December Daily: 7th

I washed dishes today.

I attempted to scrub the kitchen sink today.

Yes, these are my first baby steps at getting back to my *pre-injury* home routines. Slow and steady.

I got injured in May. This is December. Six and a half months is a long time. Our home was not maintained properly during this time. We focused more on our day-to-day needs rather than the big picture. It didn’t get super horrible but I am definitely not proud of it right now.

Today, I begin the reclamation project – the final phase of recovery.

After lunch, I’ll wash dishes again. I might even scrub the dining table.

One foot in front of the other. Every little bit helps.

We decorated the Christmas Tree last night while listening to the “Seasonal Sounds” music channel on the cable (Music Choice – I think?). They played some great tunes which helped get us in the spirit.

December Daily: 6th

I took only one photo today. The sign outside the door of my orthopedic surgeon’s office as I was leaving for the *VERY LAST TIME*! I will be eleven weeks post-op tomorrow.

Exciting news, Dr. H. discharged me from his care and recommended no more physical therapy, continue exercises at home, gradually increase my lift and carry weight on my own. If it hurts, stop, rest, try again – if it still hurts, do not try again for a couple of days, etc. Common sense. Listen closely to my body. Start resuming the life I was leading *before* the accident.

Basically, I’m free to start living my life again.

Rotator cuff injury – mostly behind me.

Now to start the work of toning ALL of the muscles in my body. It’s amazing how soft and baggy everything gets when you’re parked for several months.

More great news – my cousin and her husband will be having their hearing to finalize their adoption of two siblings next week also!! So excited for Christa and her family, cannot wait to hug and kiss on my two newest cousins!

Need to take the bad with the good – we will be saying our final good-byes to our dear friend, Ken, on Friday morning.


December Daily: 5th

I did not take a single picture today. No real opportunity to. I spent most of the day in the car driving from one errand to another. I was so focused on my goals and what I wanted to accomplish I wasn’t looking for a photo opp.

While “Katie” and Benjamin were at preschool I took a shower, got dressed, and planned out my errands. When they got home I fed them their lunch. PB&J… always.

We got in the van and off we went!

First stop, Gramma Patty’s house to drop off a big tray of brownies to help satisfy the sweet tooth of any of her house guests. I also needed to find out the funeral arrangements as soon as possible.

Next stop, cancelled. Plan change. Proceed with next errand.

Headed to my parents’ home. I needed to raid my mother’s closet. I did not have a stitch of clothing in my closest appropriate for a winter funeral. Borrow skirt from mom. Check.

Visit with Mom and Dad for a while because I can! Didn’t think to get the camera out.

Arrive home in time to get Mary Ann and Nicholas off of the bus, load them into the van, and on the road again. This time just a short local jaunt to the bowling alley to pick up Christopher at the end of bowling practice. Next week, possibly some photos from a bowling match – however, Christopher doesn’t bowl in competition until sometime in January. Maybe a creative shot of the shoe rental or ball racks? It’s good to plan ahead, right?

Arrive home.

Starving. Realize I have not eaten anything all day. YIKES!

Grilled Cheese for dinner. Not in the mood for anything more elaborate.

Homework time.

Get ready for bed.

Good night!


December Daily: December 4th


Just one photo of the Advent Wreath at our church as we go into our second week of preparing for the Lord’s birth. We attended Mass at 8am as we usually do. After that, nothing about this day was ordinary.

We came home following the kids’ religious education classes and began preparing the Christmas Tree for decorating. We did not get very far before Patrick and I needed to get ready for a Christmas Party.

Patrick and I attended our first social event with the bicycling club we joined this past summer. We met a lot of great new people. I met some ladies that ride at a similar pace, so I will be trying to ride with them frequently when the Spring Cycling season starts.

Following the party, Patrick and I opted to head into the city to get some birthday shopping done for Nicholas. I cannot believe my “Middle Man” is turning 6 years old already! We are going to celebrate quietly at home on Saturday with grandparents, cake, and ice cream.

While we were shopping we got some horrible news. A very dear friend of the family passed away suddenly. His wife was at church, Patty is the sweetest grandmother-type lady you could ever meet. She and her husband, Ken, adopted our family about 8 years ago. Most of their children and grandchildren live out of state, so we became their kids and our kids became their grandchildren. We asked Gramma Pat where Grampa Ken was. “He’s under-the-weather.” “Oh, please tell him we missed him and we hope he feels better soon.” Patty arrived home to find Ken had died while she was at church.

We finished our shopping and rushed right over to their home.

“Who is going to harass me? Who is going to put their arm around me in church? What am I going to do now?,” Patty wondered aloud while we were hugging her tight. We offered to sit with her during Mass from now on so she wouldn’t be alone.

We’re all in shock.

My kids are struggling with this loss. If you are a praying person, please pray for the repose of Ken’s soul, ask for the necessary graces from our Lord for Patty and her family and for everyone Ken knew as they go through the difficult process of grieving. Thank you.

I am going to do my best to keep up with my December Daily… just a warning, for this week, it might be a bit low key and a lot of funeral, funeral home, and etc. talk. I promise, no morbid photos.


December Daily: December 3rd

What an amazing day! We had so much fun!

P1040679We started with Breakfast With Santa in a nearby town. The food was delicious. The volunteer staff extremely friendly. Santa was great! He had the children sign their names in his Nice Book. That’s Benjamin putting his marks in Santa’s book – that was after we peeled him away from the food. That little boy can eat! I even got a couple of pictures of Christopher (now 16 years old) with Santa! Not sure how many more times I will be able to convince him to pose with the big man in red.

After breakfast we journeyed into the city to run a couple of errands. Then we hit the road for the next surprise in my Christmas Prep Fun List!

P1040691I decided we should go to the zoo! Yeah, I thought it might be a little crazy at first because after all, who in their right mind goes to the zoo when there is snow on the ground?!?

Well, we went and we nearly had the whole place all to ourselves. The decorations were basic but very nicely done. I talked with a 20+ year staff member and she said they are trying to make the holidays at the zoo bigger and better every year.

