My little cowboy

Riding Pancho
There is one thing that every single therapeutic professional I’ve encountered has counseled me to do. Everyone from Atti’s neonatologist to other mom’s I bump into at therapy. Every single person who knows has told me to get Atticus into the REINS program.

Similar programs exist around the nation, but we’re lucky enough to have a first-class therapeutic hippotherapy organization about 20 minutes up the freeway.

Hippotherapy sounds fancy, but it’s simply horse therapy. They take kids who have any number of disabilities, Cerebral Palsy like Atticus, ADD, Autism, Vision or Hearing impairments, Down Syndrome, kids recovering from accidents, or even just an unspecified developmental delay, and give them time riding a horse. The benefits are myriad. Often kids who are unresponsive to people will open up to an animal. It’s great for core strengthening and muscle stretching. Feeling the rhythm of the horse’s steps is great input for someone like Atti who needs to tell his feet how to move in a different way from the rest of us, and it’s a way of doing intensive physical therapy in a way that is fun instead of painful.

Some kids get scared their first time, but I knew Atti would take right to it. The instructors commented on how he had no fear. Notice how he even keeps up his steady flirting while trying to keep himself upright.


And listen to him giggle! Oh the good that does my heart!

When our time was up they walked Atti into the tack room to get some carrots and fed our pony Pancho a treat to say thanks for his hard work. Atti dug both hands right into his hair and sweet little Pancho didn’t even flinch.
Thanks, Pancho

This day was so wonderful, watching my little guy have so much fun and gain some independence on a beautiful clear day in the country, surrounded by orange and apple trees growing fruit for the kids to feed the horses. I just felt like I’d left my hectic overcommitted life and found a moment of peace. My cup feels full. I think this is going to turn out to be therapeutic for Atti and me.

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I’m not enjoying this

treadmill

As part of my New Years resolution to reclaim my formerly stylish self, I decided to finally get serious about losing some weight. It seemed like a good first step to feel better about myself, as well as to get back into my formerly stylish clothes.

So I went to Costco and bought myself a scale (which have been forbidden in my house for years), printed up some monthly calendars to track my progress, and got to work.

My first day I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes and then couldn’t walk anymore for the next two days.

It was unbelievably discouraging to discover exactly how out of shape I was, and really REALLY tempting to just stop right there and get used to being that way. But I knew I couldn’t let myself be satisfied with such a low level of ability. So I switched my thinking entirely. Now instead of “working out,” I’m doing physical therapy. Weight loss stopped being the goal for a while, physical ability became much more important.

Imagine my delight when I’d step on the scale every morning and it said I weighed about half a pound less than the day before. After two weeks it said I lost nearly ten pounds! I thought that finally, after a whole life of unsuccessful exercise and lack of athletic ability, things were actually coming together. I was doing it. Until the next day when it told me I gained 20 pounds. And then when I stepped off and stepped back on it told me I had gained another 2. The whole thing was scale error. I will not lie. I bawled like a pouting child.

I have to keep reminding myself what this poor body has been through. Surgeries, hormones, medications, traumatic birth. In a six month span of treatment (that didn’t include a pregnancy) I lost 30 pounds and then gained 50. Not that I know about these kinds of things, but I can’t imagine that my metabolism is functioning optimally.

After a solid month of exercise every day, I have lost one pound. But it certainly doesn’t take me two days to recover from a walk anymore, so that’s what I’m trying to hang on to.

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2010 Year of Pleasures #4

Snacker

I’ve really wanted to make more time for a social life this year, and so far I’m doing pretty well. My friends Chris and Sandra came over for a big knitting party, and then last Friday I threw a get together for some LDS internet friends.

It was a little bit of a challenge because nearly everyone there were vegetarians and Bear doesn’t consider a meal over until meat comes on board, but I came up with a couple pretty wonderful things that I’ll share over the coming weeks.

Meeting up with these internet friends made me so grateful I had Atticus when I did. I have to say, I haven’t felt that new mommy isolation for one minute. All my friends told me about how lonely that first year can be, and it wasn’t for me in the slightest. Which is especially wonderful given how much time we have to spend at home doing his therapy. I am so grateful for this window I have into the world, and the wonderful friends it’s brought me.

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Trying to peace out

Puzzle

It’s been pouring rain here all week. Pouring like it’s time to build an ark. And rain is my cryptonite. In that it makes me want to drop all my plans, grab a blanket and a kitty and hit the couch listening to the wind and rain. When it rains so rarely around here, this is a reasonable indulgence, but a week of couch time is a bit much.

I started feeling guilty about this yesterday, and then I realized that I needed to take advantage of it while I had it. So I absolved myself of guilt and pulled out a puzzle. I spent the whole of Atti’s nap time listening to a podcast and putting together little pieces while watching the rain on the window. It was awesome.

