12/15/14

Joy of the Season

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This time of year is a constant reminder for myself to slow down, to breathe deeply and to embrace every detail of every single day. It seems much easier to type these words than actually act upon them. In reality, each day is a blur because we are constantly on the go running from one activity or event to another. And when we aren't running we're cooking, cleaning or working. How is it possible that our favorite time of the year becomes a delicately beautiful jumbled ball of yarn? And no matter how badly we want it to unravel it seems we can never undo the knots.

This year is different.

This year I am in a race against time, both figuratively and literally. Christmas Eve will be here before I know it, and every year I catch myself saying "I wish I had time to do more before Christmas." But what is more? What is it that we want to achieve before the magical night of Christmas Eve? Is it buy more presents? Bake more cookies? Be present at more festivities and parties? Have one more night of gift exchanges and wine with friends? Another school party or visit with Santa?

Maybe this is where the all-so-famous saying of "Less is more" comes into play. Maybe this year I'll trade my "I should haves" in for solid memories of simplicity. The mornings and evenings spent baking dozens and dozens of cookies are being traded in for one or two sessions of quality baking time with the kids. The cookies may not be perfect, but they are perfect to me. Rather than stay up all night wrapping each present with detail and adornments, I'll wrap them in kraft paper and let the kids decorate it. The wrapping may not be perfect, but it would be perfect to me. Instead of letting the kids watch a Christmas show while I carefully address each holiday card maybe I'll let them create and write their very own holiday cards. Now those I know would be perfect to me and any friend or family member would certainly see the care and love that went into each card.

This year is different.

This year is about letting go of the hustle and bustle that I always allow myself to get wrapped up in. This year is about embracing simplicity. It's about making my family smile, from the inside to the outside, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. My children will never remember the expensive christmas cards we sent out, the elaborately decorated cutout cookies or the embellished gifts wrapped up with matching bows and paper. BUT they will remember the night we went to The Nutcracker, the evening we spent hidden in our fort reading stories aloud by the soft glow of Christmas tree lights and they will remember standing on chairs as we hovered over the kitchen countertops to decorate sugar cookies.

We all know that Christmas is the time for giving.
The best gift I can give my children is time.
Quality time spent together and quality time spent with them individually.
This is the time where memories are made.
This is the time where the joy of the season can be found.
And this is the time I hope to hold onto forever.

*This post is in partnership with Stuck on You
Stuck on You provides name labels, personalized gifts, kids clothing, gifts and more. As a busy mother of three, Stuck on You has helped my life become a bit easier. When you enter our mud room you'll quickly notice a line of labeled backpacks and labeled lunches, you'll see soccer bags and uniforms with name labels ironed on the inside, you'll see labeled water bottles and even labeled shoes. When you have three active children, all involved in sports, labeling items becomes essential!

Stuck on You has now made the holiday season a little more special with personalized gifts, stockings and more!

You can visit Stuck on You on their website, Facebook and Twitter.

12/8/14

Life Lately

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Life lately has been busy. I haven't touched my camera in so long I think it's collecting dust. I have fears that I'll forget everything I have learned and taught myself over the years. But, being away from the camera made me realize just how much I love the camera. It made me realize how much I want to pick it up and capture every detail and it made me realize how much I still have to learn.

It also made me realize I may need to add some camera accessories to my Christmas list! Do you have any favorites? Particularly in the lens department?

This weekly round-up of photos are a few moments of our life lately.

Thanksgiving Day sillies // In search of the perfect tree // Posed perfectly on top the car // Embracing the Advent Calendar
And of course, we need to stop and remember John Lennon today

J ohn L ennon by Watching the wheels on Grooveshark

12/2/14

Fighting with Food, A Battle Against Crohn's

Dreaming of Waves
I have sat down numerous times to write this post and I seem to fall victim to the same cycle every single time. I sit down to write and somehow the thoughts become clustered together in my mind and they never make it to my fingertips. Instead, I sit and stare at the empty white pages of my laptop and the blinking cursor with its slow rhythmic beat.

While I’ve heard of Crohn’s Disease and could probably rattle off a decent definition to a stranger, I never thought this very disease would consume my life. I never thought I would say that I have a child with a chronic illness and I certainly never thought our life could change so drastically in such a small window of time. But the fact is I do have a child with a chronic illness and our life has changed drastically. I would give anything to go back in time but all we can do is go forward. A concept I am still coming to terms with.

A few weeks ago our nine-year-old son was officially diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. In the beginning the symptoms were minimal and could have easily been blamed on other ailments, but shortly after his diagnosis the symptoms quickly emerged.

Crohn's Disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. Symptoms often include: abdominal pain, diarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is severe), fever and weight loss. Other complications may occur outside the gastrointestinal tract and include: anemia, skin rashes, arthritis, inflammation of the eye, and tiredness. Bowel obstruction also commonly occurs and those with the disease are at greater risk of bowel cancer. There are no medications or surgical procedures that can cure Crohn's disease. Treatment options help with symptoms, maintain remission, and prevent relapse.

Out of nowhere these symptoms hit our son and turned our life upside down. I was lost and confused and felt like a spectator in an empty arena while my son suffered daily. I quickly realized this is the battle he would be fighting for the rest of his life.

Every case of Crohn’s is different and for our son stomach pains and cramping are the reoccurring symptom that intrude on his days. Watching your child in such pain is like a dagger through the heart for a mother. When you watch your child writhe around, moan, cry and even scream you fall into a dark space of helplessness. There are no words for when you watch your husband carry your nine-year-old son out of a restaurant because he is in too much pain to walk. I tried spending a week in depression but quickly realized that didn’t get me anywhere. Looking back I can see I was going through the grieving process. I was in denial, I was sad, confused and mad. Really really mad. How could this be happening to us and to my son? My healthy active soccer- playing son?

Well, as you can imagine, the soccer is on hold and after four consecutive weeks of missed school I stopped counting. I focused on whatever I could to take away the stomach cramps and to keep him caught up on his studies.

When your child is sick it’s hard to accept the reality, especially when they are sick with a chronic illness. Our son had several hospital and doctor visits, he’s had minor surgery, he’s spent the night in the ER and he’s had second and third opinions all in a matter of a few weeks. He’s had every test and procedure related to gastroenterology and has been pumped full of codeine, steroids and other meds to get this flare up under control. Codeine for the pain, steroids to bring down the inflammation, Prilosec to counter the side effects of the steroids, antibiotics and a maintenance drug (Pentasa) that we hope and pray will work.

We’ve had two doctors advise us that our next step is an intravenous drug called Remicade. The Remicade infusions would be administered every two weeks in the beginning and then eventually spaced out.

This is the path we were hoping to avoid. It’s not that we don’t believe in modern medicine, because we certainly do, but we will try everything in our power before scheduling infusions. The thought alone is scary and the side effects even scarier. Once you start this treatment most patients don’t stop. It’s advised not to stop because your body can build up antibodies against the drug and in the future it may not work.

This is where we are now, at a standpoint where two roads diverge and we are left with some serious decisions. At this point, we’re fighting with food and taking it one day at a time. From our very first appointment with the GI we were told food has no impact on this disease, but we’ve seen with our very eyes that it does. There may not be much research out there, but there are certainly believers and testimonials that diet can put Crohn’s into remission. Will it work for us? I have no idea. In case it doesn’t we are ready to go on Remicade. We’ve made all the steps and just need to schedule the appointment.

But we aren’t there yet.

Our son started an IBD (irritable bowel disease) diet called Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) on October 29th. That same very night he was admitted to the hospital because his stomach pains were so severe. Over the course of this past month his pains have slowly subsided and last week (November 24th) was his very first week back to school. We’re still on a rocky road and are now battling daily headaches and emotional outbursts that we believe are a side effect of the steroid. Under the doctor’s orders we are weaning off the Prednisone, which will be a true test. In addition to diet we also see an acupuncturist twice a week and feel we are seeing results. Something has made the pain subside but the question is what is that something?

The beginning of December marks the fourth month we have been battling this flare up. We have had many ups and downs and are determined to get our life back on track. We are determined to get back into the routine of school and we’re determined to pick up that soccer jersey and get back into the game. Crohn’s disease may have us down now but it won’t have us down forever. Our son is not alone. There are many children and adults out there fighting the same battle and we will always be by his side. Always.

December 1st -7th happens to be Crohn's and Colitis Awareness week.
Today, I share this post with you to raise awareness for those who suffer from these diseases in hopes that one day there will be a cure.

I wanted to say a huge thank you to all our friends and family for the loving support you have shown over these past few weeks. This journey would be much more difficult without you.

Here are some helpful links for friends and family:

Breaking the Vicious Cycle, the book that the SCD diet is based on
Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America
While there aren't many studies out there about diet and IBD, this is VERY interesting
A positive,heartfelt story because we all need some optimism :)

And a few blogs that I find inspiring:
Pecan Bread
No More Crohn's For Me
Comfy Belly
Fighting Flare

11/21/14

Dancing Shadows on Warm November Days

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It just so happened, before the snow began to fall this week, that we had a small window of warmth. With winter right around the corner, I knew we had to embrace this "Indian Summer" before it was too late. While the boys were off to school, Jess and I created our own adventures. Adventures filled with creative play that stemmed from our imaginations. One of the best gifts my children have given me is the ability to play, to become lost in new worlds and lost in creativity. They have taught me how to step away from the daily thoughts that hoover above my head. They have showed me that, sometimes, the power of play can heal the stressed mind. That the art of sitting down on the floor to play dolls, or running down the long driveway, or laughing into the wind on a warm day can bring smiles to the face and peace to the heart.

We're looking forward to staying close to home this weekend with no plans. Sometimes those simple weekends are the best weekends! The box of Christmas decorations will emerge, the fireplace will be ablaze with a soft warm glow and the record player will hum gentle tunes in the background.

*This post is in partnership with FabKids
FabKids is JustFab's children's fashion club, started by a team of parents including mom and actress Christina Applegate. FabKids is a convenient way for busy parents to shop. It's an outfit club -- so parents get monthly selections of super affordable, high-quality fashions personalized for their kids.

Check out more of their holiday trends, for boys and girls, at Fabkids.com
And, I have to say, Jess is so in love with this dress she many never take it off!


11/13/14

Belated Birthdays and Autumn Days

Babiekins Magazine | Winter Party
Babiekins Magazine | Winter Party
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Babiekins Magazine | Winter Party
"What is that sound?" you say. Why, that is the sound of silence, the sound of subtle winds blowing across autumn trees, the sound of soft snow falling outside my window as I write and the sound of stillness found here with this space. That is the sound of life being turned upside down and tossed around. If you follow me here or on Instagram, then you probably know our life has become overwhelmingly busy these days.

Life may be busy and full of surprises, but we certainly didn't forget the celebrations. I still can't believe that Jessica is four; a four year old going on twelve. There are days that I feel we have skipped the toddler stage and moved right into the little girl stage. We always wish for time to stand still, and at this point in my life I'd give anything for time to stand still.

"Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind."
Nathaniel Hawthorne