Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Snapshot Prompt Regifted

Happy Holidays! We're all busy, and we're sure you are, too. So our small (very small, but potentially huge) gift to you is an extra week for our last post!

Brought to you by Leanne Sype:

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I don't know about you, but I am immersed in the hullabaloo of the holidays, which makes it hard to squeeze in the writing time! It looks like we could all use some extra time to get our submissions in, so we are extending last week's photo reveal a for another week. I've reposted the entry below and reopened the submission link. Have fun and Happy New Year!!
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Hello, friends! It's time for another dose of weekly inspiration with our Writer Wednesday Blog Hop photo reveal! My co-hostesses Nicole Pyles, Carrie Sorensen, and Tena Carr have done the most wonderful job in giving us some great prompts over the last several months! This week, they are handing me the reins for hosting! Thanks, ladies! Here are the creations from last week's prompt. Be sure to check them out and give some love to the authors through comments! The Photo Finals Project, by Scott Taylor I Have A Bad Feeling About This, by Nicole Pyles The Only Way Out, by Leanne Sype (hey, that's me!) Now, drumroll please: badabadabadabada.......... This week's photo BlogHopInspiration
Mandatory words:
lobster
remote control
luggage
ears
exam
Here is how this all works:
1) There will be one photo, and five words - both of those elements must be a feature in the brief story you create. 2) There is also a 500 word maximum. 3) You have until the next Wednesday to create your post. 4) When you have finished your post, come back here and link up below and let me (Or whoever your blog host is) know in the comments that you have done so! 5) We were going to tell you to not take this too seriously, but reconsidered it because we know full well that asking writers to write something means that they will take it seriously. So, take it seriously, but don't fret/panic/pass out/hyperventilate/lose sleep/run in fear over it. Have fun!! Oh and if you are loving the Writer Wednesday blog hop, display this button on your site: wednesdayhopbutton

Friday, December 21, 2012

Three Day Get Away

We are off this morning on a weekend adventure to Chicago. Despite having grown up only a few hours drive away, I've never been to the Windy City. I'm very excited and a little sad it's only for 3 days, but we have to be back in time for Santa.

With that in mind, I'm offering a warning that posts over the next few weeks may be sporadic. Part of the reason we're going to Chicago is to pick up my husband's parents who are staying with us over the holidays (yay!). That along with the laundry list of tests and doctor's visits may mean I won't have as much time for the blog. I know, I know, I've already gone sporadic, but hopefully these tests and doctor's visits will fix the root cause.

So, if I don't blog to you before then, have a lovely holiday season!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dizzy Me: Dr. Appt. 2

Doctor using a sphygmomanometer to test a patients blood pressureYesterday was my rescheduled appointment. It turns out the test was an EKG (electrocardiogram - testing heart rhythm rather than electric activity in the brain). The test was a lot shorter than 30 minutes, but I'm still glad I rescheduled so the boys weren't there. Could you imagine the jumps in heart beat every time they got into something?

I also had my face to face. On the downside, I'll be put through a lot of tests I've already had, other than the EKG. I'm scheduled for an ultrasound, an MRI, blood work, and a heart monitor you carry around for a bit. I'm also scheduled to see a Cardiologist and Neurologist. On the plus side, I love my Neurologist (she helped get rid of my migraines) so I have high hopes there. Also, I'm being sent to a Hemotologist (blood specialist), Optometrist and an EN&T, none of which are specialties I've been to before for this. And in all this confusion, we're also getting me in to see a surgeon for my gall bladder.

Oh, and most of this happens between December 27th and January 9th, with an outlying appointment later in January. Unfortunately, they just weren't able to schedule everything on the same day. :P

Thankfully, I'll have family visiting who can help with the boys and a husband who is off on holiday for much of it. Then an amazing day care provider and other family. This network of help is so different than my last run with all these specialists and tests. Before, I only had one person to help me, to drive me, and her family of 4 to support me. No one else believed. How the world has changed for me, and I hope that means something will truly come from this.

Also!! I ran in to my Grandma yesterday. Turns out she had an appointment on the same day. I let her know what I was in for and she huffed. She asked me if I had a particular disease, one she had just been treated for last August. I was kind of miffed, I can't lie. Why wouldn't she have said something then? But, better late than never. I just have to get through the busy tone on my doctor's phones and ask them to add it to my history and alter any of these tests to look for it, if they need to.

Wouldn't that just be amazing? Ah, the hope. It's nice, but it's also bad when things doing turn out. Still, this is a family member, so her suggestion is a lot stronger than others.

On a side note, apparently there may be a few other outlining things we find (which wouldn't surprise me, to be honest). Which is why I'm going to specialists I haven't seen before. Apparently blood tests I had during this last pregnancy have raised a bunch more questions.

Haha. After so long, I'll take anything.

So there's a quick-ish update for those of you following this series. Thank you for your care and concern. :) I'm kind of looking forward to this round of tests. Then again, it does always start out that way. :P

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Snapshot Prompt

Leanne Sype has put together this week's Snapshot prompt. Come have a look.

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Hello, friends! It's time for another dose of weekly inspiration with our Writer Wednesday Blog Hop photo reveal! My co-hostesses Nicole Pyles, Carrie Sorensen, and Tena Carr have done the most wonderful job in giving us some great prompts over the last several months! This week, they are handing me the reins for hosting! Thanks, ladies!

Here are the creations from last week's prompt. Be sure to check them out and give some love to the authors through comments!
The Photo Finals Project, by Scott Taylor
I Have A Bad Feeling About This, by Nicole Pyles
The Only Way Out, by Leanne Sype (hey, that's me!)

