Memphis Bound

The Foxglove Household is currently packing our home up, house hunting, and prepping to head to Memphis, Tennessee, sometime at the end of this month to beginning of next month.  It’s a relief to know that we’ll be there for at least 3 years, but we’re really just planning on everything going right and hopefully putting down permanent roots there at this point.  I’m personally sick of interstate moving already, and we don’t have this one finished yet.

I have 2 jewelry pieces to get made today, and then the jewelry bench is going to be packed up and my Etsy shop up into vacation-mode until most likely September or October.  I’m not sure if I’m going to have a lot of room for a jewelry bench at our new place, but hopefully so.

So if you don’t hear from me for a bit, don’t worry!  I’ll be back to talk about how magical our new city is.

The Tempest of February

I may not have much to update with in the next few months, since life is pretty intense currently.  These things happened last month:

  1. I was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation Type 1 of the brain, which means my brain has slumped down in my skull and the cerebellum’s tonsils have fallen out the bottom into my neck.  Just slightly.  Enough that I have symptoms.  Which means I’m facing a very likely possibility of skull/brain surgery (and/or spinal cord surgery) in the next few years.  Ideally after my husband is done with his residency.
  2. My husband was gone for half the month interviewing for residencies.  We’ll know in 23 days if he was accepted to one of them, and if he has been, we’ll move in June or July.  So now I’m working to get things thinned down to bare minimums around here.  I may have some shrine tools and pretties going up for sale.  I’ll post them here.
  3. Pony was diagnosed with ASD (specifically what would have been considered as Asperger’s before) last week.  This came as no surprise to us, but due to the fact she’s able to pass as neurotypical in most situations I have had no less than 3 people question the diagnosis.  This week has been a blur of phone calls, more evaluations, and trying to figure out what will be in her best interest and not just what they suggest to come off as neurotypical.
  4. I got everything in line to get my wheelchair built for me and should be getting it in about 9 weeks or so.  I’m excited about it, because by the time it gets here I may need to rely on it due to fatigue while I recover.

 

A Perfect April Day

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The Kalends isn’t over, but we’re taking a moment to rest in our day.  For me that means I get to do what seems to be becoming a job, but is still basically a hobby (This is my justification for it today, since I have always tried to not “work” on the Kalends, Nones, and Ides).

Yesterday over at my blog on Witches & Pagans’ PaganSquare, I wrote about my plans to observe the Kalends with my 3-year-old daughter for the first time.  The day is only half-way over, but I’ve been so moved by how the day has unfolded that I couldn’t wait to post.

My daughter had breakfast, and I had coffee with a few peanuts.  I fast for the Kalends, Nones, and Ides from sunset the night before, but my health issues require I don’t do a full fast these days.  I don’t feel that 3 is old enough to fast, but I explained why it was I wasn’t having my normal breakfast to her.

After breakfast we went out to find a stick to make our windchimes with.  We put it together while I explained that it was to bring good fortune and help protect us.

We went out to our front step.  I gave her the little broom she has, and together we swept off the step, making sure it was clean for where we were going to set up our offering.  We sat down the offering bowl.  Then we carried the tray off offerings out.

I showed her how to cover her head with a veil, and offered her a silk scarf I had picked out for this moment.  It’s a smaller one I bought years ago, and it was the perfect size for her.  She was so excited to have a veil to wear like mine that she kept it around her shoulders for quite some time afterwards.

I showed her how to hold her hands while praying, upturned to the sky.  She didn’t keep them that way, but I’ll be sure to demonstrate this position each time I pray in front of her to reinforce it.

And then came the offerings and prays.  I poured a little water into her special pitcher for her to put into the bowl, and she had picked tortilla chips (one of her favorite foods) to give to Janus, Juno, and the Lares today.  I offered the prayer and then directed her to pour and place chips into the offering bowl for each.

I admit that I am rarely moved to tears during rituals.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever cried during a formal ritual.  But as I sat there watching her pour and offer, her sweet face peaking out under her veil, I felt my heart grow 10 sizes with joy and pride.  My eyes welled up with tears.

We hung up our windchimes.

