Friday, June 29, 2012

You would be 32 today...

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June 30th
(Plain and simple, June sucks... June also marks 4 years since I have seen my brother.. because he passed away 13 days before I was to fly home for my sisters wedding...)

This picture is a great picture of him, as he hated getting his picture taken. This was taken the day I left for Japan... we spent time at a Kid's Place for the kids to play... it became one we hated seeing because it was on the obituary and everything...

I always dread this day.. well at least for the past 3 years I have. The past 3 Junes have come and gone so quickly and with it another part of my heart breaks off and leaves me. For the past two weeks I have thought of this day, daily... multiple times. I use to love June 30th. I use to love to try and figure out what kind of gift to give.. what was wanted, what was needed. Now all I want is just to be in East Texas... to visit the place we put your ashes to rest.. and well, I can't. 
This was his new car. He was so proud of this Tahoe.... the only time I was able to see it was at the junk yard after the wreck... not good. 
The last day I ever saw my brother in person again, alive. The last day I touched him, hugged him, spoke to him face to face.. 2008... the day I flew out to Japan.
Shane was painting a mural at his work (home for children).. he was coming home late that night from working on it when he has his wreck. This is when I went home.. I was six months pregnant. I wanted to see it... that day, earlier before the wreck... I had opened an email at work from my mom of a picture of the zebra face that he had texted her...

Brittany and I have really been blessed with an amazing life. We have a family that so many people only dream of having. I would dare to say that we always thought we were lucky and that bad things didn't happen to us. We have lived a happy life... growing up with parents that loved us, a mom we have always been super close with, and the awesome chance to have a Big Brother who we have not only looked up to and admired but relied on to have our back any time it was necessary--- and even the times it was not necessary. We have always trusted that God has a plan for our lives and that everything happens for a reason. On December 3, 2009 our world changed, was shattered, and even our faith was rocked.

To the right: Last day with my big brother...
Below: Brittany and our big brother...

My last *extended* Family Christmas with my big brother... and would be one of the last ones we ever had again... 

You can read my first blog post after hearing the news here and Britt's here. You can also visit our sweet mom's blog here! 
The summer before I moved to Japan.. eating at Casa Ole' with my mom and brother... I remember that day- he was down about something. I hated it when he was down... my brother. I always worried about him.

Memories and pictures are all we have left. I want so bad to go read through my personal blog and read all of the things I wrote during that first year.... that is all I could write about. My heart just hurt so bad. I know people got tired of hearing about it... so I honestly started just to keep it to myself. I want to go read it.... I want to listen to the voicemail from him.. but I just don't have the strength. Not today. 
Shane and his baby boy, his mini-me today, Ashtyn... this picture.. his piercing blue eyes! 

Tomorrow perhaps. Yes, tomorrow. June 30th. The day we celebrate the day my brother was born. The day we celebrated him for 29 years. June 30th, the day he was welcomed into this world and December 3, the day he was taken from this world. Even as I write this- as I write that... it doesn't seem real. When does it become real? Ever? I hate both of those days. June 30th and December 3rd. Will I ever be able to enjoy these days and just celebrate my brother? Instead on June 30 and December 3 I try and busy myself and when I do find time completely alone... I do read blogs, listen to voicemails, watch his Funeral DVD. It is what I do on these unwanted days. It is how I grieve on these days.. I think I will do this forever. 
Shane and his baby girl... Addi

Shane and his oldest daughter, his first born, Chloe.
Shocking? I don't like to cry in front of people or show my feelings... even in front of my husband, I don't like to cry. Never mind the fact that we have been together since I was 16... I do not like for him to see me cry and when I am so sad and heartbroken... I do not want to be physically comforted. Is that weird? I want to be alone... to cry alone... to do it my way. And for the most part I do. June 30th is just another day to most... even extended family don't have to mourn the way we do on this day. Mom, Dad, Britt, and I... our hearts grieve like no other. I can't imagine what my parents go through... remembering this was the day their first born, their only son was born. Ugh.

