Monday, August 29, 2011

Welcome Back

Well, thanks to those who let me know my blog was inaccessible for a couple weeks. After investigation, turns out my custom template was not compatible with some of my widgets. Something about javascript? ???

Anyway, I had to change my template. Kind of sad, as that was my first original, fully custom template, but change is good too.

If you have been gone, welcome back. You haven't missed much, just some long ramblings on my feelings on hospitals, which is what I thought was scaring people away.

If you are checking to see if I've fallen pregnant, or had another child dropped in my lap, I'm sorry to disappoint you. We are hoping for a long, peaceful (and 99% likely permanent) reprieve from that kind of crazy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rock Tasting

First of all, if you've had trouble accessing my blog or others from certain computers, I guess there is an issue with Google Chrome as a search engine for some blog viewing. Internet Explorer and others seem to work fine. You may be able to tell I really don't know what I'm talking about. The kids put together this "Breakfast" while the dads were cooking the real one. Ava tasted a lot of rocks and it looks as though Ella might have one stored away in her cheek as well.

Fish Lake

Had a quick(!) getaway up to Fish Lake to stay overnight with some friends last weekend. I snuck out of work early at 2:00 on Saturday and we left the lake for home 24 hours later. Sheesh! It was still good to to be up out of the city, to stand on the deck and desperately suck in fresh air, and spend time with good friends, eat like crazy, and even to have a few hours in the car with my hubs to read aloud and chat.

I cannot believe this was Ava's first trip to the lake! We were staying at a friend's cabin although Zar's family also has a cabin in the area. It's different now with the kids wildly running around, getting filthy, playing games, screaming and laughing. One of my favorite things used to be to take Charlotte to the lake where the altitude and lack of media made everyone good and snoozy. Many naps were had by all. The nappy days are done for now, I think. Hello to the rock eating days.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thank you!!

I am so excited that in just over a week our Deals that Matter fundraiser has hit $100! I had no idea it would be so successful! Even better, for the next three weeks we will continue to get 100% of all proceeds from sales donated to us, and after that it drops to 15%. After September 16th I will probably remove our tree from the cause list as we will likely have plenty of funds for the tree and there are so many great causes on there to choose from.
Thank you all so so much for supporting us through deals that matter and keep watching for great deals over the next few weeks. Hopefully we can turn these little donations into a BIG donation for Primary Children's Medical Center.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hospitals. Part 2

After I left the surgical oncology job at the hospital, I went to a different sort of nursing job. I am not in the hospital every day. In fact I spend most of my time in a donor center, doing paperwork and drawing platelets from donors. There are a few other nurses and we take turns going up to the hospitals and performing therapeutic apheresis. It's not very much like dialysis, but it is. It is used to treat a lot of autoimmune disorders. It is also often used as a last ditch effort. I saw it on "House" a few times, if that gives you any idea. It's not the most common procedure and many of our patients are flown in from out of state. I've been at this job for seven years, and I expect I will be here for the rest of my career, if things stay the same.

At first I missed the hospital setting. I missed going room to room and I missed wound care. (yep.)

Then, after being at my new job for 6 weeks, I found out I was pregnant.

Thank goodness for that job. Thank goodness I left the oncology ward when I did. There isn't any possible way I could have coped with what was to come if I were still trying to work nights and feeling afraid and pressured and on my own all the time. It's just another reason I know God is in the details.

Of course, I was pregnant with Charlotte. A few weeks later I received that phone call at work that changed the world. Things weren't right with my baby.

The hospital, over the next 4 years, became a very different place than I had known. As a nurse, you go to work, you become deeply involved with your patients, you go home. It is, in the end, still just your job. Having a sick child is not that same.

It is 24 hours. It is living in a state of constant stress, senses always at the ready, never dipping more than inches below the surface of sleep. That deep warm blackness below is not for you, because you have a sick child. You can't afford to sink in, even for a moment. Except sometimes, under the constant monitoring and overwhelming exhaustion at the hospital.

The hospital became all places. It was home, it was hope, and it was hell. Our first big staycation there was after I received that dreaded phone call at work, that Charlotte wasn't breathing. She was there almost a week, and they tested her blood, her brain, and after every test I hoped they would find something that could be fixed, hopefully with simple medication. All they found was worsening pulmonary hypertension, and she came home on 24 hour oxygen which she had the rest of her life. When they brought us the tank I cried into my husbands chest. I could not imagine how I would handle a baby on oxygen.

Charlotte spiked a major fever and went back to the hospital soon after. It was a kidney infection, and further studies showed a crazy urinary system. She went on permanent antibiotics. Sometimes I ran into nurses I had gone to school with. It was so bizarre to be on the other side, to be a patient where we had once both been students. She would be in her scrubs, her gloves donned, smiling behind a mask and I would squint at her in the dim light without my contacts in, face dotted with zit cream and wearing rumpled pajamas. Once I became overwhelmed and left to walk the halls in the middle of the night, looking out the window at the end of the hall at the city below, marveling at how different the hospital feels on the other side.

The hospital is frustrating. Everything takes forever. Nothing gets done on the weekends. A doctor will promise to come discuss results and options with you and you will wait all day, afraid to leave the bedside for a plate of nachos, and they will never come. No one understands your child and they label them. You can tell the ones who feel like it's not worth their time to treat your child. Your child who will never become president or discover the cure for cancer. Your child who will always, always be a child.

The hospital is terrifying. I have watched Charlotte's breathing become more and more labored, waiting for hours in the ER, until what might have been stayed with high flow oxygen or perhaps c-pap now requires intubation and a lengthy ICU stay. I have shivered on the floor of the dark PICU waiting room with my husband, having been sent away so they can try and save your daughter's life. I have sat in the surgery waiting room alone, there for a simple hearing test and without my family, to have the doctor enter the room and pull me quietly into the private consult room, to tell my my baby's heart just stopped. I have heard that quiet knock on the sleep room door to summon me to her bedside. The bedside I left hours ago dark and peaceful now flooded with lights and surrounded by people in masks, alarms and lights flashing. I have called my husband, in the middle of the night in a major snowstorm, to tell him he had better hurry because Charlotte is not doing well. It is surreal. It is exhausting.

The hospital is incredible. There my daughter was pulled from the brink of death time and time again. I have heard her tiny raspy cry for the first time in weeks after being extubated and thought it was the most beautiful sound. I have seem my daughter's skull reshaped in a day which brought about bounding leaps in her development. I have attended the most amazing spiritual church services there, I have met the most amazing mothers, nurses, doctors.

The hospital, still, is cozy. Sometimes it is the only place where you can rest. After trying your best to stay at home, to fight the fever and the congestion for long sleepless nights, to finally give up your child to the nurses with the equipment and the monitors and the drugs and to lie down on the most uncomfortable lumpy chair in the universe wrapped in quilts donated by youth groups and just fall into a dreamless sleep...sometimes it is the most deeply you have slept in months. To hear the raspy breathing finally quiet after the respiratory people leave. To finally feel it is safe to rest.

And, yes, sometimes it's okay for a few days to stay in your flannel pants and watch daytime TV in a rocking chair holding your baby, eating donuts you've looted from the hospitality cart. Sometimes, after all the stress, it's okay. You watch your baby sleep and take dozens of pictures. You surround her with toys and balloons and make a trip to buy ridiculously expensive super soft microfiber jammies for her to wear from the baby boutique. They are brown trimmed in pink. You decorate with pictures of your child when she is well, so the nurses know how gorgeous and happy she usually is. Friends bring in a small fake Christmas tree the nurses keep telling you to send home, but you don't. You bring a pile of books and pillows and eat things you would never eat at home. Basketball and hockey players come and wave awkwardly from the hall. You wear slippers. You gain a pound a day. People bring you sushi and smoothies. Friends come for a visit after work. They spend New Year's with you eating cafeteria frozen yogurt. Your baby starts smiling again, and the cultures don't grow anything, and you know everything will be fine. And it's cozy.

The last time we took Charlotte to the hospital we walked into packed emergency room. There were people up and down the halls coughing, kids in footie jammies. Charlotte was hot and limp and still, we almost walked out. It seemed so hopeless in there. But the nurse beckoned us forward, and took us right back, past the waiting masses. We were so grateful. The virus panel came back fast and it was RSV, and I was relieved. It wasn't heart failure. It was something to support her through and it would end.

I was at the hospital, three days later, when I knew we weren't going home this time. From that moment the hospital became the site of all Charlotte's lasts. I was puffy and sore and all cried out. Things slowed down. I had time to take in all the last moments, but even when the doctors were optimistic, hopeful, I knew. I still paid close attention, because I knew these were the last.

Charlotte's life began and ended in a hospital room surrounded by her family, being held, and passed around, and loved. Charlotte's hospital room was never short on love. And that day her room became the gates of heaven. You couldn't quite see them but you could feel it. And the hospital had never been sweeter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's Halloween! And Tree Update

All I think about is Halloween and the Christmas tree. I actually considered decorating for Halloween today while the girls were napping, but decided even for me that's a little ridiculous. So I thought more about the tree. I got some great ideas and responses from my last tree update! I am going to go with a pennant tree top, just got to figure out how to go about that. A couple people had an amazing idea to make a tree skirt with stripes radiating out from the tree like the top of a carousel. Awesome. Too bad I have no sewing skills, but I have friends and family who do. Saving my Jo-Anns coupons for fabric. I also found some cute glass candy ornaments today, multicolored and small like little wrapped hard candies. Thinking about throwing a few of those on there. I need to go down to my basement and do a dry run, put what I have on our K-mart special tree and figure out if I need more horses. Once Christmas stuff comes out I will go get some garlands and a few big shiny balls, oh yeah, and a tree. There were other major ideas like getting a little popcorn or cotton candy machine to auction off with the tree, but we will see if we raise enough money on

So a few friends, knowing how much I love the fair, forwarded me an email for a 2 for 1 fair tickets. I jumped right on that, and was introduced to this amazing website called It's like Groupon and the other great deal sites except they give a portion of their proceeds to charity. And even more amazing, we were able to sign up as a cause to make a little money for the tree! They have State Fair tickets 2 for 1 for a few more days as well as clothing deals, ice cream, and that Pass of All Passes for next year everyone around here seems to know about. For the next 30 days 100% of all the proceeds for deals bought under our cause will go to our tree fund. There are also tons of other great causes, both big and small. So go buy a fair ticket or a frozen yogurt or a weekend getaway and search for Charlotte and Lily under Choose a Cause. Or you can just follow this link. Or the button on my sidebar, for that matter.

As for Halloween, we have finally...well I guess it's still August...but we are settled on Toy Story. Ella ONLY wants to be Buzz, and this has remained stable for months. Luckily we have friends who were Toy Story last year, and their toddler daughter was Buzz, so we will just be borrowing costumes for the most part. Ava will be Jesse which we will have to put together, and Zar will be Woody, and I'm going to be Bo-peep with my awesome costume my mother-in-law made me a couple years ago. See above. It doesn't really look like Bo-peep from the movie but it's so great, and I got called in to work on Halloween that year and didn't really get to wear it. Then I was barely not pregnant so it wasn't going to work last year. I'm PUMPED.

I LOVE this time of year. As in Fall. Although it is still August. LETS GO SEPTEMBER!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hospitals. Part 1