Afterwards we sat on the front step, watching the birds.  She asked me while looking around, “Where are the Gods?”

I chuckled.  I couldn’t help it.  She was clearly disappointed They’d not manifested in a way she could clearly see.  So I quietly explained that the Gods show themselves as birds, as the feel of the wind, that They are everywhere.  They are in the plants and the flowers.  They are inside of us, and They are the love we have for each other.

As I explained this, my arm wrapped around her little body, I understood this on a whole different level than I had before.

I thanked her for teaching me that lesson.

February Rites: Parentalia, Feralia, and Caristia

Parentalia starts next week on the 13th. In our home, this 9-day festival is one of 3 times in the year where we celebrate our ancestors beyond my daily devotional work in our household. Our other 2 festivals fall on Memorial Day, where currently we’re close enough to family graves to decorate them and honor the soldiers in my family line, and Samhain/Day of the Dead (All Saints and Souls Days), where we have started the tradition of opening up our home to friends and family to come celebrate and feed their ancestors beside our own.

The family in Ancient Rome was considered the very foundation of the civilization, and in our own home that belief in family remains the same. Long before my spiritual practice fell comfortably into the lines of a modern Roman practice, I held family and my ancestors in high esteem. Friends found this curious for a long time, many probably still do, but it is what it is. Now I have the alignment of my religious practice to help cement those I’ve come from as spiritually important.  This is a very meaningful and important relationship to me.

This upcoming week is going to be busy getting our dining room cleaned, swept, and organized for this festival, because you tidy up for honored guests. We will decorate the table, which is being turned into a place of offering for every meal. I plan on tracking down violets (though probably African, since it’s hard to find the real deal this time of year here) and making flower garlands to decorate for the week.

This is the loose plan of what is going to happen in our home during this time:

The First Day, February 13th: Parentalia is said to start at the 6th hour of the day, which I interpret as 6 in the morning. In upcoming years, this means I will be doing the first rites at 6 in the morning. However, it’s rare my daughter and I get out of bed that early in the day, and so we will simply be doing the rites as soon as we get up and washed up to do so. The Ancestors will hopefully understand this.

Traditionally this time starts with a performance of a parentatio done by the Vestal Virgins. I, obviously, have no Vestal Virgins around, and so I’m left to do what I can on my own. I’m unable to get pure water drawn from a spring, so the best I can offer for pure water in this purification ritual will be melted snow or rain water that hasn’t touched the ground. After making breafkast, I’ll wash my hands and offer incense, asking for divine witnesses to attend. And then I will walk around our table 3 times, giving offerings to my foremothers.

An invocation to Vesta and her Vestals comes next. Offerings of milk, red flowers, and honey will be made along with an adoratio done at the same time.

Whoever is home at the time will sit down to eat breakfast then, sharing it with our deceased. Traditionally this is a time when the Romans had a picnic of sorts at their deceaseds’ tombs, but February is freezing here and we have a bit of an open door policy on our home being a welcome place for our Ancestors to visit whenever they please. So they will eat in our home with us should they care to attend, and throughout the day I will keep candles burning for them to help guide them to and from their homes on the other side.

February 14th through the 21th: We won’t have any major rites in the home, but at each meal we will give offerings through sharing wine and cake along with offerings of salt. The table will be decorated with a wreath of flowers, especially violets, still.

Feralia, February 21st: This is the final day of Parentalia and is another meal for the dead. This isn’t a meal for family, though. This is meant for the Manes, the wandering dead. I don’t do rites to the Gods or Lares on this day, as Ovid suggested against it.

This year I will instead be taking a meal outside in the evening to give to any of the Manes who may be passing through. This meal is presented on broken pottery (in my case an unglazed flower pot that broke last winter) and in our house consists of leftovers from the dinner we had.

Caristia, February 22nd: The entire month of February to a Cultore is themed around purification. It’s a little like Lent in the final month of our religious year. We have an obligation to our Dead that we fulfill fully for the year during Parentalia. We have an obligation to the Dead who were unable to be buried with proper rites, who no longer have people attending their graves, and those who were never buried at all… Those wandering and alone. We satisfy our obligations to them with Feralia.

