Back in PA

Well we made it back safe and sound to PA. Because of some issues with getting my prescription filled, we didn’t get on the road until something like noon! I think it was 3 AM Wednesday morning when we pulled into my sister’s driveway.

I got about 3 hours of sleep and then got up to register Kaylie for school. She started today and was very nervous. She’s done this a bunch of times, but this is the first time she’s done it as a teenager. And I think that was making it so much more difficult for her. From the moment she left this morning, I just kept hoping for her to have a good day. To make some friends, to have someone to sit with at lunch (although my niece promised to make sure she sat with her 😊), and to feel good about her day.

She didn’t tell me much when she got home, just that the boys were jerks! I told her that was a teenage boy thing. I guess it’s a little different because one of her best friends back in IL was a teenage boy. And he was definitely not a jerk!

While she was at school, I finished two wreaths that I had someone request on my Etsy shop. I would have done a tutorial, but they were almost identical to a wreath that I already did a tutorial for on the blog!

I have not been feeling well at all the last few days. Not just since we’ve been here, but before we left as well. I haven’t been eating at all and I am having tons of pain. And I have some pretty strong pain killers, so if I’m in pain, it must be bad. This is the exact same thing that happened over the summer. And I ended up in the hospital…I’m really hoping that doesn’t happen again.

Here’s are the wreaths that I made today. I hope she likes them. I have them listed together on Etsy just for her…but I haven’t heard from her yet, so I’m a little nervous! I don’t want to have two more sitting around!

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The Last Day at Home

I’m sitting in my couch snuggled with the puppy, my husband and a cup of tea. Thinking about how this is the last day we will be here. This hasn’t been my favorite house we lived in, it was basically issued to us, but it was our home for the last year and a half. And I did the best I could to make it a home. I covered every single wall with family photos, because when I am far away from family, photos help me feel close. I made lots of crafty projects that hung from the walls, doors, and just about everywhere! Whatever I could do to make it feel like home. We couldn’t paint the ugly off white walls, so I did my best to cover them 😊

This was also the first time we lived far away from all of our families. It was just us. We have made some friends along the way, but this is the military life, friends come and go here. So most nights we stay home and hang out alone. I’m not complaining at all. We have had plenty of good times hanging out just the three of us. I feel like we have gotten even closer, if possible, because no one else is around. We have lots of fun times together, just the three of us, sometimes the two of us (when Kaylie sleeps at her BFFs) and even the four of us (when her BFF sleeps here). She is family as far as I’m concerned and we all love her.

Kaylie spent the night at her BFFs last night and her BFF spent the night here the night before. They are inseparable. I am crying writing this just thinking about the goodbye. Thank goodness for social media and things like FaceTime and Skype that have made it so much easier to stay in contact with friends who don’t live nearby. And when her family is done in the military, they are moving to Tennessee, so that would be an easy Amtrak ride for a visit!

Tomorrow the moving truck will come and load all of our belongings into the truck. Most of our stuff will go to storage for a short time while we try to find a place to live. The rest will come with us to my sister and her husband’s house. They don’t have a big house or anything, but they have been so very welcoming and inviting us to stay with them for a short time while we search for a place of our own. They even rearranged their girls’ rooms to make room for us and our bed. When I first thought about it, I knew there wasn’t room for our bed and I thought we would be sleeping on the couch or something. But they made it work for us and I am so grateful. So many people say that they would do anything for their family, but so few people actually end up in a situation where they need to do something and it’s really nice to know that they did, and would do anything for us. And I know that they know that if the situation was reversed, I would bend over backwards to do whatever I could for them, just like they are doing for us.

I will be helping them out by taking care of my super cute 6 year old niece after school. She used to go to an after school program, but now that I’m here, they don’t need to pay for the after school care when I can just watch her for free 😊. I have so many fun craft projects planned already for the two of us!! My 14 year old niece, will be there as well, and my daughter too! But I’m pretty sure they can take care of themselves! If they needs help with homework, I’m happy to try, but if it’s math questions, they will have to wait until my sister gets home!

