Friday, August 30, 2013

My Sewing Room…

With our move to a new house, I was able to take claim of a room in the basement just for me—which became my sewing haven!!  It is my favorite room in the house, and is now set up as a sewing classroom so I can teach sewing lessons!!
It is my little get-away room where I can just be creative and sew without and distractions—it is so therapeutic.  I display my product on the walls as decorations and inspiration.
I have a bulletin board that has my patterns for sale, and my class schedule and of course, my Project Runway sign;)  I can pretend…it is my room!!
I love all the new friends I have made from teaching sewing!!  I heard one student say to another, “Isn’t it so therapeutic being in this room sewing??”  YAY!!!  That is the exact environment I was hoping for!!
I’d love to see your sewing spaces too, feel free to link to your blog in the comments!!
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Board and Batten….Kid’s Bathroom…

When we moved into our last house, the bathroom was sectioned into two rooms with a dividing wall for privacy—I didn’t like it!!  Way too claustrophobic for me!! I begged my husband to take down the wall and 2 years into living there he did it!!  And it made a HUGE difference.
Here’s what it looked like before…
 And here’s what it looks like now, all nice and spacious AND full of board and batten with hooks for the kids’ towels.
Anna_jacqueline 096
Anna_jacqueline 094
If a kid’s bathroom is always going to be messy—which mine are, at least I have something nice to look at and distract me from yelling at my kiddos—HA HA!!
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sewing Class Schedule—Fall 2013…

I am posting my sewing class schedule so my local friends can easily check the calendar and see what new classes have been listed.
All classes are $15 and usually last about 2 hours.  The Anna Tote Bag is my first beginner class (for ages 8 and up) and is the only requisite for other classes.  If you have experience with sewing you may sign up for any class in any order.
I now have 2 Pre-beginner classes for ages 6-8.  They focus on a little bit of hand sewing, and sewing a straight line, and following a curve.
I teach sewing because I love it, not because I am an expert.  My goal is to help my students get excited about creating something independently and feel empowered to try something new—and hopefully continue sewing on their own and use their own creativity to make new things.  My classes are designed as project based so that you usually have something to go home with that is finished(excluding the Anna Tote Bag which is takes two class sessions to complete.)
All classes require the following supplies:
  • a good pair of sewing scissors that will cut fabric 
  • straight pins
  • seam ripper
  • Individual class material lists will be emailed to you when you contact me to sign up for the class.  The class materials are usually under $10 if shopping at Hobby Lobby or Walmart.
You are welcome to bring your own machine, but my classroom is equipped with machines that are perfect for beginners.
2013 Fall Class Schedule
(The Pre-Beginner classes are $15, but include all materials in the class fee)
Crayon Roll
Skills taught: straight lines, how to use a sewing machine(all class materials included with class fee)
Crayon Roll:
Saturday, September 14, 2013 9:30-11:30am
Saturday, November 16, 2013 9:30-11:30am
Bunny Hand Puppet
Skills taught: sewing curved lines, hand sewing, sewing on buttons, pinning(all materials included with class fee)
Bunny Hand Puppet:
Saturday, October 19, 2013 9:30-11:30am

