Louie Gifted Micah Magic for His Birthday

I'm writing this as I sit at a water park, watching the family have a great time. Oddly, this is how I enjoy myself. I'm not so much a do-er, I guess, especially when it comes to water. I love, however, watching the kids laugh as they have fun together. I consider this down time for me, because I can't just sit and do nothing. I'm relaxing, and this weekend away is very much needed. It was a Christmas present to the kids, and we waited until Sam had a 3 day weekend to utilize it so that he didn't have to take a day off work.

He saves vacation days for spontaneous things that may come up. Apparently, these kind of things happen frequently in our family. I have a story about this. Of course.

A friend asked the other month if I was attending Global Pet Expo in Orlando this spring. I replied that I would love to, but it just wasn't in the budget since we were saving our pennies to make a family vacation of attending BlogPaws in Phoenix this year. I'd thought of Global off an on in a "wonder how that could benefit the business" kind of way, but that's the extent of it.

A few weeks ago, a friend referred me to a business that was looking to add collars and bow ties to their store. I received my first wholesale order from this contact, and was totally stoked. (Says the 80's girl in me.) As I was dancing jigs over the first real step into the huge world of commerce, I had another opportunity to come up.

Within an hour of my largest order to date, I saw an ad looking for a french bulldog to model at the Global Pet Expo. The dog needed to be cute, be okay with wearing clothing, and would be compensated with a stipend. Of course I responded to the ad. Louie would be the perfect dog for this, and the stipend he would receive would pay for about half the trip. I could justify the other half easily as a business trip, and was beyond excited to have the opportunity to attend Global this year.

You guys, this small yellow dog of mine has been used by God in such amazing ways. It's just humbling. And I get to sit back and enjoy the benefits of watching it all.

Sam came home from work the next day with a grin on his face. "Where did you say you'd be for this expo?," he asked. He had a plan. He rearranged his schedule to work double shifts at the beginning of the week and take a day of vacation to cover for the last few hours, and he'd go with me to Orlando.

Micah has been asking to go back to Disney for a solid year now. He'll get our photo books out and pore over them for hours, reminiscing and reliving, and asking yet again if he can go to the most magical place on earth. We just couldn't justify a trip to the park for a family vacation, but a weekend at the park since we'll be in Orlando anyway is completely do-able.

These are things Sam saves vacation days for.

Micah's birthday is March 3rd. Because of the expense of the park (egads, it's expensive), this will be his gift from us. He is clueless at this point, but next week he's going to be SO EXCITED. I have a plan in place. Micah can read far better than I realized he could, so I'm writing a note that says, "I'm going to Disney!" and taping it on the box with his tickets. When he unwraps that at his birthday party, I'll be videoing the magic. Being able to gift Micah with this kind of fun is only thanks to God using a little yellow dog, and we just get to sit back and experience the awe.



Holiday Traditions

Sam has started a new holiday tradition here.

We have a crazy holiday schedule here. We've got both our parents to do Christmas with, and these get-togethers have to be scheduled around our siblings families as well. My sister's husband's family does their thing on Christmas eve, so I can't host my family's Christmas then or I'm eliminating one of the siblings right up front. Same thing on Sam's side of the family, with his brother's wife's family. Its a scheduling headache, to be sure, but this year we've entered a whole new phase of parenthood that kicked things up a notch.

This is the year we've actually taken into account the kids' significant others' families and when they do the holidays together. We have reached the stage when our children are that old. Josh and his girlfriend have been dating for 2 years, and they're pretty serious (obviously). We ran into a scheduling snafu at Thanksgiving that wrought havoc with things all around, so we were very careful about scheduling at Christmas. Becky has been seeing a boy for over a year, and they, too, are in the kind of serious stage, so we had to be sure their family time didn't coincide with anything.

To top it off, Sam worked Christmas day this year, because the hospital is never closed and someone has to be available to scan the injured on the holiday.

By the time we'd had Thanksgiving, ironed out all the scheduling conflicts for Christmas (including having Sam's brother's wife's entire family shift their celebration from Christmas Eve to Christmas day), had a Christmas party with Sam's mom's side of the family (and the 348 aunts, uncles, cousins and their kids), and celebrated Christmas with Sam's side of the family, we were kind of holiday'd out. Christmas hadn't even happened yet.

At the get together with Sam's family on Christmas Eve, the whole family was there. Sam's brother and his family were home from Italy, and their 2 older children were up from college in South Carolina. Josh's girlfriend and Becky's boyfriend were there. Quincey was finally home from college, after delaying the trip up from Missouri for a week. The testosterone level was running high with half a dozen teen boys in the house, so they challenged the adult men to a basketball game called Knock Out. Not to be outdone, the fathers rose to the challenge.

By the end of the evening, Micah had won a game, and Sam showed up Becky's boyfriend, who is crazy athletic and proud of it. But the consequences ran high. Just before being called in for dinner, Sam sustained an injury to his leg, which he promptly ignored the rest of the evening. The next morning, however, it was hard to ignore. The next morning was Christmas Day.

We pulled the crutches from the attic, opened gifts as a family, and headed to the emergency room. Thankfully Becky is in charge of the cooking in the house and did a fine job of making Christmas dinner while Sam and I enjoyed some peace and quiet in the hustle and bustle of the overbusy Christmas season. He also came home with pain meds, which is a win when you're walking into a house filled with in-laws.

His strained muscle wasn't a tear, so we're grateful for that. He's been fairly pain free enough to work without hindrance by it for the past week, which is good. He was even back to doing all sorts of normal daily life things like working on vehicles.

That was on Thursday.

After the New Year's Day event at his parent's house on Friday, Sam came home complaining of a sore eye. He said he'd got something in it from working on the truck the day before, and it just started hurting. When he awoke Saturday morning, it was pretty evident that he needed to be seen. His family doctor said to head to the emergency room. Turns out, if you have metal in your eye for 2 days, your cornea will start to grow over it. I learned that your cornea renews a layer every few hours. Fascinating, no? I'll let it up to your imagination how they got that metal out. He's been suffering with the pain for 2 days now.

I'm fairly certain, though, that Sam is just trying to gain drugs at the holidays. Whatever it takes to get through.

Life Goals of 2016

Resolutions are for those who have intentions of keeping them. That's pretty much not me. I mean well, but that's different than keeping resolutions. I just struggle with that. I also think that it's kind of like a diet. In your mind, you already know it's going to be nearly impossible, so you mentally sabotage yourself before you even start, dooming yourself to failure in the end.

Resolutions aren't for me. If they're for you, you've got far more initiative than I do, and I greatly admire you.

While we're on the subject of resolutions and other life milestones, I do not have a bucket list, either. This is less because I fear sabotaging my adventures, and more because I have always had the attitude that life is an amazing adventure already without having to think up crazy things to do. There are those who would look at my life and call it crazy boring, with a complete lack of bungee jumping and sky diving and whatnot, but those things aren't my cup of tea anyway. My bucket list things get crossed off as I put them on it. Like our European adventure last year. (Guys, I'm going to talk about that trip for the rest of my life. I'm sorry in advance. But honestly, it was truly a trip of a lifetime.) Going on a European adventure was never something I had on a Life To-Do list, but I added it and checked it right off in 2015. Also having a son with Down syndrome. That's been checked off for pushing 13 years now. Who would have guessed I'd want that on my Life's Most Amazing Things list? Not me, that's who. I just don't do lists, because that's limiting God. I prefer to wait on Him and see what fun things He wants to bring my way. They're always far, far more exciting than anything I would choose to do.

(That being said, I do aspire to write a book someday. Call it a bucket list goal or just a life dream. Either way, I'm patiently waiting on God's timing for this. And it it never happens, its because better things are coming my way.)

I also have some goals that I'd like to accomplish in 2016. I've taken the last few months to evaluate almost every aspect of my life, and have already made some changes that were needed. I don't generally wait until January 1st if something needs to happen. But this is, admittedly, a great time to think about the future.

I'd like to run a 5K. I was actually signed up to run one in 2015, but a craft show clashed with that date and I chose to make money instead of have fun. It's been on my to-do list for a few years, so i's time I made that happen. I'm looking at a few races in particular that allow your dog to run with you. I am the Crazy Dog Lady, after all. (I should totally get a shirt that says that, and run my 5Ks in them.)

Also, 2015 gave me the best 5K shirt ever! While I didn't run a 5K in the athletic sense, I did run one in the administrative sense. I was part of a team that put on the Jurassic 5K, and the t-shirts sport a T-rex chasing runners. I love that thing.

My good camera needs more love. That thing used to be attached to me. I called it my extra child. My children knew not to touch it, lest they die. Sadly, I was far too busy last year with things like craft shows and candle making and networking to take photos often, and it sat and actually collected dust between usages. That is sad to me. My photo album from 2015 will be a thin one. I plan to use my cell phone less (for photos) and my Canon more. I want to preserve memories forever in good digital pixels.

Being healthier is a good thing. I'm not old, but old enough to think about my health in ways that I didn't previously. Running a 5K should help with this, with training and whatnot. I discovered the joys of yoga last year, and would love to do more of that. It's an easy exercise for someone who is not athletic. I would like to eat healthier, too. That's been easier for me recently thanks to Becky, who has taken over the cooking here. She is an excellent cook, and a health fanatic to boot. She makes everything from scratch and uses healthy alternatives to things like vegetable oils and sugars. I'm grateful.

I need more nature time. I was far too busy with indoor work last year to be outside much. I didn't garden at all. My kids weeded the gardens, and I did nothing. This isn't good. I find gardening to be therapeutic. Nature is my happy place. I want to spend more time there, de-stressing, relaxing, and becoming a better person for my family to be around. As a bonus, I get closer to God in His creation.

Biking would be a wonderful thing. Between the weather and my craft show schedule last year, the motorcycle barely saw road time. That's unfun. I hope to see 2016 with Sam and I touring all over the tri state area, I'd love that. Our Christmas gift from the kids was an intercom system so that we can talk to each other as we ride, so we have to use the bike more now, right? I'd also like to bicycle more, too. My bicycle barely saw daylight last year.  That's not good at all. Being healthier would support bike riding. It's a win.

Huge life goals these are not, but fun things nonetheless. Or needful things, if we're talking about being healthier. You'll notice I didn't say "diet and exercise" or "lose X amount of pounds." I don't want to feel like a failure if I come up 5 pounds short of a goal. I want to focus on the positive, not the negative.

Positive thinking is also a great life goal for 2016. I'm generally an optimist, but I find myself, on occasion, being a Debby Downer. If someone is nearby me when this unfortunate state of mind hits, please slap me.

May 2016 be the year of Happy and Healthy for us all.