Spinal Fusion | 20 Years Later

Hello!

In the last several years a lot has happened, I celebrated 10 years as a blogger in 2019, I hit two milestones in last year, starting with my blog turning 10 in October and I entered my “dirty thirties” a month later. For this year, there is a very different anniversary, and I’ve felt weird about it for months. I actually decided to allow myself to write about my thoughts months in advance because I couldn’t get it out of my mind of how it’s been this long since it happened, so I hope you enjoy taking a trip down memory lane today.

I was technically born with three conditions, as you may know I have Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congentia, but this can lead to other problems like babies born with club feet. scoliosis, etc. I happen to have a serve case of AMC with the addition of a club foot, rocker bottom, and scoliosis. I’ve had many, many physical therapies over the years, in the hopes of trying to help make life a little easier. I’ve had discussions about what could be done as far as surgeries go to “fix” my arms and feet, but the only I ever had been the full spinal fusion surgeries in 2002.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

What is spinal fusion?

Spinal fusion surgery is usually the last option, if your back cannot be corrected after wearing braces for multiple years. The National Spine Health Foundations says, it is like trying to fix a broken bone(s), which is a great way on how to explain it, especially in my experience. What does one do in the hopes of repairing a deformed bone? You have two options: use a splint or form a brace/cast and hope time will heal all wounds… Nice pun action there, right?

I wasn’t a stranger to braces; we still have the itty-bitty braces doctors gave us for my hands. When I came out of the womb, my arms weren’t set in the position at my chest. According to my mother, they were somewhat flat, and the doctors tried to adjust them twice. The first was when I was in incubator, (I was a preemie, so I needed a little help breathing and then of course figuring what was going on with my body.) and the nurses made a makeshift log by folding a single wash cloth and propped me on top of it so my arms would stretched out and eventually my parents were given the braces for my forearms and they a little smaller compared to a standard remote for your TV!

Anyways, I was about five or six years when I was put into the first brace I actually remember. I don’t exactly remember the appointment itself but It had many crooks and crannies, plus it was very decorated with stickers, thanks to my fellow classmates adding a bit of fun to the whole thing! I wore it until the end of third grade and just before I turned 10, I was fitted with a brand-new brace and it was very bulky, this was as close to a corset as I could get, and thankfully I only had to wear it for less than a year because it wasn’t doing very much to help me at this point.

I remember the night before we drove up to Shriner’s Hospital in St. Louis, my mom had my sister and I and we prayed together if it was decided by the doctors I would have surgery, I remembered our expressions being of fear and shock, I mean we were kids, despite the fact we’d go over there multiple times a year since I was about two years old, somehow I hadn’t heard that word “surgery” before, so it was no wonder why I can remember that scene so well because it was a new thing to me, and I didn’t fully understand that whole process until much later in life.

The actual appointment is still hilarious to me because after getting X-Rays done five minutes earlier, the four of us were called next and put into the standard size room with a very used chalk board and different toys attached to the wall next to the giant mirror. Our parents were wrecked with nerves, Blondie was playing, and I was on the cold floor slowly peeking out into the hallway, watching everybody walk around, which is something I still do at age 30, but I noticed there were a lot of doctors looking at a set of X-Rays and I saw my doctor among them. I knew at that moment they were inspecting my images and as I was told to scoot back in the room, I didn’t feel scared but curious of the language they were discussing–I knew something big was coming and it fascinated me!

As I made my way back over to my folks, they suspected the doctor would be coming soon, so one of them lifted me onto that damn bed thingy and I sat there for a short time before they came into the room. How do you know you’re going to have surgery? Well, in my case, about 7 doctors walked right in and they were the same 7 people busy talking in low tones about the process of my spine. There were tears and I cracked a couple of jokes, because that’s how I roll in life. The day we went up there for this appointment had to been in mid-April 2002, because by the start of August, and what would be the beginning of my 5th grade school year, we made another trip which would be even longer as I was now an inpatient on the second, B floor with a roommate by the name of Shelby.

My mom and I tend to argue about the exact date we went up and stayed at the hotel and eventually moved into the hospital to stay. The first night in that hospital was another hilarious experience! I couldn’t get to sleep, because the next day would start on my three-and-half-month journey. We got yelled at by one of the night nurses that the TV wasn’t allowed on at night. This is definitely something you don’t tell a new patient, but we followed the rules, and after my mom went to bed, I decided to play with the controls of my bed, and I had that thing folded up like a taco! I think my mom woke up in the middle of my fun and told me off, because I don’t remember much after that!

The next day, Dr. Lawrence Lenke only came to the hospital on Tuesdays and Thursdays as he spent the majority of the time at the Children’s Hospital a few miles into the city, where I would end going for the second and third surgeries. The first was a smaller one but the one we can somewhat pinpoint the easiest, which is why I tend to celebrate them on this one date, as supposed to the day we left in early November. This surgery was just as important as the doctor and his nurses and techs fitted a half halo made of metal onto my skull. I had eight pins screwed into sections to keep it secured and I was attached to a pole in both my bed and wheelchair to keep myself alignment. I ended up having three surgeries altogether, but I wouldn’t have the actual spinal fusion surgery six days after my 11th birthday.

Over the years, I’ve finally figured out the timeline of everything that happened, both while I was in surgery and recovery, and what was going on at home and school too. My mom and I were separated from our support systems. My dad stayed home to work and stay with my younger sister, she actually doesn’t have a lot of memories of that time, whereas I remember almost everything. I had tons of distractions between school, friends that stayed in our section, the goofy nurses and field trips. I went on more field trips in three months than I did in one year!

A little after I had my first surgery, I got to meet some of St. Louis Cardinal baseball players. My dad was very excited, he thoroughly enjoyed this! I think this and the time a group of motorcyclists came to visit us and brought us goodies. Anyways, I’m not into baseball so I sort of felt silly meeting these guys, but the Cardinals team is a big supporter of Shriner’s Hospital, and visit the kids, and sometimes a group of kids, nurses and people in the RT (recreational therapy) go to watch a game and meet the entire team(s) and I am thrilled they do this. We met with a great bunch of guys, and it was really fun, but I highly doubt Woody Williams still has my autograph but hey you never know! He was very curious of my ability to write with my feet, so we did a trade, he signed my shirt, and I gave him my autograph.

From L to R we have Timo Martinez, Andy Benes (he retired later in the 2002 season!), Mike DiFelice and Woody Williams. Notice the metal halo on the top of my head, and the pole behind my wheelchair. Photo credit: Dona Glambert aka my nana!

It is absolutely crazy that it’s been over 20 years since I had my first surgery, the other two anniversaries will be at the end of October and first week of November.

I could sit here and tell you all of the things that happened, but it would be even longer than it is now, so I am going to stop here for now. If you would like to ask any question about my experiences; while I was staying at Shriner’s, recovering, or anything else, you can email me at gotmeghan.blog@gmail.com Be sure to get the dot in between “gotmeghan” and “blog” before you send your messages! I’d also like to say if you know someone who was a nurse at that hospital, worked in the B section, and remembers anything about the girl who drove her wheelchair with her feet, I’d also like to get in touch with you/them too!

Have you ever had surgery before? What was the location and reason why you needed to have it in the first place? Leave your answers below!

snowflake

DIY: The Dotted Sea Turtle

Hello!

Since we are only (as far as I know!) going once to visit with family, I managed to kill two birds with one stone. and I created some DIY birthday projects. You’ve already seen my nana’s present, so it is officially time to unleash the dotted sea turtle I did for my aunt and uncle!

This is how the sea turtle came in the packaging; I mentioned in my last post that I was thoroughly surprised that both canvases came together as I don’t believe they were made by the same brand or company. On the left of the photo, there is a peek of this wooden square that they were laying on while in the thin box. We thought it was a strange addition, but we believe it was brought in to make sure the cutouts weren’t damaged in the mail. I will probably use it as a safeguard for my future projects.