P1040705Santa must have followed us to the zoo, because he was the Special Guest Carousel Operator! The kids had a blast and rode the carousel three times. Santa even posed with each child after they picked out their ride. That’s Nicholas on the rabbit.

After pictures with Santa we went to the Animal Stars building. This is where the Animal Ambassadors live. Animal Ambassadors travel to visit schools and do programs. One of the trainers was handling their newest addition – a blue tongued skink. SO COOL!

Christopher talked with the handler for a while and a few of the other zoo staffers. He thinks he might like to get a Leopard Gecko as a pet. Mom & Dad on the other hand aren’t too sure about anything cold blooded with scales.

After the zoo we were all starving, so we ventured to Frankenmuth and found a cute restaurant north of town called DaVinci’s. Great pizza and breadsticks!

Following dinner we decided to brave the crowds and visit Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. I think it must be one of the world’s largest Christmas stores. That place is a mother’s panic attack waiting to happen!! So much stuff that is FRA-GEE-LAY!

Left there, came home… and now… we crash!

Today was a great day! So glad I had the opportunity to create these memories with my children!


December Daily: 2

I have completely goofed up my calendar this week! Thank Goodness It’s FRIDAY!

Plotting a couple of family outings for tomorrow with the whole crew. This is going to be the December to Remember! (I think I just named my album.) We’ll see if the plans come together or not.

I’m about to make myself a second hot cocoa with peppermint mocha creamer for today. Yep, I think these are going to be habit forming and addictive. So yummy!

IMG_1417The Wonder Twins love playing in the snow while they wait for their bus to pick them up for preschool! Not sure what the fascination is with the snow shovel, but they fight over it constantly. One of these days, maybe they will learn to use it properly and my driveway will actually get shoveled properly. With my shoulder still mostly out of commission, it is going to be long winter where shoveling snow is concerned.

I’m desperately trying to find the holiday spirit. Really. I don’t know where it went. Usually the day after Thanksgiving I am ready to bust out the Christmas music and decorations and get the party started. Not so much this year.

IMG_1422I did make an attempt to start the process of decorating for this year. The wreaths are on the front door. French style door means two wreaths. Since they are identical I only photographed one. That photo might actually end up looking really awesome if I can find the right actions in Photoshop. LOL *sigh* That would imply that I’m actually going to process photos and do some scrapbooking. Maybe. Later.


December Daily

If you are anyone who has been a member of the scrapbooking or digital scrapbooking community for very long, I’m certain you have heard of Ali Edwards and her December Daily project. Typically, you make an album ahead of time and work your way through it filling it one or two pages per day for the entire month.

Well, since my December is going to be so blooming busy because of the best most wonderful news we received yesterday… I’ll be keeping track of my Daily’s here on my blog and scrapping them when I have time or when I’m inspired to do so. My goal at this time is just to get the month documented.

December 2011 is going to be a life changing month for our family!

Almost smack middle in the month (on the 12th) we get to go to court to have the adoption of our little girl, “Katie”, finalized! She will officially be a member of our family with our name! We are so excited!

So today, I called our church to set the wheels in motion for her baptism. I overlooked one critical detail – Godparents. *sigh* Patrick and I will need to figure it out by the end of the week.

Our church hall is not available the weekend we are looking at. *sigh* again. I called another potential location for the party, waiting for them to call me back with availability and pricing.

I called our favorite local catering company. Waiting for a call back from them. Might need to use their hall if I don’t here back from the other place.


My favorite beverage for the month of December only to be enjoyed after I have consumed enough water. Hot cocoa with Coffee Mate Peppermint Mocha creamer (and a few mini marshmallows). Yummy!

I plan to enjoy this regularly through the month.

Isn’t that mug gorgeous. It was handmade by someone my husband met in his work travels. It is truly one of a kind. Each and every mug this couple makes, while similar, are absolutely unique. It’s just the perfect size – not too big and not too small!


To begin getting into the holiday spirit, I painted my nails and “Katie’s” with an old glittery polish I found while digging through my polish collection looking for my “winter colors.” “Katie” is so excited to have some sparkles on her nails!

Mary Ann will get her sparkles when she gets home from school.

We’ll be having leftover Lentil & Beef tacos for dinner tonight. So happy to be eating something other than chicken or cheese burgers!

The holiday shopping is mostly finished. That’s a first for the 1st of December. We’re usually scrambling right up until Christmas Eve. Now we just need to tackle Birthday Shopping – Nicholas will be six on the 10th. Mary Ann will be nine on the 21st. PHEW!

I’m absolutely certain this will the best December EVER!


Scrapping Again

Finally feeling well enough, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. to scrap again. Not many people will admit to depression publicly, but I have it. I was being treated for it a while ago, ran out of meds, and went into denial about being better. I was better, for a while. Anyway, I am back on my medication and feeling much better. I saw my doctor today and we decided to try raising the dose for a couple of weeks to see if it makes a difference or if we need to consider adding another drug.

All of that to say, I finally have an interest in scrapbooking again.

Journaling: I have always wanted to go to Cape Canaveral, Florida to see one of the space shuttles blast off. Unfortunately, my dream never got to come true. My children and I watched, mesmerized by the images on the television being broadcast by CNN on this day. The historic final countdown and lift-off of the United States Space Shuttle Program.

I used the following supplies in the above layout: Template: ZineStyle by Scrapping With Liz from The DigiFiles #17; Kit: TroubleMaker by Studio Flergs from The DigiFiles #1(linked to current store offering); Fonts: CK Windsong and Latin Modern Mono Prop


Honestly, I started the page above back in June. I added the journaling today. Sorry, no list of supplies – would be way to hard to attempt tracking down with my stash.

So I took it upon myself to finish up layouts I started months ago.


Again, no clue what supplies I used. Some journaling done in June, finished it up today. Another page completed!

