October 2014

October 2014

I started out this month posting about Henry’s Pumpkin, click here to see that post.

Henry's pumpkin

Henry’s teacher had this note attached to a new pumpkin for him to take home two days later…

Letter Mrs Fechter

Robbie turned 11 years old this month.  I decided to do a birthday post for him this year because I haven’t been mentioning him very often in my blog.  Robbie’s Birthday

We don’t give many gifts or big gifts or have a huge party.   During the last year I have been not planning parties where we have many friends over.  Since our family grew to four kids, birthdays needed to be simplified.  Our family celebrates birthdays in a very simple way…we do special things – you pick your favorite dinner meal and dessert, you invite a friend to do something fun with us around your birthday time and we do something fun as a family.

I dyed a sheet for Robbie this summer with the intentions of having it made into a quilt.  Robbie helped me pick out the colors of the rainbow to use.   I loved that idea!  He doesn’t know that he is my “rainbow baby”.    I hired to have it machine quilted  and it was finished just a few days before his birthday.

dye swirl rainbow quilt finished

 I started this quilt in February after learning that my cousin would be having her “rainbow baby” in September.  I finished it the last week of October and gave it to her on October 31st!

quilt rainbow

 

quilt rainbow baby

 

Homecoming week at Iola means the school has an Orange and Black day.   I dyed their bandanas for this occasion and I expect they will get a lot of use out of them.

Dye bandanas orange and black

My sister Emily had her liver transplant in September.  I posted two posts around the time of her transplant.  A Prayer for Emily and A Sister’s Emotions.   She came home in October.  I have saved these before pictures to share an after picture at the same time.

This is the week she was in the hospital before her transplant.  She was very jaundice, I believe her bilirubin levels hit and all time high of 40 the week this picture was taken.

Emily Jaundice w John

I went to visit her and was pleased to see a smile on her face and she her in good spirits.  What else can you do when the doctor says, “You are not going home until you have a transplant.”  When I sat down next to her bed with the hospital window at my back I was shocked to see how yellow the whites of her eyes were and her skin color compared to John’s was also shocking.

Four days before her liver transplant:

Emily jaundice2

Emily jaundice 1

Almost three weeks after her transplant:

Emily not jaundice eyes

Emily not jaundice

Emily is home, recovering and getting stronger every day.  She told me she has lost a lot of weight since her transplant and looks very healthy.

Drinks!  I have a few favorite drinks.  I love coffee the most.  All kinds of coffee!  I also love beer, but don’t get to drink that very often.   Jack’s mom went to Finland, over a year ago (?), and brought a pair of Kuksa (Finnish drinking cups) for us.  We finally sat down next to each other on the couch and broke in our cups drinking Four Roses Single Barrel.

Kuksa cup breaking it in

 

 I also have to share a new find for me – a local coffee roaster is here in my area.  I had no idea!  Here is the link to the article where I learned of them, “Ruby Coffee Roasters sees business perk up”. 

ruby coffee

 Kuksa cup espresso

I also like to make and drink smoothies.  My best friend in college, Bethany, first introduced me to smoothies.  One day I made the mistake of prepping the blender with the smoothie ingredients and not blending it until after the boys got home.  When Robbie saw the blender before the blending happened he scrunched up his nose and said, “what is that going to be?”.  He didn’t drink my smoothie that day.

If he only knew that every day the before blending looks the same, he probably wouldn’t drink my smoothies.

 smoothie before             smoothie

Charlie has begged me for jobs that he could get paid for around the house.  It was hard to come up with something since everyone does jobs around here for no pay, like emptying the dishwasher, feeding the dogs, taking care of chickens, sweeping and vacuuming, cleaning up rooms, making firewood, stacking and bringing in firewood.  I only fold clothes when they come off the clothes line, if they come out of the dryer they get separated into each person’s own laundry basket.  That is as good as it gets around here and sometimes I wonder why we have dressers.  I decided folding laundry was a job I would pay to have done for the sake of it getting done and Charlie earning money.  Nola Mae isn’t very helpful when it comes to folding clothes.

Laundry charlie & Nola Mae

 Nola Mae loves to be measured, we’ll see if all our body measuring pays off when we go in for her well-child appointment this week and if she lets the nurse measure her.  When ever she finds one of my tape measures I measure her head circumference, arms, feet, toes, legs, nose, and ears.  It is a fun little game for us.   After her bath she stood there for a long time so Henry could count every inch.

