Thursday, May 30, 2013

Caught Off Guard

Blogging Friends.... I have promised you stories about Rose. And I cannot wait to write them!! They shall come!! I do mean that!! However. Today has been quite productive for me. Quite productive. I pondered the future of My Life Story, and was reminded that I wanted at least one month post-editing to let it sit dormant before sharing this Writing Project with family. {One month. It has been nearly that long!!} I commented on my "people" Blogs. I bathed Rose. I swiftly overcame a minor nothing-to-worry-about mood swing. {Victory!!} I watched this short three-part Robert Downey Jr. YouTube video, because I needed his sense of humor to crack me up. {He delivered, as always!!} I played Wii with my youngest brother {Uncle Michael to Rose!!} I spent some quality time with my Beautifully Unique little girl. {Much-needed quality time!!} And, as something just had to fall off of life's balance beam, I never wrote a story about Rose!! Oh well. There is always next week!! But here's a picture of sweet Rose, instead!! {I totally caught her off guard!!} 



Monday, May 27, 2013

"Freedom Isn't Free"

Blogging Friends.... Thank-you for your sweet words of encouragement on Saturday's post. I truly appreciated them!!
"Freedom isn't free.". These very words, ironically, were written to his mother from this local young man, who was killed in an ambush during Operation Freedom's {Iraq} first few days. "Freedom isn't free.". Written like a prophesy so true, he then proved this fact literally. My cousin Teira's first love, Amos, was deployed to Iraq several years ago. He, too, died. She was young, and heartbroken. We never even had the chance to meet Amos, as they met in Hawaii. "Freedom isn't free.". My, was that local hero correct. Let's all remember to never take our nation's precious freedoms for granted. Never. And let's all remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.
Recorded by Trace Adkins
I never thought that this is where I'd settle down/I thought I'd die an old man back in my hometown/They gave me this plot of land, me and some other men/For a job well done/There's a big white house sits on a hill just up the road/The man inside he cried the day they brought me home/They folded up a flag and told my mom and dad/We're proud of your son//Chorus: And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property/I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company/I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done/I can rest in peace, I'm one of the chosen ones/I made it to Arlington//I remember Daddy brought me here when I was eight/We searched all day to find out where my granddad lay/And when we finally found that cross, he said/"Son this is what it cost to keep us free"/Now here I am a thousand stones away from him/He recognized me on the first day I came in/And it gave me a chill when he clicked his heels/And saluted me//Chorus: And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property/I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company/I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done/I can rest in peace, I'm one of the chosen ones/I made it to Arlington//And every time I hear twenty-one guns/I know they brought another hero home to us//Chorus: And I'm proud to be on this peaceful piece of property/I'm on sacred ground and I'm in the best of company/I'm thankful for those thankful for the things I've done/I can rest in peace, I'm one of the chosen ones/I made it to Arlington/We're thankful for those thankful for the things we've done/We can rest in peace, 'cause we are the chosen ones/We made it to Arlington/Yeah dust to dust, don't cry for us/We made it to Arlington
Memorial Day is also observed by some who have lost loved ones in general {No pun intended!!}. That being mentioned, may I take a moment to remember every grieving Mom and Dad of babies/children who were born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia {My birth defect} and did not survive. Every so often, I stumble across Blogs or Web sites about a mother's C.D.H. "angel". And my heart breaks. Into a million pieces. It just hits home for me. These babies/children were soldiers all the same, superheroes who lost the battle against C.D.H. . I feel equally akin to them, as I do with survivors.        


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Self-Acceptance Issues

Blogging Friends.... Thank-you for your comments on Wednesday's post. I truly appreciated it!! I feel the need to explain in a bit better detail exactly how my "emotional week of soul searching, growing, plus many, many, many mood swings" went. Oh. And I am also experiencing a withdrawal from writing!! {I apologize that this Blog post is not about Rose!! Stories shall come!!}
Self-acceptance. Life has a way of freely handing out opportunities to exercise this. In my experience, that is!! Unwanted learning disabilities. They require self-acceptance. Physical imperfections. They require self-acceptance. Pushing 30--in January!!--and never being a mother. It requires self-acceptance. Well, a certain part of my past--which shall not be revealed here--is no exception. It requires self-acceptance. See, my long-kept secret which I mentioned briefly last week? It was finally revealed Wednesday evening. When my all-knowing Mom virtually grabbed me. {Which was much-needed, by the way!!} I talked. And, she listened. Minus specifics, I must mention that this long-kept secret is nothing terribly bad. And years ago, I "buried" it so to speak. In a private journal. It was gone!! But I never expected this part of my past to return and haunt me. Oh, I wish it hadn't. Meanwhile, for nearly one month, I dreaded sharing the secret with my Mom. Then, being a "volcano", standing strong and steady until eventually "erupting", it wasn't until Wednesday, May 15th, when everything affected me. Not bad, huh? I stayed strong for probably three weeks!! Soon there were mood swings, tears, minor anxiety attacks, edginess, achy joints, loss of sleep, some days noshing on nothing but chocolate, and even a rant toward God. To which He just silently listened. And, if--if--I have lost any weight, it is only because whenever I'm stressed, I am wired!! Normal laziness is thrown "out the window", as that phrase goes. And I physically move around a lot!! Yes, all of this occurred during one freakin' week!! I made excuses in my head on why I should evade sharing the secret with my Mom. I am an expert at building avoidance patterns!! It's a problem. Because when my mind ran out of excuses of how not to share the secret, I just recycled them!! You know what? There are so many different ways to be in "prison". So many different ways. And I literally felt as though I'd incarcerated myself. Because, metaphorically speaking, I was chained up. But I am free now!! I'm happy!! And to think that a part of my past returned to haunt me on account of five minuscule words. Little. Miss. Secretