This picture makes me cry!

This picture makes me cry!
Thought it was time to change my picture

Monday, June 1, 2015

I Owe It All to My 18 Year Old Son......

The song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” played at our wedding – I stood in foyer of the church and listened to the words knowing that many rough and rocky roads had led me to where I was standing.  The doors swung open and I suddenly became a bride – the crowd stood and your dad’s eyes filled with tears.  I remember looking at you both – the weight of this new adventure rested squarely on my shoulders – truthfully, I was scared to death – I had no idea how to be a wife or a mom so I did the only thing I could…..I put one foot in front of the other and walked down the aisle…..   

Much of the last 10+ years have been like that – me scared to death – just putting one foot in front of the other.  Most days I’m convinced that I’ve made a horrible mess of it all but on days like Saturday, I see a glimmer of hope that just maybe I didn’t totally screw it all up.  I think back to days, like our wedding, where you were waiting at the end of the aisle – you had no idea how it would all work out but you loved me anyway.  There are few moments in life that leave really profound footprints on your heart but that day was one of those for me.  It wasn’t the flowers or the dress or the “wedding” – it was you and dad waiting for me at the end of that aisle.  Prepared to walk through life with me – to love me in spite of the many mistakes I was sure to make.  Completely trusting that I would figure it out, eventually.   

When a child is born there is a physical connection – an instinct that kicks in – a love that bubbles up from somewhere inside of you.  It is undeniable and unexplainable – it is terrifying and amazing all at the same time.  It is a beautiful thing – no doubt – but when God places a child in your life, when He places the hand of that child in yours, something equally amazing happens.  It is also terrifying and amazing – undeniable and unexplainable.  It is a miracle in the rarest of forms – there is suddenly a connection that is created, not by blood or DNA, but by God.  There is a love that defies all odds and knows no boundaries for it isn’t supported by anything that science can explain.   

No one could have prepared me for being your mom – no one could have explained what it means to be “picked” by someone.  You had a choice and you chose me – undeserving and flawed and imperfect (although I’m sure the chocolate chip cookies helped) – you believed in me, you loved me, you respected me, you made me your mom.  The gift that you gave me is one that most people will never understand – every parent is blessed but few are given the gift of parenthood by a child that had a choice. 

I’ve certainly failed you on more than one occasion – I’ve been impatient and short tempered – I’ve worked too much and taken a lot of moments for granted but I hope that you know how grateful I am that you chose me.  I hope you know that on the hardest of days I think back to you standing at the front of that church and I draw strength – how could I offer anything less than my best when that sweet 7 year old boy is cheering me on.  How can I doubt myself when such an amazing kid saw enough in me to believe that I would figure it all out.  You made me a mom and that is a blessing that I will never take for granted.   

I love you more than you can possibly fathom – my heart aches when I think about you not being at home but I know the man you’ve become and I know you will do amazing things.  Always remember that when things get tough, I believe in you and I choose you – EVERY SINGLE TIME.  Nothing – not time or distance or DNA can change that – I will always be a phone call away.  I’ll be on a plane, I’ll get on a boat, I’ll charter a sub, I’ll do whatever it takes to be there, if you need me.  Never doubt my love for you or the place you have in my heart – you are my hero, my firstborn, my retirement plan (just kidding about the retirement thing – well kind of).  I love you and I’m forever in your debt.



A baby dedication - 18 years later.....

I sat in that auditorium with 6000 other parents/family members – all cheery faced and excited to watch their teenager walk across the stage.  I wondered if I was the only one that secretly wished that my kid had failed a couple of grades.  As I sat there I replayed so many moments in my head – this was the day or reckoning – this was the day of true sacrifice. 


When our babies were newborn we dedicated them to God.  We stood in front of our church family, locked arm in arm with each other, faces beaming with pride and gave a vow to God to raise our children to be Godly people.  We gave them back to God – we admitted that He alone was the giver of this precious gift and that we would ultimately trust Him with this precious life.  Then we strapped our sleepy bundle of joy back in their carseat, covered them with a blanket, went home, locked the doors, tucked them in to bed and listened to the baby monitor all night long…..prepared to jump in to superhero mode if we heard so much as a whimper. 


