Friday, October 20, 2017

Cats Crochet

I posted about a month ago about my crochet project. A blanket for each season. I have completed three and am making good progress on the fourth. Each blanket has a story. So I am doing this post in two parts. The first part includes pictures and stories. The second part will be the pattern I have been using plus some extras for those who crochet.

The name of the pattern is "Row of Cats". Hence the name for the post.  At one point I had a box full of yarn for these blankets. Zach called it a "cat's swimming pool". I responded to that "meow" for laughs.

Part 1

In a way, I can't tell the story of the fall blanket without the summer blanket. Originally, this wasn't going to be seasonal. In August, I decided to make a bright colored blanket. It was to help fight depression especially in the winter. But, it is very much a summer blanket and as Labor Day was approaching I decided it would be more comforting to make seasonal blankets.

I was right! This is a very comfortable blanket. It matches a lot around the room because of decorating. I rushed to finish it quickly. September had started and I wanted it ASAP!!! I take more comfort in monthly and seasonal things anyway. It was completed before my birthday!

That blog post from a month ago was about the winter blanket. An OCD mind. I took you into my thought process. Because these aren't the original colors. Those were too rough in texture. The blue in the final winter blanket is from Zach's blanket. The one I made him while figuring out the real colors for the winter blanket. So this story is mostly told already.

With each stripe I got happier and happier with the choices. It's also very soft too. I can see it in my closet from the bed. I smile as I look at it. Remembering how I landed with this.

Originally, I planned to do spring next. Because I would need it before summer. But the summer blanket had spent six weeks on my couch a third of the way completed. So, I decided to do that next. But, summer would have to share my attention.

While I worked on this blanket, I also made the 8 hats for the baby and toddler charity my mom volunteers with. I blogged about that before too. But, I still finished it sooner then I expected. Tuesday evening before dinner. It's tucked away in the couch with the summer bed linens.

Which brings me to my current blanket, spring. I average 3 stripes a day. Meaning, I should complete this before Halloween. But, that's going to take willpower. I have my next project. I need to knit a cowl for myself. I have some but there is one thing I still need a cowl for. The yarn arrives tomorrow. It's going to be hard for me to not start that project before finishing this.

My Dad vocalized my first thought when he saw it. "It looks like a baby blanket." Have you seen spring colors? Any color combination was going to look a little like a baby blanket. But, it will make sense with spring decorations around. To me, it's more Easter. My spring sheets and comforter are gray, navy, and white. They need something to cheer it up anyway.

Part 2

Before I post the pattern, some notes:

1. I made these 72" long and 52" wide. Full blankets but really only enough room for one person. You can modify to make it bigger or smaller. The math is included in the pattern. I made Zach's blanket this size too.

2. I used Red Heart Supersaver yarn. Even with the winter yarn troubles I will use that yarn for this in the future. Just, be careful what colors to use. You can use any worsted weight 4 yarn you want but that changes the math.

Example, Lion's Brand comparable yarn uses a "J" hook so it's a little bigger. The stitches are bigger so fewer stitches are needed to get to the same length. You're on your own figuring out how many to chain though! Warning, it gets wider once row 2 is done.

At least with this yarn I have given you the math needed to make it the width you want. Length is up to you. I find the first and last stripes are 1" and the middle stripes are 2" each.

3. "I" hook (5.5mm). My brand of preference is Boye but that's the size no matter the brand.

4. After the first two rows, you can easily do it with something else going on in the background. Even with my processing disorder I am able to fully understand a new episode of a favorite TV show, for example.

5. With the Red Heart yarn it took 6 skeins of the main color and 3 each of the other two colors. That's in the chart below. I had one of these for each blanket. When I competed a stripe and had set it up for the new color, I crossed out the number for the new color on the sheet. Once a skein is complete, I crossed out the whole row on my sheet.

The numbers are the number of stripes you can get out of each skein. It helped me also track how much was left. It's how I know I can finish the spring blanket before Halloween. I have been doing 3 stripes a day. Because of this sheet, I know I have 9 days left. 8 if I do four a day for two of them.

