Saturday, December 21, 2013

Little Momma and Patients

No, I did not make a typo in the title.  Yes, I meant patients, not patience.  Although, ever since working at a hospital, I have learned a lot about both.  I love my job and it's interesting to be on the other side of things: at the bedside as opposed to being in the bed.  My experience with my own bad health has given me a great deal of empathy for the patients on my unit...to a point.

With my baby a day or two after surgery
After a few months of taking patients to the bathroom, changing poopy briefs, telling them what year it is, etcetera, I have started summing people up outside of the hospital by how I think they would be as a patient.  It's a rather cynical way of looking at those around you, but I just can't help it. As a former patient and current nursing assistant, I have analyzed myself in the same manner (at least I am an equal opportunity in this way). Although young, coherent, and presumably spritely, it turns out that I am one of the worst kinds of patients out there. I have composed a list of things that patients should not do, and you can see for yourself how I measure up.

PATIENT NO-NO'S:

1. Apologizing for everything.  Say you've called someone in to bring you water, or to wipe your bottom.  "I'm so sorry to bother you, I know you're busy.  I know I'm being so difficult!"  Admitting difficulty and being self-deprecating does not justify anything.  What justifies the situation is that you're in the hospital and need assistance, so please stop apologizing!!!  Serving you is my job, okay?!


Okay, guilty of this one. I thought surely apologizing would make it up to those around me.  It does no harm, but it doesn't help a lot either.

2. Taking off anything hooked up to you.  Whether it be an IV, a heart monitor, or a simple oxygen sensor on your finger, please, please don't remove it!!!  The nurse and I have put all this crap on for a reason!! Yes, I know it's uncomfortable, but it must stay on.

I'm BIG TIME guilty of this one, unfortunately.  I recall taking off my O2 sensor because it was "annoying me" multiple times, only to get it put back on each time.  Little did I know, they knew every time I took it off.  On the other side of this, it's now one of my biggest pet peeves.  

3. Refusing to "ambulate" aka walk.  Sometimes, getting up and going, if even for five minutes, is essential to recovery.  We know you're tired and we wake you up all hours of the night.  We know you're in pain.  But truly, walking will help jimmy that gas right out of you and get you back on your feet on the road to going home.  However strenuous it might be, it will help.  Just a few steps, maybe??  I'm not trying to kill you, I promise.

I would never get out of bed.  All my doctors, nurses, and assistants would tell me I needed to walk and I was never into it.  After my C-section I hardly made a round; after my ileostomy, I only made a few trips through the hall. And I probably felt the worse for it.    

4. Calling out multiple times in a row.  We get a lot of calls from a lot of patients.  When you keep calling, I feel less inclined to help you RIGHT AWAY (although I will, if only to stop getting the calls).  If I haven't stopped by with what you need after 30 minutes, okay give me a ring; I might have forgotten.  Otherwise, I'LL BE WITH YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!!!

Yikes.  I feel so bad for all my nurses and nursing assistants I ever had during my hospital stays.  Whether it was a question about my beeping IV, or needing a new pitcher of water, I'd call out if it didn't happen within 10 minutes.  Again, just....yikes.

5. Explaining how to do things.  Sometimes, you think you know better than your nurse and your nursing assistant.  We know how and when to empty your catheter; yes, I know I need to put cream on your bottom after I wipe it. All the people working on you have done this hundreds and hundreds of times.  You're in good hands.  Have a little faith!!!

While I know my own disease very well, and what medicines work, I don't actually know how to put in an IV or much else, in fact.  Yet, I'd try to suggest things to the nurse and the assistants all the time about how to care for me.  If only I had known the nurse was thinking, Um, okay, like I don't know what to do.

~~~~~~

To summarize, I'm pretty sure all my nurses and nursing assistants hated me.  I am, in fact, my own worst patient.     
The sovereign Lord has given me His words of wisdom, 
so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Isaiah 50:4a 
  

Friday, December 20, 2013

LM presents: A Case for Santa


Since around October, I have seen various articles and posts regarding what I think my generation of parents believe is...: the Santa Crisis.  Christian parents everywhere are questioning the morality of what could be the greatest and most festive fabrication of all time; that is to say, letting your children believe in a man who climbs down the chimney to give you presents.  Of course, he only does so if you've been good enough and he's been watching the whole year!

The argument I've been hearing is that our poor misled children are too obsessed with the notion of Santa Claus and forget about the true meaning of the season.  So we must quickly snuff their whimsical fantasies of the jolly bearded St. Nicholas who can travel 'round the world in 24 hours via flying reindeer.  We better make sure they know the TRUTH about Santa and immediately or else they will end up like all the rest of us: ruined and spiritually misguided.

To the Santa naysayers, I say a resounding, "BAH HUMBUG!"

When I was a little girl, I was terrified of Santa, but I wanted nothing more than for him to stop at my house.  I left notes transcribed by my sister on my door to "leave the presents, but don't come in".  I'd lie under our Christmas tree wondering what he was to bring me this year while listening to my cassette tape of Madonna's Santa Baby. Come the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring, except for me.  I couldn't bear to sleep at the prospect that Santa was delivering my gifts that night!  All I could think about was Santa.  Would I hear him?  Does he know what I really want??  Bright and early (well...dark and early) Christmas morning, I was never disappointed.  Kris Kringle always got it right.  So when my dad broke the news to me at the age of nine, I was devastated.  Christmas would never be the same! 

And it wasn't the same.  It was different.  Christmas had in fact become more whole as I matured and grew up, embracing it for the true meaning, celebrating the most important birth in Bethlehem, and in the whole world. To this day, I still get very excited about presents even though I know who is really giving them, but I celebrate the Christ part.

All of this to say, I am 99.99% positive that letting your children believe in Santa does not lead to spiritual depravity.  It does not make you a bad parent because you're "lying" to them.  (As my dad put it, it's one of the greatest ruses of all time.)  Santa is a fun way to celebrate Christmas and explain how all those presents ended up in the living room. I am pro-Santa because I believe there is a way to balance his persona with Luke chapter 2.  If your kid becomes too obsessed with Santa, making him top priority, you remind them that, yes, Santa is great but Jesus is better and gave the best gift of them all.

So yes, growing up, my child's presents will definitely be from ol' Saint Nick.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:16-19 



Sunday, December 8, 2013

LM's Christmas Card


Dear Friends and family,

        Anyone who knows my family knows we are far too frugal (especially this year) to send a physical Christmas card, although it's something I am determined to be able to afford one day.  So instead, our season's greetings come in the version of a blog post.

        The scene is certainly perfect for penning a Christmas letter: it's snowing outside, I have my "xmas" playlist going (consisting of Mariah Carey, Ray Charles, the Eagles....only the best), and I'm listening to my baby babble in the background. 2013 has been a rough, yet amazing year.  A birth, major surgery, a wedding, new jobs...the list goes on!  

           JDK is pulling up wherever his little arms can muster, crawling up stairs (especially if you entice him by saying there are dogs to lick him at the top), and has two teeth. He will be getting a box for his first Christmas present from Santa (I really don't think he needs anymore toys! Ian and I always say he's the richest poor baby ever!)

          After applying to what seems like a dozen places, Ian has gotten a job as a server's assistant at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.  As a future patron of the posh restaurant, I couldn't be more excited.  We get a discount, but you won't see us eating there for another few years... He's keeping his current job as well, and has done exceedingly well in school this semester, especially considering he's writing papers while bouncing a baby on his knee after getting home from work.  So thankful for a hard working husband!

          I got a job at a nearby hospital as a nursing assistant, reigniting my goal of becoming a nurse anesthetist.  I work 3 night shifts a week on a unit dealing with geriatrics, bariatrics, and a smathering of other kinds of (mostly older) patients.  It's a very demanding job and I couldn't have done it without the miracle of modern medicine!  I will be going back to school next fall to continue my education.

         I hope you have had an equally blessed year and that 2014 will be even better.


Sincerely,
Our family to yours


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

LM's Nine Month Old

my baby around 20ish weeks
I will never, ever forget the night my baby decided to make his entrance into the world.  I wasn't due for another four weeks, and while I had had many complications and hospital stays throughout my pregnancy, by my 34th week, we all kind of thought I would make it to the home stretch.  I wasn't losing any more weight, I wasn't in pain (much), and everything had settled down.

meeting him for the first time!
Saturday, February 16th, 2013 was the day of my baby shower.  After getting great gifts from family and friends, I went out with Ian for dinner at the Bristol.  Later, I went home where my mom, aunt, uncle, and I were watching Skyfall; all the while my mom commenting, "Don't you think your dad looks like Daniel Craig?  I think your dad looks like Daniel Craig." (He doesn't.) My back was hurting a little but I chocked it up to the pumps I insisted on wearing to my shower. Nothing about the evening really seemed out of the ordinary.
trying to feed him baby food for the first time.  Before this, I didn't know that babies just don't get it at first.
At two in the morning, February 17th, I woke up from my slumber.  Oh crap, I totally peed myself. I went to the bathroom to clean up and after being back in bed for ten minutes, I wet the bed again.  I need to get this under CONTROL! When it happened the third time I got a little suspicious.  After my mom and I googling "water breaking" and calling my OBGYN, we sped to the hospital to meet Ian there.

fun with daddy
I'll never forget Ian holding my hand and talking to me as casually as he could muster as the surgeons worked behind the curtain. At 6:23 am, my baby was born. And I will never, ever forget hearing his cry for the first time and my OB exclaiming, "He's a baritone!" (Lots of things about this night that I won't forget, huh?)   I had to wait five minutes to see him as the nurses made sure everything with JDK checked out.  Ian was bawling and taking pictures.  When I finally laid eyes on my firstborn, the first thing I could think to say was, "He's so cute!!!" (Although looking back, he looked a bit Benjamin-Button like.  Very wrinkly and bony.)
He loves Cousin Joe!
This past Sunday, my tiny little baby became a chunky, growling nine month old.  He crawls, he pulls up, laughs a lot, and loves entertaining (never when I put him on the spot, however).  He's the most amazing baby Ian and I could ever have asked for.
Help, my 9 month old is a reindeer "animorph"!!!
WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH, BABY BOY!!!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Little Momma's Greatest Frenemy

I am three months and two days out of my loop ileostomy surgery.  The time has flown, but looking back it seems like forever ago.  Even after a few months, I am still adjusting to life with an ileostomy.  I'd like to go on the record saying that the benefits of having it far outweigh the cons; yet--sidebar--there are times when I downright hate it. 

Why? you ask.  How could you hate something that has drastically changed your life for the better?  Okay, these are fair questions.  And these are my answers:

Crohn's doesn't stop.  At least for me it doesn't.  Name a freakish symptom that almost no one gets from this disease, and I'll tell ya, I've had every one of them.  And post-surgery is no exception.  Since my Crohn's is no longer destroying my innards, it is looking to harm me in the form of peristomal pyoderma gangrenosum.  In layman's terms, it is an open skin ulcer next to my stoma that makes the area feel like someone is putting out their cigarette on the area and it's on fire...almost constantly.  Why is it freakish that this has happened to me?  Normally these things don't show up until much longer after the surgery, and, here's the real kicker: they normally afflict people whose BMI is very high.  Ha.  I've gained 20 pounds since surgery and I am still on the lower end of "normal" BMI. 

Whenever I find myself wincing in pain I ask WHY ME?!  I don't know the answer but I try to remember that things were so much worse before and, even though in pain, I am completely functional.

It's been a real battle with my self esteem.  Those who are very close to me know that my whole life I've been pretty into my looks...some might even say to a fault.  There is not a mirror from which I have shied away; there is not a camera for which I won't smile.

I never had a toned abdomen or really flat belly, but it was pretty decent enough for me to not mind showcasing in a bikini during the summer.  Now, with a pouch of crap hanging from my abdomen, I won't be wearing all those Victoria's Secret swimsuits I had invested a lot of money in.  I look at my body in the mirror and see a big old eye sore in the middle.  I can no longer wear some of my favorite shirts or pants because they don't fit right with the new addition to my body. (Actually, not a new addition.  My intestine was always there, just not so...prominent.)

These are poisonous thoughts.  If I dwell on them long enough, I begin to believe that this wonderful surgical treatment has tainted my looks and wonder if health is a worthy trade off.  As I write that my mind screams DUH!! It's extremely worth it!!! Stop being so insecure, ya freak!

I read an article today that talked about a 27 year-old girl who had battled Crohn's for 14 years (the same amount of time I have), and after it had completely ravaged her body, she opted for a permanent ileostomy.  Very similar to my own story.  The article had a picture of her showcasing her pouch: she was pretty, the picture of health, and conveyed confidence.  She owned it.  I was like, oh yeah she is WEARING that bag. 

So, that is what I have decided to do.  Chocking the new symptom of Crohn's up to an opportunity to count it all joy (not so easy).  As for the self esteem issues, my bag isn't the problem.  It's lack of confidence that isn't attractive.  Face your new reality, Savannah.  The pouch is your BEST BUD, not your frenemy.

Besides, health is the new cute abdomen, right?? Right.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the test of your faith produces patience. 
James 1:2,3

 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Little Momma Takes On Cooking

Growing up, my mother cooked hearty meals most nights of the week for the five of us.  I think piecing together entrees and side dishes with the occasional dessert was her favorite part of the day.  Our refrigerator was topped with a picnic basket full of books, newspaper clippings, and note cards that composed her collection of recipes.  The kitchen was my mom's playing field.

As I got older, I would dabble in cooking every blue moon and didn't find the same joy in it that she did.  I came to the conclusion that I would probably never be the chef du jour (perhaps chef du duree de vie?) that my mom was (and still is).  I just couldn't cultivate the same passion she had.  This dismayed me as I couldn't envision myself providing for my future family the savory dinners that my mother had.  Maybe I will explore the variety of ways to cook Ramen,  I thought. Yeah that won't cut it for family meals...Mom reassured me that I would one day have an affinity for whipping up some grub.

Well, as she almost always is, she was right.  I have finally picked up cooking - and what's more: I thoroughly enjoy it.  It has become a release for me, and a confidence booster to boot since I figured out I'm not half bad at it (although I still have a long way to go).

The first recipe I made that inspired this new-found hobby was a bacon-wrapped chicken.  With chive and onion cream cheese rolled in the middle and bacon infusing the chicken with mouth-watering flavor, it was a succulent dish.  And, much to my surprise: extremely easy!

My dexterity at putting it all together was unexpected, and prompted me to try my hand at applesauce meatballs the next day.  The following week, I pored over recipes online, finding ones that looked doable and then decided that three or four days out of the week I would make dinner.

Tonight's dinner was a Caesar salmon filet.  Simply marinate the salmon for 2 hours in creamy Caesar dressing, then broil 4 inches from the heat for 5 minutes.  Take it out of the oven and spoon 1/4 cup soy sauce and one garlic clove, minced.  Then broil for 15ish more minutes.  Again, very simple and quick but tastes gourmet! I served it with a cheddar broccoli pasta side.

Some recipes were not as awesome (pizza ravioli was mediocre), and others were very satisfying (steak Oscar).  My mother set the bar high, so I will continue my cooking venture; and maybe - just maybe - someday I'll be right up there with her. 

Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!
Luke 12:19b,c





Monday, September 16, 2013

Why I Love Being a (New) Mom

I am head over heels in love with this new business of being a momma.  I think every day about how obsessed I am with this role as nurturer, provider, comforter...as any parent knows, the list goes on.  Compiled here is a list of just a fraction of the reasons motherhood and having a baby brings me such joy:

1) Breastfeeding; it's something that brings you and your baby so close because you worked for it together.

2) Your baby falling asleep in your arms.  What could be better?

3) "He looks just like you!"

4) I am never bored.  There's always something to be done: usually being cleaning, feeding, holding, putting to sleep, cleaning, changing, laundry, entertaining, cooking, bathing (yourself or baby)...oh my.  There is never a spare moment and at times I pine for an hour of boredom, but then my baby smiles and I remember that I love NOT being bored!

5) Baby smiles.  Babies are the only people who can pull of an immaculate toothless smile.

6) Baby laughs - aren't their giggles contagious?!  And finally, someone who thinks you are as funny as you've always thought you were.

7) Witnessing your child's learning and development.  It never ceases to amaze me how much my baby visibly absorbs and how far he's come in just over half a year.

8) The bond it brings between my husband and me: even if the acts of eating mashed bananas and waving don't entertain and impress anyone else, when our son does it, we both agree it is not only enthralling, but above average!

9) Knowing your child holds you dearest to his heart...if only for a fleeting time.

10)  Going to bed exhausted every night.  There is something satisfying about being completely exhausted at the end of the day, right? 

11) Finally understanding why my parents parented the way they did

12) Losing contact with people you should have long ago.  Having a child somehow weeds out who you should have grown out of being friends with long ago and you're the better for it.  Those who are left are the people who really matter and are friends for the long haul.

13) Toting my child around.  Babies are the best accessory!

14) That wanted/needed/loved feeling you get when your baby reaches for you.

and finally,

15)  The validity that comes with becoming a mother on day one: your life suddenly has real purpose that nothing other than being responsible for another life can give; it is by this you feel whole and complete. 

May she who gave you birth be happy.
Proverbs 23:25b 


 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Little Momma's Take on the Conflict in Syria

Arab spring has sprung....rather, it sprung in early 2011 and hasn't stopped. The conflict in Syria has been touched on in American and worldwide news outlets for the past couple of years, but is currently being heavily talked about now that America might "get involved".  It is a subject that is proverbially "close to home" for me, as my parents have been working with Syrian refugees in Jordan for some time now.

If you need to be enlightened on the Syrian situation (as I jokingly call it "Arab Rumspringa; too glib perhaps?), you should first read this informative, yet brief, article that has been circulating on Facebook: 9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask.

In my opinion, anyone who knows a minute amount about geopolitics should recognize how bad of an idea it is to get involved with Syria.  The fact that we even supply arms to the Syrian rebels baffles me.  Both the Syrian government and the opposing rebels are extremely dangerous and bad news and to consider an American military strike type of intervention is idiotic at best. Who would that be helping?  Certainly not the millions of innocent Syrians who are fleeing their country to find refuge.

Why would we went to get involved in the civil war when we could put our resources to much better use providing aid to the Syrian refugees strewn throughout neighboring countries?  My parents work with many refugee families in Jordan, providing mattresses and other supplies to lessen the severity of the dire conditions in which these people are living - and the need for such aid grows and grows. 

They have visited places where multiple families are living in one small room, with a handful of babies who don't even have diapers so the place reeks of stale urine.  On a recent visit, there was a family who wanted to marry their 14 year old daughter off, for protection or money. They have met a young boy who was so traumatized and struck by fear because of the war he saw in his hometown that his hair has fallen out - and won't grow back.  Another young toddler's first word: "enfijar", the Arabic word for explosion - all because that is the word he heard spoken and shouted the most in Syria as bombs went off nearby.

Maybe you are a numbers person, and those sad accounts don't strike a chord.  In that case, here are a few statistics to consider:
  • 5,000 people are escaping Syria every day into neighboring nations 
              meaning the conflict has now forced:
  • 1/3 of the Syrian population from their homes     
              which is currently:
  • the highest number of displaced people anywhere in the world
               and in Jordan it makes up for:
  • 8% of their population of 6.2 million
  • 52% of the total refugees are CHILDREN 17 and under
People, this is a very sad situation and as a nation we need to DO something to help the Syrians.  And it is not getting our military involved.  We need to send aid to these poor refugees, people trying to protect their children from bombs and chemical warfare.

Syrian children killed by the recent chemical attack
If you are wondering how to actively do your part and help with an EFFECTIVE way of dealing with the Syrian conflict, leave a comment, message me on Facebook, or email price.savannah@gmail.com or thepriceteam@gmail.com and you will be given details on how you can do just that. 

Look, Damascus will disappear! It will become a heap of ruins.
Isaiah 17:1

Friday, August 30, 2013

Little Momma, the Eternal Guest

Always the house guest, never the hostess.

Ever since my parents sold my childhood home and moved to Jordan, I haven't really had a place I've felt comfortable calling "home".  I had an apartment on UofL's campus for a time, but I never knew my roommates and didn't feel comfortable venturing out into the shared space much.  When I got pregnant, I moved in with my aunt and uncle to their house in La Grange. It was a comfortable, peaceful retreat but when I tried calling it "home" it didn't feel true. Presently, I am living with my family at Ian's grandmother's house.  It's a major blessing that we don't have to pay rent or utilities because his grandma invited the three of us into her home - but that is the thing.  It's her home, not my own.

I find myself too often longing for the day I get to move in to a place and know I will be staying there for a year or more.  A place I can decorate as I wish, a place I can schlep around in whatever clothes I want or don't want to wear, a place I can settle in with my new family and finally have a place I truly call "home".  I'm ready to take my possessions out of storage and put them somewhere more permanent and comfortable.  I yearn to hammer in a bunch of nails in the walls to hang up a bunch of pictures.  I can't wait to have a place where I know where everything is, because I put it there, and it's all my family's and my things - no one else's.

The last place I called home, courtesy of Google Maps
A couple weeks ago, Ian and I read something that really admonished me:

Don't hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay.
Luke 10:7c

The thing about that is, I haven't wanted to do that.  I want a place where I am finally the hostess.  But I need to remember that many have generously extended their own homes and that I should take it and be grateful.  

It's difficult having been the guest for going on two years.  But one day, Ian and I will be able to afford a place of hour own and I'll be able to move in my nice couches and decide for myself whether or not I want to recycle and the baby will have his own room.  

For now, I wait in the hospitality of others.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Little Momma's Little Wedding

Growing up, I never dreamed about having a big wedding or wearing a big rock.  As I got older, I still didn't care to have a big wedding (I always romanticized eloping), but I will admit I dreamed (okay, am still dreaming) of a sparkly princess cut diamond weighing down my ring finger.

Ian and I have talked about marriage for quite some time and it finally seemed like the right time for us to go forward with it.  As any gentleman does, he asked my father's permission to marry me via Skype since my dad lives overseas.  My dad gave his permission but wanted Ian to do a couple things before we could get married: 1) Tell his family and 2) apply Ephesians 5 to our relationship.

Our original plan was a courthouse wedding with just a few witnesses once Ian had fulfilled the first requirement, but I knew my dad wanted to be there.  It providentially worked out that there was a two week class Dad could attend if he flew over so he would not be coming just for a one day occasion.  So, I quickly started planning the big day.

"How does one plan a wedding without any money?" you ask.  Well, you are asking the right person.  While the average wedding in 2012 cost over $28,000, Ian's and my wedding cost around $1000 - and, while simplistic, it did not look skimpy.

So, for those of you dying to know, I present Little Momma's Tips for a (Very) Low Budget Wedding:

1. Exclusivity.  Invite as few people as you can.  Ian and I invited immediate family, aunts and uncles/cousins, and three friends each.  The total ended up being around 45 people in attendance.

Inviting almost no one means you can invite people verbally and get a verbal RSVP.  It also means that at your reception you don't have to mingle with dozens of people you either don't know or don't care about.  Exclusivity results in less food preparation, smaller cake, and a smaller (perhaps less expensive) venue.

If people get offended they weren't invited to your wedding, explain that it is a very small and intimate affair for monetary purposes and they will usually understand. If they are still sore about it....well, it's your wedding and you don't want someone that childish there anyway.

2. Resourcefulness. MINISTER - For our wedding, I asked my brother to officiate.  Not everyone has an ordained minister related to them but a justice of the peace is not very costly either and they come to you.

Oh my.  That's him on the right. Generally wouldn't want the minister of the wedding dancing like this.

VENUE - I also used my brother's church - a small, country venue that fit the modest feel of the wedding.  Antioch Christian Church doesn't charge for weddings, but, as a minister, my brother requires the couple to go through his one-session premarital counseling.  I am sure there are other small churches, if you look hard enough, that either don't charge, or just request a donation of any amount for their services.  For the reception, I used the basement of his church.

DECOR - For decorations, my mom borrowed tablecloths and fake floral arrangements from a friend whose daughters used them for their weddings.  Various small purchases for the minute details such as candles and sequins were made at a party store.


CAKE - Mom sought out a woman who went to our church who runs a local bakery with her father called Pastry Plus.  I went through a book of designs, opted for butter cream icing instead of fondant (does anyone actually like the taste of fondant?), and she cut us a fantastic deal for the two layer cake that would feed around 55 people.  I highly recommend their work!

Vanilla icing, vanilla cake. Enjoyed by all!

MUSIC - Who even needs a DJ anymore?  Let's all stop funding this non-job and go with the music we've already paid for on our computers and iPods!  You get to customize your ceremony and reception music, which ensures that the music will suit your taste and what you want to dance to.  The processional was a piano-only version of Alicia Key's If I Ain't Got You with the traditional Wedding March for the recessional. My dad and I did our father-daughter cha-cha to Something Stupid by Michael Buble featuring Reese Witherspoon and Ian's and my first dance was to You're the One by Dondria.

PICTURES - Simple.  Had my cousins take some. As someone who has been in a very fancy, expensive wedding before, I will tell you this is the better way. If they have more than a camera phone, at least.

A wonderful picture taken by a non-professional photographer
DRESS and RINGS - Dress was really just a maxi dress from Kohl's. $48.  Our rings are from James Jewel Box which we got 30% off through a friend.


-
While some might see it as bourgeois, my wedding had an understated elegance that was very inexpensive and practical.  I had a wonderful day with my family and my husband.  It wasn't about the glamour and grandeur: it was about getting a new name (well, for me); uniting with someone who makes me laugh every day, who relates to me and cares for me; and who I want to be with every day forever.

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

And for the record, I love my ring, sans flashy diamond.  

Man and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Ian Kelley


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Little Momma 2.0

Life since my hospital stay has been vastly different than this time 3 weeks ago.  When I say vastly different, I mean polar opposite.  Wait, it was just 2 weeks ago? Oh my. It's been a long month to say the least.

Because of my ileostomy, I am relieved of my main Crohn's symptom (chronic bathroom trips) and my crippling abdominal pain has been completely eliminated.  I have gotten better sleep than I have since I was seven.  Without a trip to the bathroom every hour of the night (not an exaggeration) I have been able to get adequate rest that is needed for a complete recovery.

That Johnny Jump Up must be tasty!

I am on a new diet that consists of protein and carbs only - no fiber.  I am encouraged to eat steaks and bacon any time I want and no fruits or veggies.  I'm not kidding!  My nurse also suggested six large marshmallows a day to help with the output of my stoma.  I am pretty sure this diet is every kid's dream:

Child: But my doctor said no broccoli allowed, Mom!
Mom: Okay, well make sure you eat all your marshmallows.

The only real downside thus far has been that I am not able to pick up or hold my son (risk of herniating), rendering me practically useless with him.  This has proven to be very difficult.  As his momma, I want to pick him up and console him when he cries or just dance around with him at all times. I still have five weeks before I am even allowed to carry his weight, so my mom and Ian are his main caretakers in the meantime.  It really kills me to see him but not being able to do much with him, and I almost named this post "Little Momma Can't Pick Up Her Son".  I decided against it, not wanting to be a smellfungus. (2013 National Spelling Bee word.  Look it up.)  My life has greatly improved in the past week, so why focus on the negative?

Just letting it all hang out in the bathtub

I feel so much better than I have in a very long time, and know that the surgery was the right thing to do.  The stoma still scares me at times, but what it has given me outweighs the eyesore it makes on my abdomen.  It is a reversible one, but also built to last in the event that I fall head over heels with it.

A week after my surgery my mom asked me to rate on a scale of 0-10 how I felt when I was admitted to the hospital and how I felt now.  I told her I was an actual zero the day that I went, which was really one of my worst days ever.  Seven days after my surgery, I rated a 6.8, saying that the recovery curve is an exponential one, as I am sure a 10 will feel like an even greater difference than zero to 6.8.

I owe this drastic life change to all the prayers from friends, family, and friends of family.  I thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers, and while thoughts are nice, only prayer is effective.  God is good, all the time.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
Psalms 40:2


Little Momma's Hospital Stay

"I feel like a shell of myself."  That is a direct quote from me to my mom from June 30th.  I had undergone a procedure 6 days prior that was supposed to help improve my health somewhat and it ended up exacerbating problems greatly.  The details are too gritty and more appropriate for a medical journal perhaps, so I won't spell it out.  I will say that I was in immobilizing pain and discomfort and admittedly wearing the Kroger brand equivalent of Depends.  I was below 100 pounds (on a 5'4 frame) and could hardly eat without doubling over in pain.  14 years of damage and inflammation from my Crohn's disease had reached its peak. 

My mom had flown in from Jordan because of the dire situation.  The following is a timeline to sum up my week long stay at the University of Louisville Hospital.

Monday, July 1: Mom and I check into University Hospital's ER around 2pm.  It's a very diverse place, filled with all kinds of interesting people, particularly the man right outside of my curtained room who is handcuffed to his bed.  I try not to look directly into his eyes when my curtain is ajar.

I talk to the surgeons, telling them I want the last procedure undone and to bite the bullet by getting an ileostomy.  I'm sick of piddling around with my medications and want my symptoms treated surgically, even if it must be by the procedure I have feared most in my life.

It is decided that I will have a colonoscopy Wednesday to scope the situation and go from there.  (Get it? Scope?! I know, bad joke.)  I eat my last meal before the procedure.  Try to sleep through the screams of a grown man who is afraid of needles and getting his leg cut off.

Tuesday, July 2: Finally get a room in the hospital around 6pm.  Start colonoscopy prep around 7.  This is miserable.  4 horse pills, around every 15 minutes with 8 ounces of water each time.  You throw up from sheer volume of water consuming your stomach, in addition to the, er, cleansing on the other end.  On top of my pain, and not being allowed to eat, this is just a bad day.  Only prayer and watching the light-hearted show Keeping Up with the Kardashians gets me through (but mostly prayer, and my amazing mother).

Wednesday, July 3: More pills and cleansing, yay!  Still in pain and starving.  I get wheeled to my colonoscopy at 1pm.  When I come to afterwards, I find that my ileostomy is scheduled for Friday and I am still not allowed to eat until after that surgery.

Thursday, Independence Day.  All I see on my twitter feed is people either complaining about something trivial or posting pictures of their fourth of July feasts.  Tempted to throw my phone against the wall.  Nothing much about this day except a visit from an old coworker, my 60 year old, jive-talking friend named Alvin.  You really come to know who your true friends are by who visits you in the hospital.

Friday, July 5, SURGERY DAY: I get wheeled to pre-op around 7:30am.  Worrying that I will be one of those special cases who is aware under anesthesia.  Trying to remind myself that I practically demanded my surgeon that this had to be done and done immediately.

I don't remember much from this day except that I woke up and was told the surgery was successful.  They were able to perform it laparoscopically, a major blessing allowing for relatively quicker recovery.  I am allowed to eat and my first meal post-op is a chicken and mayonnaise sandwich that I have since been craving.

Saturday, July 6: This day is fuzzy as well.  I look down at my new stomach and cry, seeing a big meaty blob poking out (the stoma) and lament my once beautiful abdomen.  This is for the best, everyone tells me as I cry about how ugly it is, and how ugly I feel.  I spend the night throwing up my pain pills and questioning whether I did the right thing by getting the surgery.

Sunday, July 7:  The morning is about as rough as the night had been.  My clinical assistant asks me if I like gospel music.  I reply that, Yes, I absolutely LOVE gospel music.  A few minutes pass and I hear a chorus in the distance...a gospel chorus.  A group of about 12 or so mid-age black men in suits walk into my room singing.  This is basically a life dream of mine being realized.  They sing and my cup truly runneth over, so to speak.  There might as well have been a host of angels in my room.  A scripture is read, I'm prayed over, and they leave, still singing the heavenly gospel tunes.  I resolve that I belong to the wrong denomination and need to find a gospel church, quick.

The day from there on out is filled with joy and awe.  It concludes with a visit from Louisville's quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.  No need to expound because it was already written about.

Monday, July 8:  My surgeons say my stoma looks great and if I feel ready to go home, I can.  After a week in the hospital, I am mentally and emotionally ready to get the heck out of there.  Physically, I am still extremely frail, and while complete recovery will take more than a month, I am able to go home. 

Snuggling with my Honey Bunches of Baby at the hospital

That about sums up that week.  A special thanks to my aunts Anne and Brad for rescuing my mom from the hospital and giving her a break.  Also to my aunt Becky who endured the worst night of the stay with me.  Thanks to Dinny and the rest of Ian's family for taking so much care of my baby boy during that time.  Most of all thank you to my Momma, for all the love and care and sleeplessness and Ian, my wonderful boyfriend for taking care of JDK and me and sticking by my side.

This verse was read by one of the men from the gospel choir and seemed a good way to send me back out into the world:

He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Micah 6:8 NKJV 

Little Momma Writes to the Repeat Offender

A month or so ago, my car was vandalized along with 12 other cars in LaGrange.  Nice, quiet Lagrange.  A new windshield was installed, and, figuring the odds of it happening again astronomically low (insert World According to Garp reference here), I kept parking on the street.

Fast forward a couple weeks, and what would you know, it happens AGAIN!  This time I am the lone victim.  Same shoe prints, newly shattered windshield.  My mom begrudgingly told me about the incident and my temper quickly went to boiling over.  So, to get this off my chest I have penned a letter to whomever is adding to what was already the most trying time of my life:

Dear Repeat Offender,

             I hope this finds you in good health. Actually, I don't know about that.  I am in an extremely bad way myself and if you could empathize maybe you would not keep ruining my days and emptying my pockets by vandalizing my car.

             Does your mother know what you're doing in the middle of the night?  Did she raise you to be so inconsiderate and stupid? Because seriously, I might understand if you were doing this to exact revenge on someone but I have done nothing to you and this is the second time you've done this to me.  Which is just stupid.  And infuriating.  I hope for your future that you are just an idiotic drunk teenage boy who will eventually grow out of this destructive phase and learn better.

            If I had more might in me and I knew who you were I would smack you silly.  You deserve a beating.  I have bills to pay, an infant to rear, and crippling health and I don't need an undriveable car on top of it all.  And speaking of my baby, if you decide to take it a step further and break into the house where my boy is sleeping, you will not be leaving of your own accord.  I have an uncle with a gun and he is not afraid to use it.

           While I am incapable of finding you and making sure you get yours, I am holding this verse as a promise that you will find your demise:

He does not let the wicked live but gives justice to the afflicted.
Job 36:6

           So watch out because the karma bus is gonna get YOU, asshole.

Sincerely,
Your Victim

 

           


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Little Momma is Handed Lemons

Ah, the great cliche, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade".   I've always hated this saying, but lately I have found that it really is what you have to do.  I've been handed about 6 lemons within the last month, half of those within a few days of each other!  And sometimes it just doesn't seem fair. Here are some of them.

Lemon 1: Bills.  Two months ago I had no idea how expensive hospital stays are, or how valuable 5 minutes of a pediatrician's time is.  Well, now I know all too well.  And even after making a spreadsheet to try to make the bills seem manageable, the number they add up to is still very daunting.  That number and these bills have consumed my thoughts.  I have dreams about having to pay off a hefty bill and not having the means.  I think every day, when will I be out of this debt? 

Lemon 2: Crohn's.  Taking care of someone can sap your energy and sleep, even if they are sleeping 8 hours in the night.  Compounded with the stress of the bills, my Crohn's is honestly doing pretty poorly, although if someone inquires about my health I'll give a brief "just fine" and move on.  I'm having to be tested to see if I have developed an immunity to the very medicine that has helped me most over the past 6 or so years.  Before those results are in, I think about every worst case scenario- what if my greatest fear of having to get a bag connected to my intestines comes true?  What if I have to do infusions at the hospital every week?  How will I pay for that?  When will I ever just feel good?


Lemon 3: Mastitis.  If you were once a nursing mother you might have been inflicted with this.  It's by far not the worst thing, but it's quite a nuisance. Between having to pump even after nursing, hot compresses, chills, and a sore throat I am just annoyed that I am on my second bout of it.  Oh well, what can you do?  (Hint: These help.)

Lemon 4: Car troubles.  Thankfully, I have almost learned how to laugh at car problems.  I have the worst car luck in the world.  I think I might be cursed, actually.  I have been hit while in my parked car, I have had 6 tires go flat on me; my parked car was hit once while I was having surgery, I've hit ice and spun into a ditch totaling my car, and finally this past Sunday my new car was vandalized.  Someone thought they were cool and took a bat to 12 cars in La Grange and mine was amongst them.  Why do people do that? I can maybe understand doing that to take revenge on someone, but these people did it needlessly.  When I went outside to see my car, all I could do was scream at the top of my lungs in frustration. Hey, at least they didn't take my "Baby On Board" sticker, right?


For all my complaining I just did, I have some pretty amazing lemonade out of it all, and I didn't even make it myself. 

As far as bills go, I am still very much in debt, but not nearly as much as I could be.  One day, Ian and I called the hospital to begin a payment plan for a $5,000 bill of John's that we were to pay completely out of pocket.  Somehow, insurance covered all but $120.83.  I'm chalking it up to a miracle.

In regards to my car troubles, insurance won't replace your windshield when you have minimum coverage, which is a bummer.  But God provides and I had a generous donation given to me to help pay for my new glass, from a very godly man, which has greatly lifted that burden off of my shoulders. 

I could still worry about my Crohn's and other health issues and how the rest of the bills will get paid, and I catch myself getting worked about every now and then (or more often than that).  But I just read this verse which I am going to try to employ throughout the day every day:

Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
Romans 8:6

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Little Momma Baby Talks?

There was a time once, a year before I had John Dashall (and at a time where I thought children were in my distant future), that I went to a park with my aunt and her three kids.  I was sitting nearby some of the moms, eavesdropping on their conversations, and I noticed they all talked about one thing - their kids.  And I just kept thinking to myself, don't these women have lives outside their kids?? Surely there are other, more interesting, things to talk about!!  And I said that day, that when I became a mom, I would still have the decency to talk about things other than my children.

Well...I did not stay true to my word.  My son is all I talk about anymore.  All I care to talk about.  And he is what I have going on so, even if I tried to talk about something else I wouldn't have anything to say!  Don't ask me how my son is unless you want a full report of how many poops he's had that day, how interesting his baby language is, and, of course, I could talk for an hour about how I think he's on the verge of rolling over!

The quintessential appearance of the tongue
Before I had my child, I couldn't stand baby talk.  My mindset was that, while babies can do their ooh-ing and coo-ing, as an adult who knows proper English, you should utilize that vocabulary and not sound like an idiot!! 

Yet, John has reached the "developmental milestone" (a phrase I am using all the time these days) of "conversing".  He coo's and ahh's and goo-goo's and then he will wait for a response from me...heaven forbid I respond in kind, but I do!!! And the conversation goes back and forth.  I don't feel stupid though or like I'm dumbing down for my baby, like I used to think it seemed.  I have found our baby conversations to be the best parts of my day!  We're connecting somehow, and I love that he's trying to tell me something, in his baby way, the only way he knows how. 

A nice, meaty thigh on the napping baby
Tomorrow I am going to lunch with a friend at a great restaurant called Cafe Lou Lou.  My hope is that I somehow don't monopolize the conversation talking about my baby, or even let some baby talk slip into the conversation.  If it does, I'll laugh it off while Savannah-From-A-Year-Ago will gasp, horrified that I have become just another one of the moms.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Little Momma Wins the Powerball!!!

The winnings for the Powerball are super high as of late.  600 million, I think was the last I heard.  So, like any normal person who doesn't normally gamble, Ian went and bought a $2 Powerball ticket yesterday. This led us to discussing what he would do with the money if, by some stretch of the imagination, he won.

He said first he would pay off all the hospital bills for John, which has been a cause of stress for the both of us, as well as my one semester of school debt.  He would buy one of those beautiful mansions in Cherokee Park.  He would pay for my brother and sister-in-law's adoption fees.  A substantial college fund would be started for John and for future children.  Invest some, save some for future children. Finish school online so he could spend as much time with our child as possible.Vacation to Fiji one day (my idea).

Full belly boy
Throughout this conversation, I started daydreaming of how life would be with that amount of money. All my problems, gone! I think.  The problem is, when I daydream, I don't just daydream.  I really believe that this will happen to me and I start planning for it.  I get excited about how glamorous and carefree my family's new life will be.  I'm suddenly on an interview with Giuliana Rancic about winning the lottery and how it's impacted me as a young mom.  I look in my bank account and- what- there's still money for a vacation home in Hawaii (or Jordan, hehe)?!?

He's Captain Adorable
The fact is, I'm never going to win the lottery.  And that's okay because I'm very blessed already.  I have an amazing little family; John is the best baby I could ever ask for.  He's smiling almost constantly, he's healthy, almost never fussy, and sleeps for 8 hours at night then 3 more in the morning.  Ian is a great dad who loves being surrounded by his family and taking care of the baby.  I have a good home in which to stay, my food is paid for by government programs I never thought I'd be on, and my health is good enough.

video
 
One day, through hard work, I'm sure John's hospital bills will be paid off, as will my school, and maybe I'll even be able to afford a comfortable house in a decent neighborhood. And, if I'm really lucky I'll get that trip to Fiji...or maybe Florida.  

A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.
Proverbs 12:11 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Little Momma's Momma - For Mother's Day

Ever since I became a mother, I have have found a new love, respect, and appreciation for my own mother.  The more I see my friends' mothers or hear about them, the more I know I have the absolute best mother in the world.

My mother always ensured my life was comfortable - not only financially, but also by feeding the three of us children good, hearty, gourmet meals almost every night of the week, instilling within us manners and excellent grammar, and most of all by by being a godly woman with a servant's heart.

My momma and me, when she was just a few years older than I am now. Circa '93
My mom is amazing.  I've been on the verge of tears this whole day thinking about writing this post because I miss her so much.  Living countries apart is hard.  I miss her homemade sour dough bread; I miss her back scratches; I miss her scent; I miss being able to be held by her whenever I want.  I miss singing with her.  I miss hearing her sing her heart out to Rod Stewart and Carly Simon while washing the dishes. 

We have a unique and wonderful mother-daughter relationship.  This has not always been the case.  In my early high school years and some more recent times I have given her much grief and we used to butt heads constantly because of our similarities.  Now, we have found a way to make our uncanny similar personalities mesh beautifully into a relationship that I regard above most all other relationships of mine.  We constantly are giggling and swapping stories and jokes and I love every minute I spend with her.

Trying to be like my mom, per usual
She has always been encouraging and supportive, never making me feel bad about myself and never letting me think there is something I cannot accomplish.  When I fall ill, she is there with a cold rag, a prayer, and saltines.  When I go astray she runs after me.  When I need a favor, she'll drop everything.  When I go to bed, she is always up for a cuddle.  When I need some discipline, she spanks me...well, not anymore. 

When I was little my momma used to sing to me old timey songs her daddy sang to her as a little girl, and now I sing as many of them as I can remember to my boy.   

~
I love you
A bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck
and a hug around the neck
Hug around the neck 
and a barrel and a heap
a barrel and a heap 
and I'm talking in my sleep about you, about you.

I love you
A bushel and a peck
You bet your pretty neck I do. 
Oodle, oodle, oodle, oodle, oodle, oodle, 
oodle, oodle, oodle ooo.
 ~

I could write a novel about how awesome my mom is and the things she does for the whole family.  But for now I'll just say that I aspire to be as great of a momma as she is and has always been.  She is my role model and best friend.  I miss you Momma, and can't wait to be with you again in November.  I love you more than I can say.

Parents are the pride of their children. 
Proverbs 17:6b

Happy Mother's Day