Friday, April 18, 2014

Struggle


I've been struggling lately.
Mostly emotionally, due to physical issues.
If I had to narrow it down, it's been due to my inability to lose weight.

"Just do this and you'll lose weight!"
"Refrain from eating (insert food here) and you'll lose weight!"
""Eat small meals throughout the day."
"Drink lots of water."
"Follow a workout plan."
"Do Cardio."
"Do weights."
Or my favorite: "Just keep lowering your calories and it's bound to happen sooner or later."
"I did this (insert amazing plan that worked for them) and I lost all the weight in 6 weeks!"

Everyone has something that worked for them.
But doesn't work for me.

I get the skeptical looks that say "no matter what you say you are doing, I don't believe you; because you would be losing weight if you actually did all that you say".

"You look great.....................for having five kids." 
"You don't need to lose weight!  You are just fine with your curviness.  You have a balanced hourglass figure".

I want to feel healthier. 
I don't have unrealistic notions about what size or weight to be.
I simply want to be at a healthy weight, without fat protruding through my clothing.

I'm willing to work for it.
I've been focusing on losing weight since Kimble was 9 months old.
He is 4 1/2 years old now.
My goal was to lose 50 pounds (which would result in about a size 6).
I managed to lose 35 pounds, and basically had to starve myself to do it, and it took 2 years.
I've gained 12 back.

No matter what I've done the past 4 years, I can't seem to reach my goal.
I've all but eliminated dairy and gluten and refined sugars from my diet, cutting it down to less than one meal a week.

I work out at the gym 4 times a week, with a friend.  
We follow a plan on Bodybuilding.com (Jamie Eason).
I eat less than 1200 calories a day.

So..I'm trying hard.
Even though I'm not seeing results, I don't give up.
However, it's taking it's toll on me.
In other words: I'm struggling.

I've thought that I have thyroid issues for a while now.
Hypothyroidism, to be specific.
I have so many symptoms that correlate.

I'm tired all.the.time.
No energy.
No metabolism.
I'm always cold.
I'm gaining weight despite eating right and working out.
Heavy cycles.
Depressed (although with all those above symptoms, it's understandable).

I went to a doctor a few years ago, and shared my struggles and requested a blood panel.
She told me to reduce my calories to 500 a day and then I'd see results.
I have never been so upset at a "medical professional" and didn't go back to her again.

So I finally decided to go to someone I trust. 
My OBGYN.

I figured he would be the one that could help me figure out my symptoms;
especially because some of my other symptoms (not listed) correlate with hormone imbalances.
Plus, I needed a yearly exam (4 years in the making).

I made a list of my symptoms.
I made a list of everything I was doing to accommodate those symptoms.
I shared with him my struggles.

He agreed that there are things happening that need to be figured out!
He didn't just dismiss me.
He is willing to work through all the options until we find something that helps.

I feel validated.
It's been so long that I've struggled with this, that I didn't fully realize how heavy of a burden I was carrying, until it was released by my doctor simply agreeing with me.

Every decision, every moment, every action always came back to my struggles with my body not responding to what I feel are simple requests, and things that work for everyone else, but not for me.

We are starting with a blood panel, which was done immediately after the appointment.
Even if the TSH panel comes back within normal levels, my doctor is willing to look further and test more.
That is exactly what I need.

I hope we can get my body regulating itself again.
I'm so tired of struggling.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Wife and The Husband

Kennedy wrote me a story one night.  I love it so much, that I wanted to make sure it was documented.  Thus, I come out of my blogging funk once again to make a minute post; however, I would like to begin blogging again.  I have so much to talk about (and apparently not enough desire to follow-through).  That being said, I really do hope to blog again soon.

For now, I will share with you Kennedy's story.  It begins thus:

 "The wife is walking tords (towards) the husbind (husband)."


 "The husbinde (husband) is waving at the wife."

 "The wife sees the husbinde (husband) and drops the floures (flowers) because she is shoked (shocked)."

"Thay (they) are about to get kissed."

"And thay (they) did kiss."

"And got a child!"
"The end."



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Huckleberry Blossom: Hospital Pajamas!

I am so excited to announce that I am now selling Hospital Pajamas!  Some of you may remember THIS POST from about 18 months ago, where my sister and I made sets of pajamas for Mr. Kimble, to wear during his recovery time for his next open heart surgery.

Since then, I have received many comments, and many emails, asking me if I had these in my shop yet; if they were available for purchase; if I had finalized all of the sizing so I could offer them.  Now, the answer is yes!!

