Plexus Slim

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Do You Ever Wonder?

Have you ever wondered if you have made a differnce?  Have you spent time thinking back over your life and tried to find even one way you've made a difference in some small way?  Have you made someone else's life better, even in the smallest way?  If you ceased to exist, would it matter to anyone?  Would you leave any kind of a legacy or would anyone think of you and smile as they remembered the way you impacted their life? 

Maybe it's just that we celebrated Mothers Day, but I've been pondering these things.  I truly hope I'd be missed if I didn't wake up tomorrow, but would I be?  I hope my children have good memories of their mom.  Memories that make them smile and laugh.  And that my husband would smile, remembering the good times we've enjoyed over the past thirty years.  I hope they laugh, remembering how I always burn the pancakes because I get distracted by a song, or how I have never learned my right from left because I'm ambidextrous.  I hope they look at the things I've made and smile instead of just seeing clutter to be tossed away.  I truly hope they see a bit of me in themselves and in each other, and find comfort and maybe even   joy in those traits and characteristics.

What about those you considered friends?  Will they miss you or will they just miss what you do for them?  There is a big difference in those two things.  Have you truly impacted their lives and left your mark on their hearts?  In our disposable society, that's a harder question to answer.  It's easy to get lost or to just " make it thru" without leaving any lasting impact.  We help others, we try to meet their needs,  but does it really matter in the scheme of things?  Will anyone remember  you enough to actually miss you when you're gone?

I don't have the answers to any of these questions; I'm wondering about these things myself .  One thing I do's not worth losing yourself just to try to fit in.  But, we are all wired with a deep desire to know our life mattered, that we made a good difference in some small way.  It doesn't mean we need to travel to third-world countries and dig wells, or sponsor a dozen children in other countries to be sure they get food and an education; it is just working to make our little patch of the world a better place for everyone that comes across our path.  Be kind, especially when you may feel like striking out.  Give your family your best, not just the crumbs leftover at the end of each day.   Seek ways to bring  joy to others.  But thru it all, don't lose who and what God created you to be, by falling into the pit others dig for you.  Know, even when it doesn't seem to be the case, that you and your life do matter and  that someone's world is better just because you were in it for awhile.  Leave your mark so others can see God's fingerprint in this crazy, messy world .

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Gentle Life....

My heart is conflicted lately..... Bursting with joy and love for my family and our life together; greatly grieved as I watch our society unravel at the seams.  I'm truly heartbroken by all that I see each and every day.

People wonder why I LOVE anything old and "vintage"... well, yes, I absolutely have a vintage soul; it's who and what I am.  But it's become stronger of late as society becomes angrier and completely self-focused.  I long for the days of my childhood, because in those days there was not the complete falling apart of society that we have today.  Families were strong, neighbors were friends, churches took care of not only their congregation, but their community as well, there was optimism, patriotism, unity.  No, it wasn't perfect.  I've lived long enough to see several wars, starting with Viet Nam.  While I was too young to remember the civil unrest at that time, looking back through our history we can clearly see that even as horrible as it was at the time, it wasn't what we are witnessing now.  Why?  Because through it all, families were still mostly intact and communities still pulled together... eventually.

The girls and I were out and about this morning, running a couple of errands; and in those two hours I was barraged with the harshness that has become the norm for our time.  I'm saddened that, it appears anyway, regardless of the generation very few people can see past themselves anymore.  I stopped into the doctor's office to pay our bill, the young girl at the desk didn't even greet me with anything more than "Next.."  From there we stopped at Dunkin Donuts to say hi to Sarah and enjoy yummy coffee concoctions (May I just say that an iced blueberry-vanilla coffee with extra cream and sugar is perfect for a spring-like day;).  Sarah worked, and the girls and I enjoyed chatting at the table for a bit before heading onto Sams Club for groceries.  The older lady at another table seemed put out that we were there, constantly shooting us "the look" until we left.  I'm not sure why a mom and her daughters enjoying coffee together put a bee in her bonnet, but it certainly seemed to.  Once we were on our way to Sams, I was stopped at a stop sign, waiting to turn left onto a somewhat busy street.  There was a car behind me waiting to turn right.  There is only one lane, so everyone waits their turn.  I feel the need to point out here, this other car with a female driver in her late 60s I'd guess, just pulled out of the church parking lot on the corner.... At any rate, I was waiting to safely make my turn while two cars headed my way.  One had their blinker on to turn right at this corner, the other appeared to be intent on going straight.... Since I was stopped at the intersection, I was able to see these two cars and wait for them.  The lady behind me could not see them from her vantage point....but that didn't stop her from getting agitated and blaring her horn long and loud at me to get me moving.  I could not move till these two cars passed; doing so would've caused an accident.... but that didn't matter to the woman behind me (who just pulled out from church).  She was upset and only focused on herself.  Up the road at Sams Club (we haven't been there in over a month), I noticed lots of new employees; and sadly, not a single one was polite let alone kind.  Customers too, are so focused on themselves that it doesn't occur to them to be polite to those around them who are also shopping.  I had two people actually tell me girls to "move it" because they perceived them as being in their way, no concept that we were also choosing a bag of cheese and then looking at the apples.  Seriously?  We can't be polite anymore?  Topping it all off was the young lady checking me out.  To say she was rude and disrespectful is putting it mildly.  I'm the customer... I do not OWE anyone my business, I give you my business because I CHOOSE to do so.  Making your customers feel disrespected and like they're a bother for you to deal with (I chose not to use the self-serve lines) is unacceptable.  But... how do we stop this?  Can we stop this decline?

We now live in a society where everyone is angry, all the time and about everything.  There is no filter any longer.  Manners are considered too authoritative.  Authority is considered abusive.  Personal opinion is all that matters, regardless of any facts that may prove otherwise.  There is no "agree to disagree" mentality any longer.  If you disagree, you open yourself up to bullying and harassment.  Truth of any kind is considered intolerant.  Look, this isn't just our kids generation setting the pace; it's the baby boomers that have bought into it and they've set the example.  Why should 20 year olds behave any differently when their grandparents can't be bothered with setting a better example?  When I was growing up my grandparents had a HUGE impact on my life; they were also part of my daily life, investing themselves into me in every way imaginable.  They came alongside my parents to help shore up our family.  They showed me by the way they lived and loved, how to be a positive part of our community, church, neighborhood, and family.  They didn't let me ever once think that everything revolved around me, rather they showed me how I could impact things, both for good and bad, by my attitude/behavior/response/mindset.  It's because of them that I am able to stop and think before I react (usually;).  I realize that I have no way of knowing what others are going through at any given moment, but that I can choose to either be a blessing or a burden to them by my response.  What if the hurried woman in the car behind me, blaring her horn to make her point, had done that to an elderly person or even a brand new driver?  The result could have been devastating.  And for what good reason?  Is someone's life really worth getting somewhere  2 seconds earlier for you?  Instead of assuming I wasn't paying attention, how about assume the best, that maybe I see something you don't?  Instead of being the rude and disrespectful cashier who makes a lasting impression on the customer, how about making the choice to be kind rather than "better than" to those who come through your line?  You don't know what they are dealing with in their life.  On the other hand, instead of being the rude customer focused only on yourself, why not CHOOSE to brighten someone else's day by being kind and, dare I say, saying thank you?

Everyone has struggles in their life.  Everyone also has blessings if they choose to look for them.  Our opinions mean nothing, but our hearts, our hearts hold the key to every good thing.  Yes, we all have bad days.  It's life.  But if we could all just make the CHOICE to think about others rather than ourselves, society wouldn't be so angry ALL THE TIME.  This society runs on nothing but feelings and feelings are ever-changing.  It's no wonder things are spiraling down so fast.  There are no longer any hard and fast truths...even scientific facts are thrown out because "people don't like them".  Everything is up in the air and open for personal interpretation based on personal feelings "at the moment".  That, however, does not foster positive and strong relationships.  For relationships to grow and last, they need to stand on something more solid than a mere feeling; but we are seeing families fall apart because nobody knows how to handle tough feelings anymore.  Society thinks that when the going gets tough.... you bully your way to get what you want.  NO!  There once was a time when we knew how to respectfully discuss things, even hard things.  And, it all starts with thinking of others before yourself, being polite, not assuming the worst in others, accepting differences and challenges, and RESPECT.  Tolerance has been the battle cry for far too long.... when in all reality our battle cry should be RESPECT ~ for others and ourselves.  Start there, and you will naturally move into kindness, which will lead you down the path to gentleness.  I don't know about all of you, but I much prefer living a gentle life than being angry all the time.  A gentle spirit changes the world; an angry heart just sows the seeds of discord and war.  #kindnesschallenge #gentlelife

Thursday, February 8, 2018

We Are Heartbroken...

It's with great sadness that we had no other choice but to help our boy cross the rainbow bridge.  Max was such a trooper and while he wanted and tried so hard to get better, his body just couldn't overcome the ravages of his epilepsy.  Our hearts and home are feeling the emptiness he left behind.

Max was intended to be Gracie's Diabetic Alert Dog.... but due to circumstances out of his (and our) control, that was just never a role he was able to fully fill.  That doesn't mean his life was without purpose, however.  While he was not able to alert us to Gracie's fluctuating blood sugars, Gracie found a kindred spirit in her Max William.... one that offered her the comfort and strength to face her battles with T1D on a daily basis.  Max was diagnosed with his own disease, epilepsy, at barely a year and a half old; and it was through that very diagnosis that he and Gracie bonded their hearts fully and committed to care for each other.  It was no longer a one way street of Max looking out for his Gracie Girl; now it was this sweet child learning to care for her special boy as well.

Max was our family dog, but he and Gracie shared the same spirit... they were (are) both warriors, strong and fiercely loyal to each other.  I truly don't believe Gracie would be the beautiful person she is today, had it not been for Max William.  He helped her to fully tap into her nurturing spirit and learn to tune into others (both animal and human) and to be strong enough to meet their needs.  It's because of Max, that Gracie is able to be the voice for so many who have no voice otherwise.  This goofy little lab, nothing but a loud bundle of energy, blew into our lives and changed everything... and we are all better because of him.

We seemed to have spent Max's entire life fighting for him, in one capacity or another; some day maybe I'll put pen to paper and write his story so that others can truly see what an amazing little guy he truly was.  Max and Gracie's Grand Adventure....
Through it all, our love for Max and his love for us remained strong and true, right up until the very end.  Max crossed that bridge surrounded by the family that loved and adored him, feeling our fingers  brush his fur and stroke his ears, telling him how loved he was and how very thankful we were to get to call him ours.