I have always liked hospitals. My earliest hospital related memories involved my siblings being born, a snippet or two I even recall from the birth of my first sister when i was 18 months old. Or at least I think I do.
I remember going with my dad to buy flowers for my mom--a plant with tiny purple and yellow buds--and going to visit my mom and my next baby sister when I was 5. I remember the bed went up and down. I remember it was sunny. Mostly I remember my mom was there and she was away for what seemed like so long. She had bundled outfits together for me in my drawer before she left, so my dad wouldn't have to match.
And then when i was seven, I remember waiting with my sister and a nurse in a dimly lit room with a tv in what seemed like the middle of the night. I remember the excitement and anticipation and i loved it, even when my brother appeared in my dads arms all wrinkly and red and unattractive and I thought--"oh, too bad for our family. We will love him anyway."
I knew my dad worked at the hospital and I knew whenever we were here it was because something exciting was happening--my friend was getting a sibling or my sister was getting her tonsils out and that came with Popsicles and a balloon bouquet that almost destroyed me I was so jealous. Sometimes we got to visit my dad and he got to wear blue jammies and make balloons out of latex gloves. The hospital was a mysterious adventure.
In high school a friend said once that she hated hospitals, and she had good reason-- a grandparent dying slowly and the smell of the place. I announced that i loved hospitals....well...because they are fun. And dim and cozy and....(here I tried to be poetic and intelligent)...people go there to heal.
I had no other extensive experience with hospitals until my first day of clinicals in nursing school. I learned a lot. All the patients were so old. And most of them cranky. There were no doctors....where are the doctors!? Ah. They come around once a day, to round, and then they disappear. The hospital I was at was not the cozy carpeted private facility I had known back in the baby days, this was cold and white and yes, had a distinct smell. The rooms were not sunny. No one blew up gloves.
And yet I still loved it. There was so much to learn and so many crazy conditions I hadn't known existed. It was another world and I was going to be a part of it! I got to wear scrubs. I found out what the human body actually looks like, minus the editing. Things that would once shock became every day. There were awesome people, both patients and nurses and although every day was not wonderful, every day was still an adventure.
I especially loved it at night. Things slowed down and it was quiet. Sometimes even cozy again. Our hospital is up on the mountain and at night the whole city stretches out before you, twinkling in the black or blanketed with snow. I would take a deep breath and look out the window when I got over-stressed. Or when I did something stupid in front of a patient. Or when I had a patient who didn't know who I was or what was going on and was scared and upset. Wouldn't take their meds, let me listen to their lungs, wouldn't just go to sleep. Or when someone died.
My first death in nursing school was good. She was very, very old and her whole family was there. The nurses knew it was coming before the family did and I was a little shocked and offended at how casually they discussed it. It wasn't familiar to me yet. It was still mystical and not to be mentioned. She was our patient, mine and my preceptor's. There was a hospice nurse there, a southern black woman who knew the patient well. She was smiling and hugging everyone. A grandson ran out of the room sobbing. When she died I was out in the hall with the hospice nurse. The family let out a collective cry and the nurse announced "Oh well done, Hallelujah!" and rushed in to hand out more hugs. That's how I decided I wanted to be. The family kept crying, holding her hands, but they were smiling. It was warm and dim and cozy.
My first nursing job was short lived, just 5 months. I was there when the hospital opened and a lot of kinks needed to be worked out. Staffing kinks too. Lots of new grads. I cried a lot, I hated 12 hour shifts, I made dumb mistakes. I loved the patients. The views from our new giant rooms were incredible and I worked mostly nights. I was able to sit and talk for an hour once with a woman at night in her room when she was lonely. I cried with a patient whose doctors came in and told him there was nothing left to do while we were discussing a sitcom. I prayed with a woman. I broke down in happy tears when a catheter finally went in and the bladder emptied. In the end it was staffing issues, and exhaustion that made me leave. Our manager thought it made sense to work two nights and a day shift every week. Once she scheduled me for 24 straight hours. Finally she called and told me I had to work the following night, even though I had I requested it off three months prior, had covered a sick call last minute that week and had a friend flying in from out of state to see a concert for her birthday.
When I resigned she tried to convince me to stay and told me I was a good nurse. That my patients loved me. That just gave me more confidence to go.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, August 12, 2011

I Hate Potty.

Ella is running around bare bottomed shouting "I want a notebook! I waaaant a NOTEBOOK!" I don't think she's going to get it.

All she has to do to get the notebook is pee. In the big girl pink princess throne music making potty. She has announced recently that she is going to wear diapers FOREVER, rather than have a tricycle, or a Jesse Doll, or look cool in preschool, or be just like her friend Caro. And cousin Hayes. And Mom.

Well I decided to give up, and was grateful I can still drive around and run errands for hours without worrying about being within 10 seconds of a potty at all times. Grandmas are both more willing to do the whole stay at home for a week naked and make her use the pot thing. Ugh. Sounds like something I would rather do in the dead of winter, not in these last precious summer days that are not unbearably hot and perfect for park and zoo going.

By the way, the above is the Potty Basket I put together for her, which includes lots of items from Target's dollar bin. A coloring book, crayons, warm fuzzy pom poms, stickers, blocks, a foam clock (she recently discovered our bathroom clock), Winnie the Pooh bandaids, a plastic microphone, a mini-football, and thrown in at the last second, a tiny notebook, which she has decided is perfect for writing down clues while watching Blues Clues. The notebook is what she wants. Today at grandma's she had success and got a little personal package of kleenex with ducks on them. She was thrilled.

However much she desires the notebook, it doesn't seem enough to overcome her rejection of the potty. She's mad. She wants to go to the picnic. She wants the notebook. She wants the potty to play music. She just really, really doesn't want to pee.

Can't we just wait till December? Seems Ella thinks so.

update: she did not earn the notebook and I need to stock up on carpet cleaner.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Erin's Favorite Things

Most of my random blog posts are born in my brain when I can't sleep. Last night I was thinking about how I had to take Ava to her doctor's appointment this morning and then had a lot of cleaning to do. Then I thought about that great clean house smell you get after a major day of cleaning, and I felt a little better. And I was grateful for Pine-Sol. And thus, this post was born. A short list of my current can't-live-withouts. The Tangle Teezer or The Knot Genie

This is a brush I originally bought online from England for like 18 bucks before Ava even arrived in our home because I heard on the Adoption hair care boards that it was great for AA hair. Well it is. It is also great on my hair, and on Ella's. It's meant for extra curly hair and gets out knots and snarls quickly and painlessly, but also glides through straight hair and feels like a little scalp massage. (Ella would disagree on painlessly, she is quite dramatic about getting her hair brushed). They are now available locally at stores like Cookie Cutters--they sell the Knot Genie which is very similar but a slightly different shape, I prefer this one because it fits just so in my hand and is easy to grasp as I chase Ella around trying to brush out wet hair. So now I have two, one for upstairs by the bath and one downstairs for doing hair in front of the TV.
which brings me to:Yes, it's expensive. And easy to get sucked into their ridiculous automatic delivery system and hard to get back out. I got lured in by a free one month supply and luckily I loved it, so I wasn't too furious when the giant 3 month supply arrived with a bill 6 weeks later. In case you don't know about Wen and don't frequent the Infomercial channel, this is a hair product, a Cleanser, if you will, and you just use this and no conditioner. You put on a ton of it, massage it like crazy, add a little water, brush it through with a tangle teezer or painful wide tooth comb they provide, let it sit and rinse out and my hair is so much softer and bouncier than it ever was. I'm growing it back out just because of this stuff. I've used nothing but this since the beginning of June and I will never go back. Bad name--when I hear the word Wen I think of a big ole cyst on some dude's face (true, look it up, you would think they would have before naming it) but maybe that's just me. They have a much less expensive brand called Hair One at Sally's which I tried, and it's good, but the Wen is just enough better that I'm sticking with it for now. However the kind they have for curly hair at Sally's with Argan oil is awesome for Ava. It's all I use on her now.
Have you tried these? They are delish. Probably somewhat better for you than a cookie so you can go with that idea as you eat the whole Costco box. Which is why I only have an empty wrapper to take a picture of.

Naps. I have always appreciated naps, but on this day, when we took Ella to a water park and she was a big grump the whole day, I was thrilled when she fell asleep on a damp towel and let me snooze next to her under a tree in the August heat. It was incredible. I woke up all drooly. And Zar got to go on slides to his heart's content.