What you will need:

  • Canvas – You can search for various types of turtles, but my aunt specifically adores sea turtles, and this was the only one I enjoyed on my hunt.
  • Acrylic paint – I used DecoArt bottles of gold, navy blue, green, and purple.
  • Dotting tools – You can use various household appliances that have a flat surface, but if you’d like to get your own “professional” tools, they are available at Wal-Mart, Amazon and Etsy.
  • Pencil with a good eraser
  • Ruler
  • Damp towels or baby wipes

LINKS:

Sea Turtle Wooden Cutout Style 3 | Dotting tools | Paints: Spun Gold, Navy Blue, Leaf Green, and Regal Purple


Originally, I wanted the sea turtle to be somewhat similar to the pig canvas, so that it wouldn’t be such a difficult process to paint, but I couldn’t find any cutouts of medium sized turtles to fit my vision, so I had my mom help me find another and we agreed on this one. Honestly, the perk of this design was the ridges on the sides, they allowed me to have a better understanding of how big the shell itself would be to the turtle’s face and fins.

I wanted for the turtle to be lifelike but with a mystic flair to him. I actually had two ways I saw this guy in my mind; the first was the turtle mentioned on the film Finding Nemo. I wanted to create him with bits of yellow and brown to make him look the part, but I also wanted to add some shimmer like in “The Rainbow Fish” books without taking it too far. My mother won’t allow me to have any glitter inside the house–much less my room–because of the weird impulse to create a mess! It’s a fair trade as long as I can continue to do more projects in my room! Anyways, I decided to add both green and purple to draw out a bit of color to him to make him unique to other turtles out there.

To start, I needed to map out the shell, and I used both a regular pencil and a standard sized ruler to make sure everything was even on all sides, and I made the lines across the edges of where the shell would cover on each fin and made an even longer line so I could have enough space on his head. Once I was sure of each section, I moved on to figure out how I wanted to design the shell. I was really torn with how I wanted this dude to look, so I needed to see if I wanted to include separate areas like normal turtles have on their shells. They tend to have individual spots all around the outer edges and have a larger section in the middle and this can be on the top and bottom of their shell. So, I made three tiny circles with the ruler going horizontally and by the end, I even had my dad impressed with my little hack!

After I got everything planned out, I began to add the first stage of the dots.

I decided to go with the “bottom” layer first with my medium sized tool in the color blue and instead of using my light-yellow shade like I was going to use; I went with my new gold paint. Something you should consider while purchasing some acrylic paints, they tend to dry lighter than their original hue, so, even though the gold looks nice and shiny when it’s wet, the sheen kind of faded as it dried on the surface, so you might want to consider looking into a metallic gold just in case you end up hating the final result. Personally, I loved the color and I thought it worked really well with the surface of the wood. I only went around the outer part once – I debated whether or not I wanted to continue to the circle I created in the middle of the shell, and I ended up using a smaller dotting tool to cover the middle of the shell in gold.

After I finished the gold part of the shell, I decided to move on with the navy blue. A part of me wanted to add a small group of dots along the face and fins but I didn’t know how it would turn out with the dullness of the gold, I did put some gold in certain areas but for the most part kept it only for the shell itself. Anyways, when I started adding more colors, my initial thought process went right out of the window, and I began to experiment with the larger tools, they are thicker in width, I have some difficulty gripping them, so I tend to back away from them, but for this I wanted to have some fun and gave the turtle fairly obnoxious spots all over his back and even went so far as added them to the rest of him….

When you’re doing these types of projects, accept your impulses because they’re going to win at some point.

If I had any space left over, I just covered it with the green so that it looked like he had algae on him as real sea turtles can have a mixture of algae and barnacles all over their bodies! I didn’t intend for the purple to reflect the barnacles; it was actually a personally choice. My aunt and uncle love the color purple and it stands as an important hue for them so that’s actually my reason for using it but hey, if they want to include that little bit of knowledge to their guests, they can!

aef50ec499d3177e282bf05c1c43d8b0

When I was finally done with it, I began to think of names for him. It was to come up with nana’s pig because I couldn’t get it out of my mind–my mom was pretty sold on “Hattie” it was the middle name that we couldn’t agree on! However, I decided to play a little game on my aunt and uncle, since they sort of knew about nana’s gift, I sent a message to them on Facebook, basically explaining I was working on another story, and I needed a name for my main character. This actually worked out better for me because they did not realize what they were doing until we brought it out for them.

