Tuesday, December 30, 2014


As I mentioned in my last post, this is the first time in 4 years that I have not boarded a plane for Romania immediately after Christmas. There were two main reasons why I didn't go this year. The first was that I'm trying to save money. I have some big plans for the spring and I'm trying to funnel my fundraising efforts into that. The second is that my sister-in-law was due to deliver my nephew (my first!) on Jan. 9. Since I don't get back from Romania until Jan. 7 that would have been cutting it close. Plus, the closer we got to Christmas the less likely it seemed she would actually make it to Jan. Low and behold...
Baby Levi Harold is here! He arrived right smack in the middle of the afternoon (12:16 p.m. to be exact) on Sunday, December 28.
Little man weighed in at 5 lbs. 14 oz. and was 19 3/4" long. And, yes, he has blonde hair!
Levi and daddy
It's a little surreal seeing my "baby" brother with a baby of his own but I couldn't be happier for him and my sister-in-law.
At home with mommy
This is one proud Auntie and I'm so glad that I was here to love on him in his first moments of life.
Welcome to the world, little Bubby! Aunt Melissa loves you!

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Different Kind of Day

Normally on the day after Christmas I would be doing something much different than what I am. Normally I would be rushing around throwing last minute items into suitcases, trying to put a few more gifts into nooks and crannies, packing another pair of wool socks, and getting prepared to head out to the airport for 14+ hours of travel halfway around the world to my second home, Romania. Today is different though. I'm not doing any of those things. For the first time in 4 years I'm sitting in my pajamas, knitting, and watching movies. I'm torn. My heart wants desperately to be with my kids. I want to see my friends and tramp through muddy snow and hand out Christmas gifts and get snotty noses rubbed on my sleeve. At the same time, I want to enjoy my family and friends. I want to enjoy my time off and relax and reset so that when I have to head back to work I can keep a somewhat clear frame of mind. I know that 2015 is bringing big changes to my life and that one day I will look back and realize that not spending 10 days with my little ones is nothing at all in comparison to what day to day life will be like. But, for right now, I'm feeling bummed. A bit sad. A little lost and pretty upset. I have already let the kids know but I wonder if they feel any disappointment. If it even comes close to the disappointment I feel. Anyways, I'm having all the feels and I hope that you will be a little understanding of me at this time as I try to process everything that is going on in my life right now.
Heading out (Christmas 2012)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Accidental Hiatus

It would seem I have dropped off the face of the Earth for the last month or so. Nothing could be farther from the truth however. Unfortunately, I had gotten into an unhealthy cycle of waking up late, rushing to get ready for work, working like a mad woman all day (including, most days, through lunch), coming home and working more or being so tired I would just sit around and watch T.V. until bed time. Not terribly exciting or productive. The blog isn't the only thing I have been neglecting though. My quiet time, exercise routine, and knitting have all gotten put on the back burner as well. I realized earlier this week that I need to work on getting that work/life balance back in check. I know that, naturally, certain times of the year will be busier than others but I feel that the work part of life is starting to take over. It's not that I needed to put in a few hours one weekend to get caught up...it's that I have to work *every* weekend in order to get caught up. Not good. Anyways...the struggle continues...

In other news...I *finally* finished all the knitting for my kids' Christmas gifts (remember I started on these back in November) and sent them off yesterday. I'm praying they reach the kids by Christmas. One of those is a gift for M. who lives at the severe special needs orphanage. If the present is late in getting there she may have to wait awhile to get it since Heart to Heart (who will be delivering the gifts) doesn't go there as frequently as the other orphanages. I have a lot of emotions about not seeing the kids at Christmas this year so I think another blog post may be in order to process all that.

My allotted 15 minutes for blogging is up so I must be off to get ready for work. Hopefully, I will be back, with pictures!, soon.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Let Me Catch My Breath

Ever since I got back from my vacation it has been absolutely non-stop. Work has been the usual craziness but the weekends have been a special kid of crazy.

The first Saturday that I was back I had a play therapy training in the morning and a friend's wedding that afternoon.
Sandtray from the play therapy training.
Albert and Haley's Walking Dead themed ceremony.
On Sunday I hosted a baby shower for my sister-in-law.
The cake.
Brandi gets very excited about gifts.
This past weekend has been just as busy. This past Saturday I got my hair cut, had a Romanian lesson, and went to a farewell party for two of my friends who are moving to Costa Rica with their daughters to be missionaries.

Baby monitors!
Sunday was another baby shower in Marietta. This one was co-ed so my brother got to come/participate as well.
Needless to say, by Sunday afternoon I'm exhausted. And, for some reason, everyday I come home and want to do nothing more than go to bed. *But*...I decided to knit a bunch of Christmas gifts, gifts the need to be shipped actually, and I really need to get them finished in...oh...about 2 weeks. So, I've been trying to find the energy to knit at least a little bit before bed every day.

