Monday, December 28, 2015

Adios 2015

I didn't send out Christmas cards this year.  I've always said I was going to send out one, with the cute collage of family pictures, and the letter explaining our year, but it still hasn't happened.  And this year especially, I just wasn't feeling it.  I wasn't feeling especially festive, and I didn't want to send out a Debbie Downer Christmas letter, because it may have potentially gone a little something like this:

This year has been a living hell.  Filled with one obstacle/tragedy/whatever!, after another, and it has really gotten this girl down. I wouldn't relive this year if someone offered me some obscene amount of money.

It started in mid-January when they announced they were putting my grandma on hospice, followed by my mom's wreck, a major surgery for one of my uncles, my aunt having stints put in her heart, my cousin's house burning to the ground, a very personal tragedy for another of my cousins, and possibly the most heart wrenching, my grandma's passing in April... and that was all in the first 5 months of the year.  The in between times were filled with an exceptionally challenging year at work, toddler challenges, and the stress brought on by everything combined.

By the time it was all said and done with my mom (if you didn't hear about her wreck, here is the scoop), she had 11 surgeries under her belt, stays at 3 different hospitals, and a total of over 40 days spent in the hospital combined.  It was crazy scary, exhausting, and heart wrenching to watch her hurt and struggle.  She is officially out of her wheelchair now, having turned it back in to the company she rented it from, but no where near 100%.  The sad reality is this:  This may be her new 100%.  This, walking with a severe limp, and moving slowly and cautiously, may be as good as it gets for this one time go-getter.  And I've never witnessed something so frustrating as watching my mom struggle, and just wishing I could fix that damn leg.

Grandma lost her fight on April 9, never getting to say goodbye to mom because she was not able to travel other than to and from the hospital at the time.  That has to be what is weighing on my heart the hardest about this year.  The two most important women in my life, both crying over each other.  And I can't fix it.  I will never have that chance, or the power to do so.  And I miss her.  Oh, I miss her terribly.  My world just hasn't seemed right since April 6, the last time I heard her voice.

Work has been especially crazy.  I lost a couple of girls due to career changes, and have hired more, which involves training, and coaching, both for them and myself.  I have some pretty high expectations put on me, both by myself and the higher ups, because of the good numbers my team has always pulled.  Because of that, this year was by far the most stressful I have experienced as a manager.   

To top all of that off, we have preteen hormones, and toddler tantrums running rampant through this house, and my dog that I had had since I was a senior in high school died.  He was my first side kick, and the best feet cuddler ever.  Some days, it was hard to pick if home, work, or Zimbabwe was where I wanted to be.  There were days where running away had never sounded so good.  There were plenty of days where the sound of my phone going off made me want to vomit.  Locking out the world seemed like the better option for a good portion of this year, however unrealistic it actually was.  I just didn't have that option...

So I trudged through.  And I made it.  Always looking for the silver lining in that proverbial cloud, I do have a lot to be thankful for this year.  First off, I made it through it all.  "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."  Yeah, I have heard that quote, but didn't really want to test it out again.  Second, my mom made it through it.  I don't know that I could have made it through all of this without her, so we were kind of a package deal there.  Third, I got 32 full years with the most amazing, loving woman I ever could have known.  If I can end up being half of the woman that my grandmother was, I will consider myself a huge success.  Fourth, while my career was more exhausting and stressful than ever before this year, it also prospered, and grew.  My client base grew, my skills as a stylist, and definitely as a manager and leader grew, so how can I consider that anything but a success.  And last but not least, my kids are GOOD.  They're healthy, they're happy, and they're smart.  And they love their mom... HUGE success right there.  No greater reward.

While it was definitely the most challenging year I have faced to date, it wasn't all bad.  There were definitely some bright spots.  In January, adding another iron to the fire, I signed on with Mary Kay as an Independent Beauty Consultant.  I have taken a trip to Dallas, hosted several parties, and actually made some money!  So far, I am loving it, and have found that it is actually enhancing my career as a hair stylist as well.  It all kind of goes hand in hand.  In June, I got to take a trip, with Ashlynne, to NC to see one of my lifelong best friends.  While we were down there, we took a side trip to Myrtle Beach, where we met up with my "sister from another mister", Jordan, and I finally got to get my hands on her perfect baby girl, Sadie.  While in Myrtle, Ashlynne tried to buy a "tobacco" pipe, and then a matter of minutes later, smelled what it is that pipe was really used for when we walked through a cloud of smoke on the board walk.  She also got to see some "working girls".  I would say the trip was pretty enlightening for her.  Toto wasn't in Kansas anymore.  Gavin had his first year of tackle football.  He learned so much, and had a blast getting in those pads every week.  And I was so proud watching my little bruiser out on that football field.  Breckyn played her first year of tball, and Logan his first year of coach pitch, and both survived and enjoyed it!  Logan survived another entire summer with us, and I think actually had fun!  Breckyn and Ashlynne both did their first year of dance and had some adorable recitals.  My children have always been my driving force, and this year, I really had to lean on that.

I also had two other friends that both had happy, healthy baby girls.  I so much enjoy watching my friends have babies, and look forward to getting spoil their kids as they have done with mine.  And through all of this I have learned that I have some pretty amazing friends, and a lot of people in my life that really love me.  Sure, I had some people that I expected to be there that let me down, but that was the least of my worries when I looked around and saw the overwhelming amount of support I had.  So one thing I guess you could say that I wouldn't change this year, is that, becoming more clear.  If ever I had a doubt about whether or not my friends would be there for me, there was no reason to doubt that now.  I hope that I never have to repay the favor in the form of what they did for me, but I would do it in a heartbeat if life played that card.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
from my family to yours!!
So I will gladly close the door on this year, and welcome 2016 with open arms.  If new years are about new beginnings, then let's begin it already.  2016 has GOT to be a better year than this one.  I am going to make it a better one.  That's my goal.  I won't let the hard knocks of life take another year from me.  I'm going to take this new beginning, and run with it.  Look out world, cuz this girl is on a mission.

Happy New Year!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Be the change...

A tragedy rocked my little hometown to the core this week.

A teenager, a 16 year old boy, took his own life.  Leaving a very loving, very devastated family behind.  The PROJECTED reason? Bullying.  I don't know for sure that this is the reason that Tommy isn't with us anymore, but it has started a serious discussion around here.

This has been a subject that has been a very hot topic for years.  We have workshops.  Our children attend anti-bullying assemblies.  We drill into our children that there is zero tolerance for bullying behavior. We try to teach them to report it, and speak out against it. But it seems as if it never really gets better, regardless of the action plans that schools and communities seem to put into place.  I feel like there are a couple of reasons for that, and if we open our eyes, they aren't hard to pinpoint.

First of all, do kids really even understand what bullying is anymore?  It's not just physical.  It's not just a group of kids encircling one kid on the play ground and pushing him around.  It's not just shoving a kid into a locker.  It's RELENTLESSLY tormenting someone.  It's not giving this kid a break.  And a lot of times, it's sneaky.  Its done when the teacher isn't looking.  It's done when walking home from school, where there isn't an adult to stop it.  It's on Facebook, or Instagram, or snapchat.  Social media apps, such as After School, have given kids a way to torment others, completely anonymously, allowing them to hide behind a computer screen.  It doesn't just stop once kids walk out of the doors at school.  It follows them everywhere.  It's when someone actually makes a sport out of ruining someone else's day.  But this term has been used so loosely.  I've heard my own children use the term when someone just doesn't talk to them.  I have had to explain, there is a huge difference between someone not talking to you, or going out of their way to be your friend, and bullying.  But because this term has been pounded into their heads, and gets used so frequently, I have witnessed a generation of kids that misuses a very serious term, and has desensitized the rest of us to this word.  It has almost become a situation of the boy who cried wolf.  And in cases like what happened this week, it sounds like we should have listened.

