Monday, July 21, 2014

Life Renewed

I've kept most of this off this main blog so far, but now I'm ready to put my fingers to writing again. I love writing, and I've so missed it.

In March, I was dealt a curve ball in being diagnosed with MoyaMoya disease. The name of the disease is Japanese, and means "puff of smoke". It is a problem with the blood flow in your brain where if untreated you could have a stroke. I was really showing signs of this disease when I had the TIA in January 2013, but no one connected it until March 2014.

I've successfully survived two brain surgeries since then, and I'm starting to pick up the pieces. My first surgery was on May 1st, and before I had the second surgery -- I was feeling amazingly good. Much better than I can remember feeling in a very long time. The second surgery was on July 8th, so I'm working toward being back to where things were a couple of weeks ago or even better.

I feel like since we moved to Memphis in June 2011, I've been in one long tailspin of something eerily like depression. Possibly even longer. It has been a rough road to a spot where I never thought I'd get to... I mean I think I felt better in between my surgeries than I did since high school. My energy level was impressive to me, and I couldn't be more grateful for my doctor.

There is so much life in me -- and I'm going to need it. I've put a lot on my plate with homeschooling, but I feel like it's important for our family. I've got two little boys that have very different needs, but both are remarkably deserving of everything I can give them. I've got an ADHD wild man that needs some extra love and attention, and at the same time a 3.5 year old who is basically already a reader.

I hope that this is just the start of me being able to restart my life on many levels. So many things have been on hold for a longtime, and now it's time for me to shine. I've got businesses that need to get started, books that need to be finished writing, school to plan, classrooms to set up, and so much more. I hope that while the dust settles around us, you will come along with us for the ride of our lives.

It's also time for us to find a new church home for our family. We have been coasting along since we moved, and we are ready for these boys to make some friends. I am excited about getting out there an into a church home again -- a lot of our beloved friends have found new places to worship since we left Cypress in 2011... and it's time for us to figure out where we fit. I am still not a fan of the mega-church concept for us, so we will be looking small first and go from there.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Freezer Meal Momma

Things here are getting crazier by the day... So I desperately wanted to be able to throw something in the crockpot and forget about dinner until it was time to serve it. I found just the thing - and 16 different meals or more depending on your family!! 

Wildtree makes it all so easy! You can customize it based on your family's needs and desires - if there is a protein you don't eat, swap it out for something else. If there is a vegetable you don't like, swap it out. You eat only organic, Wildtree is all organic - add your organic proteins & veggies and you are set. You are Gluten Free -- most of these products are too! 

I bought this kit and the 50% off add on for this month's promotion -- and BAM -- I have all of these ready to go in the crockpot straight from the freezer! Contact me to get information about our crockpot plans and add ons for this month!

Crockpot Chicken Posole
Chicken & Tomatoes with Garlic Cream Sauce
Flank Steak Fajitas
Mediterranean Chicken
Fajita Pulled Pork
Shredded Chicken Burritos
Primavera Meat Lasagna
Chili con Cerveza
Chicken & Veggies in Gravy
Absolutely Onion Pot Roast

Extra Recipes:
Italian Meatballs
Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes & Feta
Chicken Pot Pie
Sweet Baked Chicken
And some extra side dish recipes

Add on meals: (available in March at 1/2 off!)
Italian Chicken Sandwiches
Super Sloppy Joes (sooo yummy!!)
Wicked Slow Cooker Chicken
Outrageous Meatballs
Stuffed Cabbage
Absolutely Onion Pot Roast

I love that the grocery list and recipes come with each of these plans for you... It makes life so much easier! The kit came in on a Tuesday - so I did the shopping over the weekend then we prepared everything Tuesday night after John got home from work. 

It took us about 2 hours to get it all done, but each of those chicken recipes calls for 2 lbs of chicken -- so we split them into 2 meals. Which means we ended up with -- 32 meals roughly, and with the supplies you get... You can make most of the meals twice!

There are 3 different crockpot menus that could be used -- and the add on kit is good only for March at the 1/2 price deal -- it's an add on if you spend $50. 

Here is everything all ready for the freezer! Such a blessing I found this company just before we started going through this ordeal.

God was in the details here, without a doubt!
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

MoyaMoya - Finally a Name

You know that moment when you finally have a name for what you've been feeling that confirms you aren't crazy... but at the same time it's scary as hell because it's truly a serious condition? Well, I hope you don't ever know that feeling -- but it is both comforting and frightening at the same time.

I recently experienced this - less than a month ago, I was sitting at home and received a phone call that would change the course of life for sometime to come. I wasn't brought in to the office to receive such news... but my former doctor's nurse called me to tell me that I was diagnosed with MoyaMoya Disease.

It is rare, but explains so much about what has been going on with me since January 2013. While I have had it longer than that, it's when things started to change. I had my TIA in January 2013, and was released from the hospital not thinking that there was much to follow up on. I was told that if I kept my blood pressure in range there was nothing to lead them to believe anything would be a problem in the future. In truth, that was completely wrong -- my blood pressure was only a minor detail in the process. 

I had no idea that a water challenge among friends would lead us down this path, but I'm glad it did. On December 30, 2013... I started a water challenge with a group of fabulous ladies and dropped all caffeine from my diet. It lead to 26 out of 31 days in January 2014 having debilitating headaches. I went to see a neurologist (a whole story for another post) -- but she decided to do a repeat MRI to see how things were looking in my brain. A week later, I learned it was abnormal and further testing was needed. Another week later, I learned of the MoyaMoya diagnosis.

I had heard of MoyaMoya before because my cousin's daughter had been treated for it roughly a year ago, and is doing great... but I knew it was serious. I knew she had brain surgery for the condition, but that things now are going well for her. What I wasn't sure about was the difference between having it as a child vs being an adult. I also wasn't aware that you could have it on both sides and require two brain surgeries.

I know that now, because that is what I'm facing at the moment. I've heard how bad it is from Stanford, and have met with a surgeon here in Houston as well. Going to Stanford would mean being in California for a month, and away from my kids/family/friends/comfort zone for the entire surgery process. Having the surgery here would spread it out a little more and we think make it logistically a bit easier to deal with.

None of the decisions we are making are anything we thought we'd be dealing with, but we are facing it while navigating what we think and pray will be best for our family. We are writing our wills, because we've needed to for a while -- but something about brain surgery makes it more imminent at the moment. We have met with a couple of different doctors to get different opinions, now we move forward with our choices.

I believe we have landed on a surgeon, and will be staying in Houston where our entire support system (give or take a few) is within 4 hours of us. The plan right now is that I will be having a cerebral angiogram next Thursday in the afternoon to look more in depth at what is going on in my brain as well as to look for donor arteries that can be used to do a direct bypass on each side of my brain. From there, we will set up surgeries that will be 6-8 weeks apart.

This article came out yesterday just before we went to meet the doctor that we are planning to use -- so I wanted to share it with you as well.

I'm hosting fundraisers for myself, because these procedures aren't going to be cheap -- and anything I can do to take some burden/stress off of John right now makes me at least feel like I'm a little bit in control of my own life.

Scentsy (new spring catalog!!!)
Wildtree (Simple. Healthy. Dinner. is a good new program OR if you're interested in a freezer meal plan, contact me and I'll get you a menu together)
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The YaYa's

Things have been crazy, and I've got some news to document here on the blog... but I want to wait until Friday to put it out there so that I can understand more about it to explain it fully. In the mean time, I want to share with ya'll something that has been a huge blessing in my life.

In my adult years, I have struggled with finding a good core group of friends that would be the type of ladies that I could count on in times of need. You know the ones that step up when tragedy strikes or ladies that are there to celebrate the good times with you as well. The ones that you can call in the middle of the night if you needed something. They are rare.

I hear about ladies that have "besties" or "BFFs" -- I just haven't really felt like I've had those in a while, there are a couple of ladies that I love dearly... but life gets in the way sometimes and we aren't as close as we used to be.

Insert the YaYas -- like the movie only, it's real.

One of my friends who is in the middle of the photo on the right side, started this group. Her mother has been involved in one of these groups since she was young, and they have a wonderful time together. So she started one of her own! I'm so thrilled that she did!

We have a Facebook group to be able to share information and even invite new friends if we want to. Initially she made sure that she invited people to be a part of it, and that each of them would know at least one other person in the group. For instance, you see me here on the left of the picture and another friend next to me -- we went to church together along with J.

Out of about 20 people in the group right now, the 5 of us made it to the first meeting. It is set for every second Saturday of the month at 7PM... so that makes it easy. We meet at a restaurant and have a few other special things planned.

June and December will have special things tied to them - in June we are going to meet at someone's home and have a Favorite Things Birthday celebration. The plan is that we will get together to celebrate everyone's birthday at one time, and do a Favorite Things exchange. You pick one thing that you just can't live without and bring one for each person attending - then you go home with a little something from each person. Then in December we will have a Christmas party -- which may involve a white elephant exchange or an ornament exchange or something... or who knows we might do something else.

We've thrown around ideas about doing secret sister things... but we've also added a cookbook to the plan too. At each meeting we are all going to bring recipes to the meetings, a different category each meeting... and Molly is going to put it all together into a cookbook for us.

We eventually would like to start traveling together... and just generally share in life's journey together. I am so honored and thrilled to be doing this with such wonderful ladies. I personally am grateful because I'm about to go through a big health journey, and knowing that they'll have my back if I need it is comforting. Also having my family around makes it so much easier to know that I'm close to family who will also be around for us as well.

As they say, this is the start of a beautiful friendship...
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Open Letter, Four Years

Four years ago, we showed up at the hospital to become adoptive parents to a little girl. Ultimately, this would become one of those defining moments in life - where you see what you're made of under the most difficult of circumstances. This baby girl ended up not being placed in our care, but being kept by her mother. I'd like to share with you some thoughts that I wish I could send directly to her mother.

Dearest Friend,

I want to wish our girl a very Happy Birthday. I still think of her as a part of my heart, so I hope you don't mind me sharing in your love of her. My prayer for her is that she is happy and healthy. That all of your children are. I sincerely hope that you are able to care for your three girls, and any children that may have come along in the four years since we met.

I pray that our girl gets plenty of love from your whole family, and is able to grow to her fullest happy self. My hope would be that she is able to go to school and fulfill whatever dreams she might have for herself. Whether that be a doctor, lawyer, dancer, teacher, athlete, mother... whatever it is, I hope that she is supported and able to reach for the stars. The same goes for you. At the time, four years ago you were back in school trying to finish a program to better your ability to support your family. I sincerely hope that you were able to finish that, and that your circumstances have improved.

Above all else, I hope that you got my letter back then and that you don't hold on to any feelings from that time. I can't possibly imagine what you must have been going through in the hospital or the days before it. My heart can't fathom having to make a choice like that, but know that you were selfless in choosing us to potentially raise your child. Even though you chose to keep her, I know that you were just trying to make the best decision you could under difficult circumstances.

May God have given you peace in your heart over your decision. Honestly, I know you were scared and life comes at you very fast sometimes. I have thought of both of you every year on her birthday, and many other times. It wasn't long after she was born that I did become a mother - or maybe in a lot of ways, I did become a mother that morning... even though I didn't leave the hospital with a baby in my arms. I cried a lot, but I also put my faith and hope for your family & mine in the hands of God.

I'll never forget meeting you and your older girls at McDonald's in the days just before giving birth to our girl. I fell in love with your heart and spirit as I did with the sweet girl that would become my son's birthmother. I would have treasured that chance to be able to mentor you and get to follow along in the journey of your life.

Keep your head high. Trust in the Lord. Know that we love you and wish nothing but the best for all of you.

Forever in my heart,
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