But as I was saying earlier, the Romans placed high importance on the family unit. It was the foundation of the religion, and the household was considered a microcosm for the larger family of Rome, united by Vesta. And so this is where Caristia comes in. This is a time when you get together with your living family and celebrate a meal together in love. Because love, like the binding power of Vesta as the spirit of Rome and that oldies song, is what keeps us together.

This is the meal where you attempt to move beyond your problems with your family. You lay your differences aside. You exchange small tokens of your affection and attempt to mend your own hurt feelings. And if you can’t do that you pretend you can. And if you can’t pretend? Then you don’t invite them. Personally to me, with my giant love of my extended family, means that if you can’t do the work within yourself to forgive them, then perhaps you need to evaluate whether they’re actually family to you or only in blood.

For me, being the only one in my entire family that is of my religion, I do my best to mentally prepare to lay my differences aside with those in my family who are indeed mine. I don’t feel particularly comfortable inviting them to this sort of meal, though they’re aware that I’m not of the Christian faith. On the practical side, our home is simply not big enough. On the emotional side, I’m just not up to trying to explain it all to them; perhaps one day I will be. Up until this year, our household hasn’t practiced the traditional Caristia feast, so it’s not been much of a problem.

This year my mother will be coming. She isn’t of the same religion, but she has always been an ally and welcome guest in my own practice. We observe multiple feasts and festivals throughout the year together, so it’s only natural that this will be one of them.

There are, of course, other purification rites in the month of February, but I feel like I should place them into their own blog posts if I’m going to write about them. Parentalia is the largest and longest for my family.

The Last 7 Months in Review

Sheesh, I took a break on a negative note last year.  Things got stressful and crazy.  Things continued to be stressful and crazy.  Yet somehow my head didn’t explode.  My goal at this point is to return to blogging with a post a week.  I have a two-month-old.  I’m not sure this is going to happen, but it’s worth a shot.

Anyway, the wee one is sleeping, so I get a chance to try to give a quick update of life events in the last 7 months.

October:

I found out we were having a girl!  She quickly receives the nickname Pony, and this is most likely what I will refer to her as on this blog.

There was a knife fight in our cul-de-sac.

I get sick while in Kansas City taking classes and need to go home.  My mother drove to get me because Mr. NaW was unable to.  Her car broke down in the garage of the hotel.  We are unable to find a car to rent to get home, because Nascar is in the city for the weekend.  My friend from the program was leaving early that evening, and we were able to hitch a ride to a distance Mr. NaW was able to pick us up.

November:

We were looking to buy a house, but were turned down for a mortgage – Not surprising considering the amount of student loan debt involved, but disappointing since we’d found a place on the outskirts of town we really, really liked that we felt we could afford.

I start feeling really sick when eating.  I realize that I most likely have gestational diabetes, but my OB didn’t seem too concerned with getting it diagnosed until further along in the pregnancy.

One night Mr. NaW and I are sitting in our living room and hear gunshots.  We call 911 after ducking for cover.  The police find unspent bullets in our front yard, because one of our (numerous) bad neighbors managed to drop them while shooting at whomever they were shooting at.

We went to Arkansas for Thanksgiving.  About ten minutes after getting home, the police are knocking on my door wanting to know if we knew anything about the burglary next door.  A week later the same thing happened.  It’s at this point that we became desperate to find another place to live.  Fast.  We’d had enough.

We found an awesome duplex for cheap with a fenced in yard and beautiful view out the back window.  Best of all, we would be surrounded by couples and widows who are all older than us.  The family that is renting it approves us without even doing a background check.

December:

I manage to get through giving a 20 minute presentation on my business plan despite being unmedicated for my social anxiety disorder.  I graduate from my ag business program.

I am still really sick from food.  I’m not shocked when I’m diagnosed around Christmas with gestational diabetes.  I end up having to go onto medication because diet was unable to control it.

We start moving across town at the end of the month.  We don’t finish until February.  We love our new place, but I will never move again while pregnant.

January:

I finally have my blood sugar under control, and am feeling better.  We’re still stressing about moving.  My blood pressure starts looking kind of strange, but it’s chalked up to my social anxiety disorder and my OB’s waiting room.

