Friday, February 26, 2010

Anneliese's Trip to Primary Children's Hospital.

I wanted to blog about this mostly to vent out my feelings.

On Wednesday, February 24th I decided to take Anneliese to our pediatrician to get checked out. For about a week she had been drinking really well, I'm all for encouraging my kids to drink water but it had recently became a little... obsessive. On Sunday she was requesting drinks more often and asking for them at bed. Still not unusual but a little more than normal. Monday she was still being a good drinker and we noticed that she was drinking so much that her diapers were getting filled up very quickly. I mentioned to Zach that maybe we should take her in and have her looked at but the thought of taking your daughter to the Doctor just because "she's drinking a lot" seems weird. Tuesday my Mother-In-Law watched her so I could work. She also made a comment to Zach when he picked her up that she had been drinking often and had some pretty full diapers. So here we are on Wednesday. She woke up with a full diaper and was already asking for a drink. I talked to Zach again about taking her to the Doctor to have her checked out and he agreed that it was odd. She was asking for a drink about every 10 minutes by this point. This is my 4th child and especially at 2 years old... drinking water is normally not this high of a priority. There's other more important things to worry about like coloring on my walls and holding the cereal box upside down as you run through every room of the house. Drinking water constantly... not usually that high on their to do list.

We made the appointment and I felt pretty stupid talking to the nurse. I remember saying "I know this is a weird thing to have checked out but she's drinking a lot more than normal so I thought I'd just make sure everything is OK.... you know... that she's not flooding out her electrolytes or anything." I had a friend on Facebook who had taken her son in for the same reasons and that's how they found out that he had diabetes. I was confident that Anneliese didn't have anything like that, I was thinking she probably was just going through a weird phase or had a sore throat and the water was soothing or something like that. The Doctor finally saw us and told me that it's probably nothing but they would do blood work anyway just to make sure everything was OK. Diabetes, like my friend's son had, was extremely rare so it probably wasn't anything like that.

He called me an hour later with the blood test results. He was very calm on the phone... too calm... sugary sweet soothing calm... the kind of calm where you think "Why is he being so nice to me? What's wrong?" and makes you PANIC kind of calm. He sweetly said that "Normal blood sugar levels are between 100-200 and hers were 534. Just to be on the safe side I should take her to Primary Children's Hospital. They'll do some more tests there just to make sure it's not diabetes." He was sending over all the paperwork so that it would be there when I arrived. I should just "check in" with the emergency room and they would have a Doctor that specializes in this there for me to talk to.

Well... not so bad. Just more testing. She's acting perfectly normal other than asking for drinks constantly. I did give her a couple of Tootsie Rolls before we went to the Doctor, I didn't tell the Doctor that... so I'm sure those just elevated her blood sugar level and when we get to the ER I'll probably be embarrassed that we made all this fuss over tootsie rolls. I take my time getting her ready. I make sure she eats lunch because this could be a while. I pack an iPod with some movies & ear phones, snacks, water and her blanky. Zach is going to stay and take care of the other kids just in case I'm there for a while, we could have a long wait. We finally leave at about 1:30 in the afternoon. I walk into the jam packed ER waiting room and we check in. They have my paperwork right there on the desk from the Doctor when I tell them our name. Wow it's nice to have people organized! We have a hard time finding somewhere to sit. Was there a memo sent out or something that this was the place to be? I just get situated and they call Anneliese's name. Wow! That was FAST! We must be seeing a different Doctor than what most of the people are here for. Anneliese is hopping happily along the side of me as we are taken back through the doors.

They check all of her vitals, weigh her, take her temperature and draw blood. "Do you know why you're here?" the nurse asks in a rush. "Yeah, I guess normal blood sugar level is 100-200 and Anneliese's blood sugar level was 534 so I guess that's high. The doctor wanted me to bring her here so you guys could test and see if she might have diabetes or something." "Well... she does have diabetes, there's no question. She has Type 1 Diabetes or it's also called Juvenile Diabetes. We'll have the blood test back in 5 minutes to figure out how to stabilize her." I'm left wondering what she's talking about. Stabilize her? She's twirling around in circles right now to the music on the iPod. She's perfectly fine! Can't they see that? Well... they'll see that it's a mistake when they get the blood test back in a minute."

The nurse returns "You're very lucky it looks like everything else is at perfect levels and all of her vitals are spot on. Her glucose level is at 486 so we'll adjust her for that. What made you even think to take her to the Doctor?" "She was drinking a lot and I thought it was a little strange." "Well good for you Mom. That's excellent! Do you have any questions?" I just stared at her and my mind was trying to think of what to even ask. She asked "Do you know anyone that has diabetes?" "Oh yeah... my Dad is border line Type 2 Diabetes so, yeah, I know about it." "Well don't worry. She'll still be able to have children, she can be anything she wants to be, a ballerina, a hockey player, an athlete of any type and it won't matter. It's nothing like it used to be when kids used to lose arms and limbs and go blind. The medicine we have now is so much better than it used to be." "What? Kids go blind and lose arms?" "Well... not anymore but they used to." "Ok NOW you're freakin' me out! I didn't know about that." She laughs. "Sorry. Do you have any questions?" "I gave her a couple of tootsie rolls before we had the test at the Doctor so..." " No, she could have eaten an entire chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and sugar cubes on top and it wouldn't have made her sugar levels spike this high." "So there's no way that..." She interrupts again. "We're POSITIVE that she has diabetes. No, there's nothing else it could be, her pancreas is just not producing insulin." Wow, she's done this before. "For the last year we pretty much only eat organic food, no hormones in our milk and cheese, free range grass fed beef & chickens that were not treated with antibiotics, we've only eaten at McDonald's... like... twice, we don't have junk food and snacks, sugar is a treat and not a common thing at my house, we have an air purifier and a water purifier that purifies ALL of the water in my house, I don't understand how she..." "It's nothing you did or could have done, we don't understand why it happens, it could be genetic or something in the environment or from a virus, we're not sure, but there is absolutely nothing that you did wrong and NO way you could have prevented it. Do you have any other questions?" "I can't think of anything else right now." "We're admitting her. She'll be here for about 3 days. We're moving you to a "clean area". Most of the kids are here for RSV and we want to make sure she doesn't get sick." We were put in a small waiting room with only a couple of chairs. We stayed there without anyone talking to us for about an hour.

Then we were moved into a tiny ER room that had en exam bed, a chair and no windows. We stayed in that room for about 3 hours. 3 hours with a 2 year old that doesn't realize there's something wrong with her and she is bored. The nurses popped in every once in a while and asked if I had any questions. It was now about 6:00pm and I asked if Anneliese could eat dinner. NO. She could have a snack but only if they get the OK to give her insulin from the Doctor. A while later they brought in some cheese & crackers and gave her a shot. She cried from the shot. The nurse came in again and I asked "Why do we need to be admitted? Can we just make an appointment with the Doctor and come back?" "No she has to be admitted." "I guess I don't understand why. I mean I get that you say she has diabetes but why do we have to stay for 3 days? Can't we just make appointments?" She got very serious. "I know it's hard for you to see the urgency because your daughter looks perfectly fine. You have to know that you're lucky. Most Mom's that find this out have just come with their child in an ambulance, they don't just drive up and walk in with their child dancing along beside them. Most Moms find out their kids have diabetes because they're throwing up excessively or they had a seizure or they're in a coma. Most kids that come in need to be in this bed with an IV strapped to them while we fight to try to get all of their levels normal. If you would have waited another day, maybe two days to bring her to the Doctor than that would have been her. That will be her if we don't keep her stabilized." "Oh......" The seriousness of the situation clicks. I ask "Are we staying in this room for the 3 days? Are we waiting for the Doctor" "No, we're trying to find her a bed in a room of her own. The hospital is over capacity and we don't have anywhere available. Most of the other kids have RSV and we want to make sure she doesn't get sick. We're trying to find a "clean room" that's away from those kids." We finally got a room about 30 minutes later.

Our room had a nice big window, a few chairs, one of them was a chair that could fold out into a bed for Mom or Dad. The ER room we were just in had nobody coming in, no information and we were just sitting. Once we got in our regular room we were bombarded. There was rarely a moment where there wasn't a nurse, technician, doctor, dietitian or pharmacist in our room. By this time Zach was trying to get our other kids dropped off and get there, my Dad had just showed up and the nurse was talking about how your pancreas works and what's wrong. I finally asked "Yeah but if we just change her diet a little bit than she won't need the insulin shots as much, I mean if we mix proteins with carbohydrates so they help each other carry through and... " "No. There's no diet. No matter what, she will have to have the insulin shots every time she eats." " Well... but with my Dad he can..." "Your Dad has type 2 and that's totally different. His pancreas is still working it's just resistant. It can turn into type 1 where the pancreas shuts down if he doesn't take care of himself eventually. Type 2 is what most people have. That's what most people know about. Type 1 is rare. Anneliese's pancreas just doesn't work like it's supposed to, it doesn't make insulin no matter what. You have to do the job of the pancreas by giving her the shots." "She HAS to have a shot... every time she eats. No matter what." I'm in total shock. I walk away with my hands squeezing my head. This is just too much to think about. She looks perfectly fine, everything is fine. They have to be WRONG! This can't be right. I turn to face him again. "Will her pancreas ever fix itself will she always have to... " "She'll have to monitor her blood sugar levels and have the shots every time she eats for the rest of her life. This will not fix itself or go away." Whoa! For the rest of her life? She's only TWO! I feel like screaming! I feel like crying! This is too much, way too much. This can't be real. I don't have time for all the emotions right now. "OK, what do I do? Tell me how to take care of my daughter."

The next 2 days were packed with information and lessons. How do we prick her fingers and collect blood. What does the result mean? What can she eat? Turns out anything, there's no restrictions. If she eats something with a lot of carbohydrates that can turn to sugar than I need to give her more insulin to offset it. I do the job that the pancreas would do only it's figured with math equations and shots of medicine instead of done automatically by her body. Zach and I were not getting much sleep and we're trying to trade our other kids around so we can learn how to take care of our youngest one.

Anneliese would cry about her "owie" every time we had to prick her finger and get a drop of blood to test. She would try to yank away and throw a tantrum when she saw us coming at her with the shot of insulin. By the end of the 2nd day she had been pricked and given shots so often there was little if no resistance.

We had to leave earlier than most. The hospital is packed and they need the bed. We left yesterday and I felt uncertain. It had been less than 48 hours since we found out. Now... Anneliese holds out which finger she would like us to prick. She holds perfectly still with out a flinch as we give her the shots. This, more than anything disturbed me yesterday. I should be grateful I suppose that she's making it so easy but I couldn't help the screaming in my head as I grabbed her skin and plunged a needle in her tiny leg while she watched somewhat disconnected to the whole thing. She's already used to it. A two year old should not ever be used to seeing blood come out of their fingers 6 times a day without crying about their "owie" and asking for a magical band aid. They should not EVER have to get used to having things injected into their small arms, legs and little behind, they should be squirming, screaming and fighting!

As the day went on I felt more confident that we were going to be just fine. It's now Saturday and I just sent a message to the Doctor to find our what her doses should be today. It changes constantly because they're still trying to figure out how her body is handling everything. We'll be fine.

I figure all of my children have something that I need to monitor & fix with shots of some sort. My oldest one, Hailey, (although she's sweet, fun and kind) lacks focus and needs my constant reminding to stay on task. ("Get your shoes on sweetheart. Did you get your shoes on? Why don't you have your shoes on yet? It's been 20 minutes get YOUR SHOES ON!!") My 2nd child, Brooklyn has an attitude that needs constant adjusting. ("Try to think about others. Think before you speak and if it's not nice or positive... don't say it!") My 3rd child, Dylan, is gravity challenged. This mixed with his great stunt ideas are a dangerous combination. That kid is hard to keep alive! Compared with him... Anneliese should be cake! I guess what I'm saying is that each kid needs different things, this is just the thing that Anneliese needs.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Revising Christmas Traditions

(My Dad as Father Christmas & me!)

When I was little we would go to my Omi & Opa's house on Christmas Eve. There was family, bratwurst, weiners, meats & cheeses, sweets, singing & stories. Candles were lit on the tree next to the chocolate ornaments that were beckoning for us to eat them. We would open our present from our Omi & Opa that were usually pajamas. We would immediately change into them to "model" how beautiful they were. On the way home from the party we would try to figure out where in the world Santa was & if we would make it home in time & hoping that he hadn't skipped over us because no one was home. The last memory of the night would be in the car trying to fight the sleep that was coming. The next thing I remember was opening my eyes in my warm bed that I magically got transported to in the night.

On Christmas Day we would wake up, open our presents, eat breakfast that Dad cooked & then go to my Grandma & Grandpa's for dinner & more presents. The excitement of the toys & Grandma's house was almost overwhelming. We just opened tons of presents and there was more waiting for us there! Holy cow!! How did we get so lucky!

These were my traditions. Things I grew up with. My Grandma passed away when I was 19, she never saw me get married. My Grandpa moved away (but since FaceBook we get to visit more often.) My Opa died when I was 10 & my Omi passed away after my 2nd child. We had a couple of Christmas Eve's at her house with her before my Mom moved it to her house & invited her Brother & his family over there for the special night.

When I married Zach he came with his own set of traditions. Very much like my family he went to Grandma & Grandpa Olsen's on Christmas Eve. Although there were no candles on the tree, bratwurst or weiners, there was a spread of food that was fit for a royal banquet & toys galore. They would stay at Grandma Olsen's until after midnight and every moment spent there was exciting. The anticipation of Santa coming in the morning was hardly bearable.

The next day they would open their presents and then go to their Grandpa & Step Grandma Child's house for breakfast. After breakfast, family & presents they would come home, take a nap & then go off to Grandma Child's house for dinner & more presents.

Grandma Olsen passed away a few years ago & since then, the oldest daughter (Zach's Aunt Jacci) has had the fun festivities at her home with Grandpa Olsen & all of us, much the same as how my Mom moved everything to her home. We are so blessed to have all of Zach's other Grandparents still with us & having these great traditions still going.

When we got married and started to mesh both of our traditions together it was very hard but doable. It went something like this...
Dec 24th
5:00pm Omi & Opa's, We light candles on the tree, we eat bratwurst & weiners, when my Uncle Micahel's family leaves, we leave too. My Mom always wanted us to stay & open presents with our family but we have to leave early to get to the next party.
8:30 pm Great Grandpa Olsen's. We arrive late. Play a game & open presents.
12:30am Finally home & we get the kids to bed.
1:00am Santa comes
2:00am Mom & Dad get to sleep

Dec 25th
8:00am Open presents
10:00am Great Grandpa & Step Grandma Child's for breakfast.
1:00pm Grandma Sandy's to open presents
3:00pm Omi & Opa's to open presents
5:00 pm Great Grandma Child's for dinner.
8:00 pm Home, kids are exhausted so we send them to bed.

From Christmas Eve to the end of Christmas Day we spent 6 hours in driving time (although everyone lives locally), the kids hadn't seen their presents from the moment they opened them that morning, everyone is exhausted & tired, the kids are having meltdowns & this Mom is starting to have a breakdown. It wasn't so bad when it was just Zach & I, I don't think we really noticed a huge change when we added our first child to the equation, but somewhere around 2-3 kids it got CRAZY! Now that we have 4 it seems impossible. We finally decided to make a change this year.