All class are $15 per student and usually last 2 hours.
Tote Bag
(First beginner class and a pre-requisite for all other classes.  Taught in two, 2 hours class sessions)
Skills taught: cutting a pattern, pinning, sewing straight lines, pivot turns, sewing curved lines, backstitching, seam ripping, sewing boxed corners, finishing stitches
Anna Tote Bag
First Session($15):
Saturday, September 7, 2013 9-11am
Thursday, September 12, 2013 7-9pm
Saturday, October 19, 2013, 1-3pm
Second Section($15):
 Saturday, September 21, 2013 1-3
Thursday, September 19, 2013 7-9pm
Saturday, November 9, 2013 1-3pm 
Ruffle Embellished Canvas Bag
Skills taught: gathering, pinning ruffles, sewing ruffles, straight stitches
Ruffle Embellished Canvas Bag:
Saturday, September 14, 2013 1-3pm
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 11:30-1:30
Saturday, October 12, 2013 1-3pm
Thursday, October 17, 2013 7-9pm
Saturday, November 23, 2013 1-3pm
Up-cycled Ruffle Denim Skirt
Skills taught: pleating, pinning ruffles, sewing ruffles, straight stiches
Ruffle embellished denim skirt:
Saturday, October 26, 2013 1-3pm
Pleated Zipper Purse
Skills taught: pleating, basting, sewing zippers
Pleated Zipper Purse:
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 7-9pm
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 7-9pm
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 11:30-1:30
Saturday, November 16, 2013 11:30-1:30pm
Ruffle Embellished Pillow
(choose one design, either 12 x12 or 12x 16)
Skills taught: gathering, pleating, sewing ruffles, finishing stitches
Wednesday, October 16, 11:30-1:30
Saturday, November 9, 2013 9:30-11:30am

Lined Pencil Case or Sunglass Case
Skills taught: lining, button holes, sewing on a button
Lined Pencil Case or Sunglass Case
Saturday, September 7, 2013 1-3pm
Saturday, October 26, 2013 9:30-11:30
Saturday, November 23, 2013 9:30-11:30
Maisy Daisy Necklace
Skills taught: sewing tubes, knot tying, finished stitches, fabric yo-yo’s(hand gathering), sewing on a button
Maisy Daisy Necklace
Saturday, October 12, 2013 9:30-11:30am
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 7-9pm
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 7-9pm
Sharon Burlap Market Tote
Skills taught: Sewing burlap, sewing tubes, boxed corners, finishing lining

Sharon Burlap Market Tote:
Tuesday, September 24, 2013 7-9pm
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 7-9pm
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 7-9pm

And here is a list of classes by month, just in case that is easier…

Saturday, Sept 7--9-11 Tote Bag I
                            1-3 Pencil Case
Thursday, Sept 12--7-9 Tote Bag I
Saturday, Sept 14--9:30-11:30 Crayon
                              1-3 Ruffle Bag
*Wednesday, Sept 18--11:30-1:30 Ruffle Bag
                                     7-9 Zipper pouch
Thursday, Sept 19--7-9 Tote Bag II
Saturday, Sept 21--1-3 Tote Bag II

Tuesday, September 24--7-9 Sharon Market Bag
Saturday, October 12--9:30-11:30 Maisy necklace
1-3 Ruffle bag
*Wednesday, October 16--11:30-1:30 Ruffle pillow
Thursday, October 17--7-9 Ruffle bag
Saturday, October 19--9:30-11:30 Bunny puppet
1-3 Tote Bag I
Tuesday, October 22--7-9 Sharon Market Bag
Wednesday, October 23--7-9 Zipper pouch
Saturday, October 26--9:30-11:30 Pencil pouch
1-3 Ruffle skirt
Tuesday, October 29 7-9 Maisy necklace
*Wednesday, November 6--11:30-1:30 Zipper pouch
7-9 Maisy necklace
Saturday, November 9--9:30-11:30 Pilllow
1-3 Tote Bag II
Wednesday, November 13--7-9 Sharon Market Bag
Saturday, November 16--9:30-11:30 Crayon Roll
1-3 Zipper pouch
Saturday, November 23--9:30-11:30 Pencil case
1-3 Ruffle Bag

