Image

Image

Friday, June 6, 2014

Only The Lonely Or Not...

All of my life I've wondered what I was going to be when I grew up.  As a young kidlet I wanted to be many things.  What I wanted the most was to be a singer.  As early as first grade I would gather my friends during recess and choreograph a dance that we would perform while singing a laundry list of songs I made them practice.  In case you're wondering we had the best rockstar band name EVER!!!  We were called the Teddy Bears and you can just imagine how awesome our following was lol.
My teacher Mrs. Korea was gracious enough to allow us to perform for the rest of the class.  I'm pretty sure they thought we were pretty ridiculous, but at the time I thought they rocked the classroom with us.

I actually did go on to sing in more musicals than I can remember, auditioned for Star Search *insert hysterical laughing and memories of watching Star Search with your family*, and sang in a praise and worship band as a young adult.  We traveled, did outdoor concerts, and I loved singing with them every Saturday night.  Those years are some of the best of my life.  I thought I would go on to have a singing career because that's all I had ever wanted...ever since those days with the Teddy Bears lol.

But...life doesn't always work out the way you thought it would.  I don't have to tell you that, it happens to every one at least once in their life.  Before I knew it I was engaged to my first husband who was leaving for Basic Training.  I was pumped to be an Army wife...whatever that meant.  I was living in Tn and doing a whole lot of nothing.  I mean, I was an assistant manager at Claire's and was pretty proud of that, but it's not like I was going on to make it a career.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just knew it was temporary while I waited for my then fiance to finish training and then get stationed somewhere.  I didn't even give much thought to what I wanted to be anymore, I guess i just figured I would make a good housewife and mom one day.

In 2003 I moved from Tn. to Fort Bragg Nc. where my ex husband was stationed.  We had gotten married a few months prior and my life revolved around that.  It's crazy because within the first 2 weeks of being at Fort Bragg, I knew I was meant to go in the Army.  It had NEVER been a thought in my mind until I saw a girl in BDU's (battle dress uniform or what some call fatigues).  It awoke a drive and motivation in me I didn't know existed.  I was so excited and couldn't wait to do it.  I did however wait an entire year before I left for Basic because I was 40 lbs. over weight and needed to get in shape.  I started running and thus began my love affair with the sport.  Some days I would get up at 5 am to run before work & then run after work from 6-7 pm.  I was obsessed!!

A few months before I left for basic training my ex husband had surgery on his left ankle and heel.  He had been injured jumping out of a plane (airborne op), and the surgery was supposed to fix things for good.  It didn't, it made the injury worse.  He was given pain meds to take while he was recovering at home during his 30 day convalescent leave.  Unfortunately he became highly addicted to the meds and became a totally different person.  He was unhappy with life, unhappy with everything, played Playstation and ignored me.  Until one evening after work.  We got in an argument (over something petty I'm sure) and I was going to go to the Library for a little while to give us both time to get over it.  He wouldn't let me leave and barricaded himself in front of the front door.  I tried to get through, but there was no way I could.  I was so tired of the way things were going that I offered to go visit my family in Ca for a while.  He told me that no one wanted me, my family didn't love me, and that I was useless.  That night was the first time he hit me, and it didn't stop until after I came back from airborne school and one of his friends watched him punch me in the face so hard that I flew into my dining room wall, then slid down and hit the floor.  That was the day it ended, because I wasn't the same person anymore.  I heard his friend say "I told you not to hit her" and when I completely came to I stood up, walked towards him and picked him up.  I walked into the bedroom with him and threw him on the bed, ran out, and stuck a chair under the door handle to lock him in.  Then I left and filed for divorce not long after.

The entire reason I went into the Army was because I had a gut feeling that I needed to learn to be independent.  I needed to become who God had intended me to be, and that there was a part of me that was sleeping and needed to wake up.  I can say with full confidence that it was absolutely true!

While I was in the Army I LOVED every second of it.  I was good at it and it made me realize my full potential in this life.  I didn't settle for mediocre anymore and realized it's completely okay to reach for what may seem unattainable.  I had every intention to make it a career.  Matt and I both did.  But, yet again life doesn't always work out the way you thought it would.  I had the girls and for the first 6 months of their life I felt like I had completely lost my identity.  When they were 4 months old I went to the recruiter to go back on active duty.  I ultimately realized that that phase of my life was over and that I was okay with it.  It wasn't easy, especially when we had family members asking when I was going back to work, or what I was going to do now.  Matt always had the best answer "She already has a full time job, she's a mom to premature twins...isn't that enough".  I did still feel lost though when it came to my career, work, outside life, etc...  All of my friends had been in the military.  I lost EVERY. SINGLE. FRIEND when they realized how much my life had changed.  It was depressing, but a good lesson in the long run.  I learned who my friends were...or rather that I truly had none.

In 2009 I enrolled back into school for Sports Medicine and Kinesiology at AMU.  I worked hard as a full time student and a mom to twins while Matt was deployed.  I did school work while Abby was in surgery after surgery that year, because my goal was to go to Medical School next.  I finished at AMU in 2011 and realized I didn't want to be an MD, but I didn't want to just be Mom, wife, house keeper, laundry folder, nurse to Abby, etc...  There's absolutely nothing wrong with being all of those things...those are all admirable things and more than enough for a lifetime, but I still needed something of my very own.  Something that didn't have anything to do with feeding tubes, therapy, surgeries, cleaning, mothering, or folding laundry.  I knew that I didn't want to put my kids in day care.  Again, there's nothing wrong with that.  Every one's life is different and for some that's a necessity and the kids love it.  For me, I just wanted to be with my kids all of the time.  I really like those turds!!!

I stumbled across the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and their philosophy made sense to me and paralleled mine.  I enrolled and then graduated a year later as a Board Certified Practitioner and Health Coach.  I started my practice in the middle of my school year and boy was it rocky the first 6 months.  It wasn't until 2013 that things started to get busy and I really began to see the fruits of my labor.  Doing what I do is fun and fulfilling, but it's also A LOT of hard work.  Doctors have the luxury of computer systems that help them review their patients health history.  There's nothing like that for my practice.  Doctors also have the luxury of not focusing on the whole person (that's not really a luxury though now is it.  I believe that's more like convenience on their part), so they never have to dig deep, research, and help the patient truly figure out why they're having this issue or that issue.  My job is to help prevent, heal naturally, and encourage positive and sustainable change by helping the patient find what their body needs.  It's not always easy and I've had some cases that were very difficult and the individual struggled through the program.

I personally have struggled over the last year when it came to my professional life.  I didn't know if this was all for me.  I was pregnant the majority of 2013 and didn't always want to get up and work.  I actually was glad when I went on maternity leave because I could take a real break for as long as I wanted.  After I got back into the groove of my new normal being a mom of now 3 kidlets, I realized that yes...I do still want to help people heal naturally, and that my passion for truly helping people is still there.  I NEVER wanted to do something for the money aspect, I always wanted to do whatever I was meant to do because I was passionate about it.  However I still haven't felt like I'm 100% where I'm supposed to be.  I've prayed and asked God if I should go back to school.  After much prayer and consideration I start at Campbell in August to finish up some pre requisites I need for possible future programs.  Even though that would seem like enough, I still felt lacking in my practice.  I've wanted more ways to help people reach their goals and fullest potential, just like so many have done for me along the way.

I've had a lot of people tell me that it would be great if I had a list of recommended clean products and recommended workouts.  That's the one thing I can't offer those that I work with.  I have had people go through my health coaching programs, lose the weight, stop smoking, kick soda, get off of medication for mood disorders, recover from leaky gut syndrome from gluten intolerance, control their ADHD naturally, etc...  What I have come to a stand still with is what workouts to offer them.  I want to be able to provide a  well rounded wellness experience.  What I realized was that if I'm not constantly progressing, than I become stagnant quickly.  Maybe that's why I work out so hard and love cardio.  If I'm not on a path to do better than I did before, then I become stagnant.  That's just me and my personality.  Due to the request for supplements, body care, etc... I became an Arbonne consultant because I believe in the integrity in their products.

So, I've been a Beach Body Coach for 3 years and LOVE every program I've ever done. I've done P90X, Yoga Booty Ballet, Hip Hop Abs, Insanity, and will soon have T25 going.  Has anyone done Turbo Fire or Les Mills Combat?  I really want to do both.

When my first marriage ended, I decided that I never wanted to be in a position where I couldn't provide for myself.  When I got out of the Army, I knew I needed something that was mine, while also affording me the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives.  It took me a really long time to get here, but I learned a lot about who I am.  I set a lot of really big goals & you know what...I've reached them all!!!  Through my time in the Army, my practice, and Beach Body I've been able to provide for my kids in ways I never thought I could.  I love to look back on where I came from (I grew up part of my life on welfare and vividly remember standing in line for government cheese and peanut butter).  My mom did what she had to to provide for us, and for that I'm forever grateful.  When I think of the person I was when I was an assistant manager at Claire's, I get confused.  I have no clue who that person was.  When I think of who I was when I was allowing my ex husband to hit me for all of that time, I thank God that He had a plan for me.  Anyone can pull themselves out of any situation, achieve success, and become whatever they want to be.  If I could go through all of that (and more there's just not enough room and I'm so ready for bed) so can you!!!  If you're a stay at home mom and need something that's your's, you can do it!  There are so many options, it just takes the belief that you can, and the ability to lead with you heart!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Eczema & the Road Less Traveled

When Lincoln was born I thought I was going to breast feed like a pro since I'd already breast fed and pumped for the girls in the hardest situation I can imagine...the NICU.  He latched on like a pro and I truly thought that the rest would be history.  Unfortunately that wasn't the case.  We did the cluster feeding and feeding on demand which meant I was basically useless in any other capacity, which was totally fine with me because I assumed that it would all be worth it once he matured enough to go a little longer between feeds.  After about 7 weeks of breast feeding and pumping he was having horrific reflux, gas, constipation, and a stopped up nose that would wake him every single night, several times a night.  By 8 weeks he began to develop red bumps behind his ears that quickly spread to his chest and forehead.  I took him to our family doctor who said that it looked eczema and she suggested Eucerin on his forehead and chest, and then vitamin d oil behind his ears.  I went home bathed him in the Dr. Bronner's Baby Pure Castile Soap and slathered him up with the Baby Shea Moisture lotion I'd been using since his very first bath.  He immediately SCREAMED in pain!!!  His face, chest, and neck suddenly got bright bright red and I had to bath him again to get the lotion off and stop the pain.  He screamed and screamed so much that day and as a result of his pain I cried watching this perfect little baby in pain because of something neither of us understood.

