2015 Year in Review

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2015 Year In ReviewThis year has brought it’s ups, downs, and everything in between.

Much like a Facebook and their version of a “Year in Review” I tried really hard to post photos and memories of my life in this blog.  It ended up being like one of those generated memes of expectation vs. reality….

My Recap:

Blog Wise ~

I posted seventeen (17) blog posts.

I began (drafted) four (4) blog posts that didn’t get published.

I posted seven (7) Instructables this year.  You can also see these on my Instructables tab.  They are shown from the most recent published.

Family Wise ~

My mother passed away in January.

My father successfully recovered from his open heart surgery in 2014 and was able to take care of his grandchildren once again in late February of this year.

My mother-in-law went through her cancer treatments and beat cancer.

My children began swim lessons this year and my oldest ~almost~ passed the highest level (Level 10.)

We went to Hawaii as a family this year.

Our youngest had the last adorable season of youth-soccer, where they don’t keep score and we’re just out there for fun. <Sigh.>

Kids playing soccer just for fun....

Intellectually ~

I read a total of eleven (11) books this year!  Three of them were non-fiction.  My goal was twelve, and I really wanted to count the Rainbow Magic Fashion Fairies that I completed with my daughter, but I didn’t.

Five books completed from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

The Horse and His Boy

Prince Caspian

The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’

The Silver Chair

and “The Last Battle

With my oldest I read a fun book called “The Year of Billy Miller” by Kevin Henkes.

We completed “The Hobbit” by J.R.R Tolkien this year, and we started on the Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring in the beginning of December.

As a family, we read “James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl.  That book is VERY DIFFERENT from the movie.

I personally finished the book by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze called “Smart Money Smart Kids“.

My trainer gave me a book that I enjoyed reading (a health book!) by Dr. Kelly Starrett called “Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally.”

Lastly, I read a book with fellow believers from our church.  That book was “Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint” by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  It was…interesting and overall, a good read but it’s not for the new Christian in my humble opinion.

Health Wise/Physically ~

The biggest thing that happened this year was that I was able to lose 31 pounds in seven months.  I’ve gained about four of those pounds back, but I’m on the way to getting those holiday pounds off by continuing to run.

I’ve managed to avoid taking cholesterol medication that the doctor was going to prescribe me.

I’m also grateful that I’m completely recovered from my knee surgery back in August 2014.  The left knee though….  We’ll just have to see what happens next year.

And Career Wise ~

This is where the “adulting” part of life gets tricky.

I am so grateful for the job I have.  It pays well, I get to leave everything at the office and not take work home with me, and I have great co-workers.

The upper management people are …

well, they are …

hard to deal with to say the least.

As this is a public blog, I will put it like this: follow me on Instagram, and you can get an idea of my life on a daily basis.  I used the hashtag #DsLastProject and there’s 19 photos that will show you how much I loved the job I used to have.

As of January 11, 2016, that will be changing permanently and I will be permanently assigned to a desk job in the Special Projects Section of Design.

A government worker at her finest.

Yup.

~ In Summary ~

  • The first part of the year sucked.
  • My mom went to be with the Lord and the best way to describe how I feel is by repeating what someone told me: Grief comes like a thief.  It steals your joy when you least expect it, despite how well you seem to be doing.
  • No truer words have been spoken to me about my mom’s passing.  I am grateful of everything she taught me, and I know where she is but boy does it suck sometimes not having her around.
  • In April 2015 I made the decision to follow whatever my personal trainer told me to do.  My number one goal was to lose as much weight as I could before I went to Hawaii.  I did it.  I think I lost about 25-pounds before we left in August and when we came back, I began running to hit my next year’s goal – running and completing a half-marathon race.
  • We went to Hawaii in August 2015.  What a place.  We will be going back.
  • Children’s birthday’s and the year-end holiday’s have gone off without a hitch.  (Knocking on wood and praising the Lord right now!)
  • My husband and I have written goals down for the upcoming year, and I have lofty goals for 2016.

I say bring it.

I hope you bring it too.

As always, thanks for reading.

