Thursday, June 22, 2017

They're Back!!!

Well, my friends "the hives" are back with a vengeance.  I'm covered!  They managed to get every spot on my body but my lower legs and the bottoms of my feet.  As soon as they started I began taking bendryl.  It worked pretty well, other than making me sleepy, until around midnight last night.  I went to bed around nine last night and I tossed and turned pretty much most of the night.  At midnight I got up to go to the bathroom because I was pushing the water pretty hard as soon as the hives kicked in again.  Well, I could tell my throat and tongue had swollen because it was hard to swallow and my lips and eyebrows had begun to swell up too.  So, I got dressed and barely ran a brush through my hair and Kyle took me to the Emergency Room.  I saw the triage nurse within two minutes of arriving and I was back in a bed within five.  I saw the doctor as soon as I was changed into the hospital gown.  He looked me over and went to work immediately.  I got hooked up to an IV, they took blood work and then they began pushing medicine in.  I got a big dose of bendryl, another steroid shot, and s shot of epinephrine to stop the reaction.  Then they hooked me up to all the monitoring, of course.  My blood pressure was high and they even commented about that.  (I'm not use to being the patient in an ER setting so I think I was a little freaked out about that)  As soon as they gave me all the meds I must of visited their bathroom about four times right in s row.  I even pulled my IV out all by myself somehow too.  The ER tech had to start another one and let me tell you, she is not good at starting IV's!  She poked and manipulated that needle for about what seemed like an eternity and for the first time ever I did not like that.  I had to make another run for the bathroom because I thought I was going to get sick.  She needs practice, but I would have preferred it not be on me.  I ended up staying in the ER all night last night and got home in time for my alarm to go off for work.  I'm still covered in hive and my face is still swollen, but I am feeling somewhat better than I did last night.  The doctor sent me home with another steroid pack and told me to not do z-packs anymore because he thought I could be more allergic to that med.  He also ordered an epi-pen for me.  They said if I'm going to have severe reactions like this I need to be ready to save my own life in the future.  Wow!  That comment really hit home for me!  What a night.  

I took a few photos of the hives yesterday afternoon of a couple places on my body that we're appropriate for posting.  They don't look very bad in these shots and they seemed quite manageable then.  I didn't have time or even think about photos when 
 the hives went completely wild late last night before my ER visit.  I took these photos primarily to show my doctor, but anyway, take a look.  

You should have saw them when I went to the ER.  There wasn't a blank spot on me, they spread like wildfire.  All in all, I'm so glad I woke up when I did and got to the ER, even though I hated everything about being there.  They were great and they took excellent care of me and I could not thank them enough for all that they did.  I'm very grateful.  

When Kyle and I left last night Kevin was sleeping so I didn't even wake him up to tell him we were going.  He was still asleep when we got home.  So later this morning I told him what had happened and he was upset that I didn't tell him last night.  He said he didn't care if he was sleeping in a case like this.  He would have wanted to know.  He said, "when it's your health Sondra, wake me up!". That man.  I sure do love him.  All in all, my life is crazy and completely full of surprises.  Not exactly the kind of surprises I like, but surprises none-the-less.  Today we are still taking massive amounts of bendryl, drinking lots and lots of water, taking the steroids, and resting.  I already called my doctor and scheduled another appointment since the ER wanted me to follow up as soon as I could.  So much for getting back to my so called normal life today.  I'm trying not to dwell on that.  I just want to be a normal human being again.  I don't think that's too much to ask for.  I'm not complaining.  Just stating facts and trying to stay positive.  Thats  all I can do as I roll with the punches.  The bendryl puts a whole new spin on remaining calm through all of this.  I think I've got a nice little medically induced buzz going on today.  (Arg!!  I hate that) 

Take care and we will talk again soon.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Doctor's Visit, A Birthday, and a Wonderful Meal.

Today I had another appointment with my doctor.  I've been released to go back to work on Thursday!  YES!!!  I'm so ready.

While I was at the doctor's office we talked about everything and he was concerned with my three rounds of antibiotics now.  I told him my stomach was not good and he said I need to start taking a probiotic, for at least a month, to help fix the stomach issues.  He said it's because of all the meds I've been taking.  

Then we talked about the nebulizer and the medication I'll use with it.  He also told me how to use it and how often and when to come see him if it doesn't do the job.  I remember using a nebulizer with Curtis when he was little, but it's been a long time.  The doctor also gave me a strict warning.  He said if the first medication I'll use with the nebulizer does not work then they will have to add a second to the mix.  He was concerned because I've had so many issues and of course the pneumonia.  I then asked him if he has seen a lot of people with breathing issues and does it really hit like this during the summer?  He said he sees a lot of issues when the pollen count is high like it is now, but sometimes the pollen isn't even the issue.  I was trying to get him to speculate on why I keep having these issues because I've been hit hard these past few months.  My dad was concerned about this too.  He wanted to know if there was any indication of things like mold in the house.  I told him I haven't seen any, and I've checked around because he got me curious too.  I didn't notice anything.  I don't like being sick and it certainly isn't nice on the paycheck either.  I'd much rather be well and not deal with everything that goes with being sick.  Oh, and there was another thing I learned after my recent chest x-rays.  My lungs are showing the signs of a lung disease, which is consistent with my asthma.  That was a surprise to me.  If I wasn't a believer before, I'm certainly a believer now.  I've got issues.  Who knew?   Ha Ha!!  I guess eventually I could end up with something like COPD, which I think would be awful.  I'm hoping that never happens.  Eeek!

One thing that had been amazing through all of my sickness is that Kevin has only had one overnight stay at the hospital while I've been dealing with all of this sickness.  It was several months ago and it was over a weekend for a bladder infection.  Talk about amazing!!  Since then he has been in a lot of pain but, knock on wood, he has been doing okay.  I'm so grateful for that.  I don't know what I'd do if he was having issues while I was dealing with crazy stuff like pneumonia!  That could have been disastrous!  My kids would have had to take over with their dad because that would be the only option.  Scary thought.  See this is the kind of thing I stress about.  The what ifs???  Again I'm counting my blessings.

