Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Birthday Jesus!!

December 25th - Christmas Day.   This day has so many facets and all of them are leaving me in a puddle of tears.   I need to be stronger but honestly I don't have it in me.  Thanks to my friends I did participate in 3 crop / present swap.   Those were fun and it felt good to smile.   I do try and smile,  I am trying to do something for others each day and have had 3 awesome moments of making a positive difference in someone else's life.   Physically and emotionally mom and I are a mess.  I actually had to take mom to the ER last week in the middle of the night. 

Because we are both facing some health setbacks, we have not decorated or set up our tree.   I was going to bake and honestly I just don't have the desire to do it.  We are still working on Christmas cards, some will become New Years cards but I feel a sense of accomplishment that I did that.
We did minimal shopping for others and there are no gifts for us to unwrap Christmas morning.   We will be going to my brothers house for brunch so there may be a couple things there. 

I am not saying these things to make anyone feel sorry for us.   I am saying them because we aren't the only people in the world, dealing with a loss of a loved one.  Be aware of those around you who are dealing with loss because we get quiet, we don't talk about it cause no one wants to continue to hear how sad you are.  The sadness sucks you in, it is not a good place to be. The thing is the holidays are about family and spending time with the ones you love.  Presents are nice but they aren't the memories.  The investment we make in each others lives is important, those are the pictures and stories we document. Take time to invest in others - help them to start creating new memories.

This is our first Christmas without Jodi and we aren't handling it very well.  Last year we totally ignored Christmas because we were in the fight to make Jodi well,  God had other plans.
The holidays for the last couple years have been less important and it was more about taking care of her. I wouldn't give up a minute of it.   Jodi loved the holidays, she loved the excitement, the sounds the people = She just loved it all.   Seeing Christmas through her eyes was magical.   We would listen to Christmas music and she loved it.   She loved the fun happy songs but when a song about the Jesus' birth, she would actually listen and many times tear up.   She knew God in a way I never could.    Those are the memories that matter to me.

So this year, I sit here on earth missing her so much.  Been a lot of tears today.   But Jesus as the world celebrates your birth, you have my baby sister with you and she loved birthdays. I am sure she is already partying.   So give her an extra hug for me and tell her that I love her and miss her.   Happy Birthday Jesus!!  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

You Are My Sunshine

On Wednesday night, Mom and I watched the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center in NYC.   Every year we watch this.  We enjoy the music and anxiously await the lighting of the tree.  I kept wanting to get up and go turn your TV on for you to watch.   Then reality would set in and I would cry.  I listened to the music and continue to cry.   Mom was struggling too.
No one knows what our world has been like the past 3 years.  December 1, 2013 you had a seizure that we are sure now,  sent us on a path that ultimately we would lose you.
Heaven gained an angel but we have lost our baby.

I love this picture - it says it all.  You loved holidays.  I can still hear you say "Trick or Treat" when you would see all the Halloween decorations.  We knew that these first holidays were going to be hard, but we didn't realize how hard.

Today was the Sparks Christmas Parade.  We would go park and watch the parade.  You loved the music and decorations.  Today we reminisced about going and watching.  So many good memories.   We go past homes that are decorated and want point them out and say "Look Jodi"   Instead we cry because we can't do that.

You always knew when it was Christmas morning.  You were ready to open presents and didn't want to wait.   I loved watching you and seeing you smile. I loved that some years you collected all your presents and didn't open them, just kept them by you and slowly you would get into them.   Then you figured out that is was more fun to tear into everything and paper, boxes, etc. would fly everywhere  
You were so much fun to watch.  Seeing Christmas through your sweet eyes was so amazing.

Last year we decided to put Christmas off and then celebrate it when you were better.   Baby we didn't know what was happening and didn't realize that there were points of no return when dealing with certain medical situations.   Everyone gave up on you but mom wanted a Christmas miracle and I prayed for her sake that we would get it.  Turns  out the miracle is that your are celebrating your first Christmas with Jesus' on His birthday.  I am so happy but still so very sad because I miss you greatly. I can hear you sing "outie doo day doo day"   That was the sweetest sound. 

I see all the hustle and bustle around me and am trying to feel the excitement of Christmas but I feel like there is a veil of tears in between me and all the festivities.  I try to be joyful because no one wants to be around a downer.   I put a smile on my face, I don't talk about you unless someone asks.  Most don't realize the bond we had and you were some of the best part of me.  We were more then sisters.  I was your protector and I feel like I failed you miserably.  

