Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zoo

Fun Field Trips to the Zoo!
There are two wonderful memories I have with Kaleb at the Zoo. One was when his father and I were still married and we took Kaleb to the zoo for the day. It was his first experience and it didn't help that we tried putting him on the hot sculpture of a lion for a photo-op. The second memory is probably my favorite, it was only a few years ago and the school I had been working in at the time, and Kaleb's school had field trips to the zoo on the same day. It was great timing! I got to spend some of Kaleb's field trip with him and we had a wonderful time! I couldn't say if Kaleb ever had a favorite animal - I know he was bombarded by a couple puppies through the years and that could have turned him off to animals. My old cat use to lay in his bed with him, Kaleb would play with him with his feet and Smokie wouldn't move (unless he'd had enough or Kaleb got upset). I think Kaleb preferred the time with the people he loves.We were so blessed that we were able to give Kaleb the experiences and the life that he did get to live. Never take life for granted!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Yummy

Thought I'd take a break from the deep-thoughts and talk about something lighter; my favorite yummiest things. Just last night my boyfriend and I were discussing when we were dining at the Rose and Crown Pub, at Disney's EPCOT Walk around the World. Not only do they have amazing drinks (adult drinks) their spinach quiche pie was so yummy that it still makes my mouth water. I wanted a slice so much the other night I ordered the spinach pie at some local joint - but was highly disappointed. Now that I've had the best, the rest are just bitter disappointments.

My first oysters for the season were while I was in New York with friends - they were delicious. The other night my boyfriend and I went out to the local oyster place and had a few as well, and they were delicious too. He's actually taking me back there this weekend for my birthday dinner. I probably would have never eaten oysters when I was younger, just because they don't look very appetizing. But, with the cocktail-like sauce that comes with them, they're delicious and every once in awhile I do get the urge to slurp down a few of those - yummy.

My newest addiction is the pineapple slush from Sonic - I think their half the reason I had the healthiest winter season to date in a long-long time. I love it because it has the 'fresh' pineapple (I doubt it's fresh, it's probably canned pineapple - but it's still delicious). It's super sweet though! One of my favorite parts is at the end when I can spoon out all the crushed pineapple on the bottom.

A few other things I'll mention quickly are sushi, Maryland crabs, and Haagen Dazs Raspberry Sorbet. What's your favorite yummy?

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for Xi

In looking for something to write about for the letter "X" challenge in the April Blogging A to Z Challenge, I originally thought like "X marks the spot" or something else. When researching words I came across Xi, which means the cardinal number for 10 (X) and 1 (i) which would mean 11. My son Kaleb would have been 11 this past October, he passed just before his 11th birthday. He died on October 6th, 2013 and his birthday was October 28th. We were planning on having a Baltimore Ravens themed party for him. His Aunt (my sister) and I were starting to brainstorm great ideas and thought it was appropriate that we have the party on his birthday weekend because it was our home-team's bi-week. Besides, Kaleb loved us routing for the games and how crazy we would get - "the crazier the better" - I could just hear him say (not that he could talk - but he esp'ed it to me). Instead, our family got together and I got 11 read balloons. We all wrote messages to Kaleb and then went outside and released them. On the notes attached we wrote about Kaleb, the message of love, and about his awesome smile.

I think there are only 10 balloons in the picture because 1 had popped

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Worship

Everyone is on their own personal paths toward their relationship with the Lord. It doesn't matter where you are in your journey, as long at you're there! "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." Colossians 3:16. I absolutely loved studying Colossians, and if you are just starting on your journey, I would start with daily devotionals, and studying Colossians. It will fill you with the loving messages and, I believe, put you on the right path toward worshiping with your soul. When people ask me if I pray, I tell them that I pray with every breath that I take (I do conventionally pray as well). Something that was discerning to me, a few years ago now, was that I have never been one to shut my door to individuals that present themselves with the word of God. I never assumed anything from these individuals, but when it was becoming more dominate of their other motives, I had to step back. I am a non-denominational Christian and I refuse to be labeled when my faith is concerned. When I am challenge, I have the armor that God himself has equipped me with.


