Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 2009 Siggies Slideshow

Here are some siggies I made this last month...

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Value of Happiness

(I had intended to have this be a Thoughtful Thursday post, but I could not get my thoughts aligned yesterday...)

So I posted a Facebook status update this week called happiness is overrated. I got some posts from friends who gave me hugs (thank you) and gave me amens! (thank you, too)... I even inspired a song. It's quite satirical and made me laugh. From Paul Sonnenberg:

Too Damn Happy

That's just too damn happy
That's just too damn glib
That's just too damn happy
That's no way to live
So stick your peace of mind
Where the sun don't shine
That's just too damn happy.

That's just too damn tragic
That's just too damn sad
All this talk of magic
All those dreams you have
But when the rent comes due
For Mother Hubbard's shoe
Magic beans ain't magic.

And yet you're so damn busy
And yet you're so damn rushed
That's just too damn busy
It's not the life for us
We're gonna stay in bed
Til the dogs need fed
You just make me dizzy

Give me honest feelings
Give me honest work
Give me time to linger
Don't be such a jerk
And stick your peace of mind
Where the sun don't shine
That would make me happy...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Paul!

It's not that I'm depressed (well, actually maybe I am but nothing serious), it just seems to me that there is so much pressure to conform to this notion of being happy... kinda like breastfeeding, if you know what I mean. It's a worthy goal and I am envious of those people who are truly happy, I know it's work to attain that and it's a choice everyday to find it. But is it realistic?

In my 30s, I decided to let go of the daily battle of being unhappy with my weight and began to accept that I'm heavier than I'd like. There used to be a constant nagging voice in my head that constantly criticized myself and was disgusted with myself. I used to avoid getting my picture taken and would not even go to reunions or events because I was heavier than I'd like. I'm not sure what changed... but I realized that the people I most admire and respect are all different sizes... and that in the end, weight is not what matters most in defining who I am, how much I am valued, and how much I like myself.

How does this relate to being happy? So much of what my life is about is out of my control... I take the pieces and make the best of them. If I'm quite frank, my day-to-day life is not one most people would want or envy, it's hard work. My marriage is hard work; it was difficult before our special needs daughter arrived, it's hard still. There are compromises you make in life due to circumstances beyond your control, there are compromises you make so that the icky tension goes away. One day, like when you've faced a breast biopsy, you find yourself reflecting on your life and realize it's just... meh. That's it. Meh.

So now what? I'm 40. I'm not blissfully happy and I do not see any scenario where that will change. Do I continue to feel awful about that? No, I need to reframe it.... hence the happiness is overrated post on Facebook. I am grateful for the blessings in my life and of those I have many. I spend time laughing and playing, I seek opportunities to do things that bring me joy, and at the end of the day, I know things could be much tougher. There is value in happiness, there is also value in accepting that happiness is overrated. I'm tired of comparing myself to the positive people and falling short, I'm tired of feeling like a failure in yet another aspect in my life. Today I'm embracing my MEH.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Guess How Much I Love You by Becca

Becca has a gorgeous new romantic kit in the Enchanted Studio Scraps store today called Guess How Much I Love You. She has also created a set of cluster frames to make scrapping even easier.

Guess How Much I Love You

Cluster Frames

My Layout

Thanks for looking!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oh my goodness! GSO!!!

The layout I did with Chris in his firefighter turnout gear (below) made Gallery Standout at DST today!!! WOOT!

Hot in Here by AnnaBV Designs

Anna has a gorgeous new kit out today at ScrapMatters called Hot in Here featuring everything about firefighting. This kit is perfect for those pictures of kids in costumes or the real firefighters you are blessed to know. Be sure to also check out the alpha and quickpages (or pick up both with the kit as a bundle!) as well as Anna's blog for an add-on!

Hot in Here





"I Wanna Be a Firefighter"

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday: the beginning and needing friends

Sometimes I need a friend whose shoulder provides comfort. Being a mother to Anna means that I have these wonderful friends but they aren't HERE, sitting next to me. The reality is that when you have a child as complicated as Anna, real life friends are few and far in between. I do have a special few who always welcome my call or email even though it's been months since they reached out to me and I am very grateful for them. But the ones who really "get" it... that are with me for the daily nitty-gritty... they are all over the world and I wish they were closer. I will admit, I am not a good friend. I get absorbed in my family, they need so much of me all the time. So I get selfish, guarding my time and energy and space. When I think about friendship and what it means, it takes me back to the beginning.

