Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Love and Donuts

Growing up, I was really never much of an athlete. I tried softball when I was younger and was a fairly good pitcher - until I was hit by a line drive. After that, sports really weren't my thing. I liked the activity associated with sports and the comradery, I just did not have the competitive nature that helps you excel.

My eighth grade year I tried basketball and I sucked at it. So, beside track, the next best thing to do was try out for cheer leading. My first tryout I made the Varsity team and was so excited. I finally felt like I found my niche. I continued to do that until I went to college - after that, I was just a college student partying her way through the next four years of her life and I LOVED every single minute of that experience.

During my freshman year, I was so consumed with the whole college thing that fitness and health was thrown to the side. The end result was gaining about 15-20 extra lbs in the first six month of school. Now, I'm 6 ft tall, so 15-20 lbs doesn't necessarily show on me, but when you go home for the holiday to find you can't fit in a size 12 jean THERE'S A PROBLEM PEOPLE.

From that day forward, I made fitness and health a priority in my life. At first it was just something I did to get the extra weight off, but eventually in became something that I loved and lived for. It was a great stress reliever for me when I was feeling overwhelmed with school and the reason I was actually at college - to gain an education and NOT waste my parents money on beer.

When I went home after my freshman year, I was a lifeguard and never felt more confident in a bathing suit in my life. And honestly, that wasn't what my goal was - to look great in a swimsuit. It was about taking control of my life in every aspect.

After college, I maintained my health and after I had Piper I went through a time where fitness had to take a back burner to my failing health. With the colitis that I developed, it zapped every bit of energy I had and nothing I did helped. It was an ugly couple of years - but through it all, I maintained my sanity. Through that time, I still made it to the gym or worked out on the treadmill albeit not as hard as I used to. The deal was, I was not going to let this illness take control of my life. I was going to do my damnedest to control it.

I gained control of this disease fully about one year ago and just as I was feeling better, I felt a completely different thing going on within my body. I felt like a 35-yr-old woman trapped in a 80-yr-old persons body. At first I played it off as a change in my workout routine, but after several months of feeling the same way I made a Dr appt to see if what I was feeling was normal. When the blood tests came back, it revealed that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis - what I refer to as an old person's disease. You're welcome, Mom! I was never so relieved in my life to know that I wasn't losing my ever loving mind and that there was something legitimately wrong with me.

Every part of my body ached - from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. And the crazy thing about it is the Dr told me I probably would have ached even worse had it not been for my level of physical activity.

For most people, this would have been the opportune time to through in the towel and yell "UNCLE!", but I didn't and I never will. With all the good and bad I feel every day of my life within my body, fitness and health will always be there. I truly believe that it has helped me in every aspect in my life. My goal is to be around a long time for my kids and watch them grow into the adults we are trying so desperately to help them become.

I hate excuses. I hate your excuses. I hate laziness. I hate your laziness. I can't do it and I won't do it. Should something happen to you because of your level of inactivity and you're not around, I will be upset with you for a very long time. If something were to happen to you because you are too stubborn to get in shape and be healthy and I lose you and in turn lose the kids I am helping you to raise, I will never forgive you for that. Period.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Through It All

In March of this year, my family started yet another "new" chapter in our lives. We purchased a bigger house for our five, yes 5!, kids. This house has one more bedroom, an additional living area, a formal dining room and best of all...sweet LAND (an acre lot). That way when Rob and I get tired of hearing the screams and stomps in the house, we can shove the kids outside, close the door and let the screams be heard by all the neighbors. Nothing says welcome to the neighborhood like screaming children. Hoo ya, buddy!

To get in the house was NO small feat. In fact, there were many times that Rob and I almost threw in the towel and said UNCLE UNIVERSE you can just keep the damn house, we will live in a trailer for the rest of our lives! You think I'm joking? Oh no, we lived IN A TRAILER beside my dad's house for 2 weeks, when the stay was only supposed to be ONE, yes 1!, day.

I'm pretty proud of myself because in that two weeks, I only broke down one time. Maybe that was because I was highly medicated the rest of the days and that ONE day I ran out of Lexapro.

I kidd, maybe.

Since the day we got the keys and moved into the house, we have worked very hard at making it our home. But with a much bigger house comes added responsibilities, such as MORE cleaning and MORE yard work - two things I never really considered until we got moved in and adjusted.

I got divorced in 2008 and the one thing I have prided myself on since then was keeping a positive attitude and always seeing the good in the things happening around me - good, bad and ugly.

