Monday, December 31, 2012

What is really important

The last couple of days I have shared a few different stories with all of you. (God allowed me to go through a mess in the middle of my story time and I believe that in due time it will bring Him glory!) Anyways, what was the point of all of my stories?????
The point that I want to come across through my stories is, what is really important in your life?
After the school shooting, the Christmas holiday and conversations I have had with different people lately, I felt God leading me to write this post. If you are one of the MANY people I have had a conversation with about any of these subjects please do not be offended this is NOT an attack on you in any way!!
Over the past couple of weeks what has been consuming everyone's thoughts?? (Not everyone..... but a large majority of the population.) The first thing was GIFTS! What am I going to buy my mom, sister, brother, dad, best friend, kids, teacher, wife, husband, dog....... for Christmas. Is there something wrong with wanting to buy people gifts? No, not at all.
BUT........ I would see people post on FB please pray for 'Bob' because they can't afford to give their kids gifts this year. I saw my Pastor's wife posting about people coming to the church asking for the church to buy gifts for their kids. We have organizations like Toys for Tots to make sure our kids get stuff for Christmas. Like that is THE most important thing about Christmas. **Everyone who reads this blog knows that I am a Christian and obviously I think that Christ is the most important thing about Christmas, but that is actually not what this blog is about, stick with me :)
The second thing that people were talking about daily was the shooting at the elementary school. I saw people post and people talk about holding their kids a little tighter that day, or they turned off their computer to play with their kids that day and a couple days that followed. It was such a tragedy and people couldn't believe it happened. I am not at all trying to downplay what happened. It was horrible no question about that, but why does it take something horrible happening to make people care a little more about others??
Here is a good example.....
Since I have started blogging I have a good following of people who read my blog every time I blog. Then, when I went through my worst night ever, the number of people who read my blog that day quadrupled...... Why does it take me going through something horrible for people to "care" about me??
The fact is you do not know what is going to happen next week, tomorrow or even later today. My mom died the day after she seemed better than she had ever been. Mariela went from a spunky happy kid to being on a breathing machine and possibly having her brain drilled into. Michael and I were in an accident that wasn't too bad, but what if it had been worse and we wouldn't have been ok??
Do you think my kids would have been thinking I wish my parents would have bought me an iPad before they died?? I highly doubt that.
When I think about my mom, I don't think I wish she would have bought me xyz.... I think, I wish I could have spent more time with her.
I have other mom's who will tell me, I wish I could be a stay at home mom like you, but we just can't afford it. No, what you can't afford, is to give up your lifestyle, there is a difference. We don't have cable, we don't have really nice cars, we buy our clothes from second hand stores or yard sales. My 3 older kids have lived a part of their life with me working outside of the home. Awhile back they said something about wanting something and I said, well I can go back to work so we have more money. They ALL quickly said no and to this day have NEVER said anything about not having "stuff".
The fact is your stuff doesn't matter!!! The family and friends that you have in your life do matter!!! Please, don't wait until something "bad" happens in your life or the life of someone you know before you start loving on your family and friends. If I were to die tomorrow, I don't ever want my family or friends to be able to say, I wish I could have spent more time with her. I want them to be able to say remember all of the fun times we had together.
No, we may not have a lot of money and I may not buy my kids a lot of stuff that we can't afford, but they get loved on everyday of the year! I didn't need a school shooting to make me stop using the computer and spend time with my family. I didn't need a car accident to make me hug my kids a little tighter. I do that stuff daily!!! My kids and my husband are my world and I make sure that they know this EVERYDAY of their lives!! I also try to go out of my way to make sure my friends know how much I love them. I have people over and cook them dinner and hang out. It may not be much, but it is a day that I am able to serve them and spend time with them and I know that for my real friends that is enough.
I really want to encourage all of you who read my blog as we come up on the end of the year and start a new one to look at this past year. If you or someone you loved wasn't here tomorrow what would you regret? Would you regret not buying them something?? Or would you regret the time that you should have or could have spent with them?? Then this next year spend everyday showing your loved ones that they are what is most important in your life...... Not your stuff. You really don't know what tomorrow holds and you don't want to regret the time you missed out on with someone :)

Happy New Year's eve.... be careful tonight!!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mariela's meningitis story

