Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Vacation in My Mind

Well, I'm sick.

I know, that's redundant when talking about my life. ;)

This one snuck up on me fast and hit my lungs pretty hard, though. And if I don't show some improvement by Friday I have to start taking some shots in my hips that hurt like a banshee, which I would really like to avoid. 

So, I'm going to take the rest of the week off the blog and do nothing but be still and rest and take my meds and do my breathing treatments like a good girl.

Shan told me to think of it like taking a vacation in my mind, so if you need me I'll be sipping a drink with an umbrella in it by the ocean. 

Thank God I have a good imagination. ;)

Gitz Bits 2010: Week 38

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Monday, September 20, 2010


Someone is seriously jealous of Padma.

I’m not kidding... I left it sitting on the floor for a second when I went to the bathroom and I came back to see him eyeing it like this.


I know it looks like he’s guarding it, but every time it’s on my lap, he squeezes in between me and the iPad. He is the alpha of all things in this house.

Including me. :)

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Boy, did these come just in time.

I had ordered canvases almost two weeks prior, and by the time these arrived on Tuesday I was completely out of anything to paint on.

It was just in time for me to make one for you guys on Wednesday. Looks like I should be set for a few weeks. :)

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010


How funny is that face?

Tyler came with his Grandma Linda to bring me groceries on Wednesday night and went straight for the massage chair. He loves turning on the vibration and then talking to hear his voice come out funny. :)

He was THRILLED when he found a new button that turns on the heat feature. He exclaimed, “It’s puwfect! Cuz it’s always FWEEZING in here!!!”

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Thursday, September 23, 2010


Since I showed you this Ever Grateful memo board last week, I thought I’d show you my first doodles on it. :)

I have ideas to use it for a prayer list, or for people whose birthdays are that month. But for now, I’m just keeping my favorite quote handy in my eye line.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

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I rarely keep my camera next to my bed, but this day it was and I thought I’d give you my usual view during the day.

I got one shot off before the poser assumed his smiling position. :)

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Saturday, September 25, 2010


The crazy weather with the 50 degree highs one day and 80 degree highs the next day is supposed to be settling down, but not before bringing plenty of rain.

But with that rain is that little glimmer of hope you see above. My other flowers are done blooming and look ready for Fall, but out of nowhere this yellow flower began blooming again.

It happens to be the flower called Happy Returns.

[Hint, Shan Clan... the flower is calling you home.] :)

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Sunday, September 26, 2010


This is my weekly Sunday task. [aka my one cooking endeavor]. Ok, so rice krispie bars aren’t exactly cooking, but for the sake of my ego just pretend it is. :)

I was SO THRILLED when my friend Jenny discovered that Blue Bonnet Light contains no whey. And I was more thrilled when I discovered that it doesn’t TASTE like it’s doesn’t contain whey... huge plus! Which means I can get back to my habit of eating a bar for an easy breakfast every morning.

I mean, it does contain cereal after all...

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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:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blog Peep Questions: Grandparents, Part 2

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What is your favorite memory of a grandparent?

Last week I told you about my Grandma Flo, and today I get to tell you about her husband. My Grandpa Joe:

Mom and Grandpa Joe Mom and Grandpa Joe in 1990, about a year before he passed away.

I wish I could tell you I remember a lot about my Grandpa Joe before he got Alzheimer’s, but most of my vivid memories are after it started affecting him and they moved into town from the farm.

My siblings talk more about his dog Duke and playing in the barns, but most of what I remember from the farm were little things inside the house. I remember Grandma telling us not to play upstairs, but I loved sneaking up there because I was mesmerized by the glass door handles that I thought looked like diamonds. And I remember the grates on the floors that were the warmest place to stand in my red buckle shoes during cold winters that were more suited for boots.

But even though I don’t remember as much about the old days with my Grandpa as my siblings, I love the sweet memories I have after he got sick. He was very warm and tender, and would hold my hand and call me his girl when I would sit with him. And he taught me that food is so much better layered together, as he would take his mashed potatoes, carefully place the dip in the middle where he would slather on the milk gravy, and top it off with corn.

Not going to lie. My mouth just watered a bit as I was typing that. Yum.

