Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Blessings... Clearing a few things up

Blessings by Laura Story 
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights 
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights 
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Every time I hear the above song, I sing it at the top of my lungs.  It has always brought me so much peace.  That is to say that I am totally at peace with all that is happening inside my brain, or not happening!  My hope is that some others would read these lyrics and take them to heart.  I get that some of my family members may be hurting that I am no longer my old self, and because of that, they say hurtful things.  I wish that they read the lyrics, listen to the beauty of the song (link below) and especially allow the last paragraph to make an impression on their heart.
I am writing this blog as an outlet, and as I mentioned in my last post, as a way to possible reach out to others in  my situation, so I don't feel so alone with my struggles.  I don't write for pity.
Also, as I mentioned before, the Holiday's were especially tough for me.  They were made even more difficult by comments made by family members.  I learned that a certain member of my family thinks I have been taken over by the devil and since I have given him control, that is why I feel like I am losing my memory; or something along those lines.  Really??? That is the craziest thing I have ever heard!  I guess there opinion doesn't matter much, since they believe I am going to hell for being Mormon.  Either way, I am screwed if you ask them!  But what their comment, along with a few others made, allowed me to realize, is that everyone thinks this is about me forgetting things.  Oh how I would give anything if that was the case.  If that was all I had to deal with I would be golden!  I would be the post-it note queen!  Unfortunately, this disease is so much more! For those that don't deal with me everyday, here are the symptoms I am fighting with:

  • Memory Loss
  • Difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Problems with language
  • Disorientation to time and place
  • Poor or decreased judgement
  • Problems with abstract thinking
  • Misplacing things
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Change in personality
  • Loss of Initiative
These things are no joke!  See, I wish I was just a little forgetful! But that isn't the case, nor is the case that  the devil has taken over my memory!  
One more myth I would like to clear up... I haven't thrown in the towel, I haven't resigned myself to 4-6 more years of life.  Yet I am realistic in regards to what the current research is, which means preparing.  Every so often I get a little teary eyed when I think about not seeing my kiddos do great things. But mostly I think about how lucky I am to have been given 5 years to prepare them and to jot everything down so they can remember me just the way I want them too!  Not to mention the fact that I have been given an opportunity to dedicate the rest of my life to my family.  Had I taken my own chosen route, I would still be the same old workaholic, climbing the corporate ladder.  And then what, my kids grow up knowing there mom was a fantastic employee, but didn't know how to make macaroni and cheese or get grass stains out?  Given the choice, I am truly enjoying the BLESSINGS!  That doesn't mean I have thrown in the towel.  Believe me, I will fight to the end.  If you know anything about me, and you are reading this, you should know that I am a fighter!
My best friend and I have a little joke ...We say that up in heaven when we were all choosing our strengths and weaknesses that we could handle here on this earth, God gave us a few options, and we kept telling him "no, we are tougher than that, what else you got?" And finally when there were only a couple of choice mortal lives left, and no one at all wanted them, we volunteered.  Now I know that can be misconstrued to look like we are holier than thou, NOT our meaning at all!!!! It just means, we have had a couple of pretty crappy roads when all is said and done.  But in the end, I look back and go, "I DID THAT!"  I truly did that!  I can tell some pretty shocking stories about my life.  Instead, I would like to let you know, that I have come out so very strong!  I am a fighter, and typically when I choose a fight, I win!  So, no I am not throwing in the towel.  Yet, I know that there is a chance, some of you may be caused pain by what my life has in store.  I can only hope that you will realize that "the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy".  
I am so grateful for the comfort I have in knowing that I am sealed to my family for time and all eternity.  I am grateful for the work I am able to do in the temples to continue and grow my heavenly family.  And more than anything I am grateful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who came to earth and chose to die for me, because Heaven only knows some of the sins I have committed.  And with out the power of repentance I would be in a world of pain right now.  Instead, I am in a world of peace.  I am surrounded by people who love me and I am certain that many blessings will come as I face this trial head on!  So click on the link below and listen to the song.  Picture me singing at the top of my lungs, maybe I have a tear or two, but mostly I have a huge smile and I am thinking my Heavenly Father for every clear moment I am offered!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas with Early Onset Alzheimer's

It's clear that I won't be having anymore "big girl" jobs, as I have often referred to my cool jobs and also to the upstart of Maxx V.  I am so very grateful for the opportunity to continue to wait tables at Mere Bulles. The owner and management have been amazing to me, not to mention my co-workers that have to work along side of me.  Yesterday was my first day off, besides Sundays in what feels like ages!  Of course they would tell you differently, as they refer to me as the vacation queen... But I honestly didn't realize how important going to Mere Bulles was to my reality these days.  It has become my normal, and I now see that when I don't have the normal, I am a mess.
This is my first Christmas since my Early Onset Alzheimer's symptoms have really set in.  And it is horrific!  Which is heartbreaking to me.  I have always tried so hard to focus on Jesus' birthday and the huge sacrifice God made, to send his son down to earth.  Knowing that once he was born, he would suffer so much pain and persecution, but that he would save us all.  I am so very grateful for His Birthday!  But my every breathing moment is so hard.  I mean, really hard, I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest it is so hard to breath.  I know that it is anxiety, anxiety isn't new to me.  I already take medication for it, and for years it has stayed in check.  Now it is as if I have lost control.
I tried so hard to get ready for church this morning, but I am literally scared out of my mind to go. I had nightmares last night about how mean all of the ladies were to me.  So we decide not to go and then I am dealing with the anxiety of going to RB's family Christmas.  I want to go. It is so important to him.  But it is as if my feet are made of cement.
So now as to why I am having these issues.  I think it is two-fold.  One is medical, one of the symptoms is the depression and inability to really "care", based on what is working and not working in my brain.  I still have enough sense to know that those symptoms alone make me a completely different person than I used to be.  The super happy, cheerful, girl with the desire to serve anyone and everyone is gone.  And I would be an idiot to now know that other people have noticed as well.  Whether it is my loved ones pointing out my attitude to me, or friends who have bailed on me because I'm just not the same anymore.  I know that I am not good anymore. And I have always had an issue with unhappy people... Thinking that they should choose to wake up on the right side of bed instead of the grumpy side.  And now I am one of them.  I try so hard to smile and be happy, and then I am reminded that I don't look truly happy.  I am reminded that I am bringing others down.  So this is the second part of my anxiety issues.  I just don't feel good about being out in the unknown, and having people think that I am grumpy.  When I really am not, I am just not able to show happiness these days.  It is as if that emotion isn't connecting anymore.  I would give anything to have it connect... You hear stories of Alzheimer's patients being "flat" and "emotionless", and that symptom truly sucks, I can't say anything else about it.
So what I realize is that when I am at Mere Bulles, they know what to expect from me, and I am very comfortable with what I will get there each and every day.  But on days when I have to be around people who don't know me well, I am struck with the overwhelming thought...They are going to think I am grumpy and not nice.  Those are two adjectives that I am not comfortable with in describing me.  The only way to prevent that, is to not leave my house.  And that isn't very healthy either.  So what is a girl to do?
In my deep fear and anxiety, I decided to blog.
Don't worry, I am also journaling a lot.  And working on my book.  But I decided that if I can help one other EOA patient feel not alone, I have done some good.  So I will do my best to put this out there.  I feel as if I am being eaten alive from the inside out, and I wish I had someone to talk to that is going through the same thing.  Until then, I will send this out into the world wide web, and see if anyone finds me that understands where I am coming from.
Please don't mistake me as a bah humbug!  I am so very grateful for Christ.  I am grateful for my church and the opportunity that it affords me in the next life!  I am grateful for everything that this holiday holds!  But I guess it just doesn't show on  my face.  For that, I am sorry.
Merry Christmas to all!!!! Don't take anything for granted! Smile from the inside out, everytime you are given the opportunity!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Airing Dirty Laundry

A month or two ago, I was contacted by the Alzheimer's Association of Middle Tennessee, asking if they could send out my info and see if there were any takers interested in my story.  Of course I said yes.  Then when Fox News wanted to interview me for a special they are doing on High School Sports, Head Injuries and long term results, such as Early Onset Alzheimer's or Dementia, of course I said yes again.  The day of the interview, my 13 year old asked if I was nervous. "Nope" I said. He wondered why not.  And I explained to him that I felt that it was my duty to share my story, to try and help others.  To make sure fewer people suffer as I have due to 2 decades of concussions.  And at the moment I honestly felt that way.  So why now, 1 hour away from airtime do I feel as if I am going to barf?  Why do I feel like I want to scream "Just Kidding!!!" at the top of my lungs?  
I know the importance of my story.  I know people associated with Alzheimer's Association have heard me talk on myself 3 years running.  But there really isn't a limit as to who will know my story now.  If it airs, if it is placed on the web in their archives, there is no hiding it.  There is no pretending what my future looks like.  No, I don't want to hear, "I'm sure you will be okay", "The doctors may be wrong",  or anything of that nature.  You are only kidding yourself.  I have a 2% chance of NOT getting Early Onset Alzheimer's in the next 2-12 years.  Do you realize that means that I will more likely win the lottery or something crazy like that, than have my memory when I am 50 years old? Don't get me wrong, I am not angry at the disease, but I really don't enjoy people who minimize what the disease means to me and my family.  
Maybe that is what I am afraid of, people seeing the special and telling me that "I'll be okay".  In one way, they are right, I will be okay.  As the old joke goes, Alzheimer's is the way you want to die, because you don't even remember you are sick.  But I have done the research, I have read all there is to read.  And I know that it is a horrible disease for my care giver(s).  And that is the part that hurts me.  Knowing how much trouble I will be for my family, that hurts me.  Knowing how tight the budget already is, and how much tighter it will be, that hurts me.  Knowing that I am sick, that doesn't hurt.
When I was pregnant my mother in law condemned me for getting pregnant while knowing that I may not make it and that I would leave her son alone as a father.  I get where she is coming from, but what she missed is how crucial  our sweet baby boy is to our family as a whole.  There is no such thing as half-brother, step-sister, step-brother in our house.  We are just one big family and we love and support each other as such.  And if I become a burden, and my daughters think of walking away because I am only their step mom, I believe they will look at their little brother and get back in there to help in anyway they can.  That is the bridge that my sweet baby boy has created.  On the outside it may look as if I was selfish to have a baby while I have such a sad prognosis, but in reality, I think I have given my whole family the greatest blessing ever.  
I will pass away pretty young, by typical standards.  My husband and I have discussed that, and he knows that I expect him to remarry and enjoy the last 30 or so years of his life with someone else wonderful. But when it comes to keeping the kids together, that will be Andrew's role, and that is why I had a baby.
Recently I had what I call, a little talk with God.  I did that a lot while I was on bed rest, but since then, most talks with God end up with me asleep!  No offense to God, but mothers of newborns will pretty much sleep anywhere you let them! (or at least I will) Anyway, we had a little heart to heart, and I asked him if I was blowing this whole thing out of proportion, as I tend to do... But unfortunately this time he said no.  He let me know it was time to follow through with all of the hints he has been dropping.  It was time to focus on the book I started "All the things I want you to know, when I can't remember". It was time to get long-term care insurance in place.  It is critical that my husband learn to carry the spiritual burden that has long since been mine.  And it was time to tell my husband that his dreams of me being a big executive and making lots of money are over.  It was time for me to enjoy each and every second with my children, my family and my husband.   So that is what I have begun to do. 
Lately I have heard "You sure do take a lot of vacations!" And I smile and say, "thank goodness for all of my husbands frequent flier
Now talk about airing my dirty laundry, that is it.  I am not as smart as I used to be, but I am much more loving than I used to be!  There are definitely pros and cons to every scenario, and I am looking for all of the pros there are!  I am about as strong as a person can be.  But I'm not blind to my situation. For that reason, I told my story to our Fox News affiliate. For that reason, I will continue to help the cause in anyway I can! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Write or sell?

I decided to come outside and enjoy the second beautiful day we have had in a row!  I spent all day yesterday with the girls and some friends.  What looked like about 10 moms and 50 kids, went to the zoo yesterday to bask in the amazing weather and friendship.  And afterwards a few came to our house to play even longer in the amazing sun!  Today is just as nice and even warmer, but the girls are on the way to the beach with their mom.  So out I am.  But we don’t have patio furniture, so I decided to climb on the trampoline and lounge a bit as I wrote.  I’m certain that any neighbor looking out their back window got a great laugh!  When is the last time you tried to climb onto a trampoline and through the net, while being 7 months pregnant?  If getting down is just as easy, you may find me still laying here in the morning!
I can’t help but recognize how extremely lucky I have been the last few days to spend them with the girls (Isaac is in Buffalo with his dad).  When I worked full time, this would have been impossible.  I wouldn’t have made sponge balls for water fights or bowls out of yarn.  I wouldn’t have read lots of books to Soph or been able to relax and just enjoy their presence.  I would have rushed home to cook dinner, give them a bath and get them in bed.  And what kind of spring break is that?  We are broke, so I am a little jealous that they get to go to the beach with their mom.  But for $20, we had activities galore, and that was good enough for me.
The hard part comes when I look at our bank statement.  I have to do something!  I am working with a great event and trying to secure sponsorships for their 5k and 10k held in June.  I also have the South Nash Dash in the works, but we don’t see money from that until September and even then it is measly. But money complaints is not why I am here today.  I am really just so grateful for having the ability to focus on being a mom.  And I want to find a way to continue it for years with Baby Andrew once he is born.
Friends and I went to an amazing conference last weekend called “Time Out For Women”. It was so uplifting and inspiring.  But “Become” was the main theme.  What I took away was the idea that I can become something amazing if I work with God on what he wants for me. So pray I did.  A lot.  And I can’t help thinking that I am supposed to write a book.  But that is all I have so far.  Not sure if it should be fiction, spiritual, or a biography (risking my entire family hating me forever!).  Not sure if I am supposed to take a few writing classes first.  Just not sure.  
I know that I have to earn money in the meantime, or fear my husband losing his sanity.  Selling sponsorships is something I am good at, I know who to talk to and how to get things done.  I love creating activation ideas and in reality I would really like to teach at the collegiate level one day. There is not doubt that I am not the same work-a-holic, fun, party girl that Rob married.  I am more of the work-from-home-when-I-feel-like-it mom, who spends hours a week doing church service or activities. Right now what I want and what Rob wants me to do, are two totally different things! So how does it work?  I have such a strong faith that Heavenly Father will provide a way.  But I also do not want my family to starve. He says that He will take care of us once we have done our very best. So I’m trying to figure out my timing.  I can’t exactly throw my hands up and say “God told me to write a book, hope you all like rice and beans!” How do I do what I need to do financially, and also do what I think the Lord is leading me to do? And don’t forget that I will be doing it all with no regular sleep while attempting to breast feed!
I have loved picking up the kid(s) from school everyday.  I am so grateful that when I am having a “sick” day, I stay in bed.  I don’t stress, I don’t go to work sick, I don’t worry about what the boss is thinking, I just relax and get better.  But I hate the worried look on my husbands face when he says “I just don’t know how we are going to make it” and I know he is looking at me to fill the gap. Families make the sacrifice for a mom to stay home with the kids all of the time, so I know it can work.  But asking him to make it work when it wasn’t who he married and when his mom worked, is a lot different.  I hate disappointing anyone, especially my loved ones, so something has to work out that keeps us all happy!  I guess what I will do is pray some more and keep trying to sell some sponsorships between prayers!  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Update on mom, a daughters perspective

I am exhausted, so won't go in to too much detail right now. But wanted to get everyone caught up on where we are with mom.  Tuesday was her third back surgery.  It was supposed to be the easiest and least painful of them all.  So the plan was for her to come home Wednesday.  But around 9:30 am on Wed, she started having pain in her hip flexor area.  By 10:30-11, it was so excruciating that she could barely catch her breath.  In all honesty, I could stop there, because that is where we still are.  They have tried every type of pain medication, they have doubled them, they have given her enough morphine and steroid shots to kill an elephant, and still she cries in pain.  If you don't know my mom well, you need to understand that she doesn't cry in pain...ever.  She is stubborn and she will lie to your face if you ask her if she hurts.  But she can't hide this pain.  Her blood pressure stayed in the 170/115 range most of yesterday and today.  When I left tonight it was finally in the 140/95 range.  Thank goodness.  I cannot count how many pills they have given her or how many people have come in only to shrug their shoulders and say "I don't know".
Finally today when I saw that things were not getting better and the pain was increasing to the other side. I requested further tests.  The NP agreed, but could not get the DR to respond to her emails, pages and calls. So I let them know that if we continue to get no where, I would have to call in for a second Dr's opinion.  Fairly quickly after that the DR arrived and ordered an MRI.
Whether it is nerve damage or "normal" nerve pain, I don't know.  But I have had 3 nurses at the Spinal Surgery Center tell me they have yet to deal with anything like this, especially the inability to control the pain and blood pressure.  Mom's right leg is numb to her touch but on fire inside, that is the way she describes it.  Apparently our next step is to move her to a rehab clinic where they will try and narrow in on the exact pain and try and find a control for it.  He said we could be there most of next week.  It just depends on how quickly they can get it located and controlled.  At the rate we are moving I feel like she will never get better.  But what has been 2 days for the rest of the world has been a lifetime for me.  12 hours each day, by her side, watching her be so miserable.  All along being her normal sweet self, apologizing to every nurse for everything.  She hates to receive help, but she just doesn't have a choice now.  We measured today, when trying to sit up, she turns white as a ghost at 30 degrees, at 90 degrees she is sobbing and to stand up longer than 30 seconds sounds like she is having a heart attack and trying to catch her breath.  This is not the mom I know, and it has been horrific to watch.  But I can't leave her side, because someone has to fight for her.  She has been so sweet that if they asked her to serve lunch to the other patients, she would get up and try.  And then there is me... Making sure that she gets the care she deserves, and clearly needs.  But I did let them know they were lucky my brother is out of state.  Because he is 6'4" 320lbs and has way less patience than me!
So off to try and sleep, my shift starts early tomorrow!  And I just have to say a big thank you to Shannon Harris for keeping tabs on me and keeping me sane.  And my poor husband who has had to take time from his already too tight schedule to pick up the kids, because I can't leave her side.  And to Blake who let me laugh off some steam tonight, because when I say that I'm sure the nurses sit in their station hoping that crazy daughter isn't in the room, I am not joking  (And there are a few people out there who know how true that statement is)!  But he lets me call every night and vent and laugh so that I don't cry.
Thank you all for so many thoughts and prayers you keep sharing on facebook.  I share them with her throughout the day, and she is so grateful!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Moving Forward

Time to get busy.  It is as simple as that.  Rob can only do so much and that leaves me.  Something has to be done, I am way to big a fan of eating!! What could be a great opportunity, has presented it's self, so I am going to try my luck!  There is a significant road race in Clarksville that has yet to figure out how to make money or sell sponsorships.  They have a good committee, but of course everyone is uncomfortable asking for money.  Which is where I come in.  
You see sponsorships are not donations, they aren't handouts.  You figure out what your demographic is.  In this case, who will be racing and who will be cheering the racers on.  And then you approach companies who want to be in front of that demographic.  When they partner with the race, they have placed themselves strategically in front of their ideal customer and showcased that they have a common interest with that customer.  It is a win win all the way around!  But you do have to be very strategic about who you ask to partner with your event.  Otherwise you waste too much time on meetings and presentations where "no" will surely be the answer.  
We all know that I have no time to waste.  I feel good about 3 days a weeks, so those days need to be filled with successful meetings, building strategic partnerships.  I hope that everything will work out.  Goodness knows the extra money will be helpful!
So time to put my sponsorship pants back on and go gang busters!  Hopefully I will also be able to get some things working for Feld Entertainment, not to mention moving forward with the 2011 SouthNashDash!
It is clearly time to move forward!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dave Ramsey, What do we do?

Time to get real, and I mean real painful type honest.  When Rob and I met, we knew we were soul mates, even if all logistics said "Absolutely Not!" But one thing that was ver different about us, was our perspective on money.  You see, I grew up with a mom in Nashville who in between marriages always worked 2 or 3 jobs; And a dad who lived in San Diego and chose to work the night shift so that he could surf every day.  I'm guessing he maxed out at $12/hr by the time I was in high school.  So to say we had no money would be an understatement.  But to say I was not spoiled would be a lie. I'm certain that there were times when my mom bought me a new pair of Jordache rather than paying an electric bill.  As i've become a parent I have realized that my mom shows love through gift giving, it is who she is, and she passed that on to me.  But I was always blessed, I spent my summers with my Aunt, who truly spoiled me rotten and then welcomed me into her and my uncle's home for good when I moved to Cali after 9th grade. So from all appearances, I had a great life.  But the secret was, my parents still had no money, but they did everything they could for me.  I can't imagine the sacrifice it was to keep me in a cheerleading uniform.  Now that I pay for my own children's activities, I'm certain that my love of cheering wiped out their bank account occasionally.
(not my squad, but CHS cheerleaders on a firetruck for a parade, just like we did back in the day)

And then came my third and final step dad, who is an amazing man.  He has helped with everything since I was 18, and I do mean everything.  But still, him having to help indicates that I was always broke.  At 24 I had Isaac, still hadn't finished college, and the story could go on forever.  But the short of it is, I was so broke that I never made enough to pay the bills, so too often I would say to myself "you can't pay the gas bill, so you might as well go ahead and get those cute shoes, you can afford those".  What a horrible web I made for myself.  
But jump forward 10 years and I met the love of my life, who had a completely different perspective.  He had no idea how much anything cost, because it was never an issue.  Money was always there.  He had a great step dad who was very successful in his industry and took great care of them.  He was the kid with the cool car and the soccer trips to Europe.  I was the kids working 30 hrs a week, while in high school, trying to help pay the bills.  We were so very different.  I am certain the idea of combining bank accounts scared the crap out of him, as it did me.  I wanted control over my money and the amount of shoes I had.  By that time, I was making good money, and living with my parents, so again, for all outside appearances I looked golden.  Fancy car, great suits, amazing job.  But still zero in savings or retirement or an ESA.  Rob's desire to put money in savings excited him as much as a new handbag excited me, and that is a little scary.  But together we made good money, so no worries.  Until I had to leave my job, I uncovered things that the FBI has only recently discovered and the company and the owners, one of whom was in our wedding, are in trouble to the amount of double digit millions... So it was good I left, but horrible for our finances, which we still didn't agree on. 
We survived and after a year, we realized how much stronger we had become through that struggle, although not one we would want to repeat.  Rob continued to excel in his company and my job continued to decline.  So with lots of prayer and a lot of nervousness, I resigned.  Now again, we were living on just his salary.  But we did great.  We have been doing Dave Ramsey's written budget for at least 2 years now.  Certain months were tight, and Rob would get a little grumpy, but we always made it.  You must remember, I have lived the life of "poor", he has never!  So he has a right to get grumpy, he is scared out of his goard!
Regardless, we have done well. He has  been able to take great care of us.  But this month starts his new compensation package, which is heavily weighted on the end of the year (which worked before, because I made good money). But without me working, it is a different story.  So this weekend the Feb written budget was done, just like Dave Ramsey says.  We know where every penny is going.  And I do mean every penny.  Because for the first time since 2008, we don't have enough pennies.  In fact we are short a lot of pennies.  And not due to waste, we are short pennies if I don't go to the grocery store.  Typically we spend about $600 a month in groceries for the 5 of us.  This month, $0 is allotted.  Now I am scared! I am grateful that during the good times we started food storage.  But my family looks to me for exciting meals at least a few times a week and I don't know how many ways I can cook corn, pasta or tuna?  I don't even think the kids like tuna, but we have a lot because it is protein that stores well! 
I have only one thing that is keeping me sane, and that is my faith in the Lord.  Before I left my job and tried to get pregnant, I prayed a lot.  I went to the temple, to pray some more.  And I am certain that the Lord gave me a thumbs up, believe me, he has given me plenty of thumbs down! As I have prayed continuously all weekend, I have had overwhelming peace.  I have no clue how we will make it.  From the outside we look like a pretty wealthy family.  We have nice cars and a beautiful 3,500 sq foot home.  And I have a husband who believes you don't charge things, which is why our dining room sat empty for 3 years! So I am grateful that in our budget we aren't paying a ton of debt, the only debt we have of course is mine...my car and student loan.  He brought nothing but savings to the marriage, I on the other hand brought nothing but debt.  But not credit cards or unsecured loans.  I had the debt that I thought was normal, car and school.
Anyway, that is where I am today.  Broke!  I can't spend a penny!  I have tickets to tonights Predators game (free from an old co-worker) and Rob asked if I was packing his dinner. How do you sneak that in through security? 
I am praying that this trial will bring us closer together, and not tear us apart.  No money can be a horrible thing!  And cause lots of anger to emerge.  First thought is that I should go to work, but with a baby due in a few months, I could only wait tables, and I have been so sick, that I am totally unreliable!  I would ruin my reputation at the restaurant I love. So I don't really think that is an option.  I am trying to sell anything I don't use on ebay... Not sure if that will work either... And I am saying a lot of prayers!
I know that I am not alone.  And I also know that I am extremely fortunate!  So many people have been desperate and out of work for a year or more since the recession began.  I just wonder, how do they make it?  How do you stay sane?  How do you decide what to pay and what not to pay??  I don't have enough money to pay all the bills, although I have zero allotted for groceries, I have to buy milk, bread and sandwich meat for lunches right??? I just need a little guidance...
All I can say is that I am grateful for all my husband has taught me about the value of money!  But the flip side is I can't sleep, I am so worried about what to do for dinner and lunch!  
So again, any advice you have would be great.  I know I am not alone, and I pray for you who are struggling every day!  Thank goodness, I did that before (part of being in a financially poor ward I guess), but now I am truly understanding your pain.  And for those of you still holding strong, keep up the great work!  And save some, you just never know when you will need it!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Slow Down! What is really important?

When I first started this blog, the intention was for me to stay in touch with the sponsorship world as well as work on the brand management of a few companies, all while being able to chauffeur my children anywhere they needed to go. But things have clearly changed! A part of me stopped blogging because I haven't been doing anything on the MaxxV front at all, and I felt as if that was the essence of my blog. But I realize that Motherhood has been in the title of my blog since day one, clearly God knew more about my future than I did! So for now the blog will be more about motherhood with some splashes of sponsorship (as it is time to start planning the 2011 Menchie's SouthNashDash 5K).
I am now 19 weeks pregnant, and it is safe to say the first trimester was total hell, for me and my family. I was so miserable and although unintended, I seemed to share my misery with my family and close friends. They all stuck with me, and for that I am very grateful! We were a house divided, Sophia and I wanted to have a little girl and Rob, Isaac and Kassidy were hoping for a little boy. But three weeks ago we found out we would be having a boy. Sophia (4yrs old) was able to express what I was hiding inside as she yelled at the ultrasound tech "Stop calling her a boy! It has to be a girl!" While the other three in the room were high fiving and clearly over the moon at the thought of having a boy.
Immediately attitudes changed in our house. Sophia and I quickly got over the fact that we would not have a little girl. But Rob and Isaac (12yrs) continue to be more and more giddy about having a boy in the house. What used to annoy Rob (vomiting, getting rounder, sleeping-ALOT), has now become important to him, as I am growing his first baby boy. With the thought of having a girl, he didn't care about the name. She would be called Sarah Claire, both names coming from important people in my family history. Now with a boy, the name is a HUGE deal! Out of the blue, Rob wanted a Robert Allen Barkley IV. I did not. So for a week, I tread carefully as I suggested other names. But finally I had to lay it out there "I love you, but I don't love your name. I can't name our baby that." First feelings were hurt, then they were transferred into creativity, as Rob decided we would be unique and name him Trebor (notice what this spells backwards...). Again I tried to be creative, but loving. Suggesting we name him after our two best friends in the whole wide world Cooper Lee (after Nick Cooper and Karlee). That held for a few days, when all heck broke lose! But finally we went back to my Predators roots and we held a draft. This may sound confusing, but it is just what it sounds like... Rob, Isaac and I each put names we liked on individual pieces of paper; put those names in a bag and started the 4 round draft. Pulling 8 names first and getting down to 3 names. With three names, I wrote down variations of first and middle names and then the vote from all 5 of us began. Every family member could vote on the variations they liked as we eliminated the names with the fewest votes each time. What did we end up with? Andrew Kimball. We all love it, but we felt as if we still needed to include some family history, and after much debate about having too long of a name, we have decided to name our son Andrew Allan Kimball. Rob, his father and his step-dad all have the middle name "Allen". My step-dad has the middle name "Alan". So we have combined the two (which confused Rob at first as he kept trying to correct my spelling) in honor of them all and named him Allan. I have felt remorse for not being able to include my father in the name at all, but I hope that he will forgive me since I did fight to have Isaac's last name hyphenated in order to carry out the Estes name, with my dad being the last male to carry the name.
Along with extreme concern about the "boys" name, came huge opinions on what needed to be a manly nursery. It did not escape my attention that had I been carrying a girl, Rob would not have cared less what went in the nursery. But there has been something sweet about his new found excitement. As most know, I was unmarried when I had Isaac, and except for my mom, dad and step-dads excitement, there wasn't much to be excited about. It was a scary time, which turned into the greatest blessing of my life. My dream was to one day have a baby with a man who adored me and would share in the joys of pregnancy and infancy with me. It took a long time for Rob and I to decide to have a baby, and still I felt a little alone, as if he had just given in because he loved me. But finding out that he is having a boy, that his legacy will continue, has changed everything. And for that I am grateful. I had no idea how badly I needed him to be excited about this baby. And he is truly excited!
Yesterday, an event happened that I never dreamed would occur. My husband took Isaac to Utah for a 12 year old snowboarding man trip. Just the two of them. 9 years ago, when I was a single mom, I could only dream that one day I would be married to someone who loved my son as much as I did. Rob truly does. The two of them spending a week alone will probably change their relationship forever. I am so very grateful for that!!!!
But while they were flying to Utah, my dear friend Shannon and I were belly up with an ultrasound check having the mack daddy of ultrasounds. This was the week they are checking for everything. Being 37, I am high risk. So we are looking for Down's, Spina Bifida, or anything else that could possible become a part of who our child is. And believe me when I say that Shannon is clearly having this child with us. When I am sick, she takes over in our house. When it is time to shop for baby, she is there. Register? It's me and her. When labor begins, it will be her making sure everyone is where they need to be and taken care of. So it is only fair that she be a part of the big ultrasound day (I clarify big, because unlike average pregnancies, I have been getting internal ultrasound's every few weeks due to my cervical cancer and surgery in 2004. So whereas most women have had to wait until 19 weeks to have a good ultrasound, I have had plenty!) But I digress...For an hour we watch the screen as the tech measures everything about our baby boy. Shannon and I count 10 fingers and 10 toes, big belly, pointy Barkley nose..But as we talk later we both comment that the tech got quiet and spent a LOT of time on the spinal area and the brain area, which of course concerns me. We don't wait long to see my OB and go over the results of the ultrasound. He lets us know all of the things which are normal, including my cervix (yeah!), he lets us know that nothing was significantly abnormal, but there are a few uncertainties in the spinal area. He says we shouldn't be concerned yet, it just means the tech couldn't get the visible confirmation and measurements where they would like. He suggest we go ahead and do the quad blood screening, which will let us know our risk percentage for certain defects and we will go from there. What that means is, if we hear from him in the next day or two, I will go in for an amnio. If we don't, I will go back in 4 weeks and continue a perfectly healthy pregnancy.
Talking to Rob from Utah last night, I am reminded about how much this baby means to him, as he asks lost of questions and then calls back 2 hours later to ask more questions. I'm not sure if he knows how comforting it is to hear his concern. I have been a medical disaster since he met me, and every time he sticks he head in the sand and refuses to come up until the doctor gives the all clear. Don't get me wrong, he is there when I have surgery, or have important appointments, but you can tell by the glazed look in his eyes, that he isn't really there. The fact that he wants every detail of what could or could not be happening in my belly, is amazing. He is not glazed over, he is fully present. I fall more in love with him every day!
So I am going to try and blog more, but as you can tell it will be about Motherhood for the most part with a splash of sponsorship and brand management when I learn something worth sharing! But for now I am a mother and I am loving every minute of it! I would like to share one final thought, it is from a book I just finished called "Left Neglected" by Lisa Genova. I could never describe as well as she does, my thoughts as I left the 8-5 (or more) work force, so I want to share that paragraph with you.
"The thought of going back to Berkley now is scary. But it's not scary like snowboarding for the the first time, trying to walk without a cane, or Martha in a miserable mood. And it's not the reason I don't want to go back. Ever since business school, I've had my head down, barreling a thousand miles an hour, wearing the flesh of each day down to the bone, pointed down one road toward a single goal. A successful life. And not just run-of-the-mill success. The kind of success that my fellow elite classmates would envy, the kind that my professors would cart out to future students as a shining example of achievement, the kind that even the exceptionally prosperous citizens of Welmont would aspire to, the kind that Bob would be proud of. The kind of visibly successful life that would in every way be the exact opposite of the broken, shameful life of my childhood.
And then I crashed my car. For the first time in almost a decade, I stopped barreling a thousand miles an hour down that road. Everything stopped. And although much of the stillness of the past four months as been a painful and terrifying experience, it has given me a chance to lift my head up and have a look around.
And I'm starting to wonder. What else is there? Maybe success can be something else, and maybe there's another way to get there. Maybe there's a different road for me with a more reasonable speed limit. Whether it's because I can't, I'm too afraid, something inside me has changed and wants something different, or a complex blend of all three, I can't say, but I don't want to go back to Berkley. I don't want to go back to that life. The same intuition that led me to Mike Green and snowboarding is leading me somewhere else. And I trust it." (ch 32)
So that sums it up. A few years ago I left an amazing job with insane hours. Working for the Nashville Predators was a chance in a lifetime. The connections, the travel, the pro athletes. I had it all. Or so I thought. I left to take a job that would allow me to be home for dinner. I started to appreciate that time. Then we had a breast cancer scare and lumpectomy surgery. Then we had another brain episode, that the neurologists couldn't explain, and I was back in a quiet, dark room 95% of the day. And then I was slow enough to realize, I don't need that type of success anymore. Would I still like an income? Of course! But more than anything, I want to be a successful wife, mom and step-mom. I love our three children and I adore my husband. I have dreams, there are a few things I still plan to accomplish in my life, but for now, I am a mom and I am so grateful for this opportunity!