Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dream Home

  Having gone through this whole, "Let's pack up all our worldly belongings every two years and move across the world/country!" thing a few times now, I've done some serious reflecting on our next home in Colorado. I've heard from multiple sources that on-base housing isn't really all that great, but there are many beautiful, spacious homes within our budget that are always available for rent in the area. Since 2005, I've dealt with everything in our living quarters from:

a. Teeny, tiny, poorly designed kitchens.
b. Appliances from the 1970's.
c. Linoleum floors that looked filthy, even when they were clean.
d. A duplex where we actually had to walk outside, then go down two flights of stairs to get to the basement (i.e family room).
e. No air conditioning or screens on the windows (I'm looking at you, Germany).
f. No closets in the bedrooms *cough cough Germany again*.
g. A million different windows, rendering all of my previous window treatments and hardware completely useless.

  Therefore, I now have a pretty good idea of what I wish for, nay, what I require in what will eventually be our new home in Colorado Springs, CO. Mock me if you wish, but my requirements include the following:

a. A big kitchen with lots of counter space, cabinets, and relatively new appliances. Sorry, but I am so DONE with crappy kitchens, especially considering all the cooking and baking I do.
b. A walk-in closet in the master bedroom. Between all of my clothes, shoes, Will's clothes AND his Army getup, tiny closets no longer suffice.
c. A storage area/attic.
d. Fenced in backyard, for both the kids and the dog.
e. And, most importantly...a finished basement.

  Why a finished basement, you ask? Because despite my best efforts to keep Tony and Alessandra's toys confined to their respective rooms, every single day I find toys everywhere. Legos on the kitchen floor. Baby dolls on the living room couches. Thomas the Train puzzle pieces underneath the dining room table. Monster trucks in the bathroom. Bath toys in OUR bedroom. It's ridiculous. I've had many a fantasy of gathering up all the toys in the house, and throwing them down the stairs, one by one. Unfortunately, we live in a 1950's ranch style home, and we don't have a basement. Now, just to show you that this is really about making a special play room for my children, and not me being "Mom Who Wants to Erase Any Evidence That Children Live In Our Home," let me assure you that I plan on rocking this finished basement. It will be the playroom to end all playrooms. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to my children's Heavenly Playroom. I've been dreaming of a reading corner (complete with beanbag chairs, and framed photos on the wall of cover pages from beloved childhood books), an imagination area with a play kitchen, a Fisher Price home, a Little Tykes tool shed, an area with building blocks, an "art" corner with an easel and paints, a little slide with gym mats...it's going to be amazing. Epic. Every kid in the neighborhood will want to come over and play, and I'll even get one of those video monitors (massively discounted at a consignment store, naturally), so we moms can sit upstairs, chatting over wine and cheese while keeping a watchful eye on our darling children playing happily downstairs. I have visions of this:
One day, I will win the lottery and buy everything in a Pottery Barn catalog.

Or this:

Or this:

Buuuuuuut I think it's safe to say we all know how our playroom will look after approximately 30 minutes with my children.
And this is on a good day.
  Yeah. I am demanding a finished basement because I'm tired of stepping on Legos (those things hurt like a beeyotch, in case you haven't had the pleasure), but perhaps I should adjust my expectations a bit, hmm?

Friday, October 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes-A Blessing and a Curse


1. Sooooo does everyone remember when I wrote this post last month? I had a lot of hope that the epidural injection would work for my back, and I would be able to live-relatively-pain free?

  Yeah. It didn't work.

2. Well, I take it back. It sort of took the edge off my pain for about a week and a half, and then my back went back to normal. And by "normal," I mean, "worse than ever." It got so bad one night that I started having spasms, and I was shaking and crying. Will was trying to get ready to go to the field for a 4-day stint, and he was in a complete panic. He ended up calling his commander the next morning (because my back was still in really bad shape), and told the commander what was going on, and explained that he couldn't leave me with two small children when I was having all these health issues. The commander, bless his heart, was very understanding, and he told Will he could withdrawal from this month-long course with no negative consequences, and he could re-enroll next month. This rarely happens in the military, and I am beyond grateful. So, while I am once again trying to make appointments with my specialist, and get some extra pain medication, at least I can take comfort in the fact that my husband is home with us for the entire month to give me a hand with the kids.

3. Speaking of kids, last weekend (yes, riding high on pain pills), Will and I took Tony and Alessandra to a pumpkin patch. I was quite impressed; free admission, $3 hayrides, and reasonable priced pumpkins. The kids had a blast, and someone we managed to convince Tony that the $6/person bouncy castle was really very boring, and he would have a much better time at Monkey Joe's. Don't get me wrong, I think bouncy castles were one of the greatest inventions of all time, but $6 for one kid to bounce around in a mediocre castle?
Proud owners of pumpkins that we will promptly forget to carve and decorate for at least another week.

4. It's October 10, and it's been in the upper 80's/low 90's all week. Not cool, Georgia. This is Fall. FALL. What's next, shorts and tank tops on Christmas Day?

5. Tony is completely daytime potty trained (finally, thank you Lord). Nighttime? Not even close. He's still wearing a pull-up, or I would be washing sheets and blankets every single morning. Parents, when did your children get the hang of NOT peeing themselves at night? I'm a desperate woman.

6. I have been binge-watching season 3 of Call the Midwife on Netflix. It's turned me into a blubbering, emotional mess.

7.  In the midst of everything that's going on with me, health-wise, I am incredibly thankful that I have never had to experience the heartache that this family is going through. I can't imagine losing one of my precious babies, and I am in awe of their courage and faithfulness. Please pray for them.

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Favorite Blog Posts (and Bloggers)

  So, I know this is kind of  a lame idea for a blog post, but it's been a rough week(s), with my back pain, day-to-day Army life, and preparing for the holidays. Well, preparing for the holidays is actually pretty fun, especially with little kids, so I suppose I can take that off my "things that are stressing me out right now" list. In any case, I wanted to share some of my all-time favorite blog posts, by my all-time favorite bloggers. There's really no rhyme or reason to any of these posts; some of these bloggers were huge inspirations to me when I was really discovering the beauty of our Catholic faith, some I found purely by accident and I was drawn in by their writing, and some I just read whenever I need to laugh hysterically (in the privacy of my own home, of course. I wouldn't suggest reading some of these blogs at, say, a cocktail lounge at an airport). Some are serious, and some are light-hearted. I'm sure all of these bloggers appreciate the extra clicks, so if you're as impressed as I am by their writing, by all means, spread the word.

1. Jennifer Fulwiler, at Conversion Diary

  For those of you who have been reading my blog for at least a year, you know that I've referenced Jennifer and her posts many, many times. She's an atheist to Catholic convert, and so many times I've read her blog posts thinking, "She said exactly what I want to say...only she said it much more eloquently than I ever could have." Jennifer has a wonderful way of finding humor in everyday things, while maintaining her faith-and sanity-while raising and homeschooling six children in Austin, TX. The following are my favorite posts of hers; a mix of hilarious and thought-provoking.

a. Buying a Cookie at Whole Foods-An Epic Voyage
b. How I Became Pro-Life (which is pretty much my experience, word-for-word. I found myself nodding my head when I read this blog post for the first time, knowing that I would never be able to write about my own pro-life conversion as well as she did).
c. My Answer to "Do you want more children?" (Yep. Again, word-for-word).
d. Notes from beneath the veil A wonderful post on the beauty of veiling. Complete with laughs!

2.  Dwija Borobia at House Unseen, Life Unscripted

  I love Dwija (which sounds weird, considering I've never met her, and even though we follow each other on Instagram, I'm 99.999% sure she couldn't pick me up out of a lineup). But I digress. Dwija has a very interesting story; she was raised as a Hare Krishna, and spent her childhood moving from place to place. She converted to Catholicism when she was in college, got married, and she and her husband purchased a house sight unseen (yes, the title...get it?) off the internet in Michigan, and moved their family out there. She's written many wonderful blog posts, but this one is my favorite.

Why I Stopped Not Caring and Started Wearing Concealer

  This is a wonderful reminder for someone like me, who, umm, on occasion *cough cough* bums around the house, makeup-less, clad in yoga pants and a tank top, because who do I have to impress?

  Oh yeah..just my family.

3. Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism

  I found Libby Anne's blog a few years ago, after reading one of her posts about the Duggar family. She was raised in a fundamentalist Evangelical home (of the "Quiverful" variety), and she turned away from her parents' teachings and her religion once she went to college. She is now an atheist, and she is married with two children. I was fascinated by her story; growing up in a fairly ordinary Protestant home, I never knew that sects like this even existed. The Duggar family was unheard of when I was in high school, and the only people I knew who had large families were either Catholic or Mormon. I'm only linking the intro to her story, but I would encourage everyone to read all ten parts. It's truly eye-opening, and I give Libby Anne (not her real name, by the way-she writes under a pseudonym, lest her parents discover her blog and forbid contact with her younger siblings) lots of credit for her bravery in sharing her story.

The Beautiful Girlhood Doll

4. Anne at We Make This Look Good

  Like Jennifer, Anne is one of my all-time favorite bloggers. I discovered her blog when I was slowly making the transition from "food blogger" to "Catholic crunchy military still foodie mama blogger," and I was so inspired by her deep devotion to Catholicism and her family. She's an excellent writer, and I really consider her a role model of sorts (in a completely non-creepy, internet stranger way). Her daughter Gianna was born with a profound hearing loss, and after learning ASL and transitioning her to a school for the deaf, Gianna had cochlear implant surgery. Their second daughter, Pia, was born deaf as well (their son Dominic was not), and shortly after Pia's surgery, a doctor called them with troublesome news about their daughters' conditions. I'll let you read more here.

a. The Swing of Things
b. Operation Contain and Placate: Addendum (because you will need a funny post after the heaviness of the first).

5. Jen at People I Want to Punch in the Throat

  Warning: do not read Jen's blog if you are easily offended. Or you can't handle swearing. There, I warned you. I'm sure many of you have read her Elf on the Shelf post (yes, I'll add the link, because it's my all-time favorite) that appeared on a bunch of Facebook news feeds a few years back. Since then, she's written posts about annoying and entitled celebrities, parents who let their kids run the house, over-the-top kids birthday parties, you name it. I recommend her blog whenever you need a good laugh. Or to remind yourself that there are some seriously insane people in this world, and thank you sweet baby Jesus I'm not one of them.

Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies

  I will be back tomorrow to participate in the 7 Quick Takes, which I've neglected for a few weeks now. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these blog posts. If you have any more blog suggestions (and yes, feel free to add your own. No shame in self-promotion!), leave a comment.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mornings Gone Awry

  So, anyone out there feeling guilty about mornings with their children? Maybe you didn't get a chance to have your coffee,and you were unable to form a non-snarky response when your husband asked you what you were making for breakfast. Maybe you woke up with ambitious plans to make a healthy breakfast for everyone, get a load of laundry going, get dressed in something other than yesterday's yoga pants and a ratty t-shirt, and get everyone out the door in record time, only to discover that both your preschooler and toddler wet their respective beds? Or maybe you just reeeeeeallly wanted an extra 45 minutes to sleep, but the dog decided 5:30am was a fantastic time to start howling at the top of his lungs?

  Don't worry. I'm here to make you feel better about yourselves.

  For the past 8 days, my mom has stayed with us while Will was in the field for an extended period of time. This was exceptionally fortuitous, as I had my very first epidural injection in my back on Monday and I was more or less useless for the next two days. Nanas are awesome; they get up with the kids so you can sleep in, do laundry, mop the kitchen floor, and put the Thomas the Train puzzle together overandoverandover again with your 3-year old whilst you are confined to your bed. Unfortunately, my mom had to return to Wisconsin yesterday. So...this morning. Exhibit A:
Alessandra "dismantling" Will's Monty Python's Flying Circus collection. Papa's gonna love this. 

