Thursday, June 22, 2017

Seeking the bright side through the darkness

Every cloud has a silver lining, right? Every darkness finds light. Through the rain, comes freshness and growth. From the clouds come protection from the glaring sun, granting us relief from its unrelenting heat. You also have sayings like, "Everything happens for a reason" or "The is a purpose to everything". 

Then you have the clouds of life.  
  
When I lost my job, I lost a steady paycheck of considerable amount, but I gained a way to stay home with my kids. To be a full time mom again. Less money, but more to life.
I've lost the ability to be a biker, but I found one less thing to put me in danger and keep me around my kids longer.

I try to see the bright side to everything I face. To stay positive in the face of negativity. It's not easy. For me, it's harder than childbirth. I'm struggling to find the silver lining to my near-constant pain. To see how it will do good for myself or someone else. How do my migraines benefit anyone? How does the inflammation of a pinched nerve serve a higher purpose than to remind me of my brokenness? How will such a debilitating disease produce positive results around me? I have been asking myself these questions every day for the past week now. I wake up in pain, I go to sleep in pain. And for what? I am still waiting to know the  answer. 

When I was a child facing spinal fusion, I had an answer. I could show courage in the face of uncertainty. I was afraid of what could happen. Paralysis or death could have been the end result for me. But I was at peace. I thought that God had a purpose and could use me to tell His story to family and friends. I'm a medical anomaly. Four doctors in my life have point blank told me that I was scientifically weird. A freak of nature. That I should have felt pain, when I didn't. That I shouldn't be as I was. That I shouldn't have had what I did. That fevers are how things are measured, yet I've never experienced one. I'm the exception they use to write medical journal entries from. I'm the textbook example of what you hope to never encounter. Their student doctors had a field day when I came in. But how about now? I have no insurance or money to see a doctor. Otherwise I'd say God was using me to show science what they weren't able to imagine. Or what they hypothesized, but had no hard documentation for. So what am I good for? Or is it that I'm building up a special case for the day they do my autopsy? 
Let's say that I'm not supposed to benefit someone. What if I'm to learn a lesson? What lesson is it? I think I've mastered pain management 101. My daily pain level is no less than 4. My level 4 is a normal person’s level 1. I have to hit an 8 or 9 before I tap the pain pills and even then, I have to tell myself they are helping in order for them to do any good. I'm using over the counter drugs to battle something beyond their means. So what else do I have to learn? Patience? Oh yeah, I've got a healthy dose of that too. Comes from having 4 kids.
And then I sometimes ask if this is all part of a punishment? People say there is karma. What goes around, comes around. So if that was the case, what did I do to deserve it? What crime did I commit to live my life like this? And how can I fix it? I repent daily for my wrong doings. I make no bones about being a sinner. 

"I don't fear death so much as I fear its prologues: loneliness, decrepitude, pain, debilitation depression, senility. After a few years of those, I imagine death presents like a holiday at the beach." 
~ Mary Roach 

I don't fear death so much as I fear its prologues: loneliness, decrepitude, pain, debilitation, depression, senility. After a few years of those, I imagine death presents like a holiday at the beach. Mary Roach
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/maryroach694746.html?src=t_pain
I don't fear death so much as I fear its prologues: loneliness, decrepitude, pain, debilitation, depression, senility. After a few years of those, I imagine death presents like a holiday at the beach. Mary Roach
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/maryroach694746.html?src=t_pain
You know what truly makes matters worse? I'm not even 30 years old yet. So when I talk about what I feel or about how I'm built like an 80 year old on the inside, people think I'm being funny. That it's a joke. My great grandmother understood though. She didn't laugh at me when I talked about it. When I told her how much it hurt, she was feeling the same way. And she always told me, "Welcome to the club. It only gets worse from here." Back then, I thought, “Oh great, thanks for the encouragement.” But now, I understand. She was being the most sincere anyone could've been. I will never forget the day I told her I was diagnosed with arthritis at the age of 15 as a side effect to my spinal fusion. She told me she was so sorry. That life would get harder so much earlier for me than it did for her. She had worked manual labor jobs all her life. So it wasn't until her late 60's and on that she truly started to fall apart. At first I thought I could fight my fate. I worked out daily. I fought to keep in shape and tried to build muscle in my back. And I thought it was working. Up until a couple years ago. But now I feel like it's just catching up to me. I'm trying to work out and get back in shape. But the more I do, the more I hurt. I tell myself - no pain, no gain. But is it harming me more? 

Always dream and shoot higher than you know how to.
Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors.
Try to be better than yourself.
~ William Faulkner

I can barely stand upright some days. I freeze and crumple when bending over or reaching for something high. Picking up my daughter pulls the muscles between my shoulder blades tight enough to make me want to cry. After standing with her for 10 minutes, I can't do it anymore. I can't even take in deep breaths right now without a sharp pulling. If I turn my head too far, or at a certain angle, I get lightheaded. Randomly, I will start to have numbness and tingling in my limbs. And the lack of sleep it is causing has me feeling less than nice. I don't want to talk to anyone on a friend’s level. I put on my retail disguise. I don't want to move. I don't want to do anything. I'm so tired of pretending for everyone around me that I'm doing just fine. I will continue to. But I don't want to. This mask I wear is getting worn out. This is not who I want to be. I want to be the mom that chases her children around in a game of tag at the park. I want to take them on roller coaster rides. I want to learn to rock wall climb. I was going to teach them to ride motorcycles so we could one day go together like I did with my parents. I want to work out with my husband. These things are no longer within reach for me. These dreams are being taken away from me. 

You see things; and you say, "Why?"
But I dream things that never were;
and I say, "Why not?
 
~ George Bernard Shaw

I told my husband that I will no longer answer his questions regarding my back, pain or how I slept. He agreed not to ask them anymore. Logically speaking, there is nothing he or I can do to change it. So why talk about it and add the “one day” wish to it. One day it will get fixed. One day it will be better. So let’s agree to not discuss it further until “one day” arrives. On the flip side, by doing this, it felt like I had closed off a part of me to him. He’s known from the beginning that I was broken. Deformed. But until now, it didn’t have such a strong bearing on my life. I try to lighten the tone by joking about it not being too late to bail. I still feel, however, that the life we wanted might not be attainable.So what do I do? I'm pushing to make his dreams a reality. At least one of us should accomplish something. And that someone won't be me at this point.He at least has the confidence and ability to pursue his dreams.
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,
and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined,
he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

-Henry David Thoreau

So I want to know. What am I missing? Looking in, what do you see that I can't? What detail have I overlooked? What bright side have I lost in the darkness? According to a really good friend of mine, maybe its not about me at all. Maybe it is to teach my children what true love, strength, courage, and determination are. By my pushing through this and still providing them all that I can, I am leading by example. According to my husband, maybe it will help me relate to and assist someone else later down the road who is going through the same thing. Either way, both of them told me I have to wait, have faith, and know there is a reason behind it all.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The volcano in the diaper

This morning had a scene that could've been pulled from slapstick comedy. Baby girl had had quite the diaper dilemma. As my title reveals, her rear end turned into a volcano that erupted to the point of diaper failure. As the smell reached me, I grabbed a new diaper and wipes thinking I'd do a quick change. But she had a huge surprise awaiting me. I pulled her single-handedly from the walker she so happily was enjoying and did a Mom maneuver that would put me Indian-style on the floor with her on my leg and diaper and wipes on the floor next to us. It was at this point that I realized she felt a little wet. I thought she had spit up her bottle again and that it had gotten on her leg. But as I looked down, while shifting her to the prone position  on the new rug in front of me, I noticed the color of digested greens all over her feet. My eyes took in the full spectrum of the mess. It was on her feet, legs, her clothes, my pants, my foot, the walker, and a lovely, large pile on the floor. Now we just bought this rug using funds gifted to us by his sister for our wedding present. And of all places to leak, she did so on the white part of the red, gray and white patterned rug.
From that moment on, was a comedic series of events. My husband was dumbfounded as he came to see why I was suddenly calling out the baby's name in surprise. He told me to tell him what to do because he was at a loss. At this point is when my brain kicked in again and I was able to formulate a strategy to battle the mess. I told him to grab a bag. I immobilized the baby and starting cleaning her up a bit. I had him scooping up what he could and dumping it into the bag. Then came the time to spray and scrub the floor. I told him a bath was required for this level of dirtiness. To spray the spot heavily and I would get to it when I finished cleaning the baby up. Especially since he had just gotten home from working over night and needed to eat before heading to bed.
He of course took it on by himself though. I got in the tub and commenced scrubbing feces from myself and the little lady. I called for his assistance and he told me the rug might need to be thrown out. 

"Is it not coming out with the cleaner?", I queried.
"I don't have high hopes." Not the answer I was hoping to hear. I paid good money for our rug. I liked that rug. I wasn't willing to scrap it at the first accident. Then I start questioning him about how bad it really was and came to find that it wasn't entirely the fact there was a slight stain left. It was because of what had caused the stain that left him feeling uneasy about the continued use of the rug. 
So typical of a new dad! Or of a man in general. The thought that crap was on the rug, bothered him more than the fact that there was a slight stain. The latter bugs me, because I'm OCD about stuff like that. Its at this point, though, that I start laughing. And I inform him that I'm not throwing it away just like that. I will do what I can to get rid of the stain and that he will have to get used to bodily fluids that can leave stains. After all. We have a 7 month old baby. She will make messes. And he will come to find that unless he has an endless supply of money flowing, you have to get over it. 
After finally getting her cleaned up, we checked the rug. Yes, there is a slightly darker shade on part of the rug.
Its clean though! After all that, she ended up throwing up on the rug repeatedly throughout the day. It won't remain pristine. Nothing does when you have kids. Why else do I tell him often, "This is why parents can't have nice things!" But its worth the hassle. We do what we do for our babies. No matter the mess. No matter the frustration. No matter the smells, sights, and exhaustion that accompany them. We do all from unconditional love. 
Now that I have shared, I'm curious. How many of you have such stories or experiences you have gone through?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Summer vacations are busy but fun!

School is out, kids are taking a break, and I'm trying to add to their fun. I'm also trying to get their appointments caught up. I don't want time to race by, however, without having some great memories in the mix. We have been visiting the park. Even went to a new one.
Building box forts and having sleep overs with movies in the living room.
My kids have been loving it. 

We even cleaned out the van together. Talk about a heavy job!

We are also participating in the Half Price Books reading program.
My baby is now on the doorstep of being 7 months old.
We are exploring solids, sitting on our own,
and love to get on all fours just to rock back and forth.

And finally, I pulled out my postcards collection. I decided to trim down by letting my kiddos use them to practice writing over the summer to family and friends.  
One of the best parts of these days? Getting my baby to sleep and having her hold my shirt.
Its the best feeling in the world. Knowing that I've done my best and they are happy. I'm hoping everyone else is having a great summer. Don't forget that Father's Day is this Sunday! Did you get your dad something special? Love to hear about it in the comments below!

Cars 3 movie review

I LOVE being a part of Sly Fox. They get the word out on upcoming movies and offer their "press" members the chance to pre-screen movies and review them. I don't often get to go, but I like it when I do. 
The latest one I was a part of was the Cars 3 movie. I took my kids and husband along. We made it a family night out event. 
When I first got the invitation, I was thinking, "No way. Its going to be dumb and a waste of effort." After all, how many series in the movie industry are worth their time? Star Wars, Star Trek, Maze Runner... Those are what come to mind for me as being good all the way through. Hunger Games was pretty good... but I didn't like the ending or the fact that the girl couldn't pick a guy and stay firm in her choice of who she loved. But I digress. In the end, I felt this would be another failed movie made by creators who are low on ideas and dragging the series into a trilogy that will crash and burn. 
To my surprise, though, the apprehension I felt was short lived. 
The comedic lines run strong throughout the movie. Lightning McQueen is no longer the spotlight racer he once was. He has used his mentors, Doc Hudson, training to reach the top. But now he is running against a younger, new generation of racers. The people he had become used to racing against is slowly being pushed from the sport. A choice has to be made. Does he accept that he is not the racer of now and move on to the next step in his career? Or does he try to change and learn the new way racing is taking the track? 

In his pursuit of the future, he meets Cruz, his personal trainer. Through the course of training, he will find that one doesn't really stop learning. And that the lessons you learn can reveal that there is more to a person than meets the immediate eye. 
I think this movie would make a great ending to the series. It was cute, very family-friendly, and worth the fun time we spent watching it together. This is one of my favorite scenes from the movie.

Let me know what you think about it!

Giving some love to a new company!

I'm collaborating with a new business owner to get the word out about her store and why you should look into it. None of my opinions were paid for. She reached out for help and her story inspired me to write!
Her name is Megan. She is a K-12 Art Teacher that started this business with her mother. Together, they have created and launched Wild Magnolia about a month or so ago. Their styles are geared towards teen and adult women with a creative, Bohemian-type flair. If you want to read more of her story, check it out here.
There is quite the variety in the items they offer. Shirts, dresses, rompers, and pants are just the beginning. I've fallen in love with some of the jewelry pieces she has on there as well. Like these Gold Petite Drop Earring Aqua Chalcedony or this Tetris Necklace in Blue/Cyan.
Which is another thing, she makes a lot of the jewelry herself! Talk about being an accomplished lady. There are some small home accents to check out as well as some art.

If you are near Southern New Jersey or planning a trip there in April of 2018, be sure to look for her new store front! Shop in person and be sure to let her know you read about her on my blog. In the meantime, these items and these that are newest to her website. Check them out and then browse around the other things. What strikes your fancy most? Do you have any suggestions for her? 
I am a huge fan of women who start their own business, who can balance life and career with their dreams. I greatly hope to see this one aspire to the top of the totem pole in fashion!

And to make this post even sweeter, she has agreed to offer my readers a special discount! At checkout, use the code TEXASNERD25 to get 25% off your order! This deal will run through July 4th. Perfect time to grab some gear for the holiday fun! 

