8 Months Cable Free

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It was back on July 1st, 2014 that we officially decided to cut the cord.  We were paying an insane amount of money for cable tv, and at the same time, watching far too much as well.  There have definitely been times that I have missed catching up on the Duggars, or crazy housewives, the kids sometimes miss their Nickelodeon and Disney marathons, and Abe misses watching MLB and NHL games, but guess what?  We survived!

More than that, we have most definitely thrived!!

Without the constant commercials reminding us of can’t miss marathons, television has become an occasional activity, between more productive hours of reading, creating arts and crafts, playing with forgotten toys, and just spending more quality time together.  What a blessing!

Now, don’t get me wrong, we still enjoy watching tv, and we certainly haven’t cut it out completely.

With free, over the air tv, we get almost 40 channels!  We have several PBS stations, including a 24 hour a day children’s station.  We also get Qubo, another all kids station, along with several retro themed stations that I adore.  On Saturday mornings, we watch classic 80’s cartoons with the kids before a day filled with activities.  Heman, Ghostbusters, Archies, all kinds of gems to be found!

We also have a Netflix subscription, this is a treat for us, and at only $8 a month, it is a very affordable way to watch movies together as a family and even catch up on the cable tv shows from last season.  (Have you Walking Dead fans caught SyFy’s Z Nation?!?!  Oh my goodness, I love it just as much as Walking Dead!!  Citizen Z forever!!  :3  ) 

The occasions when we really, truly miss cable tv are few and far between.  We certainly don’t miss the price tag, and I wouldn’t give up the gained quality time we have as a family without it.

Last year at this time, the idea of cutting the cord would have made me laugh, but boy, am I glad we did it!

Thank you, Bob Newhart.

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Antenna tv has recently started playing old re-runs of Newhart, the Bob Newhart show from the 80’s where he and his wife move from New York to Vermont to run an old, historical inn, centered in a small town.  Just the theme song alone makes me happy, and in fact, it was the opening of this very show, with all of the gorgeous, colorful views of Vermont that has made me secretly long to live there since I was very young.

Last night’s episode happened to really strike a chord with me, and I couldn’t help but chuckle that it took a classic tv show to help me get over something that has been eating away at me since Christmas day.

In the episode, in classic sitcom fashion, a series of events occurs where Stephanie and Joanna happen across Michael’s diary, where in it, he happens to say a lot of very not nice things about all of the people he is closest to.  As they read the entries, they understandably get upset, sad, angry, ultimately hurt that someone so close to them is saying such awful things about them.

Now, Michael is not mean to anyone directly, quite the opposite.  This is why it was so upsetting!  They assume that everything is storybook happy, everyone loves everyone and no one ever thinks a single bad thing about anyone else.  But realistically, as Bob points out, everyone is guilty of thinking bad thoughts about everyone else.  That’s just human nature.  Michael’s thoughts were private, and not meant for anyone else to see.

In a somewhat similar situation, I was shown hurtful words said about myself by someone very close to me, things that truly broke my heart and that have since then, left me feeling sad and at times quite angry.  I don’t believe this person even knows what happened, and certainly, they haven’t and would never say these things to my face.  Quite possibly, taking the context in mind, it was things said out of anger and frustration with someone else.  Regardless, besides wishing I was never shown or pulled into the nonsense, I have let it eat away at me and tarnish what I thought was an amazing, loving relationship.

Last night’s episode of Newhart, hearing Bob’s infinite wisdom, realizing that I was never meant to see or know those things were said, and being reminded that we are all guilty of the same thing, we just don’t usually have it shoved in our faces, well, it was a light bulb moment.

Thank you Bob Newhart and classic tv, for having timeless wisdom and for getting through this girl’s thick skull.  And yes, I still want to live in Vermont.  :)

Burnt Out

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I cannot begin to express my joy for the new year finally gracing us with her presence, my spirit is still happily spinning around and giggling at all the possibilities that this new beginning brings.  I can finally shake the water off my back and begin drying off, after a year of slowly drowning in sorrow and anxiety, feeling lost and hopeless…….it was dark and scary, but here I am, pruned skin slowly warming as the waterlog slowly evaporates.

*deep breath*

This air is sweet.  It is fresh and filled with hope, something that I lost so early in 2014.  Being overly optimistic can only carry you so far, so I learned.  I was tripped one too many times and that’s when the water got deeper, creeping into my nostrils, stealing my breath.

