02 April 2014

Some Answers!

I had a very good doctor's appointment today! Through very valued opinions I received from friends and people that read my blog and by a little research I have done, I came up with about half a dozen things all or several of my symptoms could point to (you can read about that here). My regular doctor was able to eliminate all but two of them through some of the many test that have been run on me over the last few months. What I was left with on that list are premenstrual dysphoric disorder (also called PMDD) and a handful of different types of migraines including Menstruation Related Migrans. Since the only possibilities from my findings that were left were menstruation related, I was sent to a gynecologist that agreed all my symptoms could very well be caused by a hormonal issue and we have a plan to get things set straight. I still have appointments with other specialist, but I really feel like we are on the right track.

29 March 2014

Ahhh, Alone Time

So it's almost midnight and I only get a few minutes of it, but I LOVE my alone time. John is out picking up Nia from a girls night with the church youth group and the other children are asleep. Alone time is a precious commodity around this house and I actually think I'm the only person in our family that seems to need or want alone time. When I steal away a few moments to myself, I'm generally quizzed with questions like 'what's wrong?' and 'is everything ok?'

I grew up as an only child so until I had my own first child I got as much alone time as person would need. It wasn't until about 5 or 6 years ago that I even began to use the phrase 'alone time' or realize that I needed it. It was at this time that time when I began to have less of it. I had just become a full time stay-at-home mom, and shortly after started homeschooling our oldest daughter. Threw the last few years I've tried different ways to squeeze it into the daily routine, but it just doesn't generally workout the way I envision it in my head. I have been known to hide in the car with a book on occasion, but someone always comes to the garage looking for me asking if I'm ok.

Before family life, I was that person that would eat in restaurants or go to movies all by myself. I absolutely love to shop, but not with other people... I don't see the point in shopping with other people. I know shopping in small groups is a time honored girl tradition, but I just don't get it.

So, what you do to get in a pinch of alone time?

18 March 2014

Back To The Hospital

I started to write this post from my room at a sleep clinic after being released from the hospital that morning. I woke up Sunday feeling like poop and with blue lips. John's response to my blue lips were, "We are going to the emergency room." I didn't argue or resist, even I realize that a person shouldn't have blue lips. After being put into a little curtained room at the ER, my husband told my nurse I had passed out the night before. I hadn't even realized I had done this. Later I found out that he and Nia have been observing me blacking out for a few seconds at a time since December. What! Why haven't I realized I have losing seconds at a time for last 3 months?

So, lets have a little recap for people that don't generally read my blog. In December I was hospitalized for passing out, my blood pressure and pulse rate erratically and quickly going high and low, being absolutely exhausted (unable to get out of bed exhausted), being incoherent, and dizziness. This wasn't something totally new, I have had it happen before. Several times actually in the last 5 years. Before when it happened, I was always pregnant (in the last 5 years I have given birth to 2 amazing little boys and have had 2 miscarriages). I was always told it was just one of those weird pregnancy things and would go away when I was no longer pregnant. It has never been constant. It will go away for weeks or months and when it comes back may last a few seconds or (like in December) a few weeks. I am not however pregnant now (I was not pregnant in December nor have I been that way since) and since December I've had more time feeling crummy than feeling normal. In January my primary care physician (a new doctor for me because of moving in the fall) told me my blood pressure and heart rate issues are being caused by the muscles in my heart spasming, which is caused by fibromyalgia (I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia about 7 years ago). The good news is I finally have a doctor that realizes my fibromyalgia is key in figuring out my health. However, I don't know what to do about what's going on. I can't do many normal, everyday things if I'm prone to passing out at the drop of a hat. Not being able to safely pick up my baby or drive kind of puts a huge damper on my life.

Where are we at now. With the blue lips and blacking out, the doctors are thinking this might be more than a little fibromyalgia flare up. While in the hospital I had every possible test known to man run on my heart. Everything with my heart looks great. A cat scan was run to check for bleeding in my brain. Cat scan looked fabulous. I didn't leave the hospital feeling any better or with any answers again this time, but I did leave with a very distinct plan from my doctor. This is good, it's not something we have had when leaving the hospital before. Also, no one is trying to explain it away with the excuse of pregnancy. What's the plan? Well, my doctor wants to see what the results of the sleep test look like and is considering referring me to a neurologist. Depending on how that goes we will then look at the endocrine system. These test are expensive, time consuming, and not fun. So instead of doing them all at once, we are going system by system. Putting the most important systems for life at the top of the list.

