Friday, December 6, 2013

MOPS: Controlling Your Emotions

Before I get into my MOPS notes...
If you haven't checked out my "A Memory Apart" book review/giveaway,
you should check it out then enter to win a copy of the eBook & a $25 Amazon giftcard!
If you've already read the book or romances aren't your thing
you can always give it as a gift to somebody (;

Alrighty, so yesterday at MOPS we got to watch a video.
In said video, Lysa TerKeurst talked about controlling our emotions.
She talked about how difficult it is to do this,
but also how we can learn to make it easier.

Here are my notes:
Conflict happens when we feel either exposed or opposed.
These situations can lead to chaotic feelings.
When conflict occurs, we have a choice right before we react.

Most reactions can be categorized under the following 4 reaction types:
1. Exploders that blame others
2. Exploders that shame themselves
3. Stuffers that build barriers
4. Stuffers that collect retaliation rocks

Our reaction types may vary depending on who we are reacting to.
Child, spouse, parent, friend, acquaintance, church leader, etc...
In other words, we have different reactions with different people.

If you are an exploder that blames others
- This type of exploder expresses their anger in the heat of the moment,
then finds someone else to blame for their emotional reaction.
- Remind yourself to pause before you react.
- Don't attack the person, address the issue instead.
- Ask yourself if you would let someone else see you reacting in this way.

If you are an exploder that shames yourself
- This type of exploder expresses their anger in the heat of the moment,
then later puts a guilt trip on themselves,
making themselves feel terrible for not handling it differently.
- Bring some perspective before reacting.
- Ask yourself, "If this is the worst thing that happens today will it be the worst day ever,
or will it be a pretty good day?"

If you are a stuffer that builds barriers
- This type of stuffer often doesn't know how to address conflict or perhaps doesn't want to.
- Instead of saying "I'm fine" then stuffing your emotions internally,
establish a boundary by continuing to communicate.
- Let go of bottling things up & pretending things are okay.
- Resolving the conflict the right way feels much better than keeping it all in.

If you are a stuffer that collects retaliation rocks
- This type of stuffer keeps things inside when upset to try & keep the peace,
but later lets out each of their frustrations when least expected.
- You may tend to hear something one way that was meant a different way
& stash away false impressions of what happened to use against someone.
- Before reacting, ask yourself if you are trying to prove that you are right
or are you trying to improve your relationship.

If you want to learn more about the different types of reactors
or just want to improve your communication,
I suggest reading Lysa TerKeurst's book, "Unglued".
Although I have not yet read it,
I heard so many wonderful things about it yesterday at MOPS.
Here's a cool author interview I found about the book...

After watching the video,
we had a little discussion about what we learned.
Sheri Carlstrom is one of the amazing mentor moms in our MOPS group.
That's right, she's one of the wonderful ladies that contributed to the best advice from experienced moms.
I want to share some words of wisdom that she said yesterday that stuck with me.
"It's better to react when you have emotional reserve, rather than when you have nothing."
There is so much truth in those words.

After Sheri talked with us for a little bit, we talked within our little discussion groups.
Another book was mentioned that I will definitely have to check out...
"Boundaries with Kids" by Dr Henry Cloud & Dr John Townsend.
I have a wonderful bunch of ladies in my 'purple group'.
They are always great at listening, giving advice, & just being there.
A huge thank you to everyone who listened to me vent yesterday.
You have no idea how much I appreciated it!
I was able to confront the issue happy & head on yesterday,
& things have been great ever since... (:
You are all so awesome!

In summary, what I learned:
Respond instead of react.
Handle the emotions that create the conflict rather than the conflict itself.

Keep in mind that all of my notes above are my own thoughts about what I heard
& they are not necessarily word for word.

I've already put these tips into practice & noticed a HUGE difference.
I challenge you to do the same!

Other great MOPS posts in case you missed them:

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Memory Apart - Kindle eBook giveaway

So as I mentioned a couple weeks ago
in my "Love.Loss.&Oh.My.Heck." chapter 1 review...
(speaking of which, Chapter 2 is now up on Maryn's blog for you to read)
I finished reading my cousin Daniel Elijah's first published book,
"A Memory Apart"
& I absolutely loved it!
(I promise I'm not just saying that because we're related!)

Here's a quick summary in my words:
"A Memory Apart" is a clean love story from the perspective of a teenage boy named Joshua.
The kind of love Joshua & Hayden had for each other was special
& it had been that way for as long as he could remember.
But with a very unexpected turn of events,
he finds himself torn, confused,
& in the middle of a love triangle
that he never would have anticipated.

I loved Daniel's use of descriptive words throughout the book.
It made it really easy to get a feel for each of the characters' distinct personalities.
At first I thought that Joshua was a little too obsessed with Hayden,
but thinking back to when I first fell in love with Hubby
I realized that he pretty much nailed how I felt.
I was obsessed.
Once I remembered what it's like to be a love-struck teenager
it was much easier for me to get into the book.
I enjoyed it more & more as I read on.
As the plot continued to unfold,
I got so into the story
that I had a hard time putting it down.
Don't believe me?
Ask Hubby.

I asked Daniel to write a special message to you readers,
& am more than pleased with his inspiring words...

Dear reader,

When I set out to write "A Memory Apart," I wanted to write an enduring love story that readers of all ages would find enjoyable, but more importantly, I wanted to craft a tale about living life in a way that creates lasting memories. I have always believed life is the total of our experiences, good and bad. Each of these experiences, and the people we experience them with, create who we are. It's my hope that as you read about Joshua Freemont you will come to better appreciate every moment you have in your life. And hopefully when you're old, and when I'm old, we'll look back and realize that our lives have been monumental blessings.

I hope you'll be inspired to live your life to the fullest, just like I was inspired by Joshua. He let me into his world, and I'm happy to share his story with you. 