In the mornings, once I get my car back, I will be helping my sister-in-law with my other two super awesome, incredibly adorable nieces, who are 12 and 5. Their mom needs to leave for work before they get on the bus. So I told her I was happy to help! I love my nieces, so any chance I can spend one with them, or help their parents out, I am always happy to help! I’m hoping that we will be able to squeeze in some before school craft time…or else I’m going to have to come back after school or on the weekend because I have so many plans for Halloween crafts!

Tomorrow, we will check into a hotel in the afternoon and spend the night there. We will come back to our empty house to do a walk through with the inspector to make sure they aren’t charging us for stupid stuff. I have someone coming to clean (even though the house is practically immaculate!) and another someone coming to professionally clean the carpet. It was required, since we have pets, that we had the carpets professionally cleaned and deodorized. I found someone who would do it for $150 when they were going to charge me $250! And the cleaning lady, they were going to charge $200 and I found someone who said she would do it for $50. I said she was way under charging and that I would pay her $100 as long as she does an amazing job! Once we are done with that stuff, we are on the road to PA. Again, not what I had planned, but I guess this is what had to be.

Jim will start working practically right away. He told me that they are waiting for him to get there. That is a good thing! We’ve talked about me trying to get a part time job, but I’m not sure how realistic that is. I usually have a good day or two. Followed by several bad days. I can function enough to help with my nieces, but there’s no way I would be able to manage at a job.

I really want to make it with just this blog and my Etsy shop. Right now, I only have some wreaths for sale, but soon I will have many more things as well as some items that are custom made to order items. Im hoping that I can get someone to help me make my blog look pretty…right now I’m doing everything on my phone because my laptop isn’t working. And I also want a logo. I’ve been working on it with different people, but for some reason or another, I’m having some trouble getting it done.

Before I can do all of the things I was talking about in this blogpost, I have to make it through the next few days. And that’s going to be really hard. I know I didn’t fail, but I’m leaving the Navy and this is not what I wanted at all. I am capable of so much more, but I got sick. And that took away so much from me. It doesn’t seem like Ulcerative Colitis is that bad of a disease, but it changed my whole life. And destroyed my chances at the career I was working towards. I really hope that they can find the right combination of medication that will put my disease into remission and allow me to live a somewhat normal life.

These are my amazing nieces that I will be spending more time with once we get home. I wanted to have more kids, but I wasn’t able to because of yet another disease (endometriosis). So because we only have one, I feel like my nieces get all that extra love that I had saved for more kids! I would do anything for them and I just love them so much! The first four pictures are my nieces that I will be watching in the morning. My sister in law has to leave for work shortly before their bus picks them up so I offered to help her out. The last three pictures are my sister-in-law’s daughter who is also my sister’s step daughter (and that story is for a different blog post!) and the little one is my sister’s daughter. The one I can Munchkin. The one who loves me lots and can’t wait for me to get there so I can put her hair in pony tails or fancy braids. And do super fun art projects with her! My sister might be really smart, but I don’t think she’s super crafty like me! The last photo is my oldest niece and her little sister (her little sister is one of the ones I will be watching in the morning, but my older niece loves with her mom so she won’t be there). She just turned 16 and I have loved this girl since the day she was born. I never really understood love at first sight until I held her in my arms for the first time. I can’t wait to be closer to be her and I’m hoping we can spend more time together because I just love that girl!
I love each and every one of these girls and would do anything for them.

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I’m Surrounded By Boxes!

Let me start with the fact that I was absolutely terrified of the packers showing up. My best friend’s husband is in the Air Force and they just PCSed to Scott AFB in IL (of course it’s the complete opposite end of the state and I won’t have the chance to see her before I leave 😔. And that makes me really sad). Anyway, her packers were a mess. They showed up hours, maybe even days late and sat around and didn’t do anything for hours. She was pretty sure they were on drugs when they got there and the smell of marijuana coming from their van made her even more sure. They weren’t doing anything! And it took them something like 4 days to pack her stuff when it was supposed to be two days.

Well I was kind of excited when three badass ladies started walking towards my door on Thursday morning. We did a walk through of the house to give them an idea as to where to start and whether or not they brought enough of the right packing equipment. Kaylie asked if she could stay home for half the day so she could get her room more ready and I told her it was fine. The ladies promised they wouldn’t touch Kaylie’s room today because she wasn’t ready. They were very nice about it and seemed to understand her stress and not make fun of her for it, which made me happy.

They started downstairs and they were like machines! They moved quickly and efficiently. My friend, Julia, had suggested signs. So the day before, I whipped out my sharpies and my post-it’s. I labeled everything storage, home, don’t touch, or don’t touch yet. I even color coded it all! The don’t touch stuff will be coming with us in the car. They don’t touch yet stuff was stuff that will eventually get packed, but we need to be able to get by this weekend in the house and that wouldn’t be possible without some dishes, the coffee maker, and the microwave!

They left me a few boxes to pack up some last minute stuff that I might find that needs to be packed. The first thing I put in the first box I started packing is the paints that they told me they couldn’t take. Most of them are sealed and brand new, not all of them, but most of them. And they will be fine! Jim told me we didn’t have room in the car for them and it’s over $100 in paint. I’m not about to throw it away! I will probably fill the box with the rest of our dishes and maybe a few other things.

They also left us a linens box for our bed. I’m trying to decide when to wash the sheets. I usually wash them every Saturday, but I’m thinking I might wait until Sunday so we will have only slept on them one night before they get packed.

I’m trying to stay calm through all of this. I know that the end is in sight. And that once we leave on Tuesday, this part will be over and I will be moving on to the next chapter. I think what’s causing me to be so upset is that I’m stuck in this in-between phase and I can’t move on until we leave here.

Once I’m able to move on, I can figure out what’s next for me, as far as what I can do and what I can’t do, because I have a lot of bad days. I want to hire someone to make my blog look pretty. So far, I’ve done every single thing on my phone because my laptop is in pieces. The hard drive is in Horsham and the rest of it is here with me in IL. I’m hoping my brother in law can fix it for me so I can use it again. I miss it like crazy! Anyway, I want to make my blog look pretty and I want to try and find other people to partner up with, do some giveaways, and get noticed. I know it’s hard to do because there are so many people out there with so many blogs, but I would love to be able to reach people who were struggling like me. And show them that they have options. And they shouldn’t let their disease take control of their life!

Oh, and check me out, I can totally spackle and fill holes in the wall all by myself…yay! And had it not been for Julia’s amazing advice of using the color coded post-it’s, I think a lot of stuff would have gotten messed up! So far, the only thing for sure that I know got packed in the wrong spot were our folding chairs. I had wanted them at my sister’s, but they accidentally got packed in storage. Once the girl saw the sign, she apologized and offered to start opening boxes to try and find them. I told her not to worry about it. Hopefully, that was the only mistake! I’m pretty sure I did a really good job labeling!

And just to prove that I’m kind of a badass and I do what I want, here’s photographic evidence that I packed my paints in the extra boxes they left after she told me not to. Then again, maybe she wanted me to pack them. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have left me so many extra boxes 😉

Now, I just have to make it through Monday. We have reservations at the Navy Lodge for Monday night so we can leave first thing Tuesday morning. Our final inspection is at 0800 and I want to be on the road as soon as it’s over! So, breathe in , breathe out…and keep doing this until it’s all over on Tuesday morning!

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The Movers Will Be Here Soon!

Yes, the movers will be here soon, and I’m not even close to ready. I got a lot done today, and I hope it’s enough, but I’m still trying really hard not to freak out.

Because I lost it yesterday. I was driving to the base to head to the medical clinic and repeat some lab work that I had done last week. I had no plans to see my primary care provider while I was there, I was just going to go to the lab and then make an appointment to go over the results with her the next day.

But once I pulled in the gate and started thinking about the fact that I won’t be doing that again for much longer. And that I never left Great Lakes in my entire military career. And that there are plenty of people who are far less intelligent than I am (and I don’t even think I’m that smart!) who are somehow managing to get by in the Navy. And I can’t. 😔

I know it’s not my fault and I know I didn’t fail. But it sure feels a lot like failure. I can’t control the fact that I got sick and I can’t control the fact that my illness is completely unmanageable (believe me, if i could, I would!). But it still feels like I failed. Because I didn’t succeed.

