Things I Wish My Grown Up Self Had Told Me About High School…

Today, my youngest daughter starts high school. 

High school! 

When did my baby….my  last born…my youngest child get this old?!?!?

Natalie as BelleNatalie as Belle from Beauty and the Beast, about age 6 or 7…

I can’t believe she is starting high school today.  It was just yesterday that we brought her home from the hospital,  totally healed from the hole in her heart and ready to go home.  It was just yesterday that she took her first step and spoke her first word (it was “Ashley” by the way…).  Where has the time gone?!?!

So, today she starts high school.  I don’t remember my first day of high school.  It was different for me because I was just walking across a sidewalk to go from junior high to high school.  I lived in a small town and we were all going from 8th grade to 9th grade together.  For me, it was just another year at school.  For her, it will be different.  She is going to a school where there will be 1,499 kids she doesn’t know—strike that out—1,498 kids she won’t know (her cousin will be a Junior at the same high school).  She is an excited bundle of nerves.  She asks me if I think she will make friends.  She asks me if I think people will like her.  So many questions, and so many fears.  What can I tell her as her mom that would help her through this time in her life?!?  Probably nothing.  I wouldn’t have listened to my mother either!  I will, however, share what I wish my grown up self could have told me about high school.

1)  Everyone else is just as scared and insecure as you are.  I can guarantee there isn’t one person starting high school today that doesn’t share the same fears and insecurities!  Each one is worried that no one will like them.  Each one is worried that they won’t make friends.  Just knowing that others are feeling the same way, should make you feel a little better.

2)   Twenty years from now, the nerd boys will be the most successful and best looking; the most popular girls will be overweight; the mean girls will probably still be mean and the most popular, good looking guys will be bald and out of work!!  Life is not about high school.  High school is 4 years out of your life.  It is not the rest of your life!

3)   Be nice.  Being nice goes a long way in life.  Be nice to everyone, not just the people you want to impress.  There will be a lot of kids that no one is nice to, but if you are nice to them, maybe others will follow suite.   Say hi to people.  If someone drops something, help them.

4)  Be yourself.  Who is “yourself”?  Are you a dork?  Then be a dork!  Are you smart?  Then be smart!  Be true to you.  If you try to be someone you aren’t, then you’ll just attract people that aren’t themselves, and you don’t want that.  You want your friends to be real too.  Trust me on this!

5)  Don’t worry about boys!  Don’t worry if that boy you have a crush on doesn’t return the feelings.  Besides, you can’t date until you’re at least 16 anyway, so why worry about it?!?!?

6)  SMILE!  Walk through the halls with a smile on your face.  Smiling is contagious!   And you never know…you may smile at someone that just needs someone to smile at them!  It might make someone’s day.

7)  Have FUN!!  Go to football games, go to dances, make the most out of your high school years!  Make the friends you will have for the rest of your life.

8)  Show the love of God.  I know that you love God, and that the love of God resides inside you.   Show the love of God through your actions.  Going back to number 2, show kindness and love to others.  You don’t need to preach about God…just show His love and people will notice there is something different about you.

Finally, always remember that God and your momma love you!  We’ve got your back.  If you have a bad day, or someone hurts your feelings, or your heart gets broken, God and I are both here for you and love you.  There will be days you don’t feel it, but know that it’s true.

These are the things I wish my grown up self had been able to tell me when I started high school.   Maybe she will read them and take them to heart, maybe she won’t, but even if she doesn’t, I know she will be all right.  Have a wonderful first day of high school, Nat….

Nat's first day of high schoolNatalie, age 14 1/2 on her first day of high school…


Did I Ever Tell You You’re My Hero?

As many of you know by now, Colorado Springs has been hit with another devastating fire.   A year ago, almost to the day, a wildfire came roaring through a couple of the neighborhoods here in Colorado Springs, burning down 364 homes.  The Waldo Canyon Fire was the most devastating fire of Colorado ever.  I wrote about it here.   Well, on Tuesday, June 11th, just two weeks shy of the Waldo Canyon Fire, another fire started in the Northeast part of Colorado Springs.  The Black Forest Fire would take the title of most devastating fire in Colorado ever, after it destroyed over 500 homes and over 14,000 acres of Ponderosa pine trees. Once again, our family was affected by this fire, but this time it was my daughters’ cousin’s home that was destroyed.   My heart is breaking for them as they begin the process of rebuilding the home that they built themselves a few years ago.

The first day of the Black Forest Fire.  The plume of smoke from my front yard

The first day of the Black Forest Fire. The plume of smoke from my front yard

In the midst of all the loss, the anger and the heartbreak, are some men and women that really don’t get the credit that they deserve.  Firefighters came from all over the United States to help contain this fire (and all the other fires happening in our state as I write this!).   These men and women leave their homes, their families and their lives to help serve and protect people that most of them will never even meet.  They have big hearts and it is shown in what they do. 

My daughter babysits for a fireman’s family.  I see how hard it is on the little ones to see Daddy leave for weeks at a time.  I see how hard it is for mommy to take care of two little ones while her husband is out saving the world.  BUT  neither one of them complains.  He loves his job and she is very proud of him.(now the kiddos do cry when Daddy leaves, but that’s justified!)  Every day they sacrifice for people that will never know all that they do.

His wife was telling me one day that sometimes they are out fighting fires like this one for days or weeks, without benefit of showers or doing laundry!  They work for 12-16 hours a day, and then sleep in tents on the ground at night.  Can you imagine?!  I can certainly imagine, and I know that is not what I call living! 

