Friday, January 09, 2015

Friday Favorite! Lisa Leonard Designs



is based in San Luis Obispo, California.

She makes beautiful pieces of jewelry.


This is my favorite bracelet.



Every time I wear it,
someone makes a comment about its beauty.

She also has a complete line of jewelry for your
Word of the Year, as well!

Go check her out.

PS - This is in no way sponsored by Lisa Leonard Designs. I have posted about her company before, each time without compensation (or permission, for that matter). :)


Thursday, January 08, 2015

How Will I Be Remembered?

We attended two funerals this week. Both for men we did not know (each was the father of a friend). Each service still managed to touch me in a significant way.

The first funeral was on Saturday. Katie's friend lost his grandfather. The little boy had texted her a few days after Christmas asking her to have a playdate, but she had been sick. She responded the next day and said when she was well, she could come over. He called a short while later and told her his grandfather had passed away that morning. The service was held at St. Mary's. Katie not only attended, the family included her in the program as one of the children carrying the gifts to the front of the cathedral. She walked in with the family, and when I saw her, I noticed she was walking with her friend, and holding his hand. She sat next to him throughout the funeral, helped him kneel, stand, and sit when appropriate. The love and care she displayed at the tender age of 9 was something I will always remember about her. Katie is a fun-loving and happy child, but she also has a tremendous capacity to love. She has a nurturing heart, and she loves deeply.

The second service we attended was this morning. The gentleman was the father of one of Mr. C's childhood friends. This man was a father of five, and a grandfather. They did a 10-minute slide presentation of photos from his life. What a beautiful life it was. I saw photos of the man and his wife, with his children, and with his grandchildren. Always a smile on his face, never afraid of being silly. In fact, the photos people responded to the most were the funny ones. Having never met this man, I was surprised that I became teary-eyed several times.

As I listened to the pastor's eulogy, he made a statement that really hit me,

"Every one of us will eventually be in the same place this man is - people will pay their respects to our families, and they will remember each of us." 

Wow. Talk about a wake-up call. I have often heard people comment on how they'd like to be remembered...but is that how they WILL be remembered? I'd like to be remembered as young, vibrant, beautiful, and thin - but I am none of those so that is not going to happen. However, I feel I am joyful, caring, loving, and happy - and hopefully others see that in me, and will remember those things. I left the service determined to really focus on the qualities I want my children to think of when they think of me.

I also know some areas I need to improve. I am an introvert. I need alone-time to recharge. I don't do well in groups because I get so nervous, and I don't reach out to my friends as often as I should. It isn't that I don't think of them (I do - all the time), or that I don't want to spend time with them, but I fail miserably at keeping in touch, and scheduling visits. We, as a couple, don't socialize enough with others. This is a big area I need to work on. I love so deeply, but I fail at putting that into action.

My One Little Word for 2015 is SHINE. My goal is to shine physically, spiritually, and in my friendships. I want for the ones most dear to me to know they are loved and valued.

I am taking steps to make this happen.

Physically: I set up a session with a trainer at the gym today. I am going to get back into shape, and get my back strengthened again.

Spiritually: I am always working on this. My back issues have prohibited me from attending church regularly (the pews KILL my back), so I feel I am losing touch with my faith. I am going to get back to a regular schedule of study and prayer.

Friendships:  I am going to make a better effort at keeping in touch, whether it be sending a card, a short electronic note, a visit, or a phone call. My goal is to contact at least two friends each week for this entire year. And they can't all be the same friends. It may be that I send a PM to someone who made me smile via something they put on FB, or someone who inspires me. It may not even be someone I know personally (we can all use a little pat on the back occasionally, right?). I just want to reach out and let them know they have touched me in some way.

Happy 2015, my friends. I think it is going to be a great year.


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

20 Years

20 Years
240 Months
1,044 Weeks
7,305 Days
175,320 Hours
10,519,200 Minutes
631,152,070 Seconds
...and counting.

Happy 20th Anniversary, Mr. C.


Sunday, October 05, 2014

Spring, Summer, and Fall

October came from out of nowhere.

I spent the summer rehabbing my back. It has been a longer recovery than I ever anticipated. I am doing much better, except for the muscle spasms. They have become much less frequent, and I mainly only have issues when I lay down or try to get up. If I am up and moving, I am fine.

August was a rough month for me. My father was diagnosed with cancer. Due to some confusion over treatment facilities, doctors, etc., he didn't get a clear treatment plan until last week, but it is one he is comfortable with, so I'm grateful for that. He will be undergoing 8 weeks of radiation, beginning at the end of October.

For someone who craves routine, security, and calm, this news really shook me to the core. I've felt somewhat adrift lately. I loathe that feeling. In addition, Mr. C has been dealing with some stressful projects/clients/contractors at work, and has been gone a lot.

This news has also caused me to struggle with religion. Not my FAITH - my religion. I converted to Mr. C's church after we married. After all he had done for me and the boys, it was really the only thing he requested of me. But this has been an ongoing issue for me - it is not easy to make a change like that. I've thought of returning to my church several times through the years, but every time I'd bring it up, Mr. Cwould become upset. After my father's diagnosis, I once again began to feel the pull to return to my former religion. Mr. C has been gone so much, and when he has been home he has been stressed, so I haven't been able to talk with him until last night. I was afraid he'd be upset with me, but he wasn't. It is amazing how much we grow and change through the years, isn't it? It still isn't an option for me, but at least he was able to talk with me about everything, and was very supportive. Somehow we always manage to come to a compromise on this issue.

And to top everything off, the kidlets went back to school at the end of August. Those who know me well, know this is always a sad time for me. I wish I could homeschool. Mr. C says he loves me very much, but patience is not my gift, so homeschooling would be frustrating for all of us. They are both doing well in their classes, and Brendan had adjusted easily to High School.

With the return of school, came the opportunity for Bren to join the HS golf team. He did quite well, and will receive his Varsity letter this Wednesday evening. He played in a couple of JV tournaments, and three varsity tournaments. He improved so much this summer! Now he just needs to gain some muscle weight, and he'll be able to drive it further, which will help his scores even more. One of the senior teammates is going to start a weight program with Bren during the offseason so he will be ready for spring golf. All in all, it was a wonderful experience for him. The older kids were wonderful with him, and really made him feel comfortable. Bren has been trying out new clubs for months, and found a set yesterday. It will possibly be a Christmas gift - boy are clubs pricey! He wants Titleist AP2. Ouch. It is times like this that I wish I was still working. That 2nd income would come in handy right now. :)

Katie decided to run for Student Council this year. At our school, they only allow 4-6 grades to participate, so this was her first year of eligibility. She ran a great campaign, and was not only elected to represent her classroom, but she was also voted in to be the Secretary of the Student Council! She amazes us with her drive and confidence. Neither of us knows where she got it, but we're grateful she is such a joyful girl.

Our 20th Anniversary is next month. We decided that sometime in the next year or so, we're going to renew our vows. Actually, Katie decided it for us. She was looking through our wedding album, and noticed Marc and Sean were there, but she and Brendan were excluded. Even the fact that they hadn't been born didn't comfort her. She felt it was unfair, so she and Mr. C came up with the idea of us renewing our vows so the two younger kids can share in the joy. So....I'm trying to work out and lose weight so Katie can help me select a gown (she has appointed herself "wedding planner"). Mr. C and I have been looking at new rings, and I believe we found some we love. We just now need to pin down a date, and decide where we'd like this to happen. We're debating between Cheyenne and Santa Barbara. I'd love to do it on the beach in Santa Barbara, but getting everyone there may be an issue. If it proves difficult, we'll just do it here in town.

And that is pretty much the summary of the past 3-1/2 months. Life is good. We've been blessed. And we're grateful.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Getting Back to Normal

Get it? "Back" to normal? Heh. Sorry.

Just wanted to give an update. The back is still having a lot of spasms, and I found out this could last for quite some time. I try to get all of the important things done in the morning, so I can take a muscle relaxer in the afternoon (when it really gets bad). The pre-surgery pain is gone, except for the spasms, so this is a major improvement. I still can't do much around the house, so the rest of the family is picking up the slack.

The kids are busy. Bren hits the golf course every single day. He likes to get there early and stay until they kick him out so they can close. He has found his passion. He shot an 82 a couple of weeks ago. He is hoping to continue improving throughout the summer.

Katie spent the first two weeks of summer in Religious Ed classes. She is now participating in swim team and golf. She wanted to do tennis again this summer, but we couldn't get the schedule worked out to fit it all in. I think I'm going to put her in the City's tennis program this winter. It will keep her active, and give her the chance to play and prep for next summer.

Mr. C is busy at work. This seems like a broken record, doesn't it? I'm just grateful he is less busy than he was last year at this time, and the year before at this time... He is running when he gets a chance. He takes Bella when he can, but she really got out of shape this past winter, so he takes her for a run, brings her home, then goes back out to finish up. She loves to go, and her endurance is increasing all the time.

Brendan leaves for a week-long faith-building retreat at Notre Dame next weekend. He is so excited to go. He loves ND and has aspirations of attending school there. But his parents have aspirations of retiring at some point in our lives, so this isn't an option for him.

I still need to post pics of Brendan's 8th Grade Promotion dance. He had a wonderful evening, and he looked incredibly handsome in his tux. I am hoping to get some pics posted to my FB page this week.

Have a blessed week! I will be back again soon.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Long time, no see!

2014 has already been a crazy year. I don't even know where to begin - so much has happened since my last post.

In January, Mr. C received three unsolicited job offers. He had been working very long hours for the past few years, and we knew he needed to change something. The offers were tempting, and he had decided to accept one of them, so he went in to speak with a couple of the partners, to let them know he was considering taking another position. They asked him if he would give them a chance to discuss it with him the following week. They have been really good to him since before he began working there, and he felt he owed it to them to reconsider. They met, and discussed the changes he needed to make, and in the end, he decided to stay where he is. We feel so blessed that he works for such a great company. We were truly humbled by the way they treated him during the process.

During this same time, my back began causing me a lot of problems.

Back story: I've had two herniated discs for 18 years. I have lived with constant pain, and periods of time where it would go out on me, leaving me flat on my back for weeks.

Last fall I noticed the pain was getting a bit worse. I prayed that it would hold out for our vacation at Christmas, and it did. It hurt while I was gone, but it was livable. About a week after our return from Santa Barbara, it was so bad I ended up in bed with excruciating pain. What I didn't tell many people was that I have been in bed most of the time since then. I would do the things that HAD to be done, then go back to bed.

I went to a local neurosurgeon, and began a series of treatments (Physical Therapy, spinal injections, etc.). The situation deteriorated so much that I couldn't walk without limping, my right leg was numb, and my PT eval showed I had only 50% of the strength of the opposite leg. At the end of April, I went back to the neuro and he told me I needed to have a two-level spinal fusion (L4/L5 and L5/S1). I was not at all pleased.

Eighteen years ago, my only option was spinal fusion, so the neuro told me to put it off as long as possible, in hopes that technology would improve enough to offer me other options. Mr. C and I were hoping I could go for at least 5 years, and I made it 18! It was not an easy process, and there were a couple of times we were afraid I'd have to cave in and have the surgery, but I somehow made it through. So, to have this doctor tell me my only option was fusion was a bit disheartening. I decided to seek a second opinion. I knew there were other options available, but wasn't sure I would qualify for them, but I felt it was worth a shot. So, I found a neurosurgeon in Ft. Collins (he came highly recommended by several people), and was pleased to hear that he strongly believed the fusion was not the best option for my case. He recommended a Laminectomy and Micro-Discectomy (the same surgery Tiger Woods had in March), and I had surgery on May 15.

The surgery went very well. By the next morning, the limp was completely gone. During the procedure, they had to cut my muscles, so I am having a lot of muscle spasms, so I'm on meds for the next couple of months to help with that. The more the muscles spasm, the longer it will take to heal because the muscles are sewn back together using three layers of stitches.

The recovery is a bit longer than I'd like, but I don't want to run the risk of re-injury, so I am following dr.'s orders. Mr. C is exhausted. He is working full-time, handling all the household tasks, and taking care of the kidlets. I feel bad that I can't do more to help.

Now, summer is upon us! School gets out for summer on Friday! Brendan and Katie are excited to have warm weather, no classes, and lots of activities. Golf begins next week, so do tennis and swim team. They have already been informed that there will be more chores for each of them than they are used to, and those chores will come before any activities. Anything to give Mr. C a bit of a break. I can't vacuum or change bed linens for three months! No mopping or sweeping, no laundry, no cleaning bathrooms, etc.

