Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 Orlando Vacation - Day 2

My second day started out pretty much like my first, with a cup of coffee out on the terrace, patio, lanai, whatever you want to call it. Karen only had to work half a day and I knew she would be raring to go when she got off work so a little relaxation was called for and I read more of my book I had started on the plane.

We had decided to go to Ikea and anywhere else that might look appealing. The weather was nice and Karen now has a convertible so we rode with the top down. I had to post a picture on Facebook for my daughter so she could be jealous. She never commented on my picture so I am not sure she saw it. I had checked the weather back home and I was glad to be in Orlando enjoying some much craved sunshine instead of in Oklahoma where it was cold once again.

I also learned that the I-4 in Orlando is rather unpredictable and can move smoothly and quickly at times but most of the time it is rather slow going. Karen informed me that most roads were toll roads so a lot of people take the I-4 so they don't have to pay. She a told me "people in Orlando can't drive, if it starts raining traffic stops", which I found rather ridiculous since I thought it rained there quite often.

My Aunt Carolyn kept posting stuff about wanting to go to Orlando so she could visit the Holyland Experience. I had no idea what it was but when we came across it on the interstate I had to take a picture and post it to her on Facebook to let her know I was driving by it. Evidently it is a something similar to a theme park, albeit a rather small one. My aunt posted back that she was jealous and one of her friends had called her recently about wanting to go some day.

We went to Ikea and I was going to grab a few of the small Bygel bars that I use for punches but we never found them and it was probably a good things since it would have cost me $50 to get them home! I did get two of the nice size Ikea bag to keep in my van for when I go shopping and it will be easier to carry things in the house. I did learn that Ikea is evil in that once you enter you cannot just walk out of the store. You must go through the whole store before exiting the building, which is probably a fantastic market strategy!

There was a Container Store along the way and we stopped in there where I found some things that I thought would work for Karen's paper and once we got back home I did find they worked nicely. They are a little snug at the bottom but it will be easier for her to flip through her paper now instead of having to grab the Iris boxes and look through paper that way. The bins were on sale and Karen got a few of the small and large ones.We also picked up some glass bottles to put sand in so we could make something to remind us of the cruise we would be going on *okie suddenly wonders where she put that dang bottle of sand*.

Pedicure's were in order after shopping and it was nice to sit and soak my feet after all the running around. One day I will learn to wear my most comfortable shoes when I am at Karen's, but it didn't happen this trip.

Back home we were ready to settle in for the night as we weren't quite sure what we were going to do the next day. I went to bed and read a little before going to sleep.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 Orlando Vacation - Day 1

Okie's log, stardate 20143.13. Our location is city Orlando *okie cracks up at her impersonation of a Star Trek captain and then realizes it is not quite as funny when no one can hear her*.

My first day in Orlando was quite nice and relaxing. Karen had found out the day before I got there that she was going to have to work Thursday and Friday, but only a half a day on Friday and that would leave me to my own devices. She did offer to let me take her to work and I could use her car to which I replied "if you lived in the back dirt roads of Southern Georgia I would take you up on that but there is no way I am driving in Orlando!". I told her I would be fine while she was at work and would find something to keep myself occupied.

This is the view I had while I had my morning coffee on Thursday and while it was a bit chilly by Orlando standards it was feeling pretty good to me since Mother Nature is being a bit Bi-Polar with our weather in Oklahoma. Heck I was just ready for some regulated temps that stay on a good average for more than 2 days, we had been going from the 70s down to the high in the 30's about every other day when I left Oklahoma.

After getting dressed I wondered what I could do and knew they had to have buses in Orlando, I mean every major city does don't they? I found a website and was posting on Facebook about maybe venturing out and taking a bus somewhere. I quickly got replies of panic from some of my friends who were telling me NO NO NO. My friend Carol was kind enough to say she would come get me and take me where I wanted to go but by that time I had decided to just read my book or venture into Karen's guest room and see what needed to be organized.

I had downloaded 12 Years A Slave and started reading it on my flight to Orlando and I really wanted to finish reading it. I don't read often because when I do I am so engrossed in the story that I don't want to do anything else. I haven't seen the movie yet but I sure want to now, even knowing the book are always better than the movies. I did read a little but thought I could do that at bedtime since I was almost done with the book.

Around noonish or so I walked into look at Karen's guest room where she has her crafty space set up. Now last year I spent quite a bit of time organizing her paper and some other things for her so I knew it wouldn't be a total wreck. As I surveyed the area I knew it was going to take some time for me to decided what was what and where it needed to go. It turned out that "some time" ended up being over 3 hours. I didn't realize it took that long until I started getting a little hungry. Went through her paper again and put her stacks away in her Expedit unit and sorted through some cardstock that had strayed to an Iris paper holder. I reorganized drawers in the plastic bins to where they made sense, adhesives in one drawer, office supplies in a drawer, vinyl in a drawer, etc. My friend Karen has a fetish concerning baggies, she loves the damn things and while her fetish is great when we go on vacation *okie makes a mental note to add a box of baggies to her luggage for her next travel adventure*, I just don't think they are a good method for organizing a lot of things. I gathered all her greeting cards and gift bags and sat in the floor and went about the task of putting them in theme categories. I also matched up all the cards with envelopes so she wouldn't have to search for one that fit when she needed it. When Karen got home I showed her and she was more worried about where her baggie where than how well I did on the organization. I quickly calmed her nerves by showing her I didn't throw away the baggies. She got nervou again when she saw I threw away her ATG gun box and said "HOW AM I GOING TO KNOW HOW TO LOAD THAT DAMN THING? IT TOOK ME HOURS THE LAST TIME". I quickly showed her which draw all her manuals and instructions were in.

We decided to go out for a bit as Karen was wanting a new carryon bag and went to a Tuesday Morning and looked around. Now here is where you might want to sit down...I walked out of there with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! They did have some papercraft supplies but none that I really needed or wanted. We actually went to another TM later and still once again I bought nothing!

We decided to go eat dinner and settled on Outback was H O R R I B L E! Never go to the one in Almonte Springs if you are ever there. After posting on Facebook there were several people who said that was the worst one they had ever been to. Long story short we got one of the meals taken off the ticket.

Back home we watched a little TV and went to bed. Karen still had to work a half a day the next day and I wanted her to be rested for when she got off work. Oh who am I kidding, I knew I would need the rest because Karen about runs me to death when I am in Orlando!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Starting With The Bad - Allegiant Air

I do plan on telling y'all all about my vacation but first I want to tell you about the horror story of coming home so we can get that horror out of the way and enjoy the rest of the story.

When I booked my flight going to Orlando I booked Southwest because not only is that what I usually fly but I had a $100 voucher I needed to use from when a flight got delayed last year. I do love Southwest and don't think I have ever had a negative experience with them, and if I did their customer service has always been very gracious and helpful.

For my flight back home I choose to go Allegiant Air because they offered a straight flight for a good price...or so I thought. When booking I found out they charge for a few things that I found odd, such as choosing your seat, using a debit/credit cart *okie wonders if it is free to pay in blood*, and of course baggage fee for checked baggage which is standard for most airlines but their fees are higher. I was willing to give it a try for a direct flight home.

I flew out of Sanford, which is a very small airport, even by my Oklahoma standards. I found the Allegiant counter easy enough and thought it odd I had to walk through the ribbon line and make about 12 turns to get to the counter when there was NO ONE in line. Matter of fact the couple that walked behind me even commented about the insanity of the ribbon lines.

Once at the counter the attendant, or whatever she was called, was very hateful. Now I am from the south and a greeting consists of of smile and a "hello" or "how are you today" and her reaction to this was to give me a sigh and frown and say "are you checking a bag". I gave her my info and put my bag on the scale. The weight came up 47.5 pounds. It was at that point I realized you need to read information carefully because Allegiant weight is 40lbs max. She looked at me and said "You are going to have to do something about that or I have to charge you $50". I think my eyes bugged out of my head and I said "you gotta be kiddin me". She gave me a look of disgust that let me know she was not kidding. I moved out of the way o the counter and stuffed some of my clothing in my overnight bag and hoped it would work. She was nice enough to say "if you can get that thing down to 42 pounds I'll let it go through". I put my suitcase on the scale and it came up 42.5 pounds and after shaking her head and pursing her lips she said "that is close enough now move on". I think I mumbled "thank you" and I might have added the thought hateful bitch.

Grabbing my carry-on and overnight bag I got on the escalator where I headed to the next floor up to security. I will say the security people were very nice and I was able to get everything in bins, my shoes off and moved through their little x-ray with no problem. As I got my stuff out of the bins I went to put on my jacket...where was my jacket? HOLY SUNS OF BEACHES! One of the officers looked down through the plate glass and as she asked what it looked like and when I told her she said "yep there it is". So of course they informed me that I would have to take my luggage down with me to get the jacket and then come back through security again. I rushed down and told the lady at the counter "that is my jacket" and she gave me a sneer and said "WELL I CAN'T TOUCH IT". I told her "I was just letting you know I was getting it" and she rolled her eyes. Back up the escalator I went, running through the ribbon like I was in the Olympics and wanting to cross the finish line so I could get a gold medal, grabbing bins, tossing of my shoes, emptying my bag and shoving the bin to the x-ray machine. I stood waiting for the officer to tell me to step through the x-ray when he smiled and said "hey, did you miss me so bad that you had to come through again?". He was tall, dark and rather good looking and had I not been in a rush I would have probably given in a flirtatious smile and a few comments but since I was running late I just said "oh sure you got jokes!" and we both laughed.

