my world turned up side down . . .

My world turned upside down since the last time I posted.

Last July, I was waiting for approval to move on with my research on my dissertation, and I was helping tend to my ailing parents. When I posted last year, I thought that things were going to get back to normal very soon. But they didn’t. They didn’t at all.

My dad was battling a nasty infection in his foot, especially dangerous because he was diabetic. At the end of July, I got a call from my doctor who informed me that my blood work indicated I, too, was diabetic. I immediately began eating differently. Out of fear, but also out of a sort of respect for my dad. I knew that he could have managed his diabetes years ago had he eaten the way he was supposed to.

In September, we took him to the doctor, and they told him that he had to have his foot amputated. He decided not to go through with the surgery, so he and my mother talked to Hospice. He was at peace for the first time in two years after numerous falls and becoming incapacitated.

Dad in the Navy

Dad in the Navy

A week later I received notification that my dissertation was approved and started working on research. On Monday, September 15th, I conducted my first focus group, and on Wednesday, my dad passed away.

My mother was wheel-chair bound, suffering from COPD, and she would not let anyone driver her anywhere except me. Everyone else, she said, made her feel rushed and frantic. On the day of Dad’s funeral, she and I drove together to the cemetery. Everyone else drove separately, so we had time alone to talk about things. I remember reaching over, taking her hand, and saying, “Well, Nanny, if we have to take the ride, it is a privilege for me to take it with you.”

The next week, I did my second focus group and got busy writing my fourth and fifth chapters. I talked to my chair and told her that I had an opportunity that would require me to have my doctorate by December, so she agreed to help me reach that goal. I spent countless nights staying up until two or three in the morning writing, coding, rewriting, wash . . . rinse . . . repeat.

In the meantime, Mom’s health was failing. And I was teaching seven college classes with a full-time administrative job. Looking back, I am not sure how I held things together, but somehow I did, and on December 3, I defended my dissertation. My husband went with me, so the first person I called when I was done was Mom. Her birthday was the next day, and she was so excited for me. She never said anything to me, but I found out later that she called my sister and cried because my dad wasn’t there to know that I was now Dr. Shannon.

The college gave me a reception, and my sister took lots of pictures to show Mom, who couldn’t travel the hour drive to the college, and Mom was so happy to see the pictures. A couple of weeks later, I took her to the eye doctor, and we ordered her new glasses.

Our kids come home for Christmas, so we didn’t go to Mom’s like we usually did, but the day after Christmas, we went to see her. She was not doing well. Her legs were swollen, and she just felt miserable. My brother and I talked her into letting us call an ambulance so that she wouldn’t have to sit in the emergency room waiting.

At the hospital, they determined she had suffered a heart attack at some point during the day, and while there she had another one. They took her in for a heart cath and assured us that she would move into ICU for one day and then go to a regular room. She passed away during surgery. Exactly one hundred days after we lost Dad.

Mom and Starlite

Mom and my oldest sister shortly after she lost her own mother. She was such a tiny woman and so, so beautiful.

I have learned in the last six months to be grateful that she did not suffer through the last stages of COPD. I have learned that she had more faith than anyone I’ve ever known. But I also learned that she was lonely after she lost Dad. And I’ve dealt with guilt. A. Lot. Of. Guilt. That I didn’t do more, didn’t spend more time with her, didn’t put off things that turned out not to matter so that I could spend time with her.

But I’ve also realized that she wanted me to finish my degree. She told everyone, everywhere we went, that I was “her doctor.” I’m eternally grateful that she got to know that I finished. That she was alive when I defended.

I graduated in May, walking with several of the members of my cohort, and it was a wonderful day. My whole family came, and my sisters cried, and we drove three hours in pouring rain, the beginning of the end of the drought we had suffered in Texas for ten years. And in that rain, I realized that, no matter how bittersweet it was not to have Mom and Dad there, the rain was cleansing. It was a new beginning, a new stage in my life. And it would have made Mom and Dad very happy.

My childhood home

This is Mom and Dad’s house. Mom had the most beautiful mums in her flower bed.

My sisters, brother, and I have spent months clearing out their home, dividing their things, and wrestling over decisions we don’t want to make. We have not yet sold their home, and I know that locking the door for the very last time will be one of the worst days of my life.

I grew up in that house. Had my first kiss there, practiced ballet using my dresser as the barre, learned to drive a stick shift, got proposed to in the drive way, slept in “my” room for the last time the night before our wedding, watched my mom and daughter make mud pies in the sandbox, celebrated fifty Thanksgivings, watched a gazillion football games, and loaded up my mom in her wheelchair on the day of my dad’s funeral. I don’t know how to let that house go. How to detach myself from a place that symbolizes my childhood. Every good thing in my life happened while my parents lived in that house.

So I did something that I thought would be a horrible mistake and turned out to be a blessing.

I loaded up their living room furniture and my mom’s bedroom set that had been in my old room, and I took it home. And I sat on the couch and felt calm. Connected. Close to them. And I told my sisters and brothers to take things from the house so that they could feel the same peace I felt. And they took things. And they all have said they feel better having this piece of Mom and Dad with them. And we all plan to send these pieces down to our children, who loved Nanny and Poppy and know, without a doubt, that they had the very best grandparents of any kids they know.

So my blog is going to take a different direction. I started it with some misplaced, ill-conceived idea that it had to be perfect. It had to be themed. It had to appeal to people I don’t even know. And I realized that the blogs I love belong to women who have no full-time job outside of their home and who have a skill I don’t have. I don’t have a design degree. I don’t have an eye for things, and I don’t have “the knack.” And I don’t have any followers. LOL

But I do have things I want to talk about. Things I love. Things I know, and things I want to share. I am an expert at a few things. Mostly grammar and Anne Tyler, and now that my dissertation is done, the perceptions of community-college students in terms of the spaces in which they learn. I’m not an expert at films, but I love watching them, and my background in English gives me a fair amount of insight. I’m not thin or beautiful or rich, but I love dressing cute, and I have days where I want to share what I’m wearing.

My decree is to change the fabric of my blog so that it is a place where I speak from my heart, share some things that a few people might find interesting, and chronicle the life I live. It is a good life. No, it is a great life. It is full of laughter and learning and doing good things for people. It is also full of sadness and regret and hope for the future. It is what I have been given, and I will be honest about it. And I’ll jump, jump off the edge and believe that my family and friends will look kindly at this blog and this little corner farmhouse and find it interesting and insightful.

Wish me luck. Because the one promise that is hardest to keep is to be true to who I really am and believe that I am good enough.

Why I’m MIA

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It has been really hard to stay active for the last few months because of my obligations to both the college I attend and the college where I work. I have finished all three of my chapters for my dissertation, proposed, and sent off my application to the IRB. Once I get permission to proceed, I’ll do my research then write up the rules and submit. I should be able to defend my dissertation in the fall and graduate either fall or spring.

What a relief!

Just as a little treat, I have a tutorial of a lamp I made. The lamp is cute – the tutorial is not. But . . . I always have questions about things that I see online, so having even a couple of pictures to show how things are made is helpful.

100_1563First, you will need lots of coffee filters. I bought the cheapest ones I could find at the dollar store, and I bought white. For a little more, you can buy the natural colored filters, and they would be pretty. You can also dye them, but I didn’t want to spend that much time until I knew if I could actually make a whole lamp shade.

 

Each coffee filter should be folded in half (a half circle) and then100_1553 folded again (a quarter circle). When you have folded about ten of them, fluff them a little, but make sure you keep the bottom of the triangle flat to use as a sort of handle. This is what you will glue to your lampshade.

I did about ten at a time so that I could keep the hot glue gun rolling along.

 

100_1561Start with the top of the shade and glue the first row. When you glue, make sure that the first row is glued to the inside of the lamp shade.

This picture shows the top of the lamp. The reason you want to start at the top is that you will have the least weight on your paper as you work your way down.

The next row will glow slightly underneath the first row.100_1554 It doesn’t matter how much you space, but the closer together, the tighter your ruffles will be. The other thing to watch is to try to get the ruffles as straight as possible. If I did this again, I would make lines on the lampshade as a guide, but I intended this to be a practice run where I would learn all the tricks for the next one.

You continue to glue filters down your lampshade and fluff as you go. I did a row and the fluffed.

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100_1564The lampshade has held up remarkably well for several years now. It doesn’t catch nearly as much dust as I thought it would, and I’ve been able to turn it upside down and shake it to keep it clean.

It’s not my best project by any means, but I felt bad for not keeping up better with my blog, and it’s one I had handy to share.

