A case of the Pox

I had forgotten about the existence of chicken pox until this last week. Monday, my eldest showed me some ‘bug bites’ on her leg and foot, and stomach and back and scalp. She had worried me as my stepdad had taken her and her brother hiking the day before. After careful examination, I started going through shot records and researching things. It is possible to get the chicken pox after 2 vaccines, and so Tuesday I kept her home and called the doctors. Her regular doctor wasn’t available so I called our office’s walk-in clinic, and warned them what might be walking in and asked what their quarantine procedures for us were available. Luckily we were the only ones that had come in, and got seen right away. We got our confirmation, which comically the nurse had not seen a case of in over 20 years. I called the nurse at her school, whom I’m quite amicable with, before I had even left the parking lot to let her know what was going on. The reason for that, is not my own insanity, but because there are children that for religious reasons are not vaccinated, pregnant teachers and volunteers and other people that may have come in contact with her that need to be notified so that if they are exposed can be treated to the best of their ability. The CDC has procedures that the nurse has to follow when a major contagious thing like the chicken pox goes around. It seems rather arbitrary, but you have to bring in paper work to prove your kid has seen a doctor and has a diagnosis before they can even notify other people during an outbreak.

So it’s been lots of oatmeal baths and calamine lotion around here, as procedure hasn’t changed since we were kids. Because she had the shots, she’s had considerable less pox (?) and on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the itchiest, she’s been hovering around a very comfortable 2-3 when she’s distracted. As long as they slow down and we can have this contained to NO MORE by Thanksgiving, that would be great. Because pox are contagious as long as there are new ones popping up, according to what the doctor said. Do you know how pitiful that is when all your kid wants to do is run around, go outside and do things that all the other kids are doing because they are pretty asymptomatic (minus the pox of course)?

Her brother hasn’t had any signs of it show up, and the doctor said he may not because he has a less compromised immune system than her. He lacks the allergies and skin conditions that put her in the conditions to weaken her immune system to full blown exposure the way her’s did is the best way I can explain it. Which is all good, because she’s been taking to chasing him around the house threatening to hug and kiss and share her germs with him. (no matter what she’s threatened punishment with, she just want’s someone to commiserate with, apparently our chicken pox stories are boring by comparison) He’s been making up for all the mischief she’s been missing out on at school in the mean time.

Now that we are getting closer to our trip and we are expecting more colder weather at night, all I can think about are mittens and fingerless gloves.

I made my better half a pair of fingerless gloves off of a free pattern I found using some Manos Del Uruguay that I had in my stash.(for anyone tackling this pattern, I recommend being careful with thumbhole tightness because these are very small, and she calls for very tight multiple rounds on top of it to secure the thumb hole, you may want to adjust for fat fingers) He will be doing the driving, and it seemed only fitting that he have something that will help with the cold steering wheel.20151119_231818-1

I’m currently in full project avoidance mode with my mkal shawl, yeah you know the one. I have to frog some lace work, but first put a life line in, and I’m not in the mood to touch it what so ever. I’m going to cry if I have to do anything with it right now. I know I’ll feel better once I get on track, but I really can’t get in the mind set to do it yet. I want to get a couple pairs of mittens out of my system first. My equivalent of chain-smoking a few cigarettes before tackling the beast. The mental hurdle I need to battle to get into the physical throws of things. So now I have some short term goals. I’m actually happy because I’ve been able to enjoy the 60 degree weather we’ve been fortunate enough to still enjoy.

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I’ve been waiting for a decent storm to finish off our neighbors Ginkgo leaves, but alas it hasn’t. They just look really neat half green and yellow, akin to an apple ripening. So I’m going to sit back and enjoy this before it’s gone. These tree’s typically shed the majority of their leaves in one fell swoop. When we get a really good windy day, I’ll get a cup of hot cocoa and hang out by the window and watch the leaves swirl across the yards.

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Gratitude

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This is what you get when you search for the word gratitude, it is synonymous with thankfulness and my favorite gracious word.

Every November social media flocks to do the 30 Days of Thank(s)fulness, and I will confess my past participation of terribly incomplete attempts. The more I see these kinds of posts, the more I realize that some of these are grabs to appease the social masses and impress people who don’t care what you think. It’s the Hail Mary before Christmas so they can get the best gifts or whatever they think they are deserving of for being so gracious. Don’t get me wrong, some people are genuine in their posts, but many others are not. Their posts are set up in the formats of “I’m so grateful for Cate because she brought coffee to work for me today! (insert coffee emoji here)”

 Someone did something nice for you, but you’re not thankful for them any other time except when it benefits you is what I hear.