I have always been very open about Anna's issues. When she was 9 months old, well... that's when the bottom fell out of my world. I knew that she wasn't a typical baby. Jenny was 9 years old when Anna was born, so it really was like starting all over again. Anna cried a lot as a newborn. She startled easily... her Moro reflex hung around throughout her infancy. She met milestones late. At 6 months, she fell off the growth chart for height, weight, and head circumference. I thought she was just small.

That 9-month checkup. Our nurse practitioner is the one who saw us that day. Curtis had friends, buddies, visiting... one from out of town, so I was at the ped's office by myself. Stephanie asked me the standard milestone questions...

"Is Anna rolling over both ways? Is she getting up on all fours? Is she crawling? Is she babbling?" All to which I answered cheerfully, "Not yet." I could see a look cross Stephanie's face as she excused herself from the room. She came back with Dr. G, our wonderful, wonderful pediatrician. He asked the same questions, and many more. "Is she doing x? How often does she do y? They left together and were gone a long time.

I started feeling funny. I looked down at my tiny baby... I think she was about 12 pounds? Was something wrong? I held her close and waited. I thought to myself, "All kids are different. That's why there is a curve for growth. Some kids have to be near the bottom. She'll do things in her own time."

When Dr. G and Stephanie came back in the room, they looked serious. They said, "We are concerned about Anna's development and want you to see a pediatric neurologist. We are also sending her information to Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) for evaluation to see if she could benefit from therapy." They also wanted us to see a pediatric opthalmologist because Curtis has a birth defect with his optic nerve that has caused him some pretty serious vision issues. They handed me some pamphlets, then Dr. G left. Stephanie looked at me, with that sweet, concerned smile she has and asked if I was okay. In that moment, I was. I'm all about getting more information and doing whatever needs to be done. I can take a lot. I don't think I really realized in that moment what this meant for Anna's future or my own.

But I remember driving home and worrying. ECI... was that a state program? Would they have the power to take her away from me if they felt I was not doing enough for her? When I got home and shared with Curtis what had transpired, he wasn't concerned at all. He was certain she was fine and would catch up.

So for the next 9 months, I started the process of induction into the special needs motherhood world. I learned what OT and ST meant, I learned words like "hypotonia," "microcephaly," "failure to thrive," and "high myopia." I took my sweet, tiny baby to a pediatric neurologist, a pediatric ophthalmologist, a developmental pediatrician, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, an orthopedic surgeon, a geneticist, a gastroenterologist, and I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting. By the time Anna was 18 months old, she was preparing for her first of three MRIs under general anesthesia and untold other tests. She was walking but not talking, and had many sensory issues that prevented her from enjoying playgroup and Gymboree classes. I just held her.

I still just hold her.

At 18 months is when my mom (really being the only one who understood) googled hypotonia and we found iVillage's Child Hyptonia board (a support message board) and Julie and Charlie's site (hi Julie!!!). I cried tears of relief to have found a group of moms who were experiencing similar problems with their children. For days, I lurked on that board reading story after story. I was so nervous when I posted my first introduction! I'm sure I've mentioned this group of moms before, they are my Exceptional Women, and we meet once a year in person without husbands or children.

Anna has continued to add many complicated labels past 18 months, but I had friends to turn to then. At some point in the future I want to write a letter to my younger hypotonia sisters, the ladies whose little babies are floppy and are seeking help and find the Child Hypotonia board. Many of us wondered where the older kids were on that iVillage board... the truth is that most our children did not catch up or grow out of their problems. We joined other boards like ones for developmental delays and seizures. As our children got older, we left those boards and started our own.

It's difficult to go back in time, to that point where hope still flourished. The journey to acceptance is really hard, emotional, and painful... and you know what? It's never over. In some ways, it is like grieving a loss. I'm glad I'm through the other side now and that I have friends who understand. But damn, I wish they were here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We took Dominic to the pumpkin patch today

We had a really good time today visiting a nearby pumpkin patch. A neighbor friend and her son joined us so it was extra fun. Here are a few pictures, enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009


I was pretty sure the biopsy results would be benign, but I am so happy to know for sure that I'm all clear! WOOT!!!