There is a song by Francesca Battistelli called Angel By Your Side, it's always been Max and Gracie's song.  You see, Max was Gracie's angel for his entire little life, but Gracie was also his angel; one who sacrificially took care of him right up until his last breath.  While we still find ourselves in tears, missing Max William, we know that he will always be with us in our hearts and we will find a way to honor his memory.

Max William 8/6/2011 - 2/2/2018  #Beloved #Cherished #foreverloved

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Max's Tough Journey....

Many of you know that Max, our yellow lab, was suppose to be Gracie's Diabetic Alert Dog, but due to many factors from the start, that just was never going to happen.  One of the reasons was that Max was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was less than two years old and the medication to control his seizures dulls his senses, including his sense of smell, which he would've needed to rely on to do the job we'd hoped he'd do.  Max and his life still had a purpose along the way, even though it wasn't the one that was originally chosen for him.  He and Gracie are still strongly bonded and Gracie takes great comfort in Max, especially when she's struggling with her T1D.  He offers her comfort, unconditional love, and no judgement.  Max also offers Gracie the opportunity to serve from her she cares for Max and his needs.  They understand one another as they both battle what is [usually] their own invisible disabilities.  You see, you'd never guess either Gracie or Max have life altering conditions....that is, until their illness rears it's head.

Back in early December we noticed Max was babying his front foot/leg.  He seemed totally normal, so we looked him over closely but didn't see anything and chalked it up to his age and the weather.  This came and went, off and on, for about a week.  Other than holding his front leg up like it was injured, he acted just fine.  He was eating, drinking, running, annoying his sister, barking, playing, everything you would expect any 6 year old lab to be doing.  We kept a close eye on him but didn't see anything to really send up red flags.  We know what his breakthrough seizures look like, even though he's on medication to control them, and this wasn't even on our radar.  By mid-December we were traveling for 3 days, so Tess was zoo sitting for us.  She noticed that Max was walking funny, but also thought it was his age because otherwise he seemed "ok".  By the time we got home on the third day (really only 2 1/2 days since seeing him) it was clear he was having major seizures and he was really struggling.

I called the emergency vet for suggestions.  They advised an extra dose of his meds and to watch him closely overnight.  The next morning I called our normal vet and took him right in.  He was seizing almost continuously with little rest in between.  She gave him valium intravenously, and we took him home along with some anti-inflammatory meds and instructions to increase his seizure meds.  He was loopy but seemed better.  That only lasted a day and things started back again.  If you're not familiar with seizure treatment, you need to understand that the drugs to treat it are therapeutic, meaning it takes a couple weeks to build up in your system fully to work as you want it to.  Those couple of weeks are excruciating for you and all those who love you, because you're still seizing and feeling crappy.  Through it all Max has been such a good boy.  He knows we are here for him, helping him as best we can.  But we wait...

Over the weeks since this all began, we realized that we were fighting two things: 1) controlling his seizures, and 2) Max was in a lot of pain from the seizures so any movement was excruciating for him.  We promptly put him back on the pain pills to help him relax and not have to fight the pain, but he was still so loopy from the double dose of seizure meds he was taking that he was much like a lump of pudding, unable to do anything at all.  Our vet decided to change his meds to see if that would help... but it would mean another waiting game before we would see any results.  Each day we loved on Max, fed him by hand, got him water through a turkey baster because he was too weak to drink or eat on his own power.  And now he was too weak and tired to even try getting up anymore on his own.

We are firm believers in following our animals lead and Max was no different.  We have spent the past 6 weeks meeting every need Max has and allowing him the time to recover on his terms.  That means helping him in every way... standing, walking, eating, drinking, even making sure he knows  that he is a good, brave, and strong boy, and that he can do this.  The weather here hasn't been helpful in all of this.  Single digit temps with sub-zero wind chills and snow.... not good for Max and his recovery.  But we make sure he's warm, toasty, cozy, comfortable, and loved.... very very loved.  I'm not gonna lie, we've had our doubts over the weeks of whether or not he was going to make it through this, or even if it was right for us to ask it of him.  But Max and God, both, have been pretty clear along the way, that yes, we are doing the right thing and that Max is going to pull through.

He's eating more these days; of course he gets just about anything he wants (I'm kind of doubting he will ever be willing to go back to his kibble;) and drinking plenty of water.  He tries to do these things on his own but becomes tired easily and we help him so that we are sure he's getting enough.  He's eliminating well each day, with no problems whatsoever, and his vitals are all strong.  And twice over the past few days, he managed to come out of his kennel on his own power.  He doesn't make it far, only a few steps out, but its a huge step in the right direction.  Not only does it do him good but it also gives us the chance to clean his kennel thoroughly and get it all freshened up and cozy with fresh blankets.  At this point he still needs carried beyond those few steps he takes on his own, but each day is another milestone for him, and we see his determination.

Through all of this (and it's been grueling and exhausting), Gracie has been right there tending to her boy, Max.  She gently gives him his medications, feeds him bite by bite, by hand, makes sure he gets plenty of water throughout the day, gives him his essential oil rubs several times each day, helps Craig and I deep clean his kennel, and she crawls in with him to love on him, and tucks him in with warm blankets every time she sees he's wiggled out of them.  This is true beauty from ashes..... watching this beautiful child tenderly take care of the dog that was intended to take care of her.  Yes, God most definitely works in mysterious ways!  I know this because I witness it each and every day in my own home and my own family.  I watch a 13 year old girl grow her servant's heart as she takes care of her sick dog.  I've watched for 6 years a little girl who always felt different from everyone because of her T1D find acceptance and similarity in her dog who shares a battle with his own chronic, life-threatening health condition.  These two are true partners; maybe not like we had intended and envisioned they would be, but they are just exactly what each other needs.  God Does NOT  Make Mistakes...EVER.  We have battled for Max from the start and we will continue to tirelessly battle for him in all he needs, because he is a gift and blessing to our family and we thank God for sending him to us.

I will continue to update y'all on how Max is doing.  Our big goal right now, especially since the weather will start cooperating for a few days, is to get him walking again.  He's weak, especially his front legs, so we are going to help him walk using a sling to help give him the support and stability he needs right now.  Please pray he continues to recover fully.

Friday, December 29, 2017

As Our Year Winds Down....

What a Christmas it's been for the Schroeder clan.  So cold you feel you're in the Polar Express stream, Snow!, and lots of time together. 

Max has had a rough go of it with his epilepsy.  He had breakthrough seizures while we were in Minnesota the middle of the month and it's been a tough time ever since.  It has taken a couple of weeks to stop the seizures; the only way to do that was with heavy doses of his medications, which makes him pretty much a bump on a log.  Once he'd gone a couple days without seizures we started to lower his dose and are hoping to have him back to his goofy self sometime soon.  He is a bit more alert than he has been, but still isn't any more active than a lump of pudding.  It's been hard on us all to watch our active boy take such a down turn, but we have hope that he will continue to bounce back even if it is at a snails pace.  

Max and Gracie, this past summer in their little music video

We had a lovely Christmas.  We enjoyed our traditional breakfast of cinnamon rolls while opening gifts, then we headed off to the Lied Lodge in Nebraska City for Christmas dinner.  Stress free and nearly mess free:)  I loved the opportunity to spend the entire day with my family with no distractions whatsoever... a rare treat to be sure.  

Hard to keep Annie still with all the excitement, but she had a christmas tree sweater complete with a lighted star :)

 Grammy gave her a gift card to her favorite place to eat

 She'd been wanting those for two months
 Sarah found a mug for her that says "World's Greatest Mimi"

 Our free-spirited little explorer

The other BIG NEWS around here is that Sarah started on her insulin pump the day after Christmas.  She is loving the ease of managing her insulin with a push of a button rather than multiple injections every day.  She and Gracie are now "podding twins":)

We hope y'all had a wonderful Christmas, surrounded by those you love, along with sweet memories of Christmases long past.  Praying that 2018 brings God's amazing blessings.  Happy New Year! 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Chaos and Christmas Cookies...

What a week it's been!  It was time for our semi-annual trek to Rochester, MN for the girls routine endo appointment.  This trip was a bit longer than our normal over night due to extra appointments at the end of the year, so we were gone for three days.  Honestly, it was a fun trip, filled with making fun memories.  The girls appointments went well.  Gracie improved her a1c by over half a point and Sarah was given the go ahead to start training for her new insulin pump.  Since we were there extra days, and Dad came with us this time, we decided to trek a bit further to the Mall of America to have dinner and see if we could get into the Christmas spirit.  Craig has been there once, but the rest of us have never been.  We honestly had a great time, for a family of (mostly) non-shoppers/mall avoiders. Our first stop was the American Girl store.  While the girls don't really play with their dolls like they use to, they still LOVE them and they absolutely adore this store.  Craig treated us to a special dinner in the AG diner...something they've always wanted to do, but the KC store we usually shop in doesn't have.  It was charming.  They loaned the girls dolls to dine with since they hadn't brought theirs along and we had the entire diner basically to ourselves.  We enjoyed chatting, watching the people walk by below us through the window (Hannah commenting on every receding hairline she noticed;) and playing the game that was on our table.  Dinner was actually quite yummy!  Not gonna lie, I was surprised and impressed.  From there, we decided to walk the mall and take in all the Christmas splendor.  There were hardly any other shoppers so it was actually a pretty nice way to spend the evening, complete with Christmas concerts in the center of the mall.  Thursday, on our way home, Craig treated us to lunch at The Machine Shed in Urbandale IA.  If you ever have a chance to stop in there, TAKE IT.  We really enjoy the atmosphere and their food.

We got home to discover our poor boy, Max, was having seizures and had most likely been having them for a day or two.  Poor Tess, who was taking care of everyone while we were gone, thought he was just moving slow from old age and the cold weather.  She honestly had no way of knowing what was going on.  We gave him extra dose of his meds to try to help overnight and we took him in to our vet on Friday.  At his age, it's going to take him awhile to get back to feeling better, but as of this morning (Sunday), he was moving a bit better and seemed to be able to see better again.  He is such a goofy boy and can make you crazy with his lab antics, but we adore him and want to see him back to his goofball ways quickly.