Once the water crept in, my footing lost, I couldn’t stop the murky waters from filling my lungs, very literally making it hard for me to breathe.  I found myself suddenly forgetting all other worries and stresses, consumed for my genuine inability to simply take a deep breath.  I felt I was suffocating, and the very idea gripped my chest like a vice, my heart pounding, wondering if it would burst from my rib cage…..  And then it would fade, my mind would cloud over with another tumbleweed of stress over car repairs, or unpaid bills and the mounting avalanche of debt rumbling in the background, always coming closer, always in the background, always a threat.

The phone became an alarm, a constant reminder that things were crumbling.  The moment it rang, my stomach knotted and my knees were weak.  The answering machine would catch the call for me, but the warning bell had sounded, and even if I enjoyed a solitary moment of rest, of mindless enjoyment in reading a story with my babies, or snuggling while watching a cartoon, it was that quickly stolen and murdered before my very eyes.

Enough became enough, and so the phone was simply unarmed.  I pulled the plug and was instantly filled with near maniacal laughter, tears of joy and relief streaming down my cheeks.  Was it the responsible thing to do?  Bury my head in the sand while my broken mind tried to come up with solutions to problems too complex for it to understand anymore?  No.  But I felt glimmers of sanity the moment the plug was pulled, and that began to lead to my very slow, and still in progress recovery.

I got so used to falling in 2014, that I stopped standing up again.  I crawled and only when there was absolutely no other option.  I began expecting the worst, and I was never disappointed.  When Desi got sick in August, it was devastating.  I honestly thought he was dying, and honest and truly, he certainly could have.  He had an abdominal obstruction, requiring hospitalization and a lot of money we absolutely did not have.  Part of my regular, everyday anxiety is a fear of something happening to my loved ones, so this left me depressed beyond comprehension.

Depression is bizarre to those who have never truly experienced it.  Until you feel it’s icy grip, you cannot possibly understand the power it has to completely shut down a person’s life.  I have tried to explain it, but words can’t even begin to touch the anguish and despair that it brings along in it’s bag of nasty tricks.

Strangely enough, it was when Abe started stressing out about money and bills that I was able to snap to my senses.  I am so familiar with the dark veil of depression that I always find myself overcompensating to make certain he never falls too deeply into it.

Every self help guru message, every happy go lucky mantra, any and all good things I could possibly come up with, I was showering Abe with.  It became an obsession, playing happy and tending to him, reassuring him, distracting him, whatever I could do to keep him from falling, from even stepping foot near that nasty cesspool that still gripped my soul.  This is around the time that we found out about donating plasma for money, something Abe did to fund Christmas for our babies.

I didn’t have the worry of the phone ringing non stop at all hours of the day, and the mail reminders are far fewer.  As Christmas drew closer, I could feel hope beginning to creep back into my mind, shining some much needed light around the cob webs and the tumbleweeds.  We had a very modest Christmas, but I had some cherished time spent with family that absolutely made the entire Christmas season for me.  Gifts are nothing.  My babies won’t look at this Christmas as “The One Where Santa Brought Us Cheap Toys.”  Instead they will remember visiting family, having our Christmas Eve get together, the nearly two weeks of vacation time Abe took so we could just spend the day watching Netflix, or playing board games, or just sitting and watching them play blissfully together.  It was magic, it was re energizing, and it was exactly what this mama needed so badly.

No matter what, we have each other.  That.  That, my friends, is what matters, and that is exactly what finally pulled me from the water.

I’m not “fixed”, but I’m doing better.  My vision is clearing, I can see who and what matters.  I am leaving 2014 with a long list of heartache, from Abe’s car accident and constant car repairs, mounting debts and rotten luck, to hearing about a family member being diagnosed with leukemia and even more family members so deep in the murky waters they contemplated suicide.  It’s dangerous on these shores, so I am relieved to see them behind me at this moment.

Writing this down, I can’t help but feel utterly nude before you.  I’ve shown you my cards, I’ve admitted to severe weakness.  So not my style.  But it’s real.  It’s scary, and it’s awful, but I know I am not alone.  Neither are you.  And it does get better.  It has to.  Otherwise, all of us wading in this nonsense will grow gills and become kickass merpeople and we shall rule the world.

The cold never bothered me anyway….when the heater worked….

We have had some mild weather these last few weeks, even seeing highs in the 60’s, a real treat for winter time in the midwest!  But the cold has crept back in, and in sheer protest, either from age or Murphy’s Law, our lovely furnace has decided that it will be taking an extended vacation, leaving us in the cold.

BOO!!!

Abe’s reading up repairs and tutorials online, and I am crossing all my fingers and toes, praying for a break.  We have always had to fight our heater at the old house, I guess it would feel strange not to fight it here.

