Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Getting it together

To say that I'm in the best mental health of my life is an understatement.  I honestly don't know when my emotional well being has been so peaceful.  I worked a long time on trying to improve myself, I will admit that.  I feel like I was way too emotional and would burst into anger over nothing among other things.  I certainly didn't handle stress very well and I would attach to people in an instant if I thought they might like me for more than 5 minutes.  I was my own roller coaster ride for a couple dozen years, that's for sure.

I really have to credit the entire process of going through a liver transplant with my husband (at the time), Tom.  All the years of self-help books that I read cover to cover, all of the positive affirmations, all of the daily washing of being good to myself, learning how to control most of my emotional outbursts and desperately trying to handle stress so that it didn't build up inside,  all came together when we learned Tom was sick and was needing a transplant.  I didn't realize it at the time, but I was going to need every every word I ever read and every safe place I ever envisioned to get me through it and the years following transplant.  I knew Tom was going to get a new lease on life with the liver transplant, but I didn't know it was going to profoundly change my life as well.

The best combination of things I ever did was get married to Tom, who needed a transplant, who was transplanted at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville and ultimately we decided to move to Jacksonville to be close to Mayo. That combination of events brought me to the happiest place on Earth and it wasn't Disney!  After Tom's transplant I started attending the support group meetings.  I have talked many many times on my blog about how much I love my transplant community here in Jacksonville, Florida.  Sometimes I think the support group I've attended for the last 10 years actually did all of the reshaping of me, but I'm sure I had something to do with it, too.  I was able to use all that I learned in those books and help the patients and the caregivers get through pre/post transplant and in turn, I could see all of that good working on me, too.  One hand washes the other.  I help them, they help me and on it goes.  Despite all of the health problems that so many have, the support group was and is an incredibly positive experience.  It's my favorite day of the week, Support Group day.

Kristin and Steve at lunch with the support group

Even in the midst of being the happiest I'd ever been, I still needed more change.  I had to get out of my marriage.  Tom was the one who got me to where I needed to be, but we weren't going to go further. I spent years doing everything possible to make it work but ultimately it wasn't to be. I talked about that a few years ago, also right here on my blog, so I won't get into all that again, but our marriage had run its course.  Steve and I got together shortly after and I discovered that my puzzle finally had all the pieces!  He was a transplant recipient, he was active in many organ donor awareness projects and and and I could go on for days!!  We had met nine years earlier and were friends in our support group, but this new time in our lives the stars lined up.  We knew right away that together we were something special.

The Love Bubble had formed.

to be continued....

Have a great day!

Come visit our website which will get you to our store.  We have transplant and caregiver shirts, mugs and tote bags.  We decided to start our designs with what we know best and that's transplant, but we won't stop there.  Steve and I are having too much fun getting ideas and running with them, so  pop on over and see what we have to offer.  When you do get to Zazzle - always get a coupon code! You'll see it at the top of every page.  They have a sale all the time, so don't ever purchase at full price when you don't need to.

KNS Gear website --- and yes, KNS stands for Kristin and Steve

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cat's Log: it begins

My dear love lost his little black kitty Kobe, in November 2014.  She sat on Steve's lap as much as possible and when she wasn't on his lap, she was at his feet.  Theirs was a friendship the likes of which I have never seen before, so when Kobe got sick and eventually passed, it was devastating to Steve.  I loved little Kobe, too, but she was everything to Steve.  We decided to take some time before getting another cat or two.  We both knew we couldn't live without a kitty in the house on a permanent basis, but we knew we would need to wait a little while.  

After several months we started looking for kittens, but there just weren't any to be found.  Then we started asking around the local vet offices, as that's where Steve had found Kobe.  Finally we ended up finding Kats 4 Keeps, a local kitty haven for cats.  We browsed through the online photo albums of the kitties they had and went to see them as soon as we could.   I know I fell in love with a couple of real friendly cats, all about 2-5 years old, but the two yellow eyed, black sisters just kept nagging at me.  They had been in the shelter for 2 of their almost 3 years.  They weren't terribly sociable but one of them, Nessa, loved to be petted and would roll on her back and let us rub her belly.  

Steve and I went back home and discussed all the possibilities and decided that we needed to give Lettie and Nessa a home... they weren't kittens and they weren't sociable so they must be exactly what we needed.

Here is the beginning of their story.


27 March 2015 -- Well, we won't get them until tomorrow, but these are our new kitties, Nessa and Lettie, (their names at the adoption center, but we'll change them). It feels rather strange getting two more black cats after having Kobe for 13 years, but these two sisters were so sweet, are best friends, and have been waiting two years to be adopted. So I feel like we have rescued them again. We probably could have come home with almost any one of the cats they had up for adoption, but these are now ours. (BTW, while shopping at Petco for supplies, we saw two baby kittens up for adoption. We very nearly ended up with 4 cats.......but then we came to our senses..............)

28 March 2015 -- We brought the girls home and as soon as we opened up the cat carriers, they were gone.  We put them in a small bedroom/office which was supposed to be a nice transition period for them, but it wasn't.  They hid in the furthest depths of the room, in spaces we didn't know even existed.  I couldn't have that so the next day I moved them to my bathroom.

They protested and were quite agitated.

I found these notes as the days went on.

Cats Log: Day 2
...of our forced incarceration with two lunatics. We hid in the smallest space available in the big room most of the day and night. Today we were forcibly removed and placed in a bathroom. We could only find hiding space under the bathmat and an animal bed, which we refused to lay in. Under is the key to effective hiding.

Cats Log: Day 3
Prison, despite the luxuries now offered to us, has failed to trick us into stepping beyond our open door. Now given the opportunity to roam freely about the prison, we choose to remain in our cell, regardless of the cold discomfort of a bathtub. Our only solace is an upside-down cat bed to shield us from the lunatic prison guards…but yet they continue to torment us. Luckily we have discovered a new hiding place in the cabinets under the sink. Surely it will take days for them to find us here.

Cat's Log: Day 4
I believe my cellmate Nessa has begun to conspire against me with the prison guards. She is beginning to show signs of affection towards them. Either she is being brainwashed without my knowledge or this is a highly clever ruse to fool our captors into befriending her so that she might get treats and a clean litterbox. Hmm...whichever the case, I must continue to be cautious. If taken once more from my cell and forced into the prison yard, I shall have no choice but to escape into solitary confinement under the sofa where I can rediscover the peace and quiet of my former self. -Letti

Cats Log: Day 5
One of us managed to stay hidden for over 20 hours without discovery. It was so much fun hearing them call for me and search high and low for me! It was a good time. Kristin finally found me in her bedroom closet. Damn! I thought I could stay undiscovered until they finally went to bed. Harrumph we will do our best to foil our guards again tomorrow.

Cat’s Log: Day 6
The torment continues. While one guard seems to take great pleasure in my agonizing confinement, the other photographs us like we were on some sadistic Guantanamo-style photo shoot. I think they enjoy my pain. Later, back in my cell, the photographer brings us treats, in some sort of good guard, bad guard ploy to gain my trust. Let me assure you, they have failed. -Nessa

Cat's Log: Day 7
The female prison guard took us from our most comfortable bathtub accommodations and tried tossing us under some table. Nessa and I both hightailed it out of that trap and found our own places to spend the day. The prison guard told us it was just a temporary reassignment as she needed to shower - whatever that means! Nessa went back to her spot, in the bathroom sink, but I am staying here, under the desk, until ... well, just until. - Lettie

Cat’s Log: Day 9
It has now been just over a week since our internment. Yesterday, a new form of torture: complete isolation. The guards left us alone in the prison the entire day, cell door unlocked and open……free and yet not quite free…..in just another attempt to confuse us and weaken our minds. They left…simply left. No sound. No movement. No harassment. It was eerily blissful…or maybe blissfully eerie. At night they returned. Retreating to our cell, we feared what torment might next await us, but there was none. What is this mind game they are playing? An hour passed. Nothing. Then suddenly one of the guards comes in to offer me treats and affection. I gobble the treats and feign interest in the affection…the chin rubbing, the back scratching, the belly rubbing. Oh damn, why does it have to feel so good? Soon after the other guard comes in, offering yet even more affection. I fear they are beginning to break us. -Nessa

The saga will continue ... stay tuned.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Wisteria Tree

Spring in Jacksonville!

