I have Fibromyalgia... and it sucks.

This is going to be a long one, so bear with me.  I was inspired to write about Fibromyalgia today because a few people have been asking me about it lately, looking for answers in dealing with their own suffering.  I’m also having a REALLY bad flare up today and feel awful, so it’s obviously on my mind. 

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points — places on your body where slight pressure causes pain.  Every Fibromyalgia sufferer has different symptoms and most have other conditions as well. (Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, etc)

My main symptoms that I suffered with constantly before treatment were painful achy legs, fibro fog (it feels as though your brain just isn't working anymore... like you're walking around in a fog), IBS, insomnia, and exhaustion. My "sometimes" symptoms were aching back and neck, depression, memory problems, and a few other random things (trouble losing weight, headaches, migraines that won't go away, cluster headaches). Basically I have felt like absolute crap for the past 10 years, varying in intensity and it had a huge impact on my motivation and daily life.  I was considered lazy by some, but honestly, I just couldn’t do most things that I should have been able to.

Since I have been little I have been "diagnosed" (and I use that term loosely, as they were all misdiagnosis) with growing pains in my legs (I'm 27, they are no longer growing pains), migraines, GERD, colitis, and assorted other things (none of which I have or have responded to other treatments, since they are all linked to the fibromyalgia). I've also been tested for EVERYTHING under the sun from thyroid problems to brain tumors. Everything has always come back that I'm in perfect health.

Some other weird symptoms that I never paid much attention to until I found out they were caused by the fibro were sensitivity to sound (the tv is ALWAYS too loud for me), scents (perfume makes me sick), light (prefer a dim room), and touch (my skin is sensitive and things that should feel good, like a massage or even just rubbing my arm, cause pain sometimes). Also, my jaw clicks if I open it too wide. When I really started looking into fibromyalgia I was AMAZED at all of the weird things that are linked to it.

I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia last year after going to my doctor with a list of my symptoms and the suggestion from my mom to look into Fibromyalgia.  After thoroughly going over my medical history together we did the tender point test and I had sensitivity in 16 out of 18 spots.  You only need 11 to be diagnosed.  We also did a full physical and a full panel of bloodwork to rule out pretty much everything else under the sun.  It all came back fine.  I started a brand new medication used only to treat Fibromyalgia, called Savella.  The two most popular medicines prescribed for fibro are Lyrica and Cymbalta but from my research (and my doctors) I've seen that they both have a TON of bad side effects. The Savella is new to the market (which does make me a little nervous) but so far myself (and others on it) have really had NO side effects. I was nauseous for a few weeks while getting used to it, but I'm on double the normal dosage right now (100mg twice a day... typical usage is 50mg twice a day) and I feel great! Most of my days are spent pain free and I’m finally able to really think clearly again. I have the motivation and energy to live the life that I want/need to live.

There are days that I still suffer though.  There is no known cure for Fibromyalgia (yet!) and the medication can only help so much.  Today is a VERY bad day, unfortunately.  My entire body is aching… a deep throbbing pain that really makes me want to curl up in bed all day.  I’m exhausted and weak to the point that I almost passed out walking up the stairs to work.  I just keep reminding myself that I used to feel like this for weeks at a time, so a day or two here and there isn’t going to kill me and I just need to muscle through it and remind myself how great I usually feel these days. J

While researching Fibromyalgia for myself I came across something that another chronic pain sufferer wrote.  A way to explain to her friends and family what she was going through (she has Lupus) and what it was like to live with a chronic pain condition.  Please, I beg of you, read the story and really take to heart what she’s saying. 

The Spoon Theory

by Christine Miserandino www.butyoudontlooksick.com

My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.
As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to be so sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?
I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.
As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.
At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.
I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.
Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.
She grabbed the spoons with excitement. She didn’t understand what I was doing, but she is always up for a good time, so I guess she thought I was cracking a joke of some kind like I usually do when talking about touchy topics. Little did she know how serious I would become?
I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.
I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. I practically jumped down her throat. I said ” No! You don’t just get up. You have to crack open your eyes, and then realize you are late. You didn’t sleep well the night before. You have to crawl out of bed, and then you have to make your self something to eat before you can do anything else, because if you don’t, you can’t take your medicine, and if you don’t take your medicine you might as well give up all your spoons for today and tomorrow too.” I quickly took away a spoon and she realized she hasn’t even gotten dressed yet. Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.
I think she was starting to understand when she theoretically didn’t even get to work, and she was left with 6 spoons. I then explained to her that she needed to choose the rest of her day wisely, since when your “spoons” are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s “spoons”, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less “spoons”. I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them. I didn’t want to depress her, but I needed to be realistic, and unfortunately being prepared for the worst is part of a real day for me.
We went through the rest of the day, and she slowly learned that skipping lunch would cost her a spoon, as well as standing on a train, or even typing at her computer too long. She was forced to make choices and think about things differently. Hypothetically, she had to choose not to run errands, so that she could eat dinner that night.
When we got to the end of her pretend day, she said she was hungry. I summarized that she had to eat dinner but she only had one spoon left. If she cooked, she wouldn’t have enough energy to clean the pots. If she went out for dinner, she might be too tired to drive home safely. Then I also explained, that I didn’t even bother to add into this game, that she was so nauseous, that cooking was probably out of the question anyway. So she decided to make soup, it was easy. I then said it is only 7pm, you have the rest of the night but maybe end up with one spoon, so you can do something fun, or clean your apartment, or do chores, but you can’t do it all.
I rarely see her emotional, so when I saw her upset I knew maybe I was getting through to her. I didn’t want my friend to be upset, but at the same time I was happy to think finally maybe someone understood me a little bit. She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse then others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.”
Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.
After we were emotional and talked about this for a little while longer, I sensed she was sad. Maybe she finally understood. Maybe she realized that she never could truly and honestly say she understands. But at least now she might not complain so much when I can’t go out for dinner some nights, or when I never seem to make it to her house and she always has to drive to mine. I gave her a hug when we walked out of the diner. I had the one spoon in my hand and I said “Don’t worry. I see this as a blessing. I have been forced to think about everything I do. Do you know how many spoons people waste everyday? I don’t have room for wasted time, or wasted “spoons” and I chose to spend this time with you.”
Ever since this night, I have used the spoon theory to explain my life to many people. In fact, my family and friends refer to spoons all the time. It has been a code word for what I can and cannot do. Once people understand the spoon theory they seem to understand me better, but I also think they live their life a little differently too. I think it isn’t just good for understanding Lupus, but anyone dealing with any disability or illness. Hopefully, they don’t take so much for granted or their life in general. I give a piece of myself, in every sense of the word when I do anything. It has become an inside joke. I have become famous for saying to people jokingly that they should feel special when I spend time with them, because they have one of my “spoons”.
© Christine Miserandino



What I Love Wednesday!

Here are some of the things that I'm absolutely loving this week:

1. My daughter's Halloween costume! When I was explaining to her what Halloween was all about and how she would get to dress up as something that she really liked she seemed so interested.  I asked her what she wanted to be and she said "I be sheep!" She has a stuffed sheep that she sleeps with every night and she thinks that sheep say "ha ha ha ha" instead of "bah bah bah" which is too stinkin' cute... so I got her a sheep costume! It came in the mail yesterday and she shreiked with excitement when I showed her.  Here is a sneak peek of our little sheep:
 2. I'm loving that we finally finished my crafting corner (which I'm sure everyone is sick of hearing about by now) and I'm going to get to use it for the first time TONIGHT! Here is a shot of that area...
3. I'm loving that my dad is coming over for dinner tomorrow night. I haven't seen him since the wedding... which was over a month ago!
4. Which reminds me... our one month anniversary was yesterday. <3 It seems absolutely insane that our wedding was already so long ago.
That's all for now. I have a headache that I have been trying to get rid of since I woke up this morning, so I'll end this list here.  Have a fantastic day, everyone!


Terrific Tuesday is here again!

I had a few people in mind to write about this week... but I'm not sure how to write about why I think they are particularly terrific without airing some of their dirty laundry to show how far they have come... so I'm going to play it safe for now and write about Mr. Terrific himself... my husband!

