Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Share the strep... or not!

Poor little lover girl has strep throat. We had a birthday party at our house for Grayson a couple of weeks ago and I'm thinking some little first grader shared strep with us. I got it first, then Luca, now Bella. That's the joy of having kids, they share mostly when you don't want them too!

Luckily for me, I have a great job with more flexibility than I've ever had. I don't teach a class on Monday's and I work from home on Mondays, which allows me to balance the day with laundry, the gym, emails, changing my course and yesterday, taking care of a sick kiddo. When people are sick, I tend to do more laundry, even if its not a puke bug... blankets get washed, sheets get changed, new toothbrushes for everyone!

Luckier for all of us is that we have some fabulous neighbors who help out more than I can mention. Seriously, from getting kids on and off the bus, to offering to take my sick kid for the day. They are like a second set of parents to our kids. I honestly don't know what we would do without them. When they say it takes a village, they truly mean it! I can't tell you how thankful I am to have found our village here!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Healthier me

I shared on Facebook that I'm down over 11 pounds and I can now pull my jeans off without unbuttoning them... an overshare? Maybe... but here's the thing, I wanted to be accountable to me and posting allows me to keep my accountability. I've tried other things, diets, personal trainers, supplements, weighing my food, measuring portions, some of them have worked, some not so much. I've lost weight before but I've never maintained it since having kids.

I can tell you what's working this time. Making ME a priority is working. Putting ME first is working. Loving ME is working. Pushing myself to be the best ME is working. Having accountability to others is working. That's what's different this time. I really want this to work for once and for all. Not just for the weight loss, for the energy, for the stamina, for quality of sleep, for the ability to go up and down a hill chasing my kids without stopping to get winded and needing to take a break. I want to bike with them and be active with them. I want to hike through the forest, up hills, in valleys and not struggle. Building memories is important and I don't want their memories of mama to be complaining about tired joints and being winded when playing.

What am I doing? I'm doing Weight Watchers. Why am I sharing? Because people on Facebook asked and clearly other people struggle as well. Lots of people are trying to find the perfect fit for them. For me, this is the perfect fit, it's teaching me balance and accountability. My mom raved about weight watchers in the passed and it's worked for her before. This time, we are doing this together. Along with her, some other people near and dear to my heart are also doing it too. It's their journey to share so I'll leave it at that. It's the accountability of people reaching out asking how I'm doing and me reaching out saying "what's for lunch?" It's connecting us in ways other than being related or our kids, it's helping us mamas find balance in our lives. Balance that ever eludes most of us. Balance that I still struggle with. Balance that I'm working hard towards each and every day.

I'll be sharing from time to time what I'm eating, what I'm doing, how things are going. This blog was started to educate and if this helps just one person, it's worth it. If it's educating you in some way that you didn't already know, it's worth it. Sharing my struggle and my journey also makes me vulnerable but it also holds me accountable.

And if you are wondering, we aren't talking about weight loss at our house. We're talking about being healthy and making better choices. My daughter picked salad because she watched me pick salad. She picked a little less dressing than normal because she watched my choices. She's eating more veggies and picking healthier snacks. I'm teaching her health. I'm teaching her strength. Those are qualities that are important. I'm teaching her that I'm working out to be strong not because I want to look good in a swim suit. I'm teaching her that I want to run faster and lift stronger weights because being strong makes me feel good. Pick your words wisely especially in front of those little loves! 

Monday, March 12, 2018

"That's why I love camp!"

After our incident at school this week, we had a little chat about kids and perceptions. We also talked about how younger kids are really curious and just trying to learn and figure things out. Bigger kids might not be used to someone with a limb difference.

 Bella talked about how there's a little kindergarten friend at school that always shows everyone her hand. She said "Mom he has hearing aids and doesn't realize that he has something different about him too. I told him Henry* my hand is different, just like your hearing aids are different. That's what makes us special, that we all have differences. Mom he still shows everyone about my hand but I just laugh."

