Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Adoption Journey: Joseph Michael

I'm snuggling my little bug as I sit and write. I think it is really important to share how we were able to have this miracle, and what it was like for years waiting for him. We are forever grateful for his amazing birth mom Michaela who we love! She has given us the best gift, and I love this special boy.

 He has been prayed for for years, he is my whole world. I feel so blessed and so fulfilled.
( And don't even get me started on Ken, he LOVES his little son. He keeps telling me about how excited he is to teach him to cut wood, and go fishing and love spending time outdoors!)

When I was little, about 7, I decided that my beautiful blue baby blanket made by my aunt Tamara should be kept really nice and saved so that my baby could use it someday. Then I had this cute purple ABC blanket that had these cool half triangles as a border, about 2 inches at the peak, and so I used to suck on those instead of my thumb.
My blue blanket is waiting for Joseph at home!

I always played with dolls, and loved to dress them and change them and rock them- you get the idea. My mom made me a cute Raggedy Ann doll, a small soft bunny, and a huge bunny with little bunny babies. She also made all kinds of awesome outfits for them, and I loved to organize the outfits, and play dress up!

When I was 12, I read this book about a girl in Africa who didn't want to marry this old guy, so she ran away in search of some other family. In it she talked about how being malnourished she didn't start her menstrual cycle as normal, but when she ran away and was eating enough, it began. About a month later, I started mine! I was so happy, the first thing I said to my mom was, "Do you know what this means?! Now I get to have my own children. Yay!!" And I was super excited and dancing all around. That also meant I could start doing pointe in ballet.

Some of you may know that I began to get extremely sick when I was 14. I had endometriosis. But the doctors all told me that when I had a baby, it would get better and go away. I was told that for years. There was never a question that I could have a baby, it was WHEN you have a baby you will be better. I've had it half my life, and even though I recently had to have a hysterectomy, I still have endometriosis. Thankfully since surgery it has been much better, but this chronic disease is brutal.

When Ken and I were engaged we went to the fertility doctor together so I could get the Lupron shot. We both wanted to start our faily as soon as possible. Lupron would put me in menopause which would remove the estrogen and kill off the endometriosis. Many people use this treatment to help reduce pain, but also to prepare the womb to be viable for pregnancy.

My experience was not the desired outcome, and my pain actually got worse. If you are contemplating the Lupron shot, stay far away! Exhaust any and all other options before subjecting yourself to such horrible things!

We then went to the fertility doctor. I was given a medicine to help breast cancer patients in hopes of getting my body out of the Lupron induced menopause. This caused me to gain 30lbs in one weekend, and 70 over the course of 7 months. I have not been able to go back to my original weight, and because of the conditions I have, I probably never will. (Thankfully I still think I'm awesome and am loving writing my plus size fashion blog!)

We decided to stop fertility treatments for a while and give my body a break. That is when we were able to get pregnant. But my body has a really really hard time. I know I'm pregnant because I have severe bone pain, become crazy sick and nauseous right away, and have such severe reactions and pain that my body begins to shut down. So naturally it miscarries to save me.

IVF wasn't an option because I could get pregnant. And right before we would go in for our initial ultrasound I would lose the baby. Every time. When we moved to Show Low we lost our 3rd baby. She was due at the end of July. Right now!

I am 1/4 Cherokee, so my baby would be 1/8 native. Michaela is 1/4 Navajo, so our baby is 1/8 native! And Joseph came when our baby was supposed to! We have seen so many miracles and blessings. We will be forever grateful to our wonderful Michaela for the amazing blessing she has given us!

The other really difficult thing about this whole process was not only will I never be able to give birth, but my endometriosis will never go away. It was very difficult to grieve the loss of not only the opportunity to have my own baby, but promise of better health.

Once I came to terms with the knowledge of my lifelong struggle with endo, but also that I could never have a child, we opted for a hysterectomy. Being in menopause has definitely helped with my endo, but it is still there. And it is not good to be in menopause at 27, so we are trying different things to stay out of it. This means estrogen will be involved for at least 20 more years, so my battle with endo is anything but over.

But, discouragement cannot last in a happy soul. And obviously I am the most happy person ever. Seriously though, I have never met anyone as happy! I believe my joy comes from my knowledge and testimony that Jesus is the Christ, that this life is not the end, that families can be together forever, and that one day my body will be perfect.

We have fostered some amazing children, but none of them were meant to be forever ours. That was really hard, but we are so glad we listened to the promptings of the Lord, and now we have the most wonderful, beautiful, special baby we are blessed to call ours. I know that families can be together forever, and now we have our forever little one!