The last few weeks have been crazy overscheduled, but in ways where I wouldn’t want to give anything up. Friends and family in town, entertaining, doctors visits for Atti and for me, along with his usual rounds of therapy. There’s some new responsibilities on the horizon that are going to take a tremendous amount of my time and energy (no I’m not pregnant), and then we got the phone call saying that Atti’s been accepted into the therapeutic horse riding program. So now he’ll have therapy four times a week.

That’s when the panic attacks started.

It’s fine. I’m fine. I’ve been dealing with anxiety since I was a teenager, and while I’m not currently medicated, I have a huge selection of coping mechanisms to keep things humming. That’s actually how I picked up crosstitching, actually. To ease my troubled mind.

But it also means that I need to be aware of when I need a literal mental health day, and to jump on the opportunities when I can claim them. Yesterday I found myself with a couple free hours, so I forced myself to chill out with a puzzle instead of doing the dishes. Today Atti had a cough and runny nose so I backed out of playgroup, my sister is on her way out of town and the next guest hasn’t made it to me yet, so I’m going to take my chance while it’s here. Today I think I’ll read a book. And listen to the rain.

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2010 Year of Pleasures #3

My house at the end of the rainbow

Taken from my backyard. The neighbors didn’t have a pot of gold, though.

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Something to Help

lindsay2

I have to confess, I’ve been avoiding the Haitian earthquake. I’ve been dealing with some anxiety issues in my own life and it felt like if I even opened that door, if I even let myself become aware of just how much suffering is happening there, it would be the last straw and I would just fall to pieces.

Like most of us, I imagine, I don’t have millions of dollars or medical expertise, so my only option is to say prayers and give my meager contribution to a good charity. And then sit back holding my breath and hoping these people get help. But I found something. I found something I can do, and hopefully you’ll help too, that can make an actual tangible difference to change the lives of five orphaned children and reunite a family.

I’ve known my friend Lindsay Crapo since college. We were roommates and close friends. She has always been a singularly loving and devoted person, loyal and actively compassionate – not just feeling for others, but motivated to do something to make it better. She and her husband Trevor, a marriage and family therapist, have been married for ten years and have three biological children.

But they also have five children in Haiti.

Lindsay and Trevor have been working with an orphanage in Haiti for the last three years. They travel down several times a year and volunteer wherever they can while they wait for all the red tape to clear before they could take their children home. International adoption is always complicated, but it seems especially complicated in Haiti. Lindsay and Trevor have already been through the courts. These children bear their last name. But they still have to wait until the government allows them to leave, which they hadn’t been willing to do for a very long time.

The orphanage where the Crapo’s children are living was in Port-Au-Prince the epicenter of last week’s earthquake that is being called one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history. Lindsay has been posting facebook status updates whenever she gets word. All her children are safe, much of the staff is safe, but there has been tremendous loss of loved ones, and still more great need. It is expected that the earthquake has created as many as 1,000,000 new orphans.

With this crisis, the government has expedited the immigration of these completed adoptions.These five children, ranging in age from 1 year old to 16, that Lindsay has been waiting for should be cleared to come home at any moment. When this happens, she will at most have only a few days to arrange travel and healthcare. It’s more likely that she will only have hours. For the first time in all these years of her efforts, Lindsay is asking for help. She needs to raise thousands of dollars immediately. She has to be prepared at a moments notice to pay for seven plane tickets from Port-Au-Prince to Florida. From there she’ll eventually have to travel to her home in Idaho, but she also needs to be prepared to stay in Florida long enough for her children to receive medical care. She doesn’t know exactly what condition her children will be in and at the very least they will most likely be dealing with dehydration.

I know we all have to be wary of giving money to anyone who asks, but I can testify that this is a worthy cause. Lindsay is my real life friend, and these children will be so blessed to be in her home. You can read more about her at her blog On the Wings of Miracles.

Lindsay’s also been featured in some local news. There are print stories here and here, and you can watch this video.

At her blog is also a donation button. I know times are so hard right now, but please consider donating. Any amount you can give makes a difference to this family. Please give what you can and then give thanks for the health and safety of your loved ones. And then please spread the word.

lindsay1

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Where Atti Stands Now

Giggles
It’s been awhile since I had one of my breakdowns worrying about Atti reaching milestones. When a premature baby hits two years old, they stop adjusting for the prematurity. Most of the time that delay has sorted itself out by then, and when it hasn’t, counting them a few months younger isn’t going to mean a lot.

Now that he’s nearly two, he’s missed pretty much all the milestones I think he’s going to miss. And that brings an odd kind of freedom. I no longer have to panic as another skill whizzes past us. Now I just get to dig in and focus on what he can do. For Atti, I feel pretty confident that his ability right now is as bad as it’s going to get.

And we still have time for things to get a whole lot better.

Crawling
Atti has mastered the commando crawl. He races around this house crawling on his belly like a soldier in the mud, winding up in the oddest locations. He seems to be growing unsatisfied with this method, because finally, after years of failed attempts in therapy, he’s discovering his hands and knees. This kid is on a schedule of his own and he will not. be. rushed.