I want to post this story also. I am going to write a blog tomorrow that ties all of these posts together, so stay with me :)
One Sunday afternoon in October 2009, Mariela told me that she had a headache and I didn't think much of it. Later that evening she said that her head hurt really, really bad. I gave her some Tylenol and told her to go to bed and hopefully when she woke up she would feel better.
 The next morning Makayla came in my room and woke me up saying that Mariela was crying because her head hurt. I gave her some more Tylenol and she laid on the couch all day. I gave her Tylenol 2 more times throughout the day/evening. Before bed she was really crying so I asked her if she wanted me to take her to the hospital. She said yes, so off we went at midnight to the hospital. When we got there we signed in and were told that there were 16 people in front of us and there would be about a 4 hour wait to be seen. So her and I discussed if we should stay or not. We decided to go home and go to bed and go to her Dr first thing in the morning so we didn't catch something waiting there sitting in the waiting room.
Tuesday morning came and she still had a bad headache. We went to see her Dr and they looked at her and couldn't see anything wrong except maybe some congestion so they sprayed some nasal spray up her nose and told me to give her Tylenol/Motrin every 3 hours. She went all day Tuesday after the apt feeling fine. We went over to my best friends house for dinner and she played and goofed off like she always does.
Then again about 10pm she started saying her head hurt again. So I gave her some Motrin and she went to sleep. At 4am she woke me up crying that her head hurt again. She also started vomiting a little bit. I called the Dr because they said if the headache actually woke her up from sleep then I needed to call immediately. Dr said for me to take her to the ER so they could do more testing like a CT to make sure nothing else was going on. We got to hospital about 5:30am (not one person in waiting room this time!!)
First, they tested her for strep and flu. When both of those came back negative they did blood work. When everything was normal with that they ordered a CT. After the results from that showed nothing was wrong he said the only other thing he could think to do was a spinal tap to check for meningitis. I did not really want to do this because I knew it would be very painful for her. The Dr said since she was little they would put her
to sleep in order to do the procedure so I agreed. At noon on Wednesday they did the spinal tap. At 2pm he came in and said that the spinal tap showed she did have meningitis.  
They gave her morphine for the pain and Zofran for the nausea and went ahead and admitted her so she could be monitored. All night she was in excruciating pain. It honestly seemed like the morphine was not working AT ALL! She was also vomiting from being in so much pain. On Thursday, around 1:30pm I got her out of bed to try to get her to go to the bathroom. The nurse was getting worried because she had not gone since the night before.
When I got her out of bed and took her into the bathroom she seemed really out of it. She kept playing with her gown and pulling at her IV. When she was sitting on the toilet she just looked at me and seemed very confused. I asked her "Mariela, do you know who I am?" She shook her head no. I pointed to the baby and Michael and asked if she knew them and she shook her head no. Then, I asked her her name and she couldn't say it. I immediately called the nurse and she said that she was going to call the Dr because something was terribly wrong.
The Dr came in and had some blood work done and decided to put a catheter in her. She said it was possible that the morphine was backing up in her system and causing her to act this way. They finally got the catheter in after a LOT of fighting (and me laying on her and 2 other nurses holding down her legs) and nothing really came out. Then she really got worried and decided to have her transferred to a children's hospital where she could be monitored better.

 In the midst of getting ready to transport her the blood work came back showing that her sodium levels dropped dangerously low. They started her on a sodium IV. The ambulance came and I rode with her over to Central Dupage hospital. When we got here there were 2 Dr's and 6 nurses running around her trying to get her stable and get her up to CT. Honestly, all of this had me a nervous wreck.

What was discovered was that her brain was swelling and the combination of the swelling and the low sodium was causing all sorts of new problems. It was causing her brain to tell her kidneys not to release urine and the swelling was causing the brain to be squished and caused the confusion. They put her on a breathing machine with a tube down her throat to help her breathe. They also put in a central line and an arterial port, one in each groin.

They were talking about needing to drill a hole into her skull to release the pressure on her brain. They decided to hold off a little longer to see how she handled what they were doing. They kept her sedated and on antibiotics until they could see major improvement. But my little sweet petite girl was fighting the sedative and would sit up in bed and it would take anywhere from 3 to 5 nurses to hold her down! She seemed not to be getting worse so they stopped discussing the drilling into the skull. We just had to sit and wait for the swelling to go down.

Michael and I never left the hospital. They let us sleep in a room that they had their for parents. Family and friends came to visit and showed their support to us everyday! People would bring us meals and sit with us to keep us company. People would go in her room and pray over her. The support that we received was amazing and I knew that God was using these people to help bring me His peace through this whole situation.

On Sat morning they did another CT. The swelling seemed to be going down and they decided to take her off the ventilator. She was very sore and looked pretty miserable. It was so hard to see her still in pain, but it was 100x worse seeing my baby girl with all of the tubes and and on a breathing machine. I was so happy and relieved to see her off of them!! Even if she still wasn't feeling 100% better, this was a huge step forward!!

She stayed for a couple of more days and made a full recovery and we got to go home!! It is amazing what can happen in your life in just a matter of days.........

I can look back at this and I know that God's hand was on us during this whole experience. He has always been there when I have needed Him and I know that He always will be, no matter what life may throw at us!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Worst night ever!

Last night will forever go down as one of the worst nights of my life! It is up there with my mom dying and Mariela being in the hospital with meningitis.
We had snow Tuesday night and our car will not make it up or down our driveway because of the snow turned ice patches we have going up our pretty steep mountain driveway. Yesterday, Michael got home from work while it was still daylight out and he and I left the kids home and walked down the very slippery driveway to out car which we have to park at the bottom of. We were running into town to go to Wal-mart because we were out of everything.....diapers, milk, eggs, juice, water, bread...... (In a house with 8 people it is impossible to go that long without going to the store!!)
Anyways, after our trip to Wal-mart we wanted to go by the Tractor Supply store to buy some salt for the driveway. I was driving and my light turned green to turn into the Tractor Supply plaza and as I was turning another vehicle did not stop at their red light and ran right into the the side of our car.
I was so incredibly scared! I was in a little bit of pain too, but more scared and shook up than anything. We got out of the car and I started to ball my eyes out. All I really remember saying was thank God our kids weren't with us! The point of impact was the passenger side back door and trunk area, which is exactly where my kids would have been sitting. They could have been seriously injured if they were in the car.
Praise God that Michael and I (or the old guy who hit us) were not hurt. Like I said I am a little sore, but I'll be alright. Michael was totally unharmed and he was on the impact side. I have thanked God repeatedly that he wasn't hurt.
The guy who hit us had no business driving in my opinion. He was a older man (75-80 if I had to guess) He said that he didn't even see me. (apparently he didn't see the red light that he ran through either) While we were waiting for the police/tow trucks I was asking him if he was alright. He said yes, and proceeded to tell me that he has some kind of medical condition (He said the name, but I don't remember it) where he looses feeling in his feet and they go numb. Again, this man should have never been on the road!
The side of the car is messed up pretty bad. The door window broke upon impact (I was picking glass out of my hair) and the tire/rim is totally bent/tilting into the car. It is an old car and I am sure that the insurance company is going to write it off as a total loss. Meanwhile, our van has a broken alternator so we no longer have any means of transportation. Wonderful.
Anyways, back to my story.....
While waiting the officer called me over to where he was standing. I walked over to him and when I got over by him he told me to turn around and put my hands behind my back. He said that there was an outstanding warrant for my arrest and proceeded to place me in handcuffs. I was totally freaking out. I was hysterically crying not knowing what was going on. I told Michael to go home and call our friend Carrie and ask her to sit with the kids so that he could meet me up at the jail. Then he put me in his police car. I can remember screaming because the handcuffs were so tight and hurt so bad. (I know have handcuff marks and bruises on my wrists thanks to the VA state police dept. He never did loosen them and I stayed in them for a good 40 min.)
The next thing I know they are asking Michael for his license and putting him in handcuffs.  They placed him in another police car and that cop took him strait to  jail. My cop had to wait until the tow truck drivers came to move our cars from the road. While we were sitting there he asked me who's car I took? I was crying and asked what he was talking about. He said the warrant that was out for both of us was unlawful use of a vehicle, basically car theft only a little bit lighter of a charge. What?!? Yeah.....I'm gonna steal a car......
Then it hit me....Penske! When we moved out to Lexington back in July we had a bad windstorm hit the weekend we moved. It knocked out power for days in Lynchburg where we moved from. It was over 100 degrees the whole time the power was out and because of this we had to keep the truck a little longer. With the kids (Blake was only 2 months old) we honestly were not able to do a whole lot of anything when it came to loading/unloading the truck during the day because it was just too hot. Blake and the other kids were not doing well in the heat and we would have to go anywhere around town that did have power and walk around so we were out of the heat during the day. Then at night we loaded/unloaded the truck. Well, apparently they reported the truck stolen.
We got to the jail and I was balling my eyes out. I was so scared. I asked the officer to please call my friend (since Michael never got to) and he asked her to go sit with my kids because I had no clue how long we were going to be there. I sat waiting outside the office in the handcuffs that were causing me so much pain and cutting off circulation in my hands waiting for what was next. The officer told me that Michael had been put back in a holding cell. They never did put me in a holding cell, they just had me sit there.
They were busy faxing paperwork and getting a magistrate who would see both of us via video from who knows where. While waiting for him the officer brings me out a paper telling me that he is notifying me that my license was suspended (He said most likely because of the warrant) and I was going to get a ticket for driving with a suspended license..... Lovely, I was trying to stay positive and think that my bad luck streak had to be over and Mr. Cop was quick to burst that happy bubble for me........
He took me into the room where the video magistrate thing was going to take place and FINALLY took off my handcuffs. When he did, I saw his face go white. I guess he must have thought I was exaggerating when I said the cuffs hurt and when he took them off he realized that I was serious. My wrists were the darkest pink/red ever and I had indentations all over my wrists. It looked like they were still on even when they were off.
Anyways, I sat there waiting and Michael's holding cell was across from the room where this was going on and I could see him looking at me through the little window in the door and my heart was just breaking. He would put his hand up to the glass and I saw him blow me a kiss. I know he was so worried about me because I was so scared.
Finally, the magistrate came on via video and I talked with him and they gave me a unsecured bond of $1000. Meaning, that I didn't have to pay anything and they were going to release me home, but if I don't show up to court then there is a $1000 bond out on me.
When I was done talking with him I signed some papers and I was released.
Michael went in after me and the magistrate told him he had a secured bond in the amount of $2000. Meaning, we have to pay $2000 to get him out or he sits in jail until our court date. Michael was young and stupid back in the day (long before we were married) and didn't have a clean record like I did so that is why our bonds were different.
My friend Carrie went by and got my groceries out of our car at the tow truck place then came to pick me up from the jail. Michael is currently still in jail until I can get down there today with some money.
I am home now, but still very shaken up over this. I think I got maybe 2 hours of sleep. I am so thankful for friends and family who have stepped up and helped out during this whole mess!! We go to court in about a week and I am praying that this whole thing is just a huge misunderstanding and that it gets dropped. Not sure what in the world is going to happen with the car yet or how we are going to get around, but what I do know is that what Satan intends for evil God can use for good! I am praying and trusting that God is in control of this whole situation and that He is going to handle it for us. I know that His hand was on us when we were in the accident and I know it is today also!!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Guest post Heather- Living with cancer