We will continue to foster, and are now on the foster to adopt track. This means that we will primarily get children who are already able to be adopted, or who will most likely be able to be adopted. But in all honesty, I am so thrilled to have our little Joseph Michael that if we aren't meant to adopt anymore, that is ok. He is so special and such a blessing.

Without the bad, we wouldn't truly enjoy or appreciate the good. I am so thankful I am here, that I stuck with it, that Ken and I didn't give up on our dream to have a family. I am overwhelmed by the blessings we have received, and this incredible gift and sacrifice to have Joseph here in my arms, and in our family.

I'm so grateful that I have relied on the Lord, and that I came to terms with things before my surgery. Because I had that closure and peace, it made pressing on endurable. And now we have had the surprise blessing to enter into a new season in our lives, which I cannot begin to describe our joy.

I know we all have trials, and that life is anything but easy. I am so grateful that I listened to the Lord's plan. Even though things did not work out like I had hoped when I was younger, and when I was 12, they have become more wonderful than I could have ever dreamed! I learned to really trust the Lord, that He knew what was best for me, that He would be here with me, and would and does help me through it all. When I gave up that control, I started to be free, to really enjoy the process, and have a more positive outlook on trials. I was able to endure the disappointments and difficulties better.

Whatever you may be facing, see my story, take what you need, and if you don't have the faith now, use mine. Look back and know that when I trusted the Lord, he was there for me, and I was ready to listen to what he would have me do. You can do it, although it may feel impossible now, you will make it. You will find happiness again. I know it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Service Spotlight

I forgot to do a service spotlight last week....oops. So here we are, excited to get exploring the opportunities available! Also, no one has contacted me about joining my humanitarian aid group yet, so let me know! You can still be a part of it long distance! Basically I take out the stressful confusing stuff by picking things we can do, since I love research and I majored in this!

Sometimes I find it stressful to get started on things if I don't know where to look, or I feel like there is so much info I can't decipher what is good, what is dangerous, and what is just plain silly. But I love public health and finding ways to have self improvement.  I find serving others teaches me a lot, and I grow spiritually from the experience.

Just Listen

I had a lovely friend who called me after my last surgery. She is older, and we've never gotten together to do anything, but she is the most lovely lady. She wanted to see if I needed a visitor. For some reason I had to cancel, but I saw her the next week at church. She was so sweet and explained how her daughter had commented that the most helpful thing for her when she went through a rough time was when a little old lady from church came over and just listened. She said, "so here I am, you're little old lady friend ready to come listen!"

I thought she was just the sweetest thing, and her personality is really funny, we enjoy watching the interactions between her and her husband in sunday school! But I thought about the point she was trying to make. She was willing to come over and sacrifice her sanity to listen to me talk about anything! How wonderful is that!

And best of all, this service is Free.

Bring the Service to them

 I often offer my friends to let me know if they need anything, but it's almost something we just say.
How often have you actually called your friend who offers and take them up on it? Maybe once in a super emergency, am I right? But what I loved about this interaction was that she called me, and offered to come over. Then I didn't need to feel like I was bothering her, or wonder if she really had the time to come, or was just being nice.

Since we are often too polite, we offer help when we don't have money or energy to give, or we don't ask for the help when we need it. By bringing the service to the person in need, you don't need money (except gas in your car to get there) and you don't need tons of energy or special skills. You just sit and listen.

If you aren't able to go and listen, then make a phone call and chat that way. Making contact and letting someone know you are there and ready to comfort them will be a huge blessing. If you feel like this person may need more service that just one call, write a note. Or get ahold of some friends and let them know to call.

Our Limitations

When we keep our service simple, and in the scope of what we ACTUALLY can physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally do then we will be able to do more. I often want to give all that I have, and then when I'm done I have no energy left for my family time, or things that I need to do in my life.

We are not meant to run faster than we have strength. I don't run, but this still pertains to me. It means that we need to look at our limitations, be ok with them, and keep our efforts within the lines of our limitations.

I think of this like coloring. If we go out of the lines, the colors are beautiful, but it becomes crazy, disorganized, and messy. We can't erase crayon like we can pencil. Same with our limitations. If we exceed them, we can't replace what we have given away until we turn the page and start something new.