Yesterday, Gracie and Hannah had a Holiday Fun Day horse show.  Hannah's first show ever:)  They really had a lot of fun showing alongside their friends and team mates.  They have such a great team of girls and it's truly heartwarming to watch them encourage and cheer each other on.  They all did AMAZING and won lots of ribbons.  I think it's safe to say that this little team is hooked on showing and going to make their coach, Anne, and Double Clear Equestrian Center proud as they all grow and continue to improve in their abilities.  Shatara, one of their team mates, wind reserve champion in her division, and Gracie won champion in hers.  All told, every one of these girls went home with huge smiles and I'm sure they all slept as well as my two did last night;)  On a side note:  It was truly amazing to see Gracie and Hannah showing together.  Watching Gracie calm Hannah's nerves and helping her calm down and warm up her horse beforehand, and keep him calm during their division, made my heart burst with joy and a little pride in the young ladies they are growing into.

Well, we are officially 8 days away from Christmas and we just aren't feeling it around here.  This is a first for our family!  We usually have the trees up by the first week in November and the house decorated along with the gingerbread village made by December 1st.  We are struggling with the festivity this year.  So.... We are taking Kyah (Sarah's puppy) to visit Santa today and hope that puts a bit of the magic in our spirits so we can get it together.  There's a lot to be done in the next week!  The smell of christmas cookies baking might help move us along, so that may need to be on the top of the list.  Stay posted to see how this all goes around here..... Christmas in the barn surrounded by horses and hay may be in the works because there doesn't seem to be much incentive to get moving on things around this house;)  We've already hung stockings on all the stall doors, so it's more festive than our house already;)  Merry Christmas!!!!!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Merry Christmas....

Yup!  Those are my monkeys and this is my circus... I will claim them along with all the chaos that surrounds us all ;)

2017 was NOT the year we expected it to be.  We saw much happiness and much loss.  The girls have thrived and grown through it all.  Craig and I are in awe of all the blessings God pours down on us and try not to get overwhelmed with the dailyness of it all.  

The biggest and most exciting news is that Tess said YES!  She and Logan have been together for 3 years; he proposed on Thanksgiving with both our families gathered round.  It's been a joy to watch these two grow together over the years and we look forward to seeing them build their life together.  For now, we are consumed with wedding plans and lots of shopping.  Being a family of predominately females... I don't see a problem with this, one bit ;)  Stayed tuned for more details as we get things set in stone.

We faced lots of sadness this year as we said goodbye to many of our 4-legged family.  Our precious Brody James, a golden retriever/border collie/great Pyr mix that Craig brought home (along with his brother and sister) over 10 years ago, passed away in June.  We'd gotten his cancer diagnosis in March and spent the next many weeks loving on him and enjoying every moment we had left.  He was always one of the most special dogs we've ever had and will always hold a special place in our hearts and memories.  There's not a day that goes by we don't enjoy thoughts and memories of him.  Gracie's bunny, Oliver and her last gerbil Daisy also passed away this summer.  Oliver was our very first bunny and was such a joy that we gladly opened our hearts to others because of him.  Daisy was our geriatric little gerbil, living over twice as long as most her species.  She was nearly 5 years old and we were blessed to call her ours for 4 of those years.  Mom's dog, Teddy passed away this fall as well, and our entire family feels the void he left.  Sarah was just a toddler when Mom adopted him.  Frankly, none of the girls remember life without him.  He was such a good boy and brought great joy and companionship to Mom, as well as to Mamo when she was still alive.  We love knowing that Mamo and Teddy are together again.

We added new family members to our ark this year too :)  I'm sure y'all saw that coming;)  Tess adopted Doug, a 100+ pound black lab with the personality to suit his name, back in January.  He has been a HUGE blessing to Tess as well as all of us.  He's turned out to be an awesome, laid back boy.  Sarah adopted Kyah May, a tiny black chihuahua in July.  Kyah is as tiny as Doug is huge, but they are the best of friends.  Doug looks out for his baby cousin and Kyah keeps Doug young.  Gracie was given Peaches, an adorable angora bunny in May as an early birthday surprise from her Dad.  Peaches would make the grumpiest person smile with his adorable face and crazy hair.  Of course we also got Wendy Lou Hoo, our beautiful paint pony, back in've heard of the Easter Bunny?   Well, Wendy was kinda the Easter pony;)  She has been such a sweet girl and we love doting on her each day.  The girls have proven themselves to be responsible, sacrificial, and hard working as they care for her each day.  They are working to get her cross-trained from a western ride to an english hunter/jumper.  It's a work in progress, but she's coming right along.  CJ joined our family just in time for Craig's birthday in July.  He's the most adorable golden retriever you could possibly imagine.  As sweet as can be, with just enough puppy left in him to keep us on our toes.  He has us all wrapped around his sweet little paw.  Then there's little Miss Pearyle Joy, the kitten we got to keep Mom company after Teddy's passing.  She is a little spitfire!  She gives Mom endless reasons to laugh and keeps her company.  Of course, we still have Felicity, Max, and Annie, our other dogs (who are all a bit spoiled) along with Benjamin, Ginger, Smokey, Jolly, and Mistletoe our cats, Peter the rabbit and Joey the guinea pig.  There is no shortage of critters in this ark!

