Monthly Archives: January 2016

L’Oreal Revitalift Unboxing and First 24 Hour Review


Occasionally I get really awesome products for free to review on social media.  One of my favorite companies that does this is Influenster.  I always look forward to when I get an email from them to expect a package.  This time was super exciting.


As I am aging, I find that my most troubled spot are the “11’s” between my eyes.  I have other issues, but this is the major one.


The products that were sent to me free and for reviewing purposes only were:


Volume filler.  This one is to be used in the morning and evening.


Another volume filler for morning and evening.


A morning and evening filler for eyes only.


And a night cream volume filler.

First of all, I want to say these products are not greasy.  I have used them last night and this morning.  I have not yet broken out, and I have acne prone skin.  There is already a visible decrease in the definition of the “11’s” on my face.  I love the smell of these products, as well.

I will let you guys how it goes as I continue using this product for free to review.

The first 24:


Noticeable difference.  Yes, I am always red.


The Mammogram/Ultrasound

It is pretty much an accurate description to say I have the grace of a Great Dane and the composure of a chihuahua on my good days, much worse when I am nervous.  I was nervous and broken out from the stress.  I sat for a while, and I waited.  12573790_10153897909072430_5123988810700158377_nThe mammogram machine looks much like a futuristic robot, a stoic and cold version of a condescending old-school English teacher type, unfriendly, uninterested in my story of why I am even here.  12541101_10153897908992430_8272073245568937193_nThe stories told by our mothers come to mind, stories of squashed boobs and cold plastic. Stories of humiliation and defeat by cold hands replay in the mind of women in the presence of these machines.  I went into the dressing room to get undressed.  12509483_10153897908732430_1520961593458186657_n

The gown was just like an old diaper shirt, minus the buttons.

12512807_10153897908867430_6078645439312277851_nI had my last mammogram in 2011, when I had adenocarcinoma.  I do not remember much about the experience, other than it was done.  It didn’t hurt, it didn’t feel intimidating, it just was.  12565539_10153897908942430_6411425637379627361_nWith a nurse who had an exceptional way about her, I stepped up to the machine, and she squished, and she took pics.  What I do not remember from before was the way it pulled the skin all the way up my neck.  The thing is, it really did not hurt.  It was uncomfortable.  It is not the monster drones of women before described.  It is also a different machine.  Besides, we are women.  We endure pushing and pulling, poking and prodding, and squishing.  12376342_10153897908612430_9155880924049483016_nLike I said, the nurse was exceptional.  She had a way about her that just put me at ease, so when she said to me there was a lot going on in that breast and needed another pic, I was still at my normal Great Dane/chihauhua nervousness.

I cannot stress how amazingly awesome the ladies who I saw in the hospital were.  The ultrasound tech did her best to make me feel comfortable and warm as she scanned my breasts, looking for suspicious spots.  I had to hum when she took shots of a few of the 4 black dots she found in my right breast.  Then I had to do the same for the 4 black dots in my left.  I have had one black dot before.  We removed it in 2011.  It was some kind of fibrous breast tissue.12631367_10153897908557430_591989712743874554_n.jpgWith 8 black dots, I was feeling okay in thinking those may just be what we saw before. What I did not like, nor have I ever seen before, was this grey irregular area she was measuring and taking pictures of.  I have no idea what this is, how could I, my only experience before being in seeing black dots. 12552536_10153897908492430_4392978489488074201_n.jpgMost of me says no worries, so that is where I will try to keep my mind until I hear back from someone.

In the meantime, I have to say THANK YOU to Moncrief Cancer Institute and the people who give to people like me who are uninsured and in need of medical attention.  Thank you to all of you.  Without you, I am not sure where I would be.12522964_10153897909097430_325414107670221996_n.jpgAnd so, I wait.  I am sure I will let you know what I do as soon as I do, I kinda have that habit.  Thank you for your support.

Much Love.

Steph and Steph’s Life.



How to Make a Captured Bead Chain Maille


You will need:
Jewelry pliers
10 mm 18 gauge open jump rings
Small jump rings
8 mm round beads


I love the look of a Captured Bead Chain Maille.  I think it has a very unique and beautiful look to it, and it goes well with any outfit.