As promised, Pine-Sol. Yes this is a giant 1.36 gallon bottle. I fell in love with it two years ago as we were arriving at the condo at the beach we have gone to with my family for years and years, and it had just been cleaned with something incredible smelling. Now it still reminds me of the beach and vacations. While I was pregnant with Lily I could not get enough of it, and made a little solution of it in a spray bottle that I used as an air freshener. And occasionally as a body mist. Probably not the best idea but pregnant ladies be crazy. I must include my beloved Vita-mix, bought at the State Fair circa 1999, back when I was working full time, living at home, and a $400 blender seemed like a fine idea. Best investment EVER. Right up there with higher education. Of course I make my spinach smoothies which keep me from living a totally veggie-free lifestyle, and it's also great for pureeing baby food, whipping up instant pudding, sauces, and those pesky tomato soups with big chunks of tomatoes in them that just ruin it. After a whirl in the vita-mix they goes down nice and smooth. Vita-Mix, I love you.

The Ipad. I didn't know I needed one until my dad offered to help pay for one so Ella wouldn't always be demanding to play Monkey Preschool Lunchbox on his. It changes EVERYTHING. The world will never be the same.

I wish Charlotte could have had an Ipad. I picture her in her little red wheelchair and her desk using her fat little fingers to scribble and make bubbles and maybe even point to the pictures she wanted to express...oh man. If you have a special needs child, you must get an Ipad. I'm sure I'm not the first person to think so.
... taking a moment to breath and remind myself that Charlotte certainly doesn't need an Ipad now, and if that's my biggest regret regarding her, (it's not) then we are very lucky. We will get into regrets another day. Or maybe we won't because we are doing quite well at the moment emotionally.

But anyway, why would I waste time with this stupid pointless post? Because of one thing that is waiting for me at the top of the stairs that definitely makes my Least-Favorite Things List. Thanks for indulging me. If you feel like futher distracting me from my household duties,

I will be checking the Ipad (sniff!) for any suggestions you may have for future favorite things lists. For now, back to laundry day.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Fun while it lasted...

A short, somewhat cautionary tale of my Bridesmaid Eyelash Extensions. Please excuse the ridiculous photos--tiny cell phone pic, massive forehead pic, and No-make-up hide-my-wonky-nose pic. It was quite distressing taking the photos for this post, and believe it or not,

THESE were the least offensive of the bunch.

Before my bro's wedding a couple weeks ago, my sisters and I got eyelash extensions. It was cheap--done by a student who came to us--and it was fun. New and different and glamorous. My sister-in-law-to-be had them and looked all Disney Princess 24 hours a day, even while fainting on the beach after we all passed around a tummy bug on vacation (which may or may not have started with me.) My sisters both looked awesome after our discount appointment. Mine were a little too dramatic, possibly because I'm over the big Three-Oh so they just looked a bit desperate, (or somewhat aging exotic dancer) or because I'm the palest of...well...pretty much anyone, so they looked really, really big. But fun. Perfect for the last big family wedding. Yes it's probably not the best to trust this to a student who is charging like 1/4 the normal price, but really she did a great job gluing the super-lashes on I did a great job falling asleep and snoring myself awake every 2 minutes for an hour and a half. No one got an infection or anything else creepy, so forgive me my less than super-cautious nature when it comes to cosmetic issues...

And this is me now. man my nose looks terrifying up close... You see a couple hangers-on; tough little buggers who did not succumb to my steam and olive oil soak yesterday. Let's be clear--you aren't supposed to take them off. You are supposed to go get "fills" every 3 weeks or so to fill in the ones that have naturally fallen off. That just wasn't in my budget, financially or time-wise, and I became alarmed when it seemed mine were falling off with half a lash still attached, leaving me with sad little lash stubs. Yes you can go get them taken off safely and professionally, but what a waste of a babysitter. So I went with the Google method of oil dissolving them off and this is where I am left. Yes a few may have been accidentally tugged off which resulted in complete loss of lash. Also a no-no.