A follow up to a previous situation

I had written about starting up a Go Fund Me for hiring a lawyer and seeking full custody of my children. After reading a comment to that post, I have decided to follow up on what happened to that end. 

I started up the fundraiser and a dear friend of mine made a considerably large donation. The gratitude I felt was tremendous. I didn't even think I would get the amount she had donated, let alone more. Call it an empty hope created by desperation. I have learned, however, that God moves in mysterious ways. So after receiving that amount, I called up someone that I was given high recommendations to. This person was previously a lawyer and the best when it came to family cases. What I hoped for was a weight to be lifted from my shoulders. What was returned to me instead was a blow to my dreams. He is now a mediator who works to find middle ground for those in legal disputes. He also refers you to the best in the business depending on your needs. He explains the law and what options you have. My options are not just limited. They are singular. The state of Texas protects the accused in some ways, more than the victims. I should've known this. After all, I've been involved in a case where I interpreted for a friend whose illegal deaf wife tried to kill him in his sleep, with his children present and witnessing, and she not only got out of being deported (despite those who knew her pushing for that option), but she also got out of jail and was given primary custody of the kids. If that is possible, how much more so a guy keeping his rights when he does things morally wrong with or to his children? 
The legal advice I received knocked me down a peg and put me in the cloud cover of doubting my ability to be the Mom I need to be. I was told that the State would not easily give full custody to one parent over the other, if at all. They will exhaust other options, and funding, to keep both parents in the children's lives. Even fighting for supervised visits with the documentation I have would cost me in the neighborhood of $10,000. And that's just a start. Instead, I was told to document every instance in a journal. Make sure my kids tell me everything. Make sure they can reach me no matter what time or where while with him. And to pray that nothing bad happens. I have since filed an additional report with Child Protective Services. They began an investigation, but I was told that the situation fell into a slightly gray area. So they would reach out to my ex-husband and inform that certain actions are from here on, prohibited. Should anything happen again, they will look further into supervised visitation rights. As for the kids being left alone or unsupervised at the theme park, that isn't considered a bad thing that they will investigate until one of them is severely injured, kidnapped, or worse. So the training of them knowing exactly how to respond to strangers, dangerous situations, or being in a moment of feeling uncomfortable about something has taken on an urgent tone. We talk about it often. My daughter knows to yell to her brothers for assistance if her father refuses to listen to her. I choose to think that I have scared him enough with my words and actions that he will back away from ever making such choices again. 
The campaign I had started, was removed. The money I had received was returned to my donors. I am focusing on doing what I can to make them safe as much as possible. I also pray that God's will be done and that I have strength to accept what I cannot control. Its a hard way to live. Its a struggle that I have to endure. May it be known, however, that I will not seek a way into the loophole I have been made aware of. I will stay ready for the moment when I can finally have them safe and be done with him. I have expressed to them and to him, that they have the ability to call me any time for any reason. I send snacks and food as I'm able to ensure they are well fed. I also feed them before they leave and upon returning to me. 
I love them dearly. I may not have made all the right choices. I may still be learning from the decisions and outcomes I have been through, but I keep pushing forward. I will always do my best for them.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Despicable Me 3 pre-screening tickets contest

Hello everyone! I'm happy to announce that I am able to give away 5 Family packs of tickets. Each family will get 3 tickets. This is for San Antonio. It will be at the Santikos Palladium theater in San  Antonio at La Cantera. You will have to arrive at 6:30 PM to get your seats. Movie starts at 7PM.
Enter for a chance to win DESPICABLE ME 3 family three-pack!

SPECIAL ADVANCE SCREENING

7:00 PM / Tuesday, June 27

Santikos Palladium

Tell us who your favorite Minion is for your chance to win DESPICABLE ME 3 family three-pack to a special advance screening!

Entries must be received by Thursday, June 22 to be eligible. A limited number of entries will be selected via random drawing and awarded a family three-pack of passes (3 seats) and notified by Friday, June 23. One entry per family, please. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

ABOUT THE FILM: llumination, who brought audiences Despicable Me and the biggest animated hits of 2013 and 2015, Despicable Me 2 and Minions, continues the adventures of Gru, Lucy, their adorable daughters—Margo, Edith and Agnes—and the Minions in Despicable Me 3. Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, co-directed by Eric Guillon and written by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio, the animated film is produced by Illumination's Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, and executive produced by Chris Renaud. 

Joining Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig in Despicable Me 3 is Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award winner Trey Parker, co-creator of Comedy Central's global phenomenon South Park and the Broadway smash The Book of Mormon. Parker voices the role of villain Balthazar Bratt, a former child star who's grown up to become obsessed with the character he played in the '80s, and proves to be Gru's most formidable nemesis to date. The film will be released in theaters on June 30, 2017. 



IN THEATERS JUNE 30
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