Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Karate chops and pictures....

Pictures make me happy. Taking pictures makes me even more happy. I hate my camera and will be saving for a new one soon (including a sweet 300-800mm lens--I hope) so these pictures are from my phone.  Plus, I forgot my camera when I visited my parents a few weeks ago.  That always bums me out because their property makes for some beautiful photos. 

After my lousy day I felt the need to post some pretty pictures. Whether you think they are pretty or not is beside the point.  The shots I took are from my place of serenity.  They make me forget that I wanted to karate chop my doctor this morning when he told me I was getting older and probably needed to transition out of this  7 year 'trying to have another baby' stage. Of all the things on this earth...THAT made me feel old. 

I am also in a photography and blogging rut.  I need new ideas and fresh perspectives. I am thinking of a redesign of my blog and maybe switching to WordPress so bear with me if I decide to do this. Or maybe I am procrastinating my job search. Who knows?!

Friday, September 5, 2014

I Wear Teal For Me!

September is a special month for me.  It is PCOS awareness month. Most of you are probably saying, "huh?" or "what in the world is PCOS?".   PCOS is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
I thought long and hard about whether to write about this at all. This syndrome does not define me.  It does not keep me from my life or my dreams (except for one dream). Not for a second should anyone put pity on me or think my life revolves around this monster (there are worse diseases out there). This annoying cluster of symptoms is something I deal with everyday under the surface while I go about my business. Writing about it and talking about it is something that I don't do very often and it does not come easily for me.  I keep somewhat quiet about it mostly because those that I have explained it to do not understand.  I have even received the comment, "I think this kind of stuff people bring on themselves."  Yep, someone close to me said that. Really? At 16-17 years old I asked for this and brought it on myself? Wow.  Despite some ignorant people, I decided to write about this because I belong to a couple of PCOS groups with some amazing 'cysters' who are all raising awareness about it this month in their own ways.  For me, what better place than on my blog? 

What is PCOS? It is the most common endocrine system disorder in females.  It is diagnosed by use of blood tests, ultrasounds, and symptom analysis and often characterized by multiple follicles (cysts) on the ovaries in what is often referred to as a 'string of pearls' pattern. Not every single woman will have the cysts but may also have numerous other symptoms of PCOS including: 
- Weight gain
- Irregular cycles
- Sleep apnea
- High Cholesterol
- Dark patches of skin
- Excess hair growth
- Increase in stress levels
- Fatigue
- Infertility
- Thinning hair
- Insulin Resistance
- Pelvic Pain
- Depression 
- Anxiety
- Many many more.....
* most information above is from the PCOS Foundation

In the long run women with PCOS are at a high risk for diabetes, infertility, apnea, liver disease, heart attacks, miscarriages, high blood pressure, obesity, and endometrial cancer (among other cancers). 

That is PCOS in a nutshell. Really, it is very complex and so many women go un-diagnosed because many doctors just simply tell them to lose weight and they will be fine. PCOS often causes weight gain and despite weight loss, PCOS cannot be cured, only controlled. 

I was diagnosed at age 24 after a trip to the Emergency Room for a cyst that burst, although I know I had symptoms from the time I was about 15 or 16. It then took us three years to have our daughter and now....7 years trying for second baby with no luck. PCOS sucks. However, I have seen the bad cases and can say my PCOS is mild to moderate. Thankfully, I do not have every symptom.   

What do I want everyone to know?  Do not judge women you see everyday. Do not assume heavier women sit around all day eating crap. Many do not. So many of my 'cysters' (me included) try so hard to eat right and exercise. We take supplements and/or meds everyday to control our symptoms. Our struggle is a constant uphill battle that most people have absolutely no clue we are fighting. We are not lazy...no....quite the opposite. 

If you are able to get pregnant with no problem and have more than one child-- be grateful and thank god. Never keep asking a couple when they are going to have kids.  Please, never ask a women when she is due without knowing for sure if she is pregnant. Just realize everyone has a struggle you do not know about so be kind.  
This September I support all my 'cysters' in the fight and raising awareness.  We will not give up. We will give it our all and live our best lives. I am proud of myself.  Most people do not realize what I have been through in my life and how much I have fought up to this point (not just with PCOS).   

I could write so much more about the struggle, the symptoms, the treatments, etc., but writing this much was tough enough. 
To my 'cysters':  Fight like a girl!  


Thursday, July 31, 2014

No Second Chances

That was the shortest summer vacation I have ever experienced--with a child OR when I was a kid.  My daughter got out of school June 5th.  Today was her first day of 2nd grade. I am serious. July 31st. It is still technically July and I sent my daughter off to school today. Every first day of school is tough, especially this year for two reasons.
First reason? New school.  My daughter started at this school the first week of May so, really, it is still new to her. I could see it on her face this morning- no big smiles. I could tell from the hug she gave me last night- I had to pry her off of me. However, my daughter being the independent, brave little girl that she is, holds it all in and goes at it with all she's got. I hope she holds on to that bravery for the rest of her life, but I also hope she finds a way to release stress.
She also never wants to show how scared she is in front of me. The only words of her true feelings were said to her father, not me. My feelings are not hurt. I know at this stage in life it is all about daddy. Yeah, I read that in a book, "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters", which my husband has read--all the way through! (insert sarcasm).  She is growing up way to fast. Every time I buy her new clothes or shoes I pretend to yell at her and say, "I told you to stop growing! You didn't listen!".  Then we both laugh together and she says, "But I can't help it. I have to get big and strong!".  Love. that. girl.

Second reason- This is my last shot (pretty darn sure). A lot of parents get a second shot at moments. You know...."oops, forgot to get pictures of Timmy's first steps. Oh well, we'll plan better for the second kid."  We probably will not get that second chance. God must have other plans for us and our tiny little family. I take a ton of pictures, spoil my daughter a little, make moments extra special, etc.  That is what you do when you have one shot at parenting.  There is no "we will do that with the 2nd" kid. Not saying other parents don't make moments special for all their kids, but...well, it is just different with one kid.  All the big moments are firsts and probably lasts.  Know what though? I am becoming content with that concept.  It has taken me about three years to make that transition, but acceptance is most of the battle.

So here's to an excellent first day of school!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The 4th of July tradition continues...

I can't believe my daughter starts second grade in three weeks. This summer is just too short.  After spending five days with my parents, we met up with my mom at the lake house and spent a gorgeous Fourth of July weekend fishing and enjoying the water. We have spent the last 4 or 5 Fourth of July's here and it has certainly become a tradition. Now that we live closer we hope to get up their several times a year now instead of once or twice.
Our daughter caught three fish this holiday weekend and that doesn't include one that almost pulled her off the dock and then snapped her line and swam off because it was so big.  We also enjoyed a beautiful fireworks display over the lake and watching many houses all around the lake set off fireworks as well.

Our daughter is home for a week and then off she goes again to South Carolina. She is a traveling girl! We are grateful to the wonderful grandparents she gets to spend time with this summer. I never had grandmother's to spend time with when I was a kid so I am more than happy to turn half her summer over to them.

She's in love with this dress grandma got her

My annual photo of my husband and my daughter on the dock 

So glad my dad put this bench out on the dock this year. So peaceful to sit out there.

Quite scary! This hot air balloon came so close to crashing into the water. 

Sitting on the dock watching the fireworks.

Her first time in a paddle boat and she loved it!

Her second fish that she has ever caught all by herself.

Sunrise over the lake.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Settled, Summer, and Smiles

We have made it through the first two months in our new city.  We are settled in and enjoying a peaceful summer. Our first summer in almost three years that we can enjoy without constantly keeping the house clean for showings. I cannot describe the joyous feeling of having dirty floors for a few days.  Seriously, when you clean like a freak constantly for two years it feels damn good to take a break and enjoy life.

Although, this summer I will be finding myself alone quite a bit.  My daughter is gone this week visiting my parents. In a couple of weeks she leaves me again to go with her aunt and other grandma to visit her cousins in South Carolina.  She will be gone for 9 days. I have never been away from her for that long so this should be interesting and make me a nervous wreck.  Maybe I should be more concerned for the sanity of my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for having to be in a car with her for 11 hours...one way.

This is also the shortest summer vacation ever.  Her last day was June 5th and she starts second grade July 31st. Squeezing in summer activities and lots of pool time is keeping us very busy.

Bubble fun at grandma and grandpa's

Posing for me at grandma and grandpa's
Love spending time with friends in the pool

Days spent at the neighborhood pool behind our house

Beautiful day spent in Chicago

Top of the ferris wheel in Chicago! What a view! 

Come into Chicago at least once a year and finally ride the ferris wheel. All smiles!
Weather in Chicago could not have been more gorgeous
Exhausted on the train after a fun filled day at Navy Pier and shopping in Chicago

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Boxes, boxes and more boxes

Took two loads of this truck to get it done
The boxes are unpacked. Pictures are hung. First week of school accomplished tear free. Whew! Now we can breathe. Two years of waiting and we have finally arrived in our new city.  My daughter is so strong and I can only hope she stays that way. The first day of school was a piece of cake and she seemed genuinely excited. My husband was like a giddy little child when it only took him 15 minutes to get home instead of over an hour.
This has been bittersweet.  We lived in our last town for 7 years. We met some wonderful people and were near family.  Our last town was small, comfortable.  We got to know all the people who worked in the places where we shopped. We had our church community and friends.

We have moved to a town three times the size of our last.  We have no family near us.  Just like so many other situations in life there are positives and negatives to each scenario.  My husband has a better commute so we see him more.  I had to get new shoes yesterday and instead of having to drive 30-40 minutes to a decent shoe store, I had a huge choice of where to go right here.  We went out to dinner this past weekend and had probably no fewer than 30 places to chose from instead of our normal 4-5.  We are closer to my parents which makes me so excited. Weekend visits with them will be so much easier.
Our daughter is in love with the fact that there is a huge playground right behind our house, a neighborhood pool, and trails. Kids here even ride their bikes or walk to school which is only on the other side of the neighborhood.

I wish I could say we are through with moving. However, we are in a temporary house. Believe me, if it took you two and a half years to sell your first house and then two years to sell your second, you would NOT be in a big hurry to jump into the realty game so soon. We need to familiarize ourselves with this area again (yes, we used to live in this area when we had our first house).  So now that we are getting settled, it is on to scoping out houses or lots to build!  I have one more move in me....I think.  Our daughter laughed the other day when we told her this was the fourth house she has lived in....and she is only seven years old. sigh. Thank goodness for little girls with a sense of humor.

My advice? Never move.
Last day of school in our old town 

Getting unpacked

Nice view from our back patio

Monday, April 21, 2014

Grieving...I need a 'how to manual'

My daughter enjoying beautiful flowers at a local trail
Grieving. I am no good at it. I have no idea how to process these strange emotions. I would say grief has been limited in my life.  My grandfather, an uncle, a family friend, a couple more relatives I was never very close to round out my experience with grief.  However, I am not grieving a person at this point in my life. The concept might sound silly to most and some might even say it is outrageous to call what I am going through grieving. It is not my intention to insult someone who may have actually lost a loved one.

Through this whole moving process we have purged a lot of items.  The less we have to move the better. The other day I went into our basement to bring up more boxes of stuff we had stored down there. Holiday decorations, genealogy items, our daughter's toys- no big deal.  Tucked away high on a shelf I had about three plastic tubs full of baby clothes and toys. Seems everyone lately is telling me to get rid of it all.  Sounds easy, right? Take the boxes, throw them in the car, drive them to Goodwill, hand them over with a smile to the man who has seen way too much of me lately, drive away. Simple. No, not really.

I sifted through the boxes to pull out any little items I wanted as keepsakes. I promised myself only a few items as I pulled everything out. However, my pile of keepsakes got larger and the tears gained momentum. This was not going well.  I grabbed everything and threw it all back into the tubs, slammed the lids on and stormed upstairs.  I couldn't do it.  It is silly, I know.  We could always buy new baby clothes and toys.  What if we had another and it was a boy? We would need new stuff anyway.  That is not the point. Purging all the baby items is an admission. An admission that the family I had dreamed I would have was probably not going to happen. I had to face the truth that it is time to let go.  Seven years is a long time to pray that we would be able to once again open all those boxes and joyfully put all those clothes into the nursery. Then I consider how our daughter would be the luckiest girl in the world to have ALL the attention of mom and dad.

Photo by Jennifer Bergman
After a few days I sucked it up, put on my big girl panties and went in the basement again. I put on blinders. I lugged those boxes upstairs, out the door and to my car.  I drove like a zombie to Goodwill. As I pulled up I took a deep breath, did put on that smile and handed the boxes over to the man that has seen too much of me.  I pretended something else was in those boxes...anything. Maybe pots and pans, clothes, or books that someone else could enjoy.

I have realized something else.  Something I know I have heard before.  Grieving is a process. I think I am somewhere in the middle.  I saw two little babies recently born in our family yesterday at Easter. No, I did not hold them.  However, I was able to go up to them and take a peek...with a smile. I walked away without a single tear welling up in my eyes.  That, my friends, is progress.  Seems so incredibly small to most people, but to me it is a huge step toward the end of grieving and the beginning of acceptance of what God has intended for my life. I have to live by the motto, "Things happen for a reason".  This phrase has been proven time and time again in my life.

This move can now provide a new start.  A fresh prospective on what life will hold for just the three of us. Here's to new adventures!