Sunday, January 17, 2016

January thus far....

For all of our friends and family that we don't see much any more, we wanted to share a bit of what is happening in our lives.  

First off, Don had his one month post-surgery check-up last week and passed with flying colors.  Most of his initial restrictions were lifted.  He still can't lift more than 10 lbs and he does need to be very careful about putting himself in situations where he could be injured.  His stamina is not where he'd like it to be yet, but the doctor told him that by the three month check-up, that he would be able to tell a big difference.  

We were able to see some views of his presurgery  MRI that we hadn't seen before. The cross-section view looking down into the vertebrae was amazing.  What was amazing was how little room there was within the vertebrae with the most damage.  When we looked at that one compared to the others she showed us, our comment was: "Where is the spinal cord?"  There was a cyst sitting in there along with stenosis (which is arthritis in the spinal canal) and scar tissue -- we couldn't actually see the spinal cord because of the amount of compression that was on it.  The doctor told us that when she sees an MRI like that, that those people are usually bed or chair-bound because either a) it hurts too bad, or b) they have lost a lot of mobility.  So we count ourselves very blessed.  He is walking 2 miles a day on the treadmill and has been able to increase the speed at which he is walking quite a bit.  

The week after his surgery we had a visit in our home by the new stake president.  Our bishop had been called to be in the stake presidency...we had a bad feeling about that visit!  On December 27th, Don was called to be the bishop in our ward and today he and his counselors were sustained.  This is a very humbling position to fill and we wonder 'why'?!  But we have learned that when our Father in Heaven gives us these opportunities to serve, He will also strengthen us and lift us to accomplish the things that He would have us do. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fall in the Mountains

A couple of weeks ago Don and I took a drive up in the mountains.  The fall colors had mostly come and gone, and there weren't many bright yellows because of a fungus that affected the Quaking Aspens, but it was still an amazing day up in the mountains.  The blue of the sky, the smell of the clean mountain air, the rustling of the was a very therapeutic day. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Halloween Table Runner

I finally had time to do a little fabric shopping and make this cute table runner for our coffee table.  I had some different fabrics in mind when I went shopping, but I'm happy with the results.

 I was going to share with you the blog post that was my inspiration for this table runner, but when I went to the blog I couldn't find it.  I'll keep looking - and I promise - when I find it, I will update this post.  Mine is cute - hers is amazing!

And the little porcelain ghost sitting there?  The fuzzy spider on his head plays music when you push it.  We've had that ghostie for a LOT of years.  Our daughters used to enjoy him, and now our grand-kids are having some fun with him too.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Our New Home

We've been in our new home for three weeks now.  All of the boxes are either unpacked, or they've been opened and we know what's in them!  We have a gallery wall to do, and some updating of pictures that we already have hanging.  For the most part - we are settled!  We are happy to be here and it feels like home.  

As we went to help a daughter with some family pictures this afternoon, we kept remarking about how beautiful it was and what a perfect day.  Clear blue skies, fall leaves, nice temperatures and mountains!  
This our new home!  I cleaned out all of the flower beds on Saturday and I found muscles that haven't been used in a while!  We are looking forward to spring and putting in one or two Knock-out rose bushes, a hydrangea bush and tearing up some of the back yard for a garden.  There is a cement pad out back that will be home to a fire pit.

This is standing in our kitchen looking into the living room.  There is a fireplace on the right side of the wall.

This is standing in the living room looking towards the kitchen.
This is the room just as you walk in the front door.

Love this staircase.  At the top of it is the little tv/play room that is pictured below.

Master bedroom.

Master bedroom looking out to the hall.

There are two more bedrooms and a study/craft room.  Plus a HUGE pantry!  LOVE IT!!
There is plenty of room for company!   Just sayin'!

In the next few days, I'll show some of the special things we enjoy about our home in more detail.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Dear Realtor.....

My husband and I have spent the last several months looking for a house to buy.  We've gone online to look, then driven around neighborhoods of houses that we like.  There has been one consistent thing that has made this house-hunting experience very frustrating, and that has been some of the photos used in the advertisement for the house.  We know that you might want your client's rooms to look bigger than they actually are, but seriously!!!!
This is a picture found in a listing....  really?  This bed is for a very tall person who doesn't mind sitting on the edge of it with their knees up around their ears. 