With the holidays coming up, family dinners/parties, another baby shower, and still needing to shop for Christmas presents I'm probably going to be a little busy for the next month or so. And more than a little tired.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Day at the Estate

For the last full day of my vacation I decided to go to the Biltmore House (I guess technically it's the Biltmore *Estate* but I'm Southern and Estate sounds snooty). I spent a good deal of the day walking and being out of doors so I'm thoroughly tired now. To spare the few brain cells that seem to be firing on all cylinders here are pictures in place of words (because a picture is worth a thousand words, right?):
Just before leaving the bed and breakfast.
Picking up my tickets.
View as you're walking up to the house.
Beer tasting at lunch.
Just before the carriage ride around the property.
Rest stop on the carriage ride. Biltmore Estate is in the background.
After this point I developed camnesia and forgot to take more pictures. Technically I took one photo while on the winery tour (of a clock tower, exciting) and none during the wine tasting (I only tasted 4 wines so no biggy there). I was going to walk around the gardens after the wine tasting but I forgot that the house and the grounds closed at 4:30 (it was 5:30 at this point) so I called it a day and headed for the bed and breakfast.

Now I have officially maxed out the remaining brain cells. Time for shower and bed. Tomorrow I head home!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sometimes a Shower Changes Everything

Today I am on vacation. And, I have to admit, it didn't exactly go like I thought it would. This is how things were *supposed* to go today:
  • Pick up mom, dad, and aunt from the airport very early.
  • Come home, grab breakfast and any last minute items, jump in the car, and leave for SAFF.
  • Arrive at SAFF, grab lunch, shop for a few hours.
  • Head out to bed and breakfast.
  • Stop off at grocery store for a few essentials for lunches and dinners.
  • Arrive at B&B and spend rest of day relaxing (possibly grabbing a nap if time allows).
How things actually went:
  • Wake up at 4:30 and immediately begin researching where to find the cell phone lot (because you have no idea where it is and need to go there in an hour).
  • Leave 15 minutes early in order to get gas for car.
  • Arrive at airport. Wait. Wait. Wait some more.
  • Pick up parents and aunt who are very tired (because they just came in on a flight from out west and their times are all screwed up).
  • Drive aunt home.
  • Drive parents home.
  • Get breakfast, put on make up, obsess over details of caring for high maintenance cat, pack car, and leave.
  • Be totally jazzed for your trip for the first hour and half.
  • Start to feel a little more tired and run down the closer you get to SAFF.
  • Park a half a mile away from the venue (not really but it felt like it), shake off any tiredness, head into show.
  • Get "lunch" (chilli cheese fries and a large Dr. Pepper) because blood sugar is kind of low.
  • Shop for an hour and half before you start to feel woozy (probably because "lunch" didn't help that blood sugar problem at all).
  • Make sure you run into an old friend when you are feeling half drunk and more than a little nauseous.
  • Try to carry on conversation with friend and pray that she doesn't think you are totally off your rocker.
  • Finish shopping after overspending.
  • Remind self that this is supposed to be an indulgence and to stop fretting about it.
  • Drive to B & B.
  • Get almost to B & B and realize that you need to stop at the grocery store and that one you passed like 5 miles ago was the one.
  • Go to "interesting" grocery store (it was reminiscent of Aldi...only more country).
  • On way back to B & B get call from host. She is in town and won't be there when you arrive but she walks you through how to find your room.
  • Arrive at B & B.
  • Come in to find family dog on couch (you knew he'd be around somewhere).
  • Dog begins to bark.
  • Since you have been assured that dog is harmless begin to approach dog, speaking softly.
  • Dog continues to bark.
  • Hold out hand so dog can smell it and you can become friends.
  • Dog bares teeth and looks like he might lunge.
  • Withdraw hand extra quick, yelp, and have small heart attack simultaneously.
  • Retreat to room.
  • Unpack car giving dog the side eye the whole time.
  • Try to lay down for a nap.
  • Other guest begins playing various instruments downstairs, directly under your room: piano, something that sounds like an auto harp, and a violin. None of these are executed with any finesse.
  • Give up on nap.
  • Have panic attack because you have been around people all day, you took some medicine that increases your chance of being anxious, you got snarled at by a dog, you have a headache, and you are tired as all get out.
  • Come down to make dinner.
  • Make peace with the dog.
  • Eat dinner.
  • Go to room and knit.
  • Start to feel very homesick and sad for yourself because the day hasn't really turned out all that well.
  • Think about going home.
  • Text best friend.
This, my friends, is when the day turned around. Why? My bestie told me to go for a walk. Forget about it. Forget about anyone else. Hit reset. And it hit me...that was exactly what I needed to do. Not take a walk per say, but hit the reset button. This could still be a nice vacation for me. Even if all I did was lay in bed because I was feeling under the weather. I mean look at this view from the window in my room:

I realized I was sitting around in my stinky thinking still (literally) reeking from the day. I needed to literally get clean so I could clear my mental slate. So I gathered up my toiletries, towel, and pajamas and headed to the shower. It totally helped. My head still hurts and I'm still really tired but I can head to bed now looking forward to the next few days of my vacation.

P.S. I am leaving out the part about where I tried to get the AC to work in my room and it was blasting hot air and I thought I was going to roast to death.

P.P.S. My host and her husband did eventually show up...just as I was getting out of the shower.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Just a Quick Check-In

Just thought I'd pop over to give a quick update...

