Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas is over...

I am happy to have had a nice Christmas with my family this year but I am thankful now that it is over. I hope to get a few things done this coming week...I'm taking the week off from work so I can get some "work" done. I hope to take apart the greenhouse from my parents old place and put it back together at my house. I also hope that I can get some scrapbooking in. There are a few other things I would like to do too. I think I might make a list of everything I want to do and then I can prioritize better. Anyway, happy that Christmas is over and we can look forward to the New Year now. Hopefully, 2010 will bring good things.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More on Zoee

The options were 20 weeks of chemotherapy in order to extend Zoee's life about a year, possibly two or Prednisone which would put her lymphoma in remission for about 4 to 6 months, possibly up to 8 months. We decided to go with the Prednisone treatment. We can control her pain with some pain medication and she will feel pretty good, unlike if she went through chemotherapy. I felt like this was the right thing to do. We are just going to baby her and love her up in the time we have left with her. She has been on the treatment for about 5 days now and she is doing really well. She seems to feel pretty good and can move around pretty well. This will give us some more time with her and she will feel pretty good during that time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Sad Day for Our Family

I noticed my dog, Zoee, seemed to be having a hard time moving around and looked quite sad when I got back from my Washington DC trip last night. I was quite concerned this morning when she didn't hear me get up and begin scratching at my son's door to let her out so she could get to me - the everyday routine. I went looking for her in my son's room. I opened the door and she was lying on the bed but didn't even lift her head to show interest in coming with me. I called her and she came. She was moving even more labored this morning. I was quite worried after she showed no interest in food. By the afternoon, she hadn't moved from the spot where she laid down after I brought her inside this morning. I decided to take her on an errand with me to Home Depot to see if that perked her up. I was thinking maybe she was depressed. When she sat on the passenger seat, I could see that the glands around her nipples were huge and hard and the skin was irritated. I really thought I had figured out what was wrong. She had a skin infection in the past and I thought for sure that this was it. I turned around immediately and returned home. I had Scotty take Zoee to the vet for me.

Not long after he got there I got a text from him. He said they think Zoee has lymphoma. And he said all her lymph nodes throughout her body are huge and affected. I was in shock. She is only about 8 years old. I figured we had a number of more years with her. It appears that she is probably in about stage 3 of lymphoma where all her glands are affected. It could actually be even further along than that but we would only know if we did more testing. The hard part is that chemotherapy and other treatments would only be used to extend her life a little longer and there are no guarantees on how long she would have. The doctor said maybe a year, maybe two if you are lucky but then again it could be less. It is not about curing the cancer. It is about extending her life so we can have more time with her. I can't even imagine putting her through chemotherapy in order to spend more time with her. Some people may consider that humane but I don't. She doesn't have a way of telling me, "Yes, I want to go through all that excrutiating pain and fatique and nausea and fatigue, etc., etc. in order to spend a little more time with you". Since she can't tell me what she wants, I have to make a decision and I just can't put her through that. Quality of life is what it's about. I don't want to see her in pain. It is important that I still see her wag her tail when I tell her I love her and to see her doggie smile. Tonight she actually worked very hard to get up from her bed when she heard my car keys jangling. She met me at the door and gave me that look, the one where she begs me with her eyes to take her. She had a bit of a bounce in her step and I knew she felt well enough to go on a ride. We got our pizza take-out and when we got home she waited in the kitchen for her pizza crusts just like she always does. She actually found one of her Kong balls in the house too and wanted to fetch it a couple of times - a bit slower than usual but she did it.

It appears that we are going to go through some hard times coming up here very soon. I am going to miss her terribly. She has been one of those dogs that you curse because she tries to go on walkabouts every chance she can (sneaking away from the house if you are not watching) and she has anxiety attacks when you take her in the car and she walks us when we try to take her for a walk, but in our home she is at her best. She loves her family always has a smile on her face. She has all her own little quirky things she does which makes her Zoee and I love her for everyone of those.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Leaving for Washington DC

I don't travel much. It's too difficult to take Jovanna with me or to leave her with someone else. I was offered the opportunity by MESD to go to the National Federation of Families Conference in Washington DC and I decided to take Jovanna with me and let her go through the Youth Track at the conference. We leave tomorrow morning. I have not been to a Federation of Families Conference yet but I understand it is a really inspirational thing. I am told it will revive my spirits and renew my inspiration to continue the battle for better care and respect for my family and other families raising children with special needs. I need that right now. Sometimes the challenge of raising Jovanna really begins to weigh heavy on me and right now, as she is becoming a teen and add that with the already challenging behaviors of Autism Spectrum/Aspergers and it just becomes too much on some days. I work day and night to help change the system and support other families raising special children and at times it feels like we are just stuck, there aren't any options, there isn't enough of me to go around. Hopefully, I will experience a renewed sense of hope and inspiration over the next few days and hopefully, Jovanna will be able to hold herself together enough that I can attend the adult conference sessions while she participates in the Youth Track.

She made a poster for the conference poster contest a few months ago and we submitted it. The focus of the contest was "Childrens mental health matters to us, what matters to you?". She did this really cute poster with several children of all different colors (some really interesting colors) and some were boys and some were girls and wrote the theme on the poster. I guess we will find out while we are there how she did. She is excited and is sure she is going to win. I hope she can handle the disappointment if she doesn't. But it will be exciting to see her work there. We leave Thursday at 12:30pm with a stop in Fort Worth, TX and then off to D.C. All day on a plane...with Jovanna... Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I am thankful for...

As Thanksgiving is approaching, I am thinking about what I am thankful for. Sometimes my life seems to go so fast and I am so busy and I have many challenges around raising my special needs child that I can at times feel like I don't have much to be thankful for. But when I really force myself to think about what, if anything, there is for me to be thankful for, I can identify some things.

I am thankful that my dad is still with us. He has battled sickness for more than two years now, so close to death so many times and he is still hanging in and still with us. We don't know how much time we have left with him and it will be devastating for our family when he is no longer here, but I am thankful that he is still with us.

I am thankful that I have a home to call my own. Almost five years ago, I had to sell my home and get rid of the lifestyle I had become accustomed to in order to take care of my daughter who was in serious crisis. It was an incredibly painful thing for me. After owning a home for more than 10 years, I had to become a renter. For some, this is not a big thing. But for me, it was. This last summer, all the stars lined up for a short time and my window of opportunity was there. I was able to buy and move into my new home on July 1. Sure, it's a fixer-upper with a lot more work to be done. But it's mine. I am thankful to have a home to call my own.

I am thankful that my son, Scotty, is doing well. He has grown and matured so much over the last couple of years and he is doing well. He got laid off from his job about a month or so ago and he has decided to go to school and get his Associates in the Welding Program at PCC. I am thrilled to see him considering a step like this and excited to see what new journey this will take him on. I am thankful that Scotty is growing, maturing and a fine young man.

I am thankful to have a man that loves me and that I love back. Jose is perfectly suited for me in every way and makes me feel fulfilled. After spending so many years in a miserable relationship, I am thankful to have found this wonderful man.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Taking on the Family Business

I always knew it was my dad's dream to pass on his wedding photography business to his kids. I started shooting weddings with my dad when I was about 25. I really enjoyed it and I was good. Over the years, I have done so many aspects of the business. I have photographed weddings, put proof books together, matched negatives to prints ordered (back when we used to still use negatives), taken proof books apart and prepared for storing, met with potential couples, put orders together, worked the bridal shows, and when my dad got real sick two years ago I spent an entire summer running the business while my mom tended to my dad. Now, my parents have decided it's time for them to retire. They want to hand the business on to their kids and I was the one who stood up and said, "Yes, I want to do it." My sister is an amazing photographer too and she can sell like you have never seen. She wants to be involved but she doesn't want to take on the risk and run the business.