Someone said "It's about time! You guys should have done this a long time ago!" It's not that easy! These are traditions that we've had since we were little kids & I know if my Grandma or my Omi & Opa were still here I would want to hold on to those traditions as long as I could! This decision was a very emotional one. The problem is... there's only 24 hours between Christmas Eve & Christmas Day & we are blessed to have so much family around us that we want to see. We decided to let our kids have THEIR Grandparents & we would take OUR Grandparents out & spend time with them on a day that was not Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The truth is that we're never anywhere long enough to really enjoy it because we're always off to the next place so this seemed like a good way to stretch out the Holidays. We want to see everyone we can, just not all between 5:00pm on Dec 24th & 8:00pm on Dec 25th.

We took all of our Grandparents (the kids Greats) out to lunch & traded gifts. It was actually more enjoyable because we got one on one time with them. At the parties things are so crazy that we never even get to talk to them!

Christmas Eve we went to Omi & Opa's house (my parents) & after the bratwurst, weiners, candles burned out on the tree & jammies were on the kids, we stayed. For the first time since we've been married I opened presents with my whole family there. It was so fun to see what my nieces & nephews got & what my Brothers & Sisters got or gave. I think it meant a lot to my Mom & Dad to have our whole family together for that. We could see the party still going on at Aunt Jacci's down the street as we left. It was 10:30 at night & we knew that the Olsen party wouldn't end until after midnight so it was tempting to make a stop, but the whole point was to let go of the chaos & craziness. We got home & the kids got in bed at around 11. Zach & I stayed up cleaning & after Santa came we played a little Beatles Rock Band until 1:30am.

Christmas Day: Grandparents came to watch the kids open presents @ 8:00am. We started off by watching a church video called "Joy to the World". The presents were opened, Omi & Opa were playing the PS3 & the kids were happily playing & excited. Our parents left, I made breakfast, we played, spent hours trying to get toys removed from boxes & then Grandma (Zach's Mom) called & said she was on her way back from Grandpa Child's breakfast. We met her at her house around 1:00pm. We ate snacks opened presents and visited until the kids were too tired to be reasonable. We went home & had a nap. It was much needed by the parents & the kids. The kids slept for about 2 hours! It was great, it gave me time to make some ham & au graten potatoes for dinner. We ate more, we played more, we watched a movie together, we talked, laughed & got to spend some time with our kids.

It was a hard change to make but I think it was a better change. The time we spent this Christmas was relaxed and easy. It was nice not to worry about what time it is & trying to get 4 kids packed up every hour to rush off to the next place. It was so awesome to spend quality time with our parents & siblings this year and it worked out great to take time a few days before and spend a couple of hours with our Grandparents & give them our gifts. It's taking us a while but we're getting better at this. It's a work in progress. I learned that my kids don't care what kind of food we have but they do care that I'm playing with them & their new toys. Next year the change will be that I won't spend as much time in the kitchen making homemade rolls & au graten potatoes. (They don't like it anyway!) Maybe we'll have sandwiches, spaghetti or frozen pizza! Who knows!?! We're still figuring this holiday thing out. We'll get it eventually.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Our Day at the Dentist.

Yesterday. The "Kid Dentist" called to remind me of an appointment I had today at 8:00am.

Today. Any remnant of the Dentist Appointment is completely gone. No memory of it what-so-ever.

We get down stairs, we're late just getting off to school. It's 8:20 and school starts in 10 minutes. I grab my phone and see that I missed a call this morning. I listen to the message and hear... "This is Kidz Dental Works. You had an appointment for Hailey, Brooklyn, Dylan and Anneliese at 8:00am. We're just wondering if you're on your way. Please call us." Crap! How did I forget from yesterday until today? It's even on my schedule on my phone. I call them. Surely there's no way we're going to be doing this today. I'm already 30 minutes late and I haven't even left yet.

I call them up. "How fast can you get here?" It would take me 25-30 minutes to get there. I would be an HOUR late for my appointment. "Come right down. We'll just squeeze everyone in." I'm not sure if this is good or bad but I mumble for everyone to get in the car and with Zach's help we manage to get all 4 kids in the van in a short... 10 minutes. (Hey! There's a lot of shoes, coats, backpacks, blankies and of course we can't go without everyone brushing their teeth!) I say goodbye to Zach thinking again about how he's got the easier job of just... working. We take the back-roads and get there in record time.

I enter. "Hi, I'm the special Mom that can't remember our appointments even though you called to remind me yesterday." "Hi Mrs. Olsen. Thanks for coming so quickly." My middle 2 kids go first, their teeth are cleaned and they're off playing. I'm waiting for my 9 yr old and my 2 yr old to get done. This is Anneliese's first time in the chair and she's a little apprehensive about them sticking all of those things in her mouth but she did very well and apart from trying to bite the lady a couple of times I think all and all things went pretty well. I send her off to play in the playroom while I wait for my oldest. I turn to see Hailey sobbing and shaking in the chair muttering about how it hurts. I walk over and ask the "teeth cleaning lady" what's up.

My mind is spinning... I'm pretty "Hitler-ish" when it comes to brushing and flossing teeth and we usually walk out without any cavities or problems. I'm getting nervous because the lady is having a hard time poking around, Hailey is crying and all I can think about is all those new adult teeth she has and wondering if we already have a cavity in one of them. The "teeth cleaning lady" (I'm sure there's a technical name for it... probably "youth teeth cleaning specialist" or "managing director over pediatric oral care" or something.) informs me that there are some spots that she can tell have not been brushed in quite some time. The gums are bleeding, there's a lot of food caught and I'm shocked. I thought she was the one I didn't really have to worry about.

Oh... there's more though. She said that there are some baby teeth that are on TOP of her adult teeth that have been hanging on by a thread, could fall out any moment and food is getting caught under the baby tooth and on top of the new tooth. K- So.. I'm confused. She says they're so loose she's surprised that they haven't fallen out on their own.

"Let's just pull them out!" I say. Then I figure out what the whole dilemma is. Hailey starts crying and shaking.. "Please don't pull them out! Please! Just. Don't. Pull. Them. Out." Whoa! I thought we were SO beyond this. She's NINE! We've done this SO many times before!

I'm trying to think fast. I bribe her. I tell her I'll make homemade caramels (her favorite dessert) if she'll let the lady pull them out. "NO!. Don't pull them out!" The lady says she'll put this stuff on it so she won't even feel it. She won't even notice. "No! PLEASE!?! Don't! Just leave me alone!" Just to let everyone know... this is NOT normal behavior for her, in fact I don't think that I've seen her this way since she was 2! Very odd!

The lady finally gave up and lets us know that the Dentist will be out shortly. I inform my daughter that she can either do it here and I'll make caramels for her for dessert tonight or I will take her straight home, yank them out myself and she will NOT get caramel tonight. Well... that didn't work. She just starts crying more and pleading with me. Then she had to go to the bathroom. I let her go and I wait for her outside the bathroom. While I was waiting, I devised a plan.

I hear her flush and wash her hands. I walk into the bathroom and she takes one look at my face and let's out a scream. It was as if she was the victim in some horror movie that had just been cornered by the mass murderer. Not the reaction I was hoping for from my daughter but it was evident that she knew of my plan. I quickly cover her mouth with my hand so that people don't think that the poor girl is being beaten to death with a toothbrush or something and I calmly explain. "I am going to put my finger in your mouth and feel each tooth. I am going to wiggle each tooth. That is all. I will let you know if I am going to do anything else. I promise." She pleads once again to not pull out her teeth. I tell her that is not what I'm going to do. (yet) I wiggle a couple, I tell her they are very loose. Oh my heck! They're so loose I'm surprised the girl has been able to eat without them coming right off and swallowing them! I tell her there is one on the top and I'm going to see if I can grab it. I won't pull, I'm just going to see if I can grab it. She agrees and makes me pinky-swear to tell her if my plan changes. Pinkies are interlocked in agreement. This is pretty serious.

I grab the first tooth and it seriously just came right off into my fingers! It was an accident! I didn't pull or anything! I think she could tell from my shock that I didn't do it on purpose and allows me to try to grab another. I pinch another one between my fingers and tell her I'm going to pull it out... right (pull)... now! It comes off with no effort. I set it down. I continue on... I pull another one... and another one and ANOTHER ONE! YES, that's right people!! FIVE TEETH I pulled out of her mouth! ALL of them were barely holding in there. By some miracle they didn't come off while she was eating or they didn't just fall out somewhere.

I'm kind of in awe. I don't know what to say. She didn't cry at all while I was pulling them out. She was fine. We rinse out her mouth. I ask for some gauze because it is bleeding a little bit. We get a little box to put her teeth into. She walks out of the bathroom calm and collected. As we go to sit back into the dentist chair she smiled, started to cry and said "Thank you so much for pulling my teeth out Mom! I was too afraid to eat and I felt like I couldn't brush my teeth right and they've REALLY been bothering me for a long time! It feels so good to have them out!" I'm more shocked than before! "Hailey! Why didn't you tell me!" "I was too afraid that it would hurt!"

She got a couple extra toys out of the drawer at the dentist for being so brave which made my 2nd daughter furiously wiggle all of her teeth to see if there were any she could pull out for a toy. I made her caramel when she got home from school as promised. We went out to dinner tonight and she commented that it was so much easier to eat. Wow! Who knew! I had no idea she'd been struggling with this! It's not like I ask to check my 9 year old's teeth every so often. She had the brushing and flossing down when she was 6 and I never looked back!

The moral of the story? Yeah... I don't know. What I do know is that sometimes to be a good Mom you just have to corner your kid in the bathroom, cover their mouth to stop the screaming and yank their teeth out with your bare hands. It takes guts and it might be embarrassing if you're doing it at the Dentist's office but everyone feels a lot better in the end.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Gold, Platinum or Sapphires

A year & a half ago for our ten year wedding anniversary my husband gave me a note that read.. "For a wedding band." You see... I had the engagement ring but never the separate wedding band that traditionally goes with the engagement ring. We had looked at them once, but back then we were poor folk. It was quite a bit of money and I'm not huge on jewelry so... less jewelry was fine with me. I really didn't see the point in purchasing the 2nd part.