To this realtor's credit - they did include a 'normal' photograph also.  Why even use those wide angle shots?  Hate them.  

To be honest with you Mr. or Ms. Realtor - there are houses that we didn't even go to see because we were so disappointed with the quality of the photos that were used.  Here are a few more examples.  These photos just do not do justice to the home.  I can 'almost' say ok to some of the fish-eye lens shots -- almost....    We did actually see a couple of these rooms in real life.  They looked much better than how they were portrayed in the ad. 

Notice the squatty fridge? 

As a person who is trying to sell your home - ask to see the photos your realtor takes before they go live online.  And I beg you - please don't allow them to use wide-angle shots, they are a disservice to your home and will not help to sell your house.

We did finally find our next home - and not a single picture in the home ad was a wide-angle shot!  Likewise with the house that we sold.  Kudos to good, old-fashioned, picture it as it is photography!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Quiet Book Pages

Last fall I spent a considerable amount of time making quiet book pages for my grandchildren.  I've learned a few things along the way - and the next set I make will likely be a little different than those I have completed.  I made some about 1.5 years ago that were very similar in style to the ones I have pictured here.

Even though I will do some things differently with the next set, the desired outcome has been the same - the kids love them.  They do provide a quiet activity for them to do - especially in places like church or the car.  So no matter how you do them, just do something.  I've got some ideas I can't wait to make happen!

The first quiet book I made, I made my own cover.  This one I used a 3-ring binder.  I glued a layer of warm and natural to the binder, then glued the cover to the warm and natural.  I sewed the straps on before it was glued.  Easy peasy!  Although, I probably should have used a 2" binder rather than a 1".  It really limits how many pages can be put in the book at a time.

After the fabric was glued onto the outside of the binder - I flipped it over and glued it down on the inside.  I then took a piece of card stock and covered it in the green striped fabric and glued it to the inside covers.  This covered up the edges of the outer fabric that had been folded over and glued down.

I love the barn page.  I found the cute finger puppets on-line.  I decided to try using the pencil pouch to store them in rather than making a pocket on the page.  Love that!
Another thing I learned ... SEW EVERYTHING!  When I took this picture I hadn't sewn along the outside of the barn or on the white pieces at all.  It wasn't long before those edges were pulling up and the pieces were detaching from the barn even though I had used a LOT of glue.  Before it was given away - everything was stitched.

The I Spy page made from fabric that is on their I Spy quilts.  This was taken before the finishing touches were put on the page.

This was a fun one to do - but if I were to do it again I might use regular cotton fabric as a background and make the bee so he could be moved around.

I used tablecloth vinyl to make the packet and filled it with buttons and beads and all sorts of tiny trinkets I found.  Use your 40-50% off coupons on this one!

This is one that I glued down REALLY well and figured I didn't need to sew anything.  The first time my grandson was on this page, he was picking at the edges and it was already starting to come apart.  Ugh....lesson learned.   SEW EVERYTHING!

LOVE this page!  I chose to not cut out felt numbers and letters.  Got these in a package of foam stickers.  I added E6000 adhesive to the backs of them and they did stick VERY WELL!

And look - the flaps lift up with little jewels for them to count.  Again, I used the E6000 adhesive to glue them down.

Felt strips with a fabric backing.  I wish now I had used all felt....  You can see the fray edges of the fabric.  These can be stuck together to make a chain, or simply connected one to the other to make a long strip.  Good color practice and eye/hand coordination when sticking them together.

I think this is one of my top three favorite pages!  The fish slide back and forth along the ribbon.  I lined the fish with vinyl so they would slide easily.  The other critters on top were cut out of fabric and glued to felt with a velcro backing on them so they will stick to the 'sand'.  The edges should have been treated with FrayCheck - not sure if that happened before it was given away!  

There were several more pages that I did - Mr Potato Head, tic-tac-toe, an Easter egg with Easter themed finger puppets, etc.

The one VERY IMPORTANT thing that you need to know about making your quiet book is this:  NEVER TELL YOUR HUSBAND HOW MUCH MONEY YOU SPENT DOING IT!!!   I would purchase things with coupons and on sale, and get things a little at a time, but I stopped keeping track of how much it was costing me because they have truly been a labor of love.