About a month ago, my sister Sharon called me and told me she was going to spend a week at my house at the end of January and we would get all the sizing done for the hospital pajamas.  We would make a bunch of sets together, and then list them on Etsy, and that is exactly what we did!
 
In turn, we opened up a new shop on Etsy called Huckleberry Blossom.  We currently have sizes available from 2T to size 7 in childrens.  Within the next month, we'll have sizing done for newborn to 2T, and will list those pajama sets as they become available. Here is a blurb from our "About Us" page, that explains our story and purpose with the hospital pajamas.

My whole world changed in a moment when, during my routine 20 week ultrasound, I was told that my child had complex congenital heart defects, and IF he survived after birth, we would be facing a long and difficult road filled with hospital stays and surgeries.

After many open heart surgeries, and many experiences of living in the hospital for a time, I thought about how I could make the hospital life be as comfortable as possible for my little heart patient.

My sister and I worked together to create hospital pajamas that are intended for those children who need to make the hospital their home for a little while. These pajamas provide modesty, comfort, and joy for the patient. They allow access for the doctors and nurses, while still providing warmth and cover during recovery. They are inspired by our real life. We saw a need, and this is our solution.

All proceeds help benefit our little heart patient, who wears his special pajamas when life demands frequent and heartbreaking hospitalizations.


Here is some info about the pajamas and why they are special.

 These pajamas were first developed for our little heart patient, and we soon discovered (upon talking to other 'hospital moms') that the pajamas would work for all types of patients. Therefore, we created a pattern that would be beneficial for all children who require longer hospital stays and who prefer more comfort and modest attire than what the standard issue hospital gowns provide.

The robe opens in the front and folds close with a tie sash. This front opening provides easy access to the body while still maintaining modesty, comfort, and warmth. The sleeves are wide enough for bulky IVs, arm braces, blood pressure cuffs, and other necessary equipment. The long robe also hides cords and wires that little hands might want to pull and play with, allowing the connection wires to be kept 'out of sight out of mind'.

The jammie bottoms are equally roomy and comfy. They have an elastic waist to easily slip on and off. They also have wide pant legs for the same reasons as we have the wide sleeves.

Once the child is mobile, the child can freely move about the hospital while staying modest and warm, without the drafty backs that the hospital gowns offer! Little buns are cute, but not for public display!

These hospital jammies can be worn as a set, or individually, as needed. Cute prints make it fun for the child, and bring a sense of comfort from home during their time in the hospital. Even better, this pajama set is so cute and comfy, that it can continue to be worn as regular pajamas at home.

Here are some pictures we have taken of some cute kids (including Kimble!) modeling our pajama sets.






Please feel free to 'like' our Facebook Page Huckleberry Blossom, and check out our Etsy store for current listings.  We know that these hospital pajamas are near and dear to our heart, and we hope that they can offer some comfort to those who wear them.  Please share this info with those you know who may be in a similar situation.

I know that this endeavor won't make me rich.  This isn't the point. I'm not out to make money with this. It takes a lot of fabric and a lot of time to make these sets, but it is something that is very special for me.  From my standpoint, as a heart mom, I know what it is like to watch my child have life and death moments.  I know what it is like to see them come out of anesthesia and cry in pain and lack of understanding.  I know what it's like to sit next to their bed and want to trade places with them.  I know what's it's like to want to offer all the comfort that you can during their time of recovery.  This is my way to offer my love and understanding, straight  from my heart, and straight from the broken heart of my sweet baby boy.  Thanks for all of the support and love we have received from all of you over the years.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sweet Kennedy

When Kennedy brought home her backpack on the last day of school before Christmas break, there was a lone piece of paper with a paragraph written in her handwriting, labeled "Thankful For".  As I began reading, tears welled up in my eyes.  I was so proud of how she expressed the things that mattered most to her.  I also experienced a sweet feeling of understanding that she has for her baby brother's heart defects and how such a complex situation can be made simple in her eyes.  This is what she wrote.



Thankful For
Thanksgiving is a time to think about the things we are thankful for. First of all, I am grateful for my baby brother's heart surgery. The surgery makes his heart get better.  The heart needs to grow bigger and stronger.  I love him very much. I'm also glad for my home. My home keeps me safe from danger and bad weather.  Last, I love my family.  Kamy, Kimble,(Kolby...written on the rough draft but missing in the final copy) and Keaton.  All my family is special that I could almost cry with joy because I love them so much.  Thinking of all the things that make me happy makes me thankful everyday.
Kennedy
11-19-13


Dear Santa

The kids wrote letters to Santa this week.  Kamy and Keaton played along, even though they don't believe in Santa anymore.  Kolby, Kennedy, and Kimble (with encouragement) were all excited to share their deepest wishes in a letter to Santa.






Dear Santa,
I would like a kindle or a great tablet of some sort.  Also, I would like a computer as another option, or an Xbox.  Either one would be fine.  From Kamyren.

Dear Santa,
This year, overall, I think I got a B+ for good behavior.  I don't really want much. I would really like a good tablet, and if you can still do better, a convertable laptop that can change into a tablet, and a computer, then surprise me with my other stocking suffers.  Love, Keaton.

Dear Santa,
I hope you will come this year and get lots of cookies.  This year I would like a pair of scuba and snowboard goggles and flippers for swimming.  Have a very nice Christmas Santa.  P.S. Nice work, Elves.  Sincerely, Kolby.

Dear Santa,
I hope that you can be warm, and hello, my name is Kennedy.  First, I would like some sparkly makeup.  Second (I am not saying 'want' because I know you do not like people greedy, so that is why I'm not saying 'want'), I would like a desk with my name on it. I am 8 years old. I would like a desk because I would like to do my homework on it.  Third, I would like toothbrushes for my family (and my mom agrees with that).  I love Christmas!  Love Kennedy.

Dear Santa,
(Spoken by Kimble; written by Mom) I want a big car that is so tall.  I want presents. I want woody.  I have been good.  Thank you for the car.  Kimble.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Will


I will blog again.  I will!  Right now I'm done with all my markets.  All my out-of-home responsibilities.  Sigh. I can enjoy time with the family.  Last night, I made a delicious dinner and we re-arranged the kids' rooms.  The Husband turned to me and said "I could get use this again.".....meaning that I had time to make a good dinner and clean and organize (which I really like doing but haven't had time to in a LONG time).  I agreed with him.  It's good to be back.  So I repeat...I will blog again. Soon.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blurb Coupons

If you are still looking to buy my cookbooks, there are two coupon codes that blurb is offering.

The first one is BETTER25 (Buy two or more books and receive free shipping plus 25% off your order...great to buy extra copies for presents!). The second coupon code is BOOKEND20 which gives you 20% off any order under 75 dollars.  These codes are good only for the printed versions of my cookbooks ( I receive 10 dollars for every cookbook that is purchased, which goes into Kimble's 'heart fund'.)  You have until Dec 3rd to buy them and receive them before Dec 24th, if you are overseas.  If you are in the States, you have until Dec 13th to ensure delivery by Christmas.  (Both of these codes expire Dec 2nd.)

If you want a .pdf or an ebook, they are each 25 dollars through blurb, and I receive $20 of those dollars.  There are no coupon codes for an ebook or .pdf but they work great on your ipad or tablet and you get it instantly, and we get more money that goes directly to us to benefit Kimble.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Worth The Risk?

I finally heard back from Kimble's cardiologist.  It took 4 weeks for the team of doctors to discuss the results of the MRI/ECHO and decide whether Kimble will have surgery now or later.  As you can imagine, it's not an easy decision.

Kimble's heart defects are complicated, and even harder to guess at what the future holds.  There simply isn't any data out there to help the doctors decide what road is best.  Pediatric heart defects, and their repairs, are relatively new in the medical world.  There simply aren't really many adult patients over the age of 30-40 that have had surgeries as infant/children and are in their adulthood to gather data from.  Relating to Kimble, there simply isn't anyone that we can use as an example, whether this surgery versus that surgery would be good for him.  We have to go step by step, and see how Kimble's heart grows in a 4-6 month time period, and then make decisions based on what the doctors think they can do to help Kimble's heart function better with its defects.

With that, the team made their decision, which is once again to postpone the surgery that they want to do, to reverse the Glenn.  As a reminder, the Glenn is the last surgery Kimble had, at 7 months old.  It re-routed half of Kimble's bloodflow to bypass the right heart and go directly to the lungs to get oxygenated, before continuing on to the left heart.   This was done because the right heart, with its three defects, couldn't handle the full body's blood supply.  Since then, Kimble's heart has grown remarkably well, and is now considered in the "low normal" size category.  This, in itself, is truly a miracle, considering that he basically only had half a heart when he was born.

