Just another part of my story

November 2, 2016, was a day that changed my life. Nerve pain, ever experienced it? It’s excruciating. Like having a barbed wire running throughout your entire butt and down your leg and every time you move your lower body, at all, it constricts, shredding and tearing everything it touches. There is no working around it,  you change your life for this kind of pain, not the other way around. It has completely orchestrated my life for nine and a half months now. I know it sounds dramatic but if you’ve experienced it, you understand!

I have Sacroiliac joint dysfunction and was told, from a recent MRI, I have bone marrow edema -this causes tons of swelling in the joint, and am in the process of meeting a rheumatologist because my sports medicine doctor is certain I have rheumatoid arthritis.

About a month ago something happened and the pain started subsiding, FAST. I didn’t care why. Still don’t, although, I wish I knew if it was something I did. I couldn’t believe it. I was sleeping more than 4 hours, I wasn’t in hardly any pain -I have had panic attacks at the thought of having to get into bed, I could get into my car in less than 5 minutes, walk at a normal pace -I have to walk REALLY slowly on the bad days, clean the house with no problems, and I was even getting to workout -my most very FAVORITE stress reliever.

THEN, about 2 weeks ago it started creeping back in.

I chose not to share any of this before because I, I guess I just hoped it would go away. I hate being pitied or treated like I can’t do anything. I am the one that takes care of everyone, everything, and I do NOT like to be treated like I can’t. Sharing this makes me feel incredibly anxious and vulnerable, but I’m hoping I can use this as an outlet when it’s all a little too much, and maybe, just maybe it will help someone else to know they aren’t going through it alone. Hell, maybe I won’t feel so alone either.

Now, it’s day to day. Yesterday was a great day, while the four before that were definitely worse. It’s incredibly frustrating, on top of physically and mentally exhausting.

I keep trying to make sense of it all. Like, how does God give me a husband, 3 children -one with a serious birth defect, another with awful anxiety- and then no way to physically care for them?

What’s the saying “God won’t give you more than you can handle”?

I think we need to have a conversation.

School is approaching fast, and it’s that time again, the boys have to get the oh-so-dreaded haircuts, bedtimes are getting back on track, Peytons homeschool curriculum is all set to go, and Ayden and Maddox are anticipating the first day of public school (Maddox has never had one and it’s been 6 years since Ayden has, it’s exciting).

BUT…..

……in the middle of it all, I am doing my very best to stay positive and take every good day I get as a blessing. It can be VERY difficult to find happiness and stay positive when you can’t make plans, schedule appointments, or even do just normal things like cleaning the house or go grocery shopping because you never know how you will feel that day. In my world, the anxiety that causes can be overwhelming all on its own. I get so tired of telling my family, “I’m sorry. I can’t.” It’s awful.

For me, I can’t dwell on those things because it can be really easy for me to stay there. In that dark place. So, in an attempt to stay out of it, I try to focus on the many blessings I do have; my husband (my best friend), three amazing kiddos, the ability to stay home with my babies, friends I wouldn’t trade for the world, and, most of the time, when I can keep a grateful heart, it doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be thankful every day you get, no matter how hard it was. We survived and we’re only stronger because of it.

xoxo Cassey

 

Going for it

Wow, life has been so crazy! I realize I signed up to tell you all about it when I started this blog, but can I be real for a second? Every time I sit down to write something I get in my own head. I wonder, will this blog will ever make a difference? Do people actually care about my day to day? Maybe it’s just me going through this or what if it isn’t perfectly written? Will they care? I love blogging but, am I out of my league?  I eventually start to think maybe I should be doing something productive instead and, unfortunately, those are the thoughts that sink in and usually win.

BUT, I’ve decided NO MORE, and I am going to tell you why.

Last week, my 13 year old son would not stop bugging me about going outside to try roller skating. He has always wanted to be able to skate, so he can play hockey with his dad someday but, our situation is a bit unique with Ayden having SB (Spina Bifida). Roller skating is a skill he’s attempted many, many times with little to no success. He has “normal” -whatever that even means- muscle function from the knees up, but knees down is another story. Between muscle weakness and nerve damage, he has difficulties with strength and function, which makes activities like roller skating extra difficult.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

I am going to be honest, I didn’t want to let him go. I didn’t want him to go out there and come back in heartbroken because his body doesn’t want to work the way he is asking it to, but that’s exactly what happened and he was absolutely crushed.

“I couldn’t even take ONE step, mom!” He said before he fell into my lap sobbing. “I’ll never be able to do it! Why did this have to happen to me? It’s my dream, mom! They (his legs/ankles) just don’t work! I will never play hockey!”