Thank you all so much for your kind words, support, prayers, and positive thoughts. Honestly, it really makes a difference to have that energy out there working for me and I feel truly blessed having been a recipient. I don't take this gift for granted. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Smooches!!!

Be Yourself by AnnaBV Designs

Anna has a new kit and alpha available today called Be Yourself at ScrapMatters and ZigZag Scraps. This kit really celebrates the individuality and uniqueness that makes each of us our own person. The colors and textures are so rich and easy to scrap with that I ended up making two layouts for her. There is also a set of coordinating quickpages!

Be Yourself

My layouts:

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I had my biopsy today. It was a lot more involved and uncomfortable than I thought it would be and I'm quite sore tonight. Because I process my thoughts so much through writing, I'm going to share this experience. I hope none of my women friends ever have to have one of these biopsies and the worry that comes along with it. (And if you are bothered by graphic medical descriptions, then don't read this post, lol.)

I had a stereotatic core needle biopsy which meant I laid facedown on a table with my left breast dangling through a hole in the table. The breast was compressed like for a mammogram, and oy, did they squeeze that puppy! They had a woman assigned to be with me that was there just for support. She kept a hand on my back, fed me a cough drop (this stupid cough just won't let up yet), and was generally an all-around dollbaby; I was really grateful for her presence. The tech explained the procedure very well and talked me through the whole thing. The doc came in after I was washed and prepped. He starting injecting the lidocaine and because I was compressed so much, I hardly felt it.

The core needle then gets injected. I heard and felt a pop, felt a lot of pressure, and some pain. They took a scan to ensure correct placement, then began taking samples. I felt the first sample, ouchie, and I wasn't supposed to, so the doc injected more anesthetic. I had to hold completely still. He took samples in a clockwise direction at 12-2-4-6-8-10. That took about 20 minutes. Then he injected a titanium clip to mark the place of the biopsy. I heard the doc say, "Whoa, that was weird. I don't think I've ever seen that before." I started laughing and said, "Ummm, doc... that is not something a patient wants to hear!" He laughed too and said that the clip came back out with the core needle but got stuck under the skin. So he had to put in a second clip. More scans to check placement, then 10 additional minutes of compression to help with bleeding and swelling.

So I should have results on Friday between 3-5. I'm certain these calcifications will be benign but can I say again? ... OUCH!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A viral cause for chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia

A friend (thank you, Heather!) shared a local news story with me that a human pathogen retrovirus has been found in patients with neuro-immune diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. They have also found this virus present in some children with autism! Gasp! The implications are huge... they could possibly create a vaccine for this retrovirus. I don't know yet what it means for those of us living in chronic pain and with fatigue, but preventing it in others is so exciting.

Last week, researchers from the University of Nevada, the National Cancer Institute and The Cleveland Clinic announced the discovery of antibodies to XMRV (gammaretrovirus xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus) in 95% of patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). In a small sample of children with autism, 40% of them tested positive for the virus.

From what I understand, this is a virus that is like HIV in that it is blood-borne and that you may carry the virus but not show full-blown symptoms. It can lay dormant then some environmental trigger like stress, illness, or immunization sends the immune system into overdrive and the virus gets activated.

I'm extremely interested in this research. I've seen countless specialists over the years for my fatigue and pain and I've been told everything from "take vitamins," "just take a walk everyday," "there is nothing wrong with you," and on and on. I only manage symptoms and I have to be a strong patient advocate for myself if I want to have any quality of life. Hopefully this discovery will lead to new treatment options. I'm also curious to see how the autism link plays out with XMRV.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Lightness of Being by Becca and Designs by Helly

Becca has a new collab kit in her store today called The Lightness of Being. It's full of soft, sweet elements perfect for scrapping all kinds of photos.

The Lightness of Being

My layout:

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The untitled post

I tried to come up with a title for this blog entry and these are what I could come up with...

Not going to borrow trouble
Need some positive vibes
Awww crap

So I'm leaving it untitled.

