On the Topic of Dignity and Privacy – Our Kids’

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I know you’ll hardy be able to even fathom this, but I was not an easy kid to raise.  No, it’s true. Not from the time I was little, all the way through my teens and early 20’s.  My mother even had a nickname for me: ‘Mouth’.  And no, she wasn’t likening me to Steven Tyler or Mick Jagger.  She was referring to my frequent fresh-backtalkin’.  My mouth seemed to have a mind of it’s own, and it was pretty sharp, blunt and quick-witted! Or I thought so, anyway. My mother; well, she wasn’t so impressed.

I wasn’t clueless about the stresses my parents were under all of those years. They suddenly found themselves raising 5 complex kids, had great financial struggles, and were dealing with a host of other issues including health, extended family matters, and the frustration of trying to make dreams come true, for us all, out of nothing.

Knowing all of that at the time, I clearly was not clueless. I was simply….selfish.  Too wrapped up in me, myself, and I, to make their role as parents any easier.  Instead, I made it all so much worse.  I honestly, don’t even know what I would do with me, if I was my parent. (Although in her moments of sheer frustration, my mother did vocalize her wish upon me, a time or two, that I might have a kid just like me, someday.) I can only imagine the frustration and hurt I must have built up in my parents, on some days. My mother in particular, since my father worked so many hours, and my mother was the one there, trying to raise us the best she could. I was enough to handle on my own; never mind that there were 4 other kids being raised, besides me.

How did she manage? Where did she turn to vent, when she had ‘had it up to here’! ( I can still see her today, referring with her hand to that level juuuust over her own head. ).  I know she had some good friends (who also had kids) who she had over, who she had coffee with, and she was always shoo-ing us back outside because they were ‘talking’. Or, sometimes, I’d see the curly cord from that horrid green colored phone on our 70’s wall-papered kitchen wall, snaked through the crack in the doorway to the pantry, where she was talking to someone. Maybe even crying.  [Read more…]

Thoughts on a Happy New Year!

2015
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!
Or we certainly hope and pray so! Right?

Come the end of every calendar year, we all wish each other a ‘Happy New Year!’. Naturally, that truly is our wish for each other, and in fact, ourselves. And damn if it doesn’t feel good, to have that fresh new calender year ahead of us! A clean slate. A new start, with new hope. 12 months, when all kinds of wonderful things, have the potential to happen!

But the fact is, we all know that life, is just not happy ALL of the time. And it certainly does not come about, with just hopes and wishes.

If we’re human, and I can only assume anyone reading this is, the truth of the matter is that no one ever has a 100% happy year. One free of very difficult unexpected events, failures, losses and rough days that just seem to go all wrong with the little things. Things that can sometimes just pile up and break us down. No, no one has ever had a year free of all of those things. Chances are, not a soul will have one this year, either! And I just feel it on my heart to share my thoughts with you all, a little bit, about that today. Not because I want to bring anyone down, to kick off your new year! Perhaps, so no one is overly disappointed when day 3, or any other brand new day of the new year, seems to go all wrong. 😉   But, more-so, my intention is to bring you some great hope and comfort about the matter!  In my own rambling kind of way, of course.

I’ve just been thinking, how people seem to be hardwired, to [Read more…]

Going All Natural In a Toxic World

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 It’s been oh-so quiet here on the blog, for too many reasons.  Not excuses, mind you. Just reasons that quite obviously have taken priority lately. To briefly name them:

 The summer just hasn’t been a crafty season for me. I think I just want my studio done already, so I can be organized and inspired in my creative custom space! You have no idea how close it is.

 Of course, I’ve been very busy with the kids and their agendas. Most notably, getting Alexis Grace ready for her television commitment as co-host with Fr. Reed for World Youth Day 2013 in Rio providing live coverage of that massive event via satellite, at the CatholicTV station.  We stayed nearby the television station throughout the week for convenience, and it turned out to be a wonderful week all of us. Of course, the whole summer has been busy, in a fun and relaxed sort of way, as it should be with kids in the summer.

 Personally, I’ve also been investing my time in something I had a very sudden and very real urge to do, and that is to dig deep and learn more about and understand my faith, Catholicism,  to the core. So I have been studying so to speak, and am really learning even more than I knew there was to learn, and falling deeper in love with my faith, in the process.

But more than any of those things, I believe I haven’t been writing much for the blog here because I am have been all-consumed and so passionate about making some real changes in our lifestyle of living. To put it plainly;

I am on a heart-driven mission to detoxify my home and more importantly, my family as much as I possibly can.

And that, my Friends, has been a whole new education and very eye-opening experience. 

I’ve been fascinated and shocked by the amazing and encouraging differences I already see happening, with the changes I’ve made. Things I didn’t even know would be effected.  I imagine in time I’ll start sharing more specifically exactly what changes I’m making.

