Saturday, December 8, 2012

"Elf Defense"

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I do not often sit back and say nothing when I find something that insults me.  There are a few areas in my life that when poked... I bite back, and my parenting is one of them. (My marriage, and our finances are the others... so stay away from telling me what I'm doing wrong in those areas!!!)  Parenting isn't a job that comes with a handbook.  It is a job that everyone chooses to do their own way.  We all have our children's best interests at heart, but our methods differ.  There is NOTHING wrong with this!  In our house... we have rules & laws!  There are 2 main LAWS in our house, thus meaning that these rules will never change or go away!
Our bedroom is our space, and there are no children allowed when the sun is not up!

This is really for my own sanity.  There isn't much in this house that is MINE, but the food on my plate is.

As far as rules go... here is the short list...
My parenting technique differs from most people that I know.  This doesn't mean the way I do things is wrong, nor is the way you choose to parent.  My logic behind our system is explanatory.  While Abbie has good days and bad... most every child does, our method seems to as a generalization, work! 

The point of this post, however, is not to preach about my superb parenting skills.  They are far from superb, and I am not planning on writing a book on the subject!  This post is about "Elf Defense".  I read a post last night that really got me fired up.  You can read this post here.  While I am sure this post was meant for laughs and not to insult, it got me thinking.  I have had sooooooo many friends on Facebook post something about how tired they are of seeing everyone's Elf, or that the Elf is stupid, or that people who choose to have fun with their Elf have no lives.  I felt some clarification was needed.  There is nothing stupid about our Elf.  Holly is here to keep Abbie on her best behavior.  Her fun antics each day are to keep Abbie thinking about her.  When Abbie wakes up each morning, her first statement is "Let's go find Holly".  We come downstairs and look for our Elf!  Abbie lights up each time she sees Holly doing something fun!  
What this article was saying that got me upset, might be true in some houses.  However, in ours... it would never happen.  Our elf does things to make Abbie LAUGH, but never anything to coax Abbie into breaking rules.  Did our Elf draw on a family picture, yes.  Does that mean that Abbie will draw on all of the pictures around our house... NO.  She would get in trouble for doing so, and she is aware of this.  I am not a hypocrite of a bad mom for this.  When she found Holly with a marker in her arms, Daddy said "SILLY HOLLY, we don't draw on pictures". Therefore Abbie is not picking up bad habits because of our Elf.  Our Elf, has Abbie convinced that every night when she goes to sleep, Holly comes to life.  Her antics around our house have proven to Abbie that Holly is real.  THAT WAS MY HOPE!  I don't throw away money, and to me $30 on a stuffed animal that sits on a shelf collecting dust is a waste.  I would never have bought it, if the intentions were to have it sit on a shelf and do nothing.  Abbie wouldn't have cared about Holly AT ALL!  So, to sum it up...
A)  Abbie is 2, and I want her to have fun Christmases lingering in her memories for years to come!  This tradition is fun and we have enjoyed watching her enjoy it!  
B)  Just because my Elf is much more active than some, doesn't make those parents slackers.  Your idea of the Elf on the Shelf experience can differ from mine!
C)  Judging someone on their parenting method, does no one any good.  Does it make your method any more effective, no.  Does it boost someone's confidence in parent department (which we all need), no.  All it does is hurt.  It isn't our place to judge people, as parents or for anything really.  So... worry about your kids, your household, your Christmas experience, your traditions... and let me worry about mine!

For those who have enjoyed watching Holly's every move... thank you for your support & encouragement!  I really am having fun with Holly, and knowing that other people are excited to see what she is up to next, makes me even more excited to plan out her next adventure!!  
Holly has a website... feel free to use our ideas & share them with friends!!
 - Jessica

Monday, November 26, 2012

Making Laundry Detergent...

I have had a lot of friends ask me recently about my laundry detergent!  How do you do it?  It is easy?  How does it smell so good?  I figured, why not put all of the questions to rest, and show you just how easy this actually is!  I did some research a long time ago at homemade detergent recipes for an HE washing machine. This one is the easiest and best I have found.  Are you ready to see just how easy it is???

1 bar of Ivory Soap with Aloe
1 Cup of Borax
1 Cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

That's it!  This is so incredibly cheap to make, and I can make it in about 5 mins or less!  Here is what I do...
I use my food processor to shred the soap.  Then I add a cup of each Borax and Washing Soda.  Run the processor again, and put into my container!

Borax - $3.99/box
Washing Soda - $3.29/box
3 Pack Ivory Soap with Aloe - $1.07 

The Aloe Ivory makes the detergent smell good! 

I don't own a fancy food processor... $25ish at Walmart!  It works great though! 

 Using processor to shred soap!

1 Cup of Washing Soda 

 1 Cup of Borax

 Run processor to mix together...

 I use a yogurt container that I covered with pretty scrapbook paper to hold my detergent!

1 Tbspn of detergent per load!  


 - Jessica

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stationery card

Our Moments Christmas Card
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Strong Enough

I was told about this song by my best friend.  The next day, I was reminded of this song by a family member.  If you haven't heard it yet... it's called "Strong Enough" by Matthew West.

You must
You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through

Well, forgive me

Forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be

everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
For the both of us

That is just the first verse and chorus, but I like the words to the entire song.  The last month has been a downhill run straight into a tree for me.  One bad day after another, and suddenly my life seems to have crumbled around me.  I don't consider myself a pessimist, I prefer to call myself a realist.  I would prefer not to get my hopes up about something and be let down.  So, I focus on the reality of each situation.  I have been going through 2 very tough situations over the last few weeks... and the reality is... things will never be the same.  For someone who hates change, that isn't something exciting.