I looked into going and having them professionally re-done which, as aforementioned, is expensive and time consuming, and then there's the Old Stripper issue....
So I'm just going to stick with my own lashes for the time being. With make up they really are fine, and I don't look too much like Creepy Robin Hood like I do in picture 2 above. In a few weeks they will have grown back in, and will always seem wimpy and sad compared to the Sleeping Beauty lashes I briefly enjoyed.

That is...unless I try that stuff Brooke Shields sells.

Funny how I never gave my lashes an iota of thought until two weeks ago. Weird things creep in when you aren't worrying about life or death, turns out.

But, you know, live and learn.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Charlotte and Lily's Tree Update

Well as far as I'm concerned Fall is fast approaching, which is fabulous as it's the best time of the year. Football, the State Fair, Halloween, sweaters, boots, Cornbelly's, pumpkin's the ultimate.
It also means that suddenly I have to buckle down on Charlotte and Lily's tree for the Festival of Trees. This is the big main fundraiser for our local children's hospital, Primary Children's
Medical Center, where my girls received much of their care. We decorate and donate an artificial tree in honor of my girls which will then be auctioned off, the proceeds to benefit the hospital. We did a butterfly tree in 2009 for Charlotte which sold for over $3000, which was amazing, and also most likely beginner's luck.
You may remember we are doing a carousel theme this year to fit with the awesome carousel horse we were given by some friends and neighbors shortly after Lily's funeral. See below if you have forgotten her to see how she currently looks, quietly awaiting her days of glory in my basement. I have also received some donations via our paypal button for which we are very grateful, as well as a couple gift cards which I am saving for last minute items. I hit up my parents last week and asked if they would like to buy the pre-lit tree itself again this year, and they accepted my offer to be a vital part of our project.
I just wanted to show you what we have so far and get any input.

I'm not sure what to do with these little guys. They are quite cute really, and originally I thought I could just spray paint them all gold or silver. I'm not incredibly artistic but they could be so, so gorgeous, you know? Anyone have any bright ideas? These could look great or very cheesy. These I found on sale and bought 25 of them. (update--went back to, they were down to clearance, so bought more, now have 50.) I wanted something to represent the mirrors and jewels you often see on carousels. I'm fairly pleased with them, but might change out the ribbons.

These are the carousel ornaments, most of them from Hallmarks collection. I also came across a few other non-Hallmark items which I snatched up. We probably have about 12 of these. I realize I will be needing more. I have been buying them online. A few of the animals are considered collectors items and are way expensive, (the giraffe for $200) so I am not going after those. My favorite is the tiger anyway. He's like $9.
I'm not sure if we will use these. I have a couple boxes of them I originally bought for Charlotte's "Princess Pea" tree (one of her nicknames) which then I didn't do because I had two newborns, one being Lily, who was in the hospital at the time. I still may do the Princess Pea tree in couple of years so am not sure if I will save these or not. Guess it depends on what else I find. The big carousel horse has a lot of pink and green which would make these ornaments perfect, but the small carousel animals have more jewel tones, which I am thinking I would rather focus on for this one. Green and Blue and Gold and Silver. Red or purple accents. Thoughts?

And here is the star of the show. Isn't she lovely?

I still need to get balls, a tree skirt, garland, and other fanciness which I will be on the look out for over the next several weeks. I am unsure of what to do about the tree topper--I was thinking maybe a flag like you might see on top of a carousel, but that might be silly. Ideas?
We have been assigned spot F-1 which is a corner lot. Which is good but also bad as it means we have a lot of room to fill.
Thank you to everyone who has donated to our tree! I have been so touched! Doing the tree in 2009 was so healing and a wonderful way to celebrate Charlotte and the wonderful Christmas Season. Decorating day is at the end of November and the festival runs the first few days in December. If you are local and have never been you should really go. There are so many awesome trees to check out. It's the kick off to my Christmas season, (if you don't count the day after Halloween, which is my official kick off day. Heh heh. I just can't get enough.)
I would love to hear any ideas or inspiration you have!
Thanks for checking in!