Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A hellacious week

Perhaps calling this week hellacious is a bit much.  After all, no one's died, there are no additional life-threatening illnesses and no car accidents.  Of course it's only Wednesday, so who knows what the rest of the week holds (knock on wood).  Personally, I'd rather not find out...unless the rest of the week holds me mysteriously winning oodles of cash and getting a nice vacation to make up for the beginning half of the week.

The week started on Sunday, as weeks are wont to do.  Shortly after midnight, early Sunday morning, Honey heard running water.  This was odd because we were all getting ready for bed and I didn't have laundry going, so there shouldn't be any water.  After a few minutes of searching we discovered the problem.  A pipe burst or broke underneath the concrete in our garage, causing the garage to flood.  We turned off the water to the house and went to bed -- after I sent a message to Bestie #2 saying "We're coming over for showers in the morning!"  Thankfully she lives nearby.

The broken pipe and lack of water did not seem to adversely affect the cats, who continued to sleep and look adorable as Honey and I cleared out the garage and tried to get things ready for a visit from the plumber first thing Monday morning.
The Teenager also didn't mind -- he just moved his sleeping spot from our house to Bestie #2's house.  She has been kind enough to let him stay there until we get this issue fixed.  I can work without water, but I don't want kids to do that.

So the water issue is interesting.  If all goes well, it will be fixed by tonight -- so four days without running water.

It's apparently time for things to break around here.  Last week, my car's CD player finally bit the dust.  It was ready for retirement, but I tried convincing it to hold on a little longer.  We won't replace it because we're planning on getting a new car within the next year anyway (as long as things like broken pipes stop surfacing).  My baby car has over 215k miles on it, all courtesy of yours truly.  It wants a break.  I want it to hold on a bit longer.  And I want it to play CDs again.

I've been stressed by a bazillion things that are due, but that's life.  This week I was supposed to handle things but I feel rather derailed by the pipe issue.  And then yesterday I received bigger news: I am apparently 1.065 elective credits short in my degree.  WTF????  Yesterday, as I was sitting in a meeting, I received word that Oh, BTW, even though you graduated and thought you were done, you're actually short an elective credit.  Short by 1.065 elective credits, to be precise.  (Originally the email said 3.5 credits but I found an error in their calculations.)  WTF?!?!?!?!?!  I graduated and you're telling me this now???

Words actually cannot begin to express my level of frustration and anger.  The registrar sent a credit audit in February that showed I just had to complete my dissertation and I'd be done.  I completed the dissertation.  I went through the hooding ceremony.  If I had attended the commencement I would've received my diploma -- three weeks ago.  Perhaps one of the most frustrating things is that my credit audit in February said I was done.   

After speaking to my advisor, I realize I have no real recourse other than to take a class over the summer, wait for the whole long process of transferring credits/credit review/credit approval/degree conference, and then be done.  And one good thing is that I had already signed up for a free workshop as part of my job and I can just pay a state university to get enough credits for the workshop so that I can be done.  I am not giving any more money to my alma mater (which should, perhaps, be termed conculco mater; forgive my inexact knowledge of Latin but hopefully I conveyed my point).

The horrible thing is that I have now heard of two other colleges that have done this to friends -- wait until they've graduated or are graduating and then say "Whoops, we miscounted!"  I am continuously amazed at the level of incompetence in the education system.  One would think that after years of dealing with it I would no longer find it surprising.  Part of me hopes -- each and every time -- that it's just a fluke.  The rest of me -- the experienced me -- realizes that the world is full of idiots.

In times of frustration and stress, all I really want to do is sleep.  I want to go to bed and hope to wake up in a peaceful world.  Since I can't do that, I am trying to content myself by looking at cute things, like pictures of Lotus and her newest toy from Bestie #2: a stuffed bunny.

Normally, Lotus rips up any new toy immediately, but this one she has carried with her the past few nights.  I think it's adorable.

In a rather apropos moment, as soon as I was done with the post -- and before I had a chance to save or post this entry -- my computer crashed and wiped it out so I had to re-do everything.  Really, computer?  Really?