Mike and I met what seems like forever ago... but in reality was only 3 and 1/2 years ago.  We "clicked" right away and it was the closest to love at first sight that I've ever experienced.  We started spending a LOT of time together, which wasn't that easy to do since we lived 45 minutes away from each other.  Mike was still living at home with his parents (although he had a pretty cool set up with his own bathroom, bedroom and office... so plenty of privacy) and I was renting a room in a house with two guys my age (and that's a story for another day... haha).  We spent a lot of time going back and forth between our two houses before finally getting an apartment together in Feasterville.  Things were great, as they usually are in relationships where everything is going well... when we hit our first major bump in the road together. I lost my job (more than that... I lost my career, my calling, my EVERYTHING at that time) and was really depressed about it.  I made really good money, I was so proud of and identified myself by my career, and it was all gone in a flash... basically I felt like my world came crashing down.  Mike really stepped up to the plate and helped me find myself as a person.  He cheered me up by buying me our first pet together, a hamster named Chase. (Chase ended up belonging more to Mike than me... the little guy adored Mike and wanted nothing to do with me. lol!)  He told me to take some time and figure out what I wanted to do instead of rushing to get any old job right away.  He was there for me in all the right ways.
After about a month of moping around and dealing with my emotions we found out some absolutely amazing news... a miracle had happened! We were having a baby! I was told by my doctors that I may not be able to conceive and that if I did conceive naturally, it could take years to have success.  Well... it only took three months... and it was truly God's perfect timing as I was at my lowest point after losing my job and now I had something to be ecstatic about.  Mike was BEYOND excited (even though he didn't believe me when I called him and made me take another test when he got home from work. haha.) We called our parents right away, even though we were nervous of their reactions since we weren't married (or even engaged) yet. Oh,  the horrors! Haha. They were surprised... but in the words of my mom "if you're happy, we're happy". He proposed to me on August 12th, 2008 and I was more than ready to say yes! I found out later that he had called my dad and asked for permission to marry me before asking me himself... I love that!  We bought (ok rented and THEN bought) a house together and Mike worked a ton of overtime and took on a second job part time so that I could stay home with our daughter for her first year of life. I appreciate that more than he'll ever know.
Since becoming a mom and growing up a bit, I've really found myself and know who I am as a woman... but there are times when I suffer from self doubt.  Mike is always there to tell me how amazing I am and cheer me on.  We've dealt with our share of normal problems but we've also had to deal with the mystery of my poor health.  I won't bore you with the details, but basically I've had a LOT of health problems through the years and no clear answers... there were a lot of times when I was too exhausted and in too much pain to function and we didn't know why.  Mike was (mostly) patient and (mostly) understanding during these times, but it was frustrating for both of us.  I finally got a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia earlier this year and started treatment.  I'm 1000% better than I used to be, but I still have bad days every now and again.  Mike is always patient and willing to do a little extra on those days to help me out. 
He's a great father to our daughter (he adores his little princess), a hard worker and an amazing provider.  He has really been supportive of my interests (creating a crafting corner in our bedroom so that I can have my own private place to do my sewing, jewelry making and scrapbooking... coming to meet with the pastor of a new church... watching Abby every once in a while without complaining so I can do dinner with a friend) and he let me plan a big elaborate wedding even though he wanted something small and simple.  When I was pregnant with our daughter I OBSESSED about researching every little detail about pregnancy and birth... he listened patiently to every tiny detail that I wanted to share with him, even though I'm sure he was bored to tears and thinking about baseball half the time.  He thinks every meal that I make is delicious (even when it's really not).  He continually tries to improve himself for the sake of our family and I know that Abby and I are the most important things in the entire world to him.  He is my husband... my soulmate... my other half... and I think he's pretty darn terrific!  


How was your weekend?