Last week, I signed a contract to lease space in a business complex for Camera Art. We begin setting up the space Dec 1 and the Portland Bridal Show in in January. I know I have the skills to run a business and I have run this exact one before. It is really about whether there is enough of me to to do all that I do. In order to earn enough to cover the expenses of the business, we have to do a fair amount of weddings. I have to balance all this with my 30 hour week job with Oregon Family Support Network and running Scrapdango and taking care of my special child and family. Mmmmhhhh...I wonder if I can do it all. But I'll give it a go.

So far I have secured and paid for space, delivered a sample album to a wedding site, revised the wedding contract and they will be printed this week, revised and paid for the Bravo Guide ad, booked two 2010 weddings and very soon I will be setting up our new space. My mom has been very helpful and trying to bring me up to speed with everything I need to know.

I was very happy with the Bravo Guide ad. It turned out beautiful.

I'm not sure if this will work but here is a link to the pdf ad to share.

Camera Art Bravo Guide Ad

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gearing Up for Winter...

Well, it's that time again. I really enjoy the spring, summer and fall seasons. I love planting my garden in the spring and camping in the summer and other seasonal activities well into the fall. I am not a winter person. Just do not like it. I tend to feel cold all the time anyway so when winter comes, I feel frigid all the time. There are a few things I enjoy about winter though. I love making fires in our fireplace and sitting around and watching TV or movies with my family. It just makes for such a great cozy feeling. I also love it when it snows. Oh my, that is heavenly to me. I have such a blast making a fire and watching the snow fall. Then we all get out and play in it. Oregon doesn't get much snow and that is what makes it so exciting. We love to talk about, "Well, I wonder if it's gonna snow this year." And we all get so very excited when it does. Snow and ice have the ability of shutting down the entire state though when it does happen because we Oregonians aren't used to it so we are never prepared for it and we don't know how to drive in it.

As I prepare for the winter, I just transplanted a few blueberry bushes from my folks property that they just sold. Those blueberries have been a part of my life for 20 years and I just had to see if I could take them with me now that my family is preparing to leave the property forever. I also transplanted a bunch of their special blackberry starts. These are the most wonderful blackberries. They don't have any prickers and they are big and taste like sugar. We have covered them in hay and are beginning to get the garden area ready to bunker down for the winter. We have also been trying to get a good supply of firewood for the winter.

I look forward to getting some good scrapping time in this winter. I usually spend a great deal of time scrapping in the winter. I can't get outside to do much so I try to use whatever time I can get doing my scrappy projects. I guess winter isn't all that bad!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It's Finally Time for a Housewarming!

If I wait till everything is done, it might be a few years before we ever have a housewarming. So, next Friday it is! We've done so much that I feel like we can have some of our friends and family over and share the joy of our new home. We will have some drinks and some snacks and I can point out everything we've done so far. I plan to have before and after pictures too! It should be fun!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Images I am considering using...

Here are three of our companies wedding images (Camera Art) I am thinking about using for our Bravo Guide add. So hard to pick...


I can use three images and these are the ones that I am considering right now.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I was forwarded this today in an email and it really touched me.


I grew up in the 50's with practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it... A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.

Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress Things we keep.
It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence.. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more.

But then my mother died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more.

Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away...never to return. So... while we have it... it's best we love it.... and care for it... and fix it when it's ! broken.......... and heal it when it's sick.

This is true. for marriage..... and old cars.... and children with bad report cards..... and dogs with bad hips.... and aging parents..... and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with.

There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special....... and so, we keep them close!

When I read this, it made me think about my grandparents. My grandma and grandpa didn't throw anything away. After they died and we spent some time going through some of their things, we found nail clippers that were rigged so they would still work (as opposed to going out and spending $2.50 on new nail clippers) and yard tools that my grandpa had used an old broom handle in place of the original handle that had broken. It was really quite amazing what we found.

Then I found myself thinking about my father. He is so very ill and has been for a number of years. He is the most amazing man on this Earth, at least I think so. He loves life so much and his body has been trying to kill him for the last 20 years. But he won't let it. He has pulled through so many grave situations where the doctors told us he wouldn't make it and he did it again just recently. A few weeks ago, he became ill with Ecoli. We all have it in our bodies but he has polycystic disease and his liver is full of cysts. Recently, a few very large cysts on his liver burst and released Ecoli into his body. His heart only ever functions at about 15 - 20% so the infection in his body and the drugs they needed to give him to kill the infection was literally killing his heart. His heart was stopping multiple times a day and they gave him a 2 - 10% chance of making through a 24 hour period. Of course, he once again beat the odds and came home. He is quite depressed though, like I've never seen him before. He is getting tired of constantly having to battle and beat death. He is getting tired. This poem really made me think about him and I need to be ever so diligent and making sure I keep him close and make sure he knows how much he is loved.

I don't know how much time I have left with my dad, every day is a gift. I hope that I can use each day to the fullest extent of that gift I have been given.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Look what I did with my Cricut!

I had this planned out for the last several months and finally got to it! The word "family" is wood letters that were already painted from my craft store and I used my cricut to cut out the black vinyl letters for "It's not the home I love, but the life that is lived in it." Is that cool or what?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Starting to Get Somewhere...

The laminate is all completely done throughout the house. Almost all the doors are new, except we have to hang the front door yet and then detach the new doors and paint them. We have only a tiny bit of molding around one of the doors and the front door after we get that in and then it seems that we can take a break. I think we will start on the kitchen remodel in the spring. I'm tired. I'm worn out from the schedule of work and then more work at home. It is time to start decorating and putting everything away where we want it. It is looking really good and I am starting to feel like we actually accomplished some things. Of course, there's more work to do but I think we can set that aside for awhile and just enjoy life. We still have to tackle the kitchen remodel, the hall bathroom remodel, new windows throughout and then somewhere down the road, maybe next year (?) we will expand the master bedroom and bathroom. For now, I am happy to begin making our house a home. Pictures coming very soon...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Design Team Search at Scrapdango!

It is time again for a new Scrapdango Design Team Search. The current team has been wonderful and I have enjoyed them but it is time once again to do a new search. We are filling both Sugar and Spice kit designers but also a couple of leadership positions for Blog Coordinator and Design Team Leader. You can get all the details of how to apply and whats involved on our Forum.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Catch me in Scrapbooking and Beyond!

This month you can find one of my layouts in Scrapbooking and Beyond. This is one of my favorite scrap magazines. I get a lot of inspiration from it. I found mine at Fred Meyers but I have seen them at JoAnn's also. Take a peek and see my "Bucket List" layout on a 2-page spread!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Teen Room! Too Cute!

We have finally got Jovanna's room ready. I still have a few things to put away in her room but for the most part it is done. I had so much fun creating this room. It was like creating art and I am so proud of how it turned out. I would like to eventually get her a black nightstand and dresser to match her new bed, but we can pick those things up later. Wow! It looks too, too cute!