Soon, I will be done with my doctorate and have more time to get back to working on the things I love. Until then . . .

Have a great day!

Shannon

 

craft and sewing organization

I love looking at people’s organization ideas, don’t you? I have gotten so many great ideas from Pinterest and different blogs, and I can never get enough. When my sewing room is well-organized, I feel inspired to get in there and get something done.

I thought I would share some of my own organization ideas with you. I’m finalizing the cabinets and closet right now, so I’ll have a new post in a few days, but for now, I hope something in my room will inspire you!

097I like to store as much as I can in these mason jars because it is so much easier to find things this way. I have two rows, so I can put like things together, too. Much of my sewing odds and ends are in these jars, and I even have some electrical supplies for a project or two.

new craft room 2 044I keep my thread on a holder so that I can keep it untangled and also know what I have on hand. For current projects, the thread I need is in this little bucket.

new craft room 2 042This tray holds my sewing supplies, and the little dish holds pins. I got this at IKEA in Dallas and put a heavy duty magnet on the bottom. I also use the little rabbit pin cushion. It’s one of my all-time favorite things!

new craft room 2 035I store some small jars and rolls of washi tape in an old Coke box. The little jars are wedding favors from Walmart, and the little cream and sugar silver set is from an antique store on 6th Street in Amarillo, which is on the old Route 66.

new craft room 2 033I love these jam jars. If you ever get a chance to try Bonne Maman jelly, you should jump on it. It is wonderful jelly, and the jars are adorable. I’m not a paid spokesperson, but I should be because we buy tons of their jelly and use it in all kinds of pastries.

new craft room 2 031This is a behind-the-door solution to lots and lots of small bottles of things. I have everything from glitter to Mod Podge to Rit Dye stored here. I stacked the two units together that I got at Michael’s with a 40% coupon. I also have a paper towel holder on the paper cart. I think it’s important to have paper towels handy, especially for painting and working with other liquids.

208I have only a few books and some embroidery software, so I keep them handy. The vintage muffin tin holds sewing ods and ends, and the green and white picnic pail holds scissors and small embroidery hoops. The pink truck is a pin cushion my daughter made for me. I cherish it because she painted it and sewed the cushion just for me.

192163I keep ribbon and flowers that I want to use for specific projects in this jar to make sure I don’t mix them up with other supplies.

162This little bunny holds cotton balls, and the trophy behind him holds ric-rac. I keep my ribbon on large craft sticks so that I can see what I have at a glance.

157I got this twine-rope holder from Antique Farmhouse, and I can’t tell you how often I used it. I will have to get more of the rope one of these days.  That little camera in the forefront is from Anthropologie, and it holds washi tape.

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to resolve or not to resolve?

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions because I seem to forget them shortly after the new year. Or I don’t even start because New Year’s day is not conducive to beginning a new habit or tradition, and who cares what happens on January 2nd, anyway?

So here is what I resolve to do:

Be kind

As a person whose most time-consuming aspect of her job, I manage people. I don’t mean manipulate; I mean manage. And part of managing people means understanding what they need and giving it to them. One of the people I work with just needs me to listen. One always needs a hug and reassurance that we are “okay.” One needs two minutes of my time. And when he says, “two minutes,” he really does mean two minutes. I resolve to be better about giving this to them. I resolve to manage my own frustrations and giving them the time and care they need. In the long run, I expect, I’ll find that this really makes my own life easier.

Extinguish guilt

I resolve to stop agreeing to do things that I do with resentment and ill will. I will manage myself better so that I am not cultivating negativity because I failed to acknowledge that I don’t have time or simply don’t want to do something.

Delegate

I resolve to stop believing that I am the only person who can do something, nay everything. I will trust others, and I will accept their efforts, whether they meet my own standards or not, with gratitude and love.

Manage

I resolve to manage my own self as carefully as I manage others. I will do one little thing to help myself: I will spend the first five minutes of each work day with my calendar, getting a feel for what I need to accomplish at work.

happy new year 2014I hope your new year is filled with good health, happiness, and awe.

Have a happy day!

Shannon

the 13 best things about 2013

2013 brought some real challenges, especially the deaths of two of my coworkers less than a month apart. It also brought a massive blizzard that I missed, the death of one of my cats, and the retirement of several long-term, fantastic board members at my college.