I took off, walking briskly, to the gate number that was on my boarding pass. I still wasn't sure how far the gate was but wanted to try and get a drink for the plane ride. Once I saw the gate I saw people standing in line for boarding! I looked at my watch and thought "this can't be right, we don't leave for another 45 minutes". Well sure enough the plane was boarded and were were all buckled in 30 minutes before our take off time. And yes, we were told to buckle in. I noticed two of the flight attendants smiled a lot but there was one old hag who wore tons of make up that never smiled and always used a hateful tone.

The seats are extremely small and the leg room is horrible, especially if you have a bag that has to be stowed under the seat in front of you. As you can see from the picture the padding is almost non-existent! The child in the picture had plenty of room but I am no small child, or small anything for that matter. I was certainly glad I paid the extra money to choose my seat and was on an aisle seat however the broad shouldered man next to me probably wasn't too glad since he was a big squished between me and the other gentleman sitting by the window. I was texting my daughter and posting on Facebook that I was going to die in this cracker box of an airplane. Now I will tell you that I am not a religious person but I am a very spiritual person and I believe in prayer and believe me when I say I was praying hard before it was even time to take off!

Take off time came and went and were were all getting a bit antsy when the pilot came on to say they were still waiting for some baggage to be loaded and once the paperwork was there we would take off. As we waited some of us noticed smoking coming up over the vent area above the windows. I tried to get a picture of it but it didn't show up very well. We were told it was due to condensation and nothing to worry about. I should have taken a picture later because at one point it started to look like a fog machine.

We continued to wait and there was a guy in the cockpit that reminded me of Sesame Street skits where they say "One of these thing is not like the other" and I wondered if there was a problem. This was probably about 15 minutes after our time for takeoff. I am not sure how long he was there but long enough for me to start asking people on Facebook to pray!

I would say it was about 40 minutes past takeoff time that he told us there was a problem with the computer and they were trying to get it fixed. At no time did they ask if anyone wanted another flight nor did the flight attendant come and ask if anyone needed anything.

A little later there were several guys in these yellow vests getting off and on the plane. Every now and then the pilot would come on and say "we should be ready in about 5 minutes, we are just waiting on some final paperwork". All I kept thinking was "YOU ARE A LIAR! WE ARE NEVER GOING TO TAKE OFF! THIS IS THE PLANE FROM HELL!". Now you maybe asking yourself why didn't I get off the plane and find other arrangements and there is a good reason. I was in a small airport and I had no idea what other airlines were available or if there was even anymore going to Oklahoma and since no one else seemed to be getting off the plane I figured it must be just a one time glitchy thing that happens occasionally. I asked the gentleman next to me if he had ever flown with Allegiant before and he said "Just on the way out here, they will get you where you are going but that's about it".

Finally about an hour and a half after takeoff time we were ready to roll. My butt was already numb from sitting in the lawn chair seat for two hours and I was ready to get in the air so they would offer something to drink because I was thirsty by this point. We started doing the taxi down the runway thing when all the sudden the plane stopped. I just knew at this point the plane was going to burst into flames or a wheel was going to fall off. The pilot came on the intercom and said "ladies and gentlemen we had to stopped because there is turtle on the runway and they are trying to get him off there now". Being an animal lover I did not begrudge that turtle and I was glad the plane didn't flatten him. Peering out the window I saw a truck driving off and I guess they got the turtle because right after that we started going again and we were finally in the air!

After getting leveled off the flight attendants announced there was information in front of us that contained a price list for beverages and snacks. I figured it meant alcoholic but nope...even water would cost you $2 and they didn't take cash. I ended up paying $9 for a Diet Coke and a snack box that contained a little more than the equivalent of an Oscar Mayer Lunchable that cost $2 at the grocery store. Luckily I had chosen a book to read and was able to immerse myself in literature for the flight and escape the horror of the experience.

When we landed a flight attendant came on and stated "If you would please help us and adjust your seat belts back to their original length as we are immediately returning to Florida and will be flying with a full plane" and I said outloud to no one in particular "I'll gladly do that for a small fee of $35", a few people must have heard me since they chuckled and agreed. Once off the plane and entering the airport area I noticed there were people lined up looking more than perturbed and who can blame them because so far their flight was delayed at least an hour and a half at this point. It seems they don't get in a rush to unload the baggage either as I had to wait much longer than I ever had and I began to wonder if they sent our luggage to Bangladesh or some other absurd location since they didn't seem to be too concerned about anything else. I don't think I have ever seen people get so excited as when the conveyor belt started moving and I know it was because we were all wanting to get out of this group nightmare that had occurred over the last 6 hours.