Exhibit B: So, um, I should probably go to the grocery store at some point.
I'm sure there's a ton of recipes out there involving 1/2 can of pumpkin, fresh mushrooms, filtered water, 2 English muffins, Costco organic strawberry jam, crumbled feta cheese and butter! Don't sell yourself short!

Never fear, though. This guy is on the job.
Toddler fashion: Will's hat, my sunglasses, Nana's flip flops.
  It doesn't help that I started writing this blog post a week ago, and I had a to take an 8-day break because I was distracted during the writing process. And by "distracted," I mean Alessandra straight up destroyed the $50 blinds in Tony's room.

  Speaking of things being destroyed, Tony has an imaginary friend. His friend's name is "Histins." I have absolutely no idea where Tony came up with that name, but trust me, it's the least of my concerns. Now, I'm not concerned about the imaginary friend part. Pretty much every child psychologist in the world is quick to reassure worried parents that an imaginary friend is completely normal. The troublesome part is that Histins appears to be Tony's evil twin. For example, a few months ago I was irritated at Tony. His room was a disaster, and I told him we couldn't go to the park until he straightened it up a bit. He pouted, but got to work with putting the toys and books away. A few minutes later, I returned to his room, only to find a greater mess than before. I told Tony, once again, that a trip to the park was not in the cards until I could see a clear path on his bedroom floor. In exasperation, Tony said, "I did clean up my room, but Histins messed it up again!" Hmmm. Since that day...

Someone peed on the floor? Histins.
Milk knocked over? Histins.
A loud crash from a room other than the one I'm in at the moment? "Histins did it, Mama!"

*A disclaimer, if you will. Lest anyone believe that I'm a tyrannical parent who loses her mind over spilled milk, a potty accident or a cluttered room, rest assured I'm not. I don't freak out over typical preschooler antics; I'm more the eye rolling, okay-let's-try-this-again-and-get-this-show-on-the-road type of mom. So, I sincerely doubt that Histins was created out of some bizarre childhood trauma.

  So, initially Histins was nothing more than a joke between Will and I. ("Will, did you seriously forget to take the trash out again?" "Of course I did! Histins took it away from the curb!"). That was, until the day Tony said this:

Me: *enters Tony's room, sighs audibly upon seeing dirty clothes tossed out of the hamper and thrown haphazardly around the room* "Tony, what have I told you about taking dirty clothes out of the hamper?"

Tony: "Histins did it, Mama!"

Me: *impatient now* "Yeah, yeah, well, tell Histins Mama has enough cleaning and laundry to do without him adding to my workload."

Tony: "He heard you, Mama. Histins is standing right next to you."

Me:


  I dare say, we may be in need of an exorcist around here. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

7 Quick Takes-Living On A Prayer


1. Not only have I had this particular Bon Jovi song stuck in my head for the past week (don't ask me why), but things are a leeeeeetle bit crazy around here. In the past five minutes, while attempting to type out my seven quick takes, my mother has managed to interrupt me not once, not twice, but thrice. Why? Because she's trying to call maintenance about a roach problem we're having (more on that later), and maintenance isn't answering, so clearly I'm supposed to be able to tell her WHY they aren't answering their phone, even though it's a 24-hour maintenance line and I called them two days ago regarding the disgusting roach issue.

2. Yes, I love my mom dearly. She's an amazing, loving, compassionate woman with a seemingly endless supply of patience when it comes to dealing with small children and a, shall we say, feisty dog. I'm incredibly grateful to have her here at Fort Benning whilst my husband is in the field for ten days in a row. However, she is unable to accept the following responses:
"I don't know."
"I don't care."
"I have absolutely no idea."
"'I don't care,' said Pierre. I'm trying to write and you're driving me insane."

3. Yes, she also reads my blog. Hi Mom!

4. So, roaches. I don't get it. I'm a clean person. I don't like having a dirty house, and while I probably won't win any awards from Martha Stewart, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I am a neat and tidy person. So why, for the love of God, am I finding at least one live roach in my home every single day? The last time the exterminator came here, I was practically in tears. I HATE bugs. I hate them with the fire of a thousand suns. I especially hate bugs that can crawl or slither faster than I can find a shoe with which to terminate their existence, and bugs that can crawl on the ceiling and OH HOLY SWEET JESUS IT CAN DROP DOWN ON ME ANY MINUTE AND GET CAUGHT IN MY HAIR AND WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS???

