Monday, September 3, 2012

because i'm brilliant....

in case you are living under a rock - today was labor day.  that means that christmas is just around the corner!

i'm always asked to provide a list of things that i want to various people - my parents, jeff's mom, jeff, everyone else.  and i really like practical gifts the most.  give me cool cookware over jewelery any day.  well.  cookware and gingiebread boys.

anyway.  in an effort to keep those thoughts organized this year, i've created a pinterest board called "christmas wish list" and installed the "pin it" button on my toolbar.  this way - when i'm perusing or or whatever - i can just pin an item to that wish list.  and then everything is in one place.

i'm so smart.  i wanted to share my smarts with others. 

and then i'm going to pin this smart thing on pinterest so i can get credit........

and since i need a christmas photo go to with the pin - here are some gingiebread boys!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

I can craft too Emily!!

so my friend emily has this great blog called Entirely Emily where she does all these great crafts and organizational tips and recipes.  my blog is kinda boring.  i was wanting to do something fun with nina and have been itching to do a craft ever since i got back from camp.  so while out running errands - i randomly decided to go to hobby lobby - and a tshirt project (inspired by a craft i saw at camp) was born.

and because i was inspired by all of emily's crafty detailed posts - i thought i would blog about it - just for her....

so here we go....

the project - reverse tie-dye......

we started with a plain black fitted tshirt.....


and some foam sticker stars and letters....

we placed a cookie sheet inside the tshirt to prevent bleach bleeding through.  and because we were doing the back two, we rested the shirt on top of a second cookie sheet so it wasn't sitting on the ground....

then we arranged the letters and stars on the shirt in the desired designs - removing the back to make them stick for the bleaching....

once everything was secure on both sides - it was time for spritzing.  we filled a spray bottle with a couple ounces of bleach and diluted it with water.  then spritzed all around the letters heavily, and lighter through out the shirt.  we had to do some careful flipping to get the back - it was definitely a two girl job.....

we let the bleach sit for about five minutes or so - just till it started fading, then gave the shirt a dunk in some cold water and laundry detergent (to deactivate the bleach), rang it out really good and gave it a tumble in the dryer....

the big thing with the teens these days is that every good t-shirt deserves some original snipping....

and after nina played with scissors for awhile we had a finished product....

here's close up's of the reverse tie dye....

we're so crafty.  how you like that emily?? ;-)

nina wants to do this again - she says this one will be for sleeping and swimming.  next time we'll either start with a tank or buy a smaller fitted tshirt and not make cuts at all.  and maybe go with a red or a pink shirt.  but we sure had fun making this first attempt!!!


Friday, August 10, 2012

meet trouble....

it's no secret that i was quite devastated when we lost our precious sandy kitty back in april.  it kinda put me into a bit of a depression.  i always told jeff that there would be another cat after sandy.  this was never a question.  but he insisted we wait until after our june vacation....

so a couple of weeks after we got back from reno and south dakota - i started checking out the kitties looking for homes on the humane society's webpage.  but i just couldn't find a kitty picture that stole my heart.  i found sandy online first and fell in love with her there.

we had a few conditions:

i wanted a kitty young enough not to have picked up any bad habits.
i wanted a kitty young enough to not have loved someone else.
i didn't want a kitty that looked like every other gray or orange tabby - there had to be unique markings
i didn't want a tortie - because our bailey was a tortie..
jeff didn't want a black cat - cause you can't see them in the dark.
no medium or long hair cats

i mean - that's not too hard - right?  yeah.  i was getting no where with the humane society.

so in a stroke of genius - i looked at the APA webpage.  their adoption fees for kitties was "name your price" - which was very appealing to start.  they had about 90 cats in the shelter. tons of babies.  and there on page three - i found 3 kittens from the same litter and a fourth that was a rescue that stole my heart.


jeremy stole my heart online first, but the more i looked at jacob - the more i liked him.  they looked very similar - one was gray and white, the other blue and white.  their sister jewell was a calico.  and penelope was a mishmash of colors. 

