Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It's a BOY!!

Yes, it's true. We will be having another cute little baby boy. I am thrilled. We have 2 girls & 1 boy. Another boy just seems to make everything even. The name we have picked out so far is Treyson Blake Shephard. That should stick until I change my mind! HA!

Cameron, who is now 11, was the cutest little boy ever. I posted a picture of him here when he was 4 yrs old. Isn't he cute?! (All his youger pictures I'd have to scan & I haven't gotten that down yet.) Anyway, Cameron had cute curly hair & was just adorable. When he started talking, he had a little raspy voice. I just loved & adored him so much - I still do! He's a good boy. If this little boy turns out to be anything like Cameron was, I'd be overjoyed. But, honestly, I will be very happy with how ever he comes.

So, I am now 22 week along. Over 1/2 way! And, I still get sick...... It's disappointing actually. I am not throwing up anymore, but I still get the queazy, yuck feeling every once in a while. Luckily it isn't every day, but it's enough to make me just get MAD! Those who have been pregnant & very sick know exactly what I'm talking about. Most times I am very good at disguising how I feel & just go along with the flow. But, as soon as I am alone, I get weird. :) Not sure if that's a good way to describe it, but yeah......weird is about right. 5 months of feeling sick really takes a toll on you! Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I hide myself in my bedroom & lay on the bed & look at the ceiling & pray. I can feel the baby moving inside me & know all of this will be worth it someday. It doesn't seem to matter what I eat or how often, I still will get the weird, sick feelings. If you're reading this & worrying about me, PLEASE DON'T! I'm really fine. I knew when I got pregnant that it would be this way. And I'm accepting it, just not really enjoying the yuck parts. But.......THIS IS THE LAST TIME I WILL BE DOING THIS!!! I am done with kids. 4 is a good number. And I'm just too old to do this again. I'm turning 39 this month. I'll be 57 when this baby graduates from high school!!!

Well, enough for now. I'll be back! :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sorry everyone!

Hopefully my last post explains my absence. I am in survival pregnancy mode right now. Unfortunately, blogging is last on my list. I'm extremely tired! But, I will be back very soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I find out if I'm having a boy or girl next week & will post then!!! YEAH!!! :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's time to tell the world!

Well, I guess my blog is the best place of all to let the news out. :) We just told our kids & today it's time to tell the world!!

I am pregnant with baby #4!!
I'm about 2 months or so along & starting to feel the icky stuff, so I figured I better tell everyone before they begin to wonder. (ha!) I am thrilled & disgusted about it all in one. We always wanted 4 kids so this is good! However, if there's anything in the world that I don't's being pregnant!! I can honestly say I don't like anything about it except the outcome. I'm one of those kinds that just feels "blugh" the whole time. It's kinda like having food poisoning for 9 months. :) :) It took Jeff a while to talk me into this...but I'm happy about it. Really! (I'm trying to convince myself here!) To build myself up for this, I though I'd make a list of things I enjoy about being pregnant.

1. Gaining tons of weight is sooooo much fun!
2. I can't wait for people to do a double take of me trying to decide if I've gained a few pounds, wondering if my clothes shrunk in the wash or if I'm pregnant.
3. Buying bigger bras is a major JOY!
4. Going to the bathroom 20 times a day is always very convenient.
5. Smelling meat cooking makes my stomach dance!
6. Having to spill my guts in the most inconvenient times is the best feeling ever!
7. Falling asleep at 8:00 at night is great for my social network!
8. Having the sudden feeling you need a ________ to eat RIGHT NOW actually is quite cool!
9. Mood swings - need I say more?

I know what I'm in for & I still chose to do this!! That's because I know how very precious the outcome will be & that to me - is VERY worth the 9 months of pure bliss!

So, no laughing at my big behind or coveting my newly purchased tents! I am trying my best to be so EXCITED about this all & gosh darn it, I AM!!!!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A fun day at the park with Bren!!