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cub Scout Triathlon…

It’s Saturday, and I am sitting in my family room, and there is a peaceful quiet hum of children playing…and my eyes are welling up with tears.  With two kids under 3 1/2, and a son with Autism who loves vocal stimming and loud squeals—there aren’t too many moments in our house that everyone is content.  But this morning, everyone has been happy!!
Actually, we had the greatest morning ever!!  Justin’s Cub Scout Pack planned a triathlon in a neighborhood for the boys to participate in.  We have missed a lot of scouting this year, but Justin has been doing so well lately and so we took the whole family and went to cheer on Justin.
They started with swimming, which I knew Justin would like because he loves being in the water.
The second leg was three laps on a bike.  Justin doesn’t ride a bike often—it has been a year since he has been on it because the training wheels broke!!  But he got on without any whining and took off for his laps.
I knew Justin would only attempt one lap, and I was just praying he would make it without having a melt down.  Especially since we hadn’t been practicing riding the bike at all!!  So the kids and I stayed back and waited for him….and I nervously prayed that he could be happy and enjoy the ride with his dad!!  My best friend texted me right as I was worrying:  “Just saw Justin!!!  Way to go Justin!!  They are doing awesome!!!”  That meant he made it have way around the loop!!
And then we saw him.  I am that crazy lady who cries at the Olympics, and The Biggest Loser, and Little League….yep, that’s me!!  I purposefully wore my sunglasses today so I could cry to my little heart’s content without anyone noticing—ha ha!!
And the cheers began…
He had the cutest little sheepish smile on his face when he rode past all the parents and kids cheering for him!!  Several parents came up and commented on how happy he looked!!
The last leg was running, but Justin was done and wanted to swim.  So he finished up in the pool!  We left without any of our kids having a tantrum—I can’t remember ever having such a perfect Saturday morning!! In the voice of Rapunzel from Tangled, “Best. Day. Ever!!
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Adding a Custom Look to a Builder Grade Home…

I love my house we moved into at the end of last year, well—mostly!!  I love our home builder, and I love my floor plan, and I love the location—but it takes me a while to fall in love with any house when I move in.  We had our previous home completely personalized and were so in love with it.  I knew it would take some time for that to happen again in this house.
We moved into our home last December, and I decided in January that one of our new goals would be having a frugal spending pattern this year.  Doesn’t frugal spending pattern sound better than the “budget” word??  My blogging friend Danielle over at Blissful and Domestic was my inspiration.
Well, after months of insanity with Justin, we decided that our frugal spending pattern needed to be flexible enough to do something with the house because quite frankly, we just needed something to be happy about and focus on that was different than all the depressing day-to-day drama!!
I had seen several pins floating around on Pinterest about adding trim to the top of your front door and also painting interior doors black—both ideas that I love!!  So we decided to try it out.
Here’s the before picture of our front door…
And here’s the after…
I love it!! I think it will look a whole lot more amazing once I get some color on the walls instead of my “applesauce” neutral—and a rug!!  But it is a start and it makes me happy every time I look at it.  Which is partly because of the memory of Justin getting into the paint and re-doing the door for us half-way through the project…

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Happy Father’s Day…from the Webelos

I know I am a little late in posting this, but it had to be shared!!  Justin hasn’t been able to go to Scouts in the last 4 months.  Half that time he was having meltdowns, and the other times my husband was out of town.  So Justin missed making the Father’s Day gift.
My husband didn’t even get to go to church on Father’s Day—he had to take care of Justin.  Imagine my surprise when the Webelos leader came up to me and handed me this…
The card says, “The Webelos made the pencil holder for Justin.  It was a gesture to help him make it for you.  We all love Justin and we also think you are a wonderful Dad. Happy Father’s Day.”
I cried. Big surprise, I know—but seriously, how thoughtful is that!!  Not only did the Webelos leaders think of Justin and his dad, but the Webelos were taught compassion that night--and how to show empathy.  Something they are VERY good at already, but it was still a remarkable life lesson.  They not only thought about Justin not being there, but the impact of Justin not being able to tell his dad how wonderful he is.  Those are words that as Justin’s parents we don’t get to hear.  It was a small thought that had a huge impact on me, and I’m sure the boys as well.  Another great Autism and scouting experience!!
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Monday, August 5, 2013

Happy 15th Anniversary…

Life got out-of-control crazy the past few months, and it is just starting to settle down again….PHEW!!  We did reach a great milestone last month of 15 years of marriage!!  Here’s some pictures of that awesome day 15 years ago…seems like just yesterday!!




