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Chaos and Love

That’s pretty much the theme of life and love, isn’t it? You can’t enjoy those beautiful, significant moments without the whirlwind of chaos, just like poor air quality creates the most beautiful sunsets.

I get lost in that whirlwind sometimes, especially as a Spoonie, which I am not using as an excuse, but as an explanation. I quite simply can’t do everything for myself like I used to, or even kept trying to do for years, and rely on my little family to see the beautiful things going on around me when I’ve been stuck in an illness spiral. And the eye of this storm is so wonderful, exciting, and bittersweet. The senior got scouted and is headed to college in August!

I knew that becoming a stepmother would be one of the most miraculous events and journeys of my life, but had no concept of how much I could all ready love these guys, or that I’d actually feel the horrible “empty nest” syndrome I’ve heard others talk about. We’ve spent a lot of hours talking and trying to help K find his next path, and with a scholarship and starting a new Rugby team, he will be headed off to OK in weeks. I’m not overly sporty or outdoorsy, so it’s been an adventure to support a stepson who is, and I won’t miss the sunburns or lack of restrooms on Saturdays. *grin* Man will I miss him though. Even with the coparenting meaning he only lives with us every other week, it’s like this darkness is waiting on the horizon when we will only get to see him for big events and trips. I am so incredibly proud of the character he has developed and shown, of how much he has pushed himself to get past the hurdles the pandemic created with his education, and how thoughtfully he approached his options. (All right, almost drove us bonkers with the decision being so close to graduation, but he made sure it was the right fit for the path he wants to travel next, so I couldn’t be more proud that he waited to know for sure. *smile*)

While he’s a typical young man, he’s also incredibly insightful, observant, and driven. No matter how I feel that day, if he comes in to chat with me (wild, right?! *grin* What a gift! A teenager/then young man who wants to spend time chatting with his stepmother!), I always feel so blessed to have that experience. He’s helped me learn a lot about myself and see my life experiences differently, I’ve seemed to help give him an outlet to discuss his goals and thoughts, and with the signature toss of his hair and a smirking smile, I suddenly have more emotional strength to get through whatever I’m struggling with.

I figured with joining his life at the end of his teenage years he wouldn’t have much to do with me and had low expectations honestly. The blessings are all the sweeter for being so unexpected. I know there’s a big distinction for him of me being his stepmother or his dad’s wife, and knew I’d never step into an actual parenting role with him, but he actually let me in. He waited and observed, and when he realized that I wanted to do my best for them and his dad, he let us create our own little family with him, instead of my staying on the outside due to the past having too much of a hold still. And I made sure to document as many happy moments in our lives for him; before and with me in it.

I’ve been working on one of his graduation gifts for some time now, although primarily gathering things until now. For his 18th birthday I gave him the first scrapbook I made of his childhood. I pestered his family for pictures and dates things took place, so I could document in chronological order, and told him that he’s receive the rest after graduation. Little did any of us know that this would result in 5 more binder scrapbooks! *laugh* The second part of his childhood is done and in the second binder. Then from the time I started dating their father through current, I have 2 scrapbooks per year. SMH *laughing* It’s been my mission to make sure he had these albums to remind him of his journey, of those that love him, and of his adventures. Not the typical gift for a young man, but the most meaningful I could think of. So. Many. Pictures. *grin* I am a bit embarrassed that our Thanksgiving trip fills almost an entire binder itself, between pictures of the exhibits, of the events we went to, and candid moments. I knew it would be the last time we had a family trip with this family dynamic though and wanted to capture all that I could.

The jellyfish tubes at the Branson aquarium.
Exploring the little cabin church where their dad proposed the year before…
He was the only one able to climb to the top of the climbing fronds at the exhibit and this immediately became one of my favorite pictures.
A little Rainforest putt putt with a dash of country to the city boy’s wardrobe *grin*
He went on the gyroscope, or whatever it is, with me at the science center. I got to feel normal and have fun without worrying about injury, and he shared that experience with me instead of my being reluctant to go with all strangers and maybe missing out. I may get a little teary eyed over these pictures. *smile*
There’s that K-signature smirking smile *grin*
And this is the perfect example of the team captain who got scouted with a friend to start the university’s Rugby team. Such pride and awe for his dedication, leadership, and character.

I don’t often share a lot about the guys since I’m careful with their privacy, since someday they may not like that their stepmom blogged about them to the public, but my cup runneth over and I want to share this incredible joy. It’s been a rough time to be a Spoonie, these past few months, but this is my happy moment for this month. It may be bittersweet to miss out on more of this time together, yet I don’t think I could be more proud if he was biologically mine.