That night I stayed up literally all night researching the what and why of all of this.  Over the course of a month I began to connect the dots.  Yes we knew it was a form of eczema, but figuring out which type and what the cause was felt like it was dragging me down every day of the second month of his life.  I felt like a failure when I realized that I was likely the largest contributing factor in every one of his eczema hives.  I realized that genetics played a major role in his digestive system and that thanks to me he had inherited my not so wonderful digestive system.  Since it's extremely difficult to test babies for food allergies, treating a baby with a suspected allergy is more successful when you do an elimination diet.  To begin with I stopped exclusively breast feeding because my stress level was through the roof between his issues coupled with Abby's needs.  I struggled immensely with this because I had great plans to nurse Lincoln until he was at least 12 months, but hoped to go longer.  To supplement we ended up trying 4 different formulas and like clock work every 7 days the rash would reappear with a vengance.  I first removed complete milk proteins, then corn syrup solids, and hoped and prayed for good results, but it only got worse.  The breaking point was the night that I watched him struggle to breath while saliva built up in his mouth to the point that he couldn't swallow and it just poured out of his mouth.  I know from experience with Abby's food allergies that this was also an allergic reaction to the soy and partially broken down milk proteins.  I called the pediatrician on call and got nowhere at all.  I knew what we needed to do, but the pediatrician refused to acknowledge that it could possibly be a food allergy.  We needed to immediately move to one of the only two formulas on the market that's gluten, soy, lactose, whey, and milk free.  I would have preferred to have gotten a prescription that night, but the on call doctor was unwilling.  The next morning I called Target and low and behold they had a can in the pharmacy.  I immediately started Lincoln on it and within 24 hours his rash was gone, he started sleeping through the night, his stopped up nose was clear, and he was no longer in pain.

I've been so relieved to see my baby flourish now that he's on the right path.  However, this man still has extremely dry and sensitive skin.  I've done so much research and spent so much money trying to figure out what lotions, creams, oils, shampoo, baby wash, and sunscreen will work for him.  In the process of finding the right formula and body care products his scalp also got eczema hives.  Once the hives dried up they turned into dry ugly scales that eventually flaked off.  I had tried everything under the sun with very little luck, until one day my mom invited me to her house to check out some Arbonne products.  Now I'd heard about Arbonne before and loved what I'd tried when I came across them 8 years ago while in California.  I actually have their Translucent Loose Setting Powder in my makeup case right now and didn't even realize that's what I've been using *mom brain*.  So I went because I remembered this awesome lotion I used to have that helped with my wrinkles.  Yes I have some wrinkles that I so lovingly acquired while Matt was deployed, Abby was going through surgery after surgery, and all of those other stressful mom moments that come with having multiples and a special needs child.

Anyway, so as I was looking through the products and samples the woman had brought over I started talking to her about Lincoln's skin saga.  To my surprise she whipped out a big sample of baby care products.  She said that a friend of her's had a child with the same problems and that the Arbonne Baby Care Lotion made a huge difference.  After having tried product after product I was skeptical to say the least.  I had read about so many different products that helped so many different babies, only to find that they didn't help mine.  I took the sample anyway and told myself that I would try it sometime.  When I did get around to using it I was pleasantly surprised at how absorbent it was and loved the fact that it wasn't greasy and didn't leave a residue.  After using it for 24 hours Lincoln's skin had stayed hydrated and stopped flaking.  I was so impressed I ordered the whole baby care line and have been using it on him every day.  I'm soon going to start using it on both girls because they also have sensitive skin.  Thankfully their skin is nothing like Lincoln's, but still sensitive nonetheless.

What I LOVE about all of the Arbonne products is that they're formulated without the use of parabens, PABA, benzene, mineral oil, petrolatum, phthalates, toluene, and formaldehyde donating preservatives.  All of the products are plant based, gluten free, have no synthetic dyes, and are made without the use of animal products or by-products (vegan certified).

I LOVE them so much that I've decided to become a consultant not only to receive the amazing 35% discount on my families products, but mainly to combine them with the nutritional aspect of my professional life.  Now I'm not the type of person to buy into the whole consultant let's throw a party type of deal.  If I love a product, I typically keep it to myself.  However, 1% of the time when I come across something amazing that I know others can benefit from, I will share it.  Whether it's nutrition, makeup, skin care products, supplements, etc...I'm happy to share if I truly believe in it.  This is something I truly believe in.  I spent so many years going to school to learn how to become a better and healthier me while also helping others do the same, that Arbonne and what they stand for seemed only fitting.  I want what I put on my body and my children's body to be just as clean and pure as the foods we put in our bodies.

If your kiddos have struggled with eczema I would love to send you some samples of the ABC Arbonne Baby Care Set and the if you're interested in anti aging products I also have samples of the RE9 Advanced skin care line.  The RE9 changed my view on morning and nightly facial routines.  I had never been big into preventive skin care until after I had Lincoln.  I saw what a toll the pregnancy had taken on my skin and decided that I needed to take some sort of preventive measures.  I LOVE the RE9 and saw amazing results in just a week.  The wrinkles I do have are barely visible, my sleepy eyes look like they pop, and the days that I just don't have time to put on makeup, the glow I get from RE9 is more than enough for the day.

If you have already tried Arbonne and love it, let me know if there's any way I can help you with future orders, and if you're new to the products I'd be happy to send loads of fun samples to you to try.  My whole family has fallen in love with the products and they're now the only makeup I wear, body care products we all use, and nutritional supplements and protein powders we use.  I'm so thankful for the night that I received the sample of ABC Arbonne Baby Care because it has relieved so much stress from my life, while also clearing up my precious baby boy's skin.

Summer
Uniquely You Health & Wellness
Arbonne Consultant ID# 14833199

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014

As I reflect on 2013 I'm in shock at how many wonderful things our family has experienced.  We started the year out by counting down to March 3rd which was the day we flew to Florida for Abby's 6 day Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios Make A Wish vacation.  We had the most AMAZING, unimaginable, relaxing, memory making, and once in a lifetime trip we could have never imagined.

When we came home we were so sad that it was over, but we were so touched by the founder of Give Kids The World and his amazing story that we were moved to do even more with The Abby Marie Foundation.

In the beginning of April my mom started an awesome job at Duke that had her traveling all around NC.  In May she went to Wilmington, so we decided to take a trip to Carolina Beach (one of our favorite NC beaches) since it's so close to Wilmington.  We stayed there for a few days and had an awesome time.  During that trip I had a very strong feeling that I was pregnant, but my family didn't believe me...they never do, lol!  I still had about a week to wait to take a test, but I just knew I was.  One week later at midnight on the day I could take the test I got up and waited for the test to tell me what was up.  Sure enough I was pregnant!!!

Once July rolled around I couldn't believe how fast time was flying.  Emma began kindergarten, and we began the paperwork to enroll Abby into kindergarten and start her IEP.  In September we found out that we were having a boy, which I knew in the depths of my soul from literally day 1 of this pregnancy.  I had his name picked out from week 5, but it's changed a little over the first trimester.  Originally it was going to be Lincoln Kennedy, but we didn't think he needed two president's names, lol!  We talked about Lincoln Michael, since both of our dad's names are Michael.  If you've wondered, yes he is named after President Lincoln and Thomas has no link to anyone, we just like it and thought it flowed well.  The girls are named after family members, but Lincoln is our first child that's not named after anyone.  I plan on him being president, so I felt he needed a strong name.  I'm kidding...no really I'm not, lol!!!

In September we also thought we had finally found the perfect floor plan for Abby to grow and develop in, while also meeting all of the needs of our growing family.  We picked out our lot, were choosing our counters, flooring, cabinets, etc...  We were really excited, but as the weeks passed we started to feel like something just wasn't right.  We took a little break from the house and gave it a few weeks.  We weren't planning to start building until February of 2014, but we wanted to make sure that we didn't make any wrong decisions.  In the first week of November we stumbled upon a house that caught our eye.  A few months prior my mom had stopped at a garage sale there and the owner had told her that they would be putting it on the market in the next year.  My mom drove us by at that time, but I remember thinking that it probably wouldn't work because it has 3 stories.  It was a beautiful house, but I honestly never gave it another thought.  Well wouldn't you know it, the house that we stumbled on in the beginning of November was the same house from a few months prior.

We decided to take a look and ended up LOVING it.  It had a perfect bedroom for Abby, plenty of room in the common areas for her wheelchair to roll smoothly through the house, a big bathroom and kitchen downstairs for her to learn daily living skills, and what I LOVE the most is that the laundry room is connected to her room.  If you have a tube fed child, then you know how often bed sheet and clothing changes happen that ultimately send you running to the laundry room with tubie food filled sheets and blankets.  There are so many other great things about this house, but there are also a lot of things we knew we'd need to do to make it our home.  We decided to put our offer in and a few days later we found out that the owners had accepted.

Later in November my aunt and uncle came to visit us from California and by the end of their visit they were excited to make the move here in the spring.

December has been great, I've just been in horrific pain and am sooooooooo ready for 2014 to roll around so that I can give birth to an amazing future president, lol!!  In all seriousness though, as I reflect on the past year I'm floored that God has blessed us in so many areas of our lives.  Both Abby and Emma are healthy, we're going on 3 years without any brain surgeries or surgeries in general, I've met an amazing chiropractor that's helped me heal from years of pain, Matt's VA disability was processed and approved for far more than we expected, and we just bought a new home.  I honestly don't know if I can say what has been the most amazing thing from 2013, but if I had to say what I'm the most excited about right now...it would be starting the new year by bringing a new life into this world.  I always felt like someone was missing from our family, but I honestly didn't know if I had the energy to add another child to the ever growing chaos we call life.