First of all, we had a bit of drama at work this week when part of the ceiling caved it (literally) during a rainstorm.
Before the cave in. A very threatening look water bubble.
After the cave in. There was a huge "crack" and then the "goosh" of water rushing out.
More aftermath.
I spent about 2 hours today (Saturday) at the storage unit for Walking With Orphans sorting things and trying to get shipments ready to send out. I wish I had pictures. There were boxes and bags everywhere. At one point some empty boxes fell and I looked around and realized I was literally trapped between the rolling cart with the boxes and the wall of donations behind me. (Obviously) I was able to get myself out and get everything (somewhat) organized. I cannot wait until we have some real office space with ample storage. I have no idea when to even expect that day to come but I'm holding out hope...

I have been staying up way too late every night. I'm a night owl but it's like I get busy and then I suddenly realize it's 11:15 (as it currently is) and I have to be up at 7:30. I could (and probably should) sleep a little later but it takes me so long to get moving in the morning before work that I need 2 hours just to wake up. I downloaded this app that tracks my sleep and wakes me up at the optimal time in my sleep pattern. There is a 30 minute window that I program it for and it wakes me up at the best time in that window so that I don't oversleep by hours waiting for the best time for me to wake up (because that time would probably be noon).
I don't know exactly what makes my sleep "efficient" but I guess I'm doing ok. Please note the erratic pattern in my going to sleep and waking times. Also not that after about 4 a.m. I do not really get any more deep sleep. And let's not forget that my "average" bed time is 12:44 and I'm getting (on average) about 6 and half hours of sleep every night. So, yeah, I need to go to bed...like 2 hours ago.

I am taking my parents to the airport very early in the morning. They are taking a trip to Hawaii for a week. I'm so pumped for them. I loved Hawaii and hope they have a great time (and that the impending tropical storm doesn't cause too many issues for them).
Me on North Shore. November 2006
After I drop them off, I'm doing a fun run.
And then I'm babysitting until Sunday afternoon/evening.

So, again, methinks I should be asleep already...

Monday, October 13, 2014


For the last week or so I have been reading entries from my old blog. Some really interesting stuff on there. For starters, I used to knit A LOT. It made me miss some of the projects I used to work on and I was tempted to start a sweater for charity right away. While I would love to drop everything and knit for hours on end...I feel like my life right now is very well balanced. I definitely spent too much time knitting and dyeing yarn and not cleaning my apartment, exercising, cooking, being social, and devoting time to developing my teaching skills (though, honestly, teaching (as I have discovered) was never my passion and probably nothing I would put time into outside of work but I digress...). Another thing I noticed was how much money I had! I didn't realize it at the time but I was paying rent and making car payments and still spending boatloads of money on anything that tickled my fancy. Today I scrutinize every purchase I make. If only I could have seen that just a few short years after I started my blog how bad my financial situation would be maybe I would have saved more money...

Something that made me sad looking back over those old posts are the pictures of Penelope. She has lost so much weight over the last year and her coat looks so scraggly. She is still my baby but she no longer tears through the house or jumps on the back of the couch. I know she doesn't have the energy any more but I would give just about anything to have her healthy and gaining weight. Yes, we are still dealing with the loss of those 2 teeth. She is on another round of antibiotics and has gone back to only eating baby food and cat milk. I don't know if she will ever plump back up again but we'll keep at it.
I managed to capture this selfie of myself and Penelope the other day. Nothing short of a miracle since she usually runs from the camera.
It's so crazy to go back and read the posts from before I went to Moldova (my first international mission trip). Then there are the posts leading up to my first trip to Romania which I haven't even reached yet. I seriously cannot believe that I have arrived where I am today. I mean 7 years ago I was still teaching middle school band. I started my indie dye studio 6 years ago. I began my master's degree 4 years ago (um, seriously had to go look that back up...definitely thought it was only 3 years). I started the Eastern European and Russian Orphanages Project 4 years ago. I moved back in with my parents 2 years ago. All I can say is WOW. Time flies. I feel a little sad because so much has happened and life just flashes by. But at the same time I feel an immense sense of hope. I cannot wait to see where the next 3, 5, 10, 20 years take me. How much will I have accomplished by then? What will my life look like? Where will I be? I keep praying that God will let me make a difference in this world for His glory. If I could do anything else for the rest of my life I'd like to just love on orphans and help improve their lives. I never imagined I would be a mental health counselor who loves to do play therapy. I never imagined I would have my own non-profit that works in 4 countries and is about to expand to a 5th. I never imagined that I would be learning a second language at age 31 (Romanian if you are wondering or had forgotten). The future sure looks bright from here!

Anyways, enough reminiscing...but it sure has been fun!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Not Homemaker Material

I have a confession to make...I'm not a good homemaker. I can't really cook, I hate to clean, and I'm not especially handy. My organizational system is piles of things all over. I know what's in each pile, I just can never seem to get to together enough to get things in filing cabinets, get the junk mail thrown out, and let go of that business card for the place I might want to visit if I had the time and money. It's nowhere near Hoarder's level but I'm definitely not a clean freak.

But all that may be about to change. I have discovered the joy of homemade, natural cleaning products. A few years ago I bemoaned the fact that typical cleaners are so bad (see this blog post, #5). I did buy some organic cleaners but I didn't really like them all that much (they smelled kind of weird) and then I moved and my parents use all kinds of skin burning stuff and it was just easier to do it their way then spend a bunch of money on organic cleaners. And I'm lazy and this stuff was already here. But then I got into essential oils. And I downloaded a little book on how to use essential oils for all kinds of things. Which is why today I made some all purpose cleaner.

And I got a little excited about cleaning. And then I used it. And I got a lot excited about cleaning. Like, I can't wait to clean again excited. I know, I know...it scared me too a little.

This stuff is seriously great. I used it on the mirror, the sink, the tub, and the toilet and it made everything *shine*. And it smells great. And, on top of all that, there is nothing harsh about any of the ingredients. I could literally clean my body with this stuff and it would be ok. I don't have to worry about my skin melting if I touch it. I don't have to worry about my insides burning if it accidentally gets on my toothbrush. I don't pass out from the inhalation of chemicals. I don't even need special rags to clean up. I can use my regular washcloths and not be worried about chemical residue the next time I want to wash my face. Amazing.

In case you want to make your own here is the recipe I used:

2 1/2 cups of hot water
1/4 cup distilled white vingear
1/4 of castille soap (I used Dr. Bronner's with the tea tree oil since the recipe I was working off of called for tea tree essential oil (which I don't have))
5 drops of lavender essential oil
5 drops of lemon essential oil

Put in a spray bottle and store. Shake before use. Spray surface then wipe down with a damp cloth.

The original recipe (and a bunch of other great recipes of using essential oils) came from Best Essential Oils and Aromatherapy Guide.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happy Fall, Ya'll!

Technically fall started a week ago but, for some reason, October feels like Fall with a capital F. The days are definitely getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler. Not quite to the low 70's yet, but at least I don't sweat walking the 10 steps from my house to the car in the morning.
Current temp. Not too bad. Wish that 82 for tomorrow was a misprint...
On a side note: I just happened to look and see what the weather was like in St. Petersburg, Russia. I think they just skipped fall completely and went straight to winter.
Anyways...nothing really exciting to report here on the blog. A "stealth" life project is underway but normal day to day operations continue apace. I transitioned to a more supervisory position at work about three weeks ago (same amount of work, better pay) so I've been doing some training and trying to keep my small team motivated (and myself too, honestly).

I've recently gotten into essential oils (is that something you can "get into"?) and have a few basic things like lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus.
A sampling of my essential oils collection.
I've made one of my own "concoctions" and I went ahead and ordered a book on the most common uses for different essential oils. Maybe it's a placebo but I have slept incredibly well the last few nights after I put the "Stress Less" formula on the bottoms of my feet.

As far as Walking With Orphans goes I've redone the website, started to advertise for our second annual Fun Run, and will be boxing up jackets, hats, socks, and sweaters to send out all across Eastern Europe and Russia soon. I'm thinking about taking a day off work just to get the storage unit organized and things packed up to be sent off.

I think that's everything for now. Just a quick post to welcome the changing weather and bring you (mostly) up to speed on my life!

Saturday, September 20, 2014


I had good intentions...really I did. I wanted to finish telling you about the 2-3 days of crazypantsness that my family (in particularly my mom and I) experienced. But then life went on in it's usual craziness (which is different than crazypants craziness) and, honestly, I forgot about what happened. I know there was a pit bull that almost attacked us on a walk (I did a lot of yelling in that incident) and another incident that I can't recall...maybe it was the carpet cleaner breaking, or blowing a fuse while we cleaned the carpets, or...well, who knows...

So, yes, I forgot my story...let's just all move along now, shall we?

This weekend my best friend scored some awesome tickets to the UGA vs. Troy game.

View of the field from our seats.
The two of us plus my friend's brother and a mutual friend of theirs, enjoyed watching UGA romp Troy all afternoon. The final score was 66-0. I have never seen a total shutout before. In fact, I'm not sure that Mark Richt (UGA's current head coach) has ever allowed a shutout before. I don't think he likes to run the score up on teams like that. It's not really "nice" to run your opponent into the ground just because you can and Richt is about integrity. The crazy thing was, I don't think UGA was trying to run up the score. I just think Troy was having some serious issues getting it together on the field.
Regardless, it was a fun day and a win is a win. I'll take it.
Halftime with the Redcoat Band.
Megan and I on a little side trip to the upper decks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Story Time: Part I

I know I have been away for awhile. I have been training a co-worker who just joined my department, carefully monitoring my recovering cat, and, to top it all off, we got slammed with an insurance audit about 4 weeks earlier than anticipated. September was off to a great start!

The last few days have been a comedy of errors and I feel that they warrant a little story telling. So gather round children, tonight I bring the first tale.

Yesterday, my parents had planned to grill out for dinner. However, my dad wasn't feeling well. As soon as I got home he fired up the grill and went to bed. First, I must tell you how we got the grill started: my dad cranked the propane tank up until it was full open. He then stood there trying to strike a match for a good 2-3 minutes. As soon as he stuck the match into the grate a blaze whooshed up and nearly singed his eyebrows and some low hanging tree branches. Then he closed the lid and went to bed.