Template: by MandaGirl; Kit: Lovestruck by Melissa Bennett from The DigiFiles #1; Fonts: MTF Jumpin’ Jack and MTF Stampin’ Rachel by Miss Tiina

I have two more layouts in my “unfinished layouts” folder. I’ll be taking a look at those soon to see if they can be salvaged and/or finished.


Another Week

IMG_1236One more week in the big awful ugly uncomfortable sling with the bulky pillow immobilizer thing. Ugh!

I am allowed to take it off for short periods of time with increasing length and frequency… in other words, I’m free to be rid of it at the end of the  in a week only using when needed. YAY!

My stitches came out. Now I have four reddish/purple little scars. Does that scar reducer treatment work? I think it’s called Mederma or something? Anyone?

I get to start physical therapy next week. I’ll call the PT place in the morning to make my appointment. I hope I’ll get the same guy I had before surgery. He was awesome. He really encouraged me to push further.

My oldest is traveling today with his Cross Country Team to a meet in another city almost two hours away. I’ve asked St. Christopher and my son’s Guardian Angel to keep him and the whole team safe. While I wait for a call declaring safe arrival, I’ll attempt to sweep the floor for the first time in a very long time.


Post Surgery Update

Realized today that I have not been back here to update since I had my surgery on 9/21/2011 for my rotator cuff repair. I have my two-week post-op appointment with my surgeon tomorrow morning, so I’ll bring you all more up to speed then.
A new health concern raised it’s ugly head while they were prepping me for surgery. I have not followed up yet. I will write more about this when I do. I will follow-up, I’m just not ready right now (financially, emotionally, or mentally).
Let’s just say paying for the doctor and hospital bills is weighing heavily on our minds and hearts right now.
This past weekend, as hubby and I were about to spend another ton of money on laundry detergent, dish washing liquid, dish washer detergent, and dish washer rinse aid we decided to check out all the cool “recipes” for making this stuff ourselves that I’ve been pinning on Pinterest.
So, on Saturday, we made a batch of The Duggar’s Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent.

Right now, ours is sitting in the big orange bucket we bought at Home Depot waiting to be poured into smaller containers and diluted.
So simple to make!
Next time we make it, it will be even less expensive because we will not need to buy a bucket or something to stir it with. We still have some enough of the Borax and the Super Washing Soda left to make another batch. Next batch we should only need to buy a single bar of the Fels Naptha soap. (less than $3.00 at Kroger)
My frugal husband found several recipes for dishwashing liquid also. So, we did a single batch of that (almost 1/2 gallon). Basically cost us nothing because we had bar soap (free from the hotels Patrick stays at during the workweek) and we had already purchased the Borax and Super Washing Soda, and we had lemon juice, and no-sugar added drink mix packets on hand. We added the homemade dishwashing liquid to the remains of the store bought stuff (which was almost 3/4 gone). If nothing else, it will certainly stretch the time between purchases.
One of the Wonder Twins is well on the way to potty trained knowing how to use the toilet by themselves. I’ll be happy if the other even shows an interest in following… if we could eliminate diapers from the budget ($60-$80/month) I might be able to pay off my doctor bills a bit quicker! The doctors will love to hear that!
Enough of my rambling for now… I’m going to go “shopping” for a new blog background and header for Autumn. So happy the weather is cooler, but not looking forward to winter.


Saving Dinner

What do you know about that?!? While searching the internet looking for “freezer cooking meals”, “once a month cooking”, and “freezer assests”, I remembered purchasing the Saving Dinner Freezer Mega Menu-Mailer from SavingDinner.Com! This was before Leanne Ely changed how her site looked and worked. For those of my readers that are FlyBabies, they know exactly who Leanne Ely, Saving Dinner, and Menu-Mailers are!

I love that the versions of stuff I have spell out exactly what I will need to buy, how to prepare, and exactly how to cook and in what order. I need the guess work taken out of this process for me.

Printing out the pages of the Menu-Mailers that I need. Going to plan the menu and the shopping lists from there.

I did find some great printables for Menu Planning and Freezer Inventory at ListPlanIt.Com (affiliate link used – which means if you join, I make a small amount of $$)

Next up… actually writing out the menu plan and the shopping lists!

Planning Ahead

I’m not usually an organized person. I’m one of those people that flies by the seat of my pants chronically.

I am having rotator cuff surgery on September 21.

Everything indicates that I will be down for the count for a minimum of 2 weeks. I have a very long list of things I need to get lined up.

Trying to get childcare lined up for the day of surgery. This is proving a little trickier than I thought it would be. I’ve got a little time to get it figured out.

Now, the big task… menu planning for the 2-4 weeks post-op that I won’t be doing much of anything. I’m hoping to find some great freezer cooking resources and freezer crock pot menus.

I hope to post here about my progress in planning ahead and during my recovery. If my blog becomes super quiet after September 21, you’ll know that I am just not up to posting.


Book Review: 100 Days to Christmas


I was provided a complimentary copy of the eBook 100 Days to Christmas by Jennifer Tankersley of ListPlanIt.Com for review purposes in exchange for my honest opinion and this blog post.

Let me preface my review by saying that I have followed Ms. Tankersley and her 100 Days to Christmas system since it began in 2008. I might be a bit biased, it is a system that works for me. In my past life, Christmas would be a chaotic frenzy of last minute shopping and wrapping gifts in the car on the way to various celebrations. Between the daily reminders from 100DaysToChristmas.Com and FlyLady Christmas Chaos is kept away.

The contents of the eBook will be very familiar to those that have utilized the 100 Days To Christmas forum in the past. Each page is another day, counting you from 100 days before down to the big day, Christmas Day.

Some of the days are “paperwork” days. Planning your budget, planning menus, etc. Other days are for shopping or other holiday activities.

I need the direction provided. I have three children with birthdays during the 100 Days before Christmas. Two of those children with birthdays in December (my middle child on the 10th of December and my oldest daughter on the 21st of December). Christmas is also immediately followed by a number of birthdays in our extended family and my youngest daughter’s birthday in mid-January.

I customize the plan a little by adding birthday preparation and planning activities. But with the help of 100 Days, it’s so easy to do!

