Surprising a YouTube Friend

 

 

Steph Cake

Cake made and delivered by Jasmin’s Cakes and More

 

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Today has been a great day!  Almost two months ago, a YouTube friend commented on one of my videos that she was turning 50 on April 4th and had never had a party.  She also said she usually makes her own cake.  We chatted about it a bit and then I decided I was going to remember that date and throw her a surprise birthday party via video.  I really wanted to send her a cake too, but how?

I finally realized if I had a giveaway and made sure Steph won, she would need to give me her address to claim her prize, which would give me the ability to send her a cake!  I did so and after she emailed me, I was able to look her up on Facebook.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw she liked a bakery and it was close to her.  I emailed them to inquire about delivery and they said, “Hey!  I know Steph!”  And they were available to deliver.

When the cake was delivered this morning, Steph recognized the woman as someone she worked with over 5 years ago and was confused. “Who is this from?”  She said ,”Go watch YouTube.”  Steph knew there was something coming from me, but wasn’t expecting that.  As soon as I knew it was delivered, I published the video.

I worked many hours this past week or so planning, shopping, decorating, trying to get people to be a part of the video, making the video, editing the video, and changing characters multiple times so there would be more “people” telling fake memories of Steph. I had two friends in particular who came over for the party segment, which involved dancing.  They were such good sports and so much fun!

It turns out Steph told her husband last night that she didn’t want to make her cake, so he bought her one, but so did her daughter.  She ended up with three cakes!  She’s so deserving.  The one I chose is the one in the middle. It’s a “mirror cake”.  ”

I was so relieved that Steph loved the video.  I was pretty sure she would, but was a little nervous she wouldn’t like the attention.  It made her day, which made my day!  I love pulling off a surprise!

I hope you watch and enjoy!  It has really lifted my spirits having something positive to focus on.

 

Multiple Myeloma Strikes Again

I’ve been trying to process the awful news that my dad has multiple myeloma.  We all want to be strong for each other, but this weekend I have been crying quite a bit as my dad gets ready to start chemotherapy.

One of my dearest, closest friends also has multiple myeloma and after seeing what it’s done to her, I just can’t stand this.  Well, she also has other factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and more, but we have had her over every Christmas for years, including since her diagnosis, and watched her as she suffers.  The cancer itself makes her puke her guts out. Add chemo and it’s even worse.  Right now her cancer is “slumbering”, but it doesn’t go into remission.  She and my dad will never hear the words, “You are cancer free.”  You can stop its progress for a while.

This wasn’t a total surprise because abnormal protein showed up in my dad’s blood just like my friend.  It makes your kidneys work extra hard, which makes one exhausted.  The doctor said it could develop into multiple myeloma, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon.  He has to be on a low sodium/low protein diet and this man loves bacon and eggs for breakfast.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever seen him cook besides BBQing some things and making microwaved vegetables.

The unknown is scary.  Maybe he’ll surprise us and the chemo won’t be as bad as we fear?

He’s going to lose his trademark mustache.  I think the last time he shaved it off was when I was 4.  I said, “Daddy!  You took your mustache off!  Put if back on.  Right now!”  His 70th birthday was mustache themed.

There are worse things than losing hair though.  It could cause tingling in his hands, which would affect his guitar playing.  That is his passion.  My dad has a lot of life left in him.  He has kept himself healthy and pretty active.  He has been taking care of his mother multiple times per week and she was recently put on a hospice program. I don’t know when he’ll be able to go over there again, but I’m planning on making weekly visits if possible.

My mom has health problems aggravated by stress. I worry about her just as much as I do my dad.

My parents have done so much for us and gave me and my siblings a pretty wonderful childhood even when they were worried at times about how to make ends meet.  I’m so grateful for them and I need to take care of my health too so I can help them as much as possible.  I have to somehow not become sick with worry myself, which I am prone to.

Humor is my coping mechanism.  I will continue to use it, but it doesn’t mean everything is OK. I just have to stay well and I’ve been trying to get well since around September.  I have mostly recovered from a flare-up, but not quite.

I know I am not alone.  So many families have gone through this.  Please share your thoughts with me.  Also, if you have any good ideas for low sodium/low protein recipes that taste good, I would be grateful to have them.

