Archive for May, 2014

Radical Events for May ~Venus

Hey everyone! I did a few radical things this month. I went to a job fair & applied to a few jobs. I took my written test last Wednesday at the Department of Public Safety & got my permit. The week before last when I went there things didn’t go well. I went up there to take my road test & found out after waiting two hours that I had to take my written test to get my permit. The permit I had was expired & I renewed it once. I thought I could take my road test with it but I found out that the rules changed. I was told & while back that I could take my road test w/ an expired permit within three years of the expiration date but since I renewed it, I couldn’t do that. Another thing I did that was radical was try a new hairstyle. I did my hair in finger coils. The only thing that I disliked about my finger coils was that my hair wouldn’t twist at the roots the way I wanted it to.  I helped my roommate Ariel w/ a quick weave that she was trying to do on her hair. I think her quick weave turned out well for doing it the first time. I also cooked dinner for Memorial Day for the first time. Boy was it a lot of work! That’s all I can think of to write at the moment. God bless!

~Venus

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My May ~Venus

Hello everyone! This month hasn’t been spectacular. My last day of work was May 2nd. I was laid off of work for a couple of weeks. I returned back to work on Wednesday. I’m happy to be working again. Being at home all the time isn’t fun.

Last Saturday I went to Golden Corral & Wal-Mart w/ my mom & Auntie Pearl. We also went to my Auntie Dot’s house. My Auntie came to town last Friday & went back home Sunday. I was very happy to see my aunt because I haven’t seen her in a while. On Mother’s Day, I went to church w/ my mom & cooked her dinner at my house. I also gave her a gift. I bought my mom a dark chocolate candy bar & two flower pots that already had flower seeds in them. On Memorial Day, one of my roommates & I cooked dinner for ourselves & two of her guests. We had cornbread, baked beans, green beans, potato salad, BBQ chicken wings, Stouffer’s Mac & cheese, & Edwards turtle pie. I did a few radical things this month. I’ll share them in my next post for this month. God bless!

~Venus

P.S. One of my roommates moved out this month & another one moved in. I helped my roommate that moved out move into her new apartment.  I was sad to see her move.  I’m going to miss her!

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Reading What’s on the Label~Audrey

As I have described before in The Answer, the doctors and I have finally settled on a term for my condition. Since then, we have struggled with how best to treat it. My immunologist finally referred to my condition as “immune dysfunction”. I have neither a full blown autoimmune disease nor a full blown immune deficiency. I am trapped in a transition that makes it hard to diagnosis and even harder to treat.

You might think I would be happier now that we know what is going on. That’s what I thought, but the sad truth is, I’m not.  I am actually more frustrated that I was. To sum up my resentment and anger: I’m not sick enough.

In this day and age, we feel invincible. That medicine had answers and if you caught things early enough they can treat and make your life so much better and longer. I am lucky enough to have a sweet dear friend whose disease did turn out this way, so it does happen. But my diagnosis is not as clear cut. The doctors think they know what’s going to happen. In fact, my immunologist told me to come back in two years! I mean, really? You can’t give me any relief sooner.

Luckily, my rheumatologist has been keeping a good eye on me. He gave me some medicines in December that wouldn’t fully kick in for six months, and I feel like I have reached that point. I generally feel better (much better than I did the last time I went to see him) but it is a band-aid, not a remedy.

So for now a lot of it is on me. Follow the rheumatologist and nephrologists orders, eat right, stay hydrated and get some exercise. That last part is especially hard because it hurts so much. I have been on a few walks, doing yoga, even rode a horse for about five minutes. Other than pray it’s the only thing I can do. And God is granting me the clarity, strength and resolve to push myself within safe limits. For this I am grateful.       

What I am not grateful for: people’s confusion. Non-specialty doctors have no idea what to do with me. People think that not going back to the doctor for two years is a good thing. I wish I could just say I had lupus: people would understand. I wish I could just say CVID: doctors would understand.  But I am a unique peacock: people watch me and marvel but they never get it.

So now I take up a new mantle: awareness. Like my kidney disease, I must educate, rally and advocate so people can understand my life and my needs. But while I complain, there are others who are in the same boat and who benefit too. I may not know them; they may not live around here, but I can make a difference for my cause and for them. I just have to spread the word-I just have to explain.

I am Zebra.*

 

*Don’t get it? Read here.

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I <3 coupons–confessions of a discountaholic. *Kelly

Couponing is the best hobby I’ve taken up since yoga. It is thrilling the first time you look at a receipt and see FREE all over it. I love bringing home bags of things we will use and telling Nathan some ridiculously low price I paid for it all. I feel like I’m doing good things for my family and having fun at the same time. If you have an extra 3-4 hours a week, you can save a lot of money on practically everything. I had a few people ask me how I coupon. I am just starting out. There are limitless possibilities in how to go about couponing. YouTube is full of videos from more experienced couponers than myself. Seeing as how this blog is about trying new things and sharing experiences, I will share with you my current method below.