Most of my blog readers are aware of the issues going on with Brady.  I have been an open book with most everything there.  Information, my emotions, and updates on progress have been written and shared.  However, the other heartbreak in my life is not one I have talked much about.  I think writing about it, might make me cope with it a little better.  
Most of my life my mom and I didn't get along.  We didn't just "butt heads", we ran into each other at full speed and split heads!  Growing up, I was what one might call... independent!  I wasn't fond of being told what to do.  My mother was a frequent order giver in my life, and I rebelled as often as possible.  It wasn't really until I got pregnant that things really changed.  Getting pregnant will make just about anyone grow up.  I did some soul searching and found that I didn't like the person that would be Abbie's mom.  While I was far from perfect, I at least made some personality and character upgrades.  One of these upgrades was my respect for my mom.  I think on the brink of becoming a mom, you tend to find a new respect for yours.  When I ended up on bed rest at 32 weeks pregnant, my mom was there for me.  She came over after work EVERY day and did whatever needed to be done.  Laundry, cleaning, made dinner, and we did a lot of talking.  I went into labor 4 times total, and she was at the hospital each time.  In fact, I believe she drove me there each time!  She held my hand through long nights of hard labor, and kept me calm.  When Abbie arrived, mom stayed with us for a week.  Helping out and making it so much easier for me to recover from my surgery!
I developed the relationship with her that I had always wanted... a friend.  While being friends with your mom can cause some arguments (especially when you are raising your first child) we had a good relationship.  Things changed slightly when I moved to Richmond, VA, over a year ago.  She was sad to see us leave, but quickly began visiting as often as possible.  She was the only family member at the hospital when Brady was born.  She happened to be visiting for the weekend, and I went into labor a few hours before she arrived.  She held him for a bit, and headed to the house to be with Abbie.  Again, she stayed for a week, and provided more assistance than I can ever thank her for.  When she went home... everything changed.
She and my stepdad, Scott, filed Separation Papers in March.  She met someone while taking a trip to Israel and a relationship began.  I didn't meet Ken until September.  We were visiting Greensboro for a family wedding and it just so happened to be the weekend of my mom's birthday.  We were celebrating 50 years of mom, but she was also celebrating her new engagement.  It wasn't long before there was a date set, and the news of her moving to Utah shattered my world.  In the midst of dealing with everything going on with Brady... I didn't know what to do with all of it.  Her last day at work was Friday, and her moving truck is now packed.  She will turn her apartment keys in tomorrow morning, and head to Utah.  
It feels like a death.  
While I like Ken, and am glad that my mom and he are happy... I feel like I am losing something I missed out on most of my life.  I will see her a few times a year, but nothing like before.  I have made every attempt at "being an adult" that I can, but each time I talk about it, I cry.  Between crying over Brady and my mom... I believe I am all crying out for 2012!  Thankfully the year is drawing to a close!  As Thanksgiving approaches, I am trying to be only grateful, and not focus on the negative... but my heart is sad.  
I have a long history dealing with depression.  Clinical & Post Partum depression darken my past.  If you have ever suffered from depression, or known someone who has... you know how evil it is.  It sucks you in like a black hole, and you beg for it to spit you out.  I am fighting it with every bone in my body.  Matthew West sings "You must think I'm strong, to give me what I'm going through"... and I guess God thinks I am a soldier!  I pray that he gives me the strength to get through all of this.  I know I can get through it, and come out the other side stronger than ever, but it takes time.  

Please pray for my mom and Ken as they began their drive across the country tomorrow, and start their own journey together.  I wish them the best.  Please keep me in your prayers as well.  Fighting depression takes an army of prayer warriors, and I appreciate everyone praying for me...

 - Jessica

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Therapy 101

Wearing the Elbow Immobilizer...
I haven't written an update on how either form of therapy is going, and I figured I should before I forget any of the information!  Brady has begun 2 different types of therapy.  Occupational Therapy, focusing on feeding, and Physical Therapy, focusing on left side mobility.  Physical Therapy is once weekly, and Occupational Therapy is every other week.  We got linked with these therapists through Chesterfield Early Intervention.  This is a program that is free to eligible people in our county.  The HUGE upside to this versus private therapy (besides the bill) is that the therapists work with your child in your home.  It really makes the whole situation tolerable and much easier.  They can show me what to do with things I already have around my house, and I can continue working with him on things they have as well! 
Occupational Therapy was first.  Debra is our therapist, and she came to the house on Election Day!  She came at 330, and Brady is usually eating a bottle, but I fed him solids so that the session wasn't a wash!  She watched and gave me pointers on how to increase the use of his tongue and lips while he eats.  Strengthening his muscles in his mouth is important and should help him learn to swallow his food better.  Swallowing anything but a smooth puree to this point has been a challenge for him.  Children who have the brain condition, Lissencephaly, as Brady does, often struggle to swallow food.  She brought a NUK brush, which is basically a round and rubber toothbrush.  We have been working with it each night.  The hope is that when he puts it into his mouth, he will move his tongue toward it.  We have also increased the "lump" in his food.  It is no longer completely smooth.  We don't blend it as long, but still use the same water amount.  This way the food is thicker without being sticky!  Our next step will be to begin adding crumbled graham crackers and things to food to try and increase lump!
Physical Therapy began November 9th.  We have had 2 sessions and things have been hard!  Our first session was basically just feeling everything out.  Checking to see what exactly Brady does in an hour, and how he does it.  The second session was when the work began!  There has been talk of casting Brady's good arm, his right arm, so that he learns to use his other arm more.  However, he isn't an unsupported sitter just yet, so this isn't possible.  So we did the next best thing, which I actually think is better!  The therapist brought an Elbow Immobilizer.  It's a simple brace type wrap that prevents him from bending his right arm.  He cant bring things to his mouth, reach for things close to his face, or bear any weight on it.  He wore it for 10 minutes before he finally had enough.  I was so proud of him for going that long, and so was the therapist!  After that it was all downhill!  He had used his left arm so much (and never really uses it at all) that you could physically see his exhaustion.  Tummy time was a bit of a wash, and he finally melted down enough that I put him in the crib!  He slept for 2 hours!
Cutting teeth is killing us right now.  Brady has 4, that's right... 4, teeth coming in at the same time on the top.  You can tell he is in pain.  He has run a constant low grade fever for 4 days now.  Thank God for Tylenol & IBprofen!  He is up for 2 or 3 hours in the night, and unfortunately, so are we!  This added to the challenge of therapy this past week.  I am hoping that the teeth all break the gums completely before tomorrow night.  BIG DREAMS!  Because of Thanksgiving, we have Physical Therapy again this Monday afternoon, and Occupational Therapy on Tuesday.  Hoping both go well, and that I have my happy and sweet baby boy back by then!

 - Jessica

Friday, October 19, 2012

This Side of Heaven

The last 3 days have been a bit chaotic, and filled with lots of information which has been a bit overwhelming.  I felt talking about today's neurologist visit, would be easier via blog than via Facebook, so here we go.

Yesterday Brady had an MRI at St. Mary's hospital.  He did great during the MRI, and handled his anesthesia like a champion!  Today we headed to Dr. Taylor, Brady's neurologist to have the results read.  I had been pondering how I would react if the news was bad, but deep down... I had a feeling that I was worrying for no reason.  I just knew that we would go in, and he would say "His scan looks great, and there is nothing to worry about".  That however, is not what happened.  I got to the hospital just in time, and a hiccup at the valet station, caused me to stress and all but run to the office.  I made it at 10:46... good, one minute late!  Derik drove separate, and was already there, and had checked us in.  After 20 minutes, I thought... something seems off.  Why is it taking so long??  We had 2 appointments ahead of us, sitting in the waiting room.  So, we asked and found out that everything appointment was running behind at least 45 minutes.  GREAT... Brady, fell asleep, and I sat there thinking of every possible outcome of this appointment, except what we heard.  The doctor finally called us back, and until he started talking... I still thought this trip was going to end well. 

"Well, the MRI showed us 2 completely separate brain abnormalities"... and my heart sank.  If there is one thing that I never wish to hear someone say about my children again... it is the term brain abnormality.  One of the abnormalities is directly linked to one of the red flags we had talked about previously, with our neurologist.  The other abnormality is not linked to any of his issues.  There are 2 white patches that were prevalent on the MRI.  There are not supposed to be there, and while we know that is a problem, we do not know why they are there.  The other abnormality was the one that ripped my heart open.  Most human brains are bumpy on the outside.  When you look at a cross section of an MRI, you will see bumps... and most of Brady's scan appeared that way.  However, the frontal lobe on his right side was smooth.  This simply means that when his brain was developing in utero, the nerves that stretch and span to make those bumps, didn't do this on the right side.  The right side of the brain, controls the left side of your body... and Brady has had trouble using his left hand completely for some time.  Now we know why, and what we learned is that he will most likely never have full use of that arm and hand.  It will be a "helper hand" as the neurologist called it. 