Why are they postponing surgery?  There are many reasons.  I'll go through them step by step.  First, there is ZERO data on reversing the Glenn.  This is a surgery that isn't done very often, so it's hard to guess at what complications might arise from it.  Because the heart and arteries and valves and everything else that relates to a heart surgery are small and delicate, it's a bit tricky to do. There is the added complication of the re-routing sites, and thickening of vessels, pressure differences, and teaching the heart to adapt to the new bloodflow.

Second, with the size of Kimble's heart, reversing the Glenn at this time, could disrupt the normal pacemaker of the heart.  Complications could arise and would require the surgeons to put in a mechanical pacemaker, which at 4 years old, would be a tough life decision. 

Third, the darn Tricuspid valve is simply trouble. It's never functioned well, has been the basis of all of Kimble's heart defects, and although it has grown and is allowing more bloodflow, it's mechanical difficulties really limit it's ability to function well.  There could be some major pressure problems, with the bloodflow, and it's hard to anticipate this.  If you can picture this, imagine a river flowing through a tunnel, and then opening up into another river.  If suddenly, there is a flood of water, and the tunnel opening is tiny and unsupported, then where is that massive amount of water going to go?  Well, it'll back up, it'll cause damage to the tunnel, and there might be an alternate route created and the water will go where it's not supposed to go.  Complications.

Fourth, Kimble is doing very well as he is, which is really incredible.  The doctor's can afford to wait.  They want to let his heart grow bigger because there is less risk the bigger the heart.  Plus, they would like to be able to put in a Pulmonary valve (right now it's just an opening that was done in the Cath Lab when he was a week old) and possibly surgically help the Tricuspid valve.  Both of these procedures can't be done now (for reason's not told to me) but could be addressed at a later time.  If they wait on reversing the Glenn, then it's possible they can do everything at once, thus eliminating the need for separate surgeries.

For these four main reasons, Kimble's surgical team is postponing the surgery.  They aren't giving up on reversing the Glenn.  They all think it could greatly improve Kimble's heart function for his lifetime, which we hope will be long and joyous.  However, for now, the risks greatly outweigh the benefits.  We will wait, and address it again, probably in a year.

This gives us time to continue to save up for his surgical costs.  If you haven't already, please consider buying my cookbook(s) to help benefit Kimble and our family.  There are three options to purchase (printed book, ebook, or .pdf).  We will be having more surgeries.  With Kimble's complex heart defects, it's not a matter of "if", but a matter of "when".  Spread the word. Buy cookbooks as gifts for family and friends.  Please continue to help.  We all appreciate it.




Friday, October 25, 2013

My Second Cookbook!!

It's  ready!  It's been checked and  re-checked more times than I can count. I have the pages etched in my mind and the taste of the food still lingering in my memory.  My second cookbook is ready for purchase!

Some of you may be new to my blog, so I'll start at the beginning.  Before my fifth child was born (Kimble), we found out that he had severe congenital heart defects.  In order to offset some of the medical costs associated with his scheduled surgeries, I made a cookbook.  I published it through Blurb and made the cookbook available to the public.  All proceeds went to help pay for medical bills.

The first cookbook, named after my blog and titled "Just Because I Like To Cook" was a great success.  Many people bought it and even better, they liked the recipes in it.  Although the formatting isn't incredible, there are some great recipes in the book.

Fast forward to today.  Kimble is preparing for his fourth heart surgery.  More expenses are involved in his care.  We need a way to pay for all the extra costs.  Urged on by all the feedback from everyone about the first cookbook, and after hearing "When is your second cookbook coming out?" so many times, I have made another cookbook!

This cookbook, titled "Just Because I Like To Cook {More}" is even better than the first cookbook!  Not only is the formatting much better, and also that there is a picture to go with every recipe, but the recipes are amazing!  They are really spectacular. I'm so pleased with everything in this cookbook.  Simply Delicious!

Another thing that pleases me, is that this cookbook (and now my first cookbook too) can be downloaded to your iPad, OR you can have a softcover printed book, OR you can purchase a .pdf to use on another device (it shows up great on my kindle!)  Three options available. Yay!

Here's the breakdown: I get $10 dollars for every printed book, $20 dollars for every iPad download, and $20 dollars for every .pdf download.  This is to benefit the medical costs associated with Kimble's 4th heart surgery.

Please share the link with your friends and family. Share our story.  Encourage people to buy the cookbook. It really is a spectacular cookbook.  You'll get over 100 recipes that you will love, plus you will help out our family.  (This will make a great Christmas gift!!) Thank you so much! Buy the cookbook HERE!

(PS:  Is my comment section working?  Could someone leave a comment so I know if it's working or not?)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blankets Blankets!