Step 1: You need to buy a few things, unless you have them lying around. Extra points if you don’t actually have to pay for these things.

-Binder

-Trading card page protector sleeves (or whatever you call them, right by the binders in Wal-Mart)

-Scissors

-Sunday newspaper (I get 2 or 3)

Step 2:

-Clip and organize

I clip out coupons and save every coupon for products I would want were they free–because they may be. I organize them all into sections that make sense to me… frozen foods, cereals and breakfast stuff, condiments and salad dressings, drinks, make-up, hair care, skin care, dental, medical, cleaning supplies, baby stuff, etc.

Organizing your coupons is nice because you need to have a rough idea of what’s in your coupon binder for the next step.

Step 3:

-Find out what’s on sale. The inserts from stores you like in your newspaper are helpful. Also you can use web sites like http://www.couponmom.com to keep track of what’s going on. The best luck I have had is with a) stacking coupons on top of BOGO deals at Publix and Winn-Dixie and b) finding clearance items that I have coupons for and paying virtually nothing.

Step 4:

-Take your coupon binder with you everywhere you shop. You never know when you’re going to stumble upon an awesome clearance, and you don’t want to be stuck wishing you had the coupons with you that would get you those items FREE.

Step 5:

-Be selective. Don’t use a coupon just because you have it. If the price isn’t amazing, wait until you see the item on sale. Then use your coupon and feel so smart for holding out for a better price.

Step 6:

-Don’t be so selective. If you only shop at 1 store, open up your options. I never used to shop at Walgreens or CVS, because I figured they inflate their prices so even the sales would be a waste of money. I was wrong. I get make-up and hair products for cheap or free there all the time by stacking coupons on top of their clearance and sale items. Also, I never used to go to K-Mart. I hadn’t been there in well over a decade. I went a few days ago because I saw a coupon in the newspaper that advertized a free 25 dollar gift card when you switch a prescription. I switched my prenatal vitamin prescription to K-Mart, got the gift card, used my coupons on clearance items, and had my biggest success yet. Who knew K-Mart has a ton of clearance items? I got a little over 100 dollars worth of stuff for 15 bucks. I have a photo below of Eli going through some of the things I found that night, plus I got expensive color wonder sets for him that were reduced to 5 bucks from 30.

I may sound like a crazy coupon lady now. I don’t care. It’s fun. I already have enough hair, dental, and make-up stuff to last me through Christmas at least. This means when school starts and things get hectic, I will have less items on my shopping list. I’m like a squirrel burying supplies for the winter lol. If you decide couponing is for you, I wish you the best of luck.

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Pregnancy After a Loss-Renee

So, I made all these grandiose ideas and plans for my eating revolution and then this happened….

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Yes dear R7 readers that’s a positive pregnancy test. 6months after losing Baby Smith I’m with child again. I wish I could tell you how awesome and exciting this is….but after a Loss you become a bit hesitant to share the news.. you question your body, you question God…you wonder..and wonder should you hope? I had my first appointment two weeks ago at what should be 5wks 6days. Saw the sac (but it was empty). The ultrasound tech was like you’re early no big deal, we will schedule you for another one in a few weeks and you can see the baby then………I was excited to know that the baby was in the right spot but seeing an empty sac…made me feel…well empty. I’m almost 8weeks and have battled severe “morning sickness” since hitting 6wks. Some say a sick pregnancy is a good thing. Idk. Ive had a hard time enjoying the little life I affectionately refer to as Jelly bean. See I spent wks praying for Baby Smith, holding on to Scripture after Scripture only to have that little life end. I just dont know God’s plan. I want to believe this is my rainbow baby (a baby after a loss), but part of me fears..what if it’s not to be. Losing Baby Smith took a lot out of me. There were times between the hormones and emotions I thought I was going crazy. The physical and emotional pain.  The awkward attempts for people to comfort me…or worse those who wouldn’t acknowledge my loss.
I have faith…I just dont know what to put my faith in. I hate to say it but since finding out. My bible has remained closed as has my prayers. I feel terrible for doing that, but sometimes I fear that if I put too much hope into this and God decides not to let this Baby live…I wouldn’t be able to survive. Sounds so defeatist right? It is. I hate it. I hate I cant scream with confidence that Jelly bean is my rainbow baby, but I have to be honest. It took a lot to try again and I am very,  very grateful, but im also cautious.
It took a lot to even share the news because I dont want people to look at me or my body as broken if I lose another baby
You may ask what made me share.. well I was flipping through the channels and landed on Joel Osteen. His sermon was on trying again. And his exact words were some times you have to risk heartbreak again to get to what God has for you. Wow. Without taking the first step…I can’t even begin to overcome my fear. Sharing was my first step. I didn’t allow the enemy to steal that although I’ve let him ransack my everyday joy with Jelly bean. I’m working hard to fight it, but it is a daily struggle.

