Friday, May 25, 2018

The Giving Life

I went to my daughter's school this morning to participate in their yearly Memorial Day Ceremony.  I had never attended one of these ceremonies before at her school and truthfully I imagined it very differently and much more low key than how it  actually was.  Mostly, I wanted to be there because I wanted to support Daisy and her class while they sang "My Country Tis of Thee," and I wanted to support any veterans that might be there and stand for those that I currently know who are serving.  I cherish the few opportunities that I have had to go to my daughter's school and participate in something with her and her class.  Those are some of my favorite days as a Momma.

When I walked into the school with Bruin this morning, I was so surprised to see how many parents had turned up for this event.  The lobby was packed with people waiting in line to sign in. The school was buzzing with energy and all of the kids around me were a blur of patriotic attire, stripes and stars.  It was dazzling.  

I walked outside and found a table to sit at and then took a minute to take in the setting around me.  The middle school orchestra was visiting and had set up outside and it was rather grand actually.  They were dressed sharp and they were sitting straight and still.  There was a small stage set up at the front and there was patriotic decorations sprinkled all around.  There were signs honoring the fallen of 2018 in our community and there were flags standing tall and proud.  It was beautiful.

Then the kids began to pour out of all of the doors from every angle and in a moment the ground in front of us was flooded in red white and blue.  It was a site to be seen.  I was captivated by the level of attention to detail and the air of respect that I felt in that space. The kids stayed so quiet and patient even in the baking heat.  I wanted to hug all of them for their patience and maturity for this special occasion.   

The ceremony began and different people spoke and beautiful songs were played by the orchestra.   Daisy's class sang their sweet patriotic melody and I loved it so much.  At one point a group of old airplanes flew over in beautiful formation.  It was spectacular!! I was not expecting that at all.  Of course Bruin loved that part too.  I was enjoying it all but, it was when the Police Captain of our town spoke that the ceremony began to take on a different tone for me.  

See, I am reading this book right now called Daring Greatly by Brene Brown with my Bible study gals.  This book has really rocked me on so many levels and I am not entirely sure what to do with all that it is digging up in me.  The entire book is about the power of vulnerability and how vulnerability is essential for personal health and freedom.  I believe it.  Unfortunately, we live in a world that doesn't value it much anymore.  The truth is that when someone is vulnerable and shares their heart, their story and their truth in love it is powerful...maybe not to everyone but, this doesn't change the fact that it is powerful and lives are touched and changed by that level of vulnerability.  Vulnerability is brave and inspiring and helps set people free.  

This Police Captain had also served in the military and he shared that he has lost good friends in battle...he spoke with a slight quiver in his voice, almost undetectable but, I heard it.  I heard the pain of loss in his words.  This captain confessed that the losses made it so that he had no desire to celebrate Memorial day with a happy BBQ or a beach outing.  In his pain he has faced Memorial day more quietly, laying low at home.  At least that is what I thought I I wish that I could let him fact check my story but, I think this is the gist of it.  He said that it wasn't until he started participating in the school ceremony three years ago that something in his heart began to change...and mind you this is after many years....something changed as he watched young people full of life and joy celebrating life and freedom and honoring others with this celebration.  His heart began to soften and he began to see the okay side of letting others celebrate however they choose.  And honestly I almost balled my eyes out right then and there and if you know me you know that I never cry.  Why did I almost ball my eyes out?

Because this tough man in leadership who has no doubt experienced unfathomable tragedy was being vulnerable in front of his entire community.  That takes tremendous courage.  Vulnerability is nearly impossible for most people in this day and age...especially for men.  As painful and as difficult as it can be to be vulnerable, it is only through vulnerability that we can allow our hearts to become softened, humbled, healed and changed and also how we can minister to those around us.  Our vulnerability is a powerful and encouraging voice in a broken world.  Vulnerability says, "I feel that way too. You are not alone. We can get through this together!" 

Instead of living his entire life hardened by pain and loss...which would actually be understandable, he is bravely allowing his heart to be softened and as a result his perspective and heart is changing towards the people around him and towards life.  That is courageous.  That is brave.  That is also heroism.  

I want more of that in my own life.  I want more of that for all of the many people that I see struggling with so many different struggles in life.  More shouldering of one another's burdens.  More empathy.  More patience.  More love.  More freedom.  More hope.  

This man's words changed how I see Memorial Day.  

Then another young man in his early twenties stood up and began to talk.  He shared about how when he was just 15 years old, his brother was killed in combat.  Fifteen years old and his life was forever scarred and altered.  Forever changed.  The death of someone we love does that.  A violent ripping of our hearts and then our lifelong efforts to work through our "new normal."  I found myself holding my breath as he spoke.  I imagined his loss.  It's as if I could almost feel it for a moment as he shared so candidly.  Here I am sitting here on this beautiful sunny day with a few of my own troubles and distractions and suddenly I just want to weep in the presence of a young man who lost his brother to battle.  A brother who sacrificed his life and a family who sacrificed a son and a brother.  This young man before me was a tangible reminder and powerful symbol of the losses all around us.  I felt it, I couldn't escape it and I didn't want to.  The pain.  The loss.  The great and ultimate sacrifices that have been made for my freedom.  I felt it more palpably than I ever have before. 

 I have attended plenty of Memorial Day ceremonies.  I have watched countless videos over the years.  I know people who have lost loved ones.  I have shed tears and felt their loss and I have thanked God for my freedom on countless occasions.  I am grateful to live in a wonderful land of freedom and that has always felt like some ways it is but, then suddenly I find myself here....Why has it taken me 35 years to have this strange awakening....I am not even sure what this awakening is.  

This young man said that he was so angry for a long time after his brother was killed.  He said that all of the other men in his brother's team got to come home to their families.  His brother was the only one who didn't come home.  He wrestled with the whys for a long time.  Why was his brother the one and the only one?  Why did he have to die at all? We all wrestle with the whys of life sometimes don't we.  He shared that Christmas used to be his favorite holiday because like any kid he loved all of the gifts that he got.  But, this brave young man shared that Memorial Day is now his favorite holiday because it is a day that we honor giving and those who gave it all and that is what life is really all about.  He shared how powerful it is to live life for what we give and not for what we get.  He is only 21 and has already lost SO much more than many of us and yet out of his pain and loss he is able to see and understand what so many of us have not learned yet. 

A giving life is the greatest life of all.  

"For it is in giving that we receive."
Francis of Assisi 

At this point I wanted to lay in a fetal ball on the grass in front of the entire school and weep.  

Life hurts so much for so many of us.  It just does.  Maybe not all the time but, at some point it will.  Yes, it ebbs and flows thank God or none of us would survive this journey but, hurt is inescapable.  There are a lot of people hurting and a lot of people remembering a passed on loved one this weekend And when I see people who have lost so much rise up courageously and share what priceless lessons they have learned and continue to learn and how their perspectives on life have changed through their incredible pain, I am rocked. I am humbled.  I am touched and I want to be more like them.  