Maybe I overanalyze things, maybe people are reaching desperately for posts to get their 30 days in, maybe I don’t know. This is the way my brain works. When I started seeing a trend in posts like these, where people specifically chose a person and thanked them for a specific task that was beneficial self serving rather than something really to be gracious or thankful for the person got me thinking. I stopped doing my own versions of the 30 Days. For one, it was exhausting to come up with things that don’t make you sound like a complete narcissist, and for two, everything gets repetitive year after year-especially when you are married with children.

I started watching what others posted. It seems a bit silly, even intimate at times. Some people had things that you could tell they breathed some real life into writing about. The passion was in the words, others grasped at threads because their lives were stuck in the same mediocre spot mine had reached. I’ll share of few of my lame attempts of trying that I had to reach for.

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Grabbing at family, friends and children is the easiest and simplest play when reaching for anything to post as a married mother of 2. I even pulled the oops I forgot a day, let’s cram another post into 2 and hope nobody ever looks at this one again move. Looking through my history I realized that I wasn’t really grateful for many things outside of my family and friends. A trending theme amongst my years in comparison to some people. I thanked my technology for bringing me closer to my family and friends one time. Many times I was grateful for Day 19’s sentiment. I realize many people with multiple kids share similar things, especially my friends with multiple young children.

The core of my purpose though, is not to critique every little gratitude, but to make you think about how you are grateful and where it is really owed.

We shouldn’t waste time and energy focusing on the mediocre things like self-centered appreciations, but more so on the people who are there every day, doing little things to make our lives a tiny bit easier even though they aren’t obligated to. Gratitude is not a one month a year practice before the gifting season obligation. It is something that should be shown like manners. It should be used and reciprocated without hesitation. A natural reflex, if you will, used every day, that is genuine. Gratitude is not something you use as a ploy to post on social media and brag about, it is a feeling and an action rolled into one. It is something that you can actively participate in. The 30 Days of Thank(s)fulness is not the best example of showing or being thankful. I say this because not everyone wants to be outed on social media for the things they do for you, you might embarrass them. If you want to show someone you are thankful, actions speak louder than words, no matter how small the action is. A shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, a coffee date, writing snail mail-these things are priceless and cheap! People who respect and value you as much as you respect and value them, will be grateful for whatever you have to offer.

First frost at last

We have been enjoying flip flops and shorts for as long as possible down here in Alabama. It has managed to stay around 60-70 all through out October and into the beginning of this month. Believe me, I’ve been wearing flip flops, tank tops and capris for as long as I can get away with them, and accessorizing with knitwear.  I might look a bit silly but I hate dragging out the winter clothes. Last night was our first frost. Even the dogs refuse to stay outside for any length of time. This means the holidays are right around the corner, and I really need to get shopping done since I’m not doing knitting this year.

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I was able to take the kids to the park on Veteran’s Day. They had off from school. We discussed a few things about veteran’s earlier in the day and then they were set free to join the other kids on the playground. It was a beautiful 73° day, and probably our last until spring.

My sister has requested a Slytherin hat. The colors are definitely in my stash,  the cable length for my interchangeables has not been. I can’t work on super short ones, and never thought to check my fixed ones until I was out of the house, and forget every about them every time I’m home. I managed to free up an interchangeable needle cord from another hat I finished up last night, so no doubt it’ll fit.

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Also on Veteran’s day, my eldest had so much planned she seemed rather disappointed when I told her my plans for the day. So we sat down and discussed. She is really into sewing. Hand sewing that is. She will eventually work her way to regular fabric but for now she’s working with felt for amount of things that you can make with it. She’s learning the difference between felt woven and knit materials and why felt is more of a novelty and it’s not made for clothing. So she makes small items out of it.

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She ended up sewing a Pokéball hanging ornament. Sewed one side, on the back we glued felt to cover up the unsightly knots. I made and icord out of the red thread for her to hang it up with and we put that in between the layers of felt. She loves how it turned out. She felt useful having done something creative and constructive with her time. It was a good 3 hours well spent, especially discussing techniques and fabrics and all the little history lessons that you wouldn’t expect to pop up that do. I love her and her curious mind.

Our planned baby shower was a success. My stepsister was surrounded by tons of people and food and presents galore. All the items went over really well. I’m not going to post pictures of the shower but I will share a picture of the blocked cardigan. It took forever for me to get around to it. It’s a newborn size. It looks like it wouldn’t even fit a doll, but it may fit a baby! My stepsister had her daughter this week and she is tiny. So tiny that none of her clothes are small enough to fit her. My younger sister and I went to visit her in the hospital and she is just the tiniest. I got my baby fix in while I was there -long enough to last until we get to Indiana and our new niece.

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I’m so excited that we have Christmas plans this year.  We are going to be driving to Virginia to my Dad and step mom’s.  After Christmas we are going up to Indiana to visit my in-laws and see my husband’s family. His sister and brother-in-law just had a baby back in August, and she is just darling. We really can’t wait for the holidays this year.