I would like to go back to bed and wake up to no more problems, please.  I am stress eating and that is really not a good look for me.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Life is never dull (aka "How my time in Vietnam prepared me to live in the U.S.")

I am a flexible person.  I am a busy person.  I am a tolerant person.

I am a person who wants a break.

Life is never dull, that is for sure.  When thinking about what to title this blog post I had several different ideas.  I almost chose Why the Universe does not want me to write academically, but thought that would be too simplistic.  Yet it does seem that way at times.  For the past year and a half or so, every time I work hard so that I can set aside time to complete academic writing by a self-imposed deadline, something happens.  Something major.  Something like an illness, a burglary, a death, a car accident, or some similarly horrific crisis that usually impacts life in a momentous way.  This weekend was like that.

Sometimes I think that my dissertation could have been finished six months or a year earlier if I had been able to devote all of my time and energy to it.  That did not happen.  Our house was burglarized as I was conducting research, my grandmother was diagnosed (and eventually died from) end-stage lung cancer, Bestie #2 was in a bad car accident, and there were numerous illnesses, a major divorce, and several other life-altering events all in the course of about 18 months.  And while the events themselves are distressing, the fact that they keep happening when I am trying to be productive, the fact that I am derailed frequently, is starting to amuse me.  I am sure that there is a lesson in here somewhere, I'm just not sure what it is yet.

I've been working on an article for an academic journal for a while.  A long while.  And each time I get close to the end, something happens and I allow myself to be distracted.  This weekend I hoped to put all of that behind me and finally finish the work so that I could stop thinking about it.  I was close -- so close! -- and then Life struck again.  The pipe that brings water into our house, the one that connects to the water heater, broke underneath the cement in the garage.  At least that's what we think happened.  We'll know for sure in the morning when a plumber comes out and inspects.  And so Life throws another curve ball and we attempt to hit it out of the park.

There are several things for which I am thankful this weekend:
 1) Honey's amazing sense of hearing, which caused the "I wonder why there's water running at midnight" musing that led to the discovery of a garage on its way to being flooded.

2) Bestie #2 living only 1.5 miles away and being willing to have us under her feet for most of the day -- after all, it's really hard to stay in a house when there is no running water.

3) Our trip to Vietnam a few years ago -- and life experiences before that -- that taught us how to shower in a bucket, wash clothes in a bucket, and all that other fun stuff that goes along with no running water.  Thankfully, right now we haven't come to that (see point #2 for the reason why!).

4) A flexible job that allows for me to say "I'm working from home today because I need to wait for the plumber."  I actually do have to run a training in the afternoon, but at least I can be home in the morning and hopefully by the time noon hits (please God, before that!) I'll have an idea of what we're facing.

Now my fingers, toes, legs, and everything else are crossed hoping that insurance will cover this if the plumber needs to rip up the concrete in the garage to replace the broken pipe.  Actually, I keep hoping that somehow we're wrong and it will be an easy fix, but Honey is very handy and sadly pretty sure that all signs point to our initial diagnosis.  And so we wait for the big day, tomorrow.  Don't worry, Life, I can take it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Raising a teenager can be funny (aka "Why God gave Man eyebrows")

Parenting a teenager isn't always easy, especially when that teenager is a sophomore and thus exhibits the corresponding sophomoric behavior.  I think that part of my constant exhaustion comes from working very hard to raise The Teenager into an upstanding young man.  Over the past couple months that The Teenager has been living with us, we've seen remarkable improvement in many areas -- he laughs more, can be more respectful toward others, sometimes does his chores without being told, and he seems more relaxed and happy.

That's not to say that life is all wildflowers and kittens.  No.  In fact, often we have some sort of struggle, like this past week when I insisted on making sure his essays were edited several times before he submitted them, or last Monday when I tried to explain that using rude and harsh tones in public is not appropriate.  The Teenager has not had much guidance or consistency or reasonable expectations (and support to reach them) in his life, so this is a learning process for all of us.  Sometimes, I get so frustrated that I break down and cry because I want him to be successful in life, I want him to turn into an admirable man, but sometimes it seems I'm fighting a hopeless uphill battle.  Sometimes.  And sometimes I see glimmers of success just beyond the horizon and that is enough to keep me going.