The Giving Life:

For all the soldiers both men and women who have laid down their lives for another
For all who serve: Police, Military, Fire Department etc.
For all the teachers who give their hearts away to their students 
For all the Mother's and Father's who serve and pour out their hearts for their children
For all the Father's and Mother's who provide for their families come Hell or High water
For all the counselors who save lives and speak hope into hopeless people
For all the social workers who rescue others from harm
For all of the families that fight the good fight to persevere in difficult times
For all of the activists past and present who march and fight for equality
For all of the doctor's and nurses who save lives and help heal the hurting
For all who have lost so much but, face each day with courage and resolve
For all of those who have been broken and who live life with a heavy heart still yet, choose to fight strong and keep making this world a better place....
For all that my Jesus gladly did, said and offered to secure my spiritual freedom

This list could go on and on of those who live a Giving Life... 

For all that all of you do....freedom rings and you all make that possible.  
I am proud to live in a land of so much freedom...and I would be proud to live anywhere that freedom and love is the pursuit of all people

For any who are hurting this Memorial day weekend, you are not alone.   We will come alongside you if you let us.  For those who wrestle with how to celebrate this holiday and feel angry towards those who do, you are not alone.  We will walk with you in your wrestling and in your anger.  For those who so celebrate with BBQ's and family Beach trips, we celebrate with you and we thank God for the happy faces on the children all around us who live in freedom.  What a priceless gift.  May we never take for granted the priceless blood of so many that our freedom is built on.   

So today I must give a big, heartfelt thank you to my daughter's school, to all who organized this special event and to all of the brave souls who shared with courage today.  My eyes are more open and my heart is a little softer toward all.  May God Bless America always. 


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Journey With Hashimoto's Disease

photo by: Christina Decamp Photography

Well, I feel like it is time, (drumroll) time to share with those around me, a little bit more of what I have been battling quietly for some time.  I tend to share my stories best in writing so here goes...

Some of you already know that I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease about three years ago.  I had been battling the symptoms of a thyroid disease since my pregnancy with my first kiddo, nearly 8 years prior in 2009.  I didn't know what I was dealing with at that point and I didn't know what to do, so I ignored the signs and symptoms.  I always felt super run down, sluggish and very foggy brained.  This was after my kiddo was sleeping through the night.  I got a full night sleep and I ate healthy enough and yet I still felt awful.  Those were my symptoms back then when the problem was new and my thyroid was just beginning to go off the rails.  Maybe if I would have addressed the situation then it wouldn't have gotten as bad as it has...maybe.  

Another problem that I have is that I am the absolute worst at advocating for myself.  I will advocate and champion for my friends and family all day long.  I will encourage people to go to the doctor and schedule appointments for them and research their conditions.  I will listen for countless hours to people talk about their struggles and walk alongside them through it but, when it comes to me...I like to ignore things and hope that they will just go away...that is, until they don't.  

A few years ago I went to the doctor for my annual well check appointment and while there they asked me how I was feeling overall.  At their prompting, I shared a bit of my daily normal (which wasn't great at all but, it was normal to me) and they were shocked that I hadn't come in sooner.  I was shocked that they were shocked.  All Mom's are tired all the time.  All Moms have brain fog.  I figured I was just dealing with the common side effects of motherhood that most moms struggle with. 

They tested me immediately for a few auto immune diseases and the tests quickly revealed that my thyroid levels were drastically off.  So, at this point my journey with Hashimoto's Disease officially began. 

At the time I was a little shocked to have a disease label slapped on me but, on the other hand I was happy that something had been discovered.  Now all I had to do was begin taking a medicine and my energy should return, my vitiligo might slow down or even go away for good, the severe eczema on my arms might also go away, I might not have to take a nap every day of my life to function and the brain fog might lift.  That was exciting!  I had something to focus on and something to work toward.  Answers feel good!  Knowing what direction to go in life feels good.  And the hope of getting better feels amazing!  

And on that note: this is why my heart goes out to the millions who suffer with a chronic disease who do not get better and who battle through pain every day.  Those who have been told that there is nothing else that can be done.  You are heroes.  I hope you know that.  Life is so hard when suffering is a part of every moment of it.  

For those of you who are not familiar with Hashimoto's Disease, here is a brief synopsis from the Mayo Clinic website:

"Hashimoto's disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam's apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body's functions."

The good news is that usually if you are diagnosed with a Thyroid disease of some kind the doctor's will work with you to figure out what type of medicine and what dose your body needs to stabilize.  Once you are stabilized on medicine your body will return to normal and you should fee good again.  So please don't be alarmed. 

I have not had any success with medicine yet but, I believe that is because we have not properly gotten to the root of the real issue with my thyroid and that is the quest that I am still on at the moment.  

Symptoms of Hypo and Hashimoto Disease Include:

  • Severe Fatigue and sluggishness
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation, food processing issues, IBS 
  • Pale, dry skin
  • A puffy face
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Enlargement of the tongue, swelling of the neck and lymph nodes
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Joint pain and stiffness, arthritis like symptoms
  • Muscle weakness, muscle aches  
  • Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding 
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Memory lapses, severe brain fog
By the time I had the initial appointment a few years ago my thyroid had been going down hill for at least five years.  As a result my symptoms were continually getting worse.  I had all of these symptoms and have continued to battle them for the past 3 years.  My hair was falling out in small handfuls everyday.  My nails were always chipped and falling off.  My brain fog was so bad that after a car accident when my son was still an infant, I couldn't even recall what exactly had happened.  I would drive places and forget why I went happened all the time. My vitiligo (loss of pigmentation all over body) was beginning to spread more rapidly.  What once started as a single quarter sized circle on my upper thigh, had turned into spots on my face, fingers legs and neck.  I was taking a nap every single day for at least two years...just to function.  A nap was a survival essential.  I was battling arthritis like symptoms in my thumbs and big toes.  Constant aches all over my body.  A sluggishness that makes picking up your feet feel like a chore. The most annoying and unpleasant of the symptoms for me has been the strangle hold around my neck.  It makes breathing and swallowing more labor some.  I also began losing my voice on a regular basis after attending any loud function.  My vocal chords simply couldn't handle the added pressure being place on them by my swelling thyroid and lymph nodes.  The laryngitis issues, and strained vocal chords have gotten increasingly severe as the years have gone on and I am presently battling it on a daily basis. 

I went to the doctor every 2-3 months for two years and each time they came back and told me that my numbers were not getting better.  So of course they kept upping my medicine level as that is what any good medical doctor should do.  Friends of mine who also have Hashimoto's Disease encouraged me and told me it would get better (and I still believe it will!) once the proper dose gets figured out.  After about a year of different doses, I started taking 75 mg of armour thyroid and finally began to feel a return of my energy, brain clarity, purpose, motivation, happiness...etc..for about a week.  It was AMAZING!! 