We are just a few weeks away from donating blankets to The Children's Hospital in Denver again.  This will be our fourth year doing it.  The blanket number has dwindled down over the years, but we've always managed to have at least 300 blankets donated, which is the number of patients the hospital normally takes care of in a monthly period.  Our goal is always to have every patient receive a blanket in the month of November.

This year, I'm struggling to gather my share of blankets!  I need more blankets donated!  If you have an blankets you can send me (or if you are local, I'll pick them up) please get them to me before November 8th.  That is the day we donate.  If you want to mail them to me, then email me for my address.  (kamyrensmiles@hotmail.com).

Any size. Any type. Any style. The blankets just  need to be new.  They can be storebought or handmade.  If you trust me to do this, you can paypal me your money that you would spend buying a blanket, and I'll go buy one for you and add it to the collection.  I just really need more blankets!  Please help me give comfort to all the special kids that are in the hospital over the holidays.

I make blankets and donate them, and this year Kamy is learning to make a blanket and she is donating it as well.   It's fun and rewarding!  Please join us!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Will He Have Surgery?


We are at that stage again where we (and by 'we' I mean his surgical team) are deciding whether Kimble will have his next surgery in the next few months.  If his heart is ready, we will have his surgery soon.  If it's not ready, then we'll delay it again just like we did last Fall.  So, how do we know if he is ready?  We start some tests again.

Yesterday, Kimble had his first round of testing at Children's Hospital.  He had an MRI and an Echo, both of which he needed to be sedated for.  Although they are routine tests, it's still difficult to watch your child go through procedures.

We left early in the morning to arrive on time.  We left just about the same time as the school kids, so I took this picture of everyone right before we departed.


Kimble fell asleep quickly enough on the drive,which helped a lot because if he is asleep, he can't ask for food and drink!  He needed to be fasting, for the sedation, so I was glad the appointment was relatively early in the day.





When we arrived and began the paperwork for the MRI, we were told that we had to change into scrubs so we could take Kimble into the MRI room and be with him as he was sedated.  So we happily changed into scrubs, and as a bonus, we got to keep them!  Fun!



Kimble was not happy at this point. He was hungry and thirsty and didn't understand why we couldn't give him anything.  He also fought the anesthesia a bit ("Boy is he strong-willed!" said the Anesthesiologist) and it took longer to get him under.  Just before he blacked out, I told him I loved him.  Kimble looked into my eyes, brought up his hand and placed it on my cheek in a loving gesture and opened his mouth to say something just as his eyes started closing.  He made me cry!  If I could read his mind, I'd guess that he was about to say "I love you most, momma", which is what he always says to me when I tell him I love him.

So, he was set.  We expected him to be under anesthesia for 4-5 hours, with the MRI and then the sedated Echo.  Heath and I went to chat with Dr. Younoszai (a member of our surgical team and someone we have come to consider a friend) and we discussed many things, including his opinion on whether or not Kimble will have surgery in a month or two.  We also toured the new wing of the CICU and then we grabbed some lunch.  After that, we still had a few hours, so we settled down to wait.  The Husband took a short nap and I read a few chapters in a book.  Before long, it was time to go back to Pre/Post waiting room and wait for Kimble to be in recovery.


Kimble was still under anesthesia when they brought us back to him.  His special little horsie (we had given it to him that morning, in addition to a Backyardigans book that we got him) was propping up his oxygen mask and was strategically placed to be right there to comfort Kimble when he woke up.




After about 30 minutes, he woke up and although he was groggy for a little bit, he bounced right back.  When Kimble comes out of anesthesia, he is ravenous and very thirsty, so he asked for juice and crackers, which his nurse provided, and he downed them!  After he ate, he was happy.  He watched Toy Story for a little bit, until he proved that he wasn't going to be sick or have any ill effects from the anesthesia.


Then, we came home!  Kimble was escorted out of the hospital in a wagon, which was stocked up with juice and crackers!  We got home about 5pm, having left at 6:45am.  We were met by the kids (the older one's were home after school and the younger ones had been at a friend's house, and had dinner brought to us by a friend.  After that, we were all in bed by 8:30.  I think we were all emotionally exhausted!

So, the results of the tests will be discussed by our team and then they will tell us what is decided.  Basically, it comes down to having surgery now or waiting another year-ish.  We are pretty positive that his heart is ready for the next surgery, so we are planning on that.  We requested that the surgery be no sooner than January (my November and December are booked already!).  We are anxious to know the results!!