Without the help of Ms. Tankersley and 100 Days to Christmas, I don’t know that I could pull it all off. Click HERE for a sample page.

I believe in the system so much, I became a ListPlanIt Affiliate (affiliate links are used in this post where possible). ListPlanIt has lists, charts, and printables for every possible need in life!

Come join 100 Days To Christmas on Facebook. Follow ListPlanIt on Twitter.

Your sanity during the holidays is worth $4.99, isn’t it??!! Don’t wait, pick this up now. The countdown officially begins on September 16!



Book Review: Healing Autism Naturally

Healing-Autism-Naturally-front-smallBeing some 15+ years into our journey with what we highly suspect to high functioning autism with little more than a diagnosis of PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified),  I had high hopes of finding information in this book that I hadn’t already heard. So I was very eager to offer my services to Ms. Cash as a reviewer.
After reading Healing Autism Naturally by Becky Cash I came to the conclusion I must have had some great teachers, early childhood intervention people, doctors, and others in my corner. If you’re a veteran of this journey, this book will provide you a great overview or review of the tons of information thrown at you from other sources.
I found a few points of particular interest with regard to nutrition. I had the overwhelming feeling that I’d heard that information along the road somewhere but had forgotten it.
However, if you are new to the world of autism and have recently had a child diagnosed or if you even suspect this might be your child’s diagnosis, this book is a great place to start.
While parts of the book seemed like a huge advertisement for one of the many nutritional supplement companies out there, don’t let this discourage you. You can find supplements without the attachment to this company.
Mrs. Cash’s writing style is relaxed and easy to read, like reading letters from a distant friend. By the end of the book, you feel as though you know the Cash Family, at least a little bit. You also come away knowing you are not alone as the parent/s of an autistic child.

***NOTE: I was given a complimentary copy of Healing Autism Naturally by Becky Cash in exchange for this review. This review contains my honest opinion.


County Fair: Day 2-7

Ok, so writing about our experiences as exhibitors at the County Fair each day didn’t happen. I admit, I’m not the most regular blogger, nor am I the most widely read blogger in the blogosphere either. LOL

Day 2: Monday. It was our first day to be benched. This meant almost 10 hours of sitting with the dogs in the dog barn. It went rather well. In the late afternoon the Cloverbuds showed their dogs in Showmanship and Obedience. This means it was Mary Ann’s turn to show Tyra. They did great! Obedience was going well, until Tyra heard her former owner’s voice (yes, she was there). After hearing the voice of her former owner, Tyra had great difficulty focusing on Mary Ann. Lesson learned.

Day 3: Tuesday. We actually did not need to be at the Fairgrounds at all! We went in the early evening to watch the Team and Brace obedience shows. We learned a lot. Mary Ann might be eligible to compete with Colby, Tyra, and/or Cheddar in Brace in a couple of years.

Team: 4 handlers with their dog so 4 people and 4 dogs follow the instructions of the caller/judge at the same time. It gets interesting when you have a dog that gets confused about which person is his/her handler.

Brace: 1 handler with 2 dogs. Handler gets his/her dogs to perform different commands following the instructions of caller/judge. The dogs are tethered together, so they must be of similar size and stature.

Both Teams and Brace for handlers and dogs that work together “off-leash”. In otherwords, very advanced. Not where we are yet.

Day 4: Wednesday. Bench Day & Agility Day. Cloverbuds put their dogs through the agility course before the others. Mary Ann and Tyra did very well. In fact, their run this day was probably the cleanest and best run the two of them have had to date. All Cloverbuds received beautiful ribbons and medals for their participation in the different shows.

Christopher and Colby had one of their best runs also! In fact, their run was so well executed, they got first place in their division! Blue ribbons and a medal were awarded.

Day 5: Thursday. Rally-O Day. Christopher was feeling a bit pessimistic. Unfortunately, Colby urinated before he and Christopher could even start the course. As we learned on Sunday, urinating in the ring means immediate disqualification. No problem. The problem we had with it was the way the judge handled it. I’m hoping she was rude with the kids because she was having a bad day or something.

Day 6: Friday. Bench Day. After being benched on Monday and Wednesday, we were all ready for the week to be over. All in all, everything went well.

Day 7: Saturday. Our only Fair-Free day that week! We did not go to the fairgrounds. We did not talk about the fairgrounds. We spent the day eating popcorn and watching movies.

All of our pictures are on the memory card, which is in the camera, which is in my husband’s car, and my husband is out-of-state on business. So, pictures will follow – eventually.


County Fair: Day One

Yesterday was the first day of our County Fair. My two oldest children, Christopher and Mary Ann, joined 4-H with the Clever Dogs' Club.

Christopher was supposed to show his dog, Colby. Colby and Tyra were both groomed on Wednesday at a place we’ve gone a bunch of times. Wednesday evening was the pre-fair agility event. Colby wears a different collar for this than he does normally. He got a new collar with a metal buckle. So did Tyra. We were planning to use these new collars for the dogs’ bench time at the dog barn, so we left the collars on them to let them get used to them. Saturday afternoon, Colby wasn’t acting like himself. Saturday evening, Christopher was brushing Colby in preparation for Sunday morning’s show when he noticed Colby’s neck was swollen, hot, oozing, red, and very tender to the touch.

We suspect Colby had an allergic reaction to the nickel in the metal of the new buckle. We did some research into potential causes for Colby’s symptoms, it all pointed to “Hot Spots” and Allergic Reactions. Found more information that suggested treating with a small dose of Benedryl. Yep. Benedryl, the exact stuff I take for allergic reactions.

With all of this said, Christopher was unable to show Colby in Sunday’s Obedience Class and Showmanship Class. Collars, leads, etc. were causing Colby too much discomfort.

IMG_1168Christopher went into the Showmanship Ring first sporting a bad attitude and Tyra at the end of the showmanship lead. Once he started walking her around, he relaxed and smiled a little. The judge must have liked what she saw… Christopher and Tyra won 1st Place for Novice Class Showmanship!

This meant our day got a little longer – they were now eligible to compete for Grand Champion and Reserve Champion! Tears of joy for my boy and our 6 year old pup! While they did not win Grand or Reserve Champion, we are still so proud of them. They made it to that Ring! Very seldom, we heard, will a Novice win Grand or Reserve Champion. We suspect it might have something to do with Christopher’s lack of “Courtesy Turns”. We now know for next year! Knowledge is key!

TyraTyra did not do as well for Christopher in the Obedience Pre-Novice Class. They were almost finished with the exercise, they were given their final commands. As Tyra was preparing to sit, she decided she had to eliminate more. Automatic disqualification for elimination in the ring.

Tyra will be showing again today with Mary Ann as her handler. Cloverbud Showmanship and Cloverbud Obedience. Mary Ann is already practicing her “Courtesy Turns” and her winning smile!

Colby is scheduled to go to the veterinarian tomorrow.

CheddarNicholas, my middle child, is already looking forward to joining 4-H with the Clever Dogs’ Club in the near future with our new puppy, Cheddar!

Cheddar was born in April 2011. He joined our family on July 3, 2011. He’s old enough to start training for Obedience and Showmanship, but he has to wait until he is One Year Old to start practicing for Agility.


4-H Pre-Fair

The day was bright, sunny, hot, and humid! Typical end of July weather in Michigan. My two oldest children attended their 4-H Club's Annual Pre-Fair Event on Sunday, July 31, 2011.

The Pre-Fair Event for this 4-H Dog Club is the equivalent of a dance recital dress rehearsal. This is where they test their dogs to find out what areas really need work during the next week before the big dog show at the county fair. (This means, next week I'll be bringing you tons of excitement from the fairgrounds!)

Due to an infection, one of our littles could not be in attendance at the Pre-Fair, so I stayed home with the three youngest while my husband braved the heat and the sun to watch the children do their stuff. He took some great photos for me! :)

Colby needs to work on his stance during showmanship. He caught on amazingly well to obedience and agility!

Tyra needs to work on everything but her showmanship stance! She's leary of the agility equipment. Mary Ann needs to gain some confidence and learn how to "be a pack leader" (as my hero Cesar Millan, would say). She'll learn - she's doing well as a Cloverbud!

I am so proud of both kids and both dogs!



Remember the bike trip in May that I was all excited about? Did I tell you that I fell off of my bicycle? Did I forget to mention that I hurt my elbow and shoulder of my left arm?

Well, if I didn’t mention it before, consider it mentioned as of now.

Last week, my Primary Care Physician finally decided we needed a better look at what was going on in my arm. X-rays were not really telling us anything other than there was no fracture. Off for an MRI, I went.

Fast forward a couple of days… MRI revealed that my rotator cuff is partially torn. No wonder I’m still in pain and have drastically reduced range-of-motion!

Now, I have a referral to a Orthopedic Surgeon. First available appointment is July 19.

I wait.

Typing is a chore. Digital scrapbooking is a nightmare. I spend my time playing CityVille and FrontierVille on Facebook and playing CityVille: Hometown on my iPhone.

Holding anything weighing more than a few ounces in my left hand is out of the question. Changing diapers is impossible to do one handed.

Christopher has been a huge blessing. He’s cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, changing diapers… basically, he has become my left-hand! What I would do without him here, I do not know. I’ll find out in few weeks when he goes to Cross Country Team Camp.


Gift Number 21 of One Thousand

Number 21 on my list of A Thousand Gifts is too big to not have a blog post all it’s own. This “gift” is just that – a pure gift!

The back story -

A couple of months ago, I took our family pet, Colby, to the groomer. He was in desperate need of a professional groomer’s touch! I can groom him well enough, but there is something about the professional touch.

So I took him back to his original groomer, after failed attempts at finding a groomer closer and/or less expensive. The original groomer also happened to be the lady we got him from.

We (my husband and myself) had been talking for a while about adding a second pooch back into the family. When I took Colby to the groomer, I casually asked if she was still active with the local Cocker Spaniel Rescue. She said she still had contacts, but was not active since her knee replacement. To which I mentioned that I was hoping she was active because we were looking to add a another dog to the family. She proceeded to tell me about Tyra, one of her retiring show dogs. Tyra hadn’t been able to be shown for two years because of some mysterious bald patches on her back side. Due to age and the bald patches, Tyra could no longer be shown or be bred. Tyra needed a home, would we be interested?

Would we be intersted??!!??

How much would the adoption/purchase fee be, I asked. To which, Ms. A. replied “Nothing. Just get her spayed.”

That sweetened the deal tremendously! We had been looking at Cocker Spaniel puppies in the newspaper ($200-$600), the pet store (which we know is a total NO! NO!) wanted about $400. We checked with a couple of other rescues that had listings for dogs on Petfinder.com. They wouldn’t adopt to us because we have children under the age of 10!! WHAT?? That’s ridiculous!


Of course we were interested – Tyra is Colby’s full sister! They are from the same litter. The disposition of the dogs from that litter is unmatched!!

So, a few weeks ago, I brought Tyra home for us to “try on”. We had to make sure the dogs were going to get along. We had to make sure that Tyra was going to tolerate being a family dog in a large busy family with toddlers.

She worked out beautifully…

Then she came into season. So I called the groomer/owner/breeder/handler to see if she could board and protect Tyra until the “season” passed. I did not want puppies. It was agreed that I would bring her back and she would finish her season there.

Husband and I went on a bike trip. I got hurt. I spent the last couple of weeks recovering. I still have a ways to go, but I can type some with my left hand now. Progress.

I called on Monday to check on my girl. No answer – left a message.

Owner/breeder/handler/groomer shows dogs, so I wasn’t worried when she didn’t call me back that day or yesterday.

I called again this morning… hoping to catch one of the other groomers in the shop. To my surprise I got Ms. A. herself! YAY!

Could I pick up Tyra this evening?


Got home about an hour ago.