Unfortunately, my body didn't like taking that particular medicine at that dose level.  I started to have severe heart palpitations, burning and tingling down my right arm and cramps in my elbow.  My chest started burning and felt like something heavy was standing on my heart. I was bending over the counter in pain all day to catch my breath.  Later that night, I told my husband what was going on (took me a full day to finally tell him) and I suggested that I thought I might be having a stroke or something.  He wanted to call an ambulance.  I said that was too much work and sounded stressful and I would rather die and if it was my time then I was ready.  Poor hubby.  I am serious...I am not good at advocating for myself I told you.  I just don't know how to take care of me I guess?   

The next morning I had my regular doctor's appointment and the Dr. asked if I was having chest pains or palpitations from the medicine and I said, yes tons.  He look startled, (as any normal person except myself would) and immediately cut off the medicine at that dose, told me to take a few days off and lowered my dose until we could find a new medicine. 

The challenge with trying to get your thyroid dialed in is that for as long as you are not will continue to feel like junk.  Taking a little bit of thyroid medicine is no better than taking none at all.  IT DOES NOT work like that with a thyroid.  Until you get to the right dose that brings your body into a place of will feel very off and all the symptoms will continue.  So every time the doctor would change a dose or experiment with a new medicine my body would go bazerk for a few weeks while it tried to figure out what to do with the new hormones flooding my system. I would get extra periods every time a new dose was prescribed and I would feel irritable on top of all of the pre-existing symptoms which continue to worsen as they go untreated. The thyroid is an organ and if it is attacked long enough it will fail.  It is best to take care of it and treat it as quickly as possible to minimize the damage that you can cause it.  If I could go back, I would have looked into my health much sooner.  Yes, I do believe I am learning something. 

So, after the issues I had with the last medicine I was switched over to a compound version of the drug so that I could choose my specific dose level and remove the fillers that most generic drugs use.  That seemed promising at first.  Sadly, after 9 months of going this route, the compound medicine has not improved my thyroid levels at all.  Each appointment the Dr. has bumped me up a little higher and a little higher and now I am at the level similar to that of a person who has no thyroid at all...quite possibly because my thyroid has been damaged for so long that it is in fact not functioning at all.  We will soon find that out, at least that is my hope. 

 And for the record, I realize that there are plenty of people who have had their thyroids removed (people that I know who have graves disease or who have had thyroid cancer) and are now taking medicine for life to keep their body balanced.  I know that isn't the end of the world to have a thyroid removed but, it is also not ideal and I would really like to prevent going that route for as long as possible.  In fact, I would love to do all that I can with my diet and lifestyle choices in hopes that I could take far less medication than I currently am.  That would be the best case scenario! 

In my effort to improve my situation I decided to eat gluten free for almost a year and a half.  That was HORRIBLE at first lemme tell yah.  I was depressed about it initially because I love pasta and bread so much.  Fluffy and soft foods make me happy.  The gluten-free alternative is simply not the same and takes a bit of time to adjust to.  I ate my share of spaghetti squash, zoodles, gluten-free bread and pizza etc.  I stopped eating out almost everywhere and I pretty much stopped eating everything that I loved.  I was determined to do whatever I could to help my body. When you feel that terrible you really should be determined to do whatever it takes right?  

One thing I have learned repeatedly in life is to give myself grace to work through something difficult.  It takes time to process a big change.  It takes time to process our feelings about our health and our limitations.  It takes time to accept what you are facing.  I was so upset about my dietary restrictions for the first few months.  I was angry.  I hate cooking and I had no idea how to eat or what to do.  I grieved every time someone ate a donut in front of me.  I grieved when my family went to Olive Garden (a favorite pasta destination of mine).  I grieved when I couldn't bite into the soft crust of a delicious take out pizza.  I felt sad and angry for a couple of months and it was hard to share that with the world.   

The world likes happy, resilient people who show very little sign of weakness.  Whelp, I am not that girl, so I have to hide from the world and work through things privately.  Another thing I am learning to challenge. Hello world! It's me.  The girl with big feelings and a big heart.  Hiding is also killing me so I am coming out for a while.  And that is the truth isn't it...for all of us...Maybe hiding isn't helping after all.   

Hiding certainly doesn't make anyone feel better...but, so many people are hiding right now.  Hiding insecurities.  Hiding shame.  Hiding addictions.  Hiding pain.  Hiding heartache.  Hiding loneliness. Hiding. I see you friend.  You are not alone.  Let's be brave together.  Let's come out of hiding.  Let's do the nitty gritty work of being vulnerable so that we can experience more freedom and healing together.  No more hiding.  

After a few months of eating gluten-free, I am happy to report that I was no longer bitter. I had accepted my diet and my health issues for what they were and I was okay with my restrictions because I was hopeful that I would improve!  Give yourself the grace for the messy times of working through feelings.  We are so hard on ourselves and we often expect such quick resolutions...but, the truth is that sometimes it takes time to work through feelings.  Give yourself time to process what you are facing.  

Another thing that I am very passionate about is prayer! I believe that God can heal sickness and disease!  I know it with all of my heart.  

So this little note is to all of my passionate prayer warrior friends reading this who are wondering if I have prayed or prayed enough or sought God enough..Yes friends, I have been praying since day one. I have had family and friends praying for me and laying hands on me and praying some more.  My petitions to Heaven will never cease.   And I say this in the utmost love, sweet, wonderful Christian prayer-warrior friends...please be kind to the sick and withhold your judgement towards those suffering with chronic illnesses.  If you have not personally battled a chronic illness it is quite understandable that you might not have the understanding yet or even the empathy to come alongside a person who is battling daily. That is ok.  It takes a special kind of person to come alongside someone who is suffering for a long time and to not grow weary walking with them in it.  To be able to love someone at their worst...well, that is truly where I have seen Christ the most clearly in people.  Love is patient, love is kind and it can take a lot of patience and kindness to support a hurting person.

Last week I had  an appointment with my endocrinologist. My friend's were hopeful and my hubby was hopeful.  I didn't feel any different physically so I wasn't sure what to think.  

My numbers came back...I was just as off as ever on this new improvement whatsoever.  So discouraging.  Took the wind out of my sails let me tell yah.  That is when the doctor explained that he is not sure why my thyroid is not stabilizing and he is bumping me up to about the max that I can go on my medicine.  I asked him if he could refer me to a dietary specialist and he did and I left with my heart feeling heavy.  Three years into my thyroid journey and I find myself in the same place as when it all started, only now my symptoms are much, much worse.  

A few days later, I gathered with my Bible study friends we prayed again and sweet Angie laid her hand on my neck and prayed for healing and I was comforted and filled with hope again.  I am so thankful for my friends. 

And through it all, you need to know that I KNOW that God's got me.  This is hard and feeling lousy every day has been exhausting but, I am filled with hope and that anchors me and keeps me stable.  

If you are battling a chronic illness of any kind, I hope and pray that you have a wonderful support system.  Your body might be getting beat up every day but if you are surrounded by people who build you up with encouragement and hope it can make a world of difference.  Encouragement and speaking life and hope into a weary person goes a long way.  I am passionate about encouragement because I know how badly so many of us need it! Be a light.  Be willing to get in the mud to help a friend out.  It's actually a beautiful place to the mud...because real love can get messy and it should be messy sometimes because that is what this beautiful life is all about.  Messy is part of what makes things beautiful. 

