28 April 2016

Heights House 12: Enjoying A Walk In Our Yard

One of the things I've most enjoyed since being able to start walking is to be outside a little more and to talk walks around our yard and neighborhood. So good  for the soul after a long winter!

One of the big adjustments of moving from coastal California to the high desert is definitely climate. Say goodbye to the green grass, hibiscus, plumeria, citrus trees and bougainvillea everywhere. But there is so much beauty to enjoy here that I am learning to appreciate as well.

Taking my first walk around the yard since late last fall, it was fun to take photos that tell stories about what has been happening in the yard over the winter. I came across all these stools who seemed to be having some sort of gathering against the front wall of the house. Ha. Had to snap that colorful shot!

Much of the cactus is gone after many backbreaking hours of work by The Man. He has removed hundreds of pounds of cactus using a wide variety of tools especially the shovels. I think he's broken a few on that chore. While cactus can be pretty, it is also a nightmare when you have a kid and a dog adventuring around the yard. I can't tell you how many hours have been sent removing cactus spines from family members and the dog -- especially the dog...with a headlamp, magnifying glass and tweezers. Not to mention a vet visit to remove infected ones. So we will enjoy cactus in our neighbors' yards from a distance. 

The extent of my involvement in the development of the yard has been minimal, but The Man has put in probably hundreds of hours at this point. The property was definitely suffering from a lack of TLC over the past few years. With a new wall of trees on the north and east sides of the property we now have even more privacy and the yard feels more our own.

I wandered down to the very back corners of the property for the first time on the very narrow deer trail that winds down both sides of the house to the bottom of lot. It is pretty narrow and was not the easiest jaunt for my first day on my feet without my cast but I did it with only one yucca stabbing to my ankles. It seems like that stuff will jump out and stab you no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Thankfully it didn't sting for a long time like it usually does...like for hours.

The brick pile on the side of the yard reminded me of our adventures filling in the planters and removing the brick flooring from the laundry room last fall. Boy was that a massive job. The brick pile also reminds me that we still have a long, long way to go. Early one morning this week I pulled out a few decor items from my wall of stored lamps, boxes, trays, candles and more and tried to decorate a few small areas in the living room including the small bookshelves and for lack of a better term, the mantle -- which is actually the top of an open wall above our fireplace. Still works in progress for sure, but at least it's a little progress.

I keep reminding The Man that there is no deadline and no "finished" when it comes to a house. We have time and we have certainly faced some interesting challenges to getting settled. There is no due date we have to meet, so we can take it as it comes. Life lesson in a million ways!

Last Sunday I spent a good hour or more in the backyard watering plants with the spray hose. It was therapeutic and the flowers definitely needed it. I realized that some of the tulips, daffodils and irises did not bloom for lack of water. I also noticed that grass is overtaking several of the flowerbeds and there is a creeping vine of some sort that is overtaking some other flower beds. So as soon as I can I need to get out there on my knees with a hand trowel and start fighting back the overgrowing invaders. On Monday the sprinkler guys came and checked out all the drip irrigation around the yard and I've seen the water running in the mornings and evenings so hopefully the yard is getting watered a little better now.

The trees are mostly filled in with leaves now and even the late leafing vines are starting to come in. Things we thought might be dead have come back to life so that is encouraging. We have quite an interesting assortment of plants in the yard and we are learning how they develop and grow throughout the seasons. I was so thrilled to have a small hydrangea bush growing on edge of the patio and then over the winter it was dead right down to the soil. I thought that was a little weird and that perhaps it was too small to survive the cold season. But a few weeks ago I saw a few sprigs poking up out of the ground and now the bush is about two feet tall and noticeably taller every week. Looking forward to hydrangeas later this summer.

We are still having our windy season here in New Mexico...strong winds at least several days a week during the spring. Looking forward to that ending. Without the wind the weather is fantastic. It comes and goes in waves. I think living in the hills we get an extra dose of the wind perhaps. Everyone seems to be at their wits end about the springtime winds now, here's hoping that season ends soon.

Hope you friends are doing well and enjoying the most of the seasons wherever you are. Next post I'm working on is all about shoes for summer.

25 April 2016

Broken Foot, The Final Step: Two Shoes

In what will be one of the last big recovery steps from the five fractures in my foot, I'm wearing two shoes as of Saturday morning. Happily this was not as challenging as going from no weight to walking in the cast - which was basically learning to walk all over again. At first I thought it was not even hurting and then after five minutes my foot was pretty grumpy, I immediately went in and took some pain meds and despite the meds it is pretty painful. But it's moving, working and I'm walking so this is great.

I'm being reminded again that one has to take thing slowly. I'd love to just run off into the sunset now but after just a couple of hours on my feet it was pretty obvious that this is going to require lots of ice, ibuprofen and patience. I'm not just going to be on the go-go all day on my feet right off the bat.

