Friday Fave Five #115

You may have noticed that I rarely get my FFF published on Fridays. For now my husband’s day off is Friday and I like to keep the day as free as possible so he and I can spend time together. But since the purpose of the FFF is to recount blessings in our lives, I guess it ultimately does not matter much if these posts go up on Friday or another day of the week!

I have missed a couple of weeks of FFF. As I continue to find my new normal after more than two years of health struggles since my surgery, I am gently pushing myself to return to more responsibilities and activities. Sometimes I guess correctly and sometimes I find I have pushed myself too hard and need to sit back to rest and restore for a day or two. I also find I am much more linear in my ability to accomplish tasks. Multitasking was never my best point, but now it’s more of a challenge to do more than one thing at a time. Getting somewhat caught up on my paused “to do” list from a couple of years ago has been satisfying, but by focussing on that list, I missed posting FFF, among other things. Here are a few blessings for the past couple of weeks:

1. Not such a big problem – Our car broke down on the way to prayer meeting one recent Wednesday night. When a newer car with all the safety feature bells and whistles flashes red lights and tells you to pull over, you do it. The display indicated a major problem with the braking system, but it turned out to be an almost-dead battery. Once the new battery was installed the diagnostic was all clear and a potentially expensive repair ended up being a matter of regular maintenance.

2. Hospitality – One of the biblical responsibilities for those in ministry is to show hospitality. Illness can change how that looks in our lives so I have been blessed to slowly begin to host people in our home again.

3. Old photos – Sorting through family photos has been on my to do list ever since my computer crashed a few years ago and a friend recovered most of my pictures. Though the pictures were recovered they were no longer in any order. The past few weeks I have been sorting through the pics and thoroughly enjoying the memories these images evoked. Every person in our family has “the face” that defines them in their silly or thoughtful moments. I may make a photo book of these funny and endearing family faces!

4. Snow and harvest – We had a bit of snow earlier this week and a several inches Friday night and Saturday. All October we would look at the fields surrounding our town and pray that the farmers would get their crops in. A late spring and a cool, rainy summer made harvest time especially uncertain this year. A farmer in our church had us all praying for his harvest and we collectively gave a prayer of thanksgiving when they were able to finish before the snowfall.

5. Cards – I’ve been working on Christmas cards and photo cards the past few weeks. Here are a few of my latest designs:

Friday Fave Fave #114

1. Refreshing time away We were able to spend a few days in Banff and Canmore this past week. I still remember the first time over 30 years ago when we visited the Canadian Rockies a scant hour away from our new hometown of Calgary. There was such joy and peace and awe in observing the glorious craggy rocks jutting up so majestically from a pristine forested landscape. It’s no less majestic or awe-inspiring today and we loved our few days of rest there.

2. Insulin pump Our third daughter has had type 1 diabetes since she was 10. This week, over 20 years later, she received her first insulin pump. We are rejoicing with her and pray for better health and management for her because of this wonderful appliance.

3. Visiting old friends It’s always a blessing to visit with old friends. We connected with some friends in Canmore and later in Calgary on our way home where we enjoyed a blessed time of fellowship together.

4. Thanksgiving dinner The American in me still blinks when Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated in October. It’s less of a big deal in Canada but still a time for a family meal and fun times together. This year my daughters hosted dinner at their home and our married daughter and her husband joined us and our borrowed family in town for a delicious ham dinner. Afterward we played Timeline and we even convinced my husband, who is not a games person, to join in.

5 Mountain photography One of the reasons I love to visit the mountains is the opportunity to take pictures. The time of day, season of the year, clouds, snow and wind all provide an ever-changing landscape to photograph. Several people have asked me to make some more scripture cards, my photos with scripture verses added to them. I was pleased with some of the pictures from this past week and will share the scripture cards when I get them designed.

Friday Fave Five #113

1. Opportunity to vote Canada called an election for October 21. Recently Elections Canada has offered early polling, more voting locations for registered voters, and the freedom to vote at any location in your province with proper paperwork and ID. My husband and I took advantage of one of the early polling days and found the polling station doing a brisk business. Yay for democracy!

