many of you really missed me… I’m not some fabulous blogger and have millions of followers.  I just share from my heart and hope that encourages someone else.

 

If you are on Facebook, then you probably know most of what my life has been consumed with for the last 11 months.    I will reflect on that in a couple weeks.

 

Here is my pondering for today… I may have touched on it in other blogs, but I couldn’t find it specifically, so I figured it was time to meditate on it.

To Hug or Not to Hug?

That is my question.

I am NOT a hugger… wasn’t raised that way…. have never been… makes me uncomfortable.  Though, I am trying in small baby steps to try to do a wee bit better with some friends.  It is hard for me.  Hugging, in my opinion, requires a level of trust, security, peace, and love for the other person.  It is a personal event.  You are in close contact with someone.  You need to feel safe and loved by them in order to want to be that close to someone.

So… what if others are huggers and can’t grasp that it makes you uncomfortable?  What do you do?

I have a friend who usually warns me… says something like:  “I know you aren’t a hugger but I’m going to hug you anyways.”  I am getting better at accepting hugs from her.  Because she has taken the time to know me and respect my level of comfort with hugs.

So… if the huggers can’t/won’t do that?  What do you do?

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Do you hug because it is expected of you?  I can’t do that.  It truly makes me very uncomfortable… especially with people that I don’t feel safe and loved by.

 

What do you do?

 

I step back.  I keep someone else or something else between us.  Yes, that is a bit awkward, but I’d rather that then the even worse feeling of being hugged.

 

I have even asked to not be hugged… and said something like:  “No thank you, I’m not comfortable with that.”  And I feel like I was judged for being rude.

 

I really do want to know.   What do you do?  I will NOT hug if I am not comfortable.  Hugging randomly is not how I was raised and it is not something I will start now.

 

I just wish that the people who constantly try to hug me (and my children) would understand that we are uncomfortable with hugging as a greeting/farewell and would respect us.  Not everyone is the same… not everyone has the same comfort level… we do not exist with the same comfort level as them… to force/encourage/expect us to do something outside of our comfort zone on a regular basis just sends the message to us that we are not loved and respected for who we are and what we need to feel safe and loved and comfortable.

 

AND… don’t get me started on the kissing…

 

 

Today’s Grief

I realize that I have not blogged in a very long time.  I realize that you don’t really want my raw thoughts and grief… you would rather have knit/crochet patterns… but today I just have some thoughts to get off my chest/head.  Sorry.

NoRuleBook

Today, while in the midst of the daily discussion/argument with my mother about who I am…   (Seriously, I wouldn’t argue with her if she NEVER knew who I was, it is only part of the time that she is confused about that.)

… today it hit me… like a ton of bricks.   Hurts even to start thinking about it again now.

 

All of my life I have tried to gain her approval.  This is something that all children do.  They want their parents to approve of what they do, they want their parents to be proud of them.  I have been trying for 50+ years to  make her proud of me.

 

Since the day I was born and was not supposed to be a girl, in fact I didn’t have a name for a couple days.  Since the day my brother was born and then the next brother… and the story we always heard how the first brother was the only wanted/planned for child… she may have been joking about it… but it still stings.  There is still a kernel of truth there.  She prefers boys…

 

Despite the fact that I was the “good” child and did everything I could to be the best I could be.  To follow the rules.  To behave appropriately.  I never felt it was enough.  I never felt that I made her proud.

 

Sure, there have been moments when she seemed pleased with what I had done.  Or with something my family was doing.  There may have even been times that she told others that she was proud of me (I don’t know that for a fact, though).   She never told me, nor with any regularity acted like it.

 

My mother is/was a very private person.  Emotions were not ever shared or expressed.  This is even worse now with her brain damage.  I can’t say that I ever saw her cry… not even when Dad died.  I can clearly recall her yelling at me and slapping my face many times during the teen years.  The only time I can recall her hugging me was when she was told to by a pastor friend when my #2 daughter was being loaded into a life-flight helicopter.   Touching and sharing of feelings is not something that she does.  It is not something that I do well either.  That is how I was raised, how was I to learn anything different?

 

Today, as I sat and looked at her as we ate supper on her porch… I realized that I so desperately want her approval.  I want her to be proud of me.  I want her to know who I am and love me.  I want her to thank me for taking care of her.  I want her to tell me that I am doing good.  I want her say that my daughters are wonderful young women.  I want her …

 

However, that will never happen now.  I no longer have a mother.  I have an elderly person that I take care of that happened to provide 1/2 of my DNA.    I wish that didn’t hurt so much.