Firefighter's living quartersLiving quarters for the firefighters…

Here in Colorado Springs, during the Waldo Canyon Fire and now the Black Forest Fire, some of the citizens of Colorado Springs have gathered near the command center with signs, goodies and cheering to welcome these brave men and women when they get off of their shifts fighting the fires.  These guys would come out of the field after working for 12-16 hours, and walk around the crowds, posing for pictures and thanking US for being there!  Amazing!   While at the final shift change during the BFF, I was speaking with one of the firemen that was here from Minnesota.  He told us that they had never seen the kind of support from people that they had gotten in Colorado Springs, even though he’s fought fires all over the nation.  Really!??!   That made me sad….and angry.  Sad that these men and women give so much, and receive so little appreciation.  It makes me angry that as a society we are so wrapped up in our own lives that we can’t stop to thank those that make our lives better, and in some instances, save our homes and our possessions.  I know how easy it is to do that.  Since my life was saved by some firemen when I had my gallbladder incident, I’ve been meaning to take some homemade brownies or cookies or something to the firemen that saved my life, but I haven’t made time to do it.  I am ashamed of myself and this was a stark reminder that we need to appreciate those public servants that are there for us in time of need. 

There is something very wrong in this world when we celebrate athletes that beat their girlfriends and cheat on their wives.  Or applaud celebrities that get caught shoplifting or get arrested for possession of cocaine.  When we support these people by attending their concerts, their sporting events and by watching their movies, are we telling them that they are our heroes?!  When did we get so…so…misguided?!   There used to be a time when we revered and looked up to firemen and police officers.  A time when little boys dreamed of growing up to be firefighters and police officers.  Have we become so politically correct now that little boys can no longer dream it because God forbid they pretend they’re carrying a gun or an ax?!?!    I would much rather have a son of mine dream of being a firefighter rather than a basketball player.   Where have our values gone?!

So.  To all of you firefighters across this great country of ours, and particularly to those who helped save our own Black Forest, I say….”Have I ever told you you’re my heroes?”  Well, if I haven’t, I apologize and today I say:


Firefighters from the Black Forest Fire

Firefighters from the Black Forest Fire

I AM One in a Million….

You know all those things doctors have to warn you about before you have a medical procedure—all the things that could go wrong or happen, but only go wrong in about one in every million time?  Well, yep…I was one of those “one in a million”.

My journey into “specialness” started on the night of March 17th.  It was a normal Sunday like every other…we went to church, out to breakfast with my parents and returned home for an afternoon/evening of resting and watching a little “Once Upon a Time”.  After washing my face and brushing my teeth, I settled into my comfy bed for a little reading before going to sleep.  As soon as I laid down, I felt some tightness in my upper abdomen.  The more I laid there, the worse it got.  I figured I just had some bad heartburn (the Reuben for dinner probably didn’t help…) so got up and took some Tums.  The Tums did not help.  The pain got worse and worse, and it did not matter what position I got into, the pain was horrible.  When I started sweating and having problems breathing, I knew something was not right.  I called my sister-in-law, who is a nurse, and asked her what I should do.  She told me that I knew my body and if something didn’t feel right I should probably go to the ER.  My oldest and youngest daughters were already in bed, so I got my middle daughter and told her she would need to take me to the ER.

We arrived at the ER, and since I was having “chest” pains, they took me back immediately.  After about 5 hours undergoing EKG’s, ultrasounds and x-rays, it was determined that my gallbladder would need to come out.  At about 4am, they gave me a prescription for the pain and a phone number for a surgeon with instructions to call him later on and schedule the surgery.  We went home and went to bed.  When I woke up, I was really nauseated and started vomiting.  I vomited most of the day and evening.  Tuesday morning, I woke up with a horrible headache and more vomiting.  I called my mom to see if she could take me to my chiropractor’s office.  I thought I was vomiting because I had a migraine and if I get an adjustment, I usually feel better. The chiropractor took one look at me and said I needed to go to the ER immediately.  He said I was dehydrated very badly.  So, we headed to the ER!

Once they got me into the ER, a surgeon came back and said they were going to admit me to have the gallbladder surgery the next day.  I was admitted and put on IV’s and painkillers.  The next day, my gallbladder came out and they sent me home for my recovery.  All was well for the first couple of days.  I was sore and couldn’t eat much, but that was pretty normal.  By Saturday, I could eat a little more than just broth and jello, so ate some delicious homemade chicken  soup that one of my friends had brought over for us.  The next day, I started to feel some pain again. …the very exact pain I’d had with the gallbladder!  I called the surgeon Sunday night to see if it was normal and of course, since it was the on-call doctor, he couldn’t tell me much because he didn’t know the specifics of my case—here’s the specifics:  I had my gallbladder out and now I’m experiencing the same exact pain–is that normal?!?!  All he could tell me was to call my surgeon’s office the next morning and see him.  Thanks, for your expertise, doc!

The next morning I woke up vomiting once again, and when I saw undigested carrots in the mess, I knew something wasn’t right.  I called my surgeon and my mom, and she came to whisk me off to the doctor’s office.  When we walked in, I told the receptionist that I needed to get to a room asap because I had been vomiting and figured it wouldn’t stop just because I was there.  She told me to have a seat in the waiting area.  I went and sat down, and thankfully, I had the wherewithal to bring a grocery sack along with me, because I once again started to vomit.  That got the receptionist moving!  (I tried to warn her!)  She came rushing out to take me back to a room….  The surgeon came in and said it sounded like I had a gallstone that had escaped and was now stuck in a bile duct.  He asked me if I wanted the name of another surgeon that does the procedures to remove gallstones so I could call him and make an appointment, OR did I want him to admit me to the hospital through the ER so I could have the procedure asap.  Now….I want this over now!!

Once again, we headed over to the ER, where I was assured they were ready for me…wrong!  I had to wait with everyone else, and after they took 3 other people ahead of me, I finally went up to the front desk and told the lady that my doctor had called ahead and said they would be ready for me.   They finally took me back, but only to triage, where they proceeded to sit me in a chair to wait for someone to take my blood.  When a nurse finally noticed that I looked like I was going to pass out, someone finally came to take my blood and escort me back to a room.  After a few more hours, I was finally admitted to the hospital.  Another surgeon came in and said they would do the procedure the next day to remove the stone.