Well, speaking of blessings.  Today is Kevin's 51st birthday!!!

I can't believe he's so old!  LOL! 

This is one of my favorite photos of Kevin.  It always puts a smile on my face every single time I see it.  Just look at his smile.
(An old bishop of ours posted a picture of his Father's Day gift.  It was a t-shirt of him and his daughter looking like gangsters.  Then the caption under the photo said....."I could be your future father-in-law.  Call the daughter's cell phone for an appointment."  When I see this photo or even a few others I think a shirt like that would have been perfect for Kevin.  I just wish we would have thought of that idea.  Funny stuff!!!)
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Kevin always tries to tell the kids that I'm at least 10 years older than him.  They've seen his birth certificate and mine, so the kids know which one of us is older.  Silly man.

Tonight we are having a low-key birthday celebration for Kevin.  A nice dinner of Spicy Smoked Sausage, Cheesy Potatoes, and a nice tossed salad.  Followed by a red velvet cake with vanilla or strawberry ice-cream.  Kevin was thrilled!  (This is the first time I've even cooked spicy smoked sausage.  I'll let you know what the family thinks about them.  Anyway, they look yummy in some of the recipes I've seen online.)

The meal is another one of those easy quickie kind.  I plan to cook the sausage stove top and the potatoes are just going to be peeled (by the children), cut into cubes and boiled.  Then when they are cooked, we will drain the water, and add a little salt and pepper to taste and then dump in a can or two of Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup and stir it in.  No added water, just the condensed goodness. You don't even really have to warm up the soup because the heat and steam from the potatoes warms it up as you fold it in.  It's so simple and my family LOVES them.  You can even load up your potatoes with a little crumbled up bacon, green onion, and a spoonful of sour cream, and maybe a sprinkle of shredded cheddar on top, just like a loaded backed potato with extra cheesy goodness.  These are fantastic!   My family eats them up as quickly as I make them, so I'm making extra.    

Below is a photo of what the potatoes and spicy sausage look like together.  We aren't putting the sausage into the potatoes though, and maybe we'll snap a photo of ours when dinner is done.  That is if I don't melt first from all the heat.  I just wanted to let you see what I'm talking about.  

You certainly could add the sausage into your potatoes and that might be something we do another time.  Looks like comfort food doesn't it?  This is the sausage we used....

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This is kind of what the potatoes look like after they are boiled and you dump the soup over them. 

 I cut my potatoes into cubes shapes so they are a little smaller pieces and then mix in the soup.  I think this cheddar cheese soup would be a great base for a cheesy potato soup as well.  Doesn't that sound awesome?  

You know, like this..

Yum!  Makes me think of cooler weather, but that seems so far off right now.  

Well, dinner was a big hit.  Kevin LOVED the spicy smoked sausage because it had a little kick to it.  I'm so glad he liked it.  I'll be honest, even after cooking on the stove top in a hot kitchen, my favorite part was the tossed salad.  It was wonderful!  

Kevin was snoozing while dinner was cooking so I had to wake him up to eat.  I don't usually wake him up simply because when he finally falls asleep he really needs it.  BUT, today is his birthday and I wanted him to eat while dinner was hot and fresh.  I gave him his plate and it was all gone within a few minutes.  I couldn't believe it.  I'm glad I took a chance and tried the sausage.  

Later tonight we will have cake and ice-cream.  That is, once Kevin is ready for it.  I would have loved to be able to go out and celebrate and do something fun with Kevin and our family, but Kevin isn't up for that right now.  Plus who wants to go out in this heat right now.  Kevin seems to be having a pretty good day.  His spirits are up and that is always a good thing.

Happy Birthday Kevin.  We sure do love you.

Take care friends and we will talk again soon.  
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Monday, June 19, 2017

Monsoon Season Has Begun!

Bring on the Monsoons!!  It's official.  Arizona's monsoon season has officially begun.  It starts on June 15th and continues right up until September 30th.  We kicked off the season with record heat and if that's any indication of the kind of storms we are going to receive come mid July to mid August, then we just might be in for some crazy stuff.  Time will tell.  

Today it's 117-118 degrees outside. (Depending on which weather forecast you check)  It's HOT!!!!!!

I turned the air conditioner to 80 degrees because I don't want it working double time while it's so hot here.  So, we've got all the fans going in the house and my cool mist humidifier runs none stop wherever I am.  It makes the summer heat so much easier to endure.  Its great!!  I wouldn't survive without it.  
I let Kyle take my car to work today so he wouldn't have to drive his black car without air conditioning to work.  He'd be a giant sweat ball by the time he got to work if he would have taken his car.  He's gotta get that fixed soon.  Then, Curtis got home and ran out in Kyle's car to run an errand or two and then head over for FHE with some friends from one of the singles ward he has been ward hopping to.  It's fine.  I'm a-okay not having a car.  Where am I going to go?  I've got no where to be or that I need to go to.  Dinner is done.  I put french fries and chicken strips in the oven, and that was dinner tonight.  Super simple.  Stress free, and everyone was happy.  I did turn the oven on though.  Probably not the best time to do that, but it was the easiest option.  Plus everything was baked, not fried.  I'm loving that.  For dessert we have a big box of otter pops we will all partake of.  Super simple.  That's my kind of easy dinner, especially when I don't feel well.  

 Besides, with all these antibiotics and steroids running through my system right now, I'm better off staying put.  I kid you not, these meds are working on my illness, but they are also doing some other things to my body right now,....well, we'll just leave it at that.  It's not pretty.