Ever since I was in high school I wanted to join the Navy, but for one reason or another, it just wasn’t going to work out. Right after high school, I didn’t want to leave my boyfriend (who eventually became my husband), and later, his business was doing so well that it didn’t make any sense for him to try and pick it up and move it to wherever I got stationed. There were a few times I chickened out. I thought I would be too scared. And that I would miss my family too much, especially after Kaylie had been born. But I always wanted to do it. In the summer of 2012, I said to my husband “what do you think? I’m running out of time so it’s now or never”. We decided to go for it!

That last day that I had before I left my family was hard. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I did it and didn’t run back. I knew I could do this.

The first day of bootcamp was a little different than I expected. I knew we were going to get yelled at all the time, but it was intense! For a minute or two, I thought I made the wrong decision, but I knew I could do it, so I just kept on going. Christmas was hard. I laid in my bunk that night clinging to family photos and sobbed, but I got through it. We were even able to call home the next day so I got to talk to Kaylie and Jim! The physical part was easy for me because I was in the best shape of my life. I was just trying to get better and better each time.

I keep thinking back to that day that I didn’t feel well and went to medical. It was after a weekend of being sick. And a week later, I wasn’t any better. So I went back. Maybe if I didn’t go, maybe if I tried to tough it out. Maybe if I said I was feeling better and not worse. Then I might not have gone to the specialists. Then I might not have gotten diagnosed with some nasty stuff. Then I proceeded to get really sick for the next two months. Maybe if I just said I was ok. And went to school. And didn’t complain. And brushed off the pain. Maybe I could have done it then.

Maybe if I told them the meds were working the first time, or even the second, third, and fourth times. If I had just said I felt better. Would they have believed me?

Maybe if I hadn’t ended up in the ER many times because of pain and meds that weren’t working. Maybe if I had just toughened up and dealt with it. Maybe I would have finished school and been rated.

Maybe if it hadn’t gotten worse week after week, month after month. Maybe if I just went to work instead of constantly being on convalescent leave. Maybe they would see that I was ok.
Maybe I would have gotten orders to someplace cool. And Jim and Kaylie were super excited to be moving to the next duty station. The next part of our lives would be just beginning. And it would be perfect. But then I would get unbelievably sick. Because I was sick all along. And I was never better. And I never felt well. And none of the meds worked. But I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to ruin this for us.

But the truth is that I’m sick. Too sick to remain in the Navy. Too sick to really hold down any kind of other job right now. I usually have 2 or 3 bad days a week. Two or three days where I can hardly leave my house for fear of what could happen. Fear that I might not find a bathroom in time. Fear that there won’t be an open stall in the bathroom. And fear that I will be someplace like work, or my daughter’s school and it will hit me. And I can’t control it and it’s not my fault, I know this. But it doesn’t make it any less embarrassing or humiliating for me.

So now we move on to the next chapter in our lives. I tell myself that I didn’t fail. Some days I believe myself other days not so much. We will be leaving here in just a few short days and heading to my sister’s house. While I love my sister to death, I hope our stay is short and sweet there. I would like to get our own place ASAP. I have so many craft projects and so many quilts I want to work on and I don’t want to take over my sister’s house with my giant sewing machine and all of my projects!

I’m hoping to get more projects listed on Etsy and make some sales. And I would love to grow my blog and reach more people! Because if I can’t be in the Navy, maybe I can help someone who is struggling with a new diagnosis of UC, Crohn’s, or PSC. And I can tell them that they are not alone and that it will be ok. That they can live their life. Maybe not exactly how they hoped to, but what’s life without a few bumps in the road?!

Maybe this was where I was supposed to be. And that I had to go through all of that to realize that I am meant to be here. Telling the world about my issues. If it can help others with the same issues, then I feel like I’m doing a good thing!

We went to Chicago over the weekend. It was the last touristy thing we will get to do. We ended up at Navy Pier and went out on a Pirate Adventure Cruise. It was a lot of fun. It wasn’t a very long day, but there was never a moment where I had to say I was too tired or too sick to keep going and that we needed to go home. I made it the entire day with my family! It was an awesome day!