I began reading a book about re-booting the immune system and found it to be quite interesting.  I had been thinking about going dairy free for some time and while reading this book I decided to go for it.  I have always had a strange phlegm reaction to any and all dairy.  I have never liked milk, sour cream, yogurt or ice cream for that very reason.  Little did I know that clearing my throat every time I consume dairy is a tell tale sign of a food intolerance ...but, I love cheese and I eat a lot of it so I have ignored that sign all of my life.  Maybe at the very least I am learning to stop ignoring what my body is telling me....maybe. 

As of four days ago, I am dairy-free and gluten-free.  Yes, it is a bummer but, this hasn't hit me nearly as hard as going gluten free did because I think I've been there done that.  Now, I am just doing what needs to be done and trying to not overthink it too much.  I am however; struggling with meals as I so dislike cooking and since I don't have any energy (thanks thyroid) it is hard to muster up the energy for something that I hate.  This kind of diet requires a tremendous amount of meal planning and a whole lot more suddenly got more annoying.  So if you have any EASY recipes that actually taste good I am all ears.  Also any favorite snacks or appetizers.  Again, I repeat, EASY is the key word for me and food.  If it is not easy I will not prepare it.  For those of you that hate cleaning you can understand..I love cleaning...hate cooking.  Just the way that I was wired.  Please share your favorite websites, cooks, food products that you love that are dairy free etc.  

I do have a praise report.  After being dairy free for 4 days I have already noticed a significant decline in the amount of phlegm in my throat.  I am use to clearing my throat dozens of time in an hour.  That constant clearing also contributed to why my throat was often sore and scratchy...all that clearing takes a toll on the throat and vocal chords.  I am not choking on phlegm anymore either.  I use to more or less choke on the phlegm in my throat all day long...hence the constant need to clear my throat.  As I sit here typing my throat feels completely clear.  I cannot believe it actually.  I have not experienced this ever in my entire I am still being cautious about jumping to a conclusion.  I will report again in a month or two and let you all know if the result continues to be the same.  But, wow! This could be a huge improvement in the making.  

I am also in the  process of leaving my current endocrinologist and scheduling an appointment with a new endocrine specialist and one of the best in the area.  I am hoping that a new set of eyes on my situation might shed more light on things.  I am very hopeful.  I am very tired and tired of feeling lousy but so hopeful.  I will also keep you posted on things after I meet with the new specialist.  

This past weekend I went to a really fun museum with my kiddo and some of our good friends.  I felt my throat and voice fading as the day went on and the soreness was extra intense.  By bedtime I had a splitting headache, zero voice and sores deep down in my if I had torn the skin from overexerting it so much.  Crazy I know but, that is what I am battling with a thyroid so diseased and so unstable. It has been three days since the museum outing and talking still hurts and my neck is crazy swollen in a strangle hold. I have been avoiding people and talking situations so that I can rest my vocal chords and hopefully bring down the inflammation a bit.  

This latest bout with laryngitis  is what brings me to my keyboard keys today.  My keys are giving me a voice.  I love talking and I love talking to people and listening to them.  I love communication and the gift that it is.  It is strange that my voice is under attack. It is strange to be pursuing silence when all I want to do is talk.  But, it brought me to my blog and I haven't been able to blog in almost two years...not of anything of any importance.  So maybe that is something to smile about.  I have missed having something to write about and it seems that now I have something to say.  

Let's face it.  It sucks to be sick.  It is a bummer to not feel great every day and still try so hard to find the energy to be a good mom, wife and friend.  It is embarrassing to be that person.  What I mean by that person, is the person that it seems so many people want to avoid because sickness makes people uncomfortable...and I think the reason for this is simply that so many of us really don't know how to help each other or what to say. That is understandable.   

The lows and hurts in life teach us compassion and build our empathy for others.  The painful losses teach us how to comfort others in their losses.  The sicknesses and journeys that we each take in our sickness teach us how to come alongside others who get sick.  This is really what life is all about.  The purpose of life...the meaning of helping each other out.  We are here to reach out and lift up those around us because we have learned what it is to walk in those shoes....and if you haven't yet learned something, don't worry your time will come.  And that is not a threat..just a gentle truth.  Life is a great teacher. With each day that passes we should all be learning to become a little more selfless and a little more serving and giving because we get it...because we have learned that we are all in this together.  I am here for you and you are here for me and together we rise so much stronger.     

If you know someone who struggles with a chronic illness or depression etc. pray with them often.  Encourage them spiritually to not grow weary in their battle because trust me, it is exhausting. Ask how you can help them.  Maybe offer a meal once in a while and do it even if they say they don't need it because....they really do.  Offer to watch their kids or suggest they take a nap while you clean up for them. Listen.  Just let them talk and try to withhold your desire to fix them or tell them what is actually wrong with them according to you.  Listen some more.  People who are struggling need ears...and willing ears are hard to find these days.  Be an ear.  I am here to listen to you because I care about you.  Tell me about your day?  How are you feeling?  What is it like to battle with ....disease everyday? What is your next step? Is there anything I can do? Validate them. That must be so difficult. I can only imagine.  You are doing an amazing job in spite of how awful you feel.  Check in periodically.  Rally around that person.  Tell them how proud you are of them for fighting so hard everyday.  Tell them that they inspire you.  Tell them that you are here for them always. Build that person up with kindness and hope.  Heaven knows they need it!  You may not understand what they are battling and that is understandable.  You can look up their condition. Read up on what they are facing and inform yourself. It might be eye opening and might increase your compassion.   

Thankfully, I have a wonderful support system but, I know many who do not....especially men because more often than not they do not reach out the way that women do.  If you know a man who struggles...reach in and be there for him.  Don't assume that because a person is smiling that they are ok...that is just silly honestly.  Seek to know the heart of a person...not just the outer expression that you are seeing.  The heart often tells a very different story.  People are like books...the outside is just the the book, take some time and read it and you might actually learn a few things. 

If you have known me for any length of time you know that Jesus is my rock.  Jesus is my anchor.  He is my hope and my light and my strength.  Some people are battling something right now who really do feel utterly alone so I want to assure you that Jesus is with you right now.  You are not alone.  I promise you that.  Talk to him.  Tell him all about how you are feeling.  He wants to hear from you.  He cares for you and he will never leave you.  Jesus is the light that never goes out, even when all around seems so dark.  

On that note:  God Bless you all and have a great night! 

Friday, October 20, 2017

From Rust to Glory...Again and Again

This is actually a test post and a writing prompt as I haven't blogged in a lifetime and since I just installed a new template I needed to see how it all worked.  I still need to tweak a few things but, I am not sure that I even care at the moment.  I don't know that I will ever plug back in to writing in this community but, for now I am actually thrilled with the anonymity since no one even thinks to check my blog anymore!  LOL. 