Now, drumroll please: badabadabadabada.......... This week's photo BlogHopInspiration

Mandatory words:
lobster
remote control
luggage
ears
exam

Here is how this all works:

1) There will be one photo, and five words - both of those elements must be a feature in the brief story you create.
2) There is also a 500 word maximum.
3) You have until the next Wednesday to create your post.
4) When you have finished your post, come back here and link up below and let me (Or whoever your blog host is) know in the comments that you have done so!
5) We were going to tell you to not take this too seriously, but reconsidered it because we know full well that asking writers to write something means that they will take it seriously. So, take it seriously, but don't fret/panic/pass out/hyperventilate/lose sleep/run in fear over it. Have fun!!

Oh and if you are loving the Writer Wednesday blog hop, display this button on your site:
  wednesdayhopbutton

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Toddler Tales: The First Present

Joshua ran in from day care and went straight to the tree. He ran back to where I was in the kitchen, jazz hand raised.

"That's a present, Mommy. You can't look."

"Oh. Is it a Christmas present?"

"Yeah, you can't see it."

"Not until Christmas."

"No, Mommy. It has to be snowing."

Well, here's to hoping for a white Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Family Fun: Christmas At Grandma's

We had a field trip planned for this last weekend, but it was outdoors and the sky was spitting at us, so we weren't able to go. We did have family Christmas at my maternal Grandmother's house yesterday and I have a ton of photos.

So many photos were taken by everyone. There were a lot of differences this year, sparked by a death in the family this past summer. Though we don't all get along (we're a big family, after all), there was a bigger effort to have more fun, to engage rather than disengage, and it turned out to be one of the best Christmases.

I only have our photos right now (and am only sharing 2), but I hope people can get around to sharing them. It is a busy time of year and by the time we have time, we have usually forgotten.

Has anyone else started celebrating their holidays with extended family yet?

          

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dizzy Me: Crowd Sourcing?

I've decided for the time being to blog about whatever is going on with me. I'm not quite sure I'm to the 'share the post on G+ or FB' part, but writing about it has helped me calm a bit. I mean, when I made my first appointment, I cried. Now I'm re-focused and ready to go, something writing has always been able to do for me.

Right now I'm putting together a document for my doctor, listing all the information I can remember. I learned when I moved from Arizona that not all records come with you. There's even a neurologist out there who refuses to let my records go despite many requests from myself and other physician offices. I wonder if it's because there are notes in there on him telling me the fuzzy feeling in my head came from static electricity in my hair and I needed a better conditioner .... ?

(No, I'm not joking, sadly. The worst part is not believing him, but looking it up in case I was wrong. He is a doctor, after all. Then I found out I was right. This guy who was supposed to be taking care of me wasn't taking it seriously enough - or he thought I was a hypochondriac. Lovely.)

I don't remember everything. I don't think I remember every test, and I certainly don't remember every medication. I honestly thought the doctoring world was more organized than it is. It's getting better as everything goes digital. I'm excited to see the medical world my kids grow up with where it hopefully results in higher efficiency and lacks the need to have tests repeated every time you're sent to a new doctor. Particularly since it's frowned upon for patients to really know their medical history, or see the tests, since we laymen won't always understand what's there. (Oh, taste the bitterness.)  ;)

iStockphoto,manequins,speaking,bubbles,colorful,groups,business,partenerships,discussions,meetings,sharing,ideas,conceptsAnyway, so I'm putting this document together and I sent it to my husband to look over in case he notices something I missed. He still hasn't read it through, but he is getting excited about what we could do with it since I'm using Google Drive to draft it. We can share it with people we know in the medical field and see if they spot a test or a theory that hasn't been explored yet. We can even crowd source it and ask other doctors to send us their theories to then take to my doctor.

I'm almost there with him, though I always hesitate to do things like that. It isn't privacy so much as pushy. But, I guess, this would be voluntary. Still ... I'm not quite comfortable with it. But then, exactly how many opinions would we get, and how many good doctors would pass because they don't have my whole file? The question will become if I'm desperate enough to agree to crowd sourcing, I think.

What about it? Would you crowd source your symptoms if no one had been able to find lasting answers for the past 15 years?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Snapshot Prompt

Nicole is back, and she has jumped in with her new laptop to get this week's post together for us. :)

But first, here's a peek at Heather's ad button, which you can see for the next month in my (and other blog hop hosts) side bar.


Congratulations again, Heather. To win, you need only participate in our weekly story prompt, as told by Nicole:

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This time I get to post the weekly prompt (and soon, I will get used to having a laptop enough to join in...I promise).  A special thank you for my co-hosts, Carrie K Sorensen, Tena Carr and Leanne Sype for having so much patience during my time of laptop-lessness.

And here's the awesome writers from last week's writing prompt! Make sure to go by and read their amazing pieces!

Snow by Randy Lindsay
The Call by Stella
John Buck Thompson by Scott Taylor

Even though rules were meant to be broken, you must follow ours (especially to be considered for our monthly contest) -


1) There will be one photo, and five words - both of those elements must be a feature in the brief story you create.
2) There is also a 500 word maximum.
3) You have until the next Wednesday to create your post.
4) When you have finished your post, come back here and link up below and let me (Or whoever your blog host is) know in the comments that you have done so!
5) We were going to tell you to not take this too seriously, but reconsidered it because we know full well that asking writers to write something means that they will take it seriously. So, take it seriously, but don't fret/panic/pass out/hyperventilate/lose sleep/run in fear over it.

And make sure to grab a blog hop button if you're loving the prompts!

writing, writers, blogs
Click and copy this code


Now, for this week's photo:


Ajar by Gavin Turk


The Five Words:

Parking Meter

Stomach

Magazine

Chart

Olive

Oh boy, I have a good feeling about this one. 

When you have you're post ready, get yourself linked up below! Get those creative engines going!

Woooo!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Toddler Tales: Crazy





"I'm crazy for you," Joshua said with a grin.

"Awww. I'm crazy for you, too."

"No, Mommy, only boys. Only boys can be crazy for girls. Not girls."

"Oh, I see."

Lol.



Friday, December 7, 2012

Family Field Trips: Hidden Lake Gardens for Christmas

Part of our Advent train gifts to Joshua are trips. We have one trip for every weekend related to some sort of Christmas event. Hidden Lake Gardens is a place near by we discovered this past summer. Last weekend they had their Holiday Festival.

Joshua and Sebastian had already had a long day with swim lessons and the afternoon with Mimi (my mom). So when we got there, this is what the back seat looked like.
Photo


Once Joshua realized there were cookies and popcorn and Santa, he was ready to go, though. Sebastian hung out in his carrier with Daddy. (Which I don't think we have pictures of, regrettably. Kris was taking people out left and right with that thing.)

As good parents, we showed Joshua the cookies first, then Santa, but told him none of that until a potty break! The crafts were near the bathrooms, so we ended up starting there. Joshua (erhm, I) made a couple Christmas ornaments.





Here I'm putting paint into a clear glass ornament and shaking it around.

   











Here I'm using a cut branch to make an angel ornament. There were many stations for these - for a reindeer, for Mrs. and Mrs. Claus - but after struggling with the angel, I thought she was enough. And you can see how patient Joshua was during out (my) craft time.










There was also a bird feeder made from a pine cone, Crisco and bird seed, but it was too far away from where Kris sat with Sebastian for a good photo. It was cute, though. I haven't checked on it since we hung it up, but I suppose it made a squirrel happy.


We eventually sat with Santa, then got our bag of popcorn, listen to the Saxophone jazz band for a little bit, before heading off in search of those cookies we saw at the beginning, enjoying the lights along the way. The hills were lit by candles in painted milk jugs, arranged into wreaths, snow flakes, candy canes. It was very simple and very beautiful. I wish we'd gotten a photo of that part, too.

Off we went home. This time the boys stayed awake with the promise of food at the end of the trip, and the Christmas lights decorating businesses and houses along the way.

What will the Advent Train yield next week? Maybe not as many pictures. Lol. ;)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Growing Pains: Growth Spurt

Let's start with a picture of Joshua's coat from last year and the one we got him this year (shhh, it's his Advent train presents).


The little coat is a 2T, the big one is a large for size 4-5.

All summer Joshua wore 2T clothes. As the year got colder, I realized his long sleeves weren't long enough, and his pants fell above his ankles instead of below. So I moved out his 2T's and got his 3T's.

The 3's were too small, too!!

Here's the skinny - my son is skinny. He always has been. His length is, apparently, a 4T. His girth, however, is still a 2T. He's still wearing 18 month trunks for swim class, for goodness sake. So, all summer, T-shirts and shorts fit him fine, because, well, you don't notice the length so much for those. Come winter and it was very clear how much height that boy gained.

We ended up going shopping on Black Friday to get him and his little brother clothes. Sebastian, of course, can use his hand-me downs, but he is 9 months tall and 9 months round. As we get to each stage, I realize Joshua's odd sizing has left us shy of certain sizes, so we have to supplement. Which isn't a bad thing. Joshua has a mix of old (from his cousin) and new clothes. It's good Sebastian can get the same. :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Snapshot Prompt and Winner!

Who won this week?

I'm going to save that for later this time. ;)

First, let's take a look at last week's story submissions.

Hard to Let Go by Heather
Home-made Business by Tena Carr
Lady by Scott Taylor
Mama's Songs by Leanne Sype

I have to say, the thought of my son and dog inspiring those stories .... haha. :) It was lovely. And I have more for you this week.

Keep an eye on the rules:

1) There will be one photo, and five words - both of those elements must be a feature in the brief story you create.
2) There is also a 500 word maximum.
3) You have until the next Wednesday to create your post.
4) When you have finished your post, come back here and link up below and let me (Or whoever your blog host is) know in the comments that you have done so!
5) We were going to tell you to not take this too seriously, but reconsidered it because we know full well that asking writers to write something means that they will take it seriously. So, take it seriously, but don't fret/panic/pass out/hyperventilate/lose sleep/run in fear over it.

The photo for this week.


animals,business,hats,cowboys,fashions,horses,men,occupations,people,ranchers,ropes,seasons,snows,western wear,winter
Microsoft Office Images

The words for this week.

Needle
Wisdom
Planet
Beach
Scandal


We haven't offered our button in a while. Feel free to grab one to share the love. :)

writing, writers, blogs

Click and copy this code


And, finally, the answer you've scrolled all the way down to see. This month's ad winner is:


Congratulations! We will display your button for the next month. If you have a button already, please send it my way. If you have a photo you would like me to use to make your button, let me know that by Friday. Otherwise I can work from scratch.

Everyone else (not to exclude Heather) get to writing. It may be your blog up to win next month's prize.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Toddler Tales: Long Day

Joshua had a hard time going down for a nap yesterday. He came stomping down the stairs, then broke down into tears when he saw me come to carry him back up.

I got him in bed and calmed down. He looked at me with tear-wet eyes and said:

"It's a long day."

"It has been a long day, baby. Now get some sleep."






I don't usually get photos of Joshua sleeping because his room is dark and the flash wakes him up. A few days ago I was able to take this one because he came down after an hour in bed to sleep another hour on the couch. It must have been yet another long day for the poor little guy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Doctor Appointment Fail

I had a doctor appointment today for my dizziness. Since I was going in, I called this morning to move Sebastian's flu booster from tomorrow.

I see the Nurse Practitioner who is only in every Monday and Wednesday, then every other Friday she and the doctor have another office they split in another town. Though I can drive to the other town, I stay here since I have to take my two boys with me, something I told them when I made the appointment.

anatomy,brains,electricity,energy,healthcare,lightning bolts,medicine,metaphors,thoughts,web animations,web elements,brain wave,ideasSo when I showed up today and they wanted to hook me up to the EEG (a test that measures the electrical activity of your brain), I was a bit surprised. This procedure takes at least 30 minutes, usually 45 and possibly an hour.

With a 9.5 month old crawling around and a 3.5 year old walking around? Not likely. It would have been nice if the office had told me I would have this procedure either in a phone call, or even when I'd called to get Sebastian in. Then I could have found child care ahead of time. As it was, I scrambled to find anyone available.

I called my aunt - her number was disconnected. I called my friend - she didn't answer. In a last ditch effort I called my day care provider. She said she could, but it would be a few minutes. After I hung up I worried she wouldn't have a car seat for Sebastian. I asked the nurse if I could drop them somewhere, then come right back. She went to ask the NP.

With doors wide open, I heard the NP. If I couldn't be seen when she could see me, I would have to reschedule. She wouldn't even come talk to me unless I had the EEG. If she had, I could have told her the EEG would be negative - as in normal. I could have told her I'd had the test many, many times before and it had always been normal. As had my MRI, EKG, ultrasound of the heart and arteries, glucose blood tests, hormone blood tests and a whole slew of others. All that had come back positive was a tilt table test when I was 16, and all that tested was if I would faint if my heart rate was artificially accelerated.

So, I called my day care provider to let her know I was rescheduling, and thankful she'd been willing to gather all her kids up to come and get my boys. Sebastian got his shot. There's the upside. He didn't even cry, my brave boy. He's sleeping it off right now.

I have a rescheduled appointment in two and a half weeks. This time I know what's going to happen, so I'll have a place for the boys. I'll get the test done, watch her wonder where to go from there. Maybe she'll listen to me this time. If not ...

Have I mentioned I've had many, many doctors?

Here's to hoping despite this rough start, there's a successful ending.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dizzy Me

I apologize. I'm going to take a break from adding writing to my blog. I will keep posting Snapshot prompts for you, and continue with the Mommy side of my blog, but I can no longer focus enough on my writing. Even my WIP is suffering.

You see, I'm getting dizzy again.

That sentence is about as hard for me to write as it is for anyone who would prefer to live in denial. It's been almost two weeks now and I haven't been able to kick it. Back to the doctor's again. For something no one has been able to figure out for nearly 15 years.

My syncope (fainting) started when I was 16. I went through test after test, medication after medication, one that turned me into a zombie, able to move through the day but not participate in it. I learned from that time how to control the fainting, so I don't do that anymore. The dizziness is another matter.

It hit again a bit in college, right toward the end. Then I felt better again for a few years. When it came back, it was devastating. I'd been told my condition allowed me to drive - then one day I lost my peripheral vision while driving. Luckily, I was barely a mile from home and could turn around. I had to quit my Masters program, which means I couldn't continue my job as a Special Ed teacher, not that it mattered, because I couldn't get there, much less function once I got there. It was part of the reason my first marriage failed - he convinced his family and our neighborhood I was a hypochondriac who just didn't want to work, then decided to work overseas as a contractor.

I got worse. There were days upon days I couldn't get out of bed. The headaches were massive. My sight was incredibly weak. I was given diagnosis after diagnosis, put on medication after medication, all of which either didn't work or inspired entirely new side effects I couldn't live with. Only my neighbor, my best friend, believed me. She took care of me, made sure I ate, helped keep my house clean.

I ended up getting a divorce. My friend I'd known for 8 years heard about what was going on and flew out from England to see me. We ended up staying together, getting pregnant, getting married - a whole different story, but the important bit here is the pregnancy. It fixed me. My baby set my head right. I was able to do things again, to walk in a straight line, to go to work.

Until a year and a half later when it started all over again. We were thinking of having another baby. My doctor said go for it - we'll talk about your dizziness when it comes back next time.

So, I'm dizzy again. It isn't terrible yet, but it isn't nice. I have an appointment with a new doctor, one I'm gong to stress to I am not willing to go on the medication merry-go-round. I have two boys now, I need to take care of them, so I need this dizziness to go away without the volatile affects of random medicine.

I will participate as I can. I hate how isolated this feeling makes me. I hate how ... anyway, I hate it. I may even update you on this, but it really is hard for me to talk about. After years of emotional abuse on the issue from multiple angles ... well, I'm sure you can understand.

In the mean time, I will be enjoying the holiday season. :) Cold weather has always made me feel better, even though I've struggled with it since returning to Michigan after seven years in Arizona. Ha, maybe I'll get some more cross-stitching done. I can focus on the small stuff.

<3's and hugs.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Snapshot Prompt

I hope you had a lovely week off from the blog hop. Now we're up and back at it again.

First, take a look at the stories from our Veteran's Day prompt:

Fulfilling A Promise by Leanne Sype
Daddy's Little Girl by Heather
Through A Child's Eyes by Scott Taylor
Angel Kisses by Tena Carr


Thank you to everyone who has participated. If you're interested in submitting some artwork or photography for the prompts, check out the information here.

As for this week's Snapshot Prompt, let's get going. First, the rules:

1) There will be one photo, and five words - both of those elements must be a feature in the brief story you create.
2) There is also a 500 word maximum.
3) You have until the next Wednesday to create your post.
4) When you have finished your post, come back here and link up below and let me (or whoever your blog host is) know in the comments that you have done so!
5) We were going to tell you to not take this too seriously, but reconsidered it because we know full well that asking writers to write something means that they will take it seriously. So, take it seriously, but don't fret/panic/pass out/hyperventilate/lose sleep/run in fear over it.



This week's photo:




This week's words:

iron

moon

university

bee

bench


Okay, so have at it. And a quick reminder to get your stories in by 8pm EST Tuesday night to qualify for this month's ad contest. :D

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Toddler Tales: Sit

When we feed the dogs, we make them sit while we're filling their bowls, then until all bowls are put on the floor. We fell into this when we realized the polite waiting helped them eat slower.

Then, there's Joshua who wants to help. Sometimes, he wants to pour the food into the bowls. Sometimes, he wants to put each bowl down himself, which can end up with food all over the floor. Sometimes, he helps the dogs sit when they have trouble doing it themselves.

I have a couple vantage points.

Kia, Joshua and Rambo.

Joshua, Rambo and Chiaotzu.



And one of Joshua and Rambo because ... Well, just look at those faces!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Decor


How was your holiday weekend (if you celebrated)? We had a lot of fun, first with dinner, then with Black Friday shopping. We go to less populated areas no earlier than 10am, so shopping isn't so bad for us. Then we finished the privacy fence in the backyard and switched out the boys' too small clothes for clothes that fit (hence the Black Friday shop).


We also decorated for Christmas this past weekend. We always get everything down and together over Thanksgiving break. It's a tradition my mom started, mostly because she was a single parent and we had the most time, then. I continue it because Kris struggles with decorating even that early. ;-)

Here is our beautiful Christmas tree.
It's a pre-lit, six-foot tree I got for $15 at an after-season sale. We have a lot of generic, plastic balls (due to dogs and kids) but we also have a few special ornaments. There are beautiful Danish ornaments my husband's family gifted us, and I have a few of my childhood ornaments - my baby ornament and some I made in elementary.










I suppose we aren't alone in getting them a new ornament every year. This year is Sebastian's first, of course. We didn't get the traditional first Christmas ornament, but got one that would match Joshua's - this year, we got these cute, plush bears.








We have a few ornaments from Frankenmouth, Michigan. There's a huge year-round Christmas store there filled with amazing decorations and ornaments. They had a Danish section there, and we were able to get these ornaments last year.

The ball on the left tells the Danish tradition of Christmas. The flag on the right was, unfortunately, broken only hours after I took this photo. Joshua dropped it on the floor. :-( On the plus side, Frankenmouth is only 2 hours away, so we will get another.








I also have those glittery snowflakes taped onto my windows, some being blown about, some in nice triangular trees. It's so pretty! And very understated, which is exactly how I like it.


Oh, and my favorite clearance find from last year - my advent calendar train guarded by my nissen brought over from Denmark (Danish Christmas elves, so I hope I got the plural right). Each number on the train is a door to hide a treat behind, 1-12 on this side, then 13-24 on the other. We are going to put clues in if we have a present too big, or a hint to that day's outing instead of using tiny toys or candy every day.



All of this will be up through the New Year. How long it stays up depends on how I feel. Some years it comes down January 1st. Others, it will stay up until Valentines Day. So, we will see.

How are your decorations going? Do you prefer over-the top, or barely there?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Tradition

Over here in the US, we're gearing up for Thanksgiving. There is so much food in my fridge and pantry - and I can't eat any of it. I ordered pizza last night because everything I saw was for the Big Meal.

(Okay, okay, and Kris is out of town on business and anyone who knows us, knows I am not the cook. Thankfully, he's home tonight to save dinner - and Thanksgiving.)

Thanksgiving was never a big holiday for my family until Kris came along. Seriously, we made a turkey, watched the parade and Christmas shows all day (back then, they started after the Thanksgiving Day Parade, after Santa rode in on his slay at the end. Remember? Nostalgic sigh.). We made a turkey at some point and nibbled on it, but really that Turkey was for all the leftovers - sandwiches, pot pies, gravy ... yeah.
apples,beverages,breads,dressings,fireplaces,food,glasses,stemware,stuffings,turkeys,wild corn

Kris is Danish, though, and he loved the idea of Thanksgiving. A meal meant to bring the family together to eat? Heaven for him. So, for the past few years, we've had Thanksgiving at our house. The first year, some of his family came to visit, adding to my family for a big table of 18. Seriously - we had a 30 lbs bird that year. I didn't even knew they came that big. I was meant to cook Thanksgiving, but Kris took over when he saw how I was cutting something or other. Slowly. Painfully. He couldn't watch, so he did it himself.

This year, again, we will be having Thanksgiving here. My mom brings the pie, my sister usually brings a salad, my step-dad's mom brings this yummy veggie mix she makes. And Kris makes the turkey (we're brining this year), the mash, the green beans and the sweet potato casserole. And he loves it, because then we all get together, eat and talk.

Oh, and I set the table. ;)

Do you have a Thanksgiving tradition, intended or not?

I will be taking blogging off for the Big Meal and Shopping holiday weekend. I will see you back here on Monday. :) Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Toddler Tales: Dinner Time

I made roasted chicken legs for dinner last night. Joshua always starts out with the whole chicken leg - he wants the bone just like the adults have. I always end up cutting it for him.

I was in the process of cutting his chicken in the kitchen when he ran in with a big smile.

"Sebastian's eating, Mommy. He's happy."

"He is?" Great. Did Sebastian get his spoon? I imagined the mess.

"Yeah. Come see."

Joshua grabbed my hand, but I had to get his plate. I told him to go ahead and I'd come in with his food.

When I came in, Sebastian was laughing, but food wasn't all over. Joshua was feeding him, showing him how to open his mouth for the bite.

Yeah. That's my boy. :)


Monday, November 19, 2012

Transformation: Part 5 of the Collaboration Challenge

Though long awaited, here is the finale for our Halloween Collaboration Challenge - Just in time for Thanksgiving. ;)

First, though, stop by the previous parts of the story to see how we got here.

I Was Expecting You: Part Four by Nicole Pyles

---------

Transformation

Zack's step faltered when he heard Morgan laugh.

"Oh, the fated lovers rule the forest story. Yeah. I think that's the wrong fairy tale."

The woman spun around just inside the dim house, her eyes reflecting light from somewhere inside making them glow.

"Morgan, you don't know a thing about fairy tales. Now come on in. The scones won't wait."

Morgan crossed her arms, jutting one hip out to stare at the shadowed hut. "No way. No way! This is not what I signed up for."

"Get in the house," Zack told her, using his hand at the palm of her back to direct her inside.

"Hey! What gives you the right?"

"I babysat your four year old self for half the day. That kind of erases any feelings of intimidation I might have had."

Morgan stumbled. When Zack tried to help her she shoved off his hand, marching into the house on her own power.

The old woman was pouring four cups of tea, three at empty tables and one for a college kid scribbling in a note book.

"Zack and Morgan, meet Riley," the old woman introduced. The writer held up a finger, showing mostly the short bob of hair. Zack thought he was a boy until the person looked up, showing a mix of delicate and strong features. The slightly over-sized jacket over a v-neck tee didn't help the mystery. Zack looked at Morgan to see if she might know. Her eyes moved around the cabin, her features drawn into a frown.

"Thank you, Peggy." Riley's voice didn't help Jack, either. He decided it didn't matter, the writer was still a person. Then Peggy chuckled.

"Anytime for the Director of Fate."

Morgan's head snapped around and her eyes narrowed onto Riley.

"So you're responsible for this mess?"

Riley closed the notebook and slid the pen into the spiral ring. Morgan tapped the toe of her pointed shoe.

"I'm not Fate. I help Fate out a bit, nudge people back into the right lines when they get too far off track."

"You're the one who's off track this time." Morgan stalked to the table, pressing her fingertips into the wood and leaning forward. "What is all this about me being fated to rule this forest. With him," she added as an afterthought, jerking her head Zack's way.

"Gee, thanks," he murmured. Peggy smiled and offered him a seat. Zack decided to take it and watch the drama unfold.

Riley and Peggy didn't rise to Morgan's bait. Peggy suggested Morgan take a seat. She shook her head, her purple and orange ribbons dancing over her hair. Zack got up, grabbed her arm to move her away from the chair, then maneuvered it out and her in it.

"Zack," Peggy began, sitting down. "Show Morgan." Zack looked between everyone at the table before glancing up at the chandelier. It was made of twisted metal branches decorated with delicate bronze leaves. The bulbs on it were shaped to look like candle flames and didn't give off much light. It was enough.

Zack pulled out a flip notebook and small pencil he always kept with him. Flipping to an open page, he sketched, drawing the light down, forming it into a column on the table, shaping it and molding it into a stem, curling countless petals in on themselves, flaring the outer ones just a touch at the tips.

He looked up to see the rose in the center of the table. He reached out, gently grasped the stem and pulled it away from the light, revealed the real flower with in and handed it to Morgan.

He thought she might refuse it. She accepted it with an expressionless face, her eyes caught by the deep purple petals. Her free hand reached up to cup the flower. When it came away, it had been replaced with a sun shaped flower though it kept the rich color.

"Daisies are my favorite." She spoke quietly, like she was making a confession.

"You each think I gave you this power," Peggy said. "You were born with it. With Riley's help, you found your way here when you needed to. There's something about this part of the forest that wakes up sleeping power. Each of you needed something it gave you. Zack, you needed the light. Morgan, you needed to be able to transform parts of your life into something more beautiful."

Morgan blushed and Zack thought of her dad with her need to transform things. Zack's need was more literal  His family didn't have much money. Electricity was used to heat water and food. When the sun went down, there were no lights to turn on. With his power, Zack could pull in the light from the streetlamp and fill his room with it, among other things.

Riley smiled at the two. "I'm here just to meet you today. You got here on your own. We may need to help each other in the future. It's always good to know your friends."

"Why are we friends?" Morgan asked, brushing the soft petals against her cheek. The movement hypnotized Zack. He followed the flower petals across her cheek down to her dark lips each time it made the trip.

"Fated to be together can mean a lot of things," Riley spoke with a secret smile. "It's up to you to decide what exactly that means beyond the job description. Yours is to bring a little light into people's lives, to transform it into something that can make them smile."

"And we get our orders from you?" Zack asked, pulled back into the conversation.

"Not always. A moment of happiness can be fate-changing, but oftentimes it's more reaffirming. You two know about struggles. You cannot change the world, or even the circumstance, but you can choose that moment to spend that special gift to make it easier to smile."

"This is ridiculous." But there was hope in Morgan's words.

"You'll come here every day after school," Peggy instructed. "I'll teach you what I can. You'll practice within my guidelines, then when you graduate, all of this is yours." Her face glowed as she gestured around the small cottage. Morgan's lips twisted.

"It will need some redecorating," she grumbled.

"It's a good thing you're just the girl to do it," Peggy agreed brightly. Morgan blinked, then looked around the place with new eyes.

"Okay," she said slowly.

"So you agree?" Zack asked her quietly. Morgan met his eyes.

"I can remember every surprising, happy moment of my life. If I can help those moments happen, I'm in."

Zack grinned. "Me, too."

"It's settled, then," Peggy agreed. She reached into the deep pocket on her witch's dress. "Here are your excuses for school today. You better get going if you're going to be home after school. Morgan, your dad is taken care of, passed out on the couch. He'll think it was all a dream if you play your cards right. Are you ready, children?"

Her eyes asked more than if they were ready to go. Her smile suggested she already knew the answer.

"Yeah," Morgan agreed.

"Sure," Zack echoed.


A collage of two images showing giant female legs walking onto a tunnel-like forest path with light at the end      Stock Photo - 12465500
When they left the house, there was a path made of light weaving between the trees, directing them where to go. They didn't know it, but this path was a part of them, part of the sadness they would heal and part of the happiness they could bring. With this well-lit path, they would never be lost again.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Blog Awards and Randomness

This week has been a little off regarding my post schedule and I apologize for that. I have been unfortunate enough to be fighting the flu this week, which has in turn put me behind on a couple projects I'm working on. I'm just trying to get caught up while lingering flu bugs make me tired and grumpy.

However, I have been nominated for two blog awards, both from Tena Carr over at Jottings and Writings. She has nominated me for both the Liebster and Addictive Blog awards. I am very thankful and grateful for them. However, I'm going to break the rules a little bit and only focus on one. I know, I'm very sorry, I wish I had more time and energy for both.

