Losing a sister

It’s been hard to be a weekly or even monthly blogger lately. These last few months have been especially busy. Along with the craziness that December typically is, with planning and attending parties, cooking, visiting family, Christmas shopping, etc. the last thing that I was prepared for was the death of my step-sister, Lisa.
2014 year has been the year of deaths for our family. I had never in my life been to a funeral, and then I went to my first funeral in the spring in Va for my Grandfather, and then Dan’s grandmother Ming died, and we traveled to Colorado in the summer, and then I got some very sad news about my step-sister Lisa on December 10th, that she had passed away.

Lisa and I weren’t as close as we had been as kids, but it was a huge shock to hear of her passing. The toxicology results are still pending, and they have yet to determine the cause of death. What we do know is that she wasn’t feeling well, and that she had been on pain medicine from her back surgery in the past, and had continued to use it for pain relief. Her medication usage, along with some preexisting health conditions (infection in her foot, diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea) and her general well being (her friend mentioned that she had recently had the flu) is the best guess we have for her cause of death. She was found unresponsive at a friends house in the morning.

It’s really heartbreaking. She was only 36 years old and had so much life to live. So much she wanted to do, dreams that went unfulfilled. That week between her death and the funeral was tough for me and I can only imagine how tough it was for her mother. It was a time of reflecting on the good times we had together as kids, the time we spent together as adults, and wondering if I made it clear enough how much I loved her and how much of a good person she was. I wanted to do something in her memory, so I decided to make Memory Boards in her honor to have at the funeral, and for her mother Rennie to keep.


I struggled with whether or not I was going to talk at the funeral. Those that know me well know that I am not very comfortable with public speaking. You know, some people have their gifts, and I just know public speaking isn’t one of mine. It’s just not my favorite thing to do. I much rather be where I am right now, typing my thoughts down on screen, so I can hit the backspace at will, and delete and restate the thought more clearly and concisely if I need to.

However, the craziest thing happened the morning of her funeral. I woke up, and I felt like God was giving me clarity on what to say. I told Dan and I quickly walked over to my writing desk, and wrote down exactly what I felt like the holy spirit was telling me to say. Nothing super-inspiring, just a few sentiments from the heart. More importantly, he gave me a peace about speaking in front of a group, and I was no longer nervous. The holy spirit gave me a calm reassurance and that peace carried me through to the podium.
This is what I wrote down and said:

When Rennie and my Dad married, Lisa and I became sisters.  I was a young girl at the time, and we were both excited to have this new found sisterhood.

She was so accepting of me, loving and caring. Coming from a single Dad and a brother (and somewhat of a Tomboy) she helped to turn me into a girl and showed me the world of hairspray and teased bangs- only things a good big sister would do.

She later moved on to live with her Dad but we never lost touch. We later reunited when I moved back to Atlanta and I eventually got married.  She was always very supportive. I recall on my wedding day,  her pointing to me and proudly saying with a smile ‘That’s my sister!’.

The busyness of life got to me several years later and after three kids the visits became less frequent. However, she loved being an Aunt, she loved our kids very much, and we loved seeing her, even though it wasn’t as frequent as we would’ve liked.

Lisa had quite a few challenges in her life between her health and her relationships, but she never lost hope.  It comforts me to know that she is now resting in the arms of Jesus. Free from pain, and feeling the most wonderful love of all, the everlasting love  of our heavenly father.

We all know how much Lisa loved Winne the pooh, so after looking through her pinterest boards, I found this quote that she pinned and I see it quite fitting.

‘If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart and I’ll stay there forever’7c280f6408ad3956851106431b302c30


What happened to Lisa is tragic. Death has a funny way of forcing you to think about life, how precious it really is, and it also forces you to stare at your faith right in it’s face. Do you believe in me? Do you trust in me? Do you have faith in life after death? It brings this questions that I would venture to say EVERY human asks, and it makes you face them. Ponder them. Mourn those facing the afterlife and wonder what it’s all about. Grasping at what it teaches us to be human and have the human experience.  It’s hard.

Those of you that reached out and called, and messaged, sent flowers, and gift cards for dinner. THANK YOU. It is a hard time in our household with lots and lots of sadness and reflection.  It is comforting when you are reminded of the goodness in life when you’re feeling loads of sadness.

Lisa Seymour Shrader, you will be missed. XO

My Better half

Things have been a bit crazy lately. I guess when it rains, it pours. We got a scare earlier in the week with Dan’s Crohn’s disease.  He had a flare-up, and was in severe pain, so much so that he cancelled his business trip and checked himself into the ER on Monday. They ran tests and blood work,  and fortunately it wasn’t a full obstruction, just major inflammation that narrowed a portion of his intestines so much that he couldn’t hold down food or water and risked dehydration.  They were able to give him something to reduce the inflammation, and started him on a liquid diet.

It’s been a long struggle with his disease.  It wasn’t too long after we met that he had to be hospitalized because of an obstruction, and then later he had a bowel resection surgery where they took out a good portion of his intestines that was full of scar tissue and narrowed due to the disease.  That was a little over six years ago.  Although we are blessed to live in this day in age with all the different types of medicine readily available, it’s been a daily struggle for him with trying different diets, going on and off drugs, weight loss, living through the side effects of the medicine and the disease… I don’t know how he does it.  He’s the strongest guy I know.

I’d say it’s been even more of a challenge since we’ve had kids.  This requires more of our time and energy, and it sometimes means focusing less on ourselves in order to focus on caring for the kids.  During Dan’s recent hospitalization, I felt awful that I couldn’t be there for him to comfort him and make sure he was getting the best care from the nurses on staff (I have a tendency of whipping them into shape if they start to slack). But since we had our boys at home, it was more important that I be home taking care of them. With all that said, here we are only three days after his hospitalization, and he insisted on catching an early morning flight (which required him to get up at 4am) so he could make an important business meeting today.  Talk about committed!  This amazing husband of mine is definitely someone that I could learn a thing or two from when it comes to perseverance and dedication.  He gives me that gentle reminder how precious life is and that we need to take chances, live our dreams and go “all in” when doing so.

With the birth of our second son three months ago, this makes Dan’s second Father’s day, and the Dad of two boys.  Who would’ve thought it would happen so fast, but I’m so very glad that it did.  He has been the best Dad to our boys and I delight in each day when I see how he grows and bonds with our boys.  Parker and Mason have such a great example to look up to, to aspire to be, and to learn from.  Happy Father’s Day sweetie!

Going toe to toe with my Toddler

I would love for everyone to think that my son is a perfect angel all the time, but since my blog is all about keeping it real, I have to be honest when it comes to my struggles as well as my victories, right?

Parker has been having a hard time lately.  As much as I wanted to believe that my son wouldn’t go through this, here we are.  The past few weeks have been such a power struggle with him.  I think part of it has to do with the fact that he’s aware that he doesn’t have my full attention like he did before, and another part of it is his age and just wanting to be more in control.  He’s becoming more self aware, and wants more control over his daily activities.  Everything from diapering and getting dressed, to boundaries outside and inside the home have been a struggle.

I don’t want to make an issue out of everything.  I don’t want to be the Mom that flips out every time their child doesn’t do what is asked.  I want to be the calm collected parent that focuses on the important things, and just lets the small stuff go.  I have to say, it’s harder than I ever thought it would be.  It’s hard to know where to draw the line between just ignoring or distracting and taking corrective action.  When the whining is excessive, and the shaking of the head and saying “Na, na, na” when told to do something, it can be very frustrating.  I know it must be frustrating for him at this age too because his verbal skills are very limited, and expressing what he wants, and getting upset when I don’t understand him is something that he has a hard time with.  He’s very outgoing, but can’t always figure out exactly what to say or do to express himself.  Having empathy about this has helped me not loose my cool when he goes through his excessive whining spells.  Other times he just wants to be the one who is in charge.  So, I try to let him choose what he wants to do as much as possible within “safe” limits. I don’t have to control every situation.  A little freedom with him goes a long way.

