When Mother’s Day is Especially Hard

When Mother’s Day is Especially Hard

While Mother’s Day is a wonderful reminder for some that we’ve been blessed to be mother’s, I know that there are some that find Mother’s Day especially hard – for both men and women. This day is a bitter sweet reminder to many for many reasons. Perhaps you don’t live close to mom, you’ve lost your mom or have never met your biological mother due to adoption, or you’re a mother of an angel, experienced the loss of a son or daughter or both, or you’re not a mother but have longed to be one for so long. Whichever the case may be and your reasons you find this day particularly hard, my prayers are with you. I remember that the struggles I see, the never ending loads of toys, the tiny screams I hear, the tiny hugs I feel are not experienced by many – and are a blessing rather than a burden.

Today I not only embrace my Mother’s Day with my little ones, I keep in my heart those women who are having a hard time coping with today.

Happy Mother’s Day – Feliz dia de las Madres

Have a beautiful and blessed day.

A-

Photo: Kelly Sikkema

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Nail File Friday’s: Essie Nail Polish + Great Glitter Polish Tip

This week I kept it all the same, all week, I know! :: insert shocked emoji:: The little ones school year is coming to an end soon and I’ve been rather busy with that. Also, I’ve enjoyed a little early Mother’s Day breakfast yesterday morning with my Kindergartner. How excited do your little one’s get when you visit them inside their classrooms?! Children are so precious!

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If this is your first ‘Nail File Friday’s’ with me, welcome! Please visit here to find my personal all-time favorite nail polishes. Also, nail tools to find my favorite tools to keep at home for an at-home manicure. This is a rather simple yet beautiful nail polish idea!

First apply your base coat – the base coat will protect your nails from turning yellow, paint your nails one color, here you see the Essie, Wicked in the dark shade and the Essie, Chinchilly in the gray shade for the ring finger. It’s to your own personal liking, but after you’ve applied your nail polish, apply some colored glitter on top of the ring finger and thumb.

Here’s a tip for the glitter: if you have a hard time getting the glitter on your nail – you know, getting more clear than actual glitter! Do this: Apply the glitter nail polish on a foam wedge or makeup sponge and dab it on your nail, repeat this until you’ve achieved the glitter look you want – the sponge will absorb the clear polish – leaving you with JUST the glitter. Easy right?! Lastly, apply the top coat to all to seal the nail polish and give them great shine.

Have a Blessed Friday!

A-

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Know The Signs of Postpartum Depression vs Baby Blues

Know The Signs of Postpartum Depression vs Baby Blues

Hello all, if you didn’t know May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I wanted to share my own experience with postpartum depression – something few speak of.

While having a high risk pregnancy with my fifth child – due to Chiari, and off my Chiari  medication – due to the lack of medical knowledge on side effects the child may have, all resulted in postpartum depression. My decompression surgery for Chiari was done in 2013 and despite having had surgery, I continued to have chronic pain. I was also told of the possibility of a second surgery. The thought of a second surgery and being pregnant without taking pain medicine had me feeling an intense sadness. On September 2015, what I thought would be a quick trip to the ER for abdominal pain, ended in an emergency c-section. I’ve been through four prior c-sections and so when the baby didn’t cry, my motherly instinct told me something was wrong. In spite of my concern the nurses and doctors assured me everything was OK and the baby was taken to the hospital nursery. Once there he began to turn purple, began gasping for air and was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU. His lungs were underdeveloped and he was not receiving enough oxygen. He would stay in NICU receiving medical treatment for the next 15 days. My depression just continued to grow. But, with a baby in NICU, making sure I was pumping enough breast milk to provide his nurses and thinking of the other children at home, I did not have to time to think of myself.

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Baby #5, NICU 2015

Fast forward 2017, I was pregnant with my youngest, this again was considered a high risk pregnancy due to my Chiari diagnosis. After multiple trips to the ER with early contractions, I received steroid shots to help the babies lungs. She was born on February 2017 by emergency c-section. Her lungs were in great shape, thanks to the medication they had given me while still pregnant. She was still though considered a preemie and had to spend time in NICU for preventative measures. I again, continued to spiral in my depression. I knew it wasn’t the baby blues. She was the most perfect baby girl, with these piercing light eyes and there I was feeling no bond with my child. I unable to get out of bed – not because of the obvious pain from a c-section, but because I felt this internal sadness. The thought of even having to feed my new born overwhelmed me with anxiety and fear. I laid in my hospital bed not knowing how I would get up to visit my baby in NICU. The view of the door seemed eternal as if it would take miles of walking just to reach it. When I got home, the deep sadness continued. I mentioned it to my obstetrician and he assured me that it was the baby blues, but to have peace of mind, that I should go see a therapist. I didn’t.

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Baby #6, NICU 2017

However, by the end of 2017, having to care for a new born, 5 other children and still feeling sad, anxious, uninterested in just about everything and fatigued, I sought help in form of a psychologist. I also began thinking what going to a therapist would mean, I felt a sense of embarrassment, what would people say if they’d find out, what would my family think, would they think I’m crazy, unstable, unfit?! The thoughts were overwhelming. It went against what I thought the world would think of me. But it became the best decision I could have made for myself and my family.

Know The Signs

Postpartum Depression (PPD): This occurs after the baby is born, you have insomnia, feel sadness, loss of appetite, noticing difficulty bonding with baby, irritability, loss of appetite, hopelessness, you find yourself not being able to concentrate. This requires medical diagnosis and if you go untreated, these symptoms can last months or even longer.

Versus

Baby Blues:  The symptoms for baby blues can be very similar to postpartum depression and can include mood swings. However, the symptoms are short lived, you experience them for a shorter amount of time. And with help from your spouse, partner and family, you can overcome the baby blues. The baby blues is the least severe of postpartum depression, it tends to be ‘normal’ for moms that have just given birth, however if they don’t go away in a few weeks, it may be postpartum depression.

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If I could tell you anything from my experience with postpartum depression is not to wait. I waited and missed vital time in receiving medical help. I was too embarrassed to speak on feelings I thought people would view as lunatic and absurd! On the contrary, my family were the most supportive. The one thing I am in constant need, is the reminder that I shouldn’t care or think of what the world thinks of me. Put yourself first, your mental health is a priority. If you feel in need of mental help, seek it – because acknowledging that you need help is vital and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Also, speaking one day on this topic of postpartum depression, my therapist – whom also has patients at a local hospital, told me that the hospital is now screening pregnant women. They are screened before and after the birth of their child for signs of postpartum depression. How amazing is that! I can only say that we are truly moving in the right direction, just as a newborn needs care, the mental state of the mother does too. I can only hope that this same protocol is done in every Hospital nation wide, so that no mother goes untreated.

Happy Mental Awareness Month.

A-

Photo: Daniel Páscoa

Nail File Friday’s: Including Gradient Pink

Happy Friday! So for today’s ‘Nail File Friday’s’ I bring you some inspiration to do right at home! As a busy mom, I don’t always have time to go out to get my nails done, however I do make the time to do them at home. If you’re a mom too, maybe you can do your nails while your babies are taking a nap or maybe at night after you’ve put them to bed. With these three looks, you can change it up if you’d like, change the color, the design or do the same. You decide!

So, using any polish shades, here I used the Essie – Marshmallow (white), Mod Square (pink) and Wicked (dark). I just wanted to change the polish for the ring finger, keep things simple – or semi simple and easy. The first one is the ‘ombre’ look also known as a ‘gradient’ nail art – all this means is that you’re going to go from one color and blend out with another, using all three colors and a foam wedge or a makeup sponge, once your polish is completely dry, paint some streaks of the Mod Square and the Wicked on the makeup sponge, now pat the sponge on the nail – go over it as many times as you’d like to achieve the ombre look. Next is the easy, basic just Mod Square polish and last is doing the triangle design using the self adhesive nail tape.  after you’ve applied both nail polish shades, just take the nail tape off carefully using the cuticle nipper.

And you’re done!

A-

 

Blogging 101 – Tips For The First Time Blogger 2018

Blogging 101 – Tips For The First Time Blogger 2018

I am a … first time blogger – phew, there I’ve said it!

And just like that, feelings of intimidation, embarrassment, guessing, second and triple  guessing, confusion, at times frustration, semi mental breakdowns, etc. come rushing all at once.

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I’d love to pick your brain, let me know your most helpful tip(s) for first time bloggers such as myself. The sort of, Blogging 101, Must Know’s or Tips For First Time Bloggers 2018 Edition.

I’ll take any helpful tip(s), big or small, such as how to come up with a name for your blog, how often should you blog, what topics to choose for posts, what is a post, how to create an award, how to create a tag, how to respond to both an award and a tag, what works, what doesn’t. The things that have helped you in your own blogging journey.

As for myself, I’ve been using this one since day one in my short time blogging  …

My most helpful tip(s) for you: Two words, Blogging Journal‘ … yes! I am still a good ‘ole paper and pencil kind of gal and with so much going on, my ‘Blogging Journal’ has come to alleviate some stress. I keep it on my desk with a pencil/pen and a highlighter – sorry kids, I’ll give it back, maybe! I’ll write down ideas throughout the day as they come, half of the time it’s not in the neatest handwriting, but it works!

My second tip: In your ‘Blogging Journal,’ make/label sections using tabs/sticky notes, write down all your online useful website sources, along with any user names and passwords you’ve created related to your blog, I’ve collected a few already and this has been a huge help!

Please leave your most helpful tip(s) in the comments and include your blog, so others can follow along your journey with you!

Happy Thursday!

A-Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

Photo: Jan Kahánek

The Inside My Head Tag

the-inside-my-head-tag

I received this tag by the lovely blogger over at Discovering Your Happiness and it was so much fun to do! She writes about health, mental illness, healthy recipes and happiness, among other interesting things. Her honesty, her willingness to be so open by writing down such raw emotions has been what has captivated me to her amazing blog! She’s proving that being your true self will be what will draw people closer to you. I appreciate you and love your amazing blog Anita.

If you’re a follower of mine, I hope you have enjoyed reading along and getting to know me a little better and if you’re not, please subscribe and follow my journey along! Ana-

So, let me begin!

Rules:

° Thank & tag the person that has tagged you

° Attach the tag photo

° Answer the ‘This or That’ questions

° Tag 10-20 friends

Here we go:

° How do you feel at the moment?

Considering this is the peak of bedtime, with 6 little’s, the ‘process’ can be long and with my anxiety, it can get daunting. :: deep breaths ::

° What do you need more in my life?

Patience. Lord Almighty, I need more patience! I can feel my anxiety level rising when I feel stressed or hear people complaining.

° What would make you happy right now?

A full nights rest – 8 hours, and a vacation. Does Disney World count? We’re going to Disney World again this summer and although I love the most magical place on Earth, I  refuse to call it a vacation. But still I love it!

° What is going on in your life right now?

Let’s see, well the blog is going on. I don’t have social media so I am not scaling as fast as I’d like – remember I’m impatient 🙂  I mean how do you grow your blog without social media?! I’m still trying to figure that out without giving into the pressures of the world. Maybe later I will. Also, we just wrapped up my son’s IEP for the next school year, if you haven’t read my post on Autism you can definitely do it here. The meeting went as well as it could have gone, if you’ve been in these meetings, you know how intense they can get. No bueno for someone like myself living with anxiety. But we got over that hump and he’s all set for next year!

° What am I most grateful for? List 10 things.

My Children – Every.Single.One 🙂

My Family – For the patience and support they’ve demonstrated since my diagnosis

My Health – Even where I am at now with my health, I am grateful i have a pulse and I am alive. I’ve had multiple surgeries – too many to count, and you can read more about me here, but the surgeries due to Chiari + Syringomyelia have been the most risky – not that other surgeries weren’t. But the complexity of these two could have really ended my life. God’s got this mama here for a reason beyond my humble comprehension.

My Blog – It’s given me an outlet to be able to write down my emotions. I think not as honest as I’d like to be, but I think with time I’ll get there. I’ll be able to feel more comfortable. So far it’s been free therapy and who doesn’t like free things 🙂  It’s allowing me to meet many interesting people from all walks of life and from other places, it’s been a pleasure to read the many experiences. And in the words of my therapist, ‘misery loves company’ – and not in a bad way. But reading others not-so-pretty lives has helped me see, that I am not alone.

My Home – It provides shelter and a safe environment for myself and my family.

Food – I enjoy cooking, most days I see it as a stress reliever and have enjoyed introducing the kitchen to the children. They love to help and have come to love baking for one another.

Our Van – I never, never, ever, did I see myself in a van, much less with 6 little’s. But God had plans bigger than what I could have ever imagined for myself. I had actually written other plans for myself. God however – as always, has the last say. I am grateful for this vehicle that can house my entire family. It gives us a nice small space to travel in – near or far, to sing, to talk, to watch Peppa Pig and ultimately throw a french fry or two when they aren’t happy! 🙂

Our Strollers – Yes, you read right! They come to my rescue when my body can no longer be pushed.

E-Mail – This helps me communicate with my children’s teachers and has come in so handy when I’ve needed surgery. The ease to be able to tell them just about anything and everything with a few clicks is absolutely amazing – especially when you live with chronic pain.

iPhone Pictures – I am by no means a photographer – and you can see my Nail File Friday’s to prove my skills are lacking, however I still love taking pictures. I appreciate being able to capture moments in time to later reminisce on times past.

Flats (shoes) – With Chiari + Syringomyelia, vertigo is almost inevitable and even since having my surgeries I still have it. So, flats have really helped me still feel normal and pretty without the constant feeling like we’re all in a roller coaster ride! Eek!

° When did you experience joy this week? 

I went with one of my boys to his classmates birthday party and seeing his eyes light up brought so much joy to my heart. He was so excited to be there and I was so happy I got to be there with him.

° List a small victory/success?

With my anxiety it’s hard to be patient, I worry a lot for just about anything. I want to know what’s going on at all times. I also have agoraphobia, but booking our summer vacation is such a huge success. I do it all for my children, they motivate me to do things I otherwise would not.

° What is bothering me & Why?

I feel like I have truly not accepted my condition – you can read more about that here, because I have been thinking a lot of my past life. But at the same time, realize that my diagnosis would have been the same regardless.

° What are my priorities at the moment?

To put myself first, to do things for myself that will help improve my mental health. Also, to start getting outside more often, to start a physical regimen and to improve my physical health.

° What do I love about myself?

The love, appreciation and compassion I have towards others – especially those closest to me. I also appreciate that I’m frugal – not to be confused with being cheap. If you haven’t read my My Tips On Thrifting and if you haven’t taken advantage of the Grove Collaborative – Free Set you must! I love getting a good discount – and of course free stuff!

° Who means the world to me & why?

My little ones, they will drive me up the walls, roofs, everything! The same way they drive me crazy, they love me regardless of how I feel or how I look. I knew growing up I wanted to be a mom, I didn’t know God had 6 little one’s waiting for me, for that I am grateful.

° If I could share one message with the world, what would it be?

It seems so obvious but to some it isn’t. I would say, put your health as a priority. If you feel any kind of way, don’t hold off, schedule that appointment, go to your doctor and get checked! My life changed in a split second, I had emergency surgery and just like that my life changed forever. I ignored early signs, I didn’t tell my doctor things I assumed were not important, not a big deal. You are important, treat yourself right, get checked!

° What advise would I give my younger self? 

The breakup and heartache you will experience will not deteriorate you, you will crawl out of that black hole and you will come out of that alive. Don’t jeopardize your future, hold on, be patient, you will find someone willing and able to pick up the broken pieces that are going to be left behind.

° What lesson did I learn this week? 

‘By accepting that we cannot change the past, we can release ourselves and fully start living’ – Dr. Perry  So incredibly true. I find myself so deep in my past that I prevent myself from enjoying the present.

° If I had all the time in the world, what would I do first?

I’d sleep! I have 6 kids, what answer were you expecting?! Ha, I’d put a ‘go away’ sign and call it a day!

° What’s draining my energy?

Chronic pain and my anxiety, if I allow it to, it can get the best of me really quick.

° What does my ideal morning look like?

This is my ideal, it would be my kids waking up to their alarm, wake up, brush my teeth, help them get ready for school, say our goodbye’s and see you later’s, get the little one’s breakfast ready and get them dressed for the day.

° What does my ideal day look like?

I’m a stay at home mom, so my day consist of a lot of cartoons playing in the background while I do laundry, fold and put away clothes, clean, cook lunch, making after school snacks for kids and once the kids are home from school, I check everyone’s backpacks.

° What makes me come alive?

My children’s smile, hearing their laughter and listening to their stories.

° What/Who inspires me the most?

Anyone living with chronic pain or debilitating condition, they’re willingness to keep fighting, motivates me to keep moving forward.

° Where does my pain originate?

It’s all due to Chiari + Syringomyelia. It began there and from there other things have come up.

° What are my strengths?

Regardless of how I’m feeling, I always make time for those who need me. I’m supportive, I will try to always tell you the truth even if I know it may hurt you, I would rather tell you the truth than make you believe something that isn’t. A good friend will tell you the truth when others won’t.

° What is something I’ve always wanted but too scared to get?

This blog, it took me years to finally build up the courage and convince myself that I could do it. It’s here now!

° What is something I would love to learn?

I would love to learn more about my Korean ancestors. I grew up with unique facial features and this all came together when we realized we have Korean family members.

° Where would I want to live my ideal life?

I want to live in a simple space, somewhere out in the country, with animals, with fields and fields of grass where I can sit and watch as my children run and play, where there isn’t too much noise, where life is more simple and in need of little because we alone are enough.

° Where would you like to travel in the next 5 years?

I traveled to Canada years ago on a Pilgrimage to see the Pope. And that was fantastic, so I’d go back there. I’d go to Italy, I’d go to Jerusalem and be baptized in the Jordan River, Greece and visit all of the Disney parks around the world.

° What can I do to take better care of myself?

I would continue to go to therapy. Although it’s hard to get out of the house just for therapy, it is imperative that I take care of my mental health. Because as they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

° What hobbies would I like to try?

Pilates and walk more, just walk, go out for walks, get fresh air and appreciate nature more.

° When have I done something that I thought I couldn’t do?

Getting started on the blog! I’m so hard on myself and thought I wouldn’t have time for something else, that my plate was too full to put something else in it. But it’s here and I’m so glad that I finally got it started!

° At the end of my life, what do I want my legacy to be?

This one is so profound! I think I want to believe that I got to apologize to people if I ever hurt them or made them feel some kind of way. I don’t like leaving things unfinished with people. I want my kids to remember that even though I became sick at their young ages, I want to tell them that I tried, I tried every single day to be present and pushed through the pain, every single day. I put my body through surgeries that didn’t guarantee anything would improve but that I did it for them, I take medication – unwillingly, for them. Because the medicines are prescribed for me to feel semi-normal and if that’s what is offered, that’s what I’ll take. All in order to be present in their lives. And I hope my husband knows how sorry I am he got stuck with someone that ended up being so sick. How boring can it possibly get?! But that I appreciate all the sacrifices he has made.

My nominees: 

I don’t have 10-20 nominees due to the blog being relatively new  🙂

° Four Jordans

° Simply Chronically Ill

° Magic In The Everyday

° A Disney World Adventurer

° My Li’l Place

To my nominees, I apologize beforehand for the lengthy tag, but it would be so nice to get to know you through these questions. I can’t wait to read your answers and hope you have as much fun as I did doing this tag!

♥ Ana

Love, Life + Chiari

Love, Life + Chiari

It’s a bit ironic that I keep coming up on articles about love and heartache. This topic is particularly complex for me because love is a topic that – in my opinion, many have different views on. I live with Chiari + Syringomyelia which like any condition can be lonely. This is why many may experience a bit of depression and anxiety. This all can get in the way of maybe allowing others into your personal space and by this, I mean everyone, children, spouse, you name it, preventing you from loving. So, how do you love, when you are trying to love yourself and accepting the new you? I don’t know your answer to that. It’s no secret that I’m still trying to accept my own personal struggles with the 2013 diagnosis, so much so that I decided to seek help. If you’ve read my Chiari + Mental Illness you’ll know that the help came in form of my therapist.

Since my diagnosis I’ve felt that I’ve wanted to go back in time, thinking that maybe things would be different. That’s such a lie, isn’t it? Because the Chiari diagnosis would have come regardless of where my life would have gone, if not where I am now, it would have still been the same. I have my highs and lows, I suppose like anyone living with a health condition and chronic pain, and trying to come to terms with it. I say that while wanting to believe I’ve accepted the diagnosis. Like it’s OK! Or is it?! But, why do I want to go back in time? Maybe because I haven’t fully accepted my condition, to really say, I have Chiari?! Ugh. Those dreaded words. It’s at times overwhelming – exhausting!

And just like the feeling you get from the loss of a love due to a break up and heartbreak, I’ve felt that feeling of wanting to come up for air. I’m gasping for air and I’m trying so hard to stay above waters. I’m definitely treating Chiari like a long lost love, the only difference is that, I’d rather live without it. All this reading on love and heartache has brought back some memories of when I was younger and in love, carefree, in love with life, in love with my plans for the future – Chiari wasn’t there. I went through such a bad heartbreak at a young age and feel it’s all molded me in who I am today – maybe not a person I’d want to be, but it did change me. I was and continue to be a work in progress because of the emotional damage. My husband has had to help me unpack all this baggage that I’ve carried with me – willing to or not, he’s had to deal with it. A love, past or present has a way of marking your life, to touch it, to influence it. I read somewhere, “Love is Pain.” It is, so if you’re willing to love, you’re also willing to go through the pain it can possibly cause. And if there’s a breakup – and you loved them, you continue to love that person because of whom they were with you. However, as time goes by that person is no longer the same, because time has gone by and they’re not the same person you knew. Or are they? How do you let go? I don’t think you do, I think time heals a broken heart but I think that person will forever remain in your life, in form of a memory – in the memories you both shared. A connection you build with someone you fall in love with is incredibly strong, and you can say it isn’t so, but believe that there is someone out there that you will connect with in such a deeper level that they will change the course of your life. Love – true love, is something that not many experience in their lifetime. If you lose it or still have it, it’s something that not many get to experience in their lives. And if you haven’t, have hope that one day you will.

And when you do, when you find true love, you will experience one of the greatest joys life has to offer. And that is what life’s all about!

A-

Photo: John Jennings