Monday, January 31, 2011

Kids' Encouraging Words

Every once in a while, when I'm sitting here in the quiet, thinking of these two little people and the words that came out of their mouths during their last visit can CRACK. ME. UP.

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To tell this story, you first need to know that my mom looks like this:


Meaning that her hair and Riley's matches almost exactly. Years ago, when she took Riley to the vet for me, it was widely joked that they could all see the family resemblance. White hair definitely runs in our family.

Now, mine is not that inundated with white. But the hair that is turning gray isn't really turning gray at all. It's turning white. And there seems to be more and more of it the past few years.

Being sick, my hair isn't as healthy as it used to be, so I decided a few months ago that I would stop coloring it and let the natural progression of white take over. But then I thought about the Shan Clan coming, and all the pictures that would be taken, and I thought I'd color it just one more time.

But the dark brown with a touch of red actually turned into fire engine red.


People, I love Lucy. But not that much.

So I called my friend Meg and she ran and got me another box of color so I could try and fix it before my friends got here. And it did fix it. Kind of. It turned out ok in the pictures, unless the light hit it just right. And then it became a shade of purple I just can't describe.

Eliana could, though.

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This little lovey, who is always telling me I'm pretty and beautiful, would turn to me as we were curled up in bed and the light was streaming in the window to say, "Aunt Sara, your hair is just the prettiest color purple I've ever seen."

I would thank her and tell her I was so glad she liked it, as her mother tried diligently to not choke on her own saliva.

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But my Hannah, being older and wiser, knew that telling someone their hair looked purple probably wasn't the highest of compliments.

So she did her best to make me feel better.

She turned to me and said, "Oh, Aunt Sara, I don't think your hair is really all that purple. It's just that you're so sick and all the purple under your eyes is bringing out the color."

She was right. I did feel much better.

Laughter is always the best medicine. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gitz Bits 2011: Week 3

We're going to go ahead and call this one "better late than never." :) Thanks for being so patient with me this week!

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Monday, January 17, 2011


This was the Monday that my doctor came out to see me. I'm so blessed to have medical professionals who come to my home... the only drawback was that she came at 8:00 in the morning.

Needless to say, both she and Riley hung out with me in my pajamas that day. :)

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Along with all-day pajamas, being sick makes me even more in love with my hats. This is my favorite one this winter... it's a Peter Grimm hat and is the softest, most comfortable one I've ever worn. I can even have it on if I have a migraine, and if you've ever had a migraine you know that's saying something!

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I took quite a few of the photos for this week's Gitz Bits with the new texting machine. :) They aren't the best quality pictures, but it was pretty handy for catching Riley off guard. Most mornings we woke up to the house being around 59* or 60*, which is super cold, but helps me breathe quite a bit better.

Needless to say, he spent most of his time cuddled under the covers.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011


By Thursday, the medications had me throwing up around the clock, so Riley was more inclined to sleep on the pillow rather than cuddle up with me. But he dutifully stayed by my side every time I was in the bathroom getting sick.

He'd look at me with those pitiful eyes, and I have to admit that the sympathy does help a little. :)

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Friday, January 21, 2011


On Friday I got a care package from the lovely Dayspring (in)courage staff. They periodically send bits of love out to us writers, and it just happened to come on a week where the love was even more appreciated by me.

I mean, what could be better than to get this book in my hot little hands?!?! If you haven't picked up Ann Voskamp's book for yourself yet, you MUST.

Trust me.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011


This gorgeous cross was in my package as well, and I have it in my bedroom where I can see it all the time. It's simple and meaningful and lovely, and very much appreciated.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011



Guys, I thought I had killed the un-killable plant. I am so not a green thumb, but this philodendron has managed to stay alive since I was in college. It's simple and doesn't flower, so I'm not yet allergic to it... which is even greater incentive for not killing it. But having not watered it for a month or two, I thought my luck had run out.

Luckily, after two days of watering it, the waning, pitiful leaves began to perk up to this state and hope took root again.