Sometimes though, he gets deliberately angry when he doesn’t get his way.  Although this isn’t often, I won’t accept kicking, throwing, hitting, biting, or scratching no matter how frustrated  he gets.  Even if he’s doing it in a playful manner, it’s not acceptable.  That’s why this week, we decided that we would start using time out.  We got a small table set, and conveniently have one extra small chair.  We found a corner of the room to put it in, away from his toys or any distractions.

He is still pretty young, and I know he won’t fully “get it” until later, but it has worked out well so far.  The rule is one minute per age, but since he’s still really young, we are just playing it by ear…literally.  When I’ve told him no, and given him a warning that there will be a consequence, and he does it again, I put him in the chair.  When he sits still without moving, calms down (isn’t yelling or fussing) for a little bit,  I come over and repeat what he did wrong, and tell him that when he does that he disobeys mommy.  Since he can’t say “Sorry” yet, or even understand what that means, I just ask for a kiss and hug, and time out is done.  I’m sure this will evolve as he gets older, and has a better understanding of it, but everyone has to start somewhere.

I’ve always said that I want SO much for my kids.  Maybe even some of the things that Dan and I didn’t have growing up.  One thing that I do not want though, is my kids to feel that they can overstep their boundaries with us to where we aren’t respected as their parents.  I want them to feel loved, and safe within the boundaries that we create.

I never thought this parenting thing would be this challenging, and Parker hasn’t even reached two yet!

A bad stretch of days

It all started on Friday night.  I had two days in a row of an intense work out on the ol’ cross trainer at the gym, and I think I over did it.  By night’s end my pelvic area was so sore that it hurt to walk up the stairs, get in and out of the car, and pretty much do anything.  I hated it!  I already had some pain, which I attributed to Pelvic Girdle Pain that started about a week ago, but was amplified by the work out.  Unfortunately, that put me into lazy mode most of Saturday.

Saturday night after a girl’s night out, I came home and was flipping through the netflix que with Dan, and saw the documentary The Business of Being Born, and decided to check it out.  This is a documentary that outlines the positive outcomes to home births and why it is so much better do give birth naturally, than with drugs.  They go into the negative effects that induction has on a baby (particularly pitocin) and why the hospital system has failed us.  Dan only lasted about ten minutes watching the film.  In his words…”this crunchy stuff is stupid”.  I was merely curious as to what they had to say…and who knows, I may have a few take-aways from it.  Let me just say that I have a great deal of respect for Moms that decide to deliver naturally.  I think it’s beautiful, courageous, and a selfless act for your newborn.  However, with that being said, I don’t think that those who choose not, to love their newborn any less.  This movie made some claims that the release of oxitocin during a natural delivery, creates a bond that is unmatched by Moms that deliver with an epidural.  I can’t speak for the Moms that gave birth naturally, but the euphoria after delivery with Parker was pretty intense.  I was so full of love and joy, and we had a bond that was such a precious moment.  I did have an epidural, and I fully intend on having one again with my next delivery.  I don’t  think that makes me a bad Mom or any less loving because of this choice.  I choose this because I am an anxious person and if I have the choice to have something that will ease the pain of delivery and help me have a positive experience, then I am all for it.  I am however, a little apprehensive about the usage of pitocin in deliveries. It is proven that it does cause more intense contractions, which can put the baby in fetal distress, or if is not given when the cervix is ready, can increase the risk of a c-section.  The pitocin causes the contractions to be stronger and closer together, which can be harder for the baby to handle.  This movie has brought that to my attention.  I understand if you are a week or more past your due date and you need pitocin, but there are a lot of hospitals that are giving pitocin to speed up deliveries without even needing it in order to have higher patient turn overs, or to have the deliveries happen at a time that is convenient for them.  I think this is something that pregnant Moms should question.  Before you are given pitocin, ask your doctor what your bishop score is.  This will give you a better idea if you’re a good canidate for pitocin, or if your doctor is trying to speed up your delivery without there being a need to.