Shane with his kids.. He loved his kids. They were his world... He was one of the best daddy's out there.. one of the main reasons I will NEVER understand. There are so many fatherless children or kids that have terrible dads... and one of the best ones who loooooved them.. was taken. 

I have thought for weeks what I could do to make this day special in honor of Shane. I have come up empty. I had decided to do a run with Noah... but couldn't find one that was close enough... I thought about letting off my own balloons.. anything.... But what I want is just to be home. I want to let off balloons with his three amazing children. I want to make cookies cake with them and put "Happy Birthday, Daddy" on it... I want to visit the cemetery. I want!!! But I can't. Instead, year after year.. I sit here alone. These are the times I really hate not living in the same area as my family.. because I can't be there. Mom was telling me about their plans for tomorrow... she carried on telling me what they were doing and was explaining that she bought something (phone was breaking up)....

"to take to him...."

These pictures are from Shane's 30th Birthday... his first one not to be on this Earth. This is what they have done each year and will again this year.. today! They don't really get it... These beautiful, sweet, kids... should not have to go to a cemetery to 'tell' their Daddy Happy Birthday.
Funny how certain things can set you off. I about lost it. To.Take.To.Him. Why isn't he here? Why does she have to 'take something to him' at a cemetery? NO MOM should have to do that. I couldn't even ask her to repeat what she said she got- I assume it is something for his grave. How I wish I could go. I can count on two hands, and closer to one.. how many times I have been there. I wish I could just go. The fear and oddness I use to feel at cemeteries is no more. I remember after I had my little boy and we went home when he was 3 months old. I finally, FINALLY, after days of being there... went to see my brother's headstone. I had only seen it by email (it is perfect)... but I took Noah with me. I held my sweet boy, sat on my brothers grave, talked to him, and just cried... then when I couldn't do that anymore I started straightening the things that are around his grave, wiping the tombstone... I remember not wanting to leave. I wanted to stay there.. I wanted him to show up.. to hug me.... to tell me that life was going to be ok... I wanted him to meet his nephew.... he was FINALLY an Uncle Shane.... but he would never hear those words come from my or Britt's kids. Life really is not fair. 

The perfect headstone for him... my mom, dad, sister, and myself worked hard together to pick this out... his kids were his world.. so it is perfect. 

I HATE those dates.. and seeing them so permanently here.. 

I could go on... but it is best emotionally to stop. 

As you go about your day please say a pray to whatever God you believe in for my family-- particularly my mom, dad, sister, and my brothers kids. 

June 30th, I am so thankful for this date.. because this is the date that my big brother was born and I am SO thankful to have had so long with him... but I sure don't want you to be here... I don't want to think about this. It is easier to push it back.... it is what I do. 


-Big Sis

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Texas Blogger Series: Howdy Girl

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We are excited to continue with our Texas Blogger Series! But we wanted to remind you of our link up party going on right now and especially the GIVEAWAY!! Go ahead and enter AND link up your awesomeness!! 

Today, Laura is going to be sharing a little bit about her Texas life with us! Laura is a new friend that blogs over at Howdy Girl.  I hope that all of yall will have as much fun getting to know her as I plan to as I get to know her more! Be sure to stop by Howdy Girl to get to know her a little better and see what she's all about! Laura, thanks so much for joining us today as a fellow Texas Blogger! :-) 
Howdy Girl
Howdy y'all! My name is Laura and I'm so glad to be here at Natural Nesters! If you couldn't tell already, I am indeed from Texas and I blog at Howdy Girl (see, going with the Texas theme!) I'll be a freshman at Sam Houston State in the fall, so I have no intention of leaving the wonderful state I call home.

All of my life, I've lived in the Metroplex. No, we aren't a metropolitan area like all the other big cities in the country, we're the Metroplex.