But today, I just want to kind of share the bigger picture with you, and focus more on why I’m making all of these changes.  I reckon some will think I am cRaZy, and that’s fine. Others may have no interest in this such overall health-related topics, and/or are the type that would just rather not know such truths. I can respect that, if that’s how you feel. The reality IS scary to think about, the changes do take effort, and it’s a personal decision. But from what I’m noticing locally and across the internet, many will be right there with me, so to speak.   Knowing exactly where I am coming from, and making many of those same changes themselves in their own families, if not all for the same reasons.

So to start, some may be wondering, “What toxins?”  Well I’m talking about the innumerable toxins that are in our everything. In our food, drink, personal care products, cleaning products, and even in our vitamins and medications! I have always known there were questionable ingredients in this and that. I haven’t been completely oblivious all along.  I’ve always been one to mostly shop the outskirts of the markets, avoid processed and pre-packaged foods, etc. I’ve known about certain very unhealthy ingredients that throw up a red flag for me, and have been wise enough to look for short lists on packages that list things of which I know exactly what they are.  But once I really started getting concerned about more and researching the matter, I have been horrified at what my family has been exposed to. Horrified.  And freakin’ mad, frankly!!  I had to wonder how and why these thing are even acceptable to be sold, when we are ingesting them or absorbing them into our bodies?

Toxic Stamp Shows Poisonous And Noxious Substance

One would think….the FDA or someone, would not allow harmful ingredients (such as known carcinogens: Definition: car·cin·o·gen -/kärˈsinəjən/; noun;any substance or agent that tends to produce a cancer.) to be put in many of the items we buy in stores every day, right?  Oh-yes-they do.
*Did you know, that there are many ingredients in our every day food, that is banned in other countries, because of the harmful health risks of them?*
  But the United States, God bless our country, is a whole different ball game.  And while it’s a whole different rant-post, the things many don’t know about and should, are a big ugly circle of those we depend on most for our healthcare, and it all comes down to money, and making as much as they can. At OUR expense, of not only our money, but our health, and in many instances, the ultimate price of our life.  It’s hard to stop there for now, but I will.

 But I will share more personally today, the basic reasons I am so determined to spend so much time researching, educating myself, experimenting, and discovering a whole new way of living for my family: from what we eat and how we prepare that food, to personal care from head-to-toe, to what we use to clean our home. 

The Why’s

1)  One very important reason is for the health of my family.
Not only how we feel day to day on a basic level, but doing what I can to prevent the onset of major health issues, most especially (and prominently), cancer, of course. You may have noticed it’s more prevalent than ever. And there are reasons for that, that are infuriating but somewhat possibly avoidable if you’re proactive enough. Now I’ll be the first to tell anyone, my husband is not as gung-ho about the wealth of changes I’m making. Nor does he mind them. He pretty much just follows suit, and doesn’t carry the health concerns I do for us or the kids.  And mind you, he and I are already in our mid-40’s, and have already been exposed to the same number of years of toxins. I grew up in a 2-smoker home, and I know he grew up around it as well. Still, while the damage and outcome for us may be a done-deal so to speak, there still is the chance of fending it off, and as they say, it’s never too late to make good changes. There is also the chance of healing. Throw God’s grace in there, if it is His will, and we still have a fighting chance of living a full life, and dying a natural death of plain-old old age. If nothing else, we are setting a good example for the children. Which brings me to, the children. :) They have their whole lives ahead of them, God-willing, and I want to do all I can to keep them as healthy, happy, and toxic-free as I possibly can, for as long as I can.  And again, keeping toxins out of our system has got to just make us feel and operate better on a day to day basis, just as being polluted has got to effect our energy level, sense of well-being, alertness, etc., as well.
So, our health is certainly a very big factor in the reasons why I am making big changes around here.

2) Secondly, and probably more importantly to me, another reason I am feeling so passionate and convicted to go so much more natural in every aspect of our life, is to honor God and all of His Creation.

The-Beginning

I truly believe, with all of my heart, that in the whole of His Creation, God gave us every single thing we need to not only survive, but be well.

I want to more naturally follow God’s plan He provided us with, wherever we can, by using as many of the natural resources He alone gifted us with in the way of animals, plants, vitamins, minerals, etc.  For us, that means food, as well as medicine. (More on that in a bit.). 

3) Thirdly, as I said, the changes are not so much for us adults’ sake, but God-willing, this amped-up perspective my kid’s are growing up with, will truly become their own, and they will embrace these habits, by their own free-will, in their own independent way of living.  Because it’s not only a healthier way of living, but it’s God-honoring. And while we are far from perfect and fail often, we are all about trying to be as God-honoring as possible, in our family.

So What Am I Changing In Our Day-to-Day Lives?

Well first let me state that the changes I’m making are happening little by little, and are not yet complete.  As of the typing of this post, I have not made all of the transitions as of yet, that I am going to be. The reasons are several:  Whether I am still researching/learning the ingredients I’ll need, I’m still experimenting and figuring out how I want to try things first, or not ready to spend money on this or that quite yet until I am sure what I’m doing. (As to not be wasteful.).  You’ll understand more as you read on.

