Life Hacks

The other day I was thinking about how helpful it could be to share the everyday shortcuts that I use. I’m all ears to hear about what other people do to make their household run smoothly. My “hacks” aren’t just for moms, or women for that matter. Anyone can benefit from the laundry idea! I’m sure there are more things that I do that are considered a shortcut- but these stood out to me as hacks that I use on a daily basis.

We have a large family, and keeping up with laundry was a pain. Getting behind was never a problem for us, because I’m a stickler for cleaning often! However, I was on the lookout for ways to make it easier. Enter the Daily Laundry Hamper- it gets filled and emptied EVERY day. Everyone in the family (ok, usually kids but sometimes James and I will use it as well) takes off their dirty clothes at the end of the day and tosses them in the hamper. We keep it in the laundry room right in front of the machines. I am usually the one who empties the hamper into the machine. After they have been dried, we fold them, and put each person’s on a step. They get carried up to the bedrooms when each person goes to bed. That’s it! Daily laundry, all mixed together, done once a day rather than doing each person separately once or twice a week. For us, this works!

t-3 Our family hamper for daily laundry.

The bane of our existence as parents is socks. My husband and I hate asking “where are your socks?” ninety-two times a day. Each child has 2 feet, and yet I always find one sock at a time- always. How do you take off one sock at a time? EVERY time? and they are usually thrown in two opposite corners of the house. It seems to me that this would like way more effort than putting the socks together in the same place, you know? They multiply- like fungi- on every surface of our home and yard!! haha. My husband reached a breaking point where he had HAD IT with the socks getting lost, and being all over the house. His solution was to get a zippered laundry bag off of Amazon.

This purchase was life changing for us! When everyone disrobes and takes off their dirty clothes, they put the socks in the hamper as well. After clothes are washed, the socks do NOT go to bedrooms or closets; they stay in the laundry room. When people are getting dressed, they go to the sock bag and grab a pair when they are downstairs and about to walk out the door. This was supposed to completely solve the sock problem- it did not. However, it is a vast improvement! Do the socks always match? No. Are they the wrong size, i.e. a big sock for a preschooler, sometimes. The kids are responsible for putting their socks into the hamper, and then dumping them back into the sock bag- clean. Somehow, a magical sock troll eats one from time to time so we wind up with an odd number. So, all of my kids share socks. No one has their own drawer or bucket in their room, because it was a waste of time (to me) to track down each person’s socks, keep them clean and together, and in separate closets. We share! A lot easier. Proviso- Lana has a few of her own that I keep in my room. She also wears some out of the laundry room grab bag!

 

After socks, the second worst part of our day consisted of the great shoe hunt. Oftentimes, the shoes outsmarted us and remained unseen, neatly tucked away under the dining room table, behind a chair in the basement, or beside the toilet in the powder room. It used to drive me nuts when my husband and kids would take their shoes off right inside the front door when we lived up north. The house was small, and the front door opened right into the living room. I was always carrying them to the tiny mudroom off of the backdoor. This way, we had more room and we weren’t tripping on the every time we opened the door. I understand how their way is easier- the shoes come off of your feet, and you don’t track dirt or germs around the house. They are right where you need them as you are leaving the house. When we chose the house we live in now, one of my favorite features were the shoe cubbies! The “lockers” reminded me of something I would have spotted on Pinterest. We have 4, and I wish we had more! I love the lockers.  If you are able to build some, or are looking to buy a house- I highly recommend these! They have been a game changer for us. It’s easier to be organized, keep the floors clean, and find the shoes when you are getting ready to leave.  I also bought straw baskets from IKEA to keep random sports paraphernalia in, and cold weather gear: baseball hats, baseball gloves, scarves, hats, mittens, and umbrellas.

 

Several years ago, I developed a femoral hernia that caused very sharp pain when I walked up and down stairs. During the pregnancies especially, I tried to avoid any activity that could make the pain worse. It was really tough for me to run upstairs and grab clothes for the kids. If they spilled something, or needed pajamas- I would have to have help. Now they are a lot more independent and my hernia got fixed (lol) but we still get pressed for time. It took me a few years to figure this out, but boy am I glad I did! The next life hack that helps our days run smoothly is having a place for clothes in the kitchen! That sounds a little odd. It started out as something to help me, because walking, in general, was difficult. Now, it’s a time saver and a way to help the kids be more independent. They can pick out their own pajamas by the age of 3, help put laundry away by the age of 3, and change clothes without a big hassle. We keep a lot of underwear, t-shirts, play-out-side-get-muddy shorts, and pajamas in a little storage area in our kitchen.

 

On the rare occasion that we forgot to make lunches the night before, we found ourselves running around like chickens with our heads cut off, throwing anything we could find into a lunch box. The kids wouldn’t have a thermos or anything to drink and forget about a napkin! Preparing lunches ahead of time is a MUST for us. We shop in bulk for healthy, quick snacks that the kids can use to make their own lunch, and my husband and I set up an assembly line to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches en masse, ahead of time. We stock the freezer with the pb&j, and for nut-free places, I keep pigs in a blanket in the freezer too.  Keeping the freezer well stocked helps with making lunches ahead really easy and uncomplicated. However you choose to make meals, I am a firm believer in doing it the night before- not the morning of an event!

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I cannot get going in the morning without coffee. Have you seem those memes about people who can’t walk/walk/make any decisions before they’ve had their coffee? That’s me. I used to tease my husband about using a French press, because I thought it looked a little fussy and high maintenance. Then…I tried it a few times. I made my own cold brew and I changed forever! I am obsessed with cold brew. And chocolate. The two things are a marriage of my favorite substances on Earth- coffee and chocolate. Cheesecake is a close third. I pre-make my coffee ahead of time so that in the morning, all I have to do is pour and go- no brewing. My tastes may change in the cooler weather, but I have been drinking iced coffee for a while now and that’s my favorite. I use a creamer with cacao in it, coconut oil, and a super food blend with a lot of vitamins. It’s not from a direct sales company- just something that I read about, and ordered online here.  If you are a stickler for eating clean, it fits the bill. If you want more superfoods with dense nutritional value, this is a winner. It tastes ah-mazing!

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My husband keeps track of a google calendar that integrates which shift he’s working at the hospital, with sports practices and games, with my doctor appointments, with everyday life commitments. I have that icon on my phone so that I can see when he’s working at any time. Personally, I still need to have something in front of me- a tangible calendar. I use Erin Condren’s life planners, because once you’ve tried it, nothing else will do!  She says that you are 42% more likely to reach your goals if you write them down! I’m kinda nerdy when it comes to organization, so I get a wide variety of colored pens to write in my calendar. Each planner is highly customizable. I am able to do meal planning, write down every practice for sports, long term goals, well-visits for the kids 9 months out, and a whole lot of other things! I have stickers to mark birthdays and special events also. A great day planner is invaluable. I keep it in the kitchen- where I can see it when I’m cooking, drinking coffee, unpacking/packing the kids’ bookbags, and watching the news in the evenings.

 

Before I leave the house I put on a little make-up. Like a LITTLE little. I have to take my kids to preschool in the mornings, sports events and church on the weekends. For weekends, doing something social or going on a date with James, I’ll spruce myself up even more. Since most of my social contact revolves around the kids at school or sports, I don’t need to look like I’m competing in Miss America. I would, however, like to cover up under eye circles, brighten my complexion (I can get pretty pale when not in the sun), and put some color on my lips. I look healthier and feel more confident when I make a small effort to look pulled together. My go-to for all of the above is Maskcara. It’s quick, doesn’t look heavy and product can be used for multiple purposes. For instance, I take the cream blush and it looks great and lasts as lipstick, I can use the illuminator on my eyes as well, to brighten them up! The contour color gives my face more dimension and cheekbones more definition! I am known for having very round cheeks- which is really cute when you are 5 years old, a little less so when you are 37.

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Each one of these hacks helps make my life easier. I can go from one activity to the next with less stress, more planning, more intention, and saving money. We don’t lose as many socks and shoes, I buy fewer groceries when I can meal plan and stick to it, I only use a little bit of make-up and I love it, I don’t brew more coffee than I can drink before it tastes stale or bitter, and my children can more self-sufficient because I’ve given them the tools to do things at their level. The laundry, the bookbags, purses, socks- everything is easier to keep up with, keep organized and I don’t feel overwhelmed as often. Of course life gets to me and I feel like I’m drowning from time to time! Doesn’t everyone know that feeling? Coming up with hacks definitely helps me feel more put together.

Introductions are in order

My amazing daughter Rose deserves her own post and introduction. I picked her name way before I was even married- and I have a twenty-five year old diary entry to prove it! It was the most beautiful name I could think of for a little girl. Her first name is Carolyn, after my grandmother. I had the honor of meeting all of my grandparents, but being close with only one of them. My other grandparents passed away when I was a little child, but my paternal grandmother, Carolyn, was a big part of my life. Carolyn Rose was the name, before she even existed:)

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My first-born child, Aidan, was a tough kiddo. He broke any mold I thought kids should fit in to. I felt inadequate and anxious as a mother, and I remember thinking, “oh my gosh, I don’t want him to be an only child, but I am terrible at this parenting thing!”  From the moment I found out that I was pregnant with Rose, I started praying that she would be different from Aidan. I pleaded, Lord, I can handle challenges, but can they please be different ones?? Ha. He delivered in spectacular fashion.

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Right before the pregnancy, I was working out and I pulled my back out. I never fully recovered and I didn’t want to take muscle relaxers or any medication that could affect the baby- so I lived with back pain for 9 months, in addition to unending morning sickness. By the end, I was so tired from not sleeping, I was too tired to eat. When I delivered her, I was the thinnest I had been in years (not a good thing!). She was an easy labor and delivery- opposite of my first. She came out, eating her hands. Literally. She was hungry from the first moment I met her! It was hilarious to us that night.

She was the polar opposite of her brother in every way. We used to joke and call her “Gilly” like from Saturday Night Live, the character that was so accident prone. Rose had a way of attracting extreme danger and not thinking anything of it. She would casually bring me steak knives and scissors, in case I needed them, while reading a book. She was devoid of all fear. When she learned to crawl she would go head first down the stairs over and over again- she never had a fear of heights or ledges. I always said “if the entire world went right, she would go left.” Rose was always unique- she picked her own clothes, and went through a phase when she wouldn’t leave the house without a cardigan and a necklace, at 2 years old. Who is this kid? Jackie O? She has always been SO sweet-natured, and patient. She is my opposite in so many ways. Where I try to create order and structure, she thrives in any situation- any. No boundaries? That’s ok. When we went to Disney World, I was afraid she would wander off with a stranger- she’s that friendly.

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There are two times that come to mind in particular, when Rose met new people. Once, she met a man who was physically deformed. I warned her ahead of time not to stare or ask him a lot of questions. My warnings were completely unnecessary. She walked right up to him, hugged him, and chatted him up like he was her oldest friend, never once breaking eye contact. His body was very broken, and different from anything she had ever seen, but she only saw his eyes, and his smile. The other time, she was going to meet an elderly woman with severe tremors and speech problems. Again, I gave the heads up- no staring. Rose ran to the woman and jumped on her lap! She wrapped her arms around her neck and asked a million questions. My other kids were present for both of these encounters, and they were polite, but they showed a little trepidation and uncertainty at how to handle themselves. Not my girl.

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When my health took a very sudden turn, we had to come up with a new plan for the kids for school this year. It was decided that Rose would start at the local public school, which is well liked and highly spoken of. I can honestly say, I was not nervous at all for her. I was more concerned that her teacher wouldn’t be able to contain her exuberance, outgoing personality, and her joie de vivre.  Rose would thrive anywhere, anytime. When her baby sister came home from the hospital, she was colicky for months. Rose would walk up to me and take her and say “I’ve got this!” in her mature, 6 year old way:) She would rock Lana, pace with her, and shush her for an hour or more, so I could collect my wits. I call her Saint Rose for her patience around here.

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Rose has so many qualities that I wish I had- fearlessness being one of them! She has a photographic memory- it’s unreal. It took us a while to realize that. She couldn’t hold still while we read to her- ever. Later, I realized she was an auditory learner, and she could recite, verbatim, exactly what I had read while she had been bouncing off of the walls.  She does a youth ministry group called Awana, and when she was in kindergarten, she finished memorizing all of the Bible verses in her book. They gave her extra verses, to finish out the year. By the end, she had an entire page, single spaced, to memorize. She was upset and so was I. That is a LOT of pressure to put on a kindergartener! I went in to speak with her leader and point out that I considered it unreasonable to give someone her age that much to memorize. She said that other children had done it, and I asked if any of them were Rose’s age. They were not. Rose went home, looked at that paper for a little while and then said the whole Scripture passage, perfectly, from memory.

