Smell the Flowers, Blow Out the Candle

Happy Day

In the hustle and bustle of this thing called life we get caught up. Sometimes we get caught up doing and forget to just be, live and enjoy the moment. The last few weeks have been a blur to me. I have been working hard to build a business. That means late nights, early mornings and more travel than I anticipated. Luckily, I have an awesome support system and children that will tell me if I am slipping. The other day I picked up my soon to be 5 year-old from school and was busy reading emails as she entered the car. When she got in, she followed, the routine, she strapped herself in, I listened for the click and she started to tell me about her day. But during her story, I checked out. I was trying to respond to a time sensitive matter I had just read in an email. And that’s when I heard it “mommy, I’m trying to talk to you. If I say it’s about a book will you listen?” Ouch, now for those new to the blog, I am a Publisher so books mean a whole lot. But books are not my everything, not even close and here was my daughter exclaiming that I would certainly listen if it had to do with books. Can you say reality check?

That was on a Tuesday, and I was supposed to leave for the third weekend in a row that Friday to go sell books. I never made it, I stayed home with my family and I have no regrets. Now I also have to mention that prior to my daughter’s sharp words my husband had also strongly recommended I slow down. I mean our lives were spiraling out of control, our schedules were conflicting, my house was a mess, my babies were eating way too much take out, I hadn’t been to the gym and the list was growing by the second of things I never wanted to happen while chasing something I felt I needed. And since, I would never talk about you, I will talk about me.

When my husband mentioned his concerns to me I cried. I cried because it all seemed just too much to bear, too many bags to carry through the airport of life. I felt tired just thinking about doing all that needed to be done. I felt defeated. I felt like in winning a business, I was actually losing a family structure I worked hard to create. I felt like I had let down those that meant the most. So when my toddler felt the need to sas me, I was reminded of my priorities and it’s at that moment I knew I needed to stop and smell the flowers and blow out the candle. In other words…breathe.

So I canceled everything on my ever so hectic schedule for Saturday and Sunday and began getting my life back. That meant meditation, organization, prayer and good old family time. We all slept in on Sunday and the weather was great so after breakfast our family went to the park; our now toddler babies rode their bikes and I walked briskly behind them. My husband brought out a t-ball set and we introduced the game and played with our babies until everyone was tired.

I know it seems simple right? It was and it was also necessary. I am proud of my accomplishments in business, but I am more proud of my family. Team Taylor is my priority and my children and husband miss me when I am not there. So, I am grateful for new days serving as new beginnings. I am grateful for allowing my family to check me when I am out of sorts and I am ever so grateful that I listened. Ya’ll know I don’t like to give advice so I will just make a suggestion; stop, smell the flowers and blow out the candle….in other words, just breathe. Live, laugh, and be.

photo 4 Lady M

 

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Picking Pears

Raising babies in the age of instant ain’t always what it’s cracked up to be. We make instant oatmeal, popcorn and meals in a matter of seconds. We use our microwave daily and the result is a generation of impatient little people that haven’t a clue how to live without the radiation machine that I have a love hate relationship with. Having said that, we put forth an effort in our home to make sure we also explain that eggs don’t come from Eggland and cantaloupes don’t magically appear in Food Lion.

So it’s always a pleasure to hang out with their paternal grandparents for a strong dose of good old fashion country living. My husband grew up in Windsor, NC, a small town not far from the coast. His family still lives there and his daddy, now retired takes pride in planting acres full of fruit trees, corn, grapes and a host of good eating…way too much to name.

Like most Labor Days we spent the holiday soaking up the sun and a home cooked meal at their home. One of highlights aside from the food is letting all the children run amuck. Yup, it’s one of the few times I don’t restrict what they drink or eat. I don’t even require shoes for outdoor play. I know, I know, it’s contrary to my normal routine, but it breaks the monotony and creates memories for us all.

Now that the children are a little older (4 and 2) granddaddy’s fruit trees are on their radar and despite their height they were determined to find a way to taste what up until now he has restricted. “You can pick em’ now,” he said. “They’re good and ready.”

“Mommy, can you help me,” Morgan begged. “Granddaddy said we can pick pears, but I can’t reach them.” “I love pears,” she said. Little did she know I had already eaten my fair share the night before. But I show her a set of outside chairs right beside the tree and suggest that she figure out a way to work with her brother to get what they want.

She’s not quite tall enough even on her tiptoes in the chair to tug the pears off the tree without losing her balance. But she’s just the right height to knock them to the ground and ask her brother to pick them up and put them in a plastic grocery bag for their consumption as a nighttime snack for the coming week.

And so I back up and I watch them work hard for the next 15 minutes right before dark to pick their own fruit that their granddaddy planted in his yard. At this moment there is no instant, there is only the realization that moments like these are important to me and I pray they are important to our children. At this moment I am grateful for fruit bearing trees and smart loving grandparents that have the wisdom to plant them.

ME Pears Pears II Delicious pear

 

Penny for Your Throat

It’s amazing how your day can change in lickety split. Last Sunday got off to an awesome start. After a hectic week, I was looking forward to our family’s first visit to the Dogwood Festival. The weather was great, not too hot, not too cold. When we left, we stopped by Sam’s Club to pick up a few things to throw on the grill. With two kids in tow, we decided my husband would go inside and I would stay in the car with the children. As I am on the phone with him, I hear Morgan in the backseat counting money from her cup holder. No matter the size of the coin, she counts it as one.

“One, two, three…” I hear her counting sing song like until she reaches “nine.” All of a sudden I hear her kicking and panting and yelling. I jump in the backseat and ask her what’s wrong. She is holding her throat with both hands and says she can’t breath. “Morgan,” did you swallow something?” “Yes she yells; money, I can’t breathe.” She’s panicking and I am trying not to. I ask her what color was it and she tells me it was brown. I open her mouth and put two fingers to the back of her throat. I am hoping I can see it. I can’t. I am hoping I can cause a gag reflects and it will come out. It doesn’t. “Morgan, if you can yell, you can breathe. Please calm down, breathe out your nose and tell me where it is.” “It’s stuck, right here,” she says panting slow but calmer.

She points to the center soft spot at the bottom of your neck, right before your collarbone. I feel for it, but I can’t feel it. I look down and realize the phone was still connected to my husband and I tell him he has to come and we have to go the emergency room. His initial response was one of little concern. “What did she swallow,” he asked. “A penny I respond, we have to go now, leave the basket and lets go.” I sense irritation in his voice, but he comes out and when he gets to the truck he understands the emergency and heads to the hospital.

When we arrive, I rush her in and explain she swallowed a penny and is having trouble breathing. The doctor on call is Dr. Smiley and he enters without hesitation. When he comes in we explain the situation he seems somewhat nonchalant and says  “sometimes children feel like it’s still stuck, but they have passed it to their belly, so the x-ray will determine our next step.”

Now, I have to tell you all, that yes, I too have swallowed a penny and yes, I know most children will pass it to their stomach and the parents have the unfortunate job of searching for it in their stool for the next few days. On the surface, I am familiar and understand that kids live through this type of thing. In fact, my husband too has swallowed a coin and our parents yelled, gave us some castor oil and played the waiting game. But this was different, and I knew it and I know Morgan. I knew if she said it was stuck….then it was stuck. And I knew, I had tried all the basics and I couldn’t see it or make her throw it up or make her finish swallowing it.

In X-ray we need two technicians, one to help position her and one to take the picture. I explain to her it’s a photo op and we will see her skeleton and she seems cool with that. As soon as we hear the buzzing sound of the camera click, the technician yells “Is she still wearing a necklace?” And that’s my confirmation that a foreign object is definitely stuck in my baby’s throat. No, she was not wearing a necklace; it’s the penny. It was placed perfectly in the center of her throat, like a choker.

By this time, it’s been about an hour and she is calm, but starting to drool and puffs her cheeks in an attempt to get more air. She squeezes my hand every now and again when she gets nervous. She can speak, but is scared to and I can understand that. Upon review of her X-ray, Dr. Smiley calls the Gastrointestinal Doctor on call. Within an hour we are headed to an operating room for an endoscopy to hopefully retract a penny that is lodged in my four-year-old daughter’s esophagus. Really, I mean, I was just at the Dogwood Festival watching her on kiddie rides and now she was being prepped for surgery.

Inserting the IV was the worst part for her. For the most part, under the circumstances, I was extremely calm; until it was time for her to go to the operating room, without me. Now, that was a problem and the nurses on staff knew it. The saving grace was Dr. Josie. She was calm, beautiful and sincere and put me somewhat at ease about my absence. I was grateful for her demeanor, cause Lord knows I was thinking about setting it off when told I had to leave my baby.

An excruciating 20 minutes later, Dr. Josie hands me the most expensive penny I own and a color picture of the inside of my toddlers esophagus and stomach. She then explains just how stuck the penny was and that she had to push it down into her stomach and retract it from her belly. There are a few lacerations on her throat and in her stomach, but it’s the emotional scars her daddy and me went through that will never heal and they certainly cannot be bought with a penny.