Over the years I've had numerous people (even with my 4 children in tow) grab my hand and exclaim "You're engaged! When's the big day!?". I never realized the real significance (especially to old ladies that are afraid I've been living in sin all these years) that the extra band would have. So it was something that I eventually wanted.

So on our anniversary just after finishing a lovely dinner at "Five All's" Zach gave me a card that had the little note that suggested we finally go and get the wedding band. Well... time went by, we've been busy with kids & a baby. I've lost weight & my ring needed sizing anyway so I figured it was time to get that band.

I walk into the jewelry store & there are hundreds of bands to choose from. I chose a few & they just didn't look right with my ring. After a while there was a suggestion made by one of the sales people that maybe this would be a great time to "get a new look" which meant a whole new wedding set. I consider that for a moment & think... well... my ring IS a little out of date. It's gold & they don't even really sell yellow gold anymore. Everything is white gold or platinum. Silver is "in" right now. It's pointed out that it is kind of plain, just a gold band with a solitaire diamond. I would be keeping the diamond & move it to my new set. I call Zach & he says that it sounds good & to find something that I like.

There's an overwhelming amount of wedding sets to choose from. I eye seven or eight glass cases that are bulging full of sparkle & bling. I choose around 7 different ones, narrow it down to 3, then 2. I like them both equally. The first one is white gold & has deep blue saphires with white diamonds. They set my diamond in the middle & it looks like some really cool artistic ocean wave with my diamond at the peak. The 2 peices of the ring fit & swirl together perfectly. It's beautiful & totally me. They set my diamond in the other one. This one is platinum, a clean classic look with rectangle diamonds on the side of my round diamond & baguettes down the sides. Gorgeous! Very traditional, classy & elegant. I love it! I realize that it's like looking at the 2 opposite parts of me. The traditional part vs the free artistic part. How do I choose. I send pictures of them to Zach who immediately decided to go with the ring that has blue sapphires. I'm happy & sign the papers to have my diamond taken out of my old ring & put into this new ring. I go home quite a happy camper.

I worry about my decision all night. The ring doesn't really LOOK like a wedding ring even though it is. Although I love it I think it actually looks more like a fashion statement than a wedding ring. I talk to Zach, he gets my point & we decided that we would go back first thing the next day to change our request.

I talked him into sluffing work so he could come with me & help me make the right decision. They get out my diamond & they find the set that I would like to change over to. Everyone agrees that it's beautiful... platinum, more diamonds, more expensive but beautiful. Then... I don't know. It just didn't feel right. What's the point of wearing a new wedding ring? I didn't get married with that ring.

At the last moment I ask if we can place the diamond back into my old ring for a moment. They set the loose diamond in the spot & it just seems to belong there. I ask once again to look at a few wedding bands that I like & nothing really looks right. I finally ask if they have anything that is raised a little higher on the top. He looks around for a second & pulls out a band. I didn't like it, I would have never chosen it. He puts it with my ring & it was like... magic. I think we both knew that it looked perfect.

Yes, it was my old ring. The ring that according to the jewelers was "out of style, yellow gold, one diamond & plain". What I see though is the ring that Zach held out when he was kneeling in front of the Temple trying to get the right words to pass his lips. It's the one that I happily showed off to all of my girlfriends. It's the ring that has had play-dough, paint, Elmer's glue & gum stuck to it and still came out looking beautiful. It's the ring that I have been ecstatic to wear for over 11 years now. It's the ring that is perfect for me because it's the ring that means something to me. All the others are just metal.

Now I have an addition to that ring. One that compliments mine perfectly. I have a reminder of where I've been and a promise of great things to come.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Imperfect Perfect: Our Enchanted Life

I've been stressed out a lot lately. I have 4 kids, 2 dogs, 1 parrot, 1 bunny & 4 chickens. Oh.. and a Husband. All of us together make up our family and each of us is very blessed. I have the house I never could have dreamed up, the swimming pool that I dreamed of, but never thought I could have, we are our own boss and to anyone looking in from the outside it may seem that we might have a somewhat enchanted life.

Since I've had my first child I've had a really hard time trying to figure out what my role is. I know that sounds funny, I mean, if I could, I should just be a Mom right? Somehow it's just never been that easy for me. I always felt... guilty... like maybe I wasn't contributing enough to my household or to the world or... whatever. I always felt like I needed to be successful on several levels. An awesome Mom, a successful business woman, (In not just one but several different businesses) a great wife, a daughter that her parents would be proud of. I hired maids to help with my house so that I could accomplish all of these various ambitions. Things were going OK... crazy, hectic, stressed out and nuts... but OK.

Well... whenever my kids lose something they blame the maids for "hiding it". I see them carelessly make messes all over the house... after all... they're not the ones that have to clean it. I go crazy when they treat their toys or clothes like it's garbage and then nonchalantly say... "You can just buy me another one." My favorite is when I got out the iron and ironing board and my daughter didn't know what it was and said she had never seen it before and asked what it did. Wow, she was amazed that such a clever thing existed!

I decided that things needed to change. I decided that maybe I wasn't doing the most important thing I should be doing. I decided that my kids needed to know how to earn money, how to take care of it, how to work hard, how to clean, wash their own clothes and how to cook a meal with stuff from our garden... (because I LOVE it when I set food on the table and they say... "I didn't want this" as if there should have been some menu for them to choose from.)

