If Only … Thoughts on Mothers and Daughters

My relationship with my mother was a dismal failure from the time I turned approximately 13. Fault? I guess that doesn’t really matter, but I think we shared fault. She did not know how to communicate effectively to a teenager, and I did not know how to communicate with someone who did not know how to communicate.


From the time I turned a teenager, I wanted out of my parent’s house. That was my goal in life. I did not understand them, I did not even like them. I thought they were insane. I thought I would do a much better job when I finally have kids of my own.


When I finally moved out, got pregnant and married at age 18, I thought I would have my “white picket fence” and live happily ever after. I didn’t think I would ever need my parents again. And, truth be told, I rarely communicated with my mother and father after I moved out, unless it was to call my Dad for help for whatever reason – and there were numerous ones! But I was so wrapped up in my own life and problems, that I never called my Mom just to talk. We never, ever talked just to have a conversation, to find out how each other is doing.


I’m a Christian now, and I try not to look back at my life with regrets. It’s not easy when there are so many. I do try to leave it in God’s hands. But holidays come around, Mother’s Day, my Mom’s birthday, Mom and Dad’s anniversary ~ yep, I still remember them, even keep them on my calendar(s). I think back to all of the night gowns given to my mother for Christmas. Bells for Mother’s Day or her birthday, she collected them. Candy was always a welcome gift. But how I wish we’d had a relationship. There are the clichés: hindsight is 20/20, if only I knew then what I know now… etc. I wish I’d been there for her when she needed someone. I wish I hadn’t been so self-involved. I wish we had talked!


All I have left over her, besides photos, are memories of things she did, how she looked ~ things that I now find comforting, and find in myself often. But I have precious few memories of the last 5 years of her life. That was my “self-indulgent” time. I couldn’t find the time to go the 15 miles from my house to where I grew up to see how she was doing. To see if I could help. To be there for her, or my Dad. It haunts me now.


If I could have a “do over” in life, it would be to have a better relationship with my parents… Mom especially. From that I would’ve learned to be better… better at everything. Perhaps my kids wouldn’t have paid such a price for a self-indulgent mom, and maybe I’d have a better relationship with them, as well. However, no “do overs” in life. You only get one chance to do it right.

It’s Spelled C-H-R-O-N-I-C ~

This post is about chronic pain, plain and simple. I’m not looking for sympathy, neither are those who share my condition. Just looking for understanding, respect and tolerance.

I never ever thought I would be “one of those” people who had to tolerate pain in one or more parts of their body 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Yet, here I am. My feet are “riddled with arthritis” as my orthopedist told me. Also my knees. Osteoarthritis. An interesting diagnosis, I thought at the time, surely there is a cure. No, he said, only pain management. “Pain management”? Okay, then give me a pill and let me go back to my life, I thought. I wasn’t yet aware of how much my life was about to change.


I tried several different pain medications, injections, etc. and none seemed to keep the pain at bay for very long. And, in the beginning, it was even “that bad”… more of a nuisance than a driving force. I might limp while going to the grocery store, or shudder at the thought of crossing a large parking lot. I obtained a temporary handicapped parking tag with the intent of turning it in after a few months and I got the pain under control. The months lagged. I kept asking for a renewal from my doctor each time the expiration came due on the tag. I figured, surely by the time THIS ONE expires, I’ll be able to walk better and longer distances.

Last month I had a bi-annual checkup with my primary care physician. I asked for the permanent handicapped parking tag. He looked at me and winced. He clearly did not want to go that route. Indeed, he told me if he gave me the permanent tag, that I might start thinking of myself as “handicapped”… and he didn’t want me to do that. And he forbade me to use the electric carts in stores. However, he did give me the new tag. Neither of us was happy, but I have to be realistic. The pain, especially in my feet, was now unrelenting.