I've taken a lot of time to reflect, but I've taken very little time to dream about the next year.  I am very excited to get back into a regular workout routine, go back to work (mainly in my at home office), drink smoothies again every day (I don't drink them every single day anymore because that's not what Lincoln has wanted), and go on our first vacation as a family of 5 at the end of February.  I'm excited about a relaxing vacation, but am not looking forward to a 3 to 4 hour drive with a new baby, an Abby that thinks she needs to yell at us every time we get in the car, and Emma who thinks it's absolutely vital to talk non stop.

Ultimately it's going to be a great year...looking forward to taking things a little slower with a little baby man and my miraculous girls.  As for Matt, I have a strong feeling that he'll be spending lots of time in the new year getting his man cave set up, playing darts and watching whatever sport is on with his friends.  I'm so thankful for those of you that read my blog, my friends on Facebook and Twitter, in real life, and my amazing family members.  I can't wait to see what amazing blessings God holds for you in this coming year.  Happy New Year to you and you're family, and I hope you have a fabulous time ringing it in.  As for me, I'll be drinking organic sparkling apple cider, eating some taquitos, and dipping them in quacamole.  Jealous much????  LOL!!!

Until next year...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Abby's First 2 Days Of School

Although Abby's only been in school for 2 days, it was so nice to be able to sleep in this morning and know that I didn't have to get both girls ready to drive to 2 different schools 30 minutes away from each other.

I can honestly say that from the time they were born it never ever crossed my mind what having them both in school would be like.  Not because I didn't see them both attending, but mainly because I have to take one day at a time in order to not become too overwhelmed.  During Abby's IEP meetings the team and I decided that it would be best for Abby to be on a modified school day starting at 9:30 and ending at 12:30, 3 days a week.  Since Emma's school (right across the street) doesn't have the type of classroom that's capable of meeting all of Abby's medical and academic needs, she wasn't able to be placed in that school.  Our hope was that she would be able to go to a school that's a few minutes from our house, but unfortunately that school didn't have any open spots since in a classroom like Abby's there are only 8 kids.  The next best option was a school in a different town, 30 minutes away.  I HATED the thought of her being that far away and we would NEVER EVER allow her to ride a school bus, so I knew that meant my morning would consist of becoming a bus driver.  I prayed, prayed, and prayed about it and felt that God was leading us to allow her to go to this school.  The teacher was amazing, the school is amazing, the other kids in her class are absolutely a blessing, and the school board has been amazing in accommodating Abby's schedule, as well as mine.  I'll be honest, I'm a hard headed and strong willed person and I go after all situations that affect Abby with full on stubbornness until the situation is benefiting Abby in the specific way she needs it.  I always say that's surely why God gave her to me, because my personality that always got me in trouble growing up actually benefits her life and makes the quality of her life that much better.

So once Matt and I came to the conclusion that allowing her to go to the school that's 30 minutes away was the best choice, I then sat for hours the night before her first day trying to figure out the logistics of getting them both to school on time.  Here's a little idea of how it's working for us and why I feel like I need to be given the official title of bus driver, lol!!

The night before a school day Abby eats for the last time from her feeding pump at 9 pm.  We clean that out and get it ready for her first feeding the next morning.  We then also have to put a new pump bag in the travel pump bag so that when she's done eating the next morning we can transfer the pump to the travel bag and hook up the new feeding bag.  Confused yet?  If you tube feed your child then I know you're following right along, lol!!!  If you don't, that's ok...count yourself blessed that you have no idea what I'm talking about, lol!!!
I wake up at 6am, which for me is not that early, typically.  Being pregnant it's harder for me to wake up early, but that will change drastically when the baby is born.  I make Emma's breakfast, get Abby's pump ready, and make Emma's lunch.  They get up at 7am, Emma dresses herself, I dress Abby and change her diaper, hook her up, and Emma eats breakfast while I go get dressed and do my hair.  I come back down in a hurry, get their back packs ready, do their hair, brush Abby's teeth while Emma brushes her's (side note - does anyone else keep a set of tooth brushes downstairs to make school mornings easier?  I figured that out quickly even with just Emma going to school.  It was like pulling teeth just to get her to go back up the stairs to her bathroom and brush her teeth in the mornings.  Now we have tooth brushes downstairs as well and it's made life so much easier.  Wish I'd thought of doing that years ago), and get Abby's AFO's (leg and foot braces she has to wear) & hearing aids ready to put on after she's done eating.  Abby finishes eating at 8:30, 5 minutes before we have to be in the car.  By this point I'm sweating like a construction worker in 110 degree summer weather.  I unhook Abby, fight her to put her AFO's and hearing aids on, take her pump to the kitchen to transfer it to the travel bag we prepped the night before, and put all of the bags in the car with her chair she takes to school.  Emma's bag has to be placed in the front seat and the passenger seat has to be strategically placed in order for her to get out of the car without running into Abby's AFO's, which makes Abby mad.  Emma has to get out on Abby's side in the carpool lane at school for safety reasons.

