Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Surgery Up In the Air

Can I just talk honestly for a moment? Abe's surgery is coming up- at least I think it is. For months and months we've had this plan set in place, we've made hotel arrangements, babysitters, and scheduled off work. The plan was to implant Abel sequentially- meaning that he needs both sides implanted (bilateral), but we were planning on breaking up the procedure into two different surgeries spaced three months apart. We chose to do this because of a scary statistic we'd heard regarding balance issues when the surgery was done with both ears. We felt confident in our decision. Now, just days before his first surgery, we are having second thoughts. We've since done much research and asked around for professional and parental opinions and we've almost changed our minds. We want it done at the same time now. There are a whole host of pros and cons that I won't get into. Anyway, because I need that plan set in place- because I was counting on it- I feel unnerved now. More so than I already was. Yesterday, J called the surgeon to tell him we had changed our minds and talk to him about rescheduling or keeping the same date and implanting both that day. Just typing that out feels like fifty pounds of weight on my shoulders as it will likely change all the appointments we have set in place over the next few months. The Army taught me that I can't plan. I mean, I can, but I should have loose expectations of those plans coming to fruition. I don't know why I thought that when we parted ways with the Army that I would have more control. Anyway, I'm so nervous. Nervous that his surgery will be pushed back even further. Nervous what the surgeon, case worker, and audiologist all think about our decision (or indecision). Nervous that something will go wrong. Nervous that I'll never be able to speak to my second born and have him hear and understand me. Parents of kids with cochlear implants keep telling me- "Just wait! You will be amazed." I hope so. Right now, all I know is that Abel cries and screams at everything. He can't tell us what he wants so he just cries out of frustration. His signing is decreasing as we are trying to focus on listening and I feel as if I'm a huge disservice to him all around. I have so much guilt. The other parents I know who have a child with hearing loss do not have two other babes that need a lot of attention. They are working at home with their child in addition to the years of therapy that this sort of procedure will require. I don't know how to balance trying to help Abel "listen" and eventually speak when there are two other very loud little people thrown into the mix. It has been my thought since day one- I wish I could help him. I feel like I can't.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Party

Two days after my newest squishy cutie pie came into the world, my oldest turned three years old. Kinley and Merit had the same due date (Aug. 17) so I've known for awhile that I wanted to make his 3rd birthday special for him since it was going to be so close to such a big change in our lives. I tried to plan ahead, but the last few weeks of my pregnancy were so dreadful that I didn't get everything done that I had hoped to do. Still, fresh outta the hospital, we partied! I couldn't have done it without all the help from family. We just had a few people over because I was afraid of inviting a bunch of folks in case I went into labor on the day of the party, but it was nice to see everyone and eat some delicious cake. Kinley is very into Mickey Mouse Clubhouse right now so that's the theme I rolled with. 

For the invites, I used this printable and put my enormous scrapbooking paper collection to good use.
I actually hit up Pinterest for A LOT of printables. The ones I used for the "Mouseketools"(forks), "Hot Diggity Dogs" (hot dogs), "Daisy's Garden Veggies" and "Clubhouse Sandwiches" (subs) can be found here.
I used this, too.
See the Mickey Mouse head near the bowl of chips? I just used Styrofoam balls, hot glue, spray paint, and a little glitter. Voila!

I had all these plans for a cute homemade cake and other Mickey themed sweets, but I ended up calling up Bi-Lo for a cake. I'm glad I did--I was stressed enough as it was. They did a great job anyway and it was delicious.

The celebration was short and sweet because I was so tired, but I think he had a good time!

Happy Birthday, Kinley! I love you lots.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Gumbo for the Tiger Soul

Hey Friends! Thanks for all the congrats. I'm in the process of writing each of you back, but I wanted to share this book for all the LSU fans out there. If you know me at all, you know I'm all Vol but I can appreciate some SEC football (so long as it's not the FL Gators). More so than that, I wanted to share this in support of my online friend, the author! Ces and I go back to 2011 when we became Twitter pals. Since then we've corresponded via email and social media. He has been an encourager for me to continue to write fiction and nonfiction in my spare time. This isn't his first book! When he's not writing, it appears that he is traveling! I've enjoyed following his adventures lately on Instagram. I secretly live vicariously through him and his wife as Jordan and I haven't been able to do much traveling over the past few years. Anyway, if you're an SEC fan, too--check this out!

About the Book: Gumbo for the Tiger Soul is a collection of personal stories from LSU fans spanning nearly 50 years of great (and not so great) LSU football moments. Inspired by ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’, Gumbo for the Tiger Soul is meant as a celebration of LSU football, Cajun culture and the unique flavors they call to memory. Each chapter of GFTS includes nostalgia from fan stories and lip-smacking Cajun recipes with each chapter titled after a different gumbo ingredient.
GFTS features contributions from LSU alums, staff, fans, former football players, band members, dancers and color guard members. These first-hand accounts reminisce the Blue Grass Miracle, The Earthquake Game, the USC game, Florida games from ’97 and 2007 and the two most recent Championship seasons.
Gumbo for the Tiger Soul is scheduled for release August 2014 and will be available within major online retailers such as Barnes and Noble and Amazon as well as a growing list of local and regional book stores
About the Author: Ces Guerra was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. He graduated from O. Perry Walker High School, served in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and then graduated from LSU in 1984. He is an avid supporter of LSU, Past President of the LSU Houston Alumni Association and a member of the Tiger Athletic Foundation. He is a retired pharmaceutical industry professional and currently working in the Houston real estate industry. The success of Pill Pushers, his first novel published in 2007, inspired and encouraged him to write and publish Gumbo for the Tiger Soul. Guerra currently resides in Houston, TX with his wife Laura and three stepchildren. In his spare time he enjoys reading, cycling, yoga, hiking and, of course, traveling to LSU football games.
Contact Information:
Ces Guerra Cell: 713-298-6070, Email: CesLSU@gmail.com Facebook.com/GumboForTheTigerSoul Twitter.com/CesLSU LinkedIn: Ces Guerra

Here's a note from the author!

An LSU Fan Celebration

Gumbo for the Tiger Soul (GFTS) is a celebration of all the good things we remember about going to LSU football games.   GFTS is a 50 year retrospective journey into some of the great and not so great moments for the Tigers.   And, each chapter ends with a terrific Cajun recipe!!  Yum!!    The vision of this book goes back almost three years now.   My dream was to capture the essence of some of those big games we all remember from different perspectives.
When one of my dear LSU friends, Kathy Tangney, passed away in July of 2012 it occurred to me that we were brought together by our love for LSU and some of our best memories were made watching the Tigers.   I realized that this entire fan experience was more than just about the football game and that’s what I set out to capture.   I interviewed and collected stories from many LSU friends, former football players, band members and LSU staff.    What I was able to capture was clearly a Gumbo of memories that was about more than the football game.
One of my friends, Jack Burleigh, recalled attending the Notre Dame game with his father in 1970.  He recalled that it was so cold,  “I thought my blood was going to freeze.”   LSU staffer, Cliff Vanoy, attending the LSU v Auburn game in 1988 aka The Earthquake game recalled, “I thought my wife would deliver our baby in the stadium that night.”   There are so many more interesting stories like that along with “Hold That Tiger, Red Beans and Rice”, “Louisiana Road Kill Stew”, Touchdown LSU!! Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya and more, more, more!!
To order your copy of Gumbo for the Tiger Soul visit AuthorHouse.com or ask your local bookstore to order it for you!  Geaux Tigers Always!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Birth Story #3