so the next day, the three of us set out to the APA to meet these four kitties.  we spent a little time with each.  jacob - timid at first but started to show personality before our time with him was up.  jeremy wouldn't come out from under the bench.  jewell was alllll over the place.  inquisitive little calico.  and penelope just sat where every she was set.  it was up for a vote between jacob and jewell - and jacob won 2 to 1.

we knew the name jacob wouldn't stick.  it took us about 24 hours to settle on his name:  trouble.

you know how most cats hide under the bed for 2 days waiting for a quiet time to explore?  yeah.  not trouble.  trouble went from one litter to another - thinks we are large kittens.  immediately wanted to be in whichever room had a person.  had to be touching someone to sleep.  and was never selfish with the purring.  and he's also a big old mischief maker. 

the more we get to know trouble - the more his name fits.  for example - his favorite pastime is attacking my head.  he wakes up with the son.  and he wants to chew on my shoes (and ate nina's ear buds).

but i'll say this - it sure feels good to hear the jingle bell of a kitty running through the house again....

Friday, July 13, 2012

revisiting that 2012 bucket list....

isn't it funny how in the blink of an eye - it's almost august? 

i would like to take a minute to revisit that 2012 Bucket List that i drafted way back in January to review the progress that i have made. 

sadly - there hasn't been a lot of progress.  but let's take a look anyway.

karen's 2012 bucket list:

  • clean out nina's old toy room and set up the extra bedroom furniture in it for guests - just in case - well - half the task is better than none of the task....
  • clean out the old office
  • clean out the new office
  • clean under our bed - it's so often forgotten
  • clean out and reorganize my closet - and hopefully let go of the fat jeans
  • host a kick ass garage $ale - we had plans to do this in May.  even started gathering stuff and purchased supplies for pricing.  but the spring calendar full of dance recitals, graduation activities, and work gave us one weekend to do this task - and then something mandatory came up that postponed it.  which was okay because i wasn't ready anyway.  now we can't try again until the fall.  because who has a garage sale in the 100+ temps of july....
  • do one thing completely out of character that no one would ever expect me to do - and make sure it's not illegal - i still need ideas....
  • share one breathtaking memory with jeff and nina - i did this!  i totally did!!!  while on our summer vacation/road trip - we saw many beautiful sites.  but nothing quite so awe inspiring as hiking around devil's tower in Wyoming.  it's just so amazing.  i only wish i had worn better shoes.  and mount rushmore was pretty kick bootie too.  especially when you realize the carved the whole thing with dynamite!!
  • relax in the pool more than once per season  - i've managed twice in the pool!  once with a kick butt homemade sangria!
  • go on a picnic
  • go camping. more than once.
  • pretend to be tourists in our own city and take in the some of the sights of STL in one weekend
  • prepare a turkey dinner - i've only ever done it once
  • bake a pie from scratch including crust - i've never done that
  • read all of 210 of the fairy tales written by the Grimm Brothers - thanks to jeff - i already have the book to get me started
  • take time off of work and not check in with the office or email the entire time - i made an attempt and it lasted for exactly one business day.  epic fail.

o the bucket list is a work in progress - one that i will likely have to continue into 2013.  but i am able to cross off a little.  it means my whole year hasn't been a waste..... 

Monday, June 11, 2012

things that totally sucked today...

the following things totally sucked today:

  1. skipped breakfast to go to the doctor.
  2. forgot my lunch.
  3. the scale at the doctor's office gave me a number 2.5 pounds heavier than my home scale - which gave me a number 2.5 pounds higher than yesterday.  they both lie.  and i don't appreciate when it lies on my medical file.
  4. when taking my blood pressure - the m.a. at the doctor's office looked at me and said "hmm.  you're arm is in between sizes." and slapped a large cuff on me.  um.  my arm ain't that freaking big.
  5. would have made it to the office quicker if i had a row boat to get through the puddles on forest park parkway.
  6. after 45 minutes and 32 attempts to boot my computer and repeatedly getting the "no operation system installed" error prompted me to contact IT - i felt like an idiot when i realized that it was because i forgot to remove my flash drive from the usb port on friday.
  7. was 10 minutes late for my appointment in north county.
  8. my coworker told me that my new hair cut was cute only to admit that he regretted saying it 2 minutes later because he realized saying a female coworker's hair is cute might be inappropriate.
  9. was told i'm beautiful 7 times in 3 minutes by my parents' neighbor who has permanent beer goggles before he stumbled back to his house.
the following things did not totally suck today:
  1. i woke up.  beats the alternative.
  2. got to the doctor 45 minutes early due to lack of traffic. 
  3. bonus - got a decent phlebotomist
  4. got much needed rain for the lawn.
  5. made it back to our neighborhood 30 minutes early after work because i didn't have to go back to the office after my meeting in north county.
  6. my monday is also my thursday.
  7. that makes tomorrow my friday - for almost 2 weeks. 
  8. chocolate chip banana mini muffins.
  9. so far bunheads isn't totally awful.
  10. and i came up with as many non sucky things as i did sucky there's that.....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

it's okay if you don't understand the hubbub - it's a STL thing.....

in case you've been living under a rock and missed it - nina graduated from 8th grade last week and is officially on her way to high school.  in STL - 8th grade graduation is a big deal.  largely because - unless you go to one of the public schools out in stl county - when you leave 8th grade - you and your friends all go off to different schools - kind of like when you go off to different colleges.  so there is a ceremony and parties and gifts and a dress. 

anyway - since i'm all about tradition - i was pretty excited about nina's graduation.

nina went to a local catholic school for grades k-4.  we had a lot of problems there.  bullying with no discipline.  favoritism.  poor teaching.  old teachers that should have retired long ago.  it wasn't working out.  so one day - after being at my wits end - i placed a call to the local charter school - the first one founded in STL.  it was the best choice i ever made.  because the girl that nina is now - is no longer the girl that was bullied so horribly 5 years ago. she had so many opportunities there that she wouldn't have had elsewhere.  she's far more confident.  that girl wouldn't have been co-captain of the cheer squad or sang a solo at 8th grade graduation.  slcs was more of a home than her old school ever was.  the parents were more accepting of me.  so closing this chapter in her life and watching her go off to my alma mater for high school is bitter sweet.

so i want to take a few moments to share with you some photos and commentary on what made slcs a home.

my three adopted daughters:

 the first really good friend nina made at SLCS was lucy.  lucy and nina are complete total opposites.  lucy is a tomboy while nina is as girly as they come. but somehow it works.  lucy was the first friend to spend the night at our house and quickly became family.  so much so that in 2009 - we took her with us to branson.  slumber parties often involve well thought out menus involving things like "fried chicken and mashed potatoes" instead of pizza and popcorn.  and speaking of popcorn - the first time lucy saw me make popcorn she said "your gonna cook it?  on the stove??"  they fight like sisters - slapping each other one second and hugging the next.

the summer leading into 6th grade - the name ashleigh started popping up a lot.  ashleigh was this cute little perky ball of energy.  i don't think i really adopted her until closer to 7th grade when nina joined cheer leading.  whenever the two would wander off for more than 2 minutes, it usually involved a plot of some sort that ended with sugar and 2 a.m. giggles.  it's not uncommon for me to look at one of her parents and say "the girls are plotting again".  don't let her angel face fool you - she can be a playful little devil too - which usually ends in a giggle and a "love you mom!"
nina, ashleigh, lucy - 8th grade graduation 2012

nina and maddie joined the cheer squad at the same time, maddie as a 6th grader, and nina as a 7th grader.  maddie is this cute little thing that often reminds me of a cute little mouse.  the night before we lost sandy, nina and maddie went to the movies together - and maddie made a special trip into the house when we got home to give me a hug and tell me it would be okay.  her mom and i helped the squad make special spirit sticks for the coaches this year.  i'm sure maddie will lead the cheer squad next year and she'll do an awesome job.

maddie and nina

with these girls, came some awesome moms who helped the journey along.  i've celebrated birthdays with them.  we've entrusted our children to each other without a problem.  i even returned one broken and didn't get blamed!  i never would have felt as comfortable at nina's old school as i was at SLCS.

this video is for all four of my girls.  pay attention the words girls - your journey isn't over.  it's just beginning.

life changers:

i also want to take a moment to give a shout out to two people who inspired nina and helped to build her confidence. 

mrs. dunn - her cheer coach - who believed in her strong natural cheer skills and ability to lead the squad.  the nina from five years ago would have only tried out if it was what her friends were doing.  this year, she was told by mrs. dunn and the athletic director - she's really good and could go on to do this in high school, and maybe college.  they genuinely believe in her natural talent.

ms. dwidar - her first choir teacher.  when nina tried out for choir at the end of 7th grade, ms dwidar looked at her and said "well.  seems you've been hiding a little secret from me."  nina's singing talent was a skill i tried to keep at a distance until she was old enough to learn to use it properly.  i didn't want her to try to sing like brittney spears when she was 8.  i never did a very good job.  she still sang at the top of her lungs all the time anyway.  it's sort of like breathing for her - she doesn't even know she's doing it.  ms. dwidar also recognised her natural talent.  when nina was trying out for the talent show, she was worried about one note and so i told her to ask ms dwidar what she should do and she talked her through it.  she gave her a solo for fine arts night and 8th grade graduation.  and she wants to know when nina is singing in high school.  in just one short year - nina grew so much vocally.  she kinda wants to try out for american idol now.  yikes.  so if nina turns into the next rachel berry - it's this woman's fault - and i'm so grateful.

my favorite people:

finally - these are my two favorite people.  jeff has been a real good sport through all of this.  he didn't get it either.  but he went along with it.  even the part where we had the co-ed pool party.

party like it's 1991:

and just for fun - this is what 8th grade graduation looked like 21 years ago in 1991.  my how the dresses have changed....

Monday, May 7, 2012

i heart you sandy kitty.....

so this has been a really crappy year to try to recreate myself.  stress obstacles have met me at every turn and i've caved to each and every one of them.  right down to putting on seven pounds in the last month and i feel like such a blob.  i eat my feelings.  and this is what i have been eating for the past three weeks....

since i was a little girl, i've always been a cat person.  but i was the only cat person in my house so i was going to have to wait until i was all grown up to start my cat lady destiny.  so when jeff and i bought this house and got married, i started planting seeds about getting a cat.  he resisted.  but when nina was almost seven, we ended up with a horrible mouse infestation in our house.  it seemed that a mama mouse got in our house and had a whole litter of baby mice.  we discovered it on halloween and the journey of trying to rid ourselves of mice went on past thanksgiving into the first of december.  we had caught 8 or 9 of them and a few days had gone by without a sign of a critter.  we were out to bowling and jeff made the comment "thank god that was over, i was about ready to give in on the cat issue." 

the next day we came home to another mouse in a trap.  and the following saturday, nina, jeff and i all made a trip to the humane society and came home with sandy kitty.  she was six months old and cute as could be.  (we almost came home with a boy cat we were going to call oreo - but he sneezed in front of the volunteer and she was worried he was sick and needed to be observed.  you try telling a seven year old that she ISN'T going to leave with a cat that day as promised - so we looked at sandy kitty - who i had seen and fallen in love with online.  HSMO called her "sparkle".)

now sandy kitty was not only a solution to our mouse problems, but she was also going to be a birthday gift for nina's 7th birthday.  (that's right - one of many times that i encouraged something for nina because i really wanted it too - midnight showing of hunger games anyone??)  the only thing was - sandy kitty didn't form an attachment to nina - because she recognised me as mama cat in the house.  sure, she loved nina and hung with her on occasions.  and she didn't mind telling jeff off once in awhile and laying on his pillow (because it had the better view of the bird nest next door).  but her den was our bedroom - as the litter box was in our walk in closet.  her place of comfort when she was scared was under our bed - cause there's lots of clutter to hide in.  and come bedtime, her favorite place to sleep - was on my head.  sandy was a perfect picture of unconditional love - and she unconditionally loved me the best.....