 

A Birthday Confession

kissing-soldier

Ok, it’s not my birthday yet, but I figure as I get closer to my birthday, I’ll be busy opening all the expensive presents everyone got me and attending one surprise party after another.

When my husband was about to graduate from Basic Training, he was very upset to have to tell me in a letter that he was informed there was no PDA allowed in uniform because it’s “a disgrace to the uniform”.  He wouldn’t be allowed to kiss me, hold my hand, hug me, etc.  This was beyond ridiculous as every happy military homecoming I’ve ever seen involves lots of all of the above and this was the moment I started to despise my experience as a military wife.  The way I felt was, “Excuse me.  I never signed anything saying I wouldn’t kiss my husband.”

We had been married for two months when he joined and because he had to wear his uniform all the time, we weren’t going to be allowed to kiss?  Graduation week was coming up and the Air Force laid out what was allowed throughout the week when family was visiting.  Graduation week started on a Monday and then the graduation itself was on Valentine’s Day.

It’s a free country, therefore I went there with a friend a day early and attended church with my husband.  It was hilarious because they are all issued the same glasses and have the same everything, so I stood on the church steps watching for my husband, smiling at every guy with glasses in the distance.  Finally one of them smiled back.

His friend suggested we quickly go around the corner to kiss, which we did.  I was then delighted to learn no one had any say over anything in the chapel, so we held hands all we wanted during the service.  That’s right.  We disgraced the uniform in church!

After the graduation ceremony, we were told we could either attend the Spurs game or the guys could go back to the dorms and do nothing.

It was Valentine’s Day and we weren’t allowed to kiss or hold hands!  Because we wanted to be together, we went to the game, but we spent most of the time trying to find a place to make-out.  Darn elevator attendant!  It’s not PDA if you’re in private, right?

Saturday was their day pass and they were told with a wink that they weren’t allowed to go to hotels.  Of course, we went to a hotel where we held hands and read scriptures.  We said goodbye about 5pm and then it was time to head to the base for his tech school.  He would then go through “phases” and it would be weeks before he was allowed to dress in civilian clothes or leave the base.

My birthday came and he wasn’t allowed to leave base or take off his uniform.  I was also not allowed to take off his uniform.  Hahahahaha.  There was NOTHING to do.  Really.  There was a food court.  I remember one of his friends suggesting we climb in through a dorm window where I wasn’t allowed.

We just sat in the food court listening to one annoying song after another and all I could hear was the booming bass.  Every song sounded the same.  I finally decided I was going to put $10 in the jukebox and buy an entire U2 album as a birthday gift to myself.  It was the best part of my day and as I watched one person after another purchase a song, they looked around in confusion when their song never came on.  I stared straight ahead, opting not to claim responsibility for all of the U2 music.   I think I even managed not to smile mischievously.

I am a selfish person who let people waste their money and didn’t even have the courtesy to tell them, “Your song won’t come on for an hour.”

I’m pretty sure I ordered War.  I might be wrong.  All I know is that I was saved from an hour of musical Hell.

Also, I love this song.  And Red Rocks looks cool.

Surprising a Boy with a “Lightheaded Bed”

I had the opportunity to surprise my friend’s son with a “Lightheaded Bed” earlier this week.  My inner child is insanely jealous of him.   Here’s the video we made together!

And here’s the review I wrote.

I had so much fun putting this bed together with a friend!  Her son has preschool for 3 hours and we were able to get it done in less time than that so we could surprise him.  I had seen pictures of it online, but the headboard looked even cooler in person.  I even laid on the bed for a while and tested out how the light works for reading.  It’s awesome!  It has different brightness settings and you can set a timer for it to turn off, which is great if you have a child who’s afraid of the dark, but don’t want to waste electricity all night.  Yes, the bed plugs in, so no batteries required. I loved reading in bed as a child and used to do so until the wee hours of the morning.  My own kids would bring their flashlights to bed and fall asleep with them on while reading.  I can only imagine how much we spent on batteries!

The shipment comes in two boxes – one quite long and one rather large and rectangular, plus another one comes in the mail with the image you selected.  I really wish I could buy these for my kids, but their rooms are so small, we can only do bunkbeds because they have to share.  I wonder if there’s any way for them to design a bunkbed version?

I think even cooler would be a king size version that would hold a few wedding photos.  I love that you can upload your own images, even pictures that your kids drew!  There is a compartment at the foot of the bed to hold the images you’re not using, so you can buy extra ones for Christmas, Halloween, etc.  Makes me wish I were a kid again!

Which image would you choose?  Check them out at http://www.lightheadedbeds.com

 

Inspiring People

I can’t stop thinking about what I witnessed a couple nights ago when I made the sudden decision to go to Trader Joe’s while my daughter was at an activity.  I debated whether I had enough time to go there, but I’m so glad I did.

As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, a woman assisted who I assumed to be her mother out of the car and got her situated with her walker.  There’s a chance she was a caregiver.  Whatever their relationship was, there was so much love and patience shown, it made me think about the many ways I need to improve and feel grateful for every blessing I have.

I don’t think the purpose of their shopping trip was to shop, but to help this woman preserve what little strength she had left.  She couldn’t hold her head up at all.  In fact, I couldn’t even see her face. Her legs looked like they were wasting away and I feel pretty certain that she is suffering from ALS.  Some of her fingers gripped the walker from underneath because she couldn’t stand upright enough and I kept wondering if she was going to fall.  Her daughter stood close by, looking as if she wanted her to have as much independence as possible, but was also quite cautious.  I’m sure she must wonder every day, “Will tomorrow be the day she won’t be able to walk anymore?”  I was amazed as the woman managed to use a smart phone in what look like the most uncomfortable position imaginable.  Her daughter smiled.  I realized the woman didn’t seem to speak a word.

They returned to their car and her daughter continued to smile at her like she was her most treasured person on earth.  I’m sure she has no idea what a wonderful example she is to others.

I thought about all of the things I had been putting off that week simply because I didn’t feel like it.  I didn’t want to take my toddler out of the van x amount of times.  It was too cold.  I was tired. The work was too tedious.  Then I imagined what this woman must feel like.  I bet she would do anything to be able to carry a child around, fold laundry, make dinner, and vacuum up that cereal for the third time today.

Years ago my parents witnessed the rapid weight loss and decline of one of our neighbors.  She was diagnosed with ALS.  Her husband walked her down the sidewalk every day and back to their home.  Her legs looked like they were shriveling up.  Eventually the walks stopped.  Then one day my mom got what she thought was a prank call from one of us kids.  She started to joke around until she realized it was our neighbor trying to call for help because her dog ran away and she couldn’t get her back.  My mom hurried over there and they both cried together.  She had lost her ability to talk.

Today I’m doing the things I’ve been putting off with gratitude. We often don’t know all of the blessings we have until they are taken away.  I would love to be able to develop a lifelong habit of being grateful for all of my mundane tasks.

Who has inspired you?

Dreading Loss

Shortly before Christmas, my grandma was not doing very well.  She lost her appetite and ended up in the hospital because she was very dehydrated.  She hasn’t really wanted to eat ever since she moved from her apartment into the assisted living center.  She didn’t want to leave her room at all and socialize with others because they’re not interesting.  Her mind was still in tact and she still liked to have political discussions or debates (if she could lure you into it).

It was hard enough moving her out of her home she had been in for decades where most of her memories were – where she raised eight children, including three who passed away.  I felt terrible when we had to help her downsize and move into a small apartment.  My grandpa has been gone for over twenty years now and with the good health she has been blessed with, I could see her outliving another one of her children.  That would be devastating to her.

She is being evaluated for hospice care, but my dad feels she just doesn’t want to try anymore.  She has become very weak because she chose not to leave her room except to go to the doctor.  I won’t go into detail, but relationships with her have been strained and I can’t help but wonder if she would continue trying if she felt like many loved ones were excited to see her often and came to visit more.

No one is going to urge her to get up or eat anymore and I respect her decision, but I’m also scared that all she’s doing is bringing on a long, miserable end to her life.  I went to visit her yesterday and she had a meal replacement shake and a glass of milk next to her bed, so she’s eating a little bit.  I have no idea what to expect and I don’t want her to suffer.  I don’t want her to be lonely.  Yesterday she was watching CNN with no sound and later my dad said it’s because she accidentally muted it and can’t figure out how to turn it back on.  Just laying in bed in a dark room at 4pm reading subtitles on CNN.  Alone.

Grandma is basically the only grandparent I ever had any kind of relationship with between my maternal grandmother being missing for over 40 years, my grandpa having a stroke that made it impossible to have a conversation, and my other grandpa not being able to carry on a coherent conversation because of the brain damage he suffered from alcohol.  He was in a nursing home for years, but still managed to find a way to literally drink himself to death.  My grief was more about the relationship we could have had and the fact that he wasn’t leaving a huge void in my life.  I watched him have seizures as he was in a coma all week and all I could think about was how he was a stranger to me.  That is a tragedy – when one’s death doesn’t cause unbearable grief for someone.  I remember my mom coming home and crying, “I didn’t think it would hurt this much.”  Considering her childhood with both of her parents’ alcoholism, abandonment, and becoming a foster child, she didn’t expect to miss him terribly.  She did like her dad though – just not the person he was when he drank.

As difficult as my grandma can be, I know my family is going to miss her and it’s going to hurt more than they realize.  She has many good qualities.  Her mother, on the other hand – her memorial service was horrifying, especially to my husband who didn’t know her.  It was just family because she lived 97 years.  Everyone who got up struggled to say something nice about her.

“She was very determined.”  (aka stubborn and unbending)
“Her house always smelled like coffee.”
“She always had ice cream.”

I kid you not.  Finally her son got up and said, “To be honest, I didn’t really get along with her.”  He broke the ice and one after another, relatives got up to tell stories about my great grandma being selfish, narcissistic, always right, etc.  My dad’s cousin drove her old car and when it broke down, she snapped at her that she was driving it wrong.

This was one of the most depressing experiences of my life and it made me very nervous thinking that maybe these genes had been passed down to me.  I told myself, “If your death doesn’t make your closest relatives feel like they can hardly go on living, then you failed.”

Some people are given a very short time to live.  It’s frustrating to see others given over 90 years to make things right, but they don’t.  And if they did try, I would hope their loved ones would accept the change they’re offering rather than pushing them away.  It’s never too late to change and to try to right your wrongs.  Sadly, that rarely happens.

I’m trying to reach out to her more and encourage her other 23 grandchildren to do the same.

 

The Bright Side of Trump Being President

A lot of my friends are really upset right now about Trump being president.  I’ve been bracing myself to be upset for months because either way was unacceptable to me. Unthinkable.

Unless you are a Hillary lover, here are some thoughts that might help you.

Because Hillary didn’t get elected, we got rid of her.  Nothing is ever going to happen to her legally, so people would have tried in vain her whole presidency to have her removed from office.

But Trump was elected and I think he is quite impeachable.  Maybe we could even prevent him from being sworn in.  How wonderful that would be!  Last night when he was declared the winner, people in my neighborhood were lighting fireworks and all I could think about was The Hunger Games.

Until then, he will continue to provide excellent material for Saturday Night Live and as for the stupid/horrible things he has vowed to do, he’s a doofus who won’t succeed.  Checks and balances, moron.

Dear Media:

This is what you get when you try to force candidates down our throats and manipulate the election.  I will think of Nov. 9th, 2016 as the day Hillary Clinton got Donald Trump elected.  Wow, Hillary.  That must be the most humiliating thing ever.  Anyone should be able to beat Trump, but you didn’t.  THAT’S HOW MUCH AMERICA DISLIKES YOU.  The media determined long ago that Hillary was destined to be the nominee.  Hillary’s camp ensured that Trump would be the Republican nominee.  Sounds like a great strategy, except they underestimated just how disgusted Americans are by her.

You manipulated it until the very end, declaring that Hillary had an 87% chance of winning.  People felt quite certain of that and they were blindsided.  Many of my friends who horrified last night when it didn’t go that way and that is because of you.

Angrily yours,
Me

This entire thing seemed rigged to me and the only reason I’m happy right now is that it blew up in their faces when they should have let the American people decide who they wanted.  Democrats were clearly in favor of Bernie Sanders.  Knowing how many objections there were, if Hillary loves America, she should have stepped aside and given up on her dream of being the first female president.

I seriously couldn’t believe my ears when people said she should be elected because it’s time for a woman president.  The only reason a woman should be president is because she is the best candidate AND someone the American people actually want.  I couldn’t stand the though of her earning that title.  At the same time, I couldn’t stand the thought of gloating Trump in the White House either.

This is a nightmare, but I feel strangely at peace that Trump will make history in his own way.  Maybe setting a record with the shortest time in office?

I’m sad for our country and everyone who feels devastated by this election.