1 year ago

7qt october 2016

7 quick (ish) takes of the life of a Svell this Friday:


We are well into year 2 of homeschooling and IT. IS. NOT. EASY.  The difficult parts, however, aren’t in the educating of my boys, but in working around the wailings/climbings/needings of Jude and then of Collin (who is mostly a happy participant, but sometimes not.).

 Jude is cutting his naps down to one 30 minute snooze, and then waking up to continue his day in a cranky manner –and it’s bullcrap, Jude!

 It’s enough time for me to come downstairs and blink vexedly at my cold cup of coffee with three dead gnats floating in it and that’s it. The day lives or dies based on whether Jude naps, so I’ve got to recalibrate because I am just not pleasant, and even Jude knows it: he has learned from observation how to frown and will now do it on command.  

Damage managed. 


I know that signing my boys up for regular school wouldn’t be better. It’d be worse for me, in my opinion. Not only would I have to maintain a set schedule, I’d have to adhere to it with the wailings/climbings/needings of Jude and Collin. And THEN! I’d have to talk! to teachers! and deal!! with fundraisers and unnecessary soul-sucking!!! activities!!!! which aren’t made in consideration of a family of more than one or two kids, nor of a child with special needs, nor of a mom suffering health ailments. And then they’d get home …with homework of all things! and there we’d be again. 

So. It’s just a phase. It will be over soon. Yeah, it’s just a–

 P H A  S  E.


I can officially say that Emmett is fully potty trained. I cancelled his last diaper shipment early September and his remaining half pack of diapers is still untouched. 

The first day of autumn came and I was struck with a vague prayer memory which I had mentally barked out to God while scrubbing the carpet one early spring day; I’d prayed in a frustrated desperation to have him out of diapers by the end of the summer, knowing for sure it wasn’t going to happen. Telling myself it could be years. I found it easier to cope with by preparing for a really long haul. 

We have been gradually working with Emmett for probably a year or more, but started strongly encouraging him by the spring. It has not been easy– I say again, N O T.  E A S Y. 

For weeks, the days consisted of multiple daily baths for Emmett. Lots of scrubbing clothes in scalding hot water.  We’d go through three or four outfits in a day even with a larger sized diaper which by then I had an auto-ship subscription from Amazon. 

And then Emmett suddenly understood what he was supposed to do, but didn’t like to sit on the toilet, and also didn’t like to go in his diaper. So he was holding it in all day –I’m not exaggerating. We worried, knowing surely Emmett was suffering stomach aches and a bulging bladder.  We went through a brief enough accident trial– the one a parent typically experiences with their 3 year old, except Emmett is five and a half and holding it in for up to 12 hours renders the accident worse in every way one might imagine. We managed a road trip to Florida in the middle of potty training, and our family got a dose of one of the accidents right in the middle of the kitchen. 

–BUT it’s done, and I can’t believe it, and glory to God, the One who listens to half-hearted prayer-barkings from a tired mother, and instead of saying “you didn’t say please” bestows His mercy.  


I only have one diaper wearing person in the house now! It’s been 6 years since I’ve had that pleasure. Where’s my plaque? 

         -DIAPERING –


…or something far wittier than that -I can’t do it all!


I tried stitchfix for the first time last week. I opened the box in excitement, examined each article in devastation and then burst into tears, promptly stuffing everything into the return bag and feeling ridiculous about crying about it. 

I am %100 sure this reaction is actually a result of the few weeks of parenting fun I’ve been having, plus I am still having trouble with my AS. The dumb looming phantom of the year. 

It’s true, the clothes were all made completely of rayon (I specified cotton! B*tchy first-world-problems voice!) and though they looked like they were pulled from the racks of Target with a teenager in mind (I linked to my Pinterest board!), they were priced triple the amount. (No exaggeration. TRIPLE. $80 for something I might pay $20 for.)

I’ll just stick to Target prices and online shopping, then, thanks. Or maybe I’ll try Stitckfix another time, when I’m not so emotionally prickly and hinging my happiness on a mystery bag of clothes. 


Even before we suspected Autism in Emmett, we recognized his love for music. Before he said his first sentence, maybe even before he said his first word, he was singing. 

Fast forward to today and currently Emmett is enamored with Coldplay. And I won’t tell you I’m not in love with that because it’s a life goal of mine to get to another concert before the group stops touring. Their concerts are nothing other than magical. 

Emmett tinkers on the piano and I’ve shown him some pathetic attempts to play simple chords along to some of his favorite Coldplay songs which I’ve learned via YouTube. 

Craig and I believe there’s a chance Emmett would absolutely explode in creative expression if given the right instruction musically– neither of us are educated on the subject. Maybe Craig is a little more than I. I know what I do from YouTube University. 

It’s only just occurred to me to allow Emmett to watch people making music –and something other than nursery rhymes. Why do they think we all like nursery rhymes!? We’ve been letting him listen, and then we’ve been sitting with him at the piano, we started formal lessons with him last week. 

But connect the two, you idiot! 

For some reason I find videos of live performances really annoying.  And that’s probably why I never thought about it until now. 


Monday, I sat with him and said, “Emmett.  Let’s watch Coldplay. This is Chris Martin. Hi Chris Martin! Chris Martin sings your songs, Emmett. Chris Martin sings your Coldplay songs. Chris Martin makes your songs with a piano”

(When introducing a new concept, I rearrange sentences in verbal communication a few different ways for Emmett to get a grasp on the message, and give him a prolonged moment to think about what I’ve just told him.)

I played Emmett’s recent favorite Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall from a concert in Paris on YouTube. As it began, I watched Emmett closely. 

Here’s the link if you’re interested: [ Coldplay Paris ] It’s actually pretty moving viewing it after the Paris attack.

He smiled. 

When the camera focused in on Chris Martin, and there was no doubt that the sounds coming from his mouth were the lyrics and that this was in fact the voice Emmett knows and loves so much, his excitement was a heartbreaking loveliness to me. 

Emmett smiled as Martin played the piano to a song he goes to sleep humming, and wakes up with -still on his lips. 

“Chris Martin! Chris Martin sings it! It’s COLDPLAY!” Emmett burst out, thrusting his hands in the air with his signature stimming expression. 

I couldn’t even sing along at this point, I was so choked up, but I listened, completely taken by the privilege of watching this connection happening. 

I don’t know if it’ll go anywhere beyond simply enjoying good music, for Emmett. Maybe he’ll pick up piano, maybe not. 

 I am so so so happy that he has a wonderful thing to enjoy in his life, something that we can share with him in enjoyment. 
And right there, folks, is where that good stuff lies. Not in a bag of new clothes. 


1 year ago

…That was wildly mortifying. (Sorry, everyone, m...

Over the weekend, I discovered that my blog had been down for 4 days. I had it fixed, but the time it took to fix random lines of error codes left me discerning whether or not to continue to maintain my blog. When I had one or two babes, it was easy to blog during naptime, and I had the brain cells to use my college HTML knowledge to tinker around and make my site look the way I wanted.

But now I feel like someone just tossed me to outerspace and I’m like “I can’t hear myself eat. What am I doing? What? Where are my limbs? Where is my face? Do I have a face? Nevermind the face, don’t need one. What was I supposed to be doing?” In other words, where am I supposed to get the time to romantically type on a keyboard? Where is that time? It’s not here. It’s lost right now.

AND YET, I stubbornly thought I’d seize the opportunity last night to give my blog a facelift after the boys were put in bed. Everything is fixed now, but 2 hours into this quick operation, and to my horror, my Inbox started dinging repetitively with new posts from Svellerella. And Facebook, and everywhere else I’ve connected my blog.

When one combines tired mom + rusty web site knowledge + “what is ‘download Demo files’???”… well, it makes for an annoying influx of excerpts from Alice & Wonderland, Moby Dick, and lorem Ipsum Dummy Text.
Basically, what I did was download the dummy text that website designers use as demo text when displaying an example of how their design would look on your site when you upload. The download integrated it into my content, and published it.

So, no, my site has not been hacked.  Or maybe the more accurate thing to say is that I hacked my own site with my stupidity.
Regardless, I’m sorry for swamping your inbox with jibberish.  Will not do again.


1 year ago

Hi. {My Etsy shop is O P E N.}

Hi.  Here’s the post I wrote last week that I never published because I’ve been blogging since 2007 and I’m over it, and it’s just what I do.


” Linking up with Kelly for a long overdue 7 Quick Takes (Hi Kelly!) <3

I’m here.

  1. I’m taking Enbrel. I’m functioning.
  2. Emmett is on week three of underwear, no accidents. (This actually deserves it’s own post but I’m le tired.)
  3. We start year two of homeschool next week.
  4. Lexington will be in first grade.
  5. Emmett will be in Kindergarten.
  6. Collin will be in preschool (though only because he sits with us anyway.)
  7. Jude will be wallowing/blundering/thundering/warbling here amongst us as well. He has all 4 top teeth coming in right now so that’s a jolly good time.
  8. I open Brass & Mint co. for business on Etsy September 9th.









