Friday, February 28, 2014

Seven things I've learned about Grief (thus far)

1.   On February 18, 2014, my life as I knew it ended.  No, I won't get over it.  Life will never go back to "normal".  I'm finding a new normal and trying to live in that.

2.  The last hours of my mother's life play over and over again in my mind.  She took a nap.  But what ifs run though my head.  I wish I knew details, and the few details I do know, I wish I didn't.

3.  Meat and Cheese trays.   Enough said.

4.  Grief is beginning to look like a sandwich.  (See #3.)

5.  Writing thank yous feels like an excruciating chore. (See #3)  I'm asking my boyfriend to do as many of those as possible.  

6.  Everyone grieves differently.  Don't judge.

Image courtesy of

7.  Weird emotions at weird times.  The poor home health lady who called to check up on Mom and I found it so funny and started laughing.  The absolute terror I felt one night as I got up to go to the bathroom.


8.  The people you expected to be there for you might not be, and the people who are there for you mean more than you can ever express.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Goodbye, Mom

I'll be back to blogging soon, but my mother passed away on Tuesday.  While she had been very ill for some time, it was sudden in the fact it wasn't expected to happen that day.  My boyfriend talked to her an hour before she passed.

Obviously I have things more important to tend to at the moment than blogging.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Trust on Facebook Status Updates: Or Why I don't play Status Games

I've been seeing more and more games going around on Facebook where someone will say something with the hopes people will "like" or comment on their status and they will be sucked in to the game where they will also "be required" to post a similar status on their page.

What does this do?  In my opinion, it devalues the honesty of everyone who participates.  If we, as Christians, are called to not lie, what does it say when we post something for the world to see that is not true.  (I avoid Facebook on April Fool's Day.  I don't know how many times I've seen engagment announcements, pregnancy announcements and the like with "April Fools!" tacked to the end.  To their credit, they DO have a disclaimer on them.)

I'm mainly talking about the status updates saying people are moving, won money on a scratch-off, or the one going around recently where you could choose from a number of statements ranging from that you forgot to wear underwear today, you voted for Obama in the last presidential election, the number of relationships you have been in with a very high number attached, and several others.

Image courtesy of

I had a non-Christian friend post on Facebook she was no longer going to play these games because she did it once, and she felt that it made people not trust what she was saying.  She said if she posted something she wanted everyone to know it was the truth and not second guess it.

I love her thinking.  Shouldn't we as Christians take the same attitude?  I know I want to be known as someone that if I say something, it's honest.  I don't want people to read my Facebook status and think, "Oh, that might be a game."

Besides, there's so many more interesting things in the world to post than something that isn't true.  Some of my best Facebook status updates sound like that have to be made up, but they are true.  I once had a grasshopper knock down a panel to a light.  I was in the hospital and my roommate was rambling about homeschooling and said Chuck Norris had a great homes school program.  They sound made up, but they weren't.

Next time you're tempted to participate in one of these status games, why not find something really interesting (and true) to post instead?   It's unique AND honest!  Plus, everyone will learn something cool about you!  What could be better than that?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Seven Quick Takes Friday: Boyfriend Edition

I told my boyfriend that in addition to this being Valentine's Day, he has the added pressure of makint this day special because it's the one year anniversary us sending our first message online.

Our first photo in June 2013 at Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia.

Today is Valentine's Day.  One year ago yesterday I went to an Ash Wednesday service and started seriously considering becoming Catholic.  You can read about that here.  (I posted it after giving the service some thought.)  I figured that I would have to wait until I made up my mind before meeting someone.  The very next day I messaged my boyfriend on a dating site and told him I saw he was a Christian.  


He told me he grew up Catholic but was currently attending an Anglican church.  We started chatting, neither of us thinking it would lead to anything.  We lived 3 1/2 hours apart.  There's a bit of an age difference.  But we kept chatting because there was nothing better to do.  We realized we were starting to care about each other.


By the time I went to Fat Camp  Faith and Fitness Week, I was referring to him as my "kinda-sorta-boyfriend".  Kinda-Sorta because we still hadn't met.  His car had been totaled right before we met online by someone texting and driving and he hadn't found a replacement for us to be able to meet up.  I had a rough week at the weight loss camp, and everyone thought it was so neat how I'd pick up my phone after a workout and there would sometimes be a text waiting on me saying how proud he was of me.  One woman said she wished her husband was that sweet.  I knew I had a winner.