I turned 40 this summer so that means I was due for my first mammogram (I actually had one in 1999 because I have fibrous breast tissue that feels quite lumpy and my ob/gyn wanted to make sure all was good). I found a small lump about 5 weeks ago and decided I should get my baseline scan done as well as check out the lump. My mammogram was today.

The good news is that the lump is nothing... just a mass of fibrous tissue.

The bad news is that in my other breast, they found some calcifications. Usually these are benign and are nothing to worry about. Usually. My calcifications meet the criteria for suspicious because they are clustered in an unusual shape and there are a few odd calcifications just off the perimeter of the cluster. The radiologist wants the cluster biopsied, so I am getting a stereotactic core needle biopsy done next Wednesday. It's done with a local anesthetic and I should get the results by Friday. It's about an hour long procedure.

I'm not freaking out at all. Frankly, I just don't have any energy to worry about it right now. My mom and I were joking that I could pencil in worry time on Monday from 2-3... I've got so much going on.

I'm finally recovering from the swine flu. Jenny is going back to school tomorrow as is Anna. Dominic is still very sick and Curtis is not much better either. I've been taking care of various sick children (and yes, I'm counting my husband in that category) for 10 days now. I need some space. I'm certain these calcifications will turn out to be benign because they have to be. Right?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bad dog

On the one day last week when both kids were at school (I think that was Wednesday, I don't quite remember... this swine flu has kicked our behinds!), our Charlie puppy decided that he would eat Dominic's Bakugan sticker book. Dominic opened the front door and started wailing. LOL. The pictures say it all.

Friday, October 2, 2009

An update on Anna

For those of you who don't follow me on Facebook, Anna started coughing Wednesday coupled with a little vomiting. On the way to school yesterday, she coughed a big cough and threw up just a little bit, so I kept her home for about an hour then took her to school late since she seemed fine after that. The school nurse called me an hour later to pick her up because she got lethargic and feelign worse, and she didn't go to school today either. Apparently, the flu and H1N1 is going around our campus and Anna had the early symptoms of H1N1.

After a very restless night and tough day, we got into the ped this afternoon. She does NOT have the flu or H1N1. Yay! Just a garden variety virus. Even if she did have either version of the flu, our ped would not give her the Tamiflu. He said that it causes an increase in the virus across the blood-brain barrier and is causing some psychotic and suidical behaviors in some children, and that would be especially possible because Anna is on Risperdal. Anna does not need to be dealing with that right now! So she would have had to suffer through the illness... thank goodness it's not the flu. Hopefully, she'll make it through this virus with no seizures. She did start running a fever last night and I was able to get Motrin in her right away. So far, so good. Except that she feels miserable, poor little pumpkin.

While we there, Anna was in full perseveration mode about getting a wheelchair. The ped fully supported mommy's position that Anna could not get a wheelchair because she didn't need one. She kept repeating herself, tried to leave the exam room (we had to bar the door), then got angry and violent (she threw her shoes at the doctor). We got an emergency referral to a child psychiatrist and OCD was mentioned. OCD? Very interesting. No one has ever mentioned this label in conjuction with Anna... her behaviors have always been attributed to autism.

I had been trying to find a child psych this last week with no luck. They either don't take our insurance or aren't seeing new patients. One guy wanted us to fill out a patient application just to get on a waiting list to be a patient, then another for an appointment after acceptance! Crazy. So this was good that the ped got to see what we've been dealing with for the last 17 days. Like I said before, you adapt quickly to a new normal and you forget just how altered your reality has become. It's disturbing to see how affected Anna is right now.

Mellow Fall and Sweet November Rain by AnnaBV Designs

Happy Friday!!! AnnaBV Designs has two new kits out today and a new CT to announce! Anna is also a guest designer for ZigZap Scraps for October and November, so there is a lot going on for her.

Anna's first new kit is called Mellow Fall and it is available at ScrapMatters and ZigZag Scraps. It is full of richly colored fall elements with an offbeat hint of violet in the palette. I'm sure I'll be reaching for this kit all season!

Mellow Fall:

My layout:

Sweet November Rain is a beautiful soft kit with that whimsical feel of wanting to play in the rain. It is available at ScrapMatters and ZigZag Scraps.

Sweet November Rain:

My layout:

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

September 2009 Siggies Slideshow

Here are my siggies for the month of September. Thanks for looking!

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