Here's a shot of the lights off and just the way cool new light on!

Here's a few other details...

Of course, you know who that is, right? She's a Twilight freak! She thinks if she can get a picture of Michael Jackson and a few horse pictures up then it will be perfect!

Friday, September 4, 2009

A teen room!

I am now tackling Jovanna's room. She had all these plans for these very strange color combinations and I feel bad, but I had to trump her. I found a picture of this very cool teen room in an IKEA book and showed it to her. I used every bit of enthusiasm and tempted her with the purchase of some new things to fill the room to get her to agree. I think it is going to be sooooo cool! We have three colors on the walls. There is this really nice lavendar, a sweet pink and a hot pink. I just got done painting the walls. So, the idea here is the room will be decorated with purples, pinks and black. I bought her a new black sleigh bed, a furry pink lamp, new pink/black/white bedspread, curtains in pink and purple beads that will hang down from the curtains, and lots of little fun decorations. I think it is going to be way cool. She is 11 and entering into her teen years so I am hoping that this will be "cool" for a number of years to come. I will post some pictures soon. We will put carpet in very soon and then we can set-up her new things.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What a camping trip!

We spent last weekend at Carter Lake, just South of Florence. We brought our friends Emily and Arlo with us. Arlo is Jovanna's friend. We were able to get an idea of just how much time they can spend with each other before it is too much. Well, unfortunately, that would be about the time it took to drive to the campground. They ended up in constant competition with each other and were triggering each other all over the place. It is interesting, if you look at the pictures I took you would think that we had a wonderful time. The pictures would suggest that at least there were some good moments...hard for me to remember those though. We were constantly intervening between the two of them and trying to keep them from killing each other!

The area was wonderful. We had the lake, the dunes, the ocean, crabbing, and camping. It was truly a beautiful area.
When we first got to the site, the wire that is part of rolling up and down the tent trailer popped! I was thinking we weren't going to have anywhere to sleep but with some borrowed tools and after Scotty arrived, we were able to get it fixed. Whew!

Here is Emily rolling down the dunes...

Jovanna and Arlo after making the mile and 1/2 trek on the trail through the dunes to the ocean...

Scotty and Kelcie joined us at the beach

Jovanna at the campsite

Scotty by the lake

After a whole lot of whining, Arlo finally agreed to help Jovanna across the water to the other side. Aren't they cute?

A very sweet camp neighbor loaned us her canoe boat and was so tickled to see it getting some use. Here is Scotty and Jovanna on the lake...

And before we left our trip, we stopped off at a beach in Florence to let Jovanna play in the sand a little bit. Warning signs were up about some water quality issues so we didn't play in the water though.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We are getting tired!

I always thought that it would be Jovanna that would be the death of me, but now I'm thinking it's gonna be this darn house! My body is so exhausted. There is still so much to do. We got most of the living room flooring in and we are heading down the hallway but we ran out of laminate flooring. I have to wait till I have a little extra money to buy the rest of what we need. We are taking a break for a few weeks because we are tired (and grumpy!). We are going camping this weekend for some R&R. We are going with our friends Emily and Arlo. Arlo and Jovanna have recently discovered each other...they are both eleven, both on the Autism Spectrum, both identical in so many ways - like two peas in a pod. They quite the romance developing right now. It is very cute to watch. I heard that they actually stole a first kiss with each other too!

I have a feeling that I'm in trouble if she is already kissing boys!

Here they are...

Notice how they are both barefoot? If you don't know much about children on the Autism Spectrum then you probably wouldn't understand the significance of that, but I assure you...the two of them together is quite significant!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wow! It is starting to show!

All the work and time and bruises and energy are starting to show! This weekend we textured the new walls (what a mess that is!) and so I can get back to work, we focused on my office. We painted the walls and laid the laminate flooring. I chose a color called Aztec Brick and the photos don't exactly do the color justice but it is close. Here is a shot of the flooring going in...

And at the end of the day, I was so tired. So, so tired. Jose let me use the chop saw to cut some of the pieces and I got comfortable with that by the end.

Here's a shot of me at the end of the day.

We just have to finish the molding around the bottom and the windows and doors. I think we decided on white.

Here's a shot looking down the hallway to the office.

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's Perfect!

Just what I was hoping for! The wall is almost complete, well, technically...the hole in the wall is almost complete! Here is some pictures of where we are...

These first two were at the beginning of the day.

These are views from each side of the opening. One is looking in from the kitchen and one is looking into the kitchen from the living room.

I happened to see this shot. I didn't stage it at all. That's the way it looked and I thought, wow, that says alot! Really captures exactly what we are doing right now. Love it!

He cracks me up!
He won't let me get a good shot of him because he knows I post these pictures everywhere! LOL!

Look at it now! We removed the temporary support walls didn't all come crashing down! Yeah!

And here's the view from the other side with drywall now up! I am so happy. Short of removing the entire wall, this is exactly what I wanted!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Wall is Coming Down!

So, here is a shot of the new 9 foot opening in the wall! I am so excited! Thank goodness my darling BF took this big task on for me. Yeah!!!

So, he has some electrical wires that we have to move over a few inches and then it is hanging drywall, tape, texture, paint and then I get my floors put in! I already bought the new laminate flooring and it is just sitting in a corner looking pretty. I can't wait to see it laid down. I tore the carpet out of my bedroom yesterday (all by myself!) and we will take the laminate from the living room, in the front entry and down the hallway and into my bedroom. I am thinking about putting it down in my office too because that is on the other side of the house from the bedrooms and I thought it might tie everything in nicely.

Well, just thought I would share that I was expecting my deposit back from the rental house I was in and opened a letter a couple days ago, expecting it to contain my check and I found a bill for more than $1000!!!! I must have had steam coming from my ears! So, they decided to replace the carpets and decided to charge me for that. When I moved in the carpets had bleach stains in two living spaces and dark black areas in the master bedroom. It was nearing the end of it's life when I moved in. It was time to replace the carpets and with all the bleach and black stains there were pre-existing, they did replace the carpet and sent me the bill. The property managers were also my realtors who just sold me my new home. I felt so betrayed and so hurt that they would try to make me pay for an expense that they have in their line of work, completely unrelated to me. The carpets were clean when I left them, there were no visible stains other than the ones already noted when I moved in. When I called, she said that there were pet stains all over under the carpet. I just about wanted to jump out of my skin! My dog doesn't have problems going to the bathroom in the house! She would be mortified (and me too!) if she ever did anything like that. Clearly that carpet had seen many, many other renters before me. I had heard that the previous renters had at least one dog. They can't send me the bill for carpet that had seen its' final days. I am so furious...and hurt...and disappointed in the integrity of the world.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I haven't posted since...

Well, it appears I haven't posted since I got the keys to my new house. For good reason, I think. This has been such a tough move. I didn't really quite understand what moving into a fixer-upper really meant till we got in. The carpet had been soiled so terrible by pets previous to us that one of the first things we did (after getting the essentials working) was tear out that nasty carpet and padding. We have been preparing the floors for laminate flooring, removing staples and such, so it is smooth and then I put a layer of Kilz down. We still have to tear out the carpet in the three bedrooms but we started in the living room, entry and down the hallway because we knew that was going to be laminate flooring. We painted the ceilings, kitchen, living room, entry and hallway walls. That helps to make it look a little better - it's amazing what a little bit of paint can do. And it also helps so that when we get the flooring in, we won't have to worry about doing a bunch of painting with the new floors down.

