Sunday, February 23, 2014

An update and week 8/52

Soo....everyone who has been praying for Sparrow sure knew what they were doing. God has been healing this little cat! Pray He continues to heal her :)

Without further ado, here is Week 8 of 52:

8/52: I seriously won the kid lottery. She's cleaning my stovetop here. Her hair is getting so long, and she is literally giddy at the thought of giving it to another little girl in October. (She is donating her hair to Wigs for Kids)

8/52, Sunday: She doesn't own many skirts and this one finally fit her. She wanted her hair "done" for this picture. Sometimes, it really startles me how blue her eyes are and how much they resemble my Dad's.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I know it may seem silly, but...

Please pray for Sparrow. She is not well.

She's been throwing up all week.

She seemed lethargic on Tuesday and Wednesday, but seems to have her energy back now.

A friend with veterinary experience came and saw her yesterday. Says it doesn't look like renal failure (my biggest fear) but more along the lines of worms or constipation.

I have an appointment with the town vet on Monday at 9:30 a.m.

Please pray.

We really do love this cat. Ella especially.

Thank you all.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: On Forgiveness (and its many forms)

When I was a little girl, age 5-8, I remember going to my Aunt Stacy's house. She was my godmother. I absolutely adored Aunt Stacy, and she felt the same way about me. My parents would take me to her apartment and I remember playing on the balcony with my cousin Agatha and eating fruit salad.

Somewhere, there is a picture of me in a Communion dress (I grew up Catholic, remember?), standing in my Grandma's backyard with Aunt Stacy. I thought she was the most awesome woman in the universe, with really cool curly hair and awesome jewelry.

We kept in touch after my Dad moved us to America. She sent heartfelt cards to me and I felt really, really loved.

The year I turned 14 all hell broke loose. My grandpa died after a heart attack. When he died, my grandmother was in the hospital, fighting cancer for the second time. I can't imagine how awful it was for her to be there, ailing and alone, after her husband of 50-something years had died.

One weekend, we called my Grandma at the hospital, and she sounded good. Really, really good. Hopeful. My Dad made plans to bring her to America as soon as remission hit. Two weeks later, she was gone.

During a phone call to oversee the pickup of Grandma's belongings, I found out that Aunt Stacy had been in to see her. How sweet, I thought. What she had said to Grandma was not so sweet.

"You're better off dying. Nobody is going to want to take you in. You are just a burden."

It was like a switch went off. I refused to take Aunt Stacy's phone calls. On September 11, 2001 she made the mistake of calling the house while I was home and I let her have it. Other than that one outburst in which I called her everything but the kitchen sink, I haven't said a word to her.

She doesn't know I'm married to a wonderful man.

She has no idea I have two daughters.

She has never seen a picture of Ella.

Sunday night, with pen in hand, I sat on my couch with a Bible on my lap and wrote her a letter. Told her I was sorry for not keeping in touch. Told her about my husband, children, and a walk with God. I am sending pictures so she can put faces with names. I want to repair that relationship. Life is short.

Monday morning, I woke up to some disturbing news. Someone I had trusted, someone my family had trusted had lied to us. For months. Finances were involved. We won't go there. Long story short, I confronted this person and was met with more lies.

After spending most of the day trying to get the situation under control, alternately angry and crying, I collapsed on the bed, next to my husband and explained, in a fit of tears how stupid I felt for ever trusting this person. How I was so angry. How I would never forgive them.

And then he said something which made me remember why HE is the head of our household, and the leader of our little family unit.

"Forgiveness is not for them. Forgiveness is for you. Just because you forgive (insert name here) you have to forget about what happened. You've just learned an extremely valuable lesson about trust."

Of course, Gabe is right. (See what I said about him being head of household?)

God wants me to forgive. So I am. It does not mean that I have to keep company with anyone who hurts me or betrays me, in any way. I have to love them. I do not have to love what they did.

Forgiveness is so very, very important. I teach my daughter not to hold grudges. I teach her to forgive if someone hurts her. I teach her to love others, even if it has to be from a distance.

Life's too short to let other people steal your joy.
Forgive them.
Move on.
Have a blessed and beautiful day!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

52 Week Project: 7/52

Seven weeks already!

7/52: Her hat is askew. Her hair is in her face and she is laughing. I love this picture even though you can't really see her. She's having fun and that's what matters.

7/52, Sunday: The famous owl dress. Yes, she does have the world's largest collection of cute tights

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Because I need to write this.

There are two of them.
There will always be two of them.
That doesn't change because one of them is not here.

They are still sisters.
They are still my daughters.

Because, you know, one day I'll be walking along with my seven year old and some well-meaning stranger will come up to me and say, "That's a mighty fine daughter you have there" or something like that. And I'll smile and thank him or her, but inside I'm screaming "THERE ARE TWO THERE ARE TWO THERE ARE TWO!!!!!!!"

About three years ago, I was wearing my Riley heart that a good friend got me at the Biltmore house. And the lady at the grocery store who knows my name and Ella's name took a good long look at the heart and said, "Who's Riley?"  And I had to explain it. And then she looked at me like I had seven heads or something.

I need this. I need this in writing. Because one of my biggest fears is forgetting her.
So, I need this.

and this

and this

Mostly, I need her name near me because it reminds me. She was here. She's my child.
Her memory box sits on Ella's bookshelf. Not because I don't want it, because I do...those are HER things...but because Ella feels the need to keep her sister close, to keep the reminders close...she is not alone.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

52 Week Project: 6/52

6/52: She's watching TV here. I see so much of Gabe in her, especially when she has pictures taken in profile.

