My Sister is Dying, Please Get to Know Her First

Monday, January 12, 2015

I've been wanting to write about my sister for a long time now but I keep getting stuck. The thoughts come too fast and my feelings are too intense. I swing wildly between sadness and joy in any given instant. My sister is LeeAnn. Here she is.

Everyone has different portals that they access to touch the Divine and right now, you are looking at my family's brush with Heaven. She sits at the very center of everything and we revolve around her. She's our heart.

And maybe the sweetest thing is how my mom and dad are her heart. I'm writing now with tears in my eyes because while I really really want to tell the whole world about her and about the life of service my parents have devoted to her it is incredibly hard. Because we are starting to say goodbye and it is just too much. 

She has colon cancer.

I hate cancer. And when my sister hurts I can't stand it.

But even in the most awful situation Lani is our messenger from God. She is our metaphor for His plan, His timing, His comfort and peace.

Also, she is just so darn cute!


I wrote those words over a month ago and then gave up because it made me cry the terrible headache inducing crys.

It's time to try again because Lani's time with us is drawing to a close, her doctor says two weeks at the most, and I am determined that my little corner of the internet know how fabulous she is!

On any given day, okay on ALL given days, you will find her in her posterpedic bead in the middle of my parents' family room surrounded by her court of five, my mom, my dad, one of her amazing caregivers, Iris or Jill, and the two dogs who are nearly always at the end of her bed, Bodey and Sophie. This is her realm. She is fed through a tube, she can't walk or talk, she tosses her toys and we bring them back to her, and her diaper has to be changed all the time, because she thinks that's funny.
Fierce doggy guards. Not.
It's kind of amazing the way her personality can shine through the tremendous cage her body has become. She loves music and so she always has her iPhone (yes, she has an iPhone...go figure) in one hand playing her favorite country tunes, or Mindy Gledhill, or The Lower Lights. She gets her love of country from my parents. When I arrived at middle school in the Bay Area knowing all the words to  The Oak Ridge Boys' Greatest Hits my appalled friends took me in hand and introduced me to Foreigner and the Go-Go's. Lani never had that chance :-) I don't think she minds. Here is a picture of my sweet parents, Gary and Kendra. And actually, I just googled "top songs of 1982" and The Oakridge Boys' "Elvira" is in the top forty. So dad was cool.

My parents are like Lani whisperers. Her language is very subtle, well, except when she's crying at decibel ten all through the night. But mostly they interpret her little signals, a clenched hand or a flinch when she's turned. They are always sensitive to anything that might indicate discomfort or illness. She is, of course, super prone to infections. My mom can smell Lani's ear and know if it's infected. How's that for a superpower? She hardly sleeps at night, and one of them is always up if she's up. My mom jokes that all of Lani's shirts should be from Guess because "guessing" is what they are always doing as they try to figure out what she needs. 

Somehow I have digressed into the more sad parts of Lani language. My mom and dad are also masters at making her laugh and smile and coo and talk. Her talking is like how a four month old talks. I absolutely love her smile. The corners of her mouth practically curl up like an elf. It's delightful! Unless she is in pain, happy is pretty much her favorite mood. She will smile and giggle to herself for hours and we have no idea what is making her so happy. Angel jokes, I imagine. I cannot figure out how to turn this video around, but you get the idea.
video

Also, she likes to cluck. I don't know how that became a game with her (actually I think my mom invented it) but if you smoosh your face up against her cheek and you cluck your tongue she will smile and cluck back at you. We have whole clucking conversations about, just, everything. She only has three words. Ma and Da are reserved for moments of tremendous distress, but she says "guss" all. the. time. I am very curious who Guss is. I think that when my dad meets her in heaven she will greet him with a giant "Hi Guss!"

Her other great talent is The Cuddle. When you want to hang with Lani there is really only one way it's going down; you literally have to get in bed with her. You'll snuggle up and she will take your hand in her very strong grip. She may be in a laughing mood where you can tickle her face and tell jokes, or she may be in a very soft mood where she will smile and coo and put her hand around your head and pull you to her. She will turn up her face and she just loves it when you sing softly in her ear. With her, your either in bed with her, or you might as well be in Alaska.

You can see how losing her makes us feel like maybe we are losing the piece of heaven we've been so blessed to have. I am trying hard to focus on how wonderful it will be for her to have a body that is whole, to be with her Heavenly Father, and to imagine her in celestial glory. But really, I think she is pretty perfect how she is now. And I'm not quite ready for goodbye.

Which is probably another eternal lesson she is helping me with. Oh my gosh! My thoughts are EVERYWHERE. I feel blessed and like screaming at the same time. And I don't understand how the world can keep spinning when this is happening, it feels like everyone should be sad. I better stop writing and reign in the melodrama. Thank you friends, for letting me share this with you. I hope you can see at least a bit how wonderful my sister is.

The Easiest & Yummiest Holiday Punch Ever

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Really Truly the Best Non-Alcoholic

 Holiday Punch

We try to have a Christmas Party every year; this year we went off script a bit and invited some of Marc's friends from his work. He's an employee benefits attorney. Don't even ask me what he really does all day but apparently he does make a few friends. However, even though we didn't invite the same people we usually do, we did serve the same punch...because it is SO GOOD.

Here is Marc working the drink station like a boss man.
Our guests are all invisible. I kid. People did actually come, I just only took pictures before hand.

Okay so the punch. I got this three ingredient recipe from an amazing cook and hostess, Julie, back when we lived in Virginia. 

You need:

 3 bags of Celestial Seasonings 
apple spice herb tea
1 gallon of any brand apple juice
1 litre of diet ginger ale.

Steep the three bags of tea in the bottle of apple juice overnight or for at least 6 hours in the fridge.

When you're ready to serve just fill your pitcher with 1/2 of the juice and 1/2 of the ginger ale.

This punch is crisp and spicy with a bit of a zing to it. It's very refreshing.

I thought the party went well. Two of our guest are participating in a "step challenge" where they use their fitbits all day and are on teams competing for the most steps in a several month period. They both followed me all over the house whenever I was bringing things in from the kitchen or whatever. It was funny.
I deconstructed a bouquet from Trader Joe's and added berries from a bush in our backyard to make the centerpiece.
This was fun too, I hollowed out a cabbage head to use to hold the veggie dip, put it in a bowl and then layered the veggies for dipping around it. It was a tight fit for those bell peppers but I made it work.

Much Ado About NOTHING

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I was talking with my friend Monica last night about how confusing the blog world is. She was over at our house because she's the awesome church leader for the girls Ellie's age and they were watching Elf together. Really they were giggling snacking together, and they are just ADORABLE! See?
So she and I were discussing how we don't really know how to "brand" our blogs, and how we both think we're supposed to narrow our blogging focus but what we really like is sharing all kinds of nonsense. It got me thinking about how my blog name doesn't have anything to do with painted furniture or decorating or really anything outside my head. I've explained how I got it here, but I haven't said anything about my tagline, "all girls are mermaids, some boys are mermaids too."

You're probably just so dying to know about that right? You've been losing sleep over it I bet. It's a line from this great Kid History episode. Enjoy.

I like it so much because, duh, all girls are mermaids. Or, I guess, I'm one; you probably are too. As grown up as I'm supposed to be, there is a part of my Narnia loving heart that will always believe in magic. I also believe in Nessie.

And as long as I'm sharing things that have nothing to do with anything, have you seen this Bruno Mars video for Uptown Funk? It is total awesome sauce. Please, please watch this. It will make your day!

Crafts Gone Wrong

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What you see here are the six weird little stuffed Christmas trees that it took me two days to make. The little devils just would. not. cooperate. At all.

Even after several unpicked seams and re-sewing you can still see that virtually everything about these little guys is crooked and wonky. So instead of telling you how to make these like I normally would in a craft post, I'm going to warn you away. Don't be tricked into thinking, "it's a triangle for pete's sake...it's like sewing half a bean bag." Because you would be WRONG. 
It doesn't really make sense that I'm posting this but gosh darn it, I made the stupid trees, took the cute pictures, and by golly I will blog them! I like them now, but I cannot in good faith recommend them to you. There has to be something easier. When you find it, tell me!

Linking up

Christmas Home Tour and an Apology

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Merry Christmas everyone! I'm kind of excited to share my Christmas home with you, and kind of embarrassed too. Each year some of my favorite blogging ladies host Christmas link up parties so all us crazy for decorating bloggers can share what we've done this year and get inspired by and encourage each other. In the past I've spent lots of time looking (and pinning) but this is my first year posting and linking.

So let's pretend you just came to my front door this morning and I'll show you around.
"Nice door," you'd say. "Thanks," I'd say back. And then I would launch into an apology about the wet doggy nose prints all over the windows that I forgot to clean. But you wouldn't really care, right? Because we're friends.

Open the door and you'd see my entryway.
And to the left my little silver desk table Christmas tree still life thingie. 
You know how the camera adds ten pounds? I think it adds a bunch of dust and fingerprints too because every time I took a picture I'd see something that I should have cleaned. My first impulse was to get all annoyed and stomp around huffing and dusting but then I decided nuts to that. Doing this is supposed to be fun...dusting is not fun...ergo, I didn't dust. 
Let's focus instead on the wonderful things, like this paper star wreath that Ellie made for me last year. I love it.

Now let's head up the stairs. 
Here's how I did the wallpapered stair risers
Ribbon and greenery are an easy, and super cheap way to Christmas up a gallery wall. I just used the extra branches they cut off my tree when we bought it, and I save the bows every year. 

I spent the most decorating time this year on the top of my stairs. Like most Christian moms I spend a fair amount of time trying to help my family remember, and remember myself (REMEMBER!) to let our hearts feel the joy of Jesus' birth. All this decorating and partying and gift giving is wonderful and I really love it, but even more and everyday I am grateful to know my Savior, and I was hoping to do something to help us keep that focus.
 
 My tips on making your own chalkboard art are here. But if you want to buy one, I pretty much copied the lettering from this one. I want to be sure and put a link because I really don't want to be stealing for Christmas :-) That would be bad.
And with that, we are into the rest of the house.
Other people have the Elf on a Shelf; for the last 15 years we've had this little fellow my kids call "Creepy Santa." But I know they secretly love him.
Now a picture of the living room with a heaping side serving of the mantel. 
This is the first year that neither of the Christmas police (Maddie and Katie) are home, so I was able to do the mantel a bit different than the usual six huge red velvet stockings that they always insist go up. This is a very tiny bright spot in the misery of not having all my kids home for the holidays.
This is a TON of photos, eh? Less talking, we just need to get through this so we can get a snack.

Tree. I believe you know what this is without my labeling it but apparently I can't stop myself.
My Grammy made all these white crocheted snowflakes and angels for me. I can't even tell you how much I love them.
Also, we are so classy that we have a fish ornament. 

My snow globe village. Because everything can't be perfectly fancy.
Let's finish up with my last nativity. It's on top of the white painted piano.
Thanks for stopping by friend. I really do hope your holiday is wonderful and full of joy and peace. Merry Christmas!

Linking Up!
Get Your DIY on December- Confessions of a Serial DIY-er

Thanksgiving Vignette

Monday, November 24, 2014

Can I still post about Thanksgiving? It seems like all the blogs I follow have moved onto Christmas decorations and Christmas how tos and Christmas home tours. Unless we pretend that the crumpled tissues scattered all over our house from every single one of us having a cold count as Christmas decorations, I don't have much going on yet.


I never do much decorating for Thanksgiving anyway. I'd been following The Nester's "Vignette Me" series and decided to photograph the little table in my entryway that had a small Halloween vignette.
And I made some minor changes to make it Thanksgivingish.
Muffy Bear changed clothes! Isn't she adorable? 
And it's totally reasonable for a grown woman to decorate with stuffed animals (I'm looking at you, Marc) if that's what makes her, ah me, happy. Don't judge!

On a more mature note, I also managed to switch my summer wreath for this fall beauty I made last year by adding to a wreath I already had.

She looks good right?
And that is all for fall. 

 

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