August 28, 2012

Learning How to Sail My Ship

(Thank you, Louisa May Alcott, for writing out even the simplest of my emotions!)


The past week or so has been a little rough for me.  I am 25 years young and am at the point in my life where everything is changing.  It seems silly now, but I thought that would be the case when I turned 18 or 20 - I just thought that everything would magically be different... you know, I had finally become a legal adult or I had finally left my "teenage" years behind.  The truth is, though, that change is gradual for the most part; there are spurts, surely, but things just change over time.

The Fall semester has officially begun and I am feeling completely overwhelmed already - this means that I am only doing the absolutely necessary tasks and neglecting all others.  It's not due to lack of time but rather a lack of motivation.  Why am I feeling so overwhelmed?  For several reasons, I suppose, but I don't have the energy to fully explain them all. 

“Such hours are beautiful to live, but very hard to describe.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women


One of the reasons, though, is because I am feeling a bit....... well, I don't really know how I feel.  Sorrowful.  Joyful.  Nostalgic.  Anxious.  Thrilled.  Nervous.  Maybe a tad bit jealous, along with a tad bit lonely - but lonely is the wrong word.  I feel as though my soul is in the midst of an ongoing storm.  Let me explain.  Readers that know me personally know that two of my very best friends have moved two completely different places in the past 24 hours, but both are quite far away.  One (Grace) moved to Washington D.C. (for location references, I'm in Oklahoma City) to end the "long distance" part of her two year relationship - a very good change, indeed; the other (Sarah) moved to Cambodia to become a part of a very special team helping to bring clean water to the villagers - she has been three times prior to this move and has been aching to move there for such a very long time.  My "sister" (we call each other kindred spirits) moved away from Oklahoma to San Francisco a little over two years ago to be with her new husband; they now have a beautiful baby girl, but I haven't seen her since Christmas.  I'm used to Livy (my "sister") being so far away, but I still don't enjoy the ridiculous amount of distance between us.  As I have mentioned before, my brother- and sister-in-law have moved to the Caribbean in the past month or so.  While I am used to there being a large amount of distance between us (they lived in Houston, TX prior to the move), Rachel and I have become much closer over the past year and my heart breaks knowing that I will only see them via Skype for the next two years after their brief visit in November/December.  We may or may not be in Oklahoma by the time Jonathan and Rachel come back to the states (who knows where they will be living for J's residency!), and we may or may not be in Oklahoma when Sarah comes back from Cambodia.  Praise God, I get to see Livy in a little less than a month, and Grace will most likely be visiting over the holidays.

Someday, I will be used to using technology (oh, woe is me!) as a means of keeping communication alive with all of these dear people and probably more.  I will be able to keep up to date with their lives one way or another.  I think that one of the hardest parts about this whole period of my life, though, is the fact that I'm not used to being the one that is left behind - I'm the one that is normally giving people updates about new happenings in my life.  I have almost always been the one moving away... but, alas, that is for another post altogether.

This post seems so splotchy and patchworked, but that's precisely why I haven't been functioning well - that's how my brain feels.  I have begun writing/reading/journaling/prayer-journaling/blogging more, but it needs to become even more frequent.  I cannot think properly.  My concentration is waning.  It is for that reason that I am abruptly ending this post with two more quotes from the dear Louisa May Alcott in one of my favorite books of all time, Little Women.  How my heart longs for the chance to delve into the wisdom of this book once again.


“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” 
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women 

“I am lonely, sometimes, but I dare say it's good for me…” 
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women


August 15, 2012

DIY Williams Sonoma Home Fragrance

It's a fact: old houses have a sort of "funk" about them.

Another fact: my duplex is old. We also have trashy neighbors (don't get me started) that smoke.

Old house funk + smokey draft that wafts in = an especially funky smelly home. Ugh.

I am especially worried any time someone comes over that The Funk is in full force. Of course, living at my house, I am slightly accustomed to The Funk, so I take multiple steps to try to cover up/get rid of any lingering stink.

I found this blog post (via Pinterest) that offered a fabulous, super easy stovetop simmer that was supposed to make my house smell awesome all day long. Say what? And guess what. It was only four ingredients! Lemon, rosemary, vanilla, and water.  Five ingredients if you include the pot.  Six if you include the stovetop.  I'm getting carried away, here...
 


Directions:
Fill a small stock pot about 2/3 full. Cut one lemon into slices, disposing of the ends, and add to the pot. Add a few sprigs of rosemary, as well as 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla. Bring the water to a simmer and let it simmer all day long, adding water when necessary (you don't want your pot to burn, nor your house).

I would like to go on record and say that this Williams Sonoma-ish simmer is all that it claims to be and more. However, there is a problem. My house almost always has The Funk as far as I am concerned - I have a rosemary plant (two, actually), so that is no problem, but I definitely don't always have fresh lemons on hand.

Well, I figured out the solution to my problem. Because I am a genius... clearly.

I had purchased some lemons the other day in preparation for this very recipe; however, I didn't realize at the time that I really didn't have plans for anyone to come over any time soon. Hmm. What to do with the lemons? They won't keep forever. Brilliance then struck - DUH. I will just slice up the lemons and freeze them, that way I have them ready to go whenever I need to make the simmer to get rid of The Funk! All I had to do was slice them up and stick them in the freezer on a cookie sheet.




And then I had another idea: freeze some of my rosemary for the very same purpose! I just had to go snip the rosemary and cut it into small enough sizes that would fit into muffin pan cups. Why? Because I was going to fill them with water to make them ice cubes.




That way, when the time to get rid of The Funk comes, I just need to pop some of the rosemary cubes into the pot!  Hallelujah.

Linking up here:
The Shabby Nest
Liz Marie Blog
Be Different Act Normal
Hope Studios
A Diamond in the Stuff
Lil Luna

August 10, 2012

Whole Wheat Waffles with Oats

Question: If you could have any homemade treat for breakfast tomorrow, what would it be?

I'm going to put my money on the assumption that 99% of you didn't think of my new favorite breakfast:

...whole wheat waffles with oats...

Anyone?

Yeah... didn't think so.  But boy, let me tell you, I have found the most magnificent recipe for whole wheat waffles that has ever existed. Okay, so maybe I have only tried this one recipe, but by golly it's a good one - and it's easy to boot!  Thanks to my best friend, Pinterest, I found the delectable recipe at Lauren's Latest a couple of Friday nights ago and was able to try it out the next morning.  Here it is, two Friday nights later and I am still dreaming of making these beauties in the morning. Hooray!

If you want to pop on over to see the original recipe, follow the link to Lauren's blog above.  The following recipe is slightly adapted, ommiting one ingredient, swapping sugars, and doubling the batch (I'm glad that I doubled the batch right off the bat - I was able to freeze them so Patrick and I ate on them during the week!).




Whole Wheat Waffles with Oats
Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick oats
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil (I used sunflower oil)
1 3/4 cups milk

Directions:
Add dry ingredients (flour, oats, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon) into a large mixing bowl; stir gently to combine.  Add wet ingredients (vanilla, eggs, oil, milk) to the dry mixture, gently mixing until well blended.  Pour onto a preheated and greased waffle iron.  Serve hot with anything that fits your fancy!

And there you have it - a healthy, delicious, and EASY homemade breakfast from scratch. Yummo.

These waffles are a bit more dense than regular white flour waffles, but neither Patrick nor myself can eat more than 1 1/2 waffles before we're stuffed to the brim, and we're full until lunch!  If I'm making extra, I let the extra hot waffles cool on a cookie cooling rack before putting them into a freezer storage bag.

TIP for re-heating frozen waffles: I like my waffles crispy so I zap them in the microwave for about 20 seconds to un-freeze them, then stick them in the toaster until I consider them done. I say them... I really mean it, as in a single waffle, because that's all I eat - that single waffle is dang filling.

(I will go ahead and fill you in on the fact that we have made these waffles twice and I have whipped up bags of the dry ingredients pre-mixed to make it even easier on myself. Brilliant, I know.)

If you decide to try these out or have any fabulous ideas on how to spice up the recipe, be sure to let me know!

P.s. - In case you were wondering, I changed the name of my blog from Suddenly I See to Another Womack.  I started this blog a few years ago and just really felt as though it needed a name change.  Also, it matched the http address.  So there you have it.

P.s.s. - I was a dummy the first time that I made these and used baking soda instead of powder, hence the swap in the picture. It really didn't make a big difference, but it is what it is!

Linking up here:
Be Different Act Normal
The Shabby Nest
Liz Marie Blog
Hope Studios
A Diamond in the Stuff
Lil Luna

August 9, 2012

Happy Birthday, Grandmom

This post has been haunting me all day long.

Today, August 9th, is my sweet Grandmom's birthday.


I don't even know what to say.  Until this point, I have completely avoided writing (even privately) about the loss of my Grandmom Miller.  It's almost as if once I admit to these thoughts on paper or via this blog everything becomes real.  All of the hurt, all of the suffering, all of the tears, all of the regret, all of the daunting thoughts of her permanant exit from this world - they are all real.  This Spring was a ridiculously difficult time period in my life. I cannot even begin to express the emotions and lessons that were experienced in such a relatively short amount of time.  I feel as though I aged several years during January-April of this year.