As I said - I'm already planning the next set of pages to do.  I will tell you this:  there will not be any holes in the pages.  I'm looking at a totally different way of putting them together in a book.  Can't wait!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Anxiety - Part Two!

So - the previous post I wrote about anxiety - and how I was going to stay on top of it so I didn't have the kind of experience that Sandra Turley had?!  Remember that?  Well - I'm happy to say that I did just that - I had almost exactly the same experience that she did. 

It was Tuesday night, December 16th.  I could not go to sleep.  You know those nights when you lie there wide awake?  Yup - one of those nights.  After an hour or so of tossing and turning I decided to head to the recliner so I wouldn't disturb the hubby.  He had an important meeting early the next morning.  I'd been there about 1/2 hour - just enjoying looking at the Christmas lights - when BAM

My heart started doing somersaults.  Seriously.  It felt like it was violently flopping back and forth in my chest.  Then I got an intense pain around the sternum area.  I thought I was having a heart attack, so was going to call out to the sleeping hubster, but suddenly I couldn't get my breath.  I was nauseous and dizzy and had a difficult time getting out of the chair.  I made it to the hall closet where the medicine is kept and took an aspirin.  They say to do that if you are having a heart attack.  

Now, this is where you DON'T do what I did next.  I could breathe a little easier and my acrobatic heart had slowed down considerably, so instead of waking up my husband and heading to the emergency room or calling 911, I decided to head to the computer.  Yup - that's what we all do when we think we might be dieing, right?!  Guess I should have written my final farewell while I was at the keyboard.  Instead I googled heart attack symptoms and really, it didn't seem like that was what was happening to me.  So I googled panic attack symptoms.  BINGO!  Every symptom - I just checked them off one by one.  By this time I had decided that I wasn't going to die, so I popped one of my pills for anxiety and headed back to the recliner.  Within 20 minutes all symptoms were gone and I felt much better. 

I hope to NEVER have another panic/anxiety attack.  It was seriously the scariest medical situation I've ever been through. 

I had made a major decision to quit my job, which I knew would alleviate some of the stress I was having in my life.  Our little family has experienced a lot of stressful situations this last year.  Some of them were really wonderful - like a new grandbaby being born, a daughter and her family moving into their own home, and another daughter moving back 'home'.  Some were really difficult - like my husband being put on probation at his job unjustly and everything that went along with that including a quick emergency flight home to be with him; opening up a new school with double the student population and everything that goes along with that, including spending time in classrooms once a week.  I'm not a teacher.  I wanted to be a teacher once - long, long ago.  But after that first practicum experience, I knew that I would be eaten alive by those children so I changed my major.  So this experience of being in the classroom often left me in tears in the nearest bathroom when I was done. 

In hindsight, I can tell you some things that I've learned.
  1. If something is being overly stressful in your life - don't play the martyr and stick with it because you don't want to feel like a failure.
  2. Don't worry about doing everything, all of the time.  It's ok to let some things go and not be perfect.  Why is it that we sometimes feel we have to be the 'superwoman'?  That's just wrong!
  3. Be honest with your feelings and talk with someone about them - be it your spouse, a trusted friend, your doctor or another professional.
  4. A strong relationship with your Father in Heaven can help you through really difficult times.
  5. Studying the scriptures can give you insight and strength and help you feel the love of your Savior.
  6. "Those that be with us are greater than those that be with them."  2 Kings 6:16.  I believe that the adversary is working overtime to make us feel that we have failed and that we are of no worth.  I also believe that we have a loving Father in Heaven and his son Jesus Christ who know us personally and love us perfectly.  Through the gifts and blessings of the Atonement, we can be succored and strengthened through the Savior.
  7. When you are having a medical emergency - don't google it!  Get professional medical help immediately.
 Our lives are full of stress.  Learning to cope - and learning to let go of certain things will help us enjoy the life that is ours to live.  Carpe' Diem!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Anxiety and Life