Measuring Nola Mae

 I have worked really hard to exercise 5-6 days a week.  Doesn’t always happen that many times in a week, but is my goal!   I had recently organized our basement and got my Nordic Track out in the open for when there was a day I had time to get on it and do it.

One day it was windy and too yucky to run outside and I was too lazy to drive to the ski hill to hike on the trails.   I was wishing it was winter because skiing on a day like that would have been fine.  So I climbed on the Nordic Track and skied for an hour.  I had a great workout and imagined I was skiing.  I thought it was funny that our box of ski boots just happened to be right there in my face.  I couldn’t decide if that made it helpful to imagine skiing or painful because I wasn’t skiing on real snow.

nordic track

 Our school had a day off on a Friday this month.  I figured going to the skate board park in Waupaca would be a good idea because we would have the park all to ourselves.

 Charlie had fun riding his bike.swan park 3

 And everyone had fun sliding.

Swan park 2

 Nola Mae ran all over the place and tired herself out!

Swan Park 1

 Swan Park also has a very nice hiking trail.  We went on the trail through the woods and Nola Mae got a little nap.

swan park hike

 Robbie was in charge of the camera.

swan park Robbie selfie

Instead of trick or treating I bought each boy a bag of their favorite candy and we stayed home.  We had a good time in the woods making improvements to their forts.

Fort in woods

 And they had a fun game of 500.

500 Robbie & Charlie 1

 

500 Robbie & Charlie 2

 

 A few babywearing photos:

 I slingafied the other half of my friend’s woven wrap Winter Lilies.

ring sling didymos winter lillies

 

 I made these linen wraps for my cousin a matching one for her daughter.  (Rucksack Carry with Tibetan Tie)

wrap linen blue Cathy

 

 I took the boys and Jack to the ski hill to show them the new trail and Jack took this cool picture of Nola Mae waiting to be wrapped.

wrap Girasol rainbow back carry

 And this one when we were done wrapping.

wrap Girasol rainbow back carry tada

 Double Hammock  Carry with my Ellevill Norwegian Jack wool woven wrap.

wrap ellevill Jack action

 

 Wool wraps are tricky to wash.  I wanted to wash it to soften it up a little more, and it worked!  I had to take a photo of how pretty it looked on the drying rack.  It is a beautiful wrap!

wrap ellevill Jack drying

Swan Park nap in my woven wrap Ellevill  Zara Velvet.

swan park nap

 

 

I was hoping to share my dyeing projects from September and October before this post, maybe that will be next?

For now you can see some of my dyed items in my etsy store:   https://www.etsy.com/shop/skiingmama

 

 

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September 2014

September 2014

First day of school photo:

First day of school 2014

On the first day of school, Nola Mae and I took a bike ride to town to run errands.  I needed to do lots of things this day, grocery shopping, library, bank, post office, drop something off at school and most importantly get exercise and get away from the house so I wasn’t thinking about missing my boys.  Our way home was a lot of work for me…27 pound child, 15 pound bike trailer, 75 pounds of groceries and library books.

Bike errands

I have planned to dye my hair a non-traditional color (purple) for many months.  I finally got around to doing it and it faded to pink (not one of my favorite colors).  In the last month I have considered chopping my hair just twice to get rid of it.  When my mom first saw me after I dyed my hair, she joked with me that my fabric dyes got in my hair.   Now, I am feeling like I will keep it for a while.  Next, I will attempt purple and maybe more colors.

 hair dye pink

Jack has made many cigar box guitars in the last year.  This month Charlie finished a two string cigar box guitar.

 cigarbox guitar in progress

Jack made a video of Charlie and shared it on facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10202628856665701&set=vb.1326037913&type=3&theater

cigarbox guitar Charlie's

I have an amazing husband, he deserves a blog post all to himself.   He is talented in many areas, he is intelligent, he is teaching our kids many skills, he creates beautiful wooden furniture and boxes.

I was a little skeptical about these ugly pieces of wood when he loaded these into our car.

wooden burrow

One day he handed this beautiful bowl to me and told me he made it from the wooden burrows that we brought home.

wooden burrow bowl

Charlie turned a bowl with Jack.  He took his unfinished bowl to school to show his teacher.  Charlie was eager to finish it and then took it back to school.  One day I was looking for Charlie’s bowl to take a photo.  He told me he gave it to his teacher.

We got together with all the Vater cousins this month, unfortunately because Grandpa Neil passed away.  It was wonderful to see our kids having a blast with their cousins, and visit with the cousins we don’t see very much.  Nola Mae and I missed out on the last family gathering because she was sick.   I am not interested in doing the math on when I last saw Jack’s cousins from CA, it was sometime when Ben was still a little boy.  When Ben opened his mouth I just about died, because he had a man’s voice, not a little boy anymore!  Ben is the tallest man in the Vater family.

vater cousins and family

I have many sisters, four of them, all of them are amazing in their own way!  Early this month, Becca completed her first Ironman in Madison,  2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run.

I wasn’t able to make it to Madison to cheer her on.  I was able to watch her finish from the comforts of my home, 130+ miles away on my computer through the live-feed video on Ironman’s website.

I have my very own finish line photo of her.

IronMan Madison Becca

 Nola Mae loves to put clothes on, take them off, and put extra layers of clothing.  While I was taking a shower  Nola Mae climbed   on the counter and was putting socks on and taking them off.  I took this picture with the intention of doing a blog post with all the photos I have collected of her in her many outfits.

Nola Mae socks happy

Everything was going great.  You can see all the socks on the floor that she had on and took off.  Then she got stuck in these blue socks, that is when things started to get UGLY!  Exactly, one minute later…

Nola Mae socks sad  Nola Mae socks sadder

Two days later…there was an outfit that included many layers and many tears – three shirts, one dress and one pair of tights – she wanted more clothes on and I wouldn’t help her.

Nola Mae flopping

The above photos aren’t so pretty ones of Nola Mae, but this one is!

Nola Mae

When you co-sleep and put your child to bed before yourself they claim their spot.

Yours spot

I knew Henry was outside on the deck.  I heard sounds of a trombone.  I was afraid he snuck Robbie’s  trombone upstairs and outside.  I was relieved, happy and very excited to see him making music with the vacuum cleaner hose, rather than the $754 trombone!

Henry hose trombone

Four days before my birthday a wonderful gift arrived at our house – a spiral ham and caramel popcorn!  I was delighted, ham is one of our favorite things.  Especially, mine because one ham goes a long way here.  If I am remembering correctly this ham gave us  at least four meals, fillings for additional meals, made awesome snacks and were added to cold lunches for boys.  The very last of this ham will be eaten sometime this fall when I make my favorite soup!

bday ham

On September 11th, Nola Mae and I drove to Milwaukee to see my sister, Emily.  Earlier in the week she was admitted to the hospital for liver failure and the talk was “she isn’t going home until she gets a new liver”.  Her MELD Score was so high, she was on the top of the liver transplant list for the Midwest.  As the week progressed and she got more fluids and antibiotics she was feeling and looking better.  I was thankful to see her in better spirits and health later in the week so that when and if a new liver came to her she would be strong enough to make it through a transplant.

Emily hospital 9-11

On Monday, September 15th, around 4:30 AM Emily was told that there is an organ donor who is a perfect match for her.   I am pretty sure this was the longest day in her entire life.  It sure was for me!   The staff took her to surgery for the liver transplant at 5:30 PM.  If I am remembering correctly, I got the call at 12:21 AM, on the 16th, telling me that her surgery was done and she will be heading to ICU.

Click here to read my thoughts on the day of Emily’s transplant, “A Sister’s Emotions”.

I spent the day before my birthday glued to my computer and close to the phone waiting for any news on Emily’s transplant.  I didn’t get much sleep that night and woke up for my birthday in a zombie-like state.  I knew Emily was sedated, well cared for in ICU and I needed to get the heck out of my house!  IT was MY birthday and I wanted my special coffee and I wanted to use my 60% & 50% off coupons at JoAnn Fabrics!  So Nola Mae and I went to town!

I made a trip to my favorite thrift store and found a bunch of dye blanks!

  I bought these fabrics.  The birds and butterflies were on the $4/yard rack.  The bottom white fabrics I bought for making dyed scarves.

bday fabric

A close up of one of the white fabrics.

dye blank for scarf

I made two scarves from this fabric – one for my step-mom and one to sell or give away as a gift (or maybe keep for myself).

