Blog Feature

My guest post for And Nobody Told Me on March 7, 2011

When you’re pregnant, you have so many hopes and dreams and wishes for that little being inside you. You want to protect him from any harm.

Neither of my pregnancies were easy. You hear some women say that pregnancy is beautiful and perfect and the best time of their lives. They are complete liars; being pregnant is hard. My children are beautiful and perfect and the best things in my life; that much is true.

I won’t bore you with the details of my labor with Gabe. I am a wuss when it comes to pain, so it was long and arduous. After hours of contractions, it was suddenly time to push, and then…suddenly he was born. I was so exhausted and emotional that I didn’t grasp that there was a problem right away. The nurses had him in the bassinet and were cleaning him up when they noticed that he was having trouble breathing. They had the neonatologist come look at him, and they took him to the NICU for “observation.” He had sucked in some amniotic fluid on his way out, and it went into his lungs, which led to further complications.

Gabriel Joshua was born on December 3rd, 2009, and spent the first 12 days of his life in the NICU. He was on a C-PAP machine at first, then later a nasal cannula, and was being tube-fed breast milk that I had pumped. We spent as much time with him as we could. I would go to the hospital to be with Gabe after spending the morning with my daughter, come home for supper with my mom, daughter and husband, then my husband and I would go up to visit Gabe after putting our daughter to bed. Thank goodness for Grandma Jan, who came to stay with us and cared for our 3-year-old daughter Bailey during the whole ordeal.

One of the most difficult parts to deal with before I was discharged from the hospital was when I was alone in my hospital room at night. I’d lay there after my husband had gone home to help put our daughter to bed, and just stare in confused fury at the empty bassinet where Gabe should have been sleeping…not in a covered bassinet, with tubes and wires attached to him, in the NICU. I sat in my room alone and cried. When I was discharged without him, I was in agony. It felt so wrong to be coming home without him. I told myself that I was going to wear my hospital name band with his name on it until he came home. I joyfully cut it off the day he was discharged.

I look at him now and I marvel at how perfect he is. At 14 months old, you’d never know that my wild and crazy little man who challenges my patience and my sanity on a daily basis, had had such a rocky start in life. I consider myself blessed with the crazy chaos that is life with children.

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May is National Cancer Research Month

Did you know that May is National Cancer Research Month? Me either, until the lovely Heather Von St. James contacted me. She has humbly asked me to share her story.

This amazing woman was diagnosed with mesothelioma at age 36 and given 15 months to live. She beat the odds, and has now made it her mission in life to raise awareness about this rare, preventable disease. This very aggressive type of cancer has no cure, and that the amount of research being done for it is ridiculously lacking. The only known cause for meso is being exposed to asbestos – which is far from being banned.

Heather and I invite you to check out the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance to learn more about meso, and you may read her personal blog here. Please share her story, so that her voice may be heard.

Thank you, friends.
xoxo

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My Mother’s Hands

**This post was originally featured on Yahoo! Voices, which is no longer in publication.

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The other day my mom and I were sitting on the bench at the park while the kids played on the playground. She said something about “these old hands” as she struggled to open a water bottle. Her hands have age spots and wrinkles, and show the characteristic bend and twist of arthritis. She calls her pointer finger her “witch’s finger,” going along with an old joke about her infamous exasperated finger-point at countless students over the years who pushed her buttons and tested boundaries.

As I looked at her hands, I realized once again that she sees her hands differently than I do.

So I told her…

Her hands have held, carried, and fed 3 children and 5 grandchildren. Her hands have rocked, comforted, and protected. She has cleaned faces, wiped noses, brushed hair, prepared food, wiped tears, bandaged owies, played games. In her decades of teaching elementary and middle school children, they have guided, encouraged, and instructed.

These actions, while they may seem insignificant on their own, have given her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, little friends and hundreds of students the gift of her touch in their lives.

Those “old hands” are a blessing.

How NOT To Suck At Facebook

There are so very many ways to suck at Facebook. I encounter it daily, reading others’ pages and statuses, and seeing the moronic things that get posted via group/fan pages. People post way too often, share information that is way too private (or TMI), and generally talk out of their behinds.

I get it, I really do. The internet gives everyone a VOICE. It gives us a way to tell the world about ourselves, our lives, our cat, and our obsession with Ryan Gosling. How cool is that?! An audience, seemingly captivated by me, and hanging on my every word! My god, I should have a blog so that I can share every detail about myself with the world, and force them to read my drivel. *ahem*

And have you come across TROLLS? Holy cow, trolls are especially vicious creatures who hang out looking for a fight, and then proceed to try to make someone look like a jackass, but instead, end up making complete jackasses of themselves.

