Saturday, February 28, 2009

Show and Tell

Because I am taking a short break right now from the confused state of mind the current embroidery project has me in, I decided I'll give you a bit of a view of what I'm talking about.

Here's a picture of what the finished project is supposed to look like.

When I finish the embroidery -if I survive it, I should say -it will then be placed on a piece of cork -stuck to it, glued to it, something like that. And that piece of cork has laminate of some kind around it then too. Not really sure as yet exactly how to process the finished product of the embroidery work to the cork piece but I'll cross that bridge when I eventually get there. And if I can't make heads or tails of the instructions -as often happens with me -I'll call my friend, Shirley, and ask her to walk me through the finishing steps.

Here now is a scan I did of the upper portion of the project -the area I am currently working on. The lower half is completed. I scanned this and then enlarged it to print it out, in hopes that seeing the graph in a slightly larger form will enable me to follow the graph a bit easier, make fewer mistakes too in the process.

Well, one can dream, ya know!

I think probably should have scanned the graph -in sections -and enlarged each section then too and maybe, just maybe, it would have made the following of the color codes on the graph a tad bit easier on the old eyeballs.

Maybe I wouldn't be running into places now where I have already stitched in a color and now find that some of those places should actually have been done in a totally different color.

No, I'm not going to rip out bunches and bunches of the stitches to correct for that error either. Nope! Not gonna happen as it took me over a week of working on this blasted thing to get to where I am now. I'm hoping that the colors I used won't make it all totally off-balance when I finally finish the darned thing.

When -if -I do get this sucker done, I'll take a picture of it and you can then compare the finished product to the picture of how it is supposed to look and see if those mistakes I've made -the ones I haven't corrected (I did rip some stitches out and lost a good bit of stitching time last night doing that -just to let you know I am not ALL that lazy, just sort of.) makes all that big a difference overall.

When I get the stuff I ordered the other day, in which I purchased two more small counted cross stitch projects, I'm going to take the chart and scan it, enlarge it then too, and try finding marker pencils/crayons in Maya's box of crayons (a huge, oversized shoe box that is filled with a kazillion crayons and markers, to do my own form of color coding rather than just depending on remembering what symbol on the chart stands for what color of floss I should be using.

I'm hoping that will make working on stuff like this a bit easier on my eyes, on my nerves too.

But one thing for sure, when I'm trying to follow these graphs, changing colors, etc., I think I'll wait to do this stuff more when two certain little kids are asleep!

Try concentrating on following a confusing graph (well it is to me anyway), making sure you have the right color going into the right stitch spot and all the while you are doing that, there is a three-year-old running back and forth across the room with a footstep that is so strong that it causes the floor to seem to shake a bit. Then, add to that a certain five-year-old who is back to playing the darned "Twenty Questions" game today only this time it centers on spelling certain words so rather than just give her the letter she is looking for, we try to make her "sound it out" which she frequently can do fairly well. But then, that also creates more questions for her silly question game then too!

Here's the graph of the project now too.

However, I just learned that I might actually get a little bit of peace and quiet here sometime in the near -very near -future, like this afternoon. It seems older daughter, Aunt Carrie, is coming up and is going to take Miss Maya -the verbal -very verbal -noisebox to her house to spend the night.

Hmmm. Mandy and I had to chuckle over this deal because Carrie's fiance tends to be a bit obsessive compulsive, speechwise, along with being more than a bit anal too about keeping everything in their house totally neat and tidy.

He may realize by tomorrow when Miss Maya returns home that he got just a slight dose of his own medicine as Maya will totally shower him with question after question after question and she also very much enjoys pulling out as many toys as possible, strewing them across the floor too, and then, very much dislikes -often refuses quite adamantly too -to pick them up.

Frustration, I'm sure, will abound!

Twenty Questions

This afternoon, I was trying to figure out something to fix for supper -looking through various cookbooks for some kind -any kind -of inspiration. Nothing was coming to me though. Nothing in the line of specific flavors that might trip a trigger in me. Nothing that sounded appealing enough, or that I had the ingredients on hand either, to make. Nothing that would have the basic requirements to begin with for me to be interested in cooking said item.

Those basic requirements being "Fast and Easy!"

Okay, once in a while I may feel inspired and ambitious enough to undertake cooking something that takes a bit more time and energy to get the meal ready and all, but I really do much prefer that meals, as much as possible, follow that basic requirement as shown above. The days of loving to cook a meal, doing it all ever so lovingly too, don't seem to pop up on my calendar very often any more.

Mandy asked then how I felt about going someplace. "Like where?" I asked, hoping she wasn't going to tell me she wanted to go shopping or something dire like that.

She said maybe we could go out and eat and suggested going to a little place close to here that many folks just refer to as "The Pumpkin" because the exterior is painted sort of an orangish shade. Nothing wrong with the place as the food is decent -not spectacular but it's good enough and the prices -for restaurant fare -are very reasonable too.

But that didn't turn me on. Nor did her next suggestion of maybe going down the line to Snow Shoe and dining at "Max's" AKA the big truckstop where I waitressed for about 7 years a little over 20 years ago. That didn't strike my fancy either.

Frankly, the thought of going out to eat, trying to find something on the menu then that Kurtis would eat and that he could eat that he most likely wouldn't crumble up and make deposits of those crumbles all over the table, droppings of his food all over the floor too, just wasn't something I really wanted to experience -in public -tonight.

I then suggested to her if she wanted to "eat out" perhaps we could go out to the Lenten Fish dinner that St. Severin's Church out in Drifting has every Friday, every year, during Lent. My thought there was she could run out and pick up a couple of dinners there and bring them home. That idea must have struck a chord with her as she then looked in last night's paper to see what time they were serving and the price. The ad said they served till 6:30 p.m. and it was by that time, almost 5:45 -the cost was $8.00 for an adult dinner and $5.00 for a child's portion. So, we decided then to order two adult dinners and one child's -figuring that we could combine the two adult dinners and then, divvy them up between her, Bill and myself and get one child's meal and take off that for Kurt and Maya and the rest then, add to our plates.

Away she went!

When she came home and we opened the containers it was like we had surely hit the mother lode of good homestyle fish dinners! Anyone who orders one of these meals and who comes away from all that they serve with an adult meal and says they are still hungry has to be one huge eater is all I can say!

Each adult meal contained two very good sized portions of fish (we got the deep-fried fish instead of the baked) plus, a nice big portion of buttered-parslied red potatoes, a big helping of string beans and baby carrots almondine, a serving of macaroni and cheese, a small container of stewed tomatoes, another small container of pepper slaw, rolls and butter PLUS dessert which consisted of a big slice of blueberry pie! Even combining the two adult dinners and then dividing them into three meals for us, we were both stuffed and well sated in the flavor department too as the potatoes were yummy, the beans done to perfection and that pepper slaw? It was the bomb! I LOVE pepper slaw! I've never made the stuff myself although I used to have a copy of the recipe for the pepper slaw that we served at Max's floating around in my cookbook/recipes collection some place. (Frankly, much as I love the stuff, it always struck me as being a lot of extra work to fix it so I never tried making it.)

Anyway, we sat down at the table -the two little ones, Mandy and myself and began to munch away at our portions. Maya cleaned up what we gave her - a little fish, mac and cheese, a dabble of potato and a smattering of the green beans and Kurtis -well, he did polish off the mac and cheese we gave him and even took a bite or two of the little bit of potato and fish Mandy put on his plate plus he gobbled up one of the rolls too! Didn't even make too terribly much of a mess either -just a little bit around his plate on the table and only a couple droppings on the floor. That's what I would call a successful meal for him -and for Maya too!

But, as we began to eat, out of the blue, Maya decided it was time to have a conversation. She picked the topic, starting off with a question for me.

"What's your Mommy's name, Gram?"
Although we'd gone over this question just a couple of days ago with her, it didn't really surprise me that she was doing a re-run. But I also knew immediately I was going to have to put my thinking cap on and press it down tightly too so that it would sustain me in providing lots and lots of answers to lots and lots of questions that would get harder and harder to put her mind to rest and make her game of "Twenty Questions" come to a quick end.

Actually, when Maya starts with the questions like this, she doesn't go for "20 Questions" but it seems like a never-ending stream of oh, shall we say maybe 120 or even 520 questions!

Back to her question now -"What's your Mommy's name?" I replied to her that my Mommy's name was Hazel. I half expected her to ask "What's a Hazel?" as sometimes her questions do take a turn like that but tonight she had other ideas in mind.