Friday started off like any other day of my pregnancy. It was sort of miserable. For weeks, I had felt like death warmed over, a combination of flu-like symptoms and pregnancy ailments plaguing me. I stepped on the scale and saw that I had lost six pounds if that tells you anything about what the last few days had been like for me. They were rough. Still, it was becoming my new normal and I thought nothing of it. I hoped I would have the baby soon, but I had no idea how soon that could be!
Abel had an appointment that day to get re-fitted for his hearing aids. It was the last thing I wanted to do because I was feeling so under the weather, but I knew I should do it because delivery day was drawing near and so is Abel's surgery date so I wanted to get it done before hand. I carted my big boy, my middle child, and my unborn off into the pouring rain of East TN. We managed to make it into the appointment without any huge tantrums and I was starting to feel as if I had all this a little more under control than I thought. That feeling changed quickly shortly after we got home and I noticed I was having contractions. I had been contracting for weeks, sometimes pretty regularly, so I didn't think much of these pains until they had me laid up on the couch texting my husband that he was soooo in charge of the kids when he got home because I needed to take yet another bath and relax. He got home shortly after, poured me a big glass of water, and ran the bath for me. Ahh! Finally. I could relax. HA!
The bath felt wonderful and certainly eased the pain of my contractions. Still, I laid there thinking- these feel a bit different. I called Captain J from the warmth of the tub and asked him to come see me when he could sneak away from our wild indians. He came in and I said, "Do your parents have any plans today? Do you think we should call them?" He said he'd give them a call. I decided it wouldn't hurt to get checked out (again)- better to be safe than sorry. I stood up to get out of the tub and the contractions got worse. I had been timing and they went from 6-8 minutes apart to 2-3 very quickly. Nearly in tears as I tried to throw some items into a half-packed hospital bag, J suggested we call someone in the area that could get here a lot quicker. I'm so glad he did. My great aunt arrived a few minutes later to watch the kids and we were off. The hospital is about twenty minutes away, but that doesn't take into account rush hour traffic and heavy rain!
The ride to the hospital got more and more frantic. I realized I was most definitely in active labor about half way there. I started making comments to J that he needed to drive better, faster- JUST GET ME THERE OR WE'RE GOING TO HAVE THIS BABY ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD! Perhaps I'm a dramatic person sometimes. I know my husband thinks I can be a little emotional about things, but pregnancy pains are not one of them. I keep a level head. Multiple nurses have told me that and I know it to be true. At one point, the rain was coming so hard that I almost told J to pull over on the Interstate and dial 911 because I was sure he was going to have to deliver the baby in the rain on the side of the road. Luckily, the rain eased up and the traffic pressed on and we were soon pulling off our exit. Five o'clock on a Friday in Chattanooga, TN is not somewhere you wanna be when you're in labor, let me tell ya. The traffic was thick. We sat through three THREE green lights just trying to get off the exit and I was starting to lose it. In an effort to make J understand that he needed to turn on the flashers and drive like a maniac, I told him the truth- "I feel lots of pressure. I'm going to be pushing soon. DO NOT TELL ME NOT TO PUSH. I KNOW." Finally, my alarm was registering with my Type A Army Officer husband. He started meandering through the cars like a champ and pretty soon we were screaming into the parking lot in our jeep. He pulled up to the door and ran in looking for a wheelchair for me, but no one was around. Meanwhile, I'm letting myself out of the car and hobbling into the doors...barely. J finds the chair, sits me in it and we make our way up the elevator to labor and delivery. My moans alert the nurse to skip introductions or paperwork and just open the door to let us into the first room. All social or procedural expectations out the window, I drop my pants without instruction. The nurse says, "First time?" I said, "No, third." And she jumped into action. When she checked me she started yelling to the staff that there was nothing there (meaning I was fully effaced and dilated) and to call the doctor. I told her the doctor wouldn't make it and it turns out I was right. My body was involuntarily pushing. They wheeled me into the delivery room where I warned the girls that my water exploded last time so beware. With all the excitement, the room was filling up fast. Ten or so nurses chuckled at my comment until they were shocked into a momentary silence as my water broke all over a bystander. "I'm sorry! I warned you!" I said as she assured me it was okay, but she could see the head. To her credit, she didn't tell me not to push, as if that's an option anyway.
My beautiful third born arrived after about three pushes. We hadn't been at the hospital five minutes. My Chacos were still strapped to my feet! 

When I think about that intense hour of my life, it feels a little terrifying but mostly just miraculous. God has given me the most precious gift. All I want to do is hold him all day and stare at his perfection. These little boys are everything to me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Boo hoo.

Phil. 4:6-7

Oh, friends. This week has been nuts. I left my 37 week baby appointment feeling pretty good considering my blood pressure was down. I was ready to ward off any suggestions of inducing because I desperately want this kid to come in his own time. I was feelin' alright! The next day was one for the books, though. I had two appointments scheduled for Abel and when my babysitter was a no call/no show, I scooped up both of the boys and headed off to the appointments with them in tow. Speech therapy was a bit of a disaster. The toys that the therapist wanted Abel to play with were precisely the ones that Kinley wanted to play with. She had no problems getting him to talk! It was so distracting and I could see the repercussions of bringing big bro on Abel's face. He was much less vocal when he had to share the stage with him. Meanwhile, I'm having regular, frequent contractions. I started to get worried on the way to the next appointment so I kept my eye on the clock as I drove and realized my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart. Come to think of it, I hadn't felt Baby M move in awhile. I called and cancelled the second appointment and my great aunt came over to watch the boys so I could go to my doctor and find out what was going on. Once I got there, he started moving about with all the poking and prodding and my mind was set at ease. They told me I was slightly dehydrated. I believed it! I had hardly had time to eat or drink that day. 
There were a few good days in between then and my next appointment for 38 weeks, but there were some rough ones, too. I still haven't stopped contracting, although they are obviously not as regular. The worst part is that I feel them in my back. No wait, the worst part is that THE CONTRACTIONS AREN'T DILATING ME. Braxton Hicks contractions that hurt and I find difficult to breathe through at times? This is for the birds, y'all.
Late last night, I was up for hours with flu-like symptoms and lots of more of the same. Because I had an appointment scheduled today, I decided to wait it out at home and see what was going on. I cancelled one of Abel's appointments this morning and tried to lay on the couch for most of the day, but have you ever tried to do this with two toddlers running around? It's nearly impossible. I yelled when I shouldn't have. My patience- out the window. Finally appointment time rolled around and I just couldn't wait to at least have someone else take over for awhile so I could go figure out what was going on. In my heart, I wanted Doc to tell me - "Wow, you're a four! Let's admit you and have a baby tonight." Instead what she told me was that I have a stomach bug and am really dehydrated. "If you're not significantly better by morning, we need to admit you to pump fluids into you." Boo hoo. Not at all what I wanted to hear.
Anyway, I'm truckin' along. I went to get some Gatorade and already feel a little better by chugging those. Water just wasn't doing the trick apparently. I'm hoping that these unpleasant symptoms will subside soon. I have a certain cutie pie who has his third birthday coming up this weekend! I hope we can make it special for him.
As always, thanks for following along with our lives and truly caring about my well-being. I'm continually blessed by each of you who leave nice words for me to sign in and read and by those who take time to send cards and words of encouragement. Y'all are the best. I appreciate you listening to me whine ;)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Cover Reveal! #themermaidspearlbook