Parenting a teenager is rarely "fun," but it can sure be funny!  Take last night, for instance.  Wait, let me back up a minute and explain that the men in my family have very bushy eyebrows.  Or eyebrow.  All of the brothers take different approaches in handling this.  Music Man lets his brow grow free, Tin Man shaves a bit around the edges, My Baby gets hardcore and a bit extreme with the tweezers (but at least he has two brows and they are neat).  Up to this point, The Teenager has ignored his brow(s), although he's acknowledged they need a bit of help.  He doesn't like tweezers because he says it's painful to have one's face plucked, and so a few weeks ago I mentioned waxing as a solution.  He seemed, I thought, open to the idea because he responded with a teenage non-committal grunt.  And so, last night as I was setting up a brow wax appointment for myself, I set something up for him.  Then I told him.

"What?!? No way, I'm not waxing!"

"Come on," I say, "it's not even a full wax of your brows. It should only take 30 seconds and then you're done."

The Teenager was not buying any of it, and so I told him it was okay, I wouldn't force him to get it done, and I walked out of the room.  I heard the bathroom door open, close, and a few minutes later open again and I was greeted with this:
Of course I started laughing hysterically and could barely hear his comments: "This may be a decision I come to regret, but I'll deal with it then. Take that, Society!"

I knew that The Teenager tends to do some pretty extreme things just to see what kind of reaction he'll provoke (he is a teenager, after all) and I knew that he admires Marilyn Manson's hairless appearance, but I didn't quite think he'd do this.  At least not during the school year.

A few minutes later I walked downstairs.  "Okay, Mr. Manson, I'm off to get Honey and I'll be back in about 45 minutes."

"I scared myself when I looked in the mirror."

Of course I had to start laughing again, but The Teenager just continued talking.  "There are pros and cons to this.  On the one hand, I'll never be able to look at myself in the mirror again.  But at least fewer people will try talking to me and I don't have to get waxed."

"Um, sweetie, I told you that you didn't have to go if you didn't want to."


"Yes, before I left the room I told you that if you really didn't want to go I wouldn't force you."

"Oh.  Well.  I guess I didn't hear that part."

By this point I was laughing so hard that I had to pause for a minute before I could say, "One day you will learn that unless it's something that I feel will impact your life long-term, like academics, I'm not going to force you to do things you don't want to do."

The Teenager's response: "Well lesson learned now!"

Every time I think about his tone and reaction from last night, I start laughing.  I offered to get him some white face paint so he could be a Manson groupie.  We'll see about that.  I also offered to paint eyebrows for him so that every day he could have a different expression (Monday is "I'm so surprised!" day!), but he wasn't too keen on that idea.

We're all having a good idea with this, although I am cautious because I know that with teenagers there's a fine line between good-natured teasing and something that bruises their tender egos.  This situation does make for some funny comments, though.  Like this morning, as we were leaving for school.  I was talking about one of the cats and made a silly remark.  The Teenager's response?  "The guy with no eyebrows thinks you're weird."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sometimes focusing on what's important means doing a bit more cooking

Today I worked on being aware of myself and being "grounded" (in a good way, not a I'm six years old and was just grounded for a week for watching the new movie Ghostbusters because it's heathen and I could be letting evil spirits pollute my mind so I'd better be punished sort of way).  It helped.  Every time I felt myself starting to get a bit crazy I thought, "Okay, take deep breaths.  Connect with the earth.  Release stress.  Now go."  When I focus on being intentional and being aware, I feel more generous toward others.  And when I feel more generous, I cook.

I'm not sure why there is a good feeling = food connection, but it's there.  If I am upset with someone, I really resent having to do anything, especially cook a meal or bring the person a drink.  When I am well-rested (a rare occasion), I have more tolerance.  And of course etiquette sometimes dictates that I need to feed people (family) even if I am less than thrilled to do so...and so on those times I try to keep the meal as simple as possible.  I don't think that those around me (save Honey, who notices everything) have realized this pattern.  That's okay.  It can be a surprise.