2. Better than last year My firbromyalgia has flared up again. While there have been no dietary, supplement, or medical changes, the weather has certainly been colder, which seems to affect my body negatively. The thing is, even though I again have pain and some muscle spasms, I am in a far better place than I was a year ago at this time. For that I am very, very grateful.

3. Facetime and WeChat Though I am firmly planted in the prairies of western Canada, I have children and grandchildren living in China and the US. Last night I was working on a card order and chatted the whole time via Facetime with my daughter in South Carolina. On WeChat my 3 year old grandson in China left me a delightful audio message and my daughter-in-law and I discussed a book we are both reading via chat messages. What a gift!

4. Growth in understanding  As we age and continue in our Christian walk we can have “aha” moments where we realize things we were taught or things we assumed about what we were taught are wrong. I am grateful and humbled that God continues to teach us and transform our thinking as we filter our lives through His word. In the past we plowed through life and ministry without regular days off  and with only very occasional times away to recharge. Studying the life of Christ and the sabbath rest does not support that behaviour. Yes, there are times or even seasons when we need to set aside those restorative times, but there is nothing sacred or inherently spiritual about needlessly driving yourself into ineffectiveness or illness by refusing to rest and restore. With renewed appreciation we are looking forward to enjoying three days in the mountains on an upcoming mid-semester break.

5. Bathroom fixed Our main bathroom toilet leaked, damaged the subfloor, and caused some of the floor tiles to break. This week a local contractor did an excellent job of fixing the problem and replacing our flooring. We were without that bathroom for about a month so it is great to have it usable again.

These are a special order card and a few other cards I have been working on. I did post some of these on my Purple Grandma Designs facebook page, but many of you may not have seen them. This week I am organizing my craft area in preparation for making Christmas cards. Christmas is coming!

Special order card

I like the layered look of the desert scene with mountains in the background and cacti in the front.

Trying out one of my new Christmas dies!

A new die for my literature collection of dies.

This was fun to add details to this pretty die.

I am fond of the silhouette dies. The cat playing with the yarn is a cute detail!

Friday’s fave Five #104

On Fridays I post FFF to be intentional about recounting blessings of the previous week. Suzanne sponsors this exercise at Living to Tell the Story and invites you to participate too!

1. Seeing improvement – The iron infusions appear to be producing results. My stamina is slowly increasing, the underlying muscle pain is subsiding, and I am thoroughly enjoying the renewed healthy-looking countenance. I still feel quite tired in the mornings but perhaps a recently diagnosed tooth infection has been contributing to that. I am so very grateful for each answer, each treatment, and each bit of improvement.

2. Book club – My daughters and their friends host a book club I’m participating in. We had to set aside getting together for a while due to complexities in all our lives but are scheduled to resume meeting next month. This time around we are reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook and am listening through a second time for clarity and detail.

A film has been made of this book. I’m not sure if it has been released yet but I will probably end up seeing it unless reviews indicate it portrays objectionable elements. (The producers would have to twist things around to do that, but isn’t that what happens sometimes with films?)

There are not many movies based on books that I have enjoyed once reading the book. My husband and I recently watched Unbroken and found it disappointing. Laura Hillenbrand’s book is full of rich detail and carefully crafted phrases which, woven and layered together, create a deeply satisfying literary canvas. Most of the movies based on books that I have seen have to either give you the Dummies version for sake of time or want to deviate from the storyline in the name of artistic expression. I don’t have high expectations for this film either, but we’ll see.

3. New gluten free discoveries – Trying packaged gluten free foods can be…..interesting. I understand that those who must eat gluten, dairy, soy, and egg free need to be more creative with baking and may not have much to choose from in prepared foods. So many of these items I’ve tried have grainy textures, are extremely dry, or are strange tasting. I’ve recently learned I’m not fond of the taste and texture brown rice pasta, but I do have a couple of other new-to-me Italian GF pasta products on hand to try soon.

