Monday, December 18, 2006


John and Tiana are down in Chicago right now. Tiana has been in an MRI tube for the last 45 minutes or so. They sedated her but not with an IV this time (can you say thank God for small favors?), instead she got a cocktail and some gas to knock her out. It should take about 2 hours to do the full spinal MRI... John said he'll call once she's out and awake.

I'd kill for a cigarette right about now...

They're looking for lesions on her spine. I guess that occasionally, rarely, scoliosis is caused by spinal lesions. If she has lesions she'll still need surgery, but a different kind of surgery instead of the rod insertion.

Who's bright idea was it to quit smoking a month and a half before her surgery anyway...

The only way to see for sure if she has lesions or not is with an MRI, and getting the MRI has been a long drawn out process... The first scheduled MRI the administration of the hospital gave us incorrect NPO instructions, which resulted in Tiana becoming dehydrated. Because she was dehydrated they couldn't sedate her, and we had to reschedule. That one was a blessing in disguise though, we got so upset with the hospital and her orthopedic doctor that we asked her primary physician to refer her to Shriners. That has turned out to be a very good thing.

Just one...

The second MRI was scheduled at a different hospital, we had the correct NPO instructions, and the day of the appointment Tiana had a chest and head cold along with a 102 degree fever. Mission aborted we rescheduled again.

Not even a whole one...

On the date of the next MRI appointment we received 15 inches of snow. Not a good day for a drive to Chicago. Once again we made another appointment.

This time it's gone off with only a small hitch or two. Hopefully it will be over soon and we can add another notch to our belts. One more milestone that we made it though, one more step to all of this being over and done with.

March can't some soon enough for me...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another Smilebox

I'm having way more fun than I know I'm allowed to have, playing with this Smilebox software.

Here's another one from our Auburn trip last fall.

If you haven't already done so, go download the software. It's free and it's a lot of fun to use.

I'm not kidding... Go do it! :)

Have a great day!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Just for Fun

Making Memories has come out with a fun photo sharing program that creates nifty little digital scrapbooks that can be saved, emailed, or posted to your blog. Click on the picture below to see a fun little scrapbook I put together for the Holiday.

Have fun making your own!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Anxious Thoughts...

I really shouldn't be posting to my blog. I have so many other things that I should be doing instead. I'm way behind, and truthfully I feel pretty guilty that I'm sitting here typing instead of doing real work. I have some junk in my head that I need to get rid of though, and this is as good a place as any to dump it.

I had a small anxiety attack last night, but considering the haze of medication it had to work its way through, it must have actually been a pretty major one. I've only had a couple since I started the meds, they feel different than they used to now, but they're no more pleasant then they were before. However, before the medication I never quite knew what I was really panicking about, I was nervous all of the time, so it all kind of blended together. Now I have to be pretty upset to have an actual anxiety attack, so I usually know what's causing it.

So what's on my mind? What has me feeling like the world is out to get me? I keep looking at the calendar. In two days it will be December 15th. On January 15th my baby girl will check into the hospital, and in 34 days they'll cut her open from the base of her neck to the small of her back in an attempt to realign her screwed up spine.

I'm so very frightened, I can't even begin to tell you...

I once said that I would tell Tiana's story from the beginning. I tried; I started writing it, but found that it was nearly impossible to do. There's so much pain, sadness, joy and love packed into the first few years of her life, that it's too much for an amateur like me to be able to express with the written word.

Suffice it to say that I was once told (by several people) that Tiana was my punishment for a very public sin (I won't call it a mistake) I committed. They said that God made her imperfect to punish me for the wrongs that I had done.

I thank God every day for his beautiful punishment.

Tiana is a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. She's hope for the future in a world gone terribly wrong. She happiness, compassion, and love all bundled up into one little package. I don't know how I've managed to raise a child the likes of her. Honestly, I don't really think it's any super parenting skills on my part. I think she was born like that, a beautiful spirit that for some reason God trusted me to take care of.

I'm getting ahead of myself though... What makes her so special? It's kind of hard to describe, you'd have to meet her to really understand. I have four children, I love them all equally, and they are all beautiful and special in their own way. Tiana is no different than her brother or sisters, yet she is also very different...

Tiana has never met anyone in her life who didn't become an instant friend. She has a beautiful smile that engulfs her whole face, and a sparkling giggle that's always ready to bubble up to her lips. She's not happy all of the time, but she's never down for very long. She's very empathetic, and is filled with compassion for others. Even as a small child she always thought of others before herself. When most kids are going through the awful selfish period of the terrible twos, Tiana was giving away her toys to strangers just to make them smile. I think part of her compassion stems from the problems she's faced in her own life, but I also think that part of it is just who she is.