Yesterday, I told the story of my mom's loosing battle with cancer, my story.
Today, I have a guest post from the other side.... a parent with cancer.
Praise God, it has a good ending!
She asked me if I would be willing to share her story on my blog and I agreed.
This is Heather and her daughter, Lily.... and this is her story.
Living With Cancer
You know the old saying about children needing an entire village to help raise them? This is so true. I learned this myself after my daughter was born. It was 2005 and it was a good year, at least to start with. On August 4, 2005, our sweet Lily entered the world. My husband’s family, my family, and all of our friends surrounded us with love and support when Lily arrived. Life was good. However, it wasn’t so good when I had to go back to work and began feeling ill. At first, I thought it might have just been new mom stuff, but eventually I knew that the exhaustion, fatigue, lack of energy, and breathlessness that I was experiencing was something else.
Three and a half months after giving birth, on November 21, 2005, I was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure, which I’d unknowingly had as a child. My doctor told me that without treatment I’d live for about 15 months. I knew that was not an option, and as any mother would, I did what I had to do to keep myself alive and be there to raise Lily.
What I had to do included flying to Boston. This is where we would meet Dr. David Sugarbaker, one of the best mesothelioma doctors in the country. In February, he performed my extrapleural pneumonectomy surgery, which included the removal of my left lung. I spent nearly three weeks recovering. That was followed by two months of recovery time and then chemo and radiation as well. During my time in Boston, I met other people who were going through the same things that I was. These amazing people became my friends, and they helped me get through each and every day. While I was in Boston, my daughter lived with my parents in South Dakota, in my childhood home.
Since my parents worked full time, they had their own little village. They were surrounded by love and support and encouragement from the people who they go to church with. Kids I babysat as a teen were all grown up with their own families, and they even volunteered to watch Lily during the day when my parents were at work. It was a wonderful thing. I knew that my baby was in good hands, but it was hard being away from her and seeing her milestones only through the pictures my husband printed from my mom’s emails.
Cancer taught my family a lot. It’s horrible, but even with the bad came a lot of good. We know now that life is not meant to be taken for granted, and we try to spend every single day being thankful for all of the good that we have in our lives. For that, I am thankful.
Heather, her husband and Lily
THANK YOU Heather for sharring your story!!!
*****Cancer is such a horrible thing to go through. Not only did I have to deal with my mother dying of cancer, but my grandmother has survived  breast and stomach cancer and my grandfather has survived prostate and throat cancer. If there are precautions that we can take to not get it, then do it. I know how much it sucks to not have a mother around and I know that none of you want that for your children!!*****

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My mama

There are some of you who have not known me for very long or only know me through this blog so I am sharing this with you today. My mom passed away a month after I graduated high school. She had been sick with cancer for almost two years before she died and this is my story through those two long years.
(I copied this from a note that I wrote on FB a little over a year ago)
During my junior year of high school my mother developed a really bad cough. At first she thought it was just a cold, but it didn't go away and continued to get worse. She finally decided to go to the Dr and get it checked out. After different scans it was found that my mother had lung cancer. She had been a bartender for many years and this was most likely the result of all those years working around the smoke. She started chemo and it seemed to work good. She never really got sick like a lot of people do on chemo. She was really weak and tired for a few days after her treatments, but was her normal spunky self. Her hair fell out and we eventually just shaved all of her hair off. After the treatments she was rescanned and everything was clear. The cancer was gone.
Now onto my year of hell, my senior year of high school. It all started in September/October of 1998. (I honestly think it was Oct, but maybe as early as Sept I don't remember the day, but I remember EVERY detail of this night as if it was this morning)