February:

About the time I start nesting at the beginning of the month, I wind up in the hospital for observation due to my blood pressure.  I get diagnosed with gestational hypertension, which means I’ll have to be induced a week earlier than my due date.  It also lands me in the full-blown high risk category for my pregnancy.  I have biophysical profiling and an appointment once a week because of it.  I also get stuck on bed rest.

The next day I go into latent labor that comes and goes for the next month.  Yes, I was technically in labor for a month.

March:

My glucose readings are no longer controlled by medication.  I have access amniotic fluid that makes me measure way beyond 42 weeks.  My blood pressure is a mess.  We bump up induction to the beginning of week 39.

I go in on a Sunday to be induced.  After 36 hours of labor with back labor that wasn’t covered by the epidural and 3 hours of pushing, Pony is born via forceps delivery.  At some point I might just write out her birth story, but I’m currently pretty traumatized by it.

5 hours after birth.

I struggle with being a mom and recovering from a third degree laceration from delivery.  They only give me 3 days worth of pain medication.  I wind up in urgent care and on blood pressure medication, because my blood pressure is completely out of control.  I go back onto preclampsia watch for a month.

My mother stays with us for two weeks helping take care of the baby.  I am absolutely terrified when she finally starts going home at night instead of staying with us, because I am drugged to the gills and dealing with blood pressure issues.  On top of this, Pony is recovering from a broken collar bone from delivery and suffering from gastrointestinal distress.

We start what end up being weekly trips to the pediatrician because she is constantly screaming from gas and spitting up large amounts of breast milk when she eats.  We get told it’s normal.  I already know at this point that it’s not.

Her body breaks out in a rash.  I, once again, get told it’s normal, but my gut tells me it’s not.

Pony starts projectile vomiting towards the end of the month, and we find ourselves dealing with an inconsolable baby who is screaming and crying up to 20 hours a day.

April:

March blends into April.  At some point we rule out pyloric stenosis via ultrasound, but the reflux Pony is suffering continues to get worse.  I’m starting to suspect a food allergy.  The doctor had already suggested I cut out “gassy food,” but didn’t really think that would help.

I cut out caffeine and obvious dairy.  Some symptoms get better.  Some continue to get worse.

The entire family comes down with a wicked RSV infection.  Pony gets her first trip to the ER at 6 weeks after breathing difficulty, but is not admitted for observation.  We spend the next 4 days wanting to die from our own illness while taking care of a miserable newborn.

Our doctor finally writes a prescription for Zantac for the reflux.  For the first time since she was born, we actually get to see a bit of Pony’s personality instead of just a baby in terrible pain.  Some things get better.  Other things continue to get worse.

Pony is breastfeeding every 45 minutes to an hour and refuses to take a bottle so I can get some rest.  I get told that if I want to breastfeed, I won’t be able to go back on medication for bipolar disorder.

By this point I’m convinced we have food allergies or sensitivities on our hands, but I can’t get a single doctor to agree with us.  Our lactation consultant, however, completely agrees with us.  She also helps us start to teach Pony to drink from a cup after a supplemental feeder wouldn’t work on Mr. NaW’s finger.  And she shows me a list of medications I can safely take if I need to for my mental heath.

I begin working on correcting an oversupply issue and an overactive let-down.

I decide to cut hidden dairy and wheat out of my diet.  Pony gets slightly better and continues to after just a few days.  I eat soy sauce.  Things get ugly.  I cut soy, too.  Things start getting better again.

May:

We still have no idea exactly what we’re dealing with in regards to our daughter’s health, but we have all the symptoms of food allergies.  She is still in pain from the reflux and gas.  She doesn’t spit up or vomit as much since cutting food out.

Two days ago we tried to start her on vitamins only to find blood in her stools and all the symptoms of an allergy come back in horrible ways.  We discontinued use and she’s doing better.  I have yet to hear back from the company about what allergen derivatives are in their vitamins, but obviously there was something.

We have her 2-month appointment this week.  I will be pressing the allergy issue more and requesting testing for Celiac Disease be done for her.  Along with appointments for me, since I’m STILL dealing with postpartum issues physically.  I won’t be tested for gluten-intolerance until after I’m done breastfeeding.  Having already cut it out, I think I’m actually starting to feel a bit better in regard to pain, but time will tell.