Having Tiana in my life has made me grow up, become a responsible person, and open my eyes to the world around me. The joy she's brought to our family has been immeasurable, especially because the joy came out of a particularly difficult time in our lives. She is a precious gift, and her physical problems have only made her more special.

She's not my punishment from God, but perhaps imagining my life without her is...

Because that's what this all comes down to... Fear... Fear that the unmentionable will happen; fear that a cruel twist of fate will take away the precious gift I never deserved to have in the first place.

I don't deserve her, I know that... I've done terrible things in my life, I've hurt countless people, I'm selfish, and just an overall crappy person. Yet somehow I managed to catch a hold of a rainbow. My terrible crappy life is filled with an indescribable beauty, and I live in fear that the powers that be are going to realize I have it and take it away because it's not meant to be mine. Then what will my life be like when all of the color is gone?

That's my punishment. That's my anxiety.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Quick and easy Christmas ornaments

I had some fun making ornaments over the weekend. I was originally going to make some CD ornaments, but Patti gave me a link to instructions for these ball ornaments, and I was hooked.

To give credit where credit is due, the original instructions came from Heidi's blog: Check it out, she has a lot of great projects there!

Never one to leave well enough alone, I changed the directions around a little bit though. So I'll give you my version, and you can see which works best for you.

Glitter Ornament
Clear Glass Ornament
Inks - re-inkers, alcohol inks, or posh rainbow sponge inks
Hair Spray
Fine Silver or White Glitter
Disposable Cup
Thin Metal Charm
Metal file
Craft Glue


1. Pull the cap off the ornament, and drop in 3-5 drops of ink. Add about 1/4 teaspoon of hairspray, and swish around the inside of the ornament until it is completely covered with ink.

2. Turn the ornament upside down over the disposable cup and let the ink drain out for 10-15 minutes. Tap the rim of the ornament onto a folded paper towel to remove any excess ink before moving onto the next step.

3. Dump about a teaspoon of glitter (you may need to add more depending on your coverage) into the ornament, and place your finger over the opening. Shake until the inside is completely covered with glitter.

4. Dump any excess glitter out into a clean disposable cup. You can re-use this glitter later if desired.

5. Using your hands, gently bend a thin metal charm to fit the contours of the ornament. Heating the metal up a bit between your palms will make it bend a bit easier. Once you have done that, use a pair of pliers to break off the hang tab by bending it gently back and forth. File off any rough edges with a metal file. You can paint your charm if desired, ink it with alcohol inks, or leave it plain.

6. With a strong adhesive, glue your charm to the front of your ornament. Allow to dry completely.

That's it! They're a piece of cake to make, so easy my four year old made one with minimal help from me.

Have fun!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

This and that...

I'll put headings in here, so that those of you who don't care to hear about snake news can easily skip right over it. :)

Kauket (aka Ms. Snakey-Poo):

Kauket has been eating really well since we finally got her to eat a live pinkie awhile back. The only problem is, she will only eat live food. This is an issue for several reasons:

  1. Live pinkies are really hard to come by. We have to get them from our breeder who lives about an hour north of us. You can purchase adult feeder mice from a pet store, but Kauket is still smaller than a magic marker, so she's not big enough to eat adult prey yet.
  2. Live prey can actually hurt a snake. Seems hard to believe, I know, but adult mice have teeth and claws, and if they're upset enough they can gouge out a snake's eyes. Not really something you want to see happen to your lovely pet.
  3. I just don't want to feed her live mice. I know it's a natural process and all that, blah, blah, blah... It still squicks me out. Did you know that a pinkie mouse who's no bigger than a dime can scream loud enough to be heard 20 feet away when a predator grabs it? It's disturbing to be completely honest. I'd much rather feed her something that can no longer object to being eaten.

So off and on we've presented her with frozen pinkies, only to have her literally turn up her nose at the offering and slither away. Who knew snakes could be so pretentious?

Well, between the snowstorm last week and our breeder's love of hunting (what is up with that Chad?), it's been a little over 2 weeks since Kauket has eaten. She was starting to show that she was not liking the starvation diet the other day when she began striking at her own reflection in the glass of the tank (I never said that any of my pets were smart). Watching her do this we thought that it might be a good time to try a frozen pinkie again. So off John went to get another "Gourmet Rodent" from the pet store, and we tried once again.

Once again, she snubbed the food. Picky, picky, picky, she's starting to act like one of my kids. Well the breeder had told John to smack her around with the thawed pinkie to try and upset her enough to strike at the food (I know it sounds abusive, but sometimes you need to use tough love on your kids), so he did just that, and after about 10 minutes of being whacked in the face with a dead mouse, she finally got mad enough to eat it.