One time, when an individual was desperately trying to keep me within their clutches (I felt) they questioned something that we had (material possession) and accused me of worshiping false idols. I had to stop them in their tracks - that was the definitive moment when I knew this was not the path He wanted me to be on - I do not worship 'false' idols. Material possessions are not worshiped, I do not bow down to them or pray to them. For this individual to manipulate the situation in the way that they did, gave me an entirely new insight,
as if He showed me their true nature and dangers. God tells us to be weary of false prophets, this is why it's crucial to read the word for yourself. I loved the beginning sessions because it was just how worshiping is intended - two or more people gathered together reading the word, sharing their experiences, and prayer. "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:24

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Vengeance

When studying the Bible I remember reading about how God wants us to not seek vengeance; God will deliver His own ruling and it would be better than anything this realm can deliver. "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord." Romans 12:19 Many people refer to this as Karma. I have a really hard time wishing harm on others. Maybe it is because I have experienced such pain and suffering that I don't wish it on anyone else. However, the Bible teaches us to love our neighbors, even those that hurt and oppose us - right? "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself." Leviticus 19:18 I can understand being hurt; I've been
hurt. There was a time (there have been plenty of times) that I have wanted to hurt someone. However, I am thankful for God and His teachings that refrained me from doing so. "It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them." Deuteronomy 32:35 My thought has always been as well, if God forgives us, than shouldn't we forgive each other as well? When we let go of that baggage or pain we've been harboring, you'll feel that negative weight just lift right off as well. Holding on to such a disease will also physically damage you. When we let go and not hold onto those thoughts of vengeance, we can live in peace and have His Spirit of peace within us. Another great quote is Ezekiel 25:17.

U is for Understand

I think this can be a powerful message - because our life is ours to live and we let others dictate to us about our life - then is it still our life we're living, or theirs? When someone acts a certain way or someone else's behavior interferes with our own happiness, we tend to let them control us in a way. Manipulators love to do this, they know how to work you and they will pull their little puppet strings to get you to a certain state, so that you are vulnerable and that they can continue to control you and manipulate. It's when you cut those strings that you can understand this process and open your eyes to the madness of letting other's control your sanity. A friend once told me that people only treat us how we let them treat us. It took me a while and I had to let that one sink-in before I understood exactly what she meant. Don't let anyone else take away your happiness. Understand the situations and make that conscious effort to take yourself out of it and to figure out what is best for you. To many, this has meant discontinuing relationships with people and cutting them out of their lives; sometimes you have to cut the head off of the snake, especially venomous snakes that continue to lash out at you.

Don't you think the world would be a better place if we took the time to understand each other? If we're in a long line, many times people get very impatient and lash out at the cashier. They don't take that individual into consideration. People are too quick to judge the situation with a negative stereo type; it's quicker and more convenient for their negative outlook. When you take the time to understand someone, it will give you a more peaceful aspect and as we all know - the less negativism the better in our lives. If something is increasing your stress and anxiety, really try to understand and break-down the reasons why you feel that way. When something is out of our control however, it is best to 'let go and let God'. Meaning let go of the situation, surrender, and understand that there is nothing more that you can do; let God take over, pray about it, and communicate with Him that it is beyond your control and that you need Him.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Testimony

When Kaleb was born, I was mad at God. I felt hurt by Him that my son was born with special needs, after working so hard for children with special needs. Later, He revealed that the time before my sons birth was preparing me for his challenging life.

"And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life in his Son." 1 John 5:11

There have been many things in my life that I still question - why? It's the proverbial question that He gets Why? It's not for us to question, even though we do. He knows us more than we know ourselves. This is why we are forgiven. While I still have unanswered questions and prayers, I also understand it is in His timing, not mine. For instance, I don't know why I had to suffer through NF, and I don't know why I have to suffer through daily chronic pain. However, my Faith and Hope is in Him and His plan. Amen.
from us all it seems at one point or another in our lives.

"So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven" Matthew 10:32

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Spirit

Spirit by Definition

Is the nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and charter; the soul. Or, those qualities regarded as forming the definitive or typical elements in the character of a person, nation, or group or in the thought and attitudes of a particular period (thank you Google search). So basically it is considered something that is within us, whether it be our soul or the collective beliefs.

"because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death; but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8:2-6

Spirit within the Bible refers to what is within us, I like to think of it as God's breath that he first blew into Adam. This Spirit needs replenishment too. If you've ever noticed that when you start to feel a little down or depressed, if you've ever picked up scripture and started reading, you feel better? It's because you are replenishing the Spirit. This is why we are suppose to go to church, not to give money, and not for the hypocrisy. Within the Bible it states that the money is to be given to the less fortunate - not to embellish the church or associates; but that's another topic of discussion. Romans 8:2-6 discusses how God gave his only son to save us from sin, and how the Spirit of life is available to set us free.