This past weekend I worked a few things out with My Baby and The Teenager, and so I felt better about dealing with them and their adolescent antics.  Between that and my grounding exercises, I was feeling -- am feeling -- generous.  And so it's into the kitchen!  Here's what I made for today -- and all the recipes turned out well, so I definitely encourage you to try them, too!

Overnight Blueberry "French Toast" -- I would really call this more a bread pudding, but regardless it was easy and yummy.

Breakfast muffins -- These were the easiest things in the world and I loved that they were so portable (not that I needed that this morning, but the cool factor was definitely there).  "Muffins" made out of cheese, eggs, sausage (I used turkey sausage), and broccoli.  The Teenager ate several and he never eats breakfast, so I'll call this a win.

Sweet & Sour "Pork" -- The Teenager loves this.  I make it with chicken and instead of using celery and carrots I use bell pepper, but other than that the recipe is the same.  Honey has cooked the chicken out in the deep fryer for me before, but since Honey is out of town this week I took care of this part myself.  And I started teaching The Teenager to cook rice (he's gotta start somewhere, right?).  It was a bit of a "miss" today in the rice department, but he'll learn eventually (and perhaps it wasn't his fault -- our rice cooker is ten years old and on its last legs, so sometimes it doesn't do what it should).

I'm not sure what I'll make tomorrow.  Honey gets back late in the evening, not in time to eat.  I'll have a long day at work tomorrow.  The Teenager still has a huge tub of leftovers from tonight, so it's not entirely necessary for me to make something...but we'll see.  I'm been using my Pinterest board to keep track of things like recipes and so now I have more ideas than I have time.  I might make "Pop-up Pizza Pie" because it sounds interesting, but after today's heavy food we might choose to go for toast and fruit...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Time to get back to The Artist's Way

For some strange reason I thought that when I finished busting my tail on my degree, finished with editing jobs for others, I would have more time.  Truly, I believed that suddenly tens of hours would miraculously open up and I would be able to accomplish much and get some rest.  I would be superwoman!  Yes, I know...what was I thinking?  Life has been very busy with The Teenager, with working on our massive garden, with new academic writing assignments (those book reviews and research articles aren't going to publish themselves!), applying for jobs, and all of the other things that happen in life.

All that goes to say that I don't have much time to blog, at least when I look at my to-do list and think about the number of hours in a day.  I also don't have time to spend writing morning pages or working through The Artist's Way.  At least that's what my logical brain tells me.  But then there is the other part of me, the part that remembers my goal for this year was to learn to live with intention, to focus on learning to prioritize what's really important.  For me, writing is cathartic.  And yet, that's the first thing that gets put aside when life seems too busy.

Not any more.  Today I am going to pick up The Artist's Way for the first time in a long time and I am going to start reading it again.  I am going to blog.  I am going to writing morning pages.  And maybe, just maybe, if I am very lucky (or focused or inspired or energized or blessed or whatever) I will be able to work a bit more on my novel, knowing that I will feel better.  I will be in touch with me.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll figure out what to do with my life.  I'll have a goal, a plan, a dream.  Maybe.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Day 29: A picture that makes me smile

I love art in many forms.  Not all forms.  I'm not going to pay hundreds or thousands for White on White on White Canvas or for some piece of "social commentary" that involves bodily fluids.  I will also not have Thomas Kinkade prints hanging in my house (**gag**) and I do try to avoid most mass-produced art (although at one point in my life I used to buy pictures from Target or Ross).  But I love photographs, canvases or paintings that seem a little out of the ordinary, and I love repurposing something into art.  In my kitchen, I have three framed "prints" on the wall -- two are towels from Crate & Barrel that I cut and then framed (keeping the excess material for quilting scraps) and one is an advertisement for Gardenburger.  But it's not just any advertisement!  It was published in a local newspaper the week that Obama was elected.  I picked up a copy of the paper and when I saw the advertisement I knew that I had to keep it.