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What a week to be thankful!

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The thing about thanksgiving that I always want to remember is no matter how insane, how much work or how stressed out I get, I am thankful, for so many things.

As so many people would agree, not all those things, are well, things.

This year was an exceptionally crazy week to be thankful.

Thanksgiving Quote - Joyce Girard

Last week, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer and that was two days after her 14-year old beloved dog crossed over the rainbow bridge.

This week, I had to take the week off (thankfully my project was also not going to be worked on this week) to take care of my children while they were out of school.

I had planned a fun filled week of movies, making crafts, desserts, and I was even planning to put up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving because I don’t have issues with that kind of thing.

We saw a movie in the theater (Big Hero 6 and I highly recommend it,) went to see my dad twice in the past three days at his rehab facility where he is recovering from the open heart surgery, and got to see some cousins.

I took my youngest this week to see his new daycare facility, and he will be there from 715 AM to 330 PM three days a week, and not being taken care of at his home for the first time in any of my three children’s’ lives.

The tree hasn’t gone up (but it will soon) and I spent an entire day helping my sister-in-law with her two-year old triplet children while my brother took his brother-in-laws, including my husband, shooting guns.

It’s been an emotional, stressful, crazy-filled couple of weeks leading up to this week.

Every once in a while, the Lord blesses me with an experience or two during my “Oh-woe-is-me” weeks (or month.)

I was blessed to see another family in action and be glad that I have the children I had and the husband I had.

My husband took the time to go see my father, because he knew I was stressed about it and it relieved me so much for him to be there.

I have been blessed by my mother-in-laws attitude.  She has been rock solid for her grown children through all that has been happening and I remembered how strong of a women she is.  I’ve seen this side of her before and even with all her beautiful feminine traits that I envy, she shows a strength that I’ve only seen my stoic paternal grandmother show in times of great stress.  It’s pretty amazing.

Remember how blessed you are this week.  Health is such a blessing.

For today, I will be eating, drinking and being merry, as well as giving thanks for so many blessings, as well as the trials.

I am one who just doesn’t see the blessings without the trials.  I wish this wasn’t true, but I am thankful that this is all I have to deal with.


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Catching Up with My Mom

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The life you have left is a gift. Cherish it.My mom has been in the hospital for four days since writing this post.

I have had some of the best one-hour blocks of time that I have had in my recent memory with her.  No kids around to interrupt, no worries outside of the hospital bed and occasional interruption of a meal being delivered and a nurse checking blood pressure.  I have spent time talking with her, getting her thoughts down about life, finding out where stuff is, etc., during lunch hours and the hour after work for these past four days.

She looks great, given that she’s had two heart attacks in the past four days.  I have been given a gift of peace that I haven’t had before with her eventual and ever-nearing passing.

She feels it too.

So what’s different?

Why have I been blessed this way?

I wish I had the answer.  What I can tell you is my part of the story.

Proverbs 18:15

I got a phone call from the hospital on Friday morning and the person who called me told me “Your mom would like family to be around her right now.”

Did you feel the chill I did when you read that?

My first response was “Okay.  I’ll be right there.”

The next ten minutes were a blur of calling my brother, my husband, my boss, my father, and going to the bathroom (in that order) before locking my office and getting in the car.  I didn’t turn off the computer and I calmly drove the ten minutes that my office is from the hospital.

In those ten minutes that I drove to the hospital, I felt Christ himself with me, telling me it was going to be okay.

If you don’t believe in Christ, then I don’t know how you found this blog or why you are reading it now.  I’m not your preachin-it-to-you type, and I can give a list of blogs of other people I support and follow that can help you in that department.

But I know what I felt.

She was in the ER on the CPAP machine and the nurse was giving me the run-down of what happened and what the doctors’ said.  I pulled out the directive I have been working on with my mom last month and was able to give her directions very clearly to the doctor and nurse.  My mom signed her do-not-recesiuatate form (a DNR), and again, I was given a gift of peace that I could only get from the Lord – to know that it was going to be okay.