As a mom, I immediately jumped to the bad place.  I was worried that he would never play sports, or live any sort of normal "little boy" life.  The neurologist said that since he has the problem at such a young age, he will learn to work around it, and more than likely be capable of doing anything he wants.  That at least took some of the sting off of it.  We will most likely see an Occupational & Physical Therapists for some time, and the neurologist has high hopes that it will HELP.  However, nothing can fix this problem.  That is part of what bothered me, I think.  Knowing that there is nothing I can do for my son... no medicine, no surgery, no treatment can fix it, HURTS.

We will also see a Genetic Counselor.  There is a genetic disorder which can cause the entire brain to be smooth, and since Brady has only part of a smooth brain, it could be a genetic translocation.  If that is the case, we need to know what that means for any future children, and any children that Brady may have.

The good news is... it is nothing fatal, and it isn't something that will make him suffer for the rest of his life.  However, the bad news is... that it will be a set back that he has to learn to cope with.  As a mom, we want the absolute best for a children.  I am so sad to know that I can't do anything for Brady to help him here.  I can provide therapists, and I will... but I feel helpless.  I know God has a plan, and I will not understand it this side of heaven.  But, that isn't making this any easier to swallow.

Please keep our family in your prayers, as this is not over yet.  If you have any questions about any of this... I will be happy to answer them for you.

Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement...
We love you.

 - Jessica

Monday, October 15, 2012

Fear is a Beast...

Such a sweet boy, Brady is almost 9 months old.  It is crazy to think that it has been 9 months since we met him!  It feels like yesterday, but at the same time... I cant really imagine life without him!  His smile lights up a room, and his laugh is 100% infectious.  His coos would make anyone chuckle, and who can deny how cute all of that "insulation" is!!  I remember being a bit sad when I learned that Brady was a boy... and now I cant image things any other way! 
Most of you know I have been completely consumed by what is going on with my sweet baby.  I am sad, I am stressed, and I am terrified of actually learning the answers.  In 4 days, we will know what is going on, and I am not sure that I am ready for what the neurologist is going to tell us. 
I keep battling with my fear.  I am afraid, but at the same time... I am trying to trust God.  I was told once that fear is present because of Satan, and I am beginning to believe that.  Saying that I am afraid, and saying that I have "Let Go & Let God" is a huge contradiction.  I guess in reality, that is what I am!  I am one gigantic, walking, mess of a contradiction.  When I meet our maker, if I am allowed to ask the Almighty a question, I think it will be... "Why did you not eliminate Satan?  Without his present, evil in all forms would be non existent." 
I haven't actually voiced my fears.  I have danced around the actually words when someone asks me "What is it that you are afraid of?".  No mother ever wants to see their child suffering any type of setback, and that is my greatest fear.  I feel guilty that the issues in my pregnancy could have caused potential life long issues for Brady.  In pregnancy, I am the one who is growing and protecting the baby, and I couldn't even do that right.  Now he is here, and we thought we had knocked it out of the park by avoiding the NICU!  Now I am beginning to feel like I denied him some extra care.  Maybe if I hadn't been so pushy about not wanting him to go unless it was ABSOLUTELY vital, he would have gotten a better chance.  He failed his hearing screen at birth, and while he passed a month later... I am not sure that it was 100% accurate.  I was the only one at the appointment, and I was so afraid that failing it would mean lots of things that I didn't want to deal with.  She performed the test at least 25 times.  I nursed him, changed him, and he went back to sleep.  Finally, even though he was buried in his car sear, she said he passed.  All I was looking for was a green light to pretend like all of our problems were over.  There have been so many red flags in the last 9 months, and I am still looking only for my green light. 
What happens if the results of the MRI show neurological issues.  What if the nystagmus is caused by a mass in his brain?  What happens if he truly has issues with mental development as well as physical development?  What happens if those issues, set him back so far that he can never catch up??

The truth is... I am terrified about what this week holds for us.  My heart breaks and bleeds all over every time I see one of my friend's children of Brady's age hit another huge milestone.  Their babies are crawling, walking, talking, clapping... and mine has reached none of these.  I remember feeling like such a successful mom when Abbie achieved said milestones.  Perhaps, that is why I am feeling like a failure at it now.  I only want the best for my children, and as a mom... knowing there is nothing I can do to fix it... makes me sick.

 - Jessica

This is for my sweet boy...

You arrived very early, it was the middle of the night.
The moment I held you, it was love at first sight.
I didn't know how I would love a another,
But I love your sister, and I love her brother.
You were so tiny, my little tator tot,
And today, well, tiny you are certainly not!
Growing so fast, the months have blown by.
My baby is growing into such a sweet guy.
My prayer is that God spares you from any pain,
And that these issues are something, someone can explain.
I love you so much, you will never even know.
So, I have to Let God, and Let Go...

I love you Brayden... Mom

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Me, Myself, & I...

My Mom & I...

My story is one of pain and laughs, as most people's stories usually are.  I've had years of struggle, and years with a lot of fun memories.  My memories from my childhood start around Kindergarten.  I remember a blue house on Mapleway Lane, it had 3 bedrooms, and 1.5 baths.  I remember the laundry area being in the hall, and the kitchen, dining room, and living room all being open to each other.  There was a deck on the back that was pretty high off the ground.  My dad had built my sister and I am kids heaven in the back yard from the piping supply that he sold!  We had a swing set, a sandbox, a slide, and a see saw.  We loved to play out side, and I have many good memories in that house.  With those good memories, I also have a lot of dark memories.  My parents didn't get a long, and I saw some things that children shouldn't see.  I was a Girl Scout and loved troop meetings & camping trips.  I was smart enough to be in the blended class in 2nd grade.  We were blended with 3rd graders, and learning more advanced things.  My younger sister was very allergic to peanuts which we learned by a horrific allergic reaction when she rolled a pine cone in peanut butter.  I shared a room with my sister and slept on the top bunk.  I remember being terrified because my mom would turn the blinds up, and from the top bunk... I felt like I was being watched at night.  My sister and I fought, as siblings tend to do.  
Girl Scouts... I was a brownie!

After a traumatizing afternoon that I will never shake... my mom, sister, and myself moved out.  I was in the 3rd grade.  I remember most everything.  We moved into a friend's house temporarily, and my sister thought it was great, because we got to eat Taco Bell every night!  Eventually, we moved to Elkin, and I think the move came at the end of the school year.  My mom's family lived in Elkin, and we lived with my great grandma for a bit.  Mom found an apartment and we moved not to far from my "Grandma Grandma's" house.  We called her that because she was my great grandma, and that was grandma twice!  I started a new school in the 4th grade, and didn't make many friends.  In fact, I remember very little about that school and the students.  