I couldn’t figure out what to give my husband for our anniversary.  We don’t ever go “all out” with gifts anyway, which makes it even harder trying to find something meaningful without spending a lot of money!!  I finally thought of getting our pictures taken together!!  We are always chasing the kids in our family photo shoots and can’t leave them for a second to get any couple shots, so I decided to ask my friend Kelly Harris to take our pictures.  She did a great job! Here is my favorite…


We rarely step away from the kids and go out together, it just gets so complicated with the Autism and the severe peanut allergy issue that we usually just stay home!! BUT!! It was our fifteenth anniversary, so we actually left the kids with my parents overnight—awesome break for us, and a restless night of chasing Justin for my parents!!  Did I say thank you?!?!  Thanks Mom and Dad!!  Because, it was so nice to step away for an evening.

I am super sentimental, if you couldn’t tell already, and I spent most of the day during my anniversary trying not to cry because of how blessed I feel!!  I love my husband—he is amazing and handles our stressful life with so much love, compassion, and patience.  Happy 15th Anniversary Sweets!!
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Grieving the loss of dreams…and finding new ones!!

When my husband and I were pregnant for the second time, we went in for an ultrasound and found out we had lost the baby.  We didn’t have any kids yet, and had already miscarried once before.  I was heartbroken.  I went to my doctor’s office straight from the hospital where the ultrasound was taken and she came in and handed me a flyer advertising a miscarriage support group.  At the time,  I could’ve cared less about the flyer!!  But I took it anyway and put it on my desk when I got home and didn’t think about it for weeks.  After I had miscarried, I eventually found the flyer and started reading it.  It had the K├╝bler-Ross model of the five stages of grieving on it with examples of feelings for each stage.
Denial—this isn’t really happening.
Anger—why would this happen to me?
Bargaining—I will do anything to make this go away.
Depression—this is terrible, why even try?
Acceptance—it’s going to be okay.
I was surprised when I read these stages how applicable they were to the wide range of emotions I had been feeling during my miscarriage.  It made my grieving process real for me, and gave me hope that maybe what I was feeling was normal and part of a coping process that would truly end up with acceptance and some sort of ability to move on. 
I know not everyone experiences every step of these grieving stages, but as my husband and I have processed the diagnosis of Autism for Justin—we have definitely spent time in each stage.  I have friends who say to me, “Wow, you handle this Autism thing so well!”  And I immediately have a flashback to when Justin was 3 years old and I cried every day and had absolutely no hope for our future.  I was so depressed and really couldn’t see how having a child struggling with Autism could every bring any kind of joy or happiness for him, or our family!  I found myself making mental checklists of all the things I wouldn’t get to see him accomplish if this were as bad as it seemed to be back then.  And I would just sit and cry, and then be angry, and then cry some more.  Was I having an attitude of gratitude at that time??  No, and I felt so guilty about that then…but now when I look back at that time frame, I am so proud that even though I felt no hope, and perhaps no amount of gratitude for the other blessings in my life—I just kept moving forward.