Such great advice (:
I completely agree with Daniel
& think it's important to appreciate every moment of our lives.
Like he said above...
Our lives are molded by not just our good experiences, but also our trials.
So why not live our lives to the fullest,
enjoy the good times,
& learn from the hard times?

"A Memory Apart" was a quick & easy read,
but very enjoyable nonetheless.
Because I enjoyed the book so much,
& because we both enjoy the support of all you wonderful readers out there,
I am going to be hosting a fun little giveaway!

The winner will receive
a copy of the "A Memory Apart" eBook
& a $25 Amazon giftcard!

"A Memory Apart" is currently available in the Kindle format.
Don't have a Kindle?
No worries!
You can download the free Kindle app on your smartphone or tablet to enjoy the eBook.

Enter below via Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Thursday, November 28, 2013


Happy Thanksgiving!
I've done the month of gratitude challenge on Facebook before
& I enjoyed remembering how many blessings I truly have.
This year I wanted to do things a little differently
by creating a somewhat vague alphabetized list on the blog.
My plan is to revisit each of these blessings at some point throughout this next year
& delve a little deeper as to why I am grateful for them in separate posts.
I will add to the list as I think of other broad topics of gratitude.
Things I'm grateful for...

- animals
- atonement
- bed
- books
- church
- clothes
- colors
- electricity
- entertainment
- extended family
- fall / autumn
- food
- friends
- health
- Heavenly Father
- Holy Ghost
- home
- Hubby
- hygiene
- imagination
- in-laws
- Jesus Christ
- knowledge 
- Little Princess
- military
- moving
- music
- nature
- parents
- service
- siblings
- sight
- smells
- sound
- spring
- summer
- taste
- technology
- thermostat
- touch
- traditions
- transportation
- travel
- water
- weather
- winter

What are YOU grateful for?
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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Coming soon...

Just a quick post to let you know I'm still here...
Yep, I haven't forgotten about this lovely little blog of mine!
The kidlets & I have been having plenty of fun running errands,
going on a family fieldtrip to Little Dudeman's eye appointment 2 hours away,
& going from one playgroup to another this week
so our home & my blog have been just a wee bit neglected.

There are some exciting things coming soon around here though (:
Remember when I was asking about sponsors & ad spaces?
Yep, that's gonna happen!
Email me pronto if you want info about pricing!

Remember when I did the review of chapter one for Maryn Hillman's novel,
& I briefly mentioned that I finished 
Yep, we're going to be having another book review & an Amazon giftcard giveaway!

Remember when I did Mommy School before the move
& we stopped on T is for Tiger?
Yep, I'm hoping to pick up where we left off really soon
with a U is for Unicorn week!
With holidays, travel, & whatnot
we may not start back up until January,
but we will definitely start back up!

Also, I'm planning on adding a music page to the blog
with links to my SoundCloud account
where I will soon be uploading the songs I recorded before our move.
I'm hoping to record more songs someday
& maybe even write a few,
but these 4 will be available for your listening pleasure for now (soon).

Last but not least,
to see a sneak peek of the very possible new look to the blog!
Little Princess is in a Tinker Bell phase right now,
so I thought it would be fitting to do a
'second star to the right' theme...
Whatcha think?

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Love.Loss.&Oh.My.Heck. - review of chapter 1

So, one of my favorite roommates from college,
Maryn Hillman
is doing something absolutely amazing with her life right now.
She is chasing her dreams to become an author!
Let me rephrase that...
She is acting on her dreams & becoming an author!
When you act on a dream it becomes a goal.
We all know the wonderful feeling we get by achieving our goals,
so to help her achieve this goal I am letting all of you readers know about it!

Here's a summary from my dear friend, the author:
The story of a teenage girl finding herself through the friendship of two country boys.

In my words,
& without giving too much away
here's a little bit about the first chapter of her novel,
Nicolette had to move across the country with her family
right before her senior year of high school
from California to a small town in Georgia.
This change is extremely difficult for her.
She doesn't like being the 'new girl' in town with no friends,
& she desperately wants to go back 'home' to California.
Chapter 1 follows Nicolette on her first day at her new school
where she meets a couple of Southern boys that just won't leave her alone.
I would love to tell you more,
but why give too much away when you can read it yourself? (:
I loved chapter one & can't wait to see how the rest of the story unfolds!

I was able to relate to Nicolette in a sense during this first chapter.
You see, I know how hard it is moving to a new area,
especially during the last year of high school.
I moved from Wisconsin to Arizona right before my senior year.
It wasn't easy by any means,
but I feel like I had a completely different attitude towards our move.
That may have been because I had moved before,
or possibly because I was raised differently.
Perhaps it was because my high school status was very different from Nicolette's.
No matter the reason,
it's hard to leave friends.
It's hard to readjust to a new area.
It's hard to be the 'new kid' when everyone has their cliques.
It's hard enough as an adult,
but when you're still in school I think it's more difficult.

I encourage you to swing by her blog & read the first chapter when you have the time.
She is sharing it there first so that we can all have a sneak peek at the book before it's published!
Awesome, right?
Chapter two will be up on her blog this weekend for you to enjoy.
I'll post a full review of her novel once I finish it...
Meanwhile, give the first couple chapters a chance
& let Maryn or myself know how you liked it!
Thanks for helping her follow her dreams (:

By the way...
If you're curious about the Oh. My. Heck. in the title,
you can read a summary of why written by the author herself.