Six hours until the packers show up. Let’s hope I can get at least a few hours of sleep! Sorry for any typos – I’m getting kind of sleepy and I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. I’m just going to publish this and fix any mistakes tomorrow!IMG_8808-2.JPG

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Chronic Illness

So far I’ve written all fun posts. Sharing with you things I like to do and make. But this blog is called Chronically Ill and Forever Awesome. Which means not only am I forever awesome, I also have some chronic illnesses.

In June of 2013, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I was also diagnosed with chronic gastritis (and I don’t even drink alcohol!)

As if these two conditions weren’t enough to deal with, as my doctors tried to treat my symptoms, I just kept getting sicker and sicker. I had to have a stent put in my common bile duct to help drain the bile I guess (I don’t really know what it does!). All I know was that I had unbearable pain in my right upper quadrant and my liver blood tests were so unbelievably high that it was pretty alarming. Within a period of three weeks, I had a colonoscopy (fun 😒) 2 upper endoscopys, and 2 ERCPs. I was so tired of having procedures. It seemed like every other day I wasn’t allowed to eat after midnight because I was having a procedure the next day. And sometimes they would want me on a liquid diet after the procedure as a precaution. I was so sick that I couldn’t eat any real food anyway.

Eventually I started to feel better. Eventually my liver enzymes started to go down. And eventually they took the stent out (of course that meant another procedure, ugh!). But my doctor was kind of stumped so he sent me to a different specialist.

I started seeing one doctor for my colitis and she put me on a different medicine to try and get my symptoms under control.

I started seeing a different doctor, a hepatologist for the other problem. He told me he thought I had something called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, or PSC. He said it would take awhile to diagnose because of how the disease works. He told me a little about it, but I didn’t really understand. I got out to my car and Googled it. I called my husband sobbing. I was so scared. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I was healthy. I ate really healthy. I ran 20-30 miles a week. I took care of my body. I was in the best shape of my life. And before all this, I never got sick. And I don’t even drink.

Over the last year, I have struggled to get my colitis under control. I just kept having flare after flare. I think I was on prednisone for three or four months straight at one point. I tried so many medications before switching to the immunosuppressant ones. The way they work is they just kill your immune system so your body stops attacking itself. It also leaves you with no immune system.

We finally settled on one called Simponi. But I’m still not sure it’s working. I spent 8 days in the hospital while on vacation in July, I came home and was back in the hospital 3 more times. Sometimes I’m so sick that I’m afraid to leave the house. I’m afraid I’ll get caught too far from a bathroom and not be able to make it. So when I’m sick, I don’t leave the house. And I’ve been sick a lot this year. I haven’t been to work since sometime in May. Also, the Simponi is an immunosuppressant, so I have absolutely no ability to fight off infection. So I get sick a lot and I try to stay away from anyone who is sick.

I had another colonoscopy back in January. After this one, I started bleeding pretty heavily the next day. When I called my doctor, they said to go to the ER. By the time I got to the ER, I had that same unbearable right upper quadrant pain again. They were finally able to get the bleeding under control using cortisone. But the pain was still there.

8 months later and the pain is still there. I had been taking Hydrocodone for the pain, but it was barely touching it. I even went to the ER one night because it was so bad and the Hydrocodone did absolutely nothing. The hospital admitted me, and then accused me of being a drug seeker. They wouldn’t give me anything but the Hydrocodone that I had at home and that wasn’t working. I just laid in the bed and sobbed. I called my husband in the morning and begged him to come and get me. I had never been so embarrassed before in my life. My primary doctor (who is absolutely amazing by the way) sent me to see a pain management doctor because she believed my pain was real and knew I needed some serious help.

By the time I saw the pain doctor, I would have done anything to get rid of the pain. If he told me he had to cut off my leg to get rid of the pain, I would have agreed. But he had a better idea, thankfully. It involves me on narcotics, but if that’s what I need right now, then that’s what I need.

Most recently, I’ve been dealing with what seems like arthritis in my hands and fingers. I’m going to see a rheumatologist tomorrow.

