A Woman’s Four Letter Word

LUMP. It could be nothing, or it could be cancer. No, breast cancer isn’t a death sentence but it is still the first truly terrifying thought that came to my mind. I was imagining it, so I waited. Three weeks later I could still feel it in the exact same spot, I wasn’t just imagining it. One doctor who said there was nothing there, the second doctor found not only the lump I had found but possibly a second one as well. Another mammogram, an ultrasound too, and more waiting. Back to the doctor for results, “suspicious abnormality, biopsy should be considered” is exactly what the results said. More tears, more fear, more waiting.

Thankful For The Storms

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I love storms, the gray skies, the dark clouds, and the downpour that follows. Okay, so I may be odd man out on this one. Yes, sunny days are beautiful and great for appreciating the outdoors. Even the softest glow of shimmering sunlight cannot on its own sustain the beauty of the world we live in.

The earth needs the rain to saturate the ground, to keep it soft within, so that the trees, flowers, and grass we take pleasure in everyday continue to grow. So the saying goes, “Into each life a little rain must fall.” Just like the earth we live on, the lives we live in also need a little bit of rain every now and then.

The “rain”, or storms we experience in our lives are the problems we face, sometimes more often than we prefer, but these storms keep us humble, they keep us grateful for the positive things in life no matter how big or small. Celebrate your family’s accomplishments and cherish the time you spend with them. Life isn’t perfect but we should always strive to make the best of this beautiful mess we are in. Two brothers just over a year apart in age, of course they fight, like cats and dogs they fight, however, when one is hurt, sick, or afraid the other is right there to be the best brother they can be. “Good days”, or days when nobody fights or gets hurt are awesome, as a parent those are the days we wish occurred more often. T and Bear are a prime example of two siblings that can’t live with each other and can’t live without each other; Bear was playing on the Kinect the other day, but when he jumped he landed wrong and hurt his ankle. T came running to me, held his brother’s hand until we got him settled, calmed, and then tended to him all day. What a wonderful sight! It is moments like this, the little rainstorms that soften our hearts to see and treasure the precious love and good in our lives.

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I am thankful for all the rain in my life, so that I can watch my life and my family bloom and grow.

I am thankful for the storms.

Are you?

Date Night

Dates aren’t just for boyfriends and girlfriends anymore. Husbands and wives take time out for themselves because as much as we love our kids moms and dads are people too. It is nice to have a little one on one time, which is hard to do. It is not easy to have a romantic evening with kids running around screaming or jumping in your lap for the random hug or kiss from your child which I don’t think any mom or dad will ever say no to.

There is a new trend to “dating”. Dates aren’t just for romance anymore. I have seen more than a few YouTube videos and Facebook posts about “daddy-daughter” dates, so when my Bear wanted to go to a movie and T did not, well, I took the opportunity! Yep, I asked my Bear if he would like to go on a date with me. Since we had not yet gone to our new movie bistro in town this was the perfect opportunity for dinner and a movie. We knew exactly what we wanted to see. Since the day he found out this movie was being made he told me over and over, “Mom I want to see this the day it comes out!” Well June 13th came and went, things came up and it didn’t happen. “Mom, I know we need other stuff first. Save your money for the trip for T’s doctor appointment”, Bear told me. I am so proud that he is so mature and understanding of his brother’s needs even though I repeatedly tell him “That is a mom and dad thing to take care of, not for you to worry about.”

This was my time to make it up to him. T still did not want to go with us so I arranged for someone to stay with T (thanks mom & dad), checked movie times, and we were off! No, we didn’t do all the dressing up or anything, it was just great to enjoy time just the two of us. We headed to the movie bistro, and since neither of us had ever been in one before we were both really impressed at how nice it was. I handed him the debit card, asked him to purchase our tickets and as he looked up at me with a huge smile he very politely said to the woman at the counter, “Two for How to Train Your Dragon 2 please.” He was so excited to finally see the movie he had been waiting so long for. He chose our reserved seating for the movie and picked up a menu for the food. We walked over to the concession stand, ordered his food, grabbed our drink, and headed to our seats. Wow, both of us were floored. We had never been to a theater with big leather seats and a small tray table attached. His food arrived and we sat and chatted until the movie started. He was all smiles.

I couldn’t count how many times he smiled that whole time, those beautiful, genuine, couldn’t be happier smiles. It was a great movie and we had an amazing time! My little boy is growing into a fine young man. I could not be happier to have been his first date, yet another memory I will cherish forever and I hope he will too. Best date night ever!

Parenting Yourself

Okay, so I haven’t written anything in a while. I haven’t done much except for the necessaries lately. I wrote about parenting your doctor and well I suppose you could call this the sequel.