After chatting with the dietician at the Ellerslie Sobeys earlier this month, I bought some Schar brand products from Germany. The cheese bites – small crackers in several shapes – are very tasty with no weird textures or flavours. Their Honeygrams also have great flavor and a texture fairly close to graham crackers

Tate brand gluten free cookies out of the States are exceptional. Both the Ginger Zinger and Chocolate Chip varieties have the taste and appearance of home baked cookies like no other GF cookies I’ve tried. I found the Zingers at the Italian Centre and the Chocolate Chip at Ellerslie Sobeys.

4. New dishwasher on the way – My new dishwasher is ordered and is scheduled to be installed at the end of the month. After chatting with the sales lady while she wrote up my order, she volunteered to give me free delivery instead of the usual $50 charge. And that was an unexpected blessing!

5. Yard clean up – The wonderful young woman who helps me around the house called me on Saturday morning. She and her husband and three small children wanted to volunteer to come over and clean up our yard. What a blessing their help was! The day was sunny and warm, so my husband and I prepared a simple picnic style lunch to enjoy with our friends on the deck at lunchtime.

Here are a few special order and other Mother’s Day cards I made this year.

Friday Fave Five #102

On Fridays I post FFF to stop and recall blessings of the previous week. Suzanne sponsors this exercise at Living to Tell the Story and invites you to participate too!

Still posting on Monday. Truly, my goal is to get back to posting on Fridays!

1. Spring has sprung! We finally are seeing sunshine and warm breezy days. I love having the windows open and hearing the background bustle of a small town: machines working on nearby construction, kids laughing and chatting as they walk, ride, or skateboard by the house, the mournful whistle of a train several miles away, and the joyful chirping of birds in our yard. Welcome spring!

2. Iron infusions almost completed – Monday I will have my last iron IV. People keep asking me if I’m feeling better yet and that’s hard to judge. After the first two infusions I felt pretty good but this last one left me achy in my joints with sore muscles and fatigue. My husband and I both have this intense lingering cough and runny noses from an earlier cold so maybe that’s the reason for the fatigue. Or maybe it’s still my fibromyalgia. Or ??? It can take up to three months to feel the full effects of the treatment, so I look forward to healthier days ahead.

3. Time with my daughters – I love having my daughters living nearby. They all live very busy lives so when we can all spend time together I really love it. Monday four of us went to a nearby place to get pedicures.

I’ve had trouble with an ingrown toenail most of my life. My hip dysplasia, (you know that congenital condition I never knew I had until mid-life) used to make me seem loose jointed, so I could whip my foot up near my face and take care of the problem myself. Armed with cuticle scissors, rubbing alcohol, antibiotic cream and a band-aid, I would soak my foot, sterilize my scissors, then painstakingly snip away the offending bit of nail hoping not to make myself bleed. Do you know how sharp the points of cuticle scissors are? Alas, I almost always poked myself in the process and had to apply the antibiotic cream and band-aid after the bleeding stopped. I was not cut out to be a foot surgeon.

Years ago, that poor toe became infected and my doctor had to remove part of the nail. It bled profusely which somehow made me feel a bit better about previously making myself bleed. Maybe it wasn’t my surgical skills as much as my physiology. But still, who wants to anticipate a bleeding toe when treating an ingrown nail?

I wasn’t shocked when the former nail place I frequented made the toe around my ingrown nail bleed – twice. Finally, one of the technicians took care of my problem perfectly so I would ask for her when booking an appointment. She was great! She helped me without causing me pain! And then she moved away. Sigh.

It took me a long time to gather my courage to try a new place. The first time my daughter and I went I had a technician named Kevin, apparently this location’s ingrown toenail guru. After soaking my foot, he gently wielded his scissors and clippers and within a couple of minutes the offending piece of nail was cut away without pain and without blood!

Monday Kevin helped me, three cheerful ladies helped my daughters, and we enjoyed chatting, smooth feet, and fresh spring polish on our pinkies. Afterward we visited together at the local Starbucks. It was such a treat for the four of us to spend that time together.

4. Moving on – A daughter of my heart and her children came over for a final visit before the family moved to the States for her husband’s exciting new position. I have been blessed and encouraged by this dear sister in Christ these past six years and will miss her and our time spent together. May God richly bless and encourage you, dear friend, in your new adventure.