Riding the carousel!!
Brianna feeding the duckies! We spent a whole hour doing this! This was her favorite thing to do!

Brianna & I waiting for the train to arrive! 20 minutes seemed like a LONG time for a 4 yr old!!
The train arrived & we were on our way!! See ya later!!!

I realized a few weeks ago that I only have 2 months left to spend one-on-one with my little girl! In 2 months school is out which means chaos with everyone home! Then she starts kindergarten in August. My little girl isn't little anymore! I already miss her & she isn't gone yet!! So, I decided that she & I needed a "special" day where it's just she & I hangin' out doing fun stuff. Every Friday we are going on an OUTING! :) This week we went to Freestone Park where they have a fun train ride, ducks & carousel. We packed a fun lunch & lots of bread & we were on our way! I've highlited some of the fun stuff!

Brianna is my last child & will be turning 5 in a few month. My baby is 5!! She has been an absolute JOY! She is so much fun & has a personality that everyone seems to love! She is the best little dancer you ever did see! I'll have to post a video sometime. I am so grateful to have this little girl & couldn't imagine my life without her.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

We're gettin' the Elephant off our back!

Jeff & I are doing something with our finances/debt that has been AMAZING!! It has helped us feel a little bit of peace with our money. And, since there are soooo many people in the world today who are struggling financially, I thought I'd share it on my blog.

Have any of you heard of Dave Ramsey? We bought his book called "Total Money Makeover". I originally only bought it because it was on sale & I thought it would be interesting. Truly, I thought I knew would it would take to fix our financial situation. However, this book is eye-opening! I couldn't put it down. And, it is very easy. It's all about going back to the basics & not using credit cards to pay for everything!

Here's the basics of how it works:
1. You need to get a $1,000 emergency fund in cash. Keep the cash in a safe place in your home - NOT in the bank. This money is for you to have a back-up for emergencies & not to rely on any credit cards in this program.

2. Make a budget of exactly where your money goes each month. This has to be down to the penny. Then, you make envelopes at the beginning of each month & put cash in each envelope for that amount. When it's gone, it's gone - no dipping from extras anywhere! It's amazing how much we spend on stuff that's really not needed!!

3. Make a list of all your debt starting with the smallest first. You start to pay off the smallest debt first. Not the biggest interest rate, the SMALLEST debt. There is a good reason for this! People are more likely to stick with a program if they can see results! :) Chances are that your smallest interest rate is also you biggest debt & It may seem like you're never making any progress of if you start on that one first. Stick with smallest to largest. It works!!

4. Just by paying for everything in cash, you will be amazed at how much money you have at the end of the month to put towards debt!

The plan is very simple & easy! It's just a matter of doing it & being ready for it. You may have to give up going out to eat or buying fancy clothes. For me, it's all about having peace of mind.

We have a LONG way to go....but I feel much better knowing that I have a plan. I'll keep you posted on how it's going!!

Check out Dave Ramsey's website. I've attached a link. And no, I'm not getting any kick-backs from promoting him. LOL!! It's just been a great help for us & I'm all about sharing what works!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

100 pink roses for Valentines Day!