We went around and around about another project and eventually Jose decided that it was important to me enough that he would take it on. There was a wall (notice I said "was") between the living room and kitchen. It was a perfect situation to take the wall out to open up the two rooms. He wasn't a fan of the idea because he likes to keep rooms separated. He says "the kitchen is the kitchen and the living room is the living room". But, you know that is the popular thing to do to create a more open feel is to have the kitchen open up to the living room so you can have a conversation and interact with guests and family while you are in the kitchen. I am thankful he took this on. It is turning out beautifully. Because the wall is a weightbearing wall, we didn't take the whole wall out but created a 9 foot opening in the wall. To me, it is perfect! We had to move electrical outlets and put a beam up to support it all. I learned alot through this whole project. We are getting close to being able to put the drywall back up and then we will be able to prepare it and paint it and then put the flooring in. Oh, I forgot! There is another wall that joins with that one that runs along the entry and then into the kitchen that is a half-wall. I think we will do the same thing with that one to open up the living room. But it doesn't appear to be a weightbearing wall and the half-wall looks like someone added it years ago.

I also took the drywall off of another wall in the kitchen where a little wood burning stove sets in the corner. It had these wood pieces on the wall and we hated it. We will do all the drywall, tape and texture at the same time on all the walls.

I have purchased the laminate flooring already. It is just sitting there waiting to be put in. I can't wait! Here's a few pictures so you can see what I have been busy doing...

This is the wall in the corner of the kitchen that we removed the wood pieces from to reveal this...
I tore this drywall off yesterday. It is now ready for new drywall, tape and texture.

This is the wall that we pulled paneling off of to reveal more of those wood pieces and under that was the drywall. Oh my! So, this is the wall that also came out. You can see the halfwall to Jose's right. That one is coming out too (I believe).

I have more pictures but haven't uploaded them yet. Will share more later.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Been busy!

Life has been really challenging lately. I spent this week in the hospital with Jovanna. She was still suffering from dystonia movements and it was getting pretty scary. We checked her into the child psychiatric unit to try to figure out what was going on. I didn't really want to take her there, but the doctors working with us felt like that was best. The doctors who prescribe the medications that cause dystonias are there so they would be best able to help us. When we arrived, they took Jovanna to her room and took me another direction to do paperwork. I didn't bring her there for behavioral reasons, but for a medical condition. She was highly disoriented when we brought her in because they had me give her Ativan (sp?) and she was not thinking clearly. Within 60 seconds of being there, I heard her screaming. They had put her in a seclusion room. Two hours later, when I was finally done with their paperwork, she was still in there. I was so angry. It is such a fine line you walk as a parent. I need to advocate for her but I don't want to make the people who are taking care of her angry.

What was most upsetting to me is that they spent two hours with me doing paperwork, but they didn't spend anytime asking me about what is going on with her, what has been happening, what have I been seeing. So, she is highly medicated on this drug that is making her disorientated and not think clearly and they throw her in a seclusion room for two hours. Part of the dystonia which is tardive dyskinesia will at times make it so her tongue is kind of paralyzed and she can't move it and she can't talk. During the day, she would use her finger and point in her mouth to let me know that she couldn't talk. I would hand her paper and pencil. They were telling me that she was self-inducing vomiting and I just lost it! I said, "No she is not! She has never done that. There is no way that you are going to tell me that she is self-inducing vomiting. That is not something she does." This lady then said, "Well, she was using her finger and putting it in her mouth." and this lady then made the gesture showing me what she was doing. I told them that is what she does when she can't talk. Then I complained that they had spent no time with me learning what has been going on with her.

This was a very difficult experience. It turned out to be a positive experience but the whole first 24 hours were pretty darn difficult. The doctor following her moved her to a room with two beds and they allowed me to stay with her for the rest of the time she was there. That worked out real well. The doctors had to do some research but what we found out is that a medication she is on that was not known to be related to movement disorders, is linked to movement disorders in rare cases. They had to do some research to figure this out. That medication was removed from her regimen and we haven't seen any more movements since. She is on very little medication now, which is wonderful and I really hope that we can move forward without any serious medical scares.

On another note, I signed on my house on Thursday night (they met me at the hospital) and we are expecting to get the keys to the new house on Monday or Tuesday. We are actively packing and loading a truck. Yeah!!!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Well, it came on fast and it settled in my chest even faster. Sometime between Thursday and today, Sunday, I developed pneumonia. I think it was within 24 hours if you asked me because I had walking pneumonia once before in my mid-twenties and I remember what that felt like. This was very similar. They put me on some super strong medicine that is a 5 day mega antibiotic. Hopefully, that is all it will take because I'm supposed to sign on my new house on Tuesday and begin moving Wednesday or Thursday.

I was quite upset with Jovanna's father this weekend. He said he "fell out of a tree" and injured his back. It was his weekend with her and next week is his summer week with her. I tried calling him Friday and he didn't return my call and again on Saturday. So, Sunday, I packed her up and just drove her over. I love her dearly but I am so sick and he hasn't been doing his part lately.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Should have known...

With all the crap going on in my life right now, I should have known today would be no different than the last. But first, let me just tell you that I woke up yesterday feeling fine and then on my way to get my morning mocha, I had this urge to cough and to my surprise, I coughed up some yucky stuff. Then, I continued coughing, and continued coughing, and continued coughing and more and more yucky stuff. I couldn't believe that there was no build-up to this. There was no kind of "I'm not feeling so great" forewarning that something was coming up...nope! Just a cough and yucky stuff and I am sick. I have so much congestion in my chest and have coughed so much that it hurts to cough. I woke up in the middle of the night last night struggling to breath, I couldn't get any air in.

Which leads me to today. I woke up this morning feeling like - well, uh, you know. And I am in a bad mood because I feel like crap and I have to go to a training today and I am paying a nanny to watch Jovanna. How much am I paying, you ask? Oh, only $120 dollars! Much more than what I will make today. I had to do a nanny because Jovanna doesn't do so well in childcare settings. One-on-one works best for her but I had no other options. Oh and her dad told me he can't help because he fell out of a tree. Uh ha! That's what he said. He fell out of a tree. What were you doing in a tree, I asked. I was watching the sunrise or some crap like that. He is supposed to have Jovanna for his summer week with her beginning this weekend. Oh, and he missed his spring break week too for some other reason.

So, back to the day. So I feel like crap, I'm paying $120 for childcare today so I can go to a training I don't feel good enough to go to, and I climb into my car. It is raining. I can't remember the last time we had rain - it's been awhile. I turn on my wipers and... My driverside wiper blade goes flying off! It's broke. So, I am already leaving 1/2 hour late and will be arriving to the training late, but now I have to drive in the rain with no wiperblade. Yeah, that made my day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Whooaaa Nelly!

I have had a period of time in my life that I hope ends here very soon. You know, I went to church a few months ago and listened to a very good sermon about that know the one that people say to you and it always, always takes your breath away momentarily because there is something about it that shakes you deep inside. It is what people say to you when you have so many challenges going on in your life all at the same time..."God will never give you more than you can handle". I really truly wish that I could obliterate that statement from the human language.