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Her love of animals is what makes her tick. She wants to rescue all of them, from frogs that unfortunately fall into the filter at the pool, to worms in the backyard. Her favorite, by far, are dogs. She has memorized textbooks of breeds and knows EVERY trait of every dog I can name. She knows every dog in our neighborhood, their temperment, who they belong to, and their personality. Rose loves all of God’s creatures and is thisclose to becoming a vegetarian. I think her love of bacon is the last hold out! If this continues, her brothers predicted she will be the crazy cat lady with 52 cats and dogs, who feeds every stray animal in her neighborhood. Our dog, Gus, who we had since right after James and I got married, died last year. She took it the hardest and has been begging for a new puppy ever since. It’s just not the right time for us now, but that doesn’t slow her down- she still checks with me, daily.

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Sweet Rose is a night owl, who is my only child who will sleep in! Bless you for that. When she talks, it’s a mile a minute and she is very persuasive when she puts her mind to it. She sees things in shades of gray, she is definitely not as rigid as I am. Thank goodness for that! She has taught me more as a mother than I have taught her, I think. I see my own weaknesses and my tendency to want everything MY way. She sees the world differently than I do, and takes after my husband more. What a treasure you are my dear. She challenges me every day, and I am SO glad that we survived your toddlerhood- Gilly!

Child Most Likely To: Jump out of an airplane, join PETA, know everyone’s name on her college campus.

Looking Lovely

Some fun pictures and interesting tid-bits about Maskcara make-up. Maybe you’ve wondered about it, maybe you’ve never heard of it! I learned more and more over the course of last year from a friend who really liked this whole line of products. The more I saw, and the more I watched her videos, the more intrigued I became! The woman who founded the company was a mom who decided to start a blog, and talk about every day beauty products. She was honest and became an internet favorite for a lot of people. I admit, I had never heard of her! She was a foster child, and she is a foster mom now! The company that she started, donates the proceeds from certain products to foster care families and resources.  Cost wise, Maskcara stands out, and as a company, they give back to a specific group of people who need it! Just fyi:)

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Breakfast Hac

My humble opinion on a smoothie delivery service. These have helped me out lately- time saver, and lot of nutrition packed into one glass. I’ll always be honest about if I like something or not! This isn’t sponsored in any way- it’s just something I wanted to share on my own. Hope it helps someone, whose looking for a breakfast hac!

It’s not sideways when you play it:) 

 

My favorite flavor is Cacoa-Avocado!

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

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Summer 2014

My plan was to just jump right in and lament my stress over science fair season! However, I can understand how some parents might not be able to relate at all, because their children have different goals than mine do, when it comes to these things. An introduction is in order! I have to put this stress over the science fair into context- it isn’t just science, or projects, it’s BOTH with this particular child.  He is my oldest, the most like me in personality, and I think he hung the moon (not because he’s like me, just because he’s that special!).

aidan 1 His 10th birthday, 2017

The name “Aidan” means “fiery one,” after St. Aidan. He was a cool guy- read about him if you get the chance!  I’m sure anyone could write for hours and hours about someone or thing that they love. Same with me. I’m not even sure how to par this down! Each family has unique dynamics, and in our large family, his personality affects how the younger ones fall into place. Aidan is, I would say, an “alpha” male or personality. He’s a natural leader (he’s been accused of being bossy by his younger counterparts), Type A (like me), and a bright kid. He started kindergarten when he was 4, and he walked to school everyday- usually without one of his parents- as part of a “walking schoolbus” in our neighborhood. We lived in Michigan that year for James’s fellowship, so our little guy was walking in snow for at least 6 months out of that year!

Like me, he sees the world in black and white, not shades of gray. There is a right way, and a wrong. There are definitely pro’s and cons to this personality trait! We are horrible liars- he couldn’t tell a fib if his life depended on it.  It also makes us rigid in how we like to do things, such as cleaning a certain way, bedtimes, meals, rules, etc. He is like me, times ten. As an adult, marriage has softened my edges and refined my character a great deal. I had to learn how to compromise more, and that there are two ways of doing things! My way isn’t always right:) Aidan, bless him, has an unwavering moral compass, and a tendency to be hard on people who are not in line with him, like his siblings! I think that having a large family is WONDERFUL for us. The sibling nearest in age to him, Rose, could not be more different. She doesn’t kowtow to his demands, she stands her ground like Wonder Woman, and isn’t intimidated by his skills, book-smarts, or sharp wit. It is SO good for him, to have her as his “foil” in our home. God put these special human beings in one place, so that we could all learn from each other, benefit and love one another. Someone’s weakness is another one’s strength. We talk openly about how each person has unique gifts, and that we can’t compare ourselves to others.

