Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Secret to Happiness

First of all, let me tell you that I do not know the true secret to happiness.  In fact, I doubt there is a single actual secret to being happy.  I did learn today, however, that there is some science toward becoming a happier person.  I learned this while listening to this TED Radio Hour podcast, which is definitely worth spending 45 minutes listening to.

I have had much more free time over the past winter than I expected.  It seems that in months gone by, when I've had a lot of time to myself, I end up feeling morose and lonely.  This winter, however, I've felt really happy - with exceptions when L has an episode, or when I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed.  I have been wondering lately what made the difference...did my attitude change, or was it due to my aging hormones, or WHAT?

One of the segments of the TED Talk I linked to above, by Matt Killingsworth, may have the answer to that question.  He has collected data that shows that mind wandering is not an escape from something that makes you unhappy, but actually a cause of unhappiness.  Therefore, like my therapist several years ago advised me, people are actually happier when they live IN THE MOMENT.  Wow!

This has always been really difficult for me to do.  My mind wanders a LOT...especially when I am alone.  My personal answer to the question, "what is making you feel happier?", is (in short) technology!  For the past several months since I have discovered that I can easily download and listen to podcasts on my phone when I am working around the house, I am being entertained and educated, instead of destructively mind-wandering. 

Podcasts, my friends, are the secrets to happiness...so it seems.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Truth Comes Out

My Dad has become the official historian of our family, spending hundreds of hours researching genealogy for not only my family, but those of JP (yep, we're actually 5th cousins a couple of ways), my sisters-in-law, and my Mom.  I've been told many family stories over the years, passed down from my grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and many of them have been "fleshed out" so to speak by my Dad's research.

One story however, he has been unable to confirm.  Although I have claimed for most of my life that I am a cousin (albeit distantly) to Clark Gable, it appears that is not true.  My Dad has been diligently researching the connection for months now, and he has simply not found one!

He was able to find another connection with a movie star though, and not only that but also the 40th President of our Country - both JP and I have distant relatives in common with Ronald Reagan!  Furthermore, we are all (including Ronnie) distantly related to our illustrious first President, George Washington, upon whose home turf during the winter of 1777-78 I recently walked!

Clark, I'm sorry, but I'd much rather claim Mr. Washington as a relative than you, it's over.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Educational Leave

We have been out of town for the past week - taking an educational leave in the Lancaster area.  While JP was at his Medical Conference, the girls and I worked on homework sent along by their teachers, made use of the Hotel pool, visited my cousin on her nearby Dairy Farm, and explored educational opportunities in the surrounding areas.

First, the obligatory Lancaster Co. buggy picture:

We spent a chilly day at Valley Forge, learning about the winter of 1777-78 during the Revolutionary War.

General Anthony Wayne, for whom
 Waynesburg is named!

L was intrigued by the artillery

National Memorial Arch
Inside one of the 1000 huts in Valley Forge built by and for the Brigades during the winter of 1777-78.  They slept 12 to a hut!

JP joined us for a trip to Philadelphia, where we visited the Franklin Institute.

One of the reasons that I wanted to visit the Franklin Institute was because of this little guy:

This is an automaton, built in the 1800's by Henri Maillardet.  The Franklin Institue acquired the piece in 1928, but were unable to discover the history or creator of the automaton until they could restore its function.  When it is working, the "Draughtsman-Writer" will make 4 drawings and 3 poems, the final one of which includes the line "Written by the Automaton of Maillardet."  I learned about this after perusing the graphic novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, (upon which the movie "Hugo" is based.)  I found it completely fascinating.  You can read more about this machine here.

We also were able to spend an evening with JP's sister & brother-in-law, and visit my Grandfather's estate in Frazer.

This is the house, on Route 30, that my Grandfather built in the 1940's, in which my father and his 6 brothers and sisters grew up.  The white buildings behind it are the Laundromat and Car Wash of Speedi King, the business that my Grandfather started, and which is now owned and run by my uncle.  (You can enlarge the pictures slightly by clicking on them.)

Up the hill is the community garden run by Frazer Mennonite Church, the property for which was donated to the church by my grandparents.  Behind it (by the white car) is the house that my grandparents lived in from the 1970's on (it is now the parsonage for the church.)

My Dad helped to build Frazer Church in 1960.  Both he and my Mom, as well as JP and I were married there.  Both of my grandparents, my uncle, and a great aunt and uncle are all buried there.  This area is saturated with connections to my roots.  JP's too - when we first got engaged, his aunt heard about it from my grandmother at Frazer church, where they both attended!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Where's the Bear? #19

The Bear is getting a bit of kitty therapy with Ernie today.  This is what happens if you sit in the sunshine near the Kitty Kastle!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Has Sprung

I realize that I was a bit premature in changing my blog background to a Spring theme, but I couldn't stand the dark colors and snow for a minute longer.
I took a walk around the yard today and noticed all the flowers blooming.

As well as the ones that promise to bloom in the near future!

The Spring Peepers are singing their little hearts out down by the creek.
We made it through another winter on the Ridge!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Where's the Bear? #18

Today the bear spent the afternoon out of doors in the sunshine, hanging up laundry!

Flipping Birthday Party

We attended a fun Birthday party last weekend, that was held at a Gymnastics Training Center.  The girls got their first taste of the parallel bars!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Great Unveiling

Today I got thrown headfirst back into the Real World.  Last week is something of a blur, with surgery, lots of pain medications, and lots and lots of Netflix.  I am still frustrated that I cannot do, or it is difficult to do many things that I usually take for granted.