The rules for the Addictive Blog Award:

Thank the person awarding you; Share a little about why you blog and how the journey started; Paste the blog award on your page; Nominate 10 other bloggers you feel deserve the award.


So, thank you again, Tena, for the award. This is one I haven't received that I've secretly coveted, so I'm super appreciative of it.

I started blogging last year (yes, I skipped announcing my blog-o-versary) because I started getting serious about writing. I was stuck, knowing I needed to improve, but not knowing how. So, I got involved with the fine people over at G+ and started a blog as a way to connect to other writers and even readers.

I keep going because I really enjoy it. I've met some wonderful people through blogging and have been able to join in a lot of fun projects. I can't say I have it 100% figured out yet, I have a feeling I'll always be figuring that out, but that's okay. I blog to learn, I blog for fun and for sharing and to meet people trying to do similar things.

So, here are some of the people I've met. I'm nominating:

Randy Lindsay @ Author in Training
Scott Taylor @ Scotty Watty Doodle All The Day
Nicole Pyles @ World of My Imagination - though Tena nominated you, too, so feel free to combine them. ;)
Anne @ A Writer's Space
Leanne Sype @ Writings and Ruminations - though Tena nominated, you, as well, so .... ;)
My Unpublished Life
L.T. Dalin (formerly Chessny Silth)

I had a few others in mind, but come to find out they don't actually blog, they read and comment. :) That put a smile on my face.

Well, that's going to leave me with seven, but they're all solid. Thank you again, Tena and thank you to everyone who stops by even in my unorganized, random moments.  <3

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Snapshot Prompt

Tena over at Jottings and Writings has put together a special prompt for us today in honor of Veteran's Day. Happy Inpsiration! Don't forget to link up to be entered in this month's Ad Contest. :)

------------------

writing, writers, blogs 
With Veterans Day being just behind us I have a very special picture I want to use. Don't know where it originated from, but I found it on the Soldiers Angels website (or maybe it was their facebook page) not too long ago.
 
Before I go any further October's (I believe I have the right month) WWBH Monthly Ad Contest winner is: Writer's Space

Writer’s Space

And of course we have last weeks WWBH entries:
1. Carrie @ Chasing Revery 3. Melissa @ My Unpublished Life
2. Leanne 4. The Courage Of The Queen by Scott Taylor

Okay so now that I've kept you in suspense - The Five Words are:
  1. Peaked
  2. Geothermal
  3. Livestock
  4. Mutual
  5. Hydroelectric
And Of course I can't forget the rules:
1) There will be one photo, and five words - both of those elements must be a feature in the brief story you create.
2) There is also a 500 word maximum.
3) You have until next Wednesday to create your post.
4) Link your story below and let your blog host know in the comments that you have done so! (This helps make sure we don't lose your link.)
And Most Importantly
5) We were going to tell you to not take this too seriously, but reconsidered it because we know full well that asking writers to write something means that they will take it seriously. So, take it seriously, but don't fret/panic/pass out/hyperventilate/lose sleep/run in fear over it.

Ohhh yeah and don't forget to link up below:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Toddler Tales: Playing in the Closet

Because of early swim lessons on Saturday, my nephew stays the night on Friday. This past Friday I heard them playing in  the bathroom.

Daemon: "Tell me you need more cotton balls."

Joshua: "More cotton balls."

Daemon: "Say you need more towels."

Joshua: "More towels, please."

At this point I was terrified the contents of my closet were all over the floor. I peeked in to see the boys jammed in the closet, reaching up on the shelves and pretending to restock them.

It always amazes me, the imagination of kids and what they think is fun. My nephew is always coming up with games and honestly has one of the best imaginations of kids his age that I've seen. If Joshua is going to learn from anyone how to play pretend, this is the kid to teach him.





Friday, November 9, 2012

Family Fun: Swimming Class

Since Joshua turned three, I've been interested in getting him active and in activities where there would be other kids. First kids might as well be only children, and I'm very adamant he is well socialized.

So, it was swimming locally during the summer, then soccer in the fall. We turned to the Y for a winter idea and found swimming again. It fit into our schedule, was held on Saturdays so Kris could participate, and is an indoor pool where the one in town isn't. My sister was able to sign up my four year old nephew, so he comes with us as well.

The biggest plus? They had a class for Sebastian's age, too. Kris is the lucky one that gets to be down in the pool with Sebastian, then watching the boys. I keep myself up in the observation room with whichever kid(s) aren't swimming.

Because of that, I wasn't able to get the best of photos and they are only of Sebastian's class. As his class is first, I quickly learned photo taking wasn't going to work with the faster moving, bigger boys. They are, however, still pretty cute.


                 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Snapshot Reveal: Oh Brother

Here's this week's snapshot story. :) Check out the prompt and link yours up with mine. You can win an add spot for your blog, social network site, etsy account, or whatever other internet-based awesome you have. :)

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Oh Brother

"Did you know you have an action figure stuck to your keys?" Allie sat in the passenger seat looking toward the steering wheel with a crooked smile. The car was a hand-me-down, so old it didn't even have a screen in the dash for the radio, just some weird dial thing. It ran, though, and right now, that's all that mattered.

Dee felt the keys where they were hanging from the ignition. Her head fell against the head rest and she groaned.

"It must be Dylan's. How the heck did that get in my key ring?"

"It looks like it hitched a ride. It's arm is stuck through the smallest one. Maybe he has a friend to rescue, or something, like in that movie."

"Or maybe he's a parasite." Dee's frown twitched up. Her little brother was ten years younger than her, completely annoying and so very cute. He had probably put the little green guy on her keys to keep her company, or to protect her, to give her courage or for some other silly reason.

"At least he'll come off. Not like that lollipop Dylan stuck to your backpack a few weeks ago."

