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Category Archives: Life

One of my Favorite Thrift Stores

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Shortly after we moved into our home I discovered a nearby thrift store called Through Our Children’s Lives. It’s a small shop tucked in among other stores, but you can’t miss the big moving truck they have out front with their name on it. As thrift stores go, it’s good. If you dig, you’re bound to find some treasures.

But that’s not what I love about this store.

I’ve been going to this store since Liam was a baby and the sweet woman who runs it has always been so loving to him. I don’t know why this surprises me though, considering the name of her business.

The store’s proceeds go toward helping victims of domestic abuse. It’s a wonderful cause.

But it gets better.

Whenever you bring your child in with you, they let you pick out a free book. I love this. I strongly believe in the importance of reading to a child.

They also have donated bread you can choose from every time you make a donation or purchase.

Last week I strolled in to browse as I sometimes do and I walked out with this loot for $2.72.

And here’s the breakdown:
The shorts were originally $2.99, but because they also have awesome sales, that day clothing under a certain price was automatically $2.
The dinosaur must have been about $.50.
The car was free because the sweet owner rummaged through a bin and picked it out for my very grateful son. Who does that? Loving people do that.
The books were free. Technically you’re supposed to get one, but I think she likes us. It is one book and one coloring book.
The bread was free! Although I recommend using or freezing this bread right away because it is donated, I usually never have a problem eating bread. I used the asiago cheese round to make grilled cheese sandwiches to go with tomato soup and the Italian bread I cut to make meatball subs.

If you’re in the OP area, I definitely recommend stopping in to Through Our Children’s Lives. I have friends who have found great deals and you can’t beat the love you’ll receive. 😉

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Liam’s MRI Results

First I had to show this picture of my son in the shorts I found at the Just Between Friends sale. They crack me up!

When we left the house at 7:30 in the morning, my dad in-tow, I had found peace with my son getting an MRI. By the end of the morning I was wondering why I had been so scared. But only because he handled it like a champ. He didn’t shed a single tear when they inserted his IV. Granted we did a lot to distract him, but add toughness to the list of things my son exudes.

After less time than they quoted us, we were back in the recovery room and Liam was pretty wide awake, though woosey! Let me tell you it was funny to take him home all drugged up and saying funny things. He was mentally so awake but his body couldn’t keep up. High-fives were more misses than hits. 🙂

We had to keep a close eye on Mr. Stumbly for the rest of the day. We snuggled on the couch, watched movies, and ate goldfish in three flavors (since he hadn’t had food since the night before). Then we all took a much-deserved nap. Mommy and daddy didn’t sleep too well the night before.

In the afternoon his pediatrician called with the scan results. What they found was a small area in the left center part of his brain that contained an old injury. It was caused by some stroke-type event that caused his brain to bleed. It’s only about 2x2x3cm (or maybe it was mm?) and is surrounded by healing tissue.

This is what we expected.

I’m happy they found what we were looking for. Sometimes injuries are so old they can’t see them anymore. And since we suspect Liam’s is about 18 months old, I’m glad it was still visible.

We’re still waiting to hear from his doctor at the hospital, but knowing this was probably a one-time thing and there’s no tumor or anything involved is relieving.

Last night my sweet step-sister dropped by and gave me the perfect gift. Evidently Pura Vida Bracelets are a big deal — guess I missed the boat. The bracelets are all hand-made in Costa Rica and 1% of the profits are given back to the Surfrider Foundation to clean up beaches worldwide.

What made this gift even more special to my heart is that they also have bracelets for awareness. Everything from autism, suicide prevention, Alzheimer’s, MS, CP, etc. Yep, she got me a bracelet that represents Cerebral Palsy awareness. I cried. The best part is they donate $1 out of the $5 to that specific organization.

The company believes in living life simply, enjoying life slowly, celebrating good fortune and not taking anything for granted. That’s something I can get behind.

So do it friends. Live simply and slowly and appreciate much. I have a lot to be thankful for in this new day.

And stay hydrated. 😉

My Son

I told you all a while back that I’d someday tell you why my son is so amazing. That day has come.

While I’d love to rave about the cute couple of finds I had over the weekend, or how well magazine creation is going, all I can think about this week is Thursday.

Thursday is going to be difficult.

Thursday my 21-month-old son is getting an MRI.

And I’m frightened.

It all started when my son was 3 months old. One day we noticed that his right arm was suddenly turned in, his hand in a fist and his arm laying lifeless by his side.

Strange, we thought.

His pediatrician diagnosed it as a birth injury — a brachial plexus injury to be exact. There was just one problem. He didn’t have a difficult birth. I never bought it.

Around 9 months old we started taking him to physical therapy to improve the use of his arm. I’ll take this opportunity to thank God for physical therapists and their patience, wisdom and dedication. Without therapy I don’t know where my son would be today.

He’s been in therapy for a year now. He’s been in therapy over half his life, every week, once a week. Over the past year we’ve added occupational therapy to help his fine motor skills and swimming therapy to help his overall movements and strength. He loves swimming, fyi. 🙂

My son was a scooter for a long time. He got around on his bum for months before he was finally able to pull himself up and try walking. He didn’t walk until he was 17 months old.

That was scary.

And when he finally started walking his PT noticed some weakness in his right leg, too. So we decided to see a specialist at the children’s hospital here in town. We met with Dr. Rinaldi in the rehab department and the man is an amazing person. He got on the floor with my son and played with him while observing his physical abilities. I am thankful for that man and his kind staff.

His diagnosis was Cerebral Palsy, specifically Hemiplegia, which is a weakness focused on one side of the body. It wasn’t unexpected as his PT had suspected this and prepared us, which I am thankful for, as I may have broken down in hysterics right then and there in the doctor’s office.

But as far as brain problems go, this is the one they say they’d choose if they had to. It was probably caused by a brain bleed, but we’ll see what’s going on on Thursday. Sometimes injuries are so old they can’t see them, but hopefully we’ll get some answers.

I’m secretly hoping the MRI will show how big and amazing this kid’s brain is. At 20 months he was counting into the 20s, singing his ABCs, identifying letters, letter sounds, upside down letters, shapes, colors, numbers, reading us his books from memory, and so much more. I can’t keep up with the kid.

The most difficult parts of all of this have been the random stages of grief. Like seeing him run around at the play area at the mall and noticing the obvious difference between him and the other kids — although to the untrained eye, he probably looks fairly normal. Watching him fall over and over again (which has been helped by the foot brace he got a few weeks ago). Seeing the frustration in his eyes when he doesn’t understand why things are so difficult to do with his right hand.

But the thing about kids with special needs is that they’re constantly amazing you. I forget how desperately I prayed for him to be able to walk … for months. And then one day he did. And now he squats, holds big toys with two hands (and says “bof hands” while he does … that’s therapy for you!), tries to jump, runs pretty fast and sits up and lays down really well. These are all things that have amazed me and made me so thankful for his determination.

This little kid, this baby whom I carried around with me for the better part of a year, this naive little boy has shown me more in nearly two years about perseverance, love, joy, patience, acceptance and hope than I ever thought possible.

No matter how many times he falls, he gets back up. And that’s a lesson we all need to learn.

So that’s why I talk about how amazing my son is. Not just for his unbelievable smarts, but for his will.

Pray for us this week friends. This MRI means sedation at his age, and though I know it will be harder on us than it is on him, the thought of not being able to comfort him when he is scared breaks my big old heart.

Feel free to ask me anything about Liam. We’re pretty open books.

I’ll update you all on Thursday.

Balance

With any new venture in life comes the struggle to re-balance. Going to college, getting married, having a baby, moving, starting a new job, starting your own business — it seems like just when you get life figured out something else comes along to throw you out of balance. And I’ve learned that balance is one of the most important things you can accomplish in life.

Starting VintageKC magazine has taken a TON of my time. If I’m not networking, executing ideas, hitting estate sales, or keeping track of emails, I’m laying in bed obsessing over hairstyles and DIY projects. I knew that following your dreams could be time consuming, but I didn’t expect everything else in my life to suddenly catapult to the backburner.

My ambitions in life, my goals, my personal mission are nothing without the people I have around me who nurture and love and encourage. It’s so easy to get caught up in the exciting, constantly check my phone for emails, and daydream about endless magazine related ideas. And it’s easy to forget how wonderful snuggling with my husband is when I let go of all those things looming over my head. It’s easy to forget how wonderful it is to read a book with my son (or have it read to me because he’s memorized nearly every book we own) and not be anxious to jet off to the next priority.

Quality time with family and friends is really what life is about. The love we experience and share with one another is what will matter in the end.

So my encouragement for today is to find balance. Running creative blogs can be exhausting. But don’t forget the importance of the love that surrounds you. Make time for it.

I love you friends.

Life, in reality

I get caught up in this blog and the person and ideas that I want to portray, but at the end of the day, it’s just me and I pride myself on being real. I’ve gotten some new followers recently and I’m realizing you probably know very little about me and my real world. In reality my life revolves around balancing somewhere between three and four jobs, being a mom and a wife. And in reality, it’s not easy. Here’s a little more about me.

J-O-Bs
1. Pays the bills (most of them): I’m a senior associate editor for a national magazine, and no, unless you’re a radio engineer, you won’t have heard of it. Everyone I meet asks me what magazine I work for and it’s such a let down to tell them something they’ve never heard of. In reality, I have a great boss, I get to work from home and it’s laid back enough that I can pursue my dreams (see #3 and #4).
2. Pads the savings account (slightly): I write LivingSocial daily deals for Johnson County in Kansas. That’s in Kansas City for those who don’t know. So I get my wit on daily and hopefully people think I’m funny. I also write little blurbs about where the best bbq sauce and handmade bread are in KC.
3. What gets me through the work week: A year ago I discovered estate sales and I fell in love. The thrill of the hunt, the variety of goods, the amazingly low prices (on the right day)…I was hooked. I’ve always had a love of history (thanks Dad) and vintage items, but when I figured out I may be able to make a little extra spending money picking and selling vintage items online, my purpose in life started to sharpen. It’s strange when you feel like you’ve drifted (actually kicked, screamed, cried, worked really hard for nothing, felt disappointment, felt joy, felt alone, felt loved, etc.) for 30 years and then suddenly you run into something that you finally think, I could actually do this for the rest of my life. Consequently I started My Etsy shop and this blog thinking someone out there might actually like the things I find and what I can do with items people might otherwise throw away. Right now I’m trying to post twice a week.
4. My dream: This summer I will be launching a local vintage magazine via a new blog in Kansas City. I’ve been planning this for a while and the range of emotions has gone from thrilled to terrified. I’m scouting around for writers, contacting photographers, hunting for clothes for a photo shoot, planning the design, networking with local businesses, losing my mind…all while trying to hold down #1-3 above. Most nights I can’t sleep well because I’m picturing photo shoots in my head or thinking of feature ideas. Putting together a magazine is nothing new to me. I’ve been doing that for 6 years. It’s just the fact that it’s all becoming so real. And I hope people are into it. I hope it doesn’t fail. It’s hard to put your whole heart into something, make sacrifices in your life and sanity and realize something could not work out the way you think it might. So I’m tackling an office space makeover to encourage me every day. I’m thinking something that says Believe on the wall. I believe this is what I’m supposed to be doing, I believe I’m good at it, I believe it will work, that’s why I work so hard.

Life
Thinking about everything I listed above makes my head spin and it would not be possible without the love and support of an amazing man. Well…two…

I indeed married a rock star. Check out Fullbloods. He’s the lead guitarist. He’s also my rock. We’ve been together for 13 years this summer. I was a senior in high school when we started dating. He picked me up in a beat-up old Dodge Omni, drove away with my heart and has cradled it ever since. I’m a tad stubborn, strong-willed, driven and ambitious. I’m also incredibly sensitive, love to watch movies on Friday nights and wish I had more time with those I love. He’s sensitive, quiet, cracks really bad jokes, but is incredibly talented and thankfully also enjoys Friday movie nights. I tend to take on too much (see #1-4 above) and he’s helped me learn how to sit and relax and be OK with it.

We’ve been together so many years already. I was 21 when we got married. We spend all day in a house together because he stays home during the day to care for our son, although I’m in a different room working a lot, and yet I always crave more and more time with him. We’ve been working on a few aspects of our marriage in the past few years and nothing makes me happier than saying I’m more in love now than I was as a smitten 21-year-old kitten. Marriage is a lot of work, but man is it worth it.

The cute stuff
A couple years ago we created this:

Which turned into this:

And now looks like this:

Someday I’ll tell you more about why this kid is so amazing and the obstacles he’s overcome. For now, I will simply say there is no greater joy in my life than being a mother. When our son was born I said there was no greater purpose for me, no job, no accolades, no fulfillment superior to seeing his face every day and knowing that I am his mama. It is a gross understatement to say I never knew I could love this much.

I’m really not sure what led to this brain dump today. It may be all the concentration business has been sapping from my brain, causing me to take a break, step back and just be real for a bit. Feel free to ask me anything you’d like to know about our life here in the good ole breadbasket. I’m an open book.

And out of curiosity, if you’ve got any advice on juggling life and managing to keep your sanity, I’d welcome it with open arms! Until next time friends…

Christmas Times 2011

I think I’m finally back in the swing of things after four Christmas celebrations, lots of awesome family time and loads of great gifts. Liam survived his second Christmas and we actually did find places for all his new toys (and million books, the kid loves books) in our humble home.

As a tradition I’ve taken to baking goods for my coworkers, but since I work remotely now, I had to wrangle up some old coworkers to take the stuff. I’m sure they complained. A lot. Without further ado, here is the 2011 Shipps Christmas Sampler:



This year the sampler included my famous cream cheese almond butter cookies, chocolate/pecan covered marshmallows, coconut macaroons, Martha Stewart’s white chocolate covered chocolate mint cookies, and mint layered fudge.

In more vintage-y news, Liam sported an awesome vintage vest I found at an estate sale for the Shipps’ Christmas Eve party. Here’s the best picture we came away with, playing with his cousin and bff Lucas (they’re exactly 9 months apart and Liam is starting to catch up, except in the hair department). 🙂 Naturally I had to pair the vest with an equally vintage (looking) turtleneck. I mean what else do you wear with a vest as awesome as that? He was a hit.

In gifts news:

  • I’m happy to announce that I am now the owner of an amazing new camera so this blog will no longer feature fuzzy and/or dark photos! i.e. see sampler photos above.
  • I also received an awesome new set of kitchen knives, which I’m deathly afraid of because they can slice right through my finger, but I also desperately needed to replace my 8-year-old cheap wedding present knives that are falling apart. My soon-to-be-arthritic wrist couldn’t handle cutting up one more sweet potato into fries.
  • There were loads of other presents, too many to note, and I’m happy to have a little money to spend on myself, which rarely happens.
  • My (and the Rock Star’s) present to myself with all my saved up Christmas monies was a new pair of glasses. My old ones lasted a good three years of constant abuse and finally fell apart at Thanksgiving. Imagine my brother and I on the floor at our Grandparents’ house under the table dragging the central vac hose covered with my Grandma’s nylons over the shag green carpet to find one tiny little washer. Too much? The glasses were doomed. So here’s the new me.
  • I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I feel spoiled rotten, but that’s a rare feeling, so I revel in it. I have one of the best families in the whole world and there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for each of them. Have a safe and happy new year everyone!

A Jib Jab Christmas

Taking some time out from all the baking, wrapping, finishing up DIY gifts to spread some Christmas cheer…Shipps style. Check it out here. You won’t be disappointed. 😉

Merry Christmas everyone!