Ours was great!  Friday after work I went right to Jo-Anne Fabrics to do some shopping for my soon to be started sewing habit.  I bought over $100 worth of supplies, but I'm all set to start this new hobby! While I was there my mother-in-law called to see if we wanted to come over for dinner and cake for my father-in-laws birthday.  We had Chinese (chicken lo-mein for me... yum!) and cake and ice cream.  Abby loved the ice cream and was super excited to get her very own bowl.
Saturday we had some running around to do taking care of Mike's car and buying a desk for my newly created crafting corner in our bedroom.  Since Mike has the "man cave" (our spare bedroom is all set up with his computer, video games, movies, guitar, etc) we decided that it's only fair that I have a space for my hobbies as well.  So now I have a cozy little corner where I can have privacy to work on my scrapbooking, jewelry making and sewing.  Abby and I did some fall crafts, we made a big pumpkin display for our front window using contact paper and tissue paper pieces. It turned out really cute!

 Saturday night Mike went out for his buddies birthday and Abby and I had a girls night of relaxation and fun.
This morning we woke up and got ready for church.  Abby went to the toddler room for the first time and she absolutely loved it! She had a blast and didn't want to leave when I went to pick her up after the service.  I'm really starting to feel like this church could be my "home" and I'm looking forward to getting more involved in everything.  I'm picking out a growth group to join (small bible study groups that meet weekly) as soon as Mike decides which night would be the best for him to watch Abby.  I also signed up to help with the blood drive in November by donating blood and baked goods.  On November 7th the entire congregation is taking the church outside to the community by doing small mission projects (cleaning up a park, painting an elderly persons home, leading a worship service at a jail, visiting a nursing home, etc) instead of the normal Sunday services.  I haven't decided which project to sign up for yet, but I'll be doing one of those as well.
After church Abby and I met my friend Karen and her daughter Madison (Maddy is three months younger than Abby) for lunch at Red Robin.  The girls had fun and Karen and I had a chance to catch up over some yummy food.  We're hoping to be able to get together more often, at least once a month. This evening we put together my new desk and set up the crafting corner. I can't wait to have a chance to use it!  Have a great week everyone.


"What I Love" Wednesday

Here are the things that I'm loving this week!

#1 and ALWAYS #1... my husband and daughter:

I also love everyone that was in our wedding party last month! Matron of Honor: Michelle, Bridesmaids: Erica and Kristy, Best Man: Eric, Groomsman: Joe, Ringbearers: Aiden, Jack and Adam, Flower Girl: Abigail

Humor blogs! Three of my favorites are

http://www.thelaughingstork.com/ (which is a funny mom blog)

I am loooving that tomorrow is the start of AUTUMN! (although it's still really hot here)
I can't wait for changing leaves, the chance to wear hoodies and yoga pants (my favorite comfort outfit), crockpot dinners and everything else that comes along with the changing season.

I also REALLY like these deal-a-day sites for getting great deals...

Last but not least... I'm loving the new church that I attended last Sunday, (http://www.woodside-church.org/) and I can't wait to go back this week! I'm definitely bringing Abby to the nursery, I think she'll have a blast.


Wedding Vows

My next few blog posts will most likely be about our wedding, since it's so fresh in my mind.  We got married at Warrington Country Club on August 28th, 2010.  We had an outdoor garden ceremony followed by a cocktail hour and reception.  The weather was beautiful, the ceremony was full of emotion, the reception was amazingly fun and full of so many memories that I will never forget.  We are supposed to be getting our wedding video back in a few weeks and I cannot wait to watch it! Here is a copy of our wedding vows, including the special sand ceremony that we did to include our daughter.