Here's the excerpt from the back cover:
Everyone was gone. Only Cordin's truck remained as I sat on it. The fire was huge, reaching towards the sky. The stars came closer to be within its reach. The orange color in front of me was absolutely brilliant. Even if I wanted to think about a care in the world, I couldn't. The fire danced around itself, captivating me into its world. I felt no gravity. I felt no weight. I felt free. I felt completely whole. The silence was the most wonderful sound I had ever heard. The fire reached to the stars and danced. The embers flew among the stars, teasing them, joining them. The sky opened to welcome the fire. I felt as if I could let go of the truck and I would fly into the heavens above. My mind had clarity. A clarity that human kind climb mountains for. A clarity that is searched for in books. A clarity that not many find because it is in the most simple of acts. I've felt it before in my surfing, but here, on a tailgate, in the middle of the woods, watching a fire, I found it again. I looked through the fire and saw Brocker, his kind, calming eyes looking back at me and suddenly I felt gravity; gravity that held me safely to where I was in Layton, safely to life, safely  to who I was meant to be. I was supposed to be here. I was solid. He was solid. My rock. I was safe because of him. He disappeared into the fire and it danced around me, keeping me safe and warm. Cordin. Cordin was on the other side with his intense, soulful eyes looking straight through me. No one could look through me like he did, not even Brocker. He knew who I was meant to be. He knew where I was supposed to be. Here. I was supposed  to be here with them. Without knowing Cordin knew everything about me. I quickly looked to the sky. The stars smiled and laughed. The fire grew. He knew everything because he was everything. Brocker and Cordin. My rock. My everything.

Don't forget to follow Maryn Hillman on:
& Facebook (coming soon)

While I'm on this whole book review subject...
I just finished reading my cousin's book,
"A Memory Apart"
& will have a review of that up soon!
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Braided Chicken Roll

I remember having this simple yet tasty meal while growing up.
This year we turned it into a mummy & had it as our Halloween dinner
just by adding a couple olive slices for eyes.
Pretty spooky, huh?
Alright, so it's not that spooky.
But it is delicious.

2 cans crescent rolls
2 cans cooked chicken (or 2 large chicken breasts, shredded)
1/2 cup mayo
1 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup grated cheese
Sliced olives (optional - I usually leave them out since Hubby doesn't like olives, but I'll occasionally put them in my half)

Drain chicken, then shred it in a large mixing bowl. Mix mayo, dill weed, & salt with chicken until well combined. Add grated cheese & olives, and stir until completely coated. Unroll crescent roll dough & arrange flat on a cookie sheet. Pinch perforations together until it is one large, flat piece of dough. Cut inch-wide slits in the dough towards the center across the length of the sheet forming a fringe on 2 sides. Leave a solid 3-4" strip in the middle for the chicken mixture. Spread chicken mixture evenly onto the solid section. Fold the strips over the chicken mixture, alternating strips from each side and pinch to seal. Sprinkle with cheese if desired. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown & no longer doughy.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sponsors & Ad Spaces?

So I've been toying with this crazy idea for a while now...
I'm thinking about possibly adding a sponsors section to my sidebar.
My blog is only a little over a year old.
Am I crazy?

I've always wanted to actually make money blogging,
but income with AdSense is reeeally slow
& MyRecipeMagic has only paid me once
although I thought they would send it to my PayPal monthly.
I'm not trying to say that those options don't work,
I'm just saying that they haven't benefited me all that much.

Again, am I crazy for wanting to add sponsors on this lil' blog?
Where should I start if I decide to take that route?
Has anyone had any luck with Passionfruit?
What ad space sizes would you like to see?
How many ad spaces should I offer?
What should pricing be for each size since I'm just starting out with it?
How many of you wonderful readers out there would actually want to be a sponsor?
Any experienced bloggers out there have any input for me?

Email me at
lifeisfantasmic {at} hotmail {dot} com
if you're interested in becoming a sponsor
or if you have any advice...
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween Dinner 2013

So remember that Halloween post
where I explained that Halloween didn't feel like Halloween this year?

On Friday we had our Halloween dinner.
A day late.
Trying to keep that tradition alive.
It was tasty, but even this dinner didn't seem very Halloween-like.
We didn't get out the Halloween tablecloth.
We didn't use our Halloween plates.
We didn't even clear off the table.
We just enjoyed our slightly Halloween themed dinner.
But hey, the tradition happened, right?
Here's what we ate:

Mummy Braided Chicken Roll

It's a favorite around here.

Bloody Jello Jigglers

I was going to do my usual orange & grape Halloween jigglers.
However, I had no grape & only had one 3 oz package of orange.
What we did have was an abundance of red jello flavors.
So I went with cranberry & made 'bloody' jigglers.
The bloody spatter/streaks on the plate were made from the thin layer of jello
that spilled over in the jello mold while transferring it to the fridge.

Goblin Eyes

Green grapes.

That's it.
That's all we had.
Again, nothing super fancy.
No decorations or whatnot.
It was an enjoyable family dinner tradition
& I didn't have to put a whole lot of extra thought into it.

If you haven't seen our Nightmare Before Christmas Halloween dinner from last year,
you should definitely check it out!
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Sunday, November 3, 2013

MOPS: Children & Discipline

This past Thursday {Halloween} at MOPS we had an amazing speaker!
Her topic was 'Children & Discipline'.

Now just bear with me for a second.
I know that discipline is one of those topics that people would much rather avoid.
Our speaker knew that as well.
I think she phrased it something like this...
"Discipline is one of those taboo topics like finances or intimacy.
People want to discreetly talk about them & get tips or suggestions,
but they tend to reject or ignore any help that is offered to them on those topics.
We as a society often have a hard time seeing & accepting other people's point of view on things
when those views differ so greatly from our own."

She didn't talk about what's right or what's wrong when it comes to discipline.
Whether spanking is okay or not.
Whether the cry-it-out method is right or wrong.
Whether or not it's acceptable to raise your voice.
If or how long you should put your children in time out.
What should happen if they don't try their food.
Which things to enforce, which things to let slide.
She didn't touch any of that.