Hi, friends. Happy Friday to you! My pal has written another book and I'm so excited for her. Let me know if you decide to check it out. I'm not reading a lot these days, but I am looking forward to the day that I can read more. Looking forward to the big release date, too!

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The Mermaid's Pearl
Release Date: August 27

Add to Goodreads


Raewyn is tougher than your average mermaid princess. She lives in a fortress far beneath the surface of the ocean, where she constantly breaks the rules by fleeing the safety of her home in search of treasure. After a quest gone wrong, she finds herself held captive aboard the Devil’s Pearl, among the worst humans of all—pirates.
Captain Aiden Flynn is handsome and charming, spending his time sailing the seas and hording treasure. His villainous reputation has even reached the depths of the ocean. When he finds a dark-haired beauty ensnared in his net, he puts on his best charms in hopes of finding out just who she is.
Will his dangerous, yet charming, demeanor win her over? Or will he fall, as many other men have, to the wiles of a mermaid princess?

About the Author

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Brooke is a self-proclaimed geek and day dreamer. She enjoys music, books, family & friends, and spending time with her husband and cat. She has obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in mental health counseling from Tennessee Technological University. She is the co-author of the Ethereal Underground trilogy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Celebrating Small Miracles

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."
-Albert Einstein

Happy Tuesday evening- or perhaps Wednesday morning? I don't know when you're tuning in. I barely know what day it is anymore anyway. I don't want this week to slip by without telling you some of my small miracles that have happened to me as of late. Life is good, y'all and so is this stuff:

Is a bullet list okay? I can't form paragraphs right now.

*Abel has a surgery date! wooohooooooo! I'm leading with the best (Still you should keep reading because the other stuff is cool, too). He is scheduled for his first cochlear implant surgery in early September. If you find yourself in prayer, I hope you'll say some for our sweet little man. We are thrilled for him and, of course, slightly nervous. I'm praying that God will bless the surgeons hands, that Abel will be protected before, during, and after surgery, that our family (of soon to be FIVE) will adjust well to all the changes, and that God will grow our family through this and refocus all our minds on Him.

*Also? Last time we talked about my pregnancy I may or may not have mentioned that my blood pressure was climbing, I was experiencing awful awful heartburn, and had other unpleasant symptoms. I also recently joined up with Young Living. I'm so glad I did. I was a total skeptic, but after the last few weeks of experimenting with different oil combos, I'm a believer! I'll share some of my success stories on here via cute, edited photos because I like to create things just to pin. I'm lame. Anyway, making money with YL was not even on my radar, but hey, I'm not going to turn it down. If you want to sign up under me, let me know. I'll help you in any way I can. I'm pumped about this new (to me) resource to help my family feel better. I might even incorporate some oils into my upcoming labor and delivery. That oughta give the doctor a nice chuckle ;) The best thing that has happened since I started this crazy oil lady journey is this:
I was having the toughest time sleeping because I kept waking up in the night with extreme heartburn and burning bile in my throat (I know, gross. Sorry). Anyway, I was pretty miserable. My mom, who got me into this oily lifestyle, prepared a capsule for me of four drops of Di-Gize plus olive oil and for the first time in four or five days, I slept--gloriously--all through the night with no problems.
In addition, all these hormones sometimes cause headaches. Mine are gone within minutes just by rubbing PanAway on my temples and the back of my neck. These, my friends, are miracles.

* I met a potential friend (and fellow jogger) in our neighborhood today! Most of the people in our hood are older so I was happy, happy, happy when she strolled up with her young son in tow.

* I made it 37 weeks.

What small or big miracles are you celebrating this week?


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