My mom and dad ended up getting back together, and we moved back to Greensboro.  They had already sold the house on Mapleway Lane, and my dad had purchased a townhouse on Horsepen Creek Road.  We moved in with him, and I have many many memories from our time in that house!  I remember roller skating and riding our bikes up and down the sidewalks there.  I remember convincing my sister to climb a tree.  Not just any tree... a HUGE tree!  I convinced her to climb all the way up to the very tippy top!  My dad was furious!  I remember a groundhog living in our backyard, and a flat area with tons of fruit trees!  I started a new school and this time I remember just about everything!  I could walk through the entire school in my head right now!  I remember where everything was!  Mr Stallard was my teacher, and he was sooooo much fun!  I remember working so hard on my big project that year, My North Carolina Book.  I'm pretty sure my mom still has this book.  I had to come up with something in NC for every letter of the alphabet. I got an A!  I was a Presidential winner for the Physical Fitness Award that year, and in the 5th grade I was runner up for the Dare Essay contest!  I did 2 Science Fair projects that I remember like it was yesterday!  I stained white tiles with coffee and tea and tested various brands of toothpastes, and the next year we tested the absorbancy of various brands of paper towels!

Doing a back hand spring...
My sister & I... celebrating her birthday in 2005!
Life got interesting as I went into middle school.  I got pretty involved with my youth group, I had my first boyfriend, my first kiss, a few "best friends", and I started caring about being cool.  The problem was, while I wanted to wear cool clothes, and have a cool purse like everyone else, my parents just couldn't afford it.  I would never ask my mom to buy a shirt from "The Limited" for me, when she couldn't afford to buy one for herself.  She and my dad did what they could to provide for us, but unfortunately that meant I wasn't very "cool".  I got picked on and made fun of a LOT, and one person in particular went out of her way to pick on me.  Then came 7th grade.  It was one of the hardest years of my life, as a kid.  My best friend from the 6th grade, made a new best friend.  Together they were a force to be reckoned with.  Mix them with all of their other faithful sidekicks and my life literally became a hell.  I didn't want to go to school, because they were horrible to me.  My grades suffered, and so did my self esteem.  Titanic came out that year, and my homeroom teacher would let me spend homeroom in the computer lab so I didnt have to be around these girls.  I would look up and print out tons and tons of pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio!  Those pictures became the wallpaper in my room, and that mixed with making up AWESOME dances to the Spice Girls songs with my little sister's friends, was really the only happy parts of my life that year.  8th grade got a little better as far as the bullying goes.  I was still in class with some of them, but now they ignored me instead of picking on me.  I had a few really good girlfriends, and even a few guy friends.  My boyfriend who I had been with on and off, started dating one of my other friends, and now they are married with an adorable little boy!  One of my guy friends that year, was killed in Iraq a few years ago... that was not easy to deal with.  On a high note though, I did go on 3 mission trips in middle school, all which left a lasting mark on me!!  Especially the trip to Maine.  I remember everything about it, and would love to go back!  I broke my ankle playing basketball with some of the guys, and spent most of the trip on crutches, but watching 4th of July fireworks on the beach cliffs of Maine... amazing!  My parents split for good the summer before I started high school, and it was an UGLY split.  After a few months, I chose to live with my dad, and without my sister.  I didn't realize what that meant for my life.  After my sister and I knowing everything about each other for years and years... I no longer knew her anymore.  There were boyfriends I never met, and friends I never knew, and I hate that I missed so much.  I wanted desperately to be on the cheerleading squad, so I tried out... fail.  I was crushed, and I sought out help from a highly recommended person!  That is when I learned about Cheer Extreme Allstars.

Cheer Extreme Allstars :)
High school was a whole new start.  People who hadn't spoken to me in years, were suddenly my friends!  I was borderline cool, and I had some close friends that made life fun my freshmen year!  My 2 best friends and I spent the majority of our free time learning every dance by Britney Spears that we could!  We had most of them nailed!  I even got to go to her concert with some of my friends for my birthday in March of 2000.  My dad and I went to the coliseum at the butt crack of dawn and waiting forever to get tickets in the nosebleed section!!  It was all that was left when we made it to the window :(.
My dad met someone new, and she rallied for me to start cheerleading, so I did.  I met the coach and owner of CEA and after my try out was placed on the CoEd team!  I loved it, and worked SUPER hard to gain tumbling skills.  After a few months I had a back hand spring and was learning how to do running tumbling!
After another try and fail at the Cheerleading Squad at Northwest High School, I thought I was going to give up.  I decided that cheering Allstars was fun, and I didn't need a school squad!  My dad and his new lady got engaged and I opted to change schools again, and move into town and out of the suburbs!  My mom and dad got remarried and I had a whole new life.  

Scorpion... I loved cheering!
I started Page High School in the 10th grade, and my only friends for a while were really the friends of my step sister.  However, when spring of 2001 rolled around, I tried out for the cheerleading squad, and to my surprise... I made it!  I cried harder than I had in a long time!  Not only was I on the team, but I actually was one of the team's 4 flyers!  I was so proud of myself, and felt like all of my hard work was really paying off.  I cheered as hard as I could for 2 years!  That was all I cared about, and the only reason that I worked on my grades in high school!  My junior year, I developed a bit of an eating disorder.  I never openly admitted that I was anorexic, but I was.  I would drink a Slim Fast before practice, and besides that... I didn't really eat.  Flying in cheerleading means that people catch me, and I was so self conscious about my weight.   I got down to about 78lbs, and my coach threatened to kick me off the squad.  It wasn't much longer before I discovered that I needed emergency surgery to have my tonsils & adnoids taken out.  I was out of cheerleading for a while, and was able to pack on a few pounds before returning.  My senior year, I got senioritis pretty early on!  While I loved cheerleading, I also loved to party.  I was a rebel, and I didn't care what anyone thought about me!  I actually went to my final exam my senior year wearing my bikini and cut off jean shorts.  Thankfully, the teacher let me take the exam... and didn't expel me!  My senior year ended up being pretty dark.  I ran away from home for a while, and did a LOT of things that I wasn't proud of then, and am still not proud of now.  Most people don't know that I even attempted to take my life, but God had other plans.  It took a lot of growing up, and meeting my now husband, for me to actually snap out of my self destruction!

Sarah & I Junior year... she introduced me to Derik!
My best friend from high school, introduced me to Derik, and we started dating in June of 2005.  We were living together August of 2006, and engaged in October.  Our friends at the time weren't too happy about us... growing up.  We lost most of them, and had some hiccups through the week of our wedding because of them.  We were married in September of 2007, and 2 months after our 1 year Anniversary trip to Mexico we found out we were pregnant!  This news came immediately after Derik started a new job, and we bought our first house!!!  Derik owned a townhouse that we lived in prior which we rented out, so a LOT of things changed in a short amount of time!  January of 2009, we miscarried, and were devastated.  However, we were pregnant again by June!  Preparing for Abbie was surreal, but she made her grand entrance Valentine's Day of 2010!  Her first year was amazing, and we loved just about every minute!  In March of 2011, we began preparing for a relocation, and we finally made the move April 30th.  Exactly one month later, we found out we were pregnant with Brady.  Brady arrived after several false labor trips to the hospital in January this year... and here we are!

