Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Cards: A Thing of the Past?

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is getting Christmas cards, newsletters and/or pictures from friends and family in the mail. I've noticed that over the years we've been receiving fewer and fewer Christmas cards/letters/pictures, and that makes me sad! Is the tradition of sending Christmas greetings to friends and family becoming a thing of the past? I hope not, because I love seeing pictures of my family and friends' families and hearing what they are up to.

I love photo cards from places like Shutterfly, for example, but they are SO expensive! I would love to send photo cards out to all the people we send cards to, but it's just too expensive when you're looking at between $2 or $3 for EACH one! For several years Cardstore sold their cards for $.50, which included the price of postage for each card. That was a killer deal, since stamps were $.44 at the time. I suppose that amazing price was just to lure people in while they were getting their business going, and then after they had success, they jacked up the prices. (That's my guess, anyway.) I haven't been back as a customer, but since they are still in business, somebody must be getting their holiday/Christmas cards from Cardstore!

I think someone needs to start a holiday card business and sell their cards for much less than all the other companies out there (no more than $1 per card including postage). They would have a monopoly on cards, so even though they might not make as much money as they could if they charged as much as competing companies, they would make more money in the long run, since they would have more business.

I saw this picture of Prince William and Duchess Kate on the news this morning with the adorable George and Charlotte. They sure are a beautiful family, and I'm glad they send out a Christmas card!
I also heard about this mom on the news this morning. There has been some controversy over the picture she recently posted to Instagram where it shows her Christmas tree almost hidden by a stack of 300 gifts for her three children. People have been making negative comments, telling her that she is "materialistic" and that she's turning her kids into "spoiled brats." The mom defended her decision to buy so many gifts for her kids as well as her decision to post the controversial picture on social media, and said that if she had to do things again, she wouldn't do anything different. It does seem pretty excessive, especially since the point of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but I suppose to each her own!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christian: Three Months Old

As of today my nephew Christian is now three months old. He is growing so quickly! Here are some pictures from the past month:

Christian on his first Thanksgiving. No turkey for him this year. :) I had my mom take a few pictures. When I looked at them I realized that Christian was spitting up in the pictures. Oops! Oh well. He's still a cutie.
I had Chandra take a few pictures when she came over last week since Christian's outfit was so cute. I liked the moose on his shirt with his puffy vest.
The rest of the pictures are ones Chandra sent me from her cell phone. Here are some bath shots. I love his adorable little bathrobe!
Here he is in his lumberjack sleeper. He makes a pretty cute "slumberjack" if you ask me. 
Chandra made a wrap that she uses to keep Christian with her when she is doing stuff around the house. He's happy, so she's happy! She also has both hands free to do stuff with.
I think the middle picture below is so funny. It looks like Christian is plotting something diabolical in his sleep. ;-)
Christian is starting to become interested in toys. He likes his monkey rattle that I bought him.
Here's Christian with his dad on his dad's 30th birthday:
It doesn't take much to get a smile out of this little guy. Seeing him smile makes me smile!
Christian has also become aware of his toes in the past month, and has started reaching for them:
He loves his doggie stuffed animal:
And that's a wrap...til next month!!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Three Hours of Terror in Paris

It's been two weeks since the awful terrorist attacks in Paris. I've wanted to make a post about it, but I didn't know what to say, other than it was TERRIBLE. 130 people were killed and another 350+ people were injured in the coordinated attacks in and just outside of Paris. I thought this timeline was helpful in understanding what happened and when:
Three teams of attackers worked together. Some of the attackers targeted busy restaurants, where they entered and began shooting everyone in sight. Another group of attackers went to the packed Stade de France (national stadium of France) where a soccer match between France and Germany was taking place. [I heard that the attackers were planning on actually being IN the stadium, but for some reason they weren't able to enter. Thank goodness for that, because if they had entered the stadium, it's certain that there would have been more casualties, since the stadium had somewhere around 80,000 people inside.]

The spectators were asked to wait on the pitch until they were given security clearance to leave the stadium.
The third group of attackers went to the Bataclan (a concert venue) where an American band, Eagles of Death Metalwere performing to a sold-out crowd (the Bataclan holds 1500 people). The attackers began firing into the crowd. Imagine how terrifying that would've been! People began screaming and were trying as best they could to hide or make their way to the exits. The attackers held the people inside hostage for two hours, before the police stormed the building. When they did, two of the attackers detonated their suicide belts/vests, killing themselves, and the third attacker's vest exploded when it was activated by police gunfire. In the end, 89 innocent victims were killed in the Bataclan.
These attacks will be to France what the 9|11 terrorist attacks were to the United States. (I know there were far fewer casualties in the Paris attacks than there were on 9|11, but France is a much smaller country, so I think the damage is comparable.) The feelings are the same, too. It's shocking finding out about attacks such as these and horrifying to watch the aftermath play out on TV. It leaves you feeling incensed that someone would do these terrible things to your country and to innocent human beings. I hope Parisians will notice more kindness and more citizenship and pride of country in the wake of this tragedy. That was something I noticed in this country after 9|11. Tragedies have a way of putting things into perspective and they make you realize what's really important in life.

There was a lot of speculation about who was responsible for orchestrating these awful attacks in Paris, and the next day the Islamic State, or ISIS, released a video where they claimed responsibility for the attacks. I don't know why anyone would do such brutal asks of violence (especially unprovoked and to complete strangers), but ISIS seems to be nothing if not cutthroat and ruthless. When I was a little girl, I foolishly thought that war was a thing of the past. I guess it was because all of the wars I'd ever heard of and/or learned about in school seemed to have happened so long ago, I just figured that world leaders had learned how to handle conflict in a more constructive way. Boy, was I na├»ve! Now that I'm older, it's comical to think about how wrong I was. Sadly, we haven't evolved that much. I'm pretty sure there have always been wars and will always will be wars for as long as the world goes on. The only thing that will bring permanent peace is the second coming of Jesus Christ.

The lights on the Eiffel Tower went dark on Friday after these attacks; a symbolic move for the City of Light. Other monuments and buildings around the world lit up in red, white and blue (the colors of France's flag) to show solidarity and respect for France.
Jean Jullien, a French graphic designer, created this simple "peace for Paris" image and posted it on his Instagram and Twitter. It spread like wildfire, and became a symbol of hope and was seen around the world after the attacks.

Monday, November 16, 2015

What Kept Me Afloat

Tomorrow is the 12th anniversary of my accident. 12 years is a long time, and it's so hard to believe it's been that long. I'd never want to go back and relive that experience (although if I could, I definitely would've had people take more pictures to document my progress/journey each step of the way). Even though I'd never want to go back to that time, it wasn't as bad as one might think. There were three things that kept me going during that trying time: 1) my faith in God, 2) my family (particularly my mom) and 3) my friends. I definitely wouldn't have made it through without the first two, and it would've been very lonely and depressing without the third.

If I hadn't believed in God and known that A) He has a plan for my life (which included becoming paralyzed) and B) hadn't known about the bigger, eternal nature of life, I'm sure I would've been very bitter and angry. If it weren't for knowing those things, I would've felt like I'd been gypped and that my one shot at life had been ruined, yet I still had to stick around and watch everyone else carry on "business as usual" while I watched from the sidelines. I choose to look at things more positively.

If I didn't have a loving family and a devoted mother to advocate for me, I don't know what would've happened to me. I wouldn't have made it to the rehab facility where she and I received the care and training that taught us how to keep mesomeone totally paralyzedhealthy, and how to still live a productive life. Truthfully, there is good chance I wouldn't have made it 12 years OR wouldn't be doing as well as I am if it weren't for my mom. She is SO organized and manages my care so well. I don't know how she manages to keep all of the juggling balls in the air without dropping them! My mom deserves a major shout out for being so good to me! (Thank you, Mom!) I saw this quote a while back, and I really liked it:
My friends made a HUGE difference to me at that dark time, as well. I would've been so lonely without them! They did such a good job of making me feel loved and remembered. I had visitors on a daily basis during the seven weeks I was in the ICU, and it was a great blessing. My mom would spend the day with me, and my friends would come takeover in the late afternoon and would spend the evenings with me. I think I've already said this three times, but I'll say it again...I would've been so lonely and sad without my friends keeping me laughing.

I had one special friend who spent countless hours visiting me in the hospital. He came to see me every day (all but two) for those seven weeks in the ICU. I had friends bring me things, just because they thought it would cheer me. I had friends leave their families on major holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, to come spend time with me. I also had three friends come visit me all the way in Atlanta when I was there for rehab. That visit meant the world to me, since I felt so far away from everything normal. My friends (and family) also sent cards, letters and/or gifts on a regular basis when I was in the hospital and at rehab to let me know that I was still in their thoughts, even though I was hundreds of miles away from them. One of my friends organized a big fundraiser/benefit to raise money for my medical needs. My friends truly were a godsend, and were literally doing God's work here on earth.

My mom was doing some spring cleaning earlier this year, when she came across these posters under the bed in my old bedroom. (They'd been made and signed by coworkers, nursing school classmates and more, and hung in my room in the ICU.) When Mom found these, I had a fun time re-reading the messages on them, since it had been over a decade since I'd seen them. They were quite dusty, but I had my sister snap a picture of them, before I threw them away.
I'm so thankful that I made it through that difficult time in my life, and am so grateful to everyone who lifted me and carried me through it.
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