We were living in Germany when I just started to wonder if Justin had Autism.  I had a very sweet friend who had a son Justin’s age and she came over for a playdate one day.  We were talking about our kids and things they were doing and she matter of factly said, “yeah, I think my son might have Autism.”  I just stared at here.  Her beautiful, happy face—and thought, “How can you be okay with this, and you even look happy too!?!”  She left and I couldn’t get her out of my mind all day.  Why couldn’t I accept that Justin may have Autism?  I was just so terrified that our life was falling apart at the seams.  The future seemed so unknown and out of control!  I didn’t understand how she did it—but she was my mentor and I kept her in my mind as a great example—perplexing as it was to me, I kept thinking, “I have to figure out why she can be okay with this, because I want so desperately to be okay with this!”  And as I slowly got more information about Autism, and finally at the age of 4 a diagnosis—as hard as it was that day to hear the doctor say he knew Justin had Autism, I started to feel better about Autism.  And then we found out about ABA, and all of a sudden I got some hope back in my life and started to be proactive and felt like I had control over helping him.  I remember the first time he said, “Buh!” during ABA.  It had taken weeks, but he finally said it after he was asked to repeat that sound.  I finally felt joy again!  And then I pictured my friend from Germany and thought, “Now I get it, I am getting there!!”  Getting through the denial, anger, bargaining, and depression was a rough 2 years for me—but it is so nice to be on the other side of that now and experience all the joys of being proactive!
No matter how different our trials are in this life, we all have dreams that are unfulfilled.  It’s a topic that a lot of people are uncomfortable acknowledging because it carries a tone of ungraciousness to say, “I am so mad because I didn’t get what I wanted!”  I don’t think we need to feel guilty about being sad, or mad.  There will always be opposition in all things and feeling pain helps us appreciate the joy when it comes.  And moving on from that angry stage though can bring about the greatest joy and acceptance of all the other blessings we have in our lives.
One of my favorite quotes that inspires me when times get tough is from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  He tells a story of how years earlier, he was driving his young family to move across the country and his car broke down twice, in the same spot!! (Here is a link to the video of this story)  He drove by that same spot in his older age and said he could almost see that same scene in his mind of a young, worried father walking to a nearby town to get help and leaving his wife and two kids in the car. He says:
In that imaginary instant, I couldn’t help calling out to him: “Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead.” Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.
My husband, and my friend who was also my mentor, and several others were that encouraging voice to me back in that dark time frame while living in Germany.  I didn’t feel anything, I was so numb and sad—but I knew I could trust them and we have had so much joy since those dark days!!  And yes, there are bad days that still come up—this year we’ve had a truckload of them!!  But somehow it really does all work out!!
I love Justin so much.  My husband and I were talking about how having a child with Autism is sometimes like having a child permanently in the toddler stage—there is a lot of mischievousness that goes on with Justin!!  But that toddler stage is also so rewarding when you acknowledge every little bit of progress as a victory!! And Justin is always learning new things one step at a time!! I love watching Justin’s spirit of determination to express what he wants—it is one of his strengths.  So is his charming smile, which he uses often to get out of trouble for doing things like this…