Just know my sweet baby that "You are my Sunshine"  Without you many days in my life are so dark.  You brought so much joy into my life and I miss you.   I know you don't like to see us crying.  I am trying to be strong, trying work my way through this thing called grief.   I am trying to focus on others and not myself.   Somehow mom and I will navigate through to holidays and then through January 5th.  I can't believe it was almost been a year. 

Tomorrow we are going to decorate a little bit.  We are going to use the small tree that we put in your room last year and make that our Christmas Tree.  Mom bought some bells for outside. 

I hope you know Bug-a-Boo that you are thought of everyday and that I love you and cherish each and every moment that you were here with me.   My heart is with you today and always.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I feel lost ...............

36 weeks have gone by since I said goodbye to my sister.  My friends are trying to get me to say that she entered Heaven and is happy, healthy and full of life.   She is with God.  I try so hard to focus on that but inevitably I go back to my feeling of loss and not Jodi's gain in her forever body.
I worry that she is alone and doesn't know anyone, but today I remembered that Jodi knew no stranger and I know she is up there taking it all in, making friends along the way.
My friends and everyone else reading this, I need to tell you that the grief of her loss is soul crushing.   Over the past few months, mom and I are so beat down that we are struggling to frankly live. Mom said the other night that we are dying.   That actually kind of shocked me. 
Fortunately our pastor is coming over tomorrow night to talk with us.   We need this, pray for my mom as she is so questioning her faith.   I know she believes and she does, losing Jodi who for 50 years was her small child has left her questioning everything.  I know Jodi is with God and I hold to that belief,  I am just angry.  I am mad that she is gone, I am mad that I didn't do enough to save her, I am mad at her doctors for copping the attitude of it is the circle of life.   Everyone gave up but I didn't - she was my world.  Mom and I needed someone to fight with us to save her.
Every decision we made took Jodi into account.  I am not complaining but when she left, we kinda lost our purpose.    We love her, we miss her and frankly aren't sure how to live without her.
We really need prayers, we need healing, we need faith to continue to trust God's perfect plan.  None of this makes sense right now but like all of life's ups and downs, you see the how God had it all in His hands.   Jodi and I would sing songs all the time and always put her name in the song.  One of the songs she learned at school was He's Got the Whole World In His Hands - we would sing "He's got you and me Jodi in His hands".   I believe that with all my heart,  God has her safe and secure.  My heart is just broken, I need healing. 
Next week I am going to Vegas for a scrapbooking event with Teresa Collins.   My mom was supposed to go but her health is keeping her home.   I don't  want to go and leave her but she is insisting.   I am ready just like last year to fly home early if need be.   I really need this trip, I need to see my friends and kind of decompress a bit.  My roommates are ready for me to be a puddle but I am going to try so hard to rejoice in her life and be excited to tell anyone about my sweet baby sister Jodi and how much I love her.  
Pray for us as we start grief counseling and figure out how to navigate this new life, because I am tired of feeling lost.
I have to share this special video of Jodi's birthday celebration,  62 family and friends were on hand to wish her Happy Birthday.   It was an amazing day and Jodi deserved all of it.  Everything was for her because she is loved.

Please know that I am aware there are many who feel strongly about balloons and the affect they have on the environment.   I would never want to hurt anything or anyone.   Jodi loved balloons and we had to do something to honor her.   I will not do a large balloon release again.   In my heart, I wanted to honor my sister because she deserved it.  Please accept my apology.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Turning the Corner

The past 7+ months have been extremely difficult.   I don't know how to navigate this new world that I am living in.  At times it gets overwhelming.   I just take it minute by minute sometimes.   I have cried a lot the past couple days - I really miss her.  

That being said - I need to regroup.  

It is time to turn the corner - time to live life.   I want to start creating again, that is really good for my soul.   It is my therapy.   Jodi would love to sit with me and play while I worked on projects and I really miss that.  

I am going to submit some things for a Design Team - who knows what is going to happen.   I have plans - I know what I want to do, so now it is time to DO IT!!!!

Keep an eye out here - cause good things and sweet memories will be shared.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Identity Crisis

Growing up there were some absolutes in my life.   I wanted to above all be a wife and a mother.   I hadn't decided on a career yet but knew being a mom above all else was so important to me.  I was the oldest of 4 and most of all the protector of my little sister.   Jodi was born healthy and happy, but when she was nine months old, she contracted the measles which led to a high fever followed by seizures which caused brain damage.   I knew at some point in life, Jodi would be my responsibility when something happened to my parents.