I'll let you know next week if it comes to a full revival. Smile

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Thanks for once again sharing my week with me! Click on the button below if you want to go to Jessica’s site and check out the other participants showing off their weekly photos as well:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How's Your Hair?

I didn't want to leave you all hanging with a blank blog for two days in a row, so we're going with the old standby:

bad hair day

It's been a rough couple weeks, but I'm hoping things are starting to calm down a little. I'm going to try to finish processing my photos today so I can get my Gitz Bits for the week up tomorrow.

I like to keep at least some semblance of order in my life, even when that doesn't seem possible. So while I can live with calling in a bad hair day once in awhile, the thought of getting a whole week behind on my weekly photos is just too much chaos for me. :)

So, we all know I've been having a "bad hair day" lately... but how about you? I'm feeling totally out of touch. Want to keep me company in the comment section? How's your hair [life] been looking these days?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Flashback Friday... on a Monday

Many of you have asked me how I decide what to write about. In all honesty, I don't think a lot about it; I just write whatever is in me in that moment. This blog, other than being a place to connect with people, has primarily been a source for me to figure things out. To write things down. To have a place where I can go back and remind myself of things I need to remember.

I was hoping that I'd be feeling better by now [I am the most unrealistic human on the planet, apparently], but since I'm not yet feeling stellar, I thought I'd improvise and do a Flashback Friday on a Monday. And, ironically, when I went back to look for an old post I found one that was a darn good reminder for me right now. One I needed.

So I'm sharing in case it might be a good reminder for someone else out there, too.

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[originally published November 2008]

I love words. Not just for the sake of writing and their meaning, but the way they sound when spoken aloud. There are certain phrases that are given a depth that would otherwise go unnoticed. It's just something about the way the words sound together.

The quote pictured below is on my wall of doodles, and it's a perfect example of a message I like for it's meaning, but one I like so much better when said aloud. Try saying it and see if you feel the difference:

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"In the midst of winter, I finally learned
there was in me an invincible summer."
                                                              ~Albert Camus

See what I mean? It sounds like poetry to me.

It's also a quote that happens to be true. I put this on my wall not to inspire me, but to remind me of what I've already learned so I don't have to keep re-teaching myself.

When things get harder, when my health is more trying, the thing that keeps me calm and sane is the fact that I know I've done it before. The pain has been bad before, the symptoms are all ones that I've faced in the past, the exhaustion has reared it's ugly head and the headaches have tried to break me. And during those times, those wintry moments when things seem cold and endless and bleak, there is a summer deep within me that is untouchable. Invincible. I know it's there even when it seems far away and unreachable because I've been through it all before... and the summer always rises to the surface.

I have faith that He hasn't left me empty. So in those moments I remind myself of what I've already learned... that in the midst of winter there is in me an invincible summer.

What have you already learned that seems easy for you to forget?

Because I really do believe that once we know better we can't pretend to be ignorant anymore. Try making it a habit to remind yourself now of what you've already learned so that during your next run of trouble... the winter moments that inevitably come... you will remember and believe that He hasn't left you empty.

Remember that He has given you an invincible summer within.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

YOU:create ... week 22

I've gotten about a third of your One Little Word submissions ready to go, as I'm doing everything a bit slower than I was planning on this week. While I finish them up for you to download in next week's YOU:create, I thought I would offer up some more card designs you can use.

I doodled these for those times I need a way to send someone encouragement... offer them peace or hope or simply a word to let them know they aren't in it alone.

I often put these designs four to a sheet on cardstock, cut them and send them as a simple postcard. It's a nice way of sending a little love. The last one, a quote by Victor Hugo, will always be my favorite for absolutely every occasion.

strength sympathy copy

Get Well Soon spiral copy

peace copy

dove copy

victor hugo quote copy

If you'd like a copy of these doodles for yourself, click the download button:


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I can’t wait to see what you guys came up with this week! Just click below and follow the instructions to link to your project. When it asks you to choose the web or a file for your thumbnail, choose web. Then it will take you to a list of the images on the page you are linking to and you’ll be able to choose a photo to represent your project.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Confession #1: After two weeks of trying really hard to downplay in my own mind the effects that reaction had on me, I have to finally admit to myself that I am full out sick. And my slow life here in the condo has ground to a bit of a halt.