Derik & I... many many years ago!!
I have chosen to filter a lot in this post.  The mistakes I made, and the pain I suffered... made me the person I am today, however... if I had to do it all over, I'm not sure that I would!  I would make changes, and live life in a better way.  There are a lot of things I like about myself, but my past is not one of them.  I am a mom to 2 great kids, I have a wonderful husband, I have great friends, I created and run a successful home based business, I am pretty creative & crafty, and my love for cheerleading will never die.  I am who I am, and my past led me to this point.  I am thankful that God forgives.  I am thankful that he has forgiven me for the mistakes I made in my past.  He is greater than all of it... and I am so thankful!

I wrote this blog post because I was listening to this song this morning, and it made me think about every time I ever called on God...  The song is called I Am by Nicole Nordeman.

Pencil marks on a wall, I wasn't always this tall
You scattered some monsters from beneath my bed.
You watched my team win, you watched my team lose
Watched when my bicycle went down again.
And when I was weak, unable to speak, still I could call you by name
And I said Elbow Healer, Super Hero, come if you can.
And you said, I AM.

Only sixteen, life is so mean
What kind of curfew’s is at 10 PM?
You saw my mistakes, you watched my heart break
Heard when I swore I'd never love again
And when I was weak, unable to speak, still I could call you by name
And I said Heartache Healer, Secret Keeper, be my best Friend
And you said, I AM.

You saw me wear white by pale candle light
I said "forever" to what lies ahead.
Two kids and a dream, with kids that can scream
[ From : ]
Too much it might seem when it's 2 am.
And when I am weak, unable to speak still I will call you by name
Oh, Shepherd, Savior, Pasture Maker, Hold on to my hand.
You say, I AM.

The winds of change and circumstance
Blow in and all around us
So we find a foothold that’s familiar.
And bless the moments that we feel you nearer.
When life had begun, I was woven and spun
You let the angels dance around the throne.
Who can say when, but they'll dance again
When I am free and finally headed home.
I will be weak, unable to speak
Still I will call you by name
Creator, Maker, Life Sustainer,
Comforter, Healer, My Redeemer
Lord and King, Beginning and the End
I AM, Yes I AM.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mini Me

I am writing this post specifically to outline how incredible my oldest child really is.  My focus over the last few months has been Brady, and I feel that Abbie has suffered from it.  I watch my little girl grow every day and all too quickly, she is becoming a big girl. 

In true mom fashion, I am going to talk about her birthday!
It was an amazing day, and it seemed to be over before it even began.  After 10 hours of laboring through the night, many many tests, and absolutely no sleep... I was sure the hospital was going to send us home, AGAIN!  To my surprise, the doctor came into the room, and announced "we are going to do the surgery, you are going to have this baby today"!  I was overcome with emotion, and didn't even realize that the situation was actually an emergency surgery!  Being that I had never been in this situation before, I thought that we would have the surgery in a few hours... the doctor meant more like 20 minutes!  It wasn't even 30 minutes later that I was staring at my beautiful baby girl!  She made her grand entrance on Valentine's Day, which for those of you who know our family... was the only day we didn't want her to come!  My husband is a restaurant owner, however... he was only managing at this time.  He was in complete disbelief that he had to take the day off work!  His boss thought we were playing a joke on him... off work on Valentine's Day, that is the busiest day of the year in a restaurant!  However, we weren't joking, and at 8:21am... we met our Abbie!  There were no complications during surgery, and I was in and out of recovery almost immediately.  I got to hold her within an hour of her arrival, and it went from 9:30am to 9:30pm in a flash.  We stayed at the hospital for 4 days, and brought Abbie home on the 17th.
In her first few months, she was sooooo tiny!  That was all anyone could say about her!  "She is so tiny"!!!  Tiny she was, and after about 4 months... she finally started catching up!  She was only 4 weeks early, and we were lucky that she had no significant delays.  She was cutting teeth at 5 months, sitting up at 6 months, self feeding at 9 months, and crawling at 11 months.  Her first birthday was a tough day for me.  I had a hard time dealing with the fact that she was no longer a "baby"!  Perhaps that is why 4 months later we had a positive pregnancy test! 
We moved to Richmond at the beginning of May, and Abbie almost immediately was scheduled for tubes.  She had her tube surgery on Friday, May 27th, and was walking on May 30th!  It was so surreal to see my baby girl teetering all around our new house.  2 weeks later, we learned that she would be a Big Sister, and that was a gut check!  Knowing that she would no longer be our baby, and that we would soon have another baby, made me realize just how big she was! 
The talking kicked in for real at about 18 months, and she never slowed down!  Her vocabulary has gone from saying "More Mo Mo" to "Can I have more water, please, mom".  She has now been a Big Sister for almost 9 months, and loves her job more than one can describe!  She is protective over Brady, and loves to help in any way possible.  Sometimes I can say, "Abbie, can you go talk to your brother", and I will hear them laughing at each other for the next 15 minutes!  She gets excited when he wakes up, and loves to watch him eat.  She wants to climb into his crib with him, and kiss him goodnight.  She rocks and feeds her baby dolls, and says she is "just like mommy", and I just soak it all in!

The reason for this post though is not to talk about her past, but to talk about her today.  Most days I feel like I am looking in a mirror!  It is like watching me, 25 years ago.  Her personality is 100%... me!  Sometimes I get completely annoyed by the fact that she is just like me, but she will now tell me to "just be patient with me mommy, take a deep breath"!!!  She watches everything I do, and repeats everything I say!  I am learning that I have to be very careful... because I have a shadow!  She loves princesses and cheerleading, and going on "mommy dates"!!  I never thought that someone so young could teach me so much, but she has.  Potty training, big girl bed, and eating new foods are some of her latest accomplishments, and she is hard at work on learning her ABCs!!  I cant even begin to write how blessed I am to get to know her!  She makes me laugh every day, and I love her more than I knew was humanly possible!
I look forward to watching her grow... I just hope she does it a little slower!

 - Jessica

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fun With Food

My daughter is absolutely what one may call a PICKY EATER!  She has days where she just doesn't care what she eats, but she has more days where she is very specific about what she wants!  I thought serving her new options in a creative way would be fun for both of us!  Watching her face light up when she climbs into her highchair and discovers the cool concoction, makes me smile every time!  Here are a few of the fun displays I have come up with so far.  I am planning more, but I have to be inspired first!!!

This was my attempt at a Safari Lunch!
Nutella & Strawberry Jelly Elephant Sandwiches, a banana & apple slice tree, and a few sun chips!
HUGE HIT... Abbie left nothing but crumbs on the plate!

This is my Under the Sea Lunch!
Pepperidge Farms makes the Goldfish Bread, and Abbie enjoyed more Nutella & Strawberry Jelly.
This was my attempt at getting her to eat whole wheat bread, and she did!  I used shreds of string cheese and Natural White Chedder Cheetos to make seaweed, and a few grapes for bubbles!
I also gave her a yogurt!
Another winner... she cleared her plate!

My Flower Fun Lunch creation!!
Strawberries, blueberries, string cheese, and a grilled cheese sandwich! 
She loved this as well.  The strawberries could have been sweeter, and that means that she left half of them on the plate, but she ate most everything else!

Well, this was a bit of a flop!
I made a puppy dog from a hot dog!  However the raisins that I attempted to use for eyes and a nose, fell off!  I also was more than scared to leave her with the toothpicks... so we probably wont do this again!
I have a caterpillar idea I will try next time!