We are still homeschooling (our 14th year, I think).  Sarah only has one class to finish up and she will graduate.  Gracie and Hannah enjoy all the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling offers.  They thrive in the non-traditional environment with the freedom to delve deep into everything they want to learn more about.  A truly child-directed education is beautiful to see when your children love to learn and are given the freedom to do it in the way that works best for them. 

Tess loves being a dance teacher.  It's truly what God created her to be.  She spends her mornings working for Kids Educational Dance Express, traveling around town teaching educational dance to preschoolers.  I see what she does and am constantly amazed by my daughter's passion and talent.  She teaches at Greater Impact in the evenings and is also the dance and gymnastic instructor at the new YMCA in town.  Logan, Tess's fiance', is a nursing student and he works at the dialysis center.  These two are pretty busy, but when you're in your 20's I guess you have that kind of energy;)

Sarah is still working at Runza.  She transferred to a different location this fall and is really enjoying the new store and coworkers.  She is planning on pursuing a degree in early childhood development and wants to become a preschool teacher.  She enjoys teaching first grade Sunday School each week and it's been a joy to watch her prepare her lessons.... she is much more organized than her mom;)

Gracie and Hannah are consumed with their animals.  They would live in the barn if we'd let them.  They fly through their school lessons each day so they can get outside to spend time with all their critters.  They love riding their horses; Gracie is now jumping at 2 1/2 feet and is hoping to qualify for the Omaha Int'l in April.  Hannah is finally ready to start jumping and showing as well.  These two surprise us with their ability and diligence to their sport.  

Craig is still traveling the country to work with small communities; growing young entrepreneurs and helping small towns retain their population in the face of population decline.  God created him with a passion for small towns and their people.  I'm extremely proud of the work he does... and am in wonder of it all.  He's also picking his love of photography back up again and enjoying having a camera back in hand.  

I am finally able to make time to quilt again.  What a joy it's been to get back to putting needle and thread to fabric and creating quilts for my family.  

Alrighty.... that pretty much sums up our year.  We pray the Christmas season brings peace and joy to all our friends and family.  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Let Us Be Kind...

It's that time of the year again.  The time of year when everyone feels things a bit sharper than they may normally feel them; both good and bad.  Take the time to filter your thoughts, opinions, and most certainly your tongue.  None of us truly know what others have been or are going through.  We only see what they allow us to see; and, human nature is to cover up our struggles and shortfalls.  We have no way of knowing what someone is going through in their life, but we can all take the extra step to be kind.

The golden rule is still a good rule to live by..."Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". I would add to it..."and remember, you can not build yourself up by tearing others down."  This time of year, I see where we all, myself included, need a reminder about this.  Take for example, what you or others post in social media.  I see a lot of judgment being posted.  Things about Black Friday shopping, clean homes, gifts, etc.  Why does anyone feel it necessary to post something about how they keep a spotless home and don't understand how others can't?  Or, posts about people needing to get their priorities in order if they look forward to Black Friday shopping more than they do Thanksgiving itself.  My personal favorites are the posts about how sinful it is to "over-indulge" those you love with Christmas gifts, especially store bought ones; or the reverse of that, how you have it all together because you don't buy into the materialistic side of the holiday season.  There are plenty more examples I could list off, but you get my drift.  My point is: you have no idea of what others are dealing with, be it at that moment or throughout their lives, therefore, you have no business making such black and white assumptions about things and thinking you're way is the right way.

We all filter things through our own lens and that can cause problems for everyone involved.   How about we all make the choice to give others the benefit of the doubt before we become offended and strike back at them?  Take our blinders off and try to see things from a panoramic view rather than tunnel vision.  You don't like Black Friday shopping because you see it as the picture of greed and over-indulgence.  That may not be the case for others though.  They may love it because it's an annual family tradition, and it's a way that they can stretch their budget a long way on things they need or gifts they want to give.  They, as a family, may save a little bit of money back from each paycheck over the year so they can enjoy a crazy night and day of shopping and eating in the food court at 2AM.... and have fun memories to share over the next year.  You manage to keep a spotless home even though you're busy and have kids still living at home, while juggling all your work and family responsibilities on a daily basis?  That's AWESOME and we all applaud you for that.  But don't post about it in the light of "there's no reason everyone can't as well" because you have no way of knowing if that's the case or not; and by doing so you most likely just added more weight on an already over-burdened spirit, who's flame is about to go out.  Instead, why not find ways to extend help to others, whether you know they are struggling or not.  You don't want to buy a bunch of "plastic junk from China" to clog up our landfills?  Totally fine and understandable, but don't belittle someone who chooses to shop for the gift they want to bless you or someone else with because you feel you're more enlightened than they are.