You start off with a very small jump ring, opened.  The fit needs to be pretty snug, so you do not lose the starting bead.


Then you put two of the 10 mm jump rings inside of the small jump ring, and you close it off.


You then put two jump rings through those and have the new jump rings on the top, the little one on the bottom.  What you have now is the beginning of a chain.


With the small ring on the bottom, place a bead in the center of the four rings, and now you have a your first captured bead.


Above that bead, hook the top two rings with two more rings.  Close those off.


Place two more 10 mm jump rings through the top of the rings you just closed.  This is, again, your chain.

12540636_10153869582652430_1739412976408735111_n (1)

Open the chain and insert a bead.


Close it off with two jump rings.


This is the point where you can take this in whatever direction you wish to take it.  I am going to make an earring and then be done, but you can make a necklace, a bracelet, anything you want.

So, what i will now do it take another small jump ring and close off the two top rings.


And last, I am going to make it into an earring.


If you have any questions, or suggestions, I am easy to find.  I am @stephie_lark on Twitter and Instagram.  Oh, and I have a few of these that I have made that I will sell for 20 or earrings for 10, if anyone is interested.  🙂


David Bowie’s FAME and Our Autism Journey

Matt and Sam had always loved music.  From the time they could sit up and rock back and forth, they did.  The music on, they were in their own little world.

They were surrounded by sound.  Toys and swings played some sort of simplified electronic hummings of Mozart and Caribbean Amphibian, and they rocked back and forth, with their own monotonous hum, right along with they rhythm.

The amazing thing about Autism is you know there is someone inside the body and mind, the chances when you get to see it are magical.  Rocking and flapping, my children lost themselves in music.  I lost my children in music.

The same thing happened in the car.




Over and over, I would pull my children out of this world they drifted off into, over and over again, they would go right back in.  This happened for years.  It continued happening, even after they were becoming more and more verbal.  And then, I changed the station.

First I heard a giggle.

Then I heard a distinct, “What?”

It was Fame, loud and on my radio, and for the first time, my kids were interacting during music.  They were not rocking.  They were not flapping.  They were enjoying a song, but they were doing it together.  It was no longer a separate experience of isolation.  It was something different that they had never experienced before, and they were curious to a point where a single, “What?” along with a giggle brought about not just an enjoyment in their own little world, but the shared experience of joy from music.  They imitated, over and over, the word, “Fame,” in different voices and different volumes, and they did it together.

That is not to say my children do not still listen to a song and get lost.  They probably always will.  I think we all do that.

To this day, my kids love that song.  What they probably do not remember is that song changed the way they experienced not just music, but so many things after.

Life is full of these single moments, and the where where you when’s.  There are songs that bring back a memory.  This one does it for me.

The Rise of My Semi-Fatalistic View

As far back as I can remember, I recall feel of my eyes rolling as I heard people say, “Things happen for a reason.”  Of course things happen for a reason.  It doesn’t make any sense to say anything otherwise.  Every action causes a reaction, and every action you have taken has led you to the place where you now find yourself.  So, you are the reason.

As I am typing this, I think I am learning the truth my view , as in how it came to be my reality.  They moved me upstairs from the E.R.  I am not sure how many days it had been since my hysterectomy, I only know my fever was over 104 and I had spent the night having chills and vomiting, unable to move.  I am not sure if I was in pain, or if I would have been aware of pain, at that time.  What I do know is my dad came the next morning and he took me to the E.R.

On the way, I called the doctor that was on call that day.  It was not my gynecologist.  It was her colleague.  I told him that I was passing air vaginally, and he said don’t make any stops, just get here.

A lot of what happened next is fuzzy.  I remember the E.R. doctor giving me something for fever and the gynecologist coming in and saying, “This is my patient, and she is going upstairs.”  I said hi, he said, “Did anyone tell you you have cancer?”  I kinda laughed and I said, “I had cervical pre-cancer, and I do not have cancer.”  He said, “You had adenocarcinoma, too.”  I remember arguing and he said he was in the O.R. during my hysterectomy, and I was going upstairs.

I do not remember much after that, until I was sitting in my room and I put my hand down beside me on my bed and I felt it.  Up to my hips was a pool of blood, and I could feel it on my hands.  I grabbed the nurse call button and in came a LVN who looked at me, and she froze.  She did not move.  “Get my nurse,” I remember saying that.