And even more problematic, I’ve been having constant panic attacks. I know it’s because of everything that’s going on in my life right now. I started seeing a social worker because I seriously felt like I was going to lose it. But I’m feeling a little better…just a little. Baby steps. I talk to the social worker once a week and she referred me to a psychiatrist. Dealing with all of this medical stuff has really been hard. And exhausting. And emotionally draining.

I am getting medically retired from the Navy in just a few short months. I will start what they call terminal leave (leave that I don’t come back from) on October 5. And we will be heading to Pennsylvania sometime on or around that day.

I am going to try and work part time at Starbucks, but I don’t know if I will be able to keep it. I’m just not medically reliable.

So right now, I take each day as it comes. Some days aren’t so bad, and some days are almost ok. But most days are pretty bad. So I just do the best I can.

What I really want to do is just write in this blog and get partnered up with some people and maybe get sponsored! And I also want to feel less crappy…maybe someday.

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Sort of, But Not Really, Fall Wreath

I had planned on making a wreath for a friend but wasn’t exactly sure what to make. I asked her about the color and she said something blue would be nice.

So when I went to the store, I decided to do a yarn wrapped straw wreath. I picked a really pretty blue yarn and then started looking for other supplies. I found some really pretty red berry type things and also some very pretty orange berries. I hasn’t planned on going with fall colors, I wanted something she could leave up year round. But they just looked so nice together!

Supplies
• straw wreath
• yarn in your choice of color, I bought 2 skeins and had plenty leftover
• some yarn of a different color for decorative wrapping, optional – you don’t need much at all
• some type of decorations – I went with a big bunch of orange berries and a few smaller bunches of red berries
• sheer ribbon – I used a dark purple
• burlap – I used the stuff that comes in a roll and is about 4 or 5″ wide
•optional (since this wasn’t supposed to be a fall wreath) a few burlap fall leaves. I found these at the dollar section at Michael’s
• hot glue gun
• twine – just enough to wrap the bouquet to the wreath

First comes the long and painful task of wrapping the wreath in yarn. I do one time around pretty quick, but I try to cover as much as possible. The second coat, I try and cover the entire thing. And sometimes I have to go around just to get places I missed. When I’m done, I pull the yarn tight and put a strip of hot glue over it. I hold it tight until it’s dry.

I then did the decorative yarn wrapping in gray. I really like the look of this and have been doing it a lot recently. I try to go for a slightly messy, not perfect look. It’s funny because I spend a lot of time trying to make it look random! I do the same with ending the decorative yarn. Pull tight and hot glue.

I gathered my small bouquet of red berries together and at the last minute I added the burlap leaves (because this isn’t supposed to be a fall wreath!). I wrapped the bouquet with the sheer purple ribbon and then I used the sheer ribbon to wrap the bouquet to the wreath. When I finished, I tied it and then I added a bow.

I gathered my larger bouquet together and tied it to the wreath first with some twine and then with a burlap bow. I didn’t glue anything just in case they want to take it off and change something.

I’m also going to tell them that they can pull the burlap leaves out of the bouquet at the end of fall!

I can’t believe that I didn’t even think to take any pictures while making this except the final picture when I finished!

I do the same for all my wreaths at the top to hang them, even when I’m giving them as gifts. I tie a loop in a medium length of sheer ribbon. Then I loop that through the wreath. You can adjust the length of the ribbon depending on how high or low you want your wreath to hang. Or you can skip it all together if you have a wreath hanger thingy. I don’t have one of those fancy things! There was a nail in my door when we moved in, so I’ve just been using that nail!

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All Sesons Wreath

I wanted to make a wreath for my sister-in-law for a couple reasons: first, because she was so helpful with Kaylie and our dogs while I was in the hospital. Second, it was her birthday…yay! And finally because she’s awesome and I love her! I didn’t really know what I was going to do so I just went to the store with an open mind. The only thing I knew was that I was going to make it a yarn wreath and it was going to be gray.

While I was at the store, I started looking at lots of fall colors for the wreath. But I didn’t want her to have a wreath that she could only use in the Fall. Then I had an idea! What if I made all the flowers on one side interchangeable and the flower bouquet on the other side something that can easily be untied and replaced with something for the next season!