I'm an overall passive person.
I'm working on being a little more assertive,
but I tend to not discipline as much as I probably should.
I'm not saying I want to be a Nazi mom or abusive by any means.
What typically happens is that I attempt to correct the misbehavior by asking politely,
then when they don't listen time & time again I get frustrated & upset,
& in my frustration I sometimes give up & let things slide.
I'm human.
We try that time out thing.
I raise my voice from time to time.
There are moments when I cry from exhaustion & frustration.
Parenting can sometimes be tough,
I hear that's normal.
However, I love my kids dearly.
I want them to grow up & to be happy.
I want them to be kind & to love others.
I want them to be great parents someday.
I want them to walk in the light.
So it is my duty as a parent to teach them.
To teach them right from wrong.
To help them learn & grow.
To support them in their righteous endeavors.
To love them unconditionally, no matter what.

Anywho, back to MOPS...
I laughed.
I cried.
It brought me clarity.
It brought me comfort.
It was just the reminder I needed.
I got so much out of what she had to say,
& hope that you'll get something good out of the notes I took.

Here are my notes:
If your children don't seem to be listening to what you are telling them,
chances are that they understand you but are misbehaving for some unknown reason.
Dig beneath the surface to figure out why your children may be acting out.
There is always an underlying reason that you may or may not be aware of.
(ex: attention, trauma, illness, etc...)

Anger & frustration are the easy alternatives to patience & understanding.
If we can be patient in figuring out what is causing the misbehavior,
we may be able to help our children overcome whatever is troubling them.

You have to be a student of your child.

"There is no correlation between a well-behaved child and a good parent."
- Heather Forbes

To discipline your child, is to disciple your child.
In other words, we discipline so that we can make disciples.

We're not raising children, we're raising adults.

If we're only disciplining them so that we can get what we want,
we aren't disciplining for the right reasons
& perhaps aren't loving them the way we should.

Stay curious about your kids.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our children
is to teach them to ask for forgiveness
rather than just say 'sorry'.
I'll have to work on that.
Little Dudeman has a scripted sorry.
He says this EVERY time I ask him to apologize to someone:
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I was just playing."
He changes the words 'hurt' & 'playing' depending on what he did.
I have no idea where he picked it up.
It's completely adorable the first few times you hear it,
but it sounds so scripted that I never know if he is actually sorry.

Kids don't listen with their eyes, they listen with their ears.
Ask if they can make eye contact with you,
but don't force them if they say no.
They will still hear you.

When we discipline our children we're teaching them two things:
1. They are not the center of the universe.
2. They are deeply loved & there's a spot for them in your home, but they aren't running the show.

It's hard to find love for God in kid-centered homes,
but it's easy to find love for children in God-centered homes.

Anger is often about shame.
When you are angry with your child,
you're likely ashamed of their behavior.

We reflect on our own lives & try to protect our children from making the same mistakes;
but we are the people we are, because of the trials we've overcome.
We come closer to God by overcoming trials.

4 steps to teaching children:
1. I do it, you watch me.
2. I do it, you help me.
3. You do it, I'll help you.
4. You do it, I'll watch you.
Don't skip steps.

Hebrews 12:5-11
Those scriptures talk about how the Lord chastens those whom He loves.
He does this with love because He does in fact love us, & He wants us to succeed.

In summary, what I learned:
It's okay to discipline your children.
Just make sure you are manifesting God's love when doing so.
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Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013

How was your Halloween?
Ours was windy & rainy all day long...

Because we've had such a crazy month:
I didn't get out any decorations,
we didn't carve/paint pumpkins,
we hadn't had our traditional Halloween dinner,
we hadn't watched The Nightmare Before Christmas,
(or any Halloween movies for that matter)
we hadn't enjoyed caramel apples,
(even though we picked 1/2 bushel at a local orchard)
& I didn't have candy until the day before.
It just didn't feel like Halloween.

So when it came time to make lunch for the kidlets,
I decided to pull off an impromptu Halloween muffin tin meal.
This is what happens when I don't plan ahead of time...

We watched The Nightmare Before Christmas while eating pumpkin shaped cheese, ghost shaped pb&j, apple slices, a banana ghost, a pumpkin orange with an apple stem, & of course caramel sauce to dip the apples in.

Simple, cute, & mostly fruit.
Not quite as 'themey' as my usual,
but I like how it turned out.

After the first couple handfuls of trick-or-treaters came by,
I finally pulled out our Halloween bin to decide on costumes.
I wasn't sure how well the paint on the Calvin & Hobbes costumes would handle the rain
(it might have been fine, but we didn't want to take the chance that it might run)
so we decided to take the simple route
& go as student witches & wizards.

Yes, I understand that our school uniforms are not up to Hogwarts standards.
We're working on adding to them little by little,
& eventually will have our complete uniforms.
We received plenty of compliments on them "as-is" last night,
but that was probably because of those adorable red-heads that were wearing them.

We lost a wand while we were out & about,
so today we're going to retrace our steps to try & find it.
If we can't find it while we're on our walk,
We may have to make a trip to Ollivanders in the near future for another one.

Tonight we're going to have our {belated} Halloween dinner,
then make caramel apples.
We're going to nix decorating pumpkins this year,
but I think that will be okay.
Don't you?

Oh, & if you missed my Harry Potter party posts last month:
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
Check 'em out!
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween costume 2013 - Possibilities

Halloween really sneaked up on us this year.
I'm sure that's partly because we're still trying to get settled,
but mostly because Gram passed away a couple weeks ago.
I can't believe it's already been two weeks
We've had a lot going on with the funeral & everything...

Since Halloween is only one day away at this point,
instead of creating/finishing our Wreck it Ralph costumes last second
I think we'll be taking the easy route
& wearing repeat costumes this year.
That's okay, right?
I'm thinking yes.
Nobody in our new area has seen us wear these costumes before!