Tuesday morning arrived and I waited most of the day for the procedure.  They finally came and got me and took me down to the operating room.  I said hello to the anesthesiologist, he said he was giving me some good juice and the next thing I know, they are waking me up in the recovery room!  The surgeon came over and said that yes, there was a gallstone, but it was now impacted into the tissue and the more he tried to remove it, the more inflamed the tissue became so they had to quit and would need to try again on Thursday.  What?!?!!

I spent the rest of Tuesday, all day Wednesday and most of the morning on Thursday just waiting in the hospital.  Thursday came and they took me down once more.  I got more happy juice and awakened to find that they had been successful in removing the stone, so I could go home that evening!  Yippee!

I went home Thursday night, and was so glad to be home and have this all behind me.  I woke up Friday morning, but still felt pretty weak.  I took it easy all day, just relaxing and enjoying time with my daughters (who happened to be on Spring Break–awesome Spring Break, right?!!?).  About 9pm, I started getting the familiar pain again!  What the heck?!!?  My gallbladder was gone, the stone had been removed…why was I in so much pain?!?!  As the minutes went on, the pain got worse and worse.  I called the surgeon’s office and was once again told that since they didn’t know my case, they couldn’t really tell me anything.  One of the surgeon’s finally said, that if it got worse after a couple more hours, to go ahead and return to the ER.  I went and laid down, but now my stomach was starting to distend and the pain was worse.  I took a Vicodin, hoping it would make me throw up(I’m allergic to them so they always make me throw up) and maybe I’d get some relief.   As I was laying there, I needed to use the restroom.  I knew I was too weak to make it to the bathroom on my own, so I texted my 18 year old daughter, who was downstairs doing the dishes…“Em come” was all I could text.  I heard her drop a pan and come running up.  She helped me to the bathroom, and stepped outside the door.  The toilet was filled with blood and I became lightheaded.  I knew things were going downhill pretty quickly now, and I also knew that I was not getting out of the bathroom on my own.  I told Em she would have to come help me.  As soon as I stood up, everything went black and I passed out.  Luckily, Em caught me and gently laid me on the ground.  I heard her yell for my youngest daughter to bring her the phone because she needed to call 911.  When she got up to go into the other room, I got up on my hands and knees and started crawling through the bathroom.  I knew the paramedics wouldn’t be able to all get into the bathroom, so thought I’d help them a little.  I was only able to crawl about a foot before I fell back on the floor.  By this time, I could hear my youngest daughter screaming and crying, so I tried to focus on getting her settled down.  I could hear Em on the phone with the 911 operator, and God bless her…she was so cool and calm the whole time.

The paramedics got there and tried to get me stabilized to transport me to the hospital.  They got as much done as they could and then loaded me into the ambulance.  My oldest daughter had arrived home just as they were loading me into the ambulance.  The paramedics told my other two daughters that they needed to stay home.  While en route to the hospital, the paramedic told me they couldn’t get an IV in me so they would need to drill a hole in the top of my tibia bone.  I told him no.  He took my hand, looked me straight in the eye and said “Sweetie, if we don’t do this right now, you WILL die right now.”   He no sooner finished the sentence when I heard the whirring of the drill and felt the most intense, awful pain of my life!  I screamed bloody murder it was SO painful!

We (Ashley and I) arrived at the hospital and the doctors and nurses were rushing around trying to get me stabilized.  They needed to make sure there was no blood in my stomach and needed to evacuate  my stomach contents, so a tube was inserted into my nasal cavity.  This would be the second most painful thing I had done. They needed to get another IV line in my arm but could not find a vein because I had lost so much blood.  While they were doing their stuff, I lost even more blood.   They called in their best guy for finding veins for IV’s and he tried every way possible to get an IV in my arm, but to no avail.  The doctor finally came in and told me they’d need to put in a central line, which means they would be guided by ultrasound to put the IV into my neck/jugular vein!  Eeeck!  Dominic, the guy trying to find a regular vein, kept trying to get a line in, right up until they draped my neck with a sterile sheet and started the ultrasound.  The doctor told him to step back, and the poor guy kept telling me how sorry he was that he couldn’t find a vein!  Thank you, Dominic, for trying so hard!  They finally got the central line and started pushing fluids into my body.  I was sent for x-rays, and CAT scans.  They tried for over 5 hours to get me stabilized enough to send me to the critical care unit.  Finally, around 4:30am, I was stabilized enough to go to the critical care unit.  The doctor had told me that had my daughter not called 911 when she did, I would have died on the bathroom floor!  Pretty scary, huh?!?

Once in the critical care unit, we had to wait for a surgeon to come in so he could take me into the operating room and try to determine where the bleeding was coming from.  Ashley finally called my parents and they came in along with our pastor.  My pastor came into the room and prayed for me.  I felt at peace.  At 6am, they came in and wheeled me down to surgery.  Once again, I got some happy juice and next thing I know, I’m in recovery.    The surgeon said he saw some clotting around my liver so it was possible that when they got the stone, they could have nicked the liver.  However, the CAT scans didn’t show any damage to my liver, so they weren’t really sure what caused the bleeding.  He said they had done all that they could at that hospital, so they would be transferring me to their Main hospital where they could do some more tests.

So, I was loaded into another ambulance, and transferred to the other hospital.  I was once again taken to the critical care unit.  They took me for more CAT scans.  Later in the day, they took me to the Interventional Radiology department where they would put a catheter into my groan and shoot dyes into my vascular system to look for blood leakage.  Once again, they could not find where the bleeding had come from or why it stopped on it’s own!   I was returned to CC unit until Sunday afternoon, when they moved me to the cardiac floor (the cardiac floor because the nurses are used to recovering people that have had an IR procedure done).  I remained in the hospital until Tuesday afternoon, when the doctors could not find anything wrong and I had been stable now for 3 days.  My blood levels had returned to normal, my heart rhythm was normal and I had had two blood transfusions to replace the blood I had lost.  There was nothing more they could do for me because for all intents and purposes, I was totally healthy!