After getting home I did a little Google search for reviews of Allegiant Air and I sure wish I would have done it before booking my flight as there were very, very, VERY few positive reviews and the majority said they were at least an hour late for takeoff. And with that I give you....

Okie's Top 10 Reasons To Fly Allegiant Air
1. You only take underwear on vacation
2. Paying outrageous baggage fees makes you feel good
3. You love rude flight attendants
4. You like being treated that even the act of breathing is annoying
5. You like arriving at your destination at least an hour late
6. You find sitting in lawn chairs for extended periods of time is stimulating and relaxing
7. You like paying $9 for the equivalent of a toddler's daycare snack
8. You have short legs
9. Dislocating your shoulders to avoid encroaching on the personal space of others gives you a personal thrill


10. All possible modes of transportation including, bicycles, scooters or skateboards are not available!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I'm Going Home

Anytime I say that I automatically think of one of the last scenes in Rocky Horror Picture Show where Dr. Frank n furter is getting ready to leave earth but he is saying he will return one day and stay forever. Of course I do not plan on returning to Florida to stay forever *okie thinks after the I-4 where it took 1.5 hours to move 10 miles down the road she would likely never move to Florida* but I do know I will return again one day in the future. I guess another thing I don't have in common with that whole scene is how I would look in high heels and a corset. Tim Curry looked amazing and I would look something close to a train wreck, you wouldn't want to look but the sight would be so horrid that it would be hard to look away.

Not sure how that thinking all came about, but I am going home today.

I had another great vacation with BFF Karen. Our cruise was nice even though we didn't get to make it to Coco Cay because of high winds. We did find out we liked Nassau after all, last year we didn't think we did but that is definitely a whole notha story.We had a great day on the beach there and got our exercise in for sure...more details to come.

On Friday when we got off the boat we had to rush home and get changed and head over by Disney to meet up with a bunch of ladies, including the infamous Enfys, for lunch and a game of Dirty Crafter. We had a wonderful afternoon with them, which I will share in a later post. You will have to be sure to check out the stories that I hope Enfys posts on her blog, Going Buggy. You need to head over there and read her rather hilarious story about her arriving in the states.

I do want to brag on my self that I bought NOTHING at two different Tuesday Mornings! Now I did make a purchase in Hobby Lobby of some metallic brads, but I was almost out of those so it was a necessity. In Michaels I got some Imaginisce Glam Rock pearls that were on clearance and once again those are an item I use frequently and was almost out of!

My bags are packed up except the things I need today, change of clothes, computer, etc so I will be ready to finish getting my things together after I get out of the shower. Speaking of which, I guess I better get in the shower and get ready to head back to Oklahoma. As much fun as I have had I am so ready to get back home to the kiddo's and my furbabies. And besides...Walking Dead comes on tonight!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Arrived in Florida Safe and Sound

I got to Florida safe and sound, flights where rather uneventful which is a good thing. My flight from OKC to Houston was spent sitting next to a young couple that were heading to Galveston to visit the young man's parents. I am thinking the young lady accompanying him might have been a little nervous as they got drinks from the flight attendant and then she pulled out several small bottles of liquor from her purse and they commenced to mixing their drinks, either that or they were under age and weren't able to order the mixed drinks on the plane. I spent time reading 12 Years A Slave that I had downloaded before leaving home...excellent book by the way and I highly recommend it.

During my short layover in Houston there was a man who lost a bag from his luggage and he was walking rather quickly. I hollered at him and he was on his phone and didn't hear me. I swiftly grabbed the bag and walked toward him. I again hollered "SIR! You dropped something!". This time he turned around, looked at me and snatched the bag out of my hand. Another gentleman was walking by and noticed how rude the man was and smiled at me. I smiled back and said "I guess some folks don't appreciate southern politeness" and he laughed at that and the older gentleman gave me a look of exasperation. I was starving as I hadn't eaten much and it was late evening by the time I got into Houston. I was able to get a salad from Wendy's that was close to my gate. I sat to eat it and looked at the time and noticed it would be time to board my flight soon. I sat there looking at my salad wondering if I should toss it or take it  with me. It just so happened a pilot sat next to me and I asked him "excuse me, I hate to bother you but do you mind if I ask you a question" he said he didn't mind and I asked "am I able to take this on the plane with me and eat it? I don't travel much and am not quite familiar with the rules". This gave him a chuckle and he told me I was able to take it on the plane and eat it. Oh and if you haven't tried the Apple Pecan Chicken Salad at Wendy's then you should, that thing was awesome! Or maybe I was just really hungry.

