Health · Perspective

Acceptance and a Hat

Pale. Reflective. Lacking melanin. Blinding.

My whole life-all 35 years of it- I’ve been light skinned. Not just kind of tanned or even slightly rosy, I’m a creamy shade of pale.

As a child, I had freckles. The summer would start with my nose and cheeks lightly sprinkled with light brown dots. By the end of the summer, the tip of my nose was a solid freckle and my arms, legs, and back sprayed with miniature splotches.

Regardless of the truckloads of sunscreen my mother and I would apply, I’d burn and peel. Burn and peel. Burn and peel. Burn. Blister. Peel. Blister. Peel. Back to white.

 

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Me- 2nd from right with my sister and cousins at an Easter Egg Hunt – 1988

 

My sisters both received enough dominant genetics from my mom’s darker eastern European heritage to tan. I, seemingly, obtained all recessive genes and favor my dad’s side.

School wasn’t any better. With only a couple of pale, freckled friends, everyone around me always had a healthy glow…. and the glow wasn’t just the gym light reflecting off their legs during basketball season.

Thru the years, I tried tanning beds for special events like prom. “Your body will build up tolerance to the sun” is what people would tell me. Ummm… about that….

I’d mow the yard without sunscreen on my legs- only slathering it on my shoulders, neck, arms, and face. I tried spray tanning (Ooompa Loompa!) All of my attempts to be non-reflective turned out to be utter failures.

After having a suspicious mole removed from my hair line in college, I gave up completely. Truly. I’m now a sunscreen loving, long-sleeve wearing, floppy hat, be kind to your skin advocate.

 

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Key West, FL – 2018

 

Isn’t it strange how it takes awhile to accept certain attributes about ourselves? Typically, these are the characteristics on the outside- the ones we think others are focusing on. Ooooh, those judgy eyes and snarky quips that start when we’re kids dig deep and embed into our being. It takes years to work those mean, lingering voices out.

The fact is these small peer observations don’t actually make us who we are. I’m no better or no worse because I’m pale. It doesn’t affect who I am in my soul. I’m simply me packaged in a creamy shade of pale on the outside.

Simply put: Some of us are born to be in the sun. Some of us are meant to wear a hat. 

 

 

Faith · Family · Health · Parenting · Perspective

Heart Check – Thursday

A podcast I listen to starts out with a few questions from one host to another. They call it a “heart check.”

What’s in your ear?

What’s pulling at your heart?

What book is in your hand?

I’ll also add for this post (because I like food)…

What’s in your mouth?

So, Jen, what’s in your ear lately?

–Yesterday, it was my Pandora thumbprint station. I was solo in the office for most of the day, thus almost a completely uninterrupted soundtrack for the day. Eclectic, as is my taste in music, songs range from the last 6 decades and a wide variety of genres. A personal favorite is Ashokan Farewell, but that might be followed up by Rump Shaker (Wreckx’n’Effect), a song from Ray LaMontagne, the Avett Brothers, Meghan Trainor, Amos Lee, Lee Brice, George Strait, or Casting Crowns (among many, many others).

What’s pulling at your heart?

–Of course my kids and family. Anxiety. Worldwide events that are completely beyond my realm of physical connection. How can I contribute to those around me? How can I be a more patient mother, wife, and friend? After a meeting last night…. when will I ever stop being socially awkward?!!!! 30 years of socializing hasn’t made me a social butterfly. Still inept at the art of surface-style conversation.

What book is in your hand?

–I truly love my 5:30am quiet reading time. I am awake to see the sun rise quietly and peacefully. The past month, I’ve reread three Anne of Green Gables books: 1, 3, & 4. Apparently somewhere in the last 25 years, book #2 disappeared. My devotions in my study Bible are out of Psalms. This morning, I finished “365 Thank You’s” by John Kralik. Focusing on gratitude, he turned his life around one thank you note at a time. Inspiring!

What’s in your mouth?