I'm putting a complete list of my symptoms below. If anyone has a clue or slight feeling at what's going on with me, I would love to hear from you.

None of the following are present all of the time, I go weeks without any of them.
-Vision: sometimes I see spots or a halo around my vision field
-Poor gate: I feel like I'm about to fall over
-Pulse and blood pressure jumps around
-Irregular heartbeat- this is almost always present
-Light headed
-Memory loss/confusion
-Blacking out
-Extreme exhaustion
-About once a month I have a night of insomnia
-Crankiness: I get really grouchy when I'm not feeling well
-Mood swings: also when not feeling well
-Numbness on one side of face

-For the last 5 or 6 months everything has gotten a lot worse about 5 or 6 days before my period starts. January and February the symptoms lasted 2 days and then diminished. I might mention here this is when my periods seem to have become regular again after having Ember in May.
-I always have these symptoms just before catching any other kind of illness. Example: If my entire family catches a stomach virus. The day before I feel any effects of the stomach virus, I have most if not all of the above symptoms. This has always been worse than the actual illness that follows.

I'm home now and I've experienced all of the symptoms for most of the day. They are not as bad today though.

16 March 2014

Heart Update

The 2nd of January I was told my heart issues were caused by my fibromyalgia. I have muscle spasms in the muscles surrounding my heart that cause my blood pressure and heart rate to bounce around like a yo-yo. It makes me feel like a zombie when it’s happening. It comes and goes. Sometimes it last a few minutes, sometimes days. In December it lasted for 3 straight weeks. I can go several weeks without any issues then bam, I'm down for the count. I've know for 2 1/2 months what is causing me to feel so horrible, but my doctor has yet to tell me how to get relief from the issue, or hinted at any plan. My first visit about the issue I was told to get back onto my vitamins (I was taken off of them by a doctor when I was hospitalized in December) that I take to help control my fibromyalgia. I did, and the muscle spasms got better after a few days back on my vitamins, but only stayed that way for a few days. Since they come and go anyway, I'm not thinking the vitamins have much effect the vitamins have at all. I haven't been handling being sick very well at all. I get really, really depressed the first day of it and continue to be depressed until I'm well again. I’m grouch and not nice at all to anyone. Then I’m depressed for not being nice, even once I'm better this still really bothers me. When I do feel well, I live in complete fear that I will trigger something that makes my heart spasm. I have another doctor’s appointment this coming week, I pray I can get some relief.

update on March 17, 2014: So, I spent last night in the hospital... again. I was there for about 30 hours and have been told they have now run every test on my heart they can and my heart is fine. I'll write a new post telling a little more about the visit.

14 March 2014

Things I Recommend For Toddlers...

I will start by saying I have not been paid or am I affiliated with any of the below listed products or their companies. They are just things I like and thought you might also.

First up is the app Endless Alphabet which can be found here. The price is $6.99.

It is a rarity that I would recommend an app, especially one for a toddler. It is also an extreme rarity that I would pay 7 bucks for an app. In the 5 years our family has owned an iPad, I can remember exactly 4 apps that have cost this much or more that we have purchased. However, after playing this app for a couple of weeks, Cameron (age 2), has begun sounding out words that he encounters without prompting. Yes folks, this app has gotten my 2 year old to start reading words. Not by memorizing the shape of the word, but by using phonics. He hasn't picked up a book and tried to read it or anything that crazy, but if there is something he sees with a label on it that he wants, he has been sounding it out so he can tell us he wants it. He has done 5 words outside of the ones in the app so far for me.

And the next item is a Mommy's Helper Step Up potty seat found here on amazon for $23.45.

This has made not only potty time easier for us, but maneuvering in our small bathroom much less hazardous. It folds up, leans against the wall, and takes up much less space than a step stool and potty seat combo or the traditional little potty seat. The handles give Cameron a sense of stability. I would always have to help him hop down to his stool with the seat we had before this one. One warning though, you have to get it on properly. Notice in the picture above how the toilet seat is raised, if you don't do this the child seat can slip off with the child on it. Nothing worse than falling half naked from a any height when there is pee or poo involve. I would think that could be a definite potty training set back. 