"Where does she live, Gram?" I told her my Mommy now lives in heaven. Next question was "Why does she live there?" Well, because she died and now she lives in Heaven with God. Not totally satisfied with that answer, she wanted more information about my Mommy and how she came to go to heaven and live with God instead of staying here. So, I tried to simplify this as much as I could telling her it was because she got really, really sick, couldn't get better and God had asked her to come live with him where she would no longer be sick, you see.

From there, this progressed to asking where does God live? In heaven, I told her. Then it was "Where is Heaven?" I pointed upwards and said "In the sky?" This went then to "What does Heaven look like?" "Where is the sky?" "How far is Heaven?" "How high up is it?" "How, how, how and why, why, why?" Rapid-fire questions she comes up with and ones that frequently -as in her little game with me tonight, really have no easy-peasy responses to give her either.

Well, at least not one that quickly ends the "Twenty Questions" game with her at any rate. Once she opens that door, it becomes a floodgate and you really can't just blow her off either with the answers you give cause she either then repeats the question until she comes up with yet another one along that line or, as often happens, it gets to the point, especially when this is happening at the supper table, that she forgets the purpose of being where we are -which is to sit down and eat the food on the table before us before it gets all cold and not so good then too!

Yes, there are times I do cringe when she starts this routine. Which is something she does more and more frequently now too, I have to say.

But ya know, as overwhelming as it can be, as annoying too as it can be at times when she starts questioning everything and anything -and I do mean ANYTHING -I keep telling myself over and over, how much of a good thing -no not just good, but a GREAT thing this is that her mind is thinking -always thinking -of another question, inspired by what sometimes are not the most inspiring of answers for her to begin with.

What is heaven anyway? Where is it -really? What does it look like -this place we often refer to as "Heaven?"

And you know, this is all such a good thing -not just her questions but the fact that she is here, with us, with me, that she is inquisitive, that she is beginning to comprehend a tiny bit of the answers we give her too.

Maybe someday she will be a writer or reporter cause she sure can ask all those important things -"Who, what, when, where, why and how!"

Without those persistent questions, how boring life would be!

But for right now, you, my little Princess Maya, make heaven come down to earth for me!

I wonder if she comprehends that yet?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Right Now!

I meant to post last night but I got really carried away with my latest embroidery project. This one is done in counted cross stitch, which is a type of embroidery I rarely get involved with simply because it tends to make me crazy -very, very crazy!

I love the appearance of counted cross stitch items when they are all done -except when I have done them. My friends, the sisters Kate and Shirley -two of my long-time friends and neighbors -are both very good at counted cross stitch.

Shirley has been after me for probably about 30 years now to get me interested in doing counted cross stitch. When she first discovered it and told me to give it a try, she had suggested I start with something small - like a little Christmas ornament type thing. So, I found some cute little ornament thingys and one day during the summer, the kids were small and wanted to go swimming, so I piled 'em in the car and headed out to Black Moshannon State Park. I figured I could sit on the blanket on the beach, play with the embroidery and still keep an eye on the kids, keeping them close to where I was sitting and all that kind of stuff.

Well, I got totally confused with the instructions -how to start the project, then following the graph and ended up getting really ticked off over the whole deal. I came home, called Shirley and told her she was surely putting me on with all her raving about how much fun it was to do counted cross stitch stuff. I tossed those little ornament thingys into my box of "unfinished now, probably will never be touched again by my fingers" box and forgot about counted cross stitch for many years.

Oh, I have delved into that realm on a couple of occasions since then but not very often and then, only small items. I did complete a little picture maybe about 20 years back and about 10 years or so I found this kit on sale at a really great price to make 10 or 12 (memory escapes me there) of the blasted Christmas ornaments -again. These were really cute and the aida cloth was sort of like a homespun fabric, a beigeish-greyish shade and the designs were really cute, very old-fashioned. I got as far as opening the package, looking at the instructions and promptly put it back into my "stash" pile of possible projects for sometime in the probably distant future. That package kit is still in that stash box, I might add.

About two years ago, at our church's fall bazaar, I saw a cute little kit on sale there -for a buck -which would make up into a neat little christmas picture -about a 5x7 size I think. I mulled over whether I should waste the dollar on it or not but finally, I was overcome with the theory of what a great bargain this kit was. (Keep in mind, it was brand-spanking new -never been opened!) Well, I got it and started it and yes, even finished it but not after having had many episodes where I was ready to pull my heir out, felt like I was going totally crosseyed from trying to read the graph and just plain getting frustrated and ticked off while working on the blasted thing. I swore then -"Never again!" No way was I EVER going to put myself through the challenge of reading a graph and doing another counted cross stitch item!

Well, that is until I placed an order to my favorite online craft shop -Herrschnerrs -about a month or so ago and I had found this kit online to make a cute little trivet with a counted cross stitch piece of a little multi-colored teapot and flowers. No, it wasn't near as inexpensive as was the Christmas picture I did about two years ago but it was still on sale at a very good price. I'm a sucker for the "really good sale priced" items, ya know. I started work on this trivet thing -which is maybe 4x5 inches overall, last week. So far, I am roughly half-way through the damned thing. Yes, you see it is bringing out the cuss words of my vocabulary now, don't you? That's because those damned lines and marks on the chart are all starting to blend together. That's because when I am stitching, the floss colors are also blending together and I'm having issues seeing where my stitches are -which color is which ya know -to compare to the chart and find where to start with this or that color to continue!

Last night, things were going fairly smoothly for me so I had kept working on the thing till I really was way to tired to continue on and I put it up, went to bed.

Tonight, when I picked it up again and tried to get re-started where I left off, I couldn't make heads or tails of some of the lines, the floss colors and stitches, discovered some wild errors in colors I'd used -why and how, I can not figure out because that part of the design where those mistakes are is pretty straight-forward, easy counting really. But there they are anyway -these glaring mistakes staring at me and causing me to say a lot more words than just "damn!" I think I may have referred to my self as "you dumb m-f-er a under my breath on a couple occasions tonight, that's how pissed off I was with this stinking thing!

But, I will persevere and keep plugging away at it. I will not toss this into the "do not ever touch again" project box! That's what I am telling myself tonight anyway. But when I do finish it, you can bet your bottom dollar I'm going to accuse Shirley all over again for leading me down the garden pathway where counted cross stitch is concerned.

All this now after just last night I placed another order to Herrschnerrs and what did I include in this order this time but two more small pictures to be done in, yes -you guessed it -counted cross stitch. Yes, I am truly a glutton for self punishment and abuse, aren't I?

But anyway -on to other things.

Today was the day for three of my good friends from high school and I to get together for our monthly luncheon excursion. Normally, our lunches are usually over with by 2 p.m. but today -we all must have had tons and tons of stuff on our minds because by the time we left the restaurant, it was about 3:15! Yeah, we were really on a roll today -yakking up a storm, for sure!

Next month, we are meeting on the last Friday of the month and will also be going to gather in PHilipsburg at the building that was for many years a hotel, on somewhat of a grand scale too in its heydey -the Hotel Philips. Two ladies from the Philipsburg area are in the process of trying to renovate the old hotel and in the process, they have set up a very nice, rather upscale restaurant there now that just opened for business about 4-6 weeks back or so.

We talked about going to this place sometime this spring at our last gathering and had planned on doing that in April or May -well after the snow will be melted so parking and walking on the sidewalks in town won't be quite as difficult as it is in some places there right now.

However, about a week or two after our last lunch, I got an e-mail from another girl from our class with whom I was very good friends back in high school and who I have kept in fairly good contact with her over the years as well. I was maid of honor at her wedding, stayed with her and her husband for about a week when I first went down to D.C. to work in 1964, till I found some other girls who were looking for another roommate and who lived about a mile down the road from where my friend, Cheryl and her husband, Mitch, lived.

Cheryl did live in Louisiana (Slidell) until Hurricane Katrina came through and pretty much made mincemeat out of the home she and Mitch had there. Since then, they have been living in the condo they have in Destin, FLorida. Cheryl -like me -is also now a cancer survivor too -having had cancer back in 1990 or 91 -somewhere along that time -Ovarian, I believe and then, last summer, she was diagnosed with cancer again -this time, colo-rectal. So she had written to tell me she was now finished with the chemo treatments and is able to "reclaim" her life once more. In her note, she had given me the itinerary she and Mitch have lined up -places they intend to visit over the next several months and one of the things she mentioned was that sometime this spring, she will be coming back home to accompany her Mom back to her home in the village of Karthaus which is about 12-15 miles from where I live.

