My mother would be proud...

It's horrible lighting, I know.
It was nighttime and I knew that if I didn't take a picture now,
I would forget to.

Anyways, I changed my bathroom to turquoise & red!
My mom would be SO proud!
She says my color palette usually revolves around "clear",
so this is a step in the right direction for her.

Above the toilet, there is this wall, but the space really isn't all that big.
One picture hanging there looks kind of weird,
so I decided to do a gallery wall instead.

I LOVE red and turquoise together!
It makes me happy.

I bought this gorgeous container that's all crackled and pretty,
and then put some pretty poppies inside of it.
The bottles on the right, I plan to put up on the window sill.

You can kind of see the vase a little better here.
(*an aside of drama* I dropped the vase on the driveway as I was taking it out of the car!
GAH!  It broke in several places, but I was able to hotglue it from the inside out,
and keep the pieces in place.  Hopefully it will hang in there for the long-term because I love it!)

I would have liked to take pictures of everything hanging on the walls,
but I couldn't get them to photograph well.
Oh well, you get the idea.
Here are a few of the them....

lurve you, xoxo v.


Quiet but grateful....

This week has drained me,
left me spent.

I don't often get involved in my kids' drama anymore,
I sometimes will inject advice,
but really I try to simply steer clear.

This week,
the trouble was on another level.

 I was more than involved.
I cried, I lost sleep.
I was truly worried and prayed like crazy.

Every time the phone rang,
I was fearful of what news it would bring.

In the end, as always,
I saw God's hand and His faithfulness.
I believe He saved lives,
and hopefully changed hearts.

I got to talk to my son,
and not just talk,
but hopefully he heard me.
Heard that he is loved,
prayed for.

Because he is.

I will remain confident in this, I will see the goodness of the Lord.

lurve you, xoxo v.


It's gone. It's all gone.

My hair?
It's gone.
I got a bad haircut.
I wanted a trim,
I got a butch.
Short, uneven, choppy.
They tried to "fix" it,
but it's as good as it's gonna get until it grows out some.
All I can do now is rock this thing,
and pretend I chose this on purpose and that I love it.

(and NO I'm not posting pictures of it!  *shaking my head*)

lurve you, xoxo v.

He's here and he has red hair :)

My Shawnda Lou Pew is a mom. :)
And he looks just like his daddy, red hair and all.

Cameron Michael Salyer, 
born at 9:17pm, 
7.1 pounds, 21 inches

Allison, Jacob, Cameron & Shawnda

lurve you, xoxo v.


Natural Wave....

Okay, this isn't about the moonface,
which I know I still have a bit of.

It's about my hair.
And I know that you can't completely see it,
because my headset is pushing it flat .
I should have taken a picture earlier in the day.

This is the thing...
Sometime in the past few years
(after the hair I lost from the last chemo started coming back?),
I developed a natural curl.
Well, more like a wave,
but still way more than I used to have.

I used to have stick-straight hair,
but now I have to use a flat iron to have that straight look.
Naturally, it's wavy and even somewhat curly.
I like it a lot...
I always used to want to have curly hair like my cousin Michelle's,
but now I'm happy with a little wave.
It's a nice change, just unexpected.
lurve you, xoxo v.

One of the things that made me cry today....

Their first family photo.

I love how God can use the blessings of someone you love to bless you.

You don't even have to be involved,
and yet your heart can swell just from seeing someone you love be blessed.

Welcome Jacob.

Aunt Soapie loves you to the moon and back.

lurve you, xoxo v.


My super-secret skin care routine!

I always get asked what I do to have such great skin,
and was asked again just yesterday,
so I thought I'd share the behind the scenes stuff.

here's my big, deep, dark secret....

wait for it, wait for it....

I have none.

Not really

Sorry guys!  I could lie to you and tell you that I spend 
hundreds on special creams or face washes,
but it would be a lie.

The truth is,
that I have a buff puff that I keep in the shower,
and exfoliate with it a few times per week.
Then, I have a day moisturizer with a lot of SPF in it,
and then a heavier night cream.

Face wash you ask?

Honestly, the secret is that I don't use ANY face wash.  Ever.
I never use anything but PLAIN WATER to wash my face and never have.
Well, there was a point in time, a few years ago, 
that I bought some face wash and used it a few times a week,
but I found that it changed my skin...
made it a little more dry, a little more irritated.
So, I never bought more.

I have to admit,
that in the past few months,
since coming off of the heavy hormones they had me on most of the year,
and having had some "female" surgery,
my skin is becoming a little more skiddish.
My chin itches and I actually had a blemish the other day!
Now don't throw things at me,
but I've only had a few of those in my whole life.
I've been very blessed in the break-out area.
So, this change is freaking me out a little bit.
I don't want skin changes as I get older!

So, anyways, I thought I'd show you the inside of my medicine cabinet to prove 
to you that I don't use a ton of products, and certainly nothing expensive.

Okay, so this is the medicine cabinet.
Meds on the top,
utensils (clippers, tweezers, etc.) in the middle,
skin care, eye drops and moisturizers on the bottom.

On the inside of the door, I have a copy of Psalm 91.
It was helpful for me to read it whenever I was feeling anxious in the past month or so.

So, here it is...
my big, private, skin care regime!
Wal-mart brand night cream,
and Loreal Youth Code day cream.
And let me say,
I'm not that impressed with the Loreal stuff.
I didn't notice any big change from it,
so I don't know that I'm willing to pay $20 bucks for another bottle.
Isn't that horrible!? lol
To me, $20 is a lot of money for moisturizer.

If any of you know of a good day cream with SPF,
PLEASE feel free to let me know!
I'm looking for a new one now!
lurve you, xoxo v.


Happy Birthday 2012!

I had a really sweet birthday this year.
I went for a massage, but other than that,
nothing too exciting.

I thought it was really sweet that Paul 
made this pink, Hello Kitty cake for me. :)
It couldn't be more me.

He also gave me a card that made me cry.
I love the way he picks out cards.
Don't tell him I said this,
but he's kind of like a girl in the respect that
he'll actually stand in the card aisle and read through all
of them in order to find that one that is just right.
So, when I get a card from him,
I know that he means it.
That's why this card was so special and sweet...
here's what it said:

Having you to love is reason enough to celebrate...
but now that it's your birthday,
there's all the more reason.

I could wish you all kinds of happy things.
and you'd deserve them all...
but since you're so special,
I want to wish you
all the happiness you've given me.

You're a very warm and caring person,
and you've made such a difference in my life.
No matter where we go,
or what we do,
you're the one
who makes those times wonderful.

That's why I hope
your birthday celebration
is especially wonderful for you.

After all, your birthday
only happens once a year...
and someone like you
only happens
once in a lifetime.

Awwwww! Yay Paul!  Good card Boo! :)

lurve you, xoxo v.

Happy Birthday Aunt Soapie!

Jacob sent me birthday wishes to my phone!
What a sweet boy! ;)
lurve you, xoxo v.



As you all know,
I have been a fan of "The Girl Who"
for years.
Years and years and years.

Well, yesterday, they suffered a devastating loss
when their house burned down.
Turns out, they didn't have renters insurance either.

This means,
they need our help.
Mine, yours, everyone's.

The following was copied from

Goal: $10,000 
Tally so Far: $1150
I know that many of y’all love Serge and Monica Bielanko, just as I do. They are truly lovely people, in addition to being two of the most talented bloggers in our online parenting community.
And we ARE a community, whether you’re a blogger yourself or a reader.
bielanko family fire
Serge, Monica, Violet and baby Henry

Yesterday, the Bielankos’ rural Pennsylvania home – a rental farmhouse into which they’ve poured time and love in recent months, since they made the brave leap to relocate from Utah – suffered a major house fire.

bielanko serge fire
Serge had been working meticulously to refinish the floors in their new home, which they were SO excited to have found and to be able to afford.

While the cause of the blaze isn’t known yet, the fire appears to have started in or somewhere near Violet’s upstairs bedroom, where 2 year old Violet was playing alone at the time. Monica had the horrifying experience of having to rescue her baby girl from a room already engulfed in flames.
Thank God, no one was hurt. Serge, Monica, Violet and baby Henry – plus their two dogs, Max and Milo – all escaped, only to stand outside helplessly and see their beloved home burn as firefighters worked to save it.
While it will take days or more to determine the full extent of the loss of their belongings, we already know that the losses are extensive. Additionally, while they are able to stay with Serge’s mom for now, we know for certain that the family will have to relocate soon to a new rental home, and start completely over.  And unfortunately – and to their eternal regret – they were not adequately covered by renters’ insurance. Their landlord is hoping that at some point they may be able to get back into his house once all the fire damage is repaired, but for right now, that’s just not happening.

