Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A dream come true

One of my favorite things to do is visit with my family. However, my four older sisters all live in different states (Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Utah) so I don't get to see them (or my 15 nieces and nephews) near as often as I would like. Different family members come to visit my mom and me from time to time, but we both wish our family lived closer together.

That being said, we love it when we receive visits from our family. I'm so excited because I'm going to get to see all four of my older sisters and their families this summer. The summer visits begin this Friday when my sister Sharon and her family come, and they will be staying for a week. Then my sister Kristin and her family are coming into town on June 3 and are staying until June 12. My sister Annette and her family are coming because Annette's sister-in-law is getting married. They will be here from June 10 through June 14.

That means we'll have company for 17 days straight -- and I can't wait! I'm glad that the visits are overlapping a little bit so that some of my sisters can see their other sisters. We'll have a little break from company for about a week and a half, and then my sister Miriam and her family will spend five days with us the last week in June.

I'm especially excited to see my sister Kristin because I haven't seen her in four years! She's been living in Utah while her husband has been working and going to school. They've thought about visiting, but that's a really far distance to drive with young children. Paying for their entire family to fly would be really expensive, and we don't have a big enough car to accommodate six extra people, since at least two of them are still in car seats. Anyway, I'm so excited to see Kristin and to get to know her four boys better. I've only met her oldest boy twice, the second oldest boy once and I've still yet to meet the two youngest boys.

Hooray for summer vacation and visits from family!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Baked French Toast

The other night my mom made baked French toast for dinner. She'd never made it before, but she found a recipe for it online and she decided to try it. She found lots of recipes for baked French toast online, but the one she decided to go with had a brown sugar/butter mixture on top. It was so amazing! My friends Tammy and Justin came over to visit me that night and my friend Tammy asked me to post the recipe on my blog. Here it is:

1 (1 pound) loaf French bread, cut in 1 inch slices
-- 8 eggs
-- 2 cups milk
-- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
-- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-- 3/4 cup butter
-- 1 1/3 cups brown sugar
-- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup

1. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish. Arrange the slices of bread in the bottom. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. The next morning, preheat oven to 350°F. In a small sauce pan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Heat until bubbling. Pour over bread and egg mixture.
3. Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

It was so yummy and it tasted more like a dessert than anything else! (My mom put pecans on top of the bread slices after she poured the brown sugar and butter topping on. This made it even better!) It's definitely worth a try!

Movies #9 and #10

Yesterday my younger sister Chandra was off work, so we went to the movies together. We decided to make the most of her day off and we saw two movies: Shrek Forever After and Letters to Juliet.

Shrek was in 3-D, which was fun to watch since this was only the second movie I've seen in 3-D. I can't believe how many movies come out in 3-D these days... it seems like everything is in 3-D! The movie was really good. It wasn't as funny as a couple of the other Shrek movies, but this one had more of a serious plot and story behind it, instead of all funny stuff. I definitely wouldn't say it was better than the first and second Shrek movies, but it definitely was better than the third movie. It was better than I thought it was going to be, so I was pleased.

Letters to Juliet was a sweet, cute romantic comedy. It wasn't fantastic, but it was really cute. I thought it was a little slow, but maybe that's just because I was getting tired. I did manage to stay awake in both movies, though, which is great for me since I often have trouble staying awake in them!

10 movies down and 15 to go. The next movie I want to see is Robin Hood, and I'm hoping to see it in two weeks when my sister Sharon is in town visiting. There are a bunch of other movies that I want to see this summer, but I can't remember the names of them right now. I love movies!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

If I could meet you

I often think about what celebrities or famous people I would like to meet if I were ever given the opportunity. I'm not the kind of person who gets starstruck or goes crazy over stars, but I love talking to people (famous or not) to find out what their lives are like, what they've been through and what they've experienced.

My top five people (in no particular) order are:
#1) Kelly Ripa
#2) Anderson Cooper
#3) Oprah Winfrey
#4) Dr. Phil
#5) Elton John

Most people will probably find my list odd, but nonetheless, this is it. I don't know why, but I think these five people are interesting and I would love to be able to just talk with them to find out what their lives are like.