He came to visit and I met him June 19, 2013.  We met at a Burger King parking lot.  Actually getting a hug was so wonderful.   I will never forget the nerves from that night.  I'd already decided I loved this man.  You only meet a man you love like this once in your life, and this was the night I was going to actually be with him in person, so I was full of jitters.  Over the next few days we visited some tourist attractions in my area, ate at Annie's Country Kitchen Restaurant and started forming our inside jokes.  (If you ever meet us, and we say something about a cheese factory, that means you are rambling with your story.)  We decided at that time we were dating but didn't want to make it "Facebook official" until I met his family.


In July, he visited for my birthday, and again in August.  On August 26, I called him and could barely say, "I need you" as my mother was in the hospital and given a 10% chance of living.  I was told I would need to make the decision to take her off life support in 48 hours.  We talked about how and when for him to come for what seemed inevitable, and he came in on August 28.  As he pulled into the driveway, I received the call from the hospital and the doctor said, "There's nothing more we can do."  My heart dropped.  Thankfully the doctor continued, "We're transfering her to Pittsburgh."  I ran out the door, left a house key at the business next door so someone could take care of my guinea pig, and told him we were leaving in 15 minutes for Pittsburgh and didn't know when we'd be back.  We spent the next 8 days in a hotel in the Pittsburgh area.  I don't know how I would have made it through that time without him.  I'd look at my mother and think I was losing the most precious person on earth.  My life was turned upside down in a moment (my mother was doing well 48 hours prior to her being given 10% chance of living.)  He was a trooper.  He held me as I cried, found St. Ferdinand's near our hotel for us to attend to try to make life as normal as possible for me, and tried to hold me together.  My mother thankfully got better, and it was during this time I realized that this was no ordinary man, this man was someone very special since we had only met in person 2 months before.


I didn't know when I would be able to visit him and his family in Virginia, but because my mother needed to be in a rehab facility, I was able to get away sooner than I had expected.  My priority, of course, was to be around for my mother, but since I didn't need to take her to dialysis three times a week for a while, I was able to get away.  He had planned on coming in one weekend, but said he had a wedding to go to.  I asked him if he wanted a date and that weekend was the first I met his family.  I met his extended family at Christmas as my mother encouraged me to go to Alabama.  Thankfully they liked me, and I had a fantastic time with them.  We even had a The Settlers of Catan marathon until three in the morning so we could finish our game before his cousin had to leave to where he is stationed in the Navy.  (And yes, we made our relationship "Facebook Official" in September.)


I couldn't be happier.  He moved to this area at the end of November.  This is the first Valentine's Day of my life I'm not alone.  (I'm 40, and that's been a long time of waiting for the right man!)  He goes to RCIA with me every week, he loves to cook, clean, and I am so impressed with how much he cares for my mother.  I am not quite strong enough physically to help her without straining a muscle now and then, and him moving to this area was such a help because he has been able to do so much for my mother.  He is usually the one who takes her to dialysis and he shovels for us and it's not a worry about how we are going to get the driveway clear to get her to dialysis.   He's learning to list on eBay -- you can check out our items here. (You can also follow us so some of our items will show regularly on your eBay homepage!)   He has gotten into the shopping part of eBay with me, and we were planning on going to some second hand stores today, but the weather is too bad and I'm not feeling the best.  What a wonderful Valentine date, though!  He's extremely supportive of my eBay selling, entering contests, and blogging.  I met someone online before him who even though I had made more than this man, I was told that I needed a "real job".  I am thankful I am appreciated for who I am, what I do, and I appreciate the same about him!  It is hard to fathom that I only met him a year ago.  It's such a neat thing to be part of a couple on Valentine's Day.  I heard so many times over the years to quit looking and love will come to you when you least expect it, but I don't agree with that.  If you are single, hang in there.  I was 39 before I met my boyfriend.  This Valentine's Day feels so different -- I'm just very thankful there's my boyfriend!  :)

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dial Vitamin Boost Giveaway

I'm a Purex Insider, and recently I was sent a bottle of Dial Vitamin Boost body wash to try.   I liked it.  First off, I just liked the look of it.  So many body washes are clear, and I enjoyed the green color of this one.  (And I have a feeling I'll use the right amount.  Since I don't wear my glasses in the shower, colorless body washes have a tendancy to overfill my scrubbie because I can't see how much I have on there!)  Secondly, it left my skin smooth and soft.  My boyfriend has really dry skin, and I asked him to try it out for a second opinion.  He said it had a nice smell, so this is a body wash that could be used by the whole family since it doesn't have a feminine scent to it.  (I do like how it smells, it's just not a girly scent.  It's a clean, refreshing scent.)  It's infused with Vitamin B to give your skin a nice softness after using it.