GRATITUDE.  GRACE.  RESPECT.  HUMILITY.  LOVE.  Where have these traits gone as social media has taken over our society?  We all post things, and now actually say things, that we never would have 10 years ago, because we have become use to the protection of a computer/phone screen. We all need to remember though, there are very real people with very real hearts on the other side of our screens.  They feel the sting of your words, and they filter them through their own lens; and, sadly, many times it's filtered through as "you've failed yet again".  I challenge us all to actively choose kindness.  Gentle our spirits and attitudes.  Quiet our words.  Find JOY and share it with others.  Stop looking for ways we are offended and start looking for ways we can be a blessing in the lives of those we touch on a daily basis.... be it online or in person.  #KindnessChallenge

Thursday, November 16, 2017


November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and every year I ponder our family's journey.  Over the past 12+ years we've seen changes, transformations, growth, frustration, amazing advances in technology and management.... things have come a loooooooong way since my own dad was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic when I was in Junior High School (back in the day when you sharpened your metal needle before injections and a finger poke seemed to take a chunk of your finger with it each time).  The BIG thing we've learned along the way is that there is no guarantees: you can do everything precisely right and something can (and usually will) go downhill.... much like in the video up there of Gracie's AMAZING ride yesterday.  It was nearly picture perfect, right up through her last jump... the landing, however, was monumental, just not in the way you'd like it to be.  We've watched over and over to see if we could see what caused her tumble, all to no avail.  It was a near perfect jump; maybe she looked down for a split second, causing everything to adjust mid-air and her to land back in her saddle a bit too far forward causing both her and her horse to end up unbalanced and ultimately for her to end up "diving" to the ground.  But you know what?  Just like with Type 1 Diabetes, she collected herself, hopped back up, dusted herself off, and climbed right back on to her horse to finish her ride.  That is what Warriors do.... they finish well and strong, no matter the struggles they face along the way.

Most all of you know our story: Gracie was 14 months old when she was Diagnosed with T1D; a mere baby.  She'd gotten the chicken pox vaccination 6 or so weeks earlier, then ended up with chicken pox the same night her baby sister was born.  She never bounced back from that, matter of fact, she seemed to get weaker over the following 3 weeks.  She had NO stamina, and I'd find her sound asleep in the middle of the floor after playing for half an hour.  She was drinking water like crazy, eating non-stop, going thru diapers like nothing I'd ever experienced (even requiring middle of the night baths and bed changes because of it)...then one night, after finding her soaked yet again, she was so weak she couldn't even hold her little head up on her own.  Bathed and swaddled in fresh PJs, she laid on my chest for the rest of the night, sleeping, while I was afraid to lay her down not knowing what was wrong.  There were no typical signs of sickness... no fever, no cold symptoms, no sore throat or tugging at ears, nothing you look for in a baby.  Early the next morning, the doctor sent her for lab work trying to figure it all out as well.  As I sat in the exam room for what seemed like hours (but was actually only about 40 minutes) holding my limp, lethargic baby, I feared the absolute worst.  So many things went through my mind, everything horrible, but never once did I think "diabetes".  The doctor walked in, knelt down in front of me and said two little words that turned our world upside down...."She's diabetic".  The tears flowed hot, burning tracks down my cheeks.  Relief washed over me.... she wasn't dying (Well, at that very moment, that was a very real possibility had we not caught this right then, but I didn't realize that).  A week in the pediatric ICU, lots of education for Craig and I, too much to actually wrap our minds around, and she was sent home.  A new "normal" had begun.  A new life full of testing, injections, counting and monitoring everything she ate, monitoring all her toddler activities, no longer able to sleep through the night again due to multiple night time testing, poking her tiny baby fingers to get drops of blood numerous times a day... all just to keep her alive and healthy.  Within a few months we'd fallen into a new "normal" without really realizing.  A normal that entailed learning to roll with the punches on a daily basis, learning to finally understand that change is to be expected moment to moment, and that once you think you've figured it all out, you'll be thrown for a loop again because maybe it's a full moon and that's going to cause blood sugar issues (yes, believe it or not, it actually does.  Just ask any T1 parent).  Over the next decade however, we rode the ups and downs and adjusted with every rolling change and tweak that needed to be made.  We made it through the toddler years, the pre-school age, all of early childhood and just about into the teen years.  Ebbs and Flows of T1 can be rough and each phase of life has it's own challenges.  We were preparing for the challenge of T1D in the teen years, when we once again heard those same two little words that would cause our world to upend itself yet again....

Last fall Sarah (16 years old) hadn't been feeling all that great since recovering from walking pneumonia earlier that spring.  We'd treated each symptom as they appeared, not really giving it much thought, but she just wasn't fully recovering... matter of fact, she seemed to be getting worse.  Off to the doctor again.  The doctor agreed that something was up, so she ran some lab work.  Like me, she was expecting to see results showing inflammation issues; she was blindsided when she saw that Sarah was actually T1D.  That was not a phone call she wanted to make, but make it she did...."Dawn, I don't really know how to say this; I'm completely shocked myself.  Sarah has T1 Diabetes".  WOW!  How is this happening?????  I could almost feel a physical slap across my face as those words hit me.  My mind started spinning; only this time it wasn't with unknowns, it was with all that we actually know about life with T1D and how on earth was I going to tell our sweet 16 year old daughter, that with just 2 little words her life was forever changed.  I texted Craig who was a footage with Sarah at that particular moment.  We let her blissfully enjoy the game.... no reason to ruin a sweet father/daughter date.  But when she asked me at dinner if the doctor had called, I knew there was no putting it off.  I had to tell her the truth, "yes, she called.  I'm sorry sweetie, but you have T1D."  NO NO NO NO NO NO.... that was all she could say as the tears flowed freely.