For all y'all who don't know what that is, here's a map of the Metroplex.

Yes, Dallas-Fort Worth is not a metropolitan area, we're the Metroplex. And since we have our own name, that automatically makes us cooler than every other metropolitan area in the country (okay, Texas metropolitan areas are pretty awesome too -BUT just because they're from Texas).

I've lived here my whole life. When I pack up and move to Huntsville (just an hour north of Houston) in August, that'll be the second time in my life that I've moved. The last time I moved, it was just across town to a bigger house.

Texas, and the metroplex have definitely defined me in a way. I love the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Mavericks. I love how the whole metroplex has united itself behind the Rangers these past few years. It's been a crazy ride.

There's a thirty plus mile difference between Dallas and Fort Worth, but I love how we're all united as a whole. We're a little bit of everything. We're all part of a big metropolitan area, but we're still Texas to the core (no, that does not mean we ride horses to school - well, unless you count Ford Mustangs). It really is the best of both worlds, and I'll admit, I'll miss it when I move.

Needless to say, I love Texas and I'm a Metroplex Girl.

Don't forget while I am gone if you would like to keep up with us, we are keeping a small blog called Mission-Trinidad! Be sure to check it out, we will be posting pics, giving updates on how we are doing, and sharing some great testimonies about how good the Lord is!  
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Texas Blogger Series: A Beautiful Day

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We are excited to continue with our Texas Blogger Series! But we wanted to remind you of our link up party going on right now and especially the GIVEAWAY!! Go ahead and enter AND link up your awesomeness!! 

I am so excited for you all to meet this wonderful Texas blogger Julie! She is so sweet, and so inspiring in her blog,  A Beautiful Day. I'm so glad that Julie wanted to come over and share with us all here at Natural-Nesters! Enjoy her joyful spirit, then head over to A Beautiful Day and let her know how much you enjoyed her visit! You won't regret getting to know this sweet blogger a little more! 

Hi, Natural-Nesters readers!  I am Julie and I am guest posting today.  You can usually find me posting at A Beautiful Day.  I love to blog, although sometimes a bit sporadic....I love the fact that I am documenting important and sometimes not so important things to look back on in the future.  I don't think that I would say that my blog has a theme per se, but I do tend to blog about things that I am passionate about:  My family is small, just my parents and my son here in Texas.  We are small, but there is a lot of love.  My son is truly the light of my life!  I share custody with his father, which is difficult but I always try to make the most of our time together.  He is very smart and is very passionate about salt water fish tanks.  He wants to be a marine biologist.  My fur-baby Jack, is quite the character.  He has more energy than any one cat should have and he is fiesty to a fault...biting is not unusual.  Frowned upon, but not unusual!  He usually makes a blog appearance at least once a month via a link up that I participate in.  I love to scrapbook....I think it started about 4 years ago and has just snowballed from there.  I have not completed one project for myself yet, but I have several in the planning stages.  Pretty much all the ones that I have completed have gone to others for gifts or been work that I have done for my business Pictures and Pens.  If you are interested, please stop by my Facebook page to view all of my projects.

My sweet little family

This not so little guy has my heart

This guy is trouble with a capital "T"....but we love him just the same

Can't get enough of scrapbooking....caught the bug about 4 years ago...I am truly addicted
I came upon Natural Nesters because Brittany and I both joined a Facebook Group for ladies that blog in Texas....aptly titled Texas Bloggers.

Texas Bloggers

Such a fun group of ladies!  We have started weekly Google+ chats that I am really excited about.  Last week I had some technical difficulties, but am definitely looking forward to next time and meeting more of the ladies from the group.  That was one of the things that I was most looking forward to when I started blogging...meeting others that I would probably never cross paths with were it not for our love of blogging.  A few of us are actually in the DFW metroplex or not too far away that we can evenually plan a meet up.  Can't wait for that!!!

If you have a chance, I would love for you to drop by my little piece of the blog world..  I love visitors and love to meet new people!!!

