My Thankfulness Post

I’m a little late, I know. But life has been a little busy. Ya know?

I’m thankful for my boss. This year has been a difficult one in a lot of ways but my boss has been understanding in ways I didn’t expect. She is also currently laying on a beach in Hawaii while we freeze our butts off here at home.

I’m thankful for MiniMe. Yes she’s a teenager now and that brings all kinds of angst but she is still my sweet girl and I love her.

I’m thankful for my girl Beauty. This has probably been the most difficult year of her life so far but she still continues to amaze me with her caring attitude and the love she shows her family.

I’m thankful for my brothers and sisters. Without them I would be lost.

I’m thankful for my nieces and nephews and cousins and aunts and uncles and all the rest of the extended family. They were so supportive when my mom passed away. Without them I’m not sure I would be here today.

I am thankful for all of my friends. You know how to make a girl feel loved.

I’m thankful that even though my mom is gone from our everyday life we know we will see her again.

I’m thankful this year is almost over. My birthday is in a couple of days so I can officially be done with this year. Turning 40 was painful a year ago but I’m happy to turn 41. Maybe it will be a lot less stressful!

 

I remember

9114People everywhere are remembering the day our world changed. On that fateful day 12 years ago I remember exactly where I was.

At the time I was working in a call center for a cell phone company. We hadn’t heard much when I received a call from a woman whose phone automatically transferred her to my department. The woman on the phone that day was frantic. She was a stewardess for United Airlines. She was trying to reach her friends and co-workers. She was supposed to be on one of those planes.

Twelve years later I don’t remember her name but I’ll never forget her voice.

Shortly thereafter we received word that if we wanted to leave work we could go and not face any attendance infractions. 21-month-old MiniMe was in daycare and 7-year-old Beauty was in her second grade class at school. I chose to leave. I knew there was nothing I could do and thankfully I didn’t personally know anyone who was killed that day but I needed to gather my children close and keep them as safe as I knew how. I picked up the girls and we went home. Thankfully they were young enough that they didn’t understand at the time what was going on. I struggled to answer Beauty’s questions in a way that she would understand.

Twelve years later they have learned to live in our post 9/11 world.

I have relatives who have served in the military and a nephew who is a civilian firefighter in Afghanistan. There’s a local family who lost a son a few years ago. We live in a small community and the day he was brought home everything stopped. The motorcade from the airport to the high school gym where his memorial service was held was one of the most amazingly heart wrenching things I’ve ever experienced. Beauty and I were on the freeway and every overpass was filled with people. The fence along side the freeway was filled with flags.  Cars pulled over to the side of the road to show respect for this fallen soldier who was one of our own. I was one of those cars.

I am thankful every day for the men and women in uniform who work so hard to make sure that our world is safe. Whether it’s a military uniform or our firefighters, EMTs, police and sheriffs, all of them are working together to make sure that we in this country are safe.

For this, I thank you.

My response to the Daily Prompt

Mamma Mia

I was 13 and totally rockin' the mullet!

I was 14 and totally rockin’ the mullet!

That’s my mom and I. I was 14 years old. It was about a year after my dad died. We were still having lots of struggles in our relationship. When Dad was alive he was the calming influence between us. I’ve mentioned before that I was totally a daddy’s girl. When he died there was no longer anyone there to calm things down between us. We had lots and lots of struggles. I’m sorry Mom! I get it now!

I am the youngest of 5. My oldest sister has kids older than me. The next to the youngest was 12 when I was born. I was basically like a second family for my parents and when I was younger it was almost like being an only child. Well, until my sister and my niece moved in with us. My niece is 6 months (and 4 days!) older than me and we fought like sisters. We lived in a 2 story house and she and I shared a bedroom upstairs. We were always falling down the stairs. One particular morning we were both coming down for breakfast and each had a glass of water in hand. She went first and fell and didn’t spill a drop. I wasn’t so lucky. By the time I hit the bottom my glass was empty and I was soaked. One year I got a Slinky for Christmas. We were trying to get it to work like the commercials said it did when Mom/Grandma decided to come show us. Mom became a human Slinky. 😦 Of course at the time we thought it was super funny because we did it all the time. Now that I’m about the age she was when that happened, I’m so very sorry we laughed. I’ve fallen down a couple of stairs recently and it’s not funny anymore.

Shortly before we moved from my little hometown to the county where I currently live, Mom had surgery. It was a huge change for all of us and Mom couldn’t do much at all. When we got here she was stuck in bed for weeks. Not the easiest way to start our new life but she did what she had to do and we all survived. When my dad died we were all thrown into grief, heartache and chaos. I can’t imagine how difficult things were for her. She showed amazing amounts of strength and kept our family together during the most difficult time of our lives.

During my teenage years we had daily struggles. Now that I have teenagers myself, I don’t think I can ever apologize enough to my amazing mother. I love you mom! I moved out when I was 19 and now that I have a 19-year-old myself, I understand how scared my mom must have been for me. But she always let me know that she loved me and was there for me even if she didn’t agree with my choices. I learned a lot from her.

Now that Mom is older and her health is failing, I realize how grateful I am to still have her in my life. We may not always agree on things but I know that she loves me unconditionally and I am so glad God chose her to be my mom.

I love you Mom and I hope your day is amazing!

Mom and I 2013

Mom and I 2013

Living with RA

Mt Baker (2)

This picture has nothing to do with RA but this weekend we got to house sit for my brother and sister-in-law. This picture was taken from the back yard. Beauty took it early Sunday morning. She spent the night with us and woke up early. She grabbed my phone and took this picture. It was a great surprise when I woke up. One of the local coffee shops is having a photo contest and it was suggested that I submit this for it. I did but got an email back saying they needed a higher resolution copy. Unfortunately, I don’t have one. Oh well, I like the picture anyway. Those of you who are Facebook friends have already seen it but I just love it so thought I’d share here too!

I’ve mentioned before that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was diagnosed in February 2006. I had spent a year with what I called “The Amazing Traveling Pulled Muscle”! I was at the doctor nearly once a week with pain in a different location every time. The first was my right shoulder. My brother, Beauty and I made a quick trip for my uncle’s memorial service. A very quick trip. We were gone a total of 20 hours and about 15 of that was spent driving. I went to work the next day and couldn’t lift my right arm. My shoulder felt like someone was stabbing me with a red hot poker right in my shoulder joint. Any movement at all was excruciatingly painful. That was the first time I went to the doctor and was told “You have a pulled muscle. Here, have some narcotics!” They didn’t work. Three days later I was sitting at work and watched my left hand swell up and turn red. My left arm started hurting as well. You may recall that my dad died when I was 12? He had a massive heart attack. My mom? She’s had 3 open heart surgeries and a mild heart attack. Pain radiating down my left arm? You can bet I headed for the ER. Interestingly enough they didn’t even check anything with my heart! They ended up telling me “You have a pulled muscle” and giving me more narcotics. Really? And we wonder why so many people are addicted to pain pills???

Over the course of the next year, like I said, I was at the doctor multiple times only to be told that I had a pulled muscle. Finally after doing some research on my own I called and asked for a referral to a Rheumatologist. I ended up going in to my doctor’s office but saw a different doctor who FINALLY ordered lab work! Yes, I had been in this much pain for a year and my doctor never even did any labs! The very last time I saw the man who kept blowing off my very real pain he actually said to me “I got you in here on an emergency appointment. I don’t have time for this.”!!! Needless to say, that was the very last time I saw him. He’s still practicing. He’s even in the same office my girls and I still go to. But I’ve made it VERY clear that none of us will EVER see him again. I would rather take my chances at spending 12 hours in the ER than see him again. Lucky for us we now have an AMAZING primary doctor who actually listens and seems to genuinely care about what is going on with us. I was able to get in with a Rheumatologist that I really like. He understands that I haven’t had insurance for the last couple of years so he works with me for my appointments. He also has been instrumental in helping me get the most expensive of my medications ($2400 a month?!?!?) for no cost.