As I already said, I really like talking to people, especially people who live differently than I do. I enjoy listening to what they've been through and I also like telling them about my life. It's also fun to hear true stories about real people on different TV shows like 20/20 and Dateline or shows on TLC. People are so interesting!

What a strange dream!

I had the strangest dream last night that I just had to write about. I dreamt that I went to bed as a 25 year old, and I woke up as a 40 year old. I thought, "I can't believe I'm 40 years old!" (Not that 40 is so old, but aging 15 years overnight is a pretty extreme jump!

Here are a few odd things about my dream:
#1) I wasn't paralyzed. Actually, this isn't so odd because I'm usually not paralyzed in my dreams, but most people find this strange.
#2) In my dream I was sitting in my family room with an interesting makeup of people: my friends Hillarie and Nate, my mom and dad and my two uncles on my mom's side. This was a random group of people since my two uncles live hundreds of miles away and I don't see them very often at all. And most strangely, my dad has been dead for more than 11 years, so it's always interesting when he pops up in my dreams (which happens frequently).
#3) We were just sitting around, not talking, watching the weirdest show on TV -- the old console TV that my dad bought in 1988.

Needless to say, I was relieved to wake up and find that I was 25 again! I don't know what made me dream this -- maybe the fact that my birthday is one month from today or something like that. Who knows!

Monday, May 17, 2010

My new quilt

A few months ago my friend Julie Schenk told me about a quilt she was making and she asked me if I would like it. She didn't have to ask twice because although I have lots of blankets and quilts, I could always use another one. I definitely have more blankets than I need, but I love them and they are so fun to cozy up with.

Julie finished my quilt a couple weeks ago and she decided to mail it to me since she's been out of town. The quilt arrived last week and I couldn't wait to see what it looked like. I told my mom to unfold the quilt and hold it up. I kept my eyes closed while she did this and I told her to tell me when she was holding it up. I opened my eyes and I loved the quilt! I emailed Julie to thank her and I told her that the quilt was, "So me!"

I had my younger sister Chandra take lots of pictures of the quilt, but they definitely don't do it justice because the colors don't look near as bright as they do in person.

This is a picture of the entire quilt:
This is a closer:
In this picture you can see the stitching pattern of the quilting. It's different flowers and swirls:
The next several pictures are extreme close-ups of some of the different fabrics: I love my new quilt and it looks great on my bed!


May is the month of high school graduations, and every time another year rolls around I always think about my high school graduation in 2002. I can't believe that it's been eight years since I graduated high school. Although the time seems to have gone quickly, on the other hand, so much has changed in my life in the years since I graduated that it almost seems like a lifetime ago. Isn't it weird how things can seem so long ago and not so long ago at the same time?

When I graduated high school I was still a "normal" person who had endless possibilities ahead of me. I was just beginning to emerge in the world as an adult, and I had my whole life ahead of me. Fast forward eight years down the road and I haven't accomplished any of the things I wanted to. I'm almost 26 years old, unmarried, childless and completely disabled. I have no control over my body and I can't even care for my most basic physical needs. Although I have some college under my belt, I don't have a degree and I will never be able to work or have a career. (Or at least not the career I wanted... nursing.)

However, despite all of the physical changes I've encountered since graduating, I'm still happy and positive. The fact that I'm happy despite not having the life I always thought and expected I'd have is one of my best accomplishments, if not the greatest. I may not have all of the things that I always wanted, but I'm one of the happiest people I know, and I think that's saying a lot since there are so many people in the world who do have "everything," and yet, happiness still evades them.
This is a picture of my mom and me on my graduation day. This is one of my favorite pictures of myself of all time for several reasons. I love the colors because they are so rich and vibrant. I reached a milestone and this picture depicts that. I look happy and beautiful, and most importantly, I'm standing with my best friend.

Friday night in Columbia

Last Friday evening my mom and I went to a church activity in Colombia, Missouri. This was about a five-hour round-trip for us, but we really wanted to go because Elder Richard G. Scott, one of our general church leaders, was going to be in attendance. I invited three of my friends to ride to Columbia with my mom and me so that they could help with the driving since my mom was still recovering from her appendectomy last week. My friend Nate did all of the driving, which pleased my mom. My mom actually said that if she had been the one driving we would've never made it on time because she doesn't speed. (We ran into a lot of rush-hour traffic, so that's why it took us a little longer that the usual two hour or so drive.)

It was wonderful to be in the presence of an apostle of the Lord. When the fireside was over, Elder Scott stood by one of the doors of the chapel so that people could shake his hand as they exited. Fortunately, I was sitting right by the door where he was going to be standing. He came over to me and asked me if he could shake my hand, but my mom told him that I can't shake hands. He then told me that I have sparkling eyes and to not lose the sparkle from them. I told my mom it was probably just my eyeshadow, but she disagreed. :)

My friends and I stopped for ice cream on the way home at a little ice cream stand called Andy's Frozen Custard. It was just an ice cream stand -- the kind of place where you order at the window and eat outside. The air was so chilly that evening that I decided to eat in the van because I was really cold. Ice cream always has a way of hitting the spot, though, no matter how chilly the weather is!

I'm so glad that I was able to go to this activity and that several of my friends were able to ride with my mom and me in our van. What a great experience!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

1900 and counting

On February 24 I decided to put a counter on the bottom of my blog so that I could keep track of how many hits I get on my blog. I wish I would've put this counter on my blog when I set it up last August, but I didn't know how. It just would be nice to know how many hits I had gotten in the six months between when I started my blog and when I put the counter on at the end of February. So, I'm approaching 2000 hits since February 24 of this year, according to my counter.

I've also decided to start making notifications on Facebook from time to time when I make a new post that I think is a little more interesting than my usual posts. On one hand I feel tacky plugging my blog on Facebook because I would prefer to have other people spread the word about my blog than to have to do it myself, but on the other hand, I really do want to get the word out about my blog and this seems to be the most effective way to do so. (Or at least the most effective way I've found so far.)

So, as I approach 2000 hits to my blog, it will be interesting to see just how it continues to take off!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Movie #8: Iron Man 2

I saw my eighth movie of the year last Friday, so I'm getting back on track in my quest to see 25 movies in the movie theater this year.

My younger sister Chandra and I went to see Iron Man 2 last Friday. I absolutely love comic book movies, so I was really looking forward to seeing this movie, especially since I enjoyed the first movie so much. Sequels are notoriously worse than the first movie, but I was not disappointed! I thought that the movie was just as good as the first and I really want to see it again! However, the only bad thing was that the print was really scratched all throughout the movie, so that was really annoying. That's really bad since it was the first showing of the movie on opening day.

Eight movies down and 17 to go!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

On the other side of the bed: a new perspective

More stones, another trip to the ER and another hospitalization... except this time it wasn't me; it was my mom. She had her own bout with stones (except they were appendix stones, not kidney stones, like me), and she was also hospitalized after an emergency trip to the ER. This was bittersweet because although I was glad that I wasn't the one in the hospital, it was painful to know that a loved one of mine was suffering. I think I would rather be the one in pain and in the hospital than my mom! Here's what happened:

Last Friday morning my mom, younger sister Chandra and I were supposed to take a trip to Arkansas to see my sister Annette and her family. We were all very excited, and we were especially looking forward to meeting Annette's new daughter Rebecah who was born in January. We spent Thursday preparing for our trip and we got everything packed and set out.

We were planning on leaving early Friday morning around 8 AM. My mom woke me up around 5:15 AM and told me that she wasn't feeling well. She told me what her pain was like and we talked about what to do. My mom had been experiencing intense pain in her abdomen all night, and the pain was only intensifying. She decided that she better go to the emergency room, so she called one of her friends from church to drive her to the hospital. Chandra stayed with me and she continued getting me ready for the day so that we could still hopefully take our trip when Mom came home. I wasn't sure if Mom had a mild case of food poisoning or what, but it soon became clear that it was far worse than food poisoning. Mom underwent some tests and the doctor discovered some stones in Mom's appendix. Appendicitis! Can you imagine that?! What luck we are having this year, especially with stones!

We obviously had to cancel our trip, which was so disappointing for everyone involved! When I talked to my sister Annette the previous day, she told me that her 2 1/2 year old son had been asking all week if it were Friday yet (the day we were arriving). My heart broke when I realized how disappointed my nephew would be! Disappointing a grown-up is one thing, but disappointing a little kid is another since children get so excited for things!

My sister Chandra finished getting me ready for the day and we actually went to the movies since we knew that Mom was going to be "unavailable" for several hours while she was having surgery. On one hand Chandra and I felt horrible about going to the movies when our mom was in the hospital having surgery, but on the other hand there was really nothing that we would be doing at the hospital except waiting in the waiting room, so we decided to go since Mom was in good hands with a couple of our good friends.

Chandra and I watched our movie, Iron Man 2, and then we went to the hospital and arrived around 2 PM. We waited with our friends in the waiting room for about an hour, and then we got a call that Mom was out of recovery and in her hospital room. We went up to the floor that she was on and it was such a different experience for me to be the visitor and not the patient! Mom was definitely not at her best, and it was difficult for me to see her feeling so terrible, especially since there was nothing I could do to make her feel better. In a way I was jealous of the nurses since I had to just sit there and watch them care for my mom. Chandra and I stayed with Mom all afternoon and left the hospital around 8 PM.

Fortunately my mom slept well that night and was doing well enough the next morning to come home. Mom said she felt so much better andwas relieved to no longer be in pain!

So we survived another hospitalization! I'm grateful this is behind us and I really appreciate the kindness and support of our wonderful family and friends, as well as the great doctors and nurses that gave Mom such great care.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

No Phone Zone

I love watching Oprah every afternoon. So many of her shows are so interesting, and I love getting to see what different people have gone through and what different people's lives are like via her show. I don't always agree with every viewpoint that Oprah has, but I feel that she does so much good through her show.

April 30's episode was about making our cars "no phone zones." Roughly 6000 people are killed each year by drivers who are distracted because they are either texting or talking on their cell phones -- and this number doesn't include all of the people who are maimed each year, either. This topic is especially important to me since I was hit by a distracted driver. The result of this car accident is that I now paralyzed from the neck down and will be for the rest of my life. I don't know if the driver that hit me was talking or texting on a cell phone, but she was obviously distracted, if only for a moment, because she failed to stop at the red light and she ran into my car. I didn't die, but my life has been permanently altered.

I'm upset that so many people have to die and/or are disabled each year because of distracted drivers. Oprah is right when she says that this is an epidemic, but it's one that we can cure. If you click on the link below you can sign Oprah's No Phone Zone pledge. Please take the time to watch the video I posted and sign the pledge. Do it for me and do it for yourself and for your loved ones -- it's critical! No phone call or text is so important that it's worth risking your life or someone else's!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Movies #6 and #7

Earlier this year I made a list of fun things I wanted to do in 2010 that I either hadn't done before, or haven't done since my accident. (I know I've written about this list before, but I always try to be clear when writing in my blog for anyone who might be new to it.)

One thing on my list is to see 25 movies in the movie theater this year. This is a lofty goal, but I really love movies, so this would be something fun for me. I started off strong and saw five movies in January alone. I was planning on seeing a few movies in March, but then I had to change my plans when I unexpectedly ended up in the hospital. Most of March and April have been a blur since I've been hospitalized three times, have undergone surgery and several weeks of IV antibiotics at home.

Although I've run into obstacles due to my unforeseen health problems, I'm still determined to make my goal of 25 movies, so that's why I decided to see a double feature a few Saturdays ago when my younger sister Chandra was off work. The first movie we saw was Letters to God. Although this movie was a little cliché and cheesy at times, it was nice and had an inspirational message. This movie was based on a true story, so that was another plus since I love true stories.

The second movie we saw was Clash of the Titans. I'd really been looking forward to seeing this movie, and I even prepared by watching the original 1981 movie with Harry Hamlin. I was really disappointed because I kept falling asleep during the movie! I actually slept through a good majority of both movies, but it wasn't all my fault since an infection had begun brewing in my body the previous day when I had the renal stent taken out of my left kidney. All I have to say is thank goodness for Netflix because I'm going to need to watch both of these movies again!

Seven movies down and 18 to go! The next two movies that I can't wait to see are Iron Man 2 and Robin Hood; both of which come out later this month!

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