I go inside and my mom comes home. I set to pattying out the hamburgers and my mom decides to throw the chicken on the grill. She steps outside and proceeds to yell, "Oh my gosh! The grill is on fire!" I look out the door and there are flames coming out from under the lid and from under the bottom of the grill. And they are flaming in the direction of the propane tank. I yell, "Get the fire extinguisher!" and mom and I take off running in opposite directions.

I head for the garage because I just happened to notice we had a fire extinguisher out there when I was getting trash bags from the cabinet last weekend. My mom has placed a large box in front but I use my Herculean, adrenaline-fueled strength to shove it out of the way. In the meantime my mom has run to the basement and is yelling, "Where is it?!?!" because she can't find the extinguisher down there. She does manage to find it and comes barreling up the steps as I'm tearing back through the den, ripping the extinguisher from the box. We're both pulling the pins and throwing them on the nearest surface and arrive at the grill about 10 seconds apart.

At this point I'm trying to aim and spray my extinguisher but there is a mounting bracket attached to the back that is making it impossible for me to spray the darn thing. My mom does not have this hindrance and manages to spray the flames and put out the fire before anything explodes or the deck catches fire.

We then proceed to stand there panting and going, "Is it out?" "I need to turn off the propane. Is it safe to go over there?" "Why is the grill still smoking? Is it still on fire?!?" After 5 minutes of debating my mom goes inside, gets an oven mitt, comes out and shuts off the propane. She then yells, "The food!" and has to rush back inside to make sure the dog isn't eating raw meat off the counter. After another few minutes (in which I was standing on the back deck still very concerned that something was about to blow up) my mom comes outside and opens the lid of the grill. A whiff of smoke slithers out but the fire was really and truly vanquished.

Mom and go back inside to cook dinner (on the stove and the George Foreman grill) and my dad eventually pokes his head out of the bedroom (remember, he was in bed this *whole time*). My mom tells him, "Oh, in case you're wondering, we just put out a fire on the grill. It was coming out the sides and the bottom." My dad kind of shrugs and says, "Yeah, that's happened before. I think there's something wrong with the connecting line. You just have to turn the propane off and then turn it on real low." Then dude eats a hot dog and goes back to bed.

Mom and I stand there a little stunned...does a "bad connection line" sound like a good thing when we're talking about propane and fire?!?! Does this mean the grill could have exploded in a fiery blaze before?!?! Why do we still have this death trap still near our home?!?!

Needless to say our little fire extinguisher episode was the final nail in the coffin for the grill. Looks like we'll be grill shopping soon...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Socks, Socks, Socks

I haven't posted lately about what I've been knitting but it can be summed up in one word: socks.

For some reason I was hit with the desire to knit socks and the obsession has been going strong for about two months. In that time I have knit 6 pairs and there is another pair started already. Granted, these are small socks, intended for little people, but still...6 pairs in two months.

At least his yearning for socks has resulted in some of my HUGE stash of sock yarn being used up.

The first 3 pairs I made were with some rainbow hued sock yarn (Zauberball if you're interested).
This is the first pair I made. I'm calling them the "Hot and Cold Socks" since they look so different (they really are from the same ball of yarn).

These are the  second and third pair I made (sorry it's sideways...I could fix it but I'm lazy). They are made with roughly the same stitch count but the second pair is a little longer and leaner. For someone with narrow feet I guess.
After I used up all the Zauberball I picked up two skeins of Knit Pick Stroll (one solid, one variegated) and made these. They are a 38 stitch waffle pattern used in a lot of charity knitting. These socks are pretty warm and thick. They'll go well in some boots or even just for hanging out on a cold day.
This is is pair I've currently started. They're actually almost to the heel turn but I didn't take a picture of that. The cuff is a linen stitch which gives it some nice texture. I have no idea what kind of yarn it is because I got this from someone who started some socks of their own and then decided they weren't really the sock knitting type. I'm using a pattern from a Cat Bordhi book: New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I also made two little learning socks from that book but forgot to take a picture of them (that would be the other 2 completed pairs). All the socks I've made will go to charity though I am contemplating making a pair for myself soon.

I am continuing to knit every day in order to keep my sanity (or what's left of it). So, even if I'm not sharing about it, chances are I'm making something.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dear Facebook, We're Breaking Up

Sometimes I hate Facebook.

Let me be clear: there are some good things that have come out of joining Facebook. I have met friends the world over who I love and cherish. I have found support in times of great need. I have been able to pray for those who needed prayer. I have stayed connected with people that, without this medium, it would be nearly impossible.

And yet...

Sometimes I hate Facebook. There is a lot of misinterpreted, half-truths, and slanted stories that end up smattered over by news feed. Add in well-meaning but often misguided personal opinions and just plain out rants and I don't think I can handle it.

I have a problem with media in general. I think it elicits too much fear. One week we hear front page news that reeks of calamity and catastrophe. The next week the situation has stabilized or resolved and suddenly we never hear about it again. Yes, there are some things that we need to hear about. Social justice issues need a conduit for reaching the masses. But people need to realize that things like genocide, war, natural disasters, and epidemics have been going on for hundreds of years, often with more disastrous consequences than in this age. This doesn't mean that we should turn a blind eye, it means we need to stop sensationalizing it. We need to report facts and stop putting a spin on it. We need to extend the hand of hope and healing instead of the earful of scaremongering.

So, I'm breaking up with Facebook. I'm on a quest to reduce the amount of unnecessary anxiety in my life and Facebook falls into that category. I'm going to delete Facebook off my phone and limit my Facebook checking to once a day on my computer at home, if I have time. I hope that you all understand my choice. I will still be on Twitter and you can always email me. But Mark Zuckerberg...

You're on my short list...and I don't mean that in a good way.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Year of Purging: Work Edition

Today was kind of a slow day at work. I was incredibly grateful since for the last month I have been working like a madman. Since I had the time, I was inspired to do some purging. After all, I have been (slowly but surely) purging things at home. Why not at work too? I know for a fact that there were papers in my bottom desk drawer that I have been there since I was an intern two years ago. I figured it was time to free up some of that space. Plus, the top of my desk was starting to spill over onto the desk adjacent.
My desk was looking something akin to Denis Nedry's.
I wish I had some after pictures. I sent at least 20 pounds of paper to the shredder and cleaned everything off the top of my desk except for some papers that needed immediate attention. I even made hanging file folders for the papers I wanted to keep and manilla folders for each of my current clients.

It's amazing how much better I feel without all that "stuff" junking up my space! It's definitely inspired me to keep up the cleaning.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Happy Cat, Tired Mother

Actually, better make that "exhausted mother."

Remember how I thought we had everything with Penelope figured out? Turns out we didn't. On Tuesday night my mom came up to feed her and noticed she was acting weird (licking her face and turning her head). Then she saw that there was blood on the plate of food. Wednesday morning I take Penelope to the vet's office (again) and I find out her sinus has ruptured and she is draining blood and pus FROM A HOLE ON HER FACE. Vet thinks she has an abscessed tooth. Surgery scheduled for that afternoon. Two teeth removed. Cat put on a soft food diet for a week. Today, she is purring, eating bunches, and has more energy than she has had in three weeks. Praise. The. Lord.
Chillin' with my kitty.
This whole experience has left me mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially drained. I think I'm entitled to a little lie down...right?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Third Time's a Charm

This morning I had to take Princess Penelope to the internal medicine specialist.
"I hate you."
As you may remember we have been trying to figure out Penelope's mysterious illness for almost a week now. Initially it was thought to be her kidneys. But her kidneys looked good. Then it was thought it was her liver. But her liver levels were fine. Today it was determined that it is likely her pancreas. Side note: She actually has a really gnarly looking cyst on her liver but the doc said it was actually ok.

Penelope had another ultrasound and an x-ray. She also had bloodwork sent off to determine 100% for sure it is the pancreas. The doctor said the pancreas was enlarged and that many of the symptoms (which are also similar to kidney and liver disease) can be caused by pancreatitis.  She thinks that it is a chronic issue that has been giving her fits in the past (and possibly causing her to lose to weight over the past 2 years). We will know by Tuesday for sure. We should also know how bad things are as well. The doctor put her on a daily pill (Lord help us) so the next challenge will be trying to get her to take that. On Tuesday we should know if anything else is needed (fluids, antibiotics, etc.).

Penelope has spent the rest of her day since coming home walking around, eating, and drinking some cat milk.
She's not 100% back to her old self but hopefully she will be feeling better in a few days.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers! Hopefully the worst is behind us and we can focus on managing the pain and other issues for many looooong years.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Up, Down, and All Around

The last few days have been an emotional roller coaster. Unfortunately, no end seems to be in sight. The biggest low has been dealing with my cat. Mostly just trying to figure out what is wrong. We had an ultrasound done on Monday morning and her kidneys look fine. Turns out her liver is not. I've been trying to get her to eat for almost a week now. She seemed better, appetite-wise, on Sunday but Monday was trying. She had another appetite stimulant given today and tonight she has decided she likes raw shrimp and boiled chicken. I'll take it and pray she doesn't stop liking this for awhile. Honestly, I don't care what she eats as long as she is eating and what she's eating has nutrients. We go to a specialist on Friday to try and figure out how bad her liver is and what we need to do as far as treatments (fluids, antibiotics, feeding tubes, etc.).

Before all this started with the cat, my maternal grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She's now started treatment and the whole situation is taxing on the family as we try to stay updated with what's going on. Her situation has been very up and down as well. When she first had the biopsy she was told she didn't have cancer. Then she was told she did. Then she was told it was worse than they initially suspected. Then she was told she would need radiation and hormone therapy. It has not been happy fun times.

Personally, I have on going sleep issues. My sleep study came back and I don't have sleep apnea but my doctor is concerned about chronic fatigue. I'm thinking it's stress induced much like by stomach issues I've developed over the past 3-4 years.

Strangely, there have been up swings in all this.