But this year also brought some really great things, things I want to make sure I acknowledge and express gratitude for.

In no particular order, these are the 13 best things about 2013:

1. My daughter earned her second master’s degree and is now the most educated woman on both sides of our family for as long as we’ve tracked our families.

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2. My son got married to a wonderful, beautiful young woman who loves him like crazy.

3. My daughter-in-law (aforementioned) got her first professional job teaching high school, and my son-in-law started his master’s degree in business.

4. Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad for blog post

5. My mother and father are still with us. As are all of my siblings and their families. I am especially grateful for our good health.

6. I celebrated my 29th anniversary with the love of my life.

7. I finished my coursework for my doctorate and will be, officially, ABD in February if I pass my comps.

8.  I saw Pearl Jam! Yep, that’s right, Pearl Jam. In Oklahoma City. And it was magical.

9. I started the corner farmhouse blog and actually made over 20 posts. That’s big, people! Big!

share with your friends

10. I reconnected with childhood friends on facebook. Kids I grew up with and went to school with all 12 years (or mostly). Still the best friends I have ever had.

11. I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the 35th time and got to meet Mary Badham, who played Scout in the movie.to kill a mockingbird honors 2013

12. I got to have lunch with Carlotta Walls-Lanier, the youngest of the students who integrated Little Rock High School in the 1950s. She is a fascinating, lovely woman.

13. I turned 50 and swam a mile on my birthday; swimming that mile was the biggest goal I set for myself this year!

The pool where I swimYikes! I'm 50!

the most awesome craftroom in the history of ever, and it’s mine!

Last year, I was incredibly blessed to get a new craft room. I had a couple of spaces before, but neither were very conducive to creating. I pinned thousands of spaces, hoping to find one that felt exactly right. I found a couple of inspiration spaces that I’ll share in another post, and I began designing. My husband took my ideas, sketched out some plans and spent his whole summer making my furniture. I had one cabinet that I kept, and he refinished our old kitchen table.

I can never, never express sufficient gratitude for this work of love. It was the summer after our son moved from home for the last time (he’s married, now) and I lost my beloved beagle, Holly. The year had been particularly difficult at work, too. This room is a gift of immeasurable proportions to me.

new craft room 2 006This is the view from the door. My kitties love to craft with me.

004The cabinet is a music cabinet I bought from my college. I use it to store small notions for scrapbooking and other crafting. The cabinet beside it holds my fabric, and the cart on the other side is one I got from antiquefarmhouse.com to hold wrapping paper.

013This cabinet has large bins for fabric, pillow forms, and stuffing. The top bins hold some of my sewing patterns, backing, and other supplies. The basket in front is one I covered that holds batting and foam.

027Here is a closer look at the top shelf of that cabinet.

056This is a view from the other side of the room. I made the curtain for the closet, which has great storage space. The cabinet that holds the mason jars holds them double deep, so there are twice as many as you can see. I also have the turquoise Ikea cart to hold fabric for projects in progress. Right now I am working on a couple of infinity scarves and a new bedskirt.

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067Here is a view of my sewing cabinet. I have a simple Brother that works great, a small Brother embroidery machine, and a large Singer embroidery machine that I got for my birthday. It has a hoop size that is enormous. I’m fixing to break that baby in with some monogrammed sheets and pillow cases. I feel a little spoiled to have a great tv, but my cute builder insisted on building a shelf to accommodate it, and now I am really glad.129This is the storage in the music cabinet. My husband found one at the high school that was headed for the trash and rescued it. He is going to refinish it since it was painted and the glass was missing, but it is the twin to this cabinet.

new craft room 2 008The cabinet in the corner holds a ton of stuff, and it has three sets of doors in case I change spaces and need it in a different configuration. I can access the entire shelf, but he made sure that it was suitable for any other space if we ever move.

The cabinet next to it is on casters to ensure that we can move it if we need to access the doorway for something big. It is an incredible cabinet that holds my cricut and my silhouette machines. The top shelf holds my ribbons, felting supplies, and smashbooks in various containers.

The table and chairs are our old kitchen table, and he completely refinished them and painted them to match the rest of the furniture.

new craft room 2 001Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be posting some storage pictures later this week to show you how I keep everything organized.

I am proud to link to Miss Mustard Seed!

Have a happy day!

Shannon