I was inspired by a lot of pop culture like PokΓ©mon and The Big Bang Theory with Squirtle and Sheldon, but I also remembered about the Galapagos tortoises, which made me think of Alex Trebeck and his love of the Galapagos Islands, so I made sure to pick out some names that were given to some different types of turtles that are (and were) located on the vast islands, like Rothschild, Duncan, and Fernand. They ultimately went with Nitro, as it is the name of one of their cars!

Well, that’s it!

I know this post wasn’t a proper “How-To” but it wasn’t that kind of project. If it had came in the same design like the pig, it would have been, because there were a lot of lines involved with it. For this, I was able to do whatever I wanted to do with it, and I think that’s the reason why I wasn’t so hard on myself for creating those huge dots on the shell, I was able to free-foot it, get it? If you ever get a canvas like this, I think you should look at it as your sign to be even more creative with everything.

What did you think of my DIY project of “Nitro”? What other designs and/or shapes do you think I should consider doing next?

snowflake

DIY: The Dotted Piggy!

Hello!

Since discovering dot art back in 2019, I’ve felt like my journey with art in general is on another level. I absolutely love the feeling of creating something new and being at peace with the imperfections that come with it. After I finished with my Christmas projects, I wondered how long I would last until I had the itch again, and if you are wondering, it was only three months.

We have three chances a year to go up north to visit with my family, the first is around my nana’s birthday and I tried looking for little figurines or plush stuffed pigs on Amazon and Wal-Mart, and I just couldn’t find anything that stood out the most and I searched for a fairly long time and became frustrated that there were more things for guinea pig lovers than the pink ones… I don’t remember what pushed me into creating something for her, but once I had the thought, I just went crazy with the number of ideas to do with them.

I found this unfinished wooden cut out of a pig face on Wal-Mart’s website and I just thought the whole thing had enough sass to it that I knew everyone would love too. While I was went looking for the pig, I ended up finding a sea turtle design and thought it could be a great idea to do for my Aunt Laurie and Uncle Mike because they love beach themes, but my aunt really loves turtles too. I worked on the projects at the same time, but I will not be sharing my thoughts on it until the end of June, which is my aunt and uncle’s birthday month.


What you will need:

  • Canvas – you can use whatever you can find, whether it’s wood or ceramic.
  • Acrylic paint – I use DecoArt paints and the colors I used were pink, red, black, and white.
  • Dotting tools – you can purchase a set of tools online, but you could use anything in various sizes like a pencil, Q-Tip, toothpick, etc.
  • Paintbrushes – this is totally an option, as I only used it for the base coat and the tongue, but you can definitely dot these spaces or leave it out entirely.
  • Damp towel or baby wipes to was wash your hands/feet and anything else that has accidently paint on it…

Links:

Unfinished wooden pig (similar) | Dotting tools of various sizes | DecoArt Acrylic Paints: Black, Royal Fuchsia, and White


One of the main reasons I adored this pig was because of the outline around the ears, eyes, mouth and nose. I was worried that once I started doing the first layer of paint, they would disappear but for the most part, they stayed visible for me to do the black dots, but we are getting a heard of ourselves, so let’s rewind a bit.

The canvas itself was the perfect size, as it wasn’t too big or too small, one that even the big bad wolf would probably enjoy. I started off painting on the floor of my room and I went with a very light shade of pink; since I didn’t have the right color in my collection, I had to make it with my neon pink and white acrylic bottles. I put the pink in two slots in my palette and added the white as I heard (and tested it!) this worked better to blend and create the right hue of the paint and it covered the entire thing, but my thought process for the overall design was to add dimension between the cutout and dots. I actually went back and forth on the base coat because I thought it was too much but I’m very glad I decided to do it because it added an extra oomph to the whole thing!