So I made lots of fall colored flowers and a fall colored bouquet. The flowers are all attached with Velcro and the bouquet is tied on with twine and burlap. So we can easily make this a winter, spring, or summer wreath! And it also has a chalkboard. I wrote a message with a chalkboard marker, but she could erase it and write whatever she wants!

Supplies

•Straw wreath – leave the plastic on!
•Yarn to wrap the wreath, at least two skeins. I used gray, but whatever makes you happy!
•Yarn for decorative wrapping. I used some leftover purple from another wreath
•Some flowers or something you can use to make a bouquet. I used some orange berries, some curly sticks and a few burlap fall colored leaves. I’m sure there are technical terms for these things, but I don’t know what they are.
•Twine – I used brown and I found it in the floral section near the burlap rolls at Michael’s
•Burlap- the kind that comes in a roll and it’s maybe 4 or 5″ thick
•Felt – I think I bought 2 of each fall color
•Chalkboard – or something to hang from the middle. You could use a cute fall decoration or nothing at all. Whatever floats your boat!
•Some decorations to give it a personal touch. I added two butterflies to the chalkboard because my sister-in-law loves butterflies
•Velcro
•Hot glue gun
•Ribbon, or something to hang the wreath with. I always use sheer ribbon to hang my wreaths! I either pick something because it blends in or because it stands out. This time I went with a dark purple and it blends I perfectly with the yarn that is wrapped up at the top holding the chalkboard in place.

First, the most dreadful part, wrap the wreath with the yarn. Don’t even bother taking the plastic off because it keeps the straw together a little better. Put on a good movie and get comfortable, because you’ll be there for awhile! One of these days I’m going to time it to see how long it takes, but I never do it in one sitting. I usually go around once to get a decent cover. And the second time around, I try to get it all. I usually have to go back around a third time, but only to hit a few spots I didn’t quite get covered. When I run out of one skein and have to move onto the next, I just tie them together, making sure the knot is in the back.

When I’m finished, I pull it really tight and put a line of hot glue down over the last wrap of the yarn. I hold it tight until the hot glue has mostly dried.

Moving on to the decorative wrap with the purple yarn. This is totally optional. I did it for a wreath I made a few months ago and now I love it! I want to do it on every wreath I make (actually, I think I have put it on every wreath I’ve done since then!). The key is to try and make it look messy. It was hard for me at first! I didn’t want it to look perfect, so I had to really try to give it a random, artistic look. But I just love the look it adds to the wreath!

Next I put together my bouquets and tied them together with twine in a few places. I just kind of messed with the berries and the twigs until I liked the look of it. I added a few fall colored leaves that are made of burlap. I didn’t want to use any glue, because I want it all to be removable so we can make this a winter wreath next!

And onto the felt flowers. I cut all my felt into 1 1/2 strips. I then folded each strip in half and ran a bead of hot glue down one of the long edges and fold it in half, pressing down until the glue is dry. Once all of them are done, you’re going to want to cut short and evenly-spaced strips in the felt. You want to cut the part that is folded over (the loop). When you’re finished, you can roll the strip loosely, using hot glue all along the way, to make a flower. Sometimes I use two colors at once, sometimes, I just do to strips of the same color, one after another, to make a bigger flower. Other times, I’ve done own color and then a second color her the first cold is done. There is no wrong way to do this so just do what looks good to you!

I figured out where I wanted to out all my flowers, and then put Velcro down first (I hot glued the Velcro so it wouldn’t come off when it gets pulled off!) I attached Velcro to the back of my flowers as well.

On to the chalkboard. My sister-in-law loves butterflies. So when I found these, I figured I had to use them somehow! I thought glueing them to the chalkboard would be perfect. I hot glued one on each side. I then used more of the extra purple yarn I had to wrap the string to hang the chalkboard. I wrapped a good three or four inches. That way the chalkboard is short enough to sit nicely in the wreath.

I meant to write on the chalkboard before I attached it because it would be easier. But I didn’t because I like to do everything the hard way! I free handed it, but I just wasn’t happy with the heart. So I made myself a make-shift stencil so I could get the heart right. I traced it and colored it it. It’s not perfect, but I still like it! I used chalk markers, so she can erase the message and write whatever she wants.