I do have some GREAT news: Mr. C let me get another dog! There was a little pug at the Rescue where we adopted Bella. She was a "senior" dog, and her owner had passed away so she ended up in the shelter. When nobody wanted to adopt her due to her old age, she was allowed to go to Rescue, and I fond her. It took a lot of talking (I.E.: Begging), but he finally relented and let me get her. Her name is Sadie and I simply adore her. Bella is getting more used to her, but it hasn't been an easy adjustment for her.

Well, I'd better get to bed. My pain meds are kicking in and I'm falling asleep as I type. I will make it a point to post more regularly, and hopefully ad more pictures, too.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2013: The Year of Lessons

Whoa.

It has been 7 months since I was last here. That seems so unreal to me. I think Facebook has allowed me to keep the extended family updated on our lives, so I forget to record things here. I use my blog as a journaling tool for future reference for myself, and my children. I need to be better about updating.

2013 was a crazy-busy year. So much happened, both good and bad. We learned many lessons, both painful and not-so-painful. Here are the top 10 Lessons of 2013:

Lesson One: Most people are "looking out for #1". It does not matter how long you've known a person, worked with (or for) someone, or are related through blood or marriage, their word is worth the paper on which it is written. Trust no one. We have been misled, lied to, and treated with complete disregard by several people we had trusted this past year. It was a painful lesson to us, but one that brought much needed awareness that not everyone has the same values and morals.

Lesson Two: Do not delay doing fun things with your children. I spent the entire summer postponing activities because Mr. C was busy. He assured me things would ease up the next week, or the next month. They did not. I missed my nephew's wedding (it involved travel and I wasn't comfortable doing that alone). I put off a trip to Utah to see the older boys and our grandson because Mr. C wanted to go, but ultimately was unable due to work. I barely saw him at all this past summer. He has been swamped for the last year and a half. My life has been on hold during this entire time. I need to just make plans and follow through, even if he can't join us.

Lesson Three: When you have adversity, you find out who your friends are (and those who are not). We have always been surprised by the curve balls life throws at us, but we have been even more stunned at the response of those around us. The people we thought would be there, were not. The people we didn't expect to be there, were.

Lesson Four: Stop living for everyone else. We mothers, especially, need to remember that we had a life before marriage and children. We need to feed our own spirits, or we have nothing left to share with those around us. This is one I really need to work on. I know I need to change, but am not sure HOW to change.

Lesson Five: Do not put your job ahead of your family. Honestly, the sad fact is that your employer does not put any value on the extra time you spend at work. They don't care if you sacrifice holidays, evenings, weekends, vacations, family events, or your health - they just don't. While you are sweating it out after-hours, your employers are home relaxing and having fun with their families. Your sacrifice will not necessarily be rewarded with promotions, good bonuses, or big raises. The more you are willing to work, the more they will expect you to work. Period. I learned this several years ago, and I always swore I'd never again put my career first. Mr. C isn't such a quick learner. I'm hoping this one sinks in soon. After last year, he promised he was going to change, but in the two weeks since returning home from vacation, he has worked several late nights. Some lessons take longer to sink in, I guess.

Lesson Six: When you have people in your life who are amazing, dynamic, and worthy of admiration, let them know. Tell them how much you respect them, appreciate them, and value the relationship. One day it will be too late, and you will regret that you didn't share your feelings.

Lesson Seven: Say thank you! Those two little words can mean so much to someone. We all need to feel appreciated - it rejuvenates the soul.

Lesson Eight:  If your employer is looking to hire an employee, DO NOT recruit one of your friends to become a co-worker. Let your employer find employees, and let your friends find their own jobs.There is one caveat to this: If there is a financial incentive, it may be worth it. Mr. C once worked for a great company which offered a $1000 recruiting bonus for bringing in good workers. It was a great opportunity. But if there is no monetary incentive, it isn't worth putting your position or friendship at risk, in fact it may be detrimental to both.

Lesson Nine: Take care of yourself physically. Drink your water every day, sweat every day, and make wise food choices.

Lesson Ten: Cultivate friendships. This one is where I struggle the most. It isn't that I don't have friends, or that I don't value friendships, it is that I have a very difficult time opening myself up and trusting people (see Lesson One, above). I have been working on this during the past year though. I have been trying to be more deliberate in my relationships. I still have a long way to go, but I am taking baby steps.

The best thing to happen in 2013: We did get to spend Christmas with family this year! We drove out to Santa Barbara and spent Christmas with some of my favorite people on earth. I will post pictures soon.