Gift Number 21 of One Thousand…

Home to Stay!

2011-06-08 Tyra Home2Stay

One Thousand Gifts

The author of a blog I stalk follow had a give-away during Lent for the book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. (linked using my Amazon Affiliate link)

I’m a lucky girl, because I won!

This book is life changing. As I read (nope, I’m not done yet), I can feel my heart and soul stirring in a way I have not felt in a very long time. I’ve been struggling for a while to find all that is good, beautiful, and right with the world from the household bunkers of messy laundry, dirty dishes, and the clutter and clatter of 5 children.

Ann has a way with words! Her words, her expression of God’s words, are opening my eyes and my heart to the “little things”. “Little Things” are so important to me right now. They are the corner stones of the lives of two Catholic women I have been studying – Saint Therese of Lisieux and Blessed (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta. I’m still making all of the connections from this book to them to my life and faith as a Catholic Wife and Mother.

So, as a result, I’ve started my list. In the future, I will include photos or scrapbook pages when and where I can.

  1. Able hands in substitution
  2. bouncing giggles of tots
  3. dark chocolate frozen dairy perfection
  4. the unsteady reading of a child’s book
  5. sleeping boys
  6. health and wellness being restored
  7. excited anticipation
  8. willing risers
  9. pig-tails in blonde hair
  10. the smell of SPF 60
  11. the hum and swoosh of a machine working
  12. Three year old “magic”… TA-DA!
  13. Two year old dressing self completely for the first time
  14. Predictable lunch requests from youngest three children
  15. Pineapple. YUM!
  16. Gooey fingers after a cold treat on a hot summer afternoon
  17. Skilled surgeons
  18. Post-surgery telephone call from Dad, “Mom is doing fine.”
  19. Math fact practice in the form of video game
  20. Music in my ears

So you’re probably wondering where “big stuff” is from my list – like my house, my husband, and each of my children… they are all there in that list above, just in a small doses. Remember, I’m trying to appreciate the little things.

I’ll post these lists as often as I am inspired to do so. Not going to make a solid commitment to daily or weekly – it’s summer time and I need to “go with the flow.”


Kid Quotes 002

I'm sensing a very regular posting topic here for the time being. My mother-in-law just posted this conversational gem she overheard today to Facebook. We went to visit Gramma and Poppy after 8 o'clock Mass for an Easter visit. We didn't want to leave town, as the kids wanted to attend the Easter Egg Hunt at our church scheduled for Noon (following the 11 o'clock Mass).

Overheard at mother-in-law's patio door:
Patrick: "Who is it?"
Katie: "It's me!"
Patrick: "Who's me?"
Katie (sounding like she thinks poor Daddy needs help): "Me! It's not you... it's me!" as she walks back down the deck ramp to go play.

Kid Quote 001

I will assume, rather safely, my children will say cute, funny, and off-the-wall things. Today the funny quote belonged to Mary Ann.

While sitting at our dining room table surrounded by all forms of sweet confections she says, "My sweet tooth hurts." Meanwhile, she continued to eat the candy left by the Easter Bunny.


Katilin Has Been FOUND!!

Thank you all so much for spreading the word. Katilin was found last night and she is safe.


*** MISSING *** Katilin Marie Williams *** MISSING ***

I am posting this for a friend of mine from high school. Her step-daughter, Katilin “Katie” “Kaytee Marie” ran away on Friday, April 8, 2011 from Davison, Michigan.

Michigan State Police have issued a BOLO (Be On Look Out) for Katilin. Please contact them if you have seen her. If you see her, especially if outside of Michigan, please contact your local authorities.

The family suspects her friends know her whereabouts but are "protecting" her. They could in fact be putting her in more danger.

Katilin Marie Williams
16 years old – 5’ 5” – 140-150 lbs.
Dark hair – blue eyes – lower lip is pierced. She has two lip rings on each side.

Here are a couple of photos:
Katie – if you happen to see this, you need to call home ASAP. People are worried about you.


Oops! We did it again...

My BFF and the other half of Mitten Mom Designs, Kristie and I signed up for Season 6 of ADSR (Amazing Digi Scrap Race). This will be our third consecutive year participating. We are excited, scared, nervous, anxious, giddy, and optimistic!

It seems there are a lot fewer teams participating this year. Will this mean that our chances of winning the grand prize go up? We sure hope so! (Even though we have no clue what we are competing for.)

Mitten Mom Designs has a blog at http://mittenmomdesigns.blogspot.com Please come by and check out our commentary and our layouts.


Biz Bootcamp

So, I really want to take this class....

If just two people click the above banner and sign up, I can get my class for *free*! :) It's a $40 class for four weeks of instruction on making social media work for you. If you run a small online business, this might be the course for you.

You see, I help a couple of digiscrap designers with their behind the scenes and social media stuff. This class should help me do a better a job for them. I might even expand my services to a couple more designers. I don't make any money. LOL Hubby would love it if I did. I get paid in free digiscrap kits. Maybe, someday, that can change.


365 Slacker Alert

I know. I shouldn’t apologize for not posting my photos more often. I know I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself. I do not do well with a lot of pressure/stress.

Recently found and joined this great new site, Capture Your 365. It is the creation of Katrina Kennedy… and just what I need.

Today, an article by guest blogger Myra Cherchio totally spoke to my heart, my mind, and etc. WOW!

I love that I can capture an image with whatever I can get my hands on: point and shoot, iPhone, or my DSLR. It really doesn’t matter. The point is that I preserved a moment through my eyes. My story. My memory.

I need to eliminate the pressure of the perfect photograph/snapshot/portrait. Let go and just shoot. I’m preserving a moment in my family history. OUR history.

Sometimes I document our days by doing layouts that contain our whole month or week. Most of the time, I choose to focus on a single moment in my layouts. I do not dare attempt to scrap a page a day. I barely get a photo taken every day.

I do need to push myself to get my pictures off of my cameras, memory cards, and phone more often. I’ll work on it.

Don’t expect any huge changes in my blogging habits any time soon.


