The last 6 months in a nutshell

First I have to say that Toenails & Testimonies last April was a huge success & we were able to beat last year’s record by several blankets. We donated 26 to Fernside – not bad for a 2 hour block of time. I did finish 2 blankets up after though.

Summer rushed in & rushed out… the temperatures sure didn’t. Fall took forever to come and it’s nice to finally be seeing some fall colors – those most of my backyard is still green.

Anyway, since my last post:

Dot Graduated…. what??? How is this even possible when just a year or two ago she was still a little anklebiter! lol. She is doing all collegy stuff now & working – saving all her funds. She wants to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Go, Dot!! She will start her paper work next Feb or March and soon we’ll have one less in the house. Which seems odd & I often wonder how hard it will be. We are used to having one less of our kids in house and knowing she will be coming home, maybe it won’t be so tough. Then again, I’m sure I’ll cry plenty.

We took a family vacation to Nauvoo!! We loaded up the Tardis (our blue mini-van – the great big van we called the ark finally died) and 4 of our children – Dot had be to responsible and stayed home working. We missed her. A lot. and went camping in July in Illinois. It was hot. Really hot. It was humid. We were cranky. It was wonderful!!! No seriously – it really was. Cranky hotness & all. I love that place. We, of course, were able to see both the Nauvoo pageant & the British pageant. And I watched my kids fall in love with the place, their ancestors & strengthen their testimonies of Jesus Christ and His gospel. The humidity, hotness & bajillions of chigger bites were totally worth it.

Em turned 16 and started going on dates…. that’s really weird too. lol

School started. Soccer started. Marching band started. Golf started. Basically, chaos ensued…..

Robert turned 8 and chose to be baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I finished the hardest 1st draft of a book I have EVER written. A middle grade book based on our daughter, Elizabeth. It will be called Testimonies & Teardrops.

I ran away… but I came back! I started this crazy trip last year & I did it again this year & it was the best! So all by my lonesome I drove across the country & back. I started by driving to Arkansas & saw my Bro & fam, then crashed a night in a hotel in ABQ, New Mexico, then I landed at my cousin’s place in Mesa, AZ. And there I attended the ANWA writer’s conference!! Woohoo!! It is awesome. It is wonderful. I got to hang out with some of my best writer buddies ever & make new writer buddies. I learned stuff and I talked to an agent about my manuscript…. as in I had sent in a query & ten pages previous to the conference and she gave me feedback & it was awesome feedback which ended in her requesting 10 chapters of my book (a YA fantasy fairy tale re-telling of Blue Beard). Squeee!!!!   Then I drove to Utah and visited my sister & a plethora of nieces & nephews, & my bro-in-law & his fam. I hit Colorado next & visited my other sister, my mom & a few less nieces & nephews before going on to Kansas City for ANOTHER writing conference – woohoo again! I spent more time hanging out with amazing writer friends & making more amazing writer friends! And then I drove home. 2 weeks. All me… and this time I didn’t even blow a tire!! (last time was, well, interesting?)

I co-hosted our annual writing retreat in PA again a couple weeks ago & it was amazing. I got editing done & got to hang out with…. you guessed it- more amazing writer friends!

The galavanting is over – my amazing supportive husband is probably sighing with relief. And now we stand here at the end of October getting ready to step into the holidays. Golf ended a while ago. Soccer ended yesterday and marching band is about done. Soon we will revert back to minor chaos. It’s been a crazy six months. A wonderful six months. And everyday I feel so blessed. I have an amazing family. I miss my girl through it all, but I am so grateful I have my other 5 with me. Too soon they will all be grown & gone…. but then come the grandkids 😀 wow. did I just say that? I feel way too young to be talking like that. lol. Where have the years gone?

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Toenails & Testimonies

We have had a long journey since our Lizy passed away and one of the biggest parts of that journey has been finding positive ways to celebrate her & keep her memory alive and a part of our family.