I had nothing. The only words I could manage to get out through the tears were, “I love you, I’m sorry, and it will be okay!” I just kept repeating those small phrases to him praying they were enough. I needed him to feel all of my love. I needed him to know he wasn’t alone in any of this.

The next few days were rough for me. I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened. I kept replaying it, over and over again, thinking about how his world is changing and if he’s handling it all okay and then a few days later, something CRAZY AWESOME happened…….

A GIANT hockey net showed up at our house! That’s right! He decided he wasn’t going to let his diagnosis dictate his life. He even spent his own $78 to buy this net. He told me he wasn’t going to let fear or Spina Bifida stop him. He was GOING to play, somehow.

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Ayden’s new net

Ayden’s got the idea! Who cares what they say or what’s supposed to be? If it’s scary, just go for it! You only get ONE life, that’s it! So why not? What’s the worst that could happen? If it’s hard, keep pushing! Like my husband always says to me, “You do you, boo boo” (cracks me up every time)!

We all have the exact same choice, each and every day! I don’t know about you, but I’m with Ayden, I’m going for it!

He bought the net and I pushed the “Publish” button.

It’s a start.

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest

xoxo Cassey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

t25, yoga, & kids, oh my!!

No surprise, life’s been crazy. I wanted to try and catch you all up real quick.

If you don’t already know this, our eldest son was born with stage 4 -myelomeningocele-Spina Bifida. This means his spinal canal never closed properly during gestation. He also has an Arnold Chiari malformation. This is when a part of his skull is small and misshapen pushing the brain tissue down into the spinal canal.

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Ayden and I

Ayden is an almost 13 year old boy who gives me a run for my money, let me tell you. He has a smile that lights my heart and a laugh I could never live without. He has had 15 surgeries, numerous procedures, and is, easily, the strongest person I know. He’s been in decent health for the last 2 years, but the last couple of days have been difficult for him.

He has had a bad migraine and some pretty serious pain in his incision site on his back. I have had to go pick him up from school both yesterday and today. I hate that I never know how serious of a problem I have. You never know with these kiddos. At least, we have a plan after speaking with his neurosurgeon this afternoon and I will keep you posted on that.

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Ayden & Dr. Wehby, his Neurosurgeon!

Peyton continuing to home school is still the best decision I could have made. He is excited to learn everyday. He is present and learning new things with each and every lesson. I just wish he was able to do this with other children.

Peyton with Lemon Surprise, his new plant!

We went to the library the other day and they had a science class he wanted to go to, but after seeing how many kids were in the class he decided he no longer wanted to participate. I didn’t push it too much, but it definitely bothered me. He really has some serious feelings about a room full of children. I am looking into getting some help for his anxiety and I’ll keep you posted on that, too!

In other news, we’ve been on the ketogenic plan for about 6 weeks now. If I’m being honest, I don’t love it. I miss fruit and I don’t love bacon the way everyone else does. I am doing my very best and it’s working, but I am pretty bored with the food choices. I have decided to try at least 4 new recipes each week, that way I can keep things fresh, hopefully.

Typical keto breakfast for me

I am down 35 pounds since February and I LOVE IT. I want to be that woman that tells you I’m fine with whatever size -I’M NOT. I can’t handle my legs rubbing together resulting in the worst, most painful, damn rash that makes you waddle like a duck for a week after. I’m not good with it feeling like a workout just to shave my legs, sitting out of anything bringing the spotlight to me, hiding from any and ALL cameras, not being able to cross my legs, sweating like a pig because I decided to wear my shape wear in 100 degree weather (all for appearances, huh?), or hoping that my husband won’t come back before I’m completely dressed because the thought of him seeing everything is out of the question.

Yes, I want to be healthy, but I also REALLY want to be comfortable in my own skin. I don’t want to hide behind clothes, make-up, and fake smiles anymore. I want to throw on clothes, thoughtlessly, without examining every roll and jiggle. When I’m playing at the park with my kids, I don’t want to be fumbling around pulling shirts down, pants up, wondering how disgusting I look to everyone else. When my husband tells me I’m sexy, I want to believe him.

So, it’s simple; I’m changing it. I am the only one who can give me what I want -my life back.

On the left-196 on the right-161 35lbs GONE!!!

Along with the ketogenic plan, I have just started the t25 workout videos, ya know, “An hours worth of work in 25 minutes.”They’re hard; I have had my ass handed to me both days I’ve done it. I am being careful with my SI joint and my heart (I have inappropriate coronary sinus tachycardia) and taking it slow, but it feels so good to move it’s hard to pace myself. Dan just bought me a fitbit Blaze to help me track all my workouts. He’s a good man.  I am also doing 20 minutes of yoga at night to keep my periformis muscle happy.