Bielanko Fire House
The Bielankos' Home (with Violet on Porch) Before the Fire

Serge and Monica are both self employed. Serge is a musician and stay at home dad, working on his first book. Monica works harder than just about anyone I know to support her family as a freelance writer. They get by, but their budget had zero wiggle room for something so catastrophic.
That’s where we come in, y’all.
Starting today, many of us in the blogging community are launching an emergency fundraising appeal for the Bielanko family. They need funds to find and rent a new place, and to replace everything they already know they lost.
Later, after we know more clearly what stuff might be helpful – adn after they have a place to put it – donations of things like furniture, toys or clothing might be useful. But for now, like every working family faced with a situation like this, these folks are going to need actual money to rebuild their lives.
I literally had to BEG Serge and Monica to let people help them; they would NEVER have asked for any help themselves. But they finally agreed after I told them I would do it anyway ;-)  But these are people who WILL pay it forward when the time comes, and I also know that if they end up with funds that are in excess of what they actually need to rebuild their life, they plan to donate it to their local Red Cross to help other families who suffer fire losses.
Here’s our goal: let’s all work together to raise a total of $10,000 in an emergency fire fund for the Bielanko family.
My sister Betsy Allison Tant, whom many of you know as the Executive Director of Henry’s Fund, has agreed to serve as our neutral, third party “collector of funds,” and keeper of records for our Bielanko Family Fire Emergency Fundraiser.
Betsy will carefully tally and record all gifts that come in, and she will be the one to distribute the funds raised directly to Serge and Monica Bielanko.
Every day – multiple times throughout the day – I will be updating the running tally of how close we are to our $10,000 fundraising goal.  Our fundraiser will end when we hit that $10,000 mark.
There are several ways you can give.
1 – You could make a monetary gift of any amount (even $5 helps!) via my sister Betsy’s PayPal account at email address: ejatant@gmail.com. Please indicate that your gift is for the Bielanko Family Fire Fund.  Betsy and I promise to be very careful stewards of every penny that anyone is kind enough to donate, and all funds will then be distributed directly to Serge and Monica. (Please be aware that this is not a tax deductible donation you will be making, but is instead a private gift to a specific family in need)
2 – If you would rather send a check, that’s great too. Please make it out to Serge and Monica Bielanko,  and send it to this address: Bielanko  Family Fire Fund/4300 Fulton Dr./Knoxville, TN 37918. (Again, please be aware that this is not a tax deductible donation you will be making, but is instead a private gift to a specific family in need.)
3 – You could also send a gift certificate or card from either Target or Walmart (please use one of these two specific retailers because they are local to the Bielankos)  to be used toward groceries, gas or clothing/shoes for the children. Please send gift certificates by email to ejatant@gmail.com – indicating the gift is for the Bielanko Family Fire Fund/4300 Fulton Dr./Knoxville, TN 37918
If you are unable to make a monetary gift to help, you can still play an important role by sending a link to this fundraising page to others, or posting it on your Facebook page or blog to spread the word to others who may want to give.

lurve you, xoxo v.


The ladder to nowhere

What is it that defines success to you?  I'm well aware that I have a very different view on this topic than many people, and lately have been judged accordingly.  I hate being judged, don't you?  I mean, seriously.  What do you care what I do or don't do?  When it really comes down to it, why does anyone care.  I live from a very live-and-let-live stance.  Unless it directly affects my life negatively, I don't really care what you choose to do in your life.  God bless you and good luck at it.  Most people don't feel that way though and they look down their pious noses at other people all the time.

I used to be in management.  I didn't know this at the time, but I've come to learn since, that nursing management is much different than management in other fields.  Everyone thinks their own job is stressful, but I really do believe that being in nursing management is even more stressful than most fields.  Also, it's different for nursing in that management doesn't necessarily mean huge pay jumps and way more perks and benefits.  No, usually you make close to the same amount of money and shit runs uphill.  Because I've been a nurse for so long, I'm usually closer to the top of the pay scale already and so when I took my management position before, know what kind of a raise I got?  A dollar.  That's right, a whole dollar.  For more stress, less boundaries, needing to be available 24 hour a day sometimes.  A dollar.  Somehow, eventually I figured out that didn't make things quite worth it for me and I went back to a "regular" position.

For me, I felt enlightened, freed, unburdened when I left that position.  Some other people, even if not always blaringly obvious, judged me for that move.  I had figured out that for me, my life, my time, my personal space is WAY more valuable to me than being able to puff my chest out and say, "I'm in management!"  Much of the world doesn't feel that way.  There's a different way that people look at you when you are higher up the ladder, as if you are more valuable as a person or something.  The thing is, I'm plenty intelligent.  I'm also a good leader.  I'm organized, a good critical thinker and a good delegator.  I function calmly and smoothly under life-threatening and stressful situations. I am actually very effective in leadership positions.  And get this.... my staff usually likes me, which is HUGE.  I operate with humility, compassion and kindness and humor.  Servant leadership, that's what it's about for me, and that's rare in this world.  The problem is that people around me in leadership don't always operate the same way and the peer pressure to be more of a cut-throat bitch is strong.  I don't operate that way and it's toxic to be around people that do and expect you to.

So, I checked out.