I think I finally came to grips with the fact that I will have to live with chronic pain for the rest of my life. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, and it will, in fact, only get worse. I would soon get used to measuring my activities by the amount of pain I am currently in, or am likely to be in at the time of the activity. That probably sounds pretty unbelievable to most of you reading this. My life is now measured by increments of pain. It makes sense, considering 90% of my particular pain is in my feet, making it very difficult to walk. My knees are secondary, and 3 herniated discs in my back count for something as well. I’m always looking for “shortcuts” to my activities. Can I get dropped off closer to my destination? Is there comfortable seating? How close is the seating to my drop off point? Are there stairs? Hoping for a ramp. Will I need my “cane” (my father’s wooden shillelagh)? Will there be lots of people to stare at me, and judge? Will there be people I know there, who do not know of my hidden secret? Will I have a lot of explaining to do? What if it just hurts too much? What if I just can’t stand it another minute? These are things that run through my mind any/every time I need to go outside my home. Yes, even when I go to work. So, admittedly, my social life is waning.

People with chronic pain think way differently than you do. And granted, even though my personal pain is considerable and distracting, there are so many others that are way worse off than me. They are my heroes. I know them and feel their pain as I do my own. Chronic pain “people” do not stand out in a crowd. You cannot look at them and know there is anything wrong. And they (we) do not like to share that information with anyone. If shared, there is always skepticism. People say things like: “Suck it up,” “C’mon, it can’t be THAT bad,” or “You’re just faking it.” No one wants to be held up to that kind of ridicule. Or they’re look you up and down as if they’re going to see some clue as to whether or not you are really in pain. And when they see no clear evidence, there is disbelief.
Chronic pain is exhausting. On a “good day”, at home, I might get one or two chores done ~ dishes, laundry, vacuuming. On a “bad day”, I cannot stand. I sit in my recliner with my feet up, take aspirin, and feel them ache and burn all day long. If I need to get up, I have to thrust myself to standing, then wait until my feet give me permission to move, to shuffle to my destination and then back to reclining. The entire episode is unbearable and to be avoided at all costs. Sometimes I use a prescription rub-on gel to curb the pain, but the side effects are not worth using it constantly… only when I really cannot bear it. Restraint is an important lesson. Chronic pain alters your mind. Your priorities change or may be clouded. You don’t think right when you hurt. Have you ever had a migraine, or a sprained ankle or any broken body part? Think of that pain as never ending. It will be with you for the rest of your life. No healing, no getting better. At first you just deal with it and don’t really believe it will be forever. Then it becomes a “normal” part of your life. It’s with you every day, all day, just like your pinky toe. Then it gets worse and you’re thinking desperately. And you imagine what it would be like to be pain free… just only for one day, even if just a few hours. How glorious would that be? Chronic pain makes you think irrationally. It gives you feelings of desperation, depression, worthlessness, dependence. ALL. THE. TIME. Do you even get that? There is no relief. Hence the word: C-H-R-O-N-I-C. You feel like your loved ones, those that “know”, resent you. They don’t believe you. They think you’re lazy because you don’t do your housework or go shopping etc. anymore. “You’re just lazy.” For me, even my biggest love, quilting, has suffered. I can’t concentrate on it when my mind is full of pain management wishes. I cannot, in good conscience, ask my husband to do things for me that I can no longer do. I feel like he resents me… even though I know he doesn’t. We’ve talked about it. But I cannot shake the feeling.


I recently joined an Osteoarthritis group online on Facebook. Wonderful bunch of people, mostly women, who share their experiences and ideas for pain relief and how to try to live a “normal” life. Exercises, weight loss help, potentials for medications that I haven’t tried. I know in my head that I need to keep moving and exercise or I will end up immobile. They give me hope. Even a chuckle now and then. I know many people scoff at Facebook, but there is so much knowledge there if you know where to look and how to use it. I have been blessed.


What’s my point to this post? Chronic pain. It’s real. It exists for thousands of people, including me. We don’t look for sympathy. We don’t look for an “easy out”. We just want to be acknowledged, understood and respected like everyone else. These days, everything is all about “tolerance”. Quit thinking we’re “fakers” and get with the program.

Unfortunately, I expect very few people will ever seen this post. In a way that’s fine with me, as I’m not too comfortable sharing all this with anyone anyways. Anyone I know. Funny how I’ve put my entire life out here in my blog, some of which is pretty graphic and shocking, but THIS makes me uncomfortable! LOL!

Thank you for stopping by and checking me out.

Blessings ~ Tamara

Sam’s Quilt ~

There has been quite a following on Facebook on this story of Sam’s Quilt.  Time for an introduction and then a follow-up:

Sam is my great-nephew.  I went to visit several family members in Minnesota back in June of this year.  It was an awesome visit, but Sam especially captured my heart.  Sam is 5 (now 6?).  Upon being re-introduced to him by his Mom (my niece, Michelle), who told him that “this is the aunt that made Thomas’s (his little brother) baby quilt” ~ Sam immediately piped up and said “YOU made that quilt?!!”  When I said that I had, he immediately asked if I would make him a quilt… and quickly followed it up with his choice of color preferences:  “green with blue flowers!”, he’d said without hesitation.  He knew what he wanted right away!

Sam and Michelle 2014

Before I even came home from vacation, I began looking online for just the right fabric… “green with blue flowers”.  It actually took me 3-4 days to find just this right combination without being too feminine.  Then I picked out “accompanying” fabrics that would add to the “main” fabric.

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A few days after getting home, I began the planning of this quilt for Sam.  I was determined that it would be spectacular.  After all, I’d never had someone actually ASK me to make them a quilt, and I was quite flattered.

The entire project was going to be delayed, over and over, as I had health issues from beginning in May and continued right through the entire summer.  That really slowed me down.  There were days and weeks that I just couldn’t even sew.  There were a couple of trips to the hospital, one included a few days’ stay.

As I s-l-o-w-l-y recovered over several weeks, I did continue to work on Sam’s quilt as much as I could.  And it came along nicely.

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With the help of my husband, the quilt got sandwiched, quilted, bound and complete.  I had decided to use a stencil (for the first time) to aid in the quilting part, it was a stencil of 8 hearts, upside down and made to look like a pretty flower.  So I set about penciling in the design from the stencil on each of the squares on the sandwiched quilt.  It took a couple of days just to accomplish this part, as I was still recovering.

The process was:  decide on colors/patterns, buy the appropriate fabric, cut the fabric pieces for the top and sew them together, then “sandwich” the top, batting and backing and stencil the quilting design on the top.  Next you quilt the sandwich, following the design you had just stenciled.  Next you trim and bind the edges, and finally wash the quilt to get out the stenciling marks.  THAT’S where the problem came in.  The stenciling marks, which were BLACK, would not wash out!  Needless to say, I was pretty distraught, and I went to my Facebook friends group “Quilt Along With Pat Sloan“, who I knew would have the answer/remedy I needed to get those awful marks out.  I posted a plea for help on getting these marks out this quilt, and as expected, I was thankfully inundated with dozens of replies and suggestions on what to do and what to use.  I tried MANY of them.  I spent an entire Saturday cleaning, scrubbing, soaking, washing, spraying ~ washing about 5-6 times in the course of the day, but nothing worked.  Exhausted by the end of the day, I had decided there was nothing to be done but make another quilt for Sam.  There was NO WAY I was going to give him such a mess with marks all over it!  Indeed, that quilt was not going to be leaving this house!

Sams quilt washed (1)

So, I guess it’s been a couple of weeks now since I have reordered the fabrics online, and purchased others at Hobby Lobby, and I have been working very hard to recreate Sam’s quilt.  I’m hoping to have it done and mailed to him by Halloween.  Fortunately, my health is coming along well now, and I’m able to spend hours at a time at the sewing machine piecing, bordering, ironing etc.  Indeed, I’ve just finished piecing the top together this morning.  I should mention that I did not use the same pattern this time as the first time.  I wanted to try something different, something that would show off the quilting parts better.  I think I have achieved that.

Sam's quilt 002

Sam’s quilt top – second try. Top complete!                                Finished size 5′ x 6′


Heart quilt design stencil

Heart quilt design stencil

Now, with the quilt top done, I need to choose some backing material and the batting.  Usually I would use up scraps from the making of the top to make the backing, but this time I’m out!  I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in my fabric stash to match so I guess a-shopping I will go!

That’s about where things stand right now.  I’ll continue to update as it nears completion and is then sent to Sam.  Maybe I’ll luck out and I’ll get a photo of Sam as he enjoys his gift!

Thanks for stopping by and checking in.  Hope you enjoyed by post.

Blessings ~ Tamara Eckstadt


AQS Quilt Show Charlotte, NC 2014 ~

I’ve been chalking up a lot of “new” things in my quilting world this summer especially.  New patterns, new quilt designs.  This past weekend I went to my first AQS Quilt Show, a national quilt show, in Charlotte, NC.  Despite the 13 hour drive each way, the 3 days spent in between the drives was very nice.  We stayed with family.