Thank you, you may all be seated.
Who gives Nicole to be married to Michael?
Bride's Father ~ Her Mother and I do.
We have been invited to hear Michael and Nicole as they promise to face the future together, accepting whatever may lie ahead.    In the time they have been together their love and understanding of each other has grown and matured.  Now they have decided to live their lives together as husband and wife.    Nicole and Michael, you are about to assume mutual relationships and responsibilities and to promise undying devotions.  Nothing is easier than saying words, nothing harder than living them day-by-day. 
As an expression that your hearts are joined together in love, please face each other and join hands?
Michael this woman whom you hold by the hand is to be your wife.  Please repeat now these vows of devotion…  I Michael take thee Nicole … to be my wedded wife … to have and to hold… from this day forward … for better, for worse,… for richer, for poorer … in sickness and in health,… to love and cherish … till death us do part … and hereto… I pledge you… my faithfulness.
Nicole this man whom you hold by the hand is to be your husband.  Please repeat now these vows of devotion …I Nicole take thee Michael … to be my wedded husband … to have and to hold… from this day forward … for better, for worse,… for richer, for poorer … in sickness and in health,… to love and cherish … till death us do part … and hereto… I pledge you… my faithfulness.
Michael and Nicole you have chosen this very unique and beautiful setting to celebrate the coming together of your lives. Today, you proclaim the love and devotion that you feel for one another. These vows are a promise of infinite love that unites you in blessed matrimony. 
Now as you exchange rings let them be to each of you a constant reminder of these commitments you have made. 
Michael will you look into Nicole’s eyes and into her heart, and repeat after me:     Nicole I marry you with this ring… It is a symbol of my love… loyalty and commitment…. I promise to show you everyday… that I love and cherish you.
Nicole do you accept this ring as a symbol of Michael’s love?   
Bride ~ I do
Nicole will you look into Michael’s eyes and into his heart, and repeat after me:      Michael I marry you with this ring… It is a symbol of my love… loyalty and commitment…. I promise to show you everyday… that I love and cherish you.
Michael do you accept this ring as a symbol of Nicole’s love? 
Groom ~ I do
These rings are more than a symbol of your marriage.  They are symbols representing the promises you are making here today.  Not only are these rings reminding you of the purity of your relationship; but they are also a circle, a line unending, reminding you that your love, devotion, and commitment to one another are to be unending as well.
We are all members of one family, God’s family. Today as Nicole and Michael have sealed their commitment to each other with the exchange of rings they too make a commitment to their daughter. We recognize the significant role that Abigail plays in this marriage celebrated today. She will now join Nicole and Michael in this commitment to each other by contributing a part of each individual person into one whole family.
Today, this relationship is symbolized through the pouring of these three individual containers of sand, each representing a member of the family in all that they were, all that that are, and all that they will ever be. As each individual’s sand is poured into the family’s one united common container, the individual containers of sand will no longer exist, but will be joined together as one. Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual containers, so will become the bond with your family.
Later, as you seal your container with wax, it will symbolize your family and friends, may they always be there with you and keep you together as one.  Their wish for you today is that your lives together will last longer than the time it would take to separate those individual grains of sand.
Having heard the pledges of your affection, and the vows of your fidelity, I do therefore by virtue of the authority vested in me by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, before God, whose grace to you is unmeasured, and before these witnesses, pronounce you husband and wife. 
You may now share your first kiss as Husband and Wife!
It is now my honor and privilege to congratulate and introduce you as, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Hofmann.

It brings tears to my eyes just reading over it again. I'll post some of our favorite pictures tonight after Abby goes to bed. :)

Terrific Tuesday!

I'm going to try and make every Tuesday a Terrific Tuesday on my blog.  Each week I want to recognize someone in my life that I think is terrific!

This week... my good friend, Jennifer Bivenour.

Jenn is terrific in sooooo many ways. She's one of the most honest and REAL people that I've ever met. Jenn has three sons that she would do anything for.  I definitely look up to her as a mom and respect the way that she parents so much! She always treats her kids with love, but they surely understand that she's the boss.  While talking to her oldest son the other day about an issue he was having doing his homework (simply put, he didn't want to do it. lol.) I heard her say "I'm not your friend, I'm your mother." and explain to him what needed to be done.  I was so impressed by this simple sentiment. Way too many parents these days are worried about their kids "liking them" and being their friends.  My parents were always my parents. I knew they were mom and dad and they were not to be messed with! Last month after my wedding one of my friends told me how cool my parents were and how fun they were to hang out with... they said "how come we never hung out with them before?" Simply put... they were my PARENTS (real parents... not the "cool" parents that let their kids break the rules) when I was a child... now that I'm an adult and they have rasied me right, they can finally be my friends as well.  I know that Jenn will be the same way for her kids.

Not only is Jenn a great mom, she's a giving daughter and sister as well.  She helps her family out in so many ways and takes on so many responsibilities. She amazes me!

On top of being a breadwinner, mom, daughter, sister, chef, taxi driver, teacher, psychologist, and the million other things she does, she somehow finds time to be an amazing friend too.