We probably won't decide until tomorrow,
but here are some of our easy options...

Chances are that Hubby & Little Dudeman will be going as Calvin & Hobbes again.

Little Princess will either be rockin' the Perry the Platypus costume,

the butterfly fairy costume,

or she may go as a little witch from Hogwarts.

I'll be Isabella again if Little princess is Perry the Platypus.

I never finished making my caterpillar costume to go with her butterfly one,
but I can always throw on a muumuu & lei like last year
or just find something in our costumes bin.

We may ALL go as witches & wizards.
Fresh from Hogwarts.

It will be a surprise.
Don't worry, I'll post pictures of what we actually end up wearing.

On a complete side note...
Keep your eyes out for my review of K5 Learning.
Coming soon.
K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students.  I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program.  If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their  open invitation to write an online learning review of their program. - See more at:
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Sunday, October 27, 2013


If you read my 'life is fragile' post a couple weeks ago,
then you already know why I haven't been keeping up with my 31 days of posts.
Sorry, not sorry.
Maybe I'll try again next month.
We shall see.

A lot has happened since that post.
Hubby spent almost all of his time (day & night) at the hospital by her side
& could tell that his mom was in a LOT of pain.
Although she has had to endure quite a bit of pain over the past 20 years
with her various health problems & surgeries,
there was something different about seeing her in this pain.

They were able to take the ventilator out on Saturday,
which I'm sure helped her feel a little more comfortable
but she still wasn't able to talk much.
When she did try to speak,
it usually didn't make much sense
& it wasn't very easy to understand what she was saying.
Most of the time it was nonsense,
but other times she made perfect sense.

One special time in-particular she said she wanted to go for a walk.
Hubby explained to her that she was in the hospital & was in no condition to go on a walk.
To this she replied that she wanted to walk with her Dad.
Her Dad passed away many years ago,
so Hubby asked her if she saw him.
She said yes.
We believe her.
After all, she was gone for at least 15 minutes.
We wish we could have asked her more about her experience,
but she wasn't exactly in any condition to have lengthy conversations.

The kidlets weren't allowed to visit in the ICU
so I stayed home with them.
Later that night,
a close family friend (that wonderful realtor)
came to visit her in the hospital.
That was the last lucid conversation she had.
Gram clearly expressed to her friend & to Hubby that she was dying.
She asked him if he would be okay.
I'm sure that was probably the hardest question that he's ever been asked.

Some wonderful friends from church were able to watch our kids on Sunday,
so I was able to be with Hubby at the hospital & see her for the first time.
I guess she had a rough night with a lot of pain
because when I got there she had an oxygen mask on & wasn't doing well.
Whenever she was awake,
we were able to talk to her
& let her know how much we loved her.
We weren't able to understand her at all with the mask on
but she was able to shake her head yes or no letting us know she understood us,
& she would occasionally get teary-eyed while we were talking with her.
Those moments were bittersweet.
A couple more of her friends drove all the way from Nashville to see her that evening.
They hadn't really kept in touch over the past few years,
but they had always been like second family to Hubby
so it was great seeing them.

Hubby came home to get some rest that night since he was getting sick.
He already had a scratchy/sore throat,
but stress & sleep deprivation were easily making it worse.
After a decent night of sleep,
he got a call from a doctor at the hospital early Monday morning.
The doctor basically said that Gram had another difficult night.
She wasn't responding well neurologically & continued to have arrhythmia.
The doctor said they could implant a defibrillator to 'kickstart her heart'
to prevent cardiac arrest from ventricular tachycardia,
but didn't think that she'd be able to physically handle surgery at this point
(nor would she want another surgery).
The only other option was to just make her comfortable.

This was probably one of the hardest decisions Hubby has ever had to make.
Gram had a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order
but removed it ten-or-so years ago
when she had asked him about his opinion on the matter.
He had always said that he would want the doctors to try to keep her alive...
No matter what.
But his perspective changed after seeing her in such intense pain.
Knowing that if they were to somehow keep her stable,
she would never get her independence back
& would never be her normal self again.
She would be just that...
We knew she wouldn't want that.
She has never wanted that.
She never wanted Hubby or anyone to have to see her like that.
She never wanted anyone to have to take care of her basic needs.
She never wanted her grandchildren to remember her in a nursing home.
She has had to put up with so much pain for such a long time,
trying to be strong for Hubby,
trying to tough it out so that she could play with our kids,
& trying to just make it through each day.
We could tell that things were different now though.
She didn't have much fight left in her.
So we told the doctor to send her to hospice & make her comfortable.
Then we held each other & cried together.

The hospice staff was wonderful.
They said that sometimes (although not often)
patients actually improve in hospice
since they are comfortable,
they aren't restrained,
& aren't attached to all the monitors.
This wasn't the case for Gram,
although we could tell that she was comfortable.
Ever since they moved her down there,
she was resting & relaxed.
We brought some of her favorite blues cds...
B.B. King
Buddy Guy
& some others
so that she could enjoy some good music
while we were there holding her hand
& keeping her company.

She spent most of Tuesday & Wednesday sleeping,
but something special happened Tuesday night.
Our bishop from church came to visit,
& after talking with him for a while
Hubby & the bishop laid their hands on her head
then Hubby gave her a priesthood blessing.
The room was filled with peace, comfort, & love.
It was incredible.
Shortly after our bishop left,
the nurses came to re-position her.
She opened her eyes for the first time in two days.
Hubby & I got to talk with her one last time while she was awake.
We were able to explain to her that we would be okay.
That it was okay for her to go when she was ready.
That she didn't have to be in pain any longer.
That she would never be forgotten.
That we love her.
That her family & friends love her.
That people that didn't even know her love her.
That people she had disagreements or arguments with in the past love her.
That everyone was praying for her & for our family.
We talked to her for 20-30 minutes.
She would occasionally shake her head,
shed a few tears,
nod her head,
& finally went back to sleep.