I wanted to marry someone who had the work ethic of my dad.  Someone who would work and support his family and above all that serve God.  Someone whose faith would be the foundation of our family and  our life together.

Once I graduated from High School - I left home to attend college in San Jose.   It was there that I decided to work with little ones as a  teacher and direct preschool centers.   Working with kids was my world.  I taught kindergarten for one year for Fremont Christian School - my favorite job to date.   While working as a center director I met the man whom I would marry.  

I moved away to be near him.  We did get married.  There were many issues in his life that made our marriage extremely difficult.    Because of issues beyond my control - bringing a baby full term  never happened.   I don't think that anyone can understand the immense hole or pain unless you have gone through it.  It was part of my identity that I had fill with something else.  We moved back to Nevada hoping to start a brand new life.

Because I had to support my household, I threw myself into my work.  Unfortunately, I got really sick and Lupus began define my life. So once again I go from being in a career working with children to having to scale back and deal with a stupid disease that has wreaked havoc on life.

Because I was starting some very potent drugs, I was forced to make sure that I would never have a baby, so that dream was crushed.    Eventually the disease won and I could no longer work.  I was approved for disability and that began to define who I was.

Because I was not working, I was able to be more hands on with Jodi and would be with her everyday after her work program until mom got home.   I felt like I was doing the most important thing in the world by being there for her.  

So as it is with life, my life goals and identity have changed again. I wasn't a mother, I was no longer working and soon I would be divorced.   The only absolute was that I was Jodi's sister and caregiver.   There would be a point where it would be her and I.  I was  ready for that.      

I began to throw myself into crafting and creating lots of fun things.   Crafting gave my purpose - I felt inspired .   I began teaching classes and started to redefine myself.  I was gaining confidence and enjoying life.   During the divorce - church was negatively affected so yet another way I had to redefine myself. 

Then as life will do another curve ball was thrown into the works.  Jodi started failing and we could not come up with why.   3 hospital stays, one surgery, many months of home care etc. and finally hospice care, life changed.  Jodi entered Heaven on January 5th.  

Now in this thing called life - I am having a huge identity crisis.   The things that I thought were absolutes and my hearts true desires are no longer there.   I am not sure where this leaves me.   Right now I am focusing on being a daughter and together with my mom trying to navigate this mourning process.   It is not easy.  God has opened doors and brought a wonderful pastor and a new church family in our lives.   I need to establish myself again in a place where serving God is top priority.

I am trying to get my creative juices going again. Creating is the one constant in my life and so I am sure that will help fill the voids.   I have learned that documenting and telling life stories is important and at times healing as we navigate this life.

What is next?  Only God knows for till then I move forward.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

One last crop...................Paper Daisies closing.

Was very sad when we heard that Paper Daisies was closing.   Wendy threw one last crop at the store and is going to work on having crops and classes at different venues.   So the weekend of May 15-17, we had a National Scrapbook Weekend Slumber Party crop - lots of fun with some of my scrapping friends.

I won both of these - so cool :)
Worked on my Project Life Album Year 51

Challenging Myself to create more...............

I have been working on cards for my Project Life albums and for swaps.  I decided that I needed to challenge myself more and create, create, create.
Here is what I have been working on the past couple of weeks  :)

Here are some Pocket pages I created for my friends...........
Lots of fun, off to create some more fun things.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Saint Patricks Day Crop - 3/14/15

Spent the day with Marian, Kathy and Marie  cropping.  It had been a long time since I have done this.  It was a very enjoyable time.  Though I left about 9:00 - I actually stayed all day.  I worked on my Heidi Swap binders and continued on my Year 51 Project Life Album

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My New Normal......................