Here we are, over 12 years down the road from Gracie's diagnosis as a baby and over a year on this same journey with Sarah as a teenager heading into life as an independent young lady.  I'd be lying if I told y'all that it was pretty easy to deal with all this, that we just keep chugging along as normal.  Our normal is not what most others would say is a normal life.... but it's a beautiful life.  We choose to keep our sense of humor in all of this, to not drown in self-pity (which can be a challenge some days), to stay very real, and to support and encourage others through their own challenges.  Our life is about numbers, and trust me that can be a challenge in and of itself.  Craig nor I have truly slept thru the night in over a dozen years, as we are up checking on the girls every couple of hours.  If you think that is overboard, think again.... T1D kids can easily slip away during night from low blood sugar that goes un-noticed till morning.  Packing for a day trip (let alone a vacation) is no small task with all the extra things you must bring along "Just in case".  Not to mention all the extra stops along the way for much needed bathroom and snack breaks (T1D kids drink more water than "normal").  A simple cold or virus can easily land them in the hospital.  iPhones are not indulgences, they are medical devices and lifelines.  Sleeping in isn't laziness, it's necessary at times due to being up for hours in the middle of the night managing blood sugar (which one reason I'm so thankful we homeschool and have the flexibility to adjust our school day schedule easily).  Normal?  It truly is only a setting on my clothes dryer.  But I LOVE my life and my role as a T1 Mom to two amazing Warrior Princesses.  They battle to stay alive and healthy every single day.  They face every challenge head on with the confidence and knowledge that God is 1- in control, they aren't and 2- God knows what's going on because He is the Master Architect of our lives and has a perfect plan according to His perfect Design.

That video up at the top is the perfect example of life with Type 1 Diabetes.... smooth sailing, everything going as planned...then BAM!  You get thrown for a loop.  What you choose to do at that moment sets the course for the rest of your journey.  I hope we all do what Gracie did; Get back up, dust ourselves off, and finish the ride with grace and courage.

 My two Warrior Princesses with their two four-legged encouragers ;)
 Even after a rough ride... it's best to get back in the saddle and finish your ride strong :)
Sisters... readings like this are a beautiful site to behold.  Too bad they don't always look this perfect ;)  Funny sidetone: you know you're a T1D parent when the words "are you high?" come out of your mouth, directed at your teenagers, on a regular basis.... and you're talking about their blood sugar, but people around you truly give you the strangest looks when they hear you ask that so point blank.  Seriously funny EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Oh, My Vintage Loving Heart.....


Oh my word๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜. Seriously, can this get any cuter???  Yes, I ordered mine today and can't wait till it arrives. The October warmer of the month is this sweet little pickup with working lights. The pumpkins in the back are removable for year-round decor. I'm going to have it displayed with my vintage Shasta styled trailer warmer, enjoying coordinating scents to mingle in the air and lift my spirit. This can be yours as well, and it's 10% off this month. You just can't beat that!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

My Annual Day of Indulgence...

Yes, that is the message I give everyone on this day every year. I'm blessed with a family that not only understands, but encourages me to fully enjoy my day. 

I began by hitting a couple of Drive-thrus for important ingredients to make the day complete...Sonic, for a diet cherry coke with lime, McDonalds for a small frappe (not enough time for Starbucks), and Dunkin Donuts for donuts, not only for me but for the family. Then, it's home to tuck in for the day. 

Once home and tucked away, I get online and wait for my Living Proof Live simulcast to start. This year's theme was "Captivate" and let me tell you, I was captivated from the start. God speaks to my heart each year thru this simulcast and this year was no different. My heart was pierced with His message. He even blessed me with this sweet notebook just for this occasion.  Seriously, I found it abandoned on a shelf at Walmart, and went back to the school supply section to see if there were any others and there was nothing even remotely like it. God knows how I love sweet and pretty things like this and I just know He gave it to me (after I paid $2 of course;). 

Something y'all need to know about me is that this truly is one of my very favorite days each year. I honestly look forward to it for months. I prepare my space the night before so it's enjoyable and not distracting, I choose my clothes which always consists of the official conference tee shirt;), I quiet my spirit and pray that God speaks to my soul and that I can hear His voice. You'd better bet that I fully engage in this simulcast. I sing when the worship team is on stage, I speak out loud when Beth Moore asks us to repeat or read something, I pray when she prays, and I jot down notes like crazy of everything I don't want to forget. Anyone looking in my window might think I've lost my mind;)
God is powerful. He meets us where we are. We can count on Him at all times and in all things. He will never loosen His hold on us and He will never abandon us. When we are struggling to hear His voice in our heart, He's breathing love into our souls. The message today was exactly what I needed. I feel like God spoke to me face to face, and for that I am beyond blessed. 

My lunch wasn't my normal indulgence of Slim Chicken with fried pickles. That just wasn't going to work today. Taco Bell it was ;)

Yup, this is why my kids get so embarassed๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚. I'm on my feet, singing praises to God. 

It's been a day of drawing near to my Lord and Savior in a way I wish I could everyday. It's been such a blessing and I'm so thankful that my family encourages my indulgence like they do:)  I'll leave y'all with the video that opened the first session of this year's simulcast...heart-achingly beautiful.  Be Thou My Vision by Audrey Assad.  ENJOY!!!