Thursday, June 24, 2021

Lots to Catch Up On ...

Let's just say 2020 was anything but different.  Yes, different. I'm home all the time no matter what year it is, but last year stole the joy in many things, but added joy in others.



On March 1st, 2020, I decided to make masks for front line workers at hospitals and grocery stores.  That led to a full fledged business that I called "Our Stitchuation," thanks to my daughter, Kathleen's, suggestion.  The online store was up and running and I spent at least 12 hours each day at the sewing machine to keep up.  All in all, I made over 2500 masks of which at least 800 were for front line workers.  It was grueling work, but well worth it.

By June, my spine was not responding to spinal injections, which I had been having every 3 months for 10 years.  I met with a spinal surgeon that came highly recommended, Dr. Todd Chapman, OrthoCarolina.  After several visits, we made an appointment for surgery at Mercy Hospital on December 15th, 2020.



Leading up to the surgery, the pain in my lower spine was debilitating.  All I will say is I ended up with 3 surgeries over 2 months due to two spinal infections that had become chronic.  In the last surgery on January 29th, Dr. Chapman had to remove all the hardware from the first surgery, clean and sterilize everything thoroughly, then replace it in my spine after cleaning out all infection in my spine as well.  3 months of hell.  I'm shocked I survived it all, but I reach for God in prayer, and Bob to thank for getting me here today. 



And, so far, I've lost 32lbs from the ordeal!



While I was in the hospital, Bob and the boys built me a ramp from the deck to the driveway.  I can hardly believe they built this for me, but I must say I am impressed.  If nothing else, it certainly helped all of them relieve stress over me in the hospital.



In August, 2020, we had a beautiful wedding.  Yes, my youngest child, Matthew, (not a child anymore), married Danielle.  A love that is impossible to miss.  They live with us as they are both still in college.  Matthew begins his Masters in History in the fall, and Danielle begins her degree in Baking & Pastry Arts.  Someday, I am certain that Danielle will have her own Bakery.



Matthew graduated from the University of North Carolina Charlotte this past May with his Bachelor of Arts in History.  He is pursuing a Masters in History and then on to Law School to study as an Attorney of Constitutional Law.  How wonderful it is to see our children grow up and be successful in all that brings their passions to life.



Big News for our daughter, Sarah!  She graduated in May 2020, from Wake Forest University with her Masters in Divinity!!!  Sadly, they had to have a virtual graduation.



However, Wake Forest came through this year, and she was able to have a real hooding ceremony at the University.  We could not be more proud of her!!!  Sarah also got her first post graduation job as a Director/Minister of Discipleship for a Methodist Church near Asheville, North Carolina.  I know she will be a wonderful addition to the church community.  Her husband Matt, will be pursuing his Masters in Divinity from Northwest University in the fall.  Great things for them both in the coming years, as they pursue their dreams, and that makes me so happy!



Let's not forget Glen!  He is attending UNC-Charlotte for a degree in Computer Science.  He is interested in pursuing a career in the Navy as a Cryptologist or Intelligence.  He will do great.  In his spare time, he is a fantastic help to us here at home.  I don't know how we could have made it through our recoveries without his help.  Thank you Glen!



We lost Hannah, our little white dust mop.  She was 13y/o and had developed a tumor on her hip that could not be removed.  Letting her go was difficult, but the right thing to do. 



A few months later we found these two pups.  We named them Rusty & Cooper and adopted them into our family.  Cooper is my puppy, and Rusty is Danielle & Matthew's pup. 



So, we have 2 German Shepherds, 2 Aussie-doodles, and our cat Picasso.  Definitely a house full of activity.



Last year, Bob purchased 2 recumbent trikes for us to ride together and have some fun.  I've been riding with him on his trike too.  It is lots of fun and protects my spine, which is a good thing.  Ignore my white legs.  LOL



My mother is 96y/o and still kickin'
We've determined it must be all the preservatives in the donuts and Hungry Man dinners she loves so much. LOL  The sad news is that Mom is now on Hospice here at home.  She is suffering with hallucinations and confusion and sometimes walking in her sleep.  I love her so much and hate to see her going through all of this.  She has been so strong and able.  Please keep her in your prayers as she makes this transition in time to her heavenly home.



Our daughter, Kathleen, is living in San Diego and is also a wonderful artist.  She works in acrylics and also creates beautiful digital artwork.  I will share her website as soon as it is up and running! 



Some good news - my painting "Hauling in the Spring Line" is now in the permanent collection of the US Navy Museum Network of 9 US Museums and the Pentagon.  I'm so happy for this and hope that many will enjoy seeing it in the Museums.



In 2020, I made this quilt for my daughter, Sarah's dear friend, Serena.  It is for her baby boy.



I also made this quilt for our grandson, Glen. 


2020 is gone - thank God, and 2021 is all about eating healthier, exercising more, taking care of each other, and hopefully, by the end of this year, I will have made a full recovery, Bob will have found another job, Kathleen will have sold some paintings and prints, Sarah will be well on her way in her new job at the Asheville church, Matthew will be studying strong for his Masters degree and doing well, Sarah's husband Matt will be well on his way towards his Divinity degree, Danielle will be baking like crazy, Mom will still be with us, and all will be well and good for the Vaughn Family.




Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Merry Christmas from Our Home to Yours


Here we are bringing another year to a close, it all goes by so fast I'm afraid to blink anymore.  But here we are, thinking about 2020 and what the year might bring - and how we can survive the inundation of political ads and debates over the next 11 months without losing our minds.  I know!  Be creative!  Focus on the things that make us truly happy, enjoy our family and friends, laugh more, love and forgive always.

I'm just so happy to be where I am in life, that I wanted to take some time to reflect on that a bit. At 60y/o, life takes on new meaning.  Family, friends, and reaching out to others in need becomes more important.  Appreciating the little things like a fire in the fireplace, a nap on a comfy bed or in a favorite chair, a delicious meal, a cup of hot cocoa with our feet up watching a movie, someone says something funny and causes a lot of laughter.  Oh, how these things mean so much in life.  It is not about "things."  For me, it never has been about material things.  Life isn't life, for me anyway, without relationships and love, hugs and laughter, shared tears and worries, conversation and cuddles.  And nature - the smell of fresh cut grass, or a flower that my Big Bear brings to me, or the smell of a fireplace burning aged oak wood, the quiet of a winter snowfall, the winds of autumn, the feel of springtime sunshine on my face.  Or, the sight of my 95y/o mother walking from her bedroom to greet the day, the conversations we share throughout each day that many times bring on tears of laughter.  Bob's snoring and cooking, Matthew's outrageous laugh and humor.  Glen's willingness to help when needed, and his incredible one-liners that stop us all in our tracks.  Chester GSD's farts are toxic.  Bailey GSD is attached to Matthew's hip.  Hannah Shihtzu/Maltese is always under our feet - and chairs.  Picasso kitty could care less about anyone.  I wouldn't change a thing.

We've been enormously blessed in this life.  Bob and I have been married 27 years, and for the both of us, family is everything.  I wouldn't be where I am today if not for him and my family's love and support.  I've seen my art career take off in leaps and bounds in 25 years.  It is humbling and I am so grateful that I am able to do what I love - Painting, Quilting, Crafting, Writing, Blogging ... these are the things that I do for myself.  We all need something in our life that we love to do just for us.  I've been blessed to be able to do those things for many years, and I pray the same for each of you. 

Bob and I grew up in Maryland, but North Carolina has become our home.  We've lived here almost 15 years, and our children have grown up here.  Moving here was the best decision we ever made. 

I don't take credit for any of this that we share in this life ... It's all God.  I give all the glory to our Father and the Lord Jesus.  Daily prayer and gratefulness, Faith.  Can't live without Him in my life.  And I know that this life will lend itself to heartache, heartbreak, loss, pain, illness ... it comes in different forms.  These are the things of this world, and that is why we must make each day as kind to ourselves and others as possible.  Be grateful ... even in the darkest of times, it is what gets us through.

Now ...

To All my Friends:

There are three places on the internet that bring me joy - My blog "Raisin Toast," my online art gallery at "Mary Susan Vaughn Fine Art," and, "Facebook."  Yes, Facebook.  And here's why:  

Over the 12 years or so I’ve been on Facebook, I’ve connected with dear childhood friends and high school friends, friends made throughout my life, and family who live in other States. I’ve come to know many wonderful people, mostly artists, who are brilliantly creative. A few of the new friends I have made online have become dear and special friends that I communicate with frequently outside of FB, and they are a real blessing in my life.

Over the years I’ve lost a few of these friends to cancer, and a good number of them have lost spouses and children, loved ones, and siblings, to illness, cancer, or tragic accidents. I lost a childhood friend recently. What was thought to be pneumonia took her life at the tender age of 59. Sudden and without warning she is gone from our life. She was my first friend at age 5, and my first best friend. So many wonderful memories, as we have been friends for 54 years. A number of my friends are struggling with being alone and/or with depression, moving or divorce. It puts life into perspective, as I reflect on the precious lives of each and everyone I am connected with in this life.

I care about each of you and am grateful for all that you lend to my life. If I can help any of you in some way, with love, compassion, guidance, hugs, laughter, friendship, conversation, or a place to stay, I am here for you. I value our friendship, and know that we are all in this life journey together in one form or another, and each of us are learning from one another along the way. Thank you for all you have shared and taught me in my life.

I am humbled by the beautiful works of art I see daily in my FB newsfeed, and the goodness and stories that many of you share. I’ve learned so much from you all - from personal courage, scripture, God’s grace, and the power of prayer, to cooking and painting tips and more. It has been an adventure for me, and it reminds me daily that I am but a blip in this world. And, if I can make a difference in someone’s life, or bring a smile or a laugh to your day, I will have done something good, albeit small. I feel empathy and compassion for others, especially those who are suffering and struggling, and wish, this Christmas, and for this coming new year, to bring you good health, abundant happiness, security, true love, prosperity, plenty of hugs, and all that your heart desires. I wish this for you.

Thank you for letting me share my life, family, pets, and art with you. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for correcting me when I make mistakes, praying for me and my family when needed, and for sharing in my joys, struggles, concerns, and moments of reflection.

Mostly, thank you for sharing your life with me. Wishing you a blessed and very Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy new year. 🎄



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