"You mean the one made out of tar?" Of course, the sucker was just sugar, but the way it had melted into her zipper, it might as well have been fusion glue. When she'd asked Dylan about it, he'd said he had wanted to make sure she had a yummy snack for lunch. How could she get mad at that?

Dee pulled into the school parking lot and picked the first spot she saw. She took out the keys to see exactly what her little brother had sent with her today.

"Haha. At least he's a cute tag along." Allie grabbed the bag at her feet and got out. "Don't worry, Dee. There are worse little brothers. Stash that guy in the glove compartment for right now."

"Hmph." Dee watched Allie shut the door, then head inside. She studied the figurine, saw how his arm had been slipped into the smallest key ring. She shook her head, a grin on her lips. Dropping her keys, figure and all, into her bag, Dee got out of the car and headed in.

"Worse little brothers, for sure," she mumbled to herself. Of course there were worse little brothers because none of them were better than Dylan.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Snapshot Prompt and Contest Winner

Hey, November! I love this time of year - well, I hate the weather, but I love the holiday season. I'm one of those strange people who would put up my Christmas Tree  RIGHT NOW  if my husband would let me get away with it.

Since I can't, on to the next best thing. I get to announce the winner of the Monthly Ad Contest.


Thank you to everyone who participated, and good luck to everyone this next go around. I will post the new button up on my side bar next week.

Last weeks story submissions included:

Fragile Winnings by L.T. Dalin
The Ranch House by Scott Taylor
Hovel Memories by Tena Carr
Eyes of the Beholder by Carrie Sorensen

On to this week's prompt. Remember:

1) There will be one photo, and five words - both of those elements must be a feature in the brief story you create.

2) There is also a 500 word maximum.

3) You have until next Wednesday to create your post.

4) Link your story below and let your blog host know in the comments that you have done so! (This helps make sure we don't lose your link.)

5) We were going to tell you to not take this too seriously, but reconsidered it because we know full well that asking writers to write something means that they will take it seriously. So, take it seriously, but don't fret/panic/pass out/hyperventilate/lose sleep/run in fear over it.

Your Photo:



Your Words:

tar

lollipop

courage

figure

parasite




And please don't forget to grab a button to pretty up your page and share the Blog Hop Love. :)
writing, writers, blogs

Click and copy this code

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Toddler Tales: Reading Fun

I thought I would let Joshua tell you today's story. :)






The author's goodread's profile: Mary Murphy

Monday, November 5, 2012

Is Linky Eating Your Links?

I have a sneaking suspicion there are more Snapshot stories out there than are linked - I swear I saw some in my Reader feed that are not in the linky. Please get your stories linked up, or if Linky is eating them, please re-add your link in my comments section so I can include you in the ad contest draw. You have until 8pm tomorrow (Tuesday).

Link up on the Snapshot Prompt post.

The Collaboration Challenge finale has been delayed a few days. Once it's posted over at Confessions of a Pixel and Ink-stained Wretch, I'll get the link up over here. :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Family Fun: Halloween

If you have me circled on G+, or are a friend on Facebook, you may have already seen this photo of me and my Trick Or Treat Gang.


Joshua's the blurred boy (you may have seen his costume in my zoo post). The mouse is Joshua's girlfriend (well, best friend who is a girl). The vampire is and the lizard-thing are my nephews. The girl hiding her face is my niece, and it's a shame you couldn't see her make up. She was dolled up to be a doll, but her dress hadn't arrived yet, so she was upset. Thankfully, it came later and she was still able to go candy hunting.

And yes. I am Super Girl. Because she's amazing, and so am I. ;-)

We had lots of fun, walking the neighborhood, then we had a last minute mini-party at my house for the kids since the weather wasn't great while the grown-ups warmed up and had some food. All planned hours before it happened. Kris and I are exhausted. Apparently, so is Joshua. Yesterday, his nap was more than 2 hours long. Yipes.

How did your Halloween go? If you have picks of your party or Trick Or Treat Gang up on your blog, post me a link in the comments.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Snapshot Reveal - And 5K Views!

OMG, I just hit 5K views on my blog!!! :D Thank you, everyone - I appreciate the love.


I have a Snapshot Reveal for you today. The prompt post went up yesterday, so check it out and don't forget to link up your story over there. Do it by 8pm next Tuesday to be entered into our Monthly Ad Contest.

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Eyes of the Beholder

Nan decorated the hovel with years worth of needlepoint designs. The floors were wood so worn there were holes in some places. The kitchen held only a sink and a fridge, a wobbly table was both prep space and eating space that looked over a grass field. Nan had one bed against the wall, as close to the wood burning stove as I could put it safely. I slept on the floor, as close to that same stove as I could get, looking out the one window in the kitchen every night, staring at the moonrise.

The stitched fabric of her art helped insulate the thin walls of the small home and added comfort and warmth. She said stitching helped the autonomic dysfunction of her digestive system. I just nodded, sitting on the threadbare rug at the foot of her rocking chair, tending to the stove.

I wasn't sure Nan was all there. Though her eyes were sharp, they were always focused on her needle and thread, the only brightness in a body gone lax and gray. But she was all I had, and I was all she had.

Every day I had to leave her, I hated it. I had tried to skip school, but the state caught up with me quickly. It was go to school, or Nan went to jail. Nan told me I had to go anyway, that I had to learn to get a good job. She scoffed every time I brought home a lottery ticket, telling me that jackpot was out of reach, but I could work my way up in the world if I tried hard enough.

I thought it was stupid. School was stupid. The cops were stupid. But I did what I had to to keep her safe. And one day, one day I would win the lottery - or she would, since I wasn't 18 yet - and we would get a real house, and I could pay someone to watch her whenever I had to leave, and we would be happy.

"I am happy," she said, her bright eyes sparkling from her pale face. "I've got my home, my thread, and a grandson who loves me too much."

"Never too much, Nan." Her smile would get bigger and she would nod.

"See, child? We are already rich." I smiled back, lottery ticket crinkling in my pocket.