My fingers are rusty.  Like tools that have been left out in the yard and weathered one too many rainstorms.  Sometimes it feels like if you neglect a gift for long enough then the gift is ruined beyond repair, like those tools warping in the rain.  Are my fingers rusted beyond repair?  Is there any hope of their restoration?  Is the connection that once blazed between my soul and my typing hands severed for good?

 I suppose the connection might  be lost forever, the gift utterly destroyed, if I didn't believe in the redemptive work of my Father in Heaven.  As His priceless daughter, I have come to understand that it is never too late and no one is ever too far gone, no gift is ever so rusty that the Father can't gently polish it and repair it to make it even better than new.  No gift is so neglected by life's demands, or hurts, or trials, or even the simple chaos of parenthood that God can not redeem it in HIS timing to shine like the sun once again for HIS glory. 

My rusty fingers and disjointed connections will fire up again if I am willing to do the hard work of surrendering my stubborn heart to the words that God wants to speak through me.  If I am willing to sit in the quiet and wait for His voice so that I can then plunk out the stories in my heart with bravery and courage.  If I am willing to step outside of my safe and protected little world and risk a little comfort for something greater than myself.  

Sometimes all it takes is a simple,

"Here I am Lord. I am willing. Use me."

Monday, March 13, 2017

To Every Parent With a Spirited Child

If you have a spirited kiddo.  I just want you to know...I LUV YAH AND YOU ARE AWESOME. 

Before my son was born, patience came more naturally to me and so many of my friends would comment on how "patient I was all the time." Not trying to's just a fact...excuse me, it was a fact.

 I cherished every second of motherhood with my only kiddo and I delighted in my role as a stay at home mom.  I probably only raised my voice once at my daughter in five years.  She was an easy kiddo overall.  She was always smiling and so content to observe everything.  She made me feel so loved (which I realize isn't her job but, it was an extra treat!)because I was always able to calm her down, cheer her up and make her feel better in any given situation.  She required literally slim to no physical discipline because all I had to say was a gentle, "no, no," and she would move on to something else.  She has been my best buddy, literally since the moment she was born. Ahhhhh, the good ol' days.  

Then my son was born...and don't freak out on me people.  I ADORE my son and I LOVE having a son.  Bruin is SO unbelievably cute and incredibly funny.  He is a great sleeper and the sweetest snuggle buddy that there ever was.  I will brag more about him later but, for now I need to vent/complain/be real/be crazy. 

My son, my son.  

He is spirited and passionate and extremely LOUD.  

He was pretty mellow for the first 6 weeks of his life and then he took a sharp turn and just started crying 88.9% of every day.  

We tried everything that good parents try to rule out all of the possible causes.  Hungry? Nope. Poopy? Nope.  Tired? Nope.  Too hot?  Nope. Too cold? Nope.  We were told that maybe he was just a colicky kid. That actually gave us a sense of peace because now we had light in the tunnel.  

It was SO mentally draining to not be able to cheer up my son.  The constant crying depleted me in every way and I often felt like my child didn't even like me or need me.  That wasn't true of course but, it felt that way and it hurt so much.  It was a very discouraging season (well, technically it is still ongoing but, not quite as hard I guess.) I didn't want to go anywhere because I didn't want to have to talk over a screaming child or shop with a screaming child etc.  That's not fun at all.  On the other hand, sometimes he surprised me and enjoyed himself at a play date etc. and that was such a HUGE treat.  But, the unpredictable nature of his mood, made it so hard to want to go anywhere.  

A year passed and I realized that I wasn't dealing with colic at all...I had just been given the great honor of raising a spirited child.  

I couldn't help but, think back on all of the times that I saw a mom (or friend) struggling with her screaming child in every store I had ever been in.  I used to feel bad for the child (and the mother of course too but, mostly the sad child).  I wondered if the mother just didn't understand her child very well or maybe she wasn't a very patient mother.  It actually hurt my heart to hear children screaming because I had never really experienced that kind of screaming before.  I wanted to go hug those kiddos and help calm them down because hugs and sweet words worked perfectly with my daughter. 

Surely, those things worked for all children! 

I thought my patience and gentleness were a big part of the reason why my daughter was so sweet and easy. 

 Psh. Not at all.  Ok. Well, maybe like 5% of the reason.  I deserve a little credit I guess. 

When my son sets his mind to something, there is nothing on Earth that will deter him from what he wants. I suppose that would be okay if we only had to deal with one thing like that every day but, the thing about strong-willed kiddos is...that is every moment of their life.   

Diaper changes = hiding and avoiding and when caught, screaming, flailing and nashing of teeth. 
Getting dressed = clothes too tight, too small, too scratchy, too cold, too hot, too blue, too white, too cute, too clean. 
Hats = forget about it. never ever ever....getting back together.    
Gloves in subzero temperatures = throwing them on the ground and screaming NOOOOO.  Oh you can keep trying to put them on and keep demanding that they stay on but, CHILD WILL WIN.  You just give up and let their hands freeze.  THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.
Grocery shopping = 10.2 seconds of calm before said strong willed child scans the store and finds something to ask for and then screams the entire duration of the trip because you say no.  They will also ask through snot and tears for the item at least 1.4 million more times before you get to the cash register and ask if they sell a pill to euthanize yourself. 

I bring snacks, toys and cell phones to the store as well but, when a spirited kiddo wants something it's all over.  Goodnight.  

Oh and P.S. They will also scream the entire way home from the store in the car. 

Wiping dirty noses = lots and lots and lots of screaming.  Sounds like someone is being chopped into tiny pieces every time.
Meal Time = a slow painful death.  They stare at the food you lovingly prepared for them and then pick it up and throw it.  You discipline in love and they careth not...and do it all over again.  You even try to make their favorite food...or a special meal just for them and even still they decide that at that given is not their favorite meal after all and you have yet again FAILED. 

I eat most meals in somber silence trying desperately to crawl away in my mind to some happier place. 

Getting in the car = sounds simple enough.  WRONG.  I never knew how stiff the human body could become while still alive.  A two year old child can simply refuse to bend into the sitting position required by most car seats.  You can even put most of your shoulder wait gently against their body and they will still be stronger than you and don't forget, they will be pulling your hair whilst you attempt to bend them.  

Buying your child a toy = Of course you love your strong willed child so occasionally you want to buy them something fun.  JUST DON'T.  The color and size will be wrong. They will want to open the box immediately and will refuse to wait to get to the register.  Then they will ask for "MORE," and throw the goodie on the ground because it is just not GOOD ENOUGH.  You will then go and buy yourself a goodie to ease your suffering. 

Strong willed kids are not bad children.  They are not poorly raised children.  They are not brats.  They can be very WELL LOVED and yet they are simply spirited.  That is all.  

I've changed drastically between child one and child two.  I've even learned that each of my children require a completely different parenting style from me.  That has been and will continue to be a tough skill to learn and implement.  

Daisy is quick to learn and obey.  She requires a gentle tone and very little follow through.  She has a heart that loves to please and usually obey.  

Bruin requires a much firmer tone and follow through...every. single. time.  He still needs lots of love and positive affirmation too of course.  He is a super sensitive little guy.  But, I quickly realized that the way I parent Daisy was not working with Bruin.  Bruin's nature is to resist direction at all costs.  LOL.  Gosh, I love him.  

  I have learned so much about people and life from my two children.   I have a million times more compassion for Mothers with strong willed kiddos.  I've also learned that as parents we must be willing to adjust ourselves and our parenting styles to bring out the best in each of our kiddos.  That is what love does.  It's hard and it hurts sometimes but, it's wise.  I've learned that I can create two humans in my stomach and they can look pretty dang similar on the outside but, be NOTHING alike on the inside.  I can love them both just as passionately but, they will still be vastly different people. 

To Every Parent with a Strong Willed Child, I send you my love, encouragement, support and zero judgement.  Carry on Momma.  Keep loving your spirited kiddo with all your heart and I will do the same.  It won't be long before we will get to enjoy seeing what awesome little leaders these kiddos turn out to be.  God will take care of the rest! 

Peace. Love. 




Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Years Thoughts

I haven't blogged in so long.  I go back and forth on the idea of shutting this blog down for good but, evidently I am not quite ready to part with this little creative space that was such a comfort to me for so many years.

I have had so many thoughts bouncing around in my head lately as we approached this new year.  I am hoping that I will be able to articulate at least a few of them here today to share with you all.  

Life is such a roller coaster isn't it.  It's such an adventure of mountain peaks, falls from that mountain peak, climbs back up and valleys...sometimes long, hard valleys.  We would be foolish to think that we will always stay up on the mountain tops of life but, on the other hand it is also wise to cherish the mountain top seasons.  We also have to find the strength in God to survive in the valley.  To walk through it no matter how long it might take.  Seasons are a part of life.   

I would say that I am in one of those climbing seasons.  A season that I can't quite call a mountain top but, I am overjoyed to say that I am no longer in a  I'm climbing...going wherever God leads me and feeling quite sure that I'm climbing out of something long and hard and into something new and much lighter.  Today, I am not weighted down as much by heartache, sorrow, brokenness or financial burden as I was for so many years.  I say today, because we never know what tomorrow will bring right.  I celebrate this simple moment right now.  Right now I am soaking up January 1st, 2017 to the best of my ability. This quieter moment carved out of my time here on Earth, that isn't so full of pain that every moment feels like drowning.  I know those moments so well.  

Throughout this year I saw a lot of friends walk through valley seasons.  So many were dealt the blow of a very dear loved one passing on.  A friend of mine just lost her husband days before Christmas to cancer.  Another friend of mine just told me that she was just diagnosed with brain cancer a few weeks ago...please keep her in your prayers! Cancer took far too many lives as it so often does.  I saw friends struggle with various hardships and challenges.  So many marriages came to a heartbreaking end.  Some friends battled health issues and chronic debilitating pain, depression, infertility heartache.  And then on a broader scale I just observed the world and all the suffering in it.  It's a lot of hurt.  I know that hurt.  Or at least I have tasted it.  More importantly, Jesus knows that hurt better than anyone. 

In stark contrast, I celebrated the mountain top seasons with many friends. I celebrated the miracle of life with many friends and family members as they shared pregnancy announcements or gave birth to one of the greatest gifts life can bring...a precious child.  I celebrated birthdays, weddings, marital victories (praise you Jesus!), my own sister's cancer free report at the end of 2016 (Hallelujah!!).  I celebrated that my own home life and marriage have come so far over the past few years.  I celebrated that I was even in a place in life that I could enjoy celebrating a little bit this past year.  That last revelation made my heart leap with gratitude over and over again.  

For so many years celebrating felt so hollow and contrived.  For so many years I was too weak to put on the mask and pretend like life is always a picnic but, I did it anyways.  Every time I put that mask on to please the people I felt myself dying more and more inside   In this superficial, social media driven culture that we live in, we quickly realize that going through hard times publicly is unpopular and a downer to other people.  It makes people uncomfortable when someone airs their "dirty laundry," and it seems to send a silent message, "steer clear of that person! They have problems and their life is a mess.  They are too emotional.  They are depressed.  They are a kill joy."  So people hide their trouble.  People suffer in silence.  They pretend on the outside and break quietly on the inside.

Oh but, if you only know how close Jesus is to the broken, the lonely and the lost. to you.  He takes that mask that you have put on every day to please the people and he throws it in the fire and he pulls you into His arms and holds you as you weep.  He holds you as you cry, for days, weeks and even years. He never lets go when life gets ugly.  He understands that losing a child....or a loved one unexpectedly is not something that you just get over in a day.  He knows that you might struggle with a loss for the rest of your Earthly days.  He knows that watching a loved one battle cancer for years and years is not an easy load to carry.  He knows that longing ache for a child doesn't get easier with each passing year.  He knows the pain of loneliness as you wait for a love to share your life with. He knows that some seasons in life are long and hard and He isn't turned off by your pain.  He is walking with you in it.  He did walk in it...Up the hill of calvary and on to the splintered, nail-pierced cross.  He is with you, always.  

I may not be in the valley today but, I still know the pain of it so well I can taste it.  I saw the valley pain on the faces of so many friends and loved ones this year.  I don't ever want to get to a point that I have lost the ability to walk in the valley with a friend because I am too wrapped up on my mountain top bubble.  Can we enjoy the mountain top seasons and still walk in the valley with the broken?  Can we stop being so afraid of pain that we run from those whose lives are riddled with it?  

As I approached the new year I asked the Lord what word He had for me this year.  I often feel like the Lord puts a word on my heart at the start of each new year.  This word often comes to me after prayer and Bible reading.  One year my word was rest.  This was at a time that my hubby was still very sick and battling through late stage lymes disease, medical bills were sky high and life was just very, very hard.  I had literally zero strength left but, as a Christian I felt guilty if I wasn't still constantly doing something, serving and saying yes to everything.  BUT God, told me to rest and told me to learn to say no.  It was a hard word to submit to that year but, it just might have saved my feeble sanity. Rest....when, God says it, listen to him.  He knows best.  

A couple of years later I was given the word organization.  Maybe some of us think of a neat and tidy house but, that was only the surface of what the word meant for me.  I was meant to focus on taking back my broken life and organizing it one piece at a time.  That did translate into a house wide purge, a better system for planning and keeping track of information as well as getting order back in my marriage and spiritual life. If your life is feeling especially chaotic or out of control then maybe organization might be a good word for you! 

Early in December I was reading my Bible and I read a passage out of Hebrews Chapter 12 verses 1-3.  I've probably read this passage a dozen times or more but, this time the words jumped off the page, grabbed my shoulders and shook me while saying, "are you listening?  I'm talking to you here!"  It wasn't exactly like that but, then again it sort of was.  For those who have the ears to hear...the Bible is so alive it's scary (scary awesome) sometimes.  Watch out.  God is always talking and I guarantee He has something that He wants to say that is just for you. 

Now, keep in mind that this passage was meant for me in that moment.  It may be that it is not meant for anyone else right in this moment but, I am sharing anyways...well, because I want to.  

Hebrews 12:1-3  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.  For the joy set before him He endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."  

It wasn't the entire passage that jumped out at me initially but, the simple, "let us throw off everything that hinders," part of the verse.  That was it. 

I sat there a little stunned by how much the words resonated with me and then read the passage over and over again.  Then I started asking God why He let the passage jump out at me.  What did He want me to do with the words that I was hearing as if for the first time?  

I am coming out of a long season of pain and valley and I'm in the climb again.  What helps us to climb again?  Throwing off the things that are holding us down.  I quite literally COULD NOT throw anything off last year, or the year before, or the year before that...and so on.  God understands that we can't always flip a switch on our pain and climb.  Sometimes walking in the pain is an inescapable part of our life process and journey.  Many of us are completely re-shaped and re-made by the pain of the valley.  God also knows the EXACT moment at which YOU ARE READY to climb out and up.  He is with us, every single step of the way.  

I had a lot of fun reflecting on these verses.  What is hindering me from experiencing more joy?  What is hindering me from sharing all of the things that God puts on my heart?  What am I afraid of? 

The truth kind of embarrassed me because, I didn't even see it.  

I'm way too afraid of people and what people think of me.  

Whaaaaa...honestly, it isn't something that I have ever thought of as a problem.  I am a friendly, social person and I love people.  I don't really have issues with people on the personal level of interaction.  If you meet out, because I will befriend you...all of you. lol....kidding not kidding...

On the other hand, there is public speaking .  It is literally my biggest fear....I think I just got nauseated thinking about it. Uggg...But even that didn't feel like everything that I was supposed to get out of this revelation. 

I also have so many friends and family members who do not believe in Jesus and thus I am always trying to find a loving balance (and failing miserably) between respecting all of our differences but, also enjoying the freedom to be me, someone who loves Jesus and whose identity is quite literally woven in Him.  I love talking about my faith and what God is doing but, I also don't want people to think that I am trying to force Him on them.  That is never my motive.  I just love telling stories, writing, sharing and being a Christ-follower.  I don't expect everyone to agree with my faith and I hope people that know me best know that my intention is to share love and my motivation is to be encouraging to others. 

I also get embarrassed that I analyze life so much and that I can be so sensitive to the pain of others.  It would be great to be a super silly, light-hearted person but, I am not sure if I will ever be that person nor that I was meant to be.  I am able to love on certain people because of how God made me and in the same manner you were made the way you are to love on and bless other people.  And if we all walk freely in who we are in Him, we just might make a real heck of a difference in this world.  What a beautiful, beautiful thing.  


That is my word for 2017.  Freedom.  

The first step is seeing the words when God gives them, then receiving them in our hearts and then declaring and claiming them in our lives. 

I wrote all of this because my heart's desire will always be to make sure that people in the valley know just how loved they are by God....and by me.  

You may be in a new valley.  If so, I pray that you would ask God to hold you close and give you strength for each and every pain filled day.  He is with you! He loves you!  He hears you!  I pray that your valley season is not long and I pray that you hold tightly to the truth that you can walk through this in Him and with Him.  One day at a time you can walk this hard walk through to the other side. And don't forget to put on your armor (Ephesians 6:10-18) every day, because the battle is for real.  

 Maybe you have been in a valley for some time.  If so, I pray that you begin to see a new light shining off in the distance. I pray that your time to climb out is coming soon.  Glory to God I pray it's coming soon.  Keep marching.  Keep pressing on.  He is with you!  He loves you!  He hears you! 

And then I felt this on my heart...loud and clear.  

God's people CAN DO HARD THINGS.  What do I mean by that?  Well, it was a reminder to me that I serve an all powerful, all knowing, supernatural God.  I think that so many Christians are discouraged (as I was for SO dang long) and need to be reminded that just like the little engine who could and who said, "I think I can, I think I can...,"  In Christ, WE CAN and we need to KNOW in our spirit that we can.  In Christ, we are loved just as we are.  In Christ, we are never alone.  In Christ, we have all that we need.  In Christ we are conquerors.  In Christ, We are able to face tomorrow because WE KNOW who holds tomorrow and all that ETERNITY holds for us.  In Christ, we can walk through the valley and trust that He can see what we cannot.  

I was so sick over Christmas break but, my Momma who I have not seen in a year and a half was here with me.  My Momma is amazing.  She is the reason I know Jesus and she is such a great counselor and friend.  She made breakfast for all of us each morning; she played with the kiddos a lot to keep them out of my hair, she folded laundry, she emptied the dishwasher, she gave me back messages and foot messages...she loved on me in my sickness and you know was the most wonderful Christmas in spite of having the flu. 

I reflected on that for a while too.  Having someone so comforting and loving around in my suffering made it not just bearable but, possible and I even enjoyed my time a little bit too.  It was a little Christmas miracle. 

And so to, we have CHRIST to comfort and love on us in our suffering always.  Maybe sometimes we need to be more intentional about inviting him to sit next to us on the couch for a chat.  Or inviting him to hold us while we weep.  Maybe we need to invite Him to speak to us by reading our Bibles or spending time with Him in prayer.  Maybe we push Him away more than we realize?   Maybe we choose just about everything but, Him to fill our void when we are hurting and we wonder why we don't feel His presence more.  I've sure been there and I'm sure I will be there again someday as life is so full of circles. 

The good news is...that is what we are all here for!  To encourage one another on in our races and to remind each other of all the things that we so easily forget when times get hard.    

For some, 2017 is looking like a year full of excitement and possibility!  For others it is just another year of trial and heartache.  Wherever you are at, God is with you and His love for you is infinitely deeper than your deepest valley and infinitely higher than your highest mountain top.  

I pray that regardless of what resolutions you may have made or not made, that you feel God moving in your life this year more powerfully than the last.  That you recognize His great love for you more clearly than past years.  That we would all grow and throw off the things that hinder us and the sin that entangles us and run our races with perseverance. 

Because Christ endured the Cross WITH JOY for us because HE KNEW what the outcome was.  He knew that he could take the torture, the pain and even conquer death because it was worth what He could give us in return....eternal life and a Heavenly paradise.  

"How great is the love that the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!"
1 John 3:1

Much love to you all. Whatever steps you take this year, take them with Him. xo

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bruin is TWO!

Happy 2nd Birthday to our super adorable, sensitive, silly, feisty and sweet little Bru Bear! 

You are so very loved my little Prince. 

His second birthday party was Mickey Mouse theme.  And since Bruin has watched more Mickey Mouse Clubhouse than any other show, it seemed fitting for him to be holding Mickey in his 2 year portraits:).  He loves "Miggeeeeee!" 
I took these pictures of Bruin (and some with he and Daisy) about a week before his 2nd birthday.  He has actually gotten surprisingly good at sitting for a few seconds and saying cheese with the promise of a lollipop afterwards.

 Below:  He has figured out that he has gotten a drum set.  The poppy flew out of his mouth a moment later when he squealed with delight.  HE WAS SO HAPPY!!  We decided to leave the other presents for later because we wanted him to take the time to enjoy the drum set.  We opened the remaining presents on his actual birthday.  So many people have told me that I am so brave to allow a drum set into my, I want to say a few things to that point.  One: These are not as loud as a real drum and they are super cheap.  They might last a few months at so I won't have to listen to it all that long.  Two: They don't play them all the time and most of the time I am just so happy when my kids leave me alone for three seconds so I can tolerate the noise for a little bit here and there.  Three: I am brave...and a little crazy so you are accurate.  lol

Bruin is the sweetest cuddle bug.  I am thankful for a baby that is so affectionate.  It's not all the time and it really is only on his terms but, it's THE BEST.  He loves to lay his head on my shoulder at least a hundred times a day.  He gives lots of hugs and kisses.  He loves to sit right next to me on the couch or in my bed and he likes to lean on my arm.  I would definitely say that one of Bruin's love languages is affection.  

His vocabulary is growing daily but, he is definitely taking his time with talking and even comprehension which of course can be very frustrating because he is always frustrated and I can't communicate with him...sigh.  Here are some of the words that I do hear him say frequently: Mum, Day Day (Daisy), no, star, uh huh, candee, migee (Mickey), noz (nose), ug (hug), heah (head), duck, bungee (bunkee), popeee, car, tuck (truck), show, light, chair, eye, tee (teeth), brush, dink (drink), chee (cheese), hiiii, byyyy, doggie, kiiy (kitty), bug, shew (shoes), hai (hair), hewp (help).

PS the irony of this cake is that by Bruin's birthday both my husband and I were eating gluten free so neither of us could eat any.  I had already ordered and paid for it before hand so there was no point in cancelling it. Daisy doesn't like cupcakes so she didn't want one...soooo...we had 24 cupcakes just for Bruin and he ate half of about a waste.  But, a very cute waste! 

Bruin wears size 2T or 24 months in just about everything but, 2T is still on the bigger side for him.  He wears a size 6.5 shoe but, I have been getting him 7 lately.  Size 5 diapers.  

Bruin is a very picky eater.  I can tell that his sensory issues effect his ability to tolerate textures and really hinder his adventurous spirit when it comes to food.  

He has been enjoying a bowl of cereal with a tiny bit of milk for breakfast the past couple of weeks.  His favorite thing to eat on planet earth is applesauce squeezers.  He absolutely must start each morning with one and he probably inhales about 3 a day.  He likes cheese sticks and sandwich slices.  He likes, bread, plain pancakes, hashbrowns, mac n' cheese and most all pasta, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit (grapes, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, mandarin oranges, pears, peaches, bananas, basically he loves all fruit).  He likes a little bit of sushi (not nearly as much as Daisy), some pizza if he is in the mood, chicken pieces, Daddy's grilled meats, crackers and anything sweet.  Bruin is definitely my sweet tooth kiddo.  He is obsessed with cake!  It is his favorite treat to eat but, he is happy with anything sweet.  He mostly drinks very diluted apple juice.  He doesn't like to drink he milk in the morning anymore for some reason and he refuses water most of the time unless it is in sister's school water bottle.  

He loves watching various shows on my cell phone off and on when I let him.  He loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse but, he also loves the youtube kids ap.  He will usually watch shows about cars, trucks or sing along songs. He also loves Goldie and Bear and Little Einsteins.  I also have a few Wiggles DVD's in my van and he enjoys watching those as well.  

Bruin loves shoes and he quickly learned how to get his own shoes and ask us to put them on him ("shoe, shoe!" whenever he wants to go anywhere.   

He loves taking his nap everyday.  Bruin is the type of kid who pretty much lets you know that he wants to go to sleep.  He often grabs his blanket and puts his own pacifier in his mouth.  He will put his blanket on my shoulder and ask me to pick him up.  Then he lays his head on my shoulder and points to his room.  It cracks me up and melts me all at once.  Daisy has never once in her life ever wanted to go to bed so to have a kiddo who is the exact opposite is a crack up.  When I lay him on his pillow pal he has his eyes closed almost instantly.  He is never wild and amped up at nap time. He is ready for it. :) He doesn't nap long unfortunately.  Daisy used to take a three hour nap ever day for nearly 3 years.  Yes, I was spoiled.  Bruin is more of an hour to hour and a half napper.  On the other hand he likes to go to bed at 7 sharp!  And he sleeps solid most every night until 6:30 AM.  And if you are wondering I have attempted to adjust his bedtime in hopes that he might sleep just a hair later in the morning but, it makes no difference.  Early rising is in his blood. Sigh.  I am very thankful that he is a great sleep overall.  No complaints here. 

Bruin loves when I pull up a couple of chairs to the kitchen sink.  He climbs up and plays with the dishes, water and soap.  He could probably play there for an hour each time if I let him but, I usually have to stand next to him because the chair gets super wet and slippery and he falls a lot.  But, he loves it so we try to do this activity once every few days.  

He loves to help us cook or bake!  I don't love doing this with him yet but, I try to find things for him to do when I can.  He is great at helping me load the washer or dryer or empty the dishwasher.  He is at that helping stage.  He wants to help with everything which makes everything that much more difficult.  LOL.  It is also SUPER cute too. 

He loves to throw things both when he is being silly and when he is angry.  I've been hit in the face once or twice by a very big toy and it was not fun lemme tell yah.  But, I am hoping we can channel that energy into a fast ball pitch here pretty soon.  

Bruin loves being outside, going on walks, exploring, driving Daisy's jeep, or riding her scooter (I push him around).  He loves going to new places and seeing new things.  

He seems the most unhappy and bored when we are home all day...which is a bummer because that used to be my favorite thing before he was born. LOL.  Now, I try to get out once a day to burn some of Bruin's energy and to help me stay sane.  Otherwise, he cries 100X more if we stay home all day.  I'm not gonna lie....he is a tough cookie most days.  But, I love em to pieces.  

Bruin loves animals and he knows must about every farm animal and the sound that they make.  I need to record his sounds on a video very soon!  Daisy was always scared of dogs as a toddler and even now but, Bruin loves dogs and cats.  Bruin and his Daddy are twins when it comes to their passion and their love for animals. lol   

He loves to wake up in the morning and come in to my bed and watch shows for around 30 minutes.  I am so thankful for this down time before starting the day.  At night Bruin likes us to read him two books and then he knows it's time to turn off the like, get rocked and we sing a song to him and then he is ready for bed.  He likes his routines and seems to feel secure in them.

I love this little guy so much even if he does wear my brain ragged more often than not with all of his whining and crying.  lol.  If you have a whiney child, let's just say that I understand you a whole lot more now than I did with my first child.  Peace and love! lol