Sunday, May 8, 2011

Box of Chocolates

You know the movie quote from Forrest Gump, "life is like a box of chocolates?" Well, that's I think the best way to describe my life right now. Some days I get a really nice sweet white chocolate, while other days (like today), I am tasting some of the real bittersweet kind.

Mother's Day is not always the easiest day for me to begin with...I live 3,000 miles away from my Mom and so don't get to celebrate it with her. But this year is much more difficult than most, as it is exactly 1 year ago today that I m/c my first baby with my DH. My life will never be the same, Mother's Day will never be the same. It is difficult not to reflect on all of the things that today "could have" been if things had turned out differently. I "could have" been the mother of a small baby, celebrating a happy Mother's Day, relishing in all the hopes and dreams that I would have for that little one. Instead, I am the mother of an angel baby who I never had the chance to meet and for whom all the hopes and dreams I had will never be realized. This past year it has been very difficult for me to even think of myself as a mother and just to write here that I am is difficult. But with the grief and loss that I feel, I know that I am, even if I never had the chance to hold, hug, or kiss that little baby.

I do not know the plans that God has for me...I can only hope and pray that the dreams that I have are somewhere in line with God's plan for my life. As each month passes with no closer step to mothering a live baby, my faith is tested and challenged. But I will hold steadfast to my faith and trust that God knows better than I do and, whatever God has planned for me will be the best possible plan for my life. That's not to say that I have given up on my dream of holding and raising my own dear fact, I haven't yet been able to reconcile NOT having that dream become reality. But I do have to consciously make the decision every day to trust in God and trust that "Father knows best".

So, as I muddle through this day, while reflecting on my own experience with motherhood (however brief), I will also think of my own mother and all the other mothers I know. And I will prayer for these amazing women on this Mother's Day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pandora's Box?

DH noticed a trend recently...the use of "Pandora" as a brand name. He asked me "why would a company want their brand to be named "Pandora", isn't Pandora's box a bad thing?" While I don't know the answer to this question, I have found a bit of Pandora to be an added joy in my life. It's Pandora radio!

I heard about this quite some time ago, but was reminded of it in a recent discussion with my uncle. So I decided to finally check it out and I just LOVE it!!! If you're not familiar, it's free online radio that is created to your own personal taste. You can even create multiple radio stations if you like. I like to listen to music softly while I'm working at home but with any radio station (whether on line or on the TV) I always have to choose a specific genre. With Pandora, I've been able to create a station for me, which includes many genres, consisting of only songs and artists that I like. If a song comes on that I don't like, I just give it a thumbs down and it won't come up again.

Try's fun!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Reading List - February 2011

I can't believe it's been nearly a year since I last updated my reading list. It's not that I haven't been reading. Actually quite the opposite, I've done quite a bit of reading in the past many months. Following are my thoughts on the books I've finished, along with an updated reading list. My "to be read" list is MUCH longer than what appears here, but it would be overwhelming to include them all:) Here goes...

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
Okay, so this is a book written for preteen/teenagers, but I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was like a lighter version of Harry Potter, minus the magic and younger heroes/heroines. I enjoyed the story line, the development of the characters and the mystery that unraveled throughout the book. There was one especially interesting development at the end (part of a subplot) in which I was like "ahhhh, now it makes sense". So for kids and kids at heart, I recommend this fun, easy read.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book was not at all what I expected. First, I didn't realize that it was the author's actual experience. Second, I guess from the movie previews I was expecting something lighthearted. Third, I did not expect the book to make me think and reflect so much on my own life and I never expected to relate so much. I'll leave it to you to get into the details but I loved the writing style of the author and her transformation throughout her story was relatable at many different intervals. I have already recommended this book to a few people and would do the same in general. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie...I hope it doesn't disappoint.

Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon
A deviation from my typical genre, this one wasn't quite what I expected but it was actually quite good. It's an easy read, not too long, but for a relatively short book I felt that it was pretty well developed and the build up kept me turning the pages. I definitely had difficulty putting this one down once I got started. When I read the reviews, they were mixed so I think this is one that you would either love or hate. Give it a try and let me know what you think. For me, I'm looking forward to reading another of Jennifer McMahon's books.

127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston
Yes, THAT Aron Ralston...the one the movie is about (though I can tell from the previews that the movie took some liberties). This book is amazing! The true story of Aron Ralston's experience when his hand gets caught by a boulder while hiking and he has to make the unthinkable decision to cut off his hand. Very well written...loved the outline, his writing style is incredibly engaging and sucks you in, and of course the virtually unbelievable experience that this man went through. I started off the book feeling sorry for him, went through a phase where I felt he kind of deserved what happened after tempting fate so much. But at the end I only have admiration for all that he went through, how he survived and especially how honest he was about himself. I strongly recommend this book, but beware that the part where he cuts off his hand is not for the weak of stomach.

Not Lost Forever: My Story of Survival by Carmina Salcido (with Steve Jackson)
I decided I had to get this book after I saw this young woman's story on a show titled "Kids of Killers" on TV. I was so intrigued by the show that I went searching for more about her and found a 20/20 episode on YouTube. That picqued my curiosity even more. So I got the book for Christmas and have just recently finished. The book is heartwrenching and gives me nothing but hope and prayers for a better life for Carmina Salcido. But at the same time I'm inspired by her strength to endure all that she has over the years. Please, read her book, hear her story in her own words. And share with me in raising up continued prayers that she will find peace and healing in her life.