I have been a healthy person all my life.  The only times I had been in the hospital was to have my tonsils removed as a child, and to have my 3 daughters.  I never go to the doctor because I’ve never been sick enough to require one.  At most I might get one cold per year.  Why a perfectly healthy woman can all of a sudden have gallbladder problems and then have everything that could go wrong, go wrong, is beyond me.  I was the one in a million that the doctors have to warn patients about.  I left the hospital with quite a few doctors and nurses scratching their heads because they had no answers.

My daughters were my heroes.  Through the whole 3 weeks, they stepped up and took control.  They cleaned, they cooked, they prayed for me and for each other, they took care of me, they took care of each other.  I am so proud of my daughters.  I am a blessed woman indeed.

I don’t know what caused the initial bleeding, but I know what stopped it.  God stopped it.  I believe in healing.  My daughters believe in healing.  My friends and family believe in healing.  I believe with all my heart that God healed me.  What an awesome God I serve that He saved my life.  He must have something awesome planned for my life!  I can’t wait to see what it is!

If Money Were No Problem…


Peter Pan and my fam!

If only I could work at Disney World…

A former high school classmate of mine has a great blog for grandparents (yes, I’m old enough that I could be a grandparent!) called Grandma’s Briefs , and the other day she wrote a post about the 5 job she would take even if they didn’t pay well.  Her post really got me to thinking—–what top 5 jobs would I take if money weren’t an issue?!?  Come to find out, she and I aren’t too far apart on jobs we’d work!

So, without further adieu, here are the Top 5 Jobs I would take, even if they didn’t pay much:

1)  Photography.  Yes, I admit, I already have this job, and it doesn’t pay that great (not when you count all the hours I spend editing,  learning new techniques, making appointments and marketing…..then add the cost of all the camera equipment, computers, software, lights, etc… No, the pay is not that great!)  I wish I could quit my day job (even as much as I love it) and just shoot pictures!    I would love to travel all over the world and take pictures.  So, yes, I’m cheating a bit….I already do this job.  I would love to work for National Geographic, or Conde Nast, or I would love to be the official White House photographer (just not during this term, though,thank you very much…)

2) Work for Disney.  Once again, I admit that I am a Disney Travel Agent, but I don’t really work for Disney.  I would love to work in one of their creative departments or be a photographer for Disney.  Disney does bring so much joy to everyone and it would be fun to be a part of that joy.      Can you imagine being that person that makes those Disney characters to life?  The ones that create a character–give them a hairstyle, eye color, clothing and personality?  What a job that would be!  Can you imagine how Ollie Johnston felt when he saw those characters come to life?  (He was the one that originally created the drawings of Cinderella, Snow White and few other Disney greats!)  Alas, I cannot draw even the most simple stick person, so while I would love to work in Disney’s creative department, they would not want me….even if I worked for free!

3)  A genealogist.  I love finding out about my family’s history!  NBC used to have a TV show called “Who Do You Think You Are?”  I loved that show!  It featured celebrities that found out their ancestry through .  It’s so interesting to me to find out what your heritage is and where you came from.  My mom is big into the whole ancestry thing.  She spends hours combing through our family tree, trying to find new leaves and branches.  I would love to help people find out where and who they come from.  My mom recently gave me some old pictures, dated way back to 1876–1876!  As I was looking through the images, I noticed that in one of the pictures of my great-great grandfather, he had a HUGE platform shoe on!  Who knew platforms were popular in 1876?!  Apparently he was wearing it because one of his legs was a lot shorter than the other.  My mom said that he was a school teacher and when the kids acted up, they would have to go up to the front of the classroom and sit on the shoe!  You just can’t make this stuff up!  This is history, and it’s my history… Maybe that’s why I have always gravitated to flats, and always hated platform shoes!  Lol…

4)  A Book Reviewer.  I adore reading!  If reading burned calories, I’d be one skinny broad!  I have always been a voracious reader.  When I was a kid, I visited the school library once a week.  Whether it was rolling across the prairie in a covered wagon with Laura Ingalls Wilder, or climbing the alps with Heidi, I loved reading and couldn’t get enough of it.  I don’t have as much time to read now as I used to, but with the advent of Nook and Kindle apps, I can access books when I’m sitting around waiting for an appointment, or just have a few minutes here or there.  As much as I love the Nook and Kindle though, there is still nothing better than holding a real book in your hands.  I love the smell of books, and I love the little whoosh sound the pages make when you turn them.  Yes, I know you can make your kindle “whoosh” but it’s just not the same!   I am a speed reader, and can read 1800 words per minute with 97% comprehension, so I can burn through a book like nobody’s business!

5)  Movie Reviewer.  I am a movie fanatic!  I worked in a movie theater for 7 years (from the age of 14-21).  I saw every movie that was released during that time(I actually watched Stars Wars a total of 112 times at the movie theater!  I think I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark about the same amount–LOVE those movies!).   Although I’m not a big fan of sci-fi (unless it’s the original Star Wars movies) or futuristic genres, I love most of the others and would love to be able to just sit back, relax, eat my popcorn and enjoy movie after movie after movie.   I’m also very honest, so feel I could give an honest critique…perhaps it would even be too honest!   Think about…being able to tell people you watch movies for a living….even if you really couldn’t make a living out of doing it.  (Come to think of it, I do believe Roger Ebert makes a living out of it!)

So, what about you?  What jobs would you do even if they didn’t pay well?

