Traditions That Carry On

FD stands for Feather Drop, a male fairy who is an adventurer (according to Em)

Traditions can be something you look forward to, or simply endure. Holiday meals are often the latter, but the tradition I’m going to tell you about today is one that anyone can get behind and look forward to.

Years ago, over 20 now, I moved with my eldest child from California, where she had lived all of her eight years, to Missouri. It was a huge change – one that meant she didn’t see her dad regularly. A new school, new friends, new everything. I worried about her, a lot.

While I heaved a huge sigh of relief that he was no longer in my life, doing his best to sabotage the mother-daughter relationship, I knew that she couldn’t see his manipulations for what they were, mean-hearted and selfish and hurtful, she only knew that she missed him.

There are many ways in which you can help your kids through hard times. I made it a point to take her on dates where we would go to the movies and eat dinner at a restaurant, just the two of us. And I talked to her, asked her questions, and did what I could to help her through the challenges of 4th grade in a new school and both of us living with my mom.

The idea of creating an alter ego, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Why not create a magical creature who could make my girl smile, go on adventures, and feel super-special, all at once?

So I invented Iliana Llorena Elfling. And not just any elfling, but one that lived with her mother, her grumpy uncle and annoying cousin. Iliana’s world was very different from my daughter’s, and yet had striking similarities. She missed her dad, loved nature, and had a great sense of humor.

We corresponded on and off for around five years. My goal had been to connect with my child on a level that was different from our daily mother/daughter relationship. To that end, I think I succeeded. And while we didn’t delve very deeply into the more painful issues, the life and dad she had left behind, we did indulge in a very special world, where drums are made of snakeskin, elflings and fairies are real, and life has a little magic in it.

Those days are long gone. But around 3-4 years ago, Em discovered the journal that we had written in and asked if she too could have someone special like that. She knew it was me, just as her sister had, and yet she still wanted it.

I created Whip, Snap, and Per – a trio of fairies who were living in our new yard near downtown Kansas City. We didn’t correspond as much as my eldest and I had, but Em’s needs were not what her sister’s were. She has a whole family with dedicated, loving parents. And while she did get uprooted, moving from Belton to Kansas City at the age of 6 1/2 years, her life is very different from what her sister’s was.

And then we decided that we would have “just one more” – only with me being post-menopausal, that meant fostering and, hopefully, adoption. And for the past 15 months, we have shared our lives with a lovely, and challenging toddler. Now three-and-a-half years old, the age of creativity is upon us.

Last weekend, when it was raining and generally impossible to work outside on the front fence my husband and I have been building, I instead focused on our Art Room, a small room off of the dining room on our main level. I rearranged it, and created three different workstations, one for each of the girls and one for myself. And the girls have LOVED it. This also prompted Em to resurrect what is now, indubitably, a family tradition.

By creating Feather Drop, she has cemented fully the tradition of creativity, dreams, and magic into our family. This included finding a special box to put fairy treasures in, and organizing a scavenger hunt in the garden for her little sister.

Where will this family tradition lead us?

Hopefully to love. Whether it is at the beginning or the end, it is all that really matters.

Learning to Accept “Not Right Now”

There are so many things I want to do. Places I want to visit, experiences I want to have. There are books I want to write, a life I hope to have.

But there is also that big ole reality check. Reality check says, “Sure, you can go to Europe, once you have the money.”

Aw crap, just sunk another $20k into house renovations so that Cottage West will be another step closer to finished.

I’ve been learning to accept “not right now” for a long time. All my life, really.

But it is that delicate balance between “not right now” and “not ever.”

“Not right now” is planting the iris and waiting for the plants to emerge, to multiply, and eventually spill from their borders.

“Not right now” is planting that stick and waiting for it to turn into a tree.

“Not right now” is putting on a new roof, and windows because then it won’t leak. It’s not earning money, but it isn’t costing me additionally in damages through weather and raccoon infestations.