You should see me around here.  If I'm not wiping up one end of me, I'm wiping the other or swabbing the deck, so to speak.  I'm spending so much time in the bathroom these days my kids think I've moved in.  Being a girl is no fun.  Being sick is no fun.  I'm so over it all already!  Go away and never come back, please.

I've got one more full day of these torture pills and I am done.  Thank goodness!!!! I also have another doctors appointment to get paperwork filled out, get released for work (crossing my fingers), and to get set up with the meds for a nebulizer.  (I'm starting to feel much better, finally!!  Let's hope that all the other side effects of these pills will stop as soon as I stop taking them.  Crossing my fingers and toes.)  I don't need a doctor to receive a nebulizer.  I can actually order one on Amazon for less than $30 and it's Prime too!!!.  And I can even order all the tubing on Amazon as well.  I love Amazon!  You can get anything there.  And then I don't have to fight or wait for insurance approval for medical equipment they don't cover and pay an arm and a leg for it through some third party medical equipment company that will charge an arm and a leg.  I'm so glad I checked Amazon.   

Well, that's all I've got for you tonight, but I will leave you with some funnies.....Enjoy!!

Take care my friends and we will talk again soon.
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Good Things - Tithing & Blessings

I've had the idea for this post sauntering around in my head for weeks now, but I've hesitated to write.  I'm not sure exactly why.  I guess maybe because it sounds a little too "preachy" in my head than I want it to be.  And besides, most people surfing the blogs-sphere seem to looking for more of a crafty/creative place to land and less of a bare-my-soul kind of place lately.  Even so, could I be putting this off because maybe these experiences have been a little too close to my heart?  I have to admit, it's much easier to write about recipes and craft projects than things that actually mean something to me, or maybe I'm afraid that what I have to say may turn out to be nothing more than a joke or a waste to someone else?  I don't particularly care to be the one to "stir-the-pot", but I find myself in that situation more times than I am comfortable with now that I am a grown woman.  With that being said, it doesn't bother me about stirring the pot, because I just keep thinking about the subject matter of this post, even in the wee hours of the morning when I really wish I was sleeping.  It's keeping me up or waking me up, so I know I have to say what it is I've come here to say, because I know I won't be able to rest until I do.  So, just know that you can take this post with a grain of salt.  Or click away if you would rather not dabble in spirituality for today.  I'll be back again soon with some fun recipes or a new project soon enough, that is, once I get my act together again and stop being sick.  

As many of you may know, we are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or maybe you know us as Mormons.  My husband and I have both been members all our lives and we are raising our children the same.  One of the many so called "weird" things that Mormons do is pay tithing.  For anyone who is unfamiliar with the concept, tithing is the practice of returning a portion of your wealth (usually 10%) back to the spiritual source from whence those blessings come.  We believe that everything we have has been given to us by our Heavenly Father (or God) and that by giving a small portion back to Him we show our gratitude and recognize our dependence on Him as the source of all our blessings.  Tithing is an ancient spiritual tradition that has been practiced by many of the great civilizations in history.  The practice is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  One of my favorite scriptures referencing tithing is Malachi 3:10, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."

Some time ago I remember reading Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnatch, and she mentions tithing as a metaphysical law of prosperity.  She said, "Spiritual law, no matter which path, tells us as we give, so shall we receive.  We realize that money is a form of energy.  Energy does not increase if it is hoarded.  Energy must circulate freely for power to be released.  When we receive an increase of money in our lives, giving away a portion of that money keeps the channels of abundance circulating freely, as Spirit intended.  On a practical level, tithing allows us to express our thanksgiving with action.  Returning some of the material good we receive is a tangible demonstration of trust."  She goes on to say, "My experience with tithing on the Simple Abundance path has been erratic but amazing.  When I tithe, I experience more financial serenity than when I don't.  The money seems to stretch further or my expenses diminish.  When I tithe I am able to save more with ease, and new moneymaking opportunities arrive, often unsolicited.  The floodgates of heaven do shower me with blessings, although I've not yet reached the point at which I can't find room for more.  When I don't tithe, I'm not struck down, but I do start to worry about money.  There seem to be longer stretches between bank deposits and more unexpected expenses, which always end up costing more than the amount my tithe would have been.  So I know it's time to write a check.  Wait and watch what happens.  Very quickly, the ebb recedes and the flow begins again.  Coincidence?"

I've heard countless stories like that my entire life, and I have paid my tithing and experienced some of the same experiences personally many times over first hand.  I think I've shared the experience Kevin and I had when we were living in El Paso, Texas and we found ourselves in a situation to either pay all of our bills or pay tithing.  It was a Sunday morning and I had sat down at the kitchen table to look over our financial situation before we headed off to church.  When I realized where we were, I went in to talk to Kevin about what to do.  He immediately said, "Pay our tithing", and that's exactly what we did.  I wrote out the check and off to church we went.  Well, about halfway through Sacrament Meeting Kevin started feeling sick to his stomach and he left after Sacrament Meeting and went home to try to take care of the stomach situation.  Kevin was barely home and in the back of our apartment when he heard this very loud knocking at our door.  Kevin said they just kept knocking loudly.  Kevin said by the time he got to the door he was ready to knock some heads because they just wouldn't let up.  Well, when Kevin opened the door there stood this older man inquiring about our little red car that had broke down several weeks prior and needed a brand new engine. (We threw a rod in the engine)  The car was in bad shape and Kevin and I weren't sure how we were going to move it when the time came for us to move on.  (We knew we couldn't live in that tiny apartment forever)  Kevin thought we could probably sell it eventually for parts to some junk yard.  Well, the man knocking was wanting to buy our broken down little car for $500, which was so much more than the amount we needed for bills, groceries, and gas to make it through to Kevin's next paycheck.  Kevin was shocked and told the man that he needed to talk to me first before he made any deals.  So, the man agreed to return later that afternoon after church.  Kevin stayed home through Sunday School and Priesthood and then came back up to the church to pick the kids (we only had two back then) and I up.  When he got there he proceeded to share the events of his time at home.  As soon as he told me this, I was completely shocked because I had just handed our tithing check to our Bishop immediately right after Sacrament Meeting, which was about two hours prior to Kevin coming to pick us up.  I couldn't believe the change in such a short amount of time!  We were thrilled!  We went home that afternoon and the man returned and we sold our little car.  The man gave us $500 cash that night and said he would be back the next day to pick up the car and that is exactly what he did.  So we quite literally know what it means to see the windows of heaven open up and pour out a blessing!  Maybe still not to the point of not having enough room to receive it, but an outpouring for sure!! 

Then other times, I have experienced the complete opposite effect and had all kinds of things go wrong as soon as I paid my tithing.  I firmly believe during those times it was just a test.  A test of our faith at the time because I doubted that we would or could be blessed again at the time.  I needed to be humbled (not to mention repent) again and reminded of how tithing works most of the time.   I think there's a lot to be said for doing what you feel to be right without needing a personal reward for your actions.  And besides, I think the times we experienced the opposite effect were the times when we were questioning the blessings of paying our tithing and we needed to see firsthand just how much better things seem to work out when you do pay your tithing.  So, it most certainly was a test of faith!  No doubt about it.  Paying tithing has increased my faith exponentially, which is as good a blessing as I could ever hope for!  I've mentioned before some of the large blessings we have received that I know were a direct result of our decisions to pay tithing.  I've also mentioned that my husband was recently declared disabled after suffering a spinal cord injury due to events that transpired during what was to be a simple outpatient procedure to reposition leads to a nerve cord stimulator he had placed in his back about two week prior.  We went through a lot as we learned the outcome of that so called short two hour outpatient procedure that ultimately landed Kevin a 7 week stay at one of the most expensive "vacation" spots in town....the hospital......while Kevin learned how to care for himself all over again with his disability!  What a road we have been on, and stories I could tell you!  You learn a lot going through something like this.  We have come closer in many ways as a family and in other ways we have been pulled completely apart.  It's caused us to reevaluate relationships and those things that are most important, and those things that are not.  It's caused tension, sadness, depression, anger to creep into the lives of all of us in one form or another.  It has also caused us to cling to one another for love, support, and to carry us through some of our darkest moments in this life.  And of course, this entire ordeal has been extremely difficult on my husband.  Not to mention life altering, and completely life changing.  He isn't the same man he use to be.  In some ways the man I knew was taken away from us the day of that surgery.  In other ways, I see new things I never dreamed possible about my husband.  He has softened a bit.  He has also retreated and become more of a hermit too.  He wants to be involved in life, but the pain he experiences every single day keep him down and that is the hardest part of this entire thing.  We all are grieving the man we use to know and trying desperately to hold on to the man we see before us so as not to let him slip more and more away from us.  We love him more than words could ever say, and I know my children and I would walk the corners of the earth if we needed to in order to take this burden away from him.  I think watching a husband and father suffer the way he has is the hardest part of all, and it's not all about the physical suffering.  I'm also talking about the emotional suffering.  The kind that goes hand in hand with the measure of a man's worth in his own eyes and in he eyes of those around him.  My husband is in mourning of the life he once had and the life he intended on having as our children grow up and the two of us grow old together.  My husband feels guilty now for the things I have to do on a daily basis because he is unable to do most of the things he did before.  AND the watching this man we know and love going through all of this suffering some days is more than I can bare, and I find myself wanting to run to the top of some mountain to scream at the top of my lungs to take this burden away, but I know that wouldn't help.  Our lives have been flipped upside down, sideways, and all around.  There are times when we don't even know what direction we are turned, but somehow with the help of a loving Heavenly Father standing right by our side we manage to find out way.  That has been the truly amazing part.  Feeling and knowing just how much our Heavenly Father loves and cares about each and every one of us collectively as a family unit and individually.  I have literally felt my Heavenly Father walking beside me throughout this entire ordeal.  I have felt his outpouring of love and support for me and my husband in the most profound and quite personal ways that I will never forget!  I know, without any doubt, that my Heavenly Father is very much aware of who Sondra, Kevin, Danielle, Kyle, Curtis, and Alexis are.  I cannot deny that and I know just how much he is involved in even the most minor details of our daily lives.  I have seen Him work many many miracles every single solitary day as we have continued through this.  For that, I am most grateful and I know that these things are part of that outpouring of the many wonderful blessings we have received for paying our tithing.  That is what I mean when I say, sometimes we do not realize all the blessings we receive for keeping those simple commandments.  Those blessings do not just benefit Kevin and I.  Those blessings transcend through time to our four children, and will continue to bless our posterity forever as we continue to try to be true and faithful to these sacred commandments.  What a blessing that is!!!  I think this is what is meant by not having room enough to receive as  the scripture in Malachi refers to the blessings of paying our tithing.   

Now, over a year and a half later, Kevin is finally on social security, which isn't much money at all.  His income has now been cut down to a fourth of what he was making before this happened.  We keep telling ourselves everything is going to be fine.  And for the most part, we try to keep that thought in our minds.  I mean, except for the no or very low income thing.  As far as his disability, well, that's a completely different story!  When that happened it was just a couple of months before the holidays.  There we were with Kevin disabled and learning to cope in the real world after being in the protected so called perfect world at the hospital, and no job and the added struggle of his injury.  No way to pay for Christmas and four fantastic kids, old enough to understand the situation, but who were definitely on the nice list and hoping to be rewarded accordingly.  (I'm not begging for sympathy here.  Just setting the stage....)  It was during this time that we were faced with one of the most difficult dilemmas of our adult life.  We received a larger than normal check from my employer.  I had paid all the bills that were most pressing and had a decent amount left over, which was all we had to our name at the time.  We knew we still needed to pay tithing on that check.  Doing so would take more than half of what we had left, but we felt strongly about it so I submitted our tithing online while sitting in our living room.  (I absolutely LOVE that option.  It's awesome!) We prayed our hearts out and we prepared as best we could for any possible outcome.  I mean, who were we to say that losing everything wasn't just the experience we needed right now?!  We didn't know, but we were ready to go with the flow, having faith in our Heavenly Father.  Trust me, years before Kevin's ordeal and the changing effects it had on all of us, I might have gone kicking and screaming all the way.  But, by this time after everything else we had already gone through and Kevin becoming permanently disabled, I was just thankful to still have my husband and my children by our sides and that was what I focused on most.  Little did we know what was in store for us.  

Our experiences through this past year and a half since Kevin's injury have been nothing short of miraculous.  I get a little teary-eyed just thinking about it.  To this day, I have quite literally felt that we were guided and directed, as if my Heavenly Father was standing right beside me, through all of this.  We also had an amazing Bishop that went out of his way to make sure our family was taken care of and he did everything he could to help us in ways we never dreamed possible.  I firmly believe Bishop Duke was called to help us (and I certainly mean ME personally) through all of this.  I couldn't have made it through without our Bishop's guidance and support.  He was truly wonderful and I cannot thank him enough for all that he did for us.  Not to mention his wonderful wife and family that allowed their husband and father to serve as Bishop and become the Lords hands here upon the earth to help our little family, and so many others in similar situations in our ward family.  He was a busy man.  I often wonder how he found the time to do everything his calling required of him after working so hard to support his own family and working full-time (that's right folks Mormon Bishops don't get paid to be Bishop.  They do this above and beyond the work they do to support their families.  Now do you understand just how amazing it is for these men to do the work that they do for a congregation of between 200-600 people?!)........ I know that it was because he also knew what it was like to have his Heavenly Father on his side guiding and directing him through his daily life as he worked to solve problems and clear obstacles, in a kind and loving manner, for all of us that needed his help.  That was truly amazing to witness and see with my own eyes and this experience has reconfirmed my faith in knowing that the Lord qualifies whom He calls because He certainly did exactly that with our bishop, and I know He will continue to do this with our new bishop too.  It's awesome!  

Back to where I was going with this.........Within about a week of Kevin's diagnosis we started to receive all kinds of things from extended family and friends in the form of meals, support, and an outpouring of love.  Everyone said they just felt like they needed to help us out.  With everyone's help, we were able to pay all of our bills.  We had several cards with some cash mysteriously left on our doorstep many times.  (Thanks to those that left them!)  We found unbelievable deals on the things our kids needed or even wanted for Christmas that first year and we all had as good a holiday as we could, under the circumstances.  I was amazed at how easy things came together for us that Christmas.  We had a very low key, stress free Christmas.  It was probably the first we had ever had in our entire married life.  I still sit in awe as I think about that entire holiday season.  No one had any preconceived expectations and this was the first year we focused on the spirit of Christmas more than the things.  This was also the beginning of us all learning to let the things that really do not matter go and the start of us focusing on our needs more than our wants.  We also learned to set boundaries and that has been a completely different kind of freeing experience for our entire family.  After that first Christmas, we even ended up having a little money in our account to pay for things like gas for our car and a few other things like that.  That to me was amazing because when this all first happened I thought for sure everything was going to fall apart and we wouldn't have two nickles to rub together.  In fact, because of the support and help from our bishop, I never felt completely weighed down with the financial burdens we have experienced through all of this, in fact, those same burdens linger still today.  Our bishop did what he could to help us through this difficult time.  He could even sense during those first few appointments that I was going to need someone to talk to about all of this.  Especially since pretty much all of the family responsibilities had suddenly shifted to my shoulders in a short amount of time.  I guess our bishop knew I needed someone to help me find a way to cope and develop skills to help me shoulder those burdens like I never had before.  Sure, I still struggle and those burdens still, at times, are too much for one person to carry, but for the most part, those burdens have been made light because we have been blessed by the love and support of so many.  I don't know how those who are not members of the Mormon church get through tragedies such as this without a support system like our ward family?  I can understand how something might make someone decide to do something bad to take themselves and their families out of situations like this, or turn to drugs or alcohol to dull the pain.  That doesn't mean I agree with a decision like that, but you can understand how hopeless some people might get.  Know what I mean?  I am so grateful for the gospel in my life.  For the many blessings I receive each and every single day because of the knowledge I have and because of the choices I have made.  For commandments like paying our tithing that bless our lives in profound ways.  Truly, the window's of heaven have been open these past many many months and we have been blessed abundantly.  

Now, please don't get me wrong, we have discovered that we are far more comfortable being on the giving end of such kindness, but we are learning a tremendous lesson in humility, faith, and about our Heavenly Father's love for each of us, and our inner strength.  We feel so very grateful for the friends and family who have helped us in so many ways, and we pray that the Lord will repay your kindness a thousand times over.  I suppose that's why I needed to write this.  So that each of you who help us out will know what a difference you make for us.  We thank you for being instruments in the Lord's hands and being the answers to our prayers.  Enough said.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Nothing Much To say.....