Look at that smile!!  We have started to do some projects around the house and had black paint for the doors and white paint for the trim…and Justin decided to “help out!”  HA!! It all got fixed and we couldn’t stop laughing about it:) I love you, my sweet, charming boy!!
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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sew and Show Saturday—#21. Bear Claw Quilt…

My mom made this quilt for my older brother, and it is one of our family favorites!!
The bears on the border are so adorable!!
This quilt hangs in my parents’ cabin, on a tongue and groove pine board wall—which is the perfect backdrop!!  It is the focal point at there cabin which is why it triggers so many fond memories.
I love those little bears!!
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Finding answers for Justin…

I received an overwhelming amount of love and support from my last post about Justin and the struggles we have had for the past 5 months.  So many readers emailed me and gave suggestions and I can’t tell you how humbled and thankful I am to know that there are so many compassionate people in the world!  To know that others care and are praying for our family means the world to me and it has fueled me to keep up our battle in fighting these aggressive symptoms of Autism. 
As I was following leads to doctors and clinics and pursuing tests, it seemed as though nothing was “feeling” right.  I didn’t know what to do.  I just kept praying and following leads but I wasn’t feeling any clear inspiration one direction or the other.

Here’s the big question that I want to take a minute to clarify, because it is a great question that many of my friends asked me when they heard that Justin was struggling so much.  “Aren’t there doctors who treat Autism, like specialists??”  And here is my answer for you—“No, there is not a specific field of specialty in the MD world for treating Autism.”  There is a field that specializes in diagnosing Autism, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, but they don’t treat Autism.  And just in case you think that must be because I live somewhere rural enough that there aren't enough qualified specialists….I called one of the top ranking children’s hospitals in the country and tried to set up an appointment for Justin, at their Autism Center, and she told me they didn’t have a child Psychiatrist who specialized in Autism—so I left a message and they consulted with nurses and their group and called me back to tell me that they really only diagnose Autism and that wouldn’t be much help to me for treatment…..AGREED!!  
This is so disturbing to me—not only because my son is falling apart, but because there are 1 in 50 kids being diagnosed with Autism and yet there isn’t a medical school in this country that is specializing in how to treat it!!  It would be like going to the doctor to be diagnosed for pneumonia, but then turned away and being told, “I hope you can figure out a good treatment option—there are many out there, so be careful in how you choose your treatment!!  Some work and some don’t!”  That is the reality of having a child with Autism.  And if I had time to be disturbed about this or change the world, I would….but I have to let all that go and just focus on finding solutions for Justin right now.
After many horrific days of not feeling direction, and still continuing to watch my child bite himself, and wrestle and bite me, I had an inspired thought to email a friend of mine who has a son with Autism and ask who her doctor was.  She replied the same night and explained that they went to a doctor over 1,000 miles away, but that they had felt very happy with their experience there and that they were experts in treating Autism.  It was the first time in months I actually felt inspired and told my husband we needed to get an appointment ASAP. We called the next day and were able to get an appointment two weeks later!! 
Not even the fear of being cooped up in the car with Justin screaming for a 17 hour drive could overshadow the inspiration I felt that we really needed to get to this specific clinic.  So my parents flew out to take care of my other three kids and off we went!
We sent a lot of our medical records to the doctor's office and had several intake phone calls before we arrived and they were very thorough in investigating what was going on with Justin.  Within the first 5-10 minutes of our visit, the doctor asked us if we had heard of PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Illness Associated with Streptococci).  I hadn’t ever heard of it.  As he began to explain some of the symptoms(irritability or aggression, extreme OCD, urinary frequency, personality change, sensory sensitivities, tics or abnormal movements, inability to concentrate)  I knew we had finally found our answer.  I felt an enormous wave of spiritual confirmation, “this is what he has.”  I was kind of stunned as I sat there listening to him.  My mind was back-tracking to the past 4 months and all the struggles and resistance from professionals and even some family members we had to pursue a different course for Justin, but we kept moving forward and followed the inspiration we felt and we were completely led to our answer.  The doctor kept talking and we had a thorough appointment lasting about 1 hour and 45 minutes…but all I remember is the first 10 minutes, and the most amazing testimony of how much our Father in Heaven loved my sweet Justin, and how much he must have loved me too—to answer my pleas to find out why he was struggling so much!!
When I was younger, my Sunday School teacher had us memorize three scripture verses from Alma 37:35-37.  Alma was a prophet in the Book of Mormon and in teaching his sons he said:
35 O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God.
36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.
37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
The words, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good,” run through my head often and have pushed me to continue  keep praying these past five months.  They have truly been some of the most heart-breaking months of my life.  And at times when I thought I had nothing left, I had the most wonderful friends and a few family members who faithfully stuck by my side and carried me through.  I know that these verses of scriptures are true, and that even though my direction took some time to figure out—we still received direction.
The treatment for PANDAS is primarily a few months of antibiotics and we have already seen some improvement.  We are still fighting this stuff, but at least we finally know what we are fighting!!
Oh yeah, and the 17 hour car ride home….well, let’s just say it’s a good thing we were still on somewhat of a spiritual high from the appointment because it was R-O-U-G-H!!  I may have cried and told my husband to just let me walk the last 8 hours by myself…..and I meant it!!  But we made it home, because of this guy…(My talented friend, Sanae James took this beautiful photo!)
My sweet husband drove through the night—24 hours straight with Justin screaming for the first 10 hours of that, to get us home!!  He just keeps on going, which is why I love him so much.  And I’m grateful he ignored my falling apart and hysteria and just kept telling me “we’re going to make it!” 
Thank you again, to everyone who has prayed and sent us encouraging words—it has truly kept us going!! And we have literally felt the strength and power of prayer.

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