Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stuffed Onions and Birthday "Cake"

My sweet Abby turned 12 this month. Poor child. Her birthday celebration took a backseat to my knee surgery and rehabilitation. We did happen to have a family party before the actual date where big sister, Rachel, make her famous and fabulous stuffed onions as per Abby's request. What child requests stuffed onions for her birthday dinner? My Abigail.


Two weeks after the official birth date Abby went ice skating with her awesome friends followed by cupcakes from The Sweet Tooth Fairy and hot chocolate.


Ever confident and unique, Abby is not one to request the traditional birthday CAKE for her annual celebration.

Cupcakes and Donuts
Cinnamon rolls from Shirley's Bakery
BYU's mint brownies and the most popular request . . . Dad's homemade rice pudding.
It's been a beautiful 12 years.



Happy Birthday, Abby!
We love you so very very much!


Click here to see a video Abby made for her Dad on Father's Day.
Click here to read about her ideal "home" lunch.
Click here to read about her longing for green eyes.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Aftermath

Image from Peter Spier's Christmas
I've always felt a sense of sadness for those poor evergreen trees that were not picked to grace someone's home at Christmas time. I also tend to attribute sorrow to those ornaments and holiday decorations that are now marked down and left as stragglers among store displays. Perhaps these feelings hail from childhood memories of Rudolph's island of misfit toys. Pitiful indeed.

Christmas is glorious, and one just needs to smile at its aftermath, I suppose.
We enjoy hiding small presents in BIG boxes.
Two days after Christmas and the living room is still strewn with gifts--goal is to have them all into bedrooms before the day's end.

Before an ounce of post holiday let-down seeps into my soul I will think of this week between Christmas and New Year's as a mini vacation. Brian is home. The kids are home. No big obligations. Time to relax, rejuvenate, and gear up for real life again on January 3.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Day Before Christmas


The day before Christmas our family traditionally takes in a movie--first showing, if possible. Today we will see "Tangled".

After that, we will have a late lunch/early dinner (nothing traditional here), maybe play games, sing Christmas carols around the piano, and definitely read the first Christmas story from the Book of Luke. This will be followed by the consumption of delectable holiday treats with cups of steaming hot cocoa loaded with frothy cream.


Only baby Jesus is left to place in the manger tomorrow morning. This is our favorite advent calendar. (We have three.) I made it myself years ago from a pattern shared by a dear friend.


Merry Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hinges


This ornament my mom sent us while serving as a missionary in Germany is my personal symbol of knee rehab.

I have never appreciated the hinges of my body more than I do now--knee cap resurfacing will do that I suppose.

Daily I pull and push my knee to greater and greater degrees of flexibility. Today at my first outpatient physical therapy appointment I was buoyed up with optimism. I am ahead of schedule and doing great. Pain is diminishing by minuscule amounts each day, and my weak quads are slowly remembering just what they can do.


Look at the bend in those knees! Hopefully within the next few weeks this will be me. In the meantime I am trying to be a good girl and count my blessings.

  1. I may have a six-inch scar, but it is a beautiful one--nice and slim.
  2. I was able to venture to the mall on Saturday and to Sacrament Meeting on Sunday--completely exhausted afterwards, but I escaped the house.
  3. I am walking without the aid of a walker or cane. I am slow and I limp, but I can do it.
  4. I have an incredible support group of people who love me.

"God Bless[es] us, every one!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Gift I Can Give

I have spent the past few days very down and depressed due to my recent knee surgery. I really can't explain it. EVERYONE has been so extremely kind and giving. I know it has a lot to do with my discomfort and pain. (Getting off narcotics tends to wreck ones emotions too, I understand.)

Yet, I have been so surprised at myself--how weak and vulnerable I am being and how I don't care. I feel like I am usually so "put together" and in control. Not for the past 11 days. My poor family.

I am alone this afternoon and evening. Brian has taken Abby to Travis' basketball game two hours north and won't be home until late. So easy for me just to lay on the sofa and feel sorry for myself and NOT do my physical therapy exercises and NOT get up and walk and NOT fold laundry or pay bills or wrap gifts (which I am perfectly capable of doing.) I've been ignoring phone calls and texts from sweet friends all morning. I just want to wallow in self-pity.
One of those ignored friends just stopped by. I didn't want to answer the door, but when I peeked out the window and found it was her, I HAD to. She spent maybe 20 minutes just visiting and listening and letting me talk about the misery.

When she left I had a smidgen of optimism. I got up, turned on some Christmas music, emptied the dishwasher, and started another load of laundry. On the radio I heard a commercial for some holiday event where a shepherd boy asked, "what can I give him?"