I like to try and blog every day.  I really do try.  It's a place for me to vent.  But this week for some reason, I got nothing.  I'll start posts and then I end up deleting them just as quickly as I start them because, really, there's nothing there.  I think it's all part of the ebb and flow of my creativity, I guess.  Here are some of the things I thought about saying:
  • The other evening I ran out to pick up yet another prescription at the Pharmacy.  When I pulled back into our driveway I noticed a CenturyLink salesman down the street going door to door with his clipboard in hand.  We never got a knock at the door, so I think my new "No Soliciting" sign is actually working!!!  I can hear The Hallelujah Chorus being sung even as I type.  Yay!!
  • I love getting free stuff in the mail.  About a month ago Danielle turned me on to this app or site called Influenster.  I signed up and got my first box of goodies around Mother's Day.  Now to keep up with all the reminder emails and all the little things you have to do to keep the freebies coming.  I haven't been doing much while being sick, I need to get better and get back on track.  -smile-smile-. 
  • I found this cool website that submit a sample of your own handwriting to and get it back in font form to use anywhere you can upload the digital file.  The sites called  I tried doing my block letter printing, but I didn't like the way it turned out.  Then I remembered Lexi has cool handwriting so maybe I can get her to let me submit her handwriting to the site.  Fun Fun! 
  • Tracking down old tax returns is not easy!  We've filed our taxes online for several years now and I thought the one site kept copies in their archives so we could print them out.  Apparently I was wrong.  Their site refers you to the IRS.  You can print or have the last three years mailed to you, but if you need more than that you have to submit a form and pay $50 per year for copies of those records.  I did request what I could get for free from their site.  It's easier to just hit print on the website instead of rummaging through our Schmidt archives sometimes.  Yikes!!!  I know I've printed all but last year's out and filed them away.  I always keep copies.  So, off to the Schmidt archives I go.  I need to go back to 2010.  Wish me luck.  And, No, we are not being audited.  We need them for something else. 
  • Tomorrow is Father's Day!  I've ordered my Dad's gift and it's being delivered.  (I'm not sure I'll be making a visit since I'm sick right now.  It might end up being a telephone call.  I hate that!  Being sick sucks!!!)  Now to figure out what to do for Kevin.  Kevin's pretty easy to please so I'm not worries.  We'll get it all worked out.
  • My SIL sent us a little clip of a Home Depot commercial my father-in-law was in.  He was in two, I believe and I wish we could find the second  one because I believe he has a bigger speaking part in that one.  We could only find he one on YouTube.  My father-in-law is the guy talking about flooring and he say,"we have ceramic tile, we have wood, we have carpet, we have vinyl".  It was just nice to hear his voice again, even if it was just a few tiny words.  It was really hard for Kevin to hear.  He couldn't even talk about it.  I know he misses his dad a lot and it gets harder and harder during times like Father's Day.   Well, here is that clip.....
Happy Father's Day Gene!  We miss you more than words could ever express!!!  'Til we meet again.
  • I totally missed our Ward's Relief Society Super Saturday today.  I was bummed.  For those of you that don't know what that is, it's a giant crafting party with a bunch of women and a bunch of different crafts being made all at once.  You sign up to make whatever you want, pay a small fee, and you come home with some fun new things.  I wanted to make one of these.  
    My plan was to learn how to make one and then make another one like this...
    For 4th of July.  I'm sure I could figure out how to make one on my own if I really want to, but I'm still not feeling well and I'm suffering from a huge case of "the dumps" right now.  You know, that feeling you get as you start to get better when you still have absolutely no energy or desire to do anything but binge watch TV and you still sleep a lot.  Sometimes it lasts for a few days and sometimes it lingers around for several weeks.  Well, I have a nice case of "the dumps" going on right now.  I'm hopeful it will disappear soon, because every once in a while I get these twinges or bursts of energy and I want to get up and organize and clean the world, but my body always slows me down to remind me I'm still not better yet.  That's right folks, I'm on the roller coaster ride to hopefully a FULL recovery.  Or at least I'm hopeful.  The doctor told me the steroids he prescribed will help keep this stuff away.  If I would have known that before (the first time) I would have insisted on the steroids back then, hives or no hives.  Thankfully they think they figured out that I was allergic to the additive in the previous inhaler I was using so I can have steroids now.  So far, no hives!!!  I am a happy girl.  I'm still going to see a dermatologist and have those lovely allergy tests done, but for now I am thrilled no hives!!  Yes!!!
  • I watched a movie this morning called The Impossible.  It was about this family that took a vacation in 2004 and got caught up in the tsunami in Asia.  It was heart wrenching and really made me realize that my little problems in my own little corner of the world are not that bad, and what really matters is the love I have for my family and the love they have for me.  So, when I get frustrated that my children ignore me when I ask them to lend a hand around the house now, I can't help but think, at least for today, that at least we are all together and have the blessings of being sealed in the house of the Lord as a forever family.  I don't know if I we could have survived something as crippling and tragic as a tsunami.  There are times when I really am grateful we do not do a lot of traveling.  (Not often) After seeing this movie, I'm more grateful than ever.  I love my family!!!
  • Lexi's has been doing a lot of photography lately and has gone out with several of her friends to take pictures of them.  One friend even had Lexi take her Senior portraits.  Lexi did a great job!  I wish she'd let me post a few of her pictures.  She really has an eye for this.  Now she wants to get a few new lenses, a new laptop so she can edit her photos, and get a subscription to one of the photo editing sites all the photographers use.  The costs of all of this adds up fast.  But, Lexi is being smart about it and has decided to save her birthday and graduation money and get a job so she can get the money she needs.  She wants to eventually start charging people to take their photos and take a few classes when she signs up for school too.  She's excited and I'm excited for her too.
  • Lexi also completed all the requirements to receive her Young Women's medallion.  Yes, nothing like getting it done at the last minute, but hey,...who cares.  So, Lexi will meet with our Bishop soon to get that ready.  Then she's also going to see about getting her Patriarchal Blessing as well.  We've been trying to get her to do that for a while now.  I guess she's finally ready.  Yes!!!  The girl graduated from high school and now all of a sudden she is on fire.  Go Lexi Go!!!
  • That reminds me.  Lexi turns 18 in a few days.  That means she will be old enough to start going to the singles ward.  Do you know what that means?  That means Kevin and I go from being a family of 4 (Kyle's records are in the singles ward already) on the records of our Ward, to a family of 2 on the records of the ward.  That's kind of tough to take for this Mom.  Curtis just received a calling in the singles ward so his records are being moved as we speak.  His boss happens to be in the bishopric of the singles ward and pulled him aside the other day.  More to come on his new calling once they announce it over the pulpit.  I think it's funny.  You've gotta be careful what you complain about because sometimes the Lord has a sense of humor and calls you to fix whatever you don't like.  Ha ha!  Not really fix.  More like help and gain a better understanding of things.  And I thought I was the only one that got those kinds of callings.  Ya gotta love it!!! -smile-smile-
  • I want to try making my own shredded beef taquitos.  You know, baked of course, not friend.  Don't these look good, minus the guacamole.  (Yuck!  I'm not into food that looks and feels like something from inside of a baby's diaper!  No, not this girl!).   I'll let you know if I get that adventurous.  My friend at work says her family makes them all the time and it's not hard to do at all.  They don't look difficult to make.  I think it's just finding the right combination of seasonings for the shredded beef.  Yum!!!
  • Today it's 109 degrees here in Arizona.  It's hot!  BUT, the 10 day forecast is predicting 121 degrees for Tuesday.
     This is where my family just might find me next Tuesday.  Chillin' in the fridge.  I better be careful and keep this idea to myself.  They might try to steal my spot.
     Another Facebook friend shared this a few weeks ago.  I'm thinking this is appropriate for this week, don't ya think???