I am having so much fun creating these for her, but she is having way more fun eating them!!

 - Jessica

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Road Trip ToDo List!

I had a short list of things that I wanted to do on our most recent trip home. This list consisted of only things that I can't do unless I'm in Greensboro!
We arrived in Greensboro about 2pm on Wed, September 19, and we stayed until yesterday morning.
My list of "Greensboro Only" items was as follows...

Sill's Shoe Shop
Juice Shop
Maxie B's
O' Henry
Pita Delight

If you are one of my readers from Greensboro, or you have ever lived in The Greensboro area, you most likely know what all of these places are, and why these places would make my list. If you are not one of those people... let me do a bit of elaborating!!

The first place on my list was Sill's Shoe Shop.  They are a fun, vintage shoe store for kids.  They will measure your child's food and they have an assortment of shoes from Stride Rite, Keds, and many other brands.  Abbie measured an 8 (no wonder all of her size 7 shoes were hurting her feet!!).  So, we bought a size 8 in the white leather Keds for her.  She has worn Keds in just about every size.  However, when we reached a size 5... mommy decided to go "cheap shoes" for a bit!  Abbie loves her new shoes!  Sill's also introduced us to Tongue Pads.  They are sticky on one side, and you put them inside the shoe on the tongue.  It helps the shoe fit your foot more snugly!  They put the tongue pads in free of charge, and her shoes fit great!

Next on my list was Juice Shop.  This was virtually one of the last stops I made while in town!  We picked Juice Shop up as we were about to hit the interstate!  I enjoyed it on our ride back.  Juice Shop is by far the BEST, and I mean truly the BEST smoothie shop around!  Tropical Smoothie and Smoothie King here are both a far cry from Juice Shop!  I enjoyed a Guava Gulp smoothie and Derik enjoyed a Strawberry Splash smoothie.  Since I was sick, I couldn't share mine with Abbie... however she very much enjoyed the last few sips of daddy's!!  I wish we had a Juice Shop here SOOOOOO bad!

Next, was Maxie B's.  Once upon a time, Maxie B's was called "I Can't Believe It's Yogurt".  They were really Greensboro's very first and ONLY frozen yogurt shop!  I remember having to decide on TCBY or ICBIY!!!  Those were the only 2 places to pick from!  However, the Frozen Yogurt thing went haywire, and now there is one on every corner!  ICBIY became Maxie B's, and they expanded into cakes and cupcakes.  We ordered our wedding cake and groom's cake from them, and they were fantastic!  The shop is SUPER cute now, and they even expanded the bakery into the space next door.  We ordered 2 Red Velvet Cupcakes with butter cream icing, just like our wedding cake!  We ended up picking up 2 additional cupcakes and a mini cupcake, so we could enjoy with Abbie, my dad, and Carol!  However... dad & Carol weren't interested, so we got to eat another cupcake!!!

Moving on to the O 'Henry Hotel.  How I love the O' Henry Hotel!  This was the location for our wedding reception 5 years ago!  It is the most amazing hotel in Greensboro, and luxurious is the only word to describe it!  Since our 5 year anniversary was Saturday, September 22, and we were attending a wedding on the 21st, we decided to pay O' Henry a visit!  The wedding was at the O' Henry's sister hotel Proximity.  Proximity sits about 200 yards away from the O' Henry!  So, we booked a room, and stayed the night.  It was just as amazing as I had remembered!  Derik had a gorgeous flower arrangement, chocolate covered strawberries, and a bottle of Veuve chilling when we returned from the wedding!  What a perfect evening!

Now, the next place on the list may confuse a few of you!  However, if you are an Arby's fan... which I am... and you have ever been to an Arby's in another state, you might understand.  Since Arby's is a franchise, they are allowed to select their own menu.  The Arby's here in town, serve things that are not available in North Carolina, and vice versa.  One of my absolute favorite things to order at Arby's is the Loaded Potato Bites.  SO DELICIOUS, and sooooo not available in Virginia.  Since my dad literally lives around the corner from Arby's, and we were staying at his house... I made a trip!  Just as good as I remembered!!!!

Last, but certainly not least, is Pita Delight.  I have a food crush on Pita Delight.  This may be one of the few things that I am glad is not available in Virginia, as I have NO will power for it!  (Sing to the tune of the Oscar Meyer Bologna song...)  "I could eat it every day"!!!
I love Pita Delight, and I am pretty sure I have never strayed from my original menu decision!  Every time I have enjoyed the deliciousness, it has been a Turkey & Cheese Pita with a side salad (no tomato, extra dressing) and a side of Fajita Sauce.  OH THE YUM!  I can taste the goodness now!

So, I am going to wrap up this blog post with this.  You may have noticed that most of my list consisted of food options!  I am no a foodaholic, but I do enjoy some good eating!!  I made a few other pit stops that were added bonuses!!  I got to see most of our Greensboro family, and a few of my old friends!
I am so sorry to Ashley Farrar & Karyn Sterling.  I hated that we missed you guys.  Hopefully we can get together on my next trip back! 

It was a great trip back, but I sure am glad to be home.  Perhaps I can work on opening my own Juice Shop & Pita Delight here in town!!!

 - Jessica

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mommy BASH

Some of my mommy friends will be elated to hear that the Mommy BASH Awards were cancelled this year!!  I know personally, I am ecstatic!  This award ceremony is for Mommies who Breastfeed & Are Super Human... yes I am making this up!

WARNING... I do not wish to insult anyone with this post, I am simply venting...

The first time that I heard about a woman going through a pregnancy PROBLEM FREE and giving birth naturally with no drugs involved, I took the whole concept for granted.  I thought that having a baby was a piece of cake!  This was of course BEFORE I ever got pregnant!

(Enter my 1st positive pregnancy test...)
We started calling all of our family and friends and were beyond excited to share our good news!  We were oblivious to the idea that anything could go wrong, and wrong it went.  We miscarried, and had to share the devastating news.
We thought when we had our next pregnancy test and got past the first 12 weeks that we were safe!  NOT... at 22 weeks I started spotting, and at 32 weeks... BED REST.  I was on bed rest for a month, and even doing absolutely nothing triggered labor 3 times before Abbie graced us with her presence.  Let me clarify for those who have never experienced it before, there is nothing false about the preterm labor I went through.  I labored hard 4 times with each baby.  Drugs were used each time to stop the labor as I was 32 weeks with each when it started.  The 4th time with each child... I labored through drugs.
The night before Abbie arrived, I thought my water had broken.  We checked into the hospital after contractions had started at around 1030.  I labored through the night with COUNTLESS cervical checks and tests & an ultrasound to determine if my water had in fact broken.  They never could tell me.  But after 9 hours of laboring through the drugs to try and stop it, the doctor feared my uterus was in danger of rupturing.  So, off to the OR I went.  The decision to have the C-Section was made around 7:45 and we met Abbie at 8:21am.  It was quick, and it was terrifying, and I was never even given the option to do anything naturally.  The decision was beyond me and was based on what was safe for my child. 
16 months later we got a big surprise with another positive pregnancy test!  We were excited, but feared the worst when I began bleeding at 10 weeks.  We thought we had lost the baby and learned it was a minor issue.  We had another scare later into the pregnancy when they told us there were chances of Brady having Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy.  Another happy day, shattered into a million pieces.  We were just supposed to find out if it was a boy or a girl, and we left terrified.  At 32 weeks... the preterm labor began.  I spent 4 days in the hospital the first time.  Then after 3 trips back, laboring for 10 hours through the drugs, and another doctor fearing my uterus would rupture, we were swept into the OR for another C-Section where we met Brady!
Abbie arrived at 36 weeks 1 Day & Brady arrived at 35 weeks 4 days.  Both children early, both children by section, and neither time was I ever given the option to have a baby naturally!
I have what doctor's call a "Uterine Anomaly" called a Bicornuate Uterus.  Where most women have a round, circle shaped uterus, I have a heart.  That means there are 2 chambers, and my children get stuck in a breech position.  The chances of me ever having a baby get into the head down position was slim to none.  Breech babies are not exactly the easiest to deliver, but when you mix that with a problematic uterus... it makes for a bad combo!
This means, I will never give birth naturally.  I will never get the opportunity to try having a child without drugs, and I am just fine with that!  It doesn't mean that I am not a Super Woman!  Reading stories, or hearing friends tell me about their incredible birthing experience with no drugs, and a calm environment just sounds absurd to me!  My labor hurt, the contractions hurt, and the drugs were WONDERFUL!!!
A girlfriend of mine had an emergency C-Section with her first baby after laboring and pushing.  They did her section with no additional drugs, and she felt everything.  (Shout out to Stephanie Titus... you should get a Super Woman Award for that!!!)
My whole point is... Im over it!  I worked hard to get my babies here, and I'm proud I did it.  I'm proud that I bit my lip when I was told I had to have a C-Section.  I'm proud that I took the spinal.  And I'm proud that TWICE, I have taken care of my newborn while recovering from a surgery in which they basically cut me in half!!!!! (exaggeration... yes... get over it!)
I also had breastfeeding issues.  With Abbie my supply diminished, starting when she was 4.5 months old.  I pumped as much as I could, for as long as I could, but at 6 months... it was a lost cause.  With Brady, I had an overabundant supply.  However, there was no hind milk, which apparently is a problem.  2 babies, 2 completely different issues... no breastfeeding success stories.
SO... to sum up...
I DO NOT wish to attend the Big Latch On event that is sweeping the nation, so stop sending me e-vites!
I DO NOT want to read another story about a woman who had her baby in her living room with no drugs.
I DO NOT wish to insult any of my friends or family, so please understand that this is a sore subject.
Telling a woman that you had a super human birth when she will never have the chance for that experience is like telling an infertile friend that you are pregnant.  I am excited for you all, but that is just where I stand.
No one gives awards out for being super human or breastfeeding your baby exclusively until they are 2.  I am glad that your babies didn't recieve any drugs, but mine did... LET'S MOVE ON!!!

 - Jessica

Let Go & Let God

The past few weeks have been a type of stressful that I have never experienced before.  For some unexplainable reason, God gave me 2 incredible children that I get to love and raise.  Even though I call them mine, I know they actually belong to God.  I just get to borrow them for a little while!  This concept has been one that I seem to not forget, but overlook, often.  I seem to forget that the whole life is already mapped out!  God hasn't just mapped out my life either, he has mapped out the life of each of my children.

For those of you who were a part of my pregnancy with Brady, you know it was a bit bumpy!!  For those of you who weren't witnesses to it, I'll give you the short and sweet version!
At 10 weeks pregnant, I thought we were having a miscarriage.
We headed home from our summer beach vacation early to learn
that everything with the baby was fine, but there was a separation 
in my placenta.  No big deal, it would heal itself, but bleeding is
a side effect, so dont stress!  We didn't hear of another issue until
we went to our gender determination ultrasound!  We were thrilled
to learn that we were having a boy (well Derik was, I wanted a girl!!)
and then we were hit with a bombshell.  We were told that Brady 
had "Echogenic Bowel & Ascites".  BEWARE, do not google either
of those terms!  Remember, they only put the bad stuff on the internet!
So, basically there were many many things that could have caused this
"glowing" bowel and unknown fluid surrounding it.  None of which
are conditions that you want to hear at an ultrasound.  We left terrified,
and at that point, me wanting a girl was the furthest thing from my mind.
I wanted a healthy baby boy.  We worried ourselves sick for 4 weeks
when we had our follow up ultrasound with another doctor!  He wasn't
concerned at all.  He said that the bleeding which occurred at the 
beginning of the pregnancy is what more than likely had caused this
condition.  After 3 false labor trips to the hospital, and 10 hours of labor
on the 4th trip... Brady was born!  Emergency C-Section 5 weeks early
and he was 6lb 10oz!!  This means that in spite of the worrying, 
stressing, and fear... GOD GOT BRADY HERE SAFE & SOUND!
Holding Brady for the first time, I just couldn't believe that a baby which was 5 weeks early and was sure to spend at least a few days in the NICU could be this healthy!  God has control.  So, why do I keep forgetting this detail??  Brady is just a few days away from 8 months old.  He is not sitting up yet, or even close to sitting up.  While the other kids his age are learning to crawl, Brady is content laying in his bouncy seat.  I never thought that at 8 months old I would still have a swing sitting in my living room.  However, that is where we are!  He has been diagnosed with a condition called "Nystagmus" which may or may not affect him for the rest of his life, but again... that is where we are!  He has picked up a "habit" in which he "snake dances" or does a great Stevie Wonder impression!  His eyes look up to the ceiling in a way that usually makes most people a little worried, but that is where we are.  The truth is... I can take Brady to as many specialists, and run as many tests on him as I want too... But God has already mapped out his future.  So, why stress so much?  If the rest of his life has already been written, what will crying fix?  What will stressing about it fix?  What will worrying about it fix?  NOTHING...
In fact all it does is give me a headache that has lasted for days, a stomach ache that wont go away, and a 2.5 year old who had fed off of my negative energy so much that she regressed in potty training.
There are a lot of things that could be wrong with Brady.  There are a lot of things that this could be.  There is a chance that it could be fixed.  But I will love that little boy for the rest of my life no matter what is going on, and so will God.  That is all that matters.  
So, I am writing this blog post as more of a vent.  I needed to get this off of my chest.  I needed to SHED MY STRESS!  I am vowing to Let Go & Let God.  Sometimes I am sure that will be harder than others, but the infectious smile of the sweet little boy that God has let me borrow, will make any day better!!!

 - Jessica

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Meal Planning Simplified

I have tested many meal plan tactics, and none have really been easy enough for me to continue using!  I looked at several different options on pinterest, all which I thought sounded great, and came up with a combination idea that I now call my own! 

I printed a week meal plan sheet and put it in a frame on my Mommy Central wall.  
 I have recently began using my Mommy Central Station again, and I am glad that I have the time to be organized again!!

After going through my recipes, I typed up recipe tabs for the recipes I use most often.  I color coded them for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, and added a few extra tabs.  I printed 5 leftover tabs, and 3 "Derik brings home food" tabs!  I cut them out, laminated them all, and cut them out again!