One night I came home after going out with my boyfriend, the house was dark except for the kitchen light that was left on for me. I went in my room and went to bed because no one was up. Not too long after going to sleep my bedroom door opens and all I hear is "No, Leslie is in her bed. She is here! It is Joyce she isn't here" I got out of bed to find out what in the world was going on. I go out to the living room and there was a police officer at our house. He said that they picked up a lady walking down the side of the road with only one shoe on. The only thing she kept saying to them was my name. So they picked her up and brought her back to the police station. My grandfather and I left to go pick up my mother from the police station and my grandmother stayed at home. I can remember being terrified out of my mind! I didn't know what was going on or what had happened to her. We got to the station (by now it is about 3 something in the morning) and she was just sitting in a chair waiting for us to get her.
After we got there the police told us that they had received a call from a bar owner. As he was leaving he saw a car in the parking lot still running with the lights on but there was no one in it and there was a lady walking down the side of the street so he called the police. They figured that she was drunk.
Earlier that evening my mom had gone over to my aunts house to make Christmas ornaments and she left my aunts house at 10 something to come home. (which btw was only about 5 miles from where we lived) But something happened and she ended up at Bonita Beach Rd (which is a good 25 miles from our house) We had no clue what was going on. My mom was very confused. The police said they couldn't get her to say anything except for my name. We took her back home and she was tired and wanted to go to bed. But we told her she had to go to the hospital to see what was going on. When we got to the hospital they took her right back. They would only let one person stay with her at a time in the ER room. They had taken her to do a scan of her head, I can remember siting next to my mom after she got back from her scan and as she was sleeping and just dropping to my knees and praying that she was going to be ok. I had never dropped to my knees to pray about anything. I was so scared! Finally the Dr came in and said (again still remember this like it was 2 min ago) "Well, I think we found out why you got lost tonight. You have tumors in your brain." My mom says, " I guess that is a good reason." Dr said, "I don't know if it is a good reason, but it is a reason." I started balling my eyes out. My mom stayed strong and didn't get upset. I was the only one back in the room when the Dr came in and told her so I had to go out and tell the rest of my family who was waiting in the waiting room. I remember the walk out there seemed like it took forever. I opened the doors to the waiting room and I just lost it. I told my family and everyone just held me and cried. We all regained our composure and went up to see her. They transferred her to a room upstairs to stay in the hospital for a few days. The next morning the oncologist came in after looking at her scan and told us that she had less than 6 months to live. I didn't know what to do or what to think. I was in HS, I was still a kid. What was I going to do without my mother? Six months would have been April at the latest from what these Dr's were telling us. They started her on radiation treatments while she was in the hospital and they had planned out her treatments for the next few weeks and we went home.
My mother seemed to be getting better after the treatments. On my 18th bday in November we went up to Orlando for a couple of days. She was living life just as she always had. A scan after her last treatment showed that all of the tumors were gone! It was a miracle to me. She had gone from Dr's saying that she wouldn't make it 6 months to being tumor free. In the meantime I had applied to college, I was working at Sweet Tomatoes, and playing Varsity softball. In Jan of 1999 I got my acceptance letter to USF. She was so happy! Her dream was to see me graduate and go to college. She had gotten pregnant and had my brother at the age of 16 so she never finished school. She was so much more excited than I was. In Feb we went to check out the school and go to orientation.
While we were at orientation that weekend my mother was having trouble walking around. It was hard for her to climb the stairs. She just couldn't seem to lift her leg high enough. I helped her around that weekend and when we got back home she called the Dr and they scheduled another CT scan. The scan showed that the tumors had returned but this time in her back. One of them was pushing on her nerve and that is why she was having so many problems getting around. The oncologist told us then that the type of cancer that she had was just going to keep spreading through out her body. It was aggressive and just kept popping up in other places. They once again started her on radiation treatments. I really was fortunate that it didn't affect her much. We went shopping and she bought me ever thing that I was going to need to take to college the next year and acted as she normally did. She was always so strong and didn't let this cancer get her down much.
Well, after those couple of weeks things took a turn and got bad quick. Because of the tumor in her back she would sit a lot because it was so hard to walk. Well, she started to have a lot of pain in her butt and as it turned out she had bed sores from sitting all of the time. We had to get Hope Hospice help after that. We got a hospital bed so she could lay down and relieve the pressure and hopefully the sores would heal. They had a nurse that came over everyday to check on her and change her dressings. It was very difficult and painful for her to get out of bed all of the time so someone would always have to help her in and out of bed, in and out of the car, in and out of the shower, toilet, dinner table, pretty much everything! I didn't really like having the nurse come over everyday and I asked if she could show me how to take care of the dressings and things with my mom so she didn't have to come everyday. They agreed and showed me what to do. After that they only came by 3 times a week to check up on her. During this time I quit my job, and playing softball so I could be around more. I was also able to drop my first class of the day in school so I could come in later so I could be there with her in the mornings. When I was at school my dad would help her around the house or take her to her Dr apt if I couldn't take her. Well, one day when he was helping her out of the car he accidentally dropped her and that terrified her. After that she was very scared to get around. I would literally have to put my arms around her and use my legs to help her up and out of the bed and into her wheelchair. Then do the same thing in the car, chairs, toilet, etc. It got to where she wouldn't let anyone do it but me.
Then June came. My graduation day :) There was NOTHING that was going to keep my mom from going to my graduation. She let my dad get her dressed and in and out of the car to go to my graduation. This was the happiest I have ever seen her. She was SO proud of me! I graduated and we went back home and celebrated, ate cake and took pictures. After this day things started turning for the worse. As time went on she got weaker, she didn't want to eat, because she didn't want to get out of bed. She decided that she wanted the nurse to put in a catheter so she wouldn't have to get up as much. She would only eat egg drop soup. Either my dad or myself would go to the Chinese place everyday and get her some and that is what she lived off of.
By now the tumors had returned to her brain and she was confused a lot of the time. She would tell me everyday how we needed to go and buy stuff for me to go off to college and other things we had already done. It was so hard to see her like that. She could remember thing from a long time ago, but things that were in recent memories she would usually forget. She still never lost her good attitude. I do although remember her asking me many times to let her go live in the hospice center, because she didn't want me to have to take care of her, but I couldn't do that!
We went for another CT scan and discovered that the cancer had spread like crazy. It was in her brain, her lungs, her back, and her kidneys (or liver something like that) So we decided to stop the chemo and radiation treatments. They were not helping and it was just too difficult to get her in and out of the house as many times as she needed to go. Over the next month she stayed the same. Never sick, never complained. We celebrated her 52nd birthday in June. In the beginning of July most of my family had come to see her. All of her brothers and sisters and a few cousins, and nieces. She enjoyed seeing them and spending time with everyone around. People came and went for about 2 weeks in the beginning of July. Then one night when we were making dinner my mom said she wanted to sit at the table and eat dinner with us. This was very strange, as I said earlier she didn't eat real food anymore. I helped her out of bed and put her in her wheelchair and we all sat at the table and ate chicken and mashed potatoes.
Two days later my world came crashing down all around me. My mom was saying how much her stomach hurt. I called the hospice nurse and she came over to check on her. She wasn't sure what was going on and gave her some meds to help her feel better. She also gave us a pamphlet about stages of death and how to tell when the time was getting close. As the day went on she kept getting worse, the nurse came back and checked on her again. She was able to conclude that the reason my mom was in so much pain was because her body was shutting down and releasing toxins into her body that were causing her so much pain. They told me that I had to go over and tell her that it was ok to go and that she was hanging on because of me. I balled my eyes out and told them that I could not tell my mom that it was ok to die. They all stood around her and told her it was ok to leave and that I would be ok. She kept hanging on. Her breathing was getting shallow and hard for her. They again told me to tell her she could go. Finally, I held on to her hand and kissed her and told her that she could go and that I was going to be alright and that I loved her so much. I don't know the exact length of time after that happened that she died (it seemed like an eternity, but was probably only like 30 seconds later) I didn't know what to do. I had to call the nurse and tell her, my step dad, and my boyfriend. I can remember calling my dad and telling him to hurry up and come over because I think my mom just died. The nurse came over and confirmed she was dead and ordered for someone to come and get her. The people came and asked all of us to go into our rooms so that they could put her body in a bag and take her away. My boyfriend stayed with me all night as I cried and cried. I looked through pictures and watched videos. My heart had never felt so much pain before in my life, I was dead inside.
This year of my life was the hardest I have ever had to endure. I wouldn't wish this kind of pain on my worst enemy. I know a lot of you are going through your own hard times. I really hope that sharing my story with you will help you in some way. It wasn't easy, but I know I am who I am today for what I went through. I honestly was only a kid when my mom died and was forced to grow up. I wish more than anything that my mom was still here and could have seen any of my wonderful kids, but I know what God is able to use my pain to help reach out to others. There are hard days every once in a while, but time does heal. I also want those of you who are going through some of these things to know that you will get through this. There were so many hard days that I didn't think I was going to make it through, but I did! And so will you! For those of you reading this who were friends with me in HS I doubt you knew all of this because I did pretty much keep it to myself, but now you know why I was so "distant" as I was told. This isn't something I talk about often because the pain is still there of seeing my mom suffer, but if I am able to give hope to anyone then sharing my story is worth it.
I try to live my life to the fullest because I don't know what tomorrow holds. I try not to re-live this experience very much. I do think of my mom, but I think of the good times. I know of a few people who really let themselves get depressed over the loss of a loved one (I am talking about years later, not right after it happens) to where it affects their life now. I have 6 kids and a husband who love and need me everyday! I can't live in the past of I wish....... My mom is gone and all I have now is what is in front of me and I CHOOSE to be happy and focus on those who need me :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