    The caption in says, "Arizona? No, it's one floor down.". 
    I keep telling Kevin we need to move.  He wants to move to The Poconos in Pennsylvania and buy some lake front property.  I keep telling him that's too far away, but he has his heart set on it.  I keep telling him someplace up north would be perfect.  Ideally I'd prefer the 70-80 degree weather of California with the beach front property there and the cool evening breezes, but who can afford that?  I miss the beach.  

  • Fall cannot get here soon enough!!!
See!  I got nothin'.  Whatever!  I've been busy as a bee being sick, talking to my family and our friends back east, I just don't have anything interesting to say about it, or I can't say anything about it.  Let's face it, sooner or later one of my children or husband is going to do something to really mess something up or do something totally goofy and then we'll all laugh again.  Tomorrow is a new day.....

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

More Sickness, a MEME, and a CUTE Front Porch too!

Its time for a Meme....

1.  June 14th is Flag Day in the US of A. Do you fly your country's flag at home? Sometimes, often, or every single day? Have you ever visited the city of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia)? Did you make a point of seeing The Betsy Ross House?  Have you ever made a trip to Baltimore? If so, was Fort McHenry on your itinerary? (where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write The Star Spangled Banner)

Well, I struck out all the way around on this question.  We fly a flag on most of the patriotic holidays at this house, but that's about it.  Right now, I have a flag on our front door, does that count as flying the flag?  I have never been to Baltimore or Philidelphia.  I guess I should add those cities to my bucket list, shouldn't I??!!

2. Red flag or white flag? Which have you encountered most recently? Explain.

Well, I'm not quite sure how to answer this question.  It's not really a white flag of surrender, but you might call it a white flag of "go"!  I've had a lot of moments over he past several months that I thought I'd be putting out the flag of surrender only to be surprised and amazed that it's become more of a white flag for go instead.  -hope-hope-

3. Are you a stay in the car listen to the end of a song kind of person? What kind of person is that?

I would say, sometimes.  It all depends on the song.  This is especially true if it's a song I haven't heard in a long time.  Most times, when I get to where I'm going I'm out of the car as soon as the key turns off because the car becomes an oven without the air conditioning here in Arizona.  I'm not one to let the grass grow under my feet when it's errand time.  -belly laugh- I just want to get them finished and get out of the heat as soon as possible!

4. What are some of the traits or qualities you think a good dad possesses? In other words, what makes a good dad? What's an expression you associate with your father?

1 Unconditional love
2 Leading your family by example
3 Pride in his children
4 Being a good husband
5 And last, but not least, a testimony of Jesus Christ, and finding practical ways to share it daily with your family.

My Dad always reminded me, and still does that things always have a way of working themselves out with God's help.  He is in control and He always knows what best for us.

Another thing my Dad always let me do, make my own choices.  Sure, he let me know about potential consequences, but I was able to make choices on my own.

My husband and I do the same thing with our kids today.  I think this is why our kids have never gotten into major trouble because they were able to do the same thing.

5. What's one rule you always disagreed with while growing up? Is that rule somehow still part of your adult life? Is that a good or bad thing?

Oh, this answer will raise some eyebrows.....
I remember church leaders and seminary teachers telling us to hang out with LDS kids because you have a better chance of them having the same standards as you.  Well, that's not true.  There were only a handful of LDS kids at the first high school I went to in California.  There were probably only a couple of them that might have spent time with me outside of church that I believe had good standards.  The one was the bishops daughter and she picked a fight with me (I mean drug me down to the ground and tried to beat me up) the first time I ever saw her.  To this day I do not know why.  I didn't certainly didn't provoke it. The other kids didn't want anything to do with me because I didn't come from a family with money.  My dad was in the Air Force.  So, I tried to hang out with LDS kids, but most of the ones that would hang out with me were doing all kinds of things they shouldn't.  So I made friends with non-members and newly baptized friends.  I wasn't perfect. I made some wrong choices, but for the most part I wasn't as bad as some.  So, I'm sure I was looked down on.  

Then when we moved to Arizona I was introduced to those so called "good mormon kids" that attended all their meetings, went to seminary, and even said all the right things, and then would go out stealing stuff, drinking, smoking pot, and all kinds of other things.  Those kids I did not make friends with.  I did meet a group of kids from my ward that we're good decent kids, but weren't considered the goody-goody group.  We had a lot of fun together and I miss seeing them now.  We are still friends today, mostly on Facebook though.

