Saturday, January 14, 2017

Stop the clock please

Oh my goodness, time just keeps marching on doesn't it?  

I really can't believe it's 2017.  I think back to all my resolutions from last year and am trying to see if I kept any.  As usual, I made a little progress here and there but all in all I fell short. 

This year I am kind of forced to make some changes.  Bloodwork revealed extremely high cholesterol - and I refuse to take drugs unless there are no other options - so I have to change the way I eat, exercise, and drop 10 pounds.  In a way, this lifestyle change will pretty much accomplish all my usual resolutions so I guess there's that.  I'm just trying to find some positive in the negative here friends.

Another change is my husband's Parkinsons is slowing him down to the point where he needs to retire, like yesterday.  So, this means I need to start bringing in some money - especially since waiting for disability to be approved could take a year.

Again, let's look for the positive in the negative.  I have always dreamed of resurrecting my pattern design business, and now I must do it.  I've kind of been working on it for years, but now I feel a sense of urgency.  I tried working on it over the years but taking care of mom was a priority. 
Sadly, mom passed late summer.  I'm still grieving and adjusting to her being gone.  When I think of her I still tear up.  I have no regrets about putting her first, but now I'm ready to devote my time to what I want and need to do.   

Here's what I've done so far: 
I've turned some of my designs into PDF patterns. It might not sound like a big deal but it took me over a year to learn Illustrator well enough to create a really good pattern.  I'm patting myself on the back because I'm super proud of what I've done in that department.  Being a perfectionist tends to slow me down, but I'm happy with the patterns and feel they're good enough to put out there.

My main love is dreaming up new creations, quilts, bibs, dolls, embroidery, etc.,  but I would say my obsession is "handmade" in general.  I really want to promote handmade - the passing down of skills nd encouraging others to try. I want them to have the joy and pride I feel as they create their own heirlooms.  I want to promote the appreciation of handmade things as well. I'm hoping this next generation won't look at an antique crocheted doily as some $2.00 item they will get rid of at a garage sale.

It didn't take but a second to figure out the best way to reach a lot of people is to create an online community where people like me can gather. I want it to be a place where we can meet new people, learn new skills, support each other with our projects, and appreciate handmade things overall.  Not just sewing, I'm talking about gardening, baking, cooking, you name it!

Hopefully I'll be able to launch my website by the end of the month, and boy am I excited!  It has been a good distraction for me - keeping me from dwelling on sad things.  

My website (and business) is called fannie jane. Here's the link: 

I already have some things in my Etsy shop for now, but I'll also have an online shop on my website.

I'm on facebook as fanniejane.handmade 

pinterest as fannie jane.  

I also am going to give myself time to go visit blogs of friends I've met over the years.  I've met so many wonderful people who I truly cared about, but let life keep me so distracted that I lost touch.  So don't be surprised if you all start seeing my stop by your blogs.  I'm super excited to see what everyone has been up to!

I wish a happy and healthy new year to every single one of you!  I can't wait to see what this year holds for all of us.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Happy new year!  I wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy new year.   

As always, I have my list of resolutions.  Perhaps I should just write "ditto" since they are always the same as the year before.  I wonder why I still even make them.  Do you?  Maybe the fact that we try to improve and better ourselves is a good sign, because if we didn't at least try it might indicate that we have pretty much given up.  

For some reason, possibly insanity, deep deep inside my heart and soul I always believe that amazing things can happen, that I can achieve my dreams and goals, and that all things are possible. Well, most things. I realize I won't grow 2 inches so I won't have to lose 5 pounds. Most likely my husband will continue to bang his head on kitchen cabinet doors left open and trip over my shoes lying in the middle of the mudroom where I kicked them off.  I really try to remember, but usually I'm somewhere else in my mind and just forget to do those little things! 
What does this year hold in store for all of us? Perhaps its best we don't know. And maybe, just maybe, it all depends on how hard we try to achieve our dreams.    

So, my dear friends, although so much has changed since my regular blogging days -  in some ways nothing has changed at all.  I am always embarking on many new adventures and would love to share them with you, if any of you are still out there.  Please let me know, because if you are and would care to hear my silly ramblings, I would love to again share my world with you!      

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Simple Things

Going through my day, I feel stress, a sense of urgency, and exhaustion.  Stress from trying so hard to get my business going. Urgency, because the clock is ticking. I have bills to pay and my husband needs to retire. Exhaustion.  I begin my morning in my sewing room and keep at it pretty much all day, going back down after supper until about 8:00.   

Climbing the stairs from my basement sewing studio for about the 20th time, the angel food cake pan I left soaking from yesterday greets me.  Rarely do I leave dishes for the next day - not because I'm such an amazing cleaner, but because I hate waking up to any kind of mess.  I'm not a morning person, and it doesn't take much to get me crabby in the morning - at least until I've had a few cups of coffee!

Looking at that pan, wishing it was already clean, I decided to use psychology on myself.  Speaking right out loud (don't worry, nobody was home but the dog) I said: "Julie, quit being such a whiner and be thankful you have a pan to wash, a stove to bake a cake in, and a comfortable home to live in".   

It seemed like it was working -  a little, so I kept talking  . . .

"Before I can wash dishes  I need to scrub out the dish pan".   Note:  My husband has a habit of throwing things in there to "soak" which means they are left there for me to clean, and the pan is always dirty.  :) Bless his heart.

I scrubbed out the sink and the pan. As I filled it with hot water and dish soap, the billowing bubbles exploded with a lovely, somewhat familiar smell.  I grabbed a clean washcloth, deciding on one I knitted while watching tv. Admiring the pretty shade of peach as I dipped it into the bubbles, I got to work washing the counters, the stove top, and the microwave.  

As I thought about how I am always rushing, worrying, and planning in my head, I realized I'm never really in the moment.  Instead of   "thinking"  about everything and anything,  I should just "be"   - be in the present, with my hands in the lovely bubbles, enjoying the warmth and smell.  As I washed each glass, plate, and coffee cup, I tried to feel gratitude for each item.  Then I broke my favorite coffee cup I've had for about 20 years.  "Rats.  Oh well.  It had some cracks in it anyhow, probably not safe." 

Being super sensitive to chemicals, I try to use homemade cleansers made from nontoxic  ingredients whenever possible. Last
 month I brought home what was left of the Dawn dish soap while cleaning out Mom's house and figured I'd try it.  "Guess I might as well use it - not be wasteful. " Yep, me talking to myself again. I must say it smelled really nice.

It was kind of an amazing moment, realizing how enjoyable washing dishes by hand was. Ok, not like going to a quilt shop, but still. It seems like the dishwasher never gets them clean anyhow.   Then I really got carried away washing every thing in the dishwasher - which was completely full.  I put on an I Love Lucy rerun and laughed at her antics. Imagining being back in the 50's, I wished I had put on an apron.

After Lucy was over I decided to turn off the tv and work in silence, trying to stay in the moment. From start to finish it ended up taking over an hour.  My feet, legs, and back hurt. I must be getting old because being on my feet for a while gets me tired. Still, I felt happy.  It was relaxing, and I think it brought me happy memories. It took me back to when I was raising kids and my role was clearly defined - being a stay-at-home mom, cleaning, cooking, taking care of the family. The realization hit me that not only do I need to do more of the simple things in life - I need to actually be present to enjoy them.  

As my sister and I chatted about my little epiphany she said she had just washed out some coffee cups at work using Palmolive and was taken back to childhood.  She wondered if Mom used that brand, and we assumed she did because the smell seemed so familiar.  We talked about the old Palmolive commercials and she reminded me of Madge, the "beautician" doing a manicure.  Do you remember "It's Palmolive - you're soaking in it"?  Funny.  I seem to remember Mom using Ivory, but I can't say for sure.  You can bet your life when I go to the store the next time I will buy a small bottle of each and an old fashioned dish drainer.
Now . . go put on a pretty apron and wash some dishes.  And as you work, please enjoy yourself!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Home Sweet Home

Here I sit with my cup of coffee. I am in my lovely sewing studio, in my wonderful house, as happy as can be.  Feeling safe and sound, I have no desire to leave. Why the sudden appreciation for home? Let me tell you. I wasn't feeling so happy a few weeks ago.  