Now, 6 years after my initial diagnosis and 7 years after the onset of my symptoms, my life is mostly normal. Yeah, I have to take it easy some days and the cold generally hurts. Now that I’ve been on this most recent medication my flares are not as frequent (maybe 1 a month unless I completely overdo it) and aren’t nearly as severe as they were. When this first started I didn’t know how I could live my life with this horrible disease. Now I know I just do. Yes, it’s still horrible but I’ve learned that my body has certain limitations and as long as I remember that, I do ok. I have been blessed with a great job where it’s not overly stressful on me (which causes flares really bad!) and it’s physically not a difficult job. My last job before this was at a big box store and I walked 6-8 miles every single day.

Interestingly enough when I started writing this I was feeling great. This morning I woke up and could barely open my mouth because I’m having a flare in my jaw. Let me just tell you how much fun THAT is! If you have ever suffered from TMJ this is pretty similar. I can’t open my mouth all the way and I can’t bite down all the way. Makes eating interesting for sure! Today was the busiest day of the week at work and all I wanted was to take a nap! That’s what happens when I take my meds before work. Luckily I don’t get all of the common side effects associated with Chemo medicine, mostly because I take such a low dose. I just put a reminder in my phone to take meds on Friday night or Saturday morning so this doesn’t happen again. We’ll see how that works…

Loopie Moms!

Back in the dark ages, like before wi-fi, there weren’t a lot of options for internet. I had an awesome boss that actually helped get me online. I worked at a local hotel and we had one computer at the front desk that we could use to access the internet, with dial-up. Remember that? It was sad really. Anyway, one of my co-workers set me up under his AOL account and I was off and running. Those slow evenings at work consisted of sitting at the front desk and going into AOL chatrooms with my boss on her computer from home. Talk about a fun boss! I met some really fun people that way, some of whom I am still in contact with today. Chatrooms wasn’t the only thing I did tho. I was a young single mom with a preschooler. I found a couple of websites for moms and signed up for them. One day I received a random email from a random person asking if I wanted to be part of a mom’s email “loop”. I had no clue what that ment but figured, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. Honestly, that was the best “what the heck” moment I’ve ever had! That was 1998.

I started getting emails from young moms all over the place. It was awesome! At one time there were 25-30 of us spread all over the U.S. These ladies helped me through so much. They helped me through the final split with Beauty’s father. They encouraged me when I started a new relationship and let me vent when it ended badly. These moms whom I had never met in person actually helped me name MiniMe. When I had the ultrasound and found out I was having another girl I came home and emailed everyone that I needed ideas because I already had my girl and had nothin’. Not even joking when I say they named her. They totally did!!! Another of the mom’s got pregnant with twins the same year. Her girls recently turned 13! I remember calling her right after they were born and congratulating her. That was the first time I’d ever heard Kay’s voice.

A few years ago we got word that one of us had taken her own life. That hit all of us really hard. I know for me, I will always wonder if there was something more we could have done to support her. I was going through some old papers a few months ago and found a couple of poems she had written. It makes me sad to think that she’s not here anymore. I hope her girls are doing ok.

Over the years many moms have come and gone (we even had a dad at one point!). Each one of us has had more children and all except me have been married and some have since divorced. A few years ago I had an opportunity to finally meet 3 of my “Loopie Moms” in person. The original Loopie, Erica, was graduating from college and invited a couple of us to fly to Texas to attend her graduation. I got to hang out with Chelle and Erica the entire weekend and Kay met up with us a couple of times and we got to spend some time with her too. It was Mother’s Day weekend. It was AWESOME!

I honestly can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I had not responded to that first email. These ladies have helped me through so much and likely saved both of my children’s lives more than once. In the last few years we have been able to stay in contact through Facebook more so the whole email thing has mostly gone away. That kind of makes me sad because although I get to follow them a little closer it just isn’t the same as getting that more personal connection we used to have. Maybe some day I’ll get to meet Stacie and Andie but at least I know that we can still stay in touch through Facebook. Hopefully soon I will be making another trip to Texas to see my BFF Loopie Erica and help her plan her happily ever after.

Mostly, I’m really really glad I have my loopie mom friends and I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them.

Live you guys!!!

My Thankfulness Post

This is it. I decided that I’m only going to do one big post rather than the “Day 17 I’m thankful for dishsoap” thing a bunch of my Facebook friends are doing. Ok, actually not all of my friends are thankful for dishsoap. In fact, for the most part, my friends that are doing the Facebook Thankfulness project are actually thankful for some pretty good stuff.

Ok, here goes…

I’m thankful for my parents. They gave me life. Even if my mom did cry for 4 months because she thought she was going through menopause. I’m thankful that I had my daddy for the first 12 years of my life. And I’m thankful 14 years ago my mom found a man to love her and take care of her.

I’m thankful for my siblings. My brothers and sisters have been there for me through the many ups and downs in my life and I feel unbelievably blessed to have them in my life.

I’m thankful for my girls. I’m still trying to come up with something to call them on here so as to provide them with some privacy. I can’t use initials…they both have exactly the same initials. Very smart of me, I know. For now I’ll continue to call the youngest one MiniMe (since, well, other than the hair color and the eye color she really does look exactly like me at that age. Poor kid!) but I’m thinking “Beauty” is a good name for her big sister. My girls are 6 years apart. Beauty is going to be 19 here in a few short weeks. She is my 5’9″ blonde, blue-eyed vision. She has not had an easy time of it recently and I worry about her constantly but I know that I did my best to raise her right and I have to trust God to take care of her now. MiniMe is my constant challenge. I believe she will do great things in life. Providing we can get through the “tween” and teen years… As much as they drive me crazy sometimes, they are my whole world. They make me smile, cry, scream and laugh, often all at the same time. I love you girls and I’m so glad God chose me to be your mom!

I’m thankful for my employers. I know, I know, everyone right now is thankful for their jobs because so many of us are out of work and struggling. But I truly am thankful for the opportunities I have been given not just at my current jobs but at all the jobs I’ve worked at. I learned something from each one and all of those experiences have made me the person I am today.

I am thankful that through various connections I was able to get a new (to me) vehicle a couple of weeks ago. I’m also thankful that this morning when I got $60 in gas it pretty much filled my tank as opposed to only giving me half a tank in “The Beast”. Through one of those connections I may be able to sell the beast too! Yay me!

I’m thankful for a bunch of other stuff like

  • Having a place to live although we are currently “houseless”
  • Having the freedom to say what I think when so many people are so oppressed.
  • My friends – I have a couple of really amazing friends that I know I can count on when times are tough. What more can a girl ask for?
  • I’m thankful that I get 2 days off in a row this week. Normally I work 6 days a week but this week, with Thanksgiving tomorrow and one of my jobs is closed and the other I’m not scheduled to work at, I get to rest! I’m pretty sure I’m not going to do the “Black Friday” madness but that’s not official yet. Last year I worked at Walmart on Black Friday. To put it simply, THAT SUCKED! I mean, I was grateful for the extra pay but leaving my family so I could be there for all the local crazy people who were standing in line for hours and hours just to get a TV that went on sale for a better price after Christmas was just dumb.
  • I’m thankful for all of our military  and their families. Not just today, but every day!
  • I’m thankful for the team at Cakewrecks for their amazing talent. Not just Jen and John (ThoJ) but also Sharyn and mel and zoomom and TLC and Haiku Joy and all the rest. You guys make me smile and often times make me snort coffee out my nose. Pleasent visual, no?

There are so many little things I’m thankful for that I could list but you have likely heard all of them somewhere else so I’ll just stop now.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!