Sunday, October 11, 2015

It's October Already?!

My, how quickly this year has gone by! Seems like just yesterday I started working, and that was back in February. Eight months and I'm still at it! God has certainly been good to me.

It's almost a month since we said goodbye to Molly, and I'm still not used to it. I wait for her to come out at her dinner time; I expect her to be on the rug in the evening, or in the middle of the floor where she can watch us as we walk by. It's hardest when the doorbell rings and there's silence. We knew someone was at the door even before we heard the doorbell - she was standing up, looking out and ready to bark at whoever it was that was disturbing our peace. Now it's just quiet, and we all look at each other with sadness on our faces. I never imagined it would be this hard.

This past Thursday I asked my son R to throw away the last few cans of dog food that were in the pantry. We'd gotten rid of most of her things (except for her collar, leash, and favorite toy; those are keepsakes that are dear to us), but I couldn't bring myself to throwing away her dog food. It seemed so final; I would get choked up every time I attempted to go near them. R took care of it while I was at work, and when I got home and saw they were gone, I cried again. My sweet puppy. What a large hole you've left in our hearts.

School has been going well. My son has A's in all his classes except biology, where he has a B. He's working hard in that class but his teacher is pretty demanding. Her motto is, "If it was easy you wouldn't be learning." Okay, I get it. His favorite class is Personal Finance. These are lessons he feels he will use his whole life, and I'm glad for that. We went to our credit union a couple of weeks ago, and he opened a checking and savings account. His goal is to have $500 in savings, and another $500 to build himself a computer. I'm so proud of his progress.

Between school and work I've kept so busy that I often think about blogging but can't find the time to do it. There's just so much to keep up with around the house. Right now our lawn mower is giving us problems, the master bathroom toilet is running even after I changed the mechanisms inside, I need to get an oil change on my car, hopefully I can get my hair cut sometime this month since I haven't been to my hairdresser since life is on autopilot and I can't find the brakes! I'm seriously looking forward to the holidays and some days off!

I did manage to decorate for fall and rearrange some stuff so I could get a bit more organized. As part of his allowance I'm paying my son E to vacuum and help with laundry. Best money spent in my entire budget!

I think I'm gonna stop here, since I have to clean up the kitchen. Honestly, I need a break, but there's so much to do and so little time. I do want to say thank you to everyone who has sent me comforting comments and messages about Molly. You've all been so kind and compassionate. I don't have the words to tell you how much those words have meant to me.

Hope y'all have a blessed week. Enjoy each day and be thankful.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Saying Goodbye To Molly

2011 was one of the most, if not the most, difficult year of my life. I saw my world turned upside down in a matter of months. Just looking back on that time is painful. But there was one bright moment, one piece of sunshine that God sent me to help me through the storm. That piece of sunshine was our dog, Molly.

Molly appeared in our front yard in May of 2011.  She was so thin, filthy, and scared. She was such a big dog that she frightened us at first, but my daughter (the eternal animal lover) quickly brought her some water to drink. She also got some leftover meatballs, which the poor dog devoured.  I had a can of Vienna sausages, and gave her those, too.  She was clearly starving, and from the looks of her she'd probably been roaming the streets for some days.  We brought her inside our yard to keep her off the streets and out of danger.  I had to pick up my son E from school, and I promised my daughter I'd buy her some dog food as well.  I clearly remember bawling in my car as I remembered Tobey, our soft coated wheaten terrier that had died three years earlier. I didn't want another dog.  I didn't want to go through the pain of losing another dog.  But I also knew my daughter would be begging to keep her. What's a mother to do?

My son also fell in love with the dog. She was so scared, so timid, and she appeared to be very sweet, but I warned them that the dog probably belonged to someone and it was our duty to find her owners and get her back home. Which wouldn't be easy; she had no collar and no visible signs of ownership.

Within a couple of days we took her to a vet to see if she had a chip that would help us get her home. She didn't. What we did find out from the vet was that she was about a year old, maybe a year and a half at most. She'd also recently given birth. I was amazed at how gentle she was, how she let the vet do all kinds of tests and didn't complain, growl, or bite. The vet asked what I was going to do with the dog. I told her I would continue to seek the dog's owners; if we couldn't find any, we would have to decide if we would keep her or take her to the humane society. The vet immediately objected: she was sure the dog would be euthanized if we took her to the pound. She told us, "If you don't want to keep her, bring her to me. I want her. She's an excellent dog, well behaved and gentle. I will take her if you won't."  It surprised me that she would speak with such passion over a dog she'd just met.

Convincing my children that we should keep the dog would be easy; convincing their dad would be another story.  He hated the dog.  Couldn't stand having her around.  There was no reason for this other than the expense of having to buy dog food and dog stuff. But when my son E got on his knees and begged his father to please let him keep the dog, his father couldn't say no.  So the dog stayed, on the condition that if we found her owners we would give her back.  We would take care of her as long as she needed us to, but she wasn't truly ours yet.

We asked around, we looked for signs at the stores or on street lights, but no one ever came looking for her. My daughter recalled that, about a week earlier, she'd seen some folks selling American bulldog puppies not far from our house. The dog we'd found was an American bulldog mix, and she'd recently had pups.  My daughter believed that this poor creature had been used to breed and then abandoned.  We couldn't understand why: she was the sweetest, gentlest, most loving and affectionate dog we'd ever seen. She was well behaved, completely housebroken, obedient, quiet...I often said she couldn't be a real dog.  She had to be an animatronic.  No dog could be that good.  But she was, and she climbed into our hearts.  We named her Molly because to me, she looked like a Molly. She responded to the name immediately, so we suspect that her name was something similar to Molly. She quickly became a member of the family.

Within a couple of months I found out my husband had been cheating on me, and that the whole reason he wanted me and the kids to move to Central Florida was so that he could bring his mistress to live in my house. The months that followed were nothing less than a nightmare. My two older kids moved to Central Florida for school.  My husband moved out that November.  I was left alone with my almost 12 year old son, and whenever he was in school I was alone in my house, with my thoughts, my pain, my prayers, and my dog.  Molly saw more of my tears than anyone else.  She kept me company day in and day out; while I cleaned the house, she'd follow me around.  I would say to her, "I should have named you Shadow because that's what you do all day, is shadow me!"  She would look at me and smile.  Yes, my dog would smile.  When I sat down, she'd rest her head on my lap. When I'd pet her, she'd put her paw up on my leg and pet me back.  I soon figured out that when God brought her to my front yard, it wasn't so that I could take care of her; it was so she could take care of me. My daughter repeatedly asked if Molly could come to Central Florida to live with her, but I said no each time.  She was my puppy, and we needed each other.

My kids came back home in 2012.  By then it was established: Molly was ours. We loved her, doted on her, and in turn she loved us unconditionally.  Everyone who met her fell in love with her.  You couldn't help but love her.  She was just that sweet.  We did notice a strange little pimple-like growth on her belly at the time, and we had the vet at the humane society look at it.  She said it was probably nothing to worry about, unless it started growing.  "Just keep an eye on it," she said.

About a year later we noticed the little pimple had grown, and we took her to another vet (none of us wanted to go back to the vet that treated Tobey; he was never able to tell us what killed our poor dog).  This vet glanced under her belly and told us it looked like blood cancer and that he would need to test her to see if she could take anesthesia, then operate and have the pimple removed and tested, and it would cost $60 to test her for anesthesia and another $600-$700 to operate, plus have the thing was so upsetting, I could not put it into words. He never really examined her, he barely looked at her and didn't put a finger on her.  I went home raging mad because I didn't know what to do.  Within a couple of days, the pimple popped and went almost completely away. Hah! I thought. Dumb vet didn't know what he was talking about.  The little pimple would come back, but it would pop and go away, so we didn't worry too much about it.

Then, at the beginning of this year, the pimple became a growth. It got larger and redder, and even when it bled it wouldn't go away.  So off we went to yet another vet.  How I wish the first vet that had seen her was still around!  Unfortunately she'd moved out of the area.  We took her to a vet not far from our home that we'd heard good things about.  The vet was out of town so his assistant saw Molly.  Just from the look on her face I knew it wasn't good.  She said the growth had to be removed, and soon.  She also said that, from her experience, it didn't look good.  We scheduled the surgery for the following week when the vet would be back.  It was the soonest we could get her in.

In the meantime, the growth not only got bigger, it began to decompose. It smelled like death; that's the only way I can describe it. It would bleed from open sores.  It was awful.  She felt awful; we could see in her face that she was extremely uncomfortable, though she never cried.

Three days later, she had the surgery. By then the pimple had become a mass larger than a golf ball.  We held our breath waiting for the results, but deep down inside we knew.  A week after her surgery the vet confirmed our worst fears: the growth was a grade 2 mass cell tumor, and it was malignant.  Our sweet, loving Molly had cancer.  And not just any cancer.  This form of cancer was aggressive.

My kids and I had discussed this possibility.  We knew the vet would suggest cancer treatments, but we've known multiple people who've gone down that road with their pets only to regret it.  Their dogs have suffered through chemo and died of cancer anyway.  We didn't want that for our Molly.  We knew if she had cancer she would die because of it, and we wanted her to die with dignity.  So I informed the vet that we would forgo the treatment, and enjoy her while we had her.  When her time came we'd do what was best for her, and not let her suffer.  The vet respected our wishes.  He told us Molly could live anywhere from 3 months to a year.

Looking at her after her surgery, we thought the worst was over.  She came back to life again; she was bouncy, energetic, and happy again.  She was acting like a puppy!  We were convinced that she would live a long time now that the ugly tumor that had taken three years to grow was gone, and if that's how long it took the tumors to grow, we might even have more years with her! But it wasn't to be.

Within a couple of months she had another growth on her belly.  And another.  A month later there was one on her leg, and another on her face.  It was like her body was exploding with tumors.  Most were small, though, and we continued to hope they'd be like the first one.  Then we noticed that she was having trouble breathing at times.  My daughter was petting her, when she noticed that Molly's chest was swollen, and there was a rash.  It was getting bad.  Really bad.

September 11 we went to Disney World for Night of Joy, just as we had last year.  Part of me was dying to go.  I'd booked a room at the Pop Century months earlier, and we'd never stayed at that resort.  We were excited to go back to Disney, but I hated leaving Molly.  She didn't look well at all.  My oldest son R was staying in town, but he would be working all day Saturday and wouldn't be able to watch her or let her out.  Thankfully, my daughter's best friend came to the rescue, and dog sat Molly for a little while on Saturday.  We got home Sunday evening, tired and worn and happy to see our sweet dog.  It wasn't until the next day that my daughter came to tell me that she had found more tumors, and that the one on her chest was getting really, really big. Molly was having trouble getting around. Her leg, the one under the tumor on her chest, was extremely swollen as well.  She couldn't even sit for very long because she couldn't put much weight on her leg.  There was an intense sadness in her eyes.  She was constantly running a fever.  I told my daughter I didn't know what else to do, and she said, "Mom, it's time."  I felt my heart break in two, but I knew she was right.  I told her I'd call the vet the next day.

When I explained to the receptionist what was going on, she said, "I remember Molly! I'm so sorry!" It was not unexpected.  Molly impacted everyone she met in the most positive way. I asked if we could wait until Friday; I needed time to get used to the idea.  Oh, how I suffered those days!  I kept seeing how unhappy she was, how miserable she felt, and I desperately wanted her to be her old self again. But I knew.  It wasn't going to get better.  And I didn't want her to get worse.

Friday came, and I dreaded each passing minute of the day.  I went to my Ladies bible study group, but I only told one lady about it.  She got all teary-eyed and told me she loved me.  She must have seen the hurt and pain in my eyes.  Finally, I packed Molly and my son E into the car, and we met my daughter A at the vet's office.  They asked if we wanted to stay during the procedure, and we said yes.  I couldn't bring myself to leave her alone when she'd never left my side.

It was quick, and it was painless.  The vet told us that, more than likely, the cancer had spread to her organs.  We were doing the right thing by not letting her suffer any longer.  I knew he was right.  As we watched her take her last breaths, we knew we'd saved her from prolonged pain.  It didn't make it any easier.  With every short breath she took, my heart broke into more and more pieces.  How do you say goodbye to a pet that has been with you through the worst storms of your life?

I cried when our Tobey died.  It was sad, because he did suffer, and we never found out what was wrong with him.  It was rough.  But nowhere near as much as I have suffered now, losing Molly.  Tobey was my daughter's dog; he was her dad's dog.  I loved Tobey, but Tobey was independent.  He was never affectionate, and he was always getting into mischief.  Molly, on the other hand, was loving.  She was a people lover.  We would say she was like Ariel; she wanted to be "where the people are."  She was my dog.  MY dog.  She loved me more than anyone else in the house.  My daughter would get mad because she'd be petting Molly and Molly would be watching me.  She loved everyone, but she loved me most, and now she's gone, and I can't stop missing her.  There's an emptiness in our house.  Our family feels incomplete.

In case you're wondering, we won't be getting another dog.  My son's allergist made it clear: E is allergic to dogs, and Molly was contributing to his eczema and allergy symptoms.  There was no way I was getting rid of Molly; I knew she didn't have long to live, and I couldn't bring myself to give her to anyone else.  But I will not bring another dog into the house.  It's not fair to my son.  Besides, I know I will never, ever, find another dog like Molly.  She was truly the best dog in the world.  Even as the tears become less and less, I will remember her and miss her for the rest of my life.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What's Been Going On

It's amazing what can happen in just a couple of weeks.  Life can take some crazy turns.  Thankfully ours have been pretty positive!

One of the teachers at the tutoring center recently got a job at a Christian school teaching high school math.  I was sad to hear she was leaving but happy for her new job, especially since she's getting married in October.  Little did I know how her new job would impact my family!

My daughter A has been under her father's health insurance ever since I stopped working.  She turns 26 the end of this year, which means she will no longer be covered under his insurance.  Her father has been hounding her ever since her birthday back in December, telling her she needs to get health insurance before her birthday.  She has looking, but health insurance is expensive, especially for a young single woman.  For those who think that government insurance is the answer, think again.  Even Obamacare is costly.  Since she was working two part-time jobs and neither one offered health benefits, she knew she would have to come up with a way to get affordable healthcare, and her options weren't very promising.

Her dad called her about a month ago asking once again if she had found insurance yet.  When she told him she hadn't, he told her not to worry about it, he had found a way to keep her on his insurance and she'd only have to pay him $100 a month.  Now, if I know anything about this man, it's that he can't resist a scam.  I didn't know what he was up to, but I did know one thing for sure: whatever it was, it was illegal.  He doesn't care; as far as he's concerned, it's not illegal unless you get caught.  Well, that was NOT what I wanted for my daughter.  Of course, with J, it's his way and that's that.  But he doesn't know the power of my God!  My daughter and I began to pray that God would provide her with insurance that would be more affordable than what J was insisting on offering.  Seems impossible?  Ha, nothing is impossible for our God!

A week after we started praying, I got home from grocery shopping to find my daughter extremely excited.  It turned out that the girl who was leaving had contacted her.  The school where she was going to start working needed an English teacher, someone with a degree in English, and they needed someone right away.  She immediately thought of A and asked if she was interested.  The school would take care of getting her certification.  The part that had her most excited?  The job would pay her double what both her part-time jobs paid, and she would receive 100% paid health benefits!!  She could hardly contain her excitement!  She was happy and nervous at the same time, and asked me what she should do.  I said hey, go for it!  God is sending you this opportunity, you'd best take it!  She interviewed that same day, and they offered her the job on the spot.  Turns out they'd been needing someone since the school year had finished, and no one - absolutely no one - had applied for the position.  She was the first person to apply, and school was going to start in one week.  The thought of it made her even more nervous, and she said she needed to pray about it.  She spoke to her pastor, her friends, and of course mom.  We looked into the school and the church.  This church has been instrumental in planting many of the churches in South Florida, and their ministry is extensive.  All her friends (many of them teachers themselves) told her they'd be there with help and advise.  We all agreed, this wasn't a coincidence, it was a God-incident.  So she accepted, got her training and certification, and this week started teaching 9th and 11th grade English (including an AP class) along with middle school journalism.  She is the happiest she's been in ages!  Everything has fallen into place so perfectly, that we know it has to be the hand of our ever faithful God!  We are so thankful for this new step in her life!

Of course my bosses weren't as happy as she was.  They were left without two teachers for the fall session which starts next Monday.  But once again, God has provided.  We have three new teachers coming in that got trained this week.  It was rough for my daughter, because she doesn't like to disappoint, but the opportunity was too great to pass up.  It's been hectic with her church job too, but she's such a trouper.  She's getting the work done, and getting all her school assignments done as well (she's working towards getting certified as a pastoral counselor).  God is blessing her hard work, and I can't wait to see what else He has in store for my little girl!

As for me, I've been on an organization kick - or more like a frenzy ;-).  It started in the master bedroom, moved into the kitchen where I've been organizing the pantry and cupboards, and now it has continued into the bathrooms.  I've been throwing out anything that is expired (you'd be surprised what you find hiding in a medicine cabinet) or that doesn't get used, and putting things away properly.  I've shopped at Walmart, Target, Dollar Tree and Amazon for organization tools and containers.  I've also done some deep cleaning before school starts up again, which is on the 24th.  I'm off from work this week (yay!) so I've been able to get loads of stuff done.  I'm very much a type A personality, and having everything streamlined and organized makes me feel relaxed.  I'm loving it!

I took my youngest son E for allergy testing.  Not only were his allergies getting out of control, his eczema was spreading.  Both his arms were covered, his eyes were dry and irritated, and below his chin it was starting up.  It seemed the medicines the dermatologist had ordered weren't enough, so I had to take the next step.  He had to get off his maintenance medicines for 5 days so the tests could be accurate.  It was the most miserable 5 days of his life!  He literally needed a trash can next to him to drop all the tissues he was using because he was sneezing so much.  When we finally got to the doctor's office for the tests, they got delayed because E was having a mild asthma attack.  See, the day before we'd gone to see Hillsong United in concert, and it was held outdoors in a park.  The outdoors are my son's enemies, unfortunately.  He was coughing but he wasn't wheezing, at least not heavily, so I hadn't detected it, but the doctor noticed right away.  Once he was breathing normally, the doctor proceeded with the tests.  Thankfully my son has no food allergies.  He does, however, have a ton of other allergies, all environmental.  Trees, grass, mold, plants...let's just say, he's allergic to Florida.  The doctor put him on prednisone and gave him an inhaler, along with eye drops, nose drops, and instructions for taking care of the eczema.  He also suggested I get an air purifier, which I ordered the very next day.  I'm happy to report that his eczema is almost completely gone thanks to the creams he's using (Vanicream is the best, I highly recommend it), and I haven't heard him sneeze in days.  Oh, thank You Jesus!

We found out he's also allergic to pet dander, particularly dogs and cats.  This has created a dilemma for us, because we can't get rid of Molly.  Not only because we love her, but because she has cancer, and she's dying.  The second tumor on her belly has started to grow, and we don't think she has very much longer to live.  We know no one will take her in her condition, and if we take her to the humane society they'll put her down.  We've decided to keep her until the inevitable, which J is against (he's wanted us to get rid of Molly since day one), but honestly I don't believe we will have her for much longer.  It breaks our hearts to even think about it.

Sorry to end on a sad note (I didn't realize it till I looked back) but life is like that; it has its ups and downs.  We thank God for the good, and we thank Him for the not-so-good.  In all things we praise our God and Father and trust in His decisions.  Hope you do too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Product Review: Trader Joe's All Natural Uncured All Beef Hot Dogs

I have a sensitive stomach.  Way too much acidity going on in there.  Consequently, I have to be very careful about the foods I eat.  Whenever I have foods that irritate or upset my stomach, it can get bad enough to give me a migraine headache.  And no one wants those.

So when it comes to deli-style meats, I have to be very particular.  Hot dogs are a food group I avoid like the plague.  Not because I don't like them, but because they don't like me.  I can have a hot dog well done on the grill, and get a terrible stomachache and long lasting heartburn.  It bums me out, because I grew up eating hot dogs and enjoying a good Nathan's extra long.  Growing up in New York, I'm familiar with dirty dog weiners smothered in onions and mustard - yum!  But the sick feeling I'm left with afterwards is not worth the momentary pleasure.

On a recent trip to Ulta, my daughter suggested we stop off at Trader Joe's.  For those who aren't familiar with this specialty geared grocery store, Trader Joe's sells mostly their own brand label products that are preservative free, dye free, and GMO free; lots of organic fruits, veggies, and meats, and overall good food.  The closest Trader Joe's to us is by our Ulta, which is two cities north of us, but worth the occasional trip.  Whenever we're in the area we like to stop by and see what's new.

It was July 4th weekend, so they were serving hot dog samples outside of the store.  These hot dogs were advertised as being 100% all beef, no preservatives, no fillers, uncured, with no added nitrates or nitrites.  The aroma of grilled hot dogs was too tempting to resist; and since it was just a sample, I figured, what can it hurt?  I took the sample and hoped for the best.

Let me just say, this was the best tasting hot dog I have ever had the privilege of trying.  I can't even describe the flavor, except that it's not like a regular grocery store hot dog.  It's not like the stuff the street vendors are selling in NYC.  It's not like the Coney Island hot dogs.  It's way better.  Like, 1,000 times better.  I didn't want to swallow because I was enjoying the taste too much and I didn't want it to end.  My son E, who isn't a big hot dog fan either, also commented on how delicious the hot dog was.  I asked him to go check out the label again, and we went in search of them in the store.  As I read the description, I was more convinced this could be a good choice for us, so I bought a pack and made hot dogs for lunch.

For the first time in years, I was able to eat a hot dog without it feeling like I had swallowed a brick and it was sitting in my stomach.  I actually ate two hot dogs (gasp!) with no stomach upset whatsoever.  It was amazing.  To be able to enjoy a hot dog as I did when I was a little girl...well, to me, that's priceless.

If you have a Trader Joe's near you, I urge you to check it out.  They have a lot more specialty items (my son would tell you their cookie butter is the best invention since sliced bread), and the food is all good for you - bonus!  The prices are slightly higher than supermarket prices, but cheaper than Whole Foods.  It's worth the price to put good stuff into your bodies, that's for sure.

This post is not sponsored.  I purchased the products on my own, and this is my personal opinion.  Trader Joe's doesn't even know I've done this review.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

What I've Been Up To

It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted, busy and productive weeks.  Let's see if I can remember what all I've been up to.

I'm on an organizing kick.  Spring cleaning so to speak, except in the summer.  I've been getting rid of clutter and putting things in order.  I hate clutter; I avoid having things I don't need or having things in the wrong places.  But with work and home and church and everything in between, things have fallen to the wayside and been pushed back on the priority list, until one day I looked and said, "Enough is enough!!"  It started in my bedroom closet.  I'd bought some clothes and was having trouble fitting it all into my closet.  It was starting to look messy and out of control.  One day I decided to go through my clothes and pull out anything that could be donated so that my closet wouldn't feel so cramped.  That was all that was needed to get me motivated.  I not only got a donation pile going, I organized all my clothes, shoes and purses.  I decided to take any "winter" clothes out (winter clothes in South Florida means a few long sleeve shirts) which meant I had to organize some of my dresser drawers to fit them in.  When I was done I felt like a load had been lifted off my shoulders (when in fact it had been lifted out of my closet).  There's actually room to move in my closet now, and I can see the floor again!  It got my adrenaline pumping for more.

This week it's been the kitchen.  I reorganized the pantry: there are bins to put bagged items in, canisters for snacks, pastas, flours and cereals.  The slow cookers were moved to the storage cabinet in the garage to make room for food containers.

The shelves outside the pantry were organized as well.  To make it easier for us to find things, I labeled everything with chalk labels so that the information can be changed at any time.  Now we can easily see where everything is without having to move everything or having five items fall on the floor trying to reach for one item.

Today I emptied out several kitchen cabinets, then put things away so as to make the kitchen flow better.  I moved all my spices to the cabinet on the left of the stove.  This was where I used to keep my spices originally, until we remodeled the kitchen and J insisted that cabinet should have a glass door.  I didn't want to keep my spices there anymore, because I was concerned it would look messy, so I put glassware there and put my spices in the cabinet on the right of the stove.  Problem is, I was using the left side cabinet as more of a display cabinet, which ultimately meant my cabinet space was reduced.  I'd already lost cabinet space when J decided that one of my cabinets should be converted into a trash bin (why do people who never cook or spend more than 2 minutes in a kitchen think they know better than the folks who actually use the kitchen?).  My kitchen was so cramped.  I had to move so many things around just to get my spices out because of the way the cabinets were made; the right side cabinets are corner cabinets, but they were not built as corner cabinets.

The cabinet on the left goes all the way back to the wall, but the one on the right has no access to that space, so if I need something from the back of the cabinet I have to empty the entire shelf to reach it.  Many of my spices ended up back there; cooking became a hassle of moving things in and out of the cabinet, creating more of a mess.  As you can see, I took the spices out of the cabinet and put canned goods there instead.  I had some of my canned goods in my kitchen and some in the storage cabinet in the garage; again, every time I needed something I had to go out of my way to find it instead of having it nearby.  I decided to put my glasses, mugs, and all our drinking cups in the cabinet above the sink.  I've ordered a 3-tier spice shelf/rack for my spices from Amazon.  It's bamboo so it'll match the color of my cabinets, and it'll keep my spices neat so I won't worry about what my cabinet looks like.  I'll have to remember to take a picture once I've got it all done.

I also cleaned out my refrigerator and freezer.  It's amazing how many things are hidden in the back of the fridge - items that have expired but we've forgotten they're there.  I found some file folder holders at Target for $3 that work perfectly for holding onions and potatoes.  I have to keep these in the fridge because, with our heat and humidity, they would go bad in no time.  This works much better and keeps them longer.

Speaking of heat and humidity, I don't know about the rest of the country but it is H-O-T in Florida!  Granted, it isn't as hot as it was last year, but it's still sweltering, especially in the afternoons right before the thunderstorms start.  We are in the rainy season now, getting hammered with rain every afternoon for about a half hour.  I cut the grass and it grows back in no time.  Allergies are on the rampage thanks to this weather.  My boys are especially susceptible; they are sneezing all the time, and while R has the itchy, watery eyes, E has eczema.  E has an appointment to see the allergist for testing on August 3rd.  He has to be off all allergy medicines for five days before he can be tested.  I'm not looking forward to that - he's gonna be miserable.

My daughter has been busy with work and school.  She is taking online courses to get certified in pastoral counseling.  Nothing like having a child who can tell you everything that's wrong with you :P.  Actually, she's learning a lot and has a strong desire to help teenagers and young people.  Her dream is to work with the A21 Campaign, an organization that helps victims of human trafficking.  I pray God would use her to help many suffering people to know they can have hope in Christ.

Of course, I did some shopping for beauty products during Bare Escentuals' Beauty Rush sale.  I actually wasn't going to get anything, and I didn't even place my order until late that night because I kept debating whether to place an order, but ultimately I got a Complexion Superstars set containing two mineral veils (one loose and one compact), a bronzer called The High Dive which is in a compact, a gorgeous highlighter called Bare Radiance, and a blush that I've been wanting for a long time called Vintage Peach.  I like peach colors more than pinks on me, and this one is a soft peachy tone that is very feminine.  It also has a blush brush.  All for $21 - just the blush retails for $18.  I also got a brush set that contains 5 brushes (2 face and 3 eye) and a gold-toned case for $18 (original price was $49). I decided to get these because we are going to Disney World in September and I wanted makeup that would be easy to bring along.  A lot of the Bare Minerals products are loose powders which makes them a little tricky to travel with, though I still plan on taking a few items.

Those have been the highlights of the past couple of weeks.  I'm going to continue focusing on organizing and purging.  I know, I've got to blog about it!  I'll keep it in mind ;).  Have a blessed rest of your weekend.

Friday, July 10, 2015

YouTube Vlogger Fashion Chalet

I promised to reduce my YouTube subscriptions because they were getting out of hand.  And I did - the YouTubers that had content that was not pertinent to me (like crazy colors and club looks that I'd never wear) were dropped.  I kept the ones that had information about women my age, and those that had interesting content, not the same makeup looks over and over again.

One YouTube channel I found was a Miami girl whose look is just what I like.  Her channel is Fashion Chalet, and her look is classic and elegant, right up my alley.  Yes, she can do some colorful looks, but most of what she does is appropriate for work, fun, and everyday.  She also has fun clothing tutorials, reviews, nail, skin and hair care...a plethora of great content.  This week she hit 1,000 subscribers and is giving away a bag of goodies - how sweet is that?!  I encourage everyone to take a look at Fashion Chalet.  She's a breath of fresh air.

The Week In Review

It's Friday, once again.  I take it slower on Fridays, since it's my day off from work.  I've been doing my grocery shopping every other week (because I hate going to Walmart) and this week I'm off from that as well.  Perfect time for a blog post.

I was off this Monday for July 4th weekend.  Most companies give their employees the Friday off when the holiday lands on Saturday; since we don't work Fridays our bosses decided to give us Monday instead.  My daughter still had to work at the church, and my son had to work at the store.  I waited for my daughter to come home, and we went to see Disney/Pixar's new movie Inside Out.  I don't want to give anything away, but once again Pixar hit it out of the park.  This movie is wonderful!  The story is beautiful and well developed, with its funny moments thrown into the deeper message.  But to be perfectly honest, my favorite part of the movie was the short cartoon at the beginning, called Lava.  The story of two volcanoes that fall in love was the most romantic cartoon I've ever seen - even my 15 year old son got teary-eyed!  While this movie doesn't knock The Incredibles from the top spot of my list, it's definitely in the top 5.  I recommend everyone see it at least once.

Our weather has been slightly milder than last summer.  Last year was killer; it rained almost every single day - at least 5 times a week - so that the humidity levels were off the charts.  This year has been drier, with rain a couple of times a week, or just in the afternoons for about a half hour.  There have been thunderstorms but they've been quick to pass by.  It's actually been pleasant in the shade, with warm breezes blowing.  Once you step out into the sun, though, it's like being in an oven.  I've thought that I would melt on several occasions.

I finally got the chance to use my new weed eater last weekend.  It's lightweight, so it wasn't a hassle carrying it around as I trimmed all the edges around our house and fences.  It's also fairly quiet.  I'm glad I charged both batteries, since the first one went dead with a quarter of my yard left to do.  I was really satisfied with how the yard looked; my arms, however, were not as happy.  The vibration of the weed eater is something I'm not used to, so by the time I was finished I felt like my arms were going to fall off.  It was a weird sensation that lasted several hours.  Yesterday I mowed the grass in the backyard again (that's the problem with summer, the grass kicks into high gear) but the sun was blaring on me by the time I finished so I didn't do any trim work.  Instead I pulled out the blower, and found that it too does a good job at cleaning up.  My favorite part is that they are both very light to carry around, even with the battery put in.  Assembly was easy too: for the blower I just had to attach the tube portion to the motor.  There was a small hole that I figured needed to be screwed in, but I couldn't find one in the box.  I thought, "Hmm, looks like I'm missing a screw," - then I chuckled at myself.  I figured out that the holes were just for lining up the two parts and no additional hardware was needed.  For under $120 I got a good buy, which makes me happy.

I've come to the sad realization that one of my makeup products is making me break out.  I'd purchased the Mac Face and Body foundation a couple of months ago, and was really liking it - the color match is spot on, it gives good coverage without feeling heavy, and I could use it on its own or over my Complexion Rescue.  I had noticed, however, that a couple of times after I'd used it I was broken out.  I have occasional breakouts from acne, thanks to hormones and such.  Pre-menopause = Puberty, The Sequel.  But this wasn't pimples; I was breaking out in a rash.  I tried to attribute it to other things: food allergy, hormonal acne, weather changes.  But yesterday, after cutting the grass, washing and drying my hair, and making lunch, I was running late, so I decided on using the Mac product for a quick makeup look.  Sure enough, when I got home and took off my makeup, my cheeks and chin were red and blotchy.  This morning it was no better.  Even my oldest son, who typically doesn't notice things like that, asked me what was going on with my face this morning.  The only thing different was the Mac Face and Body.  My daughter won't mind getting my almost full bottle - it works wonderfully for her.  I'm going back to my trusty mineral powder foundation.  Just not today.  Today I'm gonna run over to CVS and see if I can't find something for my blemishes.

What else is on the agenda for today?  For one thing, laundry.  Lots of laundry.  I also have to put gas in my car.  It's so great to work just three minutes from my house.  I literally put gas in my car once a month.  That saves me a ton of money.  I've also got to vacuum, and I'm hoping to take a trip to Target today.  They have shorts on sale, buy one get one 50% off.  Shorts this year are much shorter than anything I care to wear - let's face it, mini shorts don't look attractive on me anymore.  They have Bermuda shorts on sale, though, and I want to stock up for our upcoming trip to Disney World - yay!   So that's it for now.  Hope everyone has a beautiful and blessed day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Product Review: Brow Gels

I like my eyebrows.

Back in the 80's it was popular to wear eyebrows really thin.  Like, pencil thin.  Girls would pluck their eyebrows until there was nothing but a skinny line, leaving lots of room for colorful and bright eyeshadows that reached up to the hairline (okay, not that high, but pretty high).  I plucked my eyebrows but never to that extreme.  I was so afraid of messing up my brows and having to draw them in, which also scared me because, what if I accidentally rubbed my eyes and the pencil smeared?!  I was too much of a self-conscious coward to let that happen.  Hence, my brows were always groomed but on the bushy-er side.

Come to find out now, it was a good thing I didn't over-pluck!  Brows tend to thin out as we get older (like the hair on our heads), and women who over-plucked their brows are finding that the hairs don't grow back.  To make matters worse, thicker brows are what's in vogue now, so those pencil thin brows are dated and (ugh!) aging.  My brows are thinner than they were back in the day, but they are definitely not a barely-there line over my eyes.  They have a nice shape, and since they are mostly dark they don't look thin.

I say "mostly dark" because my brows are starting to rebel and turn white.  That is not cool.  At first there was one.  Then two.  When I found three white eyebrows I knew I was gonna have to take action.

Dying my brows is not one of the options I considered.  I've read that, while there are women that dye their eyebrows and even salons that do this type of service, it's actually illegal.  These products are harsh - hence why the packaging on hair dyes says to test on a small patch before actually using the product - and I don't want to put harsh chemicals on my already sensitive face.  My alternative was going to have to be makeup - but what?

I didn't want a brow pomade.  It's not that I'm knocking brow pomades.  They're great for folks that have pencil thin brows, or nonexistent brows.  It just isn't what I need.  I wanted something that would cover my white brows (albeit it temporarily) while also keeping them tame.  Yeah, that's another thing I've found out about getting older.  Eyebrows misbehave.  They become unruly.  I needed a product that would make them stay in their place like good little brows.  Enter the brow gel.

Similar to mascara but for the brows, these gels can be transparent (for women who like the color of their brows) or colored (for those of us who don't).  They can be light for blondes, or dark for brunettes.  They even come in auburn or red, though in my opinion they don't look as natural.  This sounded like something that could work for me, so I was on the hunt.

Like all other makeup, there are drugstore brands of brow gels and there are high end brands (read: cheap vs. expensive).  Before I dished out $18-$25 on a tube of brow gel, I wanted to experiment with them and see how they worked.  I turned to YouTube tutorials for inspiration and a little education.  Anastasia of Beverly Hills was clearly the high end favorite, with her brow wiz, brow pencils, brow pomades and gels.  But her tinted brow gel costs $22.  The second popular option is by Benefit.  The product is called Gimme Brow, and it's marketed as a product that not only tints and sets brows in place, it makes them look thicker, which means less work for those of us who just want to make our brows look slightly fuller without having to draw them in.  The price on this product was a more moderate $18 - still higher than I wanted to pay just to test it out.  Off to Walmart I went to see what I could find.

Side note here: I absolutely HATE shopping for makeup at my local Walmart.  Folks think all the product is there for the testing, and all I ever find are packages that have been opened.  Why must people be so disgusting?  Recently our Walmart did some remodeling and the makeup section is kind of closed off in an attempt to keep people from stealing or opening packages they don't intend to buy.  It helps - if the person at the register is actually there, which isn't always the case.  Still, I had to go to Walmart for groceries anyway, so I checked out the Revlon section.  There I found their Brow Fantasy Pencil and Gel.

    This was the best of both worlds: a brow pencil AND a gel, for $6.99.  I could give it a try and see if I liked it without breaking the bank.  I snatched it up and used it as soon as I got home.

And I liked it!  The pencil is too fat, and needs to be sharpened regularly or else it draws too thick of a line.  The gel worked really well at taming and lightening my brows (I got the light brown gel).  I totally enjoyed it - for the six weeks it lasted.  Yes, the product is nice, but there's not a whole lot of it.  Again, that's the issue I have with a lot of drugstore brands.  They appear to be more economical, but in the end they cost more because they have to be replaced so much more often.

Since the pencil on my Brow Fantasy Pencil and Gel had barely been used, I decided to try a different brow gel, one that would only have the gel.  Maybelline has a Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara that has gotten some attention, so I decided to give it a go.  I usually steer away from Maybelline products because I've had allergic reactions to it in the past, but products get reformulated everyday, so I figured I'd give it a try.

I used it once, and thought I would die.  The fragrance is so strong, and so long lasting, that it gave me a headache.  I could smell it on my face for hours!  And honestly, it didn't make my brows look any better.  I could still see the white hairs because it didn't color them at all.  I knew I would not be able to use this, so I quickly returned it to Walmart.

I was tempted to just order the Gimme Brow from Ulta - suck it up and dish out the $18 instead of putting myself through all this torture!  But I did see another review for a product that was touted as a dupe for the Benefit product, one by L'Oreal called the Brow Stylist Plumper Brow Gel Mascara (quite the mouthful, I know).  I was intrigued because none of the other products had been called a dupe for the Gimme Brow.  I decided I'd give it one more try with the drugstore brand, then I'd order the Gimme Brow.  At least I felt like I'd covered all my bases.

I got the Brow Plumper at Walmart for, I believe, $7.99.  Slightly more expensive than the other drugstore brands, but then L'Oreal usually is.  I also decided to get it in medium to dark, since my other options were light to medium and transparent.  I'm not a blonde, so I didn't want to go too light.  This product is a dream!  There is no fragrance, which is great for me.  It tints my brows but not harshly, so it doesn't look like my brows are jet black.  It goes on slightly wet but dries quickly, and those brows are set in place like cement!  They are not budging!  Yet it comes off easily with cleansing wipes or my facial cleanser.  I've been using it for about a month now and I'm loving how natural yet fuller my brows look.  I can use this on its own for a quick makeup look, or, if I want something more dramatic, I can use my Revlon pencil to shape and color in my brows, then use the Brow Plumper to finish off the look.

This past weekend my daughter and I took a little trip to Ulta to get some makeup for her (more on that in another post).  I decided to take a look at the Benefit Gimme Brow to see the wand and product, so I could compare it to the L'Oreal brow gel.  As soon as I opened the tube, I was glad I hadn't ordered it.  It has fragrance!  It wasn't even a pleasant fragrance as far as I was concerned.  I had my daughter smell it, and she immediately made a face.  Proof once more that what's popular isn't what's best, at least not for everyone.

So, the winner in the brow gel contest for me is, by far, L'Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper Brow Gel Mascara with its no fragrance, full coverage formula.  I'm so glad I did my homework because this one is going to be my go-to brow product from now on!  Do you have a favorite?  Let me know what you like/dislike in the brow product category!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Product Review: Bare Minerals Purifying Facial Cleanser

What is the most important ingredient to having a great makeup look?  Is it the foundation? The brand of makeup? Having all the right tools?  While some of these are good and/or necessary, they pale in comparison to proper skincare.  What good is it to spend hundreds of dollars on makeup and not have a skincare routine to keep the skin in its best condition?  That would be like a painter spending tons of money on the best quality paints and brushes, only to paint on an oily old rag.  It would be pointless.

When you have dry, sensitive skin like I do, skincare becomes a bigger challenge.  There are many good products on the market that I cannot use because they are heavily fragranced or have harsh chemicals in them that cause me to break out.  So when I find something that works and is gentle on my skin, it makes my heart happy.

I began using Olay's Age Defying Classic Cleanser because I needed something that would exfoliate after removing my makeup.  It's gentle even though it has micro-beads; they're barely noticeable when I wash my face but I can tell the difference in how clean my face is.  Then in February I got my order from Bare Minerals that included a bottle of their Purifying Facial Cleanser.  The first time I tried it I used two pumps of cleanser and it was too much.  The next time I used just one pump, and it left my face clean and fresh, without any irritation.  This stuff is gold!  I literally used it to wash the makeup off my eyes, and my eyes didn't get irritated from it.  It was a dream come true!

Probably my one issue with this product is the price.  Since I got it as part of a set I did save money, but the regular price for 6 fl. oz. of product is $20.  That's a lot to dish out for a facial cleanser.  But here's the thing: I got this bottle on February 19.  I use it everyday at least once a day, and it's still over a quarter of the bottle full.  Since that time I've repurchased the Olay Age Defying Classic Cleanser twice, even though I use it less than the Purifying Facial Cleanser (I only use it when I'm exfoliating; if I don't wear makeup one day I don't need to exfoliate), and it brings 6.78 fl. oz., more than the Bare Minerals product.  At almost $5 a bottle, the Olay is definitely cheaper to purchase, but when you see how fast it's used up and how far the Bare Minerals product goes, it's easy to see that the Purifying Facial Cleanser is a better buy.  It's what I've learned with some of the drugstore brands versus the high-end products: since you use less of the high-end brands, they're often not as expensive as they seem.  And if the product works really well for your skin, it's probably worth the splurge.  In my case, spending a little more on cleanser is absolutely worth it.

So, here are my pros and cons for the Purifying Facial Cleanser.  Pros: cleans well without any irritation, takes off makeup and dirt without leaving skin feeling stripped, a little goes a long way.  Cons: the initial price to purchase is high, but the product is cost effective since it lasts so long.  Would I buy it again?  I already have - Bare Escentuals had a skincare sale and I snatched up another bottle.  This has become a standard for me!

What about the Olay Age Defying Classic Cleanser?  It also does a good job of cleaning my face without causing irritation.  It does leave my skin feeling very dry; since I have dry skin my face always feels dry after I wash it, but some cleansers make it feel more so.  This is one of them.  And while the initial price of the product is very inexpensive, it has to be repurchased more frequently because it runs out so fast.  I've continued to purchase this because it does exfoliate well, but if I had to choose only one, it would be the Purifying Facial Cleanser.  It just can't be beat.

Have you tried either cleanser?  What are your thoughts?  I'd love to know!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mid-Week Update

This past Friday I purchased a weed eater/blower combo.  I needed both of these to tidy up my yard.  I know we had both a weed eater and a leaf blower, but everything points to J having taken them with him when he left, and I've been in need of both ever since.  My friend IV gave me a $10 off coupon from Lowe's, so my daughter and I trekked over to see what was available.  They had this combo by Worx on sale for $119.  It's lightweight and battery operated, which is good because the other options are electrical (power cord being dragged everywhere), or gas.  The weed eaters we've had in the past have been gas powered, and they're good, but they are a pain to get started.  This one should be much easier to use.

I intended to do some backyard trimming on Saturday to test the weed eater out, but it poured.  Our rainy season has begun; mornings are clear and sunny, while afternoons are torrential.  There has been some flooding in areas of South Florida already, and we're just getting started.  Sunday was church and I'd just done my hair, so I wasn't going out in the heat and humidity.  Besides, it rained again.

Monday I figured I could get my son R to help me out, since Mondays he doesn't leave for work till 4:30.  I pulled the weed eater out, easily put the parts together that needed assembling, then realized the batteries had to be charged.  Somehow I knew that would be true, but at the moment I didn't think about it.  By the time the one battery was charged it was time for me to go to work.  So it didn't happen.

I charged the second battery as well, but yesterday I got busy vacuuming, putting away laundry, cooking, and getting ready for work, so I didn't even think about doing outdoor work.  It looks like it might be today.  Let's hope that it's today.

I don't have to worry about the front yard, though.  We have new neighbors that moved in about a month ago.  As I'd been doing before, I mow the grass that is on the side of their house that's attached to mine and swept up the grass clippings for them.  In return, they trimmed all the edges in my front yard and did a beautiful job.  As I tell my kids, kindness repays kindness, and if you want good neighbors you have to be one first.  I'm so thankful to have nice people living next door.  They're a nice couple in their 30's with twin girls and a golden retriever.  My daughter likes the golden retriever best ;-).

I hope to be taking pictures of some stuff I've done to the house; not a whole lot, but I did get rugs for the family room because the room felt empty.  Work has been a bit boring; I've gotten so caught up with my work it's like I'm constantly looking for something to do.  Tonight is children's ministry night, so I leave work early.  Our children's ministry is doing Summer Avengers - Heroes of the Bible.  We've studied Noah, Abraham, and Moses last week.  It's a good series, and so encouraging to see the kids excited about learning bible stories.  It's the highlight of my week.

That's it for now.  Happy first day of July!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Another Month In Review

I'm kind of embarrassed at the fact that another month has gone by and I haven't put up a blog post.  I've thought about it several times, but always had something that needed to get done first.  Isn't life funny like that?

Let me see, what has happened in June?  For starters, my son E finished ninth grade with straight A's.  There are no words to describe how happy I am with how well he did.  I quickly signed him up for tenth grade and all the classes he'd need to take in August.  About a week after he'd finished, I got a call from the Florida Virtual School office saying that they aren't doing full-time online school anymore.  I felt my heart hit the floor.  No, don't do this!  Then the woman explained that I had to sign up for part-time homeschooling, which in essence is the same as full-time virtual school, except that I set the schedule instead of the online school.  I had to re-register him, which took a while but I was able to finish it.  We won't be using the same program as we did for ninth grade, which is kind of sad since my son enjoyed it.  But I'm relieved that we will still be doing homeschool.  My son did so much better and learned so much this year; I don't want him to have to go back to a school system he hated.

A week after E finished school, I had a week off from work.  Well, almost a week off.  My boss MM had explained that, while the tutors would have the week off, we would still have to come in and set up for summer tutoring.  I didn't mind, but she did.  She wanted a week off as much as the teachers.  So, we got to work early the previous week and did all the paperwork for the new session.  The only thing that couldn't be done was reminders - calls to the parents to remind them when their kids would start the summer session.  My bosses went out of town for the week, so I was "nominated" to make the calls.  I figured it would take me a couple of hours at most.  It took almost four hours, but it was one day and I rested that week, so I can't complain.

The following week, however, was pure insanity.  I signed up to serve at our church's vacation bible school (or VBS) in the mornings.  I had to be at the church before 8:30 in the morning to help with registration and sign ins, then I was off to the snack room, where I helped prepare snacks and clean up for the four age groups.  I was on my feet from 9am till noon.  Then I ran home, changed my clothes, ate quickly, prepared my dinner, and went to work from 1:30 till 7:30.  I'd get home, prepare the crockpot for the next day, go to bed and start the whole thing all over again the next day.  Add to that the fact that my monthly friend paid a visit on Thursday morning, and you can well imagine what my week was like.  I was thankful that I don't work Fridays, but we had our women's bible group prayer night that night.  It was close to home, which is great, but I was exhausted.  I'm surprised I didn't fall asleep during prayer time!  Actually, it was beautiful, such a lovely time with these wonderful women, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.  In fact, if I had to do it again, I would do it all in a heartbeat.  Serving the kids was the highlight of my day, and I'm thankful I have the health and energy to still get it all done.

I went to NY & Co for some shopping because I had some City Cash that was about to expire.  It allowed me to get a couple of pretty necklaces that were on sale.  The original price was $25 for each; they had a buy one get one for $5 deal going on, and with my $20 in City Cash I spent $10 for the two.  I also picked up some pants for work.  I'd wanted to get some jeans but all they had was bootcut and I prefer straight leg jeans.  I also got some purses at Target.  One purse, in a pretty mint color, was $29.99; more than I usually pay for a purse but it's a lovely color and the perfect size for my wallet, umbrella, and bible.  I used it today for church and it's so springtime, I just love it.  Then my daughter and I went to Target today to return some makeup she'd bought that she didn't like, and I found a couple of purses on clearance.  One is black, the other is light green, and they were $7.48 each, reduced from $24.99.  Yeah, more my style!  I got a couple of tank tops too, at $6 each.  I like wearing a tank top with a cardigan for work because it's professional but still light.  One tank top is red and the other is purple.  I think I'll save the red one for July 4th, which is just a few days away.  Wow, the year is halfway gone!  Can you believe it?!

I also purchased some stuff from Bare Escentuals during their Friends and Family sale.  I had a $20 off coupon and they were offering 20% off and free shipping.  Works for me!  I got a cream concealer which I'd been wanting to get, a neutral eye kit with a 5 in 1 cream eye shadow primer, an eye shadow duo in brown and champagne (love!!) and a brown eye liner pencil (double love!!), and a sample Mineralixers kit.  Mineralixers is Bare Escentuals oil skincare line.  This kit brings the oil based cleanser, an eye balm and the 5 in 1 oil/moisturizer.  The 5 in 1 is my favorite; my dry skin appreciates it greatly.  It's not a greasy oil by any means.  I can use it in place of my moisturizer and it leaves my skin feeling smooth and silky.  The cleanser is good as a makeup remover - it melts the makeup off my face - but I don't feel like my skin is completely cleaned after I use it.  The eye balm is very nourishing to the delicate skin under my eyes, but so is their eye cream.  I'm not sure I like the balm more than the cream.  I'm glad I got the kit, though.  I've used it and my skin has responded well to it, which is good considering I'm struggling with adult acne.  It comes and goes; I can have days when my skin is perfectly clear, then all of a sudden I start breaking out.  It might be hormonal.  It might be my age.  Or... It might be that I've been having chocolate, which has always made me break out.  Which is terribly unfair.

I've been watching Poirot on Netflix.  A few seasons that hadn't been on Netflix before are on now, and I have been enjoying my favorite Agatha Christie sleuth.  I try to watch one episode a day.  It's about all I have time for.  It's a struggle not to fall asleep because it's late at night when I finally can sit down to watch.

Oh!  One more thing!  I've booked our hotel for our mini vacation in September!  We will be going to Night of Joy again this year, my son E, my daughter A and myself.  My oldest son R has to work, so he stays behind and takes care of Molly.  We will be staying at the Pop Century resort at Disney World, which is so cool because we've never stayed there before!  We got a great deal, $108 a night, which for Disney is a steal.  Just 2 days after I'd booked the room the prices had gone up to $114, so I'm glad I got it when I did.  We are soooo looking forward to Night of Joy - Skillet will be performing again, along with several bands we're eager to see.  I'm so excited!!

I think that's all the updates for this month.  I could say that I'm going to post more often, but...I'll say that I will try.  I really do enjoy recording our days and weeks.  I have to make an effort to keep my blog up to date.  Here's to hoping!  God bless.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Week...No, Wait, Month In Review

I've stayed away from my blog all this month, not by choice but by life.  It seems the minute I sit down something needs to get done, someone needs to talk, I remember something I was supposed to's a never-ending cycle.

Let's get a quick recap of what's happened in May.  For one thing, my son E is almost finished with school.  He has taken 3 of his 6 finals and passed each one.  He ended up with an A in algebra (92%), an A in leadership (98%), and an A in music history (96%).  All his work has been turned in, and now he has to take his Hope, English, and Science finals so he can be done.  We are both looking forward to being done, though I suppose he's looking forward to it more.

The church where my daughter works has finally moved into their new building, which has been under construction for the past year.  There were issues these past couple of months, including a break-in to the construction site in which materials and tools were stolen.  Inspections were probably the biggest delay; they never happen when they're supposed to.  Still, God came through as He always does, and this Sunday is the grand opening celebration.  There was a soft opening last Sunday, and I was excited to go because my daughter was singing!  She has sung before, but only for children's and youth ministries.  This time she was on main stage, and yes, mama was proud!  She is also blessed to be singing tomorrow for the grand opening, which mama will not miss!

Molly is doing so much better.  It's hard to believe she is suffering from cancer; honestly, she doesn't appear to be suffering at all.  She still has a bit of a limp, though not as pronounced as it was before the surgery.  She has recovered from the surgery remarkably well.  Our Molly is acting like a puppy once again.  We hope it will last.

As for my oldest son, I don't see him much.  He's been working quite a few hours, covering for people who are out.  When he's home he's on his computer or playing a video game.  Otherwise, he's out with his friends.

I enjoyed my very simple, very quiet Mother's day, though my oldest son was gone the whole day (he forgot what day it was.  Mama was not happy).  My daughter cooked for me - shrimp and steak sandwiches, absolutely delicious!  My gift from my kids was, what else, makeup!  I got some eye makeup and a really nice brush from Bare Minerals.  My cousin came over with her 3 kids and they brought me flowers.  She isn't technically my cousin; she's J's cousin, but I've known her since she was a toddler, and I babysat her for years.  When she was older she babysat my kids, so they're like siblings more than cousins.  It was sweet of them to bring me flowers and spend some time with me.

For Mother's day I wore a beautiful dress that I got from New York and Company.  The dress is black lace, but unlike most lace dresses that have a white underlay, this one has a two-toned pink underlay.  It has stripes in light and bright pink, and the way it comes through the lace makes the dress so unique, I've gotten multiple compliments!  I felt really pretty in the dress too, which is what every woman wants.

I got a few items from that trip to NY&Co, since I had City Cash and a coupon.  I got several tops and a cardigan - I wear cardigans a lot at work.  They look professional without being heavy, which is good because it has been H-O-T here in South Florida!  Thankfully it hasn't been very humid, though we have had some rainy days, but the temps are already in the upper 80's and low 90's.  I can't imagine what our summer will be like if our spring is so hot.

I also took advantage of a Bare Minerals Beauty Rush sale and got some skincare at a super discounted price.  Cleanser, eye cream, and two anti-aging creams for $39.  Just the wrinkle repair cream is normally $50, so I got a really nice deal!  I also got some mini lip sticks and lip glosses.  All in all a nice stash of makeup.  I had to get myself another organizer because it was getting a bit out of hand - there was makeup piling up and makeup bags filling up, and I can't stand a mess.  It all looks much neater now, and my makeup is more accessible.

That's gonna be it for now.  There's plenty more I can add but laundry needs to get folded, my bed needs to get made, and my daughter wants to go to the mall later on.  Not to mention that J is coming to pick up E in a little while and I'm hoping to get some studying done before that.  Yes, plenty to do, but thankful God gives me the energy to do it!  Have a blessed weekend.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Week's Review - Is It Over Yet?

My week has been like the weather - hectic and all over the place.  We've had hot days, humid days, rainy days, stormy was more like summer than spring.  Then this morning, the sky was clear and blue, and there was a sweet breeze blowing.  Everyone was shocked at the change!  Life is kinda like the weather; it can change from one day to the next.

My days are busy, busy, busy.  School in the mornings, work in the afternoons, church on Wednesdays.  Meals, laundry, housecleaning, dog tending.  It's a never ending cycle, but I'm getting the hang of it.  I think.

This week E took his unit exam for algebra.  Quadratics have been a headache for him and for me as well, because I don't remember doing them.  His exam was two parts; part one was multiple choice, and part two was 5 questions broken down into 3-4 parts, which meant it was really 16 questions.  He finished part one and got a 64%.  That really upset me, because he did study for the test, but the questions were tricky.  There were times when he would say, "it's either A or C," and invariably he'd pick the wrong one.  I was stressed about the second part of the exam more than he was, because a) the second part is always harder, and b) this material will be on his semester exam and he doesn't seem comfortable with it.  He did part 2 Tuesday night, and it took him 3 hours to complete it.  I decided he needed more help than what I was giving him, so I got him a tutoring session at work.  The tutor he got is a great teacher; he's studying finance at the local university, and is a brilliant young man.  I'm so thankful that E got the session.  He feels more confident now.  And today, when the scores were posted and I saw my son got a 94% on part two of his test, it made me feel so much better!  I really shouldn't have stressed so much.  If I'd given it to God from the start I would have saved myself a lot of internal frustration.  I hope I've learned this lesson.

Molly has continued to improve.  As a matter of fact, she's been behaving like a puppy again, so we were very optimistic.  Then I got the dreaded call from the vet this morning.  Our suspicions were confirmed: it is cancer.  The tumor that was removed was a stage 2 mass cell tumor, and this type of tumor will continue to spread.  The vet told me he would refer me to an oncologist, and I thanked him but explained that we'd already discussed it and decided we would not put our beloved dog through chemotherapy.  I just feel it's cruel to make an animal suffer through that horrible treatment, and honestly, each time I've heard of pets that have been put through chemo, it's always been the same outcome.  They end up dying of cancer anyway.  I simply cannot do that to Molly.  The doctor said she might do fine for another two years, or she might last six months.  Either way, we will do whatever it takes to keep her comfortable and happy, and when the time comes, we will say goodbye and be thankful to God for the time He allowed us to have her.  She has been a joy for us; I don't regret taking her in and caring for her.  She has been the best dog I've ever met, the most loving, affectionate, sweet dog in the world.  There is a dreary cloud over us today, but the silver lining around it is the reminder of all good times we've had.  She's been a rare treasure, and we are oh so thankful for her.

Our women's bible study group this morning was a real thought provoking study.  We were challenged to study the bible, not to gain more knowledge, but to know God better.  A challenge to read scripture, not for what I can get out of it or what it can do for me, but to see God in its pages and understand my Father in a more intimate way.  I hadn't thought about it, but how many times don't I pick up the bible to look for guidance for me, to seek answers for me, to feed me spiritually.  Me, me, me.  What I should be asking God is, "What do You want me to learn about You today?"  Because in knowing Him better, I will desire more of Him.  And as I desire more of Him, I will want to be more like Him.  And when I am more like Him, I will have all the answers to those questions that I usually go to scripture for.  It was such an eye-opener.

That has been my roller coaster week.  Ups and downs, spinning this way and that.  The ups have been exhilarating, the downs have made my stomach ill.  There is so much change in our lives, but I've learned that I'm tallest when I'm on my knees.  God has gotten me through rougher times than this; He will see me through again.  Have a good night, y'all.  God bless.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Recapping the Past Week

It's been a long and busy past week...but thankfully, a less stressed one.  Not completely stress-free, but let's be honest, does such a day exist when there is absolutely, positively, no stress?  Only after we die.

Molly is healing nicely.  She's in her normal mood again, cheerful, playful, happy.  Since she isn't a complainer, it's hard to determine when she's in pain or distress; now that we see her so full of pep we realize she was not comfortable with the tumor.  At all.  There was never any whimpering or crying, just lack of energy and no desire to play, though her appetite was never affected.  She is so totally different from Tobey, our first dog, who let us know when he was not feeling well.  I guess the male of the species aren't so different, one creature from another.

My son E, on the other hand (or should I say on the left hand?), had me running from doctor to doctor trying to figure out what in the world was that nasty rash on his hand.  The rash was first detected by his doctor around his left eye.  She said it looked like eczema and gave him medicine for it which took care of the problem.  Then a similar rash took over his left hand.  It looked awful; first it started as a slight rash, then as it got more intense I had him put the medicine from his eye on his hand.  It didn't do much of anything.  Since E has had eczema before, I was able to recognize similarities in this rash, though he'd never gotten it on his hand.  It was always on his elbows or behind his knees.  Still, I thought that's what it looked like, so I went to the pharmacy and got him some Neosporin for eczema.  The itching stopped, but the rash got worse - I mean really bad.  I took him to the doctor (his doctor wasn't in so an associate saw him), who determined it must be a fungus, since the eczema medicine wasn't working.  The doctor honestly admitted he didn't know for sure what it was.  He gave E another cream, and said if it didn't get better we should see a dermatologist.  The cream seemed to work for the first couple of days, but soon after it started making matters worse.  E complained every time he put the on medicine because it burned.  That was not good.

His father showed up that Saturday after not having seen or spoken to his son in two weeks.  All of a sudden he decided he needed to be a dad and take care of the situation because I hadn't done enough.  He wasn't around when the rash started, nor did he know what I'd done, but he started putting on a show, telling me I should have taken him to see a dermatologist from the start, and taking pictures of E's hand to "figure out" what it was.  I was angry and annoyed for hours.  How can one human being disrupt a household the way he does?!  He doesn't fool anyone; we all see through his act, including E.

As I saw the rash not improving, I went ahead and made the appointment with the dermatologist for the following Friday (this past Friday).  Tuesday I got a call from J asking how E was doing, and that he'd been trying to get in touch with the dermatologist to make an appointment for him but was unable to get through.  He claimed he was extremely concerned because the rash looked "dangerous". I told him I'd already made an appointment, and had gotten through to the dermatologist just fine.  Once again, I was convinced he was just putting on a show.  E spoke to his dad on Wednesday because it was his dad's birthday, and once again his father asked for a picture of his hand to see how it was doing.  Friday couldn't come fast enough, as far as I was concerned.  I wanted to get this thing over with once and for all.

Finally the dermatologist was able to see him, and guess what?  It's eczema.  No fungus, no "dangerous condition", just eczema.  The medicines I had weren't strong enough to take care of the problem, so the doctor prescribed a stronger hydrocortisone cream and told us that, just as in the past, this would eventually go away on its own.  In the meantime we would treat it, and there was nothing to worry about.  After the doctor, I took E home and went to do some grocery shopping.  I was at Walmart when J called asking what it was E had because E had told him but he didn't understand.  When I told him it was eczema, he didn't know how to respond.  His first comment was, "But that's just dry skin."  Which of course it isn't, but I just said uh-huh.  Then he asked about the blisters on E's hand.  What blisters?  E didn't have any blisters at any time.  His skin was dry and cracked, but it never blistered.  He claimed there were blisters in the pictures E sent him.  I know there were no blisters, and he was being a drama queen as usual.  Here's the interesting part: we haven't heard from him since.  He didn't show up on Saturday to see his son or take him out, he didn't even call to ask if his hand was better.  Once he realized the show was over, he disappeared.  And then he wonders why his kids don't ever reach out to him.  

The rest of the week went by fine.  E finished his schoolwork a day early, which was great since he had to be at the doctor's on Friday.  He's got straight A's so far, and we are praying that continues, since finals are going to be coming up in the next few weeks.  His hand, by the way, has improved dramatically.  I expect the skin to be back to normal before weeks end.  Thank You Jesus!  Weather-wise, it has been scorching.  Yesterday we were in the 90's.  Thankfully the humidity hasn't been as high as in the summer, but still, it felt like we were in the 100's.  I don't even want to think about what the summer will be like.  Praise God for air conditioning!!!

Saturday I stayed home all day getting the house cleaned up.  We were all suffering the effects of allergy season this week, and I was finally feeling better, so I didn't want to go out and provoke my sinuses to shut down.  Yesterday we went to church, then my daughter and I went to the outlet mall for a little shopping.  There's a Bare Minerals outlet there, and since I had a $20 off coupon I decided to get some concealer.  The small sample I got back in November is finally running out.  I also picked up a neutral lip liner and a gorgeous blue eyeliner.  Then we went to the CCO (Cosmetic Company Outlet) and I picked up a Mac Face And Body foundation for $19.  It usually goes for almost $30 so I was thrilled to get it so cheap.  My daughter got some too.  Can't wait to try it out!  She had gotten a Forever 21 gift certificate back in December for her birthday, so she decided to bring it along and see if she could find something she liked.  She got a really cute handbag that was on sale, so of course she was excited - I thought she'd start dancing in the store!  We also stopped at Teavana for some herbal teas.  She got a ginger coconut tea that is delicious!  We had some last night, and while it doesn't say it's relaxing, I can tell you I slept like a baby.  I could get used to that stuff!

That's my recap for the week.  I'm hoping and praying we have a stress-free week, but if not, it's okay.  God's got my back.  Blessings to everyone!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Things Are Starting To Look Up

Molly had her surgery this morning.  I can't put into words how stressed I was thinking about how she would feel in that pet hospital without us around, but I knew it was necessary, and I left her in God's hands.

We seem to have rushed past springtime in South Florida.  It is as hot as summer, though not as humid.  As a matter of fact, it's been really dry.  So much so, that there have been brush fires popping up all over the place.  Finally, we got some rain yesterday and today.  It was much needed and much appreciated, since it helped put out a bunch of fires, but now the air is heavy with smoke and everything is covered in ashes (including my car, which just got washed two weeks ago).  My nose is all stuffed up, and my daughter is complaining of a sinus headache, which I'm attributing to having to go out in this smoke filled environment.  We're supposed to get rain all week; hopefully it'll clear the air.  So long as we don't get another emergency tornado alert...

Yeah, we got one of those this afternoon, before I had to leave for work.  There was a fairly strong thunderstorm prior to it, and all I could think of was Molly and how terrified she is of thunder.  I hoped she was sleeping through it and didn't have to hear all the noise.

I finally was able to pick her up at 4:30.  My boss was nice about me going; she recently put her own dog down after spending tons of money to treat her for cancer, so she was extremely sympathetic.  I was surprised to find Molly much more alert than I'd expected.  As soon as she saw me she came up to me and lay her head on my lap.  I think that, despite the pain from the surgery, she feels better without that nasty tumor hanging from her belly.  I had a heck of a time getting her in and out of the car, but once she was home she relaxed, has been drinking water and even ate her food.  We let her out to do her business but bring her in quickly; she doesn't need to be smelling all that smoke.  It looks like she's doing well, and we are so thankful for that.  There's one problem though; she has more small tumors.  The vet asked if I wanted them taken off as well, but it would cost an additional $266.  I'm already spending close to $900.  There was no way I could spend anything else.  We are hoping these won't develop like the other one did, but until we get the biopsy results I don't want to make any decisions.  The vet says we should have an answer by Monday, maybe even sooner.  We'll just have to wait and see.

At least she's looking happier now.  That's what we wanted, to see her happy and smiling.  Yes, our dog smiles.  It's the sweetest thing.  Goodnight everyone.  God bless.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Week in Review - It's Been A Difficult Week

I've wanted to post a few times this week, but time kept getting away from me.  How I would love a day when I can do absolutely nothing.  Just sit around watching TV, which I haven't done in awhile.  Some days I miss that.

Molly is scheduled for her surgery tomorrow.  She has been getting steadily worse this week, though you wouldn't know it from her demeanor.  She is still as loving and affectionate as ever, even if she doesn't have the same amount of energy or spunk.

The surgery can't come soon enough.  The tumor on her belly appears infected, and I mean badly infected.  It oozes, and has turned dark, almost green, and it smells awful.  I discussed with my daughter today that I'm concerned it might become gangrenous, which would be devastating.  Even if she comes out of the surgery well, which of course is our hope, there is no guarantee we will have her with us for very long.  We are both convinced this is a cancerous tumor, and more than likely it has spread, though we don't know to what extent.  We have to wait for the surgery, then make a decision as to her future.  It's not something any of us is looking forward to.

My son E had a very busy school week.  He had an English paper and presentation to finish and send in.  He started quadratic formulas in algebra which were complicated to learn.  There was a science quiz and a review portfolio which he just finished today.  Music history is usually just reading, but this week he had a review and critical thinking paper, class discussion, and lab to complete.  Usually he doesn't have to work on the weekends, but this time he worked both yesterday and today, with a Hope assignment still not completed - it should be done by tomorrow.  There's about 8 weeks of school left so of course it gets hectic as we approach the final stretch.

Work was also really busy this week.  Many of the students we tutor took their ACT exams this weekend, so they're done with tutoring.  New students that have been on a waiting list are now starting this week, which meant lots of paperwork had to be completed.  As busy as we were, I had to help with tutoring a few kids.  Two of our teachers were sick - one had kidney surgery and the other had a kidney infection, so both were in the hospital at the same time.  MM arranged their students as best she could, but there simply weren't enough teachers to go around, so I was assigned homework help students.  Since they were all elementary school age it wasn't a problem, but I felt like I would never get my work done.  Thankfully everything fell into place and I think we're back on track, but I have to say it was pretty stressful.

Then Friday, my "day off", started off at 6:00am.  I went to bible study where we finished studying the book Daniel by Beth Moore.  It was such a great study that I'm actually sorry it's over!  Afterwards I came home to do schoolwork with my son, make lunch, then take him to the doctor.  He has a rash on his left hand, a very itchy rash.  When it first appeared I thought it was ant bites.  As more bumps appeared in clusters, I thought it was similar to what he'd had on his eye, so I had him put on the cream they'd given him for his hand.  It did nothing.  It kind of looked like eczema, which he's had before, so I got him eczema cream.  It got worse.  The skin around his thumb was cracking, and it was very painful.  So I took him to his regular doctor, who believes this is a fungus based on the fact that it's only on his hand and the hydrocortisone made it worse.  He prescribed a cream, and antibiotics because of the cracked skin.  I'm keeping an eye on it; it seems better, but if I don't see enough improvement by Tuesday I'm gonna have to take him to see a dermatologist.

As exhausting as my week had been, I was looking forward to cleaning my home on Saturday and then relaxing.  That wasn't meant to be.  My kid's father showed up after two weeks of not seeing or calling any of his children.  He put on a show of concern for E's hand, and suggested yet again that we get rid of Molly because he blames her for E's allergies and anything else that happens to him.  He actually asked if any of us could catch what Molly has.  Since when is cancer contagious?  He finally left without E, because he didn't think E should go out with his hand looking the way it did.  Meanwhile, once again, I was left feeling angry and resentful and bitter, which I absolutely hate feeling, but he brings out the worst in me.  It is so frustrating that he acts like he's so concerned about his kids, then he disappears for a week or two.  It took several hours before I was able to calm down - that, and a trip to Target ;-).  I looked through the tops for clearance items, and found 3 tank tops and a v-neck, each under $10.  I don't usually recommend retail therapy, but I needed to get out of my house and focus on something else.

This week our Sunday school class was challenged to learn Psalm 23 by hard.  And let me tell you, it was hard!  I know bits and pieces of it, but I've never learned it straight through.  For some crazy reason, I thought I'd learn it in the King James Version.  It sounds so beautiful with all the thee's and thou's, but honestly, what was I thinking?!  I actually made it harder on myself.  I was relieved to find out everyone else had a hard time learning it as well ;-).  We are gonna continue working on it this week.  I printed it and put it up on my fridge to help me remember it.

That's my recap for the week.  It has been rough, and I don't think the coming week will be much easier, especially with Molly recovering from surgery.  If you think of her during the day, please say a prayer for our puppy.  We love her dearly, and just want to see her get better.  Thanks y'all.  Goodnight, and God bless.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Week In Review

I don't know what makes people think that being a stay at home mom is leisurely.  Even with 2 adult children and a 15 year old, my days are busy.  Of course, homeschooling makes a difference, but still...

Since I didn't have to work this week (thank you Spring Break!) we were able to keep up with all the school work E had.  It was a good thing too; E had his unit test for algebra, and we needed to do a lot of reviewing.  E does great when he does his lesson quizzes, typically getting 90% and above.  But when it comes time for his unit test, he gets everything jumbled up in his head and he forgets how to do the problems, getting formulas all mixed up.  This time, we reviewed everything from the unit step by step, then he did part 2 of the test first, which is the part that his teacher emails to him and he emails back.  That took longer; there were five questions, but each question had three parts to it, and he had to show all his work.  It was time consuming, but he got a 98%.  Then it came time to do part one which was multiple choice.  He wasn't looking forward to it, but once he sat down he found it only took him 20 minutes and he got 100%.  It made him feel a whole lot better once that was over.

The rest of the week went pretty smoothly.  Yesterday, however, was a stressful and distressing day.

Our dog Molly has been with us for almost four years now.  When we found her in our front yard, she was just over a year old, skinny, filthy, and scared.  We took her in, and she has been the most loving dog we've ever seen.  She is gentle, well behaved, and a great watch dog - she makes plenty of noise whenever someone comes to the door, enough to scare them away!  It's been a joy adding her to our family.

A couple of years ago we noticed a growth on her belly.  It was almost time to get her tags, so we waited to see the vet at the humane society.  She looked at it, and told us it shouldn't be a problem unless it started growing, in which case we should see a vet about it.  After a year we did notice it was getting bigger, so we took her to a local vet (the vet who had seen her before had moved out of the area).  This vet didn't even examine her; he glanced at her belly, said it was probably blood cancer, then proceeded to give us an estimate of $500 - $700 just to remove it, then it would have to be sent to a lab to find out if it really was cancer.  I was shocked and upset at this vet who didn't even take a good look at her or even touch her, so we left.  A short time later the growth popped, sort of like a pimple, and it shrunk.  We figured it was going away, and left it alone.  Over the past year it would grow and pop, grow and pop, and while we kept an eye on it, we didn't think too much of it.

The last few months, though, it has grown very large.  It's now bigger than a golf ball, and it bleeds occasionally.  Molly has been acting perfectly normal as far as her mood and appetite, but we did notice she's also limping from her right hind leg.  The growth and her limp were becoming more and more concerning, so Saturday my daughter and I took her to another vet, one who has been clipping her nails for the last year.  This vet asked lots of questions; she did a better job of examining her, though the growth is large enough that you don't have to get too close to see it.  Her diagnosis was disheartening: the growth doesn't look good.  Yes, it could be benign, but from the description she feels it most likely is cancer.  We have scheduled her surgery for a week from tomorrow, and once the growth is removed it will be biopsied.  She also told us that, while there is a chance Molly is limping simply because she's overweight (a whopping 82 lbs.), there is the possibility that the cancer has spread into her bones.  If that's the case, there is very little that can be done other than chemotherapy, and I've already made it clear to my kids (and they agree with me) that I would never put a dog through chemo.  This kind of treatment is painful, weakening, and dogs don't understand why it's happening.  I wouldn't want my sweet Molly to think she's being punished, which is what chemo must seem like to a dog.  Our prayer is that the tumor is benign, but if it isn't, we will do everything possible to keep Molly comfortable until she can no longer live, or until her time comes on its own.  It's not a pleasant thought at all, and I remember how much we suffered when our dog Tobey became ill and had to be put down, but the thought of treating her for cancer is, in my opinion, inhumane.  Those that wish to do it to their pets have the right to do so, but I just can't.  And it hurts my heart to know that either way she might suffer.  It has brought the mood in our home down low, but we trust that God will do what is right.  He brought her to us, and He will decide when she needs to leave us.

That's pretty much it.  I go back to work tomorrow, and school continues, as does life.  There are always stumbling blocks in the road; hiccups in life that we would prefer to avoid but can't.  The trials of life help make us stronger and remind us Who we need to depend on.  If you think of it, please pray for our Molly to not have cancer.  That would be the best news our vet could give us.  God bless, and good night.