Since I was flying Southwest I got to pick my seat and on my flight from Houston to Orlando I sat next to an older couple. The husband was reading a book about China and the woman and I chatted off and on during the flight. I am one of those type of people that if you sit next to me for more than 15 seconds I am going to start talking to you. I find people fascinating and especially when I am traveling. I always like to hear where they have been or where they are going, where they are from and if they like it there. I did find out the couple were originally from Pennsylvania and retired to Florida. They were returning from their grandson's graduation from the Navy in San Diego. The book the man was reading about China was for their upcoming trip in June, they went to Italy last summer. He showed me several things in the book he was excited to see such as the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army. I truly enjoyed my conversation with the couple and when we got off the plane I told them I hoped their trip to China was a good one and they got to do everything they planned.

While I might look confident walking through airports I am actually always afraid I am going the wrong way or going to get lost. Evidently my look of confidence is noticed by others because once getting off the plane in Orlando and heading to what I was hoping was the baggage area I was standing waiting for the little tram train thing and a man came up and asked me "does this go to the main terminal?". I smiled and told him "ya know, I have no idea. I am hoping it goes to the baggage claim and I am just following all the people that I noticed got off the plane I did". He gave me a bit of a look of perturbation, shook his head and walked off. I couldn't help but give myself a bit of a giggle and think why was he upset with me when he didn't know where he was going either.

I made it to baggage claim and asked a man if he was from the Houston flight and he said he was, I told him thank you and told him that let me know I was in the right place. Karen had texted me to let me know she was there and I told her just pick me up at baggage claim. I got my two bags off the belt and headed out the door. I only had to stand there for a few minutes before Karen pulled up to the curb in her new Volkswagen EOS convertible, which I almost didn't see because I was looking for her Mazda even though I knew she had gotten the new car.

By the time we were made it back to Karen's it was around midnight. We chit chatted for a bit but were both ready for bed. Karen informed me that she had found out earlier in the day that she was going to have to work on Thursday and half a day on Friday. She did offer that I could take her to work and then use the car to go do something to which I laughed and told her "if you lived in south Georgia on the back roads I might take you up on that but there is no way in hell I am driving around Orlando!". And with that we went to bed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Today Is The Day!

So the next time you hear from me I will be in sunny or maybe rainy Florida, either way I will be on my vacation! WOOT WOOT! I got everything packed up and just have to toss in a few last minute things this morning. I gotta go see a few clients before leaving out this afternoon. My daughter is taking me to the airport and on the way we are stopping at my sisters so I can drop off Lucy. My sister and brother-in-law are dog lovers deluxe and they spoil Lucy rotten, figure it will give her a little break from Willy Wonka as well.

During all the hustle and bustle of getting ready I didn't get my notes done from Monday and Tuesday so I will be having to do those once I get to Florida. I guess that would make it a working vacation and I wonder if it would be tax deductible! HA HA HA

I can't wait to see BFF Karen and spend some relaxing time by her pool before we go on the cruise and spend some relaxing time by that pool, a beach in Nassau and a beach in Coco Cay. I hope the weather cooperates and we get to go to Coco Cay because since you have to be tendered over there they cancel the day if the wind is too high. If we don't get to go then that will be okay to. Karen and I opted for the Premium Drink Package on the ship so we won't have to pay individually for any soda's or alcoholic drinks. I think our bill at the end of the cruise pretty much consists of our drinks.

The day we get back we are meeting up with a bunch of crafty friends for lunch at Bahama Breeze and a game of "Dirty Crafter" which will be played like Dirty Santa. I will even get to finally meet the infamous Enfys! You guys might know her from Going Buggy.  If you don't know who she is then you should check out her site, she is uber talented and I bow down before her greatness! There will be quite a few of us from the old Cricut Messageboard in the group and it is always great to connect in person with people you have been friends with online for so long.

Well I'm outta here for a bit and will be checking in off and on over the next week and a half.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Scrapbook Scandal!

Scrapbook Scandal at a Senior Center?? WTH??

There was a story that came up in my Facebook newsfeed and I just was kinda sitting there thinking "YOU GOTTA BE KIDDIN ME!". I won't go into the details since the link is above but I can't imagine someone banning these older ladies from the senior center and wonder if there isn't more to the story, surely there has to be.

If I had made scrapbooks for an organization or facility and paid for everything myself and was worried about them being stolen I think I would have done the same and removed my beloved scrapbooks from the facility before they were stolen as well. There are quite a few comments below the posted story and it appears not everyone likes the mayor of the village and feels the actions were not justified. I think I would agree!