I can't wait until we move to Colorado.

5. In crunchy news (that is, "crunchy" as in "natural living," not crunchy as in "bugs that crunch when I stomp on them"), I actually made my own shampoo today. I ran out of my beloved Moroccan Oil, and my finger was perilously placed over the mouse, getting ready to click on Amazon's Buy With One Click option for a $65 set of MO shampoo and conditioner, when I realized, "This is insane. I don't have $65 to spend on shampoo and conditioner. Surely I can whip up a shampoo concoction with ingredients I already have in my house." Turns out, I was right. Ten minutes later, I had my very own homemade shampoo (which smelled fantastic, if I do say so myself). I'll post a DIY guide later next week.

6. I have recently become a Craigslist success story. I know there are a lot of terrifying Craigslist stories out there-and rightfully so-but this past week, I've had not one but two good experiences. First was a new mattress for Tony. My 95th percentile-height and weight-kid had totally outgrown his toddler bed, and to my great dismay, all the twin mattresses and bed sets in the area were upwards of $600. Umm, no. I found a brand new, still-in-plastic, never-been-used twin mattress and box spring on sale on CL for $50. SCORE! A few days later, I found a $15 bookshelf for myself. We HAVE a bookshelf, a lovely one purchased at a Mediterranean furniture store during our 5-year stint in Europe. Unfortunately, I have too many books and not enough space. Enter Mr. Craigslist bookshelf.

7.  Tony has a stuffed animal, given to him by my uncle Don. It's dressed in Army fatigues, and when you press its' hand, the bear sings the Army fight song. "First to fight, for the right, to defend the nation's might, and the Army, comes rolling, along." It. Is. Awful. Will and I named the bear Corporal Punishment. I can't wait until the batteries die, and I can tell Tony it's broken. Because I am that kind of awesome mother.

For more Quick Takes, visit Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary!

Friday, September 12, 2014

7 Quick Takes-Gratitude


1. After writing this post a few days ago, I received the kindest messages from so many people. Comments on Facebook, private messages, and a phone call from one of my favorite ladies from Lawrence University. The support, the offers of help, and the love I was shown mean so much to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

2. Because I was in such a terrible amount of pain this week, Will's commander did him a huge solid and gave Will a few days off from training to stay home and take care of me and the kids. Trust me...that rarely happens, especially during training. Especially when the soldiers are out in the field. So I owe Will's commander a huge thank you as well. I'm not kidding when I say I could barely get out of bed this week. I don't know what I would have done if I had to be on my own with Tony and Alessandra Monday-Friday, all day and all night.

3. I'm going in for my first epidural injection early in the morning of the 22nd. I've heard from numerous sources that the injections will make me feel like a brand new person (for at least 4-6 months). Hey, I'll take it. Any day that doesn't involve me crying in pain when I step out of bed sounds like paradise to me.

4. My mom is flying in on Wednesday to spend some time with us while Will heads back out into the field. Tony was thrilled to hear this news; he keeps telling me that Nana is going to bring him jelly beans in her purse. Sigh. Apparently, my mom is fulfilling her role of "never say no" nana quite well.
Yeah, pretty much.
5. I have a serious book addiction. Every time I see a book that looks even remotely interesting, I HAVE to have it. Naturally, the books I want are never available at the library, so thank goodness for Amazon Prime. You should see my nightstand right now. It's piling up with books, and they fall into three categories:
a. Finished it, but haven't put it away.
b. Halfway through it.
c. Haven't even started it, but I saw the title and review and had to purchase it instantly.

6. Pinterest gives me unrealistic expectations. One upside to my debilitating back pain this past week was that I had a lot of time to browse Pinterest while Will was tending to our brood. What are the chances that our landlord in Colorado will be cool with me adding a swingset, a garden, and a clothesline to his/her backyard? Hopefully high. I will refrain from asking if we can have a chicken coop or a beehive.

7. Sadly, next week we will have to say goodbye to our neighbors-turned-friends, RJ and Alana, as they head to Fort Bliss (RJ's very first official duty station). This is one of the unfortunate sides of military life, and I've found that it never gets easier saying goodbye to the wonderful friends we make at each duty station. Guys, we love you lots and wish you well. Hopefully we can be stationed together again (ummm, Europe, anyone?) in the future!

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Finally, Some Answers

  First, I would like to go on record and state that I'm making some huge sacrifices to write this post. I'm currently confined to my bed, and I'm using Will's tablet to blog. I hate Will's tablet. I'm a lover of Apple products, and Will uses a Google Nexus. This thing is weird, awkward, and an epic pain in the butt to use if you are forced to sign out of an existing Google account and sign in to a new one. Which, of course, I was. At a time like this, I close my eyes and fervently wish I could buy an Apple iPad with retina display, and charge it to my expense account. Never mind the fact that I am not currently employed, I have absolutely nothing that even remotely resembles an expense account, and if I voice my complaints to my non-Apple -product-owning husband, he will roll his eyes at me. Anyway. Moving on to more serious matters.

  I can't remember what it feels like to live without pain.

  I started having back problems when I was a teenager. I wasn't terribly surprised; all the women in my family experienced terrible back pain, and I was a musician. There were days when I would practice or rehearse for hours on end, and by the time I was finished my neck, jaw, and lower back would be aching. My mom took me to the doctor at one point, and he had no real advice besides, "try some stretches." By the time I was 18, I was going to a chiropractor and an orthodontic specialist regularly. By the time I started college, my back pain had become so intense that I began seeing a physical therapist and a massage therapist. I took a few yoga classes at the campus gym, and while everything took the edge off my pain...nothing was really helping.
My brother and I, Fall 1999


  Fast forward a decade. During my pregnancy with Alessandra, the pain in my back became unbearable. I received a referral to a physical therapist who specialized in pregnant women, and I saw a chiropractor to adjust my hips. (Tony was posterior, and I had had such terrible back labor with him, and I was willing to do anything to avoid that experience again). The PT and adjustments helped considerably, and I foolishly assumed my days of constant back pain were coming to an end. I had an amazing, painless birth with Alessandra, and in the days that followed I was far more concerned about milk supply and jaundice issues than lower back pain. However, as the weeks progressed, so did my lower back pain. I dreaded getting out of bed every morning, and as much as I loved wearing Alessandra, I would wince when I put her in a wrap or carrier. I continued going to my chiropractor, but the adjustments were no longer bringing me any relief. Finally, after two straight weekends of excruciating pain that caused my husband to miss both class and reserve detail, I made an appointment with my regular physician. She scheduled an MRI for me, which turned out to be a disaster. Despite me repeatedly telling the assistant that I was exclusively breastfeeding my baby, somehow the memo did not get passed to the radiologist. After drinking two repulsive "banana flavored" (yeah right) liquids, I was about to get injected with the dye when I once again asked the technician to confirm with the radiologist that the dye was safe for breastfeeding mothers.

  Spoiler alert: it wasn't. So, to no one's great surprise, the MRI results came back inconclusive, and I was back at Square One.

  The pain only continued to get worse after our move to Fort Benning. I went to a new doctor, who took my complaints seriously, and scheduled me for an X-ray and a repeat MRI. He also prescribed some heavy duty pain pills, which I hate taking (they render me completely useless, as they all have a sedative effect). This time, I had a much better experience with the MRI, and a few weeks later the doctor's office called with the results. According to my doctor, he found visible signs of spinal stenosis, and he wanted to refer me to an orthopedic/spinal surgeon. Well. Hardly what I would call good news, but I was extremely relieved to know that:

a. Something really is wrong, and it's not in my head.
b. I was being referred to a specialist who could give me options for treatment.
c. I was being taken seriously.

