Monday, December 23, 2013

A New Normal Christmas

I believe we're going to have a somewhat normal Christmas this year.

It won't be like the Christmases we had when Jim was alive, so I guess we'll have to consider it our new normal Christmas.  Last year was the first Christmas without him, but Reid was in the hospital and we were all focused on getting him well. 

Tomorrow we'll make meatballs and cook the spaghetti sauce for Christmas dinner.  Keith and Reid have been baking cookies and on Christmas Day Troy and his family will join us.  I bought a bunch of prizes and we'll play Bingo after dinner.  The prizes are wrapped and the winner of each game will  be able to pick one.  Some are good prizes, some are just OK, and some are from Dollar Tree.  I think we'll have a good time.

Saturday, December 21st was the one year anniversary of Reid's stem cell transplant.  We all went out to our favorite German restaurant to celebrate his new birthday...the day he received a new lease on life thanks to Keith's stem cells.

I know we're going to have a good Christmas this year and I hope all of you do too.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Very Merry Christmas To Us!

Yesterday was the day.  Reid was scheduled for his one year follow up visit at MD Anderson.  We left home at 6:45 AM and didn't get home until almost 7 at night.  It was a long day, but the news was good.  His PET scan was clear.  There was no cancer!!!

On December 21st it will be exactly one year since Reid received Keith's stem cells in a stem cell transplant.  He has gone one year without cancer!  After three rounds of chemo and two stem cell transplants no cancer could be detected.

 He's been through hell and back the last four years, but he's never given up and he's never stopped smiling.

Today he's tired and sore.  He received 6 injections yesterday.  A flu shot and more childhood immunizations.  After a stem cell transplant all the childhood immunizations have to be given again.  I guess he wasn't really smiling then, but he does smile most of the time.

So, I guess you could say our Christmas present came early this year.

Thank you so much for your support and prayers.

Now I'm going to go ahead and breathe.  I've been holding my breath for weeks.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Do you have pets?

I buy 40 pound bags of Dr. Elsy's Kitty Litter at a time. I had been buying them at Petsmart, but a couple of months ago they put the bags on sale for $14.99 a bag (normally $17.99 a bag).  I would go and they'd be sold out.  I like this particular brand so I decided to Google and find out where else I could buy it locally.  Well, my Google search also pulled up Chewy.

I love Chewy!  It's an online pet supply store.

Other than being a satisfied customer I am in no way connected to Chewy.  This is not a paid advertisement.  I'm just thrilled that I found this company.

I now pay $14.99 a bag and if I spend at least $49 the shipping is free.  There is no sales tax.  I order five bags at a time.  On Black Friday the bags were $12.99 each!  It's delivered right to my front door.  I now have it set up for automatic delivery and they send me an E-mail whenever the order is ready to ship and then again when it is shipped.

They sell all sorts of pet, flea products, toys, beds, etc.

If you call them you actually get to speak with a human being.  How's that for service?

You can read more about the company here.

I just wanted to pass my accidental find on to you.  I don't think they've been in business all that long.  Maybe a year or so?  I had never heard of them until I stumbled upon their site in the Google search.

This Crazy Cat Lady and her brood are satisfied customers.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Change, Change, Change...

I know it's been a 4 months!  We've had some changes and a computer crash.

I now have a new computer with Windows 8 and my photo software no longer works.  I know it was old and outdated, but I knew how to use it!  It will be a while before I have time to figure out how to resize and touch up photos.

Would you believe I lost all my genealogy stuff in the computer crash?  I thought I was backing it all up, but I was only backing up My Documents.  At least I didn't lose all my photographs and important information, but everything in my genealogy program was lost.  Sadly, I'm no tech wizard and will now have to start over again.   It's on my "to do" list.

After I had that floor put down in July I decided it was time to move.  I spent weeks looking at different areas and finally settled on the Clear Lake area of Houston.  It's only 6 miles from where we used to live.

Reid and I spent weeks bringing over one or two carloads a day.  We'd empty boxes and bring them back to the old house to pack again.  It was very hot and humid and we both wore out quickly.  It took forever, but we finally had movers come and move the furniture and big stuff the middle of October.  There's still stuff in the garage at the old place and I'm hoping when Keith comes at Christmas we can get that cleared out.  I need to get that place sold.

Right now I'm sitting in the bedroom surrounded by unpacked boxes.  This is a two story house and the downstairs is pretty organized.  The mess is all upstairs! 

Reid has been very tired lately, but he goes back to MD Anderson on December 16th for all the tests and scans.  On December 21st it will be one year since he received Keith's stem cells.  It's hard to believe that a year has gone by already.  My hope and prayer is that everything is OK.  I'm thinking that he might just need the thyroid medication adjusted.  A few months ago he did develop Graft vs Host Disease, but it was caught right away and he's been on Prednisone ever since.

Meanwhile, Reid flew to Austin on Thursday to spend a few days with Keith.  He was going to drive, but decided to fly so he wouldn't be worn out when he got there.  They're attending a Comic Con convention in Austin.  He will fly back on Monday.

I'm going to work on this bedroom today.  Hopefully, I can clear out some of the boxes and give this room a good cleaning.

It's actually cold here!  Cold to us anyway.  I guess it's in the 40's.  I don't have any heat on and hopefully won't need any.  I need Reid to figure out the thermostats.  They're electronic.  How I miss the days of thermostats with just on and off buttons.  It's very comfortable in the house and I usually try not to run the heat since it's so drying anyway.

I put up the Christmas tree on Wednesday.  It's not decorated.  I just like to put it up a week or two in advance so the cats can check it out and lose interest before the decorations go up.  Keith is coming for Thanksgiving and we might decorate it while the turkey is in the oven.  I haven't cooked a turkey since 2008.  There's just been so much going on the last few years, so I'm really looking forward to cooking again.  I love the smell of a turkey roasting.

Ooops, had to stop.  My 20 year old cat was meowing at the window.  She wanted me to open the blinds so she could look out.  She loves the lower windows in this house. The other house had windows that were too high for her to reach in her old age.

Here are a few pictures I took a while back with my cell phone.  (I don't even know where my camera is, but I'm assuming safe and sound in a box somewhere.)

I have no pictures of the front, but this is the backyard.
I had the kitchen painted before we moved in.
Reid changed the locks.  (That's one of my dolls watching him.  I thought she looked cute in the window, but I don't think he was impressed.)
This is the room that sold me on this house.  It's supposed to be an office, but it's going to be my doll room.  I put a few dolls up on the shelves just to see how they'd look.  Now the room is filled with boxes!  It's the only room downstairs that isn't organized, but I decided the dolls could wait.
Jim used to tell me that I had too much stuff.  I've decided he was right after all.  I can't imagine ever moving again.  It's too much work and I'm old and tired.  :)  I have taken some boxes to Goodwill, but it's hardly made a dent.  It's hard for me to get rid of things.  I can always find a sentimental reason for keeping stuff.

Now I have to start focusing on Christmas.  Keith wants me to return with him to Austin for a few days.  It's very tempting, but I haven't decided what to do.  I really should stay here and try and get more done.  I need to start addressing Christmas cards, but I need to find the list first!

Yesterday was a somber day for me.  I vividly remember November 22, 1963.  It was comforting to see the reaction of others on television.  I thought I was the only one tearing up all over again.  It was as if it happened only yesterday.  For those too young to know but old enough to remember 9/11, the reaction is pretty much the same.  You see those horrible pictures again and it's as if it just happened.

I'm going to try and start visiting blogs again and post a little more regularly.  I just needed to take some time away from the computer in order to get things done (or at least attempt to get them done). 

Have a nice Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bye for now...I think!

In a little while we're clearing out this room so they can come in tomorrow and put down the rest of our new floors.  The floors didn't get finished before Reid went into the hospital last December, so we had to wait to have them come in and finish.  Actually, Reid isn't supposed to hang around while they're working, but I don't expect too much dust this time since they only have to pull up some old carpeting in one room.

I'll be back when we can figure out how to set this thing back up again!  Wish us luck.

Friday, July 12, 2013


It's already Friday and I'm just now getting an Alphabe-Thursday post written.  I hope Ms. Jenny will understand that the dog ate my homework and that's why this assignment is late.

The first word I thought of was HURRICANES.  Yes, HURRICANE Season began on June 1st and runs through November 1st.  Since I've lived in Texas I've only gone through two HURRICANES.  Alicia in 1983 and Ike in 2008.
In 1983 we were living northwest of downtown Houston and well inland.  Some of our neighbors lost trees, but we didn't.  We did go without electricity for a week or so which wasn't any fun.  The heat and humidity here is relentless and A/C is just as necessary to us as a furnace is to the people of Alaska.

In 2008 my husband and son stayed here for HURRICANE IKE.  They boarded up the house, brought as much as they could inside, and rode out the storm.  Meanwhile, I drove to Austin in the middle of the night with my Dad who had Alzheimer's.  We stayed in Austin for a couple of weeks and came back when the electricity came back on.

I do not plan to ever evacuate again.  I'm about 25-30 miles inland, but there's no way I'd pack up the dog and cats and hit the crowded roads.  I do think about HURRICANE Andrew from time to time.  That's the one that hit Florida in 1992 and did considerable damage.  It's scary to think about, but there really haven't been that many HURRICANES since I've lived here.  We've already loaded up on water and batteries and I'm hoping for the best.  I don't want to wish a HURRICANE on anyone else, but I sure hope one doesn't turn this way ever again!

Now I need your HELP.  Please hold me accountable.  I am the Queen of unfinished projects, but after seeing all the painted furniture on numerous blogs I decided to take the plunge.

I've done lots of research and am now totally confused.  One blog raves about Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint and another raves about CeeCee Caldwell's Chalk Paint.  I've read about how hard it is to wax the furniture after the painting is complete.  Some suggest Wipe On Poly for the finishing coat.  I didn't know such a product even existed, but I bought some at Home Depot.  What to do...what to do???

This is my mother's old sewing table.  It really needed work.
I love the bottom drawer.  It swings out and thread can be stored in there.

It also has a matching mirror.
So, I got out the sander and went to work.
I had no choice but to sand because the table had deep scratches.  I sanded a little bit more after this picture was taken.  My plan is to restain the top and paint the rest.  Meanwhile, the table sits in the garage until I reach a final decision.

I've decided not to use Chalk Paint this go around.  I'll just use some paint I have in the garage and then use the Poly stuff.  What do you think?  Good idea?  Should I paint the drawers one color and the sides and legs another color?  I've seen some pretty pieces done that way.  I don't think I'll do any distressing because I'm a perfectionist and that would be difficult for me to do.  I want a perfect, smooth finish.

I'll be forever making decisions about this piece.  HELP keep me accountable.  I need to finish and I need suggestions.  Of course, working in the hot and humid garage doesn't help motivate me any.  People that have basements are so lucky!  Please follow up and ask me in a couple of weeks if I've finished.  I need your HELP to stay on track.

I've also done some things for the HOUSE.  I made some envelope pillows for the couches.  I found the directions on this blog.  They were so simple to make and the covers come off quickly to wash. I have a dog and cats, so that was important to me.  Sophie didn't like the way I had the pillows arranged, so she redid the arrangement to her liking.
I also made the blanket to help protect the couch covers.  I found those directions on this blog.

And while getting this post ready I found pictures from Keith's birthday on my camera.  His birthday was May 31st and he drove over from Austin on June 1st.  HAPPY late Birthday Keith!

One last thing.  Calling all computer savvy people.  There is a blogger that can't post comments on my blog.  When she tries this screen pops up.
It seems to take her to Disqus which I had never heard of before.  I did google the name and found out its a comment feature that can be used on website and blogs.  However, I've never signed up for it and neither has she.  I don't believe this has ever happened to anyone else, or no one has ever contacted me anyway.  I checked my settings and they remain the same.  Only registered users can comment.  I've had it that way for probably two or more years.  I use blogger and so does she.

Does anyone know what's going on?  Can something be done?  Thanks for your help.

This post is getting a bit long, so if you're still with me please go visit Ms. Jenny's blog for a list of this week's Alphabe-Thursday participants.  Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

"G" as in favorite doll!

It's time again for Ms. Jenny's weekly event, Alphabe-Thursday.  This week we are studying the letter "G" and I decided to use "G" as in GINNY dolls.  I've used this "G" word in the past for Alphabe-Thursday and I've posted pictures of my dolls on my blog at other times too.  Some of these pictures you might have seen before, but others will be new.

I grew up during the 1950's and my love affair with dolls began then.  This picture was taken on my birthday in 1951.  The dolls you see in the picture all belonged to my sister and me.
However, my favorite doll while growing up was the little 8 inch Vogue GINNY Doll.  She's the smallest doll in the doll stroller.  This picture was taken in 1954.
I still have one of my vintage GINNY Dolls from that time period and many of the Vogue Doll Company clothes made for her.  I also have some of the clothes my mother sewed one year for Christmas.

Once I discovered GINNY on eBay I acquired some friends for my childhood GINNY along with furniture and accessories.  I now enjoy setting my dolls up in scenes.  Yes, I still play with my dolls!  I love GINNY as much today as I did as a child.  I now collect vintage GINNY dolls, modern GINNY dolls, and vintage reproduction GINNY dolls and some of their friends and relatives.

I do not collect what serious collectors call mint dolls.  Rather I prefer what my friend Linda calls "previously loved" dolls.  I collect the less than perfect fixer-uppers that some little girls back in the 1950's loved.  I clean them up, fix their hair, wash their clothes, etc.  Then I play with them.

I let my imagination go wild and try to have my pictures tell a story.  I am no photographer.  I'm just a snap and shoot kind of person, but I have fun doing it.  It's a great escape and I can't help but smile when I walk in my doll room.  All the stress of the day seems to melt away.

Here are some examples of the pictures I take (click to enlarge):

 I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July weekend!  Perhaps you'll have a family picnic...

...and Grandpa will be well enough to come...
and Grandma will supervise the grillin'...
May you all have a wonderful day!

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog to visit the other Alphabe-Thursday participants.

Friday, June 28, 2013

"F" as in not FUNNY!!!

It's time once again for Ms. Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday and this week we are studying the letter "F" as in not FUNNY!

What's wrong with some people?  I know we live in the age of social media where often people get themselves in trouble for Twittering or posting something hastily without thinking first.  However, what happened in Atlanta last week took advanced planning.  Did you hear about the Sports Radio hosts who thought it was FUNNY to do a skit mocking a 36 year old former NFL player battling ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)?

Their skit brought back painful memories of my friends battling ALS.  Yes, over the years I've lost three friends to ALS and got to witness first hand their gradual decline until their bodies could no longer sustain life.  Believe me, there was nothing FUNNY about it.  They gradually lost the ability to walk, speak, and swallow.  I believe what ultimately took their lives was heart failure due to starvation.

I took this description from the ALS Association website:

What is ALS?

En español
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

Hardly FUNNY, but you can click here to listen for yourself.  It's totally tasteless, so I'll give you a quick synopsis in case you don't want to hear it.  They pretend to be interviewing former New Orlean's Safety Steve Gleason and use a robotic voice to imitate the computerized voice he must use to communicate now.  They have "Steve" saying he might be gone by next Thursday and doing knock knock jokes and asking to be smothered.  There was more, but that will give you a general idea of their sick humor.

When I listened to the skit I shed a few tears.  I cried for my friends that are gone, for Steve Gleason, and for everyone battling this cruel disease for which there is no real treatment or cure.

I'm glad to say that these broadcasters have been fired.  In my opinion they should never have access to live air waves again.  How could anyone think that poking fun of a young dying man is FUNNY?

I just don't get it.

Please head over to Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent" for a list of this week's Alphabe-Thursday participants.

 Thanks for listening to my rant.  Can you tell I'm mad?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"E" as in ELATED!

Hard to believe that we're already up to the letter "E" as in ELATED for Alphabe-Thursday.

I have to admit that I was totally unprepared for class this week.  Real life has kept me busy the past two days, but out of all the stress came good news and I'm ELATED.  I hope you don't mind if I share my good news with you.

I looked up the definition for ELATED.  ELATED is an adjective meaning jubilant or overjoyed.  OK, that sorta sounds correct, but then I saw it used in a sentence and that pretty well summed up how I felt.

Examples of ELATED

  1. She was elated at the news.

Some of you already know that my son had his second stem cell transplant on December 21, 2012 in his fight against Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The first time he received his own stem cells back, but unfortunately he relapsed for the second time.   This time Reid received his oldest brother's stem cells.  (Note to Keith:  THANK YOU once again!)

He is now at the six month post transplant mark and spent the last two days having all the scans and tests.  The good news is that no Hodgkin's was detected.  We are elated for now, but I'm afraid I will worry for the foreseeable future whenever it's time for scans (every few months).

He now has an underactive thyroid (probably from the radiation he's had in the past) and is on medication, but that will probably give him more energy.  He also might have a sinus infection, so he has an antibiotic too.  He has one type of white blood cell that's elevated which could indicate Graft vs Host disease in a mild form (or a few other things), but won't be treated for now.  It could just mean that Keith's stem cells are attacking any remaining Hodgkin's cells in Reid's body.  That sounds good to us, so we'll go with that one!

Overall, the doctor seemed quite pleased with his progress.  So, bare with my while I'm ELATED at the news.

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog to see the list of other Alphabe-Thursday participants.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


It's that time again!  It's time for Alphabe-Thursday sponsored by Ms. Jenny at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent."

This week we are studying the letter "D" as in DISAPPOINTED in the DOWNSIZE.

I sometimes bake special cakes or cupcakes following recipes from the Cake Doctor.  Have you see her cookbooks?  She has a bunch of them, but these are the two I have on my bookshelf.
One of my favorite recipes is for cupcakes using Oreo Cookies.  I hadn't made them in a while so I sent my son to the grocery store with a list of ingredients.  He called from the store and said he couldn't find the white cake mix I needed in either the Betty Crocker, Pillsbury or Duncan Hines brands.  What?  I've always been able to find it.  I thought that was kind of strange.  Then he said, "I'm looking for the 18.25 oz. box, but they all say either 15.2 oz. or 16.5 oz."  I ran to the computer and googled cake mixes.  Sure enough they have all reduced the size of their mixes over the past year.

I guess they all got together and decided to do it.  There's not a word on the boxes about the change.  Online I found people posting on message boards about how their favorite recipes using cake mixes no longer worked.  So, if you have a favorite recipe...BEWARE!

I went to the Cake Doctor's website and she had a few suggestions for dealing with the changes.  One was to add 6 T of flour to the cake mix.  That's what I did, but I thought my favorite cupcakes were a little dry.  You can read all her suggestions here.  Just scroll down on the page.

However, on my last trip to HEB (a Texas grocery chain) they had their own brand of cake mix still available in the 18.25 oz. size.  I quickly grabbed two boxes because I would imagine at some point they'll be downsized too.  The Cake Doctor now has her own cake mix and they are still the 18.25 size, but only available at Central Market in Texas and I don't have one nearby.  They're sold on her website too, but right now they're only available in yellow cake or chocolate cake.

I know downsizing products isn't unusual nowadays, but usually it doesn't impact a favorite recipe this way.  Cake recipes are different.  Then they don't even make a notation on the box, so unless you look carefully you'd never know until your recipe failed.

They claim it was so they wouldn't have to raise the price.  Most people aren't buying cake mix weekly and probably wouldn't even notice a slight increase in price.

I'm DISAPPOINTED in the DOWNSIZE.  How about you?  Did you even realize?

Now head over to Ms. Jenny's blog for a list of this week's participants.