 

Maybe this is why I always feel like I am still 12 inside.  I am desperate for someone to tell me that they are proud of me.

 

Yes… some of you will say that you are proud of me.  Yes… some of you will tell me that she is proud of me, she just cannot express it to me.  Sorry… as well meaning as those words are meant to be, they will NOT be helpful to me (so please refrain from doing so).

I am not sharing this to get “warm fuzzies” from everyone, I’m sharing this … because I just need to get it out.  I need for people to realize that I am real.  That life is terrible.  That some days I cannot cope.  That I really want my mommy to be proud of me and that will never happen.

 

I know that I do not verbally tell my daughters this same thing.  I have however shared it in written form either here or on Facebook.  Like my mother, I’m not good with verbally sharing things emotionally.  I am however, trying to be better at not hiding my emotions.

loveproud

Daughter #1 – She makes me so very, very proud!  She is a responsible young adult, holding down a job as a nanny (and a super-duper wonderful one!!).  She is paying off her car and paying on her college loans.  She is my right hand woman in taking care of Grandma.  Without her, I don’t know what I would do.  She is so very talented… just like me… she can paint a wall, spackle the holes, sand the baseboards, build a fire, knit an afghan, cook a cheesecake, design a birthday cake, create crafts for young children, and so many more things!  Abigail is wonderful!  She is my favorite almost 24 year old daughter!

 

Daughter #2 – She makes me very proud!  She is becoming a responsible adult as well.  She is finishing up college and has an internship lined up for summer that will hopefully roll into a job after she graduates next year.  She has figured out her own housing for summer and is working on figuring out what she is doing next year at school.  She is a master camper/hiker.  She can out fire build an eagle scout, and make delicious campfire meals.  Elizabeth is wonderful!  She is my favorite 21 year old daughter!

 

Daughter #3 – She makes me very proud!  She is finishing up High School and has a plan in place for summer and college next year.  She has taken ownership of her Selective Mutism and is working through that.  She has filled out every scholarship application she possibly can in hopes of getting lots of $$ for college.  She has been a great help in getting the house organized and holding down the fort here while I am at Grandma’s.    Lydia is wonderful!  She is my favorite 18 year old daughter!

 

Daughter #4 – She makes me proud!  She is a very responsible teenager.  Still finding her way and making her mark on high school.  She is a faithful friend.  She is helpful to me when asked.  She is kind to Grandma and a joy to have around helping there.  She certainly is the perfect daughter to round out the family.  Esther is wonderful!  She is my favorite 15 year old daughter!

proud

Please, girls, know how much I love you and how proud you make me!

SAHM – Stay at Home Mom

I read an article this afternoon that appalled me.  Maybe I’m reading it wrong. Maybe it was written tongue-in-check.  But, I think it really speaks to something that is wrong with society today, the lack of value for a mother and family.

 

Here is a link to the article, so you can read it:

http://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/ten-truths-regarding-stay-at-home-moms

 

Here is what I want to say in rebuttal (not that my thoughts and rebuttal matter to anyone)

The author claims these are truths.  I claim she is very, very wrong!

She says:  We feel lesser.

I say:  How can you feel lesser when your primary responsibility is raising and caring for your children?  If you feel “lesser”  then you have your priorities wrong.  You should feel “more-er”  because your task as a mom cannot be replicated.

 

She says:  We are jealous.

I say:  Who are you kidding?  Staying home in your jammies if you want, and not dealing with make up, heels, pantyhose, etc.  That is the benefit.  She claims you only look “important” when you are dressed up and going to work.  Sorry, you are THE MOST IMPORTANT person to that little one you are raising.  They don’t care how you look (or smell).

 

She says:  We eat boring lunches.

I say:  What constitutes a not boring lunch?  Spending $13 on a burger?  Why?  Your lunch date everyday is wonderful.  You get to teach them about nutrition, and manners, and sharing, and how to cook (if you want).  How much fun is that to mold and encourage a young mind?

 

She says:  We feel pressured to act really busy.

I say:  Some days you are really busy, some days your are not. If you are married to a wonderful spouse, they realize that.  Somedays you might be just playing Candy Crush on the computer, but that could be after a long bout of Candyland and a struggle to get little one down for a nap.  Other days, you will be picking up toys, doing dishes, etc.  Everything fluctuates.

 

She says:  We feel intermittently busy, lazy and lonely.