Second of all, I think we, as a society, need to take the blinders off when it comes to bullying.  EVERYONE is susceptible to being a victim of bullying.  It knows no socio-economic boundaries.  It does not discriminate.  Just as equally, everyone is also capable of being that bully.  Bullies don't just come in the form of the big jock with the crew cut wearing his letter jacket.  Your kid may be getting bullied, but as parents, we need to open our eyes to the fact that our own kids may be the bullies we speak of.    Breaking this cycle has to stop at home.  We need to teach our kids right from wrong, hold them accountable if they don't make good choices, and be AWARE of what our kids are doing.  Monitor their social media, get to know their friends and their parents, pay attention, and lead by example.  If you bully your children, you can almost bank on the fact that they are passing that on to someone else.  And if you bury your head in the sand, and think your child is incapable of doing wrong, or would never do that, you can bet they're probably doing it, and knowing they're getting away with it.  Step up.  Make your kids take responsibility for their actions.  Teach them right from wrong.  Teach them compassion.

People are so quick to place blame on school administrators and teachers for not doing enough to prevent the bullying, or stopping it once it starts.  But our educators are paid to educate our children, not raise them.  That is our job. Fingers have been pointed at three administrators in particular this week concerning this topic, saying that over the years they haven't done enough.  But I ask you this: how do we expect these 3 administrators to know what is going on in the lives of over 1000 kids in our school system right now?  Shouldn't that be the role of the parents?  When I got in trouble at school, I got a call home, and that was the worst punishment imaginable.  But too many parents become defensive and combative when problems are brought to their attention, rather than sucking it up, accepting the fact that their kid may have screwed up, and handling the situation.  It sucks, you don't  want to imagine your kid may be part of the problem, but it's time to get realistic.  We have created an environment where educators don't feel comfortable approaching parents for a variety of reasons.  Whether it's because nothing gets done, or because they end up feeling attacked or because it's just easier, that bridge has, in many cases, been burned.  But have any of you stopped and thought about this:  the frustration we feel, many of our educators feel as well.  Why?  Most of them are parents of children currently in the school system.

So I propose this:  Let's all step up.  Let's hold each other accountable.  Let's stop being scared to approach another parent to have that difficult discussion.  Let's be the change that we all keep saying needs to happen.  I promise you, that if one of the "popular" kids, stepped up and said, "this is wrong and I'm not taking it anymore"  they would quickly see the influence they have and many would follow suit.  And if you have been one of the people bullying, it's NEVER too late to change how you treat people.  Young or old, we are all given another chance to change each and every day.  There are some people that are natural leaders, and some that are natural followers.  I can honestly say that I don't ever remember "bullying" someone.  But I can also remember plenty of times I saw it happening and did nothing to stop in.  As an adult, reflecting back, I wish I could change this, but I can't.  So I am drilling into my children the importance of it.  Not once, did I ever have a friend turn their back on me because I stood up for something that was right.  We need to stop being so scared.  I am very proud of some of the young people that I have seen speak up in Abilene this week.  They have shown class, and compassion during something that people their age aren't equipped to handle.  And this gives me hope.

Today, as Tommy is laid to rest, let's all decide to stop fighting.  Let's pull together.  Let's stop talking, and start doing.  Let's make this town, this school district a better place for our young people, and many generations to come.  Change can start with one person, I believe it already has.

Friday, September 4, 2015

We still do: 5 years later

Today marks five years that I have been married to my husband... And this man deserves a medal.

If I'm going to be completely honest with myself, and everyone else, I can be challenging.  I don't handle stress well.  I am moody.  For the most part, he handles me pretty well in all of my moods.  I can be funny, dramatic, anxious, sensitive, snappy, happy, and emotional, sometimes all the same 5 minute conversation.  He just rolls with it.  I came with some "baggage" in the form of a 5 yr old and a 7 yr. old at the time we got married.  I came with a lot of hurt, and pride, and one hell of a broken heart.  He stepped right up to the plate:  Good thing he is always up for a challenge, and good thing he thinks I'm cute!

In the past five years, I have learned a lot.  One of the most important things I have learned is something my mom always told me, but it took me experiencing it to fully understand what she meant.  That lesson is this:  love isn't a feeling, but an action.  Love is a choice.  Love is a verb, an act of doing.  Loving someone, and being "in love" with someone are two completely different things.  "In love" is a feeling, those famous butterflies.  Butterflies die.  Feelings come and go, and come back again.  Feelings sometimes fade.

Love, however, is an action.  It is a commitment.  It is a choice.  It is choosing to wake up every day, and honor and support this other person, even when they are at their worst.  It is showing them understanding, and acceptance, even when you may not wholly understand them, or their NASCAR obsession.  It is choosing to put them above all else in this world, even when you want to run away.  It is supporting them when they are unsure, and and reassuring them when they are scared.  It is being the light in their darkest days.  It is keeping them grounded, when they are getting a little big for their britches.  It is putting them in check when they need it.It is building life, and a family together.  Russ chooses to love me.  And I choose to love him.  And it isn't always easy.

The whole "don't go to bed mad" thing is a crock.  That's going to happen.  I have gone to bed so mad at Russ I can envision myself flipping him right off of the side of the bed once he is in a good deep sleep.  There's going to be times that you go to bed mad and that you wake up, still mad.  But you can still love that person.  When I come home from work on a Tuesday night with some shopping bags, having spent more money than I made that night, I'm sure he has gone to bed a little on the mad side, but he still loves me.  When we have skipped date night so he can watch the end of the game or race, I may have stormed off to bed mad, but I still love him.  I would still be there in a heartbeat for anything he needed.  I am still committed to him.  I am not going to walk away from him, from our marriage, our kids, the life we have built, because I may be angry with him about something.  I still choose him.  No matter what.  I choose the man that I committed to love before God.  Every.  Single.  Day.

Marriage is clearly not all rainbows and puppies.  It is sometimes yelling, and fighting over money, and baby puke, and a messy house, and busy schedules, barely seeing each other throughout the week.  It can be exhausting, emotionally draining, and frustrating.  But it is can also be worth it.  It is a partnership that if treated like the sacred covenant it is, is meant to make both people involved the best they can possibly be, together.

Thank you, Russ, for loving me at my worst.  Thank you for this crazy/beautiful life we have built.  Thank you for being the husband and father you are.  Thank you for being my partner in crime for the last 5 years... Here's to many more!  Happy anniversary!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

To the man who just can't keep his comments to himself...

Cutest Bumble Bee I've ever seen!
Recently, Ashlynne had her very first dance recital.  I was on my way back from Texas from Mary Kay Seminar and burned back into town just in time to make it to the recital.  It was a nature themed recital and her class was dressed as bumble bees.  She rocked it out, and was awesome!  She was so proud of herself, as was I.  It takes a lot of guts to get up on a stage, in front of many people you don't know, and perform.  It takes an extra lot of guts to do so when you have a visible difference, and physically you don't move as well and aren't as flexible as the other girls on the stage.  After her performance, where she had A LOT of friends and family, just she and I were walking back to the car, where I was letting her know just how proud of her we all are.

Enter stage right:  The one man who has to make an ignorant comment.

"That's the reddest bumble bee I've ever seen!"

I had to have had the biggest look of disgust on my face.  I didn't respond.  I tried to just keep my conversation with Ashlynne going, hoping she didn't hear him.

"How'd she get such a bad sunburn?"  He was making sure he was being heard.  AND making sure we saw him staring.  Now it was my turn to turn red.

"She doesn't have a sunburn, she has a skin disorder."  Once again, trying to just turn my conversation back to Ashlynne, he interrupts again.

"Oh, but why is she so red? I mean, she's SO red."

What I really want to say is this:

"Yes, we have eyes too, we see that she is red.  And while she has a skin disorder, and has very red, dry skin, and limited movement, she also has ears.  And those work just fine.  And you are offending that sense in every way possible.  You are clearly, elderly, which means that you have probably seen many things in your lifetime, and if you have reacted this way to everyone you have come across that is different, I'm surprised your jaw isn't wired shut. You know when you're saying things like this to a child, you are chipping away at her confidence, and her self esteem.  People like YOU are the reason it is so hard for her to get up and do these things.  And then, when she does, and she feels great about it, you march right up and open your mouth and take some of the wind out of her sails.  Shame on you.  But I want to thank you for once again teaching me a lesson in self control, patience, and understanding, because everything in me right now wants to verbally assault you. But I won't, because you aren't the first @$$hole, and you won't be the last."
These girls did awesome!!

But what I really say is:

"She has ichthyosis.  That is why she is red, and her skin is dry.  But I think she's the cutest bumble bee I've ever seen."  And I take Ashlynne's hand and simply walk off.  But my daughter's spirit won't be broken.  She just made crazy faces to his back when he walked off, and laughed it off.  She just shook her head and said "Old people..."  She won't let people like that keep her down.  She is still going to do dance, she enrolled in Lyrical for this session.

One thing I will never understand is why some people feel that it's ok to make ignorant, rude comments to a child.  Think them to yourself, ask someone else, but she is a CHILD!  But something I have learned is this:  Common sense, and common courtesy... they aren't very common.  Maybe we should have an awareness month for that....

Saturday, June 20, 2015

To my ex on Fathers Day: Thank you

I have an amazing husband, and a pretty close to perfect dad.  But I also have a complicated little family unit.  Between my husband and I, we have four kiddos.  We have his, mine, and ours.  I have two children from before our marriage, he has one, and we have our explosive red head together.  I went through some tough times in my younger years.  I was married, and had Ashlynne when I was 20.  When she was a few months old, her father left.  At that point, I met Devin, over time became engaged to him, and had our amazing little man, Gavin.  After a few years, this relationship fell apart.  But his relationship with his son never suffered for it.

In honor of Father's Day, I'm going to do something most women rarely do.  Something I wish more moms took the time, and thought to do.  Something I wish more moms would do, while taking a step back and putting their anger aside.  I'm going to give a HUGE shout out to my ex. Because he deserves it.  Yes, I want to honor this man, that I couldn't make a romantic relationship work with, for the fact that he never took our differences out on our son.  Because of the love and commitment I see him put forth into being a dad, I admire him so much.  It wasn't always rainbows and roses, in fact, it was pretty rough for a while.  But over time, I have come to consider Devin one of my best friends.  We have one very important thing in common, Gavin.

Gavin and his Rad Dad 
I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but we have a pretty good set up.  Devin and I truly do get along amazingly well.  This was something that took my husband quite some time to figure out.  We couldn't be together, yet when it came to our son, we were rarely apart.  I can see how from the outside looking in, it is a strange set up.  No, we don't live together, but he was over for every holiday, first days of school, birthdays, and any other important date.  He still comes to my parents house for holidays, and stops by my grandparents' house just to say hi.  And why not?  Isn't this best for Gavin?  It's not "my time" or "his time" with Gavin, it's Gavin's time.  He offers things that Russ and I can't, and vice versa.  He knows that if I make any suggestions, or express any concerns on anything going on with it comes from a genuine place, and the same goes for me.  We are doing everything we can to try to make the lives of Gavin, and the other kids, the best that we can.  He is still very active in Ashlynnes life, and he and Logan are buds too.  If he is going to take Gavin for ice cream, and Breckyn wants to go, he takes her too.  If he is going swimming and I can't take the other kids, he loads them all up.  In fact, Breckyn loves him! That's "her" Devin.

He had one doozy of a life.  An absent father that was never in his life, and a mother that passed away when he was 13, left him with little guidance.  He was a wild child, and made a lot of mistakes.  As far as a positive male role model goes, I guess you could say he didn't have one.  But the day Gavin came into this world, he started turning his life around.  He was not going to repeat the pattern or let history repeat itself.  So the same went for he and I.  When we split, he was a big part of breaking the cycle of those typical nasty relationships where people use their children as weapons. It took a lot of work, on both of our parts, but when we split, after both of us trying our butts off to make it work, in very short order both of us realized we didn't want it to be ugly.  Those things are hard enough on their own without creating more complications for the other person.  Neither of us needed that, but more importantly, neither did our son.

So this Father's Day, I want to give him props.  Thank you for proving everyone wrong!  Thank you for being such a good friend to Russ and I, and a good buddy/ family member to the other kids, and an AWESOME dad to Rad Dude.  While our romantic relationship didn't work out, I'm still convinced I couldn't have picked a better dad for Gavin.  And I couldn't have picked a better friend.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, May 29, 2015

ALS: Are you aware?

As many of you know, May is Ichthyosis Awareness Month.  Every year I flood people's time lines with info about Ichthyosis, and pictures, and facts.  I do my best to help educate.  This has been a cause close to my heart for 12 years now, my soap box if you will.  But nearly five years ago, another disease struck close to home and it shares its awareness month with Ichthyosis. This disease is ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  I don't know much about the physiology of it, and what exactly it does to attack the body.  All I know is how it affected a man that I cared very much about, and how it devastated my best friend's family.

David was a great man.  Growing up, Alexis's house had a revolving door for all of us loud, obnoxious girls.  With her mom and sister coaching our softball team, we were constantly running in and out before and after games and practices.  We would take over their entire house for a sleepover, and were never turned away, regardless of what else was going on in their life.  David had 2 boys of his own, and all of a sudden, he had about 10 of us girls thrown at him.  Never once did I see him lose his patience with us.  I remember his sitting in his recliner, in his work clothes, laughing as we would run through the house with our shenanigans.  He never told us to quiet down, go home, or go outside.  He took it all in stride.  He even started helping coach our softball team.  He did however stop coaching first base when I put him on his butt with a foul ball....

About five years ago, some weakness started in his legs, and he thought it was his back acting up again.  After several trips to the chiropractor, and a couple of falls, he made a doctor's appointment.  I remember before his appointment, his daughter, Sara telling me that they thought they had it narrowed down to 2 things, and they were hoping for M.S.  At their appointment, they got the news they didn't want to hear.  It was ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.  A death sentence.  And he was at his grandson's t-ball game that night.  That was in June.  He was at every ball game that summer.  He was at the fair, and by the time the demo derby rolled around, which is a big deal to his family, he was using a walker.  I had done some research on it so I wasn't completely clueless as to what was going to happen, and I was in shock that it seemed to be happening so fast... and still in shock that it was happening to them.

He passed away the following June, after ALS ravaged his body.  He was able to give Alexis away at her wedding, and he and his wife, Linda, had a dance, all done from his wheelchair.  These wedding photos would be the last family photos they would all have together.  He left many, many people behind who loved him, and who were devastated to see this happen to him, and all of those who loved him.  It was a terrible disease.  And for me, it was a terrible year, watching it destroy these people that I love and have considered family for so long.  I watched it take an emotional, physical, and mental toll on not only David, but the entire family.

