Thursday, November 30, 2017

Shhh... don't tell my husband

My handsome husband doesn't read the blog or write the blog. I can't tell you the last time he even looked at anything on here! So let's not tell him about this one :) He doesn't need to get a big head!

We just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. Did you know 46% of marriages end in the first 10 years? Sad, but true! Why am I telling you this? I feel like we've passed a small milestone. Our marriage isn't "hard work" but it's not always easy either. It means giving 100% of yourself 100% of the time. It means compromising when you feel like screaming. It means knowing someone's faults and loving them just the same.

In our 10 years here are some things we've done: got married on a beach, moved across the ocean to the midwest (from Hawaii to Wisconsin), gone through my mom having cancer, living with my mother-in-law, house hunting, opening a business, buying a house while 8 months pregnant, the birth of Bella, a super fussy baby (did I mention how she cried for HOURS on end!), a new puppy, a miscarriage, the sudden death of my dad, my emotional struggles surrounding being pregnant and giving birth while trying to grieve, the birth of Grayson, selling a condo, the birth of Luca, we've gone through having 3 toddlers and survived, chickens (four of them from baby chicks to big chicks and now eggs) job changes, grad school, more job changes, vacations, many trips to the cottage, student loans, we've gone through co-sleeping, breastfeeding, hunting, girls trips, closing a business, a work conference out of state, lots of camping, being rained out as a family of 5 in a tent, a mom/daughter trip, more hunting, new career paths for me, bathroom renovation, new career paths for Ryan, multiple cars, buying an RV, my need to constantly purge.. the list goes on. We've seen each other at their best and at their worst.

There's one thing I know for sure, in the past ten years, there is no one on the planet that I would rather share this love with. He's my one and only. He loves me when I'm at my highest, he lifts me up when I'm at my weakest, he encourages me every step of the way. I'm lucky to have this man in my life. I can't wait to see what the next 10 years of our marriage will be like. I'm excited for our challenges, our adventures and the memories we will share together.

What I'm telling you is it's not always easy but it will always be worth it!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Recess woes

Bella came home yesterday a bit sad. Her "friends" weren't being really friendly.

Her boy friends like to play football at recess and she's afraid the ball is going to hit her. Something we'll work on eventually... she's been working on it with her PE teacher but she needs more practice, clearly. Let's just say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I hate (strong but true word) balls flying at my head... football would be my very last choice to play.

Her girl friends were playing with a girl that "doesn't want me to play with them". She always says "Don't play with Bella". To be fair, I've been around this child and she's kind of harsh and very opinionated. It's her way or the highway... While I've tried to coach Bella to find a new set of friends, she very much wants to be friends with everyone.

What does this mean for us as parents? It means instilling a bit more confidence in our girl. Ryan said "you are like the nicest and kindest kid ever!" While we think that's true, it doesn't matter since we aren't eight year olds. What matters is that Bella knows how to advocate for herself and how to chose friends that are worthwhile. It also means teaching her that she doesn't need to be friends with everyone.

What does that look like to an eight-year-old? It means treating everyone with kindness. It means welcoming everyone into your playgroup but being okay with the fact that not everyone wants to play with you. It means being accepting of those who are different and those who are they same. Embracing others individuality and uniqueness. It's okay not to be friends with everyone... it's NOT okay to be rude, disrespectful or hurtful.

This week at recess, Bella said "I played with George *Name changed for privacy*". "No one likes George but he's a really nice kid". I commended her for welcoming him to play and that it's okay to play with him if "no one likes him"... she said "people don't like him because he's different." We talked about how hurtful this must be for him and that even though he's "different", he's the same in many ways. He's a 3rd grader just like the rest of her grade, he's learning the same things, he goes to the same school... there are LOTS of things that are the same. I talked to her about how important it is to make him feel included and how it's important for her to stick up for him. Being a true friend looks like someone who will be there for you when others aren't. She understood that.

Being a third grader is no easy task... kids are starting to figure out who they get along with, who plays and interacts well together, who doesn't, they are really starting to figure out who they are and who they want to be. We talked about how when she grew up, many of her friends in third grade might not be her friends now! She thought that was kind of sad. I agreed, but also explained that we meet lots of people along our journeys in life.