What was your interpretation of the scripture? 

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for Respect

Respect for the Runners

Luke 6:31 & Matthew 7:12
Today, if you haven't already heard, is the running of the 2014 Boston Marathon. While I am not a runner, I have much respect for those that pile in at the start line; who have trained with determination to get to where they are. I know of people and have family members that sign-up and run races. I see their determination to train and their will power to cross the finish line. I think it takes a lot for a person to race an entire race, no matter half marathon, full, or whatever they are competing in. 

"Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you." Luke 6:30&31

Tragedy Strikes

(image captured via Google search)
April 15th, 2013 - most of us don't need reminding of the tragic events that were unveiled on this day in our history. Two terrorists tried to take away the American Spirit by attacking the 2013 Boston Marathon. According to Wiki "it was the 117th edition of the mass-participation marathon. Organized by the Boston Athletic Association, it was the second of the World Marathon Majors series to be held in 2013. Over 23,000 runners participated (Wikipedia, 2014).

"Fear is a very explosive emotion, but it has a short life span. It's the sprint. The marathon is hope." Mike Huckabee (BrainyQuotes, 2014)

Boston Strong

(image captured via
Google search)
What terrorists don't realize is that when they attack the American Spirit, they might knock US down, but we get up STRONGER. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the survivors participating in the race today. Talking to my cousin over the weekend who is from Massachusetts, she was informing me how many celebrities were also participating in this years Boston Marathon.

"I've run the Boston Marathon 6 times before. I think the best aspects of the marathon are the beautiful changes of the scenery along the route and the warmth of the people's support. I feel happier every time I enter this marathon." Haruki Murakami (BrainyQuotes, 2014)

Today, I am sure emotions will be strong. Many people are re-entering the competition that were there last year during the bombings that took place. I commend those that are running today, especially those that are persevering through their pain. I commend those that are running to prove the message of the American Spirit. I commend those that are running today. May God bless you as you cross the finish line.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quiet

In our society we rarely take time to be still and listen. We are too busy rushing; rushing to get ready in the morning, to mass produce at work, and then to get one of the kids to practice and having to rush to pick-up the other child from somewhere else. Just to get home and rush to get homework done, rush to get dinner fixed, and the million other things that have to be completed before the sun rises the next morning and we start all over again. It's no wonder our society is so dependent upon caffeine and other addictive ways of keeping up with what is expectant of us.

"It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." Lamentation 3:26

When was the last time you were quiet in prayer?

However, it is important to take time for ourselves; both mentally and physically. The other day, now that spring poked it's head out, I went and enjoyed a pedicure. Not that I had the money to do so, but I had received a gift certificate. I know a couple years ago, I dove deeply into devotionals because I was submerging myself within His word and studying life's instructions. If you seek foolish behavior, than foolishness will surely find you... make sure you do something that isn't stressful.

"A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back." Proverbs 29:11

"And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one." 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

When was the last time you did something just for yourself? 


Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Oligarchy

Is America Still Considered a Democracy?

Democracy is defined as a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives (Google search). While America was founded on the premise of the democratic belief, there is now scientific data compiled that the U. S. is actually a Oligarchy. Oligarchy is defined as a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution (Google search). The scientific study comes from Princeton, the study explains the pain staking process that the researchers conducted, compiling data over years of research. I would implore you to read the article here. The argument is that America is no longer a Democracy, that we are now within the realm of "an oligarchy", the article further explains that "an oligarchy is a system where power is effectively wielded by a small number of individuals defined by their status called oligarchs. Members of the oligarchy are the rich, the well connected and the politically powerful, as well as particularly well placed individuals in institutions like banking and finance or the military" (McKay, 2014).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Necrotizing Fasciitis

What is Necrotizing Fasciitis?

Necrotizing fasciitis (NF) is a bacterial infection that attacks the soft tissue and the fascia, which is a sheath of tissue covering the muscle. The Group A Strep (bacterial) infection must be introduced into the body (through surgical procedures, skin abrasions, an access point) (NNFF, 2003). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NF is a serious bacterial infection that spreads rapidly and destroys the body's soft tissue. Commonly called [the] "flesh-eating infection' [or the flesh eating disease] by the media, this rare disease can be caused by more than one type of bacteria. These include group A Streptococcus (group A strep), Klebsiella, Clostridium, E.coli, Stphylococcus aureus, and Aeromonas hydrophila, among others. Group A strep is considered the most common cause of [NF] (CDC, 2013). 


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Marriage

Till Death Do You Part... or maybe not...

Growing up I never heard about divorce within our family. Divorce was a foreign concept to me. As I matured I learned through other families the effects of divorce. When I was younger my belief was that nothing should break the vows of marriage. It is something between a man, woman, and God. When I entered the early years of my adulthood, I then evolved to consider the only reasons I would accept divorce and confirmed within the Bible as well; if there is adultery or abuse.

"It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement" Matthew 5:31-32

In other words, if a man should degrade his wife by any means, then a divorce is acceptable in the eyes of the Lord. Originally the covenant was made as a way that pleases God, and he looks at the man with favor when he honors his oath and his wife. When he mistreats his wife, it would be like mistreating the church in Gods eyes, thus the adultery.  Our society is so accepting of adultery that there seems to be little, if any, stock in marriage. In our society we marry for status, to have children, or to have security. To honor the person you love is probably never thought of (until your Pastor or Priest mentions it).

"When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it comes to pass that she finds no favor in his eyes.... then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give [it] in her hand, and send her out of his house." Deuteronomy 24:1-4

Originally the Bible says to not marry, but if you should...[follow these rules]. A man should honor his wife and a wife should honor her husband. There is a specific instruction manual and when you sway away from it, it's when it gets messy and complicated. Unfortunately, I have experience in this department. I thought I was marrying for love and that we would grow old together, I had entered my covenant with commitment and faith. My husband cheated and instead of working on the marriage, he opted to leave our holy covenant with God. The Bible is clear about his choice and those that cheat on their marriage:

"[But] whoso [commits] adultery with a woman [lacks] understanding; he [that does this had destroyed] his own soul." Proverbs 6:32

So, the question is now - do I still believe in the sacrament of marriage? Yes. A true man will honor the woman he loves. If a man takes a woman (sleeps with her) than he should be of intent to propose marriage to her. In our society it has become acceptable that a man and a woman live together before marriage. Years can pass before the paperwork is signed, rings exchanged, and vows are stated. Even then, the statistics are against them - they'll still divorce. Faith, Hope, and Love keep us within reason and fills us with the belief that a marriage can last. I've never had the whole white dress, flowers, and the whole wedding ceremony thing (not even my first marriage). The future isn't looking very promising either (for marriage). While it has not worked for me, I still believe because I know God wants me to believe in His promises. 


Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Library

Who Knew!!

Apparently April is the National celebration for both Letter Writing and for Libraries! For the sake of keeping the April A to Z Challenge posts short and sweet, I'll stick with Library. According to the American Library Association (ALA) April hosts the National Library Week and is recognized from April 13th - 19th 2014. The ALA first sponsored the week long acknowledgment in 1958 and it is for libraries and librarians for recognition to their contributions. This year theme is about how lives change at the library. 

When was the last time you were at your local library?

Check with your local library to see what great activities are planned. To find your local library visit @ Your Libraries (The Campaign for America's Libraries) you can enter your zip code and it will show you a list of libraries that are located, you can move your arrow over the selection and it will give you the address, site location on a map, and other information. Sometimes in our digital age, we might forget about the library and what it has to offer. I know my local library has free DVD rentals (with your library card). It doesn't cost anything to sign-up at your library either. There is more in the library than books too, there are movies, music, and even games now. Some libraries even offer digital services and you can link it to your Kindle device. I know for a while I did not have internet service, so I had to access my e-mail at my library. Another time, I did not have a printer; I had to only pay like 25 cents per copy or print out. It is truly a towns hidden gem. If you have kids, they have great activities and toys you can check-out as well! 


Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Kites

April - National Kite Month

Having a birthday in April I have received trinkets and gifts associated to the month. Usually this involves a raincoat and umbrella, much like it's neighboring months of May and March, April proves to have the seasonal spring weather of rain and winds. So, it only seems natural that April would be associated with National Kite Month. According to the National Kite Month website, one of the first documented acknowledgments of kites was in 200 B.C.; the Han Dynasty would fly kites to measure distance. We learned in school how Benjamin Franklin flew a kite to experiment with electricity. And who doesn't know the lyrics to Mary Poppins "Let's Go Fly a Kite."