The next day, I finally got started on how I gave her some personality, and again I was so sure how this part was going to turn out at first. I am still learning how to follow a line while making my dots. I made simple small designs for when I did the Christmas tree and Rudolph ornaments but since I only had to follow the slits of its features, I figured it would be easy enough for me, and thankfully it was and to make things even better for me, I used one of my smaller tools, they are really great with details, especially tiny ones and I have realized through doing this project, I am definitely confident creating each section. At first, I was going somewhat outside the lines so that I could still see everything but then as I went on, I managed to cover up most of them with the black paint.

I hadn’t even completed the mouth before I was falling in love with the overall result. The black really set a tone to the plain pink base coat and you could see we were both loving the magic coming to her. I tried to not get so confident that I would be taking risks and messing up the whole project, but I also couldn’t hide my excitement either!

Once I finished the outlines, I left it to dry for about a day. I gave myself time in between each layer so I wasn’t choosing over the comfort of my body and what I wanted else I could do to the pig. I was also in a brand-new position as I wasn’t on the floor anymore, I decided to use my new little table I got for Christmas, and I was really unsure how my body would react and definitely didn’t want to overdo anything either so once I started experiencing some pain in my lower back and eventually my knees, I knew I would need to stop at some point. Whenever this happens, of course I become upset with having to stop in the middle of a project but knowing my body’s limits is a very important. If I continued to push myself, I could possibly make mistakes and would be frustrated with myself about that as well.

When I went back to it, I was conflicted about how much I really wanted to use the dots. I really love the contrast between a regular painted section and a very populated dot area, and I knew it even before I did the ears of how cool that effect would be to the overall design. So, I decided to paint the tongue red. It would be another smaller part so as long as I didn’t go off my original idea. After I completed it, I went forward with doing a dotty inside of the mouth, and I am still not 100% happy with how it turned out, but I think adding the hot pink larger dots on the rest of the pig helped because the color contrast between the lighter pink of the background and a milder shade of the same paint really made it pop. Once I went around the chin with those big dots, I literally couldn’t contain my excitement for how cute she was becoming and I had to show her off quite a bit to my folks but also had to shield her away from my family–especially my nana, because she knows that anything pig worthy goes to her automatically! A part of me wanted to show her but I knew how important it was to reveal it face-to-face, so I kept a very big secret for at least a week and a half, which is impressive to my standards!

When I finally finished with everything, our plan was to glue or tape down a cute pink bow around its hairs, it had three little semi-sharp “hairs” poking out on the top of its head and decided to include some dots on them, in case we didn’t have time to put it on her, but in the end, it turned out we didn’t have a way of making sure it stuck there forever so I’m very glad I put dots around that section anyways!

As of right now, they haven’t found a way to put it up in my nana’s room. She has a big room, but she has a lot of decor, photos, and posters all over her walls, so finding the right placement for it is going to be a little bit tricky. While we were up there, I was even trying to find a spot for it and I had a difficult time with it, so good luck Mike!

I hope you enjoyed this “little” how to do post. The second post will be going out in June, so we have some time to find more projects in the meantime!

snowflake

Blogmas: Wooden + Dots Ornaments

Hello!

As you may have noticed, and I still don’t know what happened because I had plans, but we didn’t put out any pumpkins this fall. My sister did, she decorated her entire front porch with various sizes of pumpkins, but we did not. I found it very surreal, because that’s my favorite thing to do in September and October is paint pumpkins. After that, I think my body was like, “okay, we need to find an alternative fast!” because this project came out of nowhere, but it ended up becoming a new favorite of mine.

In mid-October, I started looking for birthday gifts that weren’t books (I know it’s shocking!) and I found these wooden shapes and I sort of fell in love with them and then I found ones that were Christmas related and then all hell broke loose in my brain!

In the last year and a half, I’ve been watching a lot of reels and regular videos on YouTube of dot art. I still don’t remember what inspired the find in general, but I’m forever glad it came into my life. I used it in my 3 projects last Christmas. It was only a simple red dot here and there with a Q-Tip but it was still a new thing for me and I loved it. I have been working on it throughout 2021 and I finally felt comfortable enough to use the technique in my new project: the Christmas ornaments!


