Thursday, March 26, 2015

Emergency Surgery

This is Mama posting for Jamie.

Jamie had severe abdominal pain yesterday and had surgery this morning to clear an obstruction (likely related to the umbilical hernia when she was pregnant).

The doctors successfully cleared the obstruction and she is rest comfortably and will be in the hospital a day or so more.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Here I Go

Oh, it's all coming back to me:

Reference letters.
Transcripts.
The personal essay.

Yep, I'm applying for graduate school.

Again.

I mentioned my call to become a UU hospice chaplain and, after much research, I've determined that the best course for me is to pursue a Master of Divinity in order to be a fully accredited chaplain, through the Unitarian Universalist Association.

I can go to school online, with a few intensive weeks at the school, which specializes in a low-residency online program.  It's also a fully recognized UU seminary.  And the program takes three years, including some of the Clinical Pastoral Education credits I would need to become a chaplain.

So, I'm applying.

Nervous.  Excited.  School-weary.  Determined.

I just need to keep the end in sight, my hospice work with dying patients and their families.

Can't wait!  Wish me luck!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

24-Hour Sleepover Special

1:30 p.m.  We arrived at our hotel in Sturbridge, MA.  It's close to Old Sturbridge Village, where Sis and I would be overnighting with the Girl Scouts, and has a cute poster of OSV in reception.  Mama took the kids to the Village to look around; I stayed back and stretch and rest.  It's going to be a long night.


While they're out, I got several emails with photos, particularly of them sledding down the hill and of the woolly sheep in the barnyard.  



Mama even gave it a whirl!


4:00 p.m.   We head to dinner at the Publick House nearby, which is an eighteenth-century tavern turned restaurant, inn, and banqueting facility.  A reception was ending as we arrived; a wedding ceremony was being set up as we left!  We ate next to the hearth in the tavern room and had traditional New England fare:  sweet buns, yeast rolls, pumpkin bread, lobster pie, chicken pot pie, poached salmon, turkey dinner with all the trimmings, Grape Nut pudding, Indian pudding, apple pie, and an almond raspberry tart.  Delicious!  And the historical ambience made it even better.  

Oh, and Sis lost a tooth while eating her pot pie!  That girl, teeth coming left and right these days (which is overwhelming our forgetful Tooth Fairy, named Meadow Larkspur.)

5:30 p.m.   We took a quick break before the evening activities, and then . . . 

6:30 p.m.   Our Hop Into History sleepover at Old Sturbridge Village began!  We had 13 girls and six chaperones, which is almost our full troop sans three.  We got our gear settled into our sleeping space (eventually because we changed places once) and started our evening activities.  I have to say that I loved the education building.  It was an open, airy, light space with dozens of semi-divided "classrooms."  Some had old-time kitchens with wooden tables for prep and hearths for cooking; some had looms, others had printing presses.  Everywhere there were hutches, redware pottery, tin utensils, and other period details.  Definitely an educator's paradise.  (Our sleeping space was in one of these homey kitchens.

7:30 p.m.  Our first activity was making Jumbles, or cookies.  They mixed them in a redware bowl with a birch whisk, using rosewater for flavoring (there wasn't any vanilla in the States in the 1830s, I believe.)  Then we baked them on cookie sheets in reflecting ovens placed before a burning fire.  They also made lemonade using powdery sour citric acid, lemon juice, sugar, and water.  All the girls tasted the citric acid and made pucker faces!  These two treats would form our late night snack. 



Next the girls moved to the painting area, where they outlined dogwood flowers on acetate with Sharpies and then colored them in with paints.  Meanwhile, the guide touched delicately on labor issues and had the girls commute how quickly they would have to work to make a dollar a day.  Sis did the math--one painting every twelve minutes for 10 hours at 2 cents each would earn the dollar.  And the girls didn't work anywhere near that fast!

After baking and painting, the group went on a one-hour tour of the village by lantern light.  I stayed back because it was uneven and icy (apparently it was also speedy and I would have had trouble keeping up regardless.)  I've seen the village by candlelight at Christmas so I didn't feel like I was missing much.  
9:00 p.m. Instead, I lay on my little mat and stretched and drew this mandala inspired by some of the early American art around me. See the 9 square and flying geese and Celtic rope?

10:00 p.m.  When they returned from their hike, we had our snack (I couldn't taste the rosewater) and got ready for bed.  This was the part that made me nervous, both for my own ability to sleep on the floor without messing up my back and also for the girls actually getting some sleep.  The former was easier than the latter!  I set up my mat near the entrance to our little area, with my chair nearby. Sis was on the other side of the chimney near her friends. The girls played cards for awhile and then giggled a lot longer.  They stayed chatty after lights out and the lead staff member reprimanded us a few times.  Of course, I'm such a rule follower that I was bothered by the noise--I would have been one of the quiet girls--but in the end, there's not much you can do to shush a bunch of ten-year-olds!  

11:30 p.m.  They fell asleep eventually (though we had one girl who got ill, but she got better quickly--and luckily her mom was with us)--and it was the girls from the other groups who were playing flashlight wars and running around in the dark back and forth to the bathroom (their chaperones were asleep in another section--not very smart, but then I guess it meant the chaperones got to sleep!)  Of course, I didn't sleep much at all.  I imagine I slept in fifteen-minute chunks, or so, listening to all the unusual noises and worrying about the sick girl (and the threat of more sick girls, ugh.  But no one else threw up.)  My bed was as comfortable as it could be and I moved back and forth between it and the chair, which is super comfortable.



6:00 a.m.  By the way, those noisy, wandering girls from the other group?  They woke up and started talking--loudly--an hour before wake-up time!!  The Tooth Fairy had visited Sis in the night, though she needed some help finding Sis, and then Sis didn't find the money.  I knew it had been delivered--how do you say that, though?  So I said I thought I'd seen the Fairy, digging deeper. . . . but it was only very much later that we found the money in her bedding.  I think, though, the proverbial cat is out of the sleeping bag.  (Though, I think it had been for awhile.)  On an up note:  I think all the short naps overnight kept my back from tightening up too much because I was pretty unharmed and barely even stiff after a night on the floor.  Not sure if it was preparation or a miracle, but I'll take it!
7:30 a.m.  We had breakfast--bagels, cereal, and Hasty Pudding (made in a crock pot with white cornmeal, salt, and water) served with craisins and sugar.  Kinda like grits, I thought it needed butter and cream!  No wonder it is a "hasty" meal.

8:15 a.m.  We hiked into the snow-covered village that morning to see a storytelling performance in the lovely old meeting houses.  The kids sat quiet and interested in stories about an old wise magic fish and another about a contest with Old Man Winter.  



 9:15 a.m.  We're packed and ready to go.  Al the girls return to their folks, many head into the village.  Mama and Bud pick us up and I get a quick shower before we head back to the Village.  Bud and Mama had driven around doing some Ingress tracking and then played some games in the hotel.  So not as exciting as our night, but they had a good time.

10:00 a.m.  We wandered around OSV, eventually running into our GS friends.  Sis and Bud enjoyed hanging out with them.  I liked watching the cooking demos, as usual--apple pie in the Parsonage and maple cookies in the Fitch House.  We also picked up some beer bread and maple soda in the little shop.

Then we went to the craft center, where Mama made a spile (the little wooden pegs you use to tap trees for maple sugar time) and I hand-sewed a little seed bag.

12:00 p.m.  For lunch, we went to BT's Smokehouse across the street from the Village.  The line was long, as was the wait.  And it was amazing barbecue!  We had brisket sandwiches, St. Louis ribs, pastrami on rye, smoked salmon, and all the fixin's--the very best collards ever, Texas caviar, mac and cheese, cornbread, cole slaw, and more.  Even Tagalong bread pudding.

And thus, at 3:00 p.m., a little over 24 hours later, we returned home from our special sleepover.  Exhausted, excited, stuffed to the gills.  Sis has already asked where we're overnighting next!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Doodling during the Snow



I STILL Love Snow

Yep, first day of spring and New England is celebrating with snow, specifically 1-3" or more here.

And while I am very glad the 2' of snow all over our yard had melted down to little glacial pockets, I still love to watch the snow fall.  I'm not sorry at all that it is snowing on the first day of spring.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Affirmations


It's been a rough couple of days.  Cold weather and storms, tough part of my cycle, possible endometriosis, and some anxiety about not feeling well.  Vicious cycle.  Nothing awful, just exhausting and frustrating. Except this is a big weekend--our Girl Scout overnight--and I want to go.  So I'm putting the list of affirmations I regularly add to in order to bulk up my confidence and have readily available.


I have not had severely debilitating back pain in almost 4 whole years.
Last Memorial Day 2014 when I had back pain, I still functioned and did things.
I can walk longer and faster than ever before.
I know how to cope with pain.
I know how to cope with fear.
I know there will be pain and fear and I am ready.
I have compassion for myself.
I have the tools I need--meds, heat pack, brace, stretches, rest.
I have great support and understanding in Gin and the kids.
I have the time and resources to take it easy.


I survived and thrived at Disney World and DC and Boston and Philadelphia and Houston.
Even though EPCOT was hard, I got through it.
I've done 
  • basketball
  • water basketball
  • long movies
  • Lion King, Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis, Wicked, Vagina Monologues
  • the flight to Texas
  • museums
  • our nano-honeymoon in NYC (and all those stairs at the Merchant House)
  • restaurants at night
  • walking in the snow
  • snow angels
  • canoeing
  • laundry
  • baking
  • unloading the dishwasher
  • walking on the treadmill
  • sitting on the floor with the cats
  • taking a real bath.

I can sit at a hospital bedside and visit for hours.
I can light a fire and cook over it.
I can go swimming.
I took Food, Fire, & Fun.
I took Archery and was certified as an instructor.
I passed First Aid and CPR--I can give mouth-to-mouth and use an AED.
I have ridden on parade floats and given a lecture on costuming in full corseted costume.
I can sit at the piano and play "Finlandia."
I am learning ASL.
I went on a retreat by myself.  I sat at length, creating art.  I even took yoga.
I have won 4 stars on Just Dance, dancing to "Bang, Bang."


I flew to England and back..
I did Cardiff. I did England.

I can do this.