Monday, March 10, 2014

I Hate Getting Ready

for vacation! I always worry if I have everything packed that I need, if I got everything done that needs to be done and when will I get to craft again! The good thing about going to Karen's first is that if I forget anything that I need to take on the cruise is that she usually has it or I have time to go buy it before we set sail.

The only thing crafty I did this weekend was color some images and then I was upset because I didn't scan them before I colored them. Luckily a friend of mine saw the picture on Facebook and she has the set and is going to stamp some and send them to me. Once she told me the name, Stampin Up Farm Fresh, I was able to find a set on eBay but with her sending me some images I won't have to buy the stamps. I know I will use these for cards in the future but not sure what papers I will be using and I won't have time to mess with them before I leave on Wednesday.

The rest of my weekend was spent coloring my hair, packing one of my suitcases, and mostly reading Cruise Critic for reviews of the ship and cruise I will be going on.

If you plan on a cruise and want information I tell ya that Cruise Critic Forum can't be beat! You can even go in and ask questions and there are usually folks who are ready to answer anything you want to know. I was able to find out a lot of information about the ship and the stops we will be making. There were two really good reviews that included pictures and everything.

I guess I will be busy this evening getting today's paperwork done since it is a full day of clients and notes. I still gotta get some things done before I leave out for Orlando on Wednesday evening. Luckily, I won't have to worry about Lucy since she is going to get a little vacation herself and go stay with her Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Steve while I am gone, she loves them dearly!

Okay off to my busy, busy day!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

My Sister, My Hero

I don't know if anyone saw the story about the pregnant mother of three that drove her SUV into the Atlantic Ocean and is being charged with attempted murder. The story actually says murder but I am quite sure they forgot to put the word "attempted" in there, or at least I hope so! I saw the story in a Facebook link and it quickly made me think that when someone commits such an act there is usually some type of mental health issue going on. Besides being a therapist and thinking "oh does she suffer from (this or that)" I was also reminded of a situation in my family that happened years ago and how sometimes people don't always recognize mental illness in others. It also reminded me of the reasons why my sister is truly my hero.

When I was 18 my dad passed away, he died on my mom's birthday in November of 1984. My sister had given birth to her second son about 6 weeks prior to his passing and I am sure her hormones and moods were quite in a fluctuation as it was and I can't imagine the difficulty with adding daddy passing away. None of us seemed to notice her decline and her mood changes until her behaviors were getting very odd.  One incident included her wanting to take her children to the river and baptize them, who knows what would have happened if she would have been allowed to do this. All of this started happening around May of 1985 and I wasn't privileged to what was going on with her until about her 3rd inpatient stay and this was WAY before I knew anything about mental illness.

Her children stayed out at the farm with me most of the time so their dad could work and be with my sister as much as possible. His love and devotion never wavered during this time, even though she accused him of doing some terrible things and later on she would recall "I really believed that crap, it all seemed so real". My other brother-in-law, who professes Christianity but I guess not loyalty and love to a spouse, even questioned her husband of why he stayed with her. I proudly share her husband's response, and being rather appalled at the question, was "why would I leave her? She is my wife and I love her". That still brings tears to my eyes this day when I think about it.

The doctors diagnosed my sister with Schizophrenia and put her on a bunch of medications that made her pretty much a zombie, she was just a shell of her former self. We were all glad the delusions and hallucinations seemed to stop but we missed the lively and bubbly person that she use to be. She worked a few different jobs over the next few years but always seemed to have difficulty with getting anxious when there was pressure on her. She stayed on the medications for about 9-10 years, often going in for blood work because some of the medications could cause organ damage, until one fateful day when she called me. I can still clearly remember the conversations that day I found out she had stopped taking her medications.

The conversation went something like this...
ME: Hey sister! *silence for a few seconds* HELLO?
SISTER: Heeyyyy! I'm so glad you called me!
ME: *looking at the phone* Uhhhh, you called me. *again pause of silence* Helloo? Cheryl?
SISTER: SHIRLEY! I'm glad you called me!
ME: *knowing something was wrong* Cheryl where is Steve?
SISTER: Uhh, I'm not sure *she hollers for her husband and I hear him in the background*. He's in the living room *she would have been able to see him from where she was on the phone in the kitchen*.
ME: Are you taking your medication?
SISTER: Oh noooo, I don't need those anymore.
ME: *trying to keep the panic from my voice* Does Steve know you aren't taking your medication?
SISTER: I'm not sure. I don't think I told him.