I never knew that being a stepmom could be so beautiful or help teach me to look for moments to focus on outside of the sick side of my life. I also never knew I could love two young men so very much, especially when I’m used to a sedate world and they are a sometimes overwhelming whirlwind of chaos, joy, exasperation, shenanigans, and those first-time experiences of growing up. I know I’ll look like Rudolph from crying when we leave him at the university this summer, but this is truly one of the happiest moments I’ve ever been blessed to be part of. And it gives this Spoonie more courage to face the sometimes endless nights and scary doctor visits. Spoonies deserve happy chaos and this Spoonie can’t wait to see what amazing paths this young man takes in his journey into adulthood. *happy sigh* Let’s not think ahead to what it’ll be like when J nears the end of his next 7 years. Holy Scooby Snacks will I be even more of a basket case then! *laugh* In the meantime, SNU is lucky to be getting one of my favorite people. *smile*


I’m not going to bog your browser down with a ton of pictures of the Christmas lights on the buildings, but for my final vacation post I wanted to share some of the magical moments with you. *smile*

I’m only sharing one picture of buildings, so you can get an idea of the amazing amount of lights throughout the park without overwhelming you or your browser. This is just two little buildings in the huge park.


In the picture below I wanted to show one of the trees. They had these cool lights that Larry and I watched for what was probably a freakishly long time. The lights had a pattern, so it looked like they were dripping. During the day it was like dripping icicles, but at night the trees were lit with some incredibly vivid colors, so the effect was so neat. The second picture is of that incredibly huge Christmas tree that has a full light show set to music. It had probably fifty light patterns, but this picture turned out the best. Look how small the people are compared (btw, there’s no way to take a picture of that tree without catching a bunch of other visitors in the shot. It was just that crowded and we went before the busy part of the season!).



They also had a parade twice with some lit floats, various lit characters, and whatnot. I’m sharing my two favorites from the parade below. I have loved The Nutcracker and Babes in Toyland ever since I was little, so I’m always drawn to the toy soldiers and Nutcrackers anywhere I go. This guy was SO tall and fantastical that I had to take a picture. It was like seeing one of my favorite characters in real life. *grin* I totally went fangirl when he knelt down and shook hands with a toddler that just stared with eyes like saucers. The second is of one of two adorable little guys that interacted amazingly with the crowd. The colors were so bright and uplifting that I’m hoping to try to match them in some soaps (I really want to make some product once I’m fully over this yuck I developed from vacation).



Last I just had to share about the blacksmith. While he waited for his next bit of metal to heat up he chatted with us. It turns out that he was making over fifty old fashioned nails for the church. They were going to give them during services as a reminder of the reason for the season. It was absolutely fascinating to watch him take a hunk of metal and manipulate it into a functional work of art. Seeing them get made gave me such an appreciation for the work that went into little things we take for granted in our daily lives that were a lot harder to come by in olden times. Combine that mental slap of appreciation with seeing this close representation of what would have been used in biblical times and I got overwhelmed with emotions to the point that I had to step into the shop to distract myself. It’s ironic that I have been into writing since I started learning to read, yet I can’t find adequate words to convey that experience. It feels like I described a splinter when it’s really a massive cut down to the bone. What a gift this craftsman has to be able to create/recreate items as it was done in history and to touch hearts with something so simple.


If you ever find yourself trying to decide on a vacation spot I totally recommend Branson, MO. I think it can appeal to most people. There are craftsman, a Titanic exhibit (we hope to hit that one next time), summer activities like go carts and mini golf, a wide variety of musicals and comedy shows, tons of recreated history (Shepherd of the Hills is just outside of the city!), and tons of comfort foods. We have gone seven times now, at two different times of year, and it’s always an incredible experience.

Thank you for sharing in this with me. It was a little break from the monotony of being chronically ill and being at home almost all of the time, and it really cheered me up. I hope I captured a little of that magic and brought some happiness to your life, too. Until tomorrow, happy pampering. 🙂


I’ve all ready missed a day in the NaBloPoMo. *sigh* I’m rather disappointed that I messed up, because I’ve been trying really hard. I have a decent excuse though. I slept almost completely around the clock yesterday. I think the lack of sleep from an uncomfortable bed, the massively increased activity during vacation, and then the cold triggering my sinus infection to really kick into gear all came together and my body just gave up the fight. Lol

I thought I might make it up to you with some total awesomeness. Warning, it’ll take a few minutes for this post to load because it’s more picture heavy than my usual posts. Anyway, we brought home some souvenirs and one from Silver Dollar City (SDC) is so adorable. While we were there we watched the glass blowers make four pieces. The first full demonstration that we caught was for a blown glass snowman. I have found glass blowing fascinating ever since I read about it probably fifteen years ago and the artistic side of me loves the creative process of it. They asked for color suggestions from the audience (red and white) to go with the otherwise clear glass, and slowly began to construct it, piece by piece.

First he takes a dollop of glass and begins to cool, shape, and blow it into the proportion that he wanted.

At this step he dipped the glass into shards of what actually dyes the glass. How cool is that?!

The other craftsman added a dollop of glass to make the next portion of the snowman, which the glass blower then manipulated and shaped.

At this point he had finished shaping the new part and was smoothing it.

They broke the connection to the blow pipe and set the partial snowman on the work table while preparing another stick to create a new attachment point, so that more sections could be added and worked on.

I couldn’t get shots of some of the work due to their positions, but they quickly got the piece attached onto the new stick.

The next step was to add some glass to be shaped into a scarf. He did some shaping and working of the piece, which I didn’t get pictures of, and then they added a top hat.


As the glass cooled from the manipulation the beautiful color of the top hat began to show, and he then moved on to an adorable little glass carrot nose.

Sadly the piece had to go into the annealing oven for 24 hours to cool at a slow rate, so I don’t have a finished picture for that piece. However, they had a few for sale in the shop in a variety of colors and styles, all handmade on the premises.



And we brought home one very unique little guy, too.


He has the cutest little crooked nose that really shows that it’s a handmade work of art. *grin* I’m really glad that we were able to swing another piece from SDC and our not-so-little snowman makes me smile every time I catch a glimpse of it. I hope our Frosty and the process behind his creation fascinated and cheered you up as much as it did me. I wish you a very happy and healthy week. Tomorrow I’ll share a little bit more about SDC and then I’ll let the subject go. 🙂

Now That’s a Dessert

Hi there! It’s been quite a busy day, but so much fun. I’m exhausted, so I’m going to share a few pics and then hopefully fall asleep many hours before my usual bedtime. Lol

Today we went to some outlet malls (a good chunk of my Christmas shopping is done now!), saw the Dixie Stampede dinner show (which sadly didn’t allow photography, so I can’t share that incredible experience), and then we finished the day with our first trip to Cakes-n-Creams for our favorite treat of a funnel cake supreme sundae.

My internet connection is spotty at the resort, so I’ll have to share most of the pics later. I’ll leave you with a picture of what a real dessert looks like. *big grin* In a 50s style diner, too!




Branson Here We Come

For the first time since we adopted Bo Larry and I are getting away for a few days. We have an awesome house sitter (thank you again!!) that’s going to be at home with the fur babies, most especially Bo. Larry has taken a lot of camping trips and even a small vacation away, but I’ve never spent more than 8 hours away from Bo. Things worked out perfectly and we are headed to Branson, MO for a few days in just a few hours.

If you aren’t familiar with Branson it’s kind of like Vegas for Country Folks. *grin* Lots of music venues, incredible scenery around a gorgeous lake, and tons of bright lights. We get to see even more bright lights since Branson went Christmas as of November 1st.

We’re going to Silver Dollar City Theme Park where they’re celebrating an Old Time Christmas with bluegrass, country, and gospel singers, 5 million Christmas lights, and incredible items for sale. They have a fun holiday parade each night, and even a 5 story Christmas tree with special effects and a light show. The park is full of craftsmen demonstrating the techniques and skills that were used before technology became mainstream. Our favorite artisans are the glassblowers and the blacksmith. They are absolutely fascinating. Their hand-crafted items are available for sale, too! Handmade candles, freshly made candies, and hand carved wood. *happy sigh* I’ll share pictures over the next few days.

We are also going to dinner at The Dixie Stampede dinner show. This will be Dolly Parton’s holiday show with the North Pole versus the South Pole instead of the traditional (although light hearted) Dixie divide. It’s our version of the Knights dinner theater. *grin* No silverware while watching amazing horse riding stunts, a living nativity, ostrich races, and listening to some beautiful music. The vegetable cream soup is my favorite part of the meal. I’ll definitely be showing the recipe and soup on here as it keeps getting colder.

We’ll also hit some outlet malls and our favorite little diner, Cakes-n-Creams, where we get a funnel cake topped with an ice cream sundae. So decadent and delicious.

Branson is where we had our honeymoon and for the first seven years we went back each November for the holiday festival. I know that some people hate how early Christmas hits the stores and stuff, but the beginning of November isn’t excessively cold yet, it’s easy to get time off of work, and it’s not nearly as crowded, so it’s the perfect time for us. It works great for getting a start on Christmas shopping, too. We almost always stay at the same resort and we have an ornament from the resort for each year. It’s so easy to lose track of what Christmas is all about, so seeing those ornaments each year reminds us that it’s about the love and family, and not how many boxes are under the tree.

I’ll try to spread the pics over several days, so it doesn’t get overwhelming and doesn’t bog down the loading of my page for you. This is the first time we’ve gone since I had to start using a cane and walker, and since I had the leg injuries, so I figure I’m in for some new life lessons in coping with my illness and adapting. It took me a week to finally agree that it’s a smart idea to take the walker. lol I’m a bit nervous over the physical toll the trip may take and of getting injured in public, and being away from Bo for the first time (hey, it’s basically like a mom leaving her toddler for the first time, mine is just hairier and protective. *laugh*). This trip is like a shining star after three years of darkness. I can just let go for a few days and have a better frame of mind to get me through the rough times ahead. 🙂

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