…it is.


Here’s the link to my Etsy shop.  It’s alive, it’s aliiive!  >>> http://www.etsy.com/shop/BrassAndMintCo <<<

Hang me in your home!
Hang me in your home!

Here’s the part where I stand at the podium and do that droning about the people who helped me come all this way. But wait! Here’s why it’s important for everyone to read: because it’s about being kind.

When Craig started talking seriously with me about selling my work, I reached out to my blogging community for advice on how to run a business online, on how to blog better, on everything. I did not know how to get my tangible art work to a place where I could improve it, make it a digital entity, send it to print, and hold it in my hand, proud of the quality of it in every aspect.

It seems simple, but there’s a lot more to it than just scanning and clicking a Print button. There was a lot of nonsense about “digitization” and “vectorizing” which gave me bad headache for many, many a moon. And since I only ever took an intro to digital media class in college because I was all “fine” and “artsy” with my great many pencils and my lovely papers and enormous art boards I was hauling around all the time, this stuff was hard for my mind to bend around. It was like hammering hot iron, which I have done before, and… it’s a workout. And there they were, the whole time, those digital art kids, with a little laptop containing the keys to the kingdom of arts, just sashaying through campus just because they could. I’m not bitter in hindsight, not at all. I love that I always take the difficult road. I’m dumb like that.

People are busy, and there’s a lot to learn, overwhelmingly, a lot.  The people who took the moments out of their day to respond to my emails or text messages to say “here’s how I did it, here are links, are you connected with xyz group?”, or even “how is it going?” really just blew my mind. They gave freely the knowledge they likely had to stand and bang their heads against a wall (or a keyboard) to obtain. Their advice helped me to develop my own ideas more fully. Katrina, Heather, and, Erica: thank you for your encouragement and help.  You gals are A+ peeps.
Also: A very long time ago, I posted a “contribute” button on my blog to raise money so that I could host my own blog, with the eventual goal of opening a business.  At that time, we suffered financial struggles– we actually didn’t give our kids Christmas gifts that year (it was Lexington and Baby Emmett). There were people who contributed. I raised just enough to purchase what I needed to start this blog.  I know who you are- thank you for helping me make a dream into a reality.

That’s it for now.  Come to my Etsy shop. Share it with your people. I’ve got great plans and lots of work to do!
Hug your loved ones this 9/11 weekend.



1 year ago

Finally, some answers! (A diagnosis)

We came home from Florida and now I understand why people take multiple vacations a year.  I’m not a cryer.  I’m actually kind of emotionally dry, except I found myself CRYING to sleep, and drinking my coffee in between sobs as I looked out of the window the next morning at the not beach.  I’m kind of shocked about this “post-vacation-blues” phenomenon, but I hear it’s a completely normal and short-lived thing. So, laundry goes on.

What’s perhaps made it worse is I wake each morning, my mystery pains creeping back to their previous state of terrible, and I feel rushed to do everything I can- the dishes, wiping cabinets, organizing cabinet contents and drawers, anything that I was physically incapable of doing previous to taking the steroids.

The week we got back to Ohio, I finally, finally, finally met with my rheumatologist and was tested. I’d been waiting two months for this appointment.

 I have a debilitating autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis.

It’s genetic and there is no cure.  It’s a form of arthritis, but not the kind people get because they’re just getting old. In fact, I’ve been (unknowingly) having the symptoms of this since I was 15. It’s pronounced “ANK-yuh-low-sing  SPON-d’yuh-lite-us”

Pros: It isn’t affecting my hands, like Rheumatoid Arthritis can, though I do have  carpal tunnel that comes and goes. If I lost my hands… let’s just say it would be the quickest way to sainthood for me.

Cons: It affects my spine, my neck, my hips, my legs, my feet. My feet have been the guys who are showing the most outward signs. Other than that, I look perfectly normal and healthy, except that I limp a little, and my usual speedwalking is …not.

I’ve spent the week similar to how I spent the days after Emmett’s Autism diagnosis: grieving in a bizarre way; reading reading reading anything and everything I can about the Ankylosing Spondylitis, connecting the dots of my life that never made sense and now suddenly do, discovering mental turmoil that’s been stewing in my head for years.

“What’s wrong with you? Get up! Why can’t you just GET UP! It’s mind over matter. Choose to get up.”

“Don’t be lazy, just go. Why can everyone else do this and you can’t? You’re a very lazy person. “

“If you exercise, you’ll get better. Yes, you always feel worse afterward, but that means you need it, right?”

“Everyone has problems, everyone has pains. Stop worrying about your own littleness in the world and get things done. Just get it done!”

And then I note the times I’ve been exhausted by MERELY SHOWERING, and watching as I frustrate others because I move so slowly. “Just go, I’ll finish up and meet you there. Don’t wait for me.”

That’s what all of this has been. Im not sad, I’m relieved that it’s not just me.  I mean, it IS me, but now I understand why I’ve always been tired, slow Carolyn, and why it’s now worse than ever.

I have cried in anger, weeks ago when everything seemed to reach a summit of hurt and inability, after having to lift my own leg into my underwear; I shook my fists, demanding through tears WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!?  I’ve asked that question multiple times over the years.

So now, it’s like, okay: this is wrong with me…
and this, and this, and this…. and this has been happening to me since I was 15 years old.

So I’ve spent 16 years in varying forms of chronic pain and exhaustion, believing I was just a very, very lazy person, believing I wasn’t doing it right. I was going to confession, confessing my sins of sloth, of laziness, of failing to do my duties as a wife, a mother, a member of society, thinking it’s merely a battle of the will– but in truth, I’VE. BEEN. SICK.

The whole time.

–Now, now, now, cool it.

I’m not a saintly sufferer, here.  Yes, I AM lazy. Yes, I have too often failed to be dutiful, to use my time wisely, to be more purposeful in life. I’m well aware of the times I’ve chosen not to do what I knew I had the energy for.

But I’m also sick.

I’m trying to sort out what’s real and whats really been my illness screaming at me all along.
But I’m trying to be more gentle on myself.

Searching Ankylosing Spondylitis on Pinterest brings up a myriad of memes playing to the sympathies of people who suffer chronic pain- and it’s enabling in the sense of allowing people to cling to their own miseries like a teddy bear. While Pinterest actually has a lot more info on ankylosing spondylitis than simply googling, the memes really send out a bitter message for people who suffer stuff like this.

Pinterest AS

I don’t care if other people don’t understand what my pain feels like, or that I have to recover the next day after grocery shopping, or that I’m confident I’ll never be a soccer mom because I can’t handle the energy it takes to prepare to leave the house except for the weekends (and that’s to grocery shop).

Laughing tears.


No one can really know how I feel on a day to day basis, and it’s not anyone’s job except a doctor’s. job. (Oh grammar.) —But I do care about forgiving myself for the ways I’ve previously thought I’d failed at being a human being. 

AND AND AND! I do care about my ever-renewing understanding about the human person, the increasing compassion I’m experiencing for others, and the increasing hesitation I feel to pass judgement about  other people, except concerning spiritual wellness and where the two intersect, of course.
I am of course keeping this mentality from a previous post at the forefront of my mind, offering it up. Trying to see the Heavenly picture in all of this.

I’m in a limbo area: Trying to figure out what is best for me, and still wanting a second opinion.   The side effects of the medication I’m “supposed” to take are really, really terrible. Like cancer terrible, or abortifacient terrible, or infection terrible.

I have altered my diet.  I’ve always avoided HFCS, and partially hydrogenated oils, and soy, and artificial sweeteners, and low-fat / sugar-free anythings because I know they’re filled with artificial wizardry.

Over the spring, motivated to help Emmett’s gut heal, I learned to make bone broths and ferment vegetables. I make my own kombucha. I don’t drink milk.

I limit my grains, but haven’t totally cut them out.
I limit gluten, but haven’t cut it out entirely.
I eat mostly whole fat goat milk yogurt & nuts, avocados, bone broth meals, some meat, seafood and steamed veggies.
I was taking a strong pro+prebiotic with complimentary supplements, plus a good whole food multivitamin.
I just started codliver oil.

Essential oils, while I love them, enjoy them, and have even been selling them for over a year, are a joke for anything pain/inflammation related.

I’ve been doing this for over a year, and cracked down hard on it months ago… And my symptoms are only escalating. There’s still a lot I could be doing, diet-wise, but frankly, standing in the kitchen cooking and chopping and straining has become yet another thing I hate doing. It hurts to stand, of course. I used to love baking and cooking.

So I feel like I have no options except to try this TNF inhibitor. Which is really risky, in my opinion, and apparently doesn’t last in effectiveness, so I’ve read.

Pray for me?