Birthday Letter to My Five-Year Old

Josh at 5
Josh at 5

Dear Josh,

Someday, perhaps, you’ll read this blog that I’ve been keeping since just before you were born; you may also one day question why I completed baby books for your older siblings and have not written one word in your baby book. From the blog, you’ll surmise that, during the first five years of your life, I was immersed in worry and fear. From the empty baby book pages, you’ll perhaps ask why I failed to celebrate your milestones.

Just one month ago you turned five. I won’t lie; getting to age five was a bit like pushing a stone up the mountain. When you were born, I had just one night ensconced in the dreamy future before learning of your failed newborn hearing screening. After many bouts of false hope, you were definitively diagnosed with mild to moderate reverse-sloped, bilateral, conductive hearing loss at ten months of age. Back then, I grieved for you and the extra challenges you would face in life. I had no idea whether you’d join us in the world of spoken language. I knew, of course, that if you didn’t ever speak our language, we would learn how to speak yours.

Thanks to early intervention and hearing aid technology, at age five, you are fully lingual: a highly verbal, extraordinarily intelligent little boy. Lately, I’ve been thinking that perhaps you hit the “jackpot” of disabilities. Indeed, it was only because of your hearing loss that you received extensive speech therapy early in life. When your observant speech and language pathologist noticed issues with tongue weakness, she referred you to an occupational therapist. The occupational therapist further recognized and diagnosed Sensory Processing Disorder in you. This diagnosis allowed early and robust therapy with a disability that may have remained “hidden” and hindered you even more than your hearing loss. Because of your hard work with this same occupational therapist, most of your sensory issues have lessoned: some have disappeared.

My joy in you at age five is immense. To see you going down a slide or riding your bike, for me, borders on the miraculous. To hear you say to me yesterday, in your cowboy duds, “Now I’m going to wander the Wild West” makes me smile. I love how your words provide us glimpses into your vibrant “imaginated” (a Joshy word) world. Challenges have abounded in your short life and I know more challenges will come. Still, I am enjoying the view from the top of this particular mountain. And I am experimenting with a softer grip for the journey ahead because you’ve already shown me just how good you are at climbing mountains.

I love you so,


Josh with big brother Ethan

Ear Surgery, Courage, and that Ever-Elusive Place Called Serenity

It’s been a long while since I’ve written an ear update. At this point, I am sure our ENT would categorize J’s tympanoplasty as a success. Our ENT not only repaired J’s ear drum (well, more accurately, he rebuilt a new one with cartilage taken from behind J’s right ear), but he also discovered the physiological reason for J’s congenital conductive hearing loss. He found that J’s first two middle ear bones were abnormally small and therefore, could not strike his ear drum. And, in any event, the right ear drum had been destroyed by J’s previous ENT who insisted on inserting tubes into his ears even after discovering in surgery how abnormally small J’s ear canals were. I guess fortunately, she never really managed to get the left grommet into his left ear drum.

During the tympanoplasty, J’s ENT emerged from surgery, told us about the deformed ear bones, and asked us if we wanted him to remove the first two ear bones and insert a titanium prosthetic device (TORP) in their place. We went ahead with the procedure and it restored J’s hearing to within normal range. In consequence, J has been unaided in the right ear for the past 19.5 months. Although J’s language development was coming along nicely once fitted with hearing aids that actually worked for his small ear canals at 18 months of age and with the help of a Moog-method based school, J’s language exploded in new and exciting ways post surgery. A few months post-surgery, J no longer qualified for speech services and in our recent check-in with a SLP, J’s expressive language ranked somewhere in the 95 percentile for his age group. For all of this, I am so grateful.

J’s right ear, however, has continued to drain intermittently post surgery. We’ve spent more time at the ENT’s office post-surgery than I care to recount here. Unfortunately, in the past two months, the drainage has kicked up a notch. His ENT thought J had an ear infection a month back, but the culture did not grow anything. When we went in for our follow-up appointment yesterday, J’s ear had begun to drain again. Our ENT suggested it was time for a CT scan to check for a cyst. I said, “Do you mean cholesteatoma?” He answered, “yes.” Well, if you want to strike the fear of God into a mother, just use the word cholesteatoma in the same sentence with her child’s name. Especially if the mother has already been through the horrors of ear surgery once before with her child.