Dyed Scarf Rainbow colors

My last stop in town was Starbucks, thanks to my sister Danna and her boyfriend, I purchased a yummy coffee and this beautiful coffee mug.

bday coffee cup

The boys (& Jack) gave me a package of socks, these awesome rubber boots and something else.  I can’t remember what the third thing was.   I love my new boots and wear them every day!

bday boots

Usually my garlic gets planted in October.  The planting window for garlic in Wisconsin is mid-September to November.  I remember this because my birthday is the beginning of this planting window and my brother’s birthday, which is at the end of October, is my absolute last day for planting garlic.   This fall, I started planting my garlic before my birthday and then finished planting 200+ cloves of garlic the day after my birthday.

garlic planting 2014

We are were still picking raspberries into October.

Raspberries 8-31-12

 Every year I find a pair of Walking Sticks in my raspberry patch.  They are always attached to each other every time I see them.  This time I happened to have the camera with me and when I bumped them, they came apart and I took this photo.

walking stick

I have accumulated many dye blanks, I am always looking for more.  Recently, I  had some time to organize and prioritize my dyeing projects

dye thirft store blanks

I also had some time to set up a little dyeing space in my basement and got busy.  In one week I dyed 20 pieces.

dye table

We paddled up the river from Big Falls when the leaves were beautiful.  It was a great way to end the month.

paddle car fall 2014

paddle big falls 2014  paddle rocking 2014

I am making and selling soap again this year.  I started early for Christmas by making four batches.

“Cleansing Calendula”, with essential oils: Lavender & Tea Tree and ground Calendula flowers for a great exfoliation.    Aroma:  Soft, floral.  Benefits:  Renewing, cleansing, stimulating.

soap calendula flowers & lavender & tea tree  

“Cinnamon Swirl”  with essential oils:  Orange & Cinnamon and ground cinnamon, which gives it the dark color.   Aroma:  Warm, spicy   Benefits:  Warming, comforting, energizing

 soap cinn & organe

(these are the same soap, just different batch and different method of coloring with the ground cinnamon)

“Jumping Juniper”  essential oils:  Juniper, Lavender & Rosemary   Aroma: Floral   Benefits: Restoring, empowering, balancing, purifying, &  uplifting.

  soap juniper, lavender & rosemary

I have about twelve pounds of garlic to sell.

garlic for sale 2014

It was a good birthday month for me!

A Sister’s Emotions

This morning at 5:30 I woke up to the phone ringing and then the answering machine picked it up. This was the first night in almost a week that I wasn’t sleeping with the phone next to me. I knew it wasn’t for Jack because the person talking was going on and on – not the typical early AM call we sometimes get, “Jack, I do not need a ride today.” from Jack’s friend and co-worker who he rideshares with.

Instead it was my sister telling me there is a liver match for her. I was wide awake and afraid to get out of bed to listen to the message. I still haven’t listened to it.  I got out of bed and called my sister back right away to hear it from her.

Emily & family1

In the only way I know how to process my feelings in a stressful time in my life is to write about them.  I started out with a list of my emotions and physical reactions:

Scared

Terrified

Nervous

Sadness

Helpless

Anxious

Speechless

Worried

Frightened

Relieved

Distracted

Stressed

Frustrated

Antsy

Lack of appetite

Nausea

Heart racing

Shaking

Sobbing

Why are my feelings so negative when everyone who is replying to the news is so excited and happy?

Our family knew this was coming since she was a baby, now she is 40 years old, and the time has come!   (Many children with Biliary Atresia have a liver transplant when they are still a child.)

Another family will have to suffer the loss of a loved one to help my sister live.  I know, a precious gift of organ donation is priceless, incredible and unbelievable.  A gift, I would not hesitate to give if my family was put in the same situation.  I am sad that this has to happen to someone and someone else’s family.  I am thankful people are organ donors and I will be eternally grateful to this one special family that saved my sister’s life.

The things I am doing today:

Praying constantly.

Sending positive vibes to my sister.

Wishing I was closer.

Hugging my sweet little girl who wants to hug me and wipe away all my tears while I cry today.

Drinking too much coffee.

Baking.

And I may just clean my house, just like Emily would (AKA “the white tornado”).