Shortly after returning home from Inspiration Unlimited in 2013, things began to change in our household and no one was ready.   In November, 2013 began the sequence of my biggest fears.  I was rushing my mom to the hospital with excruciating pains on her right side.   Because it was Veterans Day, Jodi did not have her work program - so I had no other choice but to drop off my mom at the ER and go home with Jodi.
The day was so long, my brother went to the hospital but I needed to be with my sister - that is what was going to matter most to my mom.  I had a feeling that she would be admitted and she was.  In fact she would be having surgery in the morning.  I began to see my life, how this was going to be for me and for Jodi.  We were alone and though immediate family knew what was happening, no one felt the need to come by and sit with Jo so that I could go the hospital.  It was very eye opening and I realized that I need to be ready.  Mom came home the next day after surgery and we knew that February there would be another surgery and we were getting ready for that.
In the meantime Jodi started having medical issues. She was falling a lot and was losing her strength.  Dr's could not figure out what was going on so we pressed on.   Mom had her procedure in February which led to an averse reaction and a whole new set of problems arose.  Jodi continued to get worse.  Mom got better and Jodi got worse.
Easter Sunday 2014,  we cancelled our dinner plans.  We cancelled everything!!!  Actually Jodi's Easter Basket is still sitting in the garage - unopened :(   Jodi was unstable, not able to walk without assistance and she was not doing well so off we went to the emergency room.   Trying to convey to Dr's what is wrong when she can't tell you is difficult.  We had the first Dr and he was great, he heard everything we said and knew what to do but he went off shift and we got a new Dr.  She undid the previous Dr's orders and changed everything.   We didn't realize it till it was too late and ugh what a mess.   They admitted Jodi for further tests.  So here is another worst fear, we didn't ever want to be in this position and this is where we were.  Tests were inconclusive and on Monday night my sweet baby sister became afraid, anytime any medical staff would approach her, she would sob.   I have never seen her do that - she just sobbed.   Well big sister mode kicked into high gear and I held onto her and we left the hospital that night because of the Dr who went in her own direction we knew that they weren't hearing us and we would follow up with her Dr.
We got Jo home and in the house - which was difficult because she was still a bit drugged.   Because the stairs were such an issue and her foot was still turned in, we chose to set her up on the couch.   A couple days later she was able to go upstairs to bed but only a couple more days because we were too afraid she was going to fall.   I was impressed she sat down and scooted on her butt, she figured that all out on her own.
We went to her Dr and they did x-rays.  No one can figure out why her foot is turning the reality is she needed surgery to fix it.   But before that she took a turn for the worse and we are heading back to the hospital - this time in an ambulance. Eight days in the hospital followed by 8 days in rehab hospital - she came home.  Unfortunately she was in worse shape then when we started this mess.  Now this girl is in a wheelchair and losing strength along with muscle mass and no one knows why.   We moved things around downstairs and moved her bedroom down.
She had surgery on Achilles Tendon.   We had hoped that strengthening her tendon would make her foot straight and then her mobility would improve. Though she can stand for short periods of time, she can't walk.  We are trying to get her moving but it is not easy.  Her Dr's are OK if she stays in the wheelchair.
We went through so many of our worst fears this last year and we have survived them.  Our new normal isn't anything like it was a year ago.  Jodi is in a wheelchair and 100% dependent on mom and I.   One of us is with her always.  Unfortunately my time has diminished.   I don't have the time to craft and create like I used to.   I am no longer teaching and miss it.  Each day things are handled in order of importance  or urgency and that means that fun things are done later or never.   It is what it is.   God put Jodi in our lives for a reason and He knows that to the best of our being we will always take care of her.   I just have to trust in Him and know that He will make this journey as easy as possible..
Though we have had each other, there have been a few friends who have offered support/ help and we appreciate all the offers, other family members have not been there to give a hand.   It has been very sad for us to watch and realize this.   It has shown me that when mom is gone that it will be just Jodi and I.  That scares me because I know that she needs me to care for her.   This past year has taught me a lot and with knowledge comes power.   So this is our new normal - time to adjust!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Creating Custom Canvas'

This past year, I have had a great time working with canvas' to create special treats for my family and friends.   Here a few that I have done so far and I am just getting started.

Creating with Project Life

After losing everything that I thought mattered, getting divorced and so on, I decided that I needed to focus on good things and document my new life.   So on my 51st birthday I began a Project Life Album to document Year 51.   Though I am only half done with it, I have all the journal notes and photos ready to go to finish the album.   I made a record on my IPhone and documented each week / day.    It was a great way to document my new world and not dwell on my old world.
Here is a sample of my "Year 51" Project Life Album

With this album ending in May, I started a mini album to go through the summer till the day I left on a plane for Las Vegas for Inspiration Unlimited.   It made a great difference for me to find something each day to be happy for.

I am really enjoying the process in creating these albums.  They make me see all the great things in my life and I am so thankful for them all.