And, sigh, . . . I’ve been working so hard on my fear-o-meter with respect to J’s right ear. In fact, I have a large number of alcoholics in my life–mostly past life but still a pivotal family of origin member who remains actively using. Let’s just say that since childhood, I’ve had a way of collecting alcoholics in my life. Countless times throughout my life, people have recommended Al-anon for me. But I always thought that I could go it on my own. Finally, however, I started attending Al-anon this past fall. Mainly because I realized that my living in constant fear over J’s right ear was impacting my health. I needed to learn how to turn that which I cannot control over to my higher power. I am working the program but I have a feeling I’ll be attending Al-anon for the rest of my life. Alcoholism is the family disease that keeps on giving. Anyway, the word “cholesteatoma” puts my mama fear-o-meter right back into the center stage of my life. Cholesteatoma is a disease that can be dealt with, but there is never a guarantee that it won’t return. I asked our ENT if J’s ear surgery increased his risk for cholesteatoma and he answered, “yes.” And then, of course, I had to ask what percentage increase came from the TORP procedure and he told me, “about ten percent.”

Well, I must admit, I thought I had finally found the serenity to let go of my desperate clinging to J’s ear health. On December 5th, we visited his audiologist for testing of his right ear post-ear infection (that really wasn’t an infection). We learned that his hearing had remained stable (no drainage at time of testing)–of course when he is actively draining, he definitely loses some hearing capacity in the right ear. I talked with our  audiologist (who is outside of our ENT’s office but we keep her because we love her so much) about J’s surgery and about how much hearing J will lose if the ENT has to remove the TORP (I wasn’t thinking about cholesteatoma at all at this point) due to the continued issues with drainage. Of course, it will be total conductive loss, which is about 55-65 dmb. When J still had his ear bones, it was about 35-40 dmb, with a reverse slope loss. His left ear still has all three ear bones, but was never quite as good as his right ear so about 40-45 dmb range of hearing. I talked about how I’d second guess our decision if he loses that much hearing in his right ear because we decided to remove the ear bones. And then, unexpectedly, she gave me a gift. She told me how she used to work as an audiologist in a clinic for kids who had lost hearing due to meningitis and she told me that even if they had had two years of natural hearing before meningitis took their hearing, it made speaking so much easier for them. She told me that this time we had given J of natural hearing (unilaterally) during his language formative years (0-5), was extremely valuable and probably weighed in favor of the surgery we had done. I left her office feeling lighter than I’d felt in 19 months. I left saying, “Okay, God (my name for my higher power). You know J’s every need far better than I ever could and I am going to stop taking this burden of worrying over this ear. I am going to stop second-guessing our decision. I am going to start being absolutely, joyfully, grateful that J is fully lingual at age 4 years, 3 months.

I had about ten days of this blissful state. And then, yesterday, I heard about the “ten percent increase for cholesteatoma.” J’s ENT also conclusively diagnosed J with a perforation in his right ear drum yesterday. And so today, it’s back to working my Al-anon program.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

CT scan scheduled for January 15, 2014. And I am so worried about radiation exposure too.

In the meantime, I am hoping to relish this holiday season. E is already home from his first semester of college and got all A’s. H is coming home in 3 days. I am so excited for us all to be together and to cook for my family and to have us all under one roof. To me, there is no greater joy than having all of my kid’s together. I do not intend to “miss” this time by shouldering the heavy sack of ear worry that I’ve been carrying over the past 19 months.

God, you know J’s every need. You love J more than I ever could. You know far more about his ears and what he needs. I put his hearing, his ears, his health into your hands. I lay my burden down. I trust in you. If this is the proverbial thorn in my side (and I think it is), you’ve told me that the only remedy is grace. ‘Let my grace be sufficient for you; for J.”

Enough. There is always enough grace for ANY situation.


E and J eating at my favorite restaurant (given I am gluten free–and I suppose I need to begin to tell you all about my health journey this past year) before J’s ENT appointment. E held J on his lap while ENT cleaned out J’s ear under microscope. Such a loving big brother.

Mother’s Day Postscript

Chris told me that my last entry for this blog was a bit of a downer–too much of a downer for what, he says, has been a fairly uplifting blog. Chris would never tell me such a thing unless he really believed it. Chris, like Ethan, is a bit of my “true north,” helping to point me in the right direction. Both have strong intuitive souls, but Chris has the wisdom of the years added to that intuition and oh how I value his opinion and views.

