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I Sing These Carols To You My Friends…

Okay, so I know it’s a silly song… but it makes me smile. It’s giggle-worthy indeed. AND hippopotomusesus is a fabulous word too. Admit it.

Favorite line by FAR – “Mother says a hippo would eat me up but then teacher says that hippos are vegetarians!” Hehe :)

This song is hauntingly beautiful, just like a proper Coldplay song should be. No? What’s my favorite line from this song you ask?

“Those Christmas lights
Light up the street
Down where the sea and city meet
May all your troubles soon be gone
Oh Christmas lights, keep shining on.”

For me, it’s not even Christmas without this song. Joni created the hauntingly beautiful holiday feeling thing with this song IMHO. Favorite line?

“It’s coming on Christmas. They’re cutting down trees. They’re putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace.”

*YOU WILL WANT TO TURN THE VOLUME ALL THE WAY UP FOR THIS SONG*

“What Child Is This?” is a popular Christmas carol written in 1865. At the age of twenty-nine, English writer William Chatterton Dix was struck with a sudden near-fatal illness and confined to bedrest for several months, during which he went into a deep depression. Yet out of his near-death experience, Dix wrote many hymns, including “What Child is This?”, later set to the traditional English tune “Greensleeves.”

Amy Whitcomb was a contestant in the group Delilah on this season’s The Sing-Off. She was one of my favorite singers by far and now this is one of my favorite versions of Silent NIght that I’ve ever heard. She has the most gorgeous voice and Jake Justice is amazing on piano <3

All Time Favorite Line From A Christmas Song EVER –

“SLEEP IN HEAVENLY PEACE!”

(I hope you enjoyed this compilation & it made you smile & remember what this season is truly about. LOVE ONE ANOTHER!)

<3 HopeBetweenTheDreams

Great Mary <3

So, yesterday would have been my amazing Grandma’s 95th birthday. 95. Can you even fathom living that long? Honestly, I can’t. I turned 34 this year and even that still doesn’t seem possible to me. She died just a few weeks ago from complications after having a stroke, so it was a tough day for pretty much everyone in my family I do believe.

I was very “stuck in my head” and mourning a good bit of yesterday, so I never got around to posting about it all. I need to address it and be thankful for all of the time that we had with her, though. So here I go.

She was an absolutely exceptional woman in every sense of the word. Smart as a whip, and very funny too. She would surprise you the things she knew how to do, also. For Christmas almost three years ago now, my husband Christopher and I flew up to spend the holidays with her. Despite the “brain tumor” scare two days before we flew out (I didn’t have one – but it was ridiculously stressful – story for another time though!). Well, we went anyway because I felt VERY strongly that this would probably and most likely be my last chance to do something like this with her.

See, I grew up in the south way too far away from my Dad’s side of the family in California and my Mom’s side of the family in the NYC/NJ area, and I had never gotten to spend Christmas with her but one time my entire life and that was down in Florida the year we got married on New Year’s Eve almost five years ago now. We ended up living as southern “transplants” the majority of my life because of my step-Dad’s job. His family was in Oregon so we never got to see them either, really.

Point being, I wanted to spend Christmas up there with my Grandma and knew time was running short. I wanted to see NYC all decorated for Christmas. I wanted to show Chris where I grew up spending my summers at my grandparents’ beach house in Mantaloking, NJ. I wanted to be with her and be there for all the fun family get-togethers first hand instead of just seeing pictures like I had my whole life. If there’s one thing I regret in this life of mine, it’s that all my family is so far away and I wish I’d had that extended family “thing”. I wish I’d been in all those pictures. I still remember getting pictures of my cousins Nina and Lesley with the wishbone all the Thanksgivings they’d all spent at the shore house. It would make me SO jealous I wasn’t there with them, even as a little girl.

I know regret is a pretty much useless emotion when you really get down to it, but fact being I do regret being so far away from BOTH of my families on opposite coasts. It seemed weird and unfair that all my friends had grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles all in the same town or a quick car ride away. I was definitely always very in awe of it all, especially because my best friend Amanda’s grandparents lived right across the street from them! And her cousins were right down the street too! I never had that and I wish I had because I think I have the most amazing and interesting families and I have missed out on SO much.

No amount of 30 hour road trips to spend a month at the shore in the summer seemed like enough time. The older we all got, the shorter the trips would be because we had things like summer camps and then the trips even ceased completely when I went to college or I could no longer go along because I was in summer school. I’d always wanted to just BE THERE. And three years ago now I had that opportunity finally, and I am so very glad that I did. It was everything I’d hoped it to be, and many things I’d never expected all at once. But I was THERE. Right in the middle of the pictures, smiling my best smile and loving every minute of it <3

I still can’t believe that she’s gone honestly. And now because I am back on weekly chemo injections to help with my Lupus, I can’t even go to her memorial this next Monday. It truly sucks, but I just know that if I did I would end up in the hospital. My health seems to be teetering on the “unhealthy” brink… and I know this because of how I feel in comparison to other times since my diagnosis and due to the way I’ve been feeling and due to my blood work results. My chemo dosage amount was upped to almost double the weekly dose a week and a half ago now, so it’s DEFINITELY not the time to be stuck in airports and on planes with sick people everywhere at the busiest time of the year to travel. I know this logically, but it still sucks.

So yesterday I called First Presbyterian Church of Auburn. I am not a regular attendee either. Honestly I just go to the Christmas Eve candlelight service every year. I grew up going every year at First Presbyterian in Vicksburg, MS and it’s the only time and place I ever feel the PEACE ON EARTH you are supposed to feel this time of year but I honestly am usually lacking. Well, I explained my situation to the sweet preacher Dr. Covington and he offered to let me come sit in the chapel and light a candle and even offered to sit and talk with me and anyone else who comes with me. It was such a nice, warm feeling that I haven’t gotten in a long time from a church honestly. I am so glad to have something planned for that day instead of just sitting around feeling left out. It is a huge relief and I am so thankful for their kindness!

Truth is… we can’t afford Christmas this year, or last year, or the year before honestly. My stupid medications and doctor visit co-pays and the fact that I haven’t been well enough to work for two and a half years now royally blows. We had like $300 to spend the entire two weeks we were up in NYC/NJ three years ago, but we made it last somehow because we stayed with family. We even got to go into the city twice. We took the bus (cheap), just walked around (free), took pictures (free), got calzones from a cheap but delicious pizza joint. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do NYC for cheap, because if you have to you really can. Point being, Christmas isn’t what it is to most people for us.

I really don’t understand the greed/capitalism of the season and everyone running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Mostly because I can’t participate, but also because I’ve realized it’s all a bunch of phony baloney. I’m on very strict dietary modifications, so I can’t even eat any of the snacks at holiday get-togethers either. I also don’t know who in that persons household had flu last week and if I’ll get exposed to things other healthy people can fight off that I just can’t. So it’s a very, very different scene for me than everyone else.

But I really don’t mind anymore and am not asking anyone to feel sorry for me. I’m simply stating how different life is for me than for most because of my health… and that through all this I have come to realize that the Christmas Eve candlelight service and that amazing feeling I get from it really IS the reason for the season. And I feel blessed that I get to see through all the artificiality to the core. It’s strange how life works, isn’t it?

Well, this was more than I ever planned to write… but obviously needed to vent a bit. And if I can’t do it here where can I do it? So I will wrap it up and promise to tell more stories about my trip to Grandma’s house in separate posts because I don’t ever want to forget anything about that trip.  Also, I challenge you to try to see through to the real truth this time of year too. It makes all the difference in the world when you can and do.

<3 HopeBetweenTheDreams

PS – I know that if we had kids we’d have to participate moreso than we do, but honestly our kids all have fur and all they care about is being with us!

xoxo

Stone Temple Pilots – Big Empty (Ohhhh Yeahhhhh)

There’s something so SEXY about this song to me. It takes me back to high school, driving around listening to this album while we fled from one parking area to the next to outsmart the cops every weekend. Ahhh, yes – those were the days ;)

Shortly before Chris’s birthday I found out he’d never heard this album or STP. *HUH???* So I turned his birthday into a “musical birthday” & introduced him to this album & the newest album “Lover Boy” by the amazing and talented Brett Dennen & a “Time Life’s Bluegrass Treasury” I found in the discount bin for a dollar at Hastings (my favorite local provider of music, movies, books, random things you never knew you wanted but had to have). Who else remembers Time Life’s awesome CD twin-packs???

*GEEKS OUT FOR A BRIEF MOMENT*

It was one of the gifts I’m most proud of ever having given simply because I shared things I loved most with the guy I love most ♥ And what’s not to love about that?

I know nobody buys CD’s anymore & I am totally “old school”. So sue me. I like to be able to TOUCH my music and OWN it. Yeah, I still burn it to my wireless laptop & hard drive the second I listen to it, but there’s something so gratifying about being able to hold your music that takes me WAY back :)

But that’s a whole other topic in itself, so goodnight. I must bid you adieu & head to bed…

<3 HopeBetweenTheDreams

“Just because the label says HONEY doesn’t mean a bee would eat it!”

In fact, reports Andrew Schneider at Food Safety News, more than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t technically honey.

“The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world’s food safety agencies,” writes Schneider. “In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. However, the FDA isn’t checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.”

(Read the rest of this VERY interesting article by clicking the link below.)

via Just because the label says “Honey” doesn’t mean a bee would eat it – Beliefnet.com.

MORAL OF THE STORY, BUY LOCAL HONEY! We’ve been buying our honey from the guy listed below for years now. One of my friends used to keep bees with him, so I know what a tight ship he runs too. I would highly recommend him to my local friends & that everyone else finds someone local because you have no way of knowing if it’s all-natural otherwise!

Bee-Mac Apiaries
Ben McGhee
3101 Waverly Pkwy.
Opelika, AL 36801
(334) 745-4670

Real Life vs Facebook…

You know, sometimes I wish real life was more like Facebook. Not in the “I wish there were more pictures of the whole family dressed in white sitting on the beach” or “it’s fun to pretend I have a farm” kind of way, either. What I mean is that you can deal with people on there in ways that would be SO nice to be able to do in real everyday life at times.

For example:

1.) You can put them on “limited profile”. Which works for most people in my experience and it’s only if they are really TRYING to push your buttons that further steps are required.

2.) But for those times when that doesn’t work and they are STILL being an asshat, you can just push “ignore” so you don’t have to see their updates on your newsfeed. Ooooo, just IMAGINE for a minute if you could really do this. It would be so awesome that right in the middle of some extreme right wing rhetoric spouting you could just push “IGNORE” and the person would no longer show up!! That was just an example. Down Republican extremists, down ;)

3.) You can “delete” them if they still continue to annoy you. But beware of this option as I said above because if this person is truly just being mean spirited and out for blood, they will realize you “deleted” them when they can no longer publicly humiliate you on YOUR OWN FACEBOOK PAGE and POSTS! They will then send you a “message”… so if this step is necessary I DO suggest the next step as well.

4.) “BLOCK” them, which it seems is the ultimate of FB insults. Because now the troll has to take the time to harass you OUTSIDE of Facebook! What a hassle you have just created for them. Shame on you!

Now remember – Facebook isn’t real life. So as soon as you DO block someone you sure as hell better have blocked them from your email & phone too if you really don’t want to hear from them anymore. Because in my experience, once you “BLOCK” them you better believe you’re going to hear from someone who hasn’t talked to you outside of Facebook in AGES by text or email.

If they have the guts to CALL you and not just continue to hide behind their computer screen, I suggest you do answer their call if you have any hope for reconciliation. Maybe they actually want to clear the air without typing involved. And if they take the time to CALL, they DO care. Regardless of if they want to admit they do or not.

*sigh*

People are SO weird. So, so, so very strange indeed. So do what you’ve gotta do to keep the “haters” out of your life while still remembering that it’s much easier said than done to “ignore”, “limit”, “delete”, or “block” someone. Much, much easier said than done. Take it from me.

But if someone is really and truly harassing you and overstepping, there’s absolutely NO reason to put up with it. “Bullying” can happen at any age unfortunately as I’ve come to realize, and it can happen when no provocation has happened. I wish people “grew out” of being jerks, but once a jerk always a jerk. Just ask my ex-boyfriends’ wives. Hahaha!

<3 HopeBetweenTheDreams

Beluga Whales cam!!! How awesome <3

Pearls of the Planet – Beluga Whales – LiveCams – explore.

There’s a huge beluga whale exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta that this reminds me of. It’s so awesome and somehow hauntingly beautiful at the same time <3 When you first round the corner to see them it’s just breath-taking!

Just thought I’d share the beluga whale love with you guys. Hope it brightens your day like it did mine!

<3 HopeBetweenTheDreams

PS – I’m going to watch this to help me fall asleep tonight <3 With the awesome CD I got years ago at the Shed Aquarium in Chicago it will be perfect!

What do YOU most want to read about???

Quotes, Goat’s Milk, and Gluten-free…

‎”Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir

Love this quote… and many others as you will learn… but SURELY he meant gluten-free bread ;) Honestly, the only gluten-free bread I’ve found that is worth buying is made by a company named <ahref=”http://againstthegraingourmet.com/”>Against The Grain</a>. If it wasn’t for them (since taking gluten out of my diet completely) I would just not eat bread at all honestly. Their  baguettes are delicious. Mmmm. Seriously, my husband and I both really love them. Their pizza shells are awesome too. I just wish they didn’t have cheese (made with cow’s milk) as an ingredient in their pizza crust because I can’t eat any dairy besides goat’s milk products. Maybe I will write to them and ask them to use goat’s milk in their crusts instead. (Yeah, I should do that!). That’s me. Saving the world for one gluten-free homie at a time <3

I started to slowly but surely realize that all of the bath products I used had gluten in them too. No joke, it’s in everything! It’s in my lotion. Doh. It was in my body wash and soap. Double doh. It was in my shampoo. Triple doh. No wonder my skin has been so awful and recently my Lupus specialist added “eczema” and “psoriasis” to the never ending diagnosis list. I’m sure it will all clear up now that I have figured out that gluten in my body/bath products was why my skin was flaring up so much lately. Let’s hope so! My best friend gave me a bar of goat’s milk soap and I am already seeing an improvement :) Yay! Now I just need to get new lotion, body wash & shampoo that are gluten free. I’ll let y’all know which ones I pick.

And speaking of goat’s milk I wouldn’t even be alive if it wasn’t for the nifty stuff. I almost died as a baby living on a tiny farm in Oregon because I couldn’t drink my mother’s milk. The old lady on the farm told her to feed me goat’s milk, and the rest is history. I’ve definitely come full circle with now using all goat’s milk products. The wonderful company <ahref=”http://meyenberg.com/”>Meyenberg</a> has not only made it possible for me to drink delicious milk again, they also have cheeses, and goat milk butter. I can attest that the butter and milk are superb. It’s so nice to have them to be able to cook with again. They even have it evaporated in a can for baking. You really have no idea how great it is until you’ve gone as long as I did without dairy at all. But it seems the same thing that kept me alive & healthy as a baby has the same effect on me now :)

So a big hearty THANK YOU to Meyenberg Farms and to Against The Grain gluten-free breads for your wonderful products. They make my life so much better & I’m able to enjoy the foods I love again. You guys rock!

I hear my bed calling my name, so I’m taking my cow’s milk free/gluten-free ass to bed! Hahaha.

<3 HopeBetweenTheDreams

Hope Between The Dreams…

So I wanted to explain what Hope Between The Dreams means to me personally since I have chosen it for my new blog’s name…

Firstly, it is a line from the Jack Johnson song “All At Once” :

“There’s a world we’ve never seen
There’s still hope between the dreams
The weight of it all
Could blow away with a breeze
If you’re waiting on the wind
Don’t forget to breathe
Cause as the darkness gets deeper
We’ll be sinkin as we reach for love.”