I finally took my son for his second opinion with another neurologist. After reviewing all reports and a lot of information was exchanged I was told that my son did not appear to have a true seizure disorder and did not require medication. My heart tore in two.

Let’s go back about five years, I was always the mom who said no to medications, when my son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and the doctors said medication I said no, after being what felt like browbeaten  by the schools, the doctors, and the counselors I stood my ground. No medication. Now, a neurologist told me my son required medication for seizures; a neurological condition I knew little about, I am not a doctor or nurse, I have no medical training, so I trusted the doctor. Things seemed to snowball from there. He was on one medication, then two, then three and well you get the picture. I was trusting the doctors too much, and they trusted the medications too much. I started to question myself, why had I changed so much?

It was time for the real me to come back, to advocate for my son like he deserved. I started telling, not asking, telling the doctors I did not agree with them and wanted to taper my son off of his medications. Now, it was time to tackle the neurological condition, I still wasn’t a doctor, still didn’t know much more about the spikes on his EEGs but I did it anyways. “I want a second opinion.” Those five words empowered me so much by just saying them. “Fine, I will discharge your son from my practice and you can go get him one”, was the doctor’s reply. For me it turned out well, that he didn’t need medication. I was also told that it appears he may have a mild case of Autism Spectrum Disorder and requires further evaluation. Not bad news, just something new we need to learn to live with and help him the best way possible, it is not a surprise, I always noticed something but no doctor in my area could ever figure it out.

Now, why did my heart tear in two when I found out my son did not have a seizure disorder? This was after all good news, but I was never a medication mom, I fought against it tooth and nail, at first. I felt like I had failed my son medicating him unnecessarily but I had to tell myself that I didn’t do it because I didn’t care about him but because I did.  It is easy to put blame on ourselves as parents. Our children rely on us 100%. Every tummy ache, every scraped knee and fever, and to teach them morals, love and the kind of people they grow up to be they look to us for guidance. Should I have not waited so long to question the doctor? Maybe. I can’t beat myself up forever about it. I can only be glad that I did stand up for my son when I did and question it.  Yes, I could have questioned it sooner, but at least I didn’t wait until any later either.

Lesson learned for this mom. Actually two lessons learned.  Lesson one, question the doctors, they need it.  Lesson two, something we all need to remember, it is not about being frustrated over our mistakes, it is about rejoicing over our successes. As parents we tell our kids not to be so hard on themselves when something goes wrong but to focus on what they did right and be proud of themselves for that. Are we parenting ourselves in the same manner?

Summer Fun Freebie

Summer is here and while the kids are enjoying their summer breaks they at times find themselves, you know it, bored. B-O-R-E-D, BORED. It is great having them home but those words can drive a parent up the walls, at least they do me when they are repeated daily, several times a day. This will be the second year I am signing my kids up for the Kids Bowl Free program. This is a nationwide program offered at over 1,050 locations. Sign your kids up and this summer they will receive two free games of bowling every day all summer at participating centers across the U.S. My kids love participating in this summer program, and so do I. The fact that it’s free is just another added bonus for us parents! This is great summer family fun!

Sign up at http://kidsbowlfree.com

Please use my email kellyh26@gmail.com in the “referred by” field. By doing so we will both be entered to win some awesome prizes including iPads and a trip to Walt Disney World. Once you sign up you can refer your friends for more chances to win these prizes.

Have a great summer everyone!

Living With Depression

What is depression? I am not referring to the chemical imbalance that causes depression. What I am referring to is the pain, the sadness, the choice to stay in bed under the covers on a beautiful day instead of going out and enjoying it, the loss of interest in family, friends, and interaction with the world. Unless you have experienced it first hand or had a family member or close friend that you watched struggle with depression you may not realize just how hard living can be.

You fall apart inside, at times you feel like it is happening, literally. You feel physically broken. Your arms and legs feel too heavy to move, your heart and mind can’t push you to do it either. So you lay there, in bed, on the couch, on the floor up against the wall, or in tears wherever you can find two minutes alone even if it means standing in a bathroom because you can’t let yourself cry in front of the people around you. You feel like a burden to those in your life. For some, when depression begins to rear its ugly head you fall into that awful trap of thinking it is your fate, family history perhaps, contemplating that you are going to end up just like your parents; for others it is nothing more than the fact that the stresses of daily life have become so overwhelming you simply shut down. Your rational mind knows you aren’t the only one in the world that this is happening to but your irrational mind is still making you feel completely alone in this fight even if you have someone sitting right next to you holding your hand.

Each person’s depression varies tremendously. One person may be able to push themselves through, while another needs a listening ear, some people may require medication to get them through, and for others it might take trial and error with several medications to find something that helps. For me, I tried medication and while it did help it also made me sick. I was tired of crying and having panic attacks every day but I was also tired of being sick from the medication so I talked to my doctor and slowly stopped the medication I was taking. Come to find out I needed a break and a hobby, a release for me to express my bottled up feelings and frustrations. After a short vacation, I found support groups and Enjoying The Chaos was born.