5. Rosy cheeks – It has been almost a year since anyone told me I have colour in my face. These iron infusions must be helping because a couple of people have commented in the past week about me having some colour in my cheeks. Sure beats a sallow cement hue!

 

FFF #97 and #98

On Fridays I post FFF to stop and recall blessings of the previous week. Suzanne sponsors this exercise at Living to Tell the Story and invites you to participate too!

Today is a two for one special! First is the FFF I wrote for 11/3/17 but never posted, followed by today’s FFF.

FFF #97

1. Butternut squash soup – Butternut squash soup is a favorite of mine – as long as it doesn’t have nutmeg in it. I like nutmeg just fine, just not in butternut soup. This week I made a batch the soup using some herbs from my herb garden. It was delicious and tasted especially good after cold symptoms swooped down on me Wednesday night. Nothing like hot soup to treat a cold!

2. Check up at surgeon – The check up at the surgeon was encouraging. I have been graduated to full weightbearing as tolerated, but I need to continue using my walker and crutches until I get a few weeks of serious physio under my belt. I have been cleared to drive, which is nice, but when my cold swooped in, so did the snow. It’s been snowing lightly on and off since Tuesday and everything is coated with either snow or ice. The biggest concern I need to watch out for at this stage of my recovery is falling, so dealing with ice and snow just means I need to be extra vigilant, especially during these first few weeks of intensive physio until my leg and hip are stronger.

3. Football game – I enjoy watching American college football, particularly when my favorite team is playing (Go Buckeyes!) Last week the Scarlet and Gray came from behind to pull off a last-minute win over another very good team. It was a nail biter that last quarter and so much fun to watch!

4. Stencils – Some borrowed grandchildren discovered our stack of Tupperware stencils that my kids loved and used decades ago. Because my mom sold Tupperware for 30+ years, we accumulated many of the great, durable toys that TW made during that time. For now, my borrowed grands are loving designing pretty pictures using the stencils, and I’m enjoying their excitement and joy in creating.

5. Answered prayer – Our youngest daughter has been waiting quite a while for the next step in her RN certification process and she finally heard something this week, after about 10 months. The paperwork has been passed on to the next agency who will evaluate her credentials and let her know, what, if anything, needs to be done next. She passed her NCLEX exam on the first try and is certified as an RN in the States, but wants to be certified here in Canada. This approval will allow her to work as an RN here and go on in Canada to earn her BSN. We’re thankful for answers to prayer for part one, and are continuing to pray for the rest. Update: She next needs to take an English proficiency exam. Though her instructors were all North American, and her textbooks all standard US nursing textbooks, the school is located in China, so the approving board requires this English exam. We continue to pray!

FFF #98 12/8/17

1. BBQ – A couple of years ago my husband discovered a BBQ place in a town adjacent to ours. We liked the food, but the setting was not our favorite. Last week my husband offered to bring home BBQ from this place on his day off. Their in-house smoked meats were delicious and reasonably priced. We’re looking forward to take away from there again!

2. London – Three of my daughters just returned from a two-week holiday in London. They traveled with two friends and the five of them could split up or go together to see things that interested each of them. I love how we live in an age where we can be part of that through instant chat, online photos, and other media. Their posts and calls overflowed with excitement at the interesting and fun things they experienced. The five of them were even at Kensington Palace when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement!

3. Therapist – When I started physio in town last month I was assigned a therapist. Kristen is highly qualified and has listened to me and worked with me very carefully these past few weeks. She understands that I am working around fibromyalgia, weakness due to surgery, and currently living without any painkillers after over 15 years on a medication to help with arthritis pain. My progress is slow, but I am progressing! Our health plan provides seven sessions of physio for a hip replacement patient. Due to my history and the severity of my last surgery, Kristen will be applying for additional funding for ongoing PT, which I did not even know was an option.

4. Warmer weather – I had my last check up with the surgeon on November 1. That day cold weather blew in, it began snowing, and it snowed pretty much every day for the next three weeks. Swept away were my plans to enjoy my new freedom to use my walker to walk around our cul-de-sac on our newly-installed sidewalks. Too much ice and snow!  The past couple of weeks have been much warmer, the sun has been shining, and the sidewalks are finally clear. Maybe I can get that little walk in today!