Once we're all finally in the car with all of the bags, chair, and any other medical equipment necessary for that day, we drive literally around the corner to get in the carpool lane at Emma's school.  I used to love having the option to walk Emma to school, but those days are long gone.  Emma's school starts at 9:15, but they're able to go in and play in their classroom from 8:45 until the 9:15 bell rings.  I let her out of the car at the 8:45 bell and say our love you and see ya laters.  I then drive out of the neighborhood and into morning traffic to get Abby to her school.  Abby typically takes a 30 minute morning nap on our drive.  Since school has already started at her school (traditional school calendar year), I pull into the bus lane and her teacher meets me out there.  We then transfer Abby to her stroller/chair, hand her teacher her back pack and feeding pump, and I say my love you and see ya laters.  Once Abby is in the door I turn around and drive the 30 minutes back home.  I arrive back home at 10am and have 2 hours to get some work done before I have to leave to pick Abby up at 12:30.

After my 2 hours are up I get back in the car at 12pm and drive the 30 minutes back to pick up my Abby.  Abby and I arrive back home at 1pm, she takes a nap, I get more work done for the next 2 1/2 hours, and then we load back into the car to pick up Emma at 3:45pm.

By the time both girl's school days are over I'm EXHAUSTED!!!!  The school eventually wants Abby to work up to a 5 day schedule, but I can't see how that will work at all, at least not until she moves to the school that's closer to us.  She's on the waiting list and will move over there for first grade, but for now I can't imagine making our current schedule work 5 days a week.  My prenatal appointments with my maternal fetal medicine doctor is 45 minutes away, so if Abby went to school 5 days a week it would be impossible for me to ever go to my doctor's appointments, chiropractor appointments, meetings, dentist appointments, take a shower without rushing, breath...LOL!!!

As far as Abby's doing at school...she LOVES it!!!!  She's learned about frogs, written the numbers 1-4, painted, started learning about Letter Land, colored F for Fire Fighter Fred, and has made friends with the 3 other kids in her class.  I'm so happy to hear about her day when I pick her up.  She's hanging out in bed this morning because she can, and she's LOVING it!!!

Ultimately even though I'm thrilled beyond words that both of my babies are doing well and loving school, I feel like a bus driver.  I had a favorite song in high school that I never in my wildest dreams thought would relate to my life as a mother/special needs mother.  No matter how much education I may have and how many patients and clients I interact with throughout the day...I'm just a bus driver.
Here's the song...I think many mothers can relate, lol!!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Great Poop Debacle

Ok, so poop in a diaper is not an uncommon happening.  It occurs more often in one day than most parents would like.  When the girls were babies I became so accustomed to poop diapers that (like most parents) the occasional poop on the hand or arm was the norm.  When the girls were around 2 1/2 and Matt was deployed for the third time I began to have dreams of potty training and a diaper free life.  I was never the type of parent to push Emma to potty train by a certain age, rather I let her learn at her own glacial pace.  Yes it was frustrating, yes she stayed in diapers until she was 3 1/2 and stayed in pull ups until she was 4 1/2, but the most difficult part of the entire process was learning how to wipe.  I could care less if my child wasn't keeping up with the potty training jones's, but rather that she had it down pat in time for school & was comfortable using a public restroom.

With Abby it never really crossed my mind early on that poop diapers would be a forever and a lifetime sort of situation.  Of course I think the majority of that was because I wasn't sure what her development would be like and you always hope the best for your child.  I can't say that I was disappointed by any means when I came to the realization that I would be a butt wiping mama for the rest of my years, but I had just never really given it much thought beyond that.  Recently I've been a little up to my eyeballs in the nitty gritty and I feel as though it is slowly taking over my life.

Since the girls were born they've for the most part pooped at the exact same times.  When they were both in diapers it could get a little hairy, or should I say stinky, when I'd have two chubby babies crying on the floor waiting to be changed out of their miserably stinky diapers.  Thankfully at that age neither of them were too curious about what their poop felt like, or tried to roll away with it still lathered on their rear ends.  I had a pretty easy time with both of them, until recently.  Other than the time I caught Emma at 2 years old with a blow out on the couch, while calmly eating it - EWWWWWWWWW- still grosses me out!!!!!

Lately Abby has become increasingly interested in what her poop feels like, looks like, and smells like while I'm changing her diaper.  She's always been pretty laid back, never really concerned with things that typical kids are interested in, and so I never thought I'd be in this disgusting place with her.  For a while I would say to myself "Self, let's just chalk it up to a sensory activity" LOL!!  Until this week...when I had to run out and buy some bottled formula for Abby and all they had was chocolate flavor.  We don't usually use bottled formula and don't have a prescription for any type of feeding tube medical food.  I like to make her food/formula as much as I can at home, but this particular week has been a crazy and exhausting one for me, so I ran and grabbed some formula for her at the store.  By around the second day of being fed chocolate formula 4 times a day, Abby's poop had began to turn the same color as the formula.  Well, that's never really been alarming or caused a problem at all.  No biggie right?  At lunch time on this particular day, I took Abby up to her room and hooked her up to the feeding tube so that she could enjoy her lunch while she took her nap.  I was heading into the room right next to her to sit at my desk and get some work done.  Most of the time I don't go in and check on her while she's eating unless I hear a strange noise, have a gut feeling, or she begins to cry out of pain.

