Allen’s Final Chapter

This is part 3 of an inspirational story written by Sophia's Dad. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here. Gripping the edges of the dentist’s chair while the drilling commenced and waiting for the assistant to suck out the saliva in my mouth before I aspirate into my lungs, I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket.  It’s 5:35pm on Tuesday.  Given a brief moment of reprieve from the seemingly endless drilling, scraping and oh yeah; readjusting that dam device that keeps your mouth cranked open almost to the point of permanently creating a smile like the Joker from Batman I peak at my cell.  “Alan just passed away five minutes ago.” His estranged father at his bedside, his fiancé driving home from work having just left the Care Center (which I admitted Allen to just a week prior) a few hours earlier. “He sat on the edge of the bed,” straining to readjust himself to get his cancer filled lungs to cooperate as best as possible. He simply said, “I can’t hold on any longer, I’m ready to go.”  His head dipped down on his chest. There were a few feeble attempts to fill his lungs with precious oxygen and he was gone.  He left this world with a whimper, not a bang. To some, Allen’s story was a tragic story with all the makings of a “tear jerker” you might see on The Lifetime channel.  For others, it marked the end of a long and hard battle with the ‘The Big C’. As I read the text while allowing the dentist to have his way with my teeth despite my silent protest, a … [Read more...]

All You Need Is Love Sign

I haven't gotten this project right yet but I'm going to share it with you guys anyway. I really like this frame. It suits the rustic decor that goes with living in the mountains. Originally, my mom made this sign for our wedding we had here in Mammoth. She stenciled the letters of our names on a piece burlap, painted the letters white and framed it. After the wedding, I decided I wanted to stencil "all you need is love" on drop cloth and use the frame. Rather than using stencils, I printed out my own letters using Georgia font (size 400). I was going to trace them on the drop cloth and paint the letters the same way I did the monogrammed pillows I made recently. My husband thought that sounded like too much work and suggested he spray paint the letters I had printed then glue them on the drop cloth. He talked me into and it ended up looking pretty good. This is before I glued the letters down. I wasn't crazy about the drop cloth. It was too light in contrast with the color of the frame. I don't know, I just didn't like it. So I pulled all the letters off the drop cloth, stapled a piece of burlap over the board and glued the letters back on. I know it sounds a little crazy but I do like the burlap better. And now, I'm still not in love with it! I like it, but I think it would look better if the letters were painted on! I'll give it a few days to see if I really like it. I may have to sneak a quick paint job in without my husband seeing (I don't want to hurt his … [Read more...]

Summertime Pics

As I scroll through the dozens of photos I've taken of Sophia in just the last month, I can't help but feel overwhelmed with love and happiness. Sometimes I think back to the 72 hours it took to bring her into this world and I can barely even remember all the pain I went through because that finite amount of suffering seems so utterly insignificant in comparison to the infinite amount of joy and value she has brought into our lives. So it's no wonder why I take so many pictures of her. I can't help but want to capture the so many great moments of her life. With mobile phone photography it's easy to capture every waking (and non waking) moment of her life. I'm not sure if this is such a good thing. I hadn't thought about how this may affect her until now. As she gets older, she may act differently when she knows the camera is there. This may make her self-aware which could be a bad thing because a lack of self awareness is what makes children so precious and innocent. This is something for me to think about. Do you take a lot of pictures of your children? What are your thoughts on this? Anyway, as I glance over at my little toe headed daughter, her ink blue eyes catch mine and I can barely suppress a smile and think, I can't imagine my life without her and I'm so grateful I've had the opportunity to capture so many great moments of her life that I will someday get to share with her. We had a great time at Timmy's First Birthday. She wasn't happy with me trying to put a … [Read more...]

Helpful Parenting Article: Talking to Toddlers

I recently read an article by Janet Lansbury, titled Talking to Toddlers- 4 Secrets That Bring You Closer  that was helpful and informative. The article discusses 4 ways to communicate with your toddler to alleviate frustration and build trust. The first secret she points out is to talk normal. Don't talk baby talk to your toddler. Speak slowly and in shorter sentences. The second secret she discusses is to turn 'no' into 'yes'. An example, "I want you to sit on my lap" rather than, "Don't bounce on me." She explains that this may not always work but it is better than responding with no and don't all the time. Children appreciate positive instruction. It makes them more likely to respond with compliance and makes them feel more respected. The third secret is to give the toddler real choices. Rather than asking your toddler what they want to wear, ask them if they would like to wear the pink dress or the white dress. Give them two choices and let them decide between the two. Asking them a broad question like what do you want to wear is too overwhelming. Her final secret is to first, acknowledge. She explains that acknowledging your toddler's point of view can be calming. Toddlers get frustrated when they can't communicate what they want or need, and when you acknowledge their point of view it helps them feel that they are being understood. Landsbury points out,"That when a toddler feels understood, she senses the empathy behind our limits and corrections. She … [Read more...]

July 4th 2013

Dinner at Friends With the girls and babies Sophia and Timmy Sophia loved this little girl Sarah she met at the party. Just a few pics of our little angel Watching the parade earlier in the day. She wasn't happy- too hot and it was nap time. We had a great fourth of July. Hope you all made some great memories and enjoyed your day as much as we did.   … [Read more...]

Rustic Bench Made From Wood Pallets

My husband and I have been having fun working on projects together and creating things from wood pallets we got from a friend. A couple weeks ago we made shelves that came out pretty good. You can look at the project here. Then we made a sign with our family name on it that I really like. You can look at that project here. This last weekend we made a bench. He actually made it and I took pictures! We needed a bench with a place for shoes for our entryway. We have white carpet, so I try to enforce the "take your shoes off rule" and it's easier to have people do this when there is a place to sit to take their shoes off and a place to sit to put them back on. The bench serves this purpose and I really like the way it came out. I do want to make a cushion for it that I'll get around to making and posting soon. Here is how it looks right now. Here are the steps my husband took to make the bench. Because we have made the shelves and the sign using wood pallets, they are all broken up. He cut the section above to begin with the seating portion of the bench. He hammered the ends to another piece of wood to create a somewhat ladder. He filled in the wide open spaces with pieces of wood the same size leaving small openings between each slat. He measured 18 inches for the legs and cut. Using wood screws, he attached the legs to the inside portion of the ladder seat part of the bench. He used wood screws to attach supports for the legs. He hammered two slats of wood to the … [Read more...]

Allen’s Update

This is part two of an inspirational story Allen's Gift, written by Sophia's Dad Brett, a Physician's Assistant. Intractable vomiting.  In the medical world the word “intractable” is used when nothing given as treatment or therapy relieves the given symptom.  In this case vomiting.  I mean think about it,  remember  the last time you had “the stomach flu”? Or how about the last time you went out and drank way too much only to spend the next 2 hours in front of the toilet?  For me, vomiting represents one of those bodily functions that causes the afflicted to be so miserable, so “please God I’ll do anything if you make it stop” type of agony.  But in the back of our minds we KNOW the vomiting will end soon and life will once again return to normal for us. I spoke with Allen today on my cell. “Hey buddy, you hanging in there?,”  I asked. “Doing the best (long pause) I can with (long pause) what God has given ( long pause) me to handle today,” whispers Allen with obvious great effort. “I wanna (long pause) go home so bad, so (another long pause) tired of this”. This time the long pause came from me. “Hello? Brett? (long pause) Hello?” “I’m here Allen,” I say as I again clear my throat.  I feel a humungous lump in my throat followed by what seems to be a flood of emotion like a once peaceful lake escaping it’s boundaries due to a broken dam. “I’m here man,” barely escapes my lips. The lump now a painful cacophony of past emotional pains that I thought … [Read more...]

A Great Parenting Article: Please Don’t Help My Kids

A great article from Kate Bassford Baker's Blog Please Don't Help My Kids I am not sitting here, 15 whole feet away from my kids, because I am too lazy to get up and help them climb the ladder. I brought them here so they could learn to climb it themselves. Dear Other Parents At The Park: Please do not lift my daughters to the top of the ladder, especially after you've just heard me tell them I wasn't going to do it for them and encourage them to try it themselves. I am not sitting here, 15 whole feet away from my kids, because I am too lazy to get up. I am sitting here because I didn't bring them to the park so they could learn how to manipulate others into doing the hard work for them. I brought them here so they could learn to do it themselves. They're not here to be at the top of the ladder; they are here to learn to climb. If they can't do it on their own, they will survive the disappointment. What's more, they will have a goal and the incentive to work to achieve it. In the meantime, they can use the stairs. I want them to tire of their own limitations and decide to push past them and put in the effort to make that happen without any help from me. It is not my job — and it is certainly not yours — to prevent my children from feeling frustration, fear, or discomfort. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that those things are not the end of the world, and can be overcome or used to their advantage. If they get stuck, it is not my … [Read more...]

Trip To Incline Village, Lake Tahoe

Summer has officially arrived and we kicked it off with a family getaway to Incline Village in Lake Tahoe. It was fun and tiring at the same time. We had a few days of June gloom that could have put a damper on the mood of the trip however we made the best of it and had fun anyway. When the sun came out, we were very happy. Nothing beats the crystal blue waters of the lake and the crisp clean air in Lake Tahoe. It's a beautiful place to be. The best part of the trip for me was that it was an O'Connell family reunion (my Dad's family). My Dad and his four siblings were all there with a number of my cousins and their kids. I grew up spending Summers in Lake Tahoe with my cousins and aunts and uncles and it had been a number of years since we had a get together in Tahoe. So it was great to be back with everyone. I'm bummed I hardly got any pictures of the group but here are a few. Sophia with my brother Billy and his girlfriend Chelsea Sophia and Dada Loving the sand and frigid lake water Sophia, Bailey (Brandon's girlfriend), and Lauren Brett and I My cousin's wife Brynn and their daughter Cici Brynn with my cousin Matt's kids My aunt Karen and cousins Mike and Sean My cousin Maureen and I Sophia with my cousin's girls Ryan and Mckenna I hardly got any decent pictures! Bailey, Brandon, Devon, and Matt (my cousin Maureen's husband) My Uncle Bill, Aunt Kathleen, Mike, and Aunt Mary Beth The only picture I have with the lake in the background! Devon, Brett, and … [Read more...]

Fabric Flowers

You have probably come across these rolled fabric flowers on Pinterest or maybe you have seen them in a store. They aren't the easiest flowers to show you how to make. I tried to learn how to make these through a tutorial I found on Pinterest and couldn't quite follow it. So, I'm going to try to show you the most basic way I found to make them. I apologize the pictures are terrible. I'm on vacation. I took these the night before I left and rather than wait until I get home to re do the pictures, I thought I would go ahead and post them now. Step 1 I would practice with some fabric you don't care about. I cut a two and a half inch strip of fabric about a foot and a half inches long. You can play around with the length of the strip of fabric. The longer the fabric, the larger your flower will be. Step 2 Fold the strip in half. Step 3 Fold the end of the fabric to create a ball shape. This will be the starting point and center of the flower. Use hot glue to secure it. Step 4 Twist the fabric around the ball. As you twist, use hot glue to hold the twist in place. Continue around and around until you are satisfied with the size of the flower. Glue the end of the fabric to the back side of the flower. Step 5 I created a leaf using green felt and glued it to the back. You can glue the flower to a hair clip or piece of elastic to make a headband. These are really simple to make once you get the hang of it. … [Read more...]