I say: OK, this might have a kernal of truth in it.  However, there are lots of outlets available to counteract the lonely.  Parent-child swim and gym classes… playgrounds… art classes… dance classes… walks in the park… walking the dog…you have to reach out and find those groups.

 

She says:  We count the hours until dinner.

I say:  I don’t understand that.  Does she mean we count the hours until our spouse comes home after working a full day to “take over?”  Does she mean we count the hours till they can be fed and sent to bed?  Really it seems this woman doesn’t like being with her children at all.

 

She says:  We wonder if we have made the right decision.

I say:  If you cannot see the wonder of raising your own children and instilling in them the values that you hold dear.  Being the one to take care of them and see all the firsts and rejoice with them.  To be the one wiping the tears and cleaning the puke.   There is no better decision.  If you doubt that decision, maybe you should have thought of that before you had children.  Sure, there will be days that the child(ren) get on your last nerve, but all-in-all, they are YOUR children.

 

She says:  We don’t put the laundry away either.

I say:  I kind of agree with that concept but not her reasoning.  She says that she doesn’t do it because if the kids are too lazy, then why should she pick up the slack.  HELLO!  You are the mom.  You are supposed to be teaching them and nurturing them.  They learned to not put it away from you, not the other way around.

 

She says:  We long for time alone in the car.

I say:  OK.  Sure.  But why the car?  If you feel you must entertain your children at all times, that is your problem.  I believe that children can and should be raised to be able to entertain themselves.  I don’t need to be their playmate at all times.  They should be able to sit and play with a toy on their own, find a book to read on their own, self entertain.

 

She says:  We don’t get bored.

I say:  I will agree with this one point.  Being a SAHM mom is NOT boring.  It is the hardest and yet most fulfilling role to have.  I realize that not everyone wants to be a SAHM.  I realize that not everything believes they can be a SAHM.  I am very grateful that I was able to do so.

 

OK.  My rant for the day is done.

 

Sorry I’ve been gone from this blog for so long.  Being a SAHD (stay-at-home-daughter) is harder than being a SAHM.  The challenges are similar, but toddlers learn and grow, senior citizens just get snarky and repeat the same thing day after day… you know like:  Groundhog Day or 50 First Dates.

 

Grandma Aunt Liz

My mother’s last remaining sibling (out of 6 of them) passed away this past week.    She had been dealing with cancer since last summer and spent the last 2 weeks at home on hospice being cared for by her 2 eldest sons (and my mother).

 

This Aunt was very special to me.  She lived around the corner from my grandparents, so whenever we went to visit them when I was little (probably 2 times per month) we also visited her.  Then after my Grandpa died and Grandma had a stroke, she moved into her childhood home with her to take care of her.  Thus, she sometimes got called Grandma Aunt Liz.

 

Aunt Liz only had 3 sons.  She was 10 years older than my mother.  I remember very special times visiting her.  She made me Barbie Clothes (some of which are still around here).  She genuinely was interested in what I was doing.  I guess she was my “favorite” Aunt… but each of my Aunts are/were special in their own right and held/hold special places in my heart.    I just saw her more frequently so I knew her better.

 

She loved to get photos of my children.  My second daughter is named Liz (Elizabeth) as well.  Did we name her in honor of Aunt Liz?  Not really… but it certainly didn’t hurt that I loved Aunt Liz and had good feelings about the name Elizabeth.

 

In a first quick look through some of her items, my mother brought home some little SWAPS from a Girl Scout event I went to in 1976.  My Aunt had saved them and put them into her cedar chest.  I’m sure that as they look through more and more in her beautiful century home, they will find other things that I gave/sent her.

 

I will miss Aunt Liz.  It will be sad when the family has to sell the old homestead.  That house has been home to the family for almost 80 years.  It has been a place where we all gathered for large Christmas parties – by large, I mean LARGE – 6 kids and their spouses and 19 grandkids.  It has been a place that we have gathered to mourn the loss of families members.    It has been a place where many have gone to live for a time – some for years, some for just a few weeks.  It has been a welcoming place.  A steadfast bastion in this crazy world.

grandmahouse

The house and land hold many memories for me.  Most of the memories are from when my Grandparents were still living, but there are also great memories of times there with Aunt Liz.    Not much has changed about the house over the years.  The kitchen has been remodeled and added on to.  The row of large trees at the curb have been removed and new trees planted.  The row of bushes that stood to the side yard between this house and the next is gone – I used to play in a “cave” under those bushes.  The front porch is still long and inviting.  There is still no heat in the upstairs – only open registers for the heat to rise from the main floor.  There is still only one bathroom with only a bathtub.  A photo exists of me “swimming” in that tub.  The basement is still somewhat creepy – though I remember being down there with Grandpa and exploring the cellar pantry.   The yardstick is still on the chair rail behind the buffet outside the bathroom door where it has always been – where the telephone with a party line sat – with the long cord so it could be carried into the huge coat closet on the other side.