He did it!
My husband actually bought me 100 pink roses for Valentines Day!
Isn't that just sweet? Since several people know our financial situation & know that buying 100 roses is NOT in our budget, rest assured that he got them for a VERY good deal. :)
Since it is Valentines day, & my husband totally scored, I thought it might be appropriate for me to tell you all the wonderful things I love about him.
Here goes:
1. He is the "fun" dad. I'm the "stick with the schedule" person & he's all FUN!!
2. He is smart as a whip. His mind amazes me. His brain functions a step above most.
3. When I am sick, he is THE BEST nurse. He takes care of the house, the kids & gets me anything I need. It's almost fun to be sick because he treats me like a queen. :) I said ALMOST.
4. He is very service oriented. He LOVES to mow peoples lawn without them nowing. He's the first to help someone move into their house. He's always willing to help at the drop of a hat.
5. He's overcome a great deal in his life & honestly, I'm not sure most would come out as fair as he did with what he had to face. I'm amazed at his strength.
6. He genuinely loves his kids & has a strong desire to be a great Father.
7. Jeff loves me for me. He doesn't criticize, give tips - he just let's me be my true self.
8. Jeff trusts me 100%! I never need to explain anything.
9. Jeff loves to surprise me! He'll do anything to try to surprise me.
10. He's a great on the grill!! Salmon is his specialty.
11. He's pretty dang cute! :)
12. He's the best travel companion. He drives, makes the schedule & does it all!
I just sit & enjoy the ride. Love it!!
13. He's the best with directions. It's easier to call him then to go to mapquest.
14. He's a baby whisperer. He has a secret way of getting babies to sleep. It's magic!
15. He does a great elephant impersonation.
16. When he REALLY wants to do something, nothing stands in his way. He'll go without sleep for days until it's accomplished. This is a wonderful & terrible thing about him. HA!
17. Jeff is a thinker. His mind holds a lot & I can always tell when he's pondering something new.
18. The best gift I ever received was the day he cleaned the entire house & gave me the day off!! LOVED IT!! Don't know too many husbands who are willing to do that. :)
19. He is Mckenna's 100% supporter in Volleyball. He hasn't missed a practice, a game or a tournament. She's pretty lucky to have such a dedicated dad.
20. Beging married to Jeff has been like a rollercoaster - lots of ups & downs, but a great adventure!! :)
I love you honey!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blender pancakes & coconut syrup

I've had requests for my multi-grain blender pancakes & my cherry & coconut syrup. I decided it would be best to post them here. They're healthy, easy & very cheap. Great if you're on a budget. ENJOY!

Whole grain Blender Pancakes
1 cup whole grain soft white wheat kernels. (Or, I use a combination of pearled barley, kamut, spelt, brown rice, oat groats & whatever I have in my food storage.)
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk (I use tofu milk)
1 egg
2 Tbl canola oil
1 Tbl honey
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbl Rumfords baking powder (MUST be Rumfords!)

In blender, mix water, grains, & dry milk on high for 3 minutes. Add egg, oil, honey & salt. Blend for 20 seconds. Add baking powder & pulse 3 times. Mixture will foam up & get very light. Cook immediately on a hot griddle.

1) Buttermilk pancakes - use buttermilk in place of the water & omit the nonfat dry milk. Add in 2 heaping tsp of cornmeal & 1/4 tsp baking soda.
2) Fruit-filled pancakes - Prepare pancakes as directed. Pour onto hot griddle & top with blueberries, sliced bananas, strawberries or other fruit.
3) Apple buttermilk pancakes - Use Buttermilk recipe & fold in 1/2 cup finely grated apples.

Cherry Syrup
1/2 cup water
2 Tbls cornstarch or Ultra Gel
1 12-oz can frozen unsweetened cherry-apple Dole juice

Using a wire whisk, stir cornstarch into water in medium pan. Add juice concentrate. Bring to boil & stir until thickened, 1-2 minutes.

Use any unsweetened juice. We like strawberry-kiwi, peach, grape & raspberry.

Coconut Syrup
16 oz can coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar or fructose
1/2 cup water
3 Tlbs Ultra Gel (If using cornstarch, use 2 Tbl & combine with water first to dissolve & then add remaining ingredients.)

Mix all ingredients together adding the ultra gel little by little. (keeps it from clumping) Bring to boil & boil for 1-2 minutes until thickened.

What's this weight thing about anyway?

So, as most of you know - my weight fluctuates A LOT! I've been at all kinds of weight in my life. I'm currently "okay" with where I'm at, but would LOVE to be a much healthier weight. If I lost 25 lbs I think my body would feel & function better. I am a pretty healthy eater most of the time. I don't cook with sugar, white flour, or yucky additives. It's not even in my house. I also don't eat large portions. However, I am an emotional eater. Yes, that's me! When something is bothering me - it seems like a big Dr. Pepper & chocolate cures all. (Wouldn't it be nice if it really did?)

