Moments Caught You Can't Forget - Christmas

12.31.2014 -

And this is why I always like to have my camera around. These moments I had already somewhat forgotten about and when I went through my pictures tonight my heart soared and the laughter came bursting out of my lungs. The emotion and good in these moments are captured in these images forever. And every time we see them all the wonderfulness will come flooding back, Never to be lost.

A Christmas Weekend Overview!
Christmas light drive thru and dinner with friends, christmas eve games, goof offs, movie (disney's A Christmas Carol), christmas lights around town, bad dance moves, cookies and milk out for santa, telling our elf goodbye, christmas morning magic and christmas night horridly awesome singing around the fire with family and friends.

On the Eve of Christmas Eve

12.24.2014 -
Christmas brings something extra magical for me. The extra smiley smiles and misty eyes that come over moments or songs. The excitement and giving it brings. Hope. It brings hope. Hope for the good. Hope for the beauty still there. Hope for good things. It is a season that fills me up just a little extra more. I can listen to christmas music at any time of the year and it will lift me up even for a brief moment. The songs are connected to a special time of the year.
I have always been one that will bust into song and a weird jig with my shopping cart in the middle of the store when the songs come on overhead. That "annoying person" that says merry christmas to every cashier at checkout. I have always wanted to spread christmas cheer even if it maybe wasn't wanted or received well. Maybe put an extra smile on someone's face or at least let them know someone notices them and cares. I've always been one to want to go "overboard" with the giving and loving and sharing. It fills me up. It makes my heart soar. It's one of the holidays that is not tainted anymore with hellishness and triggers from my past. It is the one holiday that Sam and I immediatly took and "started over" for our own family.

But this year...has been a very different kind of christmas season. In an amazing and humbling and beautiful way. It seems like I have cried a gallon of tears of thankfulness and overwhelmingness this last week and half. We have had people donate literally dozens of gifts for my brother and sister, had anonymous sums of cash given to us and restaurant, grocery and gas gift cards. I am overwhelmed with the love and care and encouragement people have been shooting our way. I sit and wonder if they know how miraculous and timely their love, help and thoughts are. I wish them to know that it isn't just the fact that they have given us these things that makes me cry and be overwhelmed, though these gifts are a tremendous help for us this year. It is that we have people that care. That are on our side. That are there for us. That believe in us. That want us to win, to keep fighting, to keep doing the good thing even when it's harder than hell. It's just knowing we aren't alone. That we have people that want us to succeed and to live. THAT is what I feel. That is what brings the tears. That we have so many people that are there to be our support team. That are there to help. Even people that we don't even know!

So in the late hours on this eve of christmas eve with spirits and excitement around here very high, 4 kids going to bed giddy and grinning and talking about the celebrations that are to start tomorrow; my heart is full and overflowing. My head is spinning with amazement of how everything have just fallen into place once more. My heart and my head at peace and calm. No worry tonight. No stress tonight. The air is thick with hope. With possibilities. The next 5 days promising to be busting with new memories, new times, new traditions, with our "new" family. I can not wait. To hear them laughing as we drive around looking at lights with the music on a little too high, and drinking hot chocolate and playing games and being too loud. I can not wait to see the grins and tears and freak outs and mess on christmas morning. I can not wait to sit back and watch and cry happy tears and laugh and just be. To eat too much food and sit around the fire pit roasting marshmallows under the lights.

My body is tired tonight from the day but my heart is fully content and alive. And for that I will be thankful for and cling tight too. Because I don't want to forget this feeling I have now. For me to lay down and feel like for just a moment in time I feel like I have the freedom to take a break. To not plan and fret and think and figure out just rest.

Do your worst for I will do mine...

12.18.2014 -
Let's get real? Well…today was one of those days where I had so much to do, so many places to go and was so tired that I got home, pulled in my driveway and just sat there in the car staring. And sitting. Just sitting. Sitting in the silence. It was like I couldn’t get out.

And I sat and I listening to the deafening silence my ears ringing from it and I just sat. And stared. And sat.

It’s Christmas week. Tomorrow is the last day of school for christmas break. This scares me. I have 9 teacher gifts to make, lists of items to buy for the boys school christmas party, lunch meetings and meetings with some of our case workers halfway to the city. There are christmas goodies begging to be made, wide eyed little boys excited about things I am scrambling to keep going for them. I have sacks of supplies sitting on my floor still waiting to be made into christmas gifts before the weekend. There are hours and hours and HOURS of car drives to take kids to therapy and to meet up with our foster case workers for the kids. And more hours of cars rides to family christmas get togethers. I have scheduled photo shoots (why the heck did I do that to myself I don’t know) and editing to get done for clients. I have boxes stacked high in my office begging me to get my space organized for the sake of my own sanity. The fridge is getting dry of groceries again and the cat puke from earlier is still half cleaned up on my carpet. I hadn’t eaten a solid meal in almost 24 hours and half my house needs cleaning while the other half smells like the trash needs taken out, burnt rubber and stinky feet. (Haven't figured out why the burnt rubber smell yet either.) The gloom of the rainy cloudy week still storming overhead looked like a dark frown staring at me and then the tears just came.

I had one of those moments of what am I doing and why am I doing it again. Where the reminder that I am human just glared me in face. I had one of those moments where I wanted to just take off in my car driving with a suitcase and my camera. Where it felt too hard, too overwhelming. My emotions were shot once again from the particular events of the morning after a phone call I received and trying to talk through the events with the 16 year old in the house. My mental state was in the state of I couldn’t think because my brain was thinking TOO much. It felt like a time bomb was ticking in my head and I needed to diffuse it before it went off.

So I sat in my car and let the tears come and the ache in my chest ache. And I excepted that I was worn out. I excepted that this wasn't working.

And then I pulled out my phone and started writing down all the things I had to do, all the things I wanted to do and the the things I thought I was supposed to do for the next 7 days. And the stupid long list just glared at me. And I went though each one and wrote down the pros and cons to each. And the ones with more cons I wrote down on another list. Am I am going to go through that list and eliminate as many as are possible. Because today is a great reminder of one thing. Putting everyone else’s care before your own. That eventaully leads to one thing in the end. Death.

With Christmas 7 days away and me refusing to loose my crazy christmas spirit I am going to start on this list that is a little shorter now. Still might be tears running down my face the rest of the day, and still might be completely exhausted but I am going to eat a good meal, take a jog, come back and TRY. Let myself be human. Love myself. And try. Because no matter how much I want to run and hide, deep down I really never could. I would come back again soon. Because I have learned that this is where I am my best. Not just my worst. Because I know this is where I am meant to do my best work FOR NOW. And as many times as I need to cry and adjust, ache, fail and cry some more. I will do so and then try again. “I don’t know how my story will end, but nowhere in the text when the books series is done will it ever read…”she gave up”.

“What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine!” — Count of Monte Cristo

Fresh Greenery Wreath, Garland & Hair Crown DIY

12.14.2014 -
Thanks to my sister-in-law I got a giant box full of fresh live greenery given to me so today I went about putting it to good use. Ah God the smell of christmas tree is in my house now!

And I do believe with the hair crown that a christmas feel good photo shoot is in order for this week!

To Make I Used:
-Tree clippings, furs, live greens
-Floral Wire
-Floral Tape

Christmas Cookie Decorating

12.12.2014 -

Counting down to Christmas, day eleven! We spent three hours making sugar cookies perfections, dancing to christmas music and making the biggest ass mess you did ever see. The best kind of mess!

Candy Cane Bombing

12.11.2014 -

For candy cane bombing christmas note go HERE and right click on image to save/download!

Countdown to Christmas day 3! 
We took over 200 candy canes stapled them to christmas notes and candy cane bombed the Walmart parking lot and handed them out to cautious confused people wondering why this group of crazies was giving them something free! *giggles* People here are extremely cautious at being handed something even from a 5 year old. We even had a lady rant at us. "What is this for? Are you a business? What do you want from me? Why are you giving out free candy canes? Candy cane bombed? What does that even mean?" I'm sorry I had to laugh as I was talking back to her annoyed face. Regardless we had a blast and out of all the people we met we did get a middle aged man who lit up and grinning wishing us merry christmas back and said we just made his day! It just told me how much people just needed us 5 christmas ding dongs to smile at them and tell show them some love. They needed some candy cane hugs. Eh? And it was all worth it for at least that one day we know we made for someone and for the fact that the boys asked me later if we could do that again sometime. And THAT there made my heart overwhelmingly completed for the day! 

That "one" holiday...

12.10.2014 -'s the one that has the worst horrors ingrained into our brains. I learned this year JUST how much it wasn't just me that had trama triggers over thanksgiving. I wasn't the only one that literally, absolutely and completed hated this holiday. It's not the holiday it's what is behind the holiday. It's what we went through on and around this holiday. It's the fake smiles, the show, the forcefully voiced thankfulness for things we were not thankful for and we wanted to escape from. It was the hiding behind the "giant hot pink elephants" in the rooms that no one would ever face or dare to face. It was everyone having to be together and what that meant in our home was not a joyous, exciting, love filled thing. 

As of 3 years ago we had started our own tradition on thanksgiving with not being home even just us at home. Thanksgiving became our big family vacation week and I was able to find a lot of healing from the triggers even the word thanksgiving caused. This year for thanksgiving we were 3 months into Natalie and Jared coming to live with us and a month into having just moved and still adjusting, unpacking and settling in. There was no way a vacation with 6 people was going to happen this year. I accepted that and we set about the task of avoiding things that would cause the most triggers and trying to make it a fun, chill time as possible with lots of alone time and process time for everyone. We laughed...a lot. We slept in...a lot. Everyone cooked their favorite food and we had a very non-traditional meal that no one had to spend two days slaving away in the kitchen for. We watched movies and played xbox and took long naps. We didn't dress up and go anywhere. We had hard moments and trigger moments and worked through them and coped and dealt and then coped some more. 

There is going to be ugly. There is going to be yuck to have to deal with. Lots of it. It is certainly not all pretty and won't be all pretty. Anyone that says it is is lying. This holiday was the perfect example of that. This thanksgiving was the first one for them where the big ass hot pink elephants were not in the room. There were no horrors to face, and no tip toeing around on egg shells. They didn't have to hide and fake being proper mechanical robots. And THAT is terrifying. I know because I went through it too. Your normal, no matter how horrible it was, was what you knew as your normal. It was how you were taught, what you grew up with, what you adapted too. It was all you knew. It was what you were used too. It was your familiar. You knew how to be, how to act, how to perform in that environment. It's traumatic and terrifying coming out of that. You want too. But how do you. How dare you.

There is going to be lots of new for all 6 of us for awhile and a lot of adjusting, adapting, learning and more healing. Thriving and not just a lot of work. It is hard work. But damn it is it worth it. We learned how true that is over the last 3 years and now all I could desire is for them to to experience and learn just how different it is to thrive and live instead of "playing the part" to survive and to stay alive even if you were really dead.  

It's been 4 months...

12.09.2014 -
...and it's hard to believe. It's been a streak. A complete blur. A totally and very unplanned life turnaround. There has been an unmeasurable amount of adjusting, and starting over, and changing entirely our goals and plans of the next few years of our lives. This week marks 4 months since my siblings came and well, expanded our family! 4 months since the crazy, emotional, terrifying, fulfilling, exhausting, rewarding but burdening journey we started down.

In that time our household has gone from 4 people and 1 pet to 6 people and 2 pets going on 3. We sold our house and moved to a new house almost double in size. Upgraded to a larger vehicle. We now have 4 kids in school over here. Which is actually one of the hardest adjustments we have had to go through. Especially for them being in school for the first time and having to play catchup to be in their grade.  I now do school drop off and pick up for elementary school, middle school AND high school and I definitely would have never thought that would happen anytime soon in my life. I never could have imaged all the extra crazy and stressful and amazing and hard that this year was going to bring at the beginning of this last year. I remember the new year rolling around and I remember doing a post about how I felt that something was dramatically going to change in the course of this year. I guess that instinct was spot on! 

So as for new books, not new chapters at all, we are in a pretty big one. One I would never have expected we would be writing but we are. It is quickly proving to be the most scary, beautiful, horrific and epic book of our life thus far.