And while he would tell the same story repeatedly, as many as 15 times right in a row, I think they were better stories because he wasn’t as inhibited due to the Alzheimer’s. My favorite story he told was when his mother would have him and his brother go out to catch a chicken to have for dinner. He’d tell me how they worked so hard doing their chores that they didn’t want to give up one of their own chickens. Then he’d start in on the elaborate tale of sneaking over to the neighbor’s farm and trying to be quiet while they stole a chicken out of their coop.

The key to the story was always the ending, though... when it turned out their mom had invited the neighbors over and they never realized they ate their own chicken at that dinner!

The only part of the storytelling I hated were the brief moments when he’d have a flicker of recognition after telling it a few times, and ask me if he had already told it to me. But I always told him he hadn’t, that I was anxious to hear how it turned out. And that smirk would come back as he’d get to the punch line. I still wonder if the story was true, or if he just enjoyed being ornery and seeing my reaction. :)

One of my most beautiful memories is getting to be with Grandpa on the day he passed away. It was the summer I had graduated from high school and was getting ready to head to college. He had been in the hospital after surgery, with my mom and her sisters all taking turns being with him and Grandma. It was an afternoon I had off of work and I sat with him while the others had a break. He had done pretty well, but was beginning to confuse me for his own mother, and then became agitated... wanting to take out his IV and leave. I had called Mom and told her I wasn’t sure what to do, and when she came up it was discovered that he had gotten pneumonia after the surgery.

All of his children came and he died later that night, but the time in between calling Mom there and his actual death was truly beautiful. It was my first experience of being with someone when they died, and the faith of the people in that room – loving and caring for him – was so impactful. At one point, after Grandpa had been unconscious for a bit, we were all gathered around his bed praying. A priest, who was a close family friend, was leading us in the rosary when we could suddenly hear Grandpa Joe faintly saying the prayers with us in German... just as he had prayed those prayers as a little boy.

I remember learning that night what an impact prayer can have. The impact of being so faithful to prayer in daily life over the years that it was second nature to a man - even in his ill state, even with his mind escaping him - during the final moments of his earthly life. The impact on a family when faith filled the room, even when some of the members there might not have had that strong faith in their lives at the time. The impact on a young girl who saw that there is more beyond this life, that Spirit can fill a place as cold as a hospital room and warm the grieving people in it.

So, when you ask me my favorite memory of my Grandpa Joe, it’s more than the sweet and ornery stories he told, or the way he ate his potatoes, or the tender moments of mistaking me for loved ones who had passed on long ago. My favorite memory is of him praying the rosary in a German tongue, and teaching his granddaughter that prayer is a constant to rely on and rest in.

Daily and faithfully.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Five: blog headers

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My friend Shannon does this cool thing every Friday where she lists five things about her week. Good things, bad things, in between things... doesn’t really matter. It’s kind of her way of keeping a record of her family’s life, even if she doesn’t have time any other part of the week to blog.

Smart, right?

Anyway, next week she’s going to start doing a linky if people want to join her, and I totally do. Except I basically cover all aspects of my week in Gitz Bits, which got me wondering what kind of “five theme” I could use and still participate.

Then I was thinking, what fun is participating if all of you don’t get something out of it, too? And then I thought about how much I love giving away a canvas every Thursday, but hate that so many of you leave empty handed. So on Fridays, when I announce the canvas winner, I’m also going to have a free giveaway for everyone.

I’m going to have a download that contains FIVE things. Five doodles, or word arts or card designs. Something fun that I create digitally, just for you.

What do you think?

I thought I’d start out this week by giving you the five different headers I use on here, so you can recolor them to use on your blogs if you so choose.


a few good reads

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All you have to do is click on that download button and it will take you to the download page for the headers. Hope you enjoy!


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Oh, you didn’t think I forgot about the canvas giveaway, did you? :)

The winner, according to random.org is:

my sweet ALECE!!!!! how fun!!!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! :) Be sure to email me at gitzengirl@gmail.com with your mailing address and I’ll get the canvas shipped to you!

Now, one more note about yesterday’s post. Thank you all SO VERY MUCH for telling me about your lives. I don’t know about you, but when so much of our encounters are spent trying to smile even though inside we’re wanting to scream to the world that life is hard, it helps to just speak truth for a moment. Even if it’s just a comment on a blog.

I’m so glad you all told the truth here yesterday. I loved smiling and celebrating with those of you who had peaceful and joyful days, and I appreciated having the privilege of taking a minute to pray for those of you who spoke from your hearts about the hard stuff. I love that we can trust each other with that here.