YAY! No more pinkie squeals! Thank heaven for small favors.

The Cuttlebug:

I'm loving my Cuttlebug! I had a couple of people ask me about some of the techniques I'm doing with it, so I thought that this would be a good place to explain them (rather than in the comment section of my ASB gallery).

First off is the embossing folders...

On this money card Sue asked how I managed to isolate the saying from the rest of the saying in the A2 sized embossing folder.

The truth is... I didn't. :D

For this card I used one of the small 4 packs of embossing folders. It's the "Congrats" set, and it has 4 small folders with different congratulatory sayings in it. I found that I can place the small embossing folders on a portion of a larger piece of cardstock, run it through the Cuttlebug, and all that gets embossed is the part that's supposed to be embossed. It doesn't leave a residual line where the folder hits the cardstock, which is really nice. So it expands the useability of the embossing folders even more, in my opinion.

The next thing that I've been asked about is embossing with brass stencils, Fiskar's texture plates, and other different things, and the answer is: YES, you can! I took some old computer mouse pads, three to be exact, in different thicknesses. Then I cut them all down so that they would fit through the Cuttlebug. Now whenever I want to emboss something that's not specifically for the Cuttlebug I use the A and C plates, along with my mouse pad embossing cushions to build a sandwich that fits into the machine.

The sandwich should be built with the A pad on the bottom, the plate or stencil next, cardstock or paper on top of the stencil, mouse pad embossing mats, and last but not least the C plate finishes off your embossing sandwich. It should be difficult to turn the crank to feed it though, but not impossible. That's how you know you have the right thickness.

It works really well, and you're going to be embossing all sorts of fun stuff before you know it. Try bits of lace, or pieces of ric-rak; punched pieces of cardstock, or chipboard shapes make fun embossing tools as well. Look around your house, and I'm sure your imagination will take off! :)

Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Because it's this or work...

Did I mention I quit smoking?

Today has really been the first day since I quit that I've been able to sit at the computer for any length of time without feeling the need to claw my own eyes out. The problem with being able to get back on the computer is that I have a weeks worth of work waiting for me, and the thing about work is it makes me want to smoke. It's a vicious circle really...

So I'm playing with my blog instead. At least this way I can say I was productive today. I don't have to say exactly what it was I accomplished. lol

I didn't stamp a whole lot over the last two months... I made some projects for workshops, but other than that I didn't have a lot of interest in my hobby. One of the projects we did for a workshop actually turned out pretty cute (especially considering I was in a creative wasteland at the time). It was a pretty involved project, a little mini scrapbook, but my stampers can handle it. We spent a couple hours at the workshop working on our only project, and my stampers got to exercise their creativity a bit because I let them pick out their own embellishments.

Here's a picture of the cover:

The cool thing about this little book is that it's made out of just 2 pieces of 12" x 12" cardstock. A white or cream piece makes all of the pages, and a colored piece makes the cover, the photo mats, and all of the little inserts that go inside.

All you need to embellish is a few scraps of coordinating papers, and you're good to go.

It's a cute little project, and if you're a Blue Heaven member on ASB, I'll be posting step by step directions for the project there in the upcoming months.

My desire to stamp is just starting to come back, finally, and I managed to catch up a bit with some projects for Donna's web page. ( - great die cuts at awesome prices!) I'm on her design team, but unfortunately I'd fallen behind while I was in my slump.

My favorite that I made is this CD holder:

It's so simple it's scary, there's no stamping at all on it. Yet I love the clean lines, and the simplicity. I'm going to make an altered CD ornament to place inside and use it as a gift for the holidays. I'll post a picture of the ornament once I get it done.

I am hoping to get some stamping done this evening, but my hopes are usually laid to waste anytime I ever try to plan it. If I do get something made, I'll be sure to share (if it's not too pitifully ugly that is. lol)

Have a good night!

Where to start...

Like I said... So much stuff has been going on in my life that I've barely been able to keep up with it. I haven't really kept up with it to be completely honest. I'm behind... Way behind... So what am I doing here blogging instead of doing productive work? Why, procrastinating of course.

So I'll start with Tiana, and I'll give you the brief version since you must be living under a rock if you haven't already heard me whine about it.

Tiana went to Shriners, they found that the curve in her back had progressed an additional 7 degrees since her x-ray a month and a half before. Not good! The only answer left to halt the progression of her scoliosis, and correct her spine, is surgery.

In January she'll have two rods inserted into her back, one on each side of her spine. The rods are called "grow rods." Tiana is still really small in the upper half of her body, and so these rods will allow her to keep growing for a few more years. Every six months or so she'll have to go in for minor surgery to have the rods adjusted to compensate for her growth. Then, in two to three years they will fuse her spine and the correction will be permanent.