I found out that the application I submitted (and have been praying over) is moving ahead quickly. The supervisor I really wanted to meet with to help me gain my license was able to work me in to her schedule (and my boss is letting me flex my own schedule to be able to be out of the office two days out of the month for said supervision sessions). And I've been able to get both mine and my cat's doctor visits all scheduled at times when it won't interfere (too much) with my work schedule.

I feel as though someone has flipped the checkerboard and sent the pieces scattering. It's taking me some time to collect all the pieces and get things back in order but with God's help I'll make it through this!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Kitty Follow Up

Kitty Update: July 13, 2014
Photo from the patient's file.
Got a call from the vet today. Penelope's kidney levels are slightly elevated. Given her breed, the vet thinks that Penelope might have cysts on her kidneys and one may have ruptured throwing her whole system off. The condition is manageable but we need to pinpoint that this is the issue. Penelope is going back to the vet's early tomorrow morning to have an ultrasound.

I know that a cat seems like a small thing but I believe that God put me in protection of her little life and I intend to do just that. She has been my faithful companion and truest (albeit, most barf prone) friend since she decided to adopt me six years ago. I realize that many people are going through much bigger things and I get that. This blog is about transparency and right now I'm stressed to the max about the one little animal I've been put in charge of on a day to day basis.

So yeah, she's a big deal to me.

I'm praying that tomorrow Penelope will behave for her ultrasound. I'm praying that the vet will clearly be able to see what's wrong and that this will be something that Penelope can bounce back from quickly and we can manage easily for a long, long time. I'm praying that there aren't a whole lot of other cysts and that if one did rupture that it's not too big and nasty as to cause lots of pain for long periods of time.

Again, if you think I'm being ridiculous...I get it. To some people their pets are just that, pets. But I've been raised to care for God's creation in a loving and gentle manner and we've always treated our pets like part of the family. And God has intrusted us with some pretty difficult creatures (we had a dog and a cat with kidney disease and a cat with a heart murmur...this is all familiar territory for us). I fully believe though that He gave us these animals because without us they would have suffered. And no creature deserves to live that way.

Poor Penelope

Dear friends, I'm struggling. My kitty, the Queen of Bougie-ness, my constant companion, my baby, Penelope, is not feeling well.
Penelope in better times.
It started with a few signs that I wrote off: not waking me up in the middle of the night, drinking lots more water than usual, not crying for me at the top the stairs, peeing a lot more, not eating her cat treats...but then it took a turn for the worse. She completely stopped eating and spent two whole days in the back of my closet. By the time I took her to the vet on Saturday she hadn't eaten in almost two days and she was so tired and lethargic that she didn't even hiss or complain while the vet did a head to toe exam.

The good (bad?) news is that nothing is obviously and apparently wrong with her. No sores in her mouth (which she has had before), her heart murmur is not too bad (still low grade), no obstructions, no lumps, the toenail she lost last week is growing back well with no signs of infection, no temperature...the vet took blood work and I should know by Monday the results.

At this point I don't know what to hope and pray for. Do I want the blood work to come back showing nothing (and be happy that she doesn't have something long term and chronic)? Do I want it to come back telling me she has diabetes, kidney disease, or thyroid problems (so at least I can pinpoint what is wrong and start to treat that)? I would take the first option over the second if she would just start eating again. Then I would know that things aren't *too* bad yet. But if she doesn't start eating and the blood work comes back clean then we are at square one and we have to run more tests.
Chill-maxin' at the old apartment.
I know that this is one of those "trust in God" moments. But as a "parent" I want to make things all better. I want to fix the problem. Side note: If this is how I am with a cat imagine how I am with my kids. But I can't. I can't get her to talk to me and tell me what's wrong. I can't force her to eat (well, technically I can but I don't think it would be pretty). I just have to wait and pray.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Great Purge Continues...Plus 30 Days of Brave

I'm trying to keep the momentum going on the purging so I did a few little things. Starting with this:
See that in the back of the trash can? It's the 2009 calendar that I'd been holding on to. I thought I might go through it and pick out pictures I liked and then I remembered...I have better pictures and better memories from the time I actually went to England. I let myself get over it and dumped it. It was liberating. I also went through a magazine from 2010 that had been languishing in a drawer to see if there were any articles worth saving (there weren't) so that is going in the recycle bin. The goal from now until the weekend (when I will hopefully be able to go through the large dresser) is to go through a magazine a night. This doesn't sound like a lot but when you have years of knitting and psychology magazines just stashed around it will at least make a dent in things.

In addition to continuing the Great Purge I joined an invite on Facebook called 30 Days of Brave. Here's the description/directions:

Loved one you are INCREDIBLE, loved by God and capable of much more than you imagine. Would you be brave and see just how amazing you can be?
Let's see what we can overcome in 30 days. Let's be brave. Let's set goals and throw off the chains that hold us back. Let's RUN toward the goal of living life to the fullest. For 30 days I pray we see incredible progress and inspire others as we Brave our way to new heights.

On July 7th we will begin our 30 day experiment in living full. Why July 7th? Well because who doesn't love BBQ and Fourth of July desserts! And I think it's quite fitting to celebrate our hearts out and give thanks for independence and FREEDOM!