So with those books done, here's my updated list of books to read:
  1. The Flight of the Romanovs by John Curtis Perry & Constantine Pleshakov
  2. To Full Term: A Mother's Triumph Over Miscarriage by Darci Klein
  3. Patti Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landvik
  4. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
  5. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
  6. Emma by Jane Austen
  7. Fair Game by Valerie Plame Wilson
  8. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
  9. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Klaus
  10. Me: Stories of My Life by Katherine Hepburn
  11. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
  12. Have a Little Faith: a true story by Mitch Albom
  13. The Hunt for Bin Laden: Task Force Dagger by Robin Moore
  14. A Long Way Gone: Memoir's of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
  15. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

I find that this past year I leaned toward true stories and, based on my reading list it seems that I'll stick to the trend (at least for now).

What are you reading?

Monday, October 4, 2010

My new favorite for baby gifts

In late Spring 2009, I tried crocheting my first real stuffed animal as part of a gift for a colleague's baby. I have since crocheted 4 more stuffed animals and I have more fun making them every time.

Traditionally I have crocheted blankets; however, as life gets more hectic I've found sometimes it's easier to get the stuffed animals done. They're quick, easy, and oh so cute! I still do some blankets, but the animals are a nice addition to the arsenal. So far, I've crocheted...

Wesley the Elephant (my first)
Lourdes the HippoNestor Lochland
Amigurumi Turtle
And, the cutest froggie in the world

I have to give a shoutout to my hubby...him buying me a pattern book of stuffed animals is what got me started (the first of the 3 listed above are from that book). He took care in picking out a book that he really thought I'd love and would use and he did a fantastic job!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Carrying on a Family Pasttime

Last weekend my cousin and her family came to visit and we all went peach-picking at a local orchard. Between the 2 families, we got just under 50 lbs of peaches! We had a great time and me and my hubby ate a few of them throughout the past week. But my ultimate plan was to can a bunch of the peaches.

Yep, that's right...CANNING. From the time I was about 13 or 14 years old, we spent lots of time every summer canning, canning, canning. We canned just about everything, was even reminiscing with my mom about the time we canned jalapeno peppers. I DO NOT recommend it by the way...latex gloves DO NOT keep the oils from getting on your skin. Ouch!

Mom was surprised when I called last night to ask for her syrup recipe (to carry on a bit of the family pasttime) and then we had a nice chat while I started my first crack at canning (without Mom's supervision, that is). It all went pretty smooth and I'm happy to say that all of the jars sealed. Okay, so there were only 5 jars, but still, big accomplishment for my first time. Here are a couple pictures of my first attempt at canning (BIG SMILE):

I had a great time all around and learned a few things along the way:
  • Picking fruit is an absolute blast when young kids are involved...they get so much joy out of the whole experience:)
  • It's not that easy to find all the canning supplies and sometimes you have to get inventive.
  • ~23 lbs of peaches really don't go that far. I still have some peaches left, probably enough to can about 5 more jars; however, I have other plans for those little guys. Next year, we'll definitely need to pick more.
  • Hard water (which we did not have growing up) leaves a coating of calcium on everything after the canning is all said and done.

Thanks to my cousin and her family for picking peaches with us (she froze most of her peaches...I'm going to freeze some of our remaining this weekend) and, most of all, huge thanks and (((HUGS))) to my mom, the canning queen! Mom, you taught me well and I feel so blessed to have grown up learning the nearly lost skill/art of canning. I will carry this torch and, Lord willing, pass it along to future generations. I love you Mom!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Who knew?!?

So, me and my hubby had a great day of finding bargains this past Saturday. Hit a couple yard sales, a flea market, one of our favorite bookstores, and a discount store near us. It was a great day of LOTS of deals.

The hubs' favorite was a book that is probably worth $100+, that he got for $4!!! My best deal? Well, check this out...I got this piece for $1.

I know, it looks pretty bad, right? But, it's all about seeing the potential. I remembered reading in my "Real Simple" magazine about more uses for an ordinary household item...TOOTHPASTE, which is supposed to be able to remove tarnish from fine metals. Me and the hubby were both a bit skeptical but, since I only paid $1, it was definitely worth a shot.

So, with a little toothpaste and a rag...

And some elbow grease, here is the final product...

Definitely worth the work that went into it. This is a great alternative to using harsh chemicals to clear up tarnish and, hey, the final product is minty fresh! But, if you don't want to get dirty, or just don't want to use some elbow grease, this solution is not for you.

So after about an hour that ugly serving dish (which I'll use for rolls at Thanksgiving, btw) was transformed. All thanks to my "Real Simple" magazine and to my aunt for getting me the subscription to such a useful magazine!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Did I pass the test?

I feel like I might have been undergoing a test yesterday. Me and my hubs went to a BBQ at a friend's house, which we go to every year. It's always a great party, a few people I know and several that I don't...always a great crowd. So I'm sitting there talking to my friend's parents and another person comes up to say "hi" to them...she's obviously pregnant, they ask when she's due and what does she say...December 10th. The exact same day that "B" and I would have been due. I immediately felt weak, dizzy, on the verge of tears (thank God for sunglasses!)

That made things tough for awhile but then a little later, we go in for a cool off in the house and a bunch of other people come in and another guest comes in with her two kids and I can't remember what she was talking about but she said something about the only boys in her family all having the same birthday...the day was the exact month and day of our m/c.

What are the odds that of the 365 days in a year the only 2 dates I heard all day were the 2 dates linked with our little angel baby?!? Okay, so I calculated the odds and it's 0.5% chance!!!

So, did I pass the test? I don't know, but I made it through the day. It was a wonderful BBQ, as always, but it was an emotional rollercoaster for me. I'm still emotional about it but I'm not a basketcase. What caught me off-guard more than anything was my physical reaction...after hearing the due date thing and for a couple hours afterward I felt so weak, shaky, dizzy, and at times a little nauseous. Sigh.