 

Some things change… some things never change.  Such is life.

 

This death leaves my mother as the sole remaining member of her birth family.  It makes her the matriarch… never mind that she is only 8 years (or so) older than her nearest neice.

 

Family is important.  Family is the most important thing.  You do what you need to do for family.  You make it happen.  Even when you are tired and your laundry hasn’t been done in 3 weeks… you keep going.  You take care of family.  You love family.  Without family, you do not exist.

 

Getting dressed now to head back to my mother’s house…. gotta help her with the repairs to her bedroom and bathroom from the winter flood.   More on that later.  Family!

Elvis Pattern

I recently was asked to make an Elvis for a friend.  I did not want to pay for a pattern (I don’t pay for any pattern if I can help it).  Therefore, I created a pattern for Elvis.

 

Here is the PDF Version:  Elvis

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Feel free to use this to bless your favorite Elvis fan.

 

Size G hook

White, black, fleshtone, blue & gold yarn

 

sc = single crochet

sl = slip stitch

dec = decrease (combine 2 stitches into one stitch)

inc = increase (make 2 stitches in one stitch)

 

The final Elvis is approximately 13 inches tall.

 

Legs (make 2)

With white yarn

1:  make a magic circle with 6 sc

2: increase in each stitch around = 12 stitches

3:  1 sc, 1 increase around = 18 stitches

4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9:  18 stitches each round

10:  1 sc, 1 decrease around = 12 stitches

11, 12:  12 sc around

13:  2 sc, 1 decrease around = 9 stitches

14, 15, 16, 17:  9 sc around

Finish off the first leg and stuff

With the second leg, do NOT finish off after round 17.  Stuff and then join the 2 legs together.

Joining the legs, with the tail/yarn from leg 1 hanging down between them.

18:  sc 4 stitches from leg 2, sc 9 stitches from leg 1, sc the remaining 5 stitches on leg 2 = 18 stitches

19,20: 18 sc

You will now begin work on the body…

Body

21:  2 sc, 1 inc around = 24 stitches

22:  24 sc around

23, 24:  switch to gold – do not cut white yarn, you will pick it up agin for round 25 – 24 sc around

25, 26, 27:  white – 24 sc around

28:  2 sc, 1 dec around = 18 stitches

29, 30:  18 sc around

Stuff body

31:  4 sc, 1 dec = 15 stitches

32: 15 sc around

33:  3 sc, 1 dec around = 12 stitches

34:  10 sc ( or however many you need to take to get you to the center front of your body – this is based on where the gold join is on the belt so that is to the back)

35:  12 sc in front loop only, ch 1, TURN

36:  12 sc back around.  This makes the collar.  Do not join.   Finish off white.

Stuff body

Join flesh tone at side of round 34 in the back loops, behind the collar.

Head

DSCF0124[1]35:  12 sc in back loops of round 34 (behind collar)

36:  5 dec 2 sc = 7 stitches

37: increase around = 14 stitches

38:  1 sc, 1 inc around = 21 stitches

39: 2 sc, 1 inc around = 28 stitches

40: 3 sc, 1 inc around = 35 stitches

41: 4 sc, 1 inc around = 42 stitches

42-47: 42 sc

48:  4 sc, 1 dec around = 35 stitches

49: 3 sc, 1 dec around = 28 stitches

50: 2 sc, 1 dec around = 21 stitches

51:  1 sc, 1 dec around = 14 stitches

Stuff head and body

52:  decrease around = 7 stitches

Stuff as needed.

Thread needle and pick up loop of those 7 stitches, pull closed.  Finish off.