Simple Service leads to Frequent Service

When we keep our service simple where it is enjoyable and not too demanding, then we have energy to do more. Wouldn't it be great to be able to serve more people, and do more? It's kind of like dieting. If you eat small bites, you can sample a lot of different desserts at the Vegas buffet. (But in Life, the wasted food is not wasted energy, it will go to something else and not the Vegas garbage cans)

Some situations you do really big service projects, and you can't really take smaller bites and spread yourself around. That is ok, but don't schedule so many huge projects that you can only serve once or twice a year. Many people don't want a lot of time or products of whatever they need. They want to be noticed, remembered, given kindness.

Don't you like those things? Yep, we all do. So keep it simple and you can do more.

Other Options

You can also let them know you are thinking of them. When I get sick and can't go to church, I really like it when people text or call and say "Hey missed you today, just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you." They don't need to offer help, or ask what happened to serve me and make me feel loved. They are just making you aware they are thinking of you and that you matter.

You can also write notes and leave it on their door, or write a card and send it to them. You don't need to mail long letters, again keep it simple. Just let the people you are serving know you care about them.

Do you have any other ideas on simple, inexpensive ways to serve those around you? Leave a comment and let me know!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Service Spotlight and Announcement!!!

Sorry I didn't post last week. We have had the huge Cedar Fire burning in our background. We went to the valley to visit family and take a break from our home that was full of smoke! Talk about a great test run for my emergency preparedness!

Did anyone make cards or go visit the nursing homes in your area? Have you had any great experiences with service? Drop me a note, I would love to hear what you've been up to!


 I am going to start a humanitarian group here in our home!! It will be so great to have women get together and make care kits, sew blankets and skirts, collect donations, and pull together to help those in need. I'm super excited. If you don't live near me in Northern AZ, but still would like to be a part of the group, check back on the blog for the weekly service spotlight to see how you can help!! If you would like to do service as a family and be involved in my group, awesome! There is always something to do!

Service Spotlight

Service doesn't have to be huge, take a lot of time, cost a lot of money, or be stressful or difficult. If it is feeling that way then take a step back, downsize, and just do what you can. We are not expected to save the world or fix everything. Write a card this week to someone who seems sad, or make friends with a new family in your neighborhood. Search online to find organizations that you would be able to help with. Setting aside time for research is huge. I sometimes expect that service opportunities will fall in my lap, sometimes they do, but more often than not I have to search them out. Opportunities of diverse service are out there, they just need to be found!

Nervous to Serve?

I've been thinking a lot about service lately and how blessed we are to live in the United States of America with all of our freedoms, opportunities, and blessings. I think it is very important to share the great blessings that we receive with others, even though we may not have a lot to give.

You see, something is more than nothing. People love to be thought of, to have others go out of their way to share kindness, and to be a part of something. When was the last time someone did something really nice for you and you thought, " man I hate that they thought of me. Why do they keep giving me blessings?" Exactly. That would never happen!

Sometimes we feel that people will be offended or not like us if we give them service because they don't like to receive "Charity". Usually they don't like it because people have made a big deal out of it, or the service they received was presented in a rude and hurtful way. When we give service, it is best to be kind, humble, and not to draw attention to what the person or family is deficient in. When we treat one another with dignity, respect, and love then they will feel those things. There will still be some people who look for things to be offended over. If that happens, just move on.

Let's get started!

Talk with your family, pray for opportunities and inspiration, and start researching!! Comment, email, message, or text me your info and I will make sure you get updates on what is happening in the group!
Know any organizations or opportunities that you would like to pursue? Let me know and we can check it out!!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Happy Service Sunday!

I'm back from my incredibly long break settling in to our new house.

I'm going to be doing a new thing on Sundays all about service. Check out the tab at the top of my blog for more info.

Father's Day is next week, as I'm sure you know. I was thinking about ways my husband and I could bring some happiness to the fathers who may be lonely. Mothers Day was actually pretty hard for me this year. Loss is very difficult to deal with, especially on days where you are constantly reminded. This made me think maybe others will experience the same sadness on Father's Day.

My husband and I live in the country, but there are still a couple of nursing homes here. I'm sure there is a nursing home in your town, or at least in your closest city where you get groceries. There are lots of men in nursing homes, and presumably a lot of them are fathers.

Even if they aren't fathers, everyone enjoys being shown love and respect. If you have children at home you could help them make Father's Day cards to pass out to the men at the nursing home. You can call the home and ask how many men they have, or if that is too many, maybe ask them for the number of men who do not have families close, or how many are in one wing. Once you have the number, get crafting! Then next Sunday deliver the cards with your family!