Meanwhile, sounds like a good time to snuggle with the babies, both two and four legged, and sip some hot chocolate while we cheer on our own Mr Fixit.

Daddy, Daddy, he’s our man, if he can’t fix it……we will be cold.  :P

*UPDATE*

Abe *thinks* he knows what the problem is, he thinks we need a new flame sensor.  In the meantime, he was able to clean the old one and got the heater working again.  *happy dance*  We are really hoping and praying that we can kind of baby it until we are able to order a replacement part.  In the meantime, we are nice and toasty warm though!  :)

Waiting

I’m a sucker for dream interpretation, and I have to admit that I have had some pretty significant breakthroughs by taking the time to really dig into the possible meanings of my dreams.  Of course, there are those, like my darling husband, who think that dreams are just dreams and mean nothing, but isn’t that a boring way to live?  :)

So I had a dream this morning, that I went into a small town cafe.  It was an older building, not fancy, definitely needing upgrades.  I was meeting my grandma, her friend, and a few other people that I remember working with in my past, all supportive maternal figures who hold warm places in my heart.

As we met, and found our seats at a long table, some who had chosen a seat with their back to the wall got up and moved so that they were facing the wall from their seats.  In front of the table, on the large, plain wall, was an array of gorgeous art frames, all empty, waiting for their masterpiece.  We all took seats, looking at this wall, these empty frames, anticipating the greatness that was coming.  There was no other indication that anything was going to happen, or a time frame in any way.  We just all knew that something awesome was coming, and we all wanted good seats for the action.

So, interpretation time.  Obviously this has to tie into the new year, new beginning.  I have had such a sense of relief with this trying year coming to an end, I am practically giddy that it’s almost over!  I have only the highest and most positive of hopes and dreams for the coming year, I know big things are coming, and they are worth waiting for.  I think all of the maternal figures sitting and waiting with me are there for my support.  Even with those who have passed, I know that they would be cheering me on and encouraging me, offering invaluable wisdom for overcoming the darkest times that have been smothering me, making it very literally hard to breathe.

The overall feeling was love and hopeful.  I felt taken care of, I felt safe, and I knew good things were coming.

This dream was very therapeutic for me, I need this in my life so much right now!

Maybe dreams don’t really “mean” anything, but for me, I have always felt like dreams hold the key to better understanding where I am in the world, and often times, they have the ability to show me things I’ve been to frantic to see in waking hours.  However you choose to see it, here’s wishing you sweet dreams!

Merry Christmas!

I can’t believe that already, in the blink of an eye, another Christmas is here, and quickly slipping through my fingers, soon to become a dreamy memory.

Next year at this time, we will have three babies in three different schools!  Not to mention homeschool pre-school lessons for Sara, before she starts school the following year.  I’m not ready for this!!

This year has not been kind to us.  It seems like we never really got back on our feet, every time we thought we were finally a step ahead, we would get knocked ten back.  It was rough.  I won’t lie, I suffered severe anxiety and depression this year, worried about putting groceries on the table at times, balancing bills and emergencies like car repairs and hospital bills.  We quickly realized we had bitten off more than we could chew and are still struggling for solutions, though I am praying that there is an end in sight.

I had planned a magical birthday party for Isabella, that had to get cancelled and completely revamped.  I had hoped to get her the American Girl doll of the year, Isabelle, the blonde haired, pink streak, ballerina!!  If ever there was a doll made just for my Bella, it was Isabelle!!  I planned on taking her to the American Girl store and getting her the doll then having a birthday lunch at the cafe.  I planned on it, but then life laughed and we improvised.  Reservations got cancelled, party was greatly downsized to a home made cake and inexpensive gifts, and as sad as I was, she was completely unphased.  She gushed over her simple cake and gifts and reminded me how lucky we are to just have each other.  (She did finally get the Isabelle doll for Christmas, thanks to her amazing daddy donating plasma and literally spending blood money to buy the silly thing!  A story for another day!)

Thinking we would just be able to scrape by and start getting back on our feet, we were then suddenly hit with a major health problem with Desi.  He had an abdominal obstruction which required hospitilization, fluids, several x rays, antibiotics, and oh yeah, a massive hospital bill.  This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Obviously, Desi is family and takes priority over non necessity bills.  Unfortunately, bill collectors like to get paid, and hassle the crap out of you if you can’t make their payments.  Yeah, so, multiply that anxiety by a thousand…..

As this year is quickly ending, the smell and promise of a fresh new start is intoxicating.  I have so many hopes and dreams for this new year, starting with conquering my severe anxiety and depression.  I know I am strong and powerful and capable of great things.  I have the ability to turn things around, see only the good in all situations, and to take that good and run with it.  I can’t and won’t let silliness interfere with what matters, and that, my friends, is exciting!

I hope that 2014 was far kinder to you than it was to me.  But if you had a rough go of it these past twelve months, then I hope that you have an amazing, life changing, happy and empowering 2015!!  Let’s make this our year!!  We are powerful and we can and will achieve greatness!  Kiss the negativity goodbye and inhale the promise of a new beginning!

This motivational message was brought to you by the self reflecting power of another Christmas come and gone far too fast!  Breathe it in, devour the moment, and live for your happiness.  Be happy and know that no matter what, you are loved.  <3

Shave Mob Stocking Stuffer!

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The holidays are fast approaching, and I don’t know about you, but some of the hardest to shop for people on my list are the men in my life!  Sure, there’s always the crazy holiday themed ties, kids art projects, or socks that you can give the special man in your life, but what about giving him something he can actually use?!  Crazy, right?

Enter ShaveMob, with an awesome new kit for the men, or women, who are hard to shop for or are just special enough to receive the gift of baby soft, ultra smooth, hair free skin, just in time for Christmas!

Have you not heard of ShaveMob before?  Refresh your memory with my original review found HERE.  And for those to lazy to click, let me remind you of ShaveMob’s awesomeness.

Imagine the luxury of a super smooth shave from a high end razor, but with the price tag of the cheap throwaways that you know not to trust.  And, these amazing razors are delivered right to your door, no need to fight your way through the busy stores and stare at the gobs of overpriced options.  There are NO MEMBERSHIP FEES and SHIPPING IS FREE!  And, you are saving up to 70% off premium shaving razors!  Just choose your handle, pick your package, reorder when you run low.  The blades are amazing, and they last a long time!!  The only difference between these blades and the super overpriced ones found in stores, is the awesome savings and convenience of having them shipped straight to you!

We are huge fans of ShaveMob here, I haven’t been suckered into overpaying for razors since my review last year!  Why go back to that craziness?  There is a better way, my friends!

Join the mob by clicking HERE.

“Like” the ShaveMob Facebook page by clicking HERE.

Follow ShaveMob on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Whether it’s a last minute holiday gift, or just a smart investment anytime of year, ShaveMob is just smart!  Join the mob!

 

The awesome folks at ShaveMob provided products for review purposes, but all opinions are my own and I really do think ShaveMob is awesome!

 

 

Little Box Play Things

As we are oh so quickly approaching the holidays, it seems to always bring on the panic of gift hunting.  We are constantly bombarded by ads for the latest, greatest technology, or this fad toy, or this awesome gadget, it’s easy to overlook the beauty in simplicity.  This is where my awesomely talented cousin comes in and I tell you about her gorgeous gifts that can be custom tailored for any kid, big or small!

Please meet Little Box Play Things, artfully crafted by my cousin, Ashley.

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She creates these amazing, personalized treasure boxes, perfect for keeping all kinds of goodies in!  You have the ability to choose colors, names, themes, whatever your little heart desires!  Princesses, Mickey Mouse, Avengers, Game of Thrones even! If you have an idea, I guarantee you that she can run with it and leave you amazed. What a great gift idea for the hard to shop for guy!  Or girl!  She has lots of themes to choose from, and an amazing knack for really getting even the tiniest details in.  My girls keep all sorts of fun things in their boxes, anything from jewelry, lip gloss, pretty rocks, you name it!

After you pick out your amazing treasure boxes, how about fill it with imagination building toys?  She also custom makes gorgeous magnet play sets with lots of fun themes including big Disney favorites!  My kids have had hours of fun with the magnet sets, playing out favorite stories or episodes or even making up their very own stories to go along with their favorite characters!  So cute, so fun, and no batteries required!!

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To round out the fun themes, you can even have a mini bowling set created to match everything and provide lots of fun and giggles with the little ones.  Everything is gorgeous, and made with love!

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So many cute things to choose from!  Make sure you stop by and say hi and tell her what kinds of fun themes would make the perfect gift for your loved ones this holiday season or any time at all!  Nothing beats handmade with love!

Check out Little Box Play Things Etsy shop by clicking HERE.

Check out Little Shop Play Things Theme Ideas by clicking HERE.

Follow Little Shop Play Things on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Fifth’s Disease: Easy peasy for kids, massive pita for adults

Have you heard of Fifth’s Disease?  It sounds scary, doesn’t it?!  Throw “disease” into any sentence, and it has an uncanny way of stirring up immense fear, especially when it’s your child’s pediatrician, diagnosing your sweet angel with it!  That’s exactly what happened to us last month.