How would you like to win TWO coupons for Dial Vitamin Boost body wash AND a coupon for a Dial men's body wash?  Just enter on the Rafflecopter below.

Open to the USA only.  Must be 18 or older,  ends February 16 at 11:59 and winner has 48 hours to contact me or I'll chose another winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 7, 2014

Seven Quick Takes Friday -- RCIA Edition


For those who don't know, I'm going through the RCIA class though my local Catholic Church.  If  you who have never been through one, I encourage you to do so.  You don't need to join the Catholic church afterwards, but most do.   It's a great study of what Catholics believe and we have a few people in our class who have been Catholic their whole lives.  Granted, two of the three of them are sponsors for those joining the church.  Unlike in larger parishes, our priest teaches the classes himself, and I believe this adds a lot to our class.  The first few weeks we were all silent and said nothing, and now our priest can't get us to settle down.  I was talking to a friend this week and she asked who all was in my class (there's less than 10 of us).  When I told her, she commented, "That sounds like a really fun class!"  It is. . . That said,  on with Seven Quick Takes about RCIA this week.


We were discussing Commandments 2 & 8 -- Truth and Honesty.  I want to write a whole blog post about this but our priest mentioned hypocrisy and what it is and isn't.   It isn't being imperfect and fallible.   Everyone is going to make mistakes.  Yes, people will sometimes cuss, or do things they shouldn't.  That doesn't make someone a hypocrite, but what does make them a hypocrite is "Professing beliefs, feelings or virtues that one does not possess."  So an extreme example would be someone who professes in church to believe in God but is an atheist.    I always thought hypocrites were people who go to church and don't live up to a certain standard.


I'd never heard the words before but two things I thought I'd mention are "calumny" and "detraction".  Calumny is saying something about another person that is not true and harms his/her reputation.  Detraction is saying something which is true and harms another's reputation without good reason for doing so (such as in a court of law.)


Next we were told that anything overheard in Confession is never to be revealed.  Someone stated that at times years ago there would be little old ladies hanging out near the Confessional to eavesdrop.  Can you imagine?   This got us into a lively discussion about Confession.  Since our priest is our teacher for the class we were able to get a priest's perspective on it.

It was asked something about the most interesting Confession, and of course our priest couldn't say that, but he did say that he's heard about everything as he has done work in a prison.  He was talking about the confidentiality that surrounds the Sacrament of Reconcilliation and said that at times in a group setting it might be required to stop a prisoner from talking about what he did if he had not yet been to trial.  He said that most in a specific prison had murdered at least one person if not more.  The lady beside me piped up, "Have you ever said, "You've only murdered one person?  Good for you."   This got laughs from most of us, our priest sighed and tried to go on to his next point.  Someone commented on how if there wasn't face to face confession the priest would still recognize voices, and amazingly, he said that many times he can't unless someone has a very unique voice.  I thought that was interesting.


I said I had heard on a podcast I listen to that priests often have a special grace to forget what is said to them, and I asked if that was true.  He said it wasn't that so much with him as most people confess the same sins.   The girl across the table from me said something about Mouth in the Goonies giving confession (I never realized that was what he was doing since I grew up Protestant -- in fact when I went to see the movie it was my best friend's birthday and her father had been a Methodist minister and he nearly whisked us out of the movie theater over the statue scene! But I digress.  .  .)  The lady across the table asked, "Has anyone ever confessed they are a cannibal?"  The room exploded with laughter and she said it was a Silence of the Lambs reference, but we all started joking with her about it.  I commented "I'm never coming to your house for dinner."  She looked at me and stated she can't cook, let alone cook people.  Again there was another general round of laughter.