Going back to the sermon about how God will never give you more than you can handle, well, it was suggested that this is something we say all the time to each other but it really has nothing to do with God. That is a statement that we, humans, came up with. When someone says that to me, I immediately think about how I wished he would stop trying to see just how much I could take. I think I will throw up all over the next person who says that to me.

I have more than I can handle right now (God...are you listening?). My dad had his colostomy reversal surgery and the surgeon forgot he doesn't have any kidneys and overdosed him on narcotic pain killers, he went into cardiac arrest for 4 1/2 minutes and we were lucky he took another breath. He can't seem to get out of the hospital with more and more complications everyday. My boyfriend has been struggling with symptoms that are suggesting he has a muscle disease, possibly muscular dystrophy or ALS. We had quite a scare with him where his liver and kidneys were in distress because of all the muscle breakdown in the body. We are trying to get him into the MDA/ALS Clinic at OHSU and trying to get financial assistance for that because we don't have insurance for him. My daughter seemed to be doing fine with no ongoing symptoms of dystonia/tardive dyskenesia after the scare we had in April/May but she had a dystonic reaction on Saturday, Monday and a really serious one last night that was affecting the breathing and lasted for three hours. Poor thing, her eyes were locked way back and off to the left. There were times where everything went black or her vision was blurry. It is really hard on the eye muscles when they are contracting like that for that long a period of time.

Then, I am currently trying to make progress in packing up my house preparing for our big move, then there is my job, and my business - Scrapdango, and everything else that happens in our lives in between. Oh! How could I forget...I also turned 39 years old amidst all this too! (Thanks again God!!!).

I think I have had all I can handle. God? Are you listening? I am going to take the guess work out of this and just tell you that...enough is enough! This is my limit! This is all I can handle at one time.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Well, it's another birthday for me!

I can't believe how fast time goes by. I remember my 30th birthday. That was a tough one for me. I was a bit depressed for quite some time about that birthday. I knew how fast life went from 25 to 30 and I was quite sure that when I turned 30, that 40 was not far behind. Well, turns out I was right. I hit 39 today and now I am one day closer to 40. Only 364 days and I will be the big "FOUR O". Mmmhhh...guess I better start preparing for that so when it comes, I will hopefully manage it in stride.

I found myself thinking recently that I should start a journal, or diary of sort. There are so many thoughts that I have...and keep...that I think my children might one day like to read and gain more insight into me and what I think and feel. You never know how much time we have on this earth and if I were to leave this earth, there is so much I would like to say and have people know. Maybe I will start journaling. The only thing that stops me is that I don't always know where to start. Do I start with today or do I jump back in time. I will think about this more and figure out what would work best.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Training a Little Lady...

My daughter, Jovanna, is now eleven and thinking a lot about boys and asking a lot of questions I haven't been able to figure out how to answer yet. She often grabs my make-up bag and attempts to put on make-up but struggles to know exactly how to do that. So, today I took her to the store and bought her a small basic supply of age appropriate colors and items so she can practice. I showed her the basics of how to select and apply different things like foundation, powder, mascara, eye and lip liner, lipstick and eyeshadow. She paid close attention to the instructions I gave her and I applied make-up to her this time to show her what to do. I expect she will be practicing for herself in the coming days. This should get interesting...

Hope you enjoy a few photos from our make-up crash course today!

Monday, June 8, 2009

I put up some signs around my house...

I am getting a bit tired of some of the bad habits in my house so I put up some very clear signs about just a few of the new rules.

The first one says, "RINSE YOUR DISHES BEFORE LEAVING IN THE SINK!!!! (better yet, load the dishwasher rather than put in the sink!!!!)". I taped it on the window directly in front of the sink.

Do you think it will work?

I put a second sign in the kids bathroom that says, "ABSOLUTELY NO CLOTHING OR ANYTHING GETS LEFT ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR!!!! (or sink!!!!)". Between Jovanna and Scotty, sometimes I can't see the bathroom floor. I can't remember a time when either one of them cleaned up the mess either. So, I cleaned the bathroom today and posted my sign.

Do you think it will work?

I put a third sign on the dryer that says, "IT IS ILLEGAL TO PULL CLOTHES OUT OF THE DRYER WHEN THEY ARE STILL WET!!!! (dry first then take out!!!!)". You see, we have this ongoing problem in our house where someone wants to do their laundry and the load in the dryer before them is not quite dry (our stupid dryer takes two drying cycles to be completely dry), so the wet clothes are removed and placed on the couch for...I guess for me to deal with! So, I posted the rule!

Do you think it will work?

I am planning more signs but these are the most bothersome bad habits that have developed in our home. I hope that when we move and we are able to pull out our nice washer and dryer out of storage that we won't have the wet clothes problem anymore.

I figure when we move to our new place, the first thing I will do is unpack my scrapbook products and create some cute signs with the rules so I can post them all over the house!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Oregon Zoo!

We spent a good portion of the day at the Oregon Zoo. Jose, Jovanna and I went to the zoo for a FACT (Families and Community Together) Resource Fair where I also had a table set-up for Oregon Family Support Network where I work. I had two families there with me to help share the time at the table so we could also spend time with our kids in the zoo. But, we had an unfortunate incident happen...a special needs group was doing a performance and a shoe slipped off a foot and high into the air where it hit a sprinkler and...well, the whole place is under water! Everyone had to evacuate the building. It happened about an hour or an hour and a half into the event. This is really unfortunate because there were some amazing resources there that families never got to see or hear about.

I haven't said anything yet, but Jose has been in and out of the hospital for the past two weeks. He had a very scary health situation where he was having severe muscle spasms and pain in his legs. We got some bloodwork done and it turned out his CPK was at 8047. This is supposed to be between 21 – 292. His ckmb results was 143. This is supposed to be between 0 - 5. His liver was in distress trying to deal with all the byproduct of the muscle damage going on. Over a period of a week, his numbers went back down to normal. We saw a specialist and they think he may have a muscle disease, possibly muscular dystrophy. We are very scared. We will have to begin to see some specialists to help us determine if this was just some freak incident or if this and some other muscular things that are happening with him are something serious and what is it. Today, the zoo was a bit of a test on how he is doing. About a week ago, if he did anything like riding his bike for 3 minutes, the muscle pain would start. He did well today though. He didn't have much muscle pain. That's good.

I am beginning to do a wee-lil bit of packing. I am too afraid to really go for it because it seems like I am so used to having the carpet pulled out from underneath me in my life that I am a bit nervous to jump right in and start packing up the house. I want to be sure that I'm not going to get a call about my loan and hear them say, "Ahhh...sorry but it's not going to work out". The most that I could bring myself to do is to start with something easy. Well, kind of. I decided to pack up my scrapbook stuff. I started by packing up my cricut. That was easy. It fit nicely into the box it came in just a few short months ago. So, tonight I am working on packing up my scrapbook table and supplies. It is easy because it is all in one place (well, in one general area). But it is hard because I really don't want to pack up my scrapbook stuff! I then have to admit and live with that I cannot scrap for several weeks, maybe a month or more. That's hard! But it is a place to start and as I become more secure then we will really start hitting it hard.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Whoo Hooo!!!!

Today was an exciting day!!! Jovanna and I got up really early this morning (getting up before 7am should be illegal!) and headed to our State Capitol for a Wraparound Initiative Hearing that is very important to children and families with children who have various special needs. My boss wanted me to testify but my journey raising Jovanna has been so painful for me that it still feels like such an open wound and I know for 100% certainty that all I would have done was cry my way through the testimony. The good news is that I didn't have to! The Ways and Means Committee passed the bill on to the House now. Yeah!