What death and mental illness can do (I honestly don’t know if I’m going to post this or not, I will probably edit it a dozen times before I do)

It was never my intention to start this blog to sound like a Debbie Downer. I’ve spent four days trying to write the words to say, but it hasn’t quite come out right. Everything has been harsh, and I don’t want to seem crass or bitter, or overshare and embarrass some. The more I go through the motions it certainly appears that my life has a lot more downs this time of year than ups. Lately things have not gone right and circumstances are beyond my control.

My grandfather died on halloween. There are untruths surrounding his death that keep being told and it is unsettling, and the reasons that come out for them are unimpressive. My grandpa was the only grandfather I full heartedly remember. My great grandfather I met a handful of times and died when I was 10. My dad’s father died of cancer when I was 3. So my grandpa had been the only other male figure in my life who did things with me besides my dad growing up. All of my memories of him are positive, and this last year has been the hardest for us all. Hearing what he has had to endure since my grandma died, I’m surely we all might feel the same to some extent losing someone we’ve been in love with for over 50 years.

My grandpa gave me my first driving lessons on a golf cart, he sent me letters encoded in Morse code, we’d go out for coffee and Malt shake dates, he taught me about HAM radio. He used to play the accordion and harmonica, sit around eating peanuts and cracking jokes, watching wrestling. He always had naughty calendars with topless ladies from the COOP on his office wall right above our height. He always wore pearl snap button down plaid shirts and had embroidered linen hankies. He’d sneak outside to smoke by saying he was going to “look at the moon”. He was a character, and always made me laugh. I will miss him dearly.

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Thursday he was laid to rest and Friday I baked cupcakes with my sister in preparation for a baby shower for our step sister. I haven’t been able to knit. I haven’t been able to function much beyond the motions. I wish I had more to say, but my grandfather’s death has been a quite painstaking blow as the usual familial skeletons come out of the closet and his estate is unraveled. His memory is being picked apart like a Thanksgiving turkey carcass. Emotionally I’m quite overwhelmed with the animosity that some grown adults can have trying to justify their apathetic behavior towards one’s own kin. There are so many lies and secrets coming out and being told right now, my head is spinning. I find it hard to sleep, knowing that someone I’ve known all my life, has spent the last year of his life in agonizing loneliness and abandonment. He was abandoned by those that were closest to him. When he needed help, they sent authorities because they were too emotionally distant and immature to handle him because of childhood events that ended over 35 years ago.

Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of. Being bipolar is not something to diagnose behind someones back and pretend to care about. It’s not something you abandon them for and expect them to be able to take care of themselves on their own. Why would you tell someone “Hey, we had you tested, you’re bipolar” and expect them to take that well? Not when you’ve done that behind their back, and intend on going from one extreme of having them committed or doing nothing to help them at all. If they don’t agree to your terms, you won’t help them, if the authorities won’t do anything, you won’t keep trying? Some family. This is what happened. He didn’t accept the diagnosis thrown at him through an egregious conversation and they refused to try anything beyond authoritative intervention. He kicked them out of his life and lived his last days on his terms, juvenile as it was.

My grandfather needed someone to keep him on track with medications, with money, to keep him from being lonely and falling apart after my grandma died. He needed a loving family member in his life to be his caretaker, even when he was not feeling his most lovable, laughable, responsible self. I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t know he was on any medications. We are still waiting on the autopsy-but the money is on his heart, he stopped taking his meds months ago. He stopped paying his bills, pretending that he used ‘the wrong checkbook’. He’d laugh it off. His electricity got shut off, he couldn’t charge his phone. It got to the point where he was hanging out with the town trash, people who were a quarter his age, and taking full advantage of his manic bipolar ups and downs. His high highs made him generous. He started giving money he didn’t have away to them to help with their kids. When the money ran out, he’d co sign bad loans to people whose last names he didn’t even know. He sold most of the items out of the house. He’d had people bring items down from the attic, antiques to sell in thrift shops, and for them to take whatever gains they made from it.

The house by the end of his life needed a dumpster brought in and things just tossed. The kitchen sinks were filled with dirty water, and the plates had been in there as long as 3 months-the length of time that the water had been shut off. There was no gas or electricity. He hadn’t been sleeping there. The only clothing item in his closet was the suit that he wore to my grandmother’s funeral last winter. He had been apparently staying with someone else on the nights when it had gotten below freezing, but nobody had came forward with his belongings. It’s just bizarre. His manic bipolar disorder had been noted by those who had went to school with him at his funeral.

It’s hard to think of how erratic a behavior caused by pain can turn into, but for him it was living on the edge financially, driving erratically, pretending that everything was fine until you mentioned his beloved’s name. He fell apart like a child over her. Is that normal rational behavior-part of the grieving process, or part of the disorder? You start to question which parts are masking the pain, and which are masking the mentality after a while. It was so very difficult to have been hundreds of miles away, and to have no forms of communication other than snail mail and local authorities to get through to someone like him.