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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

It Starts Today

Today is the first day of the rest of my life...
  • I am going to be organized, put together and know where everything is within 30 seconds of needing it.
  • I am going to have a dinner on the table every night that is fully balanced with everything my family's bodies need for their day.
  • From now on all of my children's school pictures will be perfect with no need of retakes.
  • I am going to be caught up with laundry, grocery shopping and scrapbooks.
  • I will have all events from the smallest practice to the largest show choir competition plugged into the family calendar AND read the minds of all of the family members who have forgotten to add their events on every given day.
  • I will have children ready every week for their piano lessons each week.
  • Every child will be properly trained to come home from school and do their chores without being told.
  • I will be ready every time there is a charity event with things to donate with a happy heart.
  • I will magically be able to help my children who over commit themselves to be two places at once because I have honed that art to perfection.
  • I will read, delete and send each email in a timely manner.
Yeah, right! I have had some time off to live life and get back to "normal" I don't think that "normal" has quite been obtained, but I know that we are moving in the right direction. I certainly won't be doing all of the points above because I wasn't doing that before I got sick, but it was fun to think about it and laugh at how some days I actually think that perfection is obtainable. I set myself up with expectations that are way too high and truth be told...life is too short!

Another reminder came today when I read the news that Nancy Zieman had passed away after her battle with breast/bone cancer the last couple of years. I cried. She was an amazing woman who did so many great things inspiring some fun projects through the years. Just on the way home from our trip to Door County for our anniversary in August, we got to stop in to Nancy's Notions in Beaver Dam, WI to purchase a few goodies on my list.

I don't know how many hours I have watched of her show and videos that have helped me to learn a technique or two. I will always be grateful for her full proof way to make alterations to patterns in order to make custom clothing that fits mine and my daughters' bodies. I just made two of her patterns for my nieces graduation last May. You can read more about her here in her obituary or if you are interested in her life, you can find her autobiography here. She also left a touching goodbye in her last blog post in September.

I will always smile when I think of my son Ryan walking into the living room while I was watching an episode of "Sewing With Nancy" and say "Hmm, looks like you are watching Sewing With Nancy." (When I sit down to catch up on my DVR'd episodes it is Mom's time for the tv!) He would then proceed to sit down on the couch and try to watch with me. After about five minutes and a couple of comments "looks fun", or "you think you are going to make that?", he would get up and go find something else to do. He tried. If you want to talk about a woman who was focused and driven as a business woman with an incredible creative impact, her story is a good one.

A life well lived. Not perfection, just lived well, no matter how long you have on this earth.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Strands of Strength Video

I will do anything to promote this great group of people. It is October...breast cancer awareness month. The reason we all see pink in October is because someone went through this terrible experience called breast cancer and said "how can this be done better?" How can the doctor visits, the recovery, the chemo treatments, and every other thing about this mess be made better?

Over the years money has been raised and the treatments have gotten better, the time spent at home verses the time in the hospital while going through chemo has gotten less, and the people that hold you up as you walk (or some days crawl) through it have given of themselves even in their own choosing of their profession in ways that can not be described by words.

As I watch this video again, I hear these stories and I rehash our own. Cancer takes so much from a person, from a family. I have struggled, been struggling over the past few months trying to figure out what normal is now. Mostly with a body that just doesn't do what it used to do. I have not felt like writing. I hate that.

Yesterday I got a link to our video that was done for the Strands of Strength fall fundraising lunch. I wanted to share it with all of you. I would not have imagined with all of the lights and awkwardness of being in front of the camera that the video guys would put it together so well.

The reason that you may not see as many people walking around looking like sick chemo patients is because of this group of people who saw a need and have worked tirelessly to help those who lose their hair to cancer treatments. You can't really imagine losing your hair until you do. Trust me, I thought about it all last July and August knowing that in September it would be gone but yet, I had no way of imagining what it felt like to look in the mirror and see every single time what cancer had taken from me.

Thank you Strands of Strength for helping me to be able to leave that all in the bathroom mirror. Thank you that I could walk out of my bathroom and live the most normal life possible each day. It really has been such a blessing to us all!