Wrestling as babies, Rose cheering him on in his first youth triathlon 2017

For instance, I have never, ever seen anyone with a memory like Rose. She can hear or read something once and recite it perfectly. I don’t know the exact criteria for a photographic memory, but she has got to be close. It’s astounding. Aidan and Rose both attend a children’s ministry group called Awana on Wednesday evenings. They are supposed to memorize Bible verses. Rose can memorize hers in under 5 minutes. Aidan is like a normal person, and has to practice for a while. This irks him to no end! He is very, very, very, did I say VERY competitive?? Everything, his whole life, has been a competition. Brushing teeth, I mean, who can compete when they brush their teeth?? Apparently he can. He does his the “right” way. When he was teeny tiny, his first word was “ball” and a love was born. As a plump, Buddha-esque baby of 8 months, he would sit on the floor and throw a softball to me, over and over again. If I got up to take a break, he would YELL his little blond head off, until I returned and we started again. Always with his left hand. I’m a lefty too:)

   Holding the ball from his first out-of-the-park homerun! Visiting Turner Field, 1995 Braves World Series Trophy

He loved to play baseball in the yard with James from the time he could walk. He would have make-shift bases made out of moss. I’m not kidding- he would slide into second base, which was a giant tree with gnarly roots, and tear up his leg!  Aidan would stand up, with cuts and blood, tears streaming down his little face. “I’m SAFE!!” I would explain EVERY TIME that daddy was NOT going to tag him out, he didn’t have to slide! I didn’t matter what I said…he was not taking any chances. There was no way he was going to lose to dad!  We laugh about that all of the time now. He thinks it’s the funniest thing ever.

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Palm Sunday, 2014 I think, playing the role of Jesus

His intense personality spread to other areas of life. He is known and has always been known for his love of food. I know, plenty of kids love treats and are “good eaters.” He’s in a category by himself. When he was little, as my first child, I had all of these goals of things I wanted to do with him to be a “perfect” mom. I took him to story time at the library- like he would actually listen at 13 months. I remember, some kid opened up a cheese stick, and it was all over. He screamed at the top of his lungs because someone else was having a snack. We couldn’t go anywhere for almost three years, where other people were eating.  Restaurants were off limits, because every time a waiter walked by with food for someone else, he hit the roof. Again, he thinks these stories are just HILARIOUS now. He would eat anything- and I mean anything. His physique was, shall we say, sturdy?  Then, around 6 years old, his eating did not slow down at all, but the chunk turned to muscle. Why can’t that be a trait from me?? Why?! How does that happen??

   First summer on swim team, he won Coach’s Award for his age group! 2017

He has six-pack abs, rounded biceps, legs that look like a sprinter. I do NOT have any of those qualities. Darn shame it is, I tell ya. He still loves baseball more than the air he breaths. Everything about the game- the smell of fresh cut grass, warm-ups, the sound of a bat cracking when it makes contact in the sweet spot, pitching a perfect strike, and of course, sliding!! We always watch the World Series together. In 2016, for his October birthday, I got the two of us seats right behind home plate, when the Braves were playing the Tigers- last game at Turner Field. I couldn’t go, because of the pain from my August surgery. That was right before I ended up being transferred to Emory for the full work up and mesh removal. My heart broke that I missed that with him. He still got to go though!

He is so responsible, and helpful around here. Every morning, when I am too sore to get up quickly, he hears the baby making noises in her crib, and he gets her for me. He will bring a warm bottle in for me, and help me get her changed. He helps his little siblings get dressed when they can’t find the button holes:), and he loves learning how to cook. Every since he was little, I thought he was cut out for the military. He thrives on structure and rules, and he appreciates boundaries. His sense of fairness rivals a Supreme Court justice anyday. His competitive streak does not come from me though- the blue eyes, dimples, dominant left hand, rigid take on right and wrong- that’s all me. I wish the six-pack abs were, but alas, those are definitely not mine either! My husband loves sports, but the killer instinct to win everything- that is all his own. Aidan was born with the desire to win every race, hit every ball out of the park, and WIN at the science fair.

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His first science fair, he did the project all by himself, 3rd grade

Now, on to the topic of the day- his science fair project! He’s very math and science oriented, like daddy. He loves math and breezes through. I worked hard in math, and did well, but it was not a breeze for me! He comes to me a week or so ago and asks, seriously, “Mama, can I split an atom for my science project?” Absentmindedly, I replied, “No hun, that’s kind of dangerous.” “But I’ll do it in the kitchen!” I have NO idea why that would make it safer? I firmly explained why we could NOT split any atoms, anywhere in the house. A few days later…”Mama, could we get a sample of polio from a lab, infect an animal, and observe it?” “Oh my gosh, NOOO!!” Not to be completely deterred, “Ok, what about an insect then?”

I had to get to the bottom of why he was coming up with these outlandish topics. Why couldn’t we just watch a sandwich get moldy? Build a potato battery or something like that?! I asked, but I should have known without asking, “Mom, I have never WON the science fair! I can’t do just ANYTHING, it has to be AMAZING!!” Ok, no pressure or anything. Daddy and I had a family meeting and came up with some ideas that didn’t involve killing a lot of people, and I think we finally settled on a topic today!! Oh thank goodness. The stress of trying to pick a topic was unpleasant. Aidan gets so into things- he doesn’t do anything 50%, he only knows 100%- which is wonderful, but when mom is running on an empty tank, and dad has successfully fought off the flu and been sleeping for a week straight, we are just plain tired!

I’ll have to post some pictures of the finished topic. I love that kid. We can finish each other’s sentences, read each other’s thoughts. I love my children equally, but not the same. Each one of them is SO different. I would have thought that they would take after each other, share some traits. Nope. God gave us 6 individuals who could have been from different planets. I absolutely love that. It made each pregnancy that much more exciting- seeing how different and special each new life would be. Aidan, you are my fiery one. Never lose your fire! Never lose your sense of justice, and your love for all things good and pure and righteous. God has big plans for you buddy!

 

Keeping the faith

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The “before” picture. After Lana was born, we had professional pictures taken. I had no intention of being in them, but she wouldn’t stop crying so the photog told me to jump in. I’m SO glad that I did! Hence the ponytail:)

I was contacted recently by a journalist in New York City. She asked if she could interview me for a story on pudendal neuralgia. I knew that would mean opening old wounds, bearing my soul for the general public, and going over humiliation after humiliation for anyone to stumble on. I have been brought so low, so many times, I’m almost immune to it now- almost. I’ve discussed my private parts a hundred times- at least, suffered treatments that were as painful as the injury it self, been shamed for taking medication as directed, and told there was no “cure” for my neuropathy. Through it all, my sweet James stood by my side, and my parents worked so hard to keep our household from falling apart.

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The morning of my surgery. Blissfully ignorant. Low risk, thought I would wake up in about an hour, good to go.

I agreed to the interview, knowing that everything that I said wouldn’t make it into print, gory details are the most interesting to read, and that it would definitely be one more humiliation to add to my long list. Truth is, I wanted to share because ever since the beginning, I kept saying to myself “if I ever feel well enough, I want to be a patient advocate. I want to help other people.” Not everyone has a James, and not everyone has parents, a sister, friends, neighbors, and a church family like I do. This experience would have ended very differently had I been alone. There was a woman in a support group that I joined for a while, who killed herself earlier last year. Her story isn’t that unusual unfortunately. Chronic pain is isolating. I know several people whose marriages dissolved because of health struggles. Friendships change and people feel so alone. I am so incredibly fortunate to have the world’s best friends. I don’t see them as often, but they have visited me here at home and while I was in the hospital. I have had meals delivered for a year and a half (not every night of course, but regularly).

I felt like it was my responsibility to share some, so that someone reading the article, wouldn’t feel so alone. Maybe, one medical student would randomly see the article and think, “hmm… maybe I should look into pain management, and chronic pelvic pain.” It’s poorly understood and studied- there are plenty of opportunities to find patients I can assure you!  Every person with PN doesn’t have all of the same symptoms. Some of the symptoms described in the article apply to me, and some do not.

I could write for days about the spiritual journey that this has been. I will write about faith regularly. It is part of my daily life, my stream of consciousness, my conversations throughout the day, and my decision making process. At the beginning, everything felt like a bad dream. Surely, this isn’t for real? I will wake up? This horror will pass? I actually thought- I have had my “quota” of suffering for the year. You see, before my surgery, I had a difficult pregnancy. I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, and migraines that were so severe, I was treated by a neurologist the entire time, and hospitalized a few times. I was bedridden from the nausea and headache pain- it was blinding. I thought, I have suffered so much lately! That is ENOUGH, and this new fresh h-e-l-l has to pass, soon, right? My thoughts also were along the lines of “I’m a ‘good’ person, not an ax murderer, I have 6 kids to take care of, I’m young, this can’t be real. I have to get better! This sort of thing can’t just ruin my life- I don’t believe it.”

Oh Amy. I knew the folly of my train of thought, but I couldn’t stop the freight train of anger and justifying my conclusions to God. He had to be wrong, it had to be a mistake. If I prayed the “right” way, said the right things, the pain would pass, and I could have my old life back! Wrong, wrong, wrong. Through MUCH prayer- I mean constant, soul searching, scripture searching, and just plain crying…I knew deep down that our Lord isn’t a magic genie in a bottle. You don’t say the right words and He grants you your wish. It doesn’t matter how nice you are, or how many kids you have, no one is immune to suffering. To think for one second that anyone has quota that can be met…is ridiculous, and complete arrogance on my part. Suffering doesn’t only happen to the “bad” guys. There are so many people around the world who know pain, what made me so special that I should be immune?

michigan

This was taken before one of the several procedures in Michigan, where I lived for a month. I tried a new type of neuromodulator that ultimately failed. I was forcing a smile, because we were sending the picture to my kids. I didn’t want them to know how scared I was.

God never guaranteed anyone an easy life. HE is enough, that’s sort of the whole point. I can read that over and over, but unless I have lived it- everything else is gone, and all I’m left with is faith, I didn’t internalize it. This suffering, even in the extreme, is temporary. There were so many times that I didn’t pray to live, I prayed that the Lord would let me come home sooner- right then. I couldn’t see around the pain in the moment, couldn’t think five minutes in advance. I begged him to let me go. He, obviously, said “no my child, you are stronger than you think, hang in there.” I know what a dark valley is- one with no light, no directions, just the knowledge that I am supposed to trust. I am supposed to put one foot in front of the other and keep going in the dark. If I do that, trust blindly, I will see more clearly than I ever have before in my life- but not on my time, on His.

I’m not going to link to the article- it’s live, and being well read! I’d rather my kids not read some of those vocab words just yet:)

My grace is sufficient for you (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Self-Care

gal 1

Ok, it’s ironic that I’m writing on this topic at all, because it’s so new to me! I almost feel a little hypocritical recommending it to others, when it wasn’t even part of my vocabulary for so long. I was in survival mode. Truth is, intense pain makes you selfish. I would explain to my husband- I felt like an animal, retreating into myself, just thinking about surviving. Basic needs- food, water, breathing in and out. I couldn’t even think about anyone else, which is so contrary to my nature, because I was concentrating on making it through life, one hour at a time. When I was able to catch my breath, I realized I had worn pajamas every day for ages. I was housebound, so no reason not to! When I got dressed, my kids would ask “do you have a doctor’s appointment?”

I wrote earlier that I got some make-up for Christmas, because my friend wears it and she looked so cool in her how-to videos! By Christmas evening, I had emailed the company to see if I could sell it, because it was so fun. It was new- feeling pretty and just putting myself together, even if I was staying home:)

The company’s message just happens to fit into my own personal view of self-care. It’s not geared towards glamazons, although, if you’ve seen some of the youtube videos, you are aware that there are some serious Artists, (with a capital “A” out there!!!). Every person is unique, special, and has the right to feel good about themselves. Often, it helps to put a little color on your face. Not always, make-up isn’t required for self-esteem by any means! However, I love some color and to bring out my best features. People have very different ideas of beauty, and what makes them feel good. Sometimes, it’s a hot bath, a chat with a certain friend, new shoes, or just smiling!!!

Maskcara beauty has put together fun collections to celebrate “Galentine’s” Day. If you are single or taken, it’s always a great time to be thankful for the gal pals in your life, who make you smile. Here are some pictures of the collections. Fun, beautiful colors, and  way to save money if you want to treat yourself or a friend who needs their day brightened!

 

 

Valentine’s Day

 

 

 

I will post “before and after” pics of myself. I know everyone can get a kick out of those:) Haha- keep those jeers to yourself:) Even after coffee, it’s still not pretty!