A lot of the next few minutes is a blur.  The nurses came in, I was laid flat.  I wasn’t really thinking anything, I was calm, and I was just laying back.  The doctor started packing me, and I must have said something because I remember him saying to me, “I am so sorry, I know it hurts.”

I am not sure of the exact sequence of events that happened.  What I remember was I was watching my bp drop and my heart rate accelerate.  The doctor said, “Lower her head,” He kept saying he really needed me upside down. I knew they needed to keep blood flow to my brain.  A nurse was on my left side, holding my hand.  She kept telling me that I was going to be alright.  I looked over to other nurses behind her, and I saw one put her mouth up to her mouth and it was wide open.  Then she began to get blurry.  I looked at the doctor on my right side, and I told him he looked pixelated.  There was no other way to describe it.  Then he looked so far away, he asked what I had said.  I replied, “It looks like I am looking at you through a telescope backwards.”  He said, “Close your eyes.”  I remember saying NO.

I remember being very calm, but I also remember the feeling of that NO.  No way was I going to close my eyes.  No way was I going to die right then.

“I NEED THAT BLOOD, NOW,” was what I heard that kind of made me realize exactly what was happening.  The doctor came back into the room, and I remember the nurse saying I was going to be alright.  My response was to the doctor.  I asked him, “Am I going to be alright?  I am going to be alright?”  and I was still calm.  His answered very slowly and quietly, “I…. don’t…. know…”

I can’t say I felt afraid, I don’t know that I did.  I can’t say I felt anything.  I do not recall feeling anything.  I did not see a light.  I did not see anyone who had passed before me.  I really do not believe it was even darkness.  It was nothing.  It was just this indescribable thing that was not really even there.  It was a peace I never had, and it did not even exist.  Unless you have been there, I cannot explain it to you.

I woke up hearing a nurse throwing her phone, I think she was a nurse, and there was my white light, just above my head.  I was on a table in the operating room.  The nurse was saying there was a complaint she should have been there in this number of minutes and she was a few over, and she was upset.  The other nurse was busy.  I said, “Hey,” and I hear this, “Oh my God, she is awake!”  I am guessing they didn’t expect me to be.  They kept talking to me and the doctor came in and I remember being told to count backwards.  My response was, “No, I am…..” and I think I just thought the words “not going to sleep.”

I do not remember waking up.  I do remember three doctors coming into my room to tell me I had a temporary colostomy.  I argued.  No way did I have one, but I had a morphine drip and his name was Andy.  I remember that conversation very well.  I also remember the doctor telling me, “Someone was looking out for you.”

I had had a hysterectomy not long before.  The reason for that was fibroid tumors and endometriosis and cervical pre-cancer.  During surgery, they found a very small adenocarcinoma and I am not sure what caused the nick to my colon, but they nicked it during the hysterectomy.  From that, E-Coli had eaten my insides and cause a fissure between my hysterectomy incision and my intestines.  It was a mess, and I am grateful to be alive.

I kept on hearing about that someone who was looking out for me.  No one greeted me upon my exit, but I had this feeling I cannot describe.  I will never fear death, even though I am not wanting to go.  One day, it will be a welcome and familiar friend.  I have no reason to fear it, that was the most peaceful I ever felt.

The thing is that when you go through something like that, for a little while, you feel like you have a secret.  When I went to bed at night, I felt like I could make that choice every time I closed my eyes for days.  I felt like if I wanted to, I could just slip off into that peace, but I didn’t.  Little things that seem so mundane become so beautiful.  The color green amazed me.  It was like when I was young and got my first pair of glasses and I could see the leaves on trees.  Food was different.  I will never forget the way a chili dog tasted, and the taste of a waffle bowl from Dairy Queen with vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and covered in cherries was….  indescribable.  I think I may have cried, and I am not even joking.

The tragedy in this is that life continues to happen.  People, by nature, are cruel and the beauty begins to fade.  Things are again mundane.  I want so badly just to feel that again, without the circumstances.  I did change.  If only for a moment, I did change.  I had that gratitude.