Kites With Kids and Safety

Making kites with kids is a great activity, there are so many great art crafts and creative ways to make a kite. Click here to discover and learn how to make kites. I would suggest promoting kids to think of what materials they would like to make their kite out of. It's a great opportunity to explore and experiment and they'll have fun trying different things too. This way they learn what works best and what doesn't work. Make sure to explain kite safety, to learn more about kite safety, click here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jokes

Something I've grown up with and believe, is that not only is laughter the best medicine, but it keeps you SANE (or as close to sane as we can get these days). Laughter has healthy benefits for our body too. When we laugh our blood flows easier. Humor also may raise infection-fighting antibodies, boosting our immune system. It makes sense because when we laugh we relax our muscles, which is beneficial and helps against stress. So, there are proven health benefits. Let's share some jokes that will get us giggling, chuckling, and snorting with laughter to promote our well being...

Research Declares Funniest Joke

A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says: "Ugh, that's the ugliest baby I've ever seen!' The woman walks to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to a man next to her: 'The driver just insulted me!' The man says: 'You go up there and tell him off. Go on, I'll hold your monkey for you.'

Some of the Top 50 Jokes

Police arrested two kids yesterday
one was drinking batter acid
the other was eating fireworks
They charged one
and let the other one off

I went to the doctors the other day and I said, "Have you got anything for wind?"
So he gave me a kite.

A three-legged dog walks into a saloon in the Old West
He slides up to the bar and announces:
"I'm looking for the man who shot my paw"

Funny Jokes

Where do snowmen keep their money?
In snow banks

Did you hear about the angry pancake?
He just flipped!

What do you call a fake noodle?

What do you get from a pampered cow?
Spoiled milk

Ellen's Classic Joke Wednesday


What's the funniest joke you've ever heard?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Intuition

By definition intuition is the ability to have an understanding of something without the need for conscious reasoning. Basically, you just know. To me intuition is a combination of different things. It's taking everything that you have experienced and know and everything within you, such as genetic coding of evolutionary guidance. All of this merges within our soul to give us that knowing embrace of intuition.

"Often you have to rely on intuition" Bill Gates

"Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become." Steve Jobs

"The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, the solution comes to you and you don't know how or why... the truly valuable thing is the intuition." Albert Einstein

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Hope

Dealing with daily chronic pain, hope can seem so far away at times. It can be aggravating when people, that do not know what you have to endure, say such things as "it'll get easier", "hope you feel better soon." The fact is, this pain will never go away. It's just learning how to deal with the pain that helps. But, we all have bad days (don't beat yourself up about it either).
When hope seems lost, it feels like you are drowning in a sea that is carrying you further and further away from shore. When I feel this way, the only proven cure has been reading passages in the Bible. Here are a few that I enjoy:

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you will be full with hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Setting goals can help us feel the hope of tomorrow. By setting small goals it will give us the sense of accomplishment. When writing out what you want to achieve, or something you want in life, make sure to set those smaller goals before the bigger ones. This progression, cognitively, provides positive reinforcement toward living a fulfilling life. By setting goals you are an active participant, it's too easy to just expect life to turn out how you dram it will.

The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.  Proverbs 10:28

Hope is living the changing seasons; through this tough winter we have hope that there will be a spring. Giving and believing in hope helps us to endure and cherish the life that we live. The pain I feel both physical and mental has contributed to my depression and thoughts of suicide. However, I hold onto my faith and hope for the day that I will no longer feel pain and God wipes away the tears (Revelations 21:4).

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for Grief

Everyone's Grieving Process is Different

I consider myself blessed that I did not experience a deep loss of death in my family until I was an adult. Growing up I remember being very sad about having to put a cherished family pet to sleep and overall I have always had an understanding about death. But what if you are unclear about death? How could that affect how you view the grieving process? Simple: you question it and the uncertainty could lead to further emotions of anxiety and anger (along with other feelings). I have never questioned my faith or what comes after this life. After the death of my son I find myself questioning everything. After reading about grief, I understand it is part of the grieving process.

Honor the Loss

Before Kaleb had passed I had set up a page where everyone that knows Kaleb or wanted to know what was going on with him could connect. After Kaleb's death it has transformed now into, not only part of my grieving process, but now a beacon of awareness. It's someplace where I can still honor his memory. Number 18 of Good Grief Center's tips for grieving states that working through the grieving process we should "consider reviewing memorabilia, photos, home movies, or videos." Kaleb's page is also a place of healing. Don't forget, it's o.k. and you should talk about your loss. Sometimes I hold so much inside, but I feel better once I talk-it-out and am able to process everything that I had been holding hostage. Also, if you are with someone who has lost a loved one, don't be afraid to talk to them about the individual. I feel like sometimes people might not speak Kaleb's name in fear of upsetting me. It's o.k. - honor their memories by talking about their life and share with one another, you never know...

Take Care of Yourself

Looking back on the past few months there is something that I would have changed. In my grieving process I neglected my physical wellness. I focused too much within my head, as an over-analyzer I often do this. After reading and researching about grief, all of the articles will tell you to take care of yourself. I had a friend who had told me that I should take walks, but I didn't listen (that and we had a hard winter); I do regret letting my health slip. Also, I am an emotional eater... put the two together and it has only complicated the grieving process. Within the Good Grief Center's tips, it also mentioned how "grieving puts a heavy burden of stress on your body" how sleep can be disturbed and lead to other illnesses such as depression, immune deficiencies, and other problems; "grief is not a disease but it can become one." Keep in mind that the process is not a determined amount of time either, grieving can affect you when you least expect it. Just the other day I received something from Kaleb's school teacher in the mail. It was something that was usually sent home on a daily basis when Kaleb was in school letting us know how his day was. It was unexpected and I broke down crying. Grieving does take it's toll; after breaking down I was exhausted. Give yourself time to grieve.

Grief Comes in Different Forms

Another tip that I just read that I might try, is to write a letter to whomever your grieving over. I know when my ex-husband left and I was grieving that loss, I had written a lot out - it helped my brain to process everything that was going on inside of me. You feel relief too because you've gotten it off of your chest. I'm going to do this for Kaleb. Because I wasn't with him when he passed, I feel like there is a missing puzzle piece. I know I am not responsible for his death, as his primary care giver because he was with his father for his allotted visitation, and I was not there - I do feel a sense of uncontrollable loss that I need to address. Then again, when is loosing a loved one controlled? Because I was Kaleb's primary care giver I was his advocate, he required 24/7 care, and we have always been praised for the care and love that we gave to our K-man. So, loosing him so unexpectedly has added to the grieving void.  I'm going to try writing him a letter and when I visit his grave I'll read it aloud.

Stay Healthy - Keep Positive

I think it is crucial that you DO NOT seek an 'escape' - DO NOT abuse alcohol or drugs in trying to mute the pain that you are feeling. I have tried to focus more on my writing during this process. A healthier option would be to cultivate your interests and hobbies, to occupy your mind for a duration of time. Recently I have returned to work. I had once worked at the school that Kaleb had attended, prior to his birth. In considering if I would be able to return there to work, I thought that I should be able to because I had worked there before Kaleb. Being there has been challenging emotionally, but more importantly I found that I feel him more there. It has reminded me how much I enjoy working with challenged children and how valuable I can be to their lives. While Kaleb was here, he not only blessed our lives, but we helped him through his journey here. Now, it's time that I help other children on their journey as well.


Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for Faith


A loose interpretation of Matthew 17:20 suggests that if we have the smallest of faith (as small as a mustard seed), we can move mountains "Nothing will be impossible for you."  By definition faith is a complete confidence or trust in something or someone. Like the video below demonstrates, as Christians we put our faith in Jesus, the son of God.

There have been plenty of times within my life that I have slipped, or thought I was slipping away from my faith. Not so. When I was mad at God after my son was born with special needs, he calmed my spirit and told me it's o.k.' it's o.k. to be mad at God. I transformed and he gave me the knowledge that He had been preparing me for my son, Kaleb. I had worked in the special education field for years before we were blessed with Kaleb; God was preparing me.

Since I was young I have battled suicidal thoughts. When I was 14 I attempted to take my life by swallowing some pills. To look back now, I was struggling with my life and the hardships that I was going through. If I could tell that girl something, I would tell her life is going to get much tougher and she would be amazed at the strength that she is capable of. What has always pulled me away from the vale of darkness, has been my faith in knowing God has better plans for my life. Also, in battling with these thoughts for so long now, I have realized that life is a gift from Him and I don't want to be disrespectful. I want to go to heaven, especially now more than ever, so that I can be reunited with Kaleb and my loved ones. When I think of ending it all, it has always been because I have lost sight of hope and feel consumed by hopelessness. It is faith that brightens the darkness; faith that I will get to heaven and have the ultimate experience to see Kaleb running around, laughing, and ultimately running up to me to give me a huge hug and telling me "I love you Mommy."

What does faith mean to you?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is for Epilepsy

Stats and Experience

Epilepsy affects over 2 million in the U.S. (CDC)  and can be referred to as a seizure disorder. Seizures occur when there are disturbances in the brain; I like to think of it as if you were trying to hook up the connectors to jump-start a car battery. Our brain is a vast neuro-electric-pulsing machine that at times could spark and cause a seizure. There are many reasons why a person could have a seizure; reoccurring seizures are part of the definition of Epilepsy.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, epilepsy is a  "condition which affects the nervous system." There are different types of seizures as well. My son Kaleb had epilepsy and suffered tonic seizures. Kaleb was diagnosed with Epilepsy after suffering severe dehydration, resulting in massive brain tissue loss, before he turned 2 years old. Kaleb was j-tube fed, not through his stomach, but through his jejunum. Because of this he was always nutrition sensitive. We were always concerned about keeping Kaleb hydrated. However, after his doctor's and nutritionist changed his formula, there were major complications that were severe and profound. As a result, never having seizures before, Kaleb was now diagnosed (adding to his other conditions) as having Epilepsy. His seizures would only last seconds, but there are seizures that last much longer within the spectrum and can have severe affects on the body. I have friends that are also diagnosed as having Epilepsy and you would never know. 

Me & K-man Summer 2013
Kaleb's seizures could be triggered by a number of things; a loud sound, lights, touch, heat, and sleep. When I was younger, I was once told that to interrupt a seizure, or seizure like activity, tap the person having a seizure on their nose (not too hard, just lightly). However, when I referred to this at Kaleb's Neurology appointment his doctor (who I never did like very much) informed me that the action would not stop a true seizure. Some say that the full moon will also increase seizure activity, although there are no scientific studies to suggest this is valid. But, I know from experience this to be true.  

His longest seizure was nearly 2 minutes long, he would get reddish in his face (most of the time this was due to him not breathing); not that he didn't always breath. He would draw his body in; meaning his body would stiffen and his arms would stretch out and then in toward one another. His legs would stretch and stiffen as well. Sometimes he would laugh during a seizure and sometimes when coming out of a seizure he would laugh, we referred to this as him "talking to the angels" or a "party seizure". Some seizures include other ticks, such as mouth and eye movements. As well, other seizures would cause Kaleb to become lethargic afterward and he would need to rest. 

While we do not know of what claimed Kaleb's life; his father and I are divorced and Kaleb had been with his father when Kaleb passed.  We still want to be beacons for people to understand his conditions, to spread the wealth of knowledge that we have obtained, and not only share his story but his love. 

To Learn More About Epilepsy, Click on the Links

Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Delusion

Delusional Thought Patterns and How We Can Change Them

I have battled with depression since I was very young. Depression is a mood disorder that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depression affects 1 in 10 adults in the U. S. alone. When I was hospitalized from my mood disorder, in my Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) sessions we learned about the connection between depression and delusional thought patterns. Depression can distort the way we think. My distortion was a result of how I processed information pertaining to my environment. 

Most girls growing up face some form of self image prospective and can lead into a delusional thought pattern, which could also lead into other conditions (i.e., eating disorders, self mutilation, etc.). When I was growing up my delusions started with my self-esteem. I would compare myself to other girls; friends, actresses, and models. This is a dangerous road and there is much more recognition for the manipulations involved in society and how the imagery affects girls and their mental development. For me, because I wasn't 'perfect' I didn't feel that I was anything to look at. The delusion continued until the distortion affected my brain and caused other issues, such as my social avoidance. 

A delusion is defined as a "belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary." It is also the "belief based on false or incomplete information, or other effects of perception." (Google search) When we believe something, it is hard to consider that what we think we know, is actually false information. Once we can accept this, we can move on and work on retraining our brain.