About a month ago I stopped seeing the good. I was angry and frustrated all the time and couldn't put my finger on why this was happening. And the fact that it was happening made me even more angry because I could not control it. Finally the straw that broke the camels back was the dog taking the brand new comforter and tearing a hole in it before I even got a chance to put it on the bed. Small thing, I know...but that was it.

I sat in the middle of the living room and lost it - crying and mad BECAUSE I was crying and couldn't stop it. I HATE to cry, to me it's a sign of weakness or a sign of defeat - two things that don't represent who I am.

As I cried, Rob sat down beside me and held my hand, scared to death of what was happening. All I could say to him was "I'm just so angry...ALL the time." He said that right thing when he said, I know and I'm sorry.

As I sat there thinking about why I was angry, it dawned on me that I was giving my life to this family and feeling like I was getting nothing in return. I was in essence a glorified maid and housekeeper. And it wasn't fair. I would come home to a kitchen that was a mess, rooms that weren't picked up and a fiance that was sitting on the couch relaxing from a long days work.

From the second I entered the house I was on the move - answering questions from all the kids, cleaning, picking up, laundry...it just never stopped. It was like groundhog day and I hated every second of it. I no longer enjoyed going to what we now call "home". I dreaded driving up to the house knowing the tasks that stood in front of me.

Some may say that's what a mother does and for those who say that, I will argue all day long that's NOT what a mother is. A mother deserves the same respect she gives the members in her family. She deserves to have a mate that helps her EVERY second of EVERY day. She deserves kids that pick up after themselves so they can grow up to be respectful and responsible adults. She deserves to have time to herself to recover from the day so she can maintain her sanity and be the best Mom she can be.

After that day, and the weeks that have followed, a lot of things have changed in our house because they HAD to and NEEDED to. I don't feel like I'm walking into a house where I am raising 6 kids not 5. And the odd thing about it is there is no other way for this to have happened had I not opened up and became human - let that vulnerability show. Because in the end I will always me a mother, wife and friend, but most importantly I will always be ME.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

For Those Who Suffer

Do you ever have that one secret you keep? You know, the one that if you shared it, it would either make you feel like a totally new person OR have horrible consequences once you let it out? Yeah, I've got that secret and have held onto it for over five years. And TODAY is the day I tell you. Will I feel new? Or will I regret it? To tell you the truth, I honestly don't care.

A little over five years ago - nine months after the birth of Piper - I was diagnosed with colitis.

All my life I have had problems with my colon, woohoo, fun stuff people! It started to progressively get worse when I was a teenager, but that solely had to do with "not being able to go" if you catch my drift. And I suffered through that with a few trips to the hospital and enemas that followed. It was awful, so I thought, but it was my life, and I accepted it. I tried all sorts of medicines - mostly laxative based ones that would curl me up in a ball, the pain was so terrible. They worked for a day and then I was back to square one the next day.

When I got pregnant with Piper, all my problems seemed to go away. It was the first time I was "regular" and man did it feel good. Then nine months after I had her, I started to get totally different systems then I had earlier. My stomach was always a mess, I could not keep anything in, and I started to lose weight. Now in the beginning, I admit that was not such a bad thing. But, after I continued to lose, even I started to get worried.

I went to the Dr and it revealed the colitis. To stop the symptoms, they put my on prednisone - a steroid based drug. I read up on the side effects of this and it scared the shit out of me - no pun intended. Reluctantly I started taking the drug and the symptoms seemed to clear up. I tapered off the drug for awhile and when I did my symptoms seemed to get even worse. I went back to the Dr and had ANOTHER colonoscopy done.

Side bar - People I am the queen of colonoscopies. I've had 6 at the ripe ol' age of 34. The only positive thing I can say about them is I sleep like a baby afterwards!

This test showed that my colitis had gotten progressively worse and turned itself into ulcerative colitis - meaning part of my colon and rectum was covered in ulcers/lesions. Isn't this fun?! My life really ceased to exist at that point. I could not go out to eat or out in public for fear I would not have enough time to make it to the bathroom. ANYWHERE I went I had to make sure that 1) I had not eaten several hours before or 2) There had to be a bathroom close. EVERYWHERE I WENT I had to know these things.

For those who know me, this was debilitating. It's an incredibly dirty and humiliating disease. You never feel clean and for me it made me feel horribly unattractive. I was and still am a very healthy person - on the outside. I'm very into fitness and eating healthy and with this disease, I couldn't comfortably do the things I loved to do. It consumed my every thought. I no longer had control over my body. My weight got down to 132lbs (and I'm 6' tall).

I remember telling Mark at one point, I honestly thought this disease was going to kill me.