That got me thinking. I am very self-consumed right now (and maybe that is OK.) But, what CAN I give the Savior?
After several minutes of soul searching I concluded that I can reach deep deep inside myself and find my own joy. If I can find happiness in myself and actually BE happy, then I will certainly show Him how grateful I am for just being, for my body that is capable of healing, for my loving family. It would certainly be a much-needed gift to them if I were to at least attempt a positive attitude. It would be a gift to me and, hopefully, a gift to Him.

So, I will get up off the couch. I will DO something. I will try.

It's all I can give right now. Just taking care of me. He has offered me PEACE and I want to receive it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Swedish Elves


Swedish Elves adorned my home at Christmas time when I was a little girl. My parents had quite a fun collection, and thanks to them, I have one of my own now.


They sit on our mantle each December. Some years I have added white lights, but this year I ran out of time before my surgery and added a bit of fresh greenery as a backdrop. I plucked the boughs from a bouquet of flowers we received from gracious guests at Thanksgiving.


I loved the traditions I grew up with and when we were first married I instinctively made Christmas stockings just like the ones my mom had created when I was a child. Hers, however, had jingle bells on the cuff. Perhaps I will add them to ours. . . next year.


It has been interesting thinking how to incorporate a new son-in-law into our traditions. My aunt inspired a solution when it game to the stockings. As each of her children married, a button (with the new in-law's picture on it) was pinned to the original child's stocking. As grandchildren came along, picture buttons were added for each of them. That way, the stocking became a family stocking that Santa filled whenever the new family came home for Christmas.

I adapted this idea by using iron-on letters to add "David" to Rachel's stocking. As little ones join their home, I might use a different font for each name.


It is unlikely that we will always have grown children with us on Christmas morning, but until graduate school whisks them out of state next year, this is our plan. How do YOU incorporate new family members into your Christmas?


Years ago there used to be a shop in Salt Lake City that sold my Swedish Elves. It is no more. Have you seen them anywhere? I would LOVE to continue the collection-building tradition with the Newlyweds.

God Jul!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Not Quite Lucid

I am attempting a post even though I am still in a somewhat foggy state of mind and my eyes will often close of their own accord for several seconds at a time. Pain management has been quite an issue, but at six days post-op perhaps things are settling down.
My paperwhites were blooming when I arrived home.
The surgery on my right knee (unicompartmental patellofemoral joint resurfacing arthoplasty) was "textbook" according to my surgeon and the left knee scope (lateral release) also went well even though they were surprised to find well advanced arthritis in that knee--bone on bone.

Prayers definitely carried me through the anxiety of pre-op and although I was in quite a cloud of pain those first few days I know divine help guided all my caregivers. Although I have missed the traditional scents and sounds of the season cooped up on my family room sofa, the Spirit of Christmas has been personified in exceptional kindness, genuine concern, understanding, and love by dear family, friends, and even strangers.

My husband has been my hero sleeping on the floor of our living room on his camping pad while I slept on the sofa. We didn't even attempt the stairs that first night. He sets his alarm to wake me up for meds and even responds sans complaint each time I needed to journey to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
I've stolen my son's shorts. They are perfect for rehab purposes.
Presents have already arrived at my house for I am now the proud owner of my very own "granny" walker. Woo hoo!


Another valuable gift is a lovely green strap which I use to lift my "bad" leg onto and off of the sofa or bed. When Kellie first saw it, she immediately laid claim to it (when I am done, of course). It is exactly what the collegiate athletes use to train and stretch. Who would have known.


Third, is my CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) or my knee bending machine. Definitely a love/hate relationship here. We spend two hours at a time together 2-3 times a day bending my knee to ever increasing degrees.


Fourth, is ice. LOVE ice. Awesome new compression cooler. We should be together for another week or so.

I try not to let my eyes rest on my six-inch surgical scar, but rather encourage them to keep on traveling down to my toes and take in the splendor of my pre-surgery holiday pedicure courtesy of a very dear friend.

Looking for tiny miracles and cheery happenings this week.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Peace on Earth


It makes me so happy that our resident cat, Linus, is accepting our new little kitten. The first week or so there was some hissing and Linus mostly wanted to escape from the intruder. He spent more time than usual outside.


I had grand visions of them eventually snuggling up to each other spoon-style and becoming great friends.

My wise veterinarian sister-in-law told me
"It's like your husband coming home, telling you he likes being married so much and you're such a terrific wife that he went out and got another one. . . . . . . . Cat's don't ask for more cats. So it takes time to commingle. Peaceful coexistence is the goal. Anything more is frosting on the cake."

When little Lucy first joined our home she would "cry" whenever she was alone and couldn't find anyone. When we left the house, we would hear mournful mews coming from the other side of the door. She eagerly seeks affection and companionship. Little by little Linus has responded to her yearnings.