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I have set a goal to complete the first 25 days of t25 and yoga at least 3 days a week. Why am I telling you? Accountability of course. I am not perfect and I will make mistakes, but I can’t quit -not again. I want my kids to see that I had a problem, set a goal, and crushed it, not what they’ve gotten so far.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

I want to make them proud; I want to make me proud.

I realize this is a bit scattered -sorry- but sometimes my life is just all over the place .

xoxo Cassey

12 lessons for 12 years of marriage

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I am here to tell you -maybe burst some bubbles, that marriage is HARD, like, really hard, especially if you have a special needs kiddo who needed lots of surgeries/ procedures. Dan and I were just 18 and 19 when we got married -we were kids. We had an apartment, a new car, with a payment, a 1 year old with Spina Bifida, and not a  damn clue what we were doing.

Anyway, lets get to the real reason you’re here! Dan and I will be celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary next month (anniversary ideas welcomed -gifts, too), SO, I thought I would share 12 lessons I’ve learned along to way. It feels like we’ve really been through it all (no cheating -that’s a hard line) and, because it’s been over a decade, I feel like I can now offer advice.

Alright, here we go, these are in no particular order.

(1) Communicate- This is a hard one -took us years- but is key for a healthy and successful marriage. You have to be willing to consistently work on it every single day. Remember, once the kids are gone, it’s just the two of you. Take care of it! Start by writing down things you’d like to work on, then talk with your hubby and add his input (ex: Patience, Give more time). If you have an issue, take it up with him right away -calmly. Don’t yell, I used to; It doesn’t help anything. If it gets to this point just walk away. Also, be open to getting constructive criticism.

(2) Take some time apart now & again- Dan and I went 14 years without being apart for more than a week. He recently started doing so traveling for work and it’s actually kind of nice, I never really got to miss him before.

(3) Arguments need to be fair- I am a firm believer in speaking your mind, but choose wisely. If the conversation starts to get heated, take a breath, leave the room, anything just as long as you don’t say anything you will regret. No name calling and and if you have kids, do have your discussions in private. Lastly, don’t use the “D” word, it’s hurtful, so why do it?

(4) Keep electronics to a minimum- Go do something fun. Try to be in the moment. You won’t get this time back. I know when Dan, or anyone for that matter, is on the phone while we’re spending time together it makes me feel ignored. like there’s maybe somewhere else he’d rather be. So, Put ’em away!

(5) Date your husband- We used to go months and months (I also have anxiety and wouldn’t leave my kids with anyone) without a date. You don’t have to spend a lot of money; it can be at home if you want, I love dates at home. I spend most days with no make-up on, my hair thrown up, complete with the current “mom-iform” – yoga pants and a tee or hoodie. So, sometimes it’s fun to have something to get dolled up for.

(6) Seasons Change- You will both change over time; clothes, hair styles, weight, opinions, everything It can be tough at times, but if you’re willing to voice your opinion, calmly, then compromise can happen. Remember, you love him no matter how crazy he gets.

(7) Don’t share your marital problems online, ever- I have seen this time and time again, it never ends well. Share the good, but don’t share too much. There are some things you should keep between you and your husband. All you’re doing is stirring your own pot.

(8) Talk to someone- A friend, a counselor, anyone who you trust enough to really to vent too. I don’t really have this, personally, but when I do, it usually helps me. Just make sure you don’t get caught in any friend/hubby drama -been there and it sucks. I have found that it usually turns into a problem at home.

(9) Build your man up-  Men need to be boosted. We need to remind them they are doing great things and you appreciate them. I try to tell Dan a couple times a week. All you have to do is send a quick, “Thanks for all you do for you, I love you.” It’s easy.

(10) Take a more submissive role- I know this can be controversial, but hear me out. It can make them feel small and insignificant when we is constantly dictating, belittling, and bossing them around. Put them in the drivers seat; Give them final say. Let them take charge, so they can take care of their families. I am with our kids way more than Dan, so I have the immediate control there, but if something bigger comes up, I will wait and discuss it with Dan. He makes the majority of the “final say” decisions, but I know if I don’t agree I can put my foot down. He’s pretty good about listening.