My New Year’s List…

Now that New Year’s Eve is over and done with, it’s time to start planning for the new year.   I don’t ever make “resolutions” because I inevitably fail when I do.  The word “resolution” means a formal expression of opinion or intention made.  I can’t deal with that kind of pressure…lol.  What I do like to do is make a list of things I’m going to try to accomplish.  Maybe that’s kinda wimpy, but, hey, it’s what works best for me. 

Last night, before I went to bed I wrote a Facebook post and one of the people on my Friends list decided to nit-pick me on it.  Then, this morning…another nit-pick on it from the same person.  My post wasn’t a big deal.  It wasn’t anything earth shattering and it definitely wasn’t a life-changer…just a simple observation about my life.  Then this 20-something girl goes on to tell me that I had a problem when people disagree with me….seriously?!?!  Here she had gone on for 4 separate comments, disagreeing with me!   Who does like having people disagree with them?  I don’t know too many people that do, including this girl.   I’ve never removed someone from my friend’s list because they disagreed with me.  Even through the election cycle last year, I never removed a single soul.  Not the people who kept putting up Vote for Obama posts and not the people that disagreed with me about gay marriage, gun control or God.  But for some reason, this post was a defining moment for me.   This made me decide what would be the first thing on my list to do this year—remove people from my “Friends” list that weren’t life-giving for me.  So, first thing this morning, I did just that!  I cleaned out my Friends list.

If you know me, you know that I love a good challenge.  I love a good spar now and again.  What I don’t like is when those spars or challenges become heated.   I love a good political debate, but it usually spins rapidly out of control if you are debating with someone on the other side.  I don’t like that.  I like to be able to speak with someone without it getting heated and out of control.  And no, I don’t like when people disagree with me, but it’s not because I am selfish per se, it’s just because I believe so strongly in what I believe.  I have friends that I can have a debate with and keep it under control.  We might not agree on anything, but I know we can have a civil discussion about it and not have it turn into a big thing

This leads me to the second thing on my list:  Become a life-giving person.

I want to be a life-giving person.  I want my words and my actions to reflect God’s love.  I want to be a person that helps others, not tear them down. I want my words to be a healing salve to someone that is down-trodden, broken-hearted or in despair.  I want the things I write down to be inspiring and challenging, but not in a negative way.  I want people to see Jesus in me. 

Will I fail at it at times?  Yep.  Will I always be able to hold my tongue?  Nope.  I can at least try, though, can’t I?   At least it will be on my list to work on.  

Yes, there will be other things on my list: 

Read through my Bible again this year

Get my home better organized

Go through boxes in my unfinished basement and get rid of some junk!

Learn some new things with my photography

Learn some new computer programs

Make some new recipes

Work hard on making my Disney business a success

Lose some more weight

Spend more time with daughters

And the list goes on and on…It may take me all year long to accomplish my goals.  And I might not even accomplish everything!   I will try and I will succeed in some, and fail in others.  But for now, I can feel a sense of accomplishment and like a burden has been lifted because I can cross the first thing off my list….

How about you?  What are your resolutions or goals for 2013?


Farewell to 2012

It’s December 31st.  The last day of the year.  My most dreaded day of the year, except for perhaps my upcoming birthday! 

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Eve.  I’ve never enjoyed realizing that another year of my life is over and done with, never to be lived again.  Even though I know every day is another day lost, December 31st carries with it such finality.  I will have many more Mondays, or Thursday or Sundays.  I will also have many more Januarys, Aprils  and Decembers.  What I won’t ever have again is a 2012. 

As I look back over 2012, it was a good year for me and my daughters.  We celebrated many milestones in the life of my middle daughter this year.  She got her drivers license, graduated from high school, got her braces off after wearing them for 5 years (!) and she started college!   

We also got to go to Disney World for a week and spent a week in Coronado/San Diego, California.  For people who very rarely go on vacation, it was a wonderful year!

It was also a year of many miracles for us.  Since my ex lost his job over a year and a half ago, I have had to carry the financial burden of raising kids on my own, but I really wasn’t on my own…..God had my back!  Every month, when it was time to pay bills, the money was just there.  I don’t know how, I don’t know where it always came from, but it was THERE!  I do know why, though.  Because God’s Word promises that He will supply all my needs.  God’s Word says that He will take care of me, and He did.  What a wonderful witness for my children to see that God keeps His word even in a world where so many don’t.

It was also a year of many disappointments.  Disappointments in the direction my country is going.  Disappointment that so many people have been deceived and now we will all pay the price.  Disappointment that we can no longer believe anything the press tells us.  Disappointed that our freedoms and liberties are systematically being taken away while so many sit back and watch it happen.  I fear for the future of our great country.  I at least have faith in God, and I know that no matter what happens, God has my back.

I just read my blog post from last new year’s eve, and I shared that I didn’t know what 2012 would hold, but I knew it would hold some scary stuff.  I also wrote that there would be nothing I would go through that God wouldn’t be there for me.  It was so true!  I never experienced the scary stuff I was thinking would happen, and the things I went through, God was there with me every step of the way, just as I predicted.   That shows you that our fears are so unfounded, but God is always faithful!

Just like last year, I do not know what the year 2013 will hold for me.  The only thing I DO know is that God will be with me, and no matter what happens, He will have my back!   I still hate this time of year, but tomorrow is a new day and 2013 is another year.   I believe that 2013 will be a great year for me.  I believe that my businesses will flourish.  I believe that my children will continue to grow in the Lord, and their lives will be happy.  I believe that 2013 will be a good year for us, and I hope it’s a good year for you and yours as well!


Happy New Year!


It’s Christmastime!

Holy Bat-Trees–It’s Christmas!!  Where did this month go?   Does anyone else feel like the days are flying past like an F-16 jet?!  I had all these wonderful ideas for Christmas posts, and here it is December 19th!   And since the world could be ending on Friday, I figured I better get one last post in!  Lol….