So on this lovely Mother’s Day, I have decided to write one more ending for this blog about motherhood, with one last gratitude list because I indeed have so very much to be grateful for in this life of mine and as a mother. I am grateful that:

  • Chris insisted on a second opinion for Ethan’s epilepsy diagnosis.
  • Ethan’s stay in the hospital (as difficult as it was) and second opinion, led us to an opinion by an epileptologist that Ethan does not have epilepsy (he does have a condition tied to his heart, blood pressure, circulatory system–but much less devastating than the epilepsy diagnosis).
  • Ethan was able to go off the horrible, brain-altering medications that he had been placed on for 6 weeks this past spring.
  • Josh went nearly a full year without a cold. This is a MAJOR miracle given the amount of sickness he had last year. Thus, he had his first real cold this year just 2 weeks shy of the year anniversary of his ear surgery. We were praying for as much time as possible for the ear to heal before an influx of fluid and pressure hit it. All of you who have had preschoolers will understand just how amazing it is to have such a lengthy cold-free stretch.
  • The ear surgery restored Josh’s hearing in his right ear to a level where he no longer requires a hearing aid in that ear and his language development has just exploded this year.
  • The perforation in his ear drum post surgery appears to have healed itself.
  • Josh is sleeping much better these days and thankfully, so are the rest of us.
  • Just two weeks until Hannah comes home from her study abroad in Japan and it has really gone smoothly.
  • Hannah has seemed very happy and content during her time abroad.
  • My older children both have such kind, interesting, honorable, upright friends in their lives.
  • I get to be married to my best friend.
  • I feel myself moving towards a place of beauty and passion not yet before experienced in my life. The wisdom of age is a blessed thing.
  • Right here, right now, right where I am–I am content. All is well with my soul.

The Funny Things a Three-Year Old Says

Happy 3rd Birthday to my little guy who says such funny things to us:

Yesterday, eating a small bag of Bran Flakes that I brought back from my trip with Ethan, Josh says to me, “It tastes better than it looks.”

To Ethan a few weeks back, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

To me unloading the dishwasher last week, “It’s so nice of you to help out around here Mommy!”

To the three school district reps leaving our house yesterday after Josh’s big IEP meeting, “Don’t get blown away out there!” (it was just a tad bit windy)

To my dad leaving his birthday party after dark, “Be careful not to get lost out in the dark.”

Last week we are lying in bed reading and I notice Josh itching his right (surgery) ear and I say, “Josh, please don’t put your finger in your ear.” Josh says back to me without missing a beat, “And mommy, please don’t put your hair in my ear.” (I guess my hair must have been causing an itchy ear).

And quite frequently to me, Chris, Ethan or Hannah, “You’re the best, mommy (or daddy, or Ethan, or Hannah).”

To Hannah the weekend before she returned to college, “I don’t love you because you are too boring.”

Today, after I used a sanitizing wipe on his hands (a regular occurrence since surgery) and on the metacarpals of his new friend, a life-size plastic skeleton, “You are very helpful, aren’t you mommy?”

After he went #1 on the potty a few weeks back he said to me, “I just emptied my bladder.” (he’s very very into anatomy books lately and likes to watch my yoga anatomy DVDs).

When we celebrated his birthday with family a few weeks back, he was not disturbed by the end of the present-opening phase, or the cake-eating phase, but after everyone left, Josh said to me, “My birthday is over,” and then again more slowly as if processing it completely, “my birthday is over.” Then he started to cry a little.

To think, at this time last year, Josh was hardly talking. I am so grateful for Josh’s language development over the past year. Grateful beyond all words. I love this little guy so much and it has been so much fun to learn about all of this stuff we just knew he was thinking before but couldn’t express. He is just so interesting and fun and unique. I am completely blessed to get to spend everyday hanging out with Josh.

“You’re the best Josh–simply the best!”


Not Perfect but Functional

There is just something so tidy, so comforting about receiving an “A” grade on a test or report card. Good grades provide a physical confirmation that “yes, I did all that I could–I gave my very best.” So how does a former straight-A student learn to live with the C’s and B’s that life inevitably doles out? Well, this imperfect mother is still learning, at age 42, how to deal with less than perfection in her own life and the lives of those around her. A perfectionist lives from one event to the next; always delaying happiness for that later time when everything will finally be perfect. Good grades feed a perfectionist because they might, for a very short moment, say that all was done as it should have been done. But no sooner received, the perfectionist is already looking ahead to the next challenge on the horizon. Gratification is always delayed; is never realized. True contentment is rarely recognized.

If you haven’t previously read about my son Josh’s recent surgery, here is a recap. On May 3rd, Josh underwent a tympanoplasty to repair his perforated right eardrum. This surgery was elective in so far as it might have been delayed a few years until a point in time when his eustachian tubes were more stable. Still, Josh already was having dental surgery and so, upon the recommendation of his ENT, we decided to go ahead with a tympanoplasty in an attempt to save Josh from a further sedation. While performing the ear drum repair, Josh’s ENT observed that the first two bones of Josh’s middle ear were malformed. More specifically, these two bones were too small to effectively conduct much, if any, sound. Well, we finally knew the SOURCE but not really the CAUSE of Josh’s congenital hearing loss. We were also given the option of proceeding with a potential repair, known as an ossicular chain reconstruction, where Josh’s first two bones would be removed and replaced with a titanium prosthetic device in the hopes that the prosthesis would conduct sound more effectively than the malformed ear bones.

While our son was in surgery, we decided to proceed with the ossicular chain reconstruction. The recovery from the tympanoplasty has been grueling. I would never advise another parent of a child under the age of five to undergo such a surgery unless medically necessary. The literature on tympanoplasty from an ENT office makes it seem like the recovery is a simple matter of a few days on pain meds and a week or so of laying low. The problem is, a cold or ear infection (quite common in this age group) can undo the entire procedure. We didn’t know this before surgery. We pulled Josh out of school, occupational therapy, and kept him mostly away from public places throughout the months of May and June. Remarkably, neither Josh nor the rest of his four family members had even a mention of a cold during these two months. We had a bit of a scare at the end of June and brought Josh into the ENT. He noted that Josh’s ear drum was in tact and healing nicely. We sighed with some relief. We had  made 8 weeks (the first critical landmark) without incidence.

We let Josh go back to open public places, such as parks. About 3 days after the 8-week marker, Josh began to run a 104 temp (of course on the weekend). We brought Josh to the ER. They did not know the source of Josh’s fever but looked at his eardrum and saw that it was still in tact. Another sigh of relief. Throughout the next week, Josh’s temperature occasionally shot up and his ear began to drain. We went to the pediatrician at the 9 week point post surgery. Our pediatrician noted a small perforation in the ear drum repair. Our “A” ear report card had been downgraded to an A- or B+.  The following week, at 9.5 weeks or so, Josh saw his ENT who noted the perforation. He said it was small and located in a “good” place if Josh was going to re-perforate. He actually said to me, “it’s not perfect, but still functional.” Okay, so I guess we were downgraded to a B here and I felt the downgrade in my heart, but tried to practice gratitude even in the face of “less than perfect, but still functional.”

At the same time, Chris and I had been observing a language explosion with Josh since about mid-June. He would hear the ice machine shift in the kitchen when he was around the corner and in the living room. It was the smallest of sounds and Josh would ask “What’s that noise?” He was overhearing conversations and building language from this secondary source, which is something that often escapes kids who are hard of hearing. An example of this incidental language acquisition in action: one week, Hannah and I were discussing the health benefits of quinoa. The next week, Josh brought a bag of quinoa into Hannah and told her “Hey Hannah, quinoa is healthy for you to eat.” We were hearing Josh routinely put together 12-word sentences. A beautiful thing. Most of the time, Josh didn’t even ask for his left hearing aid and because he was doing so well unaided, we left it out. Still, throughout July, Josh’s ear began to drain on and off.

The week that was supposedly “the finish line”–that is, the 12-week post surgery marker–Josh’s right ear began to drain more fervently than before. Because we had our post-op with the ENT, as well as an audiology appointment scheduled for the next week, I decided on Friday afternoon to just run into our pediatrician to make sure the ear wasn’t infected. I wanted to avoid another weekend ER trip. Josh’s pediatrician looked in Josh’s ear with her otoscope for what seemed to be hours. She finally emerged from the ear and told me that the perforation seemed much worse. She also reluctantly told me that she saw whitish matter from the center of the ear and worried that Josh might have cholesteatoma. Cholesteatoma is no small matter and would have surely required more surgery. Chris and I proceeded to spend the most agonizing weekend we’ve ever had together. He developed a low back issue from the stress and I acquired about 20% more white hair (seriously–no exaggeration here). Meanwhile, Josh began saying “what? what?” to everything we said outside and in the car. He also was completely frustrated by this obvious drop in hearing and tantrums escalated. The left hearing aid went back in.