Thank you so much, Brittany for giving me the opportunity to guest post here at Natural Nesters!  It has truly been my pleasure.  I hope that you are having a wonderful and rewarding time on your mission trip!

xoxo, Jules

Don't forget while I am gone if you would like to keep up with us, we are keeping a small blog called Mission-Trinidad! Be sure to check it out, we will be posting pics, giving updates on how we are doing, and sharing some great testimonies about how good the Lord is!  
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WLW #15

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 We wanted to remind you of our link up party going on right now and especially the GIVEAWAY!! Go ahead and enter AND link up your awesomeness!! ******************************************************
Hey Guys!
It is so fun having our Texas Bloggers this week! I hope you have been meeting them and showing them so loving. Hard to believe that we are on WLW 15. We have come so far. I, big sis, am currently at a stand still. I have not lost any weight and am trying hard not to be discouraged. I am feeling great so that is all that matters. 
This week I want to share with you guys some of the healthy snacks I have been preparing for my kids in daycare. They are loving them and it makes it even better that they are so healthy. I would love to hear of any healthy, fun snack recipes that you have for kids.... 
We did an art activity making Ice Cream cones and using the letters of our names... so we had to have 'ice cream' afterwards. It just so happens that I never have this kind of food in my house... so I got creative.. AND they loved it! 
 We filled ice cream cones with grapes and baking peanut butter bites! They kept asking for more and more.. GRAPES! 
That is my little monkey saying cheese and showing you his ice cream cone. 

This morning we decided to show some 4th of July Spirit. Before we ate breakfast we worked hard putting our Red, White, and Blue fruit skewers together. Again, the kids LOVED making their own food, in this manner, and they quickly ate it all along with the rest of their breakfast. It was YUMMY to their TUMMY! 

Again, my little man showing off his hard work... and then him chowing down! 

So again, if you have any neat, fun, healthy snack ideas.. PLEASE SHARE 

Also, don't forget we now have a Fitness--Motivation Pinterest Boardwhere we pin a lot of inspiring fitness and health pins, so be sure to stop by and check it out! 

 Here's our stats for this week: 

WLW Stats for BIG SIS:(Cassey)
Starting Weight: 210
Wed. 3/21: -13lbs total 
Wed. 4/3: -16lbs total
Wed. 4/10: -22lbs total
Wed. 4/17: -25lbs total
Wed. 4/25: -29lbs total
Wed. 5/2: -32lbs total
Wed. 5/9: -34lbs total  
Wed.5/16: -34lbs total
Wed. 5/23: -37lbs total
Wed. 5/30: -36lbs total
Wed. 6/6/12: -42lbs total (168)
Wed. 6/13/12: -39lbs total
Wed. 6/20/12: -42lbs total
Wed. 6/27/12: -42lbs total

WLW Stats for LITTLE SIS: (Brittany)
Starting Weight: 170
Wed.3/28: -3lbs total
Wed. 4/10: -6.5lbs total
Wed. 4/17: -7.5lbs total
Wed. 4/25: -7.5lbs total
Wed. 5/2: -8.5lbs total
Wed. 5/9: -10.5lbs total 
Wed.5/16: -10.5lbs total
Wed. 5/23: -10.5lbs total
Wed. 5/30: -12lbs total 
Wed. 6/6: on vacation! 
Wed. 6/13/12:-10lbs total
Wed. 6/20/12: -10lbs total
Wed. 6/27/12: MISSION TRIP

Our Linky Party has a GIVEAWAY this week!!! 
Don't forget to stop by our Naturally-Nifty Party #20  and link up this week!
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

GIVEAWAY WINNER!! Naturally Nifty Party #20!!!! We made it!!

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We would like to announce the WINNER of the wonderful Peacock Inspired, Personally Monogramed Wreath! 
And the Winner is....

Kelley Grant from The Grant Life!