So I wrote back to her, asking when she plans to bring her Mom home for the summer and if it might coincide with our end-of the month lunch, we could revamp our meeting date a bit to accomodate her.

Well, she wrote back saying that she and her Mom will be arriving back here on March 26th -which is the date when our little group would normally be meeting but if we could change it to the next day -Friday, March 27th -she would definitely be able to make lunch that day with us and also, would bring her Mom with her then too as her Mom already has a doctor's appointment for a check-up on the 27th in Philipsburg.

So we did that -changed our meeting date for next month and we will then also be dining then at the new restaurant in the old Hotel Philips -the "1921 Restaurant." I had sent the girls the website for the place and printed off the menu to give to Linda because I have the wrong e-mail address for her so when I e-mailed the info out, it didn't go through to her. We're trying to contact other girls from our class to see if any of them can make it to the Philips that date too and join us for a mini-girls-reunion of the class of 1962! So far, Cheryl's cousin Sharon has said she will be there, probably Carol -who wasn't with us today -will also be able to come and yet another girl -Bernie -who now lives down in Carlisle, PA has said she will come up for the day too! (Carlise is about a 2 hour drive from Philipsburg.) And, Bernie also invited her sister, Anne -who graduated from the same school as we did but in 1958 -and who now lives in Cleveland, to come with her too! I'm really excited about this coming event now -can you tell?

Now, to other things I wanted to tell you about too!

Last night, Mandy was having a bit of a difficult time with Maya. She had reprimanded her for something, telling her to get moving and to do it "Right Now!" Maya was doing her normal routine of the stare-down and shaking her head "no" to Mandy which was not a move that made her all that endearing to her mother. (We both tend to get really ticked off, very tight-jawed ya know, with Maya when she responds like that to us. So anyway, Mandy kept telling her to do whatever it was and to do it NOW with her voice rising, getting louder and louder each time she repeated herself. Finally, she stomped from the kitchen through the dining room and standing there, face to face with Miss Maya, she was shaking her hand, finger pointing almost in Maya's nose, and telling her quite vehemently to "Do this NOW and I mean RIGHT NOW!"

And as she was yelling this at Maya, here comes Kurtis to stand beside Mandy and he too then points his little finger at Maya, shaking it and he hollers at her his version of saying "right now" but because he tends to not pronounce the first letter of many of his "words" it came out "Ight Ow!" But he was really lecturing Maya and yelling that, shaking/pointing that little finger at her to let her know that he too, along with their Mother, meant business!

Yesterday, blogger buddy Toni of Ramblings of an Unstable Mind gave my dear little cat, Chino, an award. Here it is:

The Honest Scrap Award
To be honest now, I am not really sure how this award gets its name but I am supposed to pass it on to other furry friends along the blogosphere who need a little bit of recognition right now for services rendered in loving their people.
(Or for little tricks they may have pulled on their people recently too -whatever!)

So, with that in mind, I'd like to pass this on then to the following:

Pyewacket -the lovely and very independent-minded cat who lives with Sandi McBride over at Holding Patterns for his recent actions in a vet visit.

Dakota -the sweet and adorable puppy who is giving Mary at Mary's Writing Nook a good run for her money as Mary is trying to train her.

Hannah Rose -the also adorable puppy that Barb over at Skittle's Place just acquired and who is still in the "training phase" too.

and finally to Silvio -that poor little cat who shares his home with Fermicat at Cosmic Cat and who is having some health issues of late.

Now, before I close there's just one other thing on my mind tonight. This past week, Chino cat here has been making a lot of those strange noises, whining, crying, howling at times and all this means only one thing to folks who have a female cat who has not yet been to see the vet to get "fixed." Yeah, Chino is either "in heat" or pretty darned close at any rate so we've been trying to guard her, to keep her from escaping into the outside world. Don't need no baby kitties ya know!

Well, tonight, as I was sitting here, all engrossed in my embroidery, getting a bit cross as well as crosseyed, I heard this noise -sounded like a major explosion coming from the upstairs. I called up the steps to Mandy to ask what that noise was and neither she nor Bill had heard it -they were that sound asleep apparently. But man, it sounded like half the upstairs must have been caving in or something. It's been relatively warm of late so I figured there were no icicles left on the roof to come loose and fall but what the heck could it be?

So, I went to the front door, turned on the porch light and stepped out on the stoop, looking around for anything that I thought might have created such a racket. I think I may have discovered the culprit as I noticed there were some really big branches laying in the front yard, just off the porch roof (which is over my room) and they may have broken off the maple tree, hit the porch roof on their way down and thus, pretty much shook the house then in the process.

Unfortunately, as I was doing this, don't you know that stinking little cat, Chino, made an escape and now, she's out roaming freely in the neighborhood, turning herself into a "lady of the evening" I suppose to any stray male cat that may just happen to be wandering loose around the whole damned town. And boy, am I gonna catch "high holy" too in the morning when Mandy gets up and finds out how I managed to allow Chino to go run amok!

I tried coaxing Chino back in, tried yelling at her too -"Right Now" -but she gave me pretty much the same look that Maya gave Mandy last night, don't 'cha know!

Anyone want a kitten in, oh say about 3-4 months from now?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Musical Cat?

Last night was a bit on the wicked side for a couple of hours.

I don't know what was wrong with Kurtis -no fever or anything like that -and he went to sleep very peaceful, no fussing or anything -but he woke up a little after 10 p.m., sick! Very sick. Throwing up all over the playpen sick, all over himself sick. The yuckies, for sure.

Because Bill hurt his hand on Saturday at work -broke the first two joints on his middle finger, first joint on the ring finger on his left hand when he got it caught in the garage door at work, he couldn't reach in and lift Kurtis out but did manage to get him turned a bit so I could pick him up. I headed to the bathroom to strip him, wash him up and Mandy stripped down the pac'n'play and headed to the basement to toss all that stuff in the washer.

Between 10 p.m. and almost 2 a.m., he was sick to his stomach a couple more time as we tried and tried to find ways to get something into him to help him get whatever was upsetting him to settle down. Big problem here being he will not drink out of anything except a bottle -no sippy cups at all and trying to give him any thing via a spoon or other apparatus just opens up to a huge battle with him. And, if he got upset, crying, fussing, screaming, it just made him cough and yes, then upchuck some more.

Finally, Mandy managed to dissolve some children's anti-acid type meds and using a little syringe, got him to accept a few drops here and there of that until the dosage was all inside him.

Today, he was fine. Just like nothing ever even happened last night!

When Mandy's friend arrived today bringing her little boy, Matthew, who is five months younger than Kurtis (Mandy babysits him two afternoons a week), we learned that Matthew and his older brother had both had a bad night last night too -same problems as little Kurtis.

Today, I was afraid I was getting the flu or something because all day I could not get warm -just shivered the bulk of the day. Finally, I headed to my bed, covered up all nice and snuggly there but still, just could not get warm although the bed itself was toasty enough. My feet just stayed like two darned big old blocks of ice though until after I had managed to get a little nap in and when I woke up, at least I was warm. But then, my stomach was a bit on the queasy side so as a result of that, Kurtis and I stayed home tonight while Mandy and Maya went to the Shrove Tuesday supper -pancakes and sausage -at our church.

Last night though -when things were calming down a bit with Kurtis -we hadn't seen Chino the cat for a little while. But much to our surprise, she was right in the living room, just comfy as all get out. Apparently, she decided to check out my organ for a sleeping place.

Cats sure can find some strange places to curl up on and go to sleep, can't they?

Playing the "NIce Big Sister"

While our friend -my son's former girlfriend and her little boy, Peyton, were here over the weekend, I did this little video of Maya playing with Peyton.

She has a tendency to get a little bit bossy -especially with Kurtis, who tends to find her a bit overbearing. But apparently Peyton just took Maya in stride.

Here's the video -I just thought it was cute watching her watch over Peyton.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Other Grandson

Boy, what a great weekend this was!

Okay, the weather wasn't all that fantastic -snowy, roads a little slick off and on, stuff like that. But even so, I finally got to meet my "other" grandson and that was great!

Here he is -in all his glory. Isn't he just the cutest little fella though?

No, he isn't really MY grandson but his Mommy refers to me as "Grammy J" for him and I'm fine with that deal.