Wednesday Feels Like Monday

The newsman this morning said it is Wednesday.

The calendar says it is Wednesday.

Why then does it feel like Monday?

Oh… that’s right. No school Monday or Tuesday.

Today is the first day of school for this week. I think the kids are happy to be going back.

Given my intestinal distress and that of the two youngest children, I think it might be a good day to go back to bed. Even feeling under-the-weather these two are a handful and still as curious and energetic as any other day.

Oldest has a band concert tonight. This should be interesting.


Oh Snow You Didn’t! #2 of February 2011

I must have been living in a cave of sorts last week. I had no idea we were supposed to be expecting this snow storm Sunday night into Monday.

The snow fall started around 3 PM Sunday afternoon and continued throughout the night. We woke up to lots of snow and some icy conditions. Due to the observation of Presidents’ Day by our school district there was no school.

Yesterday afternoon, the telephone call from the automated system came. “Due to inclement weather, school is closed for tomorrow Tuesday, February 22, 2011.”


I was really looking forward to somewhat quiet day so I could continue work on our redecorating project.

Painting. Postponed.

I’m taking the walls from “Cattail” (a greenish beige) to “Almond Oil” a creamy light beige. Our new office walls are “Cup of Joe”. I’m trying to find the best way to share color swatches… short of faking them in Photoshop.

Before and After photos coming soon!


Oh Snow You Didn’t! The Blizzard of February 2011

P1040156The weather reports last week were daunting. As yesterday and today drew closer, the reports got more ominous.

Yesterday, my neighbor even called to see if I needed anything from the store. She didn’t want me to take my tots out in the snow. NICE! Since I keep a well stocked kitchen and pantry, we didn’t need anything, or so I thought.

Waking up this morning, I’m wondering how we’re going to get through the next 48 hours with only two gallons of milk. See the above photo – that was taken three hours and three inches of snow ago! (I am writing this at approximately 10:45 AM) Don’t you just love my pajamas and my imitation crocs?!?

The children got very excited last night. School was cancelled before the snow even started. I groaned. I was truly hoping we wouldn’t get everything the weatherman was predicting. Not that I wanted to get up at 5 AM to see if school was open, but I did not want the kids knowing school was cancelled quite so early in the game.

This morning started off normally enough. Then no one left. It all started going downhill from there.

By 10 AM I was ready to send everyone back to bed. Too much arguing.

A few minutes ago I overheard Mary Ann say, “It feels like we’re inside a snow globe.”

My dogs are even acting crazy! You’d think they have never seen snow before. Poor Colby, the snow in the dog lot is as deep as he is tall. I had to shovel some space so he could “take care of business.” First of many times for the next couple of days, I’m sure.

Christopher stuck a ruler in the snow an hour or so ago. 9 1/2 inches. We’re now at 11” and it’s still snowing. HARD.

I’ll share more photos as the day progresses. I’m trying to figure out how to get photos of the four foot drift between by garage and my house – without really going out into it.


11am: Thank heaven for neighbors with plows on their four-wheelers! Ron did an amazing job getting my driveway cleared. You still cannot pay me enough to attempt driving my van on the roads. After lunch, I’ll need to put on some warm things and go clear the snow from the sidewalk. Thank you, R.H.!


2011-01 Round-Up: Thanks, Katie!

For a couple of years now, I have been intrigued by Katie The Scrapbook Lady and her monthly Round-Ups. How can she possibly have time to do this? How will I have the time to do this? Will I remember everything? Oh how I let doubt fill my head!

No More. It stops. NOW!

Decided it was time to get more "organized" about my scrapbooking, or lack thereof. Maybe the Round-Ups will actually lead to more/better scrapbooking?!? We’ll see.

This is my first Round-Up... will think of name that is better suited to my family and myself, eventually. For now, I borrow a lot from Katie! Thanks!

Here are the questions Katie uses:

  1. What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
  2. What movies, television shows, plays, etc. did I watch this month?
  3. What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?
  4. What gifts did I give and/or receive?
  5. What special or unusual purchases did I make?
  6. What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
  7. What were my accomplishments this month?
  8. What were my disappointments this month?
  9. How did I do on my goals for the month? (Or any current short or long term goals)
  10. Anything else noteworthy to include?

Let’s get on with the show!

1. What books and/or magazines did I read this month?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question depends on what you consider a book or a magazine. If you are talking about books and magazines for adult people, none. I read a couple of back issues of High5, an issue of Your Big Backyard, and assisted with the reading of Ranger Rick and National Geographic KIDS. Books? Lots of Clifford and Curious George – these two characters make almost daily appearances in our reading list. I have most of the books memorized. *yawn*

2. What movies, television shows, plays, etc. did I watch this month?

This question is much more interesting! Our family invested in NetFlix on the first of the year. As a result, we watched more movies than average. Ranging from Care Bears to intense dramas.

Titles of Note:

  • Julie & Julia
  • Return To Me

Patrick watched a lot of Comedy Central Presents type shows from NetFlix.

3. What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?

January was actually a fairly quiet month in terms of being social. Our “Katie” had her third set of PE Tubes put into place on January 6. She turned 3 on January 12. We celebrated quietly at home with little fanfare. We’re gearing up for her big party later this year when she is officially “ours” (adoption) and we bring her into our Catholic Christian family officially through the Rite of Baptism.

4. What gifts did I give and/or receive?

A lot of gifts were received by “Katie” this month! Turning 3 was so much fun. She got some fun new clothes and a Disney Princesses book with a keyboard.

5. What special or unusual purchases did I make?

We got our NetFlix membership this month. Outside of that, nothing too special or unusual.

6. What illnesses or health concerns did I have?

“Katie” got her new PE Tubes, which ended some struggles with ear pain for her. Smile

Christopher suffered from a virus early in the month.

A few days later Nicholas had a mystery fever. He missed several days of school because the fever that had no other symptoms just wouldn’t stay gone.

This past week several of us have been plagued with head congestion, head and body aches, and just an overall feeling of ‘yuck’.

