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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Today I Cried...


Today started early, heading out to pick up my second CD of MRI films from the MRI office, and then off to my first visit with the Spine Specialist.  This new adventure of specialist visits started last week when I met with my Neurologist here:
As you can see, I was happy to go and have a sit down visit to go over the results of my tests.  We talked, I had questions, she had some answers - but not many.... The short story is: I needed to visit a spine specialist as I have Cervical Spinal Stenosis.  (look it up if you don't know what it is)  I also need to visit a hand specialist as I have carpal tunnel in both hands as well as Small Fiber Polyneropathy.  I went home and dutifully made appointments with both.  You see, I have pain from head to toe.  My arms have trouble keeping the circulation going.  I frequently cannot use my fingers, hands and arms as there isn't adequate circulation.  It is actually quite painful - and when I shake my arms down or rub them to get the blood flow going it hurts like crazy.  Just one more part of me falling apart.  :/

Meanwhile!  Being THE SEASON we celebrated with "A Night in Bethlehem" at church.  Austin was the Narrator of the program, the boys we're shepherds and Roo was an angel.  They did great!  

And, being THE SEASON we were able to attend Roo's violin concert at school.  We had a difficult time taking her picture as her teacher stood right in front of her and she was placed in the back, by the piano.  

This is the best picture I could get of our girl.  I'm sure Austin got a better shot - he's standing in green taking pictures.  :)  

Know what is so dumb?  The teacher, who was so anal with the kids learning and planing, didn't bother to spell our last name correctly.  Willcox.  Willcox.  Two "L's" people!!  It's the English spelling.  

Again, being THE SEASON, I was able to help at the little's classrooms.  The twins built candy trains and Roo had her first white elephant party.  She had trouble grasping the concept of the white elephant, but I am pretty sure she has a grip on it now. 

And one of my favorite things to do - snuggle with Sophie.  My new baby girl.   And even after all these years, another favorite is snuggling with the husband.  We went on a date and walked the Tempe bridge. We also saw a show.  It was nice to spend time together without the littles wanting our attention.  It was also really nice to spend quality time together before visiting the spine specialist.

This leads us to today.  And why I cried.  Please don't hate me, the following will be brutally honest.  So much is going through my head - so many memories mixed with emotions.  The spine specialist told me that I have several indicators of MS.  (he's the 3rd specialist to tell me this).  He confirmed that I have Cervical Spinal Stenosis.  He is also confused by my low blood pressure.  It took 2 nurses and 6 tries but the nurses finally got a bp reading of 86/55.  A bit higher than the 82 I had at the neuro.  Anyhow, hearing another specialist say that I have indicators of MS, knowing that I have several other things going on as well (the CSS for one) hit me a little hard.  He gave me some new meds to take to help with the pain... in hopes my quality of life would improve with less pain.  He is sending me to PT and we made an appt of him to give me a shot of steroids right straight into my spine.  In my upper neck part of my spine to be precise.  That was upset number 2.  It is very frightening to think about and it's scheduled to happen next week on Thursday.  Upset number 3 is the one that sent me over the edge.  The Dr. let me know that the new meds he wants me to take cause weight gain - and not the 15 lbs from gabapentin weight gain.  When I asked for specifics, he said it is usually a 40+lb weight gain.  I've never been really over weight.  No one in my family is.  My dad was, and my grandmother on my mom's side.  I was raised with it ingrained into my head to not be fat.  I haven't dieted in forever and I love my treadmill, though it's painful to walk on now.  So there's nothing anyone can do - totally out of control I will gain weight.  When I got into the car I cried.  Sobbed and cried.  Really cried.  I feel like I've given up so much with this.  My work, my friendships, my ability to dance with my husband, go hiking, play like crazy w/o getting tired.  And now I'll be fat.  Being attractive to my husband is important to me, it is also something I work hard on.  I fear him not finding me attractive any more - though he let me know he's in love with me - not me fat/thin/etc.  He said he'll  love me anyway as long as he has me it's all ok.  My mom never wanted me to get fat.  I fear her not being proud of me.  I fear being made fun of.  I fear the needle that is going into my spine.  I fear it not working or something going wrong.  I fear having MS.  And through all of this - this huge crap boat of my body falling apart - almost a year later and I cried.  I cried before a few times, but I never cried like I did today.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013


November is the time to give thanks.  I've been pensive and thinking about how blessed I am.  Yes, I have my challenges and it may seem like life hasn't been fair to me in the past year.  I most definitely never expected to be handicapped and living so differently than before.  Even with all of the curve balls life has thrown my way I have so very much to be thankful for.  I have 9 wonderful children, each one is so full of everything good.  They help me in so many ways and teach me so much.  They help me become a better parent and person.