And no matter what your days were like yesterday, I hope you have a great weekend and enjoy the people you love. :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

YOU:create ... Week 11

I love making canvases. And I usually like the canvases I make. But I am also fairly critical of them.

Today, though, I actually made a canvas for you all that I LOVE.

Like, I kind of don’t want to give it away.

But I will. :)


I am usually pretty straight-edged, not very carefree with how I lay things out. And I recently decided I need to get out of my comfort zone a bit.


So I tried being a little more artsy.


Turns out I kind of like being artsy.

More than anything, I felt like the quote by Maya Angelou fit my post yesterday. And the design of the canvas is a bit more whimsical... which is how I want to be even when it’s not how I feel.

What do you think? Do you want to win it?

To enter, leave me a comment telling me, honestly... How Are You Today? Leave the comment before midnight CST, and I’ll let you know the winner in tomorrow’s post. [Only one comment per person, please.]

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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, September 22, 2010

How Are You? Good Question.

One of the questions that is asked of me most often is also the one that’s hardest for me to answer: How are you?

It’s insane how many ways my life fits that question.

How is your health? How is your pain? How is your spirit? How is your grief? How is your attitude? How is your strength?

A friend texted me the other day and said, “How are you?” and I replied, “Honestly, I have no idea.”

It was the best I could do.

I have so many emails in my inbox from all of you asking how I am, and I really want to give you an answer. I owe you an answer simply because you care about me and I appreciate that beyond words. So I’m going to try to say something more than, “I have no idea.” :)

My health and pain? It’s been fairly rough. It was actually pretty rough before Dad died. That morning before anything in my world had gone wrong, my nurses were worried about my vitals and breathing and checking with the doctor about it.

Then that afternoon Dad died and it all went to hell in a hand basket.

But my vitals are good now and my breathing is as good as it knows how to get. I spent about 2 1/2 months throwing up multiple times a day and adopting an ulcer, but new meds are helping with that as well. {YAY!} I can’t eat much, but what I am able to eat I’m keeping down for the most part. I’ve developed new allergies to new things, which is not uncommon when my system is as worn down as it has been. But, in all honesty, that’s more of a nuisance to me now than it is something I actually get upset over.

The pain has been high, higher than it used to be. But my nurses and doctors have been great and we’ve upped some of the meds as we’ve needed to. As has been the case for quite a few years now, when I take three steps back I only seem to take one step forward again, and for now I’m just waiting to see how big that one step is going to be. It’s hard to tell when the weather is changing between seasons because the fluctuations tend to make the pain and migraines increase as well.

So, I will do what I’ve gotten very good at over the years: I will wait and see.

How’s that for my body update in a concise nutshell? :)

As for the rest of it, I think I’m doing pretty well. My faith is strong. My spirit is strong. My attitude is the same it’s always been. I choose joy. It’s just that along with that joy is grief and heart break. I’m learning that grief and this reality seem to get harder instead of easier with time. And I’ll just keep taking that as it comes.

As far as the isolation part goes? It’s been different.

I accepted being homebound pretty easily, I think. I know that sounds strange... and believe me when I say that, at times, it has been both painful to my heart and a struggle to my soul. But the trust I have outweighs those things. I trust that God has it covered, He as ME covered, so I take the pain in my heart and struggle in my soul and I give them to Him.

Simplistic? Yes. But often simple is what works best for me.

Since Dad died, since I was stuck here during the time everyone celebrated him, I have felt more stuck. It feels less like a choice I made to hand it to God and more like a decision that I didn’t particularly care for. At the same time, in a completely opposite emotion, I feel like there is no place on earth outside this condo that I would really want to be anymore. I feel like there couldn’t be any place on earth more important than my dad’s wake. There couldn’t be anything more sacred than touching his hand. And if I couldn’t be there, then there is no place else to go.

I sometimes wonder if going back to familiar places would help or hurt. Heal or make it too real. If being at his final resting place would help me make sense of it or just leave me wanting. And then I realize all that wondering doesn’t make a bit of difference. Because what I need to do is embrace this life for what it is.

It feels as confusing to me as it sounds to you. Trust me.

But, confusing or not, that’s what being homebound feels like. Don’t worry, I’m not in some depression funk. I grieve Dad daily. Tears spill out of my eyes at the strangest times when I don’t even feel like I’m physically crying. But I laugh over funny things. You would laugh at me still making up ridiculous songs that I sing to Riley. [Don’t judge. We get bored.] I choose the moments of joy even when I have to search for them, and I give the frustrating things no more weight than they deserve.

