Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sean!

Today is a special day!  Today my middle kid turns 9!  I can hardly believe it's been 9 years, but it has!
Though I do not have a picture of his ultrasound (I have it somewhere, but was unable to locate it for this post), I do remember the day I found out I was expecting and how we told everyone.  We told everyone at Stephen's first birthday party (I'd found out about a month before and it was torture keeping it a secret) by having him open up a present that was a bib that proclaimed "Big Brother" (I have pictures of that, too, just can't seem to find them on this PC).  Everyone smiled and cried (happy tears) and hugged.  It was a moment I will never forget.
More than that, I will never forget the day Sean was born...

Birth stats

Sean was born when I was at 37 weeks gestation in the wee hours of the morning via c-section after being in labor for most of the day the day before.  Apparently, he was too wide in the shoulder department, so he wouldn't drop into position, so there was nothing else to be done.  I was just happy he was being born! :)

NICU, 2004
However, shortly after Sean was born, we found out that he was not only jaundice but had underdeveloped lungs (The doctor's figured he was actually closer to 36 weeks gestation vs. 37 weeks and that's why he had the underdeveloped lungs).  He spent a week in the NICU before he got to come home, which was one of the hardest things I've ever been through, torn between being at the hospital with him and at home with my 1 1/2 year old.  Fortunately, my mother was able to stay with us for that week, and we could go back and forth as we needed to, knowing that Stephen was being taken care of.

2004, 2 months old
When he did come home, he was just like any other happy, healthy baby.  We could tell from the get-go that he had a sense of humor and a lot of personality.  I mean, just look at that face!

First Birthday, 2005
He was always getting into something, being very curious (earning him the nickname of "my little monkey" because he was so much like Curious George), and never ceased to make us laugh even then. 

At Grandma Cindy's, 2006
As he grew, we saw more of his sweet side.  He has these moments when he says and does things that just touch your heart.  He wants everyone happy and that's why he jokes or gives hugs - to make you smile.

At Burger King, 2007
He has always had a love for life.  He shows me every day that you can find something to smile about.  There is never a dull moment with my Sean Boy.

Sleeping with his 2 favorite cats, 2008
He is also fiercely loyal.  You see that cat in the picture?  Not the live one, but the stuffed one?  He's had that cat from day 1 and loved it nearly to death (it still exists).  He cherishes it to pieces, just like those who are a part of his life.  That means that his brother is his best bud, that he loves his mommy and daddy to death, and his little sister means the world to him.  I am in awe of his ability to love.  He inspires me every day with it.
Birthday at Preschool, 2009
He has always loved the simple things.  When I came to school for his birthday, he couldn't stop grinning!  It always makes his day when we show him that he's special and important to us.  It doesn't take much - it doesn't have to be that expensive item - he just wants our time.  It's amazing to see him light up when we show him how much we care, not just say it.  I think we could all learn from that, don't you agree?

Christmas, 2010
He is also very creative!  He designed all these cookies himself (and tried to eat them all, too!).  He is a bit shy sometimes and unsure of where to begin, but once he starts, watch out!  This kid is going places! :)  He never ceases to surprise with his stories and art.  He's a whole lot smarter than I think even he realizes.

Car Show, 2011
He is also my fearless one!  Nothing is gonna stop this kid!  He is willing and ready to try it all...and that's just as good as it is scary.  It is my and my hubby's job to make sure he knows when to plunge on ahead and when to hold back.  We don't want to hold him back from trying new things; we just want to keep him from doing the dangerous, immoral things.  Thankfully, with his big heart, he seems to know the difference so far.  Prayerfully, he always will and will always want to serve the Lord the way he does today.

Christmas, 2012
He has his share of struggles, with reading and writing especially, but what a long way he's come!  He amazes me with his resilience and he's willingness to try.  He gets scared like all of us do, but he will still try.  That inspires me and puts me to shame all at once.  How I wish I could take risks like this little man can sometimes!

Enjoying his birthday smoothie, 2013

Sean, my sweet, sweet boy, you will never know how much your mommy (and daddy and siblings) love you!  I am so glad that God brought you into our lives!  You have taught me so much about myself and about how to love.  You have challenged me to think outside my box and my comfort zone and how to see things differently than I always have.  Thank you for that.  Thank you for being you.  You are smarter than you know, even though you struggle, and you are brave and true...and you will never know how proud that makes me! 
You are growing up to be an amazing, hilariously funny, sweetheart of a man who loves the Lord, and I pray that you always want to serve Him!  Keep your eyes on the Lord, turn to Him in all things and He will never let you down!
Happy 9th Birthday, Sean!
May it be as amazing as you are! 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring Has Sprung...FINALLY! (And A Health Update)

Some birds enjoying the food finds that come with melting snow in our yard!

What a glorious sight!  Sunshine and melting snow!  I am so thrilled, I could shout and/or sing...and may or may not have done so but refuse to divulge, claiming my 5th Amendment rights. ;)

The warmer temperatures are a welcome relief, though I know we are by no means officially out of the woods where snow and cold are concerned until the end of May (though my first year in Michigan as a child we did get a dusting the morning of my 9th birthday in early June!), but the near future looks promising and super cold is turning into the exception not the rule.  We are now in the 40s and near 50s, and that has done wonders for my spirits and my Fibromyalgia.

Speaking of my Fibromyalgia, I haven't really given you an update in awhile on how I am doing.  I will say that it has been a horrible winter health-wise in my family in general.  We've had nasty viruses and ear infections and flu, especially when the temperatures outside were fluctuating so greatly (40s for a few days, then plummeting to teens or lower for weeks, repeat), so I am definitely glad for the change of season!  Other than that, though, spirits have been great and that's a plus and helped me out a lot.

As for me, specifically, I have noticed that the warmer the weather, the more sun, the better I do.  I am happier and have more energy.  I even got to take a short (because it was way too windy which made it cold) walk with my daughter today, and that was a blessing!  I have to tell myself to slow down a little so that I don't overdo, but I'd rather that than forcing myself to get out of bed.

My recent trip to the doctor's (which I will be having yet another new doctor since my current new one is going back to his old practice in a few months - this will make my 4th change in less than a year due to doctor's changing practices/specialties, not because I had a problem with them at all) resulted in me being able to go off my heart meds.  Going off of them has ended the dizziness I was facing and racing heart that broke through from time to time.  We are hopeful that it will stay this way and that there will be nothing further to worry about in regards to my heart for a long time. 

(For those of you who don't know, and I don't recall talking about this on my blog other than on my meds page, I have been on a heart med off and on for 10 years, consistently for about 5 years.  It was recently that my blood pressure started dropping too low and I began to suspect that the heart med was doing more harm (i.e. dizziness and heart racing episodes) than good because it is actually a blood pressure med that can help with arrhythmia when given in small doses which is why I was taking it.  The doctor agreed with my suspicions and agreed to remove it from my med list, and so far, so good.)

I am doing great with my vitamins, and my blood work shows that they are not causing any of my levels to go crazy (though he was concerned that my GFR was slightly lower than he'd like, but still in the normal range and no different than it's been for over a year and he told me to just avoid the anti-inflammatory drugs, which is hard to do when those are the only things that help my pain (and which I normally don't have to take), but I will be talking more with the new doc when I see him in June about it all.  We shall see how that goes.

My blood work also revealed that my cholesterol is high, though my ratio is excellent.  I know that my cholesterol is high mostly due to heredity (my dad is the same way - overall a little high but excellent ratio and in great health so the doctors don't worry about him too much in that regard) since I was still a little high even at my skinniest and in my best health but still had an amazing ratio.  I was told to try to get that number down, which I will be via trying to lose the weight I need to, and I will get it rechecked in June.  (I swear these doctors are vampires!  They love to get your blood, ya know? LOL :) )

My last bit of news is my hardest to share because it makes me feel ashamed.  My weight has been a horrible roller coaster since that whole possible miscarriage back in January.  I had a real time dealing with that emotionally, and therefore did not take as good of care of myself as I should have.  I don't know why it works that way, but it does, at least with me.

Anyway, my current weight is 222 (as of this morning) on my scale, which is about 4 lbs. heavier than my doctor's scale, so 218.  That's better than where I started at (around 240-245), but not where I was (nearly 205).  I am working on being more conscious of the food that I put into my body (more natural, whole foods that follow my rules) and (now that the weather is nice) get some more exercise and fresh air.  I think that will make a world of difference. :)

Overall, though, I have learned that the cold and winter are going to be a lot harder on my emotions than I realized.  I am going to have to work hard to keep my spirits up.  I didn't realize the weather brought me down so much until it started to get warmer and I realized how much happier I felt.  Please pray that I will find a way to beat the winter blues when they come again and that I will be able to enjoy the springtime without overdoing it.  Thanks! :)

I will try to do better about keeping you all posted on how I am doing.  I needed some time to come to terms with my emotions after January, and I just wasn't ready to share.  Now I am.  I appreciate your understanding, patience and prayers through it all. :)  It means so very much to me.

How are you doing today?
Do you have anything you would like
me to pray with you about?
Do you have any questions for me? 
Feel free to comment below or send me an email.  I'd love to hear from you!

This post was submitted to:
Thankful Thursday on There's Just One Mommy

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Top 5 Tips For Traveling With Fibromyalgia (Or Other Chronic Condition)

A picture of a bridge from a vacation we took in 2009.

We just got back last night from a 4 day vacation - the longest vacation we have taken since probably the above picture was taken, and definitely the longest since my diagnosis.  It dawned on me when we got back that a lot of people wonder how a chronic condition, especially one involving pain with so many trigger factors, affects vacation or travel.  Truth be told, it can make a huge difference, especially if you are used to being a go-go-go type vacationer, so I decided to share with you My Top 5 Tips For Traveling With Fibromyalgia (Or Other Chronic Condition) today.
~* Tip One *~
Pack with your condition in mind. 
Make sure that you have that extra blanket or jacket to help keep you warm if heat helps you from pain or helps your pain.  Remember to keep a blanket and/or pillow handy for the car/plane ride (or make sure they are provided), too.  Catching a chill and being uncomfortable on the trip can lead to aches that just make the travel portion not so fun. 
Think about your triggers (food, exercise, rest, etc.), and pack the things you need to keep your triggers at bay, even if that means you bring your own snacks or buy them when you get there or if you have to bring a yoga mat to do some stretching or whatever it is you need to do to keep as pain-free as possible.  Don't be embarrassed - this is life and don't make excuses or feel bad for it.  Those who love you will understand, and if you are going alone, you need to make time for you to feel your best.  It is better to take the time to do things right for your body so that you don't end up in severe pain later. 
Also make sure that you have your medications, vitamins and supplements with you.  Vacation is no time to skip those!
~* Tip Two *~
Stop/stretch often.
If at all possible, get up and stretch your legs every hour to hour and a half, especially if you are driving.  This helps keep you from cramping up or getting stiff or experiencing other types of aches and pains.  We did not do this as much this time, and I do regret it today.  I was VERY stiff by the time we did stop.  My hubby did ask me if I needed to stop, and I told him no, so totally my fault here.  I will not make this mistake again. :)

~* Tip Three *~

Plan activities with your condition in mind. 
We did a lot of walking while we were gone this time, and that went surprisingly well, but I think that's because we did it in spurts, not all at once.  We would walk for no more than an hour or so, then stop and rest and/or let the kiddos play.  We didn't do hiking, we walked on flat surface which was another great thing for me.  My sister also bought food that fit more of what I needed diet-wise, and that was great (though I did overdo and eat some no-no foods and am paying for it today, but again, that's my bad, not theirs)!  We also planned for a leisurely/late morning so that late night chats/TV/movie marathons were possible. :)  I did crash one night pretty early, but they were understanding and that was a blessing and encouragement to me that they had such a great attitude about it all.
~* Tip Four *~
Eat with your condition in mind. 
I know, I know - vaca is a time to eat at abandon, right?  Wrong!  Just because it is vacation for you doesn't mean that Fibromyalgia took a vacation with you.  It is still there ready and willing to ruin things for you. 
If you can, plan on buying your own food or discuss with your host what foods you can and can't eat.  Offer to help with the food bill if it is a huge difficulty for them to buy according to your needs. 
If you plan on eating out, research the restaurants in the area and do the best you can to avoid food triggers in that respect.  We were able to go to an amazing buffet that hand some wonderful choices for me.  No, I didn't follow all of my rules, but I was able to follow most of them there, and that was a nice twist for me.  Now, I did regret not following them fully, so lesson learned, but again I was grateful that they were willing and able to help me keep my food triggers at bay. :)

~* Tip Five *~

 Do things you enjoy and avoid stress. 
I know this sounds like a no brainer, but it really is not.  To me, vacation can be so stressful, especially the packing.  This was the first time I actually had a game plan on when to make sure things were packed and how to pack and had a mental checklist of activities that would be ok to do that would still be fun for all, and I was prepared to say, "I will have to pass" if I needed to.  I even made sure that I had a book and some Kindle games ready just in case.  Knowing in advance that I had back-up plans and that I had an idea of what needed to be done and when was so stress relieving I can't even explain it to you. 
If you can leave the packing up to someone else, do it - I personally can only leave the loading up of the car to hubby or I freak out. LOL  I know, weird quirk, but it's true.  At any rate, if you can give it to someone else without it stressing you out worse, do it.  Do what you can to relax, and make back up plans and talk with your host (if applicable) about your limitations and expectations to help increase the fun factor and lesson the stress factor.
I hope that these tips can help you in your next vacation or traveling adventure.  I know they helped me!
What is your best tip for traveling with Fibromyalgia or other chronic condition?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

{Guest Post} My Journey With Fibromyalgia

Today I have another guest for you who will be sharing about herself, her blogs and part of her journey with Fibromyalgia with us.  Her journey has not been an easy one, but her positive attitude and strength are inspiring!
Please welcome
Tanya from The Fruitful Home
(and please leave her some comment love below)

About Me:

Hello, I’m Tanya, and I blog over at The Fruitful Home and Mothering from Day to Day. I have two wonderful teenage children and have been married for twenty-one years. Some of my interests are scrap booking, decorating, crafts, and reading. I also enjoy connecting with others and encouraging them.

About My blogs:
About The Fruitful Home: The word fruitful means conductive to productivity; causing to bear in abundance.  There are many ways to do this while living on a budget.  I am always looking for new ways to save money and make my house a home.  I don’t only want my home to be pleasing to the eye, but I want my family members to feel loved and appreciated.
My other blog is called Mothering from Day to Day.  It is about my struggles and triumphs with living with Fibromyalgia.  I haven’t blogged over there lately, but hopefully there are still helpful and encouraging words.

My Story:

Today I wanted to share with you a little bit about my journey with Fibromyalgia.  Twenty-one years ago, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  I was a new wife and mother. My journey started shortly after the birth of my first child.  When my daughter Kaitlyn was six weeks old she became seriously ill.  We found out she had a virus called CMV.  I also had the virus.  I found out later that it may have contributed to my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  I’m sure my illness was greatly impacted by the health of my daughter and all the emotional stress that went along with that.  It’s hard sometimes for me to separate the two events.  My daughter fought hard, but lost that fight when she was only 2 ½ years old.  That was nineteen years ago.

They say stress can increase Fibro symptoms and an emotional trauma can be the thing that triggers it.  I certainly had both.   I was very blessed to have a supportive family and in-laws to help me with cleaning, hospital visits, and taking care of Kaitlyn.  It was a very difficult time to say the least.  I felt so guilty when my illness sometimes prevented me from taking care of Kaitlyn the way I wanted to. 

I now have a beautiful teenage daughter and teenage son.  Life has had its ups and downs trying to parent while having a chronic illness.  My biggest challenge is trying not to compare myself with others. I recently came across a quote that said “Comparison leads to two things: pride or discontentment.”  I’m not sure who said it, but it spoke to me.

The world can be so fast paced at times.  It doesn’t slow down for people with limitations.  When you feel like everything has been taken from you, you really learn to lean on God.  I started questioning my worth.   Scripture like Deuteronomy 14:2 started becoming more meaningful to me.  “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.   Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.”   God reminded me that our worth comes from who we are in Christ, not how much we can get done in a day.  Zephaniah 3: 17 also became a scripture that held meaning for me.  It states, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”  The fact that God takes great delight in me despite all my shortcomings and limitations comforted me.  I could picture God standing over me so lovingly and enjoying me.  Wow, the God of the universe enjoys me!  He adores me.  So many times I feel so inadequate.  I wonder if He can still use me.  The world places so much emphasis on job titles, accomplishments and rewards, than the worth and character of a person.   In the end these will not mean anything.  If God uses broken things, then I certainly qualify!

When you feel like everything has been taken away, you really learn to lean on God.  He became my everything.  I can’t say that I’m glad these things have happened to me, but I am glad for the spiritual growth and lessons I’ve learned because of it.  I don’t think I would have had that if I had been healthy.  If you are struggling with illness, or any hardship I encourage you to cling to the One who made you, and adores you!  None of your experiences or pain will be wasted!

You can connect with Tanya at the following locations:

Thanks again for joining us, Tanya!

Here's your badge, if you'd like to use it.