Isn't it fun?  It makes me smile every day.

Of course I can't just leave this post for the Thirty Day Challenge with just one picture.  There are many things that make me smile -- usually photos of pets do that -- but there is one picture that I love, love, love, love and so I had to share.  It was taken when my brother returned from deployment, so it is of my brother holding my niece (his niece, too -- our sister's youngest).  I could look at this all day.  And so it's hanging in my hallway.

Good art, in my opinion, may make people think, but more often I think it just makes one's heart sigh and feel better about the world.

Monday, May 9, 2011

$3 of washers + 6' of ribbon = new necklace

I was on a necklace roll this weekend!  I think I liked this particular project because I could work on it while watching television so I felt productive.  And now I have something pretty to wear to work!

I did not come up with this idea on my own, sadly.  No, it was a genius idea I saw on another blog.  I had ribbon already and I had to go to Home Depot yesterday to get hollow wall fasteners since we were installing a few shelves in the kitchen (pictures later), so while there I picked up three packages of washers -- 1/4" (12), 5/16" (8), and 1/2" (6) -- for $2.94.

It took a while to figure out how to thread it so that it lay properly, but I eventually got the hang of it.  I think it would look better with wider ribbon, but it's fine for a first attempt.  I ended up with a long strand of ribbon on one side (and only 8" on the other), but that was on purpose.  I wanted to weave one end using the method that I found here.

Next time I think I'll make a smaller version because I prefer choker-sized necklaces and this is a bit longer than that.

Side note that is apropos of nothing: My goddaughter (who is six) made me the cutest picture this weekend -- she spelled all the words herself, too!
Isn't that adorable?

Canvas the Crazy

Things can get a bit hectic in our house.  Our zoo contributes to that -- a teenager, a dog, four cats, two fish...and a partridge in a pear tree!  At least it feels that way at times.  Last night was one of those times, everyone going a million directions as the weekend wound down and we prepared for another Monday.  And then I walked into the dining room to find Canvas the Crazy.  Canvas is our oldest cat.  We adopted her when she was a kitten but she already had mental issues.  Most of the time we just call her Crazy, but I do love her.  And now I have a picture that will always make me smile, so I thought I would share:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

An apron and a button necklace

Yesterday was the first day in a long time that I spent the majority of the day doing what I wanted to do.  How often does that happen?  I realize that I am supposed to make that happen more often in this year of intentionality, but more often than not I do the things that I think should be done or need to be done, not the things that I really want to do.  That is why yesterday was so nice.  I woke up, cleaned the house after our monthly First Friday Family Dinner, started some laundry and then sat down to work on two craft projects.

The first was an apron.  One of the boys in my life just turned 11 and he loves to cook, so I thought that an apron might be an appropriate gift.  Usually when I go over to bake something with the kids, I bring a bunch of aprons, but now he'll have his own.

I had two inspirations for my idea.  The first was to use kitchen towels as my material, something I did when making an apron for Honey a couple years ago.  The second was to include pot holders in the apron.  I saw this lovely tutorial for a beautiful pleated apron with built-in pot holders, and while it doesn't work for an 11 year-old boy, I was pretty sure that I could modify the idea.

I bought two kitchen towels and a set of two pot holders at the Dollar Store.  Total: $3.  I had the coordinating fabric for the ties and pockets already, so I didn't need that.  This would be an inexpensive project day.
The first thing that I did was iron the towels, then fold them in half, iron again, and cut out a semi-circle for the top part of the apron.
I knew that I wanted a loop for the neck and two ties on the side, so I cut out three strips of cloth that were the length of the fabric (40"?) and 3" wide.  I pressed the strips in half lengthwise, "right" sides together, so that I could sew them, flip them right-side-out, and have long ties that were 1.5" wide.
I attached the neck tie (which I modified to 32") to the top of one towel, then attached the side ties and sewed the pot holders to the bottom two corners of what would be the inside of the towel apron.