This is Peyton, son of my son's former girlfriend, Amie. They live down near Gettysburg and Amie brought Peyton up this weekend so we could meet him and also, so we could spend a nice long weekend with Peyton and his Mommy, Amie, visiting with us.
Here's Amie holding Peyton. The headband on him -that was courtesy of Maya who decided he needed a little bit extra trim -or bling, maybe -so she put the headband on him this morning.

He's gotta be about the most good-natured baby I've seen in a long, long time. Very friendly, very happy, very fast in the crawling department too, I might add.

Maya totally enjoyed having Peyton here for a visit. Kurtis -well at first, you could tell he was a tad jealous that Peyton was getting a lot of attention that Kurtis was accustomed to that coming his way. But, by the time Amie and Peyton left this afternoon, Kurtis was making friendly overtures to the baby and he had definitely become quite enthralled by Amie. So much so that when they were ready to leave, Kurtis even gave Amie a "be ha" -translated, that means a "Big Hug" -something he isn't usually all that generous with most of the time.

Although Amie and my son broke up almost five years ago, she has remained good friends with him and with my daughters and me as well. She's quite a character -very much a liberal, feminist too, quite politically active with respect to women's issues as well -a card-carrying member of NOW!

When Amie and Clate were living in Nevada and Arizona back in the late 90s, for a time, they lived next door to Clate's dad -my ex -who is pretty much a male chauvinist. Needless to say, Amie and Frank frequently had some go-rounds as she had no qualms about voicing her opinions to him. Before I ever even met Amie, the kids had called here one night and were telling me about how difficult Frank was being, etc. Then Amie mentioned a few things she had said to Frank and I just cracked up. I told her then that the reason he was having so much difficulty adjusting to her was because he no doubt was feeling like he was living next door to his ex-wife -me!

I will say this much to Frank's credit though, a couple years back when he was here -for Mandy's wedding as a matter of fact -we were kind of on edge how things might go because of past differences between Frank and Amie, but he made a point of calling her and Clate one night a few weeks prior to the wedding and apologizing to her -well, as much as Frank ever apologizes to anyone -but we all knew that was what he was trying to do at any rate. Amie was very surprised by that action on his part (so was I too) but we were all very happy that things eventually were ironed out there so there were issues flying around at Mandy's wedding that way.

Amie, like me, is a Penn Stater too. Back when she and Clate were together I used to love to tell people that my son's fiance graduated from Penn State two years before I did. I loved watching the expressions on people's faces then as they were trying to figure out why on earth I would like the idea that my son was apparently dating and engaged, no less, to someone two years older than me. However, that only worked with people who weren't aware that I was a returning adult student when I went to college and I graduated about 28 years later than I would have, if I had gone to college in what is considered the normal time span -right out of high school -instead of waiting 28 years to even start taking classes towards my degree! Yes, I am evil that way - love to catch people unaware of things, ya know.

But this weekend, I have to say was so much fun having Amie and this little guy with us. He will be a year old on April 2nd but, like his mother, he's a little guy and light as a feather to pick him up too! He weighs about 18 pounds now -a weight I think Maya and Kurtis sort of breezed by when they were maybe 4-6 months old! Neither Maya or Kurtis is fat, but they are both quite tall for their respective ages. Both of them though are pretty solidly built too so they have weight there that you wouldn't realize until you try to pick them up. Then, it hits you. Like picking up a big box of rocks sometimes ya know!
Here's Kurtis today as he was looking around the room for something to get into -obviously!

Mandy and Maya had a meeting this afternoon at the local school here where Maya will be starting kindergarten in the fall. Most of the groundwork for her IEP for school had been done in previous meetings but today, she got to see the classrooms, meet her teacher for next year and the last of the details were recorded. There had been some discussion as to whether or not she would or should have a TSS (Wrap-around aide) and thankfully, the young lady who had been Kurt's TSS but is now his BSC was present at the meeting. She recommended that Maya would need a TSS, at least to be with her for the first year -possibly beyond that but that all depends on how well she does in the basic transition. She was able to base her opinion on having seen how Maya and Kurtis interact and judging from that, she felt -as do Mandy and I -that Maya does need a TSS to keep her on tract, to help redirect her back to the tasks at hand.

Mandy also asked about transportation for Maya for the coming year too and it was a good thing she did that as the school was planning on having her ride the elementary bus. This was something we were very concerned about as neither of us feel she is mature enough to be left to her own judgement and devices of riding a bus with kids between the ages of 5 and 11 years old all together. And, after the BSC (formerly Kurt's TSS) spoke up again stating it was also her professional opinion that Maya was not ready, not mature enough to handle that aspect of attending school, that it was then agreed she will continue to ride the special ed van to school then.

This is something -the wrangling aspect, dealing with educators, administrators, etc., -that we really haven't had to do much along those lines before -for Maya or for Kurtis. But now that Maya is transitioning over to the public school system, everything that she needs, anything that Mandy wants for her has to be all approved and authorized -something that really should be not that big a deal but, if you miss something, if it isn't written in that IEP and because someone overlooked it, then come fall, the IEP stands unless it can be re-evaluated and redone. So, I guess this is the beginning now of many hassles to come in dealing with school administrators and the like.

Time to get the supper dishes taken care of and now, an added problem here too. Kurtis just woke up about 20 minutes ago -throwing up all over himself, his bed and bedding. Mandy stripped the bed and I stripped him, tried to clean him off, wash him up, Marine style, ya know, but I think he's gonna need another bath tonight now after all just to eliminate the sour smell.

Poor little guy! I think something just upset his stomach though as he isn't feverish or sick, not in that vein anyway. But, just to be on the safe side, Mandy called Amie to give her a heads up as to what happened, in case he is coming down with something so she can be on the lookout then in case Peyton starts to get sick too.

I have a video too I want to post but it's not finished uploading and doing the YouTube set-up as yet. When it's completed I'll post it -it's Maya "playing" with little Peyton -or actually, to put it more accurately, it's more like Maya bossing little Peyton around a bit.

She's like that at times, ya know.

People who know me probably would say "Just like her Grandma!"

Blind -Well Maybe...

Finally! I'm a little late posting about this but I finally completed the 52x70 inch tablecloth I'd been working on for close to five weeks. I finished it last Tuesday but didn't get around to taking any pictures of it until just the other day.

I should have -actually could have -finished it about a week earlier than I did but there were extenuating circumstances that sort of got in the way. Like sleep, for one!

And a bad head cold that had my eyes watering so much I couldn't see to thread the needle much less do any stitching too. Plus, my nose was runny as well and between the eyes watering and the sneezing and nose blowing, I got next to nothing done for at least three, almost four days one week.

But anyway, it's finished now. And here it is. Thankfully, Mandy is tall enough that she could hold it up -just a little over her head -so I could photograph almost all of the cloth. (Still a little bit that I couldn't fit into the viewer though.)

And here's a close-up of the floral sprays on each outside corner plus four more in the center -not to mention some small sprays along the sides of the cloth too!

Trust me when I tell you this, but I think I need something along the lines of our bathroom light fixtures to give me better light to see what the heck I'm working on.

It's either that or sure as shooting, I'm gonna go blind!

Friday, February 20, 2009

When the Searching Gets Rough...

Time again for my contribution to Shelly of This Eclectic Life's "Only The Good" Friday post. For some reason or other, I can't open her blog today -at least not right now -to be able to link this back to her. If I am able to do that later, I'll come back and put the linkage in here for you.

The object of this project is to get each of us to think about all the good things in our lives, or to take the not-so-good stuff and try to find a way in which it can be perceived has having some good, some benefit to all of us.

Because of something that happened here, in this little community this past week and the impact this type of happening had on me, has had on me on several other occasions, I am really having a lot of difficulty trying to find something, anything, good about this.

A young man -age 22 -died this past Tuesday. I knew him -sort of. He was an acquaintance of my son-in-law, often helping Bill now and then at the garage. I grumped and griped a good bit over the past so many months about this young man because he had a habit of calling here, either about five minutes after we figured Bill probably had left the garage, or his timing was such that he almost always called just as we were sitting down to supper. Annoying, yes -it was. But it also became a bit of a joke when the phone would ring and Mandy and I would guess if it was this young man calling for Bill.

Sadly, from what Bill -and Mandy -have said about him, he also had another habit too. A very bad one. Unfortunately, he got caught up in the seamy side of life -pot, pills, other drugs and such. Recently, he had been caught after stealing from his grandmother and his father. Apparently he took his grandmother's checkbook and wrote out checks from her account and he took his Dad's credit card(s) and used it -buying items, then having friends return them for cash which he then used to keep himself in whatever drugs he felt he had to have on a given day.