7. What were my accomplishments this month?

I think I’ll just skip this question this month. Not feeling very confident or satisfied with any thing in particular this month.

I did survive a surprise visit from the foster care worker!

8. What were my disappointments this month?

I will keep this section in my private journal. Not that I want to paint a perfect picture of my family or my life – but some things are just better kept private. Smile 

One that I can share – I did not scrap nearly as much as I wanted to.

Another I can share. PixelWorks retires from the digiscrap world effective today. I’ve been a member of her CT on and off since the beginning, even before the beginning. This will bring a new beginning of sorts for me. I wish Michelle all the best in her year of pursuing her creative dreams with the freedom of no deadlines!

9. How did I do on my goals for the month? (Or any current short or long term goals)

In the goal department, I fell far short of having and keeping my house company ready at all times. I’ll work on that again in February.

Patrick and I need to push for more pedal time in February. We are going on a 51 mile Bike Ride in May. Not sure if we’ll be ready.

10. Anything else noteworthy to include?

I think I discussed everything noteworthy in earlier sections. LOL Family life is sometimes quite boring.

Oh! I chose “Family” as my one little word for 2011. Here’s a graphic I made using various products by PixelWorks.


I guess that will be all for the January 2011 Round-Up. My first one. Done! And it really wasn’t that bad!! Smile Might even make a draft for February so I can write as we go through the month.


R.I.P. Fr. Pat

Tomorrow and Saturday my husband will be away visiting family and friends as they celebrate the life of Rev. Father Patrick E. McShane Jr. Fr. Pat was my husband's God-father. He will be loved and missed by all.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, 
and let perpetual light shine upon them. 
May they rest in peace.


Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.


P365: 2011-01-05 On The Phone Again...

P365: 2011-01-05, originally uploaded by imom-e.

Sing that to the tune of "On the Road Again". It's been a crazy morning calling people, trying to get some action for my Foster Daughter so she can get her third set of tubes in her ears. (Long, long stories there that I will definitely be sharing later.)

Anyway, late this morning after being on hold, told that it isn't this person's responsibility and that I should call this person, etc. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I finally called Foster Daughter's attorney, her Guardian Ad Litem, and BOY! did we get action!!

We went from being told there was potentially no hope of surgery until after 13th of January due to the paperwork snafus to surgery is tomorrow morning!

Amazing things happen with prayer, patience, persistence and ONE telephone call to the RIGHT person! Thank you, Ms. G.A.L. you know who you are!!

So, tomorrow's P365 photo might be a bit later than usual since hubby and I need to get up at 3:30 AM to get Little Miss ready to leave for the hospital. We need to be there at 5 AM! That's before the roosters start crowing for Pete's sake! We should be home from the procedure around noon.

In other news, I'm looking forward to my newest niece's baptism on the 15th. Will have to get permission from her folks to share her photo here on the big day!

What a whirlwind start to the new year....


P365: 2011-01-04 Big Fat Flakes

P365: 2011-01-04, originally uploaded by imom-e.

It snowed lightly over night. Not much and super light. This morning however, I looked out the window and see a sea of huge fat snow flakes. My iPhone did not do the snow justice. But, it is my primary camera for this project - guess I'll just get used to it.

I am taking similar photos with at least one of the other real cameras. Just not using those for blogging with. Uploading and sharing is more complicated. It's just so easy with the FlickR app for my iPhone!

For my digi-scrappy friends - PixelWorks has new goodies being released on Friday for The LilyPad's January BYOC. Let me just say girly fun stuff!! Product previews with links to the store coming on Friday.

P365: 2011-01-03 Smaller Bites, Bud

Snapped this one quickly using my iPhone. Hmm... maybe I need to clean my case??!! LOL

Anyway - Benjamin the youngest human member of our family turned two in October. Lately, he likes to stuff his mouth with food. Believe it or not, that's a WHOLE peanut butter and jelly sandwich in his mouth and he didn't gag - not even a little! WHY do kids do this???

Just another part of my every day life. Telling one child or another to take smaller bites and to chew before they swallow.


P365: 2011-01-02

Skype User, originally uploaded by imom-e.

This first week of 2011, for the most part, my photo focus will be spent introducing you to the members of my immediate family - those that I live with.

Today you get to meet my husband, Patrick. In this photo, he's using the Skype App on his iPhone to talk with his cousin Tom in Pennsylvania. They are the closest thing to best friends Patrick has! It has been great seeing the two of them grow closer these last couple of years thanks to technology.

Speaking of "FAMILY", that is the word I have selected (or better, it selected me) as my One Little Word for 2011. Our family is growing and changing. One child growing up and getting ready to leave the nest in a couple of years. One child, living with our family for almost three years now, will become a permanent member of our family legally this year. We’re so excited. I need to refocus my energies, anything that isn’t connected to my FAMILY needs to scaled way back this year.

I've participated in One Little Word for couple of years now. I hope to really spend more time with my word this year. But "FAMILY" is so important to me this year. The reasons above just scratch the surface. The rest, I will keep private for the time being.


P365: 2011-01-01

P365: 2011-01-01, originally uploaded by imom-e.

Happy New Year!

This was the view from my front window this morning. It was a clear, sunny, unseasonably warm Michigan New Year's Day.

Taken with my iPhone using the Hipstamatic app.
Hipstamatic Settings:
Lens: Kaimal MarkII
Film: BacKeys B+W
Flash: Off

I'm starting 2011 with the intention of taking a photo every. single. day. This will be the fourth year I've attempted to do this. I think I came extremely close in 2010, but I haven't really checked yet. Will be interesting to post about my photo stats.

Another goal for this year: to scrapbook more. Simple. I hope.

Right now, I'm looking forward to the rest of the evening in the living room with my family watching football and eating junk food. Tomorrow will be Mass and family time while we get ready for Monday.

I'm really looking forward to Monday. Husband goes back to work. Kids go back to school. Routines will once again be in place and life returns to "normal". I've loved having everyone here all together for two weeks, but it's time to get back to real life.