When Morgan wakes up from surgery, she looks at me dimly and I kneel down to her bedside and say “Morgan, you can talk now.” She whispers softly “Is the penny gone?” And when I tell her it is, she smiles and loudly says “it’s gone, it’s gone, it’s really gone.” A few moments later she thanks Dr. Smiley and assures him that she has learned her lesson and that’s why parents say not to put money in your mouth. I am grateful for her lesson, but my oh my it sure did cost a lot more than a penny.

Penny PickPenny Pic

Hospital pic

Health for Granted

Years ago, way back in 2004 I had an opportunity of a lifetime to meet and speak with the Dali Lama in Bodh Gaya, India. It’s an experience I will never forget and one that has shaped my life and how I try to live it. I was engaged at the time of our meeting, but had not yet joined the parenthood journey. It’s amazing how God prepares you for what life may bring. During my exchange with the Dali Lama, I asked him what we need in life and he gave me a list of three things, but I am trying to save some for my book, so I will only share one thing he told me; health. He said people take good health for granted and my how right he is.

For the past three weeks my family has been plagued either one at a time or all together with numerous illnesses. From the flu, to allergies, to ear infections, it seems like someone has been sick everyday. I have spent hundreds of dollars on copays, prescriptions, old school remedies, juice, water and pedialyte. I have been plagued with exhaustion from late nights and long days. I was at my wits end of runny noses, itchy eyes, tummy aches, vomiting and hacking coughs and had started to complain. I don’t like complainers and I don’t like to complain and in the midst of one of my down moments I heard the voice of the Dali Lama telling me directly not to take health for granted.

At that moment I became grateful, grateful for our illnesses being temporary; grateful for financial resources to pay for my babies copays and medicine, thankful for the ability to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and locally produced honey for hot tea. I am grateful for a flexible schedule that allowed me to stay home with my babies most of the time. I am thankful my mother was close enough to watch my sick babies when there was something I couldn’t re-arrange. I am so thankful for our dear friends the Andersons coming to my house while I was at urgent care with my daughter and making a big pot of gumbo for us. I am thankful for a partner that took turns and was in the grind with me giving breathing treatments and holding barf bags in the middle of the night and the list goes on and on and on.

Now, maybe it’s psychological but seems to me my gratefulness was simultaneous with their recovery. Within 24 hours, my house and the people in it were on the mend. Fevers were down, mucus stopped flowing and appetites picked up. And after the dust began to clear it was time to do some major disinfecting. As my whole family joined in to clean, I couldn’t help but smile because in the midst of a short sick spell, I was reminded not to take our health for granted.

So three weeks later there are a few lingering coughs and stubborn stuffy noses, but for the most part all is well and once again life has reminded me to be grateful and thankful for our support system and I will try my best not to lose sight of the importance of maintaining overall good health.

Dali Lama

Vaccination Hesitation

Last Monday, my 11 month-old son was scheduled for vaccinations. We are on Dr. Sears schedule, so he only receives one or two vaccinations at a time, but it doesn’t relieve one bit of doubt or anxiety about these doses. I can never sleep the night before, I’m always nervous and go into serious prayer mode. No, I am not anti-vaccines, I believe they are necessary. But I have some serious reservations about them, as do most of my friends.

If you are over 30 and recently had children, statistics say you have undoubtedly asked yourself or physicians a ton of questions regarding your baby’s shots. My husband and I have never been opposed to vaccines, but we have chosen to control when they are administered. According to an article last week in the Huffington Post, that makes us, “shot-limiters.”

I remember when my daughter was born, and we were overwhelmed with information and decisions, we decided to choose a pediatrician that would at least allow us to alter the schedule. I was actually surprised by how many physicians do not allow parents this type of flexibility. We read vaccine books, baby books, researched online and surveyed friends.

On one of our first doctor visits, my husband asked about an alternate schedule. The pediatrician made sure to start her commentary about how there has been no scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism blah, blah, blah. And how they are completely safe, blah, blah, blah. So my husband then asked what’s the harm in administering them at a slower pace. I will never forget her response, “none, but it’s a major inconvenience for you two to keep having to come back.” We laughed at her concern for our scheduling “It’s okay, he said, we don’t mind the inconvenience.”

So I suppose now is a good time for a disclaimer. I am not a physician, I am not a vaccine expert and I don’t claim to be. I am a mother; one who simply wants to keep my children safe.

In the late 1970’s the US vaccine schedule included 7 shots, the current schedule calls for 32 shots from birth to 6 years old; sometimes calling for five or more vaccines per visit at some early childhood appointments.

Medical experts pro shot-limiting, argue that there is no immune memory until the child’s immune system develops between 6 and 18 months, so why vaccinate newborns? Others argue that other environmental factors, prenatal exposure and more accurate diagnoses share responsibility for the high numbers of Autism cases, not vaccines.

Now being a shot limiter comes with its own level of anxiety. Parents become solely responsible for researching which vaccine is administered at what age. Medical professionals are reluctant to answer your questions. When I arrive for vaccines, they ask me what shots he is having that day. There is no additional co-pay to return for vaccines, but there is also no discussion and no dialogue. Parents alone assume the responsibility. In addition, apparently you can no longer get measles, mumps and rubella vaccines separately in our area, so decisions, decisions, decisions. In our case, we delayed it until our daughter was almost two and then prayed real heard before the MMR was administered by her Pediatrician. In fact, last month an Italian Court ruled that the MMR was responsible for at least one autistic diagnosis (http://markcrispinmiller.com/2012/06/us-media-blacks-out-italian-court-ruling-that-mmr-vaccine-caused-childs-autism/).

Truthfully, I don’t know what to believe, but I do know if the only negative to Dr. Sear’s schedule is my inconvenience, I’ll gladly take it in lieu of “some” peace of mind.

Operation Get Your Body Back

At just 5’4” I’ve always aired on the petite side. In college I was unable to donate blood because I didn’t weigh the mandatory 110 pounds. I was a solid size 4 for most of my adult life. And yes my wedding dress was a two piece; it was a beach wedding. As I reminisce about the old me, I am determined to not let it just be a wading memory of yesteryear.

While it’s true my daddy’s genetics helped some, the truth is I have always worked out. I was very athletic, an avid runner, and up for just about any sporting activity. My eating habits aren’t too shabby either. My mom says I eat “rabbit” food. I have an affinity for fruits and veggies, don’t fry anything but fish and have never been a big dessert kind of girl.

Having said that, the current me has two babies – both by C-Section, in my late 30s and not nearly enough money for a personal chef or enough free time to spend half the day in the gym.

I gained so much weight with my daughter I was almost unrecognizable. I had to have my wedding rings re-sized and my feet jumped up a size. I was one doughnut shy of 200 pounds by her birth and happy as a lark, until after delivery. Like a lot of us, I struggled with my self-esteem a bit after she was born and was happy to get to my pre-pregnancy weight before trying for our son.

I didn’t gain quite as much with him, but enough to tip the scale to an uncomfortable number for me. So for Christmas I asked for 20 sessions for a personal trainer and as soon as I was cleared by the doctor I got back in the gym. Clearly, my mind was in the right place but my body wasn’t. I struggled. My knees ached, my back ached, I had two babies and was purely exhausted. An annual check up revealed that I wasn’t experiencing just old age on top of baby weight gain, but the cartilage in my knees was weak and my body wasn’t ready to jump back in as quickly as I had hoped.

So I sat down for a few months and plotted by comeback. I began a vitamin regimen, including Glucosamine for the cartilage issue and started acupuncture treatments for all other aches and pains and overall alignment and tune up. Last month, I got back in the game. I joined a fitness boot camp in hopes of jump starting operation get your body back.

Four weeks later, 10 pounds lighter, two sizes smaller I am on my way. No, I have not arrived, which is why I am determined to run at least 3 miles, at least 3 days per week and doing insanity workouts in between with my husband. But it’s tough.

Scheduling workout time is a major ordeal in our house now. Initially mid-morning workouts were perfect. Princess was in school and the baby could come to the gym nursery or join me on a run in the running stroller. But now school is out, I am catching hell trying to figure out a new system. Anything after their bedtime is a crap shoot. Most nights, I am so exhausted I turn in, when they fall asleep and I can’t imagine setting an alarm clock to shorten my 4-5 hours of sleep for any reason. But something has to give, and like most things mommies do, I have to just make it happen.  And the nights when I fall short, I don’t beat myself up, but I make a vow to do better the next day.

The moral of the story is, we find time for things we prioritize like our children’s weekly dance lessons, or stocking ingredients for our husband’s favorite meal, gardening or clipping coupons and now it’s time to choose fitness.

Who’s with me? Operation Get Your Body Back is a mommy commitment to being better and doing more to be healthier, sexier, more energetic moms. It doesn’t matter how old your children are, how tight your schedule is or how small your commitment is. What matters is choosing us, prioritizing us and putting the work in, to get your desired results.