Jenn is the kind of person that you can call for anything... whether it's to get her advice on man problems, to ask her to go shopping with you, or to bail you out of jail.  If you are her friend, she is there for you no matter what.

When I say that she is real, I mean that she's the kind of person that will show up to your bachelorrette party even though she doesn't know a single other person.  The kind of person that will wake up early to come over and do your makeup on your wedding day. She's the kind of person that will give you honest and blunt information when you ask for it, but will sugarcoat things when she can tell you need to hear it. 

As does everyone, Jenn has some hard things to deal with in her life... you won't find her complaining about it or sitting around waiting for someone else to fix it though. No, sir.  She's the kind of gal that will put on her big girl panties (I love that expression. haha) and keep on trucking. She gives everything that she has of herself to others. I just wish she had more down time for herself. :)  

I consider myself extremely lucky to have such a caring, real, honest, HILARIOUS, brave, smart, inspiring and terrific woman in my life.  Thanks for being you, Jennifer!


Why For Better or Worse?

Well...  I just got married last month.  While reading over our vows I really started thinking about the phrase "For Better or Worse".  Making a commitment to love someone at their best and at their worst is a HUGE commitment! I'm not just talking about tolerating them... I mean actually LOVING them. Speaking to them respectfully, accepting their flaws, supporting them, and sometimes making sacrifices for them.  This is something that I have struggled with in the past and am always working on overcoming.  Since having our daughter I have really learned the meaning of sacrificing for those I love and have done my best to show my daughter and husband the love and respect that they deserve at all times, even when I don't want to.  These deep thoughts coupled with some inspiration from my amazing internet friends (*shout out to Claire and Melissa!*) led me to even DEEPER thoughts about religion and my life in general and I started actively seeking out a new church home.

Quick background: I was SORT OF raised Catholic.  I went through CCD and made all of my sacraments, but didn't attend church weekly. Church never spoke to me and I always felt like religion wasn't for me... it was for people who needed something to believe in... and I believed in myself just fine. 

Back to now: My main reasons for getting back into church again (I haven't been to church in a looooooong time) and for NOT choosing the Catholic church, are that I believe in and want to teach our daughter about a loving God... not one that she needs to fear. Also, I am so blessed in so many ways (my husband and I have each other, our daughter, we both have great parents, a house, a dog, financial stability, generally good health... the list goes on and on) and I'm one of those people that things just ALWAYS seem to work out for. No matter what bad things happen in my life, I later see a reason for them and they have always led to something bigger and better. I feel like there is no way that can be responsible for my own fate and that God has taken care of and provided so much for me.

I want to find a church that celebrates those things and also provides support for those who need it. I'm a thinker and a debater and I question things a lot of the time... such as evolution, etc. I want a church that accepts those questions as legitimate and helps me to make sense of them instead of just being like "nope, you're wrong". I'm interested in learning about the bible but sometimes have trouble being able to relate it to modern day (especially the part about women bowing down and submitting to their husbands... eeck! I'm a big supporter of independant strong women.) I believe that man is in no position to judge one another on general life choices and when the Catholic church (and a few outspoken members of that church) told me that I was damned and not welcome to be married in their church because I chose to have my daughter out of wedlock... that was the LAST straw for me. Our daughter is a blessing and the best thing that has ever happened to us.  We had her intentionally and of our own timing.  That is nobody's business but our own. 

I also don't believe in confession, as I can speak to and confess to God myself just as well as a priest can. This is something very close to my heart right now as I'm working on finding myself as a child of God.  This is another place that fits the phrase "For Better or Worse" as I know that God loves and forgives me while I make mistakes finding my way.

For Better or Worse can pretty much define the way I feel about anyone that I let into my life.  I'm old enough and experienced enough to know who I am as a woman and what I want out of my life.  I want a happy and healthy family, a peaceful existance, a calm and happy heart (thanks for that expression, Rachel) and to serve and support those I love.

This blog will be about those special family members and friends that I adore... my celebrations and struggles... probably some bragging about my daughter and husband... and my observations on life in general... For Better or Worse! :)