Once we got settled down, another thing that was stated about truth and honesty was we are not to tell others things they don't need to know about others.  I can't say how many times I've heard gossip spread as prayer requests.  Even the prayer requests where you say "I can't give you details but pray for _____" makes you think all sorts of things about that person, so don't make prayer requests an announcement.  (I once heard a pastor say never to make a prayer request about something you haven't spent a lot of time in prayer for yourself.  I think that's a great rule of thumb because I think it will make you more sensitive to how you ask others to pray about something!)


After class, we often visit and joke around a little.  One week I had mentioned that a guinea pig I know online had a lady across the hall who would get after him with Holy Water.   (I'm planning on writing a blog post just about that discussion, too, so stay tuned.)  I announced as we were filing out of the classroom, "Good news.  The lady across the hall from that guinea pig showed up to preform an exorcism on the guinea pig but instead baptized him with Holy Oil."  My priest questioned a baptism with holy oil forgetting that we were discussing a guinea pig, who of course cannot be baptized.   (I have wanted to take my guinea pig to a blessing of the animals service on the Feast of St. Francis.  I had one guinea pig in particular who would have loved it with the exception of dogs.  And speaking of dogs, the Episcopal priest in the next town once had to go to the hospital and get stitches after a dog bit him during a blessing of the animals service, but again I digress. . .)  As our priest was still contemplating baptism with holy oil,  someone asked about exorcism.  I mentioned I had read the book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist and asked if that was real, and I was told it was.  The youngest member of the class said he had seen that movie.  I asked why when I mention a book everyone talks about a movie that is made from the book.  (And disclaimer -- neither I nor my priest have seen the movie, so I don't know how much it followed the book.) 

So there you have it, at RCIA this week we discussed truth, honesty, hypocrisy, cannibalism, a guinea pig, and exorcism.  A pretty jam packed hour and a half if I do say so myself!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Can you take the "No Phone Challenge"

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

Guess what?   Comedian Mark Malkoff is doing a "U.S. Cellular No Phone Challenge".  He is known for challenges such as living for a week in a furniture store, and now he's planing on going a week without a cell phone from February 5 to 11.   Be sure and follow him on the U.S. Cellular site, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube as he shows how it is not so easy in today's world to be connected to those around you without the use of a cell phone.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

She lived a nightmare (Review of And Life Comes Back)

And Life Comes Back: One Woman's Heartbreak and How She Found Tomorrow by Tricia Lott Williford

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If one day your husband was fine and a few days later he dies in your arms, you would probably try to pull yourself out of a nightmare.  Only for Tricia Lott Williford, there was no escaping this nightmare because the sirens, paramedics and funeral were all too real.  Left with two boys, both toddlers, and life being turned upside down -- on the day before Christmas Eve, she had a long journey ahead of her to heal.  Not only did she need to heal, but her boys had questions.

How do you respond when your oldest starts Kindergarten and  you feel you should give the teacher the heads up on what happened less than a year ago?   How do you respond when you go to an open house and see he has said his dream trip is to hop on a cloud with his brother and mommy so they can visit daddy in heaven?

Although life seems to stop for Tricia, it continues for everyone else.  There are bills to pay.  Bill that arrive addressed to Robb Williford.

What do you say when people ask your marital status?  Especially when you aren't ready yet to remove the ring on your finger.  You still feel married.  But are you?  "Widowed" is such a harsh word.  Is that what you really are?  But you can't be.  You are too young to be a widow.

While I am sure the author censored this book and left some things private, it's a real journey.  It's honest.  She doesn't leave out panic attacks.  It's the book of death -- of a man who sounds like an amazing person.  The death of a relationship, a family.  But as the title says, "And Life Comes Back:  A Wife's story of Love, Loss, and Hope Reclaimed".   The boys begin praying for their new daddy.  She starts becoming open to the idea.  Not to replace Robb.  No one ever would.

This book was an amazing read.   I finished it in less than 12 hours.  I'm not sure I should say I loved this book because of the subject matter, but it was extremely well written.  It's also a book I have been looking forward to for a long time since I follow her blog and read she received a publishing contract.  The wait was worth it.  I expect it will be the best book I read this year.  It's that good.