Now people, I am stubborn - one of the most stubborn people I know. While I was sick and losing all sorts of fluids - namely blood, I still worked out. It made me feel like I had some ounce of control of my life. If you ask my ex-husband, he would say this made it worse. If you ask me, it helped me maintain my sanity.

I went through stages for about 3-4 years of being in remission to "having a flare-up". You learn these fun terms when you have colitis. "Hey, how are you?" "Great, just gotta minor flare in my ass, thanks for asking!"

I finally started to see another Dr and she gave me hope that things would get better. We started a new treatment - still taking the steroid at a higher dose - and added in a drug called Asacol. That drug, for me, has been a Godsend. I feel better than I have in a long time. I feel like I have got my life back.

Over the years, I have learned what foods to eat and what foods to stay away from - that will be a part of my life forever, unfortunately. But if you ask me, it's a fantastic trade off for feeling healthy.

In three weeks, I am going to run a half-marathon. This is unbelievably overwhelming and a huge accomplishment on so many levels. When I was diagnosed, I could not run for longer than a mile or two because it would jar my colon so much that I had to stop and run to the bathroom. I thought I would be deprived of doing one of the things I loved to do most in this world. Take that colitis and p.s. you can suck it!

I find myself getting upset with people who take their health for granted - people who have the ability to exercise and maintain their health, but chose to make excuses as to why they can't. I have little sympathy for that. I've become jaded in that regard and I'm afraid it's something I'll never get over. I get upset with family members who know I have this disease, but don't take the time to really understand what it's about and how hard my life has truly been for these five+ years.

On June 4, at 7am, I am running not just for me, but for all the people out there who suffer from some sort of disease that they feel they have no control over. And the people who will be there cheering me on are the people who have held my hand and seen me cry because I had almost given up hope of conquering this monster. I am most grateful for those handful of people.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dear Piper,

On May 27, 2005, at 11:55am, you came in to this world with a purpose - at least I think that's what all that crying was about. When you could understand what I was saying to you, I asked you if you remember being born. You said wholeheartedly, "Yes!" How smart are you, so very young! I thought, ok I will push a little further, I said "Oh really, what were your first words when you were born. You said, "Hi Momma, I love you." Dang kid, why do you know just what to say?

I was never the type of person that necessarily wanted kids. I was kinda indifferent on the whole subject, plus I was really impatient and selfish. That + kids = disaster! I then married your daddy who had two kids before you were born. I thought, I am raising two kids that aren't mine by birth, so why not try for one of my very own?

While I was pregnant, I was anxious to see you - but not so much I couldn't stand it. I was more irritated that you were slowing your Momma down and I could not do the things I normally did - like never sit down unless I am sleeping or eating.

Then the doctor (who by the way was easy on the eyes) placed you in my arms and I was DONE. You had my heart and soul from that moment on. You were crying and the minute your skin touched mine, you were silent. Like you were saying, "thank God I finally got to see you in person, it's really boring in that dark place. By the way, who is that bald guy standing next to you, surely he's not my Dad?" Yes, Pipes, he's your Dad and he loves you almost as much as I do.

The first several weeks of your life were ROUGH. You had colic and would cry from 9pm til 2am. It was brutal and exhausting and I truly did not know if I could make it through another day. It got so bad that your Mimi almost took you to the hospital, you were screaming so bad. That was the night I will never forget, the night I looked at you laying on the couch screaming and I said "Please Piper, stop crying - I am so flipping (I cussed there) tired of it!"

Mimi rescued me, and I cried all the way to the bedroom and crashed from pure frustration and exhaustion. But you know what? The next morning I woke up and loved you just the same if not more.

Everyone in my family, especially Mimi, was scared to death that I could not do this "Mom thing". And for a brief while, I was not sure I could either. But after you got out of the colic stage, I took to being a Mom like it was nobody's business. I loved it and love it more and more every day.

You are my daughter in almost every way. Besides the looks (you did not have a prayer in that area, sorry sister), you are the miniature version of me. You are shy around new people but curious at the same time. You are grouchy in the morning with everyone but me and I completely understand that. You hate when all the attention is placed on you, but people can't help but gravitate towards you. If you can't do something well the first time, you rarely try it again. You have a mind of your own and I often find myself apologizing to others for something that you have said that could be taken the wrong way. You are rarely affectionate unless you want something or are tired or hurt - but you have to sit right next to me when we are in the same room. You are a perfectionist and it bugs you when you color outside of the lines. You are a momma's girl through and through - even though you joke with me and say you are a daddy's girl.

You are wonderful and beautiful on the inside and out and I will never be able to tell you how much I love you and what you have done for my life in this short five years.

Recently your little world has been turned upside down with your Dad getting married and Rob and his kids moving to Oklahoma. I was petrified of how you would take all the change. I thought you would be jealous that you were having to share your time with Mom. Oh boy, little girl, I was totally wrong.

You have taken everything in stride and have blossomed into a young lady who shares and is always in a good mood. You are the best out of all the kids - including your Momma and Rob. And I don't just say that - I am completely 100% serious. You are a rock star, Piper Ryan!

I would like to say that your Dad and I have something to do with this - that we have raised you to be this person that everyone finds joy in being around, but truly I believe this is all your doing.

You are amazing in every sense of the word and I am honored to be the one that God chose to be your Mom. And yes, you call me Mom now - not Momma. I am still working through that. Thank you for blessing my life and making me smile and laugh EVERY SINGLE day. You are my life, my best friend and my favorite person in the whole wide world.

I love you.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Home Improvements

On December 31, 2009, I purchased a fabulous home for me and Piper. It had been a long haul up til then. I lost a total of 5 houses - 6 if you count the one I tried to get a second time - because I was either outbid or someone offered cash for the house I was trying to buy. It was an exhausting and frustrating process and I had all but given up. I was actually close to just renting again for a year and starting the whole process over after I had time to regroup from the loss of SO MANY freaking houses.

I told my realtor this - who now happens to be a great friend of mine - and she understood. Then a week later she called and said she wanted me to look at just ONE MORE house and then she was done pestering me. I thought what the hell, I've got nothing to lose and if I had to stay another month with my step mom I was going to go insane. Picture someone that never shuts up, offers her opinion too much, complains that she is overweight while eating a bag of potato chips and then take that times ten. You have now met my step mom!

Side bar: I seriously hope I am never that type of stepmother, because if this happens I give my family full authority to commit my ass to the nearest institution AND you don't have to pick the hairs out of my chin when I get old (YOU ARE WELCOME, MOM!).

When I walked into this house, the heavens opened, trumpets started to play and God spoke personally to me and said these exact words, "Hey, you whiner, this is why you lost all the other houses, stop being grouchy and for Pete's sake this time make a full price offer!" I think he may have cussed too, but I can't be for certain because I was still lifting the bottom of my jaw off the NEW carpet in the living room.

This house was perfect, almost too perfect and really too big for me and Piper. It was 4 bed/2.5 baths and it was a foreclosure. I had to have this house and I was actually in the perfect position to play the "government owned" game because I lived with my parents at the time and could get in as soon as or as late as they needed me too. Remember what I just told you about my step mom? I preferred the sooner option. Just sayin'.

After many months of playing the foreclosure game, I got the house. My house. The first thing I did was paint Piper's room and fixed it up just the way she wanted it. Since then, I have been doing little things to it - mostly painting and decorating until recently.

Rob and I got this crazy idea to redo the kitchen. The dishwasher I had shot craps and ruined the wood floor, so I had to get a new dishwasher and flooring, so we thought why not remodel the kitchen the way we want it. And the way someone else would want it when it came time to sell the house for something bigger down the road.

Now I will be TOTALLY honest with you, I did not want to start another big project. My past experience with men and remodelling - ahem, ex-husband - was an awful experience. Whenever we would do a project and he told me how long it would take, you could take that amount of time times three and that's when the project would be done. Well, at least 90% done. I am not for sure we ever finished a project all the way through without something not quite being complete. In fact, a stove sat in the middle of our kitchen for close to a week before my step dad took pity upon me (because I was all but in tears and I don't cry people) and hooked it back up so I could cook again. Because a person needs a stove with a NINE MONTH OLD BABY!

Rob and I started with the back splash and it went well, but I was still a skeptic. I thought, he's just showing off, he's gonna lose steam soon and once again I will have a kitchen that is only half way down. Holy moses was I ever wrong. That man's a machine. And not just in getting the job done, he actually does it right, it doesn't take forever and the end result is a whole lot of FABULOUS!

Ladies, I'm keeping him. Don't even think about trying to steal him. Plus, he's "country" and wears mesh shorts and ripped t-shirts daily - it would annoy you too. Hi, Number 8!

As I type this, he is busting his butt to get the wood floor done in the dining room before he has to go to work at 4pm. This is yet another lesson I have learned - that people can surprise you on a daily basis and when someone truly cares, they go out of their way to show it. And never expect one thing in return.

I feel lucky once again to be given a second chance at love and this time I am playing for keeps.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Today (at 4:30pm) I will turn 34-years-old. 34, can you believe that? I am almost MID THIRTIES! All my life I have been a year younger than my friends. I was one of those kids that started school when they were 4 because of the way my birthday fell. I guess my mom thought I was wise enough to start early - or she was just sick of having me at home and wanted me gone. I am thinking the latter is the correct answer.

My teens were plagued with bad relationships and horrible insecurities. I never felt good enough or like I was bringing any joy to those around me, namely myself. I had very few true friends and at the time that really bothered me. I wanted to be the girl that had tons of friends - that people were drawn to because of my outgoing personality. And the funny thing about that statement is that I was captain of the cheer leading squad - so an outgoing personality was a must.

I guess in some ways I had that personality, but damn it was hard to be that way all day long - exhausting actually. I am really an introvert that acts like an extrovert. And to tell you the truth, I hate when people stare, look or attention is drawn to me. So, maybe it was good I had few friends!

College is really when I started to break out of my shell. I was a part of a sorority and had tons of friends - inside and outside of the sorority. I was free to date whomever I wanted and just had an overall blast - and, ahem...my grades may have shown that first semester. Sorry Mom!

But in my twenties, I still had insecurities - maybe more so than in my teens. I was surrounded by beautiful people from different states and parts of the world. It was hard to keep up with that. I wanted to be that natural beauty that did not have to work hard at being "a certain way".

It wasn't until I turned 28 that my transformation started. And I don't mean my looks either. I mean the internal side of me. I was married and getting ready to have Piper. Now, I did not like being pregnant and I was not one of those Mom who fantasized about this life growing inside me. I am just not mushy like that. Sorry folks. I was excited to have Piper, but I did not feel beautiful nor did I have that pregnancy "glow".

Then I had Piper. End of story. There was something about having her and the moment they placed her in my arms that I felt my life was complete. It was no longer about what I looked like on the outside, it was about being the best Mom I could be - no matter what. I took to being a Mom like a duck to water. It was amazing. My Mom still to this day wonders what happened to her selfish, insecure daughter!

It's that day that changed my life forever. The insecurities I had started to fade away and I actually started to feel beautiful. And I needed to feel that way because I had a daughter that needed to see her Mom feel good about herself and be an example to her as she grows up, because let's face it, there is NOTHING fun about being a female and growing up in today's society. We are at such a disadvantage from what TV and magazines tell us to look like. It's unfair and at times cruel.

I have not dreaded one birthday since I was 28. With each birthday that passes, I feel more blessed and at peace than the year prior. My thirties have, without a doubt, been the best years of my life. I don't worry about what people think of me or what I wear when I step out of the house. If people don't like it, they don't have to look. Actually, PLEASE DO NOT look. Thank you very much.

Now, I would be lying if I said I never have bad days where I feel "fat" or just plain unattractive. But here's the difference, I am smart enough to know that I am being ridiculous and that the day will pass and tomorrow when I wake up is a new day. And that no matter what, I am surrounded by people who love me with all their heart and see me as beautiful EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Thank you to my friends and especially my family, I love you more than I could ever say. And happy 34th birthday to me - BRING ON 35!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

25 Things You May Not Know About Me

  1. I consider Piper my best friend.
  2. I have OCD with cleanliness - especially my house.
  3. If someone moves a picture or object in my house, I will find it immediately and move it back to it's proper position.
  4. I love working out.
  5. I will never believe my body is where it needs to be physically.
  6. I am considering writing a children's book on blended families.
  7. I am not a morning person.
  8. I would love to write greeting cards for Hallmark.
  9. I have a fear of public speaking.
  10. I am an introvert who outwardly portrays that I am an extrovert.
  11. I am scared to death to get married again.
  12. I can't stand people who are negative.
  13. I am engaged to a man who treats me better than I have ever been treated and that makes me uncomfortable.
  14. I am moody.
  15. I dislike scary movies.
  16. My favorite show is Biggest Loser.
  17. I would love to become a yoga instructor - just for fun.
  18. I want to own a Subway within the next 5 years.
  19. I am addicted to Craigslist.
  20. I take medication for anxiety and swear by it.
  21. I have an annoying habit of telling people how little I paid for an outfit when they tell me they like it.
  22. My family is the most important thing in the world to me.
  23. I dislike talking on the phone - I would rather text.
  24. I would love to have another baby, even though I say I don't want to.
  25. I am determined to raise my daughter to know that she is beautiful on the inside and out and she will always be my most favorite person in the world.