Gosh I'm impatient. Maybe it's just because so much of my life has been on hold for the better part of five months now. But I have to say, I made it! I got through 12 weeks of non-weight-bearing, learned to walk again, suffered through a LOT of pain, slept with my foot up on four pillows for over 100 nights, sat and watched people do things I wanted to be doing, fell hard on my crutches once and had one crash on my scooter, shed a few tears along the way and continued to smile and laugh my way through difficult times.

The gifts I received along the way were lessons in patience, enduring pain and suffering and learning to improvise in a million ways so that I could make things less painful and less difficult. I learned to ask for what I needed. I learned to let other people help me, I learned to receive service gracefully and I learned that there are good people everywhere who will see you and reach out to help if you let them. I probably said "thank you" at least a million times in the past few months.

One thing that is weird is now I'm not the girl in the cast anymore. I became known to so many people at my local stores where we shop, downtown where I work. You can imagine the first thing that started just about every conversation I've had over the past few months was either "what happened?" or "how is it going with that leg?" I had so many strangers asking me when I was going to get out of that cast. Now I'm just back to a regular person who just walks a little oddly. It's strange how much that cast, and the crutches and scooter became part of my identity. It's a little weird to feel like I need to reinvent myself a bit or rediscover who I am now after thousands of conversations about my foot seeming to dominate every human interaction I've had in 2016. As weird as that sounds it really is true.

I have a list of rehab exercises I need to start doing and I am trying to talk walks as much as possible now. I think I will start swimming again because I feel like that would be a great workout for not only my foot but my entire body. I may start out wearing fins. A swim teacher I had once taught us to use our fins sometimes because it helped create a fluid rhythm to our strokes. I think it would help both take some of the pressure off my foot and at the same time really help with it's flexibility and strength.

I am still learning to take it slowly and not over do it. That seems to be one lesson I started to learn this past few months but still have a lot way to go at. I like to move fast, do lots of things and stay busy. Somehow I have a feeling the universe will keep giving me experiences to work on that skill. That's how it seems to work. Haha.

I'm going to go take a little rest off my feet right now. Seems like the right thing to do. I'm working on a few posts that I will share with you soon, one from our yard on my first adventure out, a little shoe shopping inspiration and I'm working on a wrap up of all the good things I learned from my broken foot. I found other's articles on that topic to be invaluable to me, so I definitely want to pay it forward and share some life hacks and survival techniques I learned. I also have some musings on home decor to share. Sending you my best wishes. Thanks for coming by!

15 April 2016

Our Tween Birthday Party Was Great

It's been almost a month already since we had our BIG TWEEN birthday party! Wanted to share a little bit of the fun. I think our greatest success was we 1) survived, 2) found lots of ways to DIY it all and 3) we did in on a well-planned budget.

This was the first time The Bug had ever really had a "friend party" for her birthday. We've always been big on taking a family adventure instead. Like this Newport Adventure or Seven Days of Fun.  But we thought this would be a great year to give her her first friend party. One of the things I did do was something I have done at work for convention planning. I created a minute-by-minute plan so I knew exactly how much time we had for each activity and when transition times had to happen to allow us to get everything done by 9 p.m. when the parents would arrive for pick up.

I figured out how long the movie was, then factored in 10 minutes on either end for bathroom breaks and other distractions. Then I subtracted that time from our 9 p.m. deadline. Then I factored in the approximate time each activity would take and then I had a very good schedule to work off of. I knew when the kids needed to start eating dinner, have cake, open gifts and head in for the movie. With a little fudge time between each activity it all worked out quite perfectly and the movie ended at 8:55. Not long after the parade of parents began to roll in.

I think we had 13 of 21 invited girls come, which was great since we mailed nine of the invitations and they never arrived  to their destinations. We ended up sending out a very hasty email with an explanation about what happened with the invitations and a copy of the invitation to all girls who never got an invitation the night before the party and all but one of them came. A happy turnout.

You can see how we DIYed a table and benches using bi-fold closet doors, sawhorses and cinder blocks. We had benches on three sides of the table and the table is huge and made room for lots of stuff. It is three 12-inch panels across. We also rigged a couple of other benches that run along the back wall of the patio.

We're still updating the scheme of all that, it needs to have the edges painted and we need to treat it so it can withstand being outside. The Man was setting this up just minutes before the party started, but it sure worked out great and gave us a ton of seating. Thanks Habitat For Humanity ReStore and thanks Pinterest for the inspiration.

I had grand ideas for all the decorations I was going to make and of course, realistically with my schedule that was a pipe dream. I did pull out two of the large blackboards I made a few years ago that were still packed away to make a welcome sign for the front entry and a Happy Birthday sign for the dining room.