One hour later I heard the feeding tube beep loudly, so I walked into her room talking to her in a sing song voice (as I typically do), only to find that she had unhooked her extension (tubing that attaches directly to her mic-key button, then attaches to her feeding tube tubing on the opposite end) and was laying in a MASSIVE puddle of sticky, stinky chocolate formula.   This has happened one million and one times over the years.  It's extremely annoying and time consuming to change bedding, diaper, and clothing, but in the special needs tube fed world...it's not anything huge.  Okay, so as I try to figure out where to begin cleaning, I decided it would be best to lay a blanket on the floor, transfer Abby to the blanket, and then get started on the bed.  As I transferred Abby to the blanket my nose picked up the scent of poop.  Okay, so now I had a stinky on my list of things to clean as well.  I took a deep breath (breathing in a little too much of Abby's stinky) and continued to clean up the brown mess.

Once I had the bedding in the laundry, new bedding in the crib, and new clothes, diaper, and wipes for Abby, I struggled with my ever growing belly to get on the floor and begin the brown clean up.  If I wasn't pregnant I would have just cleaned her diaper area and then given her a bath, but my belly is too big and Abby is too long and heavy for me to lift in and out of her bath chair anymore.  One day I will once again be able to give my baby a bath, but until Thing 3 gets out of my belly Matt is the 100% bath giver.  So I resorted to a baby wipe bath and a new diaper.  Once I had taken all of Abby's chocolate soaked clothes off, I realized that this child had formula all over her legs, stomach, back, and rear end.  Once I removed her diaper to begin cleaning, I kind of became overwhelmed with the color brown.  At some point I lost track of what was formula and what was poop.  Yes if I had stuck my nose close enough I could have figured it out, but would you have wanted to do that...NO!!!  In the midst of being up to my eyeballs in my now least favorite color, Abby's curiosity gets the best of her and she begins to try desperately to touch her poop.  So now I've got a wipe in one hand that I'm trying to clean her with, I'm trying to hold her in a position that will allow me to easily (I say easily loosely) get her clean, and I'm trying to figure out what other extremity of mine I could possible use to keep her hand from her bum.   I come up with nothing and try to wipe as fast as I can while occasionally tossing an elbow in to block her from her poop.

At the end of all of this I got her cleaned, diapered, and dressed, but was unsure if she had touched her poop or the chocolate formula, so I lugged her up off of the floor (which is becoming increasingly difficult for me), and took her to the bathroom to wash her hands.  While I have her plopped on my hip leaning over the sink to wash her hands I thought to myself, how many other parents do this on a regular basis with their 6 year olds.  I know for a fact that there are many special needs parents in similar situations, however what I feel is lacking is the talking about it.  Okay so maybe not everyone wants to write, read, or even think about poop, I get that.  But...it's a normal (which is really abnormal) part of our days.  No we don't need to blog or call our friends every day about how our child pulled their tube out and made a mess, had a blowout in the car seat, threw up from reflux (caused by tube feeding and other surgical procedures) on a stranger in a plane (yes that happened to us), or how difficult it is to change a 6 year old's diaper on a baby changing table in the grocery store.  However, we do need to put it out there every now and then.  If not only to break the ridiculous backward thinking that gives people a reason to believe that our circumstances are unique (I recently had a very close friend of 8 years tell me that my opinion on a particular subject doesn't count because my circumstances with Abby are unique and unlike the majority), but also for our own sanity.  It is true that many we come in contact with have no clue what it's like to parent a special needs child, but on the other hand MANY MANY do understand.

For the first 3 years of the girls lives Matt and I felt very alone in our parenting roles.  We didn't know that there were other parents out there in similar situations.  I still haven't found anyone else that has twins like ours with similar diagnoses, but that's not surprising.  I have found many friends that go through similar experiences, and I'm sure that they too get starred at in public places because they have a large child in a stroller/wheelchair sucking on a paci.  Yesterday someone in the Dollar Tree told me that I had a beautiful baby (Abby), and I just thought to myself...thank you, but what???  Sometimes  people tell me that she looks like a baby and other times people can't understand why she's in a stroller. It's always been (especially when the girls were babies) as if we're a walking show that entertains and confuses people, but it never really bothered me.  Lately it's been something that is constantly on my mind.  I've come to the conclusion that there's a lack of understanding and education between society and the special needs community.  It seems many people stare not with a cruel heart, but rather with a  well intended question mark.  They genuinely want to know why this person is this way, or why this family is so different, but are afraid of how to ask or put their lack of understanding into words.  I often say that I wish people would just ask, but if I were them how would I word it.  Even I often have a hard time figuring out how I would ask about Abby if I didn't know her.  I wrote this blog about the lovely subject of poop to put out into the internetiverse (whatever that means, lol) that this is my normal, and it may seem like a unique circumstance to have a great poop debacle and feeding tube ridiculousness with a 6 year old, but it doesn't have to if we change our way of thinking  =)

That's all for today.  My brain hurts from all of that intellectual mumbo jumbo, so now I will resort to resting my big belly while my 6 year olds are down for a nap.  Bet that isn't normal either huh?  LOL!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

I'm Having Twins...Again!