those of you who know me have seen over the years the saga of love between sandy and i.  quite often i thought she was really trying to just suffocate me to death.  she slept on my head.  she fought with my books.  if i was home, i had to be within eyesight.  and heaven forbid the suitcase move from it's spot in the closet.  that made her anxious.  she knew what it meant.

when we had both sandy and bailey - bailey was always the one that had us running to the vet.  bladder infections and stones.  skin allergies.  pulling out her hair.  sandy was always the healthy one.  so it kinda knocked us off our feet three weeks ago when jeff and i took her to the vet for what we thought was a bladder issue - she was in the litter box a lot.  that was the only thing wrong really.  sure.  she was a little whinier than normal and she wasn't perching in her normal high places but strange hard places, like the floor under the kitchen table, the bathtub, and the rug by the front door.  she hadn't been dashing through the house like a crazy kitty either - but she was 8.  some of that was bound to change over time.  but the vet immediately felt something wrong and an xray confirmed it.  there was something on her kidney that shouldn't be there.  in just a few short minutes - our whole world was turned upside down and ripped apart.

that was tuesday.

on thursday, we took her to a specialist who did an ultrasound - the rest of our tax refund was utilized - only to confirm that not only was there one mass on her kidney, but a second larger one that could be attached to her liver - but they weren't sure.  lymphoma was the best case scenario, and while he couldn't say for sure without a biopsy, he felt pretty certain it wasn't lymphoma.  the only treatment would be an attempt to remove the masses, which once they got in there they might find they weren't able to do.  and it was very costly.  very very costly.  like $2000 costly.  and it wouldn't be fair.  when asked how long before she deteriorated - he told me that it could be days, it could be weeks, it definitely wouldn't be months.   

on top of this, nina was leaving on sunday for a week long trip to DC with school.  so our decisions all had to be made quickly because we didn't want sandy to suffer, and we didn't want something to happen while she was on her trip and have her not be here.  so we did the hardest thing in the world. 

on saturday, we told her good-bye.  and it pretty much sucked.  jeff and i were with her - i couldn't not be with her.  being with me made her happy - i couldn't stand the thought of handing her over to a stranger and having her be scared thinking i abandoned her.  i held her and loved her.  and it was very fast - which means she was way weaker than we thought she was. 

you know - when you can't have more kids - you really transfer that love that you would give kids to something else.  in my case it's my pets.  and sandy was my baby.  i haven't dealt with it very well.  i'm still really upset.  still looking for her around the house.  looking at the places where she liked to be and expecting to see her there.  expecting to see her run to the door when i come home.  it took me almost two weeks to be able to read in bed again - and i'm still struggling with that one.  and don't ask me to go in the room where jeff stashed all the kitty stuff.  it's not happening.  on the surface i may seem okay - but even 2 weeks later, i'm still not ready for her to not be here.  i miss her.

on sunday - nina left for DC and i finally had time to really address the turn of events from that week.  and then i ate about 2000 calories in 3 hours.  i think i know where a couple of those new pounds came from.

anyway - this is my big struggle right now.  some will think it's silly.  "she was just a cat".  no.  she was more than just a cat.  she had quirks and a personality and lots of love to give (as long as you weren't a stranger and didn't make horrible noises whenever you came into our house - which is why she didn't like my dad - everything he did here was noisy).

i have hundreds of pictures of sandy on my phone.  she was always so silly or cute that i couldn't help it.  (and rolen isn't as easy to get pictures of!  he won't stay still!)  below are two of the last three.

taken the day before she died.  she seemed week that morning and i wasn't sure she would make it through the day.  this was how i wanted to remember her - so i took it before i left for work.

and this one was taken during our last snuggle session the morning we said good-bye.

i'll always love you sandy kitty......