(11) Have sex with your man- I used to think sex just wasn’t for me after I started having kids. I was overweight, which made me self conscious, and it seemed like we argued all the time because, well, life it hard. Anyway, all of this led to a lot of years when we’d go months -poor Dan, I know.  Once I decided to make it a priority, it changed our marriage -no joke. We both felt more connected and less stressed. If you can, try for at least twice a week; It doesn’t have to be fancy or anything, just connect.

(12) Be there, always- There will be times throughout your marriage, so when times get tough, don’t run away. Talk it out, ask if there is anything you can do, he needs to know you are there -in his corner- and that you aren’t going anywhere.

There you have it, the 12 top lessons I’ve learned in 12 years of marriage. And keep in mind your husband should be reciprocating some of these. Marriage isn’t 50/50, it’s 100/100.

xoxo Cassey

Follow your gut, Mama, it usually knows the way

“Mama, it’s too loud! I can’t ever concentrate because everyone yells!” “Everything takes THIRTY MINUTES when it could just take FIVE!” “My ears and head hurt from all the chaos!” “Everyone is crazy, why don’t they stop?” 

After less than 2 months of public school, these are the phrases my 6 year old used when anyone asked him why he wanted to go back to homeschooling. Usually,  He would cry, stumbling over his words, trying to make sense of it all; eventually, getting too frustrated and give up. 

 Everyday was a struggle for most of our family; We were all feeling the stress -especially me. It didn’t feel right -not letting him homeschool when I had the resources, the time (I make time), AND the desire…..it’s crazy to me. 

So, I followed my gut and pulled him out.

I think I needed to really hear what we had all been listening to him say, he isn’t ready. He needs more time. 

Fast forward to the first day back homeschooling – I won’t bore you with all of the details, but, I will tell you, our school day was full of learning and laughter. We had so much fun; He LOVES math -we had to start with two lessons. He couldn’t wait to dive in; counting, reading his new BOB books, clocks, patterns, and neither could I.

As we were cleaning up our school mess, (tip: Picking up things in alphabetical order is always fun) I couldn’t help but feel like a badass. He is happy! He is stress-free! No tears! 

I did that and, especially now, I am confident we made the right choice.

These are the first 3 books he’s ever read start to finish all by himself! 

As moms, we’re always looking for ways to help our children. We talk to our mommy friends -maybe try something they’ve had success with in the past, we get online -ya know, looking for solutions to situations we, ourselves, don’t fully understand (admit it, we all want to do the “fixing”, first), or some turn to their own parents or family for advice, it doesn’t matter, the point is, we won’t find the answers we are looking for unless we keep it simple -ask them, and then listen. You’d be surprised what these little humans have to say and all we have to do is ask. 

Side thought: It’s funny, newborns can only communicate by crying, SO, what do we do?  We, instinctively, learn their every wimper and cry in order to care for them. We are hearing them, learning them. Why, or when, does this change? Life? Time? Careers? Society? 

I don’t think we can ever pay too much attention to how our Littles are feeling. If your child is struggling with something, I encourage you to just, STOP and really try to hear what they are trying to convey to you -don’t interrupt them, wait! . Let them put the words they know together. I find, if I interrupt to help the conversation along he either gets side tracked and doesn’t finish his thoughts, or feels overwhelmed because he thinks I don’t understand what he’s trying to say. I can tell you from experience, this is no good!

 We ALL know parenting is a rough gig, complete with NO instructions or guides. We just have to trust our mommy instincts and do the best we can because at the end of the day that’s all that matters. 

Helpful Tips:

  1. Start teaching them about their emotions & how to express them, this HUGE so start early.
  2. We don’t always have the right answers (surprise, surprise) -allow them counseling at school or privately. Whatever they need to do to vent and get things off of their chests, we’re good with.
  3. Make sure you prepare your heart before you dive into a conversation. Kids always think they’re right which usually leads to an unhappy mama because the attitude and arguing can be typical. If this happens, try to reroute the question or give them a small task to keep their hands busy -again, depending on age.
  4. Be patient and listen. Try to really hear what it is they are struggling with, friends, teachers, school -It doesn’t have to be bigger issues like anxiety or Spina Bifida (physical problems lead to emotional problems, I’ve learned)
  1. And finally, listen to your instincts. We know our babes better than anyone and we need to be their advocates until they can be for themselves. 

-Hope this helps!

Best of luck to you and your small humans!

Xoxo Cassey 

 

Urban Changes

After an hour of crying before school, it was time for Peyton to get out of the car with Maddox and head into school. I was already over it, but I put my mommy face on anyway. I have the most forced smile I have ever given while holding back my own tears. “Please Mama, they are so loud! I will be so good at school, Mama! How come I can’t do school with you anymore? Are you too busy now?”

