Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Don't get attached.  Burn out is high working this position."

"Yeah, sure, whatever," I thought to myself.  I worked with hospice patients for nearly 4 years, I can certainly handle this.

Or can I? 

The first few months was super easy.  I talked to patients all day long, saw them come to clinic every day, and yet I didn't know who was who and who had what.  It was all pretty much a blur.

But now, here I am, about 3 months in, and I am building relationships.  The title "patient" is transforming into "Mrs. ____."  I watch people be diagnosed.  I teach them what to expect during surgery.  I give them encouragement, support, and plenty of reinforcements leading up to surgery.  After surgery, I call them to see how they are doing.  I adjust their medication regimen to make sure they are comfortable.  All the things a nurse does.

But then I get the patient that completes her chemo regimen and gets word that there is disease progression.  Or the patient who was diagnosed with uterine cancer, but the CT scan picked up lesions on her lungs.  Treatment is done for her and she is now hospice.

We had TEN deaths in the last 2 weeks.  Ten.  Ten women who were all around the age of 50.  Ten women who had families that were clinging for the chance that they would be cured.

When a woman comes in and is diagnosed, her life expectancy is about 5 years.  Yes, some of the cancers are treated and we get the GREAT pleasure of referring them back to a regular gynecologist.  But this is not the norm.  The norm is watching these women fight for their lives.  They fight until the absolute end, enduring months of chemo and surgery complications.  Months of agonizing pain, nausea, and weakness that is so debilitating they can hardly function.

Someone today tried to "educate" me on vaccines and routine screening.  According to her, vaccines are equal to poison, mammograms CAUSE cancer due to radiation, and chemotherapy is asinine, due to it's degree of toxicity.  This person also claimed that cartons of milk should have a skull and crossbones on it because it is so toxic.  This person's solution?  Everyone needs to own their own cow.  Not even kidding.  I know that last part is COMPLETELY irrelevant, but I just had to share it.

I get the risks of vaccinations.  I get the complications and the rare instances that they cause damage.  Trust me.  I work in the medical field.  I GET IT.  But until you see someone endure the fight of their life, your thoughts on this become tainted.  I know what is in the vaccines I have injected into my children's bodies.  I know the risks of using antibiotics.  I know that too much radiation can cause harm.  But I also know that I will take that small risk over the alternative.

Don't get attached?  Not a chance.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Have you ever met my Allison?  No?  Well you need to.  Call me and we can set something up.

Let me talk about my girl.

She was born August 31, 2009.  She weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces.  My first words when she was delivered was, "Look at those cheeks!" 

I remember the first night alone with her in the hospital.  Jay was sleeping, but I was starting at my sweet girl.  It took everything in me to not go room to room showing off how amazing she was.  Wouldn't THAT be something?  Going into another mom's room to show her how precious MY child was? 

Being that she was my second child, I never had that sense of "WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING?!" that I did with Ethan.  Everything just fell into place.

She was a great baby.  Her biggest issue was that she always wanted to be held.  Most of the time, I was fine with that, but heaven forbid you need to do clean, eat, or use the bathroom.  Out of the question!

Her favorite things are dolls, jewelry, and Dora the Explorer.  She also thinks her big brother is pretty amazing, too, but that feeling isn't always mutual.

Allison has something about her that just stands out.  I don't know what it is.  Her smile will melt your heart (when it's not covered with a binky!) and she has such a kind, gentle mannerism to her, even when she talks, her voice is so soft, she sounds like a little fairy.

I always wanted a girl.  Allison is EVERYTHING I could ever have imagined in a daughter, and more.

I love you, my little Allie-girl!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"I read it, thinking you were talking about one of your patients, then I realized you were talking about Leslie.  Why would you post that?" -mom

I'm not sure why I posted it.  I have read the documents before, but this time I had a different set.  I had the EMS notes from that day, and I had never seen them before.

I suppose I posted it because I am working really, really hard lately at trying to find peace.  In general, and in coping with Leslie's incident.  It has been a HUGE struggle for me, but I am determined to find it.

Anyhow, reading those notes are sad and might make you gasp.  But those notes serve as a purpose of proving where we WERE and where we've COME.  And where we've COME is a long, long way.

To put it bluntly:  She shouldn't have survived that day, medically speaking.  When she was working on recovering in the hospital, my mom, dad, George, and I would toss out random "what ifs".