How am I dealing with all of this? Much better now that I'm on anti-anxiety medication, thanks. LOL

It was pretty bad at first... The risks of surgery are paralysis and life threatening infections, among other things. It's terrifying to have to expose your child to that. The flip side is worse though, if her back isn't corrected she'll have early onset heart disease, and breathing problems all of her life, which will be shortened considerably because of the medical conditions brought on by her scoliosis. So we really don't have much of a choice at all.

Contemplate it for awhile for your own child though, and I assure you that you'll go a little bit insane. I felt like I was sending my baby out to go play in traffic. It didn't matter that they assured me that "all things considered," the surgical risks were very low. This is major surgery people... On her spine! You know, where all of those important nerves are!

Fortunately, I began taking the anti-anxiety medication before Tiana went to Shriners, so after a week or so of mental torture, the meds kicked in and I'm feeling a little more optimistic now.

So why am I taking anti-anxiety meds I hear you asking? Because I'm dying.

No, not really...

Its hard to explain to someone who's never dealt with anxiety, but I'll try...

Either I'm going to die, or someone whom I love very much is going to die. I know this with all of my heart and soul. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but it will be soon, and when it happens, I'm going to go crazy because I won't be able to deal with it. How do I know that I'm going to be struck with some fatal form of cancer, or that one of my lovely children is going to be hit by a car, or fall down the stairs at school? Because I'm me. My luck has been really good lately, so I know that there's something just waiting and lurking around the corner. When I least expect it, it's going to jump out and slam me. So if I think about it all of the time, if I worry and obsess, it can never catch me unaware.

So I think about it all of the time, I prepare myself for every bad thing that could happen, imagining the worst things that could possibly happen so that I can prepare myself. Having a very fertile imagination that's a torment in and of itself, let me tell you. Thinking about it all of the time is stressing me out though, my body is very tense and soon starts to rebel at all of the stress... My throat feels like it's closing in on itself, I have chest pain, all of my joints hurt, and I'm tired all of the time but I can't sleep because I'm too busy obsessing to rest.

Do these aches and pains serve as a wake up call for your poor insane friend? NO! Instead I'm sure that the chest pain is lung cancer, my tight throat is some form of throat cancer, and my anxiety intensifies.

Do you have a picture in your head yet?

"Why don't you go to a doctor and have your fears put to rest?" I'm sure I hear you asking... Because if I go to a doctor he's going to tell me how very sick I am, and then I'd more than likely have a breakdown (I know you're seeing the irony LOL).

I knew I was having problems with anxiety, but knowing wasn't making my problems go away unfortunately. Fortunately I do have a wonderful doctor. When I finally went in (for an allergy; you didn't really think I'd make an appointment for my anxiety did you? lol) and mentioned I was having some problems dealing with life, he was very kind, and didn't call me a nut , nor did he send me to see a shrink (which I wouldn't have done anyway). He just let me know that I was not all that abnormal, and that in some people a traumatic (have I mentioned that John almost died a year ago this week?) event can trigger a serotonin imbalance. In some people it manifests as depression, in others, anxiety. So I just need to reset the serotonin processors in my brain, and then I'll be back to my normal, lovable, unmedicated self (no comments John) in about a year.

Now those of you who have dealt with anxiety are all nodding your heads. Your anxiety may not have manifested in the same way mine did, but you know those feelings of terror and helplessness as you watch your world spin out of control. Those of you who are lucky enough not to have ever dealt with this in your life, just think I'm crazy. LOL That's ok, I'm dealing with this now, and I don't mind if people think I'm crazy. The important thing is that if you're dealing with this, or something similar. Get help! I can't stress that enough. I don't know why I waited so long. There's no shame in asking for help so that you can learn to control it on your own. You'll feel so much better when all is said and done.

So those are the big things that have been going on in my life the last couple of months. Nothing too entertaining or amusing (though as I look back I'm beginning to see the humor in the anxiety), but just real life junk.

You know how it is...

Long Time, New Digs...

OK, yea... It's been a really long time since I've updated, and a lot has happened...

  • Tiana's been to Shriner's; it wasn't good news.
  • I've started all sorts of fun medication, and I quit smoking.
  • There's 15 inches of snow on the ground outside of my house.

And a bunch of other things that I neglected to write about... I'm sorry, but I told you that I'm not good about keeping up with these things.

The more immediate big news is... I moved the blog.

I decided that Bravenet wasn't for me. I just didn't care for their layout interface. I'd been playing around with Blogger, and really liked the look of the pages, and the tools they provide. so I moved everything over here.

So now that I'm in my happy new home, I'll try and get you caught up on my life, and be a little better about making posts. I'll try anyway.

Have a great day!