I recently read an article written by Sandra Turley that resonated with me so strongly.  Reading it actually gave me the internal permission to admit out loud what was happening with myself.  I have been fighting a battle with anxiety - especially the last 5 1/2 months.  I've had little blips on the radar before that, but these last 5+ months have really been tough ones.  There wasn't just one thing that I was troubled about, there were several.  And these were life-altering situations.
  • My husband was told he was being put on probation at work for something he didn't do and may lose his job.
  • I was told that I would need to do something with my job that causes me anxiety.
  • The school I worked at last year closed and a new school opened.  More than double the number of students and staff.  Add in behavior and special ed class rooms.  Starting the school with no behavior plan and a gym not done - just to name a few things - and you end up with a whole lot of crazy!
  • My husband had major surgery on his cervical spine.
  • I'm having increased problems with my back.
  • We have family members who are struggling with extreme health conditions.
  • A daughter had a baby and moved and we went to help.
  • Another daughter and her family moved and we couldn't be there to help.
  • My church calling (Stake RS President) takes me away from my home ward most Sundays.  We recently had boundary changes and lots of people moving in and out.  The short of that is this: when I am able to make it to my own ward - I don't feel a connection there any more.  I've been away for the most part for 5 1/2 years now.
  • And so on and so forth.
 So - when I read this article: it struck me that I needed to own what I was feeling in order to deal with it.  I've had my husband give me a priesthood blessing.  I resigned my position at work.  A change was not able to be made to relieve me of a two hour disaster in my work life once a week, so I quit.  Not even having that be acknowledged by my supervisor hurt incredibly, and I had to work through the feelings of feeling worthless and not valued, but now I feel ok.  So glad I am walking away.

I am trying to focus more on my Savior, on the blessings he has given so abundantly to our family and the moments when He has whispered Peace to my heart.  I am allowing myself to be in the scriptures more.  I am saying no to things that are not necessary right now.  I am focusing on our family.

I had my anxiety medication prescription renewed and am being vigilant in taking it on a scheduled basis rather than just PRN as I did for so long.

This is just the beginning.  I have much to do.  I am a worrier.  I am a fixer.  And I need to learn to let most of that go. 

The Savior has born all of these feelings of mine.  And because of that, He alone knows how to succor me and strengthen me.  It is upon Him, my Rock, that I will lean and trust.  I feel that I will move forward, and that things will be better than I could have ever imagined.  But for now, I am striving to slow down a bit - enjoy my blessings - and Let Go & Let God.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Piano Guys

This video was shot at one of my favorite places - Tony Grove - high in the mountains above Logan, Utah!  I've walked around this lake more than just a few times.  And I love this song too.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Homemade marshmallows

I pulled out my favorite mug tonight.  I really needed some hot chocolate!  It's been cold in Missouri, and typically once I get home at the end of the day - I stay there.  But tonight I had to go back out into the cold to attend a PTA meeting.  

If you notice, there is something missing from this mug of hot chocolate.   Marshmallows!  I checked the pantry - none.  I went downstairs to my storage area - none.  Guess what I'm doing tomorrow night?  I'm going to make some marshmallow cubes.  It's a recipe I've been using for years - usually shaping into eggs and dipping in chocolate for Easter, but hey, I'm good with a naked marshmallow too!  Or wait ~ what about the homemade marshmallows still dipped in chocolate and then put in the mug of hot chocolate?  Can you say rich hot chocolate?  Hmmmmm.  Maybe I'll dip some in white chocolate too - or mint chocolate ~ oh, the possibilities are endless!  I'll have to give you an update on that later.

Here's my basic marshmallow recipe:

Homemade Marshmallows

6 T. cold water 
2 envelopes Knox gelatin
1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt

In a medium bowl, combine 6 T. cold water and the Knox gelatin and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.  Meanwhile, boil 1/2 c. water and the sugar together in a small saucepan.  Stir just until the sugar is dissolved and pour over the gelatin mixture.  Let cool.  A film will be created on top of this mixture as it cools - spoon off the film and discard.  Add the vanilla and the salt and beat 8-10 minutes with an electric beater until soft peaks form when you lift the beaters from the mixture.

Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper.  Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with flour.  Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan and spread it out.  When it sets (doesn't take long), cut into squares and enjoy!  Before eating - lightly brush off the flour and toss in that mug of hot chocolate.

Store in an airtight container - or - dip in some chocolate and doubly enjoy!