I wanted this year to be the year I broke out and started writing full-time. I wanted it to be “the end to cleaning houses is in sight” year.

I wanted this year to be the “I wrote three books in one year!”

The reality is that in the next few weeks, I’m going to be so busy painting, hanging cabinets, re-installing molding, hanging curtains, refinishing an old door, and countless other things, that writing two more books this year is not going to happen.

Instead, I’m going to focus on:

  • My health – getting this damned A1C down to a normal level, stretching, yoga, meditation, and regular cardio exercise in order to lose weight
  • Short stories – I have nine of them I need to write – six to finish out the rest of the year and three more for next year’s monthly newsletters
  • Cottage West – I need it up and running and earning us money. Who knows? If it succeeds fantastically, it might make the difference between me having to clean houses and just running the Airbnb properties!
  • Yard/Home – I’ve got a couple of art projects (Van Gogh bathroom ceiling and decorative windows) and also a section of the yard I hope to develop into a orderly (and expansive) herb garden next year. I’ve also begun studying landscaping, but I’ll really dive in next year with more and more perennial varieties I haven’t ever seen before.
  • Family – It’s summer, and it is time to go to the water parks, the pools, and more. Maybe we will go on hikes, explore more of Cliff Drive, and just get out and about more. I want to spend time with my daughters
  • Marketing – Continue to learn how to market my books effectively and in a financially savvy way.

That’s a heck of a list, folks. I’m going to continue to plan, plot, and tease those future books out of my brain and onto paper, but this will not be the “I wrote three books this year” year.

Maybe next year.

The Death of Toast (and other sad tales)

Last September, I had health insurance and finally was able to schedule an appointment with a new doctor – a full physical. She looked at my A1C numbers and said, “You are dangerously pre-diabetic. You need to lose weight, change your diet, start taking Metformin – if you don’t you are looking at full-blown Type 2 diabetes.”

I started on the smallest dose of Metformin, 500 mg, made some effort to go towards a keto diet and marched back in three months later, sure that my A1C would be back down into the acceptable range.

It wasn’t.

It remained at the same number – 6.2

We doubled my dose of Metformin, which has played hell on my bowels, and then my dad was moved to a nursing home and I, well, I fell off the keto bandwagon hard. Hell, I had missed eating carbs, and my homemade ice cream. I had hated having to hide the junk food so Dad couldn’t find it.

But with a doubled dose of Metformin, surely that would bring my A1C levels down, right? At least, that is what I reasoned. My hopes were dashed today as my doc shook her head.

“Your A1C level is 6.1”

No more toast for me. Worse, no more rice. No more sweets. Not at all. I mentioned that I made my own ice cream and used half sugar, half xylitol in it. “I’ll make it with all xylitol from now on.”

She shook her head. “You need to eradicate all sugar from your diet. That includes the artificial sweeteners,” she said. “You need to get your body to NOT be used to sweets.”

Cue the gif of Snoopy wailing here.

No more ice cream?

No more toast?

No more homemade bread?

I read somewhere recently, perhaps in The Obesity Code by Jason Fung, that you can look at consuming sugar like a big jar. When you are born, the jar is empty. Every time you eat sugar, it adds up in the jar, and once it is full, that’s it, no more sugar! Any time you do consume it, it’s spilling over and causing havoc.

And that is what my sugar is doing. Spilling over.

I had asked the doc if at the level I’m at now, 6.2 or 6.1, if that number is causing damage to my organs. She thought about it for a moment and nodded, “Yes, it is.”

So the friggin’ sugar jar is full. If I don’t want to continue to damage my body, if I don’t want to end up with vascular dementia from a crapload of mini-strokes like my dad, or fatty liver disease (another side effect of diabetes and I’ve had some higher than normal numbers here as well), then I need to do something drastic.

  • Lose weight
  • Eliminate sugar and carbs
  • Exercise

And I need to do it now.