Congrats & Thanks to everyone who participated!  

Hey everyone!! Guess what today is!??!? 
We are going to start today off by telling you about our wonderful giveaway, then we will end it with our TOP 4 FEATURES from last week's party, and of course the 20th link up!! 

So...since today is our 20th Naturally-Nifty Party, we wanted to celebrate with all of our friends by doing a giveaway! 
The winner will receive this wonderful/fun summer wreath that Brittany, aka Little Sis has hung in her own home! Big Sis and Little Sis made these wreaths when they spent time together in California and we thought it would be a perfect giveaway for one of our awesome readers! 

One Lucky Winner will get to take this Peacock inspired wreath home with them, with it personally monogramed with the letter that you want on it! 

Fill out the Rafflecopter below for multiple chances to win! 

Now for this week's features! 

4 You With Love shared this amazing new idea that I have never heard of but I love! She took normal old white yarn and was able to make all different colors of yarn using Kool Aid! How amazing is that! And look how bright and colorful hers turned out! You could really do a lot with this idea, and save a lot of money on yarn...because instead of needing so many different colors you could just get some white and dye the amount that you need with Kool Aid! Everyone definitely needs to head over and check out how to do this fun tutorial! 

I absolutely LOVE this bench made from an old headboard and footboard made by Alderberry Hill! Sarah got such a great deal on the headboard...from Goodwill she paid #3.99 for the head and footboard which is an awesome deal.  Plus I love the color choice she picked! This is the perfect splash of color for an outdoor bench to add to your yard or patio! Great job Sarah (& your husband :-) !  


Marilyn over at 4 You With Love has some of the neatest things on her blog. I love using coconut oil and I love making snacks that my little man can eat. When I saw that these homemade graham crackers used coconut oil, I knew this is something that I have to try. We are actually in the process of reviewing some coconut oil for a giveaway and I believe this is something I am going to use it for! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. 


Our friend at Vixen Made created the cutest little reading nook for her daughter. I have always had reading nooks in my classroom.. and she has inspired me to create one in my daycare. I love the curtains that she made... they are adorable. She gives us step by step directions on how to make our own. Go check out her blog, she has some really awesome things over there. Thanks for linking up. 

For all of you that were featured, don't forget to grab this fun featured button to put on your blog and brag with!! 

And remember as part of being featured, we will be pinning these great posts to our Pinterest boards, check it out! 

Now let's have some fun!! 
We want to see all of your fantastic new posts, so have fun with it!! Show us what you have been up to and be sure to mingle while you are here! Visit other blogs and be sure to LIKE them! 

Please SUBSCRIBE to our blog on the left sidebar!
Also, take one of our Naturally-Nifty Party Buttons to put on your blog or add us to your linky parties tab on your blog!
And please stop by our Like FACEBOOK page and Follow us on TWITTER

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Texas Blogger Series: Goings on in Texas

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Taylor, who is visiting from the blog Goings on in Texas is another wonderful blogger from Texas! I am so excited for what Taylor is sharing today...I have such a sweet spot in my heart for photographs, so anything with displaying photos in a new and creative way makes me so happy! I hope you will enjoy this project that she is sharing as much as I did! Taylor has tons of funs things like this over at her place, so be sure to go over and get to know her some more, and let her know you are visiting from Natural-Nesters! 

Goings on in Texas

Hi Everyone!! I'm Taylor and I blog over at Goings on in Texas. I am a 30-something, Texas transplant who was born and raised in Arkansas. I moved to this great state in 1999 to attend college and I never looked back. I do miss the beautiful scenery of my home state, but I've grown roots in Texas and it looks like Texas will continue to be my "new" home.