Are you ready for the Big Day?  (Christmas, I mean, not the End of the World.)  What things do you still have left to do?  Are you trying new things this year?    Have you taken the time to go look at the lights?  Have you baked all your holiday goodies?  Have you watched some Christmas movies?  (I am on Christmas movie overload!!  It’s a grand overload, though!)  Are you ready for Santa to come sliding down the chimney?  While I have done most of the above, I can honestly say I’m not quite ready…..could I have an extra couple of weeks,please??!??

A friend of mine just posted on Facebook that next year, she is going to start shopping and planning for Christmas in the Summer.  This past week, I started thinking that very same thought.  Why couldn’t I start shopping in July?  Why can’t I make cookie dough and freeze it in October?  Why can’t I make some pretty Christmas decorations during the month of September?  Then it hit me—-I HATE when the stores start selling Christmas decorations in July.  I HATE when stores start playing Christmas music in September.  I HATE when Christmas movies start showing on TV at the first of November.  I don’t think I could start early!  (Besides, all the good sales start in November, on Black Friday -that’s when I got most of my Christmas shopping done this year).  Is it possible for me to get over my bad self and start preparing early???  Is it possible for me to get over my angst about waiting until the drive home from Thanksgiving dinner to start my celebration?!?

What’s so bad about making some cookie dough a few months early to have ready on those nights when I get home from work and I’m just too tired to do another thing?  Or what’s so wrong with picking up a few gifts here and there?  Could I really do it?!    When you get right down to it, it isn’t about the cookies, or the cards, or the gifts….it’s about a tiny babe born so many years ago.  THAT’S what we’re supposed to be celebrating!  Couldn’t we celebrate Him more than 6 weeks out of the year?  I think 2013 will be year of new things for me!  I’m going to make a list of things that need to be done in preparation for Christmas next year, and I’m going to figure out a way to complete some of them before the day after Thanksgiving.  Then, I won’t be so stressed, and I can just celebrate JESUS!  How about you?  Are you in?!?

Or maybe the world will end on Friday, and we won’t have to worry about it!!

My Homemade Country Decorations!


As promised, today I am sharing how I made some of the cute homemade decorations I made for the tree at my office.  These were so easy to make, and under $20 to make enough for a 6 foot tree!

First of all, I paid a visit to my local Dollar Store.  So many people stick their nose up to the Dollar Store, but there is a wealth of neat stuff there…and it only costs a dollar!!  I found some plastic candy canes—6 of them for a dollar! Score!   Then I found a pack of 9 gold jingle bells.  I was trying to find smaller jingle bells in a larger pack, but at my Dollar Store, the 9 pack was all they had.  I was actually much happier with the 9 pack of larger bells.

Next I went to the local fabric store…(well, actually, I went down into the the abyss at my house that is my unfinished basement and found some homespun fabric in red and green), but I would have gone to the local fabric store to get some fabric if I hadn’t had it at home!  Homespun fabric is woven in a way that is similar to how prairie women would weave the fabric they used to make clothes.  That’s why they call it “homespun”.  It has tiny imperfections and have no front or back side to the fabric.  It is usually found in a plaid or checked pattern.  I adore homespun fabric!  It just seems homey to me!  I knew had some homespun fabric at home because I use it to make country or prairie clothing for American Girl dolls.  You can usually find it for around $6.99 a yard, but I always try to buy it when it’s on sale  (do you remember me saying I’m cheap!??!).  I also grabbed some quilt batting that I had on hand because I use it in the iPad cases I make and sell in my Etsy shop.

To make my little quilted hearts and stars ornaments, I searched for a template for a heart and star.  I printed them out and used them as a pattern.  To make it easier and faster, I laid a piece of the fabric down, then laid down the batting on top of it, and another piece of the fabric on top of those two.  It looked like a little fabric sandwich!  I put the pattern down on it, pinned it down and then cut it out.  I did this with the stars and hearts, using both colors of fabrics.  Then, I used cross stitch thread and very quickly did a running stitch about 1/4th from the edge all around the outside edge of all the little fabric sandwiches.  Once they were quilted, I tore some fabric into little squares and laid a button on top and sewed those down.  I had a bag of assorted buttons that were so very cute and country—they were perfect!   I then added a twine hanger to hang it on the tree.  So. Easy.

Homespun Country ornamentIsn’t this cute?!?!

Web Ornament Storyboard

I can’t stand the cuteness!!

I next moved on to the jingle bells.  I didn’t want shiny jingle bells….I wanted rusted jingle bells, but they were so darn expensive!  It’s one of those mysteries to me…like ripped jeans…why would I spend that kind of money on bells that are rusted?!?  So, I bought the cheap ones at the Dollar Store, threw them in an old Tupperware bowl and poured white vinegar and salt to cover them, and put the cover on the bowl.  I let them sit over the weekend.  When I took the lid off 3 days later, the vinegar had taken some of the finish off the bells—perfect!   I then got some twine and hung two on the twine and tied them at the top to make a hanger.  Then I took a strip of the homespun and tied it around the string.  This is how they turned out…

Antiqued Jingle bellsSee how the finish is kind of spotty on the bells??  Just what I wanted!


And how they look on the tree!

The next ornament I made was the fabric covered candy canes.  I tore some strips of the homespun fabric into about 2 inch strips, dabbed a little hot glue at the end of the plastic candy cane, tucked the end under the strip and just started wrapping the fabric tightly around the cane.

Homespun candy canesAnd this is how they turned out…

Homespun covered candy canesPretty cute, huh??!

The last thing I “made” were pinecone clusters.  The pinecones I got for free, so that was a bonus!  Most people will tell you that you need to bake the cones to kill any critters that are inside them.  I have never done this and have never experienced an infestation (unless that’s how the mice came in…lol).  When I  gather them, I just give them a good shaking out.  To cluster them, I took some floral wire I had laying around, and wound the wire around the bottom of the cone and twisted the ends together.  Then I took 3 at a time and twisted all 3 wires together.  Then I just wired them to branches on the tree.  I also put some pine garland around bulletin boards and put these pinecone clusters onto those as well.  They look SO pretty!