Food and Drink – As I said above, I’ve always been particular about what we eat, and even more particular about what goes into my kids.  I’m conscientious of (not) buying processed foods, avoid things loaded with all kinds of sugars, bad fats, artificial colors, chemicals, long lists of unknowns, etc. It’s a rare of occasion we ever have anything that would be considered junk in our house. We’ve never had soda in the house. (Except very recently, for that splash on top of my sangrias. ; ).  And I’ve been getting the most important produce to be organic (click to learn exactly what organic means), whenever possible. That can be more of a challenge than you’d think. We are blessed to have some amazing farmer’s markets around here, and when in season, the kids and I frequent one almost every week. We love to stroll around them, meet local growers, buy fresh, local and safe produce, and enjoy the music. Still, even what is available at the local farmer’s markets are not in any way guaranteed to be organic, or chemical/insecticide-free. So I ask lot of questions, before purchasing, to be sure they meet my own safety and high quality standards.  I get free-range organic eggs; locally when available. So, we’ve been doing respectably well. 

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STILL, I have a whole lot to still learn and understand, and there are many changes left to be made.  Probably, the more I learn, the more I’ll want to change.  I’d like to increase our organic take-home ratio, and that would include 100% grass fed beef.  The pink-squirm-filler news was enough to turn anyone off. Certainly me. And it was another instance that left me feeling ‘duped’ by the food industry, again. Now, organic beef really is more expensive, but we don’t eat it very regularly anyway, and the benefits as opposed to the risks are worth it.  We eat a lot of chicken, so we’ve been more careful about which kind we buy of that for sure, already. 

As I said, I am learning as I go.  I can tell you in the process so far, I have learned enough to be upset enough to make certain changes for sure. And yet, some of it is all too out of our control, due to non-obligations by manufacturers etc., to label foods as they should be. We do have a right to know, and that’s a fight all it’s own. But in a nutshell, my concerns and changes regarding food revolve around chemicals/insecticides, GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms), the upset with company Monsanto, and the long list of acceptable ingredients in our food that are ok’d by the FDA, and yet banned in other countries due to knowing the harm it does to health.  I’m sure I’ll go more in depth about those things, the more ‘aware’ I become, in other blog posts.

Are you afraid I’m going to turn into one of those loud, pro-active, country-travelin’, sign-holding, lunatic-advocates creating and spreading awareness all over the place?
Well I must say, me too. 😉

Natural Medicine – Now I don’t plan on banning our doctors, or necessarily absolutely forbidding physician provided prescriptions, because there is sometimes a necessity and place for scientific intervention. (A prime example would be Shane’s life-saving Epi-Pens. Should we ever need them, I can guarantee you I will use them!) But as a general rule, we have already been naturally treating a whole host of things, using more natural home remedies, before we turn to any kind of over the counter medications. I can’t recall if I was a new bride, or still dating Michael, but it was my mother-in-law (possibly to-be) who first got me pondering home remedies. She had a book on the shelf, and was often suggesting what sounded to me like the craziest things, for whatever the minor ailments. Now, I’ve completely embraced safer, more natural remedies to ‘cure’ this or that.  And I love it all now.  It probably has something to do with having children, and loving them far more than self, and wanting what’s best for them.

And in a big way, I have been getting very familiar with 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils.
OH MY GOSH, how these have changed our life! Like, don’t even get me started.  Talk about natural remedies; there is little that these essential oils cannot help with.  While no one claims they cure or heal you (well, ok…actually some have claimed they have….), they certainly have very powerful medicinal properties, and allow your body, to heal itself. And in my world, with the grace of God I am sure, too, there is no doubt He is pleased for anyone to utilize the oils of plants………..as He intended for us to.  That’s in part why God made all the various plants, flowers and trees of this world. Most all of medications, be them over the counter or prescribed, are made of synthetic components, completely man-made, in an effort to replicate the powerful natural compounds found in nature, that are scientifically proven to have vast benefits and very strong medicinal properties. And, even more bothersome; all too many prescription medications help one thing, while causing another health problem to deal with. Also known as risks and side-effects. In other words, they do harm on the flip-side. I just truly believe we are meant to use God’s Creation as the sacred basis of treatment for ourselves, for anything.  Everyone may not agree that, but I do, and I’m going with it.

Herbs for Healing

There are many, many essential oils that, when used as 100% therapeutic grades, and used properly, have very powerful, effective, medicinal, healing properties.  Not only to treat both major and minor physical conditions, but relieve pain, enable mood management, enhance mental focus, and so (SO!) much more.  I have been able to get off of a medication I thought I would need to take for the rest of my life!  Our whole family is using these essential oils now, and I can attest to the fact that they have truly enhanced the quality of our life, not only physically speaking, but the environment of our sacred place – our home.