Don't you just love the power of words?  I bet you hopped over here thinking that I would be revealing that an ultra sound tech found a second baby hiding behind the first one.  Go ahead admit it, you got a little excited.  While we're on this topic, why is it that everyone and their extended family member assumes that because I have one set of twins, I must be having another set?  I get it, I'd probably think the same way if I had never had twins.  I do have to put it out there for anyone that may not know...identical twins are random isolated event.  They are unlike fraternal and do not run in families, so although having naturally conceived twins once before does increase my chances of having multiples again, it's definitely not a for sure deal.

Okay, so like I said...I'm having twins...again!!  I was recently feeding Abby some baby food in her high chair (yes she still uses a high chair because I HATE using her wheel chair in the house) and it hit me that I'm going to have to buy another high chair when the new baby is old enough to start eating solids.  Later that day I went to put her in her pack and play for a nap and it hit me again that I will soon have two pack and plays with sleeping children in my front room (a room that is already growing smaller and smaller due to the amount of equipment we have in there for Abby).  A few days later as I was writing my grocery list I realized that I would soon be buying double the diapers (although different sizes, I'll still buy as much as I bought when the girls were babies), the bag of 1000 wipes that would be used up within a 2-2 1/2 week period, 3 to 4 economy size organic apple juice jugs (when the baby is old enough to drink juice), and my kid cabinet would soon be stocked back up with enough bottles for two children.  Although I plan to breast feed, we'll still use bottles so that Matt and family members can partake in the feeding frenzy, and Abby still uses bottles for juice, water, and formula.

A few nights ago Matt and I went on a date to Buy Buy Baby where we registered for baby #3.  While we were there we found ourselves not only registering, but also getting excited about all of the items we found that Abby could use.  It was an eye opener for us to realize that we would once again be pushing a double stroller, giving two upset kids a pacifier, changing two times the diapers, feeding two kiddos every three hours, and forgetting to eat from all of the busyness of the day.  Although having two in diapers is by far unique, having a newborn and a six year old on the same feeding schedules, playing with the same toys, babbling while they ly on the floor during tummy time, and trying to get food in two mouths fast enough while having baby food spit on you is definitely not your every day situation.

I LOVED having twins and definitely wasn't afraid to have multiples again.  I am thankful that I have been blessed to experience what it's like to be pregnant with just one, but it's quite shocking to me that I never realized how much "just one" could take us back to the past.  I'm sure there will be things that will be easier, like Abby won't be eating by the pump every three hours throughout the night like she did when she was a baby.  I'm excited, a little overwhelmed, and a little amused how things work out.  In the spring of this year I found myself missing the girl's baby days.  I thought to myself how bored I was with just two five year olds and work.  I would pinch myself when I would think that because it was ridiculous.  It's not like I had lots of down time and had a reason to be bored, I'm just the type of person that always needs a challenge.  Now here we are with only 19 weeks to go until we bring our son home and I suddenly have boy/girl twins at home, lol!!  Who gets to say that...I had identical girls in 2007, and then 6 years later I had boy/girl twins that are 6 years apart, lol!!  I know it's ridiculous, but you get what I'm saying =)


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Almond Milk 101


I was taking a break in between appointments and sat down with Emma to watch The Swiss Family Robinson.  If you haven't put it together yet, the name of this blog was inspired by the name of the book.  I liked the book and the name so much that I had to stick with it and so it became the name of this blog.  As Emma and I watched the movie I thought to myself that I should blog about something interesting today.  I love this blog & I love sharing things on here that seem so normal to me, but are quite possibly not something that everyone else already knows how to do.  
So today I welcome you to Almond 101!!  Today we'll discover how to make yummy almond milk that's cheaper than buying it in the stores.  So many people are using coconut and almond milk in their smoothies on a regular basis, and I'm often asked which is healthier.  I wouldn't say that one is better than the other, because they both offer a great amount of nutritents.  It really just comes down to personal preference.  One thing that many aren't aware of is just how many synthetic additives there are in some brands (not all, make sure to check your  labels) of both almond and coconut milk.  The additives in these milks are found in the form of synthetic vitamins, which are the chemical mirror image of the real deal.  Instead of worrrying about checking the labels and stressing over where to find milks that don't contain additives, here's an easy and quick way to make almond milk at home in your jammies =)
To begin your going to take 1 cup of raw almonds, pour them into a mason jar, and fill with 3 cups of filtered water.  Allow the almonds to soak overnight, or 8-12 hours if you're soaking throughout the day.
Once your almonds have soaked, drain the water out, rinse, and place them in the emulsifier, food processor, or blender.
o
Gather your ingredients - organic saigon cinnamon, pure vanilla, and organic agave.
Pour 3 1/2 cups of water over the soaked almonds, 1 tbsp. pure vanilla, as much cinnamon as you'd like, and 1 1/2 tbsp. of organic agave.
Next is the fun part, we get to mix it all up!!!  Mix thoroughly beginning on a low setting and working up to a high setting.
At this point you have 2 options, pour the milk over a cheese cloth or milk nut bag.  Pouring the milk over either of these allows you to separate the milk from the almond meat and peel.  Personally, I like to keep the peel and meat mixed into the milk because you keep more of the nutrients.  Once your milk is ready to go, grab some mason jars to pour in.
Now that your milk is ready, store it in the refigerator and enjoy knowing exactly where your milk was made & exactly what's in it!!!