She is now content to seek out Linus when we leave and "hang out" with him. She is so giddy when he comes in from outside and will attempt to entice him into rough and tumble play. They often "kiss", but then the old grandpa cat just turns his back and ignores the silly little girl.


Awe, but it does my heart good to see them like this. There IS peace on earth.

*******************

Knee surgery in a few hours. Your support and your prayers mean so much. I feel them. Thank you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Poor Patellas

This summer I wrote about my needy knee. Well, my genetically misaligned patellas have brought me to surgery on Monday (right knee cap is being replaced and the left knee cap is receiving a lateral release as a preventive measure.)

I will be in the hospital for 3 days and if my husband wasn't around to help me afterwards I would need to be in a rehab facility for 2 weeks.

I am feeling very melancholy. This is a big deal that I really don't want in my life. My knees used to work so well!

Timing is hard. Christmas is coming. I don't want to do it.

But. . . I can no longer squat to read the books on the lowest library shelf. Yoga and hiking are loves of the past. Stairs are slow and arduous and climbing the bleachers at my sons basketball games this week made me feel quite elderly. I can't even kneel to pray, and prayers are what I need most.

I can do hard things, right?

A dear friend made this pillow for me.
Just a few years ago this was my mantra as I struggled to the top of Mount Nebo and scaled the narrow canyons near Goblin Valley. I've already done many physically hard things, mentally hard things, spiritually hard things, and emotionally hard things. Can't I just be done?

I can do hard things. I can do hard things. I can do hard things.

(Prayers will definitely help too.)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Rescuer

I have a daughter who has great compassion for "all creatures great and small". She has literally snatched mice from the cat jaws of death, and on one occasion was willing and eager to save a SNAKE from its feline clutches. Each creature was carefully escorted to the safety of the foothills a block from our home.

Varmints are not the only beneficiaries of her kindness. After high school soccer conditioning one early summer morning Kellie was driving home and saw what initially looked like a leaf in the road. As her little Honda CRX approached, she soon realized it was a bird! That tender heart of hers knew just what to do. She immediately pulled her car over, ran into the road, scooped up that birdie, and brought it to safety. There it sat ON HER LAP as she drove all the way home. She did, actually, stop first at the veterinarian to see if he could render aid, but, alas, the office was closed.


This was not the first time she had rescued a feathered friend. A few years prior a bird flew right into our picture window and lay alive, but motionless on our front walk. That time the veterinarian's office was open and Kellie insisted we take it in for a thorough evaluation. The doctor explained that the bird was just stunned--nothing broken.


Kellie patiently waited while both birds recovered nursing them back to health with a soft bed, water, and food. Within a few hours they were hopping about and soon released into a nearby park.

Kellie's most recent rescue effort has been with us for just over a week now. Meet Lucy. Girls in the duplex adjacent to Kellie's college home picked the little one up for free at a farmers market. After a few months the novelty had worn off and this energetic and loving kitten needed a new home.


Oh I resisted as best I could, and for good reason.

Reason number one:  I just couldn't bear another cat heartache. Our beloved cat, Niner, had been with us 11 years before his pancreas failed and he died in my arms just over a year ago. Brian was traveling, the older girls were at school, and the younger ones were in bed. I knew it would happen that night and it did. I cried and cried as he passed away. Too hard to bear.

Niner
 Two months later Kellie had us adopting another orange cat, Lyra. Her story still brings great sorrow.

Lyra
Reason number two:  We already had a cat! Linus came into our family one cold Winter day five years ago meowing so mournfully at our front door. "Don't feed it," we pleaded, but The Rescuer just couldn't ignore his cries and snuck him food. A trip to the vet made him ours with immunizations and a snip snip to his masculinity.

Linus with The Rescuer
I suppose I shouldn't completely blame The Rescuer. After all, her parents did give her that heart. Both of us are softies when it comes to feline companionship. It took all of two seconds for Lucy to win us over.


But that's it. Ok, Kellie? Really. That's it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Growing

My paperwhites are growing!

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Thanksgiving at our house was everything I could want it to be. I love when everyone contributes to the meal and family and friends share the day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Placemat to Pillow

Several months ago I ran across a tutorial of how to turn a placemat into a throw pillow. It fit my personal crafting requirements--quick, easy, and inexpensive with immediate gratification being a must. I've been searching for just the right placemat ever since.

Last week I found one at Target. It fits my style. It fits my decor, and was easily transformed into a fun Christmas lumbar type pillow.


This is what I did:


Start with a placemat that has a backing where two pieces of fabric have been sewn together and easily separated with a seam ripper.


Stuff the newly created pillow form. (I used leftover poly-fil I had on hand.)


Sew it back up. That's it! So easy.


Many thanks to Random Thoughts of a SUPERMOM for the great idea!