I'm married to fabulous guy (2006). We do not have any children, unless you want to consider our used car lot a child. :) I am a Petroleum Landman, Certified Personal Trainer, Used Car Lot Owner, Landlord, Christ follower, Entrepreneur, Crafter, DIYer, Cook, Organizer, Gardener, Traveler, Singer, Book-a-holic, Shoe Lover, Talker, Wife and probably a whole lot more, but that paints you a picture, I'm sure. ;) So, what can you find within my blog?? Bits and pieces of my life. Total randomness about my hobbies, thoughts and everything in between. The sky is the limit with me. Each Thursday I host a link party for all your DIY/Recipes/Craft Projects (come link up!) I hope you'll follow me on my blogging journey! :)

I'd like to share with you a fun project that I actually made for my in-laws for the Christmas Gift this past year. It's a tutorial on how to make your own photos on canvas. If you notice, my pictures are watermarked with my Craft blog (Crafty Et ceteras). It's currently on hiatus due to all my stuff being in storage but we are moving soon, so hopefully I can get crafty again! ;)

Here is what you'll need:
**Your choice of photos (I made a custom collage (10 x 10) using Picnik (since Picnik no longer exists unless you are on google+, you could use PicMonkey or iPiccy to make your photo collage) and then sent the files to a flash drive and had Staples print each collage photo file on 11 x 17 card stock paper.)
**Canvas (I used a 12 x 12 size. I bought a package of 7 on sale for $12 at Michael's.)
**Mod Podge (or your homemade version of Mod Podge)
**Foam Applicators
**Acrylic Paint in your choice of color (I used Martha Stewart Crafts Multi-Surface Satin Acrylic Craft Paint in Beetle Black.)
**Scissors or Paper Trimmer

Step 1: Using a foam applicator, apply a coat of acrylic paint around the border (about 2-3" in) and on all sides and let dry. You want to apply a thick enough border around the edges so that the picture you center on your canvas covers any white space.

Step 2: Cut/trim your photo down to the size you want it to be.

Step 3: Add a thin coat of Mod Podge using an applicator brush. Make sure you add enough so that when you lay your photo down, there is enough glue at the edges. It's okay if you put a wider layer of Mod Podge than your picture.

Step 4: Gently place your photo in the center of your canvas. Starting at the center, gently press your hand down in the center and push out towards the edge slowly easing the photo down onto the glue and easing the air bubbles out. Continue this process all around the photo. The edges may want to sort of curl up, just continue running your finger around the outside edges (drawing a square as you go) to allow the glue to get tacky enough to hold the edges down. (I had to keep "drawing" the square with my finger several times until I felt the picture was properly adhered to the canvas.)

Step 5: Allow to completely dry.

Step 6: Add your first coat of Mod Podge using an applicator brush to your newly placed photo on the canvas. Make sure to cover the entire canvas.

Step 7: Allow your first coat to completely dry.

Step 8: Add a second coat of Mod Podge, making sure to cover the entire canvas.

Step 8: Allow your second coat to completely dry.

Step 9: OPTIONAL: If you feel you need to add a third coat of Mod Podge, go ahead and add it. Make sure to allow to completely dry.

Once your canvas has finished drying, prep it for hanging or displaying. You could add a ribbon hanger to your canvas or just add picture hanging hardware. Or you could display your art on a plate holder easel. Lots of possibilities!

When I had my pictures printed at Staples, they first started printing them on the card stock. However, due to technical difficulties with their Commercial printer (it kept eating the paper), they changed my paper to a photo-type paper. When I placed the photo-type paper on the mod podge, the moisture from the glue caused the paper to begin to curl up. It didn't want to lay right and also began to ripple/wave. The cardstock paper by far was the most superior paper. It stayed down like I was hoping it would and had almost no ripple/wave to it. So, I highly recommend the cardstock paper for this particular project.

Here is the collage of 10 canvas photos now hanging on the wall. :)

Happy Crafting!

Don't forget while I am gone if you would like to keep up with us, we are keeping a small blog called Mission-Trinidad! Be sure to check it out, we will be posting pics, giving updates on how we are doing, and sharing some great testimonies about how good the Lord is!  
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