Never stop learning...

Two weeks ago today was Valentine's Day- the last day of normalcy for my family for a while.

Rewind back to December 7th (Pearl Harbor Day). My grandfather had a slight stroke that was caught very quickly. The MRI also revealed that he had a slight stroke even before this one that went undetected (possibly the day after Thanksgiving).

Life went on like usual, we kept Dah (nickname for my grandpa) in our prayers, we sent him his Christmas gift full of pictures of Luke- not even thinking this was his last Christmas.

December 29th he sustained another stroke. He had made such good progress and this knocked him back a few steps. Through all of this, everyone thought he would recover. Even after his 2nd major stroke, the doctors were certain he would pull through. He did and continued recovery in rehab. All through this the goal was to bring him home. Surely he would heal enough to be able to go home. His biggest concern was his bathroom. He was worried that he didn't have the bars to help him. My aunt (who we lovingly call Queen- long story) and her family arranged to have his bathroom completely demolished and redone. At first it was a surprise, hoping that he would recovery quickly. As things started to drag on and he really began worrying about the bar situation in the bathroom, she told him what was going on and that his bathroom was getting a complete makeover.

January passed relatively uneventful. My aunt and her family were super diligent about making sure he had the best care possible. They questioned every medical procedure and they were right by his side every step of the way. By the way he had his complete and whole mind with him the whole way- his beloved NY Giants and NE Patriots were in the Super Bowl- he predicted the plays, the winner, AND the point range that the game would be. Amazing.

February came and on Monday the 13th they were talking about the timeline of when he would be going home. Things were looking up! On Valentine's Day he was totally normal, I'm sure talking politics and whatever current event was happening. He grumbled that they made him eat with "the old people" (he was 93) in the dining room. He had come such a long way from not even being able to swallow after his first stroke.

He went to sleep Tuesday night and never woke up. They suspect he had a massive stroke in the early morning hours. They went to wake him in the morning and he wouldn't wake up. He still responded to pain, but there was no communication and he was unconscious. He was transported to RI Hospital where they ran tests for a few days. They concluded that the stroke was in fact huge and that he probably wouldn't recover. The decision was made to move him to Hospice where he would be the most comfortable for his last few days/weeks. The nurses said he was never in pain- actually through this whole process he never complained of pain which is exactly how he would have wanted it.

Last Tuesday (the 21st) the Hospice nurses called in the family around 5pm and said his breathing had changed. My aunt rushed up to be with him, but his breathing stabilized. She left after a few hours and went home to get some rest. They called right before midnight and said his breathing had changed and he was passing. They didn't make it in time to be with him, but a nurse was there with him. He died 1 minute before midnight but the death certificate actually says the next day.

Wednesday morning was a complete blur as I tried to wrap things up at home and school. I needed to plan 5 days worth of lesson plans, and make sure everything would be okay at home while I was away. Although we knew this was coming, it was still such a surprise when it actually happened. We had decided when he had the massive stroke that whenever the time came, that my parents and I would go up. Luke is just too young to spend 4 days driving in the car. We needed to drive so we could bring things back.

We drove Thursday and Friday (the 23rd and 24th) to Rhode Island. What a whirwind. Some friends from Atlanta flew into Providence Friday night so we picked them up at the airport on our way in. How incredibly generous for them to spend their weekend with our family!!!

Saturday was the funeral.

Dah was a World War II Veteran. He enlisted before they started the draft which put him at a higher rank than the drafted. He trained troops before the Pearl Harbor attack, and then spent some time at Hickam Field in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii after the attack. I learned so much about his service through my family on this trip and it's super ironic because my lesson for Thursday was Peal Harbor at school! We are right in the middle of WWII.

Because of his service, a military funeral was in order. The military really strikes a chord with me. Thinking about the men and women that leave EVERYTHING behind to protect our country really makes me emotional. And there is nothing that gets me going more than a flag draped casket.

The funeral service was great (as far as funerals go)... The preacher talked about his love for education. Although he didn't go to college he believed in a great education. They moved when my mom was school age so she could go to good school. If his life could be summarized in a motto it would be "Never stop learning". He tended to his garden in all seasons and knew the name of every plant/flower. He kept learning even into his old age.

Next we moved to the cemetery which always seems like the hardest part.

This is when the military part of the funeral took over. We arrived to see the 3 lone soldiers, standing off to the side. The pallbearers (including my daddy) carried the casket into a building. It was so cold, and super windy that this was where we did graveside.

The preacher said a few words and then asked everyone to prepare themselves for the military part of the funeral. Two of the soldiers fired three shots (for a total of 6 shots) and then Taps was played. As a former trumpet player this was absolutely incredible.

Then the soldiers walked inside and folded the flag. They presented the flag to my mom and said "This flag is presented to you, on behalf of a grateful nation. And these three blank cartridges are a symbol of what is ___________  today." I left the word blank because I can't understand this word in the video- it sounds like glorified- but I'm not sure.
It was amazing to say the least. I have a video of the gun shots/taps and the flag folding and presentation. Mom is going to give the flag back to my aunt after she has it put in a box since she did so much for him the past few months of his life.

We went back to the church for a luncheon. The set up was gorgeous...

The rest of the trip was wonderful! I had my coffee fix every morning:

We did some sight seeing and lots of eating!

His house just as he left it:

The cousins got their picture together.

I think the last time we did this I was 13!

Before we left we visited the rehab center where he had been recovering. It was amazing to see some of the nurses who helped him and so many of them were just as shocked as we were at the turn of events. We also visited the grave.

Driving back we went over the Tappan Zee Bridge in NY.
And I missed my baby SOOOO much and I think Lulu missed her Luke too!! Of course he wanted nothing to do with me and everything to do with her!
So somehow I'm supposed to break out of this time warp and move on with life. Although he lived such a long, full life I think I'm grieving the loss of the ancestry. I'll miss not hearing his stories and hilarious comments. Luke will never remember his great-grandfather- although he met him. Since he was my last surviving grandparent, this was the only way to get a 4 generations picture... (yes maybe we shouldn't have had 3 cameras taking pictures all at the same time;) ) and pardon my fatty fat-ness 6 months after birth :)
Thank you EVERYONE for the prayers, calls, texts, messages, and cards. It really means the world to us!!!

Answered Prayers Board

I believe that part of praying is expecting an answer- either an answer that we are hoping for, or maybe an answer we weren't expecting.

This post is really step 2 as we teach Luke how to pray. Step 1 was creating a prayer jar. We write prayer requests on popsicle sticks and put them in the jar. They can be big requests that will take time (Luke's salvation), or small requests (like healing from a scratch). Things that weigh heavy on our hearts get written down so we can remember each individual request and lift each other up in prayer.
As soon as we created the jar, we knew we needed a place to put answered prayers. Although prayers aren't always answered in our timing, I do believe they are answered. Here is what we made:
It's a saying from pinterest, printed on iron on transfer paper, put on fabric and wrapped around a canvas.

Here are some more detailed pictures of how it all came together.

I found my printable here and opened it in Word. The first print was an accident because I didn't flip it. In for it to turn out right on Iron-on Transfer Paper it HAS to be a mirror image.
I put the image face down on my fabric and ironed it on.
I knew I wanted cup hooks on one end of the canvas to hold my popsicle sticks. I went ahead and made the holes for the cup hooks into the canvas before attaching the fabric, that way they would be 'pre-drilled'. I wanted it to be on a canvas because I knew the size would be right (about 8.5x11). You could also use wood or foam, but this was the perfect size.

Next I used a staple gun to attach my fabric to the canvas.
I wrapped and stapled, wrapped and stapled. Also I added the cup hooks to the bottom. It was a cinch since I already had holes in the canvas and wood.
Almost done! The "His Grace is Sufficient" part didn't come out well, but it looks better in person than in the picture. 

When it came to the popsicle sticks, I just drilled holes the size of the cup hook in them. It was easier to do a few at a time.
and just as a piece of advice... don't do this on the kitchen table...and if you do- put a piece of wood or something under it...
Opps... nothing a little stain won't cover up!

By the way this came from the same website and it prints beautifully too!
Here it is all put together...

V-day and a weekly update

Valentine's Day was almost the death of me. This holiday just seems pointless to me (kind of like Halloween)... and I prefer to pretend like it doesn't exist. But 5th graders won't be forgetting about it anytime soon, and daycare makes sure that 2 year olds won't forget it either!

I am FINISHED brining my Project 365 over from the Wordpress blog! All pictures are under the correct day! Go here to see it... or you can always click on the picture over there --->

Luke is doing SO WELL potty training!!!!! I really didn't think he'd pick up on it so fast, but he LOVES it and of course loves his rewards (M&Ms). We're only using 1 pull-up at naptime and 1 pull-up at bedtime. I really don't expect him to be fully trained until closer to 3, but he is so proud of his big boy underwear!

We went to PF Changs for our Valentine's dinner (even though I hate the holiday I'll take any excuse to celebrate!). Lulu babysat and we enjoyed a nice night out.

Luke is talking up a storm and his word of choice this week is "mine". Everything is "mine".

Our house is officially on the market. Pictures are taken and it's listed online! We're excited about a change, but nervous about all that moving entails.

Monday is a holiday/off day and we are looking forward to our 3 day weekend!

Spice it up!

Old wooden spice racks= perfect nailpolish holders!

I had a mental note to keep my eyes open when I went thrifting to find an old spice rack. I was actually in the middle of writing this post when it hit me that we had one when I was a kid! Mom schmancified her kitchen a few years ago and got a nifty in-the-drawer spice holder, so the old spice rack that I remember was sitting in a corner, waiting to find a home!

As much as I would have loved to paint it a wild color or distress it, sometimes a simple, fresh coat of white will do! I have recently purged ALOT of polish I just don't like to make room for more. Hopefully this will encourage me to find some more pretty colors!! I was going to stick this on the opposite wall, but the rack was bigger than I thought! Plus it inspires me to use some perfume I'm dying to finish!

Religion says do, Jesus said done.

I'm speechless...

There are too many truths to count in those 4 minutes!

(and I really don't want to get into a political debate about this- the first 30 seconds can ruffle some feathers, but I will always vote for the political party that holds my conservative values- but I'm also not naive and I know that what people say isn't always what they do...)

Sewing Storage

I sew... alot. Organizing fabric is my achilles' heel. Right when I think I have it figured out, I realize it doesn't work.

The first thing I tried was clear shoe boxes from the Container Store. Although I liked the idea that my fabric was seperated into neat little shelves, it was a complete pain to pull the fabric out. When I pulled one piece, it all came out. After a few days of this I knew this wasn't the solution for me... back they went to the store. Here is what it looked like:

Plan B. I turned to pinterest and the solution seems to be comic book boards. To Amazon I went and $15 later, 100 comic book boards were mine. These are pretty much industrial strength posterboard, and they are cut to fit fabric perfectly (although that was not their intended purpose- sheer coincidence). Here is what they look like:

Fabric is 44-45 inches wide. If you fold the selvege together:

and fold it in half again:

you get a width of fabric that fits PERFECTLY on the comic book board! I turned a small bit of fabric over to start rolling...
and then rolled up the remaining fabric. It's almost like a mini-bolt (from a fabric store). Depending on how much of a certain fabric I had, sometimes it rolled twice, sometimes 10 times.

Here's how I categorized the fabric:

Everything else (greens, reds, black/white):
Then I had to organize other things that I use...
Scraps (with labels specfic to the contents: solids, prints etc.) BTW these boxes were $0.97 at good old Walmart!!:

I had labeled this a while ago (and put the scrapbook paper in the drawers to dress it up a bit):

I showed you the picture in the beginning of the post of how I had it set up at the desk.

Then I moved everything to a bookshelf and we got rid of the desk. Josh and I now have smaller matching desks. Notice the fabric piled in those clear bins (and the thread on top that I couldn't reach):

And here it is after the comic book boards!!
I am still planning to paint this shelf either a fun color or white and put paper behind the shelves. In case you were wondering where my thread was hanging out:

Having it on top was totally impractical!!!!!

 PS- I have since painted the bookshelf white and added a beautiful stenciled painting on the back. Check it out here.