Monday, September 4, 2017

You'll Find Me in the Kitchen

I wasn't expecting that a week full of canning tomatoes and cucumbers would bring me to the places in my mind that I went this past week. Not realizing how activities or events can bring on memories, I jumped into my tomato canning as always, excited to put away goodies for my family to use all through the year.

It was the crazy busy canning week last summer when my hair was falling out. As the first batch was processing this year, I remembered how I sat on the computer in my kitchen a year ago and summed up the event along with all of the emotions that go along with losing my hair.

Funny how in the morning on Saturday, I grabbed what is left of my scarves, the denim blue colored one, and threw it on over my short hair for canning day. It will probably be my canning day headwear for years to come just because it is a memory that makes me thankful. It was my favorite one of the scarves because when I put it on, it stayed in one place and I never had to think about it. That is what you need, not only when you have lost all of your hair, but it is also nice to have on canning days.

Matthew and I started with the cucumbers. Many of them were way too big and I hate to waste things. So we cut them up and tasted a bit of each one and when they weren't bitter, I just seeded the big ones and sliced them into spears. We did seven quarts like that.

I did sweet relish in pints. I love my sweet relish recipe. It is great in tuna, egg or chicken salad, potato salad and a few other things. The cucumbers that were not "spear friendly" got processed and made part of that big pot of relish. When that was done, there were 13 pints and 7 half pints.

As I wrote about above, Saturday was tomatoes. 11 quarts of salsa in the morning and 12 quarts of spaghetti sauce in the evening. Of course there was harvesting on Saturday too, so I had a new big basket of cucumbers and more tomatoes. I love doing this for my family and so thankful that I can!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ode to Marissa

And so it was years ago, on a trip home from Iowa to Georgia when we got the call. We were only half way home, stopping over at my sister's house in Kentucky. Marissa Mae had come, only hours after we had left. With my sister and her husband we had actually stayed a day longer in Iowa on our winter visit in hopes that we would be around to welcome her in person. But, work schedules and her schedule didn't allow for that.

So many years, so many memories and Marissa is off to college. What can I say about my very first niece that can describe the way the world is different with her in it. At least our world, those she knows and those who love her. I can say I am thankful for her energy and excitement and I know that wherever she goes will be a better place because she is there. She set the bar pretty high as nieces go.

I have some fun memories that make me smile when I think about Marissa.
Sharing balloons with Stacey
Getting to know her new little cousin Dawn
Some snuggling on a visit north
Building a foundation for a great relationship with
And why not a big hug?

Telling her daddy all about her birthday
party! (This is my very favorite picture!)

Buddies at church
Taking a nap at Auntie Jody and Uncle Dave's
house in Georgia
And most recently...a May graduation party.
As we grown ups experience time flying by faster and faster each year I realized while we were celebrating with Marissa the night of her party that she is number two of the next Bushlack generation to leave the nest. Jake started it all but two years flew by to get us here and Marissa's send off.

Once again we gathered and wrote our well wishes and prayers for her as she left for college last week. I see a whole group of kids growing much faster than we grown ups want them to. This will happen now every couple years for many more to come with nieces, nephews and a few of our own sprinkled in. Some years more than one, or more than two at a time. As I was going through old pictures it was just like yesterday.

I also realized something when I got home from the party in May...I had been too busy to stop and pick up some of her graduation pictures. Hopefully she still has a few to share! I know that she will succeed at anything she puts her heart into and I can't wait to see what the future holds for this beautiful young lady. I am blessed to be her auntie.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

To the Ballgame

Thanks to Aiming For a Cure, we got to spend last Sunday afternoon at the ballpark. It was a beautiful day for a ballgame!

Cheering on the Kernels! (Looks like I need a cool
pair of sunglasses)
The Party Plaza, all the food and drinks they can eat!

Some enjoyed the shade of the party plaza!

What a bunch of goofs!

I finally got Zachary to join us in the bleachers

Kernels win!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Broken In With 10,000 Steps

I am doing my best to be active and to start exercising more as my doctor says. I was able to report yesterday at my appointment that I have indeed exercised. I have been able to get out and walk and ride my bike and get on my elliptical. I even had a couple days last week where my phone step-counter read 10,000 or a little more.