I’ll likely be talking and teaching a lot more about them, here on the blog.  They truly are fascinating, and the amazing things we have first-hand experienced as a result of them, is something I cannot stop from telling people about.  I very clearly see and feel how well they work, and the extent of all they can do, is mind-blowing.
I know this: When my kids are asking for them, I especially know it’s not a matter of me losing my mind, or just wanting to believe they work.  They can feel the difference too, and they want that kind of quality in every one of their days, too.  I feel my whole family has been seriously blessed, to have gained the valuable  knowledge I have about the power of essential oils. I can’t learn enough about them, and that’s great, because there is a lot to learn!  The more I learn, the more I feel empowered, to keep my family healthy and happy.

Personal Care Products  Again, I’ve been so disturbed by learning about some of the ingredients that are in the products we use in our personal care every day. Ingredients that have no business going in our mouths, or slathered all over our bodies.  I’m talking TOXINS, that absolutely effect our health, and put us at great risk for diseases.  Not only will many suffer eventual health issues as result of them, but I believe no doubt, again, that they effect how we physically feel on a day to day basis.  I’m putting my foot down about it, in my family.  I am learning to make most everything I possibly can for my family, with safe, all-natural, toxin-free ingredients.  I don’t need any personal care product we use in this family to be pretty. I just need it to be safe, and effective. This is very much a work in progress, and there are many toxic-products we are still using as I type this post today. But one by one, they will be replaced.  And soon.
It’s actually been fun and interesting researching and experimenting different ways to make different things.  And this is another area essential oils have been a blessing.

Close-up of coconut oil on the wooden spoon

In Conclusion

All in all, my goal is to establish a home for my family that is nourishing in every way, from what we consume, to what we clean ourselves and our home with.  It will bring me great peace, and I pray will be all-God-honoring, to live off of not what is manufactured, but with what is not only home-made, but GOD-made. 

I hope you’ll continue to follow us, and see the various ways I go about accomplishing that.  And as I know many are on the same path as I am, I welcome your suggestions, links, experiences and thoughts along the way!  It’s always a joy to learn from and encourage each other!  I’m looking forward to lots of it, with you.
~ Laura

P.S. – Intrigued about what essential oils are, and what they can do for you?
See my subsequent post, Essential Oils-Life True Game Changer

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Mother’s Day / A Social ShareIt

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 One night a week or two ago (have I told you how bad I am with time frames, yet?, lol) . . . Michael and I were having a casual conversation. So very casual in fact, that we were both in the bathroom, getting ready for bed, come to think of it.  Anyway, I don’t remember (either) exactly what the conversation was originally about, but it was on the topic of Mother’s Day being around the bend.  And the course of that conversation led me to state how “Mother’s Day was a way bigger deal to me, than my birthday”.

 For some reason, that statement seemed to get Michael’s attention in such a way, that it got my attention, because it got his, so much.  It was the surprise in his voice, and the tone of his sudden and very real curiosity, of how he said, “It does? WHY?!”.
Like he really didn’t get how Mother’s Day could trump my birthday. Which, to me, was just silly to wonder. I couldn’t believe I had to explain that.
But it was such an easy explanation.  And so the answer flowed like honey, from my heart and soul:

mothers-day

And then, after I said it so matter of factly, and maybe because it was late and I was tired, all of the power behind the sincerity of those words, that came so easily from the most sacred part of my heart, hit me.  So I actually had to go into the other room for a minute, to just have a a little quiet cry with myself.
It was not a sad cry.  It was a cry that just came from that overwhelming sense of love in the sincerity of the words I had just spoken, and knowing how truly blessed I am, with my children.
Truly. 

I know we all are.  All of us who are mothers, however we came to be one, and to whatever children God placed in our care.
We are all blessed to have this role, whether we know it or not. I know many really do.
I know I really do. 

Someday, maybe I will share with you all the story of my children, and how God really did grant me their earthly lives, in a very special understanding between me and Him. Especially with the triplets; and the part their big sister played in their lives before we were even expecting them.  It’s a quite deep and emotional story; so much so that it would take a lot for me to tell it all. And I know it would be a long post, and an emotional event to type.  It’s another reason I’ve yet to tell it. But I can tell you this; Despite the hopeless odds and statistics, in one situation after another from the moment we learned of their conception, through the weeks following their birth, our trio are still here on earth because God heard my daily, sometimes hour-long prayers, from the 6+ month bed-rest I was prescribed to. He is the Ultimate Physician. Scientific odds and statistics are completely irrelevant, where His hand is involved. These children I have, are all here on His Creation of this earth, because it was HIS will for them to be.
And for as long as He intends them to be, He has named me; their mother.

Blessed, am I.

He gave them to me to care for, and raise, according to His will. As He did any mother who has been given a child or children, in any way they’ve been given to them. There are days I feel so very unworthy of His trust. But there are never days I don’t know what a gift it is. And so I count these 4 blessings daily, and do the best I can, with all of the love and gratitude I have, to fulfill my promises and His trust in me.  I know there are days He is more pleased with me, than others. I know there are days much easier, for me, than others.
But if I pay attention, there are also days I feel Him right beside me; and the power of my role spills from a place beyond my comprehension.
We parents, we are not alone in this sometimes daunting, but always rewarding, task. Our Heavenly Father; the Father of us all, is with us every step of the way.

The journey that led to the day I held my first child in my arms, and the next chapters that led to our trio coming into this world, has shown me a conviction, of which no one can convince me otherwise: 

Motherhood, is meant to be a vocation.

And it is surely mine.

Blessed, am I.
Blessed are you, mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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On Facebook, you can share this creation, if you feel the same about “Motherhood”, or any other ShareIts we have so far, from our Facebook Page’s ‘Social ShareIt’ Album.
On Pinterest, you can repin from our ‘House Of Joyful Noise Social ShareIts’ Board, or you’re welcome to just pin it right from this post.

Let us know what you think of this new ‘Social ShareIt’ below, and thanks so much for swinging by!

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Just Maybe, God Pushed Me Down the Stairs.

I know.

The title….it sounds a little dramatic. But it’s pretty much the conclusion I have come to, after recent events.  You see, I can be pretty darn stubborn.  God knows this about me. I think maybe He tried many times, to get my attention. But I, being as stubborn as I can be, unwisely dismissed His obvious and gentler signs.  So, I think just maybe, He pushed me down the stairs.  Literally. I have 2 things to say to that:

  1.    “OWWW!!”
  2.    “OK, I’m listening now.”

    **Important to note: This is a true story about my health, and the wake up call that changed everything.  The happenings of these events actually took place quite some time ago now.  I typed this post out as a therapy of sorts, and because I felt it was a story that needed to be told, to other women. In particular, other mothers. But I didn’t have the courage to post it at the time, until now, well over a year to year 1/2 after the events. It’s just a little more personal in nature than my typical posts, and involves speaking of my mother as well – whom I did and do love so very much.  But as my mother, her story is very much interwoven into mine, and an integral part of the story as a whole.  It’s only her permission I would seek, to speak of her. So I’ll presume I have some blessing from Heaven, for the bigger purpose of possibly having some positive impact on others. Perhaps even saving lives. Her story was never a secret, to the many (many!), who loved her, anyway. 
    **Also note: Though I cannot imagine anyone would disagree with me, the details and mentions of my mother are stated as strictly my own personal viewpoints, opinions, and experiences. I am not speaking on behalf of anyone else, but myself.

        In conclusion of this prelude, I would like to state that I have made the many little and good changes in my life, that I needed to make, and all for the better.  – Laura

    (January 2012)

 I’d venture to guess, I’m like many other mothers.

     Not all, but I am quite sure there are some mothers out there who may read this, and feel they can relate. I’m the one who is always thinking of the health and well-being, of my family. That includes nagging my husband.  (I say nagging, because I cannot tell him what to do, and he knows he doesn’t have to listen to me. Who told him that?). He happens to be quite healthy.  (Perhaps, thanks in part, to me ; ).  He has never had surgery of any kind. Never been hospitalized. He did have to go to the ER once though, which brings to mind a hilarious fishing story, I must tell you sometime.  But he just does not think in terms of protecting his health. He gets exercise, by accident, by working hard. (And we’re thankful to him for that.).  He has a wicked sweet tooth, and if left to his own accord, just eats and drinks whatever sounds good to him. Wearing a mask when paint air-brushing, or working in very dusty construction environments, is a repetitive battle between us.

     But what I can do, and I DO, is encourage and enforce any and all healthy habits in my children, that I possibly can.  On a daily basis. And, I’m good at it.  I am the one, that makes sure they are eating a balanced diet, when looking over the day as a whole, and within each meal. I monitor their sugar intake (which minimal, on treat/surprise basis, and they thank me for it).  They have developed such healthy eating habits choice:  They rejoice out loud, over vegetables at dinner many kids despise, drink tons of water each day, etc. I see so many healthy habits, in terms of consumption, took root with them long ago.  I see to it that they get their regular physical exams, eye exams, regular teeth cleanings, orthodontics, keep them clean, teach them how to shower and properly brush their teeth, make sure they get enough sleep, etc.  They get plenty of daily exercise and fresh air, and play basketball, volleyball, flag football, and ice skate.

     Of course, health comes in many forms. Body, Mind and Spirit. So I also foster their education, give them the tools to nurture their inner passions and dreams, encourage them to serve others or get involved in a ministry that speaks to them, and most importantly, guide them on their path in their faith, to becoming God-loving people, who feel called to serve others with compassion, are kind, and have a general strong and good character.   What drives me to oversee and regulate these things, is the same thing that drives any good mothers:  I want my children to be, now and forever, healthy, and the fulfilled beings God calls them to be.   That takes forming good habits for life, and the earlier they start, the more natural such a lifestyle will be for them.  I  love them with all I am, and so of course, I want the best for them. And anyway, this is the JOB God assigned me to, in blessing me with them. Right?  It may sound like a tall order, but it all comes quite naturally for me. My LOVE for them, is my incentive.

It also comes just as naturally for me, to put myself, last

I say these 2 words to myself, all too often:  “I’M FINE.”  And more times than not, if all is well with my kids and husband, all is good in the world. I’m taking care of business pretty well.  In my own mind, I have taken what I thought was acceptable care of myself.  For instance, I don’t eat a lot of junk either.  The kids do eat full blown breakfast and lunches. I mean, I chuckle at their courses.  It must be the Italian in their blood, as every meal seems to be a real event.  Me? Well, I eat when I feel like I need to.  Usually because something is not feeling quite right.  And then I think, “OH, maybe I should eat.” So I stuff a quick carb in my mouth, or eat an apple. As long as it’s fast, because by golly, I have important things to do today!  Everyone tells me, that since I homeschool, and have triplets and/or 4 kids, that they are sure they (the kids schedules) keep me running around, and they just don’t know how I do it.  So I just go with that, and check off exercise. ; )  I have had medical appointments I should make, but REALLY……DO YOU KNOW how many appointments and commitments I am running my kids to on a weekly basis?  I really don’t need any more appointments on my calendar, thank you very much!  And for what?  I’M FINE.  Oh, I may go to one I can’t get out of now and then. But generally, if I can get out of doctor appointments for myself, I do.  Check-ups? Ppffftt!  I’M FINE!

I should know better, really. 

My own mother’s health, was never good.  I loved her very much.  She was a woman of deep and obvious faith in God. She lived it in most every way. She was a strong woman, except for addressing and correcting the treatment of herself. Her addictions, as I know they were, had a lifetime hold on her, that in my eyes, she never tried hard enough to beat. Her health and bad habits, were a constant source of tension and argument, between us. I was a difficult kid to raise. As a teenager, especially, I really gave her a run for her money, and pushed her limits.  But the older I got, and especially after becoming a mother myself, I really came around to understanding where all of her rules and fretting came from: Love for me. She and I really came full circle, and became very close, in the many years before her passing. Except for the health issue.  She was a heavy smoker, did not have healthy eating habits, did not get good exercise, and generally would not get it together. Heart disease and cancer ran in her family, and most every one of her siblings had already died from these things. She was the baby, and was digging her own grave. It was killing me to see her do it. I knew we would lose her sooner than any of us wanted, if she didn’t make efforts to get healthy.  We argued about it many times, and I even went so far as to bravely throw her great faith in God, in her face. Using God’s Word, to make her listen. Because she sure was not listening to me. But it didn’t work.

Her health issues put our whole family through hell many times. After that quadruple bypass heart surgery, she went on to have an aneurysm under her heart that required another emergency the doctor did not expect her to live through. But she did. Then, they couldn’t get her off life support with confidence she would take over breathing on her own.  But she did. However, she spent 5 months in a rehab facility (where she resumed smoking, as it turns out), finally got home and recovered once again.  But, she had a stroke a year later, and lost her speech, some motor skills, and ended up in a wheelchair. My father took care of her through it all, and living 2.5 hours away, we went out to help as much as we could too. Believe it or not, she really bounced back from all of that as well!  She was a ‘bull’, as my father often said. She was tough stuff, but she had said many times she really looked forward to going to Heaven and meeting Jesus, and the Blessed Mother (she loved the Rosary), more than she had the will to fight to live on earth. But she did.  I had prepared myself mentally so many times, for my mother’s imminent death.  She gave us all multiple opportunities. But it was 3 years following her stroke, when she seemed to have more brightness in her eyes, and spunk than ever, she died of a sudden heart attack at home, alone.  It sounds odd to say, but it really was unexpected, at that time.  We were shocked, and devastated.  All of my emotional and mental preparation, was for nothing. For the first time, I truly felt what real grief was. And I was mad at her too. My mother was a beautiful person, who really lacked some discipline with her health.

But I, am not my mother.

Right? In now knowing what my mother’s lifestyle was like, you may be able to imagine why I have presumed myself to be some better picture of health. I am not a smoker. Oh, I was, in my late teens and early 20’s, but I quit that long ago. Over 20 years ago. And I cannot even begin to express how much I despise cigarette smoke, anywhere around. I will go to great lengths, not to expose my children to it, in the least amount. Even outdoors. No one is aloud to smoke anywhere near us.  I do not get the foolishness, of smoking. I find is a repulsive habit. My weight is considered perfectly acceptable, for my height. Quite in the healthy range, I have heard, at my rare doctor appointments.  I’m a busy mom, so I get enough exercise.  I “eat to live, not live to eat”. (How’s that for justification? ; )  I’m running around all of the time. I’M FINE!

This is where the story gets…..eye opening.  Possibly comical.

Many weeks back now, I had been having a few really rough weeks.  To put it simply, I was T I R E D, and I was feeling quite pathetic.  Throughout my days, I was doing only what I had to do, for my family and home. I was sending my kids, to get me things in the next room, because the idea of getting up to get it myself, was an overwhelming thought, to me.  I got tired from just standing at the sink, and washing dishes.  I sat on the couch all I could, and flat out lied down and snuck in a nap, if I could. I’d catch a glimpse of me in the mirror, and be shocked at my appearance. I mean…I looked like hell. There was no 2 ways about it.  I looked like I hadn’t slept, in weeks. I was taking a shower and going to bed, soon after dinner.   Are you getting the picture?  All the while, I was really starting to feel very down about myself, and my lack of any energy. I wondered, “When, did I become this pathetic?  I am the picture of lazy. But I’m just so tired. Tomorrow, I’ll do more.”   I was really just having one dark day, after another, for weeks.

Then the day came along, when my husband showed me the mail. There was a letter from our life insurance company.  Apparently, they had put my policy on standby, because I had not followed up with a doctor, following my ER visit over the previous summer. (2010) It said something about severe anemia.  Oh yeah…..Well to make along story short, that summer night some months prior, I had woken up during the night with chest pain, and after not being able to take a good breathe, tingles my arm which then went numb, and breaking out in a cold sweat, I was sure I was suffering a heart attack. Mind you, that’s how my mother died, so I was freakin’. I went to the hospital via ambulance at 4 a.m., and asking them to pu-leaz not use any sirens, and wake up and scare my children. So anyway, doctor staff at the hospital had a few vague guesses as to what happened, but what they were most concerned about was unrelated, but something they had discovered with the blood labs they ran.  They told me I was severly anemic, and they were extremely concerned about that. The doctor went on and on at my bedside, but what I could hear most, was my own happy voice in my head, “So, I wasn’t having a heart attack like my mother?  For real?  I’m good?  Sure, o.k., take this iron every day….O.K.  Gotcha! I’m so out of here!” I was so grateful to go home to my family.   A call later from my own physician, informed me I probably suffered a bout of Pluerisy. I did start taking the iron they suggested, but I found it caused other problems. :roll:  So I quit. No time for that.

But here were those words in front of me again, on this insurance letter: 

Severe Anemia.  It sounded familiar…..more familiar than just from the ER.  Hmmm.  Maybe THAT was why I was so tired lately?  But in the big picture at that moment, with that letter in my hand, I was concerned about the life insurance policy thing. I just needed to know that was active. So darn it all……I was going to have to make an appointment to go to the doctors, I guess.  I did, that day.  I went to bed early again, that night.

I slept good and hard, until I woke up because frankly, I had to go potty. Badly. Like….bladder about to burst. Much to my disappointment, there was no ignoring it and going back to sleep.  So I dragged myself up, went, and got back to bed as soon quick as I could. Which, frankly, was not very quick. Lying in bed again, I realized I was winded. “Really?” I thought. From going potty? Just then there was a great big crash upstairs.  I mean…..the house shook. I thought our youngest daughter must have fallen out of her bed in her room above us, but she never cried or called us. I could not even believe it, but Michael did not even jump, or miss a beat with his snoring beside me, when the crash happened.  I was annoyed with that. I grew increasingly irked, because now, I was continuing to hear….something upstairs.  Scampering. I thought then, maybe Olivia knocked something off her bed, and now she was searching under her bed in the dark, trying to find it? But it went on, and on, and on.   I wanted to wake Michael up, to go check out what was happening up there. Because I did not want to drag myself out of bed, and climb those stairs?  But then that made me feel pathetic again.  I said to myself, in my head, “Really.  You are going to wake up Michael, who is clearly quite deeply asleep, because you are too lazy to get up and go check yourself.”  That chat with me, made me feel bad enough to throw the covers back once again, and go check myself.

I turned on the stairwell light, and began the climb of the stairs. There seemed to be more steps, than the last time I went upstairs. But finally, I was standing in Olivia’s doorway, looking at her sound asleep on her bed. I could hardly believe my eyes. But, as I stood there and listened…..there was that noise again!  But she was asleep.  I wanted to check my oldest daughter’s room behind me, but all I could really think about was, “I can’t stand here. I want to sit down. Michael needs to do this.”  So I started back down the stairs.  I remember thinking, “It’s a long way to my bed from here….”, and I felt like I was dreaming for a second.  Next thing I know, I was in a whole lot of pain, and in a heap at the bottom of the stairs.  I was trying to stand….as the whole family was jumping out of bed and awake now, wide-eyed and shook up, wondering what just happened. I had fallen all the way down the stairs, and desperately did not want my kids to see me like that and scare them, but I could not find which way was UP.

I eventually got to my bed and got my feet elevated.  Michael got the kids settled and back to bed, and when I finally felt ‘right’ again, I knew something very telling just happened. I had not just slipped or fallen down the stairs.  I literally go so weak, that I literally collapsed and passed out.  I. Hurt. Everywhere.   But I began to figure out what happened.  Not only that night, but had been happening for weeks.  I had to guess that I was running lower, and lower, on iron. And that night, I just about bottomed out! Suddenly, I was sure it was that anemia problem. Good thing I had an appointment in a week or so. But the next day, I started taking that iron I was supposed to. Honestly, after 1 day, I felt like a new woman!  That confirmed to me, it was the iron deficiency issue I had been dealing with the past few weeks.  NOT Lazy Syndrome, as I feared.

I realized over the next few days though, that the incident really shook my kids up.  I was limping around, everywhere we went. Still tired, but less so.  But I was just bruised and battered all over, from the stairs fall.  And there was a familiarity to my state, that made me remember some other past situations I apparently had chosen to forget.   Like the bad (bad) shower fall I had, just a few years ago, when I closed my eyes for a second, and lost all balance. I was extremely tired in those weeks too.  It was around that time that I had gone to a pressured-into physical exam, needed or we would lose our doctor in that practice, or something. This visit, I was not seeing my own doctor, but his own physician assistant.  I hadn’t met her before, but when she came in, she said almost immediately, with quite a puzzled tone, “You know, I don’t really know you. But are you tired?  Because you look really, really tired to me.”  I responded that I was no more tired than I was usual for me. I was kind of used to ‘pushing through’.  She said that wasn’t normal. Even for moms, and ordered a full blood panel of work.   There was some iron/B12 issues, and that was why I was so tired. (Uhh…..anemic. Yes. Guess that was the word they used that time too.) As I recall, I even had to go for regular B12 shots for awhile, until we found the little pills worked well enough. When I took them.

The fall down the stairs not only scared me, it scared my kids.  The doctor appointment and subsequent blood work I had done, showed I was ‘Severely Anemic’.  That, after lots of daily iron for a week. So I knew….it was SO much worse, a week ago when I collapsed on the stairs.  I knew, and it haunted me…..I could have hit my head, and died.  And really, I guess I don’t eat well.  Not enough, and not at the right times. It’s not balanced.  Not to mention I probably should be exercising, you know, on purpose.  And there was a few other meds I’ve been supposed to be taking. But you know, I’ve never liked the idea, of having to taking medication. So it was another thing I was probably not doing well. The revelations were really just snowballing.  Oh yes, I should know I should be taking better care of myself.  But really, it was the fall down the stairs, that really woke me up.  Made me realize, I should be doing all I can, to be here, well and healthy, for my children. I really want to be. I do not want to put them through, all I went through, as a result of my own mother’s neglect of her health.  I don’t want them to suffer the grief of losing me, that I did with her.  Especially given that they are much younger.  They need meME.

I Get It Now.

I feel guilty, for having ignored the signs all along the way. I mean, what a fool. I can hardly blame God, if it was Him, giving me a swift kick of His sandal in the backside, for a little wake-up-tumble.  If it was Him, and I think it was, I thank Him, really.   I am eating more frequently now, and really making sure it’s balanced food groups. I am exercising, on purpose, regularly, and getting my heart rate up, at least a few times a week.  I have had several doctors appointments now, and yes…..it’s as much as a hassle as I knew it would be, and it is a great big pain, fitting such extra appointments on my already busy-enough calendar.  I am working on taking all of the medications I was supposed to be taking.  There is one that is taking a bigger commitment to stay on, that I am also coming to terms with, because I know I need it.  (There’s a good few, for more than I wanted to get into this time. Mostly just the way I am made up. Like the low iron, no matter how much iron rich food I eat. And a B12 deficiency to boot. I simply need to supplement these things, forever. Then there are genetic numbers, as well. But this is long enough, don’t you think? I can say I have always been dismissive of having to take medication. Until I realized I had to, for various things.) I have a weekly pill box now, with everything I need to take daily. And I really do. Yes, it’s kind of a bother. But my children, my family, they are worth it.  For gosh sakes, who would keep everyone else healthy around here, if I was gone?  While I have never had really bad health habits, I could be a better example, and have really good ones. I should be a SHINING EXAMPLE. After all, I know from experience, that a mother’s lifestyle, can effect her children’s lives and hearts, in so many ways. I’m seriously working on it all now. BALANCE. I need to be healthy and HERE, to take care of everyone else too. AND YOU DO TOO!!

I could really ride the excuse or 2, that my brain so quickly serves up, to start slipping back into my old ways. But when I do, I remind myself of the same kind of words I used at my mother, that I still think was such a valid argument, and one than cannot be denied:

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”   (Corinthians 6: 19-20)

 Thank you so much, for reading. It’s difficult enough for me to let down my walls, with the people in my life.
Never mind spill my heart, to the whole world.  But it is my hope you might take any little bit of encouragement, from my story.
Blessings to you. – Laura

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