A Year Like No Other

Normally I would end 2017 with a post highlighting everything that happened this year but this year something happened that has turned my world upside down.  I'm sure many of you have been wondering where I've been and I've started post after post, only to delete it later.  Words do not feel like they are enough to convey how I am feeling at this moment in my life, but I am going to try my best to share my heart.

All year long, Louie, my wonderful, yet pessimistic husband, would tell me that he knew something dark was on the horizon.  I told him that meant that we needed to enjoy the "hill" time before we were plunged into the "valley."

2017 started off pretty great...  

Our "hill" time wasn't anything special.  We lived day by day, enduring daily trails, but nothing major.  Louie and me are still happily married and celebrated four years of marriage in April.  We also celebrated Dylan's first full year being type 1 diabetic in August, which was awesome.  His A1C's are getting better every doctor's visit and he's growing which is such a blessing.  We watched Eric, our oldest, play 7th grade football this past season, and as Eric continues playing the trumpet, Dylan started beginner orchestra playing the viola.  Working part time has allowed me to be home with my boys when they need me and for me to participate in all of their school activities.  Life was hectic, and pretty stressful at times, but I was happy.  Very happy.

Then everything changed...

I have struggled with migraines for years.  They started when I was in junior high and have been a nuisance ever since.  I have a headache every single day but my migraines normally hit every few months.  I noticed my migraines started to become more frequent as the year progressed and every one that hit seemed to feel worse than the next.  By November, I was only getting a few days rest before another bad one hit.  

November 15th I called in sick to work, and literally couldn't even get myself out of bed the pain was so severe.  I started feeling numbness throughout my left side, but I figured it was due to being in bed the whole day.  That night Louie asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital and I told him no.  After all the hospital stays I've had the past few yeas I am done with hospitals!

November 16th I was worse than the day before.  As the day went on, I felt like someone was sitting on my chest and I couldn't breathe.  Louie came home early from work and looked up all my symptoms.  We thought I might be having a heart attack but couldn't be sure.  Again he asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital.  Again I told him no.  (Can you tell I'm stubborn or what?)  Louie left me to rest and within a few minutes I am crying for him, telling him to call 9-1-1.  This shooting pain started radiating from my chest all down my left side and fear seized me.  I think I'm having a heart attack!

The paramedics were here in two minutes and had me hooked up to the EKG in a matter of seconds.  It showed that I wasn't having a heart attack but my blood pressure was through the roof, the pain was still shooting through me, and I couldn't breathe so they took me to the emergency room.




They ran all the necessary tests, and everything came back normal but Louie and me both knew this was not normal.  All of the medical issues I've had in the past were nothing in comparison to what I was experiencing.  The ER was very busy that night and I think the doctor was trying to get another bed free but Louie requested that he run an MRI on me.  You could tell the doctor was very put out by this request since they would have to call in the MRI team (it was after midnight and the MRI techs do not do overnights) and it would be several hours before they could do the test, but Louie insisted and the doctor left in a huff.  I didn't see anyone for hours.  I just laid there in the hospital room wondering what was wrong with me.

November 17th I ended up getting two MRI's in the wee hours of the morning and the MRI's did show something, so they chose to admit to the hospital so they could do further testing.  The look on the doctor's face was one of sadness when he told us that it looked like the beginning stages of MS.


  

I waited almost 24 hours to get into a room and was immediately ordered to have another MRI done.  I was put on pain medication to help with the radiating pain, my atypical migraine, and extreme dizziness and nausea.  




I was in the hospital for almost two weeks, and even celebrated Thanksgiving 2017 there.  That part was so hard for me, but I got to eat a delicious pumpkin cheesecake from the hospital cafe, and get some cuddles from my family.



The rest of the time was insanely lonely.  I slept as much as I could because when I was asleep I didn't have to think.  The doctor's told me that they atypical migraines were due to four lesions on my brain.  It was also why I was having stroke-like symptoms, even though I never had a stroke.  I now sometimes say things backwards and I will completely forget what I am saying or what was said to me.  From what one of the tests said, my brain like it is right now, is one step up from a dementia patient.  Not something a 36-year-old wife and mother wants to hear.   