Wow…..right through the heart.

After a few minutes, it’s obvious if I don’t get out, he isn’t getting out either. I make my way around to the other side, knees in a puddle (cherry on the top), pleading with him to please just walk into the school with his sister and I would be back in a few hours.

He is standing here in front of me with swollen eyes, tears streaming fast and faster, the cars are all piling up in the drop off (one brave mom even honked at me to hurry up), Maddox is losing her cool (she is very type A and doesn’t handle being late very well), and no matter how many times I tell him it will be fun he DOES. NOT. CARE. At this point, I’m not even sure I believe that!

“THAT’S IT”, I think to myself as I realize I need to collect my thoughts and make something happen, like NOW, because if this lady honks at me to move one more time, she’s going to get ALL of my crazy!

“Maddox, I love you! You can go inside!…………… Peyton, get in the car, we’re going home!”

He cried the whole way home…….so did I!

I felt like I failed.

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Papa & Peyton

I was still so upset when I walked in the door, but I had to do something, so I called the school. I don’t even know what I was expecting to come from this call, but while talking with the principle she offered to come outside and walk him into class, if I bring him back. She gives me a number to text if I chose to bring him back.

I honestly thought it might work, until I walked out into our dining room. There he was, pulling out all of his school curriculum, “Mama, I…I…want to do school here, with you. I love to be with you!” He says this in the cutest stuffy nose voice.

My heart is breaking for the both of us.

If I know one thing, I know, this isn’t the answer.

“Yes, buddy, you can stay. I want nothing more than to do school with you, too!” He wipes my tears away, kisses me on the cheek, and says, “thanks Mama, I really love you!”

This decision doesn’t come lightly for me. Everything we’ve been through in the last 6 weeks and.. BOOM, that’s it! Was it for nothing? I don’t think so. I think this was the only way I would see the whole picture. Peyton has never enjoyed playing with other kids. He’s good with older kids and adults. He even spent his fifth birthday party in his great grandma’s room because of all the kids. It’s not for him, not right now anyway.

I walked away, multiple times, listening to him cry for me while someone, he’s known for less than a month, holds him back from his mama; it goes against everything I am, everything I believe in, and everything he’s ever known.

I have been blessed in this life with the opportunity to be here, to grow their minds, nurture their hearts, and that’s what I intend to do, as long as they’ll let me!

Now to figure out how I will get that “me time” in with a full time kindergartner at home….

xoxo Cassey

 

 

 

 

Here’s the Skinny

I am going to keep this short and sweet. My husband and I can both stand to lose some weight. He has never been interested in dieting, despite heath issues and my bitching at him. I, on the other hand, I have tried every diet under the sun. I, too, have heart problems that make it difficult to work out. I also have some issues with my hip and sciatic nerve. Therefore, I will do very little exercise until my leg heals.

That being said, while on a business trip recently he had a conversation with a coworker about his new food plan (he was having bacon). He was on a ketogenic plan. After we got the details, Dan was all in and it was time for me to get to work.

I won’t bore you with all the details. If it strikes your fancy then you can google it. I bought a book called “Bacon & Butter” by Celby Richoux. Basically your body will begin to burn your fat storage’s as long as you stay under 20 grams of carbs (I am not a professional please be kind if you have opposing information). You eat mostly fat, moderate amounts of protein, little to no carbs, and NO sugar. You will also need to drink at least half of your body weight in water daily.

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Dan and I, our 11th christmas

We started last Monday the 13th, so almost two weeks. I have lost almost 26 pounds (11 since I started the plan) and he is down almost 15.

 

We decided we didn’t want to be winded while playing with our kids. I don’t want to hide under layers of clothing, and shape wear. I am so tired of sweating like I’m sitting in a sauna so my husband can’t see my “extra love” while folding laundry. You know what I’m saying? I am so sick of crying while standing in front of a mirror in a dressing room. The amount of anxiety I get as I try clothes on is insanity. I used to love shopping. I want that. I have such a hard time taking photo with my babes, or anyone to be honest.  I don’t want that for them or me. I want to be healthy, show my kids what it means to take care of our bodies.

This is what we’re doing and, yes, I am aware this is not for everyone, but it is working fabulously for us.

I want to wish you luck on your dieting endeavors. I will be posting recipes, tips,  and our progress in future blogs. Feel free to comment and/or follow to keep up.

P.S.  I have been using the grocery list  idea (havinf to remember his birthday party list for me when he gets upset) with Peyton for two days with complete success. What will happen come Monday? I have no idea…..

xoxo Cassey

 

Life happens. Lets do it together.