Then I get home and find two issues of the July/August edition of Memory Makers Magazine. I was wondering...why do I have two duplicate issues of this magazine and then all of a sudden it hit me...I have two layouts in this magazine!!!! I was so excited to flip through the magazine in search of my layouts. I gave one to Jose and I took one and we were having fun trying to see who could find them first! These two layouts are really important ones to me because they feature my kids and very special topics. You can find them on pages 67 and 69.

Then, to top off this great realtor calls and tells me that the VA Re-inspection was today and... (she paused to build my suspence) "We are a go!!!!" She said the VA Inspector called immediately and said he was very pleased with the work we did and wanted to let us know right away so we can close as soon as possible. So, as long as there are no more unforeseen road blocks, we will be moving in about two weeks and I will once again be a home owner. This was a very, very good day. Lots of wonderful things happened today...a day to remember!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Funny Memory...

I was with my son and a few of his friends a couple of nights ago and Scotty recalled a funny story about something Jovanna had done many years ago. I am glad that Scotty and some others remember some of these stories because my memory is just completely gone. Here is how it goes...

We were visiting Jovanna's fathers family in Apple Valley, California. I think Jovanna was around 4 or 5 years old at the time. She wanted her Uncle to play with her and he didn't want to and wasn't paying attention to her. Jokingly, I told her to go and kick him in the chin. She ran up to him and kick him in the place men fear being know what I mean. Her Uncle doubled over in pain and Jovanna ran off into another room. At first, we were all in complete shock - our mouths hanging open and then as her Uncle doubled over in pain, the rest of us began rolling on the floor laughing uncontrollably.

When we finally found her and could control our laughter, I asked her, "Jovanna, why did you kick your Uncle in balls?" She wouldn't answer me and I asked her again. When she finally answered me, she said in her cute little voice, "I didn't know what the chin was". ROTFLOL Hysterically!

We have so many funny stories from Jovanna's childhood. So many that I can't remember them. Looking back, I really wish I had written them down because even though much of her childhood was traumatic for her family, she sure did give us some good laughs too.

Friday, May 15, 2009

So, what's going on?

Well, I am so glad it's friday! Every Friday I text my son and say "tgif!!!" and he responds with the same. It is a ritual for us. That and our Wednesday "Happy Hump Day!" text to each other. Today, I was extra happy that it was Friday. My life has been just hoppin', I feel like I'm on a roller coaster and screaming inside "Let me off!".

We had our VA inspection on the new home two weeks ago and the VA inspector came back with some fixes he wanted made before he would sign off on the appraisal. They were a bunch of little things, actually not the things that we thought he would point out. They were little things but they also were things that required some sweat equity. We cleaned all the carpets in the house, repaired a tear in the kitchen linoleum under the refridgerator area, replaced the linoleum in the laundry room, tore out the front porch that had dry rot, tore out a section of the back deck that had dry rot, repaired a hole in the wall in the laundry room, removed a birds nesting area in an attached shed, cut some wood and adhered to the base of the attached shed door where the birds had created an entry, sprayed the roof for moss, a little bit of paint on the outside to cover some areas that were needing paint after removing the deck and front porch and then...removed all that wood from the porch and back deck off the property. I was sooooo exhausted after several days of all this work. We had to do it if we wanted the home sale to go through. We are already getting a great deal on the house and the bank wouldn't even consider putting anything more into the deal.

So, now we will go over to the house again for a bit this weekend and brush a little bit of dead moss off the roof and a few minor little touches to finish up the work we have done. We have requested a re-inspection and I hope that will happen quickly because our 45 days to close is now getting closer. I am not sure if we are still on target for closing by the end of the month or if the time is has taken to complete the repairs will push that out further or not. I should know after the re-inspection. I hope the VA inspector will respect the work we did and what we put into it and let this sale go through and not keep hitting us with more pidly little stuff.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Children's Mental Health Day in Oregon!

Friday, May 8th was a very special day. It was Children's Mental Health Day in Oregon! We had children and youth and families and caregivers from all over the state of Oregon at the state capital to rally our legislators to "invest in the mental wellness"! We are asking our state's representatives to support HB 2144 Wraparound Initiative and to fund mental health services - which are facing certain cuts in the face of the economic crisis.

Jovanna and I had so much fun. We danced and sang and played and rallied! Radio Disney was there and they provided a lot of entertainment and Jovanna won the new Arriel's Beginnings movie for guessing the who the Sea Witch was in The Little Mermaid (Ursula). She so enjoyed playing with some of her little friends that were there. She much prefers to play with children who are quite a bit younger, usually around 2 or 3 years old. She loves to take a care-taker role with younger children.

This was such a special day for us. We heard several youth from around the state talk about their journey in the mental health system. Their stories are painful. Yet, they are also hopeful. We also had an opportunity to see what incredible talent so many of these amazing youth have! I was just in awe at some of the incredible presentations of talent! Music, singing, rubic's cube solving in under 15 seconds! It is so inspiring to think about all the adversity these kids have faced in their short lives and how they are also so resilient!

Here is a photo of Jovanna, me and the Oregon Governor's Assistant...

Friday, May 1, 2009

A New Chapter

I brought Jovanna home today. The sub-acute wanted to keep her through the weekend and Monday to observe and I decided I wanted her to come home. She was stable and doing well and she really wanted to come home. This has been a real learning and growing experience as Jovanna's mother. Her dystonic/tardive dyskenisia movements seem to be getting better. This is good news. She may have some lingering eye movements that we hope will get better over time. But the greatest thing that has come out of this experience is that I am rediscovering Jovanna all over again. Once Jovanna was removed off of two medications that were pretty heavy duty medications, all of a sudden we began seeing some very exciting things from her. She was managing frustrations, quite typical and very much alive.

I think we may have been overmedicating her. There was a time a few years ago that she was so unsafe that without the medications, she would not have been able to live at home. But it appears that she has grown and matured and gotten through some of the toughest years for children like Jovanna, on the Autism Spectrum / Aspergers. She has returned to me from a very scary incident on very few medications and a child that I don't quite know, but I like a whole lot. She is polite, she is thoughtful, she is managing frustrations and disappointments. This feels like a whole new world. Could it be a new chapter in our lives? I am excited to see where this goes. What I have noticed about Jovanna on her first day home is other than a few idiosyncracies that are very related to Aspergers, she seems like a very typical child. Might be time to turn the page and start a new chapter in our lives...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

So Much Work Still To Do...

In my other life, I work for a family organization in Oregon that helps families across the state with children who have various special needs. We work tirelessly to help families learn how to develop and use their voice to advocate for their children. In my recent experience with my daughter, I learned that there is still so very much work to be done to help families from being overpowered by professionals and to assure our children get the care they need.

After transferring Jovanna to a sub-acute unit to continue the work of titrating her off the medication causing the dystonia, I noticed that staff on the unit and nursing staff were referring to Jovanna's dystonic episodes as "behavioral". I was seeing red! So, what do you do when a child does a "behavior" that you don't like? You either scold them for it or ignore it, right? So, my daughter is in a full body dystonic episode with eyes rolling back in her head, arms and legs thrashing around, muscles contracting so tight it is painful, and...not taking breaths!!!!! And they are referring to this as a behavior that she has control over!