Country Christmas TreeWhen decorating the tree, you start with the grapevine garland first.  It was fairly easy to work with but very messy and a little rough on the hands!  I have scratches all over my hands and arms from putting it on, but it was worth it!  It unwraps very easily. and just winds naturally around the tree.  I used four 15 ft lengths of the grapevine garland.   This was a small tree (6 ft) and I probably could have sufficed with 3 lengths, but I liked how full the garland was so I’d still get four of them.  Once I had the garland where I wanted it on the tree, I started spreading it apart.  It comes on a roll and is tight.  Once you place it, you can spread it apart so it looks kind of “branchy”…love this look!!  After the garland, I added the pinecone clusters, then put up the ornaments.  I probably could have made a few more ornaments, but honestly, my fingers were killing from all the hand sewing and pine clustering!  I did add some red shiny ball ornaments that we had on hand from last year.  I put them on the inside of the tree to catch and reflect the light from the tree lights.  It adds a bit of depth to the tree!  I put about 4 of the clusters of pinecones at the top of the tree, and added 2 bunches of red berry clusters that I had at home.  I just stuck them in the top and let them fall open at the top.  I really liked the looks of it!  To finish it off, I added some burlap fabric we had left over from a bulletin board and just bunched it around the bottom of the tree to cover the base.  I then just tossed a few pinecones over the burlap for a nice finishing touch!  Voila!  My country Christmas tree!  I really want to do this with my Christmas tree at home!

country tree and topper

The tree and the topper.  I loved how the red berries look so festive!


Close up shot of the burlap tree skirt.


Close up of the pinecone clusters.


To tie all the decorations together, I put pine garland around the edges of all the bulletin boards and added some pinecones and plaid ribbon…Doesn’t it look cute?


Another shot of the garland on the bulletin board.  The garland cost me $1 at an after Christmas sale, and the pinecones were free!!  You almost can’t be that!

And that’s how I decorated a Christmas tree for very little money!  What do you think of my “country Christmas”???

Christmas Tree Decorating on the Cheap…

I’m cheap.  There, I said it.  It’s now out there for all to see.  I’m not cheap because I want to be cheap.  I’m cheap because I have to be cheap.  When I was married, my then-husband made OK money but we were in no way rollin’ in the dough.  We lived paycheck to paycheck.  I had to become creative in just about every area of my life:  groceries, decorating, cleaning, dinner, etc…  In some ways, I am glad I had to be creative.  You’d be amazed at what I can make out of a piece of paper, glue and a piece of string!

At my “real” job, I’m in charge of decorating for events such as our monthly staff lunches and for the general decorating in the call center where I am the HR assistant/receptionist.   I work for a ministry, so as you can probably surmise, I don’t have a big budget…actually I don’t even have a medium budget!  I have to make centerpieces for 22 tables plus a long birthday table…for $10!  That’s $10 TOTAL, not $10 per table!  Did I say I can make amazing things with a piece of paper, glue and a piece of string?!?!  Well, it’s true.  I’ve even amazed myself sometimes with some of the centerpieces I’ve come up with!  Like paper pumpkins using only paper and a piece of ribbon.  Of course, no one really recognized them as being pumpkins because the only paper we had that was even close to being orange was a salmon colored paper.  Once I told people what they were, they did that head nod thing where they say something like, “Oh, yes…I see it now…”  When really, they’re thinking, “There is no way that is passing for a pumpkin!”.  Oh, well…

Now, my budget for decorating the call center for Christmas is even less…less as in Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch.   We do have a tree that someone donated (THANK YOU!), but I think it was originally 2 different trees because when it gets put together, the top and bottom have lights, but the middle section is strangely void of anything that resembles a light.  Well, at least we have a tree…. I just add some extra lighting and you can’t even tell the difference.

One other thing you must know is that the ministry that I work for is also a Bible College.  Imagine my distress when I walked over the week before Thanksgiving and saw these amazing decorations being put up.  There were trees everywhere, decorated in a fashion that would make The Broadmoor jealous;  wagon wheels with greenery, lights and pinecones (pine cones??  I never know if it’s one word or two) hanging from the ceiling in all their glory, and over every doorway is a hand-cut aspen branch with pinery, cones, and ribbons cascading down them.  I swear it looks like something out of a magazine.   I bet they have a budget.  And way more than $10….

So I walk back over to my office and look at my mismatched, half-lighted Christmas tree and want to cry.  How will I ever match what is happening over there?!?   I feel the creative juices flowing, and I think there is no way I can even get us in that league let alone match it, so what should I do?  Well, I do what every other red-blooded American woman would do in any such situation:  I open up Pinterest, and click on the “Holiday” section to see if I can get any ideas, when BAM!  it hits me:  I won’t try to match them, I will just do something totally different!  Yea, that’s the ticket!    They are having a Colorado Lodge Christmas, so we will have a Colorado Country Christmas–simple decorations, lots of pinecones (because I happen to have a HUGE bag of them, and there are tons of pine trees in the front of the property that I can just go pick up for free!) and greenery (because I know I have a bunch of those fake pine garlands at home).  But what to do for decorations?!  I know!  I have several yards of homespun fabric in the abyss at home, so I will make some little quilted ornaments.