  I met with the specialist this past Friday. When he came into the room where I was waiting, he glanced at me, glanced back down at me chart, and looked up at me again. "You're 32." "Yes, I am. I'll be 33 next month." "You're 32." "Yes...." (I'm thinking, okay, we've established my age, why is this a problem...). The doctor sat down in his chair, and looked me straight in the eye, and told me I had some very serious issues for someone so young. He pulled up my MRI results on a screen, and showed me multiple places in my lower back where my disks were disintegrating. The tissue in between the disks was disintegrating as well. He asked me what I had been doing for the pain, and I told him every single treatment I had tried over the past 16 years; physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractors, yoga, pilates, acupuncture, essential oils, etc. He then asked me how I felt about surgery. I told him that spinal surgery was my absolute dead last resort. Don't get me wrong, I will do whatever is necessary to fix my back issues, but unfortunately back surgery doesn't always produce the greatest results. He agreed that we could leave surgery off the table for now, and suggested that I come in soon for an injection. While it is a short-term solution, at least it's one that can provide me with some relief and won't involve anesthesia, cutting me open, a long and painful recovery, etc.

  I don't really know how to describe how I felt when I left his office. I sat in the car for a little while with the air conditioning blasting, and not really moving or doing much of anything. I was frightened of the diagnosis I received; there was still a little part of me that hoped my back issues weren't serious at all, and could be solved with a quick pill or treatment. At the same time, though, I was relived that after all these years of living in pain, I finally had answers. And a plan for treatment. I don't like admitting when something is physically wrong with me. It drives Will absolutely crazy; the last few times he's (literally) dragged me out of bed to go to the hospital, the issues I had were not only serious, but life-threatening. So, Will is now proudly proclaiming that he's 3 for 3, and I'm 0 for 3. It's cool. I can take it.

  A few months back, I read this post by one of my favorite bloggers (Jennifer Fulwiler, at Conversion Diary). For the longest time, I've felt the exact same way she did. "Why didn't you vacuum today? There are dirty dishes in the sink! Alessandra and Tony are running around in diapers and underwear, you haven't even brushed your teeth, much less your hair, there's dog hair everywhere, you haven't dusted in at least a week....WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?" It was hard for me to admit that some days, the pain I felt was so excruciating, all I could do was flop down on the couch and count the minutes until Will walked in the door. I hated myself for my perceived laziness ("your husband works so hard all day, and he deserves to come home to a break, not shrieking kids in a messy house with a frumpy wife on the couch!"), my inability to just suck it up and deal with the pain, and my ingratitude. I mean, really, all I have to do is turn on a NatGeo special about the lives of Roma mothers in Slovakia, or women in South America or Africa who are trying to raise a family amid poverty, crime, disease, and war to make me feel like the most ungrateful, spoiled, laziest human being on the planet. God has blessed our family abundantly, and all I can do is cry about a little back pain?

  After receiving my diagnosis, I was relieved. Not because I was dealing with another potentially serious health concern, but because I was finally able to admit that something was wrong with my body. My inability to get off the couch and clean the house and cook dinner had nothing to do with ingratitude, or being self-absorbed. My back was giving out on me, and on the days when I tried to convince myself that nothing was wrong, and I needed to get over myself and take care of my home and family, I would massively overdo it. Then, naturally, I wound up paying the price tenfold, as I would be in such horrible pain the next couple of days I truly couldn't do anything for anyone.

  I don't know what the next couple of months, or the next couple of years have in store for me. I don't know how long I'll be able to continue getting injections before I finally have to have surgery. I don't know how the problems with my back will impact my family, and our everyday life. I am thankful, however, that the diagnosis I received is not life-threatening. I'll be able to get up every day, and go about my normal routine the best I can. I can cut myself some slack from now on, on the days I'm trying to do too much. I am beyond grateful to my husband and family, for their kindness and helpfulness. Not once have I ever been treated like a burden, or (my worst fear) a slacker. God has been so good to me, and I've found myself finding more comfort than ever in prayer and meditation. With God's grace, I will get through this. My family will get through this. Nothing, especially not a little spinal stenosis/disk disintegration is going to keep me down. I'll be hiking up those mountains in Colorado before you know it.

  (Yeah right. I am so not the hiking type).