I can't tell you the thoughts of awful things that were running through my head. I can't tell you the most immense anger I was experiencing! Her father and I were afraid we might not see her alive again. Thank god I do work where I do and I have developed as a strong advocate for my daughter and when it comes to my children, I have the tenacity and strength and stamina of a pit bull! I kicked into gear and wouldn't stop until my voice was heard. Finally, I was able to meet with the doctor following her at the center and we had a discussion about what was happening. Because of some of the movements Jovanna was making in the days leading up to the acute dystonic reaction, and because Jovanna admitted to me that there had been a few times on the unit that she was playing with staff and faked the eye movement that she makes when she goes into an episode, it all made sense then. The doctor realized that the times that Jovanna had faked the eye movements caused staff to believe that everytime Jovanna was having a dystonic reaction that it was not real. So, herein lies the danger of professionals and other forming "oppinions or assumptions" with our children...because their oppinion was that it was "behavioral", Jovanna was not receiving the medical attention she needed when she was in a dystonic reaction episode. She should have been getting a dose of cogentin when it happened.

I can only be thankful that I was able to advocate for my daughter effectively. I am sad that this went on for several days before my voice was heard and that my daughter suffered during this time.

She is being diagnosed with tardive dyskenisia. This is very serious and sometimes the movements associated with it don't go away and stay throughout the lifetime. They may get better over time, over years. They are certainly more prevalent under stress with her, like during transitions, etc. She is doing quite well on very little medication and that is a real positive thing to have come out of this. She won't be on a whole lot of medications now and that gives me some peace and joy that she really is maturing and growing.

This whole experience has been one that confirms for me that the work I do with other families is so very necessary, so very important and that we still have so much work to do to help families develop and find their voice and trust their gut instincts about their children, helping families become strong advocates for their children.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Been Crazy!

We had the private inspection today. There are a lot of little things that need to be done over time but luckily, no big issues with the home. Soooooo...we are moving forward! The VA Inspection has been ordered and if all goes as planned, we will be moved in to our new home within about 45 days. There are definitely lots of little projects that will keep me busy for a few years but I am excited about being a home owner again.

In other news, Jovanna has had a rough few days. She had a dystonic reaction to one of her medications and she had to go into the hospital on Monday. She was transferred to Doernbeckers Childrens Hospital later that evening. She is having odd eye movement and the muscles in different areas of her body are contracting and tensing up. I guess it is pretty serious because the concern is that it can go to the larynx and that can cause problems with breathing. This is such a scary thing to me. I have all kinds of guilt that I feel because of the medications she is on and feeling responsible. Over the last few months, Jovanna has been more challenging and I believe it is related to puberty. Last week, we decided to increase two of her medications slightly and that is what did it. Now, I'm feeling really awful.

Because of what we know about Jovanna and her history of being aggressive and violent, her care team decided that it would be best if we transferred her to a sub-acute unit at Albertina Kerr. This was so we could safely tritrate her down off the medications that are linked to the dystonic reaction and there was concern that she would fall apart and we wouldn't be able to manage that at home. This was a tough decision because she hadn't done anything wrong to that point and I was concerned that she wouldn't understand why it was happening.

She was transferred to the sub-acute unit on Wednesday and other than some challenging behavior during the transition, which is understandable because she doesn't transition well, she has been doing great! No problems! And the greatest thing about this is the prescribing psychiatrist who is working on her medications decided to immediately remove her from two of the three medications in question and she is doing great. She hasn't fallen apart, she is dealing with the inherent challenges of the situation, managing expectations... I am finding myself just in shock! I expected her to fall apart and so did everyone else.

This got me thinking. When we landed on her current medication regimen, she was amidst the most difficult years for children on the Autism Spectrum. Many parents with children like Jovanna will tell you that they never, ever, ever would want to go back to the 7, 8, 9, 10 year old years with the Aspergers/Autism Spectrum child. They are hell on earth. But Jovanna is 11 now and that is typically when these kids start to function better in this world. Could it be that this is what is happening for Jovanna? I hate to get my hopes up because this could be the infamous "honeymoon" period that many children like Jovanna have when they transition to a new environment. But...just maybe...she might not need all those medications we had her on now. And maybe the problems we did have over the last several months were because with puberty changes, she was actually being over-medicated.

Well, I am trying to not get too hopeful because I have done this before and then was let down. First things first, we have to get the dystonic reaction to go away. But I am excited to see what Jovanna looks like off all those medications and if she is able to continue to be o.k. like that. Just maybe...we are entering into a new and exciting phase in her development.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Here we go....

It appears that the latest offer I made on a different house last weekend isn't close enough to what the bank wants on the home. So, we are moving forward with house #1 (picture below). I will have an inspection done in the next week and then we will know for sure whether its a go or not. As long as there are no major issues with the house and we would expect VA to approve the home for a loan, then I will be moving into my new home in about 45 days!

Here it is...

I am already thinking about all the things I want to do to it. It needs a paint job really bad! I am thinking about painting the body of the house grey, the gutters white with other small white accents and the shutters black. I love that combination of black, grey and white. And one of the other things I want to do is to take out the front yard and create a circular driveway so it will be easier getting in and out of the driveway. Better for Jovanna's bus situation too. It usually takes her about 1-2 minutes to get out to the bus in the mornings after they arrive. They are very nice and wait for her. However, I think we would have problems with this situation on this street because there would be a row of cars behind the bus on this street and I doubt they will much tolerate waiting for Jovanna to get out to the bus. If we create a circular drive then the bus can pull right in to that and everyone will be happy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some movement...

We finally heard back on one of the homes! I heard back from House #1 that I have a photo of below in my earlier post. So, it appears we have an agreement. We are trying to get an answer on the one I put an offer in on Monday to see if they are going to consider my offer. If we can get an idea on whether they would/are considering it, then we may be able to hold off a bit on the House #1. It is exciting to have some movement on this finally!

Next, it would be having an inspection. You never know, it could reveal that there are problems. We will see. Since I am getting a VA loan, the home needs to be in pretty good condition or VA won't approve the home. That would be such a bummer! Then it is back to the drawing board!

Monday, April 13, 2009

House Searching Update

Well, I decided to withdraw my offer on the house #2 - the smaller one that is outside our current school district. I feel so much more at peace since I did that. I knew the house would be too small for us. This home searching is quite an experience. I am learning so much as I go. I am learning about what it is I really want in a house. Not that I can be picky - my price range is quite low so my options are few. I am so excited though because I qualify for Obama's first-time home buyer tax break. As long as I take possession of my home before December 1, I will receive an $8000 tax incentive!

I found another home today that I fell in love with! I put an offer on the home and now we wait a few days to see what the response is. If it looks like the bank might entertain my offer, I will take a picture and post it. I love this place sooooo much that I am trying not to get my hopes up too high so I don't get let down too much if it doesn't work out. I am keeping my fingers crossed though!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Which One?

House #1 is on a busier street but it is 25mph and monitored very closely by police to make sure people are going the speedlimit, 1/4 acre, 4 bedroom, mud room, separate room for a pantry and freezer, large kitchen, two fireplaces, 1 1/2 bath, large living room, deck off the back, large garage, about 1400-1500 sq feet, same school district (very important!) and comes with a swing (Jovanna likes that!).