So, after watching this movie, I had THE WORST dream about my delivery.  I think it started to scare me a bit knowing that my delivery is coming up pretty soon and also knowing that I birth larger babies.  My dream had me in the delivery room and the baby was already in my arms.  I was completely knocked out during my delivery and had no recollection of the labor at all.  To some, that may be a blessing, but I was not happy with my complete altered state of conciseness at the time.  Thank God it was just a dream.

So, on Sunday I woke up after not only having a horrible dream, but with an excruciating head ache which was attributed to the lack of sleep from a head cold that left me without usage of my nostrils.  I was so exhausted, that I laid around most of the day, missed church…basically being a waste of life.  Then it hit me around 4pm…NAUSEA!  I was a spewing spout… to put it eloquently.  It continued through the night, and turned me into a lump of worthlessness all day Monday.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt that bad during pregnancy.  It’s bad enough that you’re puking every  few minutes, but then to have a baby inside you kicking your belly while you toss your cookies is another!  Fortunately, my Mom came to the rescue and came to help out with Parker while I rested and recovered.  This is the second time during this pregnancy that I got a stomach bug.  What are the chances?  Is someone trying to test me? I was starting to feel better by night’s end last night and settled into a good restful night sleep.

That was until 6:30 am, when Parker started screaming from his room.  This boy…never wakes up at night.  I mean, he could sleep through a hurricane.  This wasn’t a normal baby cry.  This was a SICK baby cry.  I had given my poor little boy the stomach bug.  We’ll spare you the details, but it was so sad when we went to get him.  After we cleaned him up and redressed him, we tried to give him some love and bring him into our bed, but he was in no snuggling sleepy mood.  He was ready to start his day… a cranky pants kind of day.

After dinner he started to snap out of his cranky mood.  Dan even got him to grin from ear to ear and open his arms real big and wide when we say “So Big!”.  I complained all day about how he wouldn’t let me hold him.  However,  tonight when it came time to put him down for bed after reading him a book, I picked him up and went to kiss him, and he wouldn’t let go of my neck.  I would peel him off, and he’d cling again tight just loving on his Mama.  Oh how I love that boy!  That just made my day.

Calming my paranoia

The past week has been rough. It started with Dan and I attempting to paint the nursery. We had considered hiring painters, but after getting our first quote of $350, we decided that it was best for us to do it ourselves. We decided on using eggshell finish (okay, I decided, Dan really wanted to use flat) because of its wipe ability on the surface. We used a flat finish in Parker’s room, and there are quite a few spots that aren’t easy to wipe up. The decision to use eggshell was the start of the nightmare.  We rolled a coat on and then later realized that I had applied gentle pressure, where as Dan had applied firm pressure and it seemed a bit uneven.  We brushed close to the ceiling and in the corners to ensure that we had covered everything.  We thought another coat would do the trick, but sadly, each roll mark and brush stroke was extremely apparent from the other.  Especially the brush strokes.  We never knew the rule to basically NEVER use a brush when using any paint with a gloss.  It looked like someone had gone around the room with a dirty paint brush and painted the cut-in work close to the ceiling and the wall corners with a MUCH paler version of our paint color.  This was still the case even after applying two very generous coats and an entire day of painting this nursery.  It sucked… all of the anticipation of a beautiful,  well painted nursery went out the window.  Dan and I didn’t handle it well and we didn’t want to bring it up since it became such a sore subject of…“okay, really… WTF happened here!!…” So, to spare our marriage, we decided to just take a break and give it a day or so to figure it out.   If it wasn’t for this magnificent little bundle growing inside of me…I assure you I would’ve thrown back a drink or two…and quite possibly a xanex.

Fast forward to the next day.  My follow-up ultrasound with the perinatologist.  I was SO incredibly anxious about this day.  I had thought about all of the possible things that could be wrong and became a Cyberchondriac the moment I had access to a computer after hearing the news.  I had replayed all the questions I would ask in my mind and all the possible scenarios, and I had gotten SO worked up about it.  Waiting for the appointment was the worst.  I arrived extra early and finally got in after an hour of waiting.  They had asked that I come 30 mins early to fill out “new patient” info, but that consisted of about three sheets on a clipboard, which I raced through.  There was a sonographer that started the ultrasound and we started to talk about the previous ultrasound and its findings.  I realized that I wouldn’t be getting the  3D ultrasound as previously hoped because it wouldn’t give them the visuals they needed to see inside the brain.  As soon as she got to the head measurements, I started to ask questions, where she promptly replied “I’m not allowed to respond about the findings, your doctor will go over everything”  After15 mins of silence and poking and prodding on my belly and taking measurements she finally concluded and said that the doctor would be in with “the findings”.  Tears began to weld up in my eyes…I just couldn’t take the anticipation any longer.  I just KNEW her stone cold facade was hiding some kind of horrible news that I just couldn’t bare to hear.

So, in comes the doc… very professional.  “Let’s have a look” he says and proceeds to wand my belly again as the first lady did.  After much viewing and LOTS of measuring, he says something like this ” Well, I can see that one side is a little larger… but the good news is, it looks like it’s still within the normal range.  It’s just a little asymetrical, which is completely normal.”  of course I followed up with a few questions of my own, but ultimately… it was SO nice to hear! And just like that… my paranoia started to subside.  Thank you God!! was all I kept repeating to myself.  My boy is just a little lopsided… Welcome to the family!  Aren’t we all just a little lopsided? Yes, my friend…we are.

From then on things started on the up and up.  Instead of obsessing over possible spinal bifida and down syndrome in my unborn son, I turned my obsessive energies back into getting the nursery painting debacle fixed.  I had read some conflicting things online, so I decided to call home depot for some advice.  Dan ultimately decided that it was the brush strokes that were making the difference in the wall, and decided to go back over it with a roller to see if that would fix it.  Wallah!  Just like that…the nursery is in an acceptable painted fashion.  Perfect?  No.  Acceptable, yes!  Dan really worked hard on it and I feel bad that I pushed the eggshell finish so much since that was really what was to blame for the apparent unevenness.  Bottom line…my husband is awesome, and always comes through.  Even when I’m a whiny complaining wife.  Now we have the room painted, almost all of the furniture delivered, and the fan installed.  This has been my much needed prozac for the week!

The Worrywart in me

I thought this pregnancy would be different. I thought that since I had done this before, that I should just lay back and take it easy and not worry since it ain’t my first rodeo.  However, I’m starting to see it creep in…slowly.  It started Saturday night after Parker’s party.  I woke up about 2am, tossing and turning and unable to fall back asleep.  Not wanting to wake my husband, I decided to go downstairs to see if I could fall asleep on the sofa (the most comfortable place in the house during my last pregnancy), but alas, no luck there either.

I started to think about all the preparations that I needed to make for the new baby… cleaning out the guest room, organizing the closets, installing a fan, picking out furniture, figuring out what to do with all the STUFF in the guest room (old bluprints and design boards from school, pictures, general “Sharon” memorabilia) and I started to panic.  True, I’m only 16 weeks…but I have SO much going on now.  I have a 1 year old that I have to care for… I can barely keep the house cleaned and the laundry folded as is, so how in the world am I going to make time for all of this?   The challenge lies in how much space we have.  We would LOVE to move into a bigger home, but with our house value the way it is, that is certainly NOT an option.  With all of these  rambling thoughts,  I calmed myself  by cleaning up the kitchen, getting rid of all the piles of stuff left over from Parker’s party.  I started to make mental lists of things that I needed to add to my spreadsheet timeline that I hadn’t thought of before.  Eventually, I was tired again and fell asleep.

Uggh, why do I do this to myself?  How can I control it?  For my entire family’s sake, I need to stay strong, put my trust in God,  and know that everything will get done in time,… that little baby will have a beautiful nursery just like Parker does and that we’ll find a place for everything in the guestroom, AND the healthy baby will be born to a stress free environment with an anxiety free Mama!  Let us pray…

Bye-Bye Paci

I decided a few months ago when Dan told me that he would be out of town Tues-Fri for a sales meeting in Seattle, that I would take this week to wean Parker of his much LOVED, adored, idoled paci. Its easier to do when Dan is traveling because he works from home. I was anticipating naps to be a bit of a struggle during this period, and if he decided to wake up every fifteen minutes and cry, I would feel bad knowing that Dan was working downstairs.

Its been two days and two nights AND it surprisingly hasn’t been that bad! Let me preface by saying that we decided to wean Parker a few months ago of any non sleeping use of the paci. It was tough during car rides, stroller strolls, and restaurant outings, but we managed with snacks and the sippy cup to help distract him.

Tuesday night is when we started.  It took him an extra 15-20mins to fall asleep that night, but once he was asleep…he didn’t wake up.  Not until 6:45am, but then five mins later he was back to dreamland until about 7:30ish (which is totally do-able for night number 1 of paci weaning!).  I was shocked to be honest.  I was anticipating him waking every hour or so crying for his paci, but he didn’t!  The naps have been a little bit more difficult.  It has taken an extra 10-15 mins to fall asleep, and then he’s awake in about 45 mins, but then falls asleep for another 15-30 mins.  So, sadly his naps have gotten shorter as a result.  BUT overall, I’m glad that I’ve done this.  Parker turned 10 months yesterday, and he’s NOT a baby anymore.  The paci was more of a habit than an actual need.  I’ve also read that extended paci use can exacerbate any problems with developing speech.  With 12 months being right around the corner, and the fact that they hit a major speech development at 12 months, was enough to encourage me to help Parker break the addiction.  Not to mention that the longer we wait, the harder it will be to break the habit.  So, I’m happy to announce that Parker is officially a paci free baby and one step closer to being a “big boy”! *sniff, sniff*


Someone snatched my boy. Someone took my sweet cuddly, laughable, smiling ball of sunshine and replaced him with a a loud, shrilling screamer. I thought I we were in the clear since we avoided the dreaded colic, blessed with only few crying nights, and had a son that seemed to have a sunny disposition. That was until, about three days ago. Lord help us.

Parker had found his voice around three and a half months ago and had always been a very vocal baby. He loved to bababaaabbaa and OoooWoooowwhhoo from very early on. I knew right then and there that he would be an extrovert who loved to talk, just like his Daddy. That is all cute and sweet and everything, but that is not what we have going on here. We have a seven month old who only loves to communicate in one way…a loud shrilling screech of a SCREAM!

I’m bored…SCREAM!
Pick me up…SCREAM!
I rolled over and I’m proud of it…SCREAM!
Mommy is making a funny face…SCREAM!
I’m tired…SCREAM!
Look I just crawled backwards…SCREAM!
No, I want to feed myself…SCREAM!
I said, give me that spoon!…SCREAM!
I don’t want to be in the stroller anymore…SCREAM!
Stop tickling me…SCREAM!
Did I mention that I want you to hold me?…SCREAM!

Is this a phase? I certainly hope so! At the end of the night, with a splitting headache, I close my eyes and pray. Dear Lord, whatever I did to upset you…I’m sorry. Please give me back my non-screaming baby and I promise to be forever thankful. AMEN!