She has a writing style that draws me and captures me especially when you mix that with her raw honesty.   I'm hoping to read more from her in the future (but hopefully if she does author another book it will be a more lighthearted subject matter as she's experienced enough pain for a lifetime.)

Even in the midst of tradgedy she can find humor.  I was reading this book and started laughing so hard someone in the room asked me what was so funny.  I read the passage to my friend -- a passage from right after Tricia's husband died and a victim's advocate was pretty much intruding on the family.  As I read it, my friend started laughing as hard as I was.  At the end of the passage, the author says once this woman left she told everyone they were more helpful than she was.  They laughed.  Many times I have said in life you have to choose to laugh or cry.  While they were crying, they chose to laugh, and it comes through the pages of a book beautifully.

While I finished this book about two weeks ago, I can't stop thinking about it.   I can't recommend it enough.  You won't forget this story of life, death, and learning to live after your world shattered.

FTC disclosure:  I was provided with an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  The opinions are my own.

More links:
Download Chapter One
Tricia Williford on Facebook
Purchase this book:  And Life Comes Back: A Wife's Story of Love, Loss, and Hope Reclaimed

Friday, January 31, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday -- Snowed In edition

I decided to switch things up and join a different link up this Friday.  This is my first time at 7 Quick Takes Friday so if you are linking in from there, please be nice.  (Although I'm sure you would be!)

We actually had more snow than this, but I found this photo from a couple years ago. of our back porch.  It looked the same this time, except a bit more of it.

Because I have been sick for a while it has been 11 days since I have been out of the house due to a combo of sickness and such, this is what the last 11 days have consisted of since it has all morphed together into one week in my mind.

1.  Mom is in the hospital.
 A week ago today Mom was admitted to the hospital.  She has pneumonia and I started getting sick almost immediately.  I started on antibiotics last weekend and am feeling better myself.  Mom is still in the hospital and likely to remain there until Monday at the earliest.  Because of her being in the hospital is one reason I have been able to hibernate like I have.  She is on dialysis three times a week and while my boyfriend often takes her these days, I sometimes tag along.

2.  RCIA was cancelled.  As was life.

With a huge snowfall last week and -11 tempertures this week, RCIA got cancelled.  As was school.  And pretty much anything else that happens around here.  Except for people making mad dashes to the grocery store for French Toast ingredients (milk, bread, eggs). 

3.  We cleaned the pantry at meals.

You know how there are often boxes that linger in the pantry.  "Oh look, there's two waffles in this box.  This will be my breakfast."  or  "You know, this might be a good night for that Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee pizza in the back that has been there a while."  Just seemed a good time to do this because my mother is on a very restricted diet, and this is something that has needed done at times.

4.  I made my boyfriend suffer through some old home movies, putting together a puzzle, and we cleaned.

I used to always have a video camera on my shoulder.  I pulled out some old home videos from years past.  My dad passed in 2006, and my boyfriend never met him, but we were laughing at Dad's antics on the videos.  I just wish my dad could have met my boyfriend. 


I love to read and when I was growing up our school got rid of the reading books they had used for ten years.  I adored this series and we each were given a book at the end of the last school year we used them.  I have collected the entire series over the years at garage sales, and I started sharing them with my boyfriend.  (Yeah, I'm a nerd, what can I say?)  I also read blogs, two books, and various cereal boxes.

6.  eBay 

I sell on eBay.  You know you want to check out my junk -- I mean, treasures --  that I have for sale.  I did a lot of eBay listing, and my boyfriend even helped clean the eBay room where we found some interesting stuff that I had bought at garage sales and tucked in there and had promptly forgotten about it!  I always used to wonder why all the good guys were always taken, and after waiting so long to meet my boyfriend, I have a feeling that there are single women out there wishing they had a boyfriend like this, but sorry, ladies, he's taken.

7.  Contests and Giveaways

I love entering contests and giveaways.  I really win, too.  Here's my post on the basics of winning sweepstakes because every time I mention it, I get questions, so I'll just post the link now.  Because Mom has been in and out of the hospital since August, I had gotten behind, and I have a big announcement -- I am now caught up!   Plus I won a couple instant wins this week, the biggest of which was a $25 pre-paid Visa.  Yeah!  I always love winning those, because I make so many dreams of what I might spend it on -- a new book or some subs from my favorite sub shop.  But somehow it always ends up being groceries.

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