The year after Lizy died, one of the sweet young women in our ward (congegregation) wanted to help us organize a memorial for her. As we tried to decide on what we could do in her memory we thought back to when our son, Jacob, was born – he has a congenital heart defect and had open heart surgery at two weeks old. We received so many wonderful blessings during that experience – one of which was a beautiful fleece baby blanket that had been donated to the hospital. So, to give back we began making fleece baby blankets to donate to the children’s hospital. Lizy loved participating in that. She loved doing what she could to help others – when she was eight or nine she decided to have a lemonade stand and donate all the proceeds to the Children’s Heart Foundation in honor of her heart hero brother – she earned $75 from that little lemonade stand – and the lemonade was only 25 cents a cup, lol.

It seemed appropriate that we make fleece blankets to donate in her memory. Instead of donating them to a hospital though, we donate them to Fernside, a child grief support center. They give them to kids when they go to the one-time summer camp. A special hug and comfort during the hard days. We have been so blessed by the help our family has received at Fernside and this seemed the perfect way to not only give back, but to help other kids who are struggling with loss.

So, this Sunday, on Lizy’s 19th birthday, we are having our annual Toenails and Testimonies. (Why toenails – well – if you scroll back to some posts from around 2012 you will see why – or you can always ask me if you really want to know – but this post is already verging on long as it is).  A chance to remember her, celebrate her and work on something that will bring peace and comfort to others. That’s what she would have done – and I know that’s what she wants us to do. Create happiness.

I miss her every. single. day.

And I am grateful that she is part of our family. Every. single. day.

if you are interested in attending toenails and testimonies and need more information, you may contact me privately.

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A Brief Shining Moment

Today was such a fun day. We started off with a concert at the high school – Dot performed with the jazz band and had her first solo and did AWESOME!!! – and then we headed out to Metamora (a cute little Christmas town in Indiana). Even though there were the usual little reminders and stresses over “look with your eyes, not with your hands” everyone got along and we played games at the park and climbed trees. It was just a wonderful day… which brings me to the main point of this (rather long?) post: While today was a wonderful day without a lot of trouble or drama it was not a normal day.
In fact, it was quite out of the ordinary. I tend to focus on happy positive things – mainly because I think life is better when we accentuate the positive and focus on all the amazing blessings we have. But that can tend to make it appear like we have it together all the time. Someone once told me that we must have so much fun as a family at home and that they could see how much we loved each other. I remember thinking about that morning where there had been multiple arguments and fights. The day before where I had completely lost it with my kids and how up to that one very precise happy moment it kind of felt like a war zone in our home.
So, here is the thing – life is hard. It has its good moments, it’s bad moments, it’s gorgeous moments and it’s phantom-of-the-opera-ugly-scary-face moments. Raising a child with severe ADHD is not easy, pretty or even fun, nor is raising a teenager, pre-teen, grade-school aged, preschool aged, toddler aged, or infant aged child – even when they are as amazing as ours (because despite their and our many faults, they are amazing). At any point you could probably stand outside our house and hear yells and screams – not the happy kind – coming from within our walls – and, I’m rather embarrassed to say – sometimes it’s me. Sometimes I catch myself stuck in pitty mode saying if only… if only Lizy were still here everything would be better – which is hogwash because we would still have the same problems, the same issues, the same horrible, rotten, very bad no good days. And sometimes those days turn into weeks and longer. Oh sure, there are good spots, but sometimes the good spots can be overwhelmed by the bad ones and I have to work really hard to find them.
Sometimes life feels so hard I can hardly breathe and I just want to be done. Sometimes it feels hard and I feel “I can do this!” Sometimes it’s scary and I’m terrified. Sometimes I’m brave. Sometimes it’s stressful and overwhelming. Sometimes I feel like “I’ve got this”. Sometimes I feel lost and utterly alone. Sometimes I feel purposeful. Sometimes I feel like a total failure. Sometimes I feel like a million bucks. I love my children and often feel they are the most amazing people on the planet and sometimes they are terrors and I hide from them because I’m tired of dealing.
This post isn’t meant to be a feel sorry for me post, or wow she’s awesome post… This post is to say we are normal everyday people with ups and downs. Our friends are normal everyday people with ups and downs and even the seemingly perfect and amazing spiritual giants that we strive to emulate are normal everyday people with ups and downs. Sometimes it’s easy to look at someone and say “wow, they are so strong, incredible, inspirational” – what have you, and it’s easy to compare your weak moments with someone’s shining moments. But when it all comes down to it, we’re all mucking our way along in the trenches of everyday life and dealing with challenges in one unglamorous way or another while trying to keep our faces to the light. And because of that, days like today, the rare gem in the pig-sty of life are greatly cherished. And at the end of the day, week, month, year – if you’re really taking tally, the good actually does out-weight the bad.

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Homecoming

Dot’s senior year and Emily’s sophomore year! I didn’t get a picture of the girls together since Dot and her date went out before with a group of friends. Em and her good friend, Chase met a bunch of their friends at the dance 🙂

So first here’s Dot & her date, Jackson, with her group of friends….

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Emily, since she’s not old enough to go on an official date yet, went with her good friend, Chase, and they met up with a bunch of their friends at the dance.

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Neither Dot or Em are girly girls – though Em by far is the more rough and tumble in the pair. It’s quite rare that Em will trade her denim & cammo in for a dress – especially a fancy dress complete with make-up & jewlery! (she’ll do dress or skirts on Sunday but that is about it).

When she came downstairs tonight James exclaime, “Wow! Em, you look like a lady!” and Robert proclaimed, “You beautiful Em!” (I’m sure the boys would have had similar reactions to Dot but I don’t know that they saw her before she left, and she was probably glad since they would have teased her about going on a date as all little brothers do 😀 )

Any way, this next collage sums it all up…

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Nativity

The first peg doll set I painted was a nativity for my husband one year when finances were tight and I was grasping at any idea to do something special for him. Not long ago a friend suggested selling a nativity in my etsy shop along with my chess sets & play sets. I decided to follow her advice and today I completed & listed a nativity set available in three different sizes. Below are some pictures. If you are interested in seeing more feel free to check out my Facebook Page  or my etsy store directly: WoodenPlaytime

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Check out this amazing author & book!!

My very close & amazing friend, Donna Fuller, has published her 2nd book! Her first, Strand of Doubt, is a wonderful, clean romantic suspense & her 2nd, Code Name Scorpion, follows suit. While both are stand alone reads, Code Name Scorpion features a few characters from her first book.  Her characters are engaging and lovable, and I love her use of humor and suspense.

Check out Code Name Scorpion on Amazon!  

When Trevor Willis offers Dani Carpenter her dream job as director of a new camp for children, she is thrilled. Dani intends to keep Trevor, a family friend and confirmed bachelor, at arm’s length. But her heart changes toward him as they team up to protect Ady, the young daughter of a kidnapped scientist. After Trevor testifies against the son of Don Francisco Morales, a major supplier of heroin into the United States, Morales (aka the Scorpion) targets Trevor in a personal vendetta to destroy his reputation and then destroy everyone Trevor loves. With Ady tucked away in a secure location, Dani and Trevor embark on a chase that takes them from the forests of the Pacific Northwest to the jungles of Mexico. They must stop the Scorpion before he strikes again.

Code Name Scorpion

 

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I Tote-ally Made a Tote!

A few days ago I was faced with a dilemma. I had bought fabric to make a pencil roll for my 72 prisma color pencils – but I got to thinking that would be a pretty big roll and maybe I should make a tote that would fit my journaling stuff (and maybe even more!) I thought long & hard and decided to go with a tote.

I didn’t have a pattern but I had a few ideas & a bag I wanted it to be generally patterned after.  I was really worried a number of time that my mathematics would be way off and that the whole thing would be scrapped, but after only having to pick out stitches a couple times, I wound up with a finished product that I actually like!

I went with denim because I had a bunch of it on hand & frogs because…. well because I love frogs! 🙂Collage2

The two front pockets can hold my erasers or other odds & ends. Once it is flipped open there are mini pockets to hold my pencils – all 72 fit! And a nice big pocket that holds my journal, smaller drawing pen/pencil roll, pencils sharpener & whatever else I want/need. On the back is a fold-out pocket (with a secret pocket behind it). When the fold-out pocket is open I have slots to store all of my pens.

Now instead of throwing everything into a bag and having to juggle pencil trays or pencil bags, etc, I have everything all in one easy to see place.

It’s definitely not perfect (I could never sew a totally straight line…. EVER), but I am thrilled with the end result!

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