The pot holders were just over 7" square, so I made two 8" pockets for the outside of the apron to cover the pot holder stitches.
Bunny's making sure I don't mess up.
Once that is done, attach the other towel, leaving a small gap at the bottom to pull everything through and flip the apron right-side-out.  Iron, sew up that little opening, and it's done!

I paired this with a boxed fajita dinner and a boxed cake mix and so the young man is all ready to make a meal for his family.

Project Two: A button necklace.
On Friday night one of my goddaughters (who just turned four) said "I want a necklace like yours!"  I was wearing something I bought at Ann Taylor Loft, a pretty creation of orange and purple gauzy fabric and gold links/chains.  What could I make that would be similar?  I dug around in my craft supplies and found buttons (from clothes we bought over the past decade) and some ribbon and so I decided to make a necklace.
I wanted three button strands, and so I chose buttons of three sizes, seven buttons of the smaller two sizes, eight buttons of the larger size, and started weaving a 6' strand of ribbon through the first row of buttons.  That's when Honey came up and said "What if you used three ribbons for each row of buttons and then braided the ribbons together?"  Of course I thought that was a great idea -- and Honey sat down to help me.
When we were done braiding each row, we knotted the three rows together, braided the three braids, and then knotted the ends.  Ta-da!

You can find the parties that I link to by going to my Party Page.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 28: Something to Fear

When FDR said "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" I think he actually forgot about a few things, namely deep water (and everything in it), spiders, crazy family members, rejection, accidentally losing a limb to a chainsaw, failure, and clowns.  Why would I have a picture of these frightening things?  What, you want me to take a picture and have it on hand just so I can post it for today's edition of the Thirty Day Challenge?  Ha!

Of course that is exactly what Honey did last summer.  Well, Honey didn't know I would eventually need a picture of something scary, but that's exactly what I have in the form of a picture of a spider.  Last summer we were in Florida for a few days visiting Bestie #2's family.  We saw plenty of spiders (one managed to keep me awake all night because it was rather large and liked to scurry from baseboard to baseboard in my room but it was so fast I couldn't kill it -- so I ended up staying awake until 4AM until I was so exhausted that I fell asleep sitting up).  The largest was outside on the wall of the house.  Thank GOD it was not inside!  Just looking at this photo makes me nauseous, which is why I have successfully ignored it for months.  But now, here it is:


You may ask why I haven't just deleted this horrible photo.  I guess the answer, at least today, would be that you never know when you might need a picture of something frightening for a blog post.

A "rag quilt" (my new favorite kind of quilt)

Yesterday I had plenty to do.  I was supposed to make a few more mug rugs, do some work, and start checking items off the huge to-do list.  Did I do that?  No.  I decided instead to try my hand at a "rag quilt" and make a blanket for The Teenager.  (Did I mention I'm great at procrastinating when I have a bazillion tasks that I don't want to do?)

A while back, The Teenager said that if I ever made him something he'd want it all black.  Well, after discovering that the only black flannels at Joann's had either pink hearts or blue hockey pucks on them, I decided to go with something else: skeletons & Halloween cats.

I am not going to put a tutorial up here because I just used the most wonderful tutorial posted by the lovely Jenny at An Apple for the Crafter.  Check out her blog -- it's cute! -- and look at how simple it is to make a rag quilt!

The good points about a rag quilt: super fast, mistakes aren't noticeable, and it turns into a rather heavy, warm blanket.

The downside: it takes a lot of fabric!  I made a blanket for a tall teen and it took about five yard of fabric all told.  Yikes!