This home has a lot of character and I really like that. I can envision my family living inside and it just feels right. It was built in 1968 and there hasn't been much updating done. So, as you walk up to the front door there is a vertical window running alongside the front door is orange glass!!! Yeah!!! That's what I remember from my childhood - orange glass! But I think it would be fun projects that would keep me busy.

House #2 is in a nice neighborhood on the corner of the entrance to a culdesac, average size lot but the house is set back on the property, it is small (1000 sq feet) with 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, goodsize garage, small kitchen, smaller living room, 1 fireplace, bedrooms are descent-size, smells very bad like dogs (I suspect the carpet will need to be replaced soon!) but the downer is that it is in a different school district and I suspect we would have a fight on our hands to get Jovanna's educational needs met.

We would be tight in this place and I really feel strongly that we would need to build on an additional bathroom and a scraproom/office (of course!) in order for me to be happy in this place. It does look like there is plenty of room in the front of the property to do that.

We are still waiting to get anything in writing on either one of these. It seems that we are very close on a deal on House #1 and there is a verbal confirmation on House #2. The way the market is, I suppose things could change and neither one of these would be an option. Hope I have some more firm direction soon!

It appears that we have a little more time...

Good news!!! The home in Beaverton (second choice) is a short sale and there are two banks involved in that transaction. They are planning to accept my offer but the banks need more time to squabble over who is going to get how much of the money. This is great news! This allows me a little more time to work through the inspection of the home in Hillsboro (first choice) so that hopefully I don't have to give up either one to move forward. I can relax a little now and try to move forward with my first choice home and see if it makes it through the inspection. I think I will take pictures of each and post them here so you can see what I am looking at! Watch for these later!

Monday, April 6, 2009

To make the decisions even harder!!!!!

I got a call from my realtor this evening and it turns out she got a call late this afternoon from the realtor from the first home that told us that they were not accepting my offer. It appears the bank changed their mind in the same day and now they say they want to accept my offer but they need the loan to close in 45 days, not 60 days. They want to have penalties if it doesn't close in 45 days. I am doing a VA Loan and they usually need between 45 - 60 days to close. Ohhhh, the decisions just get more complicated.

In an attempt to make the decision-making easier, I did a sex offender search around the two homes but it appears there are no sex offenders living within a mile radius of either of the homes. Darn! That would have made the decision a little easier!

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

I heard back on my home offers today. The home that I wanted, and of course there are always pluses and minuses to homes, I didn't get. The bank accepted the other offer. Bummer!!!!! However, the other home I had an offer on, which I made the offer more than a month ago, did call back and say that they were accepting my offer. Now, I have some decisions to make. Again, there are ALWAYS pluses and minuses, right? The biggest drawbacks are that the home is smaller and in order to make it more livable for me and my family and my life, I would need to build on another bathroom and an office/scraproom. The other drawback is that it means changing school districts. For many families, that is not a major thing but for us, it is.

The school district we would be moving into does not contract with the therapeutic school that Jovanna attends. I am expecting that it will be a battle to either keep her at her current placement or to find a different appropriate placement. That could mean that Jovanna is not attending a school placement for a number of months or that the placements that the school district are willing to look at may not be appropriate for her. She is so fragile that the implications of these things could be devastating.

Well, I have a day to make my decision. Do I want to take on the battle? It's not like I could just keep looking. The number of homes in my price range are not very many and the good ones get swooped up real quick by investors paying in cash. I actually believe the market is beginning to turn around and very soon houses will be out of my reach again. Oh goodness! I hate these kind of decisions!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Excited...DT for My Sketch World!

I have been so busy I haven't had a chance to post this yet. I was lucky to be asked to be on the layout DT for My Sketch World. I did my first layout for the April 1st reveal and you can see it here. I am excited to have a new way to express myself creatively and I really enjoy the monthly sketches that Lucy does at MSW. Make sure to check it out!

Also, new news! I have two offers on two different houses. One is a short sale and those take a long time to hear back on, it has been more than a month and we are still waiting for a formal response. The other is a foreclosure and we just heard back yesterday with a counter offer that was not too much significantly different than the original offer, only just a few minor differences. However, the bank does have multiple offers on the house. What is promising is that the bank didn't change my price offer in their counter, only just a few minor details. For example, closing in 45 days rather than 60 days. We submitted our counter offer and now we wait to hear. I am anxious! My stomach turns in a flurry when I think about it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I just finished my new book...

I highly recommend the book I told you about, "Winning Against the Wackos in your Life". If you have a hard time spotting those unhealthy people who attach themselves to you (until its too late), then this is the book for you. I am going to be more alert for certain signs when I first meet people so that I can avoid the pain and suffering that follows.

I learned more about the things about myself that attracts unhealthy people. I have to watch for the signs, look at how they treat others and listen to the things they say that give off the warning signs. I also had to really let it sink in that I am never going to be the exception for how a Wacko treats other people - they will do it to me too.

Good practical tips on how to deal with those unhealthy people you may have to come into contact with in the workplace or within your own family.

Get the book if you feel like you fall prey to Wackos in your life!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I ordered a new book on Amazon...

Without going into details and revealing too much, I will tell you that I ordered a book today that I think I wish I had many years ago because it would have probably saved me a lot of pain and suffering. I ordered the book (I know...I haven't told you the name of the book yet - keep reading) because I was listening to the radio a few days ago and Z100 was taking calls from listeners who were "almost famous" because they were related to or otherwise knew someone who is famous or rich. A woman called in and said she had written a book and it wasn't a best seller yet but it was on Amazon, so I think that is what makes her almost famous. Before I tell you the name of the book, I want to tell you that I am actually quite sensitive to names and insensitive speech that is hurtful to anyone and because of the title I really thought hard about whether I wanted to buy the book. O.K. I will tell you the title. It's called "Winning Against the Wackos in Your Life: How to Spot Them and Stop Them in their Tracks". Of course, the word I don't like here is "wackos".

I have often felt like and actually have said a number of times that I feel like I am a magnet for people with mental health issues. I find myself lately in much thought about what it is about me that continues to attract people who are not healthy. So, curious...I looked the book up on Amazon and wasn't sure if it was the reading I was looking for and then I read an insert from Chapter 1.

The Nasty Habits of Hosting Wackos
I have two goals for this book: 1) to help you identify and deal with the Wackos in your life; and 2) to help you recognize those traits within yourself that could actually be drawing Wackos to you. We can't prevent Wackos from crossing our paths in life, but we can discourage them from attaching themselves to us when they do.

Then it lists a few things to ask yourself that really struck a chord with me.

Do strangers spill their life stories (often in embarrassingly graphic detail) within minutes of meeting me?

Have I spent my life helping people, being a good friend and more than periodically pulling the knife out of my back?

Although I hate that this book uses an incredibly insensitive language, I am hoping that it will offer some guidance for how I can stop this pattern that continues in my life. I am skeptical. Skeptical because I worry that if Wacko is used in the title, how credible will the content be? I will have to let you know if the book is worth reading.

More to come...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sketch #3

Here is the newest sketch I have for you this year. I am always looking for ways to use 8x10 photo's on my layouts and so here is a design using an 8x10 but you could modify this sketch to use different size photos. Have fun and remember to send me your layout using this sketch and I will load it here. Send it to

Here's the sketch...
and here's a layout I created using this sketch...