Problem was, my shins hurt. Bad. I got a blister on each foot the first day I was out. But...look at this beautiful trail. I never knew where they went but I have had the chance to go down each turn and get acquainted with the middle green areas of my city.

David and I decided that after six or so years of wearing the same tennis shoes we should actually invest in some good shoes once again. So, since Famous Footwear is doing their BOGO sale as they so conveniently do before school starts, we left in pairs David / I and Ryan / Matt. So four of us so far have new shoes. I got $10 off in the sale and another $5 of rewards.

So, even though my 6:30 a.m. goal of getting up to walk usually turns out to be more like 7:15 a.m., I got up and put on my new shoes. LOVE THEM! Grey camo with hot pink trim is fun and the support while I walked was great. No sore shins and no blisters!

I love to walk on the trail with the only problem being that the tiny pieces of gravel get into my shoe. But, if I wear thicker socks, I don't notice it so much. I get to put in my ear buds and listen to my podcasts I am so hopelessly behind in.

I am not big into how many steps I have walked in a day, my goal is to just get out into the beauty of God's earth and walk. I love my new shoes and think that I picked them out well.

Although this isn't helping the number on the scale at all, it is doing a world of good to my soul. The path was pretty quiet this morning. I did meet Ryan and the cross country guys on my way back doing their Thursday run. And I saw my elementary P.E. teacher out on his morning walk as well. There were a couple of bikers but other than that it was peaceful and quiet on my walk. I am thankful for the things I have learned in the last year. I think back a year ago when I was recovering from surgery and looking ahead to when I would be starting chemo.

The Lord has taken our family on quite a journey this year. I have loved the feeling of my muscles working in ways they haven't in a long time as I take my steps along the path. It was a great morning breaking in new shoes. After the first 10,000 steps I am excited for all the rest of the steps I will take in them.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I Can't Drive 55 (Apparently)

I am here today to announce that the experiment is finished. I am done, no longer am I going to stick to my normal safe (but a little too fast) driving habits. The experiment goes like this...

Jody drives a navy blue mini van for 13 years              =          NO speeding tickets
Jody drives a red mini van for 8 months                       =           TWO speeding tickets
(driving all the same places in the same town and down the same roads)

I think that I need to trade in my red van for a "blend in" blue or brown or gray. Yes, you guessed it, last week I drove into another speed trap. It is usually in a place where I am coming down a hill decelerating but not fast enough to stay in the range between the speed limit signs that progressively land at 25 mph or a stop light.

Zachary and a scout friend were with me and we were coming back from Wakonda where they had finished up their archery merit badges. We were talking about the shooting and how hot it was, and other things that 10-11 yr old boys talk about.

"Do you know why I stopped you M'am?"
"Well, I must not have been slowing down fast enough".
"Where are you heading?"
"We are coming back from scout camp where the boys earned their first merit badge"
"Can I have your license and registration?"

Then he went back to the car and printed me out my 12 mph over the speed limit because he clocked me right where the 55 mph turned into 50. There were three other vehicles around me as we came over that hill, two in front of me in each lane and one out my back driver's side window. None of them were red. Hmmm. Just a little food for thought.

I have resorted to using my cruise control all over town. Sign says 35, I will set my cruise for 35. Do you know how many people I tick off as they speed around me to get past? You should see their angry faces. I can only say that I have a red van and will observe the speed limit signs to the best of my ability from now on.

The officer came back to me and handed all the stuff into the window.

"Drive safe now"
NOD...(thinking in my head: Drive safe? I was driving safe, just 12 miles over.) Sigh

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Week at Camp

He looks much older to his mom.
There was another scout camper gone this week. Matthew had his day camp in early June, Ryan's camp went in mid-June and Zachary's troop went this week. As I write he is returning this morning. It is the longest time he has been away from home outside of family.

He did mention last Saturday as we were helping with packing things up to get ready to go, that he thought that it may be a long time for him and he wasn't sure he could be gone from home that long. My heart was a little heavy as I dropped him off to meet his troop. He is very independent and I wasn't disappointed on Wednesday night when we went up to have dinner with him on family night.

I am glad the week went well for him. He did tell me on Wednesday night that he is looking forward to being home and comfortable. I asked him what he meant and he said that he just likes to have a comfortable place to sit and to sleep. He loves archery and was a little disappointed that their eagle track plan of sleeping under the stars ended up in a cabin at Waubeek because of threatening weather.

Sharing with Dad what has happened so far
I was very proud when he told us that he tried to take the swim test again at camp and he passed without any problem. The troop had a test night at the pool last month to see if they were a beginner or swimmer (deep end) and he wasn't able to swim four times down and back (it has been awhile that he has been in swimming lessons). So, when he told us that he asked to try again at camp I was so happy to hear that he took the initiative. He is a swimmer and was able to enjoy the pool even more because he tried and succeeded!

He showed us his tent and where his troop camps. Things seemed a little damp but he told me it had dried out since Monday. At one point of the week before we saw him on Wednesday, David mentioned he was up in the night thinking about Zach when it stormed the first night. I admitted I had woke up a couple times in the night and prayed that he would be okay. Zachary is usually very concerned when weather is rough at our home so thinking of him in a tent...well, I am his mom.  David and I talked about it on the way home. Both of us were so happy to hear him tell us that he slept through the whole night of the storm.

Always have to pose at the weather rock!
Zach's tent for the week.
A mom selfie just for fun!
It has been a little quieter in our house this week and so I am looking forward once again to having music playing from the computer Note Flight program as Zach works out a few more parts in the songs he is composing. It is almost time to start thinking and planning for sixth grade. But not quite yet and I am glad!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Not So Little Mermaid

I had a request from a not so little anymore daughter to make her a mermaid tail. I made one for my niece last year for her birthday. Stacey even went as far as to show me a pattern on Pinterest and pointed out that this is one that could be made in one night.

Well, I wasn't so sure until I looked at the pattern and it used a Q crochet hook and four strands of yarn! No, we wouldn't be making that one, but if she would like to come downstairs with me, I had something I would show her. To her excitement, I pulled out a half way done mermaid tail with the same pattern that I had used to make Jacey's last year.

I started it last winter when I was going to put it on the silent auction at our benefit. I made three quilts as well so it didn't get done. I asked her if she liked the colors and she did. Just another half done project finished and a happy girl. Dawn didn't jump in and say she wants one, but I am making a couple more for a benefit coming up at the end of August for a family at church. She said I could make hers sometime this winter since she couldn't understand why anyone would want to snuggle up in a mermaid tail in July.

I have to work on the tail pattern for these next ones. The pattern never turns out and I have to fuss with it a little every time. I am going to have to make my own version I think. Stay tuned, I hope to have them done for a couple smaller mermaids to enjoy!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Rest of the Story...Oh HAPPY Day!

This story really starts back in October when I got my new red "Mom taxi". The decision about the old blue to "drive it into the ground" came true for us a little sooner than we had expected. Something was knocking and it wasn't sounding good. David gave a valiant effort but it wasn't to be. So, in came the new red van right next to old blue up on blocks.

Valiant effort to revive the beast to no avail
FAST FORWARD nine months (yes, the amount of time it takes to grow a human being) and we have this beautiful and glorious day when the old blue was taken away! All it took was four phone calls til number five gave me an estimate of $190-200 for the steel and they would come haul it away for free. Believe you me...nine months of seeing that beast smack dab in the middle of our garage I was singing hallelujah and asking "how soon can you be here?!"

Tomorrow was her answer, the truck was going home with one of the guys who was picking up another vehicle on his way home, could he swing by on his way to work tomorrow between 7-7:30? Yes! It will definitely work!

 The only thing that made me sad is that not one single child in my house is up these busy summer days before eight so they missed the whole glorious thing!

Not me though, I stood out there and savored it all. Even when we found that the brakes had seized up over time and the van had to be dragged up onto the truck (not a tire turning).

I am happy to tell this great story because once again the garage looks relatively clean and the best part is that we CAN have a garage sale this summer after all!

So you can guess what my next thing on my to do list...get ready for the garage sale! How in the world to we get so much stuff piling up. My least favorite thing to do is go through old clothes and that is what we will be doing the most of.

Saturday I was happy to get the mail and find that there was a check from CC Recycling for more than the quote. Woo hoo! A great ending to a story that has dragged on for way too long. If I had known it would be this easy I would have called in November!

Live and learn!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Date Night...Sloan Style

Friday night the kids were invited to their cousin's for an overnight. I had been sitting here with a $50 gift card to Oyamas for almost two weeks burning a hole in my wallet! The only problem is, two of the triplets were double booked for parties and one was invited to one of the two. So...here is how it went:

5:30 p.m. - Drop Matt and Zach off to Sy and Betsy's
7:00 p.m. - Drop girls off at their 8th grade youth group party
7:15 p.m. - Drop Ryan off at the show choir pool party
7:40 p.m. - Arrive at Oyama's and enjoy YUMMY sushi and great company
8:45 p.m. - Back to the swimming pool to pick up Ryan
8:55 p.m. - Drop Ryan off and Sy and Betsy's
10:00 p.m. - Pick up girls from youth party
10:10 p.m. - Drop girls off at Sy and Betsy's and say good bye for the night
10:20 p.m. - Arrive home to kick our feet up and enjoy a glass of wine!

Yes, it was crazy and we admit it is hard to keep up with sometimes. Everyone is a little tired today (especially the three that stayed up with cousins til 4 in the morning!) I am reminded how fast the time goes by and it is okay.

On a side note, I was able to kinda style my hair tonight for our date and that was a little fun! Still pretty short on top but I got some of it through the straightening iron! I don't know how much you can tell, but here we are!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

She Said "Blog About This..."

...so I will!

Dawn grabbed a ball of yarn from my basket and a couple of knitting needles yesterday and started a scarf. I know, creative! But she was pretty proud to show me that she has done this much already! So, here she is and her knitted almost-to-the-end-of-the-yarn scarf!

She really needs to find a pattern and do something more challenging. She has the knit stitch down! I can't count how many "scarves" she has knit!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Camp 2017

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength"...Philippians 4:13 

That was our camp verse this year and we were given many opportunities to watch it learned in front of our eyes this year at Kids Camp. The last few years, I have loved going and serving with my kids. Well, Zachary and Matthew were campers, but the rest of us got to hang out with them and the rest. 

Unfortunately I didn't think much about taking pictures with my own phone, but I did find a few good ones of the boys on the camp picture website. Since I was a counselor this year I didn't get to hang out with my gopher teenagers much this year. But it was nice to see them all over camp!

I got to be on a counselling team with Whitney again this year so I knew right away it would be awesome. We got to be the yellow bunk leaders which is usually 2nd graders. The easiest way to share is to caption a bunch of pictures so, here you go...Kids Camp 2017 (Session 1):

Our YELLOW bumble bees...sunflowers...minions...they never really couldn't decide what they should be!
Zach and the BROWN bunk doing their skit for morning chapel. (I LOVED his camp hair)
Matt and the CAMO bunk doing their skit for morning chapel.
Pond time and a little canoeing for me and a little friend.
Matthew gets to canoe - standing up so it seems.

Zach enjoys the paddleboat
LOVE this face!
Matthew takes it for the team and helps in the scripture challenge!
Then there is this. Apparently, G2's bunk light was on after curfew so senior counsellor Jody got to be "flippered" on day 3 as punishment for her inability to get her 2nd graders to bed so they could get their much needed rest. Thankfully Marissa and Taylor both messed up and committed some flipperable infraction too so we got to go together off the diving board fully clothed as the kids watched (and cheered).

I do love camp. It is a few days away from life to enjoy some fun and help the young ones learn some good life lessons while we do it. Seriously, we all young and old witnessed Craig's message on night three chapel change some lives and that is what it is all about, knowing that we can't do what God wants us to do by ourselves. We learn to rely on Him one day at a time.