My Grandmom started having problems with a blockage in her intestine during late October (if I remember correctly).  At that point, she was dealing with so many health/cancer issues that this just did not help a darn thing.  Slowly, but surely, the blockage became worse and she was able to keep less and less food in her system without throwing it up.  She lost more and more weight.  She had gone in and out of the hospital trying to figure out the problem while dealing with the issues that come with radiation.  We were fortunate that she was able to come home for Christmas, but she looked and felt terrible.  Grandmom went back into the hospital shortly after the New Year and was sent home at some point during the month - the doctors just could not figure out what was going on.


The beginning of February (somewhere within the first few days) was the last time that my sweet Grandmom went into the hospital.  She stayed there until the day she died, moving from floor to floor, room to room, depending on whether or not she was in ICU after another surgery or the level of care that was necessary to keep her alive, then the level of care needed to keep her comfortable during her last days.  I hate even typing this - reliving the memories of months of visiting her in the hospital, in that same damn tower, in that same stupid bed, with those same ridiculous elevators and parking issues.



Let me pause for a moment and explain about my Grandmom's character.  She was a teeny tiny woman who was relatively quiet, but by no means did this signify her not having an opinion; she simply displayed tact and grace at ALL times - I kid you not.  I never heard her speak an ill word of any single person (well, except for maybe politicians, but that's another story).  That's probably where my mom gets that trait, and I know that my Grandmom took after her mother in that area of her personality; I only wish that I had that same tact and grace, but I seem to have quite a bit of my Granddad Miller in me.  My Grandmom did not complain - EVER - not about people being late, not about the heat, and never about herself.  Especially not about herself, even the effects of chemo, radiation, colostomy and urostomy bags, surgery, being in the hospital, NOTHING.  She did, however, whole-heartedly appreciate and cherish kind words or actions from those around her, and she especially loved flowers.  Roses were her favorite - something that I think she passed down to her daughter and then to me.  The following pictures are of a boquet that Patrick and I brought to her in the middle of February; we were leaving for the weekend to go see "Wicked" with my dad, stepmom, and two sisters and wanted to leave behind a cheerful sentiment while we left... we felt awful leaving her and really had no idea if she would be around when we got back.




I have no idea of the date, but I know that it was a Sunday - Grandmom had just had a major and extremely risky surgery to try to fix the problem of the blockage.  I hate even admitting this, but I was scared to death to go stay with her at the hospital by myself because I knew that I had never been alone with my Grandmom during her health issues and I did not know how to respond appropriately, whether it be to a physical problem or to her discomfort - I had never had to comfort my Grandmom, it had always been the other way around.  I grew up a lot that day.  I cannot bring myself to describe the amount of pain that my Grandmom was in, nor the words of discomfort that she expressed to me for the first time in my life.  I loathed seeing her in so much pain.  The memory is almost as heart-wrenching as those last days of her life, just in a different way.  I think that day was the true beginning of my realization of the horrendous pain and suffering that this world can bring.  From that day forward, I tried so hard to keep my spirits up around my family, but my heart was breaking inside.



I should also mention that my sweet Grandmom, who was suffering so much already, was somehow the recepient of VRE - a terminal antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection - while in the hospital.  If she was not already suffereing so much, I am told that VRE would have killed her eventually anyway.  Don't even get me started on why there are so many diseases obtained and spread through someone's stay in the hospital.  Because she was infected, her doctors, nurses, and visitors had to wear gloves and gowns in the room at all times.


Thinking about the weeks that followed is just plain exhausting.  So many memories and emotions race through my brain.  I will not do my Grandmom the injustice of describing her last days on this Earth, but I will say that they were extremely difficult for everyone involved.  I stayed overnight at the hospital a few times simply to ensure that she was getting the care that she needed during all hours of the day, but my mom, aunt, and Granddad stayed a lot more often than I did.  School was something that I did not want to even begin to bother with while I could be so much more useful for my family elsewhere, but I knew that, above all things, my Grandmom wanted me to succeed.  You see, her father was a professor - he loved to teach, and he was really good at it; I am an English Education major, and I know that my Grandmom was extremely proud to have another future-educator in the family.  I knew that she wanted me to do well in school, despite her condition, so onward I trudged.

One day, one of Grandmom's doctors made it possible for us to have a "special" visitation.  They did not have high hopes for her surviving over the weekend and allowed us to surround her with ALL of her family members at the same time... puppy dogs included.  Grandmom loved dogs - there cannot be a larger understatement.  Her two Scotties, Barney and Molly, were her babies.  Unfortunately, my phone freaked out on me a few weeks ago and I lost almost everything on my phone, including the original picture that I took that day; yet again, my slight obsession with Instagram saved the day - at least I have that version!  To say that those days were extremely emotional does not even begin to sum it up - she had mostly lost her ability to speak by that point, although she was able to get a word out here and there; both my mom and Granddad (and the rest of us, for that matter) were terrified about losing her on either one of their birthdays; gathering all of the family together at once is a nice and yet horrible gesture as it is pretty much an unspoken "goodbye" for all involved and is just plain awful to experience on either end. 