As the years went by, we walked them to school – I trust you God.  We watched them as they walked down the hall to class (out of sight of course) – I trust you God.  We screened friends (and their parents), we called cell phones, we waited up, we made balanced meals, we monitored homework and internet use – I trust you God.  We lectured, we loved, we laughed, we cried – but today…….today felt different.  I couldn’t follow him down the hall.  My moments were slipping away, like sand in an hourglass.  Soon the rubber would meet the road.  Would I really trust God with my precious gift?  How could anyone love him the way that I love him – how could anyone know him like I do – how could anyone truly understand what an amazing heart my boy has??    


To you, he looks like a teenager.  Gangly and clumsy – growing in to a fine young man.  You may see a US Navy Sailor – the one who will defend the freedom of this great country.  You see a young boy full of hopes and dreams – full of puppy love for the high school sweetheart he will leave behind.  His future seems bright – the possibilities are endless – he is excited to start his journey.  So why do I feel like Abraham – leading Isaac up the mountain.  Why does my heart feel such pride and sorrow all at the same time??  Gladness and grief both struggling to occupy the same spot in my heart??


As I sit in the stands and watch my boy, now a man, make his way across the stage, I am overcome with fear.  How do I let him go – how do I know that I’ve done my part - how did the years slip by so fast, so unnoticed?  I scrutinize every word, every action, every moment and I know that now is when I must truly trust God to take care of him.  Now is the true dedication – now is when I really lay him before the throne.  Now is where I let go and letting go is hard – he is my boy, my friend, my biggest blessing and my hero – I will miss him, his laughter, his sighs when I ask him to take out the trash – even his dirty room.  And my heart aches because I know that this moment changes everything.


This boy that we’ve spent the last 18 years loving and protecting will get hurt, he will fall, he will fail, he will get his heart broken.  He will probably see atrocities that most of us only see on television, he will bear a weight that many of us cannot even fathom.  He will be lonely and scared – he will cry – he will miss my home cooking.  I know all of this and yet I must lay him down – I must let go.  My opportunity is gone – my role as his mother is changing with every second – now is where I realize the weight of the vow that we made all those years ago……   

Monday, February 24, 2014

Why me??

A few years ago (4 years and 15 days ago to be exact) my husband and I suffered a miscarriage.  It was a tragedy; although, by some standards it was not nearly as bad as it could have been.  But to me it was and always will be a tipping point in my life.  Up until that moment I knew life wasn’t fair and I knew that being a good person didn’t buy a free pass to the “good life”; however, I never dreamed I would ever encounter such devastation. 
To most people a miscarriage is something to move on from – it isn’t significant to even cause a blip on the radar screen of life.  In some instances it almost feels like there is a hint of shame associated with losing  a baby.  And yes, I said baby because that is what it was.
I wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant on my own….not to mention I was taking birth control pills.  Surely, my infertile body was not capable of getting pregnant without the aid of some kind of foreign sonogram wand exploring the inside of my body, a handful of pills or countless doctor visits.  Ha!  Imagine my surprise when I returned home from a cruise and peed on a stick.  It was a hunch – I had been tired and seasick and just felt off.  It was a long shot, a ridiculous notion that soon became a terrifying reality.  See my husband didn’t want any more children.  He was perfectly content with our 2 boys…..I was happy but my heart longed for another baby.  He hadn’t totally stonewalled me but another baby certainly wasn’t in the forefront of our mind yet here I was – hands shaking, terrified of how I would break the news.
In hindsight, I laugh at my naivety.  My husband took it all in stride and much to my surprise, he was excited.  I immediately made an appointment with an OB for the next day.  I learned that next day that I was a little over 6 weeks pregnant – I saw the flicker of a tiny heartbeat on the screen and I knew that this life was meant to be.  A week later I began spotting – I called my doctor and was told it probably wasn’t a problem but to come in.  The found a subchronic hematoma (a blood clot if you will) around the baby – my body would absorb it, take it easy, bed rest, etc. etc.  
I drove home that evening with a sinking feeling…..almost like God was preparing me.  I laid in bed all weekend and countless times I placed my hand on my stomach and prayed for the life I was carrying.  I bartered with God, begged, pleaded and cried.  As the bleeding got worse I became less and less optimistic.  By the time Monday I had rolled around I was convinced it was over. 
I made a deal with God that if this baby was meant to survive that I would see a heartbeat Monday afternoon at the doctor’s office.  I remember seeing a billboard that flashed “For I know the plans I have for you”.  For the first time in days I felt positive.  At the doctor’s office, the sonogram tech pointed out the flutter of a steady heartbeat.  I let out a sigh of relief…….almost as if I had been holding my breath for days.  I called my family and we rejoiced – now I was certain that everything was fine. 
The next day (Tuesday) I remember getting out of bed and making my way to the couch.  I watched William play in the floor and my back started to hurt.  I assumed it was a product of too much lying around.  At lunch time I got up to take a shower and realized that something was very wrong.  I will spare you the details but as my husband rushed me to the doctor’s office and the contractions rolled through my body, the tears came.  I cried for what felt like hours – I don’t remember much about that appointment other than my doctor crying with us.  A room that had at one time brought us so much hope and joy now brought us fear and doubt.   I couldn’t figure out why God would do this – what did He hope to gain out of this tragedy.  What was my suffering supposed to bring about?  Was I not thankful enough for my children, was I being punished……what did I do to deserve this? 
I’ve asked myself that question a million times.  I know that God’s timing is perfect but I would be lying if I said there aren’t times that I just want to shake my fist and say WHY??!  Infertility, miscarriage, heartache, sorrow…..what was the point of all of it?  I still don’t know, I can’t answer that question for myself or anyone else.  I remember in the days after, putting on a brave face for my friends and family.  Convincing everyone around me that I was fine all the while, letting this loss eat away at my faith.  I felt betrayed, hurt, broken.   I’ve thought back to that billboard over and over – I have to cling to the promise that He knows the plans for my life.  That He is the one who writes the story. 
I’m not exactly sure why I typed this all out – I guess it is because no one ever talks about the raw, gory details of what it is like to suffer a loss like this.  We gloss over it and put on a brave face because that is what is expected.  It is almost like a miscarriage is its own scarlet letter.  It makes me sad to think that I don’t celebrate that life the way I should because I’m afraid of the judgment of others.  I’m afraid of offending someone or drudging up past hurts if I mention the “M” word. 
There isn’t a good way to end this… is a complicated, messy post.  What I will tell you is that even after this tragedy - even after and during my dwindling faith - God saw fit to bless us with the cutest red headed girl in all the world.  It was a broken road to get to her and I'm not so sure that I'm at the place where I can smile at the thought of the journey we had to go on but I can say that my girl has certainly helped dry any tears I shed. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

To all my fellow parents......

Dear Parent,

I see you staring, passing judgment, calling my 3 year old a brat in your head, wondering why her parents don’t discipline her.  Rolling your eyes as she screams, the shock and horror as she tells me she hates me.  Admittedly, before facing this problem in my own home, I would have done the same thing.  I’m now ashamed of that……it makes my face burn in embarrassment.  To think I would have heaped mounds of judgment on the head of some frazzled mom who is already facing such a tear filled challenge  makes me want to hide in a corner and weep. 

 I have a new empathy for parents who go to head to head with the medical community.  Who fight and advocate for their children.  Who refuse to take a static answer because, frankly, the doctors have no idea what is wrong with their kid.  I have compassion for moms and dads who endure the scorn of family and friends who think they are over-reacting.  Those parents who sit in the waiting room at a hospital – waiting to see what answers a ridiculously expensive medical test will give them.  As they sit waiting they feel guilt for worrying about the medical bills that they know will be rolling in…..guilt for potentially financing the future of their other children to “cure” this one.  Wringing their hands in worry, tears forming in the corners of their eyes, pretending to be strong, knowing that no one understands their fear and frustration. 

I’m the mom who tiptoes around her once cheery child.  A  little girl born with red curls and dimples….ivory skin and a rosebud mouth.  The little girl who has and still does make my heart overflow with joy.  Her daddy’s princess, her Nana’s rotten, her mommy’s sweetpea……she is fierce and strong willed and stubborn but what some people don’t realize is that she is also compassionate and timid and gentle.  People don’t see those things in her as much anymore because those qualities are crowded out by fits of rage, sleepless nights and hurt filled words.  Most days I see my sweet ballerina girl….bubbly, beautiful, happy but there is always something brewing right beneath the surface.  We tiptoe around, praying that we make it through the evening and the night without a “fit”.  I watch the pain in her daddy’s eyes as she refuses to let him hold her or interact with her.  I know the pain in my own heart as I watch her stare off in to space……almost like she is absent from this beautiful life that we all share together.  Our family feels splintered…..with jagged edges threatening to slice us in two at every turn.  We spend more and more time trying to avoid a meltdown and less and less time enjoying each other.  Exhaustion has set in…..the fear of taking her too many places makes us feel like prisoners at times…..the fear that comes when we think about the rest of our lives being this way is overwhelming to say the least.

 What is a “fit”, you ask.  It is an hour of screaming, irrational ranting, throwing things, hitting, hurtful words, fear in my daughter’s eyes but refusing to let me touch her or comfort her.  Last night she woke up screaming “santa”…..I didn’t get to her fast enough.  I was tired and had taken medicine for a headache…..I was too asleep to hear her first whimpers and by the time I got to her it was too late.  She was raging…..angry…..scared.   She told me she hated me over and over again……..spewing hurtful words at me like lava from an erupting volcano.  She demanded that I leave her room but as I turned to go she pleaded with me to stay.  I walked back in the room and she cowered in the corner like a scared puppy.  She barricaded us in her room……it was complete darkness……she screamed “I’m so tired” over and over again yet still would not let me touch her.  Again she screamed for the TV on and at the same time ordered me out of her room……I turned the TV on and headed for the door.  She begged me to stay and turn the TV off.  We played out this scenario over and over until I had to walk out.  I was so tired and frustrated and scared………I had the exact same emotions that my screaming daughter did.  I listened to her cries, begging me to come back, begging me to hold her, to comfort her, to chase away these proverbial demons………..I walked back in the room knowing there was nothing I could do.  She wasn’t going to let me help her……..I had to wait until the “fit” had run its course.

When she finally calmed down and I was able to lay down with her, I covered her tiny, frail body with my own.  Willing her to feel safe and loved.  She turned her face towards me, tears streaming down her cheeks and said “I’m sorry I’m so mean to you…..I don’t really hate you”.   We both laid there in the dark on her purple polka dot sheets and we cried.  I cried for my tiny ballerina dancer who for whatever reason is so tormented……I cried because I feel like I’m failing her……I cried because I know that this isn’t just her being 3…..I cried because no one understands the depth of despair that this kind of thing can push you to…..I cried because I want to rewind to December when she was okay and we weren’t searching for answers…….I cried because there doesn’t seem to be an answer and I cried because I know that so many people have labeled my sweet, beautiful, compassionate girl as a spoiled, defiant brat who just needs a good hard spanking. 

I hate the judgmental stares of other parents but more than that, I hate that I can’t fix whatever is broken in my little girl.  I hate that I’m not sure if I can survive another 6 months like this.  I hate that I’m afraid she may never be “normal” again.  So many things have changed over the last 6 weeks…..every day is a toss-up as to how it will turn out……every outing brings feelings of anxiety……every stare and well intentioned suggestion brings feelings of failure.  I know we will make it…..whatever comes…..whatever this life brings I will never quit advocating for my child.  I will never give up the fight…..I will never quit trying to hold her when cries out for me.  I pray that I always see my tiny, ballerina girl………that my heart doesn’t become hardened by the hateful words and the sleepless nights.  She needs someone to love her unconditionally…….to always see the good in her…….to remember who she really is regardless of how she is behaving. 

 I’m not writing this asking for pity or suggestions or advice.  I’m sending this out into the universe because people don’t get it – they don’t understand – they don’t want to understand what it may be like to live with a child who doesn’t fit into society’s neat little box.  Maybe the next time you offer up your opinion you should stop yourself and instead offer a hug or a shoulder to cry on.  Instead of advice……..offer a prayer…….a plea before the throne that this child comes through this challenge and that his or her parents have the strength to walk this road.   We should always remember that kids don’t come with instruction manuals……parenting is hard work and none of us know what another parent truly goes through in the middle of the night.  Your road is not mine and mine is not yours……..I need your love not your judgment……….I need your compassion not your criticism……..I need your prayers not your persecution.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

So I’ve been MIA for a week now……sorry for the absence but trust me, you didn’t want to hear from me. I’ve been battling some kind of funky, bad mood for almost a week. You know the kind that leaves you feeling mediocre at everything and makes you just want to throw in the towel?? Today I seem to be in a better place so I figured it was time to give you an update since I’m done with the Cleanse phase of my 24 Day Challenge. So…..drumroll please……I lost a pound. Yep, 1 stinky pound. I’ve been frustrated and bummed over the last week because the scale keeps moving up and down. I’ve felt like my clothes were looser but the scale isn’t moving, so what gives??? Well today I measured and…….are you ready……huh, huh?? I don’t know why I’m teasing, it’s not like anyone is reading this anyway. I lost 9 inches!!!! NINE….9…..freaking 9 inches! I was so excited to see that number after taking my measurements. It means all the work is paying off just not how I’m used to seeing it. I’ve lost 3.5 inches off my waist in 10, yes TEN, days! Proof that the scale shouldn’t be the end all, be all of weight loss progress.

I’m not going to tell you it was easy because this last week I’ve really been struggling with my emotions (and I think some hormone stuff too) so it has been a constant struggle to stay away from comfort food, i.e., chocolate. I also had some stomach problems for a couple of days which made me want to eat….I’m a weirdo and want to eat when my stomach hurts cause that makes it all better, right?? But hey, I made it to the other side of the cleanse with no real battle wounds and that is a victory in itself!

Something I will say is that Advocare promises to help you get into healthy eating habits (and it totally does that). You will read a lot of testimonials about people feeling amazing after taking Advocare. I have no doubt they feel amazing and the Spark is definitely a drink that will put pep in your step but I think most of the energy and overall feeling of wellness comes from eating clean. I’m not saying that Advocare supplements don’t work or are not worth the money because I LOVE them and wholeheartedly believe in them. What I am saying is that the cost can scare some people off. It seems like an investment and some people don’t have money to invest in their health because they have to ummm, feed their kids! If you can afford Advocare I say do it….you won’t be sorry and really the supplements/challenge/spark aren’t horribly expensive when you factor in the lifestyle changes you will make (lack of eating out, no more sodas, etc.); however, you CAN take control of your weight, your health, your fitness level with no help from Advocare. I believe Advocare helps lighten the load (I truly don’t crave diet sodas anymore and that is the one thing I refused to give up – even after I started eating clean) but it isn’t absolutely necessary to get where you want to be. What is necessary……determination, a plan, a little will power and a lot of hardwork! I’m not where I want to be but I’m a heck of a lot closer than I was 18 months ago. The process has been slow and frustrating and hard and amazing and rewarding all at the same time. I’m proud of myself and how far I’ve come. I still suck at running (running a race is on my bucket list) and I still can’t do more than 10 tricep dips at a time and my bat wings (aka underarm skin) would still double as a parachute should I ever be pushed out of a plane but I’m getting there. I’m making good choices one bite at a time. I’m pushing myself and believing in myself and forgiving myself and learning to be proud of me again. This time around has definitely been a marathon….parts of me wants to just be done but I know I have to pace myself if I want to be healthy rather than skinny.

So I have 14 more days…..started my morning with the chocolate meal replacement shake and all I can say is YUMMY! Way better than those crappy fiber shakes I’ve had to drink over the last week and a half. I’m excited again and anxious to see where I end up in 2 weeks. And I’m anxious to share it with you. Whether it helps to answer some questions about Advocare or it motivates you to start your own journey…..I hope it inspires you in some way to get healthy!

I will leave you with a “before” picture. This was the night before I delivered Abigail (almost 2.5 years ago). The “after” picture will be in my next post!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day 4.....More Puking!

Day 4 and boy am I thankful for my Spark! 2 more people in our house have been hit by the stomach bug……combine that with year end at work and to say I’m tired would be an understatement. I will say that I’m amazed I haven’t come down with the bug. Will and I shared a bottle of water on Monday and honestly there isn’t ever a day where one of my kids isn’t blowing snot on me. I really contribute my wellness (is that a word I can use here??) to eating right and Advocare. If you do any research at all you will find that sugar actually tears down your immune system. I gave up sugar over 2 months ago and I haven’t been sick once! That coupled with some good quality Advocare vitamins has really made a difference… least I think so.

So Day 4…..ummmm, not a lot going on today. Thankfully I did not have to drink a fiber shake this morning……I really think those things may be the reason that there “isn’t much going on” if you catch my drift. I’m sore from some heavy weights on Tuesday night but I’m planning to do some light cardio tonight. Whoever says they like the burn has clearly never been so sore they can’t get up off the toilet. OMG….I thought I was going to have to sleep there last night because I seriously couldn’t get my legs to move!

Sorry there isn’t more exciting stuff going on…..I wish I had some kind of amazing review for you but I’m only on day 4. I’m trying to stay motivated (I think I really built this challenge up in my head) and keep plugging along. I keep reminding myself that I’ve come a long way and that I feel great….those two things should be the most important part of any diet/healthy lifestyle anyway. So here is to kicking butt in the gym tonight and moving on to Day 5!!

Just a quick picture of my girl…..she reminds me every day why I work so hard to be healthy!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day 3 of The 24 Day Challenge

I promised an update on the 24 day challenge and I’m sorry it is just now happening. My little guy got struck with a stomach bug so this mommy has been busy, busy, busy! Now I’m hoping that the rest of the family stays well because I’m really not ready to spend the next 2 weeks mopping up puke! So…..I’m on day 3 of the 24 day challenge….thankfully after this morning I get a few days off from the fiber drink. YUCK! Actually it doesn’t taste horrible but it gives me incredible heartburn. I’m not sure if anyone experiences this but I haven’t had heartburn like this since I was pregnant. I’ve been eating pepcid like candy so I’m hoping they are calorie free! Since I’m 3 days in let me list the pros and cons so far. Pros: I feel great… really clear and motivated I’ve had no cravings for sugar….in fact I tried to drink a Diet Dr. Pepper yesterday and it tasted awful. I won’t be doing that again! My workouts seem to be more intense….this is a great thing in my book My skin seems to be glowing I feel like I’m shrinking…..this could all be in my head but hey I’m not sad about feeling smaller I have TONS of energy! Cons: This fiber drink gives me heartburn…..oh wow! I’m worried that I won’t do as well as others because I am not eating all the meals/snacks. I eat when I’m hungry…..took me a long time to get here and I’m not going to make myself eat because a book says I should The program is a little intimidating….there are a lot of pills but I’m sure once I get in the routine it will be a piece of cake! So that is where I’m at today… 3. Oh and before I forget (or maybe I just waited this long on purpose) my official starting weight was 199. Ughhhh, that is so hard to admit but I’ve come a long way and I’m proud of my hard work. I’m also not beating myself up about gaining weight in the first place….those pounds were worth it and I would gain 300 pounds if it was necessary to get my babies. Okay back to work for me……(((HUGS)))