This is the face of ALS... This is David
This past summer, something went viral that many of you may have heard of, or even participated in.  It seemed that everyone was talking about it, and strategically planning who they were going to nominate to do it next.  The "Ice Bucket Challenge" swept the nation, and the purpose was to raise awareness, and money for ALS.  It raised millions of dollars, and raised A LOT of attention for a disease that is rarely in the news.  A lot of people admitted to participating, but not knowing what it was necessarily for.  And because of this, it received some back lash. Well I just want you to know, that David, and the others robbed of their daily functions and lives, is who it was for.  We did it for all of those families out there who are currently watching it destroy one of their loved ones, hoping and praying that there is a cure before their "David" take his last breath.  And someday, with all of the people devoting their lives to research, there will be a cure.  There has to be, because too many people believe in this cause.  Some of the greatest people I know hold this cause very close to their heart.  And they have a reason to.  They personally watched its affects on a person they loved very much.  A person that can never be replaced, but will continue to impact their lives with the love he showed, and the legacy he left for them.  ALS, took his body, and his physical presence, but it can never erase the memory we all have of his smile.
Ride on David...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Did you really just say that?!

Engaging in conversation is an everyday aspect of my job.  In fact, it's a HUGE part of my job.  Because of that, and the multiple conversations that are had daily, I have many "did she really just say that" moments, from myself, as well as my clients.  Here are a list of some of my most recent favorites...

* "Man, do you know how dirty balls are?" - A school principal talking about sports practices and the risk of spreading the flu via basketballs.  I think she realized what she said at the same moment I did...

* "I can't do anything too crazy with my color today, I just started dating a guy who is ex-Amish."  I'll try not to scare him.  That was a first for me.  Luckily, it was one of my good friends, and after it came out of her mouth, we were both laughing so hard we were almost in tears!

* "Just a hair off", - Sometimes I don't know if people are intentionally making a joke while saying this, or if they are just using the figure of speech, but it makes me "hee hee" inside every time someone says it.

* When a bald mad walks by the salon, stops, and asks for a perm.  Clever.  And stylists NEVER hear that one (insert sarcasm here).  Working in a high traffic mall, I'm surprised if I don't hear it at least once a day.  However, we appreciate you trying to make us laugh.

* "Do you guys do haircuts here?" .... well what do you think she's doing to that girl in that chair over there?  They aren't making dinner!

* When ringing a customer out and you tell them how much their haircut is going to be and they say "Dollars??"... well, yes.  I don't take payments in Hershey Kisses.

* A single guy sitting in my chair "I've sworn off dating hairdressers, they're all crazy".  Yep, we are, and I'm holding very sharp scissors very close to your head... Need I say more?  I have all the control here.

* I did a tight fade on a guy the other day with a hard part shaved in... while leaving he says "I'll be honest, this turned out way better than I thought it would when I walked in here".... I didn't even really have a response.,.. Thanks, I guess...

*And the worst, and probably the most offensive.... When someone of a different ethnicity walks into the salon, looks me up and down, and asks me if I am capable of doing their hair.  A couple of weeks ago, I literally had a guy walk into the salon, while the salon was packed with customers, and ask "Do you guys do dreadlocks in here?"  As soon as I opened my mouth to answer him, he yells "Who am I kidding, ya'll white girls don't know how to do my kinda hair!"  So. Rude.  That is something I would NEVER do to someone, nor would it be even remotely acceptable if the tables were turned.  If I walk in somewhere that I don't feel comfortable getting a service done at, I leave.. without making a scene.  Believe it or not, not all of my clients have the same kind of hair texture as I do.  I have worked with every type of hair texture, and am capable of doing anyone's hair.  However, if you don't trust me to do it, don't make a scene, don't be rude, just don't come to my salon!  If you don't think I can do your hair, that's fine, call around to salons, and find someone who you feel comfortable with.  But don't belittle me just because my hair texture isn't the same as yours.  It doesn't make me incapable.

I could go on and on with some of the moments where I have to hold back laughter or sarcastic comments, but I'll leave it there.  To my other stylists, I'm sure you can relate to some of these scenarios.  And to my clients, keep the material coming!  Love you all!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Update: Mom's Road to Recovery

Since March 2 life has been crazy.  As many of you know, my mom was in a serious car accident involving a semi losing its load of steel beams in front of her.  She was very lucky that her life was spared, and that she didn't have life threatening injuries.  I was so relieved when I got the news that it was "just her leg and foot" that was injured.  No big deal, right?  I couldn't have been more wrong.

The past 9 weeks have basically been a living hell for her.  Several hospital stays later, she spent a combined total of 34 in Wesley Medical Center and Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita, KS.  Eight surgeries later, the bones are fixed in her right heel, foot, and ankle, and the heel on her left foot has healed.  However, lately it feels that if we didn't have bad luck, we wouldn't have any luck at all.  Bigger problems produced themselves in the form of fracture blisters on her right foot.  These blisters showed up immediately, delayed one surgery, and have worsened over time.  After her fourth surgery, they ended up having to remove some of the dead tissue, leaving a hole in the side of her foot down to the bone.  They put a wound vac on it to keep infection down, and sent her home in the care of home health.  With each subsequent surgery, the dead tissue has spread, and the hole has become significantly larger, covering the entire side of her left foot, and stretching to her ankle.  At this point, they called in a plastic surgeon to do a muscle and skin graft.

Muscle was removed from her abdominal area, and skin from her thigh to try to cover the hole left by the dead tissue.  The night of the graft, she was rushed back into emergency surgery because there was little to no blood flow to her foot.  They implanted a sensor to alert them to low blood flow in the foot, and after flushing the veins and arteries to make sure there were no blockages, they have not had the same problem since.  However, through all of this we discovered that there are 3 major blood vessels that feed blood to your foot, and mom only has one functioning that was damaged in the wreck.  So needless to say, the muscle graft and skin graft rejecting, resulting in another surgery to remove the work they had done.

After the failed graft, the surgeons in Wichita sent her home, saying they didn't feel there was anything else they could do to help her.  They told her that they want her to have the best possible chance at keeping her leg, so they set her up with a referral to KU Medical Center in Kansas City.  Her consultation is today at 1:30.

So this is where we are.  Eight surgeries and several hospital stays later, the bones are fixed, but other problems have made it unsure as to whether or not she will be able to keep her leg.  The possibility is there that she may not.  However, my mom is a fighter, and she is not emotionally ready to give up.  So she has our full support, and instead of Wichita, we will now be hitting the road to KC.

They didn't know this would be their last goodbye
But that's just the physical part.  For me, the anger has set in.  Her life is altered forever.  The things that this wreck, her immobility, and her time holed up in the hospital have taken from her are some things that can never been replaced.  She missed Easter with her grandkids (which is a very big deal to her).  She has missed all the activities she used to do when babysitting Breckyn.  She has missed weddings, and birthday parties.  But more importantly, she never got to say goodbye to my grandma.  She was coming home from caring for her when the wreck happened.   My sister got her up there once to see her, but when Grandma went downhill fast, Mom couldn't get to Topeka.  And no one can give that back to her.  Someone else's negligence robbed her of that.

We are, however, overwhelmed with the love and support we have received from family and friends.  People stopping by to check in, family members coming to stay to help out, cards, flowers, and prayers.  She has seen how many people care about her and it is very heart warming.  People keep asking if there is anything they can do to help.  My answer is this:  Most importantly right now, she needs the good thoughts and prayers.  We're hoping to get some good answers from KU, that they can help her.  Right now, she refuses to look at any other option.  So keep the prayers coming, for her, for the doctors, and for her spirits.  She is strong, the strongest person I know, but there is only so much a person can take.  Just pray that this time around it is good news she is taking in!!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Our Jouney with Ichthyosis: 12 years later

I started out on this journey just over 12 years ago, a scared, overwhelmed 20 yr old girl. The fork in the road of my life took me down a path that I never envisioned for myself.  I was never supposed to be a single mom to a special needs child with a rare skin disorder.

Ichthyosis... Never heard of it? Neither had I up to January 13, 2003.  But the next day my entire world was turned upside down when my daughter was born with this very rare, very severe skin disorder.

I remember the first few years being filled with countless appointments, blood work, physical therapy, and terms being thrown at me that I had never heard before.  It was a complete flurry of chaos.  And sadly, I look back, and I remember pain.  A lot of pain and a lot of heartache.  This wasn't part of my plan.  This wasn't how I had dreamed of my life to be.  I'm supposed to look back at my life and remember that white picket fence, and rainbows, and Ashlynne chasing butterflies.  But that wasn't how it turned out at all.  I don't remember a lot of the milestones that I should remember with my daughter, because life was so overwhelming for us.

Ichthyosis used to completely run my life.  Get togethers with friends, family vacations, even trips to the store, EVERYTHING was based around whether or not it would be bath or lotion time, or whether or not the weather would allow for Ashlynne to go.  I even used to stay away from certain social gatherings if there were a lot of people I didn't know, just to save us all from the stares.  And trips to Walmart? Forget it! It was miserable with all of the comments and finger pointing.  If you ever want to truly test humanity, step foot into Walmart with a child who is visually different.  It's a real treat, let me tell you.  Whether or not my day was good or bad was based on if Ashlynne was having a good or bad skin day.  It was exhausting, isolating, infuriating, lonely, and just plain unfair... To both of us.

The tipping point for me was on one of those fateful trips to Walmart.  I was standing in the checkout line, Ashlynne sitting in the cart, when out of the corner of my eye I see two women pointing at her.  I had had it for the day.  I spun around on my heels, with a glare that could have cut those women in half, and I see them smiling from ear to ear.  SMILING... Then I looked at Ashlynne, and she was smiling back at them.  One of the women looks at me and said "Your daughter has the most beautiful blue eyes and blonde curly hair!"  "Thanks" was all I could muster.  I seriously almost launched on that lady that just so happened to see the true beauty in my daughter.  If she was able to look past Ashlynne's skin, then maybe there are others like her.

Why should I keep all of this joy to myself?

So I decided to drop my guard a bit.  I started getting more involved with the amazing people at FIRST and met other people associated with Ichthyosis, and my confidence slowly grew.  I knew my daughter was beautiful, if others couldn't see it, that was their problem.  I stopped letting her hide behind me, and started showing her off to the world.  Why should I get to be the only one to enjoy this amazing little person?

Now I find myself at peace with all of it.  The anger and the inner struggle of trying too hard to make her life "normal" has dissipated.   Twelve years ago I wanted so badly for everything to be perfect.  Now, I realize that isn't a reasonable dream for a parent with a typical child.  They're going to have dirt and grass stains to accessorize their outfits, and dirty Doritos fingers.  We just happen to have aquaphor stains on our clothes and a few extra skin flakes hanging out. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What every hairdresser wishes you knew

So many times I hear people say "My hair will never look like this again" or "I can never get my hair to look like it does when you do it" when I am done doing their hair.  A big part of  styling your hair is the products we use.  We don't make a killing off of these products.  And if you use the right products, you really don't have to do as much to make it work for you.  I want to sell you the right products, because I want you to be able to trust me.  I want you to come back, and I want you to come to me with any problems you might have.  Each product serves a different purpose. Some products are for volume,some are for smoothing, some are for hold, and depending on what look you are going for determines the product I use.  If you want to try to duplicate that work, using the right products correctly are a big first step.  And also, professional products really do make a difference.  They might have a higher sticker price, but they are more concentrated, they have less alcohol (which is drying) and a majority of them tend to be color safe.  They contain less of the harsh chemicals that can be damaging to your hair.

Branching off of that, learning how to use a round brush can change your life!  It can reduce the amount of time that you are curling and flat ironing.  It can be tricky, but as long as you keep pulling the brush from the scalp out to the ends, you won't get it caught in your hair.  NEVER spin without moving the brush outward.  Larger barrel brushes produce volume, smaller barrel brushes produce more curl.

You know that little button on the front of your blow dryer?  That is a cool shot.  Heat opens up the cuticle of your hair, which helps shape it during the styling process.  However, cool seals it back up and locks your style in.  So, when using that round brush, after you have that volume or curl in your hair, push that cool shot and lock that style in.  It also gives some more shine to your style.

Conditioner is soooo important.  Just like that cool shot seals your hair back up, so does conditioner.  It protects it from heat, UV rays, and harsh elements.  I have heard people say that conditioner makes their hair too heavy, or they are already greasy, so they don't need conditioner, but you do.  It's just like with skin care, if you don't moisturize, your skin will over produce oil, so will your hair.  Its also vital to take care of your scalp to maintain healthy hair and conditioner is a big part of this as well.  Your hair and scalp will be healthier in the long run, and will thank you.

Every stylist has a different way of doing things.  Your last stylist may have cut your hair before the color, or may have waxed you before the cut.  And I may do it the opposite way.  She may have cut the layers first, then done the ends.  She may have done the base color first, then the hilites, where as I do them in one step.  I can assure you that there is no right or wrong way to do hair.  And you reminding me the whole time that I am doing it differently that the last lady is not going to accomplish anything.  I will still do it my way because it is the system I have worked out over time.  Questioning your stylist the entire time they are doing your hair does nothing other than make it obvious that there isn't a trust built, which is very important.  It can make for a very long couple of hours for the both of you.  Asking questions is fine, but repeatedly comparing me to your last stylist is borderline insulting, considering I don't go to your job and question you.

If you're not happy with your color or cut, we WANT you to let us know so we can fix it for you.  You are walking advertisement for us.  A referral is the best compliment you can give us.  Therefore, we want you to be happy, and spread our name all over the place.  The last thing we want is for you to be UNHAPPY and spread our name that way.  I never get offended by a client calling back and asking me to fix something.  Sometimes things lay differently when styled at home, and sometimes there is just a flat miscommunication.  Let me fix it for you, it's my job.  Remeber, anything is fixable, and you're never married to it.

It really is easier to book your appointment ahead of time.  Sometimes, we can stay late, or squeeze you in.  But other times I might have a family function that I can't be late for. Sometimes, you get lucky and you can get in with us for a cut and color on Saturday.  But other times, I might be booked out for two to four weeks, and by then your color and style will be long overdue.  It is easier for us to keep up on your style if it doesn't get way grown out.  Blending is easier for color, and growing length is easier because we can ensure that the hair is staying healthy.  Don't know your schedule that far out?  We can always call and confirm with you ahead of time and change some things around.

No show appointments, and late appointments really do mess up our entire day.  Every appointment is booked based on the appointment before or after it.  Most of us have ourselves booked down to the 15 minute increment.  And being 15 minutes late can cause a snowball effect for the rest of my day,  and potentially cost me clients and a lot of money.  And not showing up without a phone call is just rude.  That can equally mess up our entire day, because who is to say I wasn't counting on that money?  A phone call is only courteous.  We realize things come up, and sometimes you have to cancel.  I have never been upset with a client for cancelling, but no show make me furious.  And I am far less likely to attempt to squeeze a client in or stay late for one that frequently no shows me or is late without any sort of call.  That's just bad manners.

These are just a few tips to help understand the world of a hairstylist.  As a stylist, we trust our guests as much as they trust us.  I have known some of my clients longer than I have known my husband.  And I am truly convinced that I have the best clients in the world.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Reba Pearl Lane

My hero, and best friend is with her Heavenly Father now.
You don't have to hurt anymore, Grandma
I cried myself to sleep last night for the first time in years.  There is something physically painful about heart break.  I haven't hurt like this in a long time.  In fact, I don't know if I ever have.  As I sit here writing this, my grandma is fighting for her life.  She has been fighting for years, and has amazed all of us with how long she has held on and the strength she has shown.

Reba Pearl Lane was born on January 15, 1936 to Delbert Oliver Adair and Tulane Idella (Sharp) Adair.  She passed away peacefully, in her home, April 9, 2015.  She grew up in Colorado and western Kansas, and was joined by a younger brother, Lloyd, and a younger sister, Lois.
In 1953 she married Ivan Mark Selleck.  They had two daughters, Constance Marie, and Carol Ann.  The couple later divorced.  In the 1960s she was working as a waitress in Hill City, KS, where she met Larry Lee Lane, and they later married.  The couple had two children, Christie Lea Lane, and Larry Lee Lane, Jr.  They raised their children in Meriden, KS, where they spent most of their married life until they moved to Topeka, KS in 1983.
She worked for Alco Stores, and Century United in Topeka.  She was an avid bowler, a great friend, and a loving mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, and an epic farmer on Farmville.
Survivors include her husband, Larry, of the home, a brother, Lloyd Adair of Grand Island NE, sister Lois Barnes of Lincoln, NE, daughters Connie and husband George Welborn, of Abilene, KS, Carol Selleck, of Peoria, AZ, and Christie Lane, of Fountain Hills, AZ, and son Larry and wife Janella Lane of Carbondale, KS.  Grandchildren, Misty Collins, Cora Cossel, Trevor Lane, and Lanae Lane, and 9 great grandchildren, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, and many friends. She was preceeded in death by her parents.

I just wrote my grandma's obituary.  And that doesn't even begin to sum up her life.  1936-2015.  But what is most important is that dash in there.  That "-" represents so much more than just the years in between.  It represents memories, and love, and the legacy of the family she left behind.  She struggled, and she made mistakes, and she was human.  She faltered, and righted herself, and she showed all of us how to survive.  She showed us how to really live life.  She showed us how to love.  She left me with memories that can never be replaced.  She showed me the importance of loving with my whole heart, and living life to the fullest, for we never know when God will call us home.  I never hurt without knowing that she was hurting for me, and I never had a triumph without knowing that she was behind me cheering me on the whole way.

When I publish this blog, it will mean that she has passed.  I won't publish it before.  I won't let her see me talk about her like she is already gone.  Because I want her to keep fighting.  I don't want her to think we have all given up on her.  Until she is gone, I will make as many memories with her as I can.  I will chose to remember the classy, beautiful working woman, in her suits, and her perfectly coiffed, colored hair, and her Mary Kay makeup.  I will remember the woman that sat with me in front of her mirror and helped me do my makeup, and play with my hair.  I will remember the woman that never told me that any of her high heels or dress clothes were off limits when I wanted to play dress up.  I will remember the woman that covered for me with my parents when I spilled nail polish on her brand new kitchen carpet.  I will remember the woman that cried like a baby when she had to spank me only one time in my life because I took a running jump onto her bathroom scale.  I will remember the woman that always kept raw hot dogs in the fridge for me, and cinnamon pop tarts for when I visited.  I will remember the safety I always felt in her arms, and the comfort I always found in her voice.  I will do my best to keep up her traditions, of thanksgiving, and never forgetting a birthday, or to send that $1 for every holiday.   I will do my best to carry on her legacy of love, but I don't know if I'm woman enough, those are very big high heels to fill.

I spoke with her last night, and had my grandpa hold the phone up to her ear.  I told her how very much I love her. And I promised her that I would take care of my mom and grandpa, and that it was ok to let go if she was tired.  That I would be ok, I made her that promise, so I can't break it.  I think she needed to hear those words, and I hope they brought her peace, but they were the hardest words I've ever spoken.

I think the poem that was read at my great grandma Adair's funeral is the most fitting verse to sum up how Grandma wanted her loved ones to receive the news of her passing, so I'm going to share it all with you, and hope that I can look back and find some sort of comfort while I grieve the loss of my very best friend.

"Miss Me But Let Me Go"

When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?

Miss me a little-but not too long
And not with your head bowed low
Remember the love that we once shared
Miss me-but let me go

For this is a journey that we all must take
And each must go alone.
It's all part of the Master's plan
A step on the road to home

When you are lonely and sick of heart
Go to the friends we know
And bury your sorrows in doing good deeds
Miss me but let me go.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Why I'm glad I fought with my parents

I was my parents' challenge child.  I always tested my limits, whether it was with my curfew, my sharp tongue, or defiant mannerisms, my parents always knew when I was or wasn't happy with something.  To say that my relationship with my parents has been a bit of a volatile one over the years would be a bit of an understatement.  Some would say it is because I am too much like my dad, a statement that both he and I deny fully. 

When I was a senior in high school, I actually ended up moving out when I turned 18.  I'm sure my parents and I remember this situation two completely different ways, so I will save everyone the gory details, but after a few months on my own, I did return home for summer.  Also, several years later, when I was going through some major changes in life, there was another rather large falling out.  This one was a doozy.  While I didn't have much to do with my parents during this time frame, there was still some what of a relationship because they were still involved with the kids.  I never kept them from my kids.  I may not have said a single word to them when they came over to see them, or if I took the kids over there, but I never stood in the way of a relationship with them. 

But it has been through these ups and downs that I have truly learned an appreciation for my parents.  See, I know that I can do things on my own.  I have proven that to myself.  Things were hard without them when there was distance, but I made it through each day.  I provided food for my kids, I met theirs and my basic needs, and I had friends for emotional support. And while I got through it, at the end of the day, I still really missed my parents.  I feel like maybe those years of conflict were put in place to prepare me for some times in my life that were yet to come.  Conflict sometimes helps us get things off of our chest that we might not in another situation.  It allows us to let out our true feelings.  Conflict shows us that it's ok to disagree, and even flat out fight, but at the end of the day we can still come together, and realize that even if we don't always see eye to eye, we still always love each other.  And it is through all of this conflict that:

I realized that I don't NEED my parents.

But I also realized I really WANT them.

My mom was recently in a pretty horrific car accident.  She has months, if not years of rehab and surgeries ahead of her.  And when she is recovering, and physically rehabbing, she will need someone to push her.  This might be where I come into play.  See, I'm not scared to make her mad.  I have always pushed her.  I have never been one to tell her what she wants to hear.  I have always been the one to tell it like it is.  She may have to get mad, plain furious, to get through some of these times.  Some times, anger can be a great motivator, a very strong driving force.  We may have to scream at each other, push each other, remind each other that this isn't going to be a walk in the park.  But then, I can follow it up with the comfort and grace that she has always shown me.  I can be harsh and blunt, but 9 times out of 10 it comes from a good place within my heart.  Sometimes my delivery can be a bit abrasive, and I may not even realize how I sound until after it has left my mouth, but I'm always honest.  I won't lie, or sugar coat things to the people I love.  So I will be honest with her.  And I will push her to push her limits.  I will challenge her physically when she is ready to start building her strength back up.  And I will do it all out of love.