Our twins turned 8, and started Cub Scouts.  That sure snuck up on me!  My babies are 8 - and they are such fun kids!  So full of love and shenanigans.  After going to the scout shop, Dad read the boys the story of Akeila from the scout book.  The lights were turned off that the story read by flashlight to make the experience so much more fun!!
I remember when Spencer and Luke were Cub Scouts.  There's not much cuter than little boys in Cub Scout Uniforms.  :)  These little boys (all 4 of them) make my life so happy.  I am so thankful for each of them.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the honor of being their mom.  

 I was able to spend an amazing day with Emy Lydford.  She's Spencer's Mother-In-Law.  I love this woman so much!  I love sharing kids with her, I love her company and her insights to life.  I love her positive attitude and the example she is to me.   We had an amazing day at Time Out For Women, and we had an amazing lunch together.  The day went by far to quickly!  We will for sure have to get together again soon!

I have been so fortunate to find a new neurologist.  She is amazing, and is one of the leading neurologist's in Phoenix.  She's having me go through several series of tests that I have gone through with the previous neurologists, but this time each test is more thorough.  I am so very blessed to have a fantastic husband who holds my hand and keeps me calm and feeling safe through all of this madness.  He is patient when I forget the simplest of things.  He helps me remember words that I forget.  He is kind when I am so exhausted I just can't move and he picks up the slack around the house and with the littles.  He listens to me complain about the pain, he doesn't complain when I fidget in my seat because I just can't get comfy.  He lets me lay my head on his shoulder and lean on him when I can't hold myself up.  He keeps me steady when I have trouble walking and he is always there to listen and help.  I am eternally grateful to have him in my life. 

We had been talking about getting another dog.  We were dog-less for a few months for the first time in our entire married life. I miss my Maggie so much - even after a year an a half.  There were 2 unanswered questions:  what breed and puppy, 2/3 yr old or adult.  After a MRI that lasted almost 2 hours. (seriously way too long) we stopped by the pound to take a look see at the dogs there.  Our questions were answered when we found this gal: 
She is hard to see in this picture, and the day we were there they didn't do visitations or adoptions.  But she is a black lab and according to the guestimations of the point, she is 10 yrs old.  Austin and I went home and talked a bit about her.  There was also a super cute puppy that wasn't available for a few days.  And this older Lab wasn't available to be adopted until she was fixed.  The next day I took the littles to visit the Lab.  I wanted to see how she reacted around kids.  She was great.  So playful and fun, yet not over hyper and nuts.  She was also potty trained!  And - as if a sign - she had been fixed that morning.  So we adopted little Sophie and brought home a new family member. 
I couldn't get enough snuggling with this girl.  I still can't. She is so loving!  She knows a few tricks, she is loyal to our home.  She barks when someone comes to the door, but she is the most loving girl ever.  She rides in the car with me like Maggie did.  - I had to get her used to that one, she was a little weirded out at first but now she's a champ.  

Here's Sophie with little Jackie Boy.  Adorable.  :)  Sophie is an amazing addition to our family.  I love her so much. I am so thankful for this gal and her friendship.  

Then nostalgia struck in the Willcox home.  When I was a kid, my younger brother had the sheet music to the Star Wars theme. When I left home, I went ahead and took it with me...  Now the littles are taking piano lessons (from a really amazing piano teacher Stephanie Funk!!) And Aaron is learning the Star Wars Theme song with the exact same sheet music.  I don't know why I get all weird about this stuff, but when the kids play songs I learned as a kid I get so excited!  

And then we come to the day of Thanksgiving.  We originally were going to travel to California to celebrate with my family, but because of my health we stayed home.  We celebrated with the Willcox side of the family.  Great company, great food, lots of love and an overall really fantastic Thanksgiving.  

I'm so thankful for this guy.  I'm thankful we can just be goofy together no matter where we go. 

I am so thankful for this girl here!  Robin is so funny and sweet, smart and talented.  I'm thankful she is part of our family! 
And here were are together - snarfing down the bounty of delicious dinner prepared by my amazing Sister-In-Law, Maria.  There were quite a few family members missing, but it was really great to visit with those who were there.  I am so very thankful to have married into a loving and caring family.

The day after Thanksgiving is "BLACK FRIDAY"  (insert spooky music here)  I have never, ever, never - honestly ever ever - gone black Friday shopping.  But I was tempted.  Husband dangled a carrot... You see, I was in desperate need of a new dryer.  Not only does our dryer squeak in the most annoying and horrible squeak, it also catches our clothes in the door gasket and tears them - or gets them totally stained with nasty black smears.  But there was a sale on dryers... in store only... and Sears was in the same mall as the movie theater where we promised to take the kids to see Frozen... it was also in the same mall as the MAC store.  And my MAC had frozen up and isn't doing so well.  And Austin said I could get a new one....  I can honestly not even imagine a more tempting reason to go Black Friday shopping.  So we went.  We bought a dryer.  We bought a new computer (using now! and LOVE!)  We watched a movie and had a mall food court lunch together.  It was so much fun, and yet wow.  Two days of all of that activity took it's tole on me!  

Saturday I slept in.  It is so hard to get up in the mornings, I promised the kids tokens (which = $ in our house) to come in and wake me up.  So they came in.  I kept sleeping.  They came in.  I slept.  and on and on and on until finally I got up.  In pain.  Sore, tired, pain filled me.  But we were supposed to pull out the Christmas decor so I got moving.  

You see, in our overly OCD home environment, things need to be done in order.  I couldn't free the Christmas decor from the attic until the new stuff I got to put on the soffet up on the soffet, and I couldn't do that until what was up there came down, everything cleaned and then the re-decorating back up.  Meanwhile, our back door frame has been destroyed by several dogs of the past. 
 Since Austin NEVER has so much time off in a row it is hard to accomplish the fix-it-up things that need to be done.  While Austin singlehandedly re-door framed our back door, I worked on the soffet.  

I got busy cleaning, painting this wagon wheel, and generally trying to figure out what should go where, etc.  Austin (with his side kick B-Jams) got busy taking the messed up part of the jam apart.  Now, I need to tell you... we've had Charlie, Peter, Maggie, (then they had 11 puppies), Casey and Carter living here through out the past 13 years.  Not all at the same time!  But seriously as much as I love to do my best to keep things clean just wait... and look at all of this HAIR that was under the rear threshold!! 

It's hard to see, but that long gloop of hair/nasty is what came out from under the threshold.  Barf.

However, after HOURS and lots of up/down the ladder and sitting on this tall ledge the new soffet decor was up.  And now, once I've recovered from all 3 days of DOING WAY TOO MUCH I'll climb in that attic of death and rescue the Christmas decorations.  

Sincerely blessed beyond belief.  That's my life.  And I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Yah, I know.  I went from excessive bling and fancy period costumes to aprons.  Ha ha.  Makes me giggle - but mostly it just makes me smile.  It wasn't too long ago I was sewing, shopping and dressing all kinds of different people.  My mind just keeps going and going on all of these ideas and creations and things I want to make.  Everything from quilts to clothes for the grandkids to period pieces to embelish with beads and other embroidery.  All of these ideas and things are just floating around in my head.  With all of the air... ha ha ha.  I had decided to make myself an apron and attach a towel to it.  I'm always loosing hand towels and while cooking, it's nice to have one close by.  It's also nice to know it's clean!  I made myself one for cooking/baking, and I'm going to make one for house cleaning - one with a cell phone pocket and larger pockets to stash rags and some cleaning supplies and such.  Like my rubber gloves.  :/   I'm troubled, I know.  I once heard an author speak about her work and her stories.  She talked about how she has all of these characters living in her head and having conversations and such.  Hum... Kinda sounds like she's a bit skitzo but I understand where she's coming from because I have all of these creations living in my head.  Is there a name for that?  Crafting schizophrenia with emphasis on sewing?  Possibly.  Or perhaps just plain crazy.  I'll go with crazy.  

Not only do I love, love, love putting fabrics and trims together and making pretty things, I also have a raging case of OCD.  I think I mentioned that before.  Part of this SkitzOCD mental disorder I have is an overwhelming desire to finish things I start.  Part of this MS/Central Pain Syndrome whatever it is I have, makes it painful to sit in a chair for extended periods of time. I am also exhausted after minimal activity.  In my new life, I have prioritized the daily activities to make sure nothing is overlooked and I'm doing my best to not cheat the family of my "responsibilities".   - Mind you, I have made this list on my own and at any time I can ask for help and I'll get it, or Austin steps up and just does things, knowing I'm tired.  So, each day, I knock off the responsibilities as soon as I can and then I may or may not have a little while to sew or craft or bake.  Because of my unpredictable health and frequent visits to doctors, I have found that making aprons is a way to be creative, make pretty and practical things, and because they are quick to make, I can finish them and thus feel accomplished.