Here is Grandmom with one of her puppies, Barney, that very day. Molly was on the floor when this picture was taken.  In the bed next to her is the stuffed animal named after him - I bought the mini Barney for her during one of her surgeries a year or two prior.  "Barney" went everywhere with her, walked through every surgery and hospital stay with her, and is now in my Grandmom's casket with her... the moment I saw him during her viewing, I lost my marbles. I was officially done for.


I remember walking outside several days before this happened, broken and hurting, and seeing a single blooming rose in the hospital parking lot - I just KNEW that it was a word from the Lord to me at that very moment.  Grandmom adored roses, and so do I.  I knew that He was assuring me that, even though everyone was hurting right now, it would be okay... eventually.  He was encouraging me to see the beauty all around me despite the pain and suffering that was surrounding me as well.  Lord, I heard you loud and clear.  My heart was breaking, but I heard you.


My sweet Grandmom, Erin Dale Miller, passed away on April 16, 2012.  She left us sometime around 1:45 in the morning if I remember correctly.  I remember staying with her, my mom, and my Granddad that evening and into the night.  Grandmom had held on an entire two weeks longer than the doctors thought was even possible - LORD was that woman strong-willed!  She had a fight to live like I have never seen.  I remember the last time I saw her, barely living - stroking her soft, curly gray hair, giving her a kiss on her head, choking back the tears, and saying goodbye.  I remember walking out to the parking lot with my mom - first to the garage, then she drove me to my car in the lot.  We talked about a lot of things, about her memories of losing her own Grandmom, we talked about how badly my Grandmom wanted to see her future grandbabies, and we cried.  She texted me shortly after 2:00am, letting me know that my sweet Grandmom was gone. For good.  I remember expecting that text (I told my mom to text me, not to call, when there was news... we knew that it had to happen that night).  I remember waking up to the text (which never happens).  And I remember lying in my bed, sobbing for the Grandmom that I had lost, for the Grandmom who I knew was going to leave, for the Grandmom that I so deeply love, for my family who had lost the person who had held us all together.


April 16th was difficult.  The days following were difficult.  The viewing was ridiculously uncomforable and heart breaking.  The funeral was awful - so windy, dreary, and oh so very cold - the weather fit the mood perfectly.  Mother's day was extremely difficult and emotional.  My birthday was emotional but fabulous, spent with family at my Grandmom's and Granddad's house watching the OKC Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs, something I know without a doubt that my Grandmom was celebrating with us (she loved the Thunder; she watched just about every game).  And now, her birthday.  It has been a difficult day, but I have sweet people in my life that pray for me and encourage me when I need it most.  I have family whom I love that I know love me.  Most of all, I have sweet things to remember her by - memories, gifts, notes, pictures, items of her very own that I am now blessed with owning.

I love you, Grandmom.  I know that you're always with us, even if we can't see you.  Most importantly, you're with our Heavenly Father, and, praise God, you are in pain no more.  Miss you always.  Happy birthday.



(P.S. - I'm going to the outlet mall this weekend for the first time, and I will be thinking of you!)

August 7, 2012

2012 - A Partial Recap

2012 is proving to be a strange year, one that has been extremely difficult and yet incredibly rewarding.

Between walking through the last months and days of my Grandmom's life with her, walking through those extremely emotionally draining days before and the many after her death, a wretchedly difficult Spring semester in school, the birth of my "sister's" first baby (a beautiful girl!), my husband's graduation with his Master's degree, my oldest younger sister's graduation from high school, my baby sister's turning 13, a few straining and rewarding family vacations, rich time spent with my beloved 10th grade small group girls, walking with my mother-in-law (and the rest of my husband's family) through difficult days after the discovery and removal of her cancerous tumor, walking through the long days of recovery, the passing away of my sweet stepmom's mother (and, therefore, my sibling's grandma), beautiful weddings of some dearly beloved friends, sending my brother- and sister-in-law off to the Caribbean, and preparing to say goodbye to two of my sweetest and dearest friends due to moves out of the state/country, I fear that I may be wearing thin - emotionally, anyway.

Those events, of course, by no means cover even half of the draining and fulfilling moments - only a handful or two of the events that are most prominently in my memory at the moment. As I continue to reflect, there are so many other things that come to mind, both good and painful.

Thank God for his grace and renewing of my spirit. This world is just too much, sometimes.