"If she needs 24 hour care, how will we work that out?"

"Can we get a ramp built if she comes home in a wheelchair?"

And when she failed her swallow evaluation after her NG tube was pulled, there was talk about surgically inserting a PEG tube into her belly to receive tube feedings.

"How long will she require that?  Why won't she swallow?"

"Will she talk?  Will she ever start to know who we are?"

As sad as it is to read about the factual events of that day, it is inspiring to me.  Does that make me strange?  It's inspiring because I can stop becoming frustrated with her memory loss and lack of motivation, and focus on all the things she DOES do. 

It helps.  It puts peace within my heart and mind.  It helps me to remain thankful.

And trust me.  I am very, very thankful.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pulse 155

Urgency: 1 - Resuscitation

Patient is comatose, ill appearing

Left pupil sluggish; right pupil sluggish

Patient is status post cardiac arrest and seizure.  On life support.  Treated for status epilepticus, Dilantin and benzodiazipines plus Propofol.  At risk of anoxic encephalopathy secondary to cardiac arrest.  Guarded prognosis.  Patient is unstable.

Per EMS found patient in cardiac arrest, began CPR, rhythm changed to v-fib, patient shocked x2.  Upon arrival to ER patient found to be in sinus tachycardia at 150.

On 09/20/10 at 1355 Brownstown Township Fire dispatched; went en route at 1356 and arrived on scene at 1401 with lights and sirens.

The patient was a 29 year old female found lying on classroom floor behind desk with CPR in progress by school staff; epinephrine, atropine, narcan given IVP.

1408 cardiac monitor showed asystole

1411 cardiac monitor showed ventricular fibrillation

1413 cardiac monitor showed no pulse


I wish I could say these were made up.  I wish I could say it was my own interpretation of what MAY have happened.  But I can't.  These are notes, verbatim, from the day my sister collapsed.

I say it 1,000,000,000 times and now I will make it 1,000,000,001.  She is a miracle.

How on EARTH did she survive this?

To the staff at Brownstown Middle School and the EMS workers for Brownstown Township, do not think for one single moment that I do not thank God for each of you every single day.  And I will continue to thank God for you until the day I die. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tonight I saw some familiar faces.  Faces I miss terribly.  My friends from 6. 

Unfortunately, I saw these friends because we were all at the funeral of another coworker.  Someone who was taken from this Earth way too soon. 

As I stood by the casket with two friends, the phrase, "I just can't believe it" was said over and over, in one way or another.  Which lead us to talk about how no one is immune to tragic events.  You can be in perfect health (my sister) and have life change in the blink of an eye, or you can struggle with illness, but work hard to keep yourself in the best health possible...and fall victim to tragedy.

Life is precious.  Time is precious.  You just can't take moments for granted because you just never know what may come.

My sister's incident happened about a year and a half ago, and I am just now beginning to realize why I can't move forward.  It's because I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Her incident caught me completely off guard, so now I am constantly ON guard, just ready for things to go terribly wrong.

I used to think I handled stress and sadness well.  I was strong.  I didn't need anyone to help me get through tough times.  I could do it all by myself.  Leslie's incident proved just how wrong I was.

I think the lesson I am beginning to finally learn...and today helped me realize it even more...that if you are constantly anticipating the bad, you will miss all of the good.  And there is SO much good, you just have to be open to seeing it.  I have grown very, very successful at finding the bad in every. single. situation.  In fact, I often say "one step forward, two steps back...story of my life!" 

Belinda had a beautiful life.  She had coworkers that loved her, and she equally loved them.  She had wonderful children that she adored, and you absolutely cannot forget her brand new twin grand daughters.  I have never seen someone's face light up the way Belinda's face did when she talked about those sweet babies.  It's tragic she won't get to seem them grow into women, but it's wonderful that she got to experience the excitement that I can only imagine comes with learning that twins are on the way.  There were pictures everywhere from various points in her life, and you can just feel the happiness in them.  Looking around the funeral home, the amount of love that was felt was overwhelming.  Yes, there was sadness.  And I'm sure a lot of people wondering, "Why her?  Why so soon?" ...and those questions will never be answered, unfortunately.  But if we dwell on those types of questions, that means we are turning away from all the amazing parts of who she was (and is!).

Now I am the LAST person to tell someone how to feel after tragedy.  Let me make that perfectly clear.  I have hit the lowest of lows throughout this past year, and I have learned that being happy is a choice...sometimes a VERY HARD choice, but a choice, nonetheless.

I know my hard times are not over.  They will never be over, because the life I WANT will never be the life I will have.  However, I can choose to be happy with the things I do have, and the things that have gone right.  It takes effort. A lot of effort.  But that is where the belief I used to have...the one about being strong...comes into play.  I choose to be happy.  I choose to be strong.  And I refuse to let sadness and tragedies consume all of the amazing, wonderful, beautiful parts of my life.

Rest peacefully, Belinda.  You will be forever missed.  Thank you for the memories.  Thank you for being so pro-active for "your" nurses.  Thank you for organizing all those potlucks, and thank you for doting on my children when I'd bring them to the floor as if they were your grandchildren.  Thank you for the time I was sick at work, but there was no one to cover my shift, so you made sure I had ginger ale by me at all times, and you kept checking to make sure I was okay.  Thank you, God, for giving me all these memories of her.  Your heart was your greatest gift, because the boundaries were endless. 

I choose to be happy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Let me preface this by saying that Ethan and I are really, really close.  We always have been.  I have always felt like I have a very special bond with him.  I get sad when I see him struggle with anxiety, because I know he is getting it from me, but he started suffering from it at a much younger age, but I also think that is part of the reason as to why we are SO close.

Anyhow, with that being said, he gets the most anxious at night, so I routinely lay with him at bedtime and we always talk a little bit, usually about anything that is on his mind. 

Last nights topic:  Pain.  And babies.

He asked, "Momma?  What is the worst pain you felt as an adult?"

My response was, "Probably the birth of you and your sister.  It hurt a lot, but it was so worth it!"

I could tell he was thinking about this, and because he was older (ripe old age of 4) when his sister was born, he has a pretty good understanding of how babies are born.  Therefore, I knew this is what he was thinking about, so I used it as an opportunity to ask:  "You do know how babies are born, right?"

This made him erupt into a fit of giggles, and he replied, "Yeah!  From your WINKY!"  Oh, dear.  Okay, so maybe he didn't get it as much as I thought, so I corrected him using the proper female anatomy term.  He responded to THAT with, "Oh, yeah.  That."  So then he says:  "I bet it didn't hurt THAT bad.  Winkies have little holes.  Girls have BIG holes."  Such a doll.  Such. a. doll.

So the proper mom/nurse in me laughed at that was freaking FUNNY!  But then my laughter ended.  Because then he said, "Momma?  Why did your belly get so big?"  So I said to him, "Remember seeing your sister right after she was born?  Remember how big she was?  Well, that was the size she was IN my belly, so my belly had to grow to allow for HER to grow."

His response? "Momma, I'm not talking about that.  Why is your belly so big NOW?  There's no baby in it."

My response? "Go to sleep."

Out of the mouths of freakin' babes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

So many similarities.

September 19, 2010.

Spent the entire day with my sister.  Ate snacks and had our hair professionally styled.  Laughed, talked, and just enjoyed each others company.  Helped each other into beautiful gowns.  Spent the evening eating wonderful food, listening to music, and sipping cocktails.  Later in the evening, joked about how many bobby pins were in our hair, and how much conditioner it would take to get all of the hair spray out. 

This was our e-mail to each other on September 20, 2010:

Hi Laura,

Your phone was in my purse this morning!! I don't know if you have a key so I'm going to put it in between the screen door and big door in the backyard... Not front doors.

Amazingly enough, I feel slightly hungover and very bloated today. George said he feels a bit queasy too! How about you??

Little did I know, that would be the last interaction I would have with her for a LONG time.

Around the date of September 22, 2010, I took this picture, which touched a lot of people's hearts:

Simple, yet it said so, so much.  See the tan line around where her wedding ring normally went?  She wouldn't be able to wear it for nearly a year.  Her hand was completely flaccid.  I had to physically take her fingers and wrap them around my hand.  I snapped the photo, but I didn't let go of her hand.

Flash forward.  February 18, 2012.

Spent all day with my sister.  Ate snacks and had our hair professionally styled.  Talked, laughed, and enjoyed each other's company.  Helped each other into beautiful dresses.  Spent several hours at a ceremony celebrating life, family, community, and love.  Later, we listened to music, ate some appetizers, and sipped on some cocktails.  We talked about how many bobby pins were in our hair.  Later, we said good night and we all went home.

That night, I took this photo:
The difference?  She grasped my hand.  There was strength behind it.  Her rings are perfectly in place.  And again, we didn't let go.

We may not be physically holding hands every day, but that night, we held hands a lot.  And whether we are physically holding hands or not, we will ALWAYS be connected.  We are sisters, and nothing, not even tragedies, can change that bond.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Last night, I sat next to my sister, in a room full of amazing, inspiring women, and listened to her talk about how she copes with the fact that she may never teach again.  I watched as her eyes filled with tears, and her chin trembled.  But she maintained her composure, and if you didn't know her like I do, you might not have even noticed.  But I did.

Watching her deal with the grief that comes with all the changes due to her health makes her very, very sad.  And while I absolutely despise knowing she is sad, hurt, or discouraged, I can't help but go back to think of the earlier days.

I wish I could get her to understand:  Medically speaking, when your heart stopped beating, there was only a 2% chance you would survive.  And you survived.

When you spent 3 days on a ventilator with hardly any movement at all.  You would occasionally respond to painful stimuli, but mostly you just laid there.  The doctors told us:  "This may be it for her.  She might not ever function at a higher level."  The next day, you were extubated and you started speaking in that hushed, raspy voice, "sister".

When you were functioning at a VERY minimal level, requiring care for everything that at one time came naturally, we all started thinking, "How will we make this work at home?  Can she even COME home?"  And she did.  She came home November 3, 2010.

Les, I know it hurts your heart to know that your passion is on hold.  I can sense it every time I see you, and especially when we talk about it.  But do you not realize just how amazingly POWERFUL you are?  You are, hands down, the strongest woman I know.  You might cry over what you once had, but you still maintain that smile, those kind words you offer to anyone, the appreciation you express towards anyone that helps.  You are still you.  You just have more of a challenge now.

Les, sitting next to you at the salon last night meant something to me.  It's an honor to be your sister, and I beam with pride whenever I talk about you (and trust me, any chance I get, I talk about you) because you are just SO amazing!

Yes, I said it.  You are amazing.  You are strong.  You beat odds every single day.  You inspire.  You smile through the tears.  You love without holding back.  You push yourself when you feel like giving in. 

All of the women that were nominated for Women of the Year for Wyandotte TRULY deserve it, and I do not envy the jobs of the judges AT ALL.  Their accomplishments and generosity to our city is incredible, and it really opened my eyes to all the different ways to get involved.  I am SO PROUD of all of you, and it has been a true blessing getting to know you.

And to my sister. You might not be driving.  You might not be teaching.  You might still struggle with the day to day details.  But sister, you have beat every odd out there, and I know your job is not yet done.  There are more obstacles in your future, but we will tackle them, head on.

Leslie, you will ALWAYS be my hero.  It is an honor to call you my sister.  I love you with all of my heart, and I cannot wait for tomorrow, to finally celebrate our togetherness.  To celebrate life.  To celebrate love.  To celebrate family.  We may not win an award tomorrow night, but that is perfectly okay.  We won our award September 20, 2010, when my sisters heart, that heart of pure gold, started beating again.

Blessed?  You better believe it!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I just had the most wonderful weekend with my kids.  It could not have come at a better time, too.

Jay didn't go, simply because we didn't have anyone to watch our high maintenance dogs, and then with him having to work out of state all week, he wouldn't have been able to go anyhow.

So yeah.  The kids and I packed up the car and headed to Frankenmuth for the weekend.  I was a "bad mom" and called Ethan off school, even though technically I didn't have to.  Him and I both had a heck of a week at school/work, so it only seemed fair to each of us to have some peace and quiet for a little bit.  Sort of regroup, if you will.

Then, around 2:00 PM, we hit the road!  We got there around 3:45 after getting a quick lunch at McDonald's.  My parents and sister were already there, waiting for our arrival in the hotel lobby so they could help me out with the kids and getting checked in (bless them!).  We found our rooms, changed into our swimsuits, and hit the pool!  Both of my kids are little fish.  It's so much fun watching them (a little scary, too!  No fear in these children).  We had a blast.  They were just SO happy to be there.  And I was so happy to be there WITH them.
Remember my previous post about perspective?  I really really REALLY thought about that this weekend.  I am allowing myself to be hurt by someone elses actions.  Maybe I shouldn't, but then I'd be kidding myself, and that's not healthy, either.  But to go back to perspective, this person has made assumptions about me.  False assumptions.  And is not shy about telling anyone and everyone, EXCEPT me.  Wanna know what I call that?  Cowardly.  If you can say it out loud, at least own it.  That was the realization I came to this weekend.  And being with these two, precious little beings, who love me, flaws and all, really taught me what is important and what is not.
Ethan and Allison?  Those two are my world.  And I thank God for every moment with them, because no matter what I do (or don't do), no matter how I look, feel, or act.  They love me.

Saturday night Allison got sick.  She started with the signs of croup, just barking like a little seal as she would cough and cough.  Then she felt feverish, though I had no way of confirming it other than mother's intuition.  Then it started to where she would cough so hard and fiercely, she would vomit.  Bottom line?  There wasn't much sleep.  The sleep that WAS had, was had by her.  Again, another great moment to gain perspective.  Her warm body was wrapped within mine, as she did not want me far from her at all.  When she would awaken and whisper out a "Mama!" or when she would start to whimper, I was right there, tending to her needs.  Offering a sip of water.  Wiping her nose.  Rubbing her back.  Or just giving her my hand when she'd reach out into the darkness.  I was there.  And she knew it.  Ethan slept through most of this, but even though his sister was sick and coughing a ton, he still wanted to be right there with us.  Occasionally I'd feel him stir, knowing that all of our movement was disturbing him, but he never complained.  We had a whole other queen sized bed that was empty, but he chose to stay with us.

Perspective.  When someone I love and cares about, ESPECIALLY my family, I am there, no questions asked.  When my sister was hanging on to life by her fingertips, I was there, catching every detail the doctor said.  Scrutinizing every word that WASN'T spoken.  Calling them in when everyone else had gone home so I could try to get more information from them.  Information they might relay to me because I am in the medical field and would get it. 

Every breath my kids breathe.  Every cry, every laugh, I am there.  Every set back my sister had.  Every moment one of my parents would crumble under the uncertainty of her condition, I was there.  Jay and I, we have been together since we were 16, and have gone through the worst times of our lives together, times that could split people up, but it didn't.  He is always there.

The loss of pets, the loss of family members, the loss of patients, the loss of friendships, those that love me...they are there.  And I am there for them.

We got home from Frankenmuth by 12:00.  I promptly handed Allison over to Jay who was just dying to snuggle her, did some laundry, then took the world's longest nap.  I was able to do that because my husband knew that after our sleepless night last night, I was tired.  So no questions were asked when I walked to our bed and fell promptly to sleep.

So this person.  You can make assumptions.  You can shout them from the rooftops, if it will make you feel better.  But I'll be damned if I let you define who I am.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I realize life is all a matter of perspective.  Right now my perspective is glass half empty, so be ready.

Do you ever feel like you take one step forward, followed by two steps back?  Or like whenever something good, or even decent happens, something else immediately follows to knock you down again?

I've been feeling this way for a while.  Let me share an example.

I start a new job.  It's different, but different is not always bad.  In fact, I like this job a lot.  However, I am facing some resistance by someone I work with.  Someone who really hasn't accepted me from day one.  Someone who never even gave me a chance to prove my worth.

But whatever.  I've learned that some people are just like that.  It didn't bother me too much.  Sure, it was a little annoying, and it made things challenging when I had a question and had no one else to ask, but I can handle myself professionally and deal with it.

But then the person starts to get a little more aggressive.  They step up their game.  I could sense it coming.  In fact, on Monday is when it all began...this person was just breathing down my neck, waiting for me to slip up.

Today, I felt it all morning.  As the day progressed, I developed that feeling you get when you are about to take a huge test.  Butterflies, shaky hands, I just felt it.

Sure enough, during our weekly meeting, it hit the fan.  I was accused, in front of all of the office staff, including my new manager and the physician that is the head of the department of being "too good" to help out in the clinic.  That I was "above" bringing patients back, and cleaning the room after them.  That whenever I was asked to help, I would refuse. 

Jaw.  Meet floor.  Might as well punch me in the stomach, because the air was instantly sucked out of me.

What??  WHAT??!  "Too good?"  Let me make a public announcement to anyone who might not already know:  when you are a nurse, you go into it knowing that it is FAR from glamorous.  You become very involved with every bodily fluid imaginable.  You see people at their absolute worst.  You get yelled at by family members.  You get yelled at by patients.  You get yelled at my physicians. And yet, you still love your job with everything you've got.  You love it because you love taking care of people.  Helping them.  Getting to know them on a level no one else will ever know.  Being the last person they might see before they pass away. 

TOO GOOD?  No.  That couldn't be further from the truth, and how dare someone make that assumption???  I pour my heart and soul into my job.  I don't do it for any reason other than I LOVE it.  I love my patients and there is NEVER a time where I regret my decision to be a nurse. 

Being accused of something SO extremely asinine, and in front of my coworkers, boss, and the other physicians just took the wind right out of my sails.  I handled it like any professional would.  I gently picked my jaw up off the floor, reminded myself to breath, walked to my office, shut the door, and cried my eyes out.

This was at 1 PM and I still can't contain just how BAD that hurt me.  I still keep blinking back tears.  I feel like I am in a fog.

Right now, I feel really, really crummy.  REALLY crummy.  I am obviously big on social networking.  I blog a lot, I love facebook, and I participate on several different parenting sites.

This incident made me step back.  This isn't the first time someone has made assumptions about me.  No, I don't blame social networking at all.  But I am tired of putting myself out there so publicly.  I'm tired of allowing other people who do not know me at all, bring me down.  I'll instead focus on the people that DO know me.  That know my heart and mind.

I'm taking a break.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I frequently tell people that I am not a crier.  I hate to cry, even when I am alone.  If I cry in front of someone, I always say it's an indication that I am really, really upset.

I think I can now officially retract that statement.  I am a crier.  And I am proud of it.  Or something.

Ever since the day I got the dreaded phone call about my sister, I have realized that I am constantly on edge.  Even when I feel okay, I'm always a little extra cautious.  A little extra nervous.  A little bit quicker to get scared and to cry.  To panic and worry.

Today was no exception.  Mondays at work are super busy.  We had a full day of patients, along with all the patients at home, who rely on the nurses via phone to be there for them.  I love the pace because the day flies by.

But then you get a call.  The message is from your child's teacher, saying your child has been hurt, and asking if someone can come get him.  I panic.  My heart is in my throat.  I don't like this kind of call!  I need my son.  I need to leave.  Can I just leave work?  What the heck do I do?

First thing I did was call my boss to let her know.  She is wonderful and as a mother herself, told me to do what I had to do...which was be with Ethan.  The school had also called Jay, who was on his way.  I called my mom, who ALSO left work to get him, since she was a lot closer than Jay was.

Turns out, a child bit my son.  It was through his winter coat, thank God, so there was no broken skin, just a lot of redness, swelling, and bruising.  The swelling concerned the teacher and she felt it was very important that he be taken to the doctor.  Fortunately, they iced it for him, and by the time my mom and Jay got to him, we could see it likely was not doctor-worthy at this point, but they still took him home.

I don't know if I will ever get used to that.  I'm just thankful for all of those people in my life who get it.  Who get me.  Who jump to help, even though their lives are just as busy, if not, busier.  I am thankful for wonderful friends and co-workers who listen and help me compose myself and keep moving.

Ethan is fine.  It was a minor incident.  His arm is sore, but he is acting totally fine otherwise. 

My name is Laura Kowalski, and I am overly emotional, sensitive, and constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  The first step is admitting it, right?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I was the BEST PARENT EVER...before I had kids.

No, really.  I worked in a daycare for several years up until Ethan was born, and I felt it taught me everything I would NOT do as a parent, because darn it, I would do better! 

HAHAHAHAHAH!  Are you laughing at me yet?

One of the greatest things I have learned since becoming a parent is this.  "Never say never."

I am that mom with a kid who is DEFINITELY old enough to know better, throw a whopper of a temper tantrum throughout the grocery store.

I am that mom who allows sugary cereal and cartoons.

I am that mom who said "No more binky after she turns 1!" ...which turned into "No more binky after she turns 2!"  ....and now she is 2 1/2 and guess what?  She is still going strong.  Maybe when she turns 3?

I remember the first time I saw Yo Gabba Gabba.  I thought, "OH my goodness, this show is MESSED. UP."  Guess what?  My daughter has all the stuffed characters, along with character shirts and blankets.  Girlfriend LOVES her some Muno and Brobee.

My kids both only drink chocolate milk.  They both HATE white milk (and yes, I offered white milk first).

Both of my kids were formula fed.  Allison had a few slurps of breast milk, but...yeah, it didn't work out so well.

I pick my battles with my kids, and sometimes, from the outside, it might look bad, but you know what?  It's working for us.

I think the WORST thing parents can do is judge others without knowing the whole story.  That is the beauty of BEING a parent.  There are so many ways to do it, and there isn't one way better than the other.  Is the product happy, healthy, kids?  Then you are doing it right!

You'll never see me cloth diaper.  And I hate to cook, so making baby food is out.  Breastfeeding didn't work so hot.  Co-sleep?  Good heavens, NO!  Sleep is precious to me and I'll be damned if some squirmy little human is going to interrupt that.  That's what their crib is for!  I tried a baby sling ONCE and felt like my child was trying to strangle me.  That was the end of that 4 minute adventure.

But you know what?  Ethan is doing AMAZINGLY well in school.  He had some maturity issues in preschool, but since then, he has grown so much and he is extremely smart.  He has a very close bond to both his father and myself.  Bottom line?  He is one loved little boy and he knows, without a doubt in his mind, that we adore him, no matter what.  He has always been extremely healthy.  His "worst" illness was maybe an ear ache? 

And Allison.  Sweet Allison.  That girl is FULL of life and spunk.  She has the most beautiful smile, and she will give anyone a hug when it is time to go, followed by a "have a great day!"  She loves to eat, and is willing to try almost anything.  She is doing amazingly well with potty training, and I have to say, she has done most of it on her own.

Both of my kids love books.  Ethan loves to read, and Allison loves to be read to.  We are regulars at the library and every night before bed, Ethan and I have a routine we developed, after hearing that President Obama does something similar with his girls.  We tweaked it a bit and not a night goes by without us doing it.  We'll say "What was your rose, daisy, thorn, and prickly thorn today?" to each other.  Your rose is the best thing.  Your daisy is the second best thing.  Your thorn is something that upset you, and your prickly thorn is something that hurt you or made you angry.

Allison loves Yo Gabba Gabba and Sesame Street.  She loves Dora, Diego, and Wonder Pets.  But she also loves to sing and dance.  She is FULL of animation

My kids are happy.  They still have not learned that the world does not revolve around them, but we are working on that.  They are healthy.  They are well-rounded.  They have traveled, and when we travel, we make it a learning experience.  They are wonderful, wonderful children.

Never say never.  Don't judge.  You are judging based on very superficial things. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Some people exercise to relieve stress.  Other people might vent to a friend over a cup of coffee.

Me?  I shop.  A lot.  Throw in a stressful incident like my sister, followed by a string of difficult, challenging times after that, and I kinda, sorta, maybe overdid it.  No, no, no, I haven't done TOO much damage, but enough damage to where it caused my husband, who is an avid saver, an enormous amount of stress.

Early in the game, the shopping was fun.  But then as I started to shop more, the fun part of it started to wear off.  Well, scratch that.  The actual shopping part was GREAT.  The part where I swiped my card?  Ehhhh...not so great.  My mind would say "you know you shouldn't be doing this!" ...yet I would sign my name on that smudged screen and walk out of the store, bags in hand.

Then I'd drive home, all the while feeling very, very guilty.  But did I return anything?  Nope.

It finally got to the point where Jay and I went head to head.  Now let me preface this by saying we don't fight often.  Bicker?  Yes.  Find each other annoying?  All the time.  But fight?  No.  This time, though, was a full-fledged argument, and while we both got out words (some that weren't so kind), it was much needed.

That very night, I finally did it:  I cut up my credit cards (I only had 2....).  It has now been two weeks since I have had them and to be honest, it feels really, really good.  When the temptation is taken away, and you KNOW that little piece of plastic no longer exists, it sets my mind at ease.

Sure, I miss shopping.  But I don't miss the tension it caused in my family.  My husband and children are far more important to me than indulging in an unhealthy way of facing my own personal issues.

I have yet to figure out a better way that works for me (that doesn't involve money), but I am working on it!