My husband earned two free plane tickets and had to use one of them before February.   Knowing my absolute dread of flying and the fact that I get anxiety traveling, he decided not to tell me until the last minute.

He booked a flight to visit his sister in California.  If I wanted to go all I needed to do was say the word.  A free flight, our own little studio apartment - what more could anyone ask for?
A dream come true, right?  
So what's the problem?

I wavered back and forth between being excited and having near panic attacks.  I talked myself into it, then out of it, then into it. Once I committed to go I was literally sick for three days - feeling anxiety, dizziness, hot flashes, up at night,  just plain feeling awful.  A phrase I took from my daughter when she was little was "badness".  A pancake I made her wasn't completely cooked, and she told me there was "badness" in there.  I had badness in me. Lots of it.  

I really, really would love to go.  The last time I was in California I was 16, on a family trip to San Francisco.  I want to redo everything I did back then -  take a trolley to Chinatown, visit Fisherman's Wharf , and see the sights.   My son moved to California last year. I would love to visit him, as well as my West Coast relatives. Visions of the beautiful wineries in Napa Valley taunt me.

So just go, right?  I can hear you now.  I told myself I would go and I know I would enjoy it.  
But . . .the stress I was having and what I was putting myself through was just not worth it.  After several heart to heart talks with my sister and myself, I decided not to go. 

Why? My dream of going out to California was to drive. Crazy, yes.  But I want to plan my trip and try to see as many states as possible. I want to visit every quilt shop and antique store and see all the beauty our great country offers.  We'll stop at every Mom and Pop diner and small town bakery, sampling our way through the states.  I want to drive to the upper West Coast and work my way down.  I want a leisurely pace, not determined by flight deadlines. 

My dream is to get a vintage trailer and be like Lucy and Ricky in "The Long, Long Trailer" but my husband says it would be cheaper to get hotels. We'll see about that!
I  like being able to stop the car whenever and wherever I want.  Being on a plane, train, or bus makes me feel claustrophobic, like I am trapped.  Anyone that deals with anxiety issues will be able to relate to this. I haven't flown for over 10 years.

Because we were so close to the actual date, we would have had to pay an additional 600 dollars round trip, so this actually wasn't the opportunity of a lifetime I was making it out to be. 

I felt disappointed in myself for not embracing the adventure. What an idiot.  Who in their right mind would pass this up?  

This idiot, that's who.  Here's how I made peace with myself. 

This wasn't my dream trip. We can still drive to the West Coast someday, but we can't afford 600 dollars right now. This isn't a good time for me to try to squeeze in anything else because  I am smack dab in the middle of trying to get my business up and running.
I thought:  I hereby give myself permission to pass on this opportunity.  I am going to release the "badness" I feel about myself for not being able to do it. The stress I am putting myself through is not worth it.  And I'm not an idiot.

I felt such a sense of relief when I made that decision.          

Will I regret it?  Am I ashamed for not being able to face my fears?  I don't know.  What I do know is if my sister, daughter, or friend was trying to make this decision, I would tell them to not be so hard on themselves.  So I took my own advice . . . this time.

P.S.  I think I'll watch "The Long, Long Trailer" tonight.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Back to my life

I'm back!  I sure hope you all remember me. It's been a long, long time, and so much has happened.  I will try to catch you up, little bits at a time, instead of writing my usual novel!  As I write I'm watching the snow gently fall, enjoying the beauty of winter. Brrrr, it's freezing cold - but I still love it.  

Mom is in assisted living, since last summer.  I thought I would be back to my life immediately after that happened, but helping her make the transition still required plenty of time and energy on my part.  She wanted to go home, and I felt terrible guilt that I could no longer keep her there. We had no choice - it took more than one person to get her up now. For several months I spent the majority of my time either on the phone with her or at the assisted living. After she was settled in and I had most of my time to myself,  I had this strange feeling - like I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing.

I found myself starting this project, then starting that project, then feeling overwhelmed because I had so many things I wanted to do and didn't know where to begin.  I also kept having this nagging feeling that I was supposed to be somewhere and was forgetting.  I was so used to caring for Mom, pretty much 12 hours a day 7 days a week, that I almost didn't know how to live my life anymore.

My brother and I have finally finished cleaning out her home. That was a heart-wrenching experience, because so many things had sentimental value.  Memories, thought to be buried forever, came flooding back. A ceramic frog, sitting in a planter still blooming with some sort of green vines, reminded me of Mom taking ceramics classes. Maybe this frog didn't mean the world to her, but I couldn't donate this or throw it away.  Add it to my pile. Items that I have used or walked by a million times while caring for mom in her home suddenly meant more than a 5 carat diamond. In my pile they go. Pictures . . . oh the pictures, and the feelings that came up while going through them. Of course, in the pile they go.

I am a very sentimental person, and believe me when I say the tears flowed, the sadness overwhelmed at times, and the overall realization that life is fleeting really hit me. I need to live my life now.  I need to find out what makes Julie happy.  Perhaps find my purpose in life. How to make the world a better place.  I will evaluate my priorities, making sure that when I am nearing the end of my days I won't have regrets.  At least not any new ones. 

I am thankful. Thankful that Mom is in a wonderful place. Thankful that it wasn't the house I grew up in because it would have been so much harder. Thankful to finally get my life back.

Wouldn't you think my first project would be something amazing and fun and wonderful?  Nope - the first thing I did was spend a month cleaning, organizing, and tackling the basement. I'm so boring! 
Ironically, it is once again bursting at the seams - filled with things that I am either storing for my sister or one of my kids, or that I just couldn't give or throw away.  I am reminding myself to go through it all and downsize my stuff, because I don't want my kids to have a monumental task when I leave my home. 

I miss so many of you, and can't wait to try to catch up on all I've missed.  I hope you are all well and happy.   

Monday, October 7, 2013

Summer, where have you gone?

As I peeked out my door I saw the grass was green and the skies were blue. The birds were calling me to come out and play. But I couldn't  . . . because I had things to do. 

Now fall is in full swing, and the leaves are beginning to turn.  When I opened my windows this morning I took in a great big breath of the crisp, cool air.  It gently caressed my face and filled my home with that wonderful feeling of freshness. Some people are rejuvinated with spring, but autumn puts me in the mood to bake, rake leaves, decorate, and get ready to settle in for winter.
I really want to make taffy apples today!  But I can't . . . because I have things to do.

Each time I come down to my sewing studio, I walk by a carefully selected stack of wonderful autumn fabrics - teasing me to come play.  I had planned on making a Halloween quilt for myself, my daughter, and daughter-in-law.  But I didn't . . .  because I had things to do.

The good news is, I did manage to enjoy the summer a bit, planting gardens, attending county fair (where I was awarded 5 blue ribbons, thank you very much!), birthday parties, barbecues, car shows, and a quilt convention.

 My husband and I even managed to take a 3 day trip to celebrate our 15th anniversary. Only a few days away, but it was a much needed break.  We try to go back each year to where we were married. 

I designed 15 adorable children's clothing patterns.  Well, the actual garments, I'm still saving up for the software to digitally draw the pattern pieces.
I had a professional photo shoot of Ellie wearing the finished garments.  It was amazing, and turned out better than I could have hoped for!  I am in the process of redesigning my blog graphics and setting up my store.  I am always trying to get "just one more" outfit done before my granddaughter Ellie moves to Tennessee. 

Mom's spinal stenosis is progressing, and we are to the point where she almost refuses to try to walk. Every day is a battle to try to have her walk at least a little, for fear that her leg muscles will weaken and she will not have the strength to get up out of the chair and transfer.  If that happens I am afraid she will no longer be able to stay at home.  I do have help in the mornings, but it is still a 7-day-a week job, with phone calls starting as early as 5 in the morning.  Dementia has set in, off and on, and for some reason she feels the need to call me pretty much all day long, starting bright and early! 

I feel so bad that I have neglected my blog for so long, but I realized that the only way I was going to keep my sanity and hopefully my health during this time in my life was to only do the absolutely necessary things to get through each day.  I do manage to do a little knitting and crochet almost daily. One afternoon a week, for 2 hours, I get together with a group of ladies at a local church who meet for a knit/crochet club.  Most of them are experienced knitters and crocheters, and this is a Godsend for me.  I have been trying to learn to follow patterns for 20 years to knit retro look cardigan sweaters, and I might just do it yet!!! 