At this point I made small talk rather quickly and hurried her off the phone because I knew someone needed to get over there and get her to the doctor or hospital. I live over an hour away from my sister and my car was not running right and I didn't want to risk taking Shiane, who was still a toddler at the time, out on the highway. I immediately called my other sister, they only lived about a mile from each other, for help.

This conversation didn't go to well, at least in my opinion.
ME: Someone needs to go get Cheryl to the doctor or hospital immediately. She isn't taking her medications and she didn't even know if Steve was there and he was in the next room!
OTHER SISTER(OS): Well if Steve is there he can do it, he is her husband and he knows if something is wrong.
ME: He is too close to the situation, he probably can't tell the changes in her. *by this time I had started my master's work in counseling and was a little familiar with some of the issues*
OS: Well there is nothing I can do.
ME: You can go over there and let him know! You only live a mile away for Christ's Sake! I can't make it in my car.
OS: It's their problem. I have my own family to take care of.
ME: *wishing I could call through the phone line and slap the shit out of my uncaring sister, who I now refer to as my sister's sister* OMG! SHE IS YOUR SISTER! I'm telling mom! *slams down the phone*

At that point I immediately called my mother and told her of the situation and also told her of my other sister's uncaring comments. My mom immediately packed a bag, as she knew someone would need to be around to take care of the kids, and headed for the city. Once she got there she told my brother in law about the phone conversation and my sister not taking her meds. They took my sister to a different hospital than the one she had went to years before and during her stay the diagnosis was changed from Schizophrenia to Bipolar and this of course meant a total medication change.

Within a few months we started noticing my sister almost blossoming. She was no longer that zombie shell and she was so much more alive than we had seen in years. Her concentration and memory improved greatly and she was able to recall a lot of the events that had happened over the years.

Several years ago, and by this time I was a licensed therapist so I knew my shit a little better, she shared with me that she hated taking all the medications and wished she didn't have to take them. That conversation went something like this...

SISTER: I don't like taking all these medications.
ME: Yeah I bet you don't.
SISTER: I don't think I should have to take them. I might do okay without them.
ME: *sighing deeply and giving her an eye roll* You know you have to take them.
SISTER: But I don't like it.
ME: If you were diabetic would you take your medication?
ME: If you have high cholesterol or blood pressure would you take the medication?
ME: Okay then! Look, you can't control how your brain fires anymore than you can tell your pancreas to control your insulin or tell your body to regulate your cholesterol or blood pressure. Those are physical illness's and we accept we need medication to control those things. In your case the brain chemicals aren't working right and you need the medication for them to work right. We think we should be able to control mental illness because it is in the brain, but we can't without medication. The only difference between physical illness and mental illness is that we THINK we should be able to control how our brain works.
SISTER: *giving me a rather thoughtful look* Huh, I never thought of it like that.
ME: *shrugging* Well remember I did go to college for this kinda shit, and besides that, I'm the family genius.
We both cracked up laughing at that point.

All these years later I still ask my sister questions about what she remembers, not only because I find it fascinating but also because I know it helps her to accept and not be ashamed of having a mental illness. I am always in wonder and amazement of my sister and how she was able to come out of the darkness, how she never just gave in and let it overcome her and define who she is, how she has been able to carry on and lead a normal life with her husband and children and question if I would have had the same courage and strength. My sister is one of the bravest and strongest people I know and she will always be my hero!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Stampin Up Perfect Blend - Rule The World

There are only 4 pieces to the Perfect Blend stamp set, the cup, the lid and two sentiments. I have to say I love this sentiment because it is so true for me! LOL

I cut quite a few of the cups when I was trying out the SVG file because I knew I wanted to make at least two designs and that meant a total of 12 cards *okie is convinced the need to make multiples is a blessing and a curse*. Some now after making this card and yesterday's card I ended up with 5 cups left over, that is an odd number...odd numbers bother me.

I used my Stampin Up Tag punches for the sentiment and then some twine to attach the tag to the cup *okie wonders how many Stampin Up punches she has and looks over at the wall and then closes her eyes and decides not to count them as she might be ashamed of how much money is hanging on her wall*.

Okay, now I'm off to enjoy a cup of coffee before I start packing my clothes, only 4 more days until I am outta here!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Stampin Up Perfect Blend - Tag Card

Five more days and I will be having the perfect blend with my friend Karen! Okay probably 6 since I don't get into Orlando until almost midnight, I am so ready for vacation!!

I couldn't resist the Perfect Blend stamp set from Stampin Up when I had my online party. I have thought about ordering it several times and caved when I knew I could get it with hostess dollars.

I already have the digital version and got it since there was an SVG file for it. I imported the SVG version into Make The Cut and then used my Stamp-Ma-Jig to stamp the image on what I had cut. I think it turned out pretty good. It sure gives it more dimension and makes it a lot easier for me to add the lid and label.