 So when I popped in to Dollar Tree to get balloons for the party, I decided to check out their decoration section and was more than impressed with the fun options. I couldn't resist picking up some pretty party garlands, tissue paper flowers and more. At a dollar a pop it's hard to stop. But I got a bag full of decorations that I will reuse for the most part, plus got party hats, streamers, a bouquet of balloons and much more for just $30. Such a deal.

We decided for food that we'd ordered Dion's pizza and salad which is an Albuquerque institution and one of our favorite places to eat. I placed on online order and The Man picked it all up a few minutes after the party had started. We had drinks in large supply out in the backyard, lots of water bottles and CapriSun pouches. The Man picked up a cake from Costco the day before that fed the entire party, plus enough leftovers to send some home with friends and still have plenty to nibble on for the rest of the week. It really was not that big of a cake...now that I think about it, maybe it was a half-sheet size, which is 18" x 13". Thinking back, it was really a challenge to get it in the fridge.

I also had big plans that we would do some really cool craft that all the girls would "ohh" and "ah" over and I was totally rejected on that idea by The Bug. She was very insistent that everyone just wanted to run around in the backyard. I'll give her credit, she was totally right and it was hard to get them to stop running around, giggling and squealing to actually eat, do cake, presents and come inside afterwards. Despite my sense of rejection on the creative project (sad face -- but sort of relieved too), it seemed it worked out perfectly.

So we let all the girls run around the property for a good hour, then we gathered at the table for pizza and salad. We went right into cake and ice cream and opening presents after that. Then we herded everyone up into the living room to watch Big Hero 6. It was amazing how much the chaos and noise died down once they headed in to watch the movie. It was fun to hear a gaggle of girls giggling at the funny parts.

At that point, The Man and I did a little clean up and pretty much collapsed after that. At 9:30 when everyone had gone home, The Bug asked me, "What are we going to do now?" I laughed hard. Not sure what she was expecting but we had not made plans for a Hollywood-style "after party". Ha. So we sat and looked at the kind gifts again and talked about how fun the party had been and soon headed off to bed. The Man and I were incredibly tired! But so glad we worked so well together to make such a nice party for our kiddo. She's still talking about how much she enjoyed it, so I think we hit the nail on the head for birthday party celebration this year.

13 April 2016

Broken Foot Progress: Back On Two Feet

A week ago Tuesday I got the go ahead to start walking on my cast after 12 weeks on crutches, crutch and scooter. The one problem was I couldn't actually walk. So I literally had to learn to walk all over again and I was back on crutches and walker for a few days. My goal was to be on two feet by Monday, but I got there before the weekend started on Friday. Yay!

It is painful and uncomfortable but I think it's one of those "no pain, no gain" situations. When I first start walking it is very stiff and painful. And it does hurt to walk on it, sometimes just weird little pains and other times big stabbing-like pains. Good times. But every step is therapy and getting me closer to the getting back to regular, daily life and wearing two shoes! Yay!

Finding the right shoe for a walking cast is a bit of a challenge. Right now the only thing that is working in my Dansko clog. I would've thought a sandal with an inch of heel would work, but nope - needs to be higher.  It's a little crazy that I've worn out one shoe of three of my pairs of shoes while in a cast this winter. The left shoe of each pair is in perfect condition. I'm wearing a pair of FitFlops (okay just the right shoe) that I picked up a few days ago. Not the greatest because as we all know flip flops don't provide a lot of stability but the deep, cushy sole is comfortable.

Glad this whole situation is moving forward. It's hard to believe this all started the first week of January. Argh. It's mid-April already! The leaves have filled out on the trees, flowers are blooming and the year is moving along. Can you believe 2016 is already almost 1/3 over?!

11 April 2016

Catching Up

It's been a crazy couple of weeks and that would explain why I have not been here as intended. I think the flu went through our house and we had the big birthday party, I worked on an special project for a few days and THEN we went straight into Easter Weekend and Spring Break. At the beginning of this past week I got the thumbs up to start walking on my cast. More on that soon.

My head is spinning a bit. Whew. I'm still not feeling like myself but getting through. Thought I would share some images of our Easter eggs we made on Easter. It was fun to play with a wax relief treatment on the eggs. 

Beyond Easter egg projects and celebrating things here in our family I've been trying to get my office space organized. That room was in good shape a few weeks ago and somehow things have spun out of control in there. I feel like it has become everyone's off the kitchen dumping ground. So I need to get back in there and tackle it again and get things in the cupboards. It was a bit of a trick but using a step ladder and my iWalk 2.0 I got most of the cupboards and shelves lined. But I think I need to rethink organization order in that room.

This reminds me of why I always feel like the first six months of the year are so jam packed with holidays, birthdays, and school vacations. I wrote about it here and it seems to become an annual realization sometime around Spring Break time. I'm working on several more posts and am looking forward to being here three times a week as is my goal. Thanks for your patience these past couple of weeks!
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