I gather my supplies (mostly from the abyss at home) and bring them to work last Monday.  For the whole week, in between phone calls and regular work-related stuff, I cut and sewed, and cut and sewed some more.  I “antiqued” some Dollar Store jingle bells to hang on the tree.  I made homespun candy canes using plastic Dollar Store Candy canes and torn strips of homespun fabric.  (Tomorrow I will show you how I made all these fabulous decorations!)   I think I impressed my boss so much that he allowed me to order some grapevine garland that I absolutely needed to make this tree a country tree!   I worked hard all week, just waiting for that grapevine garland to come in so I could decorate the tree when it came in.  It finally arrived on Wednesday afternoon.  I was so excited!  Would this tree turn out as beautiful as I had pictured it in my mind’s eye?  Ya’ know, sometimes you get this image in your head that is so glorious, and when you turn it into reality, it’s, well, let’s say it’s not quite as glorious as you imagined…as a matter of fact it is down right awful!   I kept thinking “what if this turns out sad and pathetic?”.  

Well, the tree turned out even better than I imagined!  It is very simple, and very country.  The grapevine garland just made it.  I am very happy with it, and have gotten a lot of compliments on it.  I wanted to sneak it out the back door and take it home with me.   I took pictures with my cheap point and shoot camera so the pictures aren’t the greatest….trust me when I say it’s MUCH more beautiful in person!  So, the moral of this story is that you don’t need  hundreds of dollars to decorate a beautiful Christmas tree….just some ingenuity, creativity, fabric and scissors! 

Country Christmas TreeMy homemade Country Christmas tree…(I seriously need to get a better point and shoot camera!)  Tune in tomorrow to see how I made the decorations!

Let There Be Thanks…

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the holiday season for me.  As much as I love Christmas movies and music, I usually can’t bring myself to get it all going until after our Thanksgiving meal.  I say this as I have Christmas music playing in the background, and already have watched about 20 or so Christmas movies this year!  I couldn’t help myself.  How could I be at home, knowing that Christmas movies were on TV and not watch them?!?  Sometimes too much is asked of me, my friends!    Anyway….

I am excited that tomorrow I will be able to start celebrating in earnest.  This is my favorite time of the year, and I have lists and lists of things I want to do or make, but know I will never accomplish everything!  I’m ok with that.  If I don’t get everything done or made, there’s always next year! 

Before I start with the Christmas celebrating, I wanted to take the time to just be thankful!  Although it’s been a rough couple of years for me and my family, we do have SO much to be thankful for!  My “rough” is so little compared to others around the world that are starving to death or being persecuted or living in places where rockets are launched 24/7!   No, my friends….I don’t have it really all that rough!   I do, however, want to share my list of things I’m thankful for right now.  Some may seem odd or quirky or just plain stupid in some eyes, but I’m thankful for them nonetheless.   So, as Thanksgiving is upon us, here are the things I’m thankful for (these are in no particular order, just typing as the thoughts come!):

First and foremost, I am thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ,
without whom I would have nothing or be anything! 
He gave His life for a little girl born in Denver, CO so very long ago,
and has walked me through every joy, struggle, tear and victory.

If I have nothing else to be thankful for, this is it!

My children.  My sweet, darling, loud, obnoxious and crazy daughters! 
Everything I do is for them. 
They are the loves of my life and I am so blessed to have them.
They make me laugh, cry, yell and breathe.
They are my life.

My Parents.
They taught me about a Savior that loved me and gave Himself for me.
They raised me to love the Lord, be strong, self-sufficient, and speak my mind (sometimes to their peril!).
They have helped me more than any other people in this life, and sometimes they may not feel they are appreciated, but they are…
More than they will ever know.

My Family.
Grandparents, Great grandparents, brothers, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins and so forth.
We are loud, a little dysfunctional and passionate about things we believe in.
We can fight with the best of them, but we can also love with the best of them.

My job. 
I love working for a place that is making a difference in this fallen world.
I love knowing that every day when I go to work, I am surrounded by people that care about me and others.

My job.
I love being able to capture memories for people of this time in their lives.
I love watching a mom cry when she sees the images I took of their child on the brink of their adult life.
I am thankful that God gave me this talent.

My job.
I am thankful for my job helping people plan their Disney vacations.
I love hearing the excitement in their voices as we plan what they are going to do every day.
I’m thankful that I’m part of this magical time.

I am thankful for a beautiful home.
A home that keeps us safe, and warm, and contains all of my most prized and loved treasures.
I’m thankful that God has provided the money to make the mortgage payment every month!
However, I’m not thankful for the mice that decided they wanted to live in my beautiful home!

I’m thankful for computers, telephones, indoor plumbing and heaters!

I’m thankful for television, radio and internet.

I’m thankful for Chipotle, Jimmy John’s, and Olive Garden

I’m thankful for chocolate.

I’m thankful for rainy days and Mondays because it means I’m alive!

I’m thankful for sight, hearing and the ability to speak.

I’m thankful that I was able to cast a vote for who I wanted as President of the US. (Even if he did lose!)

I’m thankful that I was born in a country that has religious freedoms (at least for now!)

I’m thankful for the US Military, past and present.
I’m thankful for those that gave their very lives so that I could be free. 

I’m thankful for those that are out there now, fighting and defending our freedom.
I’m thankful for their families that sacrifice every day for us.

I’m thankful for those that journeyed across a vast ocean, in search of a place of freedom.
In search of a place where they could worship God in any way they chose.

I’m thankful that I can attend a church of my choosing.

I’m thankful for the church I attend, that speaks truth and life into my heart.

I’m thankful for Christmas movies, as cheesy as they are!

I’m thankful for my friends.  They are the BEST!

I’m thankful for Facebook! 
It has made it possible for me to reconnect with so many friends from my past.
Friends I had lost track of or friends that have moved away.
In the words of Martha Stewart, “It’s a good thing”

I’m thankful for you, my blog followers, as few as you are.  I hope I add a little enjoyment to your life!

There are so many other things to be thankful, but I fear I’d be here all day listing them!  I hope you all take some time to at least think about how much we have to be thankful for.  

I wish you all a very blessed Thanksgiving day!
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
Colossians 3:15