It's Spring here in Jacksonville, FL.  It's actually been pretty overcast the past couple of weeks, so our spring is surprisingly moving quite slowly.  Last year Spring flew by here in about a week.  We may actually get  2-3 weeks out of this one.

My neighbor has this gorgeous Wisteria Tree in their front yard and I've noticed that it's fading quickly.  I thought I'd better get a photo or two of it before the blooms go away completely.

The petals gathering in the tall grass under the tree was nearly as beautiful as the flowers.

I'm in the midst of making wedding plans and these flowers make me think of bridesmaid dresses. ha ha No bridesmaid of mine will wear anything like this though, I promise.

What a beautiful tree.

Have a great day!

Our online store has opened and Steve and I are working together to design and sell a variety of gear online! Visit KNS Gear to see all our stuff. We're starting off with organ donation and transplant tees an d mugs, but there's lots more to come, including fun and funny, spiritual, event and topical products. Stay tuned!

Just want to mention that all these designs are available in both men's and women's shirts, including tees, long-sleeve tees, hoodies, polos, and more on the Zazzle site. They are also available in a variety of colors, depending on the design.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Barbados Wall Art

Artwork for the kitchen.  That was the next step in our kitchen update.  Since I have still have millions of things packed away and sitting around in the garage and in storage closets, I thought the best place to look for art was right at home.  Not to mention that the whole idea behind the kitchen redo was to update with very little money shelled out.

One day as I was going through my closet tossing out never worn or never-going-to-wear-again clothing I spotted a potentially good art piece.

In 1995 as one of the stops on a cruise ship vacation, my ex-husband and I spent a day in Barbados.  I purchased a hand painted T-shirt from this guy painting and selling his wares on the beach.  I thought the picture was great - a simplified version of a Bajan chattle house, but I knew I would never wear it.  That prediction came to be true and that lovely painted shirt hung in my closet nearly 20 years.

Steve suggested that the colors in that painting would look real good in the kitchen and would go right along with the quirky beach theme we had going on.  So I thought - sure!  I'll get a plain stretched canvas and staple that T-shirt right to it!  I'm not sure why I never thought of that before!

I got a coupon for Michael's and took the shirt with me. I wanted to make sure the design fit.  Not to mention, if  I only took measurements with me, I might still bring home the wrong size frame!

I have two very nice and hardly used staple guns, but who knows what box they are still packed in, so I asked around and found a friend who loaned me hers.  Thanks Patti!

I cut the back off the shirt and lined everything up.  The collar of the shirt was so close to the painting so I had to make sure that was pulled as tight as possible at the top, so it wouldn't show.  That's where I put my first staple.

Then I continued pulling the fabric, trimming, rolling a little edge so the staple would hold onto a couple of layers and not rip.

After just a few staples I realized the design had gotten off course and was no longer centered or straight.  Ah well - it's the islands!  On the islands the standards are relaxed a bit.

Or so I told myself.

The finished product - and it really does look nice in the kitchen.  Steve loves it, too!  I'm honestly just really happy to have it out of the dark closet and able to show it off.

The little utensil cup in the foreground is a 1979 state of Michigan license plate, turned into kitchen container.  I have all of my unusual, oversized and wooden utensils in here.  Just another item I have squeezed into Steve's little kitchen.

We are still thinking about getting window blinds and door hardware for the cabinets, but the kitchen is so much better now, that all the other stuff can wait.

Have a great day!

Visit our brand new design store on Zazzle
for organ donation, caregiver and transplant recipient t-shirt designs.
Other designs and topics coming soon