Say hello to Pony @ 2 months

Anyway…  That has been what I’ve been up to.  Hopefully at some point I’ll catch up on others’ blogs and see how everyone I’ve followed is doing.

Evidence of What I Did to Celebrate Summer Solstice… *Cough*

Baby Not a Wiccan, 11 Weeks

Note to Facebook friends: This is a secret you’re getting clued into about a month early! I’m waiting a few more weeks to blab to the general world about this news, but I’m going to explode if I don’t actually write about it now. So please, if you’d kindly not mention it and bask in the glory of the smug satisfaction of knowing something most people don’t, I’d appreciate it. Grazie.

After almost a month of having no energy at all and doing very little housework, a week of my chest feeling like Wee Folk had been kicking me in my sleep, and a vast array of general weirdness I chalked up to my first hardcore fibro flare-up in half a year, I was cooking green beans one night and nearly threw up on the stove. The next day the nausea kicked in full blast after a nap, just about the time I needed to cook dinner again. It was at that point that I decided to immediately go out and get a pregnancy test, gingerale, and soda crackers, sparing the fiancé the fact that I was getting a pregnancy test.

When the test’s confirmation line turned before the control line, I thought to myself Shit, this thing is broken. Then a second or two later, I realized that the stick was telling me that I was, in fact, pregnant.

It wasn’t denial, and I wasn’t completely clueless as to what was going on. The cravings kicking in almost immediately gave me pause. Just a few days before I took the test, I was joking with my mother about all of the problems I was having and that maybe I was pregnant. We’d been cleaning a house that day, and a cowbird spent the entire five hours I was there flying from window to window following my movement and pecking on the glass; when I got home to research into what cowbirds mean, part of it was about neglecting children… Neglecting? Not exactly. Or, well, okay, neglecting the signs and lacking the bravery to confirm things. The thing is that I was trying not to set myself up for disappointment.

There came a point sometime last year where every time my period started, I felt a stab of disappointment. We weren’t trying to conceive, but we weren’t trying to prevent it either. I was getting tired of hoping only to turn around and start the cycle of let-down a few weeks later. So I guess when combined with my cycle being off whack from a car accident in February, I just managed to convince myself that I was being neurotic. I was used to being late. I was used to heinous PMS. And I was used to experiencing something I can liken to opening every single present under the Christmas tree only to find the one thing you really, really wanted and asked for repeatedly wasn’t there as a child.

So on July 16th, I took a pregnancy test. I’ve taken a lot of them in my life (irregularity plus general neurosis = I should have bought stock in pregnancy tests), but this was the first time I had a positive result. I was over-the-moon for a few days before I got really, really sick from it all. The week after that found me in St Louis taking agri-business classes and traipsing around farms in the area in the middle of a heatwave. Then upon returning home, I just continued to sleep all day and night, finding when I was sleeping I was sick to my stomach constantly. I’ve yet to throw up, but you spend 4 weeks constantly nauseated, eventually you find yourself kind of wishing you just would.

On top of being sick, I’ve constantly worried that something was going to happen. The most amusing part of this is that I’m slowly starting to feel better, and I find myself even more worried… My symptoms are going away!!! What does that mean?! The rational side of my brain obviously tells me that my body is finally adjusting to massive hormones. However, I come from a family filled with difficult pregnancies and heartbreaking endings in regard to them, so I have almost an inherited fear of something happening that I’m trying my best to work through. This is a new level to the battle for mindfulness and self-awareness that I’m swinging through. Observing these thoughts and feelings then letting them move on has not been easy. I keep practicing. It’s all I can do.

This pregnancy, despite me feeling like crap, is going great. Today, as I said, I hit 11 weeks. My doctor was incredibly excited to pick up the heartbeat on Doppler (170bpm) at 10 weeks through my chub (though she didn’t say the chub part… That’s me. Ha!). The dating ultrasound the next day revealed a kicking, hiccupping miracle living inside me.

And this is a miracle, as far as I’m concerned, or a very large blessing from the gods… Or both.