Is there anyone out there who has successfully conquered the emotional eater demon? I'm a pretty self-disciplied person & can accomplish whatever I put my mind to, EXCEPT for this eating thing. It kinda bugs me that I can't seem to get this down! I mean, what the heck?!?!

I've heard that I should try to replace my emotional feelings with something other then food. Like what?........knitting??!?! I had a friend who told me she started exercising when she felt the strange eating thing comin' on. Well, that may work great for her, however; sorry to say - but that really isn't likely to happen with me. Exercise is more like a punishment then a replacement for something I enjoy. Don't get me wrong - I still exercise, but I don't enjoy it. I do it because It's good for me. :) (Kinda like an enema. It's good for you, but does anyone really enjoy it?!?!)

Maybe I should just stop stressing? Easier said then done, but let's just humor this topic. Say all my stress was completley gone. Just zapped away!! (LOVELY!!) Unfortunately, emotional eating isn't just about stress. It's so much MORE!! I eat when I'm happy! I eat when I'm excited. I eat when I think I did something really well & need to be congratulated. I eat because it's Friday & party time! Are you gettin' the idea here?!?!? :) Food is my friend! I celebrate with food. In-N-Out Burger and I are great friends.

Truly, I am okay with me the way I am. I have a good self-esteem. I'm not slowed down in any way because of my current weight. Some days I just think - why worry? But, I ain't gettin' any younger if you know what I mean. I'm 38 & living a healthy life at ALL ages is pretty important to me. I should really figure it all out right NOW. Don't ya think?

I know I can lose the weight, but I am not confident that I can KEEP it off. :) So, why go through the effort to lose it in the first place? Oy....all these crazy things that go through my head.

Yeah, this is just a ramble. Thanks for reading. :) If you have any insight, send it my way.

Until my next rambling session... Over & out.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

25 random things about ME!