Suicide. How does one reconcile that with something good, anyway?

I've known several individuals now who have taken that route to end their own life. I don't know this young man's family -how close they were. I'm not making any excuses for his actions, prior to this, against his family as the thefts were wrong, just totally wrong, and no, there is no excusing that type of behavior.

Addiction though -unfortunately, that's something that many people believe only involves alcohol abuse or hard-core drugs -heroin, cocaine and substances along those lines. But addiction is a strange thing and often an issue many of us have but don't think of it for what it really is -something that comes in and takes control of some aspect of one's body, one's life.

All too often it seems people become addicted to things that they think are good for them -like prescription drugs, for one example. I honestly do believe for some people their doctors should be taken to task on this problem because frequently the doctor prescribes something for a specific problem the patient has and then, especially with various pain medications, they don't follow through and watch the way the patient is returning, requesting more of said meds to be given again and again. All too often, the patient involved doesn't see this "need" that is there as being wrong, or an addiction. After all, the ingestion of these meds were prescribed by the doctor and therefore, there is no problem with taking them. Even if the person is only taking one such pill per day -not doubling up on the usage or anything like that -once one becomes reliant on some type of medication along those lines to feel good, there is a problem there.

In trying to think through the main issue here -the fact this young man took his own life (not through a drug overdose though -rather it was a self-inflicted gun shot) brings to my mind all the others I have known who have followed the same path. Some were very good, close friends. Some just acquaintances. One was a woman who used to live up the street from us. Our next-door neighbor's son, who I grew up with. Others were people I met and got to know through my work. And one of this number was also my cousin, David.

The first individual of this group above to commit suicide was my neighbor's son, Bob. Three years younger than me, he was like a little brother to me, as I spent a lot of my childhood in that family's home -playing with him and his sister, who is the same age as me. His death was such a shock to the entire community as he was very well-known, very well-liked; a strong member of our church family where he and his wife served as advisors to the Youth Group. He was not a "drinker" and definitely not a "druggie" either. He was however, as it was later learned, having issues with depression -an illness that all too frequently is disregarded by the individual coping with it and at times too, not considered to be of any consequence by family or friends either. Lack of understanding about how severely depression can come on and affect people of all walks of life, with no regard for race, sex, ethnicity, economics, has always and still is a problem for many who deal with some form of depression.

All too often, it is hidden -tucked away perhaps among the family secrets for fear others will find out and think bad thoughts then about the person, or the entire family, etc. To do that is wrong -just as wrong as is taking the wrong path and becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, just as wrong as participating in criminal activity.

It is something that the more we -all of us -can and do learn about mental health problems, especially depression because it can be subtle with only small hints that there is a problem more than many other mental health issues may be, the better off society as a whole would function with more knowledge and understanding of these issues and of the people who cope daily with the various types of mental illnesses.

Sometimes, depression is also a genetic thing -passed on from one generation to the next and on and on down the line. Awareness, within the family, of this potential or inclination towards depression is important for everyone to have. Understanding that sometimes we all may feel blue or depressed from time to time, but knowing if the "blues" come with increasing frequency, stick around longer and longer too, if not dealt with or treated properly, can and often will make life extremely painful for the individual who is depressed.

So I guess -and that's all I am really doing here right now -guessing -that perhaps, with proper treatment, by whatever means are necessary, perhaps the lives of at least some, if not all, those I've known who took their own lives could possibly have been averted.

Perhaps, it might even have kept some of them -those who had opted to work through issues of depression by becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs -from advancing to that stage too. It is a fallacy to think that by getting drunk or high, one can "cure" the attack of the "blues" or being depressed, because those substances themselves are depressants to begin with!

I'm thinking too that if anything good can ever be said to come from suicide, perhaps it is the need for knowledge and understanding of what constitutes good mental health and how to get help for one's self or others in need of treatment.

If nothing else, when someone does reach the stage where they feel, they believe, the only respite is death, it does show us, those left in the wake, how short our time on this planet is and the need to then to try to find ways, whenever, wherever, possible to show those closest to us how much we love and care for them, how much it means to have them as part of our lives. And don't relegate this just to family and close friends, but to everyone we come in contact with as well.

That perhaps is the "good" that can, should -actually must -be taken from a loss like this.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ON a mission.

Here's the other video I was trying to upload.

A little explanation here as to what was going on.

Kurtis usually calls Mandy "Unny" -which in his language translates to "Honey." If Mandy disappears out of the room, he tends to go on a search and destroy mission, looking for her and often, he will go to the foot of the stairs, look up towards the second floor and call out "Unny, unny?" Sometimes, he shortens it and just calls out for "UN" -or "Hon."

He had been walking around the living room the other night looking for Mandy (his mother, ya know) and had been calling her so she decided to try to catch this on video. Well, we ended up with this -Kurtis just walking around, scratching his head and Mandy calling "Honey, Unny" in hopes he would repeat after her. He apparently was into an "if I ignore this noise, it will go away" kind of mood, I guess.

But I think the video is still cute anyway. Enjoy!

New Nascar Fan

Here's one of the videos -finally got it up on You-tube. This is Kurtis watching the Nascar races and apparently -judging by his actions of running back and forth from the tv to the sofa and his cheers, he must be a big Nascar fan is all I can think of there!

Autistic Adventures

Since I haven't posted anything in a couple of days, I thought tonight I'd show you a little more of Kurtis and Maya, if that's okay. Just some photos and little videos of them being their normal selves.

Saturday evening, after our visit to Pizza Hut, we had two really tuckered out kids by the time we got home. They got ready for bed and Maya decided she would lay down on the sofa with Daddy and in no time at all, she was out like the proverbial light. Kurtis, seeing her laying there decided he was not going to be outdone, believing Daddy's legs had to be a good place to crash and burn. So up he crawled and snuggled up there, with his beloved bear pillow to make Dad's bony legs a little softer landing spot. Mandy and I both thought this was such a cute picture of the three of them, two really relaxed -one was even snoring! At one point, even the cat tried to get in on this threesome action too. Unfortunately, by the time I grabbed the camera to get a shot of that, she mut have decided it was too crowded for her to join in this sleep fest and she hopped down. But it was really cute -as she was on Kurt's back and had begun to knead as cats do love to do. Wish I'd been fast enough on the draw to have clicked a shot of that!

Sunday night, apparently Kurtis wanted a single sleep event on Daddy's lap.
(Looks like it helped Daddy crash and burn too, doesn't it?)

Monday morning, Maya and Mommy had to make a special trip to State College. The reason? So Maya could go visit the dentist. (Did I mention she lost another tooth last week? Yep. She now has a big gaping hole in the bottom front of her mouth.)

Mandy took the camera along so she could get pics of Maya at the dentist. The main reason she did this was so that a friend of hers whose child is also autistic and who is scheduled for his first dental appointment in the near future but is a bit leery about this pending visit, was so Mandy and his mother can take these photos and put together a little picture book for him to help get him prepared for this big day in his life. Hopefully, seeing how well Maya did at her visit, it will make it much easier then for him. Pretty neat idea, don't you think? So follow along now as Maya goes to the dentist. Beginning with a visit to the lavatory to do a last minute brush-up job before actually getting in the chair and letting the dentist do her thing.

Getting calm and ready in the chair.

Clean a little here....

and a little there....

Checking for any cavities

Everything's going fine.

Gotta look at where those two teeth came out too.
Almost done.

Maya -all finished and looking every bit like a poster child for good dental care.

Even acquired a couple of stickers too for being such a brave and good little girl!

Well, after trying for almost an hour now to get the two little video clips of Kurtis to upload here, it looks like this post will have to be video free and I'll try again perhaps tomorrow to get them up and posted to my blog.

In the mean time, take Maya's advice and always brush your teeth -really good -and don't be afraid of the dentist because the dentist is your friend!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Quick Reunion

Yesterday was quite a day for me! No, I didn't get any valentines per se, no old beau came forward to tell me how much he'd been missing me and wanting to get together again. Rats, huh? But it was a fun, exciting as well as amusing day.

Last evening, the whole family here, along with the oldest stepgranddaughter, the two middle stepgrandchildren and their grandmother all went to Pizza Hut to celebrate the next-to-the-oldest stepgrandchild's birthday. The oldest of these three kids -you may recall -decided back about October that she didn't want to compromise and abide by the house rules Mandy has and went to live with her mother. The two other children of my son-in-laws live with their maternal grandmother all the time.

We got there shortly before 7 p.m. and had to wait almost an hour for a table for all of us -along with several other families who were also waiting for a table too. During our wait, we learned that the staff was experiencing a lot of problems last night -from being very short-staffed (only two waitresses) plus they had run out of dough for one of the pizza types and that was backlogging the food output as well. We did finally get seated and had a very nice meal. One that was really interesting for Mandy and me in particular as we watched Kurtis showing off a bit that he could -and did -manage to manipulate a spoon and didn't throw any food at all at the table! Now, if only those skills would keep appearing at the dinner table at home too! Before the food we ordered arrived, Mandy got him a plate and put a serving of cottage cheese on it -one of his favorite items. Apparently he was much hungrier than we had thought because he downed that so fast it had us wondering if he had some sort of vaccuum operating there!

When it came time to leave, Maya was getting very restless -and a bit whiny too -so as Mandy waited to pay the bill, I took Maya to the car, got her fastened in her booster seat there and started the jeep up to get it warmed slightly before we headed home. While we were waiting, Maya wanted to know where Mommy was and I told her she had to pay the bill to which Maya then asked me, "Is Kurtis paying the bill too?" Um no, not quite yet, Maya -maybe many years from now he will do that.

But the big event for me yesterday was a great visit -albeit way too brief -from one of the best friends I have ever had and her son!

Back in the spring of 1973, my ex and I had been renting a small apartment in Philipsburg when we learned of a house for rent in the nearby little village of Lanse. We rented the place -lived there for about 18 months till the house we built next door to my Mom's home (here) was finished enough for us to move in there.

Shortly after we moved into the old house in Lanse though, a girl who had been in my high school graduation class and I reconnected. She and her husband were living about a quarter of a mile down the street from the house we were renting and we decided it would be fun to get together some evening -so her husband and mine could meet. The Saturday evening they came to our home didn't go exactly as we had planned as my ex was off running around someplace and didn't get home till around 10:30 p.m. I know now it was his ploy to try to avoid meeting any people I knew -something he later told me he regretted very much because he and my friend's husband ultimately became very, very good friends.

Anyway, from that meeting with Priscilla and her husband Ted, Frank and I established a relationship that was very close -for both of us until Frank and I separated for the last time (in August of 1979) and about a month later, Ted moved to the Tampa Bay area to take a new job. Priscilla, their two sons, Teddy and Michael, and Ted's mother Minnie, didn't move to Florida until June of 1980.

Over the years, I have kept in touch with Ted and Priss. They are also my son's Godparents and the summer Clate turned twelve, Ted had called and asked me if I would allow Clate to come spend three weeks with them at their home in Florida. They had come across and extraordinary deal on plane tickets and offered to pay his fare, plus they said since he was their Godchild and they didn't have the opportunity to spend much time with him, to do special things for him as they had wanted to do, they felt they could try to make up for that absence in Clate's life.

You know of course, I accepted their offer with nary a qualm! Although the day I put him on that plane and watched him take off -alone, knowing he had to change plans in Atlanta too -I was worried that he might get confused, get lost, abducted or the plane carrying my son might crash -all kinds of things going through my mind as you can imagine. But he made the transfer, arrived in Tampa and connected there with Michael, the younger son of Ted and Priss's with no difficulty whatsoever. And he spent a glorious three weeks there, being pampered big time by Ted's mother -Minnie -a sweetheart of a lady if ever there was one -as well as Ted and Priss showeringhim with all kinds of adventures as they took him from one theme park to another in Florida!

I have to drop back in time a bit here too and tell you how, when the day arrived that Priss, Minnie, Teddy and Michael were actually leaving here, I felt like the bottom was dropping out for me. Although I felt certain we would remain friends, keep in contact and all that, I knew I was watching someone leave and that it would be unlikely I would ever find another friend quite like here -one I could share so much with, adventures we had between 1973 and 1979-80 that had always been so much fun. Her boys and my older daughter Carrie were also very close -Teddy -a year older, Michael a year younger -and the three kids always got along so well together too. It was a difficult time for Carrie as well as for me to watch them drive off.

Their trips back to Pennsylvania were fairly infrequent -the last one being I think in 2001 (can't remember the year exactly but I know it was before Mandy had met and begun dating Bill) was a sad trip as it was to bring Ted's mother, Minnie, back home for burial.

And this past Friday, I knew -or figured they would be in the area because I read an obituary in the local newspaper for Priscilla's oldest sister, saw the viewing was to be Friday night, funeral services Saturday morning. Mandy and Bill had already made plans to go out Friday night with some other couples so that meant I couldn't get out to go to the viewing and Saturday morning, to go to the funeral was problematic as well.

However, Friday night I got an e-mail from Ted telling me that Priss and Ted Jr were up here for the funeral and that they were planning to stop by my house Saturday afternoon sometime for a visit. (He was unable to make the trip up here because he'd had a little accident last week and badly sprained a muscle in his back.)

So Saturday afternoon, I waited and sure enough, in pulls a car to our parking area and in it, Priscilla and son, Ted -aka Dexter! (Don't ask how that nickname came about as I don't know -apparently Teddy acquired it after they moved to Florida.

They couldn't stay long -as they had to leave to head down to York, PA where they were staying overnight but Priss said she just knew she had to stop and visit for a little while or I would be really put out if she didn't do that. You better believe that would have been soooo true too!

Although they were only able to stay for about an hour or so, we tried our level best to talk about things pertaining to both our lives over the almost 30 years since they've been Florida residents. It was just so great to have a chance to see her and Teddy once more. Totally, this visit made my day!

They have often asked me to come to Florida and stay with them -take a nice break, come down and it would be like old times except with much warmer weather and palm trees and swimming pools instead of pine trees and snow. (Snow, by the way, being something that was falling quite hard yesterday while they were here too, I might add! And which by last evening when we went to Pizza Hut had also made the roads really quite treacherous too!)

I never had the funds, nor the free time for that matter, to try to do a trip to Florida to visit them. I wonder at times if I ever will reach that point. Who knows, perhaps sometime when the kids are a bit older, a little easier to control, to travel with and such, maybe Mandy and I can take them and head south for such a visit. That would be fantastic for me and I'm quite sure it would be a visit Mandy would love too. She was so young when Ted and Priss moved away, she really has no memory of the fun times we had back then and she really doesn't know Ted and Priss very well either, for that matter. Although that's not something I would ever worry about because I know how Mandy would respond -immediately -to being around Ted and Priss, their sons and their families if we could ever pull such a visit off sometime.

One thing I know for sure, I ever we are able to make such a trip, this would certainly be part of our agenda while down there - Orlando vacations would absolutely be a necessity for us to take the children there, don't you agree?

Disney World, Universal Studios? What a blast it would be for us to have Priss go with us, maybe even Ted too -who knows -to go see at least those two sights together.

For Priss and me, it would be a super absolutely fantastic way to take a side trip from Tampa to central Florida and spend time together, forging a whole lot more adventures.

Maybe someday -I hope so anyway -we can make this happen. It will take some doing I know to pull it all together but how worthwhile the effort would be in the end. A chance for Mandy and the kids to see such great attractions -well, me too for that matter -but even more so, to be able to reconnect, to reminesce of all the fun times we shared those thirty some odd years ago too.

A trip like that, for me, would be like heaven on earth!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Optimism Open!

It's that time again -time for "Only the Good Friday" created last year by the one and only Texas Storyteller/blogger, Shelly Tucker of This Eclectic Life. And today, Shelly gave those of us who try to participate in this weekly event a selection of banners/pictures we could chose from to indicate our participation in this program.

The idea behind this is to take the mundane, sometimes not so nice things, sometimes stuff that could be downright depressing too, things life hands us and try to reverse the spin, to make a positive out of a negative.

And ya know what? In my opinion, this idea works! Really, it does! When you think of stuff that has happened to you recently or over time, or even a long time ago -stuff that may have hit you not so nicely or squarely between the eyes -whatever -and try to find something, anything, that could be construed as a positive force in that, it makes you actually begin to see things in a different light and thus, lessens the burdens some of these things might otherwise be or have been. Try it sometime. Heck, try it today, why don't 'cha and see if it doesn't give you just a little bit of a lift, even if it is only for a few minutes or an hour out of your day, isn't that a good thing?

And today, I have something else to add to my own "only the good" things -another award -this one given to me by Mary Ann, that Smalltown RN up on her island just off the coast of British Columbia.

It's called the Encouragement award and Mary Ann thinks I should be a recipient of this one. I do try to be as encouraging to others as possible and hope that my words do come through that way. But for sure, the bit about the "Coffee Is On" is most certainly the truth about me and my household anyway!

Thanks Mary Ann and I'll try to live up to this honor. (I'll pass this award along too a bit later, if that's ok.)

Something I wonder about from time to time when I write posts about my grandchildren -especially if I am writing about something one (or both of the kids) has done that might be viewed as some action not particularly nice or desirable, if perhaps I am construing an incorrect message there. The meltdowns perhaps, or some of Maya's messes in the past like the wall paintings she's done, or the recent "chocolate sandwich" mixture she made (and yes, apparently ate too) or Kurtis with his not always welcome extra long, often tiring nitetime hours. Please understand that I post them to show that yes, sometimes things like these do happen here and no, they aren't always happy times when they do occur, but maybe I should also add that frequently I employ sarcasm, cynicism, and the like but the intent is often meant to be taken in a humorous vein. Actually, without the use of sarcasm especially, in almost all conversations between my kids and me, I don't think we would be able to communicate adequately. It's just a given -something we each tend to expect the other to have some type of retort along those lines whenever possible. Ok, maybe we have an offbeat sense of humor but I've always tried for as long as I can remember to take things and try to poke fun at them and sometimes, sarcasm is the best method of all to utilize when doing that.

Like today, for instance. Mandy had a doctor's appointment this morning for Kurtis which meant she had to leave before Maya went to school. In the not too distant past, when Mandy would leave the house and Maya would be left behind -regardless of the reason -it could usually bring on a big meltdown of Maya crying, wailing, kicking, screaming about how she had to go wherever with her mother. This morning -though I was kind of on "red alert" for this to possibly happen, Maya was sweet, smiling, gave Mandy a hug and kiss goodbye and no outbursts at all after she left either. When it came time to get Maya on the van to go to school -which also can turn to a bit of disaster in the blink of an eye too -she was complacent, very pliable, friendly and even leaned forward and gave me a big hug and a kiss to say goodbye! YAY! YAY!

When Mandy came home from taking Kurtis to his appointment, she had an almost identical report to give about him and how he reacted and responded to the assistant as well as to the doctor's examination today too.

We were both really pleased with how both kids did today -very happy, indeed. As I remarked to Mandy that this morning, getting Maya on the van and all, she was absolutely angelic. But then, I added "Now, watch when she comes home, it's liable to feel like it's the devil incarnate arriving." There's that little twinge of sarcasm there to kind of keep us grounded a bit, knowing that as nice and peaceful as things were this morning, by 4 p.m., it can also all go to hell in a handbasket too. But the good thing is that episodes along the separation anxiety or fear of doctors or anyone/anything new are not near as frequent as they used to be. Shows both kids are making advances in their social skills, ya know.

Now, yesterday afternoon was a perfect esample of how something seeming very innocuous can rapidly disintegrate though. I don't even know exactly what it was that triggered Maya but she went into a meltdown and got sent to the stairway (to the upstairs) where she was to sit on the bottom step, alone, in time out. Time out is something she very much hates! Doesn't do well at all with the idea of being quiet there either! Much screaming, much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued. Some of this I do know began with some silly thing pertaining to her valentines and Mandy had apparently told her not to drag them out right now or some such and Maya, when she gets something fixated in her mind, well it ain't a pretty sight if her ideas don't mesh with Mandy's or mine. The crying and yelling at us involved a lot of things about her valentines which evolved then into one of us threatening to throw them all in the garbage which then, Maya started crying because -of all things -she said she wanted to throw them in the garbage and she was making it out that we weren't letting her do that! From there things progressed to putting the valentines in a "safe" and neat container -like a little ziplock baggie -and she couldn't have that because she insisted she had to put them in a "vonvelope" (translated -an envelope). And this went on and on for well over a half hour of arguing back and forth with her. At one point, she said she couldn't put them in a ziplock bag because they had to go into a triangle shaped bag or "vonvelope." Go figure and who knew that such things like a triangular shaped ziplock bag even existed! How she skips from one aspect to another without batting an eye at the incongruity there is really amazing and also, even though it is loud and sometimes nasty to hear, difficult to deal with at times, often Mandy and I will both end up just howling laughing too while arguing with her and trying to get her to eventually talk herself down and out of the upheaval going on there. See what I mean about finding the humor in trying to contend with the meltdowns as they come at us. You have to do that or else, I do think it could drive a person insane! By laughing at her dilemmas, it eventually tempers her and also, helps to keep Mandy and I in a better humor then too.

Last night, after Maya had her bath and a little snack, she came to me, climbed up in my lap and laid her head on my shoulder, just snuggling up like crazy and she looks up at me and announces "I love you, Gram!" Now there's a heart melter for ya if ever there was one! I've started now to try to show her, since she is getting much better at comprehension of language -the nuances that vocabulary holds -to tell her I love her all the time but I don't always like her very much when she misbehaves. I want her to learn that regardless of what it is that maybe upsetting and is wrong and she needs to learn to control or correct for, it still doesn't take away from the love I have had for her from day one and always will. I think all too often kids are made to feel when they get out of line and we get angry that this means they are unloved and that is far from the case. The love is there, always will be, and it is much different from whether we like or dislike some actions the child may have done or continue to do.

Some good news in another vein with respect to Kurtis today too is that Mandy heard from the agency that works with us and the children and come June, Kurtis will begin the transition to going to the same school as Maya has attended last year and this year. He will be in a program called "Summer Pals" which is, in essence, a summer school program for special needs children. It won't be as many days a week or as long a period of time as the regular school program is but it will be a means to get him acclimated to going to this school, on the van -with Maya too because she will also be in this program again this summer -and will help him begin learning more things, especially social skills in coping with new adults with authority as well as learning to respond correctly to other children in his age range. He'll still have the other therapies he currently receives while at the school too and then, come September, he will begin attending the same program Maya has been involved in for the past two years. Maya will then transition to fulltime kindergarten at our local school then too!

All these things are big changes for both the kids. Big changes that without these special programs for them I often wonder what would have happened to them. Would either of them be at the levels they are today if we didn't have the therapists and the teachers that Maya -and Kurtis -have both had? I rather doubt it. Regardless of how hard Mandy and I would probably have tried to work with both of them, without these things, they would be way behind their peers when it would be time for them to go to school. This is, in my opinion, one of the reasons that so many autistic children have often been regarded in the past as incompetent, even severely mentally challenged too when in fact, the reverse may often be the case. So many autistic children are actually highly intelligent but it is the adults who were trying to teach them, to cope with their actions and who had no idea that one of the keys here is to change our way of thinking, our way of dealing with kids who have this disorder. Yes, we do by therapy try to bring their actions, their learning to a central point -to be able to speak adequately at least and thus communicate better -whether it be vocalizing or via sign language -but communication is a key factor. Learning ways that we -the adults -can react and respond or in some instances to NOT react but respond -is also a tool that many parents would not know about if not for learning about this through the therapists and their work with the children.

And all of that -anything that helps my grandchildren to be better able to function, to learn how to communicate, then to comprehend, to realize that there are other people -adults and children - in their world besides themselves and thus, help them to develop empathetic skills too. Watching these two as they learn these things -sometimes quickly, often taking what at times seems to be an eternity because ya know, we all do want our kids to learn and to do it NOW don't we -but learning is something they have been doing and are continuing to do too. And that is oh, such a wonderful thing to see! Downright miraculous at times, ya know!

Laughing with them, applauding their new skills, and yes, at times, laughing at them too -they're all important in the general scheme of things and all bring with them light, a ray of sunshine and hope ever present then for the future for them. And for me, it all just increases the love I hold in my heart for both of them!

Another good thing this week was the report card my older grandson brought home too -the honor roll again and an overall grade of a 97! How awesome is that! His mother is constantly pinching herself with respect to Alex and his performance in school! I could tell her that had she applied herself a bit more in school, she could have done the same thing too but ya know, what's past is prologue, too late to turn the clock back 24 to 36 years now and do a makeover there. But it's still never to late to try to improve on what she did learn back then and keep on doing that.

For today, those are the things that have been, are and will continue to impact me. And today, I am so thankful for all the good things that have come to us -the therapists, the school, the teachers and aides -all who work to help Maya and Kurtis learn and who also work to help Mandy and I to continue to learn more and more ways that we too can help as well.