I’m living life the same.

Only different.

Because it is different now. Dad’s feet are not firmly planted on the soil and that made the gravity shift for us a bit. And we’re all still adjusting.

But as my mom keeps saying, we are keeping our attitude of gratitude. And I am embracing my one little word for this year even more. My goal is to keep being gracious. To love generously. To accept love with grace and humility. To be gracious in accepting the changes in our lives with open hands... palms facing upward to receive all that is given. All that seems good, all that seems bad and all that is in between.

When I look back on what I wrote about the word gracious at the start of the year, I realize that – more than it describes how I have approached life – it describes how all of you have approached me.

You have loved me with grace and patience and abundance. You have brought joy to me and made me laugh and gave me the space to grieve as I need.

So, I guess when you ask me how I am, I will have to answer with grace and say that, more than anything else:

I am blessed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gitz Bits 2010: Week 37

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Monday, September 13, 2010


So, the Shan Clan ... being family and all... wondered what I was going to do about one of their main family loyalties.

Michigan football.

We had a problem. Obviously Iowa is my first priority. But I decided I would not wish Michigan to lose in other scenarios... until I realized that Michigan was playing Notre Dame. And people, I am Irish Catholic through and through.

I even have green rosary beads to prove it. And I made the move to take them out during that Michigan/Notre Dame game. And when the Irish were still losing? I may have threatened to grab the rosary beads blessed by Pope John Paul II himself.

Lucky for Shan, the beads were in the other room and I was too comfortable to get out of bed. Needless to say, Michigan won because of my sheer laziness. :) Or maybe because they played better defense.


Regardless, that Monday after the game it dawned on me that I actually have a Michigan sweatshirt. In a total twist of fate, I had “borrowed” this sweatshirt from Dad’s closet when I was in college and needed something big and warm and comfy. I just “accidentally” forgot to return it to him. :)

So, in honor of being a good loser and showing support to the Shan Clan loyalty, I took the photo above and emailed it to her. And I won’t hope Michigan loses again. Until Iowa plays them.

Then all bets are off. :)

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Dear Owner:

I need a haircut.

Love, Riley the Blog Dog

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010


This gorgeous and creative towel is one my friend Nicole made me for my birthday this year. I have seen so many sewing projects on our YOU:create Thursdays that I thought it might be a fun idea for some of you.

She just took a font she liked on her computer and printed out the F in the size she wanted it, cut it out of this adorable fabric and sewed it onto this soft, waffled towel.

And while I made all of that sound super simple, I want you to know I would only get as far as printing out the F on a sheet of paper. The girl has skills I don’t possess, but I sure like being the beneficiary of them!

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Thursday, September 16, 2010


I cannot wait to decide what I’m going to do with this.

The ironic thing is that I’ve been desiring this Ever Grateful memo board for eons. Or at least since I’ve been hanging out on the Dayspring site. Which feels like eons.

Anyway, everything you hear about that company being ridiculously awesome? All true. Because I did a very minor thing to contribute to their catalog and they sent this memo board with a thank you written on it.

They sent me a thank you, when I owe them more thanks for how they and (in)courage have surrounded me with love before, and especially since, my dad died.

I have SO many ideas of what I’m going to write on this... what I’m going to use it for... and since it’s a dry erase, I’m guessing I’ll be doing all of them at one point or another. :)

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Friday, September 17, 2010


As you may have noticed by the bad hair day and reposts last week, we’ve been a bit tired around here...

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Saturday, September 18, 2010


... and this forecast is a large part of that reason. The temps have gone from the 50s to the 80s to almost 90s and then hit some 40s.

Oh, and it’s been storming.

I live in Iowa, so this should not surprise me during the changing of seasons, but I would be thrilled if it would pick a season and stick with it sometime in the near future.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010


And I have no photos to provide for Sunday, either. So instead I’m providing you with another screenshot of what our state weather map looked like on Sunday.

It’s kind of like my doctor’s excuse for not doing my homework. But instead of telling you I have cramps to get out of gym class, I’m telling you that I’ve had pain and migraines and can’t get out of bed.

Besides, men read this blog. And they don’t want to hear about cramps.

You’re welcome, Uncle Barney. :)

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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: