Friday, November 27, 2015

Sorry I'm Late

Sorry, I've been lazy, so here's a post that has been building up in my file folder for two months now and I just haven't gotten around to publishing it. I have however, gotten enough emails from readers asking "why haven't you posted any of the free weekend activities that you guys do?" to let me know that I'm slacking.

I also didn't realize that so many of you were using my free weekend activities to spark ideas for your own family, so I apologize for being so delayed. If there is any advice that I can give you, it's to go to your local library, recreation center, and park district office and get the informational booklets that nearly every town publishes on a quarterly basis. The booklet should detail all the events and festivals that will be going on in your area, and most should have the costs listed with the event time information.

Because I have absolutely no money for entertainment and yet I don't want my kids to miss out on their entire childhood, I go through the book and put all the free activities right into my calender so that I can plan ahead for the ones we want to attend.

ANYWAY, I figured this extended holiday weekend would be the perfect time to drop this post's enormity on you because some of you might have a little extra time to get through it all! So jumping back to the end of September and moving forward, here is what has been keeping us busy, free and otherwise.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Surgery Is Over

Well, surgery is over.

I'm sorry I didn't update sooner but it was a really long day yesterday. I'll also go ahead and apologize for the quickly done and somewhat terrible photo editing below, photo edits aren't really my immediate priority today but I know how caring so many of you are and I didn't want to make you wait any longer for an update!

The surgery went pretty well. It was more involved than we were anticipating, but he did well and is now home.

We got to the hospital at 6:30am, but you would never have known it was that early by the enthusiasm The Boy Child showed for the hospital playroom.

And yes, he is wearing footie pajamas and rubber rain boots. It was early, don't judge!

Once he was taken back to pre-op, we waited... for hours. With him not being allowed to eat or drink anything, it was a long wait.

Eventually they took him back to the OR and after I paced the waiting room for what felt like eternity while I watched the surgical board for updates, I was finally called back to see him in recovery.

I cried.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Even More Surgery On Friday; A Message About Flat Tires And Broken Dreams

It’s 11:14 am and I’m sitting in the hallway of a very fancy theatre while my daughter watches a play with her class. I drove her here but she didn’t want me to sit with her, because “mom, that’s embarrassing.” Typically I’d have a lot to say about her attitude, but I’m exhausted and therefore making the executive decision to just let her snarkiness slide.

Plus the play looked stupid.

So here I sit, ushers walking by as they appear to wonder why I’m perched on the edge of a sofa that is probably more for looking at than sitting on, but alas, I’ve never been the most socially appropriate person, so why start now?

I’m tired.

My alarm went off yesterday at 4:00 am and in the dark I bundled my children into the car and drove us across town to Frisbee Boy’s Mom’s house, where she then drove the three of us into the city so that The Boy Child could be seen by a team of specialists at a major university hospital.

Friday, November 13, 2015

There's A Conspiracy Brewing...

A few months ago, a Facebook business networking group that I belong to started promoting a variety of subgroups that the group owner is calling "missions." Before that the group had served as a connection tool where local business owners could network with each other. But then suddenly the group owner started repeatedly asking all of us to join at least one of the subgroups as "a good way for businesses to give back to our community." I wasn't sure how many more commitments I could pile on my plate right now, but when I saw that one of the subgroups was aimed at raising domestic violence awareness and that one of my nonprofit board members had joined, I decided to join the DV mission.

Then things got strange.

Monday, November 9, 2015

My Friend Was Murdered

My friend was murdered last week.

I'm in complete shock.

Several years ago my friend's husband died of a drug overdose, leaving her as a single mother to her young son. Looking back, her situation reminds me very much of the one I was in, except that in the end, my drug addicted husband left, and her's died. I always thought mine would die.

Not long after he died, she met someone and got pregnant. She was so happy — that is until her new boyfriend hit her. So while still pregnant, she left him.

I took care of her son on the day the baby was born. I'll never forget him asking me every five minutes to call his mom and see if his sibling was born yet.

My friend had a little girl and thus became a single mother to two children without fathers.

My friend changed her life. She recognized the pattern she was in and she decided to put an end to it. She became an advocate for taking charge of your life and an ambassador of self-respect; a loud, outspoken, caring woman who spent her time teaching teenagers that you create the life you want to lead, and that you are worth more than the people who try to bring you down.

She lived for others and exuded everything that I've always aspired to be.

Last year, 9 years after her 1st husband died, 8 years after she left her abusive boyfriend and gave birth to her daughter, she got married. She thought she had found the life she was always looking for; the same life that so many single mothers and DV survivors hope to one day find. She had a complete family and she was thrilled.

But then just a couple months later, she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

Not one to back down from a challenge, she kicked cancer's ass.

Two weeks after getting a clean bill of health, last week, her brand new husband, her chance at a fresh start, murdered her.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Yea, I Totally Eavesdrop

As most of you know, I have a rare genetic disorder that causes me to have to be on a very specific medical diet. Every couple months I have to get a blood test that measures markers in my blood that tell my doctors if I'm ingesting gluten. Because I don't have any immediate reactions or digestive symptoms to eating gluten, I really have no way of knowing if I'm getting "glutened" by something until a major problem arises (remember how sick The Boy Child suddenly got?), which I would obviously like to avoid.

I've gotten a bunch of emails recently asking me (and Mr. Attorney Man actually asked me the same thing not long ago), "if you eat gluten, does it eventually filter out of your system?"

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Destruction Of Life

As I've talked about before, I used to do a lot of missionary work. For many years I spent part of my summers traveling the country and seeing poverty and human suffering that most people cannot even imagine. As I've also mentioned before, quite a bit of that time I spent in New Orleans. Sure, I walked the French Quarter, had a beignet at Cafe Du Monde, made my way down Bourban street, and tasted Jambalaya so authentic that it came from locals who would make it at their houses and bring it to the mission house (oh my gosh SO spicy send help!!!), but unfortunately my New Orleans experiences were even more authentic than that. I saw what many people never see past the jazz musicians and Voo Doo shops; the hopelessness and crime.

The first trip I went on was to help build a teen center to give kids a place to hang out. The goal was to get kids off the streets and away from gun violence, drugs, gangs, and prostitutes, and prepare them for a future outside of everything that was surrounding them. That trip was a lot of hard labor, but it wasn't too much different than any of the other trips I had been on before, except for one thing.

The big difference between that trip and any of the prior trips I had been on, was how unsafe it was.

On every other trip I'd been on, I had lived among poverty. I worked in towns filled with nothing but hungry, dirty, desperate, people who all needed help, and my heart overflowed with tears for people who couldn't even afford basic needs. But my first New Orleans trip was nothing short of shocking.

I'd seen dirty, I'd seen hungry, but I had never seen so much danger.

Forgive the poor quality, I had to take pictures with my phone of the pictures in my albums because I don't have a scanner. I took this picture standing just outside of the youth center.

There were rules. Women were never to go outside alone must always be accompanied by a man. Men had to travel in pairs. When the sun started to set, everyone must be inside.

Crime was at an all time high and it wasn't hard to see why as we watched strung-out prostitutes turn tricks in a house 50 feet from us and drug dealers with guns in plain view walk up and down the street looking for their next sale. A sign bolted to a light pole read "attention drug dealers and prostitutes, this is a school bus stop so please take your activities elsewhere. You've made your choice as an adult, now please allow our children to become one." The sad reality though is that only 1 out of 7 children who grew up in the neighborhood would ever become anything other than the people that sign was warning them against.

The neighborhood reeked of dying dreams and hopelessness, which was quite evident by the lack of police presence; a haunting symbol that the outside world had given up on the residents of this town.

For the kids whose parents even bothered to send them to school, they were stepping off the bus each day and onto the only street that many of them would ever know; a fact that would claim many of their lives.

I'd walked among poverty before, but this was the first time I'd ever been hell.