People can be assholes. Seriously.

golum internet troll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, here is my list of ways NOT to suck at Facebook, because let’s face it, there needs to be a how-to on this kind of thing.

  • Drunken bars pictures on your Facebook (FB) wall are simply a bad idea. It’s lame, and always a potentially detrimental career move. Think about it. If you don’t want your boss to see it, or catch wind of it, DON’T POST IT ON FACEBOOK. Duh.
  • Don’t post pictures of you potty training your kid. If you want to mention you’re doing it, or want advice, fine. But we don’t need to see a picture of your kid sitting on the toilet. As cute as you might think it is, there’s no need to put that on FB. And not to mention, it could be dangerous…remember pedophiles?
  • No Vaguebooking. We’ve all seen it. Vaguebookers post a status like, “BIG NEWS!” or “In the hospital…” and not explain themselves, thus making us have to ask what’s going on. It’s annoying.
  • Don’t be a troll. (See above.) If you are going to complain about content on someone’s status, get a life. You DO have the ability to NOT read their stuff, you know. And if you are so inclined, you can block and/or unfriend them.
  • On a related note, if you don’t agree with the content on someone’s fan page that you voluntarily “like,” don’t just sit there trolling, complaining, and generally making an ass of yourself. If you don’t like the content, don’t report the content as offensive…UNLIKE the page and don’t let the door hit you on the way out the door. Duh.
  • Have a political opinion? Awesome. Have a religious opinion? Awesome. But pretty please don’t cram it down your FB friends’ throats by clogging up their news feeds with irrational rants.
  • Only posting pictures of your show dog, Mr. Muggles, and nothing else is LAME.
  • Do not make a FB profile for your pet. It’s weird.
  • Regarding kid pictures: only posting pictures of your little darlings, and nothing else, can be overwhelming to FB friends; moderation is key. (I’m guilty of this one sometimes, actually, so that is why I have tried to be kind about it.) Another thing to consider is that you may have FB friends who have lost a child or who are desperately trying to conceive a baby. Slap in the face, much?
  • Oh, you have a blog? AWESOME! Pretty please keep your posts on your personal FB about your blog to occasional links or photos. If you want to share more than that: multiple links to your blog, giveaways, contests, etc., you can start a fan page for your blog; that is the perfect spot for that.
  • If you do have a FB fan page for your blog or business, let me give you a teensy bit of advice: don’t worry about your stats, “likes,” or insights. If they start to fall, it can be discouraging and frustrating, and you are better off focusing on content, not numbers.
  • Keep FB game requests to people who you know actually play the game. Some FB games automatically post invites for you, but you can fix this by changing your settings.
  • Keep the Grammar Nerd Police in mind. Pay attention to spelling and grammar, or risk looking silly. (Related: if you notice that someone did happen to make a mistake in grammar or spelling, don’t point it out like a jerk.)
  • Don’t air your dirty laundry on FB. Fights with your significant other, your sex life, or complaints about your job are personalDon’t make it awkward for your friends.
  • If you wouldn’t want your grandma to see your status or photo (read: the content is embarrassing or inappropriate), don’t post it.

What would YOU add to this list?

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She’ll Be Fine

I know that everyone and their sister is writing blog posts about the start of school, but, you know me…I write what is on my heart and mind. 🙂

Miss Bee starts Kindergarten next week. This fact fills me with pride, but I’m finding I’m also feeling a little bit of trepidation, sadness, and dare I say it, doubt.

She’s ready for Kindergarten; we know that. She’s BEEN ready. As advanced as she is, we feel like adding the challenge of Chinese Immersion Kindergarten won’t hold her back. In fact, I think she’ll thrive. 

It’s just that… She’s MINE. You know? 

Our first day at home with our sweet girl

She’s been in preschool part time for the past 2 years, so I have had sort of a cushion of time to prepare me for letting go, but I’m finding it’s still breaking my heart a little. As a stay at home mom, I’ve had the privilege of being her mama, her teacher, her cheerleader, her shoulder to cry on, her playmate, her snuggle partner, her hand to hold. As her mama, I’ve seen her first words, her first steps, her first haircut, her first ABC’s, her first chapter book, her first forray on her own on her bike, her first loose teeth. 

Putting her on that bus her first day of kindergarten is going to be excrutiating. I’ll put on a big brave smile for my big brave girl, but after the bus drives away, taking my baby girl with it, I give no guarantees I won’t be a complete mess. 

A teeny tiny seed of doubt in my mind has me quietly pondering, though. Will they be kind to her? Will they see how brilliant she is? Will she miss me?

I can hear my husband now, saying, She’ll be fine. She’ll have a blast. Her teacher will guide her. She’ll make friends. Yes, yes to all of that. Before we know it, she’ll be asking for the car keys, and rolling her eyes when I tuck her hair behind her ears so that I can see her pretty blue eyes.

But for just a little while longer, I want to keep her to myself.

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Our little girl playing dress up in my wedding dress

I’m a Screen Free Week Drop-Out

I’ve wrestled with the “screen-free” thing as of late.

But being a stay at home parent, I feel like I need to be connected to the outside world somehow or I will go crazy. Phone calls are constantly interrupted; I can’t remember a time in the last couple years that I have had an entire conversation without breaking up a fight, kissing  an owie, or asking a child to lower their voice below screaming volume. I use my phone for texting more than I do phone calls, ironically, because I can text back and forth when time allows.

Now that we have an iPad, I’ve used that as well. It’s so much easier than using the desktop, since I can bring it wherever I want in the house (except the bathroom!!!). Facebook, blogs, and Twitter offer a good distraction, and allow me to keep up with friends, but I can’t sit on them all day long or the house will fall down around me.

Popping in a movie on a rainy day, when the kids are running wild gives them (and me) a chance to calm their inner monster and just chill. Pulling out the iPad and watching silly videos with the kids is always good in a pinch, and we have found some awesome apps too.

I had fully intended to dive head-first into National Screen Free Week, but when it came down to it I couldn’t bring myself to cut the cord. Using these devices (phone, computer, iPad, etc.) has become a habit with me AND the kids. They have their learning games and fun things, and so do I. Screen-free time has its advantages, and they far outweigh the “negatives.” 

I think what it comes down to is spending the time we have, together. Cutting out distraction. Being more active. Enjoying being “in the moment” with the kids. Even if that means my dishes don’t get done all day and I don’t talk to a single other adult until 4 p.m.

The Freight Train’s A-Comin’

I humbly ask you to forgive my lack of posting on this site…it seems life has caught up with me in many ways, and I have had a slightly rude awakening to this fact.

In the past few months, I’ve been surviving life as it comes. Lots of laughter, fun, and love, mixed in with the usual hurdles and frustrations of life as we know it. It’s hard to believe that it’s been so long since I posted as the Not So Perfect Mom… I think I got caught up in my other little corner of the blogosphere on my personal online journal (blog) and corresponding fans, and lost sight of the simplicity of this one. PR friendly, honest, life-loving, centered on my version of perfect family life. So here I am, starting fresh in the new year, hoping to give equal attention to both sides of my brain (ha!) and give myself time to spew out the truth and creativity that’s in my heart.

So here comes the honesty. If you know me, you know that I have a seizure disorder. Okay, let’s be more specific and say I have Epilepsy. I don’t think I’ve ever really explained exactly what happens and what it feels like, and it’s hard to describe to anyone who has never had a seizure, but I am going to try…

I spent the few days surrounding Christmas in the throes of a persistent headache. On Day 5 (the Tuesday after Christmas), I finally got relief when the stubborn tightness in my back and neck released and my head stopped hurting. The headaches at Christmas time gave me a small icky feeling in my gut, saying You know what these headaches can lead to… (meaning, headaches can precede seizures). But they went away, and so did the gut feeling.

Fast forward to last night, New Year’s Eve, 10:30 p.m., relaxing into a nice, quiet evening with my husband, welcoming the new year. BAM! Headache from Hell. Like I haven’t had in months. The top of my head feeling like it wanted to explode.

Last night’s episode began with the usual tell-tale auras that I have before I have a seizure, which give way to the feeling of a freight train headed straight toward me, with me literally unable to stop it. I’ve been seizure-free for almost TWO AND A HALF YEARS, so you can imagine my frustration in last night’s eventsLuckily, it was just (JUST?! HA!) a headache. But the screaming, pulsing pain left me curled into a ball with tears streaming, holding onto the top of my head trying to keep my brain in my head, and trying to keep my fear of a seizure from overtaking me. My sweet and caring husband by my side, lending me his strength not to panic, and just get through the pain.

Are you scared yet? I sure as hell was; I always am. I don’t tell you this to gain sympathy or to shock you. It only helps people understand what MY seizures are like…all seizures are different. Did you know there are dozens of different kinds of seizures? Did you also know that there are people (sometimes KIDS) who have small seizures all day long (or all night)? Did you know that 1 out of every 10 people will experience a seizure sometime during their life?
 
Did you also know how stubborn I am? I refuse to let these seizures get me down. I refuse to let them interfere with my relationships and my everyday life.
 
Life sucks, sometimes. It’s raw and painful and scary. But, as my husband says, we have a home, we have food, we have each other. The rest is just gravy.
 
I may be Not-So-Perfect, but I am ever so humbled.