Now that we have had our own kids, Kevin and I, we have let our kids make and pick their own friends and I think our kids have made good choices.  Even better choices than Kevin or I made.  I have to say, I'm blown away by all of the good choices our kids have made.  Just this past weekend Lexi and I were at the dollar store to pick up a hole punch and some bubble gum for Kevin.  As we were walking through the store Lexi decided to pick up some colored markers.  When we got to the car she said she was going to read and study The Book of Mormon and use the different colors to record her feelings and the things she learns in her journal.  She decided that all on her own, no prompting from us as her parents.  Then Curtis was spending a lot of time out with friends and made the decision to not stay out so late every night so he could get better sleep for work and things.  He said he prayed about a few things and this was one of the answers he received.  These are both very personal decisions for a couple of our kids that bring those proud Mom moments. We have awesome kids.  Not perfect, but perfect for us.  

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm doing my best to fight off what ever this is.  I started on Monday with a cough and I could not catch my breath.  I did my daily inhaler as soon as I got up, and within half an hour I was switching to the rescue inhaler.  More breathing issues.  I can't believe it.  I'm trying not to break down and cry right now about it.  I'm frustrated.
I did go in to see the doctor.  I got a breathing treatment, steroid shot, steroids to take at home, and another antibiotic.  I'll go back to my doctor again in a few days to follow up and to get set up for a breathing machine I can use at home.  Thinking positive here,....I'm thinking that will help a lot and allow me to not to get this bad in the future and hopefully keep me going on the rough days.  I'm so done with all of this.  Just saying.  Not complaining or whining, just stating facts. -germs or whatever this gone!!!-

On another (as I change subjects to something more upbeat) note.....

Curtis came home from work yesterday and mowed our lawn.  I was so happy!  I have to say, the lawn is looking really nice.  We still have a couple problem areas, but overall it's looking good.  I just love how nice the lawn looks after it's freshly cut.  It's lovely!

And while we are on the subject, I had Lexi snap a few photos of our front porch with all the patriotic things we have out so far.  The wreath was one I used last year and had the kids swap out with the brown one we use to have up.

Lexi couldn't resist taking a snap of our welcome sign up close.

This is our "no soliciting" sign a friend made for me.  I'm hoping it keeps all of those sales people from knocking in he future.  It never fails we always get them super early in he morning on Saturday when we are sleeping in or later in the evenings.  Inevitably they are usually some strange guy selling windshield replacements (why would I use "some guy" knocking on my door instead of someone in a company truck with a company shirt on and with credentials???), or they are selling upgrades to our internet, or they are from another religion and want me to tell them which of my neighbors speak Spanish.  The ones I like to have fun with from time to time are the Jehovas Witnesses.  Why?  Because they always want to give me their Watch Tower.  I was told by another one that they cannot touch The Book of Mormon.  So, I use to keep a copy of it by the door.  I would tell them I'd take their pamplets if they would all take a copy of The Book of Mormon.  They never have yet, so I gave up trying and the books have been moved from beside the door.  My oldest daughter had a friend in high school that was a member of that church and she told her they couldn't touch The Book of Mormon because there is power in that book and that's how us Mormons get you.  Just by touching not reading.  LOL!!!!  Eventually this same friend told my oldest daughter that she couldn't be friends with her because she was Mormon too.  I was shocked.  Our kids would get into trouble with us as their parents if they said something rude like that.  We taught her to be respectful of ALL religions.  (That's why I moved the books of Mormon from beside the door.  I didn't think I was setting a good example).  Anyway, this is our sign.  It says, "please don't try to sell us your Crazy.  We have enough of that here.  No Soliciting!". I love it!!!!

I"m not sure if I shared this with you before or not.  This is the ramp, for Kevin, a member of our Ward built for us.  Pretty awesome right!  It's wood and it's been in place now for about a year and a half now.  It could probably use a little paint...,see the black marks on the ramp.  We could make it look a little prettier now.  We might wait a bit to do it after the weather cools down again.  (I'm developing a long list of things to do once cooler weather comes back). We have some folks coming over in the next month or so to access Kevin's needs.  As it was explained to us, they will break it all right down to any equipment, modifications to the home, even creams and ointments he may need.  It's going to be hard on Kevin to go through all of this, but in the long run it will be a good thing.  More to come on that later.

The banner you saw above in this post is something I had been working on a few weeks ago.  It was a free download I found.  All I had to do was hit print and out came all these lovely pieces.  Then I used a piece of red ribbon I had tucked away and I laced the pieces on to the ribbon.  Super simple and super cute, don't you think??!!!

Eventually I want to add my fire crackers once I get them made.  That is, once I feel better.  I might try working on them this weekend.  A friend cut out all the pieces for me.  I'm looking forward to make them in the days to come.  

I'd also like to drag out my galvenized drink carrier (it's been in the box since I bought it a few years back) and put it between the two chairs on my front porch filled with red white and blue silk flowers I have stashed away, and maybe even a flag or two.

I like flowers like these....

Or maybe I'll just go with all flags of different sizes.  I happen to have a few lying around too.

Who knows.  I might pull out some bandana fabric I've got stashed away and make a couple pillows for the chairs on my porch too.  Something like these....

I like these too, but I don't have red striped material stashed.  Only red bandana fabric.  So I'll stick to what I have.

All in all, the front porch is coming together and I only spent $1.00 on the whole punch from the dollar store this year.  Pretty cheap, right???  Everything else was part of something I bought several years ago.  I'm a saver when it comes to decorations.  I declutter as I go, but I save what I love.  By the time I'm done I should only have to hang the flag on the 4th of July and that's it.  Yes!!!!

Well, I'm taking my first doses of oral steroids and antibiotics tonight.  My hope is to make it to work tomorrow.  Wish me luck.  Here's hoping for no cough and a high pulse/ox rate.  No more low numbers!!!  I don't want to end up back at the doctor again.  Please no!  I don't want to see them and they don't want to see me either.  Frankly, I wouldn't blame them.  I'd be sick of seeing me too.  -smile-smile-

Take care my friends and we will talk again soon.
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