What you will need for this DIY:

  • Wood cut outs – it’s important for them to be “unfinished”
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Dotting tools
  • Damp washcloth
  • Paint palette or paper plate(s)

Before we get too into this part of the post, I wanted to show you how the ornaments came in the mail.

They were perfectly stuffed into this cute Santa Claus box. I was originally going to get the 160 pieces but I’m glad I switched to the 40 pieces because I would still be painting right now! Anyways, they were four traditional Christmas characters: a snowflake, bell, tree and baubles. You get 10 in each stack, so you have multiple designs you’d like to trade off, you are welcome to do it evenly. If you would like to purchase this set or the others, click here for the Amazon page. You also get clusters of string for each of the ornaments, plus a small bag of metallic beads, but I did not use them.

Raining Dots

I started with the Christmas trees, and I copied the same color scheme I did with my last project, so I mixed my green with a tiny bit of blue and I love how they all came out. After finishing all 10 trees with their base coats, I moved on to the trunk and I poured a small amount of brown into my palette, and I used one layer of paint for that part. I am a lover of DecoArt acrylic paints, (thanks to Lydia May on YouTube!) I usually don’t need more than two coats depending on the shade, and I was very happy with my color choices this time around, including the yellow!

Once everyone was in the process of drying, I switched my attention on my design ideas for a few of my baubles. I knew I wanted to create a series of animals, but I’m not really good at it so I went looking on Pinterest and found a great step-by-step guide of the Fox for my friend Brittany. She was the one who really inspired this part in the first place. I continued to search for guides of the Cow and Pig, but I wasn’t able to find anything, so they were basically all free-foot sketches. After that, I stopped for the day, and came right back to it the next day.

A couple of weeks ago, I was finally able to add another selection of dotting tools. I have the smaller sizes, and I’ve been using them for about a year now and they are very nice for me to grip my toes around and make my dots, but the others are various sizes and I have been wanting to get them for a while now because I wanted to try my foot at the larger dots. I am having issues how to grip them, but I expected that to happen. I knew I wasn’t going to go all out with my designs (honestly, I had the phrase, “less is more” in my mind the whole time!) and I tried to keep it that way.

When I came back to my trees, I was ready to decorate everybody, and I used two colors: yellow and a light gray (I mixed my gray with a tiny bit of white!) and I painted the stars with those colors and would switch the yellow star with silver garland. I was smart with this; I drew out a zig-zag design on most of them and would follow the lines with my dotting tool and I really loved it! Some look like traditional Christmas trees, but there are five of them with the “walking technique” which is coating your desired tool with paint and dotting down the canvas, I love this so much I did it to my Bonsai pot in the spring! My parents saw the final tree with this design, and they love it. Honestly, everyone I’ve shared it to, has expressed the same thoughts too!

So, here are how the trees turned out.

There Goes Rudolph!

The second (or third) shape were the bells. I wasn’t impressed with the bells at all, they were very boring even without paint on them…

My thinking behind them was the golden bells you normally see on pictures, but I could not get the yellow to turn to a pretty gold and I tried like three different times and was only successful after finishing with them. I was so mad at that point, but I moved on though. Since I had 10 of these bells, I was influenced by a fragment of a carol “with silver bells ringing” I kept hearing while doing the base colors and I created the silver hue again for the rest of my bells and I thought they looked so adorable!

I left to dry overnight and I was really worried about how boring they looked, so that night I thought about adding a reindeer face on it and in my dreams they looked so cute and I was over the moon when I started sketching out how I wanted the antlers to go, but once I started doing my dots I got a little worried because the design started to look a little bit like a pair of balls and by my second bell, I became terrified at what was appearing but thankfully my mom thought they were great, especially after I put the eyes and big red nose at the end.

The reindeer/bells are definitely my favorite, even with the cock and balls antlers, they still look amazing! I did a good job on them and that’s something I rarely do when it comes to painting, is enjoy what I am creating, and lately it’s been so fulfilling to believe in my artwork for the first time.

