Friday, April 12, 2024

Happy Easter 2024!

 It was my first Easter in my new house, so I took pictures of how I decorated so that I can reference them in the future. It's been a pleasant surprise to me that most of my holiday decorations fit because my new place is a lot smaller than my previous houses were, but somehow they do, and without looking cluttered! I've only had to set aside or get rid of a few things so far.

I should have had a pretty dishscape going when I took this picture!

That week my ministering sisters dropped off a pretty bouquet of tulips for me.

Here's Sam's Easter basket. Unlike John's, I did spend money on this one!

And I did a basket for me, too, because who else is gonna do it? 😉 I got myself my favorite chocolate bunny from Harbor Sweets and a new pair of pajamas (which I needed and were on sale) from Lands' End.

On Easter morning, Sam and I did our special traditions, which is always so nice and meaningful. 
I really missed John being there. 😢

I hosted Easter dinner in the afternoon for my family. My mom had gotten these pretty sugar cookies for the occasion, which I put out on one of my Sydenstricker plates. Because I'm such a good hostess and all. 😆

This is my Easter selfie with Christ. 😊

And here's my Easter selfie with my not-so-little-man Sam AND Christ!

I don't have a fancy dining room anymore, but I still have my nice table and buffet and a pleasant, light-filled dining space. It's a little tighter than what I used to have and I don't like the carpeted floor, but it works well.
I'm so grateful for my home.

I'm glad that the Church has been emphasizing Easter and Holy Week a lot more in recent years. I love how the focus is so much on Jesus Christ. This is what it's all really about.

He has done this for me.

And this. I've experienced it for myself.  
My trials have helped me turn to Christ in ways that I never really had before, and my relationship with Him has grown much deeper over the last several years as a result. I'll be eternally grateful to President Nelson for his guidance in helping me to understand better how to do this. I know he's a prophet of the Lord because following his counsel has brought me so much closer to the Lord and has helped me to come to love the Lord's house, the temple, which has also helped bring me closer to Him.

I love my Savior so much, and I know the day is coming when I'll see Him and live with Him again. Until that day happens, He is with me every day as I abide in Him and He abides in me. It's a beautiful way to live life—in fact, it's the best way to live life!

Thursday, April 11, 2024

My Little (Old) Lady Violet

 Violet had surgery a few weeks ago to remove a cancerous tumor that had returned to the side of her chest. I paid a small fortune for it, but I had the funds and decided it was worth it. I think it (literally) bought her more time. I'm willing to spend on my pets to a reasonable degree because they mean so much to me, especially now that I'm single and alone >40% of the time. Violet's presence and companionship are such a comfort to me.  

She had the same surgery last summer and it went well, but unfortunately, about two months ago, the cancer started growing back. It's a soft-cell sarcoma, so the good news about that is that it doesn't spread as easily or as quickly into the organs or throughout the body. But it is persistent, and it's probably going to be what sends her into the next phase of life, if you catch my drift. 😔 The vet surgeon (who I found out later went to Penn's vet school) and I decided after the surgery last month that "benign neglect" would be the best way to proceed from here on out. Doing another surgery in the future when it grows back isn't a feasible option given her age and the fact that she's had two surgeries now in the same spot. Radiation isn't really a good option for her either. 

So I will treasure the time I have left with Violet. I'll continue to treat her like the little lady she is and then some. I'm thankful for the time I have left with her and that I can prepare myself for the end, whenever that turns out to be (which hopefully won't be for many more months 🙏). This same thing happened with Bentwood at about this time last year and though it was still so sad and upsetting when he died, it wasn't full of the searing grief and shock that happened when my beloved Boo Boo died suddenly and tragically in 2020. 

The good news is that Violet seems comfortable and pain-free, she eats well, and she still loves her evening walks. All things considered, she's doing well for 96 years old! She turned 14 the week after her surgery and in human years, that equates to about 96. She's mostly blind in her right eye from a botched procedure two years ago to remove some teeth (at a different vet that I'll never go back to again), and she's in the beginning stages of laryngeal paralysis, and she has soft-cell sarcoma, but other than that, she's fine and fit as a fiddle! 😅

These are pictures from March before she got surgery. Sometimes I like to bundle her up in a blanket when she's lying on the couch because I think it's cute. She always patiently puts up with my antics. 😄

She often lays at my feet while I'm working at my desk. She makes an excellent co-worker. 😊 

She's a good newspaper-reading companion. Sometimes I have to lay the paper out on part of her body, and she doesn't mind.

Here she was at the appointment where the vet went over the options with me. This was when I somewhat reluctantly (because of the risk and the price) decided on surgery, but I also felt pretty good about it.

And here she was the following week when I picked her up the day after the surgery. They had shaved a lot off of her and she was pretty drugged up for the first ten days. She recovered like a champ, though.

She looked like a Frankenstein dog.

It's not pretty. 😬 Last week she had the stitches removed, and her fur is growing back.

She did a lot of this while she was recovering. She does a lot of this anyway. 😄

I cherish the time I have left with my little lady Violet. She inspires me with her quiet strength and her ability to keep going. I love my sweet girl and am so thankful for her in my life. 💜

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Mission Call Guesses

 I wanted to document this somewhere so I might as well do it here on my trusty blog. These are my top six guesses as to where John will be called on his mission. By doing this I realize that I'm probably jinxing it and making all of these less likely to happen because that's how life seems to work. 😄 Nevertheless, here are my guesses! (And knock on wood! 😉)

If he stays in the U.S. and serves an American mission (which isn't his preference)
somewhere in the Pacific Northwest
somewhere in the South (besides Arkansas)

If he goes on a foreign mission (which he prefers)
The Philippines
Africa (English-speaking)
Puerto Rico (or somewhere in the Caribbean)

No matter where he goes, it will be the right place for John. The most important thing is that he'll be serving the Lord and the people who live wherever he'll be as he assists in the gathering of Israel. Hopefully next week we'll find out where that gathering, teaching, and service work will be happening for him! 🤞

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

John Turns 19!

 I can't believe I have a 19-year-old. How do these things happen!? 

Here's John after he'd just turned five. He was such a cute little boy (though he could be a terror, too!). I feel like I should still be a mom of young kids instead of a mom of a teenager and a young adult, but that's the way life goes!

(I would LOVE to press rewind and relive those times! Well, some of them anyway. 😆)

I sent him this card at school along with a couple of gift cards. If you know John well, you'll know why this was the perfect card for him. 😂

As I just alluded to, John was away at school on his actual birthday, but he arrived home one week later for Spring Break. I was so glad that he was home again!

During Spring Break week he spent a lot of time with friends, played a lot of Fortnite, and did a lot of sleeping. 

I made him an early Easter basket, and as I said on Facebook, I didn't spend a cent on it! I used all of the Christmas candy that he didn't eat (because of wrestling season) and included two gift cards he hadn't used yet. (I'm not even the one who got him those gift cards. 😆)

Because wrestling was done, he ate most of the candy that week!

On the first Sunday that he was home, we had a family dinner to celebrate his birthday. 

While I made tacos for dinner (one of his favorite foods), they played Scattergories, one of our favorite games to play as a family. It always makes us laugh! Sam was MIA up in his room because he was still recovering from being sick, but he did make it down for dinner.

I got him a vanilla cake, his favorite.

Here's the cake aflame with 19 stubby candles (because I've used the same candles for years--but I finally did throw them away after this!), plus one candle for good luck. I don't know when we'll be celebrating his birthday together like this again! 😭 

The week after Spring Break when he was back at school, our friends were in Virginia and stopped by to see him and sent me this picture. 😊

I didn't know they were going to be down there so this was a nice surprise, and it meant a lot to me. I'm so thankful for good, strong Church members who care about my sons, especially the men. John and Sam benefit so much from their good examples and genuine care.  

In a few short weeks, John's spring semester will be done and he'll be home for the summer. I can't believe how quickly the school year flew by! He had a good freshman year and he likes SVU, but he's thinking about transferring to BYU-Idaho when he gets back from his mission because he wants to be with his best friends from home who will be going there. I don't love that idea, but it will be his choice. We'll see what happens. 

And speaking of his mission, we were hoping his call would have come by now, but it's been delayed a couple of times. For some (maddening) reason, his stake president in Virginia didn't submit his papers after their interview, so that delayed things, and then once they were submitted, there were a few questions from the Mission Department about some health-related things that he apparently hadn't filled out in enough detail, so that delayed it again. And then General Conference was this past weekend, which might have delayed it further. I've learned through the vicissitudes of life how to be patient with things that are beyond one's control, but dang! In any case, it will happen soon and we're excited for this next big stage of his life. I'm proud of John and for how much he's overcome in his life and for how he's always remained strong and faithful and true to the things that matters most. 💖