I truly hope that all of you who I have had the pleasure of meeting in blogland will stay with me through this difficult time in my life.  If we make it through the holidays with Mom at home I will have really accomplished something.  I have accepted the fact that this won't last much longer, and most likely it won't be long until she needs to go to a facility that is better able to meet her needs.  

Until then, I will try my hardest to drop in more often to say hello and give you updates on what I have been up to! Please, all of my dear friends, have a wonderful fall. Remember, each day is a gift and you should make the most of it. 

Don't let "Having things to do" prevent you from enjoying each and every day.   

Friday, April 19, 2013


I'm sure a few have wondered if I have disappeared off the face of the earth.  It sure feel like it.  I have been really busy, that's for sure. For the past two years I have been trying to restart my pattern business, and little by little I have created quilts, dolls, and children's clothing, just waiting for me to write patterns and get into PDF documents.  Yuk.  I hate that part.  Worse than writing a term paper. Several people have told me to "Just get going on it" and they are right.  I'm trying, really I am. I just have other things that are taking priority right now. The days and weeks are flying by, it's just crazy!
If you have been following my blog for any amount of time, you probably know that I am taking care of my mom.  My goal has been to keep her at home instead of the nursing home.  

Let me just say right now that we are very fortunate to have one of the nation's top rated nursing homes in my town, just 90 seconds away from my home by car, and it is wonderful. We have experienced other nursing homes over the past five years and this one is an absolute blessing.  

Anyhow . . .  please let me just tell you a little bit of what has been going on. They say it is good to vent, and here I go. I hope you will forgive my rambling, I think it is a very healing thing for me to share this with all of you. And PLEASE understand, this post isn't to whine and complain and tell you how hard I have worked, but to enlighten those of you who haven't yet experienced this situation, so you can appreciate those who are caring for others. I feel it has been a privilege to care for Mom.  She took wonderful care of me, and I am happy to do the same for her.

My mom has battled cancer, arthritis, and has survived losing both my dad and her mother within 3-1/2 days of each other. She also has severe osteoporsis, and has had four or five falls over the last few years resulting in bone fractures. She has spinal stenosis, which has also been progressing over the past four or five years.  

Being the only child in town, I have been pretty much managing her affairs and seeing to her needs during this last five years.  As time has progressed, so has my level of involvement. What started off as going shopping, seeing to her meals, doing laundry, and driving her to appointments has progressed to giving her showers, seeing to all her personal hygiene, taking over her financial affairs, writing bills, managing appointments, and all aspects of running her home. 

Busy, busy, busy!!! Even though I am a stay-at-home mom, running two households can get to be a little tricky! So when am I going to find time to work on the patterns?  Hmmmmm.

Now, sadly, we are at the point where she can no longer do anything for herself.  Thankfully, my sister quit her job and came to live with Mom to give me a break last year. Other than me filling in so she could get out of the house or go home for extended weekends, she took care of everything.  It was a much needed break, and I greatly appreciate her putting her life on hold for us. She ended up staying much longer than she planned, but finally a couple months ago she returned home. She was amazing, and my hat is off to her for being there  24/7.  It is a different situation when you are caring for a demanding toddler, because you are the mom and you can say now be nice, sit still, have patience, and tell them because I'm the mom, that's why! When you are dealing with a demanding elder it is a different story. You can't speak to an adult the way you would a child, and sometimes they don't realize how demanding or crabby they might be, and it is frustrating.  Mom has been in and out of the nursing home for rehab for strengthening after falls, and each trip home has been harder and harder. She still wants to be home, and after everything she has been through I am determined to keep her there until it is no longer possible. Of course I am crossing my fingers, praying, and wishing for renewed strength and a little more time at home. 
This post is my gift to all of you caretakers, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, and those grandparents who are raising or helping raise grandchildren. Taking care of people is one of the noblest and most heartfelt things you can do.  I do believe there is a special place in Heaven for all of us. 

I thought it was difficult taking care of Mom over the last several years, but now I realize that was not nearly as difficult as it could be, and will be.  She could barely stand with help, and has been transported by wheelchair to bed, bathroom, and to her favorite blue chair.  I can't begin to tell you about the aches and pains and muscle strains trying to lift her, and let's not even get started about my poor knees, who are on the way out!! There is a LOT of bending involved in dressing someone, you just wouldn't believe it till you did it!   I would literally plop onto the couch with exhaustion when I got home at night. 