Let It…

For the third ornament, we have snowflakes.

I think both the trees and snowflakes were the easiest to do because they required a small set of skill. You can free hand your designs to make things simple and they would still end up being very beautiful. When I began on the snowflakes though, I thought I would be able to play with my various sizes of tools, but I rarely got away from the blue tool, which is a little bit bigger than the purple tool. I basically treated the flakes like the trees when it came to their designs and used the walking technique quite a bit throughout the process.

And like the trees, I kept my color scheme pretty limited, I only used white for the base and used two different blues, but my favorite shade was the bright, neon like because it reminded me of the Frozen films. I’ll be honest, I had Queen Elsa and Princess Anna (and of course, Olaf too!) in my head all while I was working on these and I’m glad I did because it got me out of my head, and I allowed myself to make mistakes with them because I mean every snowflake is one of a kind so I just left them the way they were… well, some of them! There were 3 that definitely had to be fixed but after I was done, I basically pushed them as far away as possible, so I wasn’t able to add more dots!

The Cast of Characters

Lastly, the bauble balls were my least favorite because I knew what I wanted to do with a few of them and it scared the living daylights out of me! I got through in one piece thank God, but not without psyching myself out in the first round.

So, like I explained above while I was waiting for my trees to dry, I got started on figuring out what I wanted for three of my baubles, the rest was pretty much left until I did the base coats. I treated the baubles like the bells, as I split them up as they were painted in traditional Christmas colors: green and red. I was so worried the red would be too dark for my animal baubles, but thankfully they design held up great against the paint, and I was still able see every part.

My biggest worry now was, do I have a brush that was small enough to paint the character without creating a big mess around it, and I was thoroughly surprised as I found a tiny brush that was not only perfect for the designs, but it quickly became a favorite of mine because it allowed me to gain back some of the control as far as what I wanted to bring into each animal. I didn’t stop using my dotting tools though as I had made the eyes and noses with a small tool, and they turned out as adorable as my Rudolph/reindeers in the end.

When I was done with them, I was fairly tempted to leave the rest of the baubles plain, but I thought they looked too boring for that, and I started experimenting and I made array of different ones but I did one that spells the word “Woof” for a family friend, they have a Pittie and they recently got a Beagle puppy so as my mom told me, “it fits” for them, and then I surprised myself again but creating two baubles in a Ugly Christmas Sweater design and I’m still upset I did just do that with the rest but it was just a beautiful disaster that I need to remember for next Christmas!

Bring Me the Rainbow

My final bauble is very special because it is my nephew’s. Nolan has become obsessed with the moon and rainbows, and since I already got him a Moon phase garland for his room, I figured I needed to bring out his love for the rainbow too, so I reserved a bauble ornament for him. I don’t know why I didn’t do this with my nana’s ornament since she too is obsessed with the rainbow! Oh well, I will make a note of this for next year!

I was thrilled to do this for Nolan but I was also terrified too because I had to use the ruler to create a series of lines for each color, and honestly, this was a doozy! I was having a hard time making six, somewhat equal, lines for each dot and it was a hard task at first but once I got it all figured out, I poured out my paint on my palette and got to work on the actual dots.

This media has also become a favorite of my nephew too. He currently had two or three CDs I’ve made in the last year or so, the first one he just took home and the others I gave him because he kept holding onto them. I think in the new year, I will try to teach him how to do it so he can be excited about his own creations too! Anyways, I used my pink tool, which is the middle size and honestly, it was actually perfect for this design. I was going to use the tiny brush again to remove the empty spaces in between the dots but I stopped myself from doing it and messing the entire ornament up. Nolan was very excited to get his ornament. I don’t think he understood at first why I had given him a different design compared to his mommy’s pink reindeer, but I know he will cherish it nonetheless!

