Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

I don't like my grandmother.  yep.  i said it.  The words "don't like" is putting it mildly.  those of you that know me already know this.  One thing I have learned as I'm getting older, is to  forgive.  get over it.  move on.
So its been close to 5 years since I've seen her the last time (before that it had been like 10-15 years). Her name is Jane.  She has Alzheimers now and dementia.  She doesn't recognize her own kids much less her grandkids that she never sees.  She's 94 years old.  Now that I've had my last child (and as far as I know, Mason is and will be her very last great grandchild from all the cousins combined) I figured she should at least meet them all.  Even if she doesn't recognize us.  But yes, I made my effort.  Nothing to write about really -- but had to document for my kids sake that yes, they all met her at one time.  Here is a pic of her 2 out of 3 children, 3 out of 6 grandchildren, and 7 out of 11 great grands.

Let me do a word vomit summing up the rest of the past month:

stomach virus circulated each member of our family THREE times.  Christmas shopping.  Christmas cards.  Northside Fundraiser and chaperone.  Accent Open House.  Hair Appts.  Field Trips.  Wrap ALL of the presents before our TN trip.  Sunday School class Christmas party.  Matt and I won the costume photo booth contest for dressing up like Caitlyn and Bruce Jenner!  But sorry, can't share the picture because its THAT bad!  Hilarious though.  Dr. Appts.  Christmas class parties x 3 kids.  Christmas Program at the Preschool.  Teacher gifts.  Pack x 6 people for TN trip.  Gingerbread houses.  Reindeer food.  Make cookies for Santa.  Book Fair board.  Mati Claire tied for 3rd place in that!  Orthodontist and dentist appts.  Teething baby.  Very little sleep for both of us.  The Elf on the Shelf not helping matters.  Matt works nights.  Cook for all of the above parties.  Did I mention the stomach virus loved our house this past month?  A normal 7 hour drive to TN turned into a 10 hour drive with the kids because of holiday traffic and road construction.  Allergy/sinus crud for several of us thanks to the 'Sip's weather -- 85 degrees on Christmas Eve!  I'm really really really tired.

I have never been so glad to wake up this Christmas morning with everyone home and well (other than Mason's teething pains).  The picture above got me thinking.  Its been OVER 5 years and its still not a "complete" picture with the other cousins and grandkids not in it.  I know one day my kids will be grown and move away.  I hope and pray we don't go 5+ years without seeing them.  Even if its not at Christmas, I hope all the kids will visit at least once a year at the same time!  I was reminded that some of my friends don't have their babies with them this Christmas.  Several babies went to Heaven this past year and I am grateful for every second I have with mine.

Its not about the presents.  Its about getting together and having a good time with family.  Its about first Christmases.  Its about the traditions you make.  My favorite decorations in my house are the stockings that my other grandmother made me and can't be bought.  Above all, remembering the real reason we celebrate = JESUS.  Happy Birthday, Jesus!

"Who are you???"   
This toy is suppose to work on body control and motor skills.   
Don't be fooled -- its not real.  "PurrfectPets"  is awesome and truly the perfect pet.  

Our Christmas card picture this year.  Dalton Lane photographer.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Heavy Hitter

Thanksgiving wasn't much of a break... and its hard to find something to be thankful for when you're cleaning up vomit and diarrhea every single day of the break.  Stomach bug hit our house hard.  Just passing it from one person to the next.  One child even got it twice (after days of being fine in between).

I went to the dermatologist for my annual checkup.  After getting slammed in the face by a harsh laser for scar tissue removal from my skin cancer (think of the hardest hitting rubber band popping you in the nose a thousand times), a marble sized cyst removed from under my arm, 4 stitches later, a black eye from the laser, and $500 less... again, finding it hard to be thankful and desperately looking for the Christmas spirit.

So then I notice my throat is hurting.  Hmm... thought it was just sinus drainage.  But then I remembered the last time I had a sore throat that caused a major psoriasis flareup 3 years ago.  (Strep is a trigger for that).  Anyway, I am THANKFUL TO HAVE A HUBBY WHO IS A DOCTOR AND CAN WRITE ME A PRESCRIPTION!  I asked Matt to err on the side of caution and call me in an antibiotic (fyi, if you catch the strep early enough it CAN prevent it from spreading and possibly decrease the severity if you're lucky).  So I started my antibiotic and felt great for 10 days.

The day after I finished it, I noticed red spots on my neck and chest.  Ugggghhhh.  By that night, it had spread to arms, legs, and torso.  I fully expected to look like my all time worst by the next morning, but to my complete surprise the spots actually looked somewhat better the next day???  Still there, but not enflamed or itching as bad.  I make my appointment with the dermatologist AGAIN expecting to start one of the new immune system depressants (Enbrel, Humira, Stelara, etc).  Within 3 days, the psoriasis had gotten worse and then almost completely gone!  All I could imagine was Clint Eastwood saying "Do ya feel lucky punk? Well, do ya?"    YES I DO!    After having my last flare-up completely clear up when I got pregnant with Merritt, I have no doubt that my breastfeeding Mason has helped again (keeping the pregnancy hormones up!) on top of the antibiotics.

My psoriatic-arthritis has reached an all-time high.  I'm 36 and can't walk more than 1/2 mile without my knees feeling like they are being stabbed with a knife.  My elbows throb in pain while I wash my hair.  Ankles, hips, and wrists hurt depending on what I'm doing.  I tend to find exercises that don't involve walking, running, or stairs.  Elliptical and Pilates seem to work for me - which I will get back to when I'm done nursing Mason.

Anyway - all that to say -- I will be starting some new treatment in the near future.  I'm a little terrified of trying this.  Mason is on a countdown to being weaned and then I have to make my decision. Being a pharmacist is sort of a curse when I know TOO much about drugs.  Ignorance is bliss people!

On top of all the physical pain lately, can I just tell you how much Merritt drives me insane??? I'm her mom so I can say that, right?  I love her to death, but ooohhhh myyyy goooodnessss.  Make.her.stop.  I really don't know where she comes from.  Certainly doesn't remind us of anyone (other than the fact that she looks like her Daddy).  She changes clothes AT LEAST 5 times a day, and normally wears multiple outfits...all at one time.  Yep, just layers them on because she's weird like that.  Usually different pieces from different outfits.  She loves her accessories to a scary degree.  I imagine her on one of those intervention reality shows where they tell her she has to sell all of her stuff one day and the high pitched screaming will be heard around the world.  Her vocabulary (and correct context) has reached a new level also.  Anyone who says she needs speech therapy needs a kick to the groin.  We need a therapist to get her to STOP talking.  Or a therapist to listen to her rants, because my ears are about to fall off.  So this week I was thinking that maybe... just maybe... we were beginning to round the corner from the terrible 2's and 3's.  She went 2 days where I would actually use the word GOOD to describe her.  Should have known that it would come back and bite me in the butt.  Yesterday, she cut her own hair.  2 good chunks missing out of the front that I'm pretty sure won't reach in a ponytail anymore.  Today, she is eating crayons.

November and December are proving to be hard hitters this year.  Is it January yet? Nope!  Its December 5th and we don't even have our tree decorated yet!

On a more positive note, we had pictures made with an amazing photographer in Tennessee back in July and I am just now getting the proofs back!  She's worth the wait though!  Here are just a FEW of my faves.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

October Moveober

I think I mention this every year.  October and May are quite possibly my least favorite months.  Yes its suppose to be all great and fun for the kids, but how can you actually enjoy it with them when its crazy busy and you get no sleep ???

Whoever decides the school calendar should NEVER EVER EVER EVER put Book Fair, Red Ribbon Week, 50's Day/party, Fall Festival/Halloween/Trunk-or-Treat parties, Fundraisers, Field Trips, Behavior Rewards parties, all on top of non-school related activities including more Halloween parties, birthday parties, church Fall Festivals, normal extra-curricular activities (ballet, soccer, etc), not to mention its "sick" month where allergies and viruses are rampant.
BECAUSE lets face it:  most parents do not help in the public schools.  For those of us who DO want to help... we can not do it all.  We can't be in multiple places at the same time.  We all generally have more than 1 kid.  SO in the future we will be learning to Just.Say.No.  Which we all hate.  Which will mean less help and therefore less fun for the kids. They don't like hearing that word and we don't like saying it.  (I'm speaking for several moms here.)   Attempt to space all this out over the month, not squeeze it all into ONE WEEK!

ok.  rant over.  mainly because its November now.  and I can breathe again.

Halloween just isn't what it used to be.  Most people don't go trick-or-treating because no one trusts anyone.  Trunk-or-treating is nice when the churches don't cancel it because of rain every year.  But lets face it, trunk-or-treat doesn't have the same appeal as knocking on a stranger's door begging for candy.  In the 8 years that we've been here, our church has canceled their Fall Festival at least 3 times that I can remember.  Nowadays, everyone has Fall Festivals anyway - what happened to haunted houses and creepy witches?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not Satanic or into demon worship or anything like that.  Last year, I was pregnant with Mason and beyond physically and emotionally exhausted.  So I opted out of throwing our annual Halloween party and taking a break.  I never heard the end of it.  I promised the kids I would do it this year and that I would persuade the adults to get dressed up too.  I do it for the kids.  I do it because times aren't the same as they were when I was growing up.  If I don't throw a Halloween party, who will??  I got smart this year though.  My only rule was if you come, you must bring food.  I took care of the "big" items and drinks.  Seeing as most of my friends have a minimum of 3 kids, I just can't do all the decorating PLUS ALL the food it takes to feed that many people.  It did start raining this year about half way through, but I think they all had a good time anyway.  I do an outdoor movie, this year we rented a jumper, food, candy, and a hayride.  The kids had a blast I think.  They were surrounded by their own friends and family, not a bunch of strangers at foreign-church's trunk-or-treat (which I get is a ministry opportunity).  We weren't knocking on stranger's doors.  Hopefully it took all the worries out of the parents as well as the kids and everyone had a good time.  Looking forward to next year!!! I'm thinking Elvis might be making an appearance (maybe).

If your picture didn't show up on Fb, its because my sister said she felt weird taking someone's picture if she didn't know them.  So please don't be offended. She tried to take everyone's picture for me and I must say I need to hire her from now to be the official every-party photographer!

I've had several friends come back and tell me that our Halloween party WAS their child's Halloween this year.  And that their kids' were still talking about how much fun they had.  Our church canceled their event for Halloween night again, plus it was raining cats and dogs so no one went trick-or-treating.  Every penny I spent and time spent on decorating and setting up... was worth it to hear that.

Having said all that, I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking.  Its been crazy busy and I'm very much looking forward to school being out for the upcoming holidays.

P.S.  Oh!  Why was I dressed up as a cop? My friend Amy and I have an ongoing inside joke about us being "Mom of the year" (which we totally aren't) and also one of us being "Good cop vs. Bad cop".  I usually refer to Amy being the Good cop because she is the "nicer mom" of the two of us!  I'm mean mommy and I joke that I'm the "bad cop." I really didn't want the kids coming in the house during the party unless they had to go to the bathroom... I joked that I would "arrest anyone trespassing on private property."  Hence...the cop costume.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Hearts Hurting

So many people we know or know-of are battling terminal conditions.  A 31 year old mother of one is battling a rare type of untreatable liver cancer.  A 5 year old little boy passed away yesterday from cancer.  A sweet lady in my Bible study who has 2 teenage daughters passed away over the weekend from cancer.  Several O babies passing in the last few weeks.  My heart is so heavy and it hurts for these families.

When I'm so angry at Merritt for being a typical 3 year old, I need to remind myself that she is HERE.  Yes, she is slow to potty train.  Could be her stubborn strong willed self or it could be O related.  who knows.  She tells me her tummy hurts almost every day lately.  I don't know what to do or even say when she's still eating and going to the bathroom as usual.  There's nothing I can do for a tummy ache if she's doesn't have a stomach bug.

I haven't really lost anyone that I've been super close to.  I haven't lost a parent or child (thank you Lord!) - so I can't relate to the pain they must be feeling.  I have journeyed to the dark side for a bit.  Don't care to ever go there again.  But through it I truly understood the Abraham and Isaac story.  Sacrificing your child for God.  I (finally) had reached a point that I was ACCEPTING (wasn't happy about it but definitely accepting) of the fact that Merritt might go HOME sooner rather than later.  That peace people tell you about…. it comes one day.  Knowing you will see them again and knowing they are in a far better place and not in pain anymore.  'Death, where is your sting?'  I finally "got it."  I finally understood what that REALLY meant.  I am glad she's still here with us, and lately I have to hug her a little harder and more often.  I started watching her again after she falls asleep… just thinking how precious she is.

I went to college with this mom.  I'm not friends with her now, but I applaud her for her strength and ability to put this out there.  I can only hope I would have these words when I am in a similar situation.

So after you've dried your tears from reading that… I will rejoice in the happiness surrounding us lately.   Several new babies being born.  Family weddings.  Planning vacations.  Rejoicing in our faith in God and knowing what a mighty Healer He is!  Seeing several people with stage IV cancer now proving to be cancer-free.

and maybe (just maybe) because he's the baby - but this one ALWAYS put a smile on my face and we are celebrating 6 months of having this one leveling out the playing field for us.  I love my sweets!  I love love love 6 months of age!  It is my favorite age so far of parenting!  He ends our baby streak with a high level of cuteness and happiness!

in a milk coma

i will never tire of this face

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

School Showdowns

I am going to try to blog more!  Not sure if it will actually happen or not, seeing as I practically live in my car now that school has started.  For 2 reasons:

1)  I printed my blog "book" for the past 3 years (this is my second book to print) and my family has had such a fun time looking back at all the pictures and reading some posts.  Its like a family scrapbook in digital form!

2)  I get emails from newly-diagnosed O moms.  So I know they find my blog from their research and I want them to know I'm still here for them.  Most of my posts now won't have anything to do with omphaloceles but I do try to update the tab labeled "Merritt's Story" every few months so its current with her age.

Onto my real post for today:

1) Mati Claire is in 3rd grade this year at Northside.  This is her first year to have more than one teacher.  She was hesitant to get a male teacher but after meeting Mr. Day, she is thrilled and loves him!  Mrs. Renacker is also awesome!  So far each year seems to be a "step up" in the amount of work, homework, level of difficulty… i guess as it should be.  Let me have a mommy brag moment.  Mati Claire makes my job as a parent so easy when it comes to school.  I LOVE this about her.  She says I don't verbally acknowledge this as I do the others, so I am going to try harder to let her know how proud she makes me.  She sets her own alarm clock (and actually gets up on her own), she gets dressed by herself, usually fixes her own breakfast, and doesn't give me any trouble when it comes to homework.  She loves to read and she is my overachiever.  She is the BEST big sister.  As much as she didn't want "mommy to be pregnant again"  she absolutely adores Mason now.  She entertains him while I cook dinner and knows how to make him laugh!  Again, she makes my job as a mom easy and I am so grateful for it!

She is still taking ballet but says she wants to quit after this year.  We will see.  She is NOT athletic in any way, but she wants to try horseback riding (thanks to my sister who snuck that idea in) and possibly tennis?  She loves swim lessons but she doesn't want to join the swim team… just loves taking lessons and perfecting the techniques at her own speed.

2) Mattox-man!  He started Kindergarten at Clinton Park!   He is not enjoying having to wake up early and his first words on the second day were "we have to go AGAIN?"  He gets social anxiety and said he got really nervous in the cafeteria.  Hopefully he'll get used to that soon.

3) Merritt.  wow.  how in the world did she start 3 year old Kindergarten at preschool this year?  She will go Mon-Fri for 3 hours each day (play days are optional and I can leave her longer if she wants).  She is what I call my high-maintenance child.  We couldn't leave the house until her bow, her shoes, and her clothes all matched…and she informed me that I forgot to paint her toenails…oh, the tragedy!  she is all drama and all girl.  She got a good friend of mine, Mrs. Jessica, as her teacher so we're all happy about that!

We are working HARD on potty training.  I had signed her up for ballet this year, but I'm not sure how this is going to workout in that regard.  We may be pulling her out of ballet later.

4) Mason.  Mason Paul!  Mason P!!!  sweet sweetness rolled into 15 pounds of baby fat that I could eat with a spoon.  i want to love on him and hold him and tickle him til the sun comes up.  if he isn't asleep, he is smiling usually.  very happy baby who gets plenty of entertainment from the older kids. he rarely fusses.  someone asked me "How do you get one of those?"  my response was "perhaps you have to have 4?"  because he is the first to be this calm, happy, and content ALL the time!  He is sleeping at least 8 hours at night now (usually from 9-5 or 8-4)  but I don't mind when he wakes up because he usually goes right back to sleep.  He is going to grow up thinking his name is Sweetness.  He is the cherry on top… my sugar in my tea…he is my cake that I get to eat too...yeah, you get the idea!  Blessed doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about him.  When I have days that I question why on earth we had 4 kids……. I just look at #4 and wonder how on earth we couldn't?!?!

Don't you love the way he sleeps?  #holdemup 

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