It started after dance class one day, when I noticed Bella had what looked like a heat rash on her legs and arms.  She had just spent several hours dancing in a warm studio with tights and a leotard on, I brushed it off pretty quickly.  The next day, however, it looked worse and covered even more of her skin.  She said it was mildly itchy, but had no other aches or pains or any signs of illness at all.  I decided to keep an eye on it, but wasn’t worried it would be anything at all.

The next morning, she complained of an upset tummy, and her rash looked angry.  I kept her home from school and made a pediatrician’s appointment.  I was expecting strep throat, as she has gotten the rash, fever and upset tummy before with no sign of sore throat but a positive strep test.  The nurses at the office agreed with me and we had her diagnosed before the doctor ever came in.  They did a rapid strep test just in case, but when the pediatrician came in, she seemed completely confident that she knew exactly what it was, and it wasn’t strep.  Fifth’s Disease.

I tried not to look terrified, as she continued to explain that it is a super common virus with kids that is very mild and by the time the rash shows up, they are no longer contagious.  She mentioned that it seemed to be going around a lot right now, but assured me it was no big deal.  That didn’t keep me from Googling it the minute we got home, but it did in fact look pretty non scary.

Fifth’s Disease is a human parvo virus, not related to the parvo virus in dogs.  It was the fifth illness related to fever and rashes in children, which is how it got it’s not so clever name.  It is also known as slapped cheek disease, because a common symptom is the appearance of what looks like freshly slapped cheeks on children.  There is no treatment, other than possible pain meds if the child isn’t feeling well, and as I said before, Bella never acted ill in any way, so it truly was a no big deal illness.  For her.

Fast forward a few weeks.  Fifth’s Disease can incubate and remain unnoticed for several weeks before any symptoms show up.  It is at this time when you are contagious, but are not showing any symptoms, so you have no clue what is coming.  Remember when I said Fifth’s Disease is easy peasy and no big deal for kids?  Well, if you are an adult, it’s a whole other story.

Most people have had fifths at some point in their childhood and so their bodies build up immunity to further infection from it.  It is not very common for adults to get it, but when they do, the symptoms are far more severe.

It started on a Saturday evening, when I starting feeling yucky.  Kind of nauseated, slight headache, and I could not get warm.  I did not sleep well at all that night, so when I felt fatigued and icky the next day, I attributed it to my poor night’s sleep.  The next night, I went to bed shivering, absolutely freezing, despite being under multiple layers of blankets, and having a very warm puppy snuggled up next to me.  I tossed and turned, I put on extra layers, a thick fuzzy robe, socks!!  This, from a person that leaves her ceiling fan on 365 days a year!  I was miserable, my muscles sore from the shivers!  It wasn’t until I started feeling itchy, and noticed that lacy rash show up that I realized I had Fifth’s Disease.

Checking my temperature showed a fever of 102.  I felt sore and achy all over, my joints screamed, I couldn’t stay warm, despite the nice weather and warm temperatures.  Yes, Fifth’s Disease as an adult BLOWS!

Today, I am almost 2 weeks in and I still have such horrible joint pain, I can barely move in the morning.  I’m suffering severe carpal tunnel symptoms from the swelling, and even had to start wearing braces on my wrists at night to attempt to lessen the intense pain I feel in the morning.  It is frightening how badly it affects the joints!  I have woken up completely unable to even close my hands, making a fist an impossible task.  Taking NSAIDS helps, as does heat therapy, but my goodness, is it miserable!  I haven’t been able to do any fancy hairstyles on Bella in the mornings for school, I can’t even make my hands work to manage a ponytail until the meds kick in and dull the pain.

I *think* I am slowly improving as the days go by, but in severe cases, the symptoms have been known to last months, years or even lead to permanent arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, MS, the list goes on.  I am hopeful that I am not a severe case, the pain has truly brought me to tears more than once.  It’s scary, it really is.

So how can Fifth’s Disease be prevented?  We are pretty diligent about hand washing here, and covering sneezes, keeping surfaces wiped down and disinfected.  During the contagious stage of Fifth’s, there are no symptoms!  Despite our diligence, it happened.  There is no treatment, no cure, it just is.  It’s a very common illness in children, and to repeat, Bella suffered no joint pain, no prolonged illness, and is 100% well to this day.  Most people have had it as a child and don’t even know it, making them immune.  For other, poor unfortunate souls, (yes, I am totally singing Ursula’s song in my head right now and I am not even sorry) you get it and you deal because there is nothing else that can be done.  NSAIDS for pain, but other than that, grin and bear it.

My heartfelt condolences if you suffer through this as an adult.