So maybe in a sense I am like my dad.  He was always the one to tell me how it is.  To push me when I didn't want to be pushed.  And we all know he isn't in the business of sugar coating things.  But I also believe that he was coming from a place of very deep love.  Since mom's accident I have seen a side of my dad that I haven't seen in years.  He was scared.  And some times he lashes out when he's scared.  And at first, he seemed almost mad when he got to the hospital.  But it didn't take me long to realize it was because he was worried about my mom.  He has been fighting for her, and protective of her.  He has been soft and caring, more affectionate, and yet cracking jokes to ease the tension when we are all on edge.  He has been the dad I remember from my childhood.  I guess if I am a little like him, I'm perfectly ok with that.

So I will never regret these fights.  In the long run, as funny as it sounds, they gave me a deeper appreciation for my parents.  I'm sure that I acted in some ways that I wouldn't be proud of, and I'm sure if I could do it again there are some things I might change.  But I feel like in a sense, these trying times deepened my relationship with my mom and dad.  Like I said, I don't need them, but I have officially realized how much I really, really want them.
My mom and I with our rock

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mom's road to recovery

Oh I don't even know where to start.  This last week has been a blur.  So much  information and medical terminology has been thrown my way that my mind is overloaded.

Mom's midevil torture device that was removed sunday
Mom is still in Wichita at Wesley Medical Center.  Thus far she has undergone two surgeries, the first on Tuesday morning, which ended up being not nearly as repairative as they were hoping, they were only able to put in external pins because of the swelling on her leg.  This apparatus looked like some sort of torture device.  However it stabilized some of the bones in her leg until they could do go in and repair some things.  The 2nd surgery ended up happening unexpectedly at 7:30 this last Sunday morning.  Dad and I were both getting ready to head up there, and weren't able to be there for the actual surgery as they took her in before either of us could make it to the hospital.  But at least that eliminated the pacing of the halls on our part.  This time, they were only able to repair the tibia, and the took off the external stabilizer that was attached on Tuesday.  At the end of this surgery, she ended up with a couple of plates, and 11 screws on her tibia alone.  They weren't able to repair her fibula as the tissue and bone are still way too bruised.  There are plenty more surgeries to come.

Some of the plates and screws in mom's right tibia
They are hoping to get her moved to Salina Regional Health Center possibly as soon as today so she can hang out a little closer to home until her next surgery.  From what I understand, they are taking it on a week by week basis.  They will see her back next week at Wesley and see if the swelling and bruising has lessened enough to be able to repair any of the other breaks and fractures.  By the time this is all said and done, it sounds like Mom will have enough metal in her right leg to set off TSA alarms at the airport.  They are also saying that when they get to repairing the ankle, she will have to have so many screws, pins etc, that she will have very limited mobility of her ankle, and will not have any side to side mobility.  But she is very insistent that she WILL walk again.

I spent the last two days with her in Wichita, and I think it did her good to see the kiddos.  Spending two days straight in the hospital was a lot for them, but they were very good, and they needed to see her as much as she needed to see them.  We got to go have dinner with my good friend Becky and her family Sunday night, and that was something I had been meaning to do for months now, so thanks for the excuse to get down there to see them, Momma!!

Mom's feet wrapped up post-surgery No. 2
Ok, so there's the physical updates I have so far.  On the emotional side of things, I must say that I am so proud of my mom.  She is such a go-getter, that I have been so worried about her being down for as long as she potentially may be.  But she has actually been the one keeping me going.  She keeps assuring me that she's ok, that her spirits are good, and that she's not in very much pain.  She's getting on facebook to pass the time, and taking phone calls, and "micro-momaging" me (a loving little term I coined for her) from her hospital bed as well as she always did from home.  We are trying to keep things in order like she always did, and although we probably aren't doing as good of a job as she always does, at least we had a good teacher.  I have been checking the mail and the cards are flooding in.  I think through all of this mom is going to realize just how many lives she has touched over the years, and how many people love and care about her.  She is lucky to be surrounded by friends and family that love her, and are willing to do whatever needs done to help at this point.  You know, when something like this happens, so many people say "let me know if there's anything I can do to help", and honestly, sometimes you know that it's just a courtesy.  It's the right thing to say.  But I honestly believe that the help we have been offered this past week has all been very genuine, and for that, I want to thank everyone who has reached out from the bottom of my heart.  At one point last Tuesday, I had over 70 unanswered text messages and over 30 facebook private messages on my phone.  The support has been overwhelming, and very heart warming.  But keep it coming.  This is going to be a very long process.  And while we may not need a ton of help right now, I get the feeling that when she does finally get to come home is when we may start calling in some of those favors.

But for now, all I am focusing on is counting my blessings.  My kids weren't in that car.  My mom is still on this earth, and eventually will be walking it again.  And she was also in a car that withstood that impact.  Some of those other cars that were scattering the shoulder of the road that night wouldn't have survived hitting that beam.  And while I hate to see my mom in pain, the alternative of her, or someone else losing their lives that night is unthinkable.  This will be a very long road, but she WILL be ok eventually.  And for that, I am so grateful.

I also want to say thank you to all of the Dickinson County EMS, Fire and other First Responders that were there that night.  You did your job very well.  You kept everyone else safe, and all things considered, the scene was not nearly as chaotic as it could have been.  You did your best to keep my mom calm, and me calm, and seeing some familiar faces was comforting.  I have had several of them contact me and check on my mom, and it's nice to know that these people out there protecting us and rescuing us truly do care.  They are out there for the right reasons.  Keep up the good work, you're awesome!

I will update when I know more, but right now it's an awful lot of "hurry up and wait".  But I'm ok with waiting on mom at this point, I've been doing it my whole life :).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mom's Wild Ride

God sometimes has a very funny way of reminding us just how human we all are.

I got a phone call tonight that they say most parents dread, but in my case, it's the phone call every child dreads too.  My phone rang, it displayed "Momma Cell" so I answered in a goofy voice, expecting her to tell me that she made it home safely from visiting my grandparents in Topeka, and instead I am greeted with a man's voice asking if this is Cora.  My heart dropped to my stomach instantly, when he started telling me she had been in an accident on the highway.  All I could hear was chaos, and her screams in the background.  He told me she would be ok, and to meet them at Abilene hospital, which told me they were close to home.  I asked where it happened, and when he told me it was only 3 miles from Abilene, I told him I was on my way.  What I pulled up to is something I never expected.

Saying a prayer of Thanks that God wasn't quite ready to
call her home.
My mom's driving is an ongoing joke with our family.  When my mom and sister took a road trip together back in November the joke was "They'll get there safe as long as Misty drives".  One time, I remember nearly crawling out of the window because she began swerving like crazy, and when I screamed and asked her what she was doing she yelled back "Well.... the line on the side of the road was all... crooked".  So we lovingly tease her about her driving "skills" on a next to daily basis.  However, she had never had a major incident.  Not like this one.

When I pulled on to the interstate all I saw were red and blue lights.  There were fire trucks, ambulances, state troopers, wreckers.  I just pulled up in to the middle and ran to what I assumed to be her van, and followed the sound of her cries.  I dropped to my knees, told her I was there, and looked up and thanked God that I was listening to the sound of her voice.  They had just put the fire out on her van.

Everything that transpired after that was kind of a blur.  Hearing my mom cry out in pain like that is not something I'm accustomed to.  She has always been the caretaker for me, and having the tables turned was not something I was prepared for.  They got her loaded, in the process of which it became very clear that her leg was severely broken.  Then they took her to Abilene via the ambulance.  After they pulled off, I walked over to her van, and saw two of my kids' booster seats laying in the middle of the highway.  And I said another prayer of thanks that my babies were safe at home.

From what we can deduct happened, a semi in front of her lost it's load of steel beams.  Mom said she saw the cab of the semi out of the corner of her eye to her left, and then she hit a beam head on at 75 MPH, rolled, and landed in the median, where her van caught fire.  From what I could see, it was basically unavoidable.  My mom had several guardian angels looking out for her last night.  A man, pulled her out of that van when it caught fire.  And after they got her out, a woman sat with her until the EMT's got there, and prayed with her.  For anyone who knows my mom, you know how strong her faith is.  This was exactly what she needed in that exact moment.  I hugged the woman, and she even cried with me, and now, I'm kicking myself for not getting her name.  But to the man that pulled my mom out, and to that woman who prayed with her, whoever you are, THANK YOU.  You were her guardian angels last night, and words can not express my gratitude.

She was transported to Salina Regional Medical Center where the surgeons looked at the x-rays and told her that the break was beyond anything they felt they could fix.  So around 1 AM this morning, they transferred her on to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, KS where a team of surgeons is going to see if they can piece back together her shattered leg.  We don't know the extent of the damage, but right now they are saying that her right tibia is shattered, her right ankle is broken, her right foot is broken, and both her right and left heels are broken.  She went in for what they called "the first of multiple" surgeries this morning.  She will have a very long road ahead of her, but she is alive.  And I am so grateful for that.  My dad is going to have to brush up on his nursing skills!

Looking at her van in the daylight, she is a very lucky woman.  She had someone looking out for her.  A very important woman to me gave me a visor clip for my first car when I first started driving.  It was and angel and it said "Dear Lord, please protect me and all who I pass by, and remind me never to drive faster than my guardian angel can fly".  I am glad my mom's guardian angels were keeping up with her van last night.  They definitely worked some overtime.  Thank you everyone for all of the calls, texts, messages, and kind words.  Keep the prayers coming.  It sounds like she will need a lot of them.

It's just a car mom,  and it did it's job, it kept you safe.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Rare Disease Day 2015

Merriam-Webster defines rare as a :  marked by unusual quality, merit, or appeal :  distinctive

b :  superlative or extreme of its kind. defines it as "usually excellent; admirable; fine." states that it takes millions of years for crystals to form in nature and only a fraction of those will ever be found, mined, and cut into gemstones. 

The rarest gems tend to be valued the highest.  We can search nature, and may never find one of these rare, precious stones.  In fact, wealth used to be measured by the amount of these precious gems that one possessed.  

The first time I held my precious baby in my arms.
She was 5 days old. 1/20/03 
When I began the journey of motherhood, you could compare it to a fisherman.  Here I was, dragging my net, and when I finally opened an oyster, it held inside that rare, precious pearl. 

My rare gem came in the form of my Ashlynne.  Twelve years ago when she was born with a rare disease called Ichthyosis en Confetti, I didn't realize the wealth she would bring to my life.  I thought of all of the things that she might not be able to do, rather than all of the things that she could do, and all of the greatness and awe she would bring into my life.

Fewer than 20 people are documented to have this particular type of Ichthyosis.  Ichthyosis is rare enough, and Ichthyosis en Confetti has been considered one to be extremely rare.  Many people tend to be leery of things that are rare.  "Fear of the unknown" is a common phrase most people are familiar with.  But through life experiences that I have learned from being Ashlynne's mommy, I have come to embrace rare. 

Today is Rare Disease Day.  And today, I am celebrating rare.  Rare is beautiful.  Rare is anything but typical.  Ashlynne is rare, but that's not what makes her extraordinary.  She is special because she is Ashlynne!

Alone we are rare.  Together we are strong!

Celebrate rare with us! Celebrate You!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tiptoeing around words...

"Oh she's gorgeous!" and "Oh... how precious".  As a mom, you know the difference in these two phrases when they are used in reference to your baby.  Especially when you have a child with a visual difference, or special needs.  And of course, I was and sometimes still am, super sensitive to the differences in wording.  Looking back, I almost feel sorry for the people that were caught off guard, and didn't know what to say.  They were trying to be polite.  But it was there.  The akwardness they felt, and them choosing their words carefully when seeing my baby for the first time.  But "It's ok", I wanted to say.  "It's ok that you don't know what to say, I go home every day and tell her how beautiful she is."  Yes, she is precious, and she's beautiful too!

Ashlynne with our friend Bailey, who is an
absolute beauty, inside and out
Of course my friends and family knew before they met her that her skin was going to be a little redder than most, and that she would have dry flakes of skin, and gobs of lotion on.  People were nice enough to let each other know, so they weren't caught off guard, and they were prepared.  But what was I supposed to do, put a sign on the front of her stroller to advertise to strangers before they approached?  To warn them of my child's visual difference?

It used to hurt so bad, cut deeper than they knew, to hear people tip toe around their words when asking about Ashlynne's skin disorder.  "JUST SAY IT!!", I wanted to scream.  Just ask why she's so red, ask why she has such dry skin, ask why she has little skin flakes on her clothes, ask about the lotion!!  It's not like I haven't noticed myself.  Sometimes I just wanted to yell at people and ask them to stop treating it like the giant elephant in the room.

I've heard it said before that the quick look aways hurt more than the stares, and the comments.  I had never thought about this, but once I did, I realized how true it was.  How hurtful it can be that people would rather look away and pretend she doesn't exist rather than just ask tactfully what she is afflicted with. I want to show her off to the world, because I am proud of her.

She was, and still is, my miracle baby.  When I look at Ashlynne, or any other child with Ichthyosis, or any other visual difference for that matter, there is nothing to me that is more beautiful.  Some of them are lucky to be alive.  They are fighters.  She came into this world fighting.  First, fighting for her life, and now fighting for a "normal" life.  And they have now taught their mommies and daddies, and siblings to be fighters as well.  And so much of their beauty lies in how much they are teaching those of us around them.  They are teaching us patience, acceptance, and understanding.  They are teaching us to look deep inside ourselves and reevaluate what we thought was important.  They are teaching to really, REALLY look at what it means to be beautiful.  They are true INSPIRATIONS!!

My goofy, funny, beautiful, precious daughter
My daughter has a shock of golden blonde curls, and strikingly blue eyes, and lips that are oh so kissable.  But these are just her physical features that make her beautiful.  She has compassion, a sharp sense of humor, she is a good sister, and a great friend (just ask her best friend).  She loves babies, and animals, and sports.  She likes to pull pranks, and tag me in silly Facebook posts, and fight with me about clothes.  She likes to do chores to earn money, and she has started to love cooking.  She is patient, and loving, and FUNNY!  And all of this, is beautiful to me, and to many others that have been blessed to know her, or any other special needs child.  Special needs kids tend to look at the world in a different light.  The slower pace of life helps the people closest to them "stop and smell the roses".  To me that is beautiful AND precious.  So I no longer choose to take offense to the careful wordage people have used.  You're right, she is precious, and so many other things.