The activity that has worked the best for me is a version of positive thought retraining, based off of "The Glad Game" from Disney's Pollyanna. Here are some steps to work toward changing delusional thought patterns:
1.) Keep a journal. This is something that you can take to a therapist and they can read or collect the data to help you determine different thought patterns. Don't feel ashamed or threatened by what you write or showing it to a professional. Seek help! They are trained to help you through this.
2.) Write Them Out. This goes with journaling. Once you have validated the distortion, write out what you have believed. This will help your brain and initiate the retraining process. Once you have written it out - cross out the negative or distortion. Next to it (them) write one to two positive or true statements to replace the negative or delusional thoughts. To see a list of positive affirmations click here.
3.) Mental Meditations. Once you have been able to detect the delusional thought patterns then you can begin to retrain your brain to instantly acknowledge, recalculate, and execute. Acknowledge that you have the delusion. Recalculate the positive affirmation to replace previous delusion. Execute by replacing the negative thought with a positive thought, or two.
And finally - Reward Yourself - nobody every said life is easy, so when we set a goal and achieve them we need to make sure to positively reward ourselves. If you have a eating disorder (like myself, I am a comfort eater - so I can't reward myself with food - although I do sometimes) try to reward yourself with something more positive based on your needs. For example, say: if I can go two days without putting myself down, then I will get new ear buds that I have been needing.

For More Information Follow the Links Below

Thursday, April 3, 2014

CHARGE Syndrome

Kaleb Campbell Townsend 10/28/02 - 10/06/13

Kaleb Was A CHARGEr

CHARGEr refers to an individual that has been diagnosed as having CHARGE Syndrome. To learn more about the syndrome, criteria, and history behind the diagnosis, click here. CHARGE is an acronym; each letter stands for a different abnormality. 
C - Coloboma - Kaleb had a coloboma of his optical discs. What this meant was that he did not see normally. He was considered legally blind.
H - Heart Defects - K-man was born premature, so his heart did not close properly. This was solved in the NICU and he never had heart issues prior to being in the NICU.
A - Astresia - for Kaleb, this occurred in his nasal passageway. As he grew older his openings did grow as well, but it was difficult for certain procedures that he had to go through.
R - Retarded Growth - it wasn't until later that I was informed that CHARGEr's are shorter in stature. As well our Kaleb was born with a small stomach and an enlarged liver. 
G - Genital - abnormalities.
E - Ear - individuals that have been diagnosed with CHARGE usually have the square-shaped ear.

Kaleb's CHARGEr square shaped ear

CHARGE is a combination of birth defects and is diagnosed as a genetic disorder. The spectrum goes from individuals that are unaware that thy have CHARGE - to severe medical conditions and handicaps. According to The CHARGE Syndrome Foundations website the disorder "occurs in about one in every 9-10,000 births worldwide". Lucky us! While Kaleb had many challenges, his CHARGEr personality shined through. His smile was proof that no matter the obstacle, the human spirit perseveres. We miss his smile everyday, but are thankful that God blessed us with such a sweet angel. 


C is for Coffee

April A to Z Challenge

Recently I have regained my love for coffee. I have a love-hate relationship with the delicious caffeine filled substance. I have to watch how much I drink, because of my past issue with kidney stones, if I drink too much tea or coffee then it seems to bother my kidney's and then I have to take a break from it for a while.  Last week was the first cup I've had in a few months, just so happens that the electricity went out for a few hours. I was hyped up with not power or internet... what do you think happened next?
I went through a back-log of mail that I have been neglecting to address... why go through a stack of bills when you don't have the money to pay for them...
It's amazing what I am able to accomplish when there is no television or internet to that I get sidetracked with. Usually, I have a hard time getting that energy or motivation to get going. Although, when I drink a cup of coffee it gives me that pick-me-up that I need to get the day started.

Do you drink coffee? What is your favorite - or your ritual pertaining to coffee? 
My favorite coffee is Dunkin' Donuts, although I usually have to wait forever for the cup to cool down enough to take that glorious first sip. I've tried other brands and nothing compares, in my opinion. Especially in the fall, when they have their pumpkin spice. I love fall time, add pumpkin spice in the mix and it makes everything darn near perfect.

There are tons of great coffee gifs and meme's - here are a few of mine. I love these two Snark E Cards, I think it's pretty accurate. Most people that depend on coffee in the morning can't wait to get their hands on it, and then they can function for the day - maybe after their second cup. 

I remember hearing a while back how someone was able to sue a popular restaurant chain because they spilled their coffee on themselves. Really? That goes along with the individual who sued (I believe the same popular food chain) because they became fat after eating their food. Wait - what? Coffee is hot, if you put it in your mouth, chew it, and then swallow it - repeatedly - you could become fat. I feel like a huge "duh" is in order here. But, it just proves the saying: Common sense isn't so common anymore.

My Coffee Haiku

Coffee warms the mouth
gravitates south warms the tummy
Coffee energizes the day
until the morning next divide