Many of my friends now are people I work with or have worked with, moms of kids in my kids school, parents in the PFC, friends from nursing school... We talked about how friendships change as you grow up and how your friends change too. Each friend you have brings something different to your life and relationships. Each friendship is unique. Life will take go through different twists and turns and there will be friends who help you along the way.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday kicks off the season after Thanksgiving. According to the Giving Tuesday website, it kicks off the "charitable season of giving". This giving tuesday, I'm asking you to really think about the organization that you pick to donate... that is if you do. I'm asking you to give mindfully not mindlessly. Many organizations take our money and very little goes to the actual cause. It bothers me to think that money I have given in years passed does not 100% go to the cause I am supporting. 

The organization that means the most to our family today and every day is Camp No Limits. As many of you know, we attend camp every year. If we could attend every location, we would! But alas, work, school, life and finances for travel get in our way. Camp truly makes our year brighter. While we only attend once a year, the friendships that we make through camp last a lifetime. The support and love carry us through to the next time we attend camp. It's like having a family that supports you and lifts you up when you meet struggles. The kids and families that we meet through camp change our lives. 

I'm asking you to consider giving to Camp No Limits or give to our fund for travels to get to camp. Last year, it cost us over $3200 to get to camp, between airfare and rental car amongst other things. That said, it was worth every penny. I will continue to work my tail off every year to make camp a possibility for our family. Without the help of you and others like you, we would not have been able to attend camp. Last year, we received a scholarship to pay for camp and we only had to pay the $3200 to get there! That's a HUGE blessing! 

If Giving Tuesday is not your thing, no worries, I'll simply ask that you spread awareness. Spread awareness about Camp No Limits, spread awareness about limb differences, share our names with others so that I may help another family that is in our shoes, so that I can help them advocate for their child, so that I can be the support that they need, so that camp can be the family that they need, so that they can be aware of the many people that are in their shoes! 

Thank you for considering. Thank you for following our blog, for listening to our stories. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

On being thankful...

Each November I try to write on Facebook some of the many reasons I am thankful. This November started out with a bang. So far it went like this:

The month of thankfulness begins: Day 1: I'm thankful for Ginny. Our friendship is proof that friendship can survive and grow no matter the distance. I'm thankful for our morning chats no matter the length. I'm thankful for her ability to make me laugh when I want to cry. 

Day 2: I'm thankful for our home. Though it's messy most days, it's proof that we live. It's proof that we play and we have the ability to cook food that nourishes our body. I'm thankful for our messy table which shows that we share meals together and make memories

Day 3: I'm thankful for margaritas. I haven't had one in ages but tonight is the night #midtermssuck

Day 4: I'm thankful for my body. It gave me the power to lift weights today and feel strong. Though it may not look exactly the way I'd like for it to look, I'm proud of it. It's allowed me to carry 3 pregnancies and birth 3 healthy babies.It's allowed me to nurse my 3 babies and provide milk for a variety of other babies around Wisconsin. It allows me to hold my babies in my arms even at 8, 6 and 4. It may not be the best body, but it's mine and I'm proud of that.

Day 5: I'm thankful for my Bella boo. She pushes me to think outside of my comfort zone. She challenges me to be the best mom and the best woman I can be. She questions things I never thought about at her tender age. She's wise beyond her years. I appreciate that I learn from her regularly and for her ability to make me a better me for her and for everyone around me.

Day 6: I'm thankful for being able to listen to my 4 year old use his imagination while playing cars alone. He NEVER plays cars and was playing and having them "talk" to each other. I stood at the top of the stairs soaking in his imagination and his ability to play nicely alone. He loves being around people and others that moments like these are rare

Then I stopped, I missed like 3 days. Why? Because work was overwhelming. I was meeting with students from the moment I walked in the door at 8, between every break I had and after class or clinical. I was discouraged. Discouraged that maybe my exams were too hard, discouraged that my students fessed up to not reading or even owning the book, discouraged that they weren't doing the things that I told them would help them succeed, discouraged that I was spending hours discussing the things I'd already told them. I was frustrated. As a professor, my biggest frustration is student's failing when I've given them the tools to succeed.

Here's the thing, some of them were super thankful that I met with them. They were really genuinely grateful. I was feeling overwhelmed, sad, discouraged. So the thankful posts stopped because at the end of the day I didn't feel very thankful for much, except that we had all made it out alive. I felt like I was struggling with that balance yet again. However, I need to get back at it. I need positivity.

Day 7: I'm thankful for my childhood. Though it wasn't always easy, it was mine. My parents loved me unconditionally. I never once questioned whether they loved me, whether I was wanted or whether they were proud. My parents gave affection freely, hugs, kisses and nighttime snuggles were moments we shared. I remember setting up the Christmas tree... I remember swimming with my dad at the pool. There were few distractions. They loved us without a doubt.

Day 8: I'm thankful for divorce. Yeah I know it might be an odd thing to be thankful for... were there times as a child that I wished that my parents were together? You bet your ass. Were there times, many times, that I hated packing up my shit to go to the other's house or back again? Yep that too... but I learned a lot. I grew as a person because of my experiences. There are things I gained... 

Day 9: I'm thankful for my step-dad. He loves me like I'm his. I never lived there with my mom and him, I was an older teen when they got married. I never once have doubted his love for my mother, he's by her side through thick and thin. I got a good one when I got him. Like a really good one. While he loves me, he really, I mean really loves my babies. They are his grand babies. There's no blood but their bond is thicker than that. Blood is not needed. The love runs deep with each of my babies and their Papa. 

Day 10: I'm thankful for my step-moms. Yes, my dad was married more than once. I really gave my "first" step-mom a run for her money. I tried with all of me to run her to the curb... she loved my dad and she tried to love me too. I pushed her away. Now, even after divorce and life changes, I love her. I appreciate her more. We love each other despite the past. My dad's next wife, allowed him to share his time with me. Though, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have cared if she didn't. I spent a lot of late nights hanging out with the both of them... while she's cut me out of her life now (apparently she can't handle that I'm "so much like him"), I appreciate that she was part of the relationship I shared with my father. 

Day 11: I'm thankful for our camper... not the "actual" camper but the memories it allows us to create as a family. We are disconnected from our daily lives, our emails, phone calls. We are all just hanging out together, playing games, hiking, swimming, adventuring together. I wouldn't trade those moments for the world. The late night fires and s'mores. The campfire smell that waifs into our home for days to follow. The moments that we share with friends that camp with us. 

Day 12: I'm thankful for my job. Though there are days I want to run away, there's nothing else I would rather do. I'm sharing my passion about pediatric nursing with students. I'm teaching them, I'm helping them grow into the future nurses that will rock this world. I'm thankful for the challenge it gives my mind, the questions that they ask that I can't answer. The ones that leave me wanting more for me, for them. 

Day 13: I'm thankful for my colleagues, old and new. I would not be the professor or the nurse I am today without the people that helped me along the way. I've been blessed to travel to different cities, meet Ryan while traveling, explore new cities, learn how different organizations run, worked with army medics and worked with true pediatric experts. There is not one person who's path I crossed that did not influence who I am today. I am the nurse, the educator I am today because of each and every one of them. 

Day 14: I'm thankful for Grayson. His love for all things wolves and animals. His love for camping and being a family. His love for watching Ryan and I dance in the kitchen and his love of marriage. The kid can't wait to get married. He's passionate, he loves hard. 

Day 15: With that comes me being thankful for my marriage. I'm thankful for a husband that pushes me to be the best I can for me. He expects 100% and gives 100%. Ten years in and there's no one else I could imagine embracing this journey with. I'm lucky to have him. I know that. There are times when I wonder what I've done to deserve him. 

Day 16: I'm thankful for Camp No Limits. While it only happens four days out of entire year, it fills us for the remainder of the year. The moments that you take away from camp are priceless. The friends become family, they become your support, your advocate to get what your child needs. They push you when you feel like giving up. They provide a network of people that embrace Bella and our family with no limits!

Day 17: I'm thankful for Luna (our dog). While it may seem silly, she's excited to see every single person in the house when they enter the door. In her ripe old age of 7, she's suddenly a 70 pound lap dog. She's a snuggler and a lover and is a perfect match for our family. 

Day 18: I'm thankful for our neighbors... they seriously bend over backwards to help our family. They have a family of their own and don't hesitate for a split second to help, get the kids off to school, sit while the washer guy comes, run over when we have a car issue or need an extra hand. I could not do this job without them! 

Day 19: I'm thankful for play dates. They seriously breathe life into me when I'm torn and worn out. When I feel like day drinking or like I can't handle another minute, when I have a funny story to share or an embarrassing one. I'm thankful for the ability of my mom friends to make me feel normal when I feel anything but!

Day 20: I'm thankful for my mom. I sure wish she would move closer though! I'm thankful for our relationship, for the growth that continues to happen as we both age (or mostly her, not me of course!)I'm thankful for the Tutu she is to my babies. She's forming unique bonds with each of them. The adventurous spirit she has and that she'll do anything for them, even if that means riding a spinning ride at Legoland 4 too many times! I'm thankful for her ability to calm me when I'm stressed, encourage me when I feel like I'm failing, and making me laugh when I need to breath. 

I'm all caught up! Finally... that was emotional! I'll be back... I'm not letting this month go without finishing it off!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Day Made

I've posted time after time about struggling. Tonight, the house was a wreck, we were running around like usual. Homework, chores, baths, cleaning, laundry, lunches, reading, bed. We try really hard to make bedtime a priority. Each kid usually gets a chapter read to them (In Bella's case) or a book (for the littler guys). I say usually because sometimes it just doesn't happen.

I climbed in bed with Bella to read to her. I finished her chapter and we were talking. We were laughing and snuggling. She said "You are the best mom ever". I told her how much that meant to me and how that was the very best part of my day. I told her how I really appreciated her sharing that she felt that way with me. "You really are the best mom ever". My heart was full. My mind was calm.

These are always the moments that I'll never regret spending. In the race of madness, it's just me and her... or me and one of the boys. It's one on one time that's so precious, so rare and so needed. These little reading moments add up. Tonight they added up to a really big moment for me.

There are times, so, so many times, that I wonder if I'm giving my kids the best I can. The balance eludes me most days... almost all days. Tonight, the balance was tough, as usual. It was a day that I wanted to throw in the towel and crawl in the bed. I didn't. I finished strong... stronger than I started. Thanks to my girl for being my bucket filler. For making me realize that even though sometimes I fail, I get back up stronger, I try harder. I'm glad she's mine. I'm glad I'm hers.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Our first meeting post 504

The PE teacher reached out to me for a meeting related to Bella's 504 plan. I met with two of the PE teachers to discuss fitness testing that would be coming up and football. Okay, head injury central! Hopefully she doesn't like football :) That's the nurse mom in me talking. Back to the story, so we set up a before school meeting to talk about their ideas.

When we met, they were prepared with the items that would be used for fitness testing and what they thought Bella would need. They didn't forsee any concerns or issues with her doing well, but they wanted to be sure that they were doing what was best for her. I'm glad that they were really putting some thought into her limb difference and what that meant in PE for her.

Needless to say, we both agreed that she should wear her prosthetic for any weight bearing activities on her upper limbs. Push ups was one of the things on the fitness testing. The prosthetic allows her to keep her wrist joint safe. I fear that while she could do the pushup without it, it could cause injury to her wrist joint. She does have movement in her left wrist and we need to continue to protect that. The other item was curl ups (like sit ups but coming up farther). They showed me what Bella would need to do in order to be successful. We agreed that wearing the prosthetic would put some weight on her left side to keep her spine straight during the curl up.

It was a short, sweet meeting. In and out in about 30 minutes. Those are my perfect meetings, a good agenda that is stuck to and people who are focused!

I must say, while I was excited about the meeting, it bummed me out a little that we had to have a 504 in place for more action to be taken. This is precisely why I advocated for Bella to have a 504. Having it in writing somehow makes it happen, at least for us. Does everyone with a limb difference need a 504? No... I mean it's taken us until 3rd grade to "need" one... though in the back of my mind, I can't help but wonder if having one last year would have protected her from her neck/head injury.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Be a bucket filler

Tonight, Grayson and I were snuggling in bed talking about his day. This kid kills me sometimes. Tonight was one of those nights. I got in his bed and as I was getting settled he said "How was your day mom?" He's genuinely concerned about how my day went, he listens and asks questions. It's the sweetest. It reminds me to sit, to be still and to really be in the moment with him. He's been melting my heart into a puddle since he was born with his big eyes starring up at me.

I was telling him a story about how a patient told one of my student's that she was glad she took care of her. I told him how it made me so happy because it made my student know how appreciated she was, it made her so happy. He said "yeah that kid was filling her bucket".

Confused I said "what?"

"Mom, she's a bucket filler, the patient because she filled your student's bucket with happiness and made her feel good".

"Oh yeah, she was totally a bucket filler and my student's bucket was getting filled up!"

He went on to talk about how you can fill people's bucket. He told me how his teacher fills his bucket, how friend's fill his bucket and how he fills up people's bucket. It was the sweetest, most genuine conversation with my super sweet hearted boy.

I asked "How do I fill your bucket up?"

"Mom you just love me, that's all!" with the most sincere smile on his face.

That's right my sweet boy, I do love you. I just love you so... someday you'll fully understand the depth of my love.

Shhh... don't tell my husband

My handsome husband doesn't read the blog or write the blog. I can't tell you the last time he even looked at anything on here! So...