25 Random Things About Me
1. I once ran over myself while driving my own car. (Think about that for a few minutes - is it possible?) Yeah, it's a long story. Ask me about it next time you see me.
2. I was dared to drink a "concoction" during a chemistry lab in high school. I made $20 bucks & was the sickest I have ever been. I ran out of the room & all the way home immediately afterwards. The teacher never knew I was gone! ha.
3. My heaviest weight was 260 lbs. (oy...why am I typing this?!? Because I am REAL!!!)
4. I have 2 personalities. :) One part of me loves to stay home & do absolutely nothing when I get a chance. The other part of me really wants to go out, have fun & laugh until it hurts.
5. I was baptized in a dirty, disgusting muddy pond when I was 8 yrs old. I did it because the pond was in the backyard of a "cute" boyfriends house. Oh, the things you'll do when you're in love. :)
6. I see dead people!!!!!!!! (Okay, my dad's a mortician - calm down.)
7. I once made spaghetti sauce using El Pato sauce. :) (Hey, the side of the can says tomato sauce - go read it!)
8. I went to a company party a few years back & they were serving cute little squares of jelly in different colors. I downed several of them & had a great ol' time at that party!!! I found out later what they really were & why I was having so much fun! (If you don't know what they really are, you're as nieve as I am!!!)
9. I enjoy finding out who people "really" are deep down inside instead of what they want you to think they are.
10. I wish more blogs would tell us more of their life then just the perfect parts. We know your life reallys isn't that way ALL the time. Right?! You're all making me feel very guilty. :)
11. I'm eating eating a bowl of cooked beats with a splash of vinegar & oil as we speak. Yum!
12. My biggest weakness is hostess donuts that come in chocolate, plain & powdered sugar. You know what I'm talking about. :) Those & a big class of 2% milk. This is my 1st choice on junk out night at our house. (Although, I have to admit, I can't remember the last time I ate them. Probably a good thing. See #3.)
13. I won several writing awards in High School. I've always secretly wanted to write a book or short story. I'm just waiting until something "brilliant" pops into my head.
14. Some of the best times I've had were hanging out with my friends that are boys. :) (No, not boyfriends, just friends who happen to be of the male version.)
15. If I could change one thing about the world it would be that everyone would stop judging others & just accept people for who they are. Leave the judging to God.
16. If I could change something about myself it would be to be a better friend to my friends. I get too caught up in life & don't keep in contact with them as well as I should. Hello all my friends out there!
17. The highlite of my whole year is when I get together with my 8 sisters & mother for Girl's Weekend! We hang out for 2 days in a hotel - NO KIDS! - & talk, play games, eat & have fun! Nothing better the those 2 days. It reminds me how lucky I am to have them!! I will cancel anything to be there!
18. I love to read books but NEVER do. Truly, I get so involved that my whole life falls apart. It takes me days to get caught up. I just don't even go there. :)
19. I had a very special friend who was struck by lighting & died when I was 17 yrs old. I truly believe she is up in heaven & is watching over me now. I know that she sees everything I do! It helps me make better choices in life. It's been 20 years & I still miss her.
20. When I was 9 yrs old, I was called into the police station & questioned for stealing my neighbors 3 green marbles. (Hey, I grew up in a small town - think of Mayberry!) The marbles were later found under my neighbors couch & I was released. Shew!!!
21. My dad once told me I could sell anything & dared me to sell a smooshed banana. He said he'd give me double of what I sold it for. I sold it to my 6th grade teacher for $2. I told her I forgot my lunch money & my parents could only afford this smooshed banana. I got $4 bucks out of the deal!!!
22. My nickname my entire life up until 20 yrs old was Frog. My brother gave it to me when I was little because of my long legs, long tongue, green swimsuit & flippers. It stuck. People from college to this day still don't know my real name. It was so bad that in the choir concert flyer it listed my name as Frog. I've thought of listing my middle as "Frog" in facebook so people would actually know it was me!! :)
23. I like you for you. No need to hide your flaws. Let 'um all out & just be YOU!!
24. I believe that hardest part of my life is yet to come. God is only strengthening me for what lies ahead - whatever that may be!
25. Well, after reading the above I think I've found my topic for my book! :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

My crazy, wild hair!!

I had a conversation wtih a friend recently. She was asking about my hair & how I got it to be so "full". I then said back to her - "You mean "flat". And she repeated - No, I mean "FULL". I laughed!!! I explained to her that I worked very hard ever day to get it to be flat & not so crazy. She was in disbelief. Since I refuse to actually go out in public with my wild & crazy hair, I thought it would be appropriate for me to take a picture of my wild mane as proof! :)

The before was taken after I let my hair dry. It has lots of crazy waves that don't all like to wave in the same direction. The next one was taken 30 minutes later after I straightened it & tried to make it presentable.

Don't you just love these self-portraits that make your forehead look gigantumous (a new word I just made up) & cuts the top of your head off??!?!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Time to get with the program!

It's been well over a year since I've posted anything on here. I can't tell you how many people have told me I need to update my blog!! :) So, here goes. This may be a long one - if you read all the way to the end there's a prize!

The truth is...
I've come on here probably 20-25 different times & ended up leaving the computer in tears. 2008 was not a good year for us. Each time I sat down to write it brought up too much emotion & I just couldn't do it. And honestly, at that time I didn't want the world to know what was going on with the Shephards. Our life was no longer silly as our blog title says - it was just plain HARD! I lived day by day. Sometimes hour by hour. And yes, there were days when I was suriving minute by minute. Nobody really knew my struggles but my one sister. (who I am so grateful for) I have always been very good at keeping a happy face despite what's going on in my life.

So, why did I choose to write all this now? Well, I think I'm in a better place. I've learned from the past year & actually, I'm ready to tell my story. I've learned that there's lots of people who struggle & have the same family issues I do. If my story can help someone else out - YEAH! I personally believe everyone has their own struggles. We all just hide it & cope in our own ways. If we all came together - it would make life so much eaiser. So, here goes! Fasten your seatbelts. This may get a little bumpy.