Standing
I’ve really been working on his little thigh muscles lately. Lots of stretching and pull to stand exercises, and it is paying off big time. It doesn’t hurt that he spends more and more time playing with friends who stand up and run around, and heaven forbid someone do something that he can’t.

He can’t stand on his own yet, he still needs a lot of support, but what this all means is that he’s going to do it. He’s going to figure it all out, and he’s going to be just fine.

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2010 Christmas Cards

Finished Christmas Card

When you go as ridiculously overboard as I do every Christmas, you can’t do it all in a month. It takes a lot of careful planning. So every year around this time, I make my Christmas cards for the Christmas up ahead. I only came up with this plan a few years ago, but Holy Cow is it the best idea ever. All the Christmas papers and stamps are on sale, and I have more time in the week after Christmas than I could ever hope to find throughout the rest of the month.

When I’m done, I just pack them away with the rest of the decorations. Then when the decorations come out, I just have to worry about getting a recent picture and sticking them in the mail.

Here’s 2009‘s card
and here’s 2008‘s.

Last year’s card was a little too labor intensive. I got a little carried away. So this year I’m keeping it more simple.

Chistmas Card Supplies

Here’s what you’ll need:
Cardstock that is printed on both sides, cut down to 6″ tall by 9″ wide
Cardstock in a solid contrasting color cut to 4″ wide by 1/2″ tall
Stamped and embossed center image (I’ll explain)
Stamped and embossed interior image (ditto)
Tulle cut off the spool about 4″ wide

This style of card is called a gate card, meaning the sides fold in and meet in the middle. So the first step is to score 2 1/4″ in from each end. I love the scoring blade on my paper trimmer, but you could also use a bone folder.

When you make as many cards as I do, you have to keep your costs down however possible. Adding even one brad jacks your cost up like crazy when you have do it 100 times. So I try to stick to paper wherever possible, and stamping is really cost effective when you’re talking bulk.

You’ll need two embossed images. One is for the front and center of the card. It really doesn’t matter what stamp you use, but something with a greeting makes sense. Mine is about 2″ x 3″ which worked out really nicely. I stamped it on a shimmery cardstock, embossed it with glittery red powder, and then cut the paper out to the size of the stamp.

Christmas Card Step 1
The other image is for the inside of the card, to add a little something once the photo gets put in place. You’ll want to keep it on the small side so it doesn’t compete with your family pictures. Mine is about 1″ x 3/4″. I stamped it on coordinating cardstock and then cut around the outline. Tape it to the end of your 4 x 1/2″ cardstock strip.

Christmas Card Step 1.5
The rest of the interior stuff will be done in photoshop when I get our family pictures done. I envision this little decorative strip separating the photo section from the newsletter section.

Now back to the front of the card.
Christmas Card Step 2
Bunch up the long side of the tulle, and staple it to the right side of the gate we created earlier.

Christmas Card Step 3
Then take your center front embossed image and glue one side of it down on top of the tulle, arranging it so that it’s centered when both gates are closed. I used a liquid glue for this. Any other adhesive I tried wasn’t strong enough to make it through the tulle. The liquid glue may warp your paper, so I’d recommend using a thicker cardstock for your embossed image, but anything else and the embossed piece will just fall off in the mail.

There’s nothing like feeling like you’re on top of things. It doesn’t happen often to me, but every year when I pack these cards away I relish in a little gloat, feeling like at that moment, I am ahead of the game.

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Quilt of Hate no more

Quilt of Hate no more

Nearly three years later, I’ve finally finished it. My almost disastrous satin quilt project.

Satin quilt closeup

All my fears about the unintentional swastika pattern (that isn’t *technically* as swastika pattern because it faces the wrong way, but whatever, try explaining that to every person who walks in your home) has receded into the background now that I’ve got everything pieced together and the machine quilting done.

Binding
I finally just finished sewing up the binding, and now it’s all done. This was one of the longest projects I’ve ever worked on. I rarely let something go on this long without finishing up or developing a nervous tic.

We tossed it on the bed last night for it’s inaugural sleep, and it’s wonderful. I don’t think it will be my last satin quilt. It reminds me of the silky robes and nightgowns my mom used to wear, before one of us girls (ahem, Traci) claimed them for ourselves.

Now the only problem will be the first time a cat decides to sink their claws into it. I may shortly have a few less kitties wandering about the place.

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2010 Year of Pleasures #2

Mysterious Growing Things

It’s about time I turned my attention to my little garden plot, and it seems to have gotten started without me.

I have no idea what this stuff is. After the explosion of poppies and the lettuce bolting, plus the regular bits of clover and other weeds this spot is found of producing, it could be any number of things.

I’m tempted to let it all keep growing just to find out what they turn into, but I think I’ll have to get rid of it all before that happens if I want any tomatoes for this year.

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