–Like all people vainly trying to shed the winter carb-fest padding,  focusing on better food choices, I’ve been packing a bountiful amount of fruits and veggies in my daily lunches at the office. Due to my MS med, I have to hit the carbs first thing in the morning to settle my stomach. Therefore, I make my lunch vegetable based instead of building it up from bread or pasta. Almost all my veggie-based meals feature the previous night’s protein choice, aka leftovers. Makes for a lot of variety! Yesterday’s masterpiece:
salad

Mixed baby greens (thank you husband for buying a super large container of these at an amazing discounted price!)
Fresh Mushrooms
Leftover BBQ Chicken
A handful of French fried onions (the ones without whey)
Balsamic Viniagrette (I only use vinaigrettes, no dairy! But if you go this route, be sure to make your own or read the labels.)
I wash and re-use this Subway salad container daily. It’s the perfect size for my lunch bag.

That sums up my Thursday morning heart check. What does your heart check look like today?

Much love — Jen

Fitness · Health · Perspective

Triathlon

Swim. Run. Bike.

A couple of weeks ago, I completed my second indoor sprint triathlon.

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300m lap swim- this is actually only 6 down and backs in our local Wellness Center’s pool. 78 laps done in the previous weeks before I completely fried my hair with the chlorine and purchased a swim cap. Pink swim goggles and my navy one-piece- I felt pretty official! I managed to cut 1.5 minutes off my previous race time in swimming.

2mile run- Running is my jam. I like to get into a rhythm and just go for miles. However… sprinting is NOT my jam. Nerve pain and numbness in my leg plagued me most of the winter. My mileage was dialed way back. I didn’t expect the time to be good. Vomit was close to erupting, but I beat my previous two mile triathlon sprint by about 20seconds.

12mile bike- After the fall sprint tri, the organizer decided to add 4 miles to the challenge. My spinning seat wasn’t set correctly… my fault. Shredded legs and a little rub discomfort. About 2:10/mile.

Overall, I took 3rd female. I thought I would feel proud of my physical accomplishment.

Upon reflection, all I felt was humbled. Two days before this, I laid in the tube for two and a half hours. My annual MRI: brain and thoracic spine, with and without contrast- a yearly peek into my neurological system.

All stable. Nothing new. I’d have loved to hear that my lesions miraculously healed themselves. Same white dots in the same spots.

Randomly, I’ll have weird nerve and muscle symptoms. For years, I thought everybody did. Apparently not. MS does odd things.

Have you ever considered how fortunate you are to have working legs, fingers that feel, and a spine that doesn’t “buzz?” This isn’t for sympathy. These truly were not situations that I’d considered prior to about four years ago.

Humbled to be able to swim. Amazed at running. Grateful for biking.

 

Family · Health · Perspective

It takes a village

It takes a village… and I still hate tonsils. Ugh. Complications make this healing process slower…IMG_3101

Day 10 post tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.

Sweet girl tried school for 3 hours yesterday morning. Her brother rode the bus, but I drove her in so I could talk to her teacher. 8am-11am she quietly enjoyed Kindergarten. Instead of crackers for snack, she ate an entire string cheese stick! <—- This is BIG news! She has barely eaten anything in the last week unless by force. Her little denim jeggings are now baggy and falling down.

She was absolutely wiped out when I picked her up. I gave her a choice to eat whatever she wanted for lunch. She chose a corn dog… so I drove thru Sonic and ordered her one on our way home from town. It took her 30 minutes to eat it, but HALLELUJAH! She ate the whole thing. Don’t judge on nutrition. The kid just needs to eat something.

After some serious “angry tired” attitude, I rocked her until she fell asleep for 15 minutes. We enjoyed a couple of hours of rest time after that until she crashed again in a blaze of tearful fallout from 4-6pm and for the night at 8:30pm.

This morning, after she slept all night for the first time in 10 days, she rode the bus to school for another 3 hour session. Maybe tomorrow she can attend the whole day?

Could it be that we are finally turning the corner???

It truly takes a village to orchestrate a sick/recovering child, another child, a job, and the rest of life’s little details.

I couldn’t have done this without my amazing husband. He tag-teamed our all-nighters with her. He takes over holding her when she’s droopy and I need to use the bathroom. He does homework with our son and has helped with household chores. He hasn’t said a word about me being out of the office (thankfully I’m able to work from home and be flexible with my hours IN the office).

Grandparents have been a life-saver! My father-in-law is seasonally employed and this is his off-season. He’s only a mile and a phone call away. D is hands-on and loves to be involved with his grandkids! My mom spent two days and a night helping at our house. She also took M for a day at her house so I could work. My dad was happy to hold her at our son’s 2nd grade program. Obviously from the amount of cuddles necessary, this has NOT been a smooth recovery.

Our neighbors and church family have volunteered to help get our son places. A couple friend of ours brought a crockpot of cheesy ham and potato casserole, salad, and cookies. Another neighbor picked up an order from the pharmacy.

My sister brought coffee one morning on her way thru for work “just because.” Our friends have checked in with us just to say “Hello” and “We are thinking of you guys!”

It takes a village. We are blessed to have a good one!

Family · Health · Parenting · Perspective

I hate tonsils

Tonsils and adenoids. My sweet little girl had her “monsters” removed Tuesday.

Months of chronic tonsillitis predate this surgery. The last round wasn’t just tonsils; her whole body was covered in a viral rash and the skin on her hands peeled off. We also discovered her drug allergies to the most common bacterial antibiotics.

Since Tuesday, we’ve been walking a fine line of OTC pain meds, timing, staying hydrated and trying to keep something soft in her stomach. Exhaustion, patience, bribery, and a lot of board games and coloring fill the hours.

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At 4am today when I got up to give acetaminophen, she was restless and complaining of a stomach ache. Then she vomited. Then her fever shot up above the threshold the surgical discharge papers allowed.

We tag teamed holding her and checking her fever until my husband was able to convince her to sip some water and the fever reducer.

Days 5-7 are the toughest according to our surgery discharge  information. Well Hello Day 5!

I’m keeping a countdown. Halfway there. We are now approximately 5 days from having this all behind us. Slow and sure. Healing. Hoping for a healthier little ‘sugar bean.’

Family · Health · Parenting · Perspective

Inhale-Exhale-Influenza

I swear… literally… if one more person says anything about “this oil would have prevented the flu” or “flu shot vs non-flu shot” superiority…

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Let’s have a bit more tact than that while we are in the throes of the influenza underworld, shall we???

My daughter’s class was missing HALF its students the last two days. That includes my child. My son’s class was down by 1/3. One of our local pharmacies had to close due to them all being ill!

Essential oils, fancy foods, vitamins and choice to get or not the flu shot- all great preventative things. However, when a sick child goes to school and coughs, breathes and shares the virus, I’m not convinced anything will protect your student or you. I can tell you that a cough-driven saliva shot straight to the eye has 100% chance of blooming into an ugly illness.

The moral of this story is: parents please keep your sick child home. Please. If you send them to school sick, they perpetuate the illness and will be sent home via the nurse shortly anyway. For the love and health of your babies and mine, please keep them home!

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With love from the trenches with my new best flu-induced friend- an inhaler– Jen

**hopefully we are close to healthy and I’ll be able to write about other happier things soon!**

 

Family · Health · Parenting · Perspective

Horoscope

Horoscopes are like fortune cookies. Rarely are they actually applicable. Even more rare are the moments I read them.

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Today, in my bed-ridden state, I decided to check mine out. Influenza A took down all four members of my family this weekend. Patient T, age 7, brought it home from school. Over the next 36 hours, we dropped in 12 hour increments to the fever, cough, body aches, and extreme fatigue.

I’m praising God that 2/4 of us are now past the fever. Boys rule. Girls drool. In other words, the males are fever free.

Back to the horoscope. “This is a rich time to meet diverse people. You could experience a wonderful trip to a museum or university that brings an opportunity to learn and expand your thinking.”

That’s pretty specific don’t you think? I was hoping for “you won’t die wearing 4 layers of pajamas with Kleenex stuck in your nose reeking of cough drops.” But hey! Bring on the new diverse people and trips to a museum or university!

Well thank you horoscope for the giggle and eye-roll! You hit the nail on the head today.

Much love and Lysol- Jen