I’ve been working on this – this part of life I – nor my mother or brother or father want to work on – to get things ready. It’s only been a month since I’ve started, but I’ve been working on it. Maybe that’s why I’m being blessed now….

I’ve visited and read the bible to her, talked about my children with her, given her kisses, held her hand and told her she can stay with my family when she gets out.  She’s going to be in there a few more days, continuing to get dialysis, and no one has told me how much time she has left.  It’s because no one knows.

But I am at peace and there is no other feeling like it.

I may not “be ready” when she goes, but I am at peace because I know where she’s going.


Getting It Done, sort of…..

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Getting It Done

I haven’t posted about my 30-days of hustle experience for quite some time, as Easter has taken its place.

I got over the “dip” (a term I learned that happens when you are trying to accomplish a goal) in trying to finish my mother’s advanced directive.

We actually read and filled out four pages!
I am so grateful for this.  We got to the part of the directive that discussed medications, and we stopped because she didn’t want to think about it anymore.  Quite the win if you ask me.

I am grateful for this, Easter Sunday, where my mom and I were able to communicate clearly, talk about some deep stuff (as far as dealing with her eventual death) and get a piece of a goal done.

Yay!Romans 15:13 - Overflow with HopeHappy Resurrection Day too.



St. Patrick – The Patron St. of Engineers

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An Old Irish BlessingAh, St. Patrick’s Day.

A great reason to wear green, drink green beer, and try not to get pinched – anywhere, by anybody.

I love St. Patrick’s Day.  I don’t know why, or should I say, I didn’t know why.  Until today.

I found out today that St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Engineers.  Now, not being Catholic, the “Patron Saint” part really doesn’t mean anything to me.  But being an Engineer, the fact that St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Engineers means that I have permission to like St. Patrick.

I spent a little time (an hour or so) researching him and his life, and I wanted to share a few stories.

Here’s a quick video from the History channel that was packed with information.

An Engineering Website had a funny blog about it, where the line “But then, after that (according to catholic.org), he lived in poverty, and endured much suffering until his death.  Now if that isn’t living like an engineer, I don’t know what is.”

That’s just funny to me because of my college living.

Thankfully, I don’t “suffer” for my job as an Engineer.  My family might, but you’d have to ask them.

I’d like to think that I had some sort of inherent Engineering quality that just really appreciated St. Patrick’s Day for what it was – a day to just have a party.

Now I know that the guy we are celebrating was really cool and is called the “Saint of the Engineer.”  There’s very little info on why he was chosen, but a site or two mentioned that he helped the Romans with their amazing buildings, and he is credited with developing arts and crafts (hmmm, not so sure about that one.)  I got that off of Wiki Answers, so take it for what it is… just a person like you or me writing that about him.

I have a smile on my face now though.  It’ll be good all throughout the day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you – May you be blessed and your family be safe from pinching people!


Explore. Dream. Discover….

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I have been asking myself what I am all about lately.

I mean the really thought-provoking, deep and interpersonal look-inside-your soul kind of “about.”

I had a friend on Facebook throw out the question this past week, “What did you learn in 2013?”

I am sad to say that I have yet to come up with an answer.

I know I learned “stuff,” like how to write a blog post and post html-affiliate links, etc., but I haven’t come up with the deep, meaningful, life-changing new learned thing.  I know it doesn’t have to be that.  I KNOW.  But it’s there.  I HAD TO LEARN SOMETHING LAST YEAR, right?

Explore.  Dream.  Discover.

There’s a page on this blog called “About Me.”  It gives an overview of me, and asks that if you want to know more, check out my first post.  Ya, ya, ya, but what I am about?  Really?

I know what I wish I was about.  I know what I dream I could be about.  Dreaming & Discovering

When I thought of writing this post, it started out being about dreaming about the future.  Looking up a “dream quote” on the internet, I chose one that was highly rated and meant something to me.  The photo attached to the quote is a picture I took of a ground squirrel, who literally looked like he was day-dreaming while sitting on a post on a heavily used walkway overlooking a piece of the California coast.  He was sitting there, not afraid, not making any noises, not trying to be noticed in any way.  It seems silly, but it was like the squirrel was dreaming.  (I know you might be smiling right about now, but go with me on it.)

I AM sitting at a computer staring at a photo of a squirrel on a post overlooking the coast, not trying to be noticed, not afraid, not making any noises (except the obvious typing,) trying to explore my inner self.  Dreaming of what this blog could be and what I can do next.  I need to discover my priorities, even now!

Seriously, the analogies could be endless.

That’s what I’m thinking right now.  I hope it got you thinking too.


Our Christmas Countdown – Part 1

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The Meaning of Christmas - Quote by Carolyn Kennedy

The Meaning of Christmas – Quote by Carolyn Kennedy

Our family celebrates Christmas.  It’s what we do.  We say “Merry Christmas,” teach our children to say Merry Christmas, and include the meaning of Christmas every day in December as the 25th approaches.

Our family is very blessed and for that I am thankful.  Our children get gifts from every family member, and one gift from Santa.

I wasn’t raised on Santa.  My parents claimed to have “never lied to me” which includes NEVER allowing me to believe in Santa.  As a young married wife, when the topic of Santa came up with my husband, I told him that there’s no way I could teach my children about Santa.  “It’s a lie.” I would tell him.  “I don’t want to lie to my children….”

Well, my thought process changed when I had my first child, we call RJ.  Our beloved newborn was still an infant for the first Christmas he spent on this planet and although we did not get him a present from Santa that first Christmas of his life, my thoughts on the whole ‘Santa-thing’ began to change.  Maybe, there was a compromise somewhere for this time of year.

Fast forward two years in RJ’s life.

Our now two year old son, able to communicate very well and learning about the world sees Santa on TV, along the road as we drive by the mall, on billboards, you name it.  My husband, who up to now has completely immersed our son with phrases like “Santa’s going to get you a gift this year,” and asked him “What do you want from Santa?” more times than I could recall, has been the sole source of our child’s Santa experience.  If I got a question about Santa when our child was 2-years old, I would defer the question by telling our only child, “Go ask your father.”  That year, there was no picture with Santa and of course, there was only the one present under the tree from Santa, something picked out by my husband from the approved list of things we were going to get our son anyway.

The following year, when RJ turned three, (coincidently in November) I had dinner with a really good friend who has a boy that is our oldest son’s best friend to this day.  She told me something I will never forget when the topic of Santa came up in our conversation.  She said “think of Santa as part of the lies you tell your child.”

What did I just hear her say?

She went on and told me to think about all the “lies” I’ve told my son up to this point in his life.  I sat there stunned for a minute trying to both process her words and think to myself, “Have I EVER lied to my son?”

The reality of the situation (and I am a realist you know) hit me like a ton of bricks – I have lied to him.

“But it wasn’t harming!” I justified to myself.  (Every kid has to think that vegetables taste good.  Every child who is a fussy eater has been told that sweet and sour pork is a chicken nugget, right?)

Santa can be good too.” An inner voice told me.

My mind was seriously blown.

My mind raced that evening. My parents lied to me too.  Perhaps it was in the sneaky ways they did stuff, trying to protect me from the real things that were going on in our poor-living conditions while I was growing up.  The stuff I found out about as an adult that were “kept from me” when I was a child, were sad things; certainly not joyful and dare I say, magical, but were kept from me to keep me from growing up too fast – something they ended up not being able to do anyway.  Once I grasped that concept, my stubborn insistence on the whole Santa thing relaxed, a little.

“Why not tell my child about Santa,” I kept asking myself.  My one excuse – about NOT-wanting-to-lie to my child – was thrown out the window.

Our celebration at Christmas has come to a compromise; we talk about Santa coming, enjoy watching movies about Santa, elves, and the magic of Christmas, and we countdown to Jesus’ birth as part of our Christmas tradition.  Right now, Santa is real to my children, and I’m okay with that.  It probably won’t be like that much longer.  I can only hope, pray, and teach them that their faith in Jesus will last their lifetime.