It is strange when a small thought that can appear in the middle of a sleepless night, can grow into such a huge project and yet bring so much good to a slice of the world. Homemade gifts are good for the soul. I give kudos to anyone who has a small business and fix up orders every day, because that is no small feat! As I told my nana the other day, now that I am done painting and the cards were shipped out and people are receiving their ornaments, I still feel like I need to be doing something, and I really hope it was finishing this post.

I really hope you have enjoyed reading my process with this project. It was fun while it lasted, and now I can relax for the rest of this break. If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a lovely time with your family, friends and/or pets. For anyone else, have a wonderful weekend!

30 Lessons I Learned In My 20’s

Hello! πŸ’™

I would be lying to you if I didn’t say I have been thinking about what to talk about in my birthday post for MONTHS!

My mind went from listing thirty various facts that I thought was interesting, then it ranged from other 30th celebrations from all over the world, but I landed at giving you a list of lessons I learned while I was enjoying my 20’s.

Honestly, a part of me totally understands the episode of Friends, where Rachel wakes up, it’s her birthday and she is upset at the whole notion of turning 30 years old and basically panics because she realizes there were a lot of things she hoped to accomplish in those ten years, but she hadn’t and everyone tries to help her feel better and possibly do some of these things afterwards; unfortunately, I’ve never seen the ending result because when I watched that whole, I just pushed it out of my mind. Despite the fact my old self hoped to do some of the same things Rachel wanted, I am happy that I didn’t get it. I actually learned this lesson while in my late teens so it’s something I’ve welcomed with open arms (or legs in my case…) and this ultimately made the decision of theme for this post easier to do.

I didn’t exactly know how I wanted to write this portion of the post, I thought I’d set it up in a couple of sections but I thought it would take forever, so here’s a simple list of life lessons Honestly, this blog is a great map but I thought these would be a great little snapshot into those moments.

πŸ–€ You don’t need to go to college, living as you are can be even more educational
πŸ’œ Being a blogger isn’t a bad thing
πŸ–€ Friendships don’t last forever
πŸ’œ There’s a light at the end of those dark tunnels
πŸ–€ Acceptance is key
πŸ’œ It’s important to find your patience to deal in this fast-paced world
πŸ–€ There’s nothing wrong with wanting life to feel complete at 25, However, when it doesn’t go in the way you want, please kind to yourself
πŸ’œ Being disabled is not a burden
πŸ–€ Cats are life

πŸ’œ Art is not your enemy – find another media to explore
πŸ–€ Working with digital magazines can be fun and are a great excuse to grow as a writer
πŸ’œ NaNoWriMo is no joke
πŸ–€ It’s better to be open-minded than closed off
πŸ’œ Trees are amazing creatures
πŸ–€ It is a hidden talent to kill crickets
πŸ’œ Books are awesome ways to escape life
πŸ–€ Basketball is better than football
πŸ’œ Time heals most wounds
πŸ–€ Becoming an auntie is fascinating
πŸ’œ Put a bird feeder outside of your window

πŸ–€ Fairy lights around the window are a cozy and essential for when you can’t reach the lightswitch on your own without the possibility of hurting yourself
πŸ’œ When pain arises, nap can be necessary
πŸ–€ Having a bit of a green thumb or in this case, a green toe
πŸ’œ Being able to create long and short term goals and keeping them
πŸ–€ Spotify is a lifesaver
πŸ’œ Be a fierce queen (or king)
πŸ–€ Always trust your intuition
πŸ’œ Never stop adapting to your surroundings
πŸ–€ Stay in the moment
πŸ’œ One.

When I started on it, I really tried not to overthink any of them, which is why there are some funny ones throughout too. I wanted to be thorough but not fussy about the things I felt were important to include in this post. I think what helped me the most was listing them all out in no particular order and once you get to a certain number you’re comfortable with, that’s when you can readjust the list itself and I don’t know why, but I always have the most difficult time figuring out the last five of anything, and once I switched to focus my attention on recent discoveries that’s when I felt totally comfortable with its entirety.

If I have somehow inspired you, please understand that I am slowly accepting that term into my life, and its that I ask to comment below your favorite lessons I’ve taught you in the last 10 years or so! I will enjoy to read anything you can list, whether it’s funny or important.