"That's why I love camp! Everyone there has a limb difference or has a kid or a brother or sister with a limb difference so it's like no big deal. No one cares that you have a limb difference, you are just accepted exactly the way that you. I love it!"

"Yeah that is the great thing about camp, everyone is there to love you and teach you things and no one cares at all that we are all different."

"I know that's why it's so great, I'll always go to camp, no matter what!"

This is exactly why we go to Camp No Limits! While we work hard to get scholarships and raise funds to go to camp, we also spend a fair amount of money of our own on airfare and transportation. Her comments alone are worth every single penny that we spend. Camp is an investment for ALL of us! If you or someone you know would like to help us get to camp, you can donate here. We appreciate any all donations, no matter if it's 50 cents or 50 dollars, we appreciate everything that helps us attend camp!

Through CNL I've met friends that will be lifelong friends, I've met advocates, I've met therapists and other kids, siblings and parents that have changed my life in a variety of ways. I agree with Bella. Camp is great. No one cares about your limb difference, no one cares that you are different, they love and embrace you just the same. They also love and embrace us ALL!

*name changed for privacy

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Seven years...

Seven years seems like a lifetime to live without you. How is it possible that seven years have passed? In one way it seems like yesterday. It another way it seems like a lifetime ago. It's true, no one on this planet can you love you the way that your parents do. No one can love me the way that he did. No one will ever love me in that way. No one will ever look at me the way he did. No one will give me the advice or the encouragement that he did.
Seven years ago today, I lost the first man that ever loved me. The first man I danced on his feet. The only man that ever told me "Sis do what's best for you, do what makes YOU happy." He encouraged me to spread my wings and fly, to reach far, far beyond anything I ever thought was possible.

I remember the study sessions in his living room while in nursing school. There would be 3-5 of us with textbooks galore on his living room floor. I vividly remember him coming home and asking "Who ate all the brownies? Where are the rest of the ladies?"

"I did!" 

"Wait, YOU ate all of them? No one else was here? Sis!"

"Stress, freshman 15... nursing school." He smiled, hugged me and then let me get back to my studies. 
I don't think my heart will ever be ready for the loss that it faced. I don't think my soul was ready for the emptiness and constant ache. I officially call bullshit to one of the things I learned in nursing school. The five stages of grief.  Did I go through all of them? Not so much. I'm still in some of them... Here's the thing, I'll never accept that he was taken from me, from us, too soon. I'll never accept the way that he died or the fact that my children don't get to experience their Papa John. I'll never accept that this is my harsh reality. There's a part of me that will always be empty. 

I do know that today, he'd be proud. He'd be proud of Ryan and I's marriage. He'd be proud of me as a mother to my three babies. He'd be proud of my job as a nursing professor. He'd be proud of us camping and exploring. 

What's different about today than years passed? This year, I opted to celebrate Grayson's birthday on the seventh anniversary of his Papa's death. Why? Because I know me, I get sad and I get in a funk. That's not fair to anyone. So instead, we'll be celebrating the birth of his grandson! This year will be a little brighter and a little better than the last.

Though I'll never accept that this happened. I'm reminded that life isn't fair. I'm reminded that I was oh so lucky to share the first 30 years of my life with him. I got to make 30 years of memories with him, though sometimes they feel so far away. There are other times I'm reminded that he would want me living my best life being the best me that I could be. This year, I'll be doing just that. I hope you are watching Dad! 

Friday, March 9, 2018


I received an email from Bella's teacher titled "comment". In the body of the email she said another student made a "not so nice comment" about Bella's hand. She proceeded to say that the child sincerely apologized right away. Her teacher said she took care of it right away.

I read it just before I left for the gym for an evening workout. Bella wanted to go with me to get a break from her brothers and "play with the babies". The car provided the perfect opportunity for us to talk about the situation.

"Hey Boo Ms. Car* sent an email about a comment a kid said at lunch. What happened?"

"Oh well we were at lunch at Braydon* said you don't have any fingers." She said very nonchalant about it like it was no big deal.

"Really? I thought you and Braydon* were friends? That's a total bummer that he would say something like that."

"Yeah well he was just mad and sometimes he says things when he's angry without really thinking about it. He apologized and I forgave him."

"So you're okay with everything."

"Yeah usually when people say things like you're weird or thats different, I just say I was born that way and it's either okay or not. If it is then we just play. If it's not then that's their issue."

My sweet girl is SO much stronger and braver than I. This is something that she's dealt with for her entire life. She's figuring out that people are accepting or they aren't... She's also figuring out that if they aren't accepting then she can carry on.

My heart broke a tiny bit as I thought about the things she's dealt with in her short little life in regards to her hand and figuring out different ways to do things. She's dealt with kids at a tender age trying to figure out her difference and how it effects them or how it doesn't. I can't imagine how that must feel to her. I do know without a shadow of a doubt that she'll be that much strong and braver when she grows because of these experiences.

*names changed to protect privacy

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Nub tips

These little "cord keepers" are a life saver. I had posted on my Facebook page several years ago about needing something for Bella. Another mama offered to send me something to help with cheerleading. These little things are a lifesaver. We've used them for a number of things. Initially it was for cheerleading, putting one around the pom pom and one around her wrist and having them looped through each other. (Was that super confusing?!)

We've always kept some at the house for just in case. We take them camping and have used them for jump roping too. It's always best to be prepared and have some ideas just in case.

Recently, based on our 504 plan, the PE teacher reached out about hockey being their next section. Through this section, Bella would need to be able to put both hands on the hockey stick in order to have the most control. She had Bella ask for more "velcro things" and we had a meeting scheduled.

When I met with her we talked about her idea of Bella using her prosthetic and using the velcro cord keepers to wrap around her prosthetic as well. This worked super well for hockey AND for jump roping! These things are a must if you have a prosthetic or if you don't. Talk about multitasking!

Here's an amazon link with them, I purchased them at Walmart in the sewing section (who would've thought!)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Let's talk about weight...

Here's the thing. I only get one Bella. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I only get one chance to teach her, to shape her every growing mind, to challenge her, to push her, to encourage her. I'm her mama and all of those things are my job.

Weight is not something we discuss at our house... Don't get me wrong you'll frequently hear us say "Let's go to the gym and get ripped"... and if you've seen me in a swim suit, I'm anything but ripped. My husband, he's another story. He's in the best shape of his life! That said, weight isn't discussed in the negative at our house like something to lose or gain. We do talk about strength and getting stronger. I might not be "ripped" in any sense of the word, but I do workout, I do lift heavy weights, I do push myself. Why? To me, it's important to see my kids see me taking care of me.

One of my favorite things about Saturday mornings when we aren't camping, is all of us going to the gym together. The kids go to the kids club and Ryan and I get to workout. I love watching my handsome husband do pull ups or whatever else he does. It reminds me that he cares about himself. That he's pushing himself to be stronger. It's something I look forward to each weekend together.

As for me, while I've gotten stronger, I have had little self-control about what goes into my mouth. Or I have control and put too much in... whatever the case may be, I eat my problems, I self soothe with food. It's not something I'm proud of but it's what I've done. It's something I've started working on. I love working out because I feel strong and that makes me feel good. What doesn't make me feel good is the image I find in the mirror.

Two weeks ago, I took steps to get back in control of my food and what I'm eating. I'm feeling great. While I've noticed a change on the scale, it's not something we've discussed. My kids have noticed I'm choosing healthier options and more veggies. They've said stuff about what I'm eating and how I'm eating SOOOO many veggies and fruits :)

Here's what Bella did say as I was changing "Mom, I've noticed that your belly doesn't hang over your underwear any more. Good job."

"Thanks babe" I wanted to die laughing because how honest are kids? Super honest, that's how! Either way, she's noticed my body changing shape. She's noticing the choices that I'm making. We still won't talk about weight. We'll talk about the process of getting healthier and making better choices.

Cheers to not having anything hanging over my underwear!

Share the strep... or not!

Poor little lover girl has strep throat. We had a birthday party at our house for Grayson a couple of weeks ago and I'm thinking some ...