5. Progress – I know some of you have been praying for me and I thank you for that. When we returned from the surgeon on November 1 I was excited to be able to put full weight on my leg (still using a walker.) I had great plans to get out and about in the neighborhood, and to drive to some places in town. Not only did it begin to snow that day, but that evening my ear and throat started hurting and I was set aside by a flu / cold for a whole month. My plans were put on hold as it simply wasn’t safe for me to do what I wanted in my weakened state. Plus the first two weeks of the cold I simply felt wretched.

My main job right now is my physio. I go to physio, then practice my exercises at home, apply heat to specific areas after, and try to gradually increase reps from week to week. Boy, are my leg and hip muscles weak!

Now that the flu / cold is behind me (except for the lingering occasional cough which is part of this particular strain) I have been getting out a bit more, which is nice. My surgeon wants me to focus on sustained movement and activity – if I go out and am active for an hour today (and I’m talking about doing errands or going to church, not snowshoeing or snow sailing), then I should be able to do the same the next day. My practice was more along the lines of go out for four hours then crash for the next two days, so I am working on making that transition. One of my biggest problems is still low stamina. I am exhausted after getting out for two to three hours and pretty much have to take it easy the rest of the day, and my sessions with the physiotherapist leave me exhausted.

I have been graduated to using a cane around the house. My hip area aches a bit less these days, though as physio is added and that area is stretched and strengthened that aching does return as I begin to work on a new area.

So this has been a long FFF. Thanks to those of you who read all the way through. I am more and more grateful each day for the many blessings God has given me throughout this unexpected journey. Blessings of family, and friends, and provision, and safety, and medical help, and so much more.

Hope you have a blessed week!

Here are a few Christmas cards from Purple Grandma Designs i made over the past few weeks (the protective sleeve causes the glare on a few of the pictures.)

 

Friday Fave Five #91

On Fridays I post FFF to stop and recall blessings of the previous week. Suzanne sponsors this exercise at Living to Tell the Story and invites you to participate too!

1. Church – I have been able to attend our Sunday church service the past two weeks. What a blessing to be in personal fellowship with the church family after having to miss for six weeks during my initial stage of recovery from surgery.

2. Doctor’s report – The surgeon gave me a good report and has graduated me to 25% weight bearing on my affected leg. How does one determine how much pressure on the leg equals 25% weight bearing? The physiotherapist gave me a simple formula: gently press down on the scale with the operated leg until the scale registers 25% of your body weight. That amount of pressure is how much you can use when walking. I will still be using a walker or crutches for at least another month.

3. Supplement in town – One of the supplements that has helped my fibromyalgia muscle spasms is now available in my small town. I used to have to drive at least 20 minutes north or south to a supplement store to buy them so I am very glad to be able to get them right here. A bonus is that they are actually a bit cheaper here!

4. Walk to the mailbox – Where we live mail is delivered to super-boxes for a whole street. Our super-box is right across the street from us, but since my surgery, it might as well be a mile away. Since I was a kid I have loved getting mail, and lately have been ordering some cutting dies from China for my card making. It’s so much fun to find one or two of these little packets in our mailbox! Since no one else in my family shares my enthusiasm for mail, I have really felt like I was bothering people to ask them to check the mail. Today I did a trial run out the back door and down the driveway to the mailbox. My husband ‘spotted’ me since we weren’t sure if the incline of the driveway was too steep for me to traverse safely with my walker. Everything went smoothly, and if I go slowly and carefully, I should be able to check my own mail now while getting a spot of exercise in.

5. Messing in the herb garden – Because of my emergency hip replacement surgery and planned slow recovery I have missed most of the outdoor activities of summer. Today I was able to work a bit in my raised bed herb garden, weeding out dead leaves, and thinning out some herbs. I love running my hands through the fragrant herbs, rubbing the leaves to enjoy the unique smell each herb offers. I’ve begun harvesting some of them to dry for use in winter cooking. It was lovely to be outside again for a bit today!

James is one! He was celebrating with my daughter-in-law’s family in the States.

Here are a few of the Purple Grandma Designs cards I have been working on as I recover.