This morning, after dropping the girls off at their schools, I had 2 patients in the Hospital to see before driving up to the next city for a follow up appointment with the Hand Surgeon.  The nurse cut my cast off before the Surgeon came in, so I got a good look at the graffiti.

Including the signature of both the Surgeon and Anesthesiologist.

I saw the Dr. for about a minute and a half.  He pushed on my thumb, which pre-operatively would have made me wince, but is no longer painful.  "It's fixed!"  he said.  I am now in a small, neoprene splint, with instructions to do my own hand therapy 3 times a day.  I return to the surgeon in 4 weeks, unless I have problems.

Hip Hip Hooray!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Off the Pain Meds

I am happy to report that I am typing with 2 hands today.  I can't say that I'm doing exceptionally well at it, but even with all of the corrections, it is faster than 1 handed typing!  I haven't had any pain meds for over 12 hours now.  I'm not completely pain free, but not much worse than pre-surgery at this point.

I did some internet research this morning (I know, bad idea, but I did try to stick to reputable sources) to find out about recovery, since that part was a bit vague to me.  Basically I was told that I would wear this un-removable splint for 1 week, then a different splint that can be removed for showers for 6 weeks, followed by Occupational Therapy "if needed."  The literature I am reading mentions splinting with heavy activities for 3 months, followed by strengthening exercises.  That is a bit disappointing, but I need to wait and see what happens (not one of my strong points.)  I am trying to be very careful not to jeopardize my recovery in any way...DEFINITELY do not want to go through this surgery again!

I am also noticing that I still have some numbness in my fingers, especially my thumb.  This worries me a little bit because I know too much!  I still have a lot of swelling, so I am chalking it up to that and the tight splint for now.

I found a YouTube video about my type of surgery, watch it if you dare.  I also found this drawing, which I think is a good representation of what they did.

We are taking things a bit easier than normal this weekend.  I would typically change the girls' sheets today, which includes running ALL of J's bedding through a hot dryer, and vacuuming her mattress because of her dust mite allergies.  We are skipping this week, allergies be damned.  I just don't think I could do it, even with help!

It is raining outside, and scheduled to continue all day.  We have Flood Watches and Warnings again.  I might attempt to tackle a pie (with J's help) in honor of Pi Day, 3.14.15,  then again, I might just sit around.

Enjoy your weekend, and have some pie!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sleeping With Sponge Bob

I feel like I turned a corner overnight in my recovery - I woke up with my hand feeling sore, but no longer the throbbing, bone-deep, constant ache of yesterday that was coupled with flashes of severe pain if I would bump my fingers or thumb.  I waited to take my afternoon dose of pain medicine yesterday, so that I could drive J to her guitar lesson without being "under the influence", and ended up having a really uncomfortable evening.  So...this is a relief!

My fingers are still swollen & bruised - look like sausages.

I have to sleep with this contraption called a Carter Pillow, which keeps my hand elevated.  It looks a lot like Sponge Bob Square Pants!

Things I can't do:

- type
- put in contacts
- fasten a bra
- tie my shoes
- put up my hair
- do zippers, including ziplock bags
- multi-task

Stella seemed pretty happy that I was home and being a couch potato all day!  She snuggled up beside me on the couch.  Today I may venture out after some groceries.  Woo hoo!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Where's the Bear? #17

Guess whose ever so discerning nose sniffed out something nasty to roll in?  The bear is giving me a hand with Stella's bath, since I am one handed these days.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Visitor

We've been having a rash of errant critters on Poplar Ridge since the weather took a turn for Spring-ish.  They must be getting "twitterpated" like the animals in Bambi!  My parents' dog flushed a raccoon out of Mom's flower bed last week.  JP dispatched an opossum that was feasting on cat chow last night on our veranda.  This evening, we watched this little "kitty" nose around under the bird feeders and then try to get into the garden!

I still can't feel my left arm from the elbow down as a result of surgery today, and typing one-handed is making me weary!  T Dawg over and out.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I've been meaning to post this video of the play the girls worked on with Grandmom this summer.  It took a while to stitch together the 5 clips, figure out how to add sound to the first minute and 20 seconds, and then beg the girls to read their lines again.  It is far from professional, we settled after 10 or 12 takes when the girls got tired of reading the same lines over and over and over!

It's still pretty cute - enjoy!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

16 Days Until Spring

8 inches, people.  Our biggest snowfall of winter came right on the cusp of Spring.  Bizarre.

Luckily the girls were already scheduled for a long weekend because of Teacher In-Service, so no more snow days to add up!

It's beautiful out there.  My muscles are rippling from all the shoveling.  It's warm inside, and we don't have anywhere we need to be.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Where's the Bear? #16

Today the bear is checking weather.com on the computer for the most up-to-date weather report.

He knows that we have received over 1.5 inches of rain in the past 24 hours, which melted all that snow from last weekend and is causing flooding.  This is what our creek down in the valley looks like!

Now he can see that is is snowing like crazy, and we are forecasted to get 4-7 inches in the next 24 hours.

Only 17 more days until Spring!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

In Like a Lion

Yesterday, on the final day of February, the sun was shining, and the temperature rose all the way to 27*!  Even though there were still 3 inches of snow on the ground, I took advantage of the solar energy to dry the girls' sheets on the clothes line.

Today, when I should be rejoicing in the end of February, we are clearing another 3 inches of snow in the rain.  It should freeze again tonight, which will make our lane as slick as snot.

I filled the bird feeders this morning, and all the little birdies came out to eat.

20 days until Spring, and there is no end to Winter in sight!