I was able to move Josh’s ENT appointment up to Tuesday first thing in the morning. I still brought Josh to his appointment with his audiologist on Monday. After testing, the audiologist noted no changes in Josh’s left ear (this was the no surgery ear, so “stable” was good) and noted great gains in the lower frequencies on Josh’s right ear. Because Josh was born with a “reverse slope” hearing loss (meaning the high frequencies were heard better than the lower frequencies, which is the exact opposite of most hearing losses–but typical of a pure conductive-type loss) he was almost into the unaided zone across the board–his audiogram, which I’ll try to post soon–was nearly straight across the board just below the 20 decibels. Here is a link to a “speech banana” showing where typical speech sounds are on an audiogram–so you can see that 20 decibels is still giving Josh great access to speech. His audiologist said that the low frequencies are where one hears inflection in the voice. Notably, Josh’s inflection had improved greatly this summer as well. He sounded much less “robotic” which was a noted problem with Josh’s speech earlier this spring. As great as these results were, I felt we had lost some of the gains with the perforation. I really believe that pre-perforation, Josh’s hearing had likely been in the normal (probably 10-15 decibels across the frequencies).

Well, sigh of relief. Huge relief. Vibrant, glorious relief. Our ENT did not see a cholesteatoma, and felt that our pediatrician was seeing the cartilage used to repair the ear drum. He did note the enlarged perforation and expressed concerns over Josh’s continued drainage. He believes that the perforation and draining both are acting to decrease Josh’s access to sound. He wanted us to be sure to get in for an ear culture the next time the draining began (before treating with antibiotic ear drops as we had been doing). And well, that would be today, 14 weeks post-surgery. The drainage has kicked up again and we are going in for a culture this afternoon. The ENT said that, depending on the cause/source/continuation of the drainage, he may have to remove the prosthetic device. And so, here we are–in this gray zone. In this zone of less than perfect. Definitely not “worse case scenario” (which would have been cholesteatoma) but not the perfect result we had hoped for. Indeed, I can’t even see that we opened a door and walked through. Perhaps we just opened a window for Josh for a time to greater access to language. The road ahead is uncertain. But I guess so could be said for any child, any person. I read last week of a child who contracted a deadly brain infection from an amoeba that swam up his nose to his brain after swimming in a Minnesota lake. He was gone within days of contracting the amoeba. Oh, my heart goes out to his parents.

This life is uncertain, fragile. It seems that the effort is to embrace each day, each opportunity fully–regardless of any overhanging gray clouds or imperfections. This imperfect moment may be our last. When Thoreau wrote of sucking the marrow out of life, I doubt he meant that we must wait until all conditions are completely favorable, blue skies ahead–complete assurance of a straight-A kind of day. I think he meant that, to suck out the marrow, you must dive right into the grayness, the muddle of life. In spite of the imperfections, the uncertainties, the vast amount of suffering that befalls each human life, we must endeavor to keep our hearts fully open, breathe in deeply, and walk ahead–palms open to receive it all. Head bowed in thanks for it all.


Making Room for a Shifting Plan

It (is) has been a tough road to recovery; particularly at night. Some nights over the past almost two weeks (tomorrow is two week post-surgery point), Josh has slept only 3-4 hours. I feel very much like the parent of a newborn right now. Absolutely no energy. We certainly understand now why a tympanoplasty is rarely performed on children this young–that is, you have no idea if they are in pain, hearing strange sounds (I’ve read from adults recount of the experience that this happens), popping ears, some sort of residual memory of surgery cropping up? Just not sure. We just continue forward and it seems that although one day might be worse, the next is better and so, on a whole, forward progress. I finally started using his sensory brush again on Monday, just once a day at this time. I think that is helping to reintegrate his systems. He had become so inflexible once again that there were only two shirts he’d wear (both Buzz Light Year) and one pair of pants (size 18 mos., which he’s somewhere along the way dubbed his “Buzz” pants). This increasing inflexibility was a signal to me that all of our hard OT work over the past five months was just running down the drain, after a week or so of lots of Curious George and Bernstein Bear videos (to keep Josh from moving around too much) and no brushing. Thus, Josh was receiving very little proprioceptive input.