And my final item is The First Years Insulated Sippy Cup found here 2 for $6.99.

These aren't the absolute best for not leaking, but I really haven't found a sippy cup that doesn't leak some. I like these because there are no valves. I HATE things with many pieces. I think when a house gets a certain number of people living in it, pieces just never seem to stay with their corresponding pieces. Since we are a family of 6, I think we have exceeded that number. If I manage to keep up with valves to sippy cups, I frankly get really annoyed by them either wearing out or by the extra time it takes getting them properly into their holes. I will only be buying this variety of sippy cup from now on.

17 January 2014

My Recent Hospital Visit

Last month I spent a little time in the hospital. I was admitted after going to the E.R. for chest pains and a rapidly fluctuating blood pressure, along with dizziness, blackouts, and memory loss. After a zillion test came back normal and seeing several doctors, I was sent home and told to stop taking my vitamins until I was able to follow up with a primary care physician. I got home and felt worse and worse.
So, what was going on...
When I finally got in to see a primary care physician (I hadn't chosen one since moving in the fall), he thankfully knew exactly what was going on. In a nutshell, I was having a fibromyalgia flare up in the form of muscle spasms in the muscles that surround my heart.
The longer explanation:
I have fibromyalgia (this is not new, I've had it for a long time). People with fibromyalgia do not process nutrients properly and their bodies over react to things that their bodies sense as toxic. I take vitamins and avoid certain things to manage this. The muscle spasms started because I didn't have enough of somethings (vitamin and mineral type things) and a toxin was introduce to my system. The rest of the symptoms were either caused by the muscle spasms or what was causing the muscle spasms. I didn't realize this was a fibromyalgia flare up because I usually have an immense amount of pain when I have a flare up. Other than the chest pain, I wasn't having any pain at all. When I stopped taking my vitamins my symptoms got worse because I was becoming more and more depleted of the vitamins that were already low.
The treatment for all this was to go back on my vitamins. Yesterday, I had been home from the hospital for exactly one month and I'm happy to report it was the first day I felt like a fully functioning human again.

09 January 2014

Getting There

I've lost 10 pounds!! So I still have about 10 to go before I am the weight I was when we moved back to our hometown just months ago, then what feels like a billion more before I hit my goal weight, but it's a start. A good start actually. The first 5 happened after leaving my brief hospital stay last month. I wasn't 'trying' very hard then, just kind of watching what I was eating more. This last week I have really been working at it. I Picked up the LoseIt app (this is not a paid advertisement) and I have to tell ya, it's really been a God send. I've watched my mom do a thousand diets that I know I could NEVER keep up with. I personally did L.A. Weight Lose many years ago and found it to be horrifically challenging and expensive to do everything the right way. I've tried counting carbs and a handful of fad diets in the past. This seems much easier than any of that. Although I'm just in my first week of using it, so it could be new diet euphoria going on at this point.

About lose it... Basically, you enter your height, weight, and sex and it tells you how many calories to eat to lose 1 or 2 pounds a week or remain at the same weight. You log what you eat and when you exercise and the app does the counting for you. 

02 January 2014

A Family Resolution

I'm not generally someone that is into making New Year resolutions, however this year John and I decided to make one (a really big one actually) for the whole family. We are changing the way we eat and making it a definite priority to get active. So what exactly are we changing...

We have decided to only eat 'real food' for starters. If you're not familiar with the term, here is a great blog post on how to explain it to kids. I think it is also a great way to explain it to adults. Basically, eating real food is totally passing up food dyes, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils,  fast food, and unnatural preservatives. Also, eat minimum amounts of food with with white flour, sugar, and rice. We are adding anything deep fried and pork to the list of things to totally avoid. So what does that leave us... fruits, vegetables, whole grains (including nuts and beans), lean meats, and seafood. John and I are also using the app/web site lose it. We are also doing work out videos and planning to purchase an elliptical machine. We are looking at this one.

Why are we doing it...

For starters, we probably were eating a little healthier than many families out there. Well, until we moved back home (to our hometown in KY). There are several factors here that have contributed to our nutrition falling into a downward spiral these last few months, but here are the top excuses I can think of: we have been busier than ever before, eating out is a little cheaper here, our parents are here and take us out to eat regularly, our parents also frequently bring yummy junk food to the house, the girls have outgrown their gluten issues (making up for lost time on those gluten loaded goodies), and southern baptist don't seem to do anything without food. We went to a Vineyard church in Columbus, Church met 1/4 as often and food was a special event type of thing. Baptist meet much more often, for longer periods, and there is almost always food.

Adding to this is the fact that we are barely moving. I guess all of those steps between parking lots/garages and buildings that are kind of far away add up. In small towns, parking is right next to the door just about everywhere you go. There was also walking to get the mail, walking to take trash out, well you get the picture. We have a great yard, but the kids don't seem to know what to do with themselves off of a sidewalk (we are working on this one). So, we are making it a point to move, move, move!

Another big motivator has been a few recent issues with my heart. Heart issues are not new to me, they have just changed a bit here recently. Healthier lifestyle + lower weight = healthier heart for this momma. We are not exactly sure what is going on at this point, I had a brief hospital stay just before Christmas. I have a doctor's appointment is in about 14 hours, prayers for answers and a quick and easy treatment are welcome.

04 December 2013

Water Science

This is a super simple science experiment with very few materials.
supplies needed
two paper towels or thin cloth napkins
3 similar glasses
2 colors of food dye

1. First fill with equal amounts of water into 2 of the glasses. 
2. Add different colors of dye to each of those glasses
3. Arrange the glasses (as above) with the 2 liquid filled glasses on the sides of the empty glass.
4. Fold up each paper towel or napkin to make kind of a string to join each liquid filled glass to the empty glass.
5. Watch what happens.

Up to the picture above this project went fairly quickly. Well, within a few minutes at least. This is where the girls and I kind of lost interest and wandered off. A few hours later (when I went back into the kitchen to make dinner), I noticed all the water levels were equal. 

29 November 2013

Essential Oils: Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus essential oil is one oil that my family uses on a daily basis... mostly because I use it in my cleaning/hand sanitizing spray (click here for the recipe). I originally purchased this oil because someone told me it was really good at clearing up a cough. My heart does somersaults when I take cold medicine, so I was seeking an alternative before the next time I would need something for that reason. A few drops of this oil on the bottom of the feet is like magic when it comes to getting rid of a cough. Currently our family is getting over a cold. Because there are side effects, I really like using the eucalyptus oil for cough (if a medicine makes my heart do somersaults, I really don't want to give it to my kids). Also, if I hear one of my little angels coughing at 2 a.m. I can put it on their feet without even waking them up.

Check out my post on Essential Oils: Lavender (Here)

26 November 2013

Ember's Favorite Toy

One of my favorite things to experience with my babies is watching them find a favorite toy. In my experience, it usually isn't something I would expect them to even notice. Ember has recently chosen his favorite, it's the little book he is grabbing above. We have had this particular item since Anara was a baby and Ember is the first baby to pay much attention to it. It makes a very crinkly sound when you touch it and it is fairly soft. 

Cameron's favorite toy as a baby was this blue dog, it is extremely soft and has a satin belly. He loved to give this dog kisses. He also had a bear of about the same size and color that he would happily take if the dog wasn't in front of him.

Anara is like her momma, finds it hard to chose a favorite with so many choices. Although, there were two she was really fond of. One was a cat that rattled, Ember sleeps with this toy now and loves it also. Anara's other favorite was a tiny, white lamb. Anara was most in love with taggie blankies though. She has only stopped sleeping with one a few months ago. 

Sania's favorite baby toy was actually not a toy at all. It is a Christmas tree ornament that somehow managed to make it's way into the basket of baby toys. It is a stuffed Tigger that we still hang on the tree every year. She would carry it around by it's string. As Nia got just a little older, she fell in complete and total love with Sherbet, a tye-dye Ty bennie buddy (like a beenie baby, but bigger) bear. She had to rub the ribbon on his neck to get to sleep and carried it around for about a year. When the ribbon wore out she switched to a cat by the same company... you can still find Kitty laying her bed everyday of the week.

25 November 2013

Ember's Dedication

In our faith, parents dedicate their children to the Lord. During this time we promise to raise our child as a Christian and teach him about the Lord. The church prayed over Ember also promised to aid us in raising and teaching him during the dedication.

Here are a few photos from our day.

This was the photo we used today for our church bulletin. Not bad for a photo shoot we did with John's iphone! Em is always, always smiling, but this day it actually took over an hour to get a single giggle out of him. 

This one and the next were taken by our friend Katie. She takes really fabulous photos. You should really go over to this site and see some of them. She didn't even realize we would be up there today until we got on stage. Thankfully, she was quick and was able to snap a few shots.

This and the next were taken by Nia. I have to say, she has a good camera eye also.

This is the whole family, my parents are in the middle and John's mom is on the end. My dad went and got the boys outfits for them yesterday.

Here we were waiting to be seated for lunch, I just thought these were cute shots. 

Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease

Cam appears to have come down with hand, foot, and mouth (also known as hoof) disease. I say appears, because he hasn't actually been diagnosed or even looked at by any medical professional. I've just seen it several times, and to me this is what it always has looked like. It's a virus, so aside from making him comfortable, there isn't much we can do.

In a nutshell:
-This generally affects those younger than 5. 
-Adults can catch it, but usually don't show signs.
-First few days= fever, sore throat, and cold like symptoms, if any symptoms at all. 
-Next blisters appear.
-Blisters on face, hands, feet, & buttochs.
-Contagious through bodily fluids. 
-last 1 to 2 weeks

He was miserable the first few days, but at this point he really seems to be feeling fine. The blisters do appear to bother him somewhat, but not as much as I would expect from their appearance. The do wake him at night though. We have tried several different things on them from epsom salt baths to coconut oil and every itch cream in between, but what seems to work the best at healing them up and making them feel better is diaper rash cream. His tush looked worse than any other place he had the blistery rash, but after a few applications of desitin, it is doing much better. 

My biggest obsession right now is keeping Ember and Cameron separated. Thankfully, the girls have been able to take care of Ember in their rooms while Cameron sticks to the rest of the house. However, Cameron and Ember are very best buds. Actually, Cameron more thinks of Ember as 'his baby' than anyone elses. Even when Cameron is very sick, if he hears his baby brother crying, Cameron jumps up and tries to fix whatever could be wrong. So, keeping them separated isn't an easy task. They constantly ask for each other, and if they catch a glimpse of one another they both start screaming. This illness last a long time and the first part of it, Cameron would only sleep laying on somebody and the only for an hour or so at a time. Do not want to go this again, so Ember will remain quarantine until I see no more blisters. 

22 November 2013

Some of Nia's Artwork

These would be much better scanned in, but that isn't hooked back up yet and I have had a request to see some of her work. So, here it is...

This is a drawing Nia did of her friend Shelly.

This is one of Anara. 

Self portrait. At the beginning of each school year I have the kids do a self portrait. I really like that she added in her headphones and favorite necklace this year. The rest are things she had laying on her desk. 

19 November 2013

Christian Way Farm

Over fall break for the local school system, our church took the elementary kids to Christian Way Farm. John and I took the opportunity to make it a day where we just focused on Anara. We try to give each kid as much one on one time as possible, but it has been a bit challenging with all the moving and newness going on in our lives recently. We all really enjoyed our trip out to the farm. It was nice to see how our kid that left behind city life just a few weeks ago felt so at home on a farm. It took us about 3 weeks after moving to Kentucky to convince her it was ok to play on the grass, so I wasn't sure exactly how she would react to sloshing through mud and farm animals. She had a blast and loved every bit of her time there.

They have an awesome way of telling the story of salvation with a pumpkin

Hulling feed corn the old fashion way

This is our friend Julian

Feeding goats some of that corn that was just hulled

Hay ride

Look at that perfect pumpkin Anara picked out!

Julian's older brother Shawn

This was a cool little ride

Anara with Amelia, who happens to be Shawn's and Julian's sister.

There is also a corn maze, playground made partially from hay bales, and a mini golf course at this farm. All of us had a really great time and we will be going back!

16 November 2013

A Little Something For Cameron

Cameron did not have an easy time with all the changes that went from late spring through the summer. I had been trying to think of something to make him feel special and when we came across two bags of match bags cars at goodwill and this cute truck shelf, I knew I could come up with something that he would love. So, just after moving into our new house Cameron woke up one morning to this line of cars that began outside of his door.

I could swear I got pictures the next morning, but I really can't find them anywhere. The look on his face was priceless. There were a total of 84 car/trucks/plans. Those and the self came to a total of $9.50, but the look on his face and how it made him feel was priceless.