There was also something in the third MRI that rocked us all to the core: they found multiple tumors all along my spine.  They are called schwannoma's (or neurofibromatosis) and they referred me to a neurologist, who refused to see me for days, and then didn't really give us any information other than this was going to be a long road ahead with most likely surgery and possible chemo and/or radiation depending on if the tumors are cancerous or not.  To know that tumors are growing in my body is bad enough, but then they say surgery!  My body does not do well with anesthesia at all.  The last time I went under they almost couldn't get me out!  Plus, where the surgery would be: at the base of my skull.  One false move and I could be paralyzed.  Such scary thoughts!

How 2017 ended...

It's been over a month, and I still have trouble walking by myself, and am in constant pain.  On my decent days, I can sit up and write, like I'm doing right now, but other days I disappear into Netflix/Hulu binges and try to forget everything that is happening to me.  If I am able to venture out I'm usually in a wheelchair or using a walker, due to the extreme dizziness caused by the tumors.  I feel like I'm in a nightmare that I can't wake up from.  

My family has been absolutely amazing and I have realized through all of this who my true friends are, which has been almost as painful as the tumors.  To realize that people who you thought would always be there for you, and haven't been there at all, really hurts my heart.  But I can't focus on that.  I have enough that I am struggling with to put my focus on those toxic relationships.  So, I am focusing on those that truly care about me and about the next step.  I have also been trying to stay off of social media for this very reason.

I saw a neurologist PA and all they're wanting to do at the moment is treat the migraines, even though the tumors are causing me tremendous pain, so we are currently seeking a second opinion.  Truth be told, I am petrified about 2018 and what it's going to bring.  Usually I look to the new year as a new beginning, a fresh start, but this year I don't feel that way.  For the first time in my life I am scared of the future.

Louie wants me to document my journey, so I will be posting on here regularly, and plan on starting to vlog on my YouTube page as well, which I will link up here.  He doesn't want me to bottle everything up inside, which is my tendency.  So, that's my only New Years Resolution: to document my journey: the good, the bad, and the ugly; and trust me, when you see me with no makeup you'll see the ugly. ;) 

Have a safe and Happy New Year!
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Letting My Garden Grow

I have a board on my Pinterest account that is entitled Let Your Garden Grow.  As of today it has 117 beautiful pins on it.  Pins that I hope to one day reference for my own garden but there is one thing that is stopping me from clicking the "Tried It" button.  I kill everything.


In the past I've attempted tomatoes, strawberries, and have even been known to kill a few herb plants and even the indestructible ivy plant.  I have such a love for things that grow and yet, despite my best efforts, the all end up in plant heaven.

A few weeks ago I went to visit my grandfather. This man has an amazing garden that produces the best cucumbers and tomatoes that you will ever taste in your life.  During our visit I told him of my passion for gardening and my past failures and my grandfather asked me, "Have you tried to grow okra?"  "Okra?" I asked questionably.  Why would I think to grow okra?  No one in my family cares for it and the only way I really like it is fried or pickled.  "Okra is the easiest vegetable to grow.  If you follow my instructions, I guarantee that you will have your first successful harvest."

So, I took down the instructions and a few days later my husband and I headed to Home Depot to get the supplies.  The entire time my husband is complaining that we are throwing our money away because, "Let's face it Christi, you kill everything."  It is true but just because I've had numerous failed attempts in the past doesn't mean that I do not want to try again!

I planted my okra as instructed this past Sunday.  Every day I've went out to check on my little plant and prayed that I would see some green.

This morning I woke up to this:



I know it's not much but it's a little bit of green hope that excites me.  Maybe I'm actually going to succeed this time!  Maybe the next time I'm on Pinterest I need to look up recipes with okra in it!  Maybe I should just be patient and wait to see where this little bit of green goes.

I can't tell you how excited I am and I promise to keep you updated!

Are there any gardeners out there that have any tips for an extremely gardening challenged person?  I welcome any and ALL feedback. :)  My dream is to one day live off the land and who knows?  Maybe one day I will and I can say it all started with my grandpa and a little okra seed.
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Happenings

I did not realize it's been so long since I've posted anything on here!  Life has been a little crazy for me the past month and I thought I'd give a little recap on what's been going on.


April 1st I signed up LipSense and became an independent demonstrator.  I've been working on inventory and all the fun things that come with starting your own business, including creating my own Facebook group, Sweet & Sassy Kisses.  I am super excited and am hoping and praying that starting this business will help my family financially.  I have an amazing upline and I can see some great things happening with this up and coming company.  



I have also decided to get more serious with my Stampin' Up! business and have recently started working on my own Stampin' Up! only blog entitled The Sweet Sassy Stamper.  It's still very much a work in progress, but I am hoping this will help me boost my sales and get more focused on my team.  I will still be posting my creations here on my personal blog so don't think you won't be getting anymore eye candy from me. ;) 

The biggest change in my life is me adopting the low carb/keto lifestyle and that is all thanks to an amazing company called Pruvit.


As a birthday present, my husband let me sign up for the N8 Challenge.  To say that this program is life changing is an understatement.  I've lost 5lbs in the first week and I feel better than I've felt in years.  Total game changer!  I love the Pruvit products!  Adopting a keto lifestyle can be challenging but having a product that helps you curb your cravings helps tremendously and the energy I feel is unparalelled.  I am taking charge of my health for the first time in a LONG time.

As far as my family, we are gearing up for the 2017-2018 school year.  My oldest son is going into 7th grade and will continue to play the trumpet but he's also going into football!!  I think his mama is more excited about it than he is!  The schedule is challenging on both him and me but we're doing this!!  My youngest is going into 6th grade and has decided to go into orchestra and play the viola.  Mama was hoping for the violin (my dream instrument to learn how to play) but close enough!  I'm very excited!

On top of all the other changes going on in my life, I've also gotten a promotion of sorts at my job.  Our business is really picking up so I'm getting more hours which is amazing!  I love my job so much! 

Life is crazy busy right now but I wouldn't have it any other way.  My 36th birthday is this coming Wednesday and I can't wait!!

If you stuck it out with me this long, BLESS YOU!!  I love my readers so much.  Enjoy your weekend!!! xoxo

P.S. Stamp-n-Storage is having a SPRING SALE!! 15% off until May 15th to celebrate the release of their spring catalog!  Check it out!!


They are also doing a #InspiredByMom - Mother's Day Giveaway!!
Stamp-n-Storage is giving away $250!!  You can find all the details on their website
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My Nephew Turns Eleven

I have recently started a new business venture and it has been taking up ALL of my time lately.  Pair that with a part time job and a full time household to manage and it doesn't leave you with much time to do anything let alone stamp.  *sniffle*

My nephew is turning eleven on Monday and since I am having to miss his birthday party today, and his birthday on Monday, we met up for a special pre-birthday lunch for him yesterday afternoon.



I love being an aunt and I love my nephews more than they know.  To show my love, I stayed up WAY too late Thursday night (or should I say VERY early Friday morning) putting together this card to show my sweetie how much his Cici adores him.


I am SO sad that Carousel Birthday is retiring from Stampin' Up!  It has to be one of my favorites from the Occasions catalog this year and I hate that it didn't make it to the annual catalog.  BUT that doesn't stop me from giving it more love. ;) 

This week's Mojo Monday sketch was the perfect sketch to show off my Cupcakes & Carousels designer paper (which sadly is also retiring).  I sponged each panel with Chocolate Chip to give it a more grunge feel.  The sentiment is also stamped in Chocolate Chip onto Whisper White cardstock and used the Triple Banner Punch to create the banner.  



I recently purchased the Large Number Framelit Dies and I couldn't wait to put them to use!  I added a few gold sequins to give the card some bling but still keep it more boyish.  Making masculine cards is SO hard but my nephew loved it.  He also loved the "present" that was inside. ;) 

Happy birthday my sweet Payday! Cici loves you!! xoxo


Product List
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Freshly Made Birthday

I cannot believe how insane this week has been!  I have recently started a new "adventure" and it has taken up a lot of my time (more on that later) plus with tax time upon us my job has been nothing short of craziness.  Not to mention having a 6th grader that has waited until the last minute to do a research paper.  Who does he come to for help?  Mom!!!  I can't really complain.  Despite being so busy, I love every second of my life.  I wouldn't want it any other way.

The only problem with being so busy is I don't get any time to stamp.  SO I decided to make this little card in between questions about force and cause and effect. *wink*


I was so excited to see this week's Freshly Made Sketch challenge because it has all those squares and I JUST got my Layering Squares Framelit Dies in yesterday and couldn't wait to play with them!

Since On Stage is going on this weekend, and I know a lot of the designer paper is going to retire, I am planning on using up as much as I can in the coming weeks.  A Little Foxy is my choice tonight because it makes me happy.  Pool Party, Cameo Coral, and Smoky Slate is just such a yummy color combo!

I used one of the hearts from the Sweet & Sassy Framelits set for my heart and tied a Coral ribbon from the Cupcakes & Carousels Embellishment Kit.  The little sequins are also from the kit and the sentiment is from Lift Me Up which is now one of my favorite sets.  I just can't get enough of it!

For those lucky ladies who get to go to On Stage this weekend I say: be safe and have fun!  I can't wait to see what Stampin' Up! has in store for the future!

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Sending Smiles

When I got back into stamping there was one thing that was greatly missing: my old stamping friends.  I had held onto a few of my friendships but for some reason when I stopped stamping many of my stamping acquaintances also stopped.  It broke my heart but I think that's just how life goes sometimes.

Imagine my surprise when Kristen, one of my old stamping pals, found me on Instagram and we picked our friendship back up where we left off.

I wanted to send her a little something to show my excitement that we found each other again and found some amazing inspiration on Bruno Bertucci's blog, on THIS post in particular.

I changed up a few of the colors and tried a new color combo that I am now 100% in love with: Night of Navy, Mint Macaroon, Bermuda Bay, and Smoky Slate.

I am SO glad I snagged some of the glimmer paper from Sale-A-Bration before it was all sold out!  The Mint Macaroon glimmer on the card is just incredible.


I pretty much stayed true to Bruno's layout but changed the colors.  I also do not have the Stitched Shape Framelit Dies yet so for the stitching around the sentiment circle I paper pierced it instead.

I am so excited to see what the new In-Colors for 2017-2019 are going to be!  Truth be told, I wasn't too crazy about any of the colors except for Mint Macaroon anyway.  I will be sad to see this color go but out with the old, in with the new!

Product List
*The Mint Macaroon Glimmer Paper was only available during Sale-A-Bration BUT we have some gorgeous glimmer alternatives that you can find HERE
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Strong Coffee Bookmark

Being the bookworm that I am, I am a sucker for a good bookmark.  I also love me some coffee.  We've been out the past few days and my head has not been too happy with me.  One way for me to stay caffeinated is to play along with the 2017 Spring Coffee Lover's Blog Hop!


I saw THIS cute idea on Pinterest and it inspired my bookmark.  The theme for the blog hop is SPRING which is why I went for a sunny color combo of Bermuda Bay and So Saffron.  The bookmark measures 2 x 9 1/2" and I used my Triple Banner Punch for the bottom.

The edges of the patterned paper was lightly sponged with Chocolate Chip ink and I printed my sentiment from Rise and Shine onto vellum.  I actually hand stitched the vellum sentiment to my Cupcakes & Carousels designer paper.  A sewing machine is next on my wish list but until then everything is by hand baby!

I popped the entire panel up on dimensionals and finished off the bookmark with some small So Saffron grossgrain ribbon.

Thank you so much for stopping by today and if you are a coffee lover like yours truly please go check out the Spring Coffee Lover's Blog Hop! There are so many AMAZING sponsors. It's insane!!  I'm hoping to crank out one more caffeinated creation before it ends so stay tuned!

Product List
Stamps: Rise and Shine Digi (Verve Stamps)
Paper: Bermuda Bay, Cupcakes & Carousels DSP (SU), Vellum
Ink: Chocolate Chip
Accessories: Bermuda Bay and So Saffron Stampin' Write Markers, Dimensionals, Paper Piercer, Sakura Glitter Pen, So Saffron Grossgrain Ribbon, Triple Banner Punch, White Thread

Challenges: 2017 Spring Coffee Lover's Blog Hop (#spring2017clh)
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Rise and Shine

Happy Sunday!!

I am SO excited I finally got a little stamping time in!  I have a quick card for you that combines THREE challenges!!

I barely got this little beauty done in time for the Mojo Monday challenge!  I had five minutes to spare!  I don't think I've ever cut it that close before but I made it and that's all that matters.  This card is also for the Color Throwdown which is the gorgeous orange, turquoise, and yellow and the CAS on Sunday challenge which is to use just a sentiment.  CAS is very hard for me but I'm really trying to get more out of my comfort zone.

This adorable sentiment is from Verve Stamps new digi set, Rise and Shine.  My husband FINALLY bought me a new printer since mine died a few months ago and this digi set was the first set I printed.  I am in LOVE!!  I'm also working on another caffeinated card for the Coffee Lover's Spring Blog Hop so you'll have to come back and check it out!

Product List
Stamps: Rise and Shine Digi (Verve Stamps)
Paper: Whisper White, Bright Stack DSP (SU), Delicate Dots DSP (SU-retired)
Accessories: Beaded Circles Nestabilities, Banner Punch (SU), Paper Piercer, Ribbon (unknown)
Challenges: CAS on Sunday, Color Throwdown #435 (ctd435), (Mojo Monday #489 (mojo489)
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Romans 8:18

Don't you hate it when you make a card for a challenge and then life gets in the way and you can't post until it's too late?  Yea me too. *sniffle*


I made this card for last week's Freshly Made Sketch and didn't get my post up in time.  My Type 1 child was super sick and he took precedence.  It got so serious yesterday that I thought for sure we were going to have to take him to the emergency room.  Thank goodness he is feeling a bit better and we have a doctor's appointment today to find out what is making his blood sugar levels go crazy and making him sick.  Long story short, everything was put on the back burner so I could take care of my little man.

I made this card for a special someone who has a lot going on in her life right now.  Romans 8:18 is a wonderful reminder that our suffering is only for a time.  I pray that this card gives her hope and strength as she continues through this dark time in her life.  I know this verse has helped me these past few days.



The sentiment is from Verve's Scripture Medley 2 and I used one of the dies from the All Aflutter Die Set to cut out this gorgeous butterfly.  The paper is another retired Stampin' Up! favorite of mine called Walk in the Park.  Can you tell I'm digging deep into my stash?  Gotta clear some room for the new Stampin' Up! goodies coming out in a few months!! *wink*

Verve Stamps is having an AMAZING sale right now!  To Welcome Spring all stamps and dies are 30% off until March 31st!!  I see an order in my future. :)

Product List

Stamps: Scripture Medley 2 (Verve Stamps)
Paper: Basic Black, Whisper White, Walk in the Park DSP
Ink: Blushing Bride, Tuxedo Black (Memento)
Accessories: All Aflutter Die Set (Verve Stamps), Big Shot, Circle Die, Pearl Basic Jewels, Sponge Dauber, Whisper White Organza Ribbon

Techniques: Sponging
Challenges: Freshly Made Sketches #279 (fms279)


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