I started making them to give away to family and friends for gifts.  I'd be sewing and the whole time think about someone the fabrics or colors reminded me of.  Being so excited about it I'd give it to whoever it was I thought about while making it.  I have had lots of positive feedback,  and I have a growing stack of aprons of all kinds of different colors and fabrics.  My friend, Carrie was wonderful enough to set up an Etsy shop where I can display and sell my aprons.  One of the first questions she had for me was what to call the shop.  I had a few ideas and one of my favorites happened to be the one that wasn't already taken. 5 Fun Girls.  Because so many of my aprons have been inspired by my daughters, naming the Etsy shop after them just made sense.  Just a quick FYI - I also have a fun and fantastic daughter-in-law that  I love very much and has inspired me and encouraged me very much and 4 super fun boys and two sons-in-law that I love very much.  But these aprons are kind of a girly thing... 5 Fun Girls it is.

When you get a chance, check out the Etsy shop!

AND!  Make sure you like the facebook page:

Check them out, let me know what you think and keep a look out for new aprons always being added.  Make sure you buy one or two!  They make a great gift!  Meanwhile, I'll be home.  Cleaning, cooking, baking and generally appreciating everything good in my life.  Ok, I appreciate the bad, too.  Because the bad is what I go through to become a better person.  Who knows - you may see something fantasticly awesome and creative coming from me soon!  Because every chance I get I'll be breathing life into the creations floating around in my head.

May your day/night be full of happiness and good.  Count your blessings - it's always amazing how many we all have.

Here's a peek at some of my favorite aprons:


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Baking with Roo

It's that time of year again. Time to make anything and everything I can out of pumpkin.  Yum!  And what better excuse to bake than the annual neighborhood Chili Cookoff!  Roo and I wanted to make pumpkin pie, however it is not a good "picnic" food as it needs forks and plates.  We decided to try something new.  I'm sure someone did this before, but we ran a search online and couldn't find anything close.  First, we decided to use the mini muffin pans to make bite size pumpkin pies.

HOWEVER!   These pans were occupied with little chocolate cupcakes we made the night before... waiting to be frosted and accept their token pumpkin candy on top.   We whipped up some frosting and I frosted, Roo pumpkined and then we were right on the pumpkin pies.

Now, I LOVE to cook and bake.  I'm just too exhausted and worn out to do much of it these days.  I also love to bake from scratch and use fresh ingredients as much as possible.  This time we went the easy route.  (ha ha as if making all of these treats was actually easy!)  We took these delicious pie crusts!

Taking a mini cup cake liner as a pattern, we cut smaller crusts out of the large crust.  

We were able to make 11 circles out of one regular size crust. 

As I cut the circles, Roo gently put them into the muffin pans. 

And then we made the filling.  Again, we went the easy route and used good 'ole Libby's.  

I had thought we would use the scraps from the little pie circles to roll out and make more.  Roo had another idea.  She took the scraps and made an owl!  An owl with a purse.  Ben came over to see what we were up to and asked why we made Squidworth (sp??) from Sponge Bob.  Ha ha.  

Pie crusts were filled and put into the oven.  I knew the temperature and cooking time would need to be altered, so I lowered the temperature to 350 and cooked them for 25 min.  

They came out just right!  Crust's cooked, filling cooked - all just right!  Well, not as beautiful as I had hoped, but still delicious! 

We topped them off with whipped cream (which made them look so much better!)

Super yum!  The best part about it was spending such a fun afternoon with Roo!  Second best was the left over pumpkin pies!  All of the mini's were eaten and enjoyed at the neighborhood picnic, but we made two regular size pies for us.  We gave one to a friend, and enjoyed the other!  

AAaaannnnndddddd... since the twins birthday was coming up and we had a party to plan, I got to work investigating how in the world we'd make a Minecraft themed cake.  After perusing Pinterest for ideas I came up with an idea that would work with the baking pans we already own.  I purchased the fondant (sp??) and made some regular frosting, and then baked the cakes.  Here's what I came up with... well, I ran out of green fondant so tomorrow there will be more green grass.  
That darn Steve wouldn't stay sitting up straight.  It looks better in person, but I do really love my little piggie.  :)  

It's not perfect, and I'm not ready to take on Cake Boss - but for my first time playing with fondant and making anything Minecraft I think it is pretty sweet.  The boys are THRILLED and were so kind telling me how great the cake looks any time they came to check on my progress.  Sweetest kids ever!