Recently, an opportunity to move back up the ladder came my way.  Other people I spoke to about it were so excited for me and really encouraged me to do it, but I just looked at them like they had three heads!  I'm here in the office avoiding all conversation about it and if it came up, I acted like the kid in class that didn't want called on who avoided eye contact, whistling and looking all around the room.  Did I want to put my foot back on the ladder rung?  Hell to the NO!  Am I capable?  Absolutely.  But at what cost?  It's just not worth it to me. 

Well, let me tell you.  I got seriously judged for this decision by certain people in my life.  They look at me like I'm weak, or a wimp or a coward for not taking it and I feel like I couldn't be more misunderstood.  I think I simply have WAY different views on what success in life means.  To me, success doesn't mean that I work 60 or 70 hours per week, am stressed, bring work home with me, or am in meetings every day.  To me, success is more about having the time to be home with my family, to breathe and read my Bible in the mornings, to be creative and communicate with friends and family.  That is success to me.  There is so much left in me that needs to come out... writing, books, smiles, hugs, love, laughter.  I feel like when I'm super-stressed about work that all gets stifled.  I would rather be lower on the ladder and make mediocre money than to miss out on all of that.  Maybe I'll feel differently at another time in life, but right now I just don't. 

My kids are growing up!  I mean really!  Two of them are gone.  As I watch close friends of mine have brand new, shiny, tiny babies for the first time, it makes me so melancholy because I now know from experience how fleeting that time is.  Sometimes I think about what I would do if I had a few wishes at my disposal.  My heart sometimes aches with the desire to go back in time, knowing what I know now, to hold my babies.  To try and do it better and do it right and make sure they know how loved they are and to protect them at all costs.  But I can't.  All I can do is be there to love the babies I have left at home... and they're almost gone.  My brain hurts with the thought of them being gone too.  The other day, I snuggled Emma and said, "Please don't turn into an ugly teenager that hates me!"  She replied, "Mommy, I could never hate you, I just love you too much!"  Oh how I wish that were true!  I wish I could keep her little forever.  But knowing that I can't, I'm not willing to waste a moment more than I have to being away from her.  That's not my priority right now.  Life is about more than having your name on a plaque on the door or having a window in your office.  I have way more than that at home... way more.

lurve you, xoxo v.


My continued goal of gentleness....

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 15:1

I have been working for the past few years on my reactions.  I'm not just a reactor, but a nuclear reactor at times.  Because of years of living in an abusive environment, I have been trained to be ready on a blinks notice to jump to defense... of myself, my kids, my belongings.  Anything can happen at any moment and my mind has to be on alert for any sound out of the ordinary, any sign that one of my kids are being wronged.  Anything.

I'm happy to say that I have gotten much, much better at this (thank you Lawd!), but there are moments that it sneaks up and grabs me before I even have a moment to think about it.  Just when I think that I've got this whole reacting thing licked, *BOOM*  nope.  

Last night, one of my kids was wronged in a small way.  A few years ago, my reaction to this may have brought on the need for bail money... or a dentist when I knocked out someone's teeth.  But last night, I said my peace and then enjoyed the rest of the church service.  I was joyful and peaceful and said a prayer of thanks for God having brought me so far in the reaction department.  Then without a moment's notice, something was said about the incident with a bit of a nasty tone of voice and faster than you could say "RUN!", I was in full-blown nuclear meltdown mode.  Oh it was ON.  Just that fast.  The devil sure knows our weak spots, doesn't he?  He knows that not much else can bring that out in me anymore.  Make me feel as if one of my children need defending or protecting?  Oh, "Mama Bear" doesn't quite sum it up.  I see flames and want to come out of my skin.  It gets ugly and I become absolutely fearless.

Surprisingly enough, the evening ended up being a nice, peaceful, calm time.  Pride was set aside on both sides, apologies were given, hugs, kisses, tears, snot, the whole works.  I think it was meant to be a little bit of a test, or a wake-up call to remind me that I'm not done yet.  I'm not in a place where I can be smug enough to think that I'm beyond this familiar tripping point.  No, I'm still a work in progress.  I sure am better than I used to be, but I'm not there yet.

Which brings me to one of my many goals for the coming year... my continued journey toward gentleness.  It's not been a conscious journey until just today when I was reflecting on the events of last night, but now I can see clearly how God has been trying to grow that fruit in me for the past few years.  I've really strove (that's a real word, I checked) to not react to negativity with negativity, to not speak with haste or too much self-interest, to be proactive rather than reactive, to be calm in the face of someone else's drama.  It looks like my reaction over the protection of my kids is one of the last frontiers.  May this year see me go further than any other year. 

lurve you, xoxo v.
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