Depression is an intensely terrifying and nerve-racking condition. It shakes you to your core. You lose sight of the things and people that bring meaning to your life. The worst thing you can lose during depression is yourself, who you are, what you enjoy, what makes you a person. Do not let those irrational thoughts take over. You are not alone. Find support, find help in whatever way benefits you. If you are a friend or family member of someone suffering from depression please be supportive, understanding, compassionate, and remind them you love them, unconditionally.  If you are suffering, please, seek help.  Life is always worth living.

Parenting Your Doctor

Do you trust your doctor? Should you trust your doctor? I am not by any means saying don’t trust them but do you trust them implicitly? I have recently had a truly eye opening experience with my son’s pediatric neurologist. Most all of us know that when a doctor or specialist is uneasy about allowing us a second opinion it’s a big red flag. I encountered something I never would’ve expected, after trusting this doctor for almost six years I asked for a second opinion from a different doctor out of our area. Within 24 hours, my son was discharged from this practice without a second thought because as the doctor stated, “If you would like a second opinion I will discharge your son and you are welcome to get one.” I was not seeking treatment from a second doctor, only requesting confirmation from a medical professional that I was on the right track and making the right decisions for my son who has been diagnosed with and medicated for a seizure disorder for over five years.

Don’t ever be afraid to challenge your doctors. You may not encounter this type of doctor, but just in case you do this is what happened to me. Yes, they will do this, give off attitude in a professional manner of course, in my instance it was more of a, “you dare to question me” attitude to prevent you from questioning them. Question them anyways! I understand that doctors are busy but if they need something they get it done, however if it is something the parent wants it is a different story. They will act like children refusing to perform simple tasks such as courtesy call requested by another specialist giving the approval to be evaluated elsewhere. Get a second opinion whether they like it or not! They will become lazy making you fight to get copies of your children’s records for yourself or transfer to another medical professional. (Personally, I got a set of records for myself.) Keep pushing! This is your child’s physical and mental health, you are their strongest advocate. Speak for them because they cannot always speak for themselves.

Parenting doesn’t just refer to our kids, sometimes we find ourselves parenting our kids’ doctors and even our doctors too.

Only In South Texas

Growing up in South Texas is an experience all in itself. Living on the Texas-Mexico border I see, hear, and experience things I couldn’t imagine in my dreams if I hadn’t been raised here. My boys will always call South Texas home because their childhood memories and memorable moments started here. Kids mix up words all the time but these words, only in South Texas. In the area where we live one of those all so famous mythical creatures arrived a few years ago and created a ruckus for quite a while. The “chupacabra” attacked many poor defenseless creatures at night. Okay, done with that. Taco Bell is everywhere, but just in case you aren’t a fan, a chalupa is a Mexican food dish consisting of a tortilla, meat, vegetables, and cheese. Can you see where this is going? My younger son (Bear) walks up to me and well, the conversation went a little like this…

Bear:  Mom, what is a chupacabra?

Me:  Why?

Bear:  Grandma said she is making chupacabras for dinner.

Me:  What?

Bear:  Yeah, those things with tortillas and meat and tomatoes and stuff.

Me:  Oh, you mean chalupas?

Bear:  Yeah, those.

I am still laughing about this. Enjoy your kids while they are little, they grow too fast. Remember these stories, they will be just as funny twenty years from now.

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Refreshed

Do something for yourself. It is the little things we forget. Parents are people too. With little ones and even not so little ones it can be hard to make time for ourselves. Even I didn’t realize how much I was affected by the smaller things that I had stopped doing and how I been neglecting myself. With all of the stresses we have daily from finances to our children’s education to our family’s needs it is not hard to see why our physical appearances and sometimes emotional well being gets pushed further and further down the list of things to do. A haircut and set of highlights, that is all it took for me to feel better about myself. I would say used to do the mom ponytail but what I had was just a big old mess. I walked around with a permanent headband and bun accompanied by the infamous t-shirt and yoga pants. Now, with a low maintenance hair cut I actually have two minutes to put on some makeup, pick out a nice top with jeans, which are always an improvement to my t-shirt and yoga pants combinations, before the kids start yelling and it’s time to run out the door. The difference I feel having put a little time into myself is more than I expected. I feel like a new me, wouldn’t you like to feel like a new you? Steal a little time away for yourself while the kids are sleeping or playing, take a bubble bath after their bedtime, polish your nails, fix your hair in a different style than usual, cut your hair, change something up; you will feel so much better for spoiling yourself even if it is something small. After all, you deserve to feel good about yourself for everything you do.