The kidlets got to see Gram one last time on Wednesday,
(they were allowed to visit in hospice)
although we didn't explain much to them at that point other than that she was sleeping.
Early that evening Hubby went home to shower.
While he was gone I noticed her fever had gone away,
her hands & feet were beginning to get cold,
& her breathing was different.
When he came back we headed to the cafeteria to eat dinner,
then headed back up to the room.
We noticed the cd had restarted so we switched it out with the Great Blues Masters cd.
Her realtor friend was on her way back to visit again
so I figured I would stick around until after she left just in case I needed to watch her son.
Hubby was laying on the recliner next to the bed & was holding her hand.
I was getting cozy on the couch-bed.
We were exhausted.
After about 40 minutes of sweet blues music in the background
we each got really relaxed,
& started to doze off...
We weren't out very long,
maybe 5-10 minutes.
It's hard to say exactly how much time had passed when Hubby woke up,
but he knew instantly that she was gone.
Her breathing had stopped.
All was quiet except for the music.
Everything was still & peaceful.
He woke me up so I could get the nurse.

Gram passed away on Wednesday, October 16th at 10:20pm
at exactly the right moment.
She wanted us there with her when it happened
but was thinking of Hubby rather than herself...
She waited until I was there at the hospital
so that I could be there for him,
& waited until a moment when we were both asleep
so that neither of us would have to see or hear her final breath.
Again, bittersweet.

We held each other & shed a few tears,
but we didn't linger too long.
Although we are sad that she is no longer physically with us,
she is so much happier where she is now
& is not living in constant pain anymore.
Knowing all of that
& having the knowledge that we will get to see her again someday
has made the grieving process much easier.
We are so grateful for that.

Since this post is already lengthy & overdue,
I'll post about the funeral & the wonderful help that we have received later.
Thanks so much for all your kind thoughts & prayers.
You all are wonderful.
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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mommy School (2013-2014)

Mommy School has been a little delayed this year.
I'm not exactly sure if or when I'll get into a normal routine,
but this is what I would like to focus on...

Little Dudeman:

  • Fine motor skills (focusing mostly on scissors since he knows how to write all of his letters pretty well)
  • Tricky reading rules (he knows how to read things phonetically as long as those silly English rules don't apply)
  • Math (simple addition & subtraction)
  • Spanish ABCs & basic words (he needs the challenge since he can say it in English forwards & backwards)
  • Potty training (I would love to not be buying diapers all the time)
  • Drinking in actual cups (he gave up when he was younger because he doesn't like things spilling on him)

Little Princess:

  • ABCs (she has bits of it memorized, but not the whole thing in order)
  • 1-10 (shouldn't be terribly hard)
  • shapes & colors (I think she knows her colors pretty well; but the shapes, not so much...)
  • Potty training (two kids potentially out of diapers... a girl can dream, right?)
  • Drinking in actual cups (seriously, real cups are so much easier to clean than sippy cups)
I've been teaching them a little here & a little there,
but just haven't gotten into a routine yet.
But realistically, parenting is all about the spontaneous teaching moments.
Often times that's when we (parents & children alike) learn the most.
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Friday, October 11, 2013

Life is fragile.

I knew that I wouldn't be able to write a post
every. single. day.
for the entire month...
It was inevitable that I would miss a day & have to play catch up or skip it altogether.
I figured when that happened that I would be super busy running errands,
that the kids would be a little bit more of a handful that day,
that I would be sick or exhausted,
or that I wouldn't have anything to blog about.

But the reason for me not blogging yesterday
was because of something that I didn't see coming.
Something we were completely unprepared for.
Something that was out of our hands.

Hubby's mom (Gram) has been in the hospital all week for severe abdominal pain.
They still don't know what the cause is,
& they can't exactly do any tests right now...
Her medical history is quite complicated & I am not going to try to explain it.
Long story short,
her heart stopped yesterday.
It was stopped for approximately 15 minutes...

It is a complete blessing that Hubby was on the phone with her when it happened
because if he hadn't called the nurse's station immediately after,
they may not have found out until it was far too late.

She's stable but sedated,
& they're using a ventilator to help her breathe.
We're really hoping that she'll pull through this
but we know that there's a possibility she won't.

There are so many thoughts that have been racing through my head:
Is she going to make it?
Have I been a good enough daughter-in-law?
Have I been kind enough?
What would I have done differently if I had known that her heart was going to stop yesterday?
How do we tell the kids if for some reason she doesn't make it?
If she pulls through, how much more time will we actually have with her?
What will we choose to do with the time we still have with her?
among many other questions...

We're trying to stay positive
& have faith that whatever happens is all part of the Lord's plan,
although it's not always easy.

I think far too often we take the gift of life for granted.
We get caught up in our day-to-day lives,
in our work,
in our social media,
in so many unimportant things,
that we forget to take a step back to focus on what's important.
We forget to focus on each other.
We forget to focus on our families & loved ones.
We forget to serve & spend time with them.
We fail to realize that each day could be our last day with them.
We are quick to forget how fragile life really is.
Spend a little extra time with those you love today,
so that you can live without regret tomorrow.

We're grateful that Hubby was on the phone with her when it happened.
We're grateful that the medical staff was able to stabilize her.
We're grateful for all of the thoughts & prayers that are being sent our way,
& for the many people that are reaching out to help in whatever ways that they can.
We're grateful for the knowledge that there is life after death,
& that families can be together forever.

No matter what happens...
we will make the most of what time we do have left
& we'll find comfort in knowing that we will get to see her again someday.
No matter what happens...
know that we love you Gram!