We went to the show on Saturday and stayed for about 3-4 hours, meandering through the exhibits and the vendors.  Being the last day of the show, it was not very busy, so there was plenty of room without getting bumped or having to wait.  Being held at the Charlotte Convention Center, it was H-U-G-E.  It was sort of a disadvantage for me, personally, as I have difficulty walking (even though I was using a rolling walker with a seat thingy).  I do think we (my hubby came with) got to see every display.


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The photos in the slideshow are some of the favorites that both my husband I and took photos of.  There were many, many more on display.  At first it was overwhelming, then we settled in to a routine of going slowly, sitting for a few minutes, visiting the drinking fountains often, and continuing on.  We looked at ALL of the displays before ever going near the vendors!

The displays were gorgeous, as you can see by some of our photos.  One disappointment for me was there were considerably fewer actual bed size quilts than wall hangings.  There were approximately 50 quilts, but over 200+ wall hangings of varying sizes.  The groups of displays were spaced out so far for the quantity of quilts/walls hangings that were entered.  It seemed like the warehouse-size room in the basement of the Convention Center was way too big for so “few” displays… but then again, when we were there, there were much fewer people.

There were a LOT of vendors.  The entire center of the area was drowning in vendors.  It was fun to see all the things that I don’t ordinarily see in magazines or quilt shops.  Having very little money to shop with was a problem, but my husband did purchase a nice pair of Dresden Plate silver earrings for me, after knowing what I’d recently gone through to make a Dresden Plate of my own.  That made it that more special.  I had anticipated the vendors possibly dropping some of their prices, since it was the last hours of the last day of the Charlotte show.  That was not to be.  Indeed, I did not find any “deals” or price chops at any of the vendors.

By the way, remember that purple Dresden Plate quilted pillow I made for my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday?  She loved it.  After opening the bag it came in and enjoying it momentarily, she put it back in the bag and went to put it in her purse ~ which is where she puts everything that she especially loves and wants to keep close to her.  (Mom has dementia, and did not realize the pillow would most likely not FIT into her purse.  But that’s okay)

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So, that’s the story behind my first adventure to a national quilt show.  Thanks for stopping by and checking out my photos.  Hope you enjoyed your visit.

God bless ~ Tamara Eckstadt


Relay for Life Baldwinsville Recap ~

I was going to go into great detail on the escapades of the Relay for Life that I participated in, but I doubt you want to hear to whole long, drawn out story.  I’ll try to trim it down into something readable.

The Weather ~ well, it wasn’t too bad when Katie and I arrived at around 3:30 p.m., but we heard a storm was on the way and, sure enough, within about 20 minutes the sky was dark and truly scary.  We quickly popped up our tent (but did NOT secure it, duh!), and went to set up the pop up tent for the vendor booth.  We had just gotten the top up and were beginning to secure it when the wind hit and hit H-A-R-D!  I was holding one of the legs on the back side of the tent and when the wind blew, it lifted me almost off the ground!  Katie had the front and was trying to stake them down, and (Praise the Lord) a kind young man in the vending booth next to us grabbed the other back side leg before we all went toppling over.  For a few minutes, we all three just held on for dear life until the wind finally subsided – about 10 minutes.  We did have just a little bit of rain at the beginning of the Team Banner walk, but it subsided too and everything quieted down.

Our bake sale went very nicely.  I wasn’t too sure we’d have enough in baked goods, but my friends came through like gangbusters and we had cookies, brownies, s’mores, cupcakes, scones and a myriad of great things that sold well!  It was a lot of fun chatting with some of the people who stopped to look and/or to buy.  We met some interesting people.  We even had a “vegan” stop by looking to see what we had to satisfy her cravings ~ we provided a trail mix combination that she loved and came back for more!   All total, we earned a little over $100 from just the bake sale/vendor booth.

The Atmosphere ~ Wow!  what can I say about the whole thing?  It was organized chaos!  So much fun!  There were so many things going on throughout the entire night that you couldn’t NOT have something to do!  There were themed laps that were sponsored by teams.  Things like a hula hoop lap, crazy hat lap and the like.  There were bands and entertainment on the stage all the time.  Kids were dancing and having an awesome time.  There was a quieter time when they read poems and reflected on the reason we were participating in this event.  There was the luminaries lit up around the track and up in the stands after dark.  It was truly beautiful and inspiring.  We were not the only team to have a vendor booth, the whole trackside was lined with other teams and some companies that had wares to sell.  How about glow-in-the-dark cotton candy?  There was even one young girl walking around with a sign that said she was selling hugs for $1.00 each!  Lol!  There were crafts and food everywhere.

For awhile, I went up to our campsite (around 1:00 a.m.) just to see if I could lay down and rest for an hour.  Each campsite was very small… just large enough for one or two tents, one in front of the other, and then a couple of chairs and most other campsites had fire pits with warming campfires lighting up the night.  We did not have one of those.  So our tent was pretty cold, made worse by laying on the ground (on top of sleeping bags) and even with a heavy blanket, resting was futile.  Especially since all the other campsites were rowdy and having fun etc.  After an hour, I gave up and went back to the vending booth and kept Katie company again.

Katie & Tammy at the Relay for Life Baldwinsville

Katie & Tammy at the Relay for Life Baldwinsville


Did I mention that the theme of the night was “Mardi Gras”?  There were beads everywhere, but I can honestly say we were the only two with masks.  Our bake sale customers apparently loved it as we got lots of compliments and smiles.

Things began to die down around 3:30 a.m., so we decided to pack in the bake sale booth and stay at camp until 5:00 when Al was supposed to show up and help us pack up to go home.  It seemed like around 4 a.m. all of the other campers and vendors were packing it in and heading out.  So I called Al and (after waking him up) asked him to come now as we were pretty much done.  In the wait time for Al to get there, we tore down our part of the campsite and put our things away and loaded up my SUV with as much as possible.  When I say “we” I really mean Katie… as she did the bulk of all of the hauling, lifting, pushing, pulling and everything else related to both the campsite and the vending booth!  She never once complained or skipped a beat in doing whatever was necessary to get the job done.  Not once.

Indeed, if it weren’t for Katie’s help, none of this would’ve even been pulled off.  With my mobility becoming more of an issue, she just stepped right up and lent a hand everywhere!

The Quilt Raffle ~ Al made me an awesome quilt rack (that I didn’t even know about), and he brought it to the vendor booth and set it up so I could display the raffle quilt and sell more raffle tickets prior to the midnight drawing.  At midnight, the American Cancer Society Coordinator, Sarah Curtin, came to our vending booth to pick the raffle winner.  She chose the ticket and read me the name, then went to the stage to make the official announcement on the loudspeaker.  Heather VanLuven Skiff was the winner!  Heather owns a salon in Weedsport, and has been mine and Al’s hairdresser for the past 15+ years.  All in all, the raffle brought in $415.00.  I was the second highest earner on our team (the highest earner works at a doctor’s office with access to many physicians etc).  Our team total was $1,859.20 ~ our goal had been $1,000.  Not too shabby!

Reflections ~ Would I do this again?  I would LOVE to, but it’s too much hard work involved and I’m not able to do as much/enough anymore.  I am becoming too dependent on my husband and my daughter to do all the grunt work, and it’s not fair to them.  It’s definitely a FUN event, and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone who is very active, can stay up all night, likes to camp, and doesn’t mind hard work.  I thought early on that I’d like to have my own team next year, and I would love to, but I’m not sure I can go through this again… at least not like this year.  We’ll see.  I don’t HAVE to have a vending booth.  I could just go as a spectator – anyone can come, there’s no admission fee.  Just come and browse the vendors, enjoy the entertainment and support the American Cancer Society.  It’s too soon to plan that far ahead.

So, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  I’d really like to thank all of those friends, family, colleagues and co-workers that donated and/or bought quilt raffle tickets.  You are SO appreciated!  I’d also like to thank those friends and family that donated baked goods to our vendor booth.  We had so many customers and so many compliments on everything that was offered for sale!  I’d especially like to thank Al Eckstadt and Katie Eckstadt for going above and beyond for me, yet again.  They are a blessing beyond words, and I love them both so much!  Let’s do this again, shall we?!  j/k

Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek at how the Relay went.  See you next time.

TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt