Saturday, July 28, 2012

Maggie, the Dark Knight and two American citizens

The above things have this incommon:
1.  On the day that Maggie was born we went to the movies to see The Dark Knight.  That was 4 years ago.  She was born few hours after we left the movies.
2.  Maggie and I became citizens on the same day, 4 years ago.  Me in the morning by naturalization, her in the evening by being born in this land.
3.  We are going to see the Dark Knight Rising later this afternoon.

We had to add something a bit lighter than the Dark Knight in this mix.  Soooooo she chose to have Hello Kitty cupcakes for her birthday, with Angry Birds candles.
Happy Birthday my little bird!!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wizard of OZ, just for practice

I keep practicing soldering, and I keep having issues.  Too hot, solder's running and dripping, escaping from my iron like it was mercury and not tin and lead.  Or too cold, creating this 'pointy mountains' as I call them.  I am not sure who to blame: the rheostat, the iron, the solder or my inexperience.
Here are some new ones I worked on last night.  I found this cool Wizard of OZ paper at Archiver's, a store a mere mile from my brother's house in Omaha.

I stamped the backs, but couldn't quite fit the words in one line.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

An afternoon in the back yard

I could have gone to a park, or the water park, or the neighborhood pool, but I always feel like all this going to places stuff can't compare to the time that can be spent in our own home, in our own back yard.  My husband is more the 'going to places guy'.  I could be just as happy hanging out in my house, my yard or as of lately the workshop we have in the back yard.
So today while I was cutting some glass (well yes for soldering off course) in the workshop, I filled up the kiddy pool, the water table and got some misters going for the kids to play.  This way they can be entertained, while I get some crafty work done.  I kept watching them through the workshop window, to make sure they are OK.  Not that I couldn't hear them, they are sooo loud.

And off course they wanted to tend to my garden, so we watered the plants too.  They are doing so well.  Check it out:


Chocolate Mint

Watermelon -already crawling out of the garden box

 Basil - I never thought I'd be able to grow it, but it's doing so well I am putting it in everything.  Try swiss and feta with basil as a panini sandwich.  Yum.

Heirloom tomatoes, getting big and hopefully red soon.

Zuccini the big leafed plant, and the crawling leaves in the back is the cucumber.

Scrap, stitch and solder

Note to self: 'do not take an online course that involves more than reading and writing.  And whatever you do, don't  take a computer course online.'

So my Photoshop class that I am taking is not going too well for me.  I am getting OK grades on the assignments etc. but this is really not what I am made off.  Give me something tangible, a sewing machine, fabric, paper, solder, glass and other scrap and stuff that you can touch and feel.  All this talk about clicking buttons here and there and everywhere.  And did I click the right buttons?????  I don't even know if I did it right or not until I get my assignment graded. I am beginning to feel the frustration my dad has when he is trying to fill an online job application. 

On the bright side, soldering is fun even though I probably get moments where I am equally frustrated with it as I am with Photoshop.  But somehow it's keeping my interest more than the computer stuff.  And here is a giveaway, you get to receive a gift as a part of my learning to solder process.
I've been using a deck of cards to practice making some charms.  These are not the best I warn you, but you are welcome to have a charm.
I'd like for you to leave me a comment, say anything you want.  I would also highly appreciate if you follow my blog.  And then off course give me your address so I can mail you a charm.  For your privacy please email me your address to my personal email:

Enjoy, here are some samples.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Helen Miller

It was over two years ago, in the spring of 2010 when we first noticed that something was not right with Helen Miller - my mother-in-law.  My mom noticed it first, she noticed Helen's speech was a bit 'slurred'.  At first we thought maybe she's had a drink.  It wasn't too noticeable really at first.  But over the course of the next year it got worse.
We asked her about it, she tried to hide it and find a 'reasonable' explanation for it, such as it was her teeth causing the slurred speech.  We thought that perhaps she's had mini-strokes and encouraged her to go to the doctor.  But she didn't.  Then her speech got worse.  She complained of not being able to swallow and found another 'reasonable' explanation: her allergies were really bad that were causing all this build up in her throat and giving her difficulties with her swallowing.
She also seemed physically weaker, for example she couldn't open the car door, or the front door, and she blamed the carpal tunnel surgery she had years ago.  Last fall when I visited (she lives in Omaha, we live in Phoenix) we went to the pumpkin patch, just like we do every fall when I visit with the kids.  This time she fell flat down, scraped her face, her nose.  As I helped her up and cleaned her I 'blamed' the heels she wore and the uneven dirt/mud/gravel that is not suited well for heels.
But when I went to visit this last Spring (2012) and saw her body shrink some 30lbs at least, her speech so distorted no-one could understand what she was saying, I could not ignore it anymore, nor I could stand her excuses and self-diagnosis from her teeth are falling to having bad allergies.  It was then that I heard that she's been surviving on Boost shakes and yogurt for the last several months.  So we went to a clinic despite her objections.  Her long time boyfriend Joe and I tried to get her to cooperate with the nurse.  They needed to do some testing to pin-point the reasons for her condition.  They recommended an MRI and some other tests, but Helen never followed up.  That was in April 2012.  In May, Joe called an ambulance, and after she fought with the paramedics for some time, she finally went with them to the ER, but checked herself out the same evening.  At that time an MRI didn't show any signs of a stroke, which is what we all thought she had.  Her heart seemed in good health as well.  The doctor at the ER wanted her to stay and do some more test, but she won't have it.
So on July 6, after she hasn't been able to eat or get out of bed very much, Joe called an ambulance again.  She got admitted at Lakeside Hospital in Omaha, NE, she was too weak to fight and they kept her overnight.  The very next morning, she had a respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.  They revived her.  By the time we got there on July 7th she was surrounded by machines and tubes probing in and out of her mouth.  Her eyes opened, unfocused, she could not respond with a blink or a squeeze or a mumble or anything.  Her body laying there, limp, swollen, weak.  She wasn't there.  This was the first and only time the doctors could do some test on her, and her prognosis was not favorable.  They suspected and later confirmed she had ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig disease.
Years ago when I was in college I read a book called 'Tuesdays with Morrie' (by Mitch Albom) and that was the first time I heard of Lou Gehrig disease.  And a month or so ago I was reading a book 'Body of Work'  (by Christine Montross) where the author, a medical student mentioned a patient that she met during her medical schooling who was dying of the disease as well.  I recall her saying this of her patient:
'He is the embodiment of what I never, ever want to experience.  What I never want a loved one to know.  Give me cancer, if you must.  Give me Alzheimer's.  Give me emphysema, congestive heart failure, diabetes.  It is this disease that I fear each time my eyelids twitches, each time I feel numbness in an unexpected  place.  Ist it...?  Could it possibly be..? Mr. L, please do not ever let me be you.'
So when I learned that this is what Helen has, and she's had it for a long time, undiagnosed, it made me sick to my stomach.  The disease affects the cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movements.  Over time the body slowly gets paralyzed, and when it reaches the muscles in the chest area, it's impossible to breath on one's own.
The disease is terminal, there is no cure.  Did she know this?  Did she suspect it?  Did she not want to know in fear of waking up every single day with the question if this would be her last?  Would knowing make her remaining days frightening and she'd rather not bother?  If I knew, if we knew, how would the last couple, few years of her life been different?  Better?  Worse?  I cannot tell.
Helen never regained consciousness after they revived her.  And because she couldn't respond with a blink or a squeeze, it's hard to tell if and how much brain damage she suffered when her breathing and heart stopped and they brought her back.  We hoped she could hear, so when her eyes were open, signaling that she may be awake, I'd play music for her.  I spent one night with her and after I couldn't sleep myself I was reading her a book 'The Last of the Tribe' by Monte Reel.  We took turns visiting her: Joe, her daughter, her son-my husband, her brothers, me and the kids.
Helen did not leave a will, so on Wednesday July 11 we met with palliative care doctor and we made a decision to take Helen off life support.  She died on Friday, July 13.  She was 63.
I wasn't her daughter, but she treated me as one and I cared for her as if she were my mom.  I will miss her.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


I took a soldering workshop this past weekend at Frenzy Stamper in Scottsdale.  Josie,  the very same Josie that taught me shrinky dinks last year at Art Intersection in Gilbert, taught the workshop.  And once again I learned a technique that I love and can't wait to experiment with it.


These are the samples I made during the workshop.

Some soldering equipment will be arriving at my house in a few days and I will be ready to make gifts for you my friends.