My Real Estate License expired and I decided not to renew it. I let it go. I said "No" to directing the school play, I told the maids that we were no longer in need of their services and I got busy creating a chart of "chores" for our family to complete. I made things simpler and now... I feel like things are starting to click into place. For the first time in my married life I feel like I'm doing things right. Not that I've ever had any complaints, especially not from my darling husband but it's nice to feel like things are going in the right direction.

I was looking around at our house this Saturday. My family had worked VERY hard to clean it. Things aren't perfect, I have yellow crayon that I still need to get off my Living Room Walls.
Tiny finger prints still need to be erased from light switches. Dry wall needs to be fixed where door knobs have been pushed through from my son "energetically" swinging open the door after my youngest daughter discovered that she could twist off the door stops. (She's fascinated with door stops!)

I look upstairs in my daughters bedroom and I see that she's recently discovered that her wall paper border (that I so lovingly put up while I was pregnant with her) can peel right off if she gets her nails under it! My son's room can never be completely clean, after all, cars don't really belong in drawers.

My 6 yr old daughters room has a collection of stuffed animals that need to be "free".
My oldest daughter collects "treasures" (shoe boxes, old ticket stubs, etc...) that she just can't part with. She sees potential in every thing. My house is clean but definitely not perfect.

I'm lying on my bed looking at a pillow and I notice the stitching on it is not... right. I realize that it's why I like it so much. It's not perfect, it's not symmetrical, it would drive an OCD person crazy. I love it and I think it gives it a human feel, like it was stitched by someone that was making something they thought was going to be beautiful. It is beautiful.

Well...this is like my life. This is my family, this is my home. It's not perfect, the stitches of our lives aren't perfect... but it's simple, and it takes hard work to make it, and it's beautiful and I love it.

To anyone looking in from the outside that may be thinking we have a somewhat enchanted life I would have to say... yep, we do. It's not because of anything we have though. It's not our house or our cars or my pool and it's for sure not the 2 dogs, bunny, parrot or chickens. My life was enchanted the moment I married the man of my dreams and we lived in the tiniest of tiny apartments in Ogden.

It was enchanted when we came home from our honeymoon only to find that our water-bed broke (flood all over) and we had to use all of the money from our wedding to buy a bed. My life was enchanted the first time I held each of our children in my arms. My life was enchanted when we were so poor that I had to cut back on groceries and cutting coupons became my full time job. My life was enchanted even before all of those people were in it. It was enchanted when I was 8 and my Mom would do my hair in a fancy braid. Or when I was little and I would ride on the back of a motorcycle with my Dad. All of these things are what make my imperfect life... perfect. I could lose all of my "stuff" and go right back to living in the tiniest of tiny apartments in Ogden and I would be just as happy as I am now... more crowded (maybe even more scared) but happy. It's not what I have in my life, but who I have in my life that makes me happy. Those people make my life enchanted, it's what makes everything that's imperfect... perfect.

I think I had so many other distractions in my life that it took me and my family getting down to the basics (growing our own food, cleaning our own house, my kids making their own money, etc... ) to bring it into balance. My kids are happier, they feel more important, more confident, less... bratty. hahaha It's good to have them work, it's good that everything isn't given, it's good for them to watch a garden grow that they helped plant or to watch chickens grow or to see how nice things look after they worked so hard to get it clean. After all... You can't see the magic that's happening around you if other people are sweeping up the pixie dust for you.

The day our whole entire house was clean (and we were the ones that did it) I took pictures. It was a momentous occasion and one that needed to be recorded for posterity. I thought it also might serve as proof that we did work hard because 10 minutes later it didn't look anything like this. Everyone take a peek because you may never see it this way again! : )

The outside of our house with our newly planted trees. (Thanks Jeff)

In our entry. Notice that there's no dust. I'm sure you're very impressed.

Entry again. Yep the kids even cleaned the mirror.

There are still cobwebs at the top of the entry... we're workin' on it.

My favorite room... the kitchen. Notice how there's no...I mean... not very many dishes!

Our family room. The TV with neverending finger prints but...

it was vacuumed very well.

Even the piano was not just dusted but polished! Oooh!! Wouldn't it be nice if it was like this all the time? We do too much living here to keep it perfect. Oh well!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Close Your Eyes & Jump!

The last day of High School my senior year I remember standing on the stage in the auditorium looking out at the seats. I was alone, it was dark and I was center stage. That's where I enjoyed my High School years, on the stage performing or on the stage painting scenery or on the stage goofing off while I was supposed to be in another class. I was the President of the Theater Club and more than half of my classes involved theater in one way or another. I was wondering what I was going to do now. I was graduating, I worked at Pizza Hut as a waitress and Zach and I had just broke up "for good" this time. Lots of my friends told me I should go to New York to try and make it on Broadway. I loved performing but I knew that's not the kind of life I wanted forever. Trying to decide what to do with your life is probably the hardest question you'll ever ask yourself. It's also a question that I've learned you don't just ask yourself once but several times throughout your life. At least I do.