Continue reading here...
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Harry Potter Surprise Party (Part 3)

If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 of our Harry Potter Surprise Party,
I suggest catching up before reading this post...

The next morning we woke up ready for our first day of school at Hogwarts.
We began by being sorted into houses...

We had all taken the Sorting Hat quiz on Pottermore ahead of time to determine which house we were in.
Once we were all sorted,
we headed off to our classes.

I switched over to the role of Professor Marissa to teach our first class.
None other than...

What did you expect?
Snape is my fave (:
I may or may not have a slight character crush on him...
We created a couple of potions from the Potions Student Handbook
that we found from the potions class post over at Mrs. Nespy's World.
She also has the Master Handbook available for download with additional potions.

Our next class,
Care of Magical Creatures,
was taught in Rubeus "Dad"rid's hut (the gazebo).
He taught from the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
We learned about Kappas, Nundus, & Lethifolds.
I hope to never encounter any of them.

Professor Abby taught us how to do a Patronus Charm
in our Defense Against the Dark Arts class.
We each took turns conjuring our Patronus
while the rest of the class guessed which form each of our Patronus' takes (our favorite animal).
We're now ready to take on all the evils of the wizard world.

Next up on the agenda was our first flying lesson
followed by a quick Quidditch match.
Unfortunately, our lessons were cancelled due to inclement weather
& we all know that you can't play Quidditch if you don't know how to properly use your broom.

It seemed like a great time to head into Hogsmeade (town) for a bite to eat.
So off to Culvers we went for a late lunch / early dinner.
Everything was super tasty as usual
& with our bellies full,
we headed back to Hogwarts
so that we could enjoy the rest of the festivities.

We decided it would probably be best to let things settle before eating cake & drinking Butterbeer.
Sounds like the perfect time for presents (:

After all the card reading & gift giving was over,
we gathered together in the Great Hall
to enjoy birthday cake & Butterbeer
while watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

...and that is the moment Hubby's life completely changed.
That's right.
He-who-disliked-Harry-Potter actually enjoyed it!
Not only did he enjoy it,
but a few days after we came home,
he surprised me with that wonderful news
by saying he wanted to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that evening!
I was completely stunned & overjoyed all at the same time!
I stopped eating to tell McCall of the wonderful news immediately!
I never thought I'd get to watch the Harry Potter movies again,
especially with Hubby (since he reeeally didn't care for it).
We spent the entire rest of the week watching Harry Potter
after he suggested buying the entire boxed set on blu-ray with our Best Buy rewards...
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I had been wanting that forever!!!
I am still slightly in shock that it actually happened & that he got so into it.
We may have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning watching movies a few times.

Sorry... I got a little ahead of myself there,
but we didn't really have much time left to party after watching it anyway
since we had to fly home the next morning.

Overall, we had a quick but fun weekend
and it was great getting to actually surprise McCall!
Happy Birthday Kai
I magma you (:
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Harry Potter Surprise Party (Part 2)

If you missed Part 1 of our Harry Potter Surprise Party,
you should probably catch up before reading this post...

So there we were.
Waiting at the park.
Little Dudeman & Little Princess were wearing their robes.
I was carrying our robes & the glasses.
People were giving us funny looks.
Some people asked if we were going to a wedding.
I have no clue as to where they got that idea.

Since we had plenty of time to kill
I called McCall to wish her a happy birthday
I put my phone on speaker so that we could all sing to her.
After reminding Hubby to remember to act casual,
she didn't even pick up.
So we all sang to her in a message
& then I was about 99% sure that I completely blew the surprise.
After we had sung, I said something crazy like this:
"Happy birthday McCall! I hope you had a great day today. Call me back when you get a chance to tell me all about your how your 18th birthday went & to let me know what fun things you did. I hope you have fun plans this weekend. You'll have to let me know what you're doing to celebrate. Love you! Bye."
I'm terrible at leaving messages.
That's why I don't usually leave them.
That may not have been exactly what I said, but you get the gist of it...
Seriously though.
If we were home, why would I need to know what her plans are?
It didn't sound casual at all.
I should have just stopped at 'how your 18th birthday went'.
She called back shortly after that awkward message.
We talked & she told me about the football game & how her day went
(which I of course already knew)
Then she said she doesn't think they have any big plans
& that she doesn't even know which day they will be celebrating since they haven't really talked about it.
I explained to her that her present was on the way
hoping to give her the idea that we weren't there after all.
What she said next threw my 99% belief that I ruined the surprise
all the way to 100%...
She said something like this:
"Well, I'm hoping that the present is that you guys are flying out. That would be the best present ever."
Completely stunned by what she had said,
it took me a second before I could regain my composure & complete a decent comeback thought.
I replied, "Yeah, that would definitely be cool, but that's not the present."
Not a complete lie.
We did get her a present.
Our being there to give it to her was just an added bonus.
Slightly bummed,
& in my opinion not fully convinced,
she said that's too bad but that she looks forward to opening it when it arrives.
We stayed on the phone for a while & just talked.
When she told me they were leaving Walgreens
I wrapped up the call so that she could go home
& enjoy the first part of her surprise...
the letter.

This is roughly how things went...
I wasn't there so I don't know firsthand, but I can't wait to watch the video (:
They pulled into the driveway & Dad asks if she can get the mail.
She says sure, then heads towards the mailbox.
Dad closes the garage while she's on her way there.
Baffled by him closing the garage door before she came in, she opens the mailbox.
Inside is but one letter.
Her Hogwarts acceptance letter.
She is overjoyed & takes a gazillion pictures before even thinking about heading inside.
Since the garage is closed, she goes through the front door.
What's this?
Brick walls (plastic backdrop) so that she can't go any further into the house,
& Abby standing there waiting to help her get to Diagon Alley.
She taps on the bricks & leads her in.
They visit many different shops while in Diagon Alley.
She gets her various wizarding school supplies, her owl, & her wand.
Mom was filling in for Ollivander that evening & made sure that the right wand found McCall.
They reached another brick wall.
A dead end of sorts.
They didn't realize this at the time,
but it was actually an extremely rare entrance from Diagon Alley into the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts.
They turned around & headed back the way they came only to find that they were at platform 9 ¾.