Confession #2: Sometimes really amazing things happen when my life grinds to a halt.

Shannon texted this morning to check on me, and it took about all my energy just to type back. I told her I hadn't written ahead for the blog and wanted to be able to post something for Wednesday. I asked if she had anything to say.

She said she'd tell you all about Christmas from her perspective, if I wanted.


Then I read it and was so incredibly glad I was too tired today. Because she managed to put words together that perfectly describe our friendship [which I am renaming familyship, because it really is more fitting] and her lovely heart. And I get to share them with you. And you all get to see for yourself why I am so blessed by her family.

It's almost worth being sick. :)

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Such a simple word; it brings to mind images of stars in the night sky, engagement rings, and bright, wonder-filled eyes.


I’m taking liberties and off the cuff calling it a scientific phenomenon that was witnessed and documented copiously with digital images.


It is what five humans are capable of doing when put together in a cozy condo for four glorious days.


We did all of the “usual” stuff...trips to Sonic for Happy Hour, a stop at Hy-Vee for soup and crackers, movies on the bed, filling the dishwasher, doing laundry, loving all over the white pooch, writing with a calligraphy set, and working on our creative flair with stencils and colored pencils. We opened gifts, sang, laugh, cried, and prayed. There was even fingernail painting and the two oldest in the house I won’t mention who is really the oldest and who’s the runner up managed to put on makeup every single day in case the camera came out of nowhere. I think we both secretly hoped it would.

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The ultimate goal was to capture the moment and freeze it in both perfect stillness and absolute motion so our eyes could witness later what our hearts were holding now. I wasn’t sure it would be possible, but between the two of us Canon toting shutterbugs (with Jay thrown in for good measure) I figured we’d get a few shots. Golden memories that my camera shy sidekick would allow me to print and display.

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Between the two of us, hundreds of images were amassed. Some were off center, others blurry because I’m still working on shutter speed and aperture and all of those other big fancy camera words that make photos pop. Sara’s, of course, were the bee’s knees. As I was going through the pictures on the camera and transferring them to external storage, I had a nagging feeling that there was something weirdly similar in all of the shots. I was tired, it was late, and I decided I’d go back and figure it out later when the kids didn’t need my help with piano and I wasn’t making dinner and correcting math and grammar homework and preparing Jay’s lunch and setting up the teaching schedule for the next day and folding the laundry and yelling at the dog to STOP BARKING NOW.

In complete honesty, it’s a miracle I went back to these photographs so quickly. I’m the girl who meticulously documented my first girl’s days, complete with date, time and location. Even if I didn’t scrapbook them, they were organized and booked.

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Then came Little Bit, and it all went out the window. It will be a miracle if it ever gets done, but that’s a post for another day.

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Hence, back to the photos, and the similarity. At first glance as I paged through snapshots, the rational part of me was looking for the parallels. I noticed clothing, lighting, and location. That wasn’t it. Then, it hit me.



Not in a new engagement ring sort of way, but in a full of love and joy and completely and utterly surprised in every moment by God’s wondrous grace sort of way.

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I’ve decided that it’s the way friends look when they’re crazy comfortable with each other. How babes appear when basking in the love of adults who simply adore them. How a married couple seems when nothing in their life is ordinary and they seek to view every single day as gift.

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It’s what we did for the hours we spent together, sharing moments. I didn’t realize it then, but it’s what the camera captured in every shot. It was the moment, frozen in both perfect stillness and absolute motion. Forever paused, my eyes are able to look at what my heart captured.

Guess what...just thinking about it?

I’m sparkling.

:: Shan just started blogging recently... you can check her out at ::

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gitz Bits 2011: Week 2

Hey, Peeps.

I'm posting my Gitz Bits here for you as usual, but I'm also guest posting it on Jessica's site, The Mom Creative, today.