But The Teenager loves it, so that's all that matters.  He used it when he went to bed last night -- so cute.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day 27: Me and a Family Member

**Warning: You may not want to read this because I can be a little bit cranky.  Okay, more than a bit.  I get downright bitchy. You've been warned.**

Last week when I was thinking about what to do for this particular post in the Thirty Day Challenge, I thought that I would end up posting a picture of me and my mother at last Friday night's "hooding ceremony" (a part of graduation).  That was before I completely forgot to take a picture with my mother.  Can you believe it?  Yes, I feel a bit guilty.  I have plenty of reasons -- it was the end of a 12-hour work day and I was exhausted, my mind was on other things, I wasn't photogenic at all that evening, I just wanted to be done -- but in reality I think it was a mental slip.  This is one of two photos I have with my mother from that night -- both were taken in the restaurant, not at the actual ceremony, so it looks like any other evening out (except for the fact that we only go "out" about once a year):

My family makes me crazy.  I love them, but certain members in particular make me question my sanity.  Sometimes I think that life would be better if I just ignored all of them, but I love them and so I keep the madness in my life.  But I am trying to set better boundaries, especially since this year is supposed to be one of intentionality, so that means keeping Crazymaker and the Crazies at a distance.

Of course one can't really keep family away during a graduation or a similarly momentous event.  The last time I attended a graduate-level hooding ceremony or graduation I heard so many people thank their family and friends for helping them reach the end of the school-road.  It was a sentiment I could not fully understand.  I am thankful for friends and support -- I have had a lot of encouragement, especially this past year, from friends and colleagues who wanted to see me make it to the end.  But I have not had support from family.  I don't expect it from my siblings, since for most of them I still act as parent (whether they see it that way or not is immaterial -- I still plan family gatherings, make sure everyone is fed, help with college or job or medical forms and applications and schedules, provide get the picture).  And from the older generations in my family...well, I have one grandparent left, a few uninvolved aunts and uncles, a Crazymaker, and a Sperm Donor (the real term I use for this person is not BlogLand-appropriate; let's just say we haven't spoken in at least eight years for very good reason).  When I stood at the front of the room last Friday night and was given the chance to speak for a moment, I thanked my friends, colleagues, students, and family, but what I wanted to do was shout from the rooftops "I DID IT!  It was all me! I did this without the support of parents or grandparents or anyone like that and I made it to the end!!"  Of course saying something like that might hurt someone's feelings, so I just share it with Honey (who was supportive, even when wondering why I wanted to pursue this degree, and who knows my family history) and I shout it through BlogLand.  In the interest of full disclosure, my mother did say that evening that I made it this far without family support -- what she meant was financially, but I would say that it should also include non-monetary means.  But then of course she says a lot of things and I know just how much to credit those things.

I sent my grandfather a card a few weeks ago saying I was becoming "doctor."  I have yet to hear from him.  The day after my graduation I found a letter to a brother in the mail, but no note to me.  And so I did what I was supposed to do: printed a few pictures, sent a note about graduation, and left it at that.  I know not to expect anything and so I try not to be disappointed when my lack of expectations prove to be well-founded.  (Perhaps what bothers me most is a family that claims they value family but their actions speak louder than words.)

I love my family.  I really do.  I just don't always like them.  But there is one good thing that comes out of this: I can set an example for my younger siblings, showing them that they can achieve anything with a bit of perseverance and determination.  And now, with The Teenager living in my house, Honey and I can work very hard to give him the support and start in life that I never received.  Sadly, he is a teenager, which means that it's already late in life and he will get to choose whether or not he wants to receive that support.  We'll see what he decides...fingers crossed.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mug Rugs (It's not as dirty as it sounds)

There's a crazy in BlogLand right now and I finally gave into that craze: mug rugs.  Honey thinks it sounds dirty, or like code for something dirty, but it's really not.  A mug rug is merely a small quilt, more or less, for your cup of coffee or tea or chocolate.

I heard about mug rugs only recently and was so taken by them that I decided to participate in a "Mug Rug Swap."  My lovely BlogFriend, Jenna, at Sew Happy Geek, hosted her first swap this past month and will host another starting May 7.

Jenna kindly put links to a bunch of tutorials on her blog, so I won't bother reposting, I'll just tell you to check out what she's done (you can click on the button at the bottom of this post.

My inspiration came from the links I found at Jenna's.  Here is what I did tonight:

I need to make a few more by Friday...guess I know what I'll be working on in the evenings this week!

SewHappyGeek Mug Rug Button

I tend to link up at these different Party Pages.
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