Once the chalkboard was done, I attached the bouquet. I had already tied it together with twine a few times, so I tied it to the wreath with twine two more times. Then I tied on a burlap bow.

So, I will have to make the pieces for her, but we can take the flowers off and attach snowflakes or something else on the Velcro. And then make a winter themed bouquet. To tie in place of the Fall one. I will also do the same for spring and summer. And then she will have a single wreath that she can decorate for all the seasons!

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We Have a Moving Date

Today I went and met with the people who are helping me process my paperwork so I can retire from the military. It is such a confusing process! I feel lost and in a state of panic 99% of the time.

My separation clerk and I were counting back the days from my retirement date as to when I can go on terminal leave and job and house hunting leave. It turns out I can leave as early as September 28! But that’s way too soon for us! We aren’t close to ready to leave here in two weeks! So I sold back a week of my leave.

We will be leaving our nice little house that we have called home for the last year and a half. And we will be going to my sister’s house. I’m grateful that they have offered us this option. Because we literally have nowhere else to go.

I just don’t understand how I can have served my country (granted I wasn’t in nearly as long as I had hoped to be and I didn’t get to do much) but I am still considered a disabled veteran, and I am homeless. How does this happen?!

I’m really sick and I’m not sure that I would be able to hold down any kind of job because I get sick so often. But I’m going to try working a part time job. I also get my disability check. We are going to request that the reevaluate because I’ve gotten sicker. And I probably qualify for the next percentage. My husband has a lead on a really good job, but it’s not definite yet.

No one will rent to is because we have no proof of employment (since we are moving to a different state), so we are left with nowhere to go. My sister has graciously offered to temporarily let us stay at her house. She has a three bedroom twin and two kids of her own so she doesn’t have any extra room or anything. In fact, I don’t even think she has room for us, but it’s one of those things you do for family.

Everyday I try to come up with a better plan. I’ve written letters, entered contests, tried to figure out some other plan. Some other plan that would allow us to move into a house of our own.

So many of my friends are going through relationship problems and I’m grateful that through this, we are standing strong together. I love my husband and my daughter so much and I’m so glad we have each other. I just wish we had it a little easier. Because when we get to my sister’s house, we won’t even have a bed to sleep in. And that makes me cry.

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My Daughter

My daughter is the most amazing person I know. She is smart, funny, kind, loving, and just about the coolest kid young lady I know! She is wise beyond her years and a genuinely good person.

She came home a few days ago and told me about this poem she wrote in school. She seemed pretty proud of it, but she didn’t have it with her to share with me. She promised that she would bring it home so I could read it.

I was on the phone with my sister on Thursday evening while trying to make dinner. Kaylie handed me the poem and seemed upset that I couldn’t give it 100% of my attention while I was on the phone and making dinner! I promised her that I would read it, but I wanted to be free from distraction. I finished up what I was doing and finally remembered the poem that I had put on top of the microwave. I picked it up and I started to read. By the end, I was sobbing. I handed it to my husband and had him read it. When he was done we hugged and cried together. We had just found out earlier that day that she might have some serious health problems of her own, so I’m extra sensitive about my baby right now. I asked her if I could share the poem and she said yes, so here it goes:

Kaylie’s poem

I am from my dogs
who greet me with love
from the old photo albums
where pictures of my loved ones stay sealed

I am from the winds of the city
from the parks where children play
and dogs run free

I am from the deep forest
and mountains of central Virginia
and from the deer and bears
that roam there

I am from the little house
in the small town of Warminster
from the ice cream shop where
I meet my friends no more

I am from the old cottage
in Maine from the cold shores
of Bar Harbor and the warm
rocks where seals lay

I am from close friends
and crazy family members
from fun parties to
boring reunions

I am from Kids Castle
where I got lost as a kid
from the big field where some still lay

I am from all over
from moving trucks
from house to house
I am from love
and the home where it’s shared all around

This girl is wise beyond her years and I feel lucky to be her mom. IMG_8286.JPG

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