Jess hosts this Project Life carnival every week, but last week her family had to say goodbye to her Nana. She had been ill and struggling with Alzheimer's, and it was a sad and emotional week for all of them. Rather than try to rush and pull her own post together, we're just throwing mine over there to fill in for the week.

If you have a minute, hop over and shower her with some love today as she jumps back into her hectic life. We all know what it's like to manage grief and real life... and every encouraging word matters.

Thanks, friends.

gitz bits 2011 2

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Monday, January 10, 2011


Needless to say, it's a good thing I took my picture for the day at the start of this game.

It's funny how social media can infiltrate every part of our lives. Even team sports. Before I became good friends with Tam, I had never even heard of the Ducks. Now, suddenly, I am rooting for them with abandon. Sadly, I couldn't pull them through their bowl game like I did the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Yes. I do take credit for team wins. I have no doubt they can hear me cheering from here. :)

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Riley, on the other hand, has had it. He is fully ready for this crazy football season with bowl games every night to be o-v-e-r.

"I'm right here, lady. And you haven't petted me in the last 73 seconds. Check your priorities."

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Yes, that says "Smoothie" ... and I can drink it!

I can't tell you how impossible it is to try and find a good fruit smoothie that doesn't contain whey. And the ones that don't have whey inevitably contain some immune booster like Echinacea that counteracts my autoimmune meds.

But finally, Bolthouse Farms took pity on this girl and made one that was tasty and whey free and allowed with my medications. And it doesn't even bother my stomach.

It's like God himself came down and said, "I'm finally giving you a break on this one, kid."

Hey, I'll take whatever I can get.Smile

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Thursday, January 13, 2011


This screen shot is my photo for the day.

Guys, you all know what my weeks have been like since the last reaction. It's not been pretty. And I'm trying to keep my spirit of optimism fully intact, but there are some days I have to work a little harder at that than others.

But then. THEN. I get this random, out of the blue, no reason whatsoever Facebook message from my 17-year-old nephew who I love more than I love breathing.

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And it literally made everything happy. I called and offered to move him to the top spot on my will, but since I'm broke I'm not sure that really says much. So I offered him my right arm should he ever need it.

But since he's already really good with a jump shot I think he's going to opt to keep his own.

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Friday, January 14, 2011


Speaking of fun things that made the week better...

My brother-in-law Jeff put me on their phone plan so I could get this texting machine.

Otherwise known as a cell phone. But to me, it's a total texting machine.

At some point we realized that if the electricity ever went out in my place, I had absolutely no way of contacting anyone for help. My internet would be out, my phone is modem-based to save money, and my Lifeline button wouldn't work either [there would be no way to say, "I've fallen, and I can't get up!"].

So we got a cell phone for such emergencies and it turns out it has unlimited texting. Which means I have an easier way to keep in touch with friends when I have no voice. Like now.

Happy. Happy. Happy. When you are stuck in the house for the rest of your life with no voice to talk to people, trust me when I tell you technology becomes your very best friend.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011


The only bad part is when you get super excited over another way of communicating with people, only to discover your body isn't cooperating.

By Friday night my left thumb and wrist had swollen to a ridiculous size and I was trying to text with only my right hand. This disease just never makes things simple. But technology came to the rescue again when I realized the phone had Bluetooth and I was able to link my external keyboard to the phone.

It wouldn't sync the first 783 times I tried it and then it magically connected. I have no idea what I did or did not do to make it happen, so I'm just chalking this one up to Jesus liking me.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011


I decided today I was going to take a photo of something outside of my bedroom so Physical Therapist Ted could have some proof that I actually do get up and do laps with George around the condo like I'm supposed to.

During that lap I imagined the figurines in this nativity un-posing and declaring, "Dude. Even the wise men have come and gone. It's time for you to let us move on."

Sigh. Christmas is really over.

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Thanks for once again sharing my week with me! Click on the button below if you want to go to Jessica’s site and check out the other participants showing off their weekly photos as well: