Sunday, September 25

Big Boy Food

So, Dante is eating big boy food now: rice cereal, meat, fruits, veggies and (according to his parents) he loves it!

After watching him eat peas last week, I'm not so sure!!

The hysterical thing is that despite the faces, he says "mmmm" or "ya-mmmmmm" the entire time he's eating! It cracked me up!

Love my lil boy!!!

Play Ball!

Van and Kenyan came to visit on Friday...the chose to both play ball and run through the sprinkler at the same time!

Good Times!!!

Nature Boy

Dante may be all boy...

...but he's got his sensitive side too!

He loves to go on nature walks~he is captivated by the big outdoors!

Loved spending time with him last week!!!! Hope he enjoyed it too...he is really studying me in the picture below: probably trying to decide if his Auntie M is as crazy as she appears to be! ;-)

Monday, September 19

World of Imagination

I love watching Teag play...she has such an imagination and a long attention span, so she really creates worlds of imagination, whether it be playing with cars and trucks or mini-princess dolls, tea-parties, or just talking on the phone.

Yesterday, she chose a phone and:


"Hello? Munkle James? Hi! How are you?!....I'm fine!!!...Just playing...yeah....

"How is Danielle? What she doin'? Oh?! Really?!....Hmmmm....

"And how is Baby Dante? (giggle) Ok! you....bye!"

Gotta love it!

Later we had a very long tea-party~Teag, Gramma, and me~with tea and cake and ice cream! It had to last about an hour...after the tea-party, Teag decided it was nap time for all of us! Only true love gets an arthritic gramma and fibromyalgia auntie to lay down on the floor!

All by Herself

So I guess it's no surprise that if Teag is wearing "big girl panties" and sleeping in a "big girl bed" that she should no longer need help getting into Gramma Cindy's great big bed. She figured out how to do it all by herself!

Being able to do this brings her a great amount of pride and joy!

And she is able to get down by herself to: simply hang on and slide on down the side!

I'm a Big Girl Now...

Our lil TeaRose is growing up fast~In one week she went from diapers and a crib to being potty trained and sleeping in a big girl bed.

Kinda made me want to cry!!!

Wednesday, September 14

Happy Birthday to Me

Right~so I turned 41 a couple weeks ago...

Last year, right before my birthday I totally thought I had a heart-attack. It scared the crap outta me and I had my mom drive me to the ER.

It instead turned out to have been a pill that got stuck in my esophagus...but it had all the symptoms of a heart-attck. After drinking this really nasty concoction that numbed my mouth, esophagus, and stomach I felt much better. And in the following days all sorts of precautionary follow-up tests were run, which revealed that I was graced with completely healthy heart and lungs~so not such a bad birthday health scare after all.

This year for my birthday, I got shingles. Oh goody. Not familiar with shingles? Well I'm here to tell you they are HELL!!!!

Here's a quick synopsis of shingles, garnered from various websites:

Shingles:(herpes zoster) is a painful, blistering skin rash due to the varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

After you get chickenpox, the virus remains inactive (becomes dormant) in certain nerves in the body. Shingles occurs after the virus becomes active again in these nerves years later. The reason the virus suddenly become active again is not clear. Often only one attack occurs.

{Note this means anyone who has ever had chicken pox or been immunized for chicken pox can develop shingles later. That's like 100% of the population!!!}

Shingles may develop in any age group, but you are more likely to develop the condition if:
~You are older than 60
~You had chickenpox before age 1
~Your immune system is weakened by medications or disease {Hey, that's me!!}
~You have weak immune systems because of stress, injury, or other reasons.

If an adult or child has direct contact with the shingles rash on someone and has not had chickenpox as a child or a chickenpox vaccine, they can develop chickenpox, rather than shingles.  {This means I potentially infected my nieces &  nephews and all the little kids at my sister-in-law Jill's 2 year old's birthday party!}


The first symptom is usually one-sided pain, tingling, or burning. The pain and burning may be severe and is usually present before any rash appears.

Red patches on the skin, followed by small blisters, form in most people. The blisters break, forming small ulcers that begin to dry and form crusts. The crusts fall off in 2 to 3 weeks. Scarring is rare. The rash usually involves a narrow area from the spine around to the front of the belly area or chest. The rash may involve face, eyes, mouth, and ears. In rare cases, no rash appears.

Additional symptoms may include:
Abdominal pain
Difficulty moving some of the muscles in the face
Fever and chills
General ill-feeling
Hearing loss
Joint pain
Loss of eye motion
Swollen glands (lymph nodes)
Taste problems
Vision problems

Expectations (prognosis)
Herpes zoster usually clears in 2 to 3 weeks and rarely recurs. If the virus affects the nerves that control movement (the motor nerves), you may have temporary or permanent weakness or paralysis.

Sometimes, the pain in the area where the shingles occurred may last from months to years. {Ah crap!!! Are they serious?!?}

How is shingles treated?

There is no cure for shingles, but treatment may help you get well sooner and prevent other problems. Call your doctor as soon as you think you may have shingles. The sooner you start treatment, the better it works.

Treatment may include:

~Antiviral medicines to help you get well sooner and feel less pain.
~ In addition to antiviral medications, pain medications may be needed for symptom control. Both nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and narcotic pain-control medications may be used for pain management in shingles
~Medicines to help long-term pain. These include antidepressants, pain medicines, and skin creams.

By the way, anyone who has had shingles may develop Postherpetic Neuralgia.
What Is Postherpetic Neuralgia?

Neuralgia is nerve pain that occurs when a nerve is irritated or inflamed. The pain spreads along neural pathways, may be brief or chronic, and can range from mild to outright unbearable.

A relatively common type of neuralgia is postherpetic neuralgia, which strikes after the infection known as shingles (herpes zoster). Typically, people with this form of neuralgia experience a continuous burning sensation. Pain may be very severe and long lasting. Any pain that persists for more than a month after resolution of the herpes zoster rash is called postherpetic neuralgia.

So, being me, I of course can't even get a fairly common illness in a normal way...I had nearly all the symptoms listed above but I never got the rash!!!! Makes the illness a little harder to diagnos...especially in someone who already has nerve damage!!! But the doctor finally determined that it was indeed shingles and I concur as aside from getting the rash, my body pretty much did as expected.
On the bright side, not getting the rash means that I was never contagious {phew!}, so I no longer had to stress about having potentially infected a bunch of kids with chicken pox.
On the not-so-bright side: The pain was horrendous!! Pretty damn close to being unbearalbe. And this is coming from someone pretty familiar with severe nerve pain!
I couldn't bear to wear anything except silk, fleece, or very soft cotton...and frankly nothing was better than anything. I couldn't bear to move....I could barely bear to breathe! I slept as much as possible because then I didn't notice the pain as much. It was so bad one night that I almost had my mom take me to the ER for a morphine drip!!! I lived on vicodin (in addition to my normal allotment on meds) and took these horse-pill-sized antiviral meds.
But now it has been about 3 weeks and the pain is fading, though I am still exhausted. I can move more easily. I can wear clothes (though I admit to still being afraid of wearing a bra!).
My only fear is that, since I am so abnormal, I'll get shingles again. After all, I had chicken pox twice as a child; why shouldn't I get shingles again.

But I am not going to stress over that, 'cause, as I noted above, stress can trigure shingles outbreaks!

Instead I'm going to focus on happy things...think happy thoughts...I can do it!

Friday, September 9

Prettty Things Galore

Check out my brother and sister-in-law's newest jewelry will pant with desire over their beautiful creations!!!

If you hurry and visit before end of day Saturday, Sept 10th, you can still participate in their Grand Opening Sale!!!

Thursday, September 8

Walking Alongside Those in Grief

While I truly doubt anyone really reads my blog, sometimes I am so moved by someone or something or a writing of some sort, I feel I must share it...and so I share it here: whether anyone reads it or not!!

In the past few years, many wonderful women and families have crossed through my life~mostly via the internet, through blogs and facebook, though some "in real life" too. I have met (especially) women of such strength and courage and depth that I hadn't known before. I am not saying there aren't men out there too who are strong like this, it is just that women tend to express it more publicly than do their counterparts.

Sadly, these women/families have lost something so precious that the fact that they can even breathe impresses me: they have lost a child.

In their losses, they have each in their own way struggled with grief darker than the darkest night, shock, anger, rage, sorrow, despair, healing, love, and hope. They have struggled in private on their own, and in public (via blogs, etc) reaching out for help and offering help and hope to others struggling through a similar journey. And this is a journey that doesn't end: yes, life goes on, healing occurs, etc...but never is the hole left by a child who should be there filled. That child is always loved, always missed, and the loss will always pierce a parent's heart.

I can honestly say, I don't know if I could survive such a journey. I am (selfishly) grateful I haven't had to. The little glimpse I did have of this journey when my nephew died in 2009, let me realize how very weak I am. I glimpsed their sorrow through a window but can never understand it fully. I am not a mother.

All I can do is cloak myself in as much comfort and understanding as possible and choose to walk alongside them on this journey of grief.

I look at people like Kristine, who lost her daughter in Dec 2009, but has gone on to change the post-birth  care for new-borns in such an incredible way, as State after State, pass Pulse Oxometry bills. With the simple, harmless, inexpensive Pulse Ox test conducted within 24 hours of birth, hundreds, if not thousands of undetected congenital heart defects will be discovered and lives saved. Kristine helped to do this through her grief over her sweet Cora. I can't imagine the courage this takes.

In the past couple days, another such woman opened herself up once again, to share her struggles after the loss of her son. Opened herself up, despite vicious attacks that came upon herself and her family in the midst of her son's death. Her courage, too, staggers me.

And what she wrote in the past couple days has refreshed my soul. It has bolstered me. It has given me hope.

I think because she put into words what I could not, though I tried. Jill has mentioned that she has struggled to write the posts of yesterday and today...but I have to say she put into words what I think I failed to do.

Her posts are soul-searching and she has been trimphant in her sorrow. I urge you to go read her incredible words.

She has been broken but not crushed. It is amazing to see. She has struggled with finding/acknowledging/choosing God, having been a Christian prior to her son's death....the questions of where was He? could He?...why didn't He?

I am overwhelmed with Jill's wisdom and grace. And to Jill, I respond:

Thank you for being so honest...what you shared yesterday and today is something that needs to be heard by so many. I understand your feelings about that verse in Jerimiah. And the confusion of how such horror can happen even when God is close by. The questions of how some are healed while others are not...

The anger that comes, directed at God~he can handle. The feeling of abandonment~he understands though he is near. The confusion...the torment...the suffering...the grief...he feels along with us. Of course then, comes the question of wishing that rather than being alongside us in this place, why hadn't he rescued us from it instead?

I am impressed that you were able to put into words this choice you've made...I had a hard time doing so. It's just that I knew if I turned away from God, it would be even worse. If I tried to make it on my own and comfort myself, I would fail and the darkness would be worse. Years ago I the verses from Isaiah 50 (10-11) suddenly seared themselves in my heart and broke through the darkness I was in at the time when I realized I was trying to light my darkness without God. Around that same time, I realized that though I had clung to Psalm 23, verse 4, it hadn't dawned on me that for there to be a shadow, somewhere there must be light...I only needed to find the true Source.

The time following my nephew's death, the darkness was deeper...and then somehow, those words broke through. And I knew I couldn't not believe in God...couldn't not trust him.

It's such a relief, really, isn't it, when you come to that place? Even if those around you aren't there yet...or you can't quite put it into words... There is a peace the floods in~not necessarily replacing the grief, sorrow, exhaustion...but joining it.

Many Christians that have not known this struggle or these depths of grief may have an easier time with their faith, with trusting God; they may (unconsiously) judge those in the midst of this battle rather than quietly supporting them through the darkness of it all. But then, perhaps, too they miss out on the soul-searing/shattering depths that is only known by those who have walked through the fires in the dark of night with God.

It is these women, these mamas with empty arms and grieving hearts and questions that have no answers, who continue to live on, who are to me true Women of Valour. They should be honoured and prayed for and supported. It is my honour to walk alongside them in their journey in whatever way I can.


PS~If you made it this far, please note that I believe in walking alongside my friends through their journeys of grief be they Christian, agnostic, Jewish, athiest, Muslim, or anything in between. It is my faith that boosts my compassion and understanding~not theirs!

Saturday, September 3

Auntie M Loves You!

Just try keeping up with these two!!!
They are both on the move non-stop!!!
...Especially now that Dante is crawling (and trying to walk!).
mwah!!! I love you!!!!

Love seeing TeaRose with the camera!!!
A girl after her Auntie's heart!