She cannot be left alone at all, and I am managing with the help of a wonderful daughter-in-law and family friend, and my son who lives with my mom.  My husband has even spent the night, and has gone to her home early mornings to fill in during the 1-1/2 hour time frame that my son has left for work and my morning helpers arrive.  I would get to Mom's early afternoon and stay till she is in bed, around nine or so, seven days a week.  Even when someone else is there taking care of her, she constantly calls me for various reasons.  I think it just reassures her to hear my voice. Oddly, every time she is in the hospital or nursing home she seems to get more frequent spells of confusion, resembling dementia.  Once she is home it goes away.  A little forgetfulness and confusion, but much less.

I once walked into her hospital room where she was staying after a fall. She was alone in her room, sitting in a wheelchair, chanting my phone number.  She was confused, but somehow must have felt that if she could reach me she would be safe.  It broke my heart, and actually brings me to tears just writing about it. My Aunt Diane, her sister, says I am her lifeline. 

It is  both physically and emotionally draining caring for people.  I have realized in my conversations with people that there are so many of you out there taking care of family members, or perhaps as a job. Trying to get her to stand up, coaxing her to try to take one step, taking ten minutes to get her situated in bed, just to have her inform you she needs to go to the bathroom again, is exhausting. Seeing the blank stare that is beginning to replace the sparkle in her  bright blue eyes is heart wrenching.  

Yesterday, I took her for her followup doctor's appointment. I told him of how she seems to be worsening. He did a few motor coordination and muscle tests, and asked more questions. He suspects Parkinsons disease. I am kicking myself thinking I should have noticed the symptoms and connected the dots.  You see, my husband also has Parkinsons.  He is still in the early stages, but there is some progression.  I am aware that the time will come when I will once again be a caretaker, but maybe this time for him. Then again, who knows what the future holds, maybe him for me. I do know that once Mom can no longer stand on her own I can no longer keep her home. It will be a sad day, but it is inevitable.  Until then, I guess my purpose in life is to care for others.  This really won't be hard.  I have always been a nurturing person.  First my four children, and the grandchildren, and now Mom. 

I still plan on launching my pattern business to supplement our income once my husband can no longer work. It is taking so much longer than I imagined, but I have to do what is the most important thing first, which is taking care of Mom.
Last week Rose, our family friend who is one of the two people helping me, called to tell me that Mom could not get up out of her chair and needed to go the bathroom. I ran over to her house, and once I was there I realized something was very wrong. She was weak and shaky and didn't look well at all.  We called for an ambulance to transport her to the ER.  They said all her levels were fine, but admitted her for observation. Her doctor recommended rehab, once again. So back to the nursing home we go. They are still using a lift instead of letting her try to stand on her own, she is just that weak.  If she gets strong enough, and I can get her in and out of her chair to take her to the bathroom and get her in bed I can take her home -  even if just for a little while.  I am praying she will improve, because I am just not ready to call it quits.  

I would like to thank each and every one of you caretakers out there. I know of several of you whom I have met through blogging. Please accept my sincere thanks and appreciation for all you do for those in need, on behalf of those who may not be able to express their gratitude.  

Whether caretaking is a job, or if you are helping a family member, friend, or handicapped child, I know that it is one of the hardest jobs there is.  I see so many of you around me now. I guess now my eyes are opened and I am noticing more. Everywhere I look I am seeing elderly people with caretakers. I am amazed at what great lengths you go to to care for others.  I appreciate your kind words, your warm encouraging smiles, your gentle touch, and your patience.  I see the appreciation upon the faces of those being cared for, and I am brought to tears nearly every day visiting in the nursing home and seeing all you angels on earth making a difference in someone's life.  

Sadly, my mom is starting to go in and out of dementia. She really does not seem to understand the great lengths people are going to in order to care for her.  

Sometimes I look into those blue eyes and I know that she might not realize how hard I have worked to care for her, but I hope she somehow feels deep down in her soul that someone loves her very much, and will be here for her, no matter what.