My beginning weight was 171

My current weight is 158

My short-term goal is 150 (pre-pregnancy weight)

My long-term goal is 135 (wedding weight)

Ain’t Nothing Like Hope

Like a lot of families the last month or so has been filled with runny noses, teary eyes sore throats and coughs. After quite a few visits to both the pediatrician’s office for the babies and urgent care for us parents, the causes varied from ear infections, colds and allergies.  So it came to no surprise or alarm when our 7-month-old had a slight fever of 100.8 Sunday before last. However, we did decide to forego his scheduled immunization at his well child visit the next morning as a precaution. As projected his visit earned him a clean bill of health, both physically and developmentally. No fever, no ear infection, no cough. Hallelujah.

Our Wednesday morning routine started about 6:30 a.m. when my husband went to get baby boy. I love that baby, he sleeps all night and isn’t one for a whole bunch of whining unless he’s hungry. But this day would prove to be anything but routine. Upon entering his room my husband found our son’s face full of mucus surrounding his nose and mouth, warm to the touch and struggling to breath. He cleaned him up, took off his pajamas and brought him to me. “Something’s not right,” he said as he regurgitated his findings. We decided to call the pediatrician’s office, which I now have memorized and were greeted with their phone message reminding us there office doesn’t open until 8:30 a.m. Baby G seems so sleepy, he lays on my husbands chest and falls back to sleep and so do we.

By 8 a.m., it’s time to wake the princess for pre-school. I am convinced this is the quickest hour of my day. Wash up, clothes, hair, breakfast, teeth and we are one our way. When I return Baby G is still sleeping, which he sometimes does until his sister returns at noon. I retract my earlier statement because her preschool time is definitely the quickest three hours known to man. After picking her up and watching she and her daddy run down the street trying to get her kite to take flight, it’s time to call the doctor’s office again. My baby, now unable to lift his head is totally lethargic, other than his heavy panting and moving chest he appears almost lifeless.

We pack up and drive the one-mile familiar route to the pediatrician’s office for what we thought would be a “routine” sick child visit. When they call his name, the whole family marches towards the patient rooms and exchange pleasantries with nurses, who have now become familiar faces. And so the “routine” begins, update on symptoms, thermometer and weight check. To no surprise he has a fever. It’s 101.5. Our wait is short and after a brief physical it is determined to try a breathing treatment, run some blood tests and reassess. During the breathing treatment my daughter looks at me and asks “is my brother going to die?” I reassure her that’s not going to happen and will figure out where she even heard about death at a later time. A quick check of his heart rate turns our situation critical.

Cardiac Arrhythmia has our son’s heart beating a whopping 255 beats per minute; normal range is 140-160. We are ushered to the trauma room and told that doctors will have to perform a procedure to simulate a drowning in hopes of reducing his rate heart. As they describe to us in seconds what the procedure entails I doubt either of our hearts beat; but they definitely sunk. Within seconds what appears to be a 10-pound bag of ice with water is placed over our infant son’s face as he lay flat kicking for his life. They say it’s for about 20 seconds, but it felt like a lifetime. My son, my baby is laying on a table with three adults holding him down trying to drown him. He panics, he kicks and waves his arms and for the first time all day, I hear him crying. And I cry. I’m scared my son will die. I’m mad I can’t stop this. I’m concerned my daughter is watching. I’m in denial because we were just flying kites. And then my son’s body stops moving and I can’t move either. I’ve never been so helpless in all my life. They remove the bag, dry his face and hand me my son.

He’s a little upset, but happy to see us. Within minutes he shoots a short smile and while doctors scramble to get us admitted to the local hospital for further tests; he’s hungry. My tears have stopped, my heart is once again beating. I look to the right and my 6-foot, strong, broad shouldered husband begins to cry. He realizes we could have lost of our son, his heir. He’s silent, but the tears keep rolling. I understand.

After a battery of tests, our son is diagnosed with SVT (Supraventricular tachycardia) a general term that refers to any rapid heart rhythm originating above the ventricular tissue. A diagnosis I am still very uncomfortable with. Neither of us are convinced this is the root of issue and are convinced a virus of some sort is to blame.

Within an hour of being discharged our son begins to pant yet again and spikes a fever. OMG, I can’t go through this again. At this moment as many the last few days we are reminded how awesome it is to know God. My brother-in-law, also a Pastor has come to visit his nephew and holds him as we feed him ice chips and reduce his fever. His heart slows down and we already know here comes another sleepless night. My husband is in full fix it mode. Straight to Lowes, air filters in every room, kick out the dog and a new humidifier.

We beat down our pediatrician’s door the next a.m. and they ask for an X-Ray of our son’s chest. It reveals pneumonia is his left lung and my husband and I am relieved. Yes, relieved, pneumonia is treatable. Pneumonia, we’ve heard of. We can beat pneumonia. We are sent home with a nebulizer to use every four hours, more amoxicillin and a whole lot of hope.