DIY window cleaner

One thing I go through like crazy in this house is window cleaner!! 6 kids = 12 hand prints on my windows, doors, mirrors and fish tank! I go through this stuff like it is water!
About a year ago a friend of mine introduced me to DIY cleaning products. I decided to ask her about recipes for window cleaner. She gave me one that I love!!!
Mix together -
1/4 c rubbing alcohol
1/4 c vinegar
1 tbs cornstarch
2 c warm water
I used an old bottle that I had on hand :)
You will need to give it a shake before you use it because the corn starch settles on the bottom of the bottle after a while.
I LOVE this stuff!!! I use it all of the time and I have NEVER bought store cleaner again after trying this recipe. It cleans good and it doesn't leave streaks. Best part?? It is CHEAP to make and it doesn't contain strong chemicals.
**I clean my windows with paper towels. I know some people say to wash them with newspaper because it works better, but I really don't like the feeling of newspaper on my hands. The paper towels work just fine :)

Better than Restaurant Burgers

* My family LOVES my hamburgers :) It is rare that anyone in my family orders a hamburger from a restaurant when we go out to to eat. They say that the restaurant doesn't compare to mine :) What an awesome compliment!
I made these burger for dinner last night and decided that I would go ahead and take pictures so I could post my recipe to share with all of you today!
I hope your family likes them as much as ours does!
2 lbs ground beef
1/4 cup BBQ sauce (I use Famous Daves)
1 1/2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic power
1/4 tsp paprika
salt & pepper (I don't measure, I just sprinkle it all around)
4-5 slices of bacon
1/4 - 1/2 cup of BOTH mozzarella and cheddar cheese
Mix meat, sauces and spices all together.

Add cheeses

I cut my bacon into small pieces and fry to save time.
(You can also cook your bacon in the oven Recipe here)

Add bacon and mix throughout meat

Make patties
I cooked mine on the grill last night because we are having a very warm couple days here in Dec so I am taking advantage of it :)
Usually, during the winter months I use my Grill Pan
To make these burgers even better, I use Texas Toast instead of buns!

Get a stick of butter and cut slices to put on the bread.
*If you want your bread nice and golden this is the trick..... do not spread butter onto the bread. Use the butter slices and place bread onto your skillet, butter side down.

You will need to add butter to the other side after you put it onto the skillet since you want both sides of the bread to be golden toasted.

Flip over the bread :) Mmmmmm.....

Last night I was out of cheese slices so I added some shredded cheddar/mozzerella instead :)
Add your favorite burger toppings and


Elf on the Shelf

I had a dear friend of mine tell me the other day that she was surprised to see that our family is doing Elf on the Shelf. She didn't see us as Elf on the shelf people.
I guess she is right. We don't do anything in this house that has to do with Santa, so why would we do Elf on the Shelf?!?!?
*For any of you who might not know what Elf on the Shelf is let me explain it to you. There is a story book that comes along with the Elf and it explains that the Elf is magical. You name him/her and they become part of your family. Then every night he/she flies back to the North Pole to report back to Santa and tell him if you are being naughty or nice. Then he/she flies back and reappears in a new location the next morning to watch over everyone again.
Again, the question still stands...... Why, would we do Elf on the Shelf when we don't believe in Santa??
Well, about a month ago I was on Pinterest and I saw a pin about a lady who was incorporating Jesus into her Elf on the Shelf. This drew my attention and I clicked on it and read her blog. I really liked her reasoning behind it. Basically, the Elf gets into mischief at night and "sins" and it is our job to show grace and forgiveness to the Elf just as Jesus forgives us daily.
Now, this I can work with. I figured that the kids would have a lot of fun with this and I can use it to continue to teach them their life lessons on grace and forgiveness :) Win-Win scenario.
So far the kids are having a lot of fun with it. They wake up in the morning and the first thing that they do is find our elf Joy :) Even when she makes a mess they still have fun with it :)
She helped decorate
She pulled out some of the movies to find one that she liked.
She found Michael's cookies and egg nog.
She is definitely not a present wrapping elf.....

Well, at least she know how to spell her name.


She caught our flu!!

She found the candy stash!
We are having fun with it and just because I am doing it doesn't mean we are going to start believing in Santa :)
Here is a link to the blog that I read about on Pinterest.

 * I am now an Amazon affiliate- Which means if you buy something from one of my links I will get a small portion of your purchase.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

24 days of Christmas

For those of you who do not know how/what we do for Christmas today I am going to tell you :)
We do not do a bunch of Christmas presents on Christmas morning. My children do not believe in Santa and are not expecting him to bring them a million toys. Actually, we do not buy them any presents on Christmas. They will get something from their grandparents, but we don't buy them big gifts. We will fill their Christmas stockings with candy and little stuff, but that is it.
Christmas is NOT about gifts. In my opinion our culture is way to materialistic. People tend to only care about themselves and what they are going to get. Black Friday has turned into knocking people down (and in some places even shootings have occurred) because people want to buy something on sale. Some people feel that their kids need to have 50+ presents to open on Christmas morning. It is absurd.
Our kids do NOT need a million toys. They break, I get annoyed with picking them up, and more importantly they don't NEED them. We started this tradition a couple of years back. We decided that instead of buying our kids gift for Christmas we were going to spend Christmas focused on what Christmas is actually is about!
We spend the month of December focused on Christ, our friends/family and others in our community. Everyday leading up to Christmas we pick a different activity that has a Christmas type of theme. We do something fun together as a family, a craft or something for others in our community.
So far this month we have.....
Rode the train at the mall
This was a Carson favorite!!
We bought presents for an Angel Tree child.

The kids were in a performance at church.

The 3 oldest all sang in the performance.

Gabby did a skit and Mariela sang a solo :)
We also ate at the community table one night
and today we are making cookies for wounded veterans.
Here are a few activities that are planned for the next couple of weeks.
Christmas parade
Making cookies for the fire dept
making ornaments
helping out at Toys for Tots
making a meal for someone
making goodie bags for the homeless.....
just to name a few.
I am sure I will blog about all of our fun activities throughout the month :)
We really like to focus on others and on making memories together as a family, NOT on how much junk can we accumulate this holiday season.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Decorate for Christmas....CHEAP :)

Just in case there may still be someone out there unaware of that little fact! This year we actually have a big house and I want to make sure it shows off my love for the Christmas season!!
It is all well and fine that I want to have a beautifully decorated house, but our budget doesn't seem to think that is a good idea..... Sooooo..... off to the Dollar Tree I went :) The budget was in agreement that I could make a trip there.
Two things became very important this Holiday season with my decorating the house from the Dollar Tree.
 1. I am semi crafty.
2. I discovered Pinterest!!
Here is what all I came up with for my Christmas decorations this year!!
(Yes, everything (almost) was purchased at the Dollar Tree)
Before I show off my decorations I would like to take a second to tell everyone that I have gotten over my anger with the Christmas tree and we finally decorated it!
I LOVE it!!!
My husband said he knew I would come around :)
There are 1200 lights on that tree and it is just gorgeous!
Now, back to my cheap decorations.
I wanted something for our front table.
I went into our yard and found some old branches and spray painted them white. (I actually bought spray paint at Wal-mart for 97 cents. The vase came from Goodwill for 55 cents) I added ornaments from the Dollar Tree and.... Ta da..... I love it, it's simple but it looks good. 
I also made this using frames, ribbon, scrap booking paper and a bow.
Again, I like it!
We have vaulted ceilings and this plant shelf area that really needed to NOT be bare! Something had to go up there.

I found some old empty boxes and wrapped them pretty and up they went.
Actually, the girls wanted to wrap them.... So this was their contribution.
I also bought the green "tree like" garland and the silver ornament garland at the Dollar Tree. It didn't get put up exactly how I wanted, but I am thankful the hubs put it up for me :)
Now, off to the kitchen. I spend most of my time in there so it needed a little something!!

Garland, ribbons and some ornaments :)
Love it!

Our loft area.....
It is amazing what some cheap garland does for looks.
I made this tree for the other living room plant shelf.
I used ornaments, a styrofoam cone and some ribbon.
This plant shelf still needs some work, but I am working on it.
Kitchen table centerpiece.
I am really happy with how it is shaping up!! I spent under $30 at the Dollar Tree and I still have lots of stuff left to figure out what to do with :)
Here are some pictures of it all flowing together.

I also have snowflakes hanging from the ceiling using fishing line.

 Front entrance

Here are our wreaths from the last 2 years. We will put up the one that we make this year on the left and this area will be complete :)
I will update with pictures of other ideas I come up with!!



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Best cleaner ever!!!!

Today a friend on Facebook asked about a good cleaner for her tub. She said she had used all of these different products and scrubbed like crazy and couln't get it totally clean.
Well, let me introduce you to the same magical cleaner that I told her about :) And guess what?!? Her tub is now clean!
I know a lot of you who read this already use the magical cleaner, but for those of you who don't, let me tell you a little story.
 A little over five months ago I was asked by our landlord to clean his two rental properties. His rental houses happen to be frat houses! That means 6-7 college age boys living under one roof and never cleaning for the whole 10 months out of the year that they live there!!!
I told my friend that if rubber gloves didn't exist I would not have cleaned these houses, and I am totally serious!
My landlord agreed to pay me $20 an hour to clean and he supplied me the rubber gloves, so I was up for the nastiest challenge of the year.
I had some friends tell me about the best cleaner in the world a couple of months before this and I figured that these 2 houses were going to be my test subjects. If this cleaner could clean this disgusting mess then it was going to be my new best friend and the only cleaner I would ever use.
Here are a couple of before pictures........
This is one of the shower floors.
I cleaned a total of 6 showers that ALL looked like this, 2 were actually worse.
(*I didn't think about taking before and after pictures until I was halfway done cleaning, so I didn't get as many before pics as I did after ones, sorry!)
One of the 5 lovely toilets I got to clean.
Again, the ALL looked like this!!!
So, are you grossed out yet??
Well, here are the after pictures :)



AMAZING difference!!
 BTW, I did clean the grout under this toilet with an amazing grout cleaner that will be shared another day :)
Ready for my magical recipe for this amazing cleaner?!?!?
Blue Dawn and Vinegar. Yup, that is it!
Mix equal parts of HOT vinegar and dawn. Let cool and put into a spray bottle. Voila, BEST CLEANER EVER!
Not only does it clean to a sparkle shine, but there are no harsh chemicals :)
*I use it on everything- tubs, sinks, toilets, kitchen sink, shower scum... NOTHING I have ever tried works as well as this stuff.
If it is really bad, then let it sit for a while. The showers and toilets in these pictures were spayed and left to sit for an hour or two.
It works, it isn't harsh and best of all it is SUPER cheap to make! That is the best part ;)
Now, get to cleaning!!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rainbow cake

Last month was Gabby's 10th birthday and I asked her what kind of cake she wanted. Her answer, a rainbow cake.
I can do that!! I was actually excited because I remembered pinning something from Pinterest where the inside of the cake looked like a rainbow. Off to Pinterest I went..... Only to discover that my pin didn't lead to anywhere except a picture. No directions what-so-ever on how to make it.
Luckily for Gabby I am good in the kitchen and I am fully capable of figuring it out all by myself.
First, Get a box of white or vanilla cake mix.
(I made my own, but I was not overly impressed with the flavor so I am going to leave that recipe out until I find one that I am happy with!)
Mix it together like the back of the box says.
(If you want your boxed cake to taste better use milk instead of water, butter instead of oil and add one more egg than the recipe calls for.)

Divide your mix up into different bowls. I wanted 5 different colors in my cake, so I used 5 bowls. Use as many or as little colors as your little heart wants to use :)

Get some icing colors

Add it to your cake mix

Stir it up

Here are the 5 colors I chose to use.

Now, you need to make your pans non-stick.
You don't want your cake to get stuck to the pan!!

Cover the pans in shortening.

Next, sprinkle flour all around.
Time to add your cake mix :) 
Add the color that you want on the outside ring first. Then, the next color that you want in your ring you need to pour right into the middle of the pan.
(Now, if I would have been using my brain that day I would not have put yellow and blue next to each other. Remember back to kindergarten??? Yellow+Blue=Green. Try to remember that kind of stuff when you decide what colors to pout next to each other!!)
Continue to add the rest of your colors.
Pour each color into the middle of the cake. It spreads itself out :)
Here are all of my colors.
Pop cakes into oven and bake according to the directions.

Pull out cakes and let cool completely.

Cut off the top dome part so that your cake is flat when you go to ice it.

I decorated her cake to keep with the rainbow theme.
Here is my sky and grass.

I used rainbow twizzlers around the bottom, skittles for the flowers and a rainbow sour candy thing for the rainbow. (Yes, they have an actual name, but I can't remember what they are called right now!!)
She loved it :)

The inside looked really cool when it was cut into!