They ran through the brick & hopped on the Hogwarts Express.
While inside the train (Ford Freestyle) waiting to arrive at Hogwarts,
they ordered sweets from the Honeydukes Express trolley.

There were Toffees, Acid Pops, Sour Jelly Slugs, Chocolate Pretzel Wands, Chocolate Hazelnut Snitches, Cockroach Clusters, Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, & Chocolate Frogs

They had only traveled a few blocks away from where they departed at King's Cross Station,
when they made an unexpected stop at a nearby park to pick up some more passengers...

The second I saw the S.U.Van (Hogwarts Express)
We hid behind the playground,
threw on our robes & glasses,
& we all ran as fast as we could so that the train wouldn't leave without us.
Thankfully McCall didn't notice we were there until we were practically to our train carriage!
After quick hugs & much excitement,
the train departed for Hogsmeade Station.
Upon our arrival at Hogwarts (this time entering through the garage),
I noticed everything really came together while we were at the park.
McCall was given the tour of the school,
& some special guests (church friends) came for a visit.
Once they left, we headed to the Great Hall to enjoy our feast.
She had wanted Poppyseed Chicken, fruit, & salad for her birthday dinner
so we enjoyed that while enjoying each others company.

We had intended on being sorted into houses that evening,
However, the youngest wizard & witch were fast asleep,
we were all quite exhausted,
& it was getting late.
It was agreed that the Sorting Hat would have to wait until morning.
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Harry Potter Surprise Party (Part 1)

A few weeks ago we took a quick little weekend trip
to surprise my sister for her 18th birthday!

We flew out the morning of her birthday
& got to their house around lunchtime.
After eating a quick lunch we laid all the decorations out
so that we could try to figure out where to begin.
Seeing piles of everything there in front of us & knowing that we only had a few hours
to turn the entire house into Hogwarts was a little overwhelming.
So where did we begin?

We turned each of the bedrooms into the four house common rooms by decorating with whatever we could find (misc blankets, tablecloths, curtains, & pillows from thrift shops, and even towels or whatever we could find around the house) that coordinated with the Hogwarts house colors on the beds & throughout each room.
I didn't get pictures of any of the common rooms,
but if for whatever reason you aren't familiar with Harry Potter, here are the house colors:
Scarlet & Gold for Gryffindor
Blue & Bronze for Ravenclaw
Yellow & Black for Hufflepuff
and of course,
Emerald Green & Silver (we also threw in some black) for Slytherin.

We had Hubby watching the kidlets and cutting out potion labels & chocolate frog boxes,
since he knew nothing about Harry Potter & was probably the least excited about the party's theme.
He hadn't read any of the books or seen any of the movies, & had no intentions of ever doing so.
But let's get back to the party set-up.
We'll discuss Hubby's dislike for Harry Potter later...

My other sister Abby came home from school & got right to helping us!
She worked on finishing up the Hogwarts acceptance letter,
which was undoubtedly the most important part of the entire party
for without that letter,
her dreams would not come true.
You see, she had been waiting for this letter her entire life.
Well, ever since she was 11...
It turns out they had sent it with the Weasley's owl Errol
(don't ask me why they sent it with him),
but he lost it along the way.
He flew around trying to find it again
but due to his extremely poor eyesight it took him 7 years.
Better late than never, right?

We did a little rearranging of furniture in the living room & dining room to turn it into the Great Hall,
where we would later have our feast.
My mom bought some house banners online that we hung up along the wall.
We had also intended on hanging floating candles,
but naturally ran out of time.
I guess that's what happens when you attempt to turn an entire house into Hogwarts
with less than enough time to do it.

Keeping her away turned out to be kinda interesting...
She's a senior in high school,
& she doesn't have very many classes that require her to be at school.
She takes a lot of online college courses that are doubling as some of her high school credits as well.
Fridays are one of her short days,
so we had to figure out how to keep her away from the house.
She had been wanting to go to work with Dad for a while,
so we thought she could just hang out with him from lunch on.
They had a lunch date, then went back to his office until he was done with work.
We still needed more time so it worked out perfectly that there was a football game.
My dad dropped her off at the game, then came home to help.
McCall texted Abby asking if she was coming to the game,
& called when she didn't get a response.
We had to be completely silent since she didn't know we were there.
Since keeping the kids quiet was quite the task,
we sent her upstairs with the phone to come up with a reason why she couldn't come.
A little while later,
she called the house saying the game was almost over,
& asked for a ride home.
We were far from ready and tried to think of more ways to stall her.
Then Dad got a text saying something like this:
'Just kidding, it's only the end of 3rd quarter'.
Really, McCall?
Was that mini heart attack necessary?
Did she know something was up?
We knew we didn't have much time left
so we hurried as fast as we could,
Abby planted the acceptance letter in the mailbox,
& we were still running all over the place trying to finish
when she called saying the game really was over this time.

Mom & Abby stayed home to finish getting things ready
while Dad dropped our little family off
with our Harry Potter glasses & robes
at a park only a few blocks away from the house.
We had to wait anxiously & patiently
while Dad headed to the high school to pick up McCall,
then to Walgreens to get a new SD card so that we could record her reaction,
then back home so she could get her acceptance letter
& go to Diagon Alley where she would get her wand, owl, books, & school supplies.
Finally everyone would pile up in the Hogwarts Express to come get us at the park.

So there we waited.
& so shall you...

Part 2
Part 3

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