And once again, lest anyone forget the most important thing here is that I am ever so grateful to having had my life doubly blessed with these two awesome and beautiful -in every way -little grandchildren as well as my older and equally awesome grandson, Alex!

All three of you are the bestest gifts and make me possibly the proudest Grandma ever!


Well, other than that I did get supper cooked tonight (bbq spareribs, done in the crockpot, potatoes au gratin and applesauce -yes, I love cooking with the crockpot and Mandy fixed the potatoes -a box mix -really fancy fixins huh?) and got the dishes done but other than that, and the little bit of work I managed to get in on the tablecloth early today, the day was pretty much a wash-out otherwise.

After supper, I had hoped to be able to work on the tablecloth some more, but that didn't happen. Why? Because someone parked their skinny butt in MY chair -the recliner -which is beside the only end table and is where I have my paraphenalia for the tablecloth all laid out, don't 'cha know -and that person stayed parked there till about 11 p.m. at which time that person went to bed and another person took over the chair! Rats!

He didn't even think to switch channels at 9 p.m. so I could watch "The Office" either. I tell you, that is nerve isn't it?

I was playing on the computer earlier when he came back into the room after bathing the kids so I guess he figured since I wasn't camped in the chair, it was up for grabs. Au contraire! I don't generally have those issues with Mandy because she usually camps out at the computer and the other party USUALLY camps out in the basement, where he watches some channel that seems to broadcast nothing but car races or repairs all the time. I hate it when people around here decide to change their mode of operation, ya know!

But anyway, I ended up spending the bulk of the evening searching -futilely I might add too -on the computer for some stuff I'd really like to find. It's something I don't REALLY NEED but I would REALLY like to have -some old knitting pattern books!

I used to have a really large assortment of magazines and knitting/crochet books but a few years back, they got boxed up and I was told they had been taken to the storage place the kids were sharing with the SIL's Dad. For all I know, since they consist of lots of paper, which burns fairly easily and the SIL dearly loves to discard things by burning them in the burn barrel, he might have taken all those pattern books that they told me they took to storage and he just may have torched those puppies too.

I would certainly hope that is not the case because considering I'd been accumulating those babies for about 30 years then, I had a pretty decent -actually a pretty large -collection there!

When they packed up that stuff to put it in storage, I had about 10-15 pattern books in another area that they missed so they didn't abscond with all of 'em but it seemed that the ones I really liked were the ones that went amongst the missing.

Last year, I think it was, I came across a website for a little place out in Oregon somewhere -some kind of vintage shop for crafters -and I found 3 of the pattern books that were among my favorites and that were also no longer to be found in the house so I had purchased those books at that time. Not that I have done any knitting or crochet of anything from those books since I got them but at least, I have those few favorites available though just in case I do get the urge to knit or crochet something.

However -and you know, there is always that damned "however" isn't there -there are a couple books and a leaflet that I would really like to find that I used to have.

One is a Columbia-Minerva book -the Beautiful Baby Book -which has a number of patterns in it of yes, baby items, to knit or crochet. No, I don't need it to make anything for anyone in particular but I like to have a decent selection from which to choose a pattern when I do get in the mood to knit and/or i need to make something like a baby sweater for a gift or something.

Then there is another book also by Columbia-Minerva which is Hand Knits for Men. It has a picture on the cover of two men, one wearing a red crewneck type sweater and the other man is wearing a beige sweater, also of the crewneck variety. I liked the patterns in this book -even made a sweater shown in this book oh, about 36 years ago this winter for my ex-husband too. Ok, I haven't made anything from that book since then and I've only made one other man's sweater anyway since then too. That was a jacket-type sweater I made for the guy I used to be engaged to back in the mid-80s -till I finally got some common sense about him and realized it would be a huge mistake if I ever married him. Such is life but better that I figured that out BEFORE we got hitched than later. Right?

And then there is another pattern book I had that I can't find and I'd like to replace. That one is just vests for children. I made a couple different vest from that book back in the early 80s for my son and one or two for Mandy too. The patterns were attractive and relatively easy to read and make so naturally, when I know something I'd like to make is available in a fairly easy-to-make pattern, I want to have that around just in case I want to make a couple little vests for Maya and eventually some for Kurtis too. This all comes under the header of "long-range planning" though.

But the item I'd really like to find at this vintage shop or on e-bay is a leaflet published, I believe, by Leisure Arts and it has patterns for some ponchos and capes -for women -to knit or crochet.

And why do I want that leaflet so much?

Well, back in the summer of 1973 I came across some really pretty yarn -a dark sort of olive green shade that was on sale. It was yarn by Bernat -a thick, chunky type yarn and the price on this stuff was ridiculously cheap too. Now, I have difficulty passing yarn that I really like that ISN'T on sale but finding some that I really, really like and that is also on sale at a great price, well you know, I had to have that stuff. Darned straight!

I had this leaflet then too with this knitted cape on the cover that I really liked. It had cables running down each side of the front and I think it may have had a couple more lines of cables spaced out in the design too and that pattern was just begging me to take that green yarn and use it to make that cape.

I made it with the intention that I would give the cape then to my Mom for her birthday that year. Her birthday fell in November so when I started that project in early July, I figured surely I could get it done by November.

Well, I did get it done but I can't remember now if I finished it in time to give it to Mom for Christmas in 1973 or if it might have taken me till November or December of 1974 to finish it.

My Mom died in the fall of 1979 and the kids and I moved in here -to this house, which had been Mom's and her parents home before that and I don't remember now what happened to that cape. But it either disappeared then when I moved her stuff to the attic and didn't get around to going through her clothes for a long, long time after that but I can't imagine that I would have thrown it out because I liked that cape too and could have -and would have too -worn it myself.

The thing about that cape too is that considering the fact I was pretty much just a beginner in the knitting arena then, I really had no bloody business at all tackling that pattern to begin with simply because of the cable stitch and the couple of lines of cable that ran from the shoulder to the knee in that cape. It was definitely a tough project to make, probably a bit wicked for even an intermediate knitter to deal with. But I had persevered and finished it and it looked pretty darned good too.

What's more, my Mom even liked it and the real shock was that she even wore it!!! Normally, my Mom being the perfectionist she was about sewing or knitting or crochet or embroidery too, anytime I ventured into the hand-made stuff, she usually either ripped it apart -physically -pulling stitches out one at a time and then, redoing the bulk of the things I had struggled to make or else, she just constantly criticized my workmanship.

But that cape, for some reason or other, apparently she liked it well enough and what errors existed in it (and I'm quite sure there were some cause I usually make at least one error, often more, in virtually everything I make) that she was willing to wear it -and out in public too, no less. That fact still amazes me -totally!

And so, because I'd love to find that little leaflet somewhere -at the Vintage shop or perhaps on e-bay -I camped at the computer searching for it. Yep, I went through 78 pages of stuff up for sale on e-bay looking for that leaflet. Each page had 50 items pictured there too, so you do the math and figure out 50 times 78 and that's how many pattern book offers I glanced over in my search and that was only on e-baby!

Nope, I never did find the leaflet. I did find the "Beautiful Baby Book" available and also the Men's Sweater book too but no book of vests to knit or crochet for kids and no damned leaflet either with this really pretty cable-stich panels down the front of it!

I suppose it is just as well tha I didn't locate either of those books or leaflets cause I do have more than enough stuff in my embroidery stash to keep me stiching there maybe till the end of my time here on earth! LOTS of embroidery things sitting there, waiting for me to complete the tablecloth I've been working on for the past four weeks now.

But still, just in case my desire to do embroidered stuff begins to wane and I need another craft project to do, I'd kind of like to do one of those capes again. Just for me this time, ya know.

So if you happen to come across some really old knit/crochet pattern books or especially this leaflet I want, please let me know. Find out how much the person who has those thngs would like for them too. Would you do that for me? Please, please, pretty please?

If you can find any of those items for me at a reasonable price, I will definitely be remembering you in my will! Heck, if you find the stuff I am searching for early enough, I might even consider making something specia, just for you too!

And now, since the little boy here finally crashed, oh about 30 minutes back -give or tke a little there -and I think it is safe now for me to go to bed, that's exactly what I'm gonna do too!

Maybe I'll dream of Knit 1, Pur 2 or some such variation of those stitches now in my sleep and who knows, maybe in that dream it will dawn on me another hiding place where they might have stashed my knitting/crochet pattern books too!

It could happen!