If you notice my last post was about Jeff & that he had passed one of his exams to get into the Police Academy. He had taken over 6 different tests & passed them all with flying colors! He only had one more test to take. We knew that if Jeff were to get into the Police Academy we'd have to sell his Vending business. He had one last test to take & we felt good about it. It was a juggle because our business had to sell in order for Jeff to get into the Academy. We were so excited to have found a buyer for our business & everything was lining up. So, we sold the business & prepared for Jeff to go into the Academy. The last test was the Stress test. Imagine our big disappointment when the test came back & he did not pass. As a matter of fact, they said his stress levels were off the charts & they didn't feel it was good for him to be in the Academy at this time. They told him to reapply in 2 years.

We were devastated. Jeff was very disappointed & he describes those days as being very dark. Being a police officer has always been his dream. I felt bad for him. I didn't know what else to do but try to keep it all together. So, except for my piano lessons, we were unemployed. Jeff applied for jobs here & there. But, it's hard because Jeff does not have a degree or skill. He's done odd jobs here & there & Vending is what he'd done for the past 8 years. The jobs he qualified for paid very little & wouldn't even cover our bills. We lived off credit cards & my small piano lesson income.

The story gets a little more complicated. My husband had purchased several peices of land the previous year as an investment. He thought he could sell them later on, make some money & pay off the debt. With the economy the way it is - the land was not sellable. We were actually upside down. We owed more then what the land was worth. We were paying THOUSANDS of dollars a month on this land. We still are. :( Our debt was out of control.

Our marriage wasn't doing well. Actually, Jeff & I have been in counseling for several years off & on. So, when the financial situation happened - things became worse. The problems we had previously were now intensified. And, unfortunately, our children were being affected. I love my husband, but during this time he wasn't making some very good decisions. And I have to admit I was not a very good at helping him feel good about the situation. I did a lot of blaming. Jeff & I ended up seperating. Those 6 weeks seem like years! There is so much more I could write here, but I truly don't feel any of that is important. Just know that being seperated was long, lonely & draining. But, in the end - very good for us.

I almost just deleted everything & walked away from the computer again; like I've done 20+ times. I truly just have a hard time writing this down. And, part of me still feels that maybe this is just too personal to write. But, after talking to so many people about their family situations, I KNOW that what I have to say will help someone. If nothing else, it will let them know they're not alone in their trials!

I can only describe my feelings during that time as SAD. Our kids needed new clothes that we couldn't afford to buy. We ate lots of beans & rice. We stayed home a lot so we wouldn't have to pay for gas. Our tv broke & we couldn't afford another one. The brakes in our car went out. The refrigerator broke. The list goes on. It seemed like our problems continued to pile on top of us. During the 6 weeks that Jeff was out of the house, I felt a great responsibility to do everything perfectly for my kids. They didn't do anything to deserve this, yet it was happening to them. That really bothered me. I cried every day. Life was just so hard. It was difficult for me to go to church because I knew that my friends were uncomfortable being around me. I went anyway. I knew that our seperation would be a shock to lots of people who probably thought the Shephards were the perfect, happy family as we portrayed. I wasn't willing to tell details about our problems & I know that made it hard. (The reason Jeff had left was over some bad decisions & I just didn't want to tell the whole world his faults. I wanted them to know his good side & all the great things about him. And, to keep my kids from being hurt as well.) People didn't know what to say so they said nothing. I would pray to just help me make it through one more day. And, luckily, the next day always came & I survived. I became great friends with God. I'm not sure how I would have made it through those times without him.