Blue         1            2            3          4

Pink                1            2            3

Blue                1            2            3

Green             1            2            3


Blue                1            2            3

Pink                1            2            3

Blue                1            2            3

Green             1            2            3


Blue                1            2           3

Pink                1            2            3

Blue                1          2          3         

Green             1            2            3

The Pattern:

Row of Cats Afghan
52" ABAC Pattern Lapghan 48" chain 120
Chain: inches x 2.5 Full 60" Chain 148
52": Draw up a loop = through the space
Main color = 6 skeins
Other Colors = 3 skeins
draw through loops = the loops already on the hook
Chain 132
Row 1:  DC in 4th chain from the hook
Skip 2 CH
2DC in next chain
CH 1
2 DC in next chain
Skip 2 chains
repeat orange until 2 chains left
DC in last 2 chains
Row 2 Chain 3 (counts as 1st DC)
DC in next DC
2DC in the space under the next chain stitch (btw 2DC and 2DC)
CH 1
2DC in the space under the next chain stitch (btw 2DC and 2DC)
repeat orange until 2 chains left
DC in last DC
DC in turning chain
Change Color
Row 3 Chain 3 (counts as 1st DC)
DC in next DC
In space 2 rows below between shells follow green
yo and draw up a loop (3 on hook when complete)
yo and draw through 2 loops on hook (2 on hook when complete)
yo and draw up a second loop in the same space ( 4 on hook when complete)
yo and draw through 2 loops on hook (3 on hook when complete)
yo and draw through all 3 loops ( 1 on hook when complete)
2DC in the space under the next chain stitch (btw 2DC and 2DC)
CH 1
2DC in the space under the next chain stitch (btw 2DC and 2DC)
repeat green & orange until 2 chains left
DC in last DC
DC in turning chain
Rows 4 and 5: Repeat row 2
Change color
Repeat rows 3, 4, and 5 in pattern
end w/ rows 3 & 4 in next color
A   B   A   C   A   B   A   C   A   B   A   C  A   B   
A   C   A   B   A   C   A   B   A   C   A   B   A   C   A   B   A   C   A

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Married Young

Josh and I are celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary. We got married young, as did our parents. So it's been funny in recent years to attend first weddings for friends and a family member our age. Like a step back in time.

People mature as they get older. We have changed a lot in those 13 years. We have been through a lot. Together. It's gotten me to think about my experience of getting married young.

For starters there is the kid part. Zach is 8. I spent our 4th anniversary seeing him in an ultrasound for the first time. It was a high risk pregnancy remember. I was 28 when he was born. I will have more time in my life with him because I was younger when I had him.

Zach's first ultrasound. 5weeks and 1 days. Our fourth anniversary.

I'm glad we got married when we did. But, we were also ready for marriage. When we hit a rough patch a few years ago we had that talk. "Do you still want to be married to me?" We realized then that we mostly still had good times and both wanted to put the effort in to get through it. Today, things are fantastic!

We became a couple over 19 years ago. 19 years of enjoying each other's personalities. We just know when the other person needs something. Without them asking. We still just enjoy walking or driving and talking to each other. All sorts of topics work.

I still remember how weird it felt when we first got married and moved in together. In old fashioned form, we didn't live together until after the wedding. We've gone through job changes, layoffs, Josh's hip, my depression, multiple miscarriages, struggles getting pregnant, moving to this condo, and many other ups and downs together.

Together. That's the key word. We're in this together. We both still want this marriage. We both still very much love each other. There is more to our marriage then household management and parenting. There has to be for a marriage to work. We cherish that time alone together. We cherish our family time too. But, we have spent our adulthood together. We have experienced the developmental changes of adulthood together.

I wouldn't have it any other way. It's so much easier to work through the ups and downs of life with someone there going through it too. Someone to talk to who is literally having the same experience. Someone who knows what to do when you need comfort and who knows how you like to celebrate.

Would I recommend getting married young? It depends on the people in question. At 17 and 18 on our first date we both said we only wanted a serious relationship. Neither of us were ever partiers. We both were always very close with our families.

When your interests become more home and family focused, you are ready for marriage and, if you want, kids. That's when your heart is open to finding someone to share that life with. As long as they are genuinely ready for it too.

Monday, October 09, 2017

More Then You Can Handle

"God doesn't give you more then you can handle"

Have you ever heard that? It's so common my guess is you don't have to be Christian to have heard that saying. I don't think about it much. I trust God. I pray. But, I don't often think about if I am handling too much, too little, or just the right amount.

A long time ago I felt like I had too much to handle. Yet, somehow, everything was always okay anyway. In spite of my worries about how to handle things. Somehow, I was able to handle them.

Things calmed down and got easier to handle again. I still had a lot of stress and a lot to handle. But, it didn't feel like I was about to break. I had already broken. But, God provided support when I broke so I was still able to handle it.

I realized today it's been a long time since my last blog post. I started thinking about why. I've "had a lot on my plate". I've had a lot to handle. It was beginning to feel like too much. Then, somehow, it feels closer to manageable again.

"God doesn't give you more then you can handle"

What changed? Parental instincts I'm guessing. My parent's parental instincts. They must be able to see what I'm not saying in my eyes. Or written on my face. They have been offering support. Making things easier to handle.

Just last night I thought to myself "I think God officially has given me more then I can handle." Today, Zach had a half a day at school. We had lunch with my parents. Out of the blue they offer to do his homework with him and paint pumpkins. They had him for hours! I didn't even ask. That time did wonders for helping me calm down! Finally, I was able to eat without choking!

Yeah, eat without choking. You read that right. Tiny pieces, lots of slow long chewing and for at least two weeks I couldn't get through a meal without choking on part of it. It got better starting with breakfast today though. Still bad, but progress. I narrowed it down to the following possibilities:

1. Physical reaction to all the added stress and anxiety in my life
2. Uvula issues (dangly thing in the back of your throat)
3. Thyroid issues (I'm on medication for hypothyroidism)
4. Esophagus issue is back.

"God doesn't give you more then you can handle"

With food that sentence has become literal! God is trying to get my attention! Why now? I'm ready when you are, God! What's the message?

"God doesn't give you more then you can handle"

So, Zach was mad at me the other day. My cousin gave him his XBox360. I said he had to keep it at Grandma and Pop's (my parents) because he has a Wii U at home. This went on for a while. My dad has trouble hearing and asked "what's going on?" I responded "God's laughing at me." My mom laughed. Zach was acting like I do when I'm mad at her. We're good now.

"God doesn't give you more then you can handle"

That saying isn't quite right. I think He does give us more then we can handle sometimes. But, he also makes sure we have what we need to get through it. I'm not really going to handle our current issues without an actual miracle. But, the time I had today gave me peace. I spent most of it working on crocheting my summer seasonal blanket.

Crocheting is relaxing. Something to focus on that isn't stressful. The summer blanket is full of cheerful colors. While working on that I was thinking about my other in process crochet project.

My mom volunteers for a charity that provides necessities for babies and toddlers. My mom asked if I would make hats. No specific quantity or sizes. Only if I wanted to. So a few days ago I took on that project. One in each size

3 - 6  months (completed)
6 - 9 months (completed)
9 - 12 months (completed)
12 - 18 months (tomorrow)
18 - 24 months (Wednesday)
2T (Thursday)
3T (Friday)
4T (Saturday)

One hat and at least two stripes of the blanket each day. An obsession that is calming me. Keeping my focused. So I can drown out the other stimuli and handle things better.

"God doesn't give you more then you can handle"

Yes, he does. What they really mean is "When God gives you more then you can handle, he will also give you what you need to get through it." To me, that sounds more like it.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The NFL Knee

Last year, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers sat on the bench during the national anthem. It was to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Anger at racism in this country. But, many said it disrespected the flag. Carrying into this season, many players take a knee.

I feel like sitting on the bench actually disrespects the flag. However, kneeling is okay. It's a show of reverence. Sitting when standing is an option is a sign of disrespect. But, the message Kaepernick was going for got drowned out over the "sit, kneel, or stand" political debate. It makes me wonder his true motives.

I support the message in general he's trying to send. Supporting Black Lives Matter is saying "racism is an awful thing. It needs to stop!" He should have done it in a different way. In an interview for a magazine or a sports TV show. He could have written an article for Sports Illustrated on this topic including personal experiences and interviews. There are other ways.

Then the focus would be on the message he's trying to send. By choosing to sit and later kneel, people are forgetting WHY he did it. He's getting attention. Publicity. But, few remember why he did it in the first place. His intention was to protest a racist country, not disrespect the flag. But, that's where the focus really lies now. On what respects the flag and what doesn't.

There are protests going on. Many die-hard football fans say it's ruining the enjoyment of the game. I can understand that. Players are doing it to make headlines. There are headlines about it all over. People are talking about it. Arguing about it too.

But, they aren't talking or arguing about racism when they talk about the kneeling. They are talking and arguing about the flag. How is that going to help end racism? How is that getting cops to think twice about how they handle pulling a black person over?

In my town I was taking a walk a couple of weeks ago on the main street. I came across a black man having been pulled over. No one had a gun out. His hands weren't on the wheel. The officer talked to him but didn't give him a ticket. No one seemed scared. No one was disrespectful. We are a small town with a small police force. I was in the car when the same officer pulled my mom over a few years ago. He handled it the same way for her. No racism.

That's what we need. When a pattern for racism develops for an officer, he needs to be let go. It's an issue that police academies need to address before graduation. Our town is very strong about cultivating a relationship between the police and the community. EVERYONE in the community. Yes, they do give tickets. But, they won't racially profile when dealing with the driver. I am proud of that. This is where we as a country need to be.

But, you won't find that message kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance at an NFL game.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

An OCD Mind At Peace

In my last post I took you through my OCD mind process. An internal battle three days ago. Was the yarn too scratchy for the blanket I was making? I decided to put it aside and work on Zach's blanket first. Perhaps a solution will come when my mind was focused elsewhere.

I woke up the next morning with an answer. Today, the new colors arrived. The yarn was very soft. Without question. I didn't even have to compare the texture to the other yarn! It's perfect!

It was from working on Zach's blanket that I got my answer. There is a dark teal yarn he was excited about when choosing his colors. The company color name is "real teal" for the Red Heart supersaver yarn. All six skeins I have gotten have been soft! As I worked with it on his blanket, I couldn't shake the feeling that it was special.

So, I let go of my rules about white and a shade of blue. The main color now is a soft white. White is very stark. Like snow. Soft white brings to mind angel dresses, the white candle that represents christmas day in the advent wreath, and sheep wool. All are significant for the religious version of christmas. It turns out, soft white is a December color because of christmas.

As it all clicked, my smile got wider. As the rest of what I needed arrived today, I relaxed more and more with each texture test on each skein of yarn. My mind was finally at peace. Now, I can't wait to finish Zach's blanket so I can do this one!!!

What happened to the partially done rough blanket? Zach is using it as a chair pad for the desk chair in his room. He likes my incomplete or messed up projects. They bring him comfort. I guess, I made it so that's all he needs.

My sensory processing disorder has been stronger then usual as I have gotten busier and have new routines to figure out. My delay for understanding things has gotten pretty long!!! When that happens, my anxiety and OCD gets stronger too.

Now, my OCD mind is at peace. I can focus on each stitch without thinking too far into the future. I'm on track to be done with Zach's blanket around October 4th. Even with a small setback, I should have plenty of time to finish both by Thanksgiving. That's my goal.

It feels so good to have my mind at peace! This is going to be a very busy week for me. I need to be able to focus on these things. I can't handle life's surprises when my mind is in the mess it was. The issues haven't gone away. I am still obsessed with these blankets and have a compulsion to work on them as much as possible. But, I'm not worried about them anymore.

Tonight's thought process:

That yarn was so soft! It's going to be nice to snuggle under. Almost like God wanted it to be these colors. Angel white. Like Zachary, my Zachary, my angel. And those three actual angel babies of mine. Tossing in advent and the nativity. I always preferred the religious christmas anyway. How did I not make that connection sooner? Because my senses are overwhelmed and I'm not connecting any symbolic dots right now.

God will be with me. In the season I need it most, I will have the reminders of my faith. When I will need that faith the most, it's there.

What will be my real winter blanket. The white is the primary color.

Look at Zach's blanket! It's almost like an ocean! He's such a summer kid! He is going to look adorable sleeping under it!

Zach's Blanket

Now I am getting tears in my eyes. Happy tears. Tears of relief. Stress flowing out of me. I have solved my dilemma. Peace washes over me.

I do 3 or 4 stripes a day now. On Monday the Big Bang Theory is back. My speed will slow. But, at 2 stripes a day I know I will still have plenty of time to complete both by Thanksgiving.

And now I sigh in obsessed mind at peace. Problem solved!!!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

An OCD Dilemma

My anxieties, obsessions and compulsions very much control my life. I am about to give you a deep look into the current dilemma. Something that has effected every part of every day for a week. Even my sleep.

To control my anxieties I am obsessed with organizing everything by month and season. About a month ago I took on a crochet project to do just that. Make a blanket for each season. Each blanket has three colors, one to represent each month in that season.

It's a compulsion that each blanket has to be made with the same brand and type of yarn. But, it makes sense to me and would bother me if something was different. This project requires a lot of yarn. So, I went with the Red Heart supersaver yarn. You can find it in many places and in many colors. It's also inexpensive.

The fall blanket is complete. The primary color, which is half the blanket, is gold for September. The other two are pumpkin orange for October and brown for November. I started the summer blanket too. The primary color is a bright yellow for July. Neon orange is for June and a lime green is for August. The spring blanket will feature a light blue for April as the primary color. A nice honeydew green is for March and a light pink is for May. Pictures are below.

Winter is the hardest on many levels. This is where the "disorder" part kicks in. It's almost the cause of the project to begin with. I tend to get depression in the winter. So I am always trying to find adult appropriate comfort objects. These blankets are supposed to fit that category. Something to grip. Something to snuggle under. Something to play with when I'm fidgety. That last part will make more sense when you see the pictures below.

But, winter is proving to be a lot more stressful then it should be. The main color is the biggest problem. Why? Because two versions of a yellow are the main colors for summer and fall and the other main color is a shade of blue. Okay that works. Gemstone colors are nice for winter. Navy is like a sapphire so January is covered. I went with a burgundy that looks like garnet for December and a amethyst purple for February. My research found that amethyst is the February birthstone.

So, what was the problem with the navy yarn? Not the color. The biggest issue is the texture. Occasionally, the supersaver yarn will have a skein that is rough. four skeins in the same color could all have different textures. I went through several skeins until I found enough that are reasonable. Even then, I am expecting more today. Hopefully, one will be soft enough to use instead of the slightly rougher one I have here.

Most of the time, this type of yarn is on the softer side. It is acrylic so it's not ultra soft. But, it's soft enough for a blanket. Occasionally you get a color that comes in different variations of rough. I contacted the company with this concern. In red is the email I got back.

Thank you for your recent inquiry. We were sorry to learn that you had experienced difficulty with our Red Heart® Super Saver® Yarn.

In the past, we were able to purchase all fibers used to manufacture our yarns from a single manufacturer. That manufacturer is no longer producing fiber for use in consumer products such as our yarn. Consequently, we are now purchasing 100% Virgin Acrylic fiber (not reprocessed acrylic) from several fiber producers. The fibers available today have to be processed differently and unfortunately they do not always spin equally.

Dye or color can also influence the thickness of the yarn. Variegated yarns and prints require much more processing than solid colors, and this additional processing can alter the texture.

We do maintain strict quality control standards at each of our mills to ensure that only the highest quality merchandise reaches our consumers. Please be assured that Coats & Clark continually endeavors to find solutions to the problems created by the fiber change and processing procedures.

I'm not surprised by this. You can feel the difference rubbing it against your cheek. But, it has made this blanket harder to work on. Every second I work on it I obsess over the texture. Okay, it's a little rougher then the other two blankets I started. They are a little rough themselves. As long as I can sleep under it without a sheet I am good.

Sometimes it's soft enough where I know I'll be okay. Other times it's too rough and I find myself trying to think of other colors that fit the rules I set for myself. One for each month, the primary must be a shade of blue. It must be supersaver yarn as well.

What I really need is a lot of older yarn in this color. The softer yarn made by the old place. But, between the Red Heart website, Amazon, AC Moore, and Michael's I am barely piecing enough skeins for what I have. I need 6 regular sized skeins.

There it is. The anxiety has built up. It's like the vest debate I had in May. So I am going to do what worked then. I am going to just type all of my thoughts. Some will make sense. Some won't. But, by getting them all out I can get to the truth.

It's rough. I'm touching it now. But, I think it's good enough for my purpose. I have placed it on top of me a bunch of times now. I have it on me as I type this. What is it I really want?

I really want this blanket to work. Maybe this is less about the yarn and more about the season itself. I am rarely comfortable in the winter. I am always achy from the weight of the extra clothing and/or blankets I need. I spend the season searching for comfort. Is that the real reason I question the comfort of this blanket? Am I holding it to a higher standard then the other seasons?

Winter is when I need comfort the most. This is supposed to be a comfort object. Are my expectations reasonable? It's a blanket. It won't solve my problems. But, blankets are supposed to provide comfort. Is it comfortable?

At the moment, it's itchy under the sensitive skin of my upper arms. But stroking the middle with my hands feel nice and comforting. I'd rather not wash it. Even though that would soften it. Because it effects the yarn itself.

What I really want is to solve this dilemma. Because I don't want to spend the winter questioning if it's too hard or too soft to lay under without a sheet in the middle.

I have thought about other colors. I have a nice pink for February and the purple is nice that I am using now. That purple with a cherry red is nice too. But, there isn't a good shade of blue.

I take that back. There is one shade of blue. Light Periwinkle. But, I have had the same issues with that yarn as I am having with the Navy. Maybe I can choose a color other then blue to be the primary color for spring and winter.

Even if I use deft blue instead and the orchid I have what about December? The orchid is lighter then the purple I am using now. Deft blue needs a lighter color. But, there isn't a shade of green that would work!

The obsession is over texture. But, is that really the problem? Because color and texture won't matter if I have a different worry. If something else is causing this anxiety. I haven't been able to think of much else in the past week.

I feel stuck. Stuck because of lack of color options. Stuck because I have had to order and return a bunch of skeins to get something resembling usable and it still isn't good enough! Stuck because everything about this blanket has been harder then the other blankets.

It was frustrating to get the yarn in the first place!!! It's frustrating to choose the colors. It's frustrating to get it done before the end of the first week in October so I can work on Zach's blanket. It's frustrating because of texture.

And there it is. With the other blankets I never question if they will be comfortable. I never mentally battled over if this is a reasonable texture. I need something that doesn't cause this battle in the first place! So what is it I really want?

I want to let the idea of  a blue primary for winter go. I am purposely keeping white out of it. White gets depressing to look at with too much snow. But, maybe white as a non-primary color works!

Pink can be for February. It can also be the main color used in half the blanket. I just need more of the two shades of pink I have to do the same for the spring blanket. That keeps that rule in place. White can work for December. But, white is more a January for generic snow. So, pink for February, and white for January. But, again, what about December? Once you get past red and green, there really aren't colors that are Decembery. There aren't christmasy green options that work with such light colors. Red with pink and white is Valentine's not winter.

Although, hummmmm, I have a pale yellow. Like candlelight. Lots of candles for Hanukkah, Advent, and Kwanzaa. It's very December. But, I already am using a lot of yellow in other seasons. It's too much yellow.

I am working with the idea of finishing the blanket and using it. If it turns out it's not comfortable, I can make another one. Another option is to make Zach's blanket and come back to this later. Deciding then if it's worth it.

Maybe that's what I need. Space from this blanket. I will put this aside and make Zach's blanket. Once that's done. I'll finish this and use it in winter. If once I start using it I find it to be too rough, I will circle back to the new blanket idea. Or, I can just choose different colors. That decision might come easier when I am done with Zach's blanket! I'll see what seems like the natural choice once Zach's blanket is almost done.

This all would simply be easier if I could let the idea of blue being the primary color go!!! But, I don't see that happening until I find a non-yellow December color that looks good with pink and white! Any ideas?

Wow!!! That actually helped!!! At least for the time being. They all feel a little rough. I just need to not question if it's comfortable or not!!! Now that you have sorta followed my though process. You can see what I mean! I feel good with this choice. I will work on Zach's and see how I feel along the way. I don't want it to be after the December decorating day when it's completed. So, at some point in Zach's blanket I won't think about it. I'll just see what pops into my head that gets me happy excited. I'll keep you posted.





Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Gray Birthday

I found my first gray hair at age 27. My birthday is this weekend. As age 37 gets closer I have noticed more and more grays. It's normal for the women in my family to go gray early. My mom had more grays in my baby pictures then I do now. I see them and smile about the years to come.

I know a lot of people would reach for the hair dye. Zach was shocked to learn I dyed my hair a few times in college. A couple of times I was a natural shade of red. Cinnamon. Usually, it was a lighter version of my natural color. Most of the year my hair is a very dark brown. I like being a brunette. I just wanted it lighter. Sun-in wasn't cutting it anymore. I started growing it out before the wedding. It was 100% my natural color on my wedding day. It's been natural ever since.

Sometime in the past year I asked Zach, "what color should I dye my hair?" We were in front of the hair dye at the time. He pulled out the one that was my exact hair color. I laughed and kept walking. I'm not dying my hair again. I like looking the way I naturally look.

He does too. This is how I have looked his entire life. Well, mostly. An older version of the person he takes the most comfort in. As a baby he used to grab my hair when drinking his bottle. He doesn't remember doing that. But, he still finds comfort just looking at me. A natural change he can handle. But, not an unnatural one. Mommy has to look like mommy!

I know I still have three years to go before 40. I have been watching the changes within me slowly. I notice the things that are different then just a few years ago. My body is doing what it's supposed to do.

I've had gray hair for ten years. Hopefully, it won't be obvious until ten years from now! I used to be able to count them. Too many to count now. But, I am still classified as a "brunette".

I always feel different when my birthday gets closer. It's not about "feeling older". It's about seeing things differently. As you subconsciously process the year you are completing, your mind and body are changing because of the new information and experiences they have taken in.