You don't need to visit with each gentleman, just saying "Happy Father's Day" will be perfect! Although people really love looking at children's drawings, you could always make cards yourself. I'm sure they would appreciate a lovely and more sophisticated card too.

Call and ask if you could come and sing a few songs, or go room to room on a specific wing and have a short visit with the members. Or you could ask when their common room time is and see if you can go play games, or help serve one of the meals.

Everyone likes to be remembered and thought of. Have any other great Father's Day ideas to serve the nursing homes in your community?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bionic Woman!

I am totally a bionic woman now :)

So I have chronic illnesses that cause my nerves to over fire and create a lot of pain. I don't want to be on pain medication, so we went to see an amazing pain management specialist. And what she did was awesome!

So, I have a spinal cord stimulator in my back made by the company Medtronic. We had to have a surgery trial in the office to see if the stimulator would help with the over firing of the nerves before they put a permanent one in.
On our way for the trial surgery. I'm very nervous, and sad to have to transition a foster child.

I had back surgery while I was awake. And it was awful. They put 2 leads up the side of my spine, and tried to get to the right nerve bundle to target my trunk/belly area where a lot of the pain is from due to endometriosis and pelvic venous congestion syndrome etc. This test surgery took 2 hours, way longer that it should have.

So, I told my husband when we left I would never do that again, I didn't want the permanent stimulator, and I cried. A lot. It hurt wicked bad. And because they had to poke around so much more than normal my body tried to protect itself by sending lots of fluid to the site, so the left side lead didn't even end up working. I'm sure you can imagine how many prayers we said and how hard we tried. That day was also difficult because we had to transition one of our foster children, which feels like having your child die. It's awful and so heartbreaking.
Crying more that we had to transition a child than from the pain of the awful surgery.

But, after the first 24 hours, I noticed a significant change. My left side didn't work due to the fluid build up, but the right side did, I had 90% relief in my right side, and the swelling in my legs went down, as well as my belly! It was a miracle. For the trial they have you keep the lead out to change the settings, so I had a tail, as you can see in the picture.

Then, about 5 days later they pulled the leads out and booked the real surgery. I wouldn't be awake this time and it was at the hospital. They stitched the leads into the myofascial tissue around m spinal cord, and I have a battery in my back. I have to recharge it, and it lasts for 9 years. I shouldn't ever need the leads taken out, just every 9 years the battery in my body will need to be removed and replaced.
Happy with the trial, that's what the tail connected to, it allowed me to change the settings. Also I have multiple pairs of this shirt so don't think I kept wearing the same shirt over and over, I just really like this one so I bought multiples of the same one :)

So we got the permanent surgery, and I have this thing where I put the receptor over the battery and change the setting of the stimulator. It's like a gentle tingling sensation and helps my joints and whole body function amazingly better! It's a miracle! Then I have another receptor that goes over the batter that I recharge the battery with. So the battery in my back serves 2 purposes, it allows me to change the settings of the stimulator and it allows me to recharge the battery.
Cool stitches huh? The vertical tape covers where the leads went in, and the horizontal one is where the battery is. After they took off the tape we took a picture and the scar at first made it look like I had a huge plumber bum, so I didn't include that picture. Sweet bruises right on the first day! My Doctor is amazing, but rather rough. The bruises got way worse before they got better. But I would do it all over again.
The left black think goes over the battery, and the screen turns on allowing me to change the settings.
This is what re-charges the battery in my back. It's getting good reception and fastest charge when all those little black boxes are full!

My scars are healing nicely, and I had to be very careful to not twist, bend or lift anything, otherwise the leads could have moved at the top of my spine and it would have all been for nothing. The leads are only stitched into the base of the spine, not the top, because that requires a bunch of surgery specialists, so the best way is to just be careful and let your body scar in the top of the leads.

Here I am, a bit swollen and tired after surgery but excited about the potential for what might come!
Sometimes I turn it down where it's still on but I can't feel it. Other times when my endometriosis is causing a lot of pain I will turn the stimulator up and it helps block the pain signals and I feel the gentle tingle. The swelling in my legs has gone down, and I'm feeling great!

We did have some complications after the surgery, so thank you to everyone for your love, support and prayers. The hospital didn't follow my doctors protocols so I developed a fluid pocket around the battery which made changing the levels and charging very difficult, and for the first little while the stimulator didn't work correctly because of the fluid build up, just like in the test. So my amazing hero Ken went and bought this therapeutic girdle thingy that's this elastic thing you wear that puts pressure over the area, so we are now in the clear, and the fluid pocket is gone.

If my leads shift slightly it's ok, because the company can change the settings by putting their machine over my battery and they can change where it stimulates and so we had it adjusted last week and now that the fluid pocket is gone it's working amazingly well! We are so happy to not have to need pain medicine and have a wonderful treatment plan that I have control of that really is helping make a huge difference.

We have been so blessed by the Lord to live in a wonderful new area with amazing Latter Day Saints (Mormons) who love the gospel of Jesus Christ and have been so welcoming and making us feel so loved. We have had miracle after miracle to get my stimulator to work, to move to this new home, to be able to have Ken's business start to grow, and so many other special and sacred things I can't mention there are just too many!

I know Jesus is our Savior, and if we turn to Him and pray for help and guidance, we can overcome the obstacles in our way, like fluid packs that cause complications. I know that if you are struggling and in need of comfort, all you need to do is pray. I'm so grateful for modern medicine to help me live a healthy and fulfilling life. And I'm grateful that soon we will be able to begin with a new agency and adopt a family of our own.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Our House!!! and what the Prophet has taught!!

Yay! We are in our new home!! It's amazing! We love it here. We are getting our old house ready to sell, so if anyone is looking for a lovely house, we have one ready!

Our new home is big enough for however many children the Lord wants us to adopt! We are so thrilled! We have to wait for our license renewal then get this home inspected and switch to an agency up here that has contracts with 5 different tribes up here!

We are so thrilled and pray that we will be able to adopt soon! Please donate to our adoption fund, and share our story! We want to have everything the children and our family may need. We have the space now, which was the most important step to get going, now we just have to be patient.

So, here are some lovely pictures of our new house! it's painted a tan and green in EVERY room, so eventually we will repaint, but for now, we don't mind ;) We love our new ward and our new stake. The people in our church up here are so excited to learn and to try and do better. We had Elder Pina from the 70 come and speak to us on what the Prophet assigned him. The topic is about returning the Sabbath day to the Lord. Ken and I are very careful about keeping the Sabbath day holy, but we have some new ideas and traditions that we are putting into place to help us grow closer to the Lord and for our children to feel of the Lord's love.

Here are some things we are going to do after church each Sunday, whether we have children or not. Go over the Gospel Doctrine lesson for that week, listen to a conference talk, if we have children go over the lesson they learned at church that day, sing a few songs from the hymn book, pray to know who may need our help or prayers that week. Those are just a few things. I am so blessed to have a husband who has been sensitive to the Spirit and we have already set the Sabbath day as a holy day, and now we have added ideas to make the day a Holy and special one. What are some ways you keep the Sabbath day holy?

We know that Sunday is a day set apart that is special and for the Lord. If we take the time to rest and serve the Lord and grow closer to Him that our faith will be strengthened, and we will be ready for all the trials that come. And they do come. But having this sacred day to help us prepare for the coming week is a huge blessing, and we are so grateful to have been taught by many wonderful people, and on this topic assigned by our beloved Prophet.

So, here is our magical home where we are learning and growing, and can't wait for what lies ahead!

                                                                                                 First Batch of Cookies in the New House

 lookout window upstairs in the loft room                                         back porch

Our First Day!!!

 So HAPPY!!!! and we have a sweet Spiral staircase! And a cool loft that's open waiting for me to find some sweet fancy sitting chairs!

See that cool little knob on the door above the handle?                                                                                    It Rings this bell. Coolest Doorbell Ever!!!

Yes, in a storage closet is this little beauty. Because everyone needs to sharpen pencils in the closet.....

We are so happy here. It feels like home already, even though we aren't really that unpacked, as you can see in some pictures. But it feels like we were meant to be here. We are so blessed!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

First Craft Fair!

We went to Show Low to do a craft fair! We are so excited to move there, it was wonderful!!! But it turned out the fair was originally a farmers market that began allowing craft vendors. It was great because we learned what sells well at that kind of event, and we spoke to the woman who organizes community craft fairs and she said our tutus and headbands and earrings will be super popular there! Here's to raising money for the adoption fund!!

So I'm taking down the Etsy site because I've gotten a lot of window shoppers, so I'll be selling things off my blog! There is a new tab I'm posting a page called Tutu's and Accessories! You can place a custom order by emailing me or if you see something you want, let me know!!

Here are some pictures of us at the fair, I took them after we made sales, it was a great day!! We also met some wonderful people and are so excited to move into this amazing and welcoming community!! We also stopped by our house to see it again, it was lovely!! We are so blessed!

Best little café we can't wait to go to again!!!

Front Porch Kisses!