After I had them all ready, I put a sticky tab on each section of the framed plan, and I started planning!  I simply stuck a menu option in each section!  SO SIMPLE... I can keep this up!  When the week is coming to an end, I simply pull off the tabs, and start again!  I write my grocery list based off of my list, and go shopping!  It really is so easy, and I actually had fun planning this weeks menu!!!

   - Jessica

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

To Lose A Baby...

This morning I was reading a blog written by a friend of a friend on miscarriage etiquette.  While reading it, I thought this is "common sense", but it occurred to me that it really isn't.  I realized that even though I had experienced a loss, I still have made some of the mistakes talked about in this blog.  Chances are that even if you haven't experienced a miscarriage yourself, you have known someone who has.  It is a loss like no other.  There is no making it better.  If it is your loss, you most likely dealt with it in your own way, and in your own time.  If it was someone else's loss, more than likely you were at a loss yourself!  A loss of words.  When a friend or family member experiences a miscarriage, as a general rule of thumb, we don't know what to say!  So, we open our mouths and insert our feet!  When you don't know what to say, it is probably best NOT to say anything!
From experience, I didn't really want to talk at all.  We experienced a miscarriage before we got pregnant with Abbie.  The miscarriage taught us a few things.  1) Even though we thought we weren't ready to have a baby, we were.  Losing the baby showed us that we were ready to be parents.  2) It is possible to be completely in love with something so early on.  I lost the baby at 8 weeks.  It didn't matter how early in the pregnancy it was, I had already fallen in love with my unborn child, and was excited about being a mommy.
We had already picked names for the baby!  We had a boy and a girl name, Caleb & Emma.  We were in love with that baby.
With that being said, there was NOTHING and I mean NOTHING that anyone could say to make it better.  It amazed me when people would call and say things like "It's just God's plan."  I didn't care what his plan was at the time, I simply wanted to grieve.  I can remember sitting on the couch with all of the blinds closed, staring at the cable box, and watching the clock change.  I stared at the box for over 2 hours.  I didn't make a single phone call, however my phone exploded.  When I finally was able to answer and talk, you could tell that people didn't know what to say.  However, they said the things that no one going through a loss like this wants to hear.  I did have one phone call from someone that was pretty perfect.  My pastor called me, he is so wonderful.  Pastor Don from Westover Church in Greensboro, NC, had married Derik and I, and we love him dearly.  He called and said this "Jessica, I am so sorry for your loss.  I know how hard this is on you, and I want to pray for you.  (Then he prayed.)".  He prayed for God to give me peace, and for God to take care of the little one that I had lost.  It was the phone call that snapped me out of my silent depression.  On my way to work the next day, where I taught 2 year olds, I had to call out.  I couldn't bear the thought of spending the day with kids, after losing my own.  That was really the worst of it, and after, I dealt with it in my own way.  I had many people, especially parents of kids that I taught, say even weeks later "I heard you were having a baby", and I would have to discuss it all over again.
Eventually the pain stopped being so present.  It still makes me sad, but I am grateful for Abigail & Brayden.  I am not sure how things would have happened if I had not lost that baby.  I most likely wouldn't have the 2 wonderful children that God blessed me with.  Maybe that is my own personal way of accepting the loss.  Everyone has there own recipe for dealing with a loss.  Unfortunately, I know many people who have experienced this loss and pain as well.  Most have all dealt with it differently.
At 10 weeks pregnant with Brady, I was sure we were having another miscarriage.  We left our vacation early and headed to our doctor.  The ultrasound showed that Brady was fine, and we had a simple issue that seemed for the most part to fix itself.  However, in the 5 hour drive to the doctor, I experienced the same empty depression all over again.  If you know someone who has had multiple losses, it never gets easier.  Do not assume that just because they have experienced it before that they are okay, and numb to the pain.

For those of you who have lost a baby, I am truly sorry for your loss.  If I said something inappropriate to you, I apologize.  I know how hard it is to lose a baby, and I wouldn't wish that pain on an enemy.
The blog I read this morning, is a GREAT read for miscarriage etiquette!  Click HERE to read it.  Maybe it will help when you are at a lose of words in the future!  I have a box of some of the sweet cards I received during that tough time.  I will say "Be Sorry from a Distance" is actually what I wanted! 


In honor of the little one we lost...
Emma Caleb January 2009
"To think when your little eyes opened, you saw the face of Jesus."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Post-Op Praise

Well, since I last posted on July 16, we have had all kinds of chaos in our household!  After Abbie & Derik both dealt with full, HORRIBLE cases of Hand Foot & Mouth, I ended up with my own medical issues!  My back pain reached it's peak, and after a chiropractic adjustment provided no relief, my chiropractor suggested going to the ER and have an ultrasound done to check my gall bladder.  Turned out, I had many, and I mean MANY gall bladder stones!  That was Friday, July 27th, and they sent me home.  They told me that I needed to call back on Monday and schedule my surgery.  And on I went with my weekend. 

Saturday morning we went to a birthday party for one of Abbie's best friends!  I wasn't feeling very good toward the end of the party, and I decided I needed to take a nap when I got home.  I woke up from my nap in some of the worst pain I have ever experienced.  One of my amazing friends, Meredith (who has carted me to the hospital too many times to count), picked me up and we headed to the hospital!  After some AMAZING pain meds were administered, the doctor came in with some bad news.  My levels had sky rocketed, and I needed immediate surgery to have my gall bladder removed.  So, off to surgery I went!  Derik barely made it to the hospital in time, and I was so glad that he did!

After surgery, I was given the good news and the bad news.  Good news, my gall bladder was out, and I should be feeling better soon!  The bad news, one of the stones jumped ship from my gall bladder and plugged my bile duct.  That meant that I needed a 2nd procedure.  They scheduled it for Monday, and after waiting a LONG time... we headed up for the procedure to be done.  The procedure was successful, however... it created another issue, pancreatitis. 

At this point, I was so sick, and so tired of being at the hospital, that I swore they were making this up!  I had bad jaundice, and the pancreatitis rendered me unable to eat ANYTHING!  I was ordered to not have ANYTHING by mouth for 2 days.  When I was finally able to eat again, I took it slow, and it paid off.  I was FINALLY discharged to go home on Thursday, Aug 2, and was so happy to leave!  I would have skipped to the car, but they make you sit in a wheelchair! 

My dad and his girlfiriend, Carol, had picked the kids up on the Saturday of my surgery.  They spent the night here Saturday, and took the kids back to Greensboro, NC, for the week.  My mom brought them back home to me the Friday after my discharge.  That was by far the hardest part my hospital stay.  Not seeing my kids sunk me.  I had no cell phone signal, so skype wasn't even an option.  However, they came home to me in one piece, and were just as happy to see me as I was to see them!

As a mommy, sometimes I forget to take care of myself!  I have to remind myself, and really work hard to make sure I focus on recovering!  I wasn't supposed to pick up Brady for a while, but how can you not pick up that sweet chunky little thing!!!  Recovery has been hard, and I know it isn't over, but I am getting there!

Thank you to all of you who helped us out (in so many ways) and to all of you who kept praying for myself and our family.  We can't say thank you enough.  We are truly grateful to have such amazing friends and family!

 - Jessica