6/52 Sunday: We curled her hair. The tutorial for that is also on my blog. I'm going to once again break a rule and show you the back of her hair :)

Rag Curls ("Papiloty"): a tutorial

When I was Ella's age, my aunt Zosia used to curl my hair "na papiloty", using little cloth strips. For a seven year old, it was a huge deal because I went by myself across the dirt road to aunt Zosia's and got to stay there way past dark.

One night last week, Ella was asking me about my childhood and Zosia and my curly hair came up. After much begging and a google search of two, I set about curling her hair.

Here's what you need:

*some cloth strips (I cut the sleeves off of one of her t-shirts)
*a kid with damp hair

First, gather up your cloth strips. Depending on the thickness of hair, you may need more or less. I want to say I cut up about 16 and used maybe 10 or 12. I'm bad at this tutorial thing.

Brush your kiddo's hair out smooth. This may be a time to mention Ella's eclectic collection of bedcoverings. :) It may also be a time to mention how happy I will be once we cut our hair in October.

Starting at the ends, wind the hair around your cloth strip until you reach the roots. The tighter you wind, the tighter the curl will be. Once you reach the roots, double-knot your cloth strip. When you are done, it should look like this....

These are super comfortable to sleep on, or so Ella reported to me. When kiddo wakes up, unwind the hair from the cloth strips and have her shake her head out. If you want waves, brush the hair out. If not, don't brush. We just fluffed the hair into place and pinned it up, with some (Hello Kitty strawberry glitter) hairspray.

And here it is from the back.

Easy-peasy! Ella's decided that she will wear her hair like this "most of the time." was FREE!!!!
Have a blessed and beautiful day!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Desperation in the Kitchen: You have 20 Pounds of what?

Helping out at my local food bank is awesome...I've made new friends, my bossman is awesome, and the other workers there treat me like gold.

And then, somebody gives me 20 pounds of chicken leg quarters. Yep.

I had a momentary panic attack. My freezer is tiny! I don't have room for this giant bag in my freezer or my fridge! I don't want to waste food! It's frozen solid! I can't even divide the bag into portions!

So, what's a girl to do?

Break out her collection of crockpots, season and cook all that chicken, of course.

After it was cooked, I de-boned the meat, shredded it and put it into freezer bags.

I ended up with enough chicken for at least six meals.

It would probably have been more, but....

It's kind of hard to do anything with the likes of this one all over the place :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

AMAZING NEWS! (and a little challenge for you all)

I would have written this post yesterday, but I was too busy thanking God because


I got the phone call from Dad in the Dollar General parking lot. Yes, I screamed. Yes, I cried. Yes, they all think I'm crazy now. No, I don't care.

After many, many months of chemo and radiation and a transplant and medications and worry and praying, praying, praying:


I realized I never put up pictures of Dad on here. So, here they come. For the record, I am planning a trip back home to job-hunt and house-hunt and many more pictures of Ella and Dad are to come!!!!


Dad and me, Easter of 2010. I look awful and he isn't looking at the camera at all. :)

Dad and Gabe :) My two favorite guys!

LOOK! a smile! a real-honest-to-God smile! Ella loves all of her grandparents, but my Dad is her definite favorite!!!

My Mom took this picture :)
This, in a nutshell, is my amazing father. I love love love him! I'm so glad that God healed him, and I cannot wait to go HOME to see him again!
Now, for the challenge. I found the February Cheer challenge  here, and have been leaving hearts and treats for both Gabe and Ella. Yes, Gabe is 38 and almost-a-half, but I wanted to brighten his February too.
I want everyone who reads my blog, follows it, or even comes across it to do this! It's brought our family closer together and nothing beat this morning when Ella yelled across the house: "MOM! LOOK! I found SUNGLASSES!"
Here are some of the creative places the hearts have popped up.

Have a beautiful and blessed day, everyone!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

52 Week Project: 5/52

This is Ella's favorite hat, Lavender the owl. Yes, she named the hat. A few years ago, she saw it at CVS and begged and begged until I bought it for her.

5/52, Sunday: It was almost 55 degrees today, so it definitely called for a springlike dress :)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Desperation in the Kitchen: Cheeseburger Soup

So, this soup has been on my bucket list. Things I want to make before I die. I've always, always, ALWAYS wanted to try making this.
Today, I did. In a super lazy, haphazard way because it's 50 degrees outside and I feel like I've been stuck in my house for six years.
I saw it on a bunch of sites and blogs, and finally decided to go with my own recipe.

Here's what you need
*ground beef, half a pound to one pound
*some onion (are you frustrated that I rarely measure my ingredients?)
*3/4 of a green pepper. You could use more, but it's all I had on hand and didn't want to buy more
*2 carrots, diced
*3 potatoes, cubed
*most of a container of chicken broth
*Velveeta cheese (don't judge me!)
*salt, pepper, garlic powder (my holy trinity)
*worcestershire sauce

Brown your ground beef with your onion and pepper
Spray your crockpot and toss it all in there. Cut up your carrots and potatoes and toss them in there too

Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and worcestershire sauce. I use Lea and Perrins. No, this is not an advertisement for them. I simply think that their worcestershire sauce (or "w" sauce as Ella calls it) rocks!

Add your chicken broth. We usually make our own, but I was in a hurry to get out the door and all my stock is frozen solid, so I used this.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Then add your Velveeta and milk. I didn't take a picture of this step, as my phone was ringing and I was doing the laundry and about a zillion other things. Cook for another hour or so...use a potato masher to mash things down. Or a stick blender. If you want to plug something in. Which I didn't.

Oh, man was this ever good. Cross one off my bucket list!