Also, the big news is that we are deferring our John Tracey enrollment for one year. When JTC learned about the Tympanoplasty, they suggested the delay. Josh won’t be able to have a hearing test in his right ear until at least the end of August. And so we will not know his current hearing levels. For this reason, I’m thinking no hearing aid in that ear either, but waiting to talk to the ENT at our post-op and then his audiologist. At this time, Josh still seems to have very little hearing in that ear. We know, however, it can take a long time for the hearing to return after a tympanoplasty. John Tracey Clinic wants him coming when he is at his hearing best, not his hearing worst. We agreed that this makes sense and we were also concerned with flying so soon after the tympanoplasty. We certainly didn’t think it was worth risking the ear drum repair. And so we will be home his summer. I am not even sure that I’ll put Josh in his school for the summer session. Hannah is going to take care of Josh a bunch this summer as it works well with her early start at school in August, she will be an RA this coming year, and a June trip to Japan. I am thinking that this should be a summer where Josh just gets to be a kid. Of course, he’ll still go to OT and perhaps a new SLP that is more focused on speech fluency, which is his current language issue right now.

I’d like to share with you a quote that I keep sharing in my yoga classes. It is a quote I found valuable during a difficult time in 2007 and I dug it out of my 2007 journal recently. It keeps rattling around in my brain.

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It is the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” Virginia Satir


Gratitude Journal: 861-880

Oh, I know, it’s been a while since any gratitude has crossed my online journal. It has felt like a tough winter, even though the weather has been unseasonably warm. Josh has now commenced cold # 4. Four colds so far in two months. Hopefully this one will be more minor, than major, like the first cold he had in January which was epic. Anyway, we are stuck inside with the snow flakes flurrying about outside and so it seems like a good time for some thanksgiving.

  1. Chris, our anniversary yesterday, and staying in for my culinary masterpiece, chicken pot pie from scratch (you just don’t get a sitter when Josh has as many melt downs as he does these days–I even just left him with Ethan outside the pool last weekend while I showered and I came out of the locker room to find Josh having a meltdown that Ethan couldn’t handle and the meltdown actually continued all the way home–20 minutes or so–because Josh was so whipped into a frenzy by the time I got to him;
  2. My dear Ethan, who turned seventeen last week;
  3. Curious George cartoons downloaded to the iPad (yeah, we are a little too media-dependent these days, but hey, if it keeps the insanity away, I guess it’s a good thing);
  4. That my mother managed to get any food to me during my three older brother’s teenage years (I am only now realizing what a feat that was when I see how just one teenage-son is eating me out of house and home);
  5. Helen Louis Parton’s life and all that her life contributed to this world;
  6. Wool blankets;
  7. Pinterest’s resources on Sensory Processing Disorder;
  8. An online SPD community, to help me know I am not alone in the craziness that goes into raising a son with SPD;
  9. Honey Crisp apples, since these are one of the few nutritious things that Josh will regularly eat;
  10. Chris and Ethan for indulging my furniture-rearranging practices (up for another round this weekend guys?);
  11. Josh’s incredible exploding language development (we are routinely up to 7-8 word sentences and he used the word “satellite” last week in a sentence);
  12. I haven’t had my hair cut or colored in over six months (who has the time?) and everyday there are new white hairs poking through, but strangely, I am the most content I’ve ever been with the color of my hair (I really do need a cut though!);
  13. My dad bought a condo near my brother and sister-in-law and, as of May, will only be living about 50 minutes from our house (Josh sure does love his grandpa);
  14. Purple (0r is it “red” like purple onions are red?) cabbage–a veggie with a long shelf-life so it is always there for me;
  15. My Cauliflower soup–it is simply divine and my most favorite thing I make (sorry Ethan and Chris, I know it is in the rotation an awful lot this winter) and likely the simplest thing I make;
  16. My enthusiastic love for vintage cookbooks, even though I don’t make the recipes therein;
  17. Helen’s recipe for southern cornbread (She called it Mother Nation’s Cornbread–after her own mother) recipe that she wrote out for me in her own handwriting, in pink pen (Helen loved the color pink), that I framed and have hanging in my kitchen (I now I treasure it all the more);
  18. Vintage photographs–I have been collecting these for years and I love to use them in making cards, and now that I am doing collage, I have found another place for these wonderful images;
  19. The original pocket door and original hardware that has survived in our house since 1907, demonstrating to me that not everything is impermanent; and,
  20. The new place I found, over the pocket door, for displaying some of my vintage Nancy Drew books (oh, how I love these book covers).

Yes, it is so true that if you can find beauty in the everyday items around you, you can find joy and inspiration. I feel so much more joyful after this giving thanks as well. I forget how much of a difference it makes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.