We started seeing an excellent counselor & things between us got better. Jeff came home & it was so good when he did. And...he eventually did find a job. He works for Auto Spa. It is a company that does interior work & repairs on cars. It payed well, but with all our debt, it wasn't paying enough to cover our bills. And, our credit cards were stacking up. There was still stress in our lives & our marriage was one day at a time. It was during this time that I realized that I probably needed to go get a day-time job or SOMETHING to help out our situation. I had 25 piano students but that wasn't really cutting it. I started to pray about what to do. I attended the temple & that was where the answer came to me. I continuously felt the feeling - USE YOUR TALENTS! I was a little unsure what this meant, because I thought I WAS using my talents. I came home & made a list of what all my talents were. My love for teaching the piano continuously kept coming into my head. I've taught piano lessons since the age of 16 & have always enjoyed it. But, how could I teach more students withoug going crazy & truly giving them a good education?!? I decided to go on the computer & do a search on piano lessons. It was here that I found a program called the Mayron Cole Piano Method where you teach students in groups. I read the website from top to bottom & stayed up all night thinking about it. I loved how it taught students to read the notes & the classes were fun!! It felt so right! I realized that by teaching this method I would be able to teach 3x as many students. But, the drawback was that I had to have my own studio with keyboards & be trained and certified. With the help of my wonderful mother, I was able to do it!!

After 3 months of training, gutting out & painting the office, buying keyboards, piano books & all that I needed - my new Piano Studio was up & running! I named it Diane's Piano Studio! I advertised in several places & in August of 2008, my studio was officially opened. I had 70 students & was THRILLED!!

Both of our incomes make exactly enough to pay our monthly bills with a little bit of wiggle room. What a blessing!!

Now that it's 2009, I look back on 2008 & can honestly say I am grateful for all that happened. That might seem a little strange to say, but really, let's put this in perspective:
1. Eating beans & rice for so long really helped us appreciate it when we have other foods to eat! Going out to eat is now a treat which is really what it should be. And, I am soooo prepared to live off of very little if the future were to bring that.
2. Jeff & I are better now then we were before. I appreciate him in so many ways that I didn't see before.
3. I never would have started my own Piano Studio had I not been forced to do it. What a blessing!! I enjoy it so much more then teaching one-on-one & I really feel my students are learning more. I am thrilled!
4. I learned Heavenly Father does not abandon his children - EVER! I felt him with me every day. When I was feeling the worst, it was he who helped me make it through. There isn't any doubt in my mind that God is real & that he loves me. I'm not sure I would have had that knowledge engrained in me had I not gone through some very difficult times.
5. I am a firm believer in paying tithing. I believe that the Lord gave us everything we have & if we just return 10% back to him, he will take care of us. There were many times when I had a choice to pay my tithing or a bill. I have always paid my tithing & I know we have been blessed because of it. Through our whole ordeal we never made a late payment. Not once. That to me is a miracle.
6. I am so much more sympathetic to people who are going through a hard time. My first tendency before would be to just stay quiet, not get into their business & let them deal with it. Now that I have lived through it, I know that we need each other. I am now more willing to step out of my comfort zone & offer help. And, I think I now know what to say!
7. I learned to appreciate my body more. Okay, so what does that mean!? Well, through out the year, I used food as my comfort. I gained a total of 25 lbs. (Oh, that was hard to type!) But, I am right now in a better place mentally & can see so much clearer on what I need to do to improve my habits. My body is still healthy & it helped me get through the whole ordeal. I don't like this weight, but I do like the knowledge that I've learned about how to improve.

Well, if you're still reading.....I'm surprised. This is quite long!!!!!! :) :) :)

Life is always going to have trials. I feel better prepared to deal with them head on. I am very grateful for what I've learned & can't wait to see what 2009 will bring. It can't be anything worse then last year - right?

Okay, so those of you who read to the end - you're probably wondering what your prize is? Well, it's knowing that you are loved & appreciated very much by me. The fact that you took the time to read all the way to the end, tells me that you care about my family enough to take the time to finish this. THANK YOU!! Here's a big hug. Do you feel it?!?!?!???! :)

Hopefully my next entry won't take me a year to post.