Not only am I a HUGE Jack Johnson fan, I am now also a lifetime member of his organization All At Once whose motto is “An Individual action, multiplied by millions, creates global change.” Not only have I gotten to volunteer at two life-changing concerts and meet him in person before both said concerts, more importantly I got to become a member of this amazing cause. How many musicians do you know who donate their ENTIRE tour profits to charity? It’s simply unheard of, so let me say it again. 100% of his To The Sea tour profits were donated to charity!

Jack believes in everything good and true that makes this world a better place. He values people and our environment more than fancy cars, hotels, private jets and the things regular celebrities do. Honestly, I wouldn’t even consider him a celebrity, just because he is SO not even close to part of that crowd and is the opposite of everything that word encompasses. Instead, he joins his fans in cleaning up coastlines all across the world while on tour. He sponsors music lessons for underprivileged children. He uses all bio-diesel on his tour buses and supports local farmers and the Farm to Table movement.

The Village Green is AAO‘s pet project and different local non-profits set up booths under the brightly colored tents to both bring in new volunteers and to help raise funds for the groups too. Jack matches every dollar donated to the non-profits and before the gates open he takes the time out to walk around to every single booth and check them out and meet the dedicated volunteers who run them. So yes, he’s just GOOD PEOPLE :) And everything he stands for aligns with my own beliefs. I honestly wish he’d run for President, that’s how much I believe in this man <3 He also takes the time to shake hands with and meet every single All At Once volunteer at every single show once the Village Green is all set up and he gets a picture taken with us too. And in 2010, he actually remembered me from volunteering at his 2008 tour. I was on cloud nine!

But beside the root of my blog’s name and working with All At Once, Jack’s songs have brought so much joy and peace into my life for over a decade now and my life is ever so much more rich for every single one of those songs. The line “hope between the dreams” stuck with me over the years though. So much so that I have slowly but surely kind of adopted it, so to speak. My Facebook carries that name, as does my YouTube account and Twitter account too. They were all opened over the past few years without any solid sort of plan for bringing it all together some day, but that was the general idea. I just wasn’t sure how I’d do that.

But now I have found you, WordPress and you’ve helped me streamline my Hope Between The Dreams <3

http://allatonce.org

PS – And just so as I am clear, I am NOT just some JJ groupie. Well, okay – maybe I am – but not in the traditional way. We are both happily married to very cool people we love very much. I just respect Jack and am thankful for the joy and unforgettable experiences he’s brought into my life is all <3

Welcome old & new readers alike <3

I have this crystal-clear memory of picking out my first Hello Kitty diary when I was five years old. I still have it in my possession twenty-nine years later crazily enough. I remember how angry it made me when my older brother would pick the lock and make fun of me for the “secrets” I’d written inside. But who were we kidding anyway? Those flimsy locks couldn’t keep a toddler out.

So I guess you can say I developed a strong sense of privacy and importance about my written words from a very young age. I continued to keep journals my entire life (and will put some hilarious excerpts in here from time to time for sh*ts & giggles – as well as share some of the things I’m most proud of having written).

In November of 2003 I stormed the world of LiveJournal with my first online blog. A few years ago now I was diagnosed with Lupus, and I started a new journal on Blogspot just so that I’d have a separate place for writing about what I was going through. For some reason I felt a deep-seated need to compartmentalize my health problems from the rest of my life and other thoughts and ideas. Which anyone with a chronic illness knows (or will soon enough learn) is really an impossible feat and takes way too much energy you already don’t have. But honestly neither blog has been used much for years now, which in turn brought me here to you. Sporadic posts here and there just aren’t cutting it!

So I think I need a whole new crowd. I will welcome many of my old pals with open arms, but I need a new place to call my own. One with no expectations of who or what I used to be… one without thousands of entries that are my past weighing me down.

For now, I’m going to try the anonymous/open blog thing on for size again and see how it goes. I’ve got a lot on my mind and Facebook just doesn’t seem the appropriate forum if you know what I mean. And I know that you DO know what I mean ;)

So welcome to my world. Open minds only, please. It’s my one and only rule!

***Oh, and please play nicely while you talk amongst yourselves. Discussion and debate are more than encouraged and are some of my favorite things as you will learn, but we can all do it in a polite and respectful way. Can’t we?***

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