I talk about this a little too much, and I feel like the message is always missed in the details, and it is the details I have forgotten.  I know the series of events that led to the entire ordeal, that I never went to the doctor.  I realize a lot more than I give myself credit for.  The thing I am struggling with is why am I here.  I can tell you I wanted to be, or I wouldn’t.  My life never passed before my eyes, I never thought that deeply into anything but staying calm would save me.  I just want, right now, to feel like there is a reason.  I want that innocence of having faith.  I want the stories I cannot believe.

In all that I forgot, maybe it is possible I forgot the near death experience, that part of my journey.  I am not sure, but right now, I am thinking I want to have at least a semi-fatalistic view and believe this happened so I could write, or tell my story.

My story is crazy.

But my story is real.

And I am here.

And so are you.

So, maybe there is a reason.  I really can no longer doubt there is.  Do you?

This was after the last surgery.



Autism Therapy: Our Story


Matt, flapping

Of all of the things I hear people talk about that changed their lives and helped their children with Autism grow, therapy seems to be the number one thing people attribute growth and change to in their children behaviorally and socially.  The three therapies we utilized are Speech, Occupational, and Physical.  After an evaluation of my children and their strengths/weaknesses, in home therapies were approved, and we were on our way.

Our speech therapy was the first one we got enrolled in.  The boys were very young, and this therapy was mostly board games and tea parties.  We were learning taking turns and using inside voices.  Both of these are very important lessons, and they caught on quickly.  A few months in, they were telling me they did not like being treated like babies, and a sense of dread came over my house on Monday and Wednesday.

The occupational therapy dealt with fine motor skills.  This could mean they were putting beads on a string or playing with building blocks.  The boys usually looked forward to this therapy, and they were pretty happy to play when the therapist came, 2 days a week as well.

Physical therapy was a different story all together.  Some days, we walked to play in the park.  Some days, we kicked a ball.  It depended on the day, and the mood of the therapist.  Two days a week were once again filled with dread.

Having a constant stream of therapists in a home for an hour each with two children who could only hold themselves together long enough to get through school soon became a daily battle for some kind of peace.  In complete meltdown mode, therapists and social workers witnessed the destruction of my home from the living room to their bedroom almost daily, taking out lamps, running into walls, screaming, and these children needed help.  It was over-stimulation, it was every bad video of a true meltdown on an eternal loop beginning, at one point, from the time we got up until they went to school and from the time they came home until they finally fell asleep banging their heads on a wall.

Now, I am not about to tell you the therapy was the beginning of the meltdowns.  I had been in the middle of the storm for years, ducking as baseballs and lamps and clothing flew at my head.  I had sat on many floors many nights holding a child either screaming or laughing hysterically and flapping those hands, rocking back and forth, ignoring their name, and never looking me in the eye.  We were tired.

I cannot really explain what it is like to see a child go into a rage throwing a lamp or a plate of food and all you can really do is feel defeated.  This therapy was supposed to help.  This therapy was supposed to be for them.

What I was realizing was I was losing any control I had.  With Autism, any step forward usually comes with a step back.  I remember just wanting to feel some peace.  At one point, I called to cancel Speech and she asked why.  I said I am going to Wal-Mart.  The woman showed up there.  For therapy.  She showed up in the most confusing and most stimulating place you can take a person with Autism, for therapy.  You have a child who has a disability that amplifies all of their senses, and right now I am talking about Matthew, and you decide you want to do therapy, which causes meltdowns, in Wal-Mart?

Still quite overwhelmed, still hearing therapy is the only way, we continued.  The kids came home.  They screamed.  They rocked.  They threw things and hit each other, and still the therapists came.

I remember the day we stopped.

I think it was Matthew who came in first and saw the therapist.  We were in the living room.  I had a lamp, the stand up kind, and the top of it was glass.  I also had a Wii in an entertainment center with a T.V.  As soon as he saw that therapist, he went straight to the lamp and he threw it across the room, and it shattered.  He kept going, screaming, and he went for the Wii, pulled it down, and started to go for the T.V.  He tore down his bed room door, and sat on his bed to rock back and forth.  While all of this was happening, Sam was also melting down, and there was absolutely nothing I could do.

The only thing I could do was stop.

I did just that.

They do therapies in school.

A home is a sanctuary.

If it isn’t, it should be.