Here's how we start:
Identify areas of growth
Set 5 goals. 3 should cover these areas- emotional, spiritual and physical
Work it for 30 days
Along with reaching our goals BE BRAVE - try do something out of your comfort zone everyday.

Hashtag #30daysofbrave or post to the group.

1. Set realistic goals, even seemingly easy goals can get hard by week two.
2. Please refrain from specific weight loss goals. Weight loss is a side effect of healthy living, don't diet - change your habits.
3. Being brave - please keep it legal and honoring ;)

What have you got to lose?
Change is hard, being bold is hard but comfortable living is a small life. If life shrinks or expands in proportion to our courage then LET'S LIVE LARGE!
Life is too short and precious to waste it on living less than our best. So why not try?

My 5 goals are:
  1. Walk outside every day for at least 20 minutes. Rationale: Being outside does something good for your soul. I'm not much of an outdoors (wo)man but I need the sunshine. The only downside to this will be if it rains.
  2. Say one positive thing to a co-worker each day. Rationale: I feel like a real grump at work sometimes. If I make an effort to smile and be nice more then maybe it will do my spirit and someone else's some good.
  3. Pray daily for my kids in Romania, my nonprofit, and that an application I submitted will be accepted within the next 30 days. Rationale: I pray for my kids but I want to be intentional about it. I want my nonprofit to grow so that more orphans can be impacted in a positive way. The last one is pretty self explanatory.
  4. Clean up one thing/area a day that I don't normally. Rationale: Goes pretty much hand in hand with the Great Purge.
  5. Do something out of the ordinary each week (go hiking, visit a new restaurant, go to a movie, get a massage, etc.). Rationale: This is really the living brave thing for me. I tend to be a homebody who prefers to sit at home and knit than get out and do. Not that there is anything wrong with sitting at home sometimes. In fact, I need to make time for that as well. But I'm much more likely to write off getting out and experiencing new things than I am staying in.
Ok...so, I'm putting this up here so that I can be held accountable for staying on point. Care to join me?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Great Purge of 2014: Day 1

A few days ago I came across a blog entry on Facebook about purging. I read it, loved it, and was immediately called to action. I have a whole bedroom full of clothes, shoes, and knickknacks. I'm slowly taking over the bonus room in my parents' home. The basement has probably 50 boxes of stuff from my last move that never got unloaded.

It's time for the stuff to go.

Part of the prompting is from looking around and being slightly frightened by how quickly the mess gets out of hand. I'm a piler, not a filer which means that things accumulate on surfaces quickly. But I rarely need everything found in every pile. The other part of the prompting is because of some big life changes coming up for me in the next year. I can't get into all the details but basically...I need to par down. Plus, a few Sunday's ago when I was too tired to physically attend church I listened to an old sermon about getting rid of the "stuff" in your life. We let our possessions pile up and cloud our vision of God. We put the big house, the mountain of clothing, and the new boat before our relationship with The Almighty.

Again, it's time for the stuff to go.

I decided to start small (because I'm easily overwhelmed) so I started with my little dresser.
So much junk on such a small space.
I had a lot of paperwork so I went and found my "office paperwork" box from the basement. I had to clean and organize that first.
I made files and sorted all the loose paperwork in the box. I also took out all the stuff that wasn't household paperwork and put that aside.
Amazingly clean and organized box.
Then I was able to tackle everything on the top of the dresser. Since most of it was paperwork it got filed away. I went through my jewelry box and tossed old earrings that no one would wear, put unwanted jewelry in a pile to donate, and neatly put away all the jewelry that I do wear from time to time. I went through the bottom drawer which is a catchall drawer. I found some gift cards and went through those to see which ones still had a balance.
Shamefully all these gift cards have *some* balance left on them. I need to get out more...
The other drawers are workout shorts and sleep clothes. The verdict is still out on exactly how many pairs of Sofee shorts and pajama bottoms I actually need so those all stayed but I made sure that the drawers could actually close and that everything was in there in a semi-neat way. This was the result of the first stage of purging:
Neat clean dresser top.
Now my dresser has just a small pile of things that need my immediate attention (bills, paperwork to be filled out and sent off, etc.), my nook, and some decals for my car (which I'm giving myself a week to do and then they're off to the trash as well).

Looks worse than it is...I promise.
I still have a few things left to tidy up. The binder on the left is for articles that I find interesting. I'll keep filling it and then store it in the bonus room on a bookshelf. Takes up less space than a million magazines. The pile with the orange mask on it is memorabilia that needs to go in my keepsake box (but I will probably need a bigger box so I'm holding off on that). The white thing beside it is a calendar that I need to go through and pull out pictures I like (maybe...or maybe I just need to trash it...it's old). The stack on the right is music that needs to go in a box (again, I need a bigger box than the one I have so I'm waiting). and the small pile with the blue pouch on top is going into the donate box.

Yes, this isn't "technically" a completed project because I need to get some more boxes and pack stuff away. But I feel so much more organized than I did this morning. The key is to keep it from piling up again.

I don't think I will do purging every day but I will keep at this. I need to downsize!