Day by day

Renee

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Sorry- DaniGee

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Do you see her? The little pretty girl who is above these words. Her name is Zariah. She is funny, sarcastic, smart, loveable, and spoiled. She has this thing that she does everytime she feels she has done something wrong. She will instantly say, “Sorry!” It doesn’t change her behavior but she has at least said the word. As an aunt, that phrase can get very aggravating very quickly because she is misusing the term. She knows she is doing something wrong but she is not doing  anything actively to stop her behavior.

This brought me back to my actions as an Christian. How many times have I done something then instantly said, “Forgive me Lord.” Be it thoughts, actions, or feelings. I often don’t think about it. I am so blessed to have God’s grace and mercy.

This subject reminds me of a biblical story. Want to hear it? Here it go!
Biblical Text  Reading: Exodus 16: 1-36
Print-Exodus 16:2-3
2. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt!  There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

How many times have that been our reaction to life? No matter what God has brought us through,  we can only see as far as the tip of our nose. I know for myself, I have been fearful about life’s situations like It is necessary.  I need to not be like the Israelites and grumble because things aren’t we want it to be. I am on a continual journey to learn to lean more on God and not on my own understanding. 

Still Pushing,

DaniGee

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Small wins! *Kelly

Stiven, our other boy :)

Stiven, our other boy 🙂

 

A couple of weeks ago a couple of young people knocked on my door with information about Children International. It’s one of the sponsorship programs where you can sponsor a child in poverty with a monthly donation to make sure their basic needs are met. You can choose to help kids in the U.S. or in pretty much any other country you prefer. We just signed up for the emergency list, meaning they assign us to the area that’s currently experiencing the most need. I have always wanted to be part of a program like this. I remember all throughout my childhood reading letters my mother and her child, Anil, would send to one another. We never had much, but my parents made a way to help a kid across the globe. Now that we are somewhat financially stable, I’m happy to join in the efforts to do the same.

We are still pretty broke in terms of middle class standards. I was surprised to find out the monthly income for the child’s family who we now sponsor is only 250 a month. On a frivolous month, we probably spend that much eating out. In the poverty-stricken areas of Columbia, that’s the norm. Anyways, I fell in love with this baby as soon as I saw him. Look at those eyes! He has that smile like Nathan gives when someone asks him to smile for the camera. It’s like he’s complying, but doesn’t know how to fake a smile (like I do lol). I wish I could give him a big hug. I’ll settle for knowing we’re helping give his family some relief from financial problems. I know from experience that having that kind of relief makes life happier for the whole family. You can enjoy each other more when you aren’t struggling to figure out how to pay the bills without getting into a worse situation. I hope the little that we’re giving goes a long way for him.

That being said, I’m not changing the world. I’m not helping an enemy. It’s true what the Bible says about helping a friend being way easier than helping an enemy. I’m not giving more than we can afford. I’m getting way more out of this than I’m putting in. I wanted to share this blog not to draw attention to the huge thing we’re doing, but to encourage you to do the small things that you can.

Moving to Miami was a dream that Nathan and I were able to realize only because Mei’s fathers took an extra interest in us. They mentored us and helped us move to Miami. We were doing okay in Crestview. We could have figured out a way to get to Miami on our own eventually. Thanks to my “baby daddies,” we were able to get down here a lot faster, and share the final months of our pregnancy together creating memories that will last a lifetime. Now I have them to thank in part for helping Nathan and I establish a wonderful, stable life here for our little family. It’s not only easy to pass that along, but it’s necessary. Not only as a Christian, but just as a decent human being.

Not everyone can afford to give money to charity (in my opinion). Sometimes all you can give is something of yourself. You can give extra belongings to your local thrift shop. You can donate your time and energy picking up trash at your local park. If you have a talent, you can share that through donating a painting. You can read to kids at an after school program.

My little sister donated a painting recently to an auction for children who have been maltreated. She ended up bringing in money to the local FFN that helped transport a missing (then found) child home. When we talked about it last week I told her, “I bet you didn’t expect to be helping a child get to a safe home when you were painting that night–probably at 3am on your bedroom floor in a heightened emotional state as is your typical artistic process.” She kind of laughed it off and said, “If I’d known that I would be painting all the time.” The thing is, you don’t know the impact you’re going to have when you do the things that are small for you. They could end up being huge for someone else. Or they could be small. Either way, a world full of “small wins” is a good thing. Think about it. Do something radical. Even if it is small. Do something. 🙂

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