With my birthday coming up I get frequent questions from my husband about what we could do for my birthday and is there anything special I want for my birthday?  He is great, no guessing and all expectations are expressed.  My wishes usually involve not having to cook dinner or a paddle or time alone in the sewing room.   I don’t spend any money on myself, ever, unless it is around my birthday.  That is when I may buy a yummy coffee from a coffee shop or new socks for myself or a yard of fabric I have admired (and only if I have a coupon).  My life is simple and I am happy.

Last week when I was praying for my sister to make it through this, it occurred to me that the only thing I wanted for my birthday was for her to have a new liver.  Tomorrow is my birthday.

It is 6:00 PM and Emily is headed for surgery now.   Please help me pray for my sister and her doctors and for the grieving family.

An interesting resource:  http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/atresia/

A prayer for Emily

A Prayer for Emily – On Waiting for an Organ Transplant

Ancient One, Breath of Life, In Your wisdom You have given medical science The skill and ability to transplant organs, Renewing life for the critically ill. G0d of compassion and mercy, Bless my sister, Emily

With this gift of life. Release her from fear and pain, From moments of uncertainty and times of despair, From powerful medications, debilitating treatments and temporary interventions.

Open the hearts of men and women To share their health By giving blood, Registering as marrow donors And dedicating themselves to organ donation.

Open, too, the hearts of families Facing the death of a loved one, So that, in the shadow of grief, They find the strength to give the gift of life. May they find meaning and comfort In their time of suffering and loss.

God of healing, My sister Waits in the shadow of disease, In the shadow of pain and suffering, In the shadow of mortality. May this wait end soon, With a healthy organ, a successful transplant, And a speedy recovery.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

Please pray for my sister.  We have gotten word this morning that a match has been found.

Project 365 Week 30

Project 365 Week 30

Project 365: Take a photo a day and see your life in a whole new way.

7/25/11 (Monday) –  I purchased 50 pounds (1 bushel) of peaches for $20 last week.  Once they were to the ripeness that I like we ate as many as we could.  I made smoothies (even a green smoothie with peaches and bananas), I made peach crisp (three times), and sliced peaches put them onto cookie sheets and froze them (after they were frozen I put them in quart ziplock bags).  Out of the 50 pounds I ended up with about 20 pounds of frozen peaches in the freezer.

25 pounds of peaches, aren’t they pretty?

Two of the three pans of peach crisp I baked this week.  I doubled the peaches in the recipe and not the crisp topping.  I shared one pan with our neighbors and I shared the other with Jack.  Click here to see the recipe.

7/26/11 (Tuesday) – Jack drove the tractor out of the barn to put it outside to sell.

 For Sale: W-9 Tractor

(leave a comment if you are interested in purchasing this tractor)

7/27/11 (Wednesday) –  My boy who likes to problem-slove and invent things, set up this rain-catcher in the rain so we don’t have to waste electricity to pump water out of the well.

7/28/11 (Thursday) –  I was planning on leaving for Milwaukee today and decided not to leave until Friday morning.  We were almost packed and my cake was decorated for the weekend.  I felt like I needed a little more time to breathe at home.   I decided to meet our friends at the beach in the afternoon.  I was hoping to wear the boys out so I could get more things done after they went to bed early.  Henry fell asleep in the car on the way home from the beach.  He played so hard and was so tired.  When we got home at 5:30 I carried him into the house and he stayed sleeping until 7am!

The cake.

7/29/11 (Friday) –  I arrived at Emily’s house in the afternoon.  She took us to the community pool in her neighborhood.

Later we met my brother and his family at my Dad’s.  We took the boys to one of my favorite places from my younger years, Doctor’s Park on Lake Michigan.

7/30/11 (Saturday) – We participated in the Liver Life Walk – Milwaukee Lakefront.

Emily and John had Emily’s Energy t-shirts made for everyone.  My next post this week will be photos from the walk.

IMG_4845

Liver Man was giving high-fives and probably dripping with sweat inside there!

IMG_4839

The youngest in our extended family to attend the walk and my favorite boy who is still one years-old (for just another month).

7/31/11 (Sunday) – We spent the morning helping my Dad clean up a tree that fell down in his backyard.

After we were done Henry sprayed us down.

Loaded and ready to go home!