I eventually got a job at America First Credit Union as a Teller. I was the worst Teller ever! I was immature and was better at talking to the Members than counting out their money properly. I got "promoted" to the Loan Officer side of things... mostly just to get me off the Teller line. That ended up being a good fit. Something clicked and my career took off. Zach and I were married, we had Hailey and by the time Brooklyn came along we felt like I needed to be home with our kids. We were going to be negative $65.00 every month. It was so scary but the leap was worth taking.

I sold Pampered Chef for a while. I sold boxes of my homemade caramel. We started selling stuff around our house on eBay. Then it turned out... we didn't need that money. We took the money from eBay and started going to local auctions and bought more stuff. We sold that! We found a great deal on some "ATI Remote Wonders" ( I don't even really know what those are but they sold great.) We had the opportunity to buy a whole bunch of them only... we would need an $8,000.00 loan. (Which we had no way to pay off if this didn't work out.) Once again, we closed our eyes and jumped. We paid off the loan in two months and that's how our eCommerce Business got started. Now we have several manufacturers for our products and that business is pretty successful. What if we wouldn't have jumped? It was super scary pushing ourselves off the ground and into the air not knowing where we would land. We did though, crossed our fingers all the way (we still are) and so far (6 years later)... we're still in a pretty good spot!

I've always loved real estate and I really wanted to flip houses. I knew nothing about it really so I went to real estate school to get more information. When I was finished I decided to take the test to become a Realtor. Then the scary part came when we started submitting bids to purchase houses. We had to take out mortgages on them so if we didn't fix them up and flip the quickly we could be upside down pretty quick. We did two at a time and it worked!

People tell me all the time... "Wow! Look at you guys! How did you even start something like that?" or "Julie! If there's something you want to do you just go do it! Don't you!" Is that wrong? Should I not take the risk? Why is that weird? Why doesn't everyone do that? If it's something that I would love, shouldn't I take a chance? Not everything I ever did worked out but I did learn something from everything I ever did! It's freaky to stand at the edge of the cliff, not be able to see where you're going to land and jump anyway, but if I don't just close my eyes and jump... won't I still just be standing here?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fireworks & Traditions

When I was little, I got to ride my bike (with about 30 other kids) to start off the 4th of July parade in Layton. My Dad was involved with the parade for a few years so I had an "in". I was so excited getting my bike ready with streamers. After the parade we would go visit my Grandma & Grandpa that lived right by Layton High School. There would be a BBQ there during the day and the whole family would be there. I mean everyone! My Uncles, my Great Aunts & Uncles & all of their families were there eating, playing volleyball, frisby or just sitting around and catching up. The anticipation of the coming fireworks was so great we would be exhausted by 3:00. My Mom would take us home to take a nap and we would fight and cry all the way home about how "untired" we were... and how we wouldn't even be able to sleep... and Grandma would never make us take a nap... and our Mom was the meanest Mom in all of Layton!! (She was pretty proud of that title for many years.) Of course, we were asleep the moment we got into our beds and a couple hours later when we woke up we were on our way back to Grandma's & the excitement started all over again waiting for the fireworks. We all sat in the football field at Layton High School and watched the amazing fireworks!

This didn't vary much from year to year and being at Grandma's & watching the fireworks in Layton goes back to my earliest memories. I'm not sure if they always had the booths in Layton Park or if we just didn't start going until a little later but soon that became part of the tradition as well. The Baptists started making an amazing BBQ to sell there & that became part of the tradition. (If you haven't tried it you have GOT to try it next year!)

My Grandma passed away, my Grandpa moved away, I don't see all of my Great Aunts & Uncles anymore except at family reunions or if someone gets baptized. An amphitheater was built (which my Dad actually helped create), I got married & so did my Brother & Sister, we all have children of our own.

Today I watched my girls in the Kaysville Parade. We ate lunch and my kids fought me all the way home about taking a nap. Turns out... I'm the meanest Mom in Kaysville! After a 2 hour (much needed) nap we got everyone up and went straight over to Layton Park. After we had so much cotton candy, slushies & junk food we thought we might explode we walked our kids with their freshly painted faces straight over to the Layton Amphitheater. There we met my Mom & Dad, my Uncles & their families, my Brother & Sister and their families. What used to take up 3 blankets on the football field at Layton Park now takes up the whole middle section of the upper Amphitheater! It's not planned out... we all just find each other there, year after year.

The symphony played, the fireworks started and I'm holding my daughters & son. I'm looking at them and the family around me and I'm missing my Grandma. I look at my children in the different stages of their life and I can remember doing those same things, during each of those stages, in this same place watching the fireworks. I feel like that just happened. I feel like I was just barely the two year old in awe of the glitter & sparkle in the sky. I feel like I was just barely the four year old that still wants to bounce from Mom to Dad and finally to Grandma's lap to watch the excitement. I feel like I was just barely the 6 year old that watched the fireworks intently because I didn't want to peel my eyes away and miss something. I feel like I was just barely the 9 year old who wanted to go sit with her friends instead of her family... I mean how uncool is sitting with family?

For 30 minutes of fireworks every year in Layton park time stands still. It's the only time & place where my past is mingled with my present and where some memories linger and new memories are made. Each year at that place, during that time, another stage of my life is marked.

I'm watching my children and I know the memories they will have of this magical place where Grandma's live forever, where family always unites and I know that every year a stage of their life is being marked in that same place.