 

Feet (make 2)

DSCF0127[1]With blue (for blue suede shoes) – or whatever color you want

Chain 4

1:  sc in second chain from hook, sc in next chain.  3 sc in first chain made, go around to the other side of the chain.  Sc in second chain, 2 sc in 3rd chain (the one the that you made the first sc in) = 8 stitches

Working around

2:  increase, 1 sc, increase x 3, 1 sc, inc x 2 = 14 stitches

3:  inc, 4 sc, inc x 3, 4 sc, inc x 2 = 20 stitches

4:  20 sc around

5:  6 sc, dec x 3, 5 sc, dec x 2 = 15 stitches  (yes, you will go past the first stitch)

6:  4 sc, dec x 3, 5 sc = 12 stitches

7:  4 sc, dec x 2, 4 sc = 10 stitches

8:  switch to white for socks – 2 sc, dec, 2 sc, dec, 2 sc = 8 stitches

9:  8 sc

finish off, stuff, sew to round 1 of leg/pants

Arms (make 2)

With fleshtone yarnDSCF0128[1]

1:  make a magic circle with 5 sc

2:  increase around = 10 stitches

3, 4:  10 sc

Switch to white yarn

5:  3 sc, dec x 2, 3 sc = 8 stitches

6-15:  8 sc

finish off, stuff, sew to shoulder at approximately rows 30-33

 

Belt Buckle

DSCF0123[1]Make a magic circle with 4 sc

In 1st stitch:  1 sc, 1 sl,  in next 3 stitches *1 sl, 1 sc, 1 sl*, slip to first sc join.

You should have a square-ish buckle.  Sew to front of belly on belt.

Hair

Black yarn

DSCF0126[1]1:  make a magic circle with 6 sc

2:  increase around = 12 stitches

3:  1 sc, 1 inc around = 18 stitches

4:  2 sc, 1 inc around = 24 stitches

5:  3 sc, 1 inc around = 30 stitches

6:  4 sc, 1 inc around = 36 stithces

7:  5 sc, 1 inc around = 42 stitches

8:  6 sc, 1 inc around = 48 stitches

9:  sideburn

DSCF0125[1]sc 6, ch1, turn

sc 3, ch1, turn

decrease, sc 1, ch1 turn

sc 2, ch1, turn

dec, ch1 turn

sc 1, ch1 , turn

Slip down the side of the sideburn back to round 8

front of hair

sc 27 (to other side), ch1, turn

sc 5, *dec, sc 2* (*5times*), 1sc, ch1 turn

sl 3, *sc 2, dec* (*3 times*), 2 sc, sl 1, turn (NO CHAIN 1)

sl 3, *2 sc, dec* (*2 times*), 1 sc, 1 sl, turn (NO CHAIN 1)

sl 2, 6 sc, sl 2

slip down the side back to round 8

second sideburn

sc 3, ch1, turn

sc 3, ch 1, turn

dec, sc1, ch1, turn

sc 2, ch1, turn

dec, ch1, turn

sc 1, ch1, turn

slip down the side of sideburn back to round 8

sc 12

Finish off, leave a long tail to sew hair to head.

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Finishing

Sew feet/shoes onto bottom of legs/pants

Sew arms on at shoulders

Sew belt buckle on to front of body/belt

DSCF0122[1]Sew “V” on side of leg/pant

Decorate front of shirt as desired

Sew hair on head – pulling sideburns down towards the front and adding stuffing to the top/bang portion only so it stands up

Add eyes and mouth

Use yarn between legs to close up the little gap between them.     🙂

 

 

If you want to make a guitar I used:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/guitar-pacifier-keeper

And just made the strap long enough to encircle his body.

DSCF0069[1]

 

Silver Award

The second highest award a Girl Scout can earn is her Silver Award.  My GS Troop 1039 will be working on their silver award this coming year.  We need your help.

We will be learning about Flag etiquette and how to properly retire an American Flag.  We will be collecting flags that need retired and then properly, carefully, deal with them to prepare them for retirement.

Some time in the Spring of 2016 we will hold a flag retirement ceremony.  You will be welcome to attend.

We need flags.  All sizes.  If you have a flag or flags that need retired, please let me know and we will figure out a way to get it from you.  If you live locally, we can pick it up.  If you don’t… we’ll have to figure something out.

The more flags the better.  If you are connected to an organization like the Eagles or VFW and they are willing to collect them for us, that would be awesome.  We will gladly write them a thank you note and invite them to the ceremony.  We will also offer them some grommets.  Grommets that have been through the fire with their flags will be collected once the ashes cool.  Grommets can then be used as a momento and are often used for good luck.

If you can collect them at your workplace or house of worship and want us to prepare a box for you, we can do that as well.

Thank you!!

blue-flames

This photo is from the flag retirement ceremony that my #2 daughter did in 2007.