I used Promarkers to add the shading on the cup and label. My friend Carmen thought I had colored the whole cup and I had to let her know I had stamped it on some brownish paper and then just added the shading. 

I also used my new Stampin Up Scallop Tag Topper punch to make the tag. I know I am going to be using it alot since it makes it so easy to make tags. I also did an image search and there are a lot of other cute things you can make with it as well.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Stampin Up Bug Me - Bee

Of the three Bug Me cards I have made so far this one is my favorite! I know the ladybug should be my favorite but I just love how the bee turned out and I think the colors of the card appeal to me more.

I actually had chosen different papers but didn't like how they looked so I just flipped them over and used them...another reason I love double sided paper!

As you can see I once again used the Petite Petals! I think you might believe me now about how much I just love that bundle!

I am doing my best to use every Stampin Up ink pad I have since I haven't used them in awhile and plus I want them to dry up so I can order the new ones! They are A to the W to the E SOME! None of the colors on this card uses the new colors though.

I stamped the bee's wings on some transparency paper and then cut them out. I like this paper so much better than velum because it prints and stamps well plus it was a lot cheaper. I am not even sure who makes the paper as I got it at the local bargain store a few years ago when they got some craft supplies in. I did buy several packs after first using it because I knew when it was gone it was going to be gone! It glues well with the Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive, and that is what I used to add the wings. I did color the stripes on the bee and then added some yellow Stickles. I hand doodled the little flight pattern.

Oh the corners of the stamped image was done with the Stampin Up Ticket punch. Sometimes I use so many different tools on a project I can't even remember what all I have used!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Stampin Up - Bug Me Butterfly

There isn't just a butterfly stamp in the Bug Me set, but instead there is a bug body, a head and some wings so you can build your bugs how you want them. I'm not sure how I feel about the smiley bug face but I have to admit I can deal with it better than I can where there is food with faces...that just kinda freaks me out.

When having to stamp different parts together I always go to my Stamp-Ma-Jig for help. When I first got it I thought it would be a pain to use but it is really simple and makes the little extra time worth it so I don't mess up one image after another.

The border punch is Stampin Up Scallop Trim Border punch and it has a coordinating corner punch that I got at a garage sale but haven't used yet...maybe someday, but not today.

The yellow scallop circle is the Stampin Up 2 3/8" Scallop Circle punch. I don't know what it is about the scallop circles but I just love them!

I'm not sure I have ever seen a Rich Razzleberry and Pumpkin Pie butterfly and not sure I will ever see one again but it sure worked for this card! I find this card a little simple but it is very cheerful looking so I like it okay.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Stampin Up Bug Me - Ladybug

The Bug Me stamp set was one I ordered when I had my online Stampin Up party and while I fell in love with the ladybug image I also thought the other little bugs were cute as well.

I got this idea from a search, where most of my ideas come from. I also choose not to ink edges! It's amazing how much faster things go together when you aren't inking all the edges. For the head of the ladybug I used part of the stamp for the bee and colored with my black Stampin Up marker. I used the same method for the antenna.

The Petite Petals punch and stamps are really great to add little flowers and with the different images on the stamps you can make elegant or cutesy.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Stampin Up Tote-Ally Tess - Birthday

The Stampin Up Tote-ally Tess stamp set was offered back in 2010 and while I wanted to get it I never did because I wasn't sure how much I would make cards about stamping since up to that point I had made zilch concerning stamping. Someone had it for sale on a Facebook sale site and I decided to buy it.

I looked at cards using the set and saw some that were turned into birthday cards and I thought that would be a good idea for the stamp set. I used my ProMarkers to color Tess and the little cupcake. I used a circle and scallop circle punch for the sentiment.

ProMarkers has 2 sets of Skin Tone markers which help a lot when trying to find colors for flesh. I think I tend to color mine a little darker and was wondering if most people color for their own skin tone, however I will say she is a little more pale than I am.

The papers are some I had in my stash and none of them are from the same line, I just tried to match up colors. I picked my colors first before coloring the images.

The little cupcake image is some random stamp I had and I probably hadn't used it until now. I stamped it twice and then cut it out and cut the paper liner twice and pop dotted for dimension. I did add a touch of yellow Stickles to the flame on the candle but it's a little hard to see. I also added dots of Liquid Pearls for the buttons on the shirt.

I have enough cards to post until I go on vacation next week and while I'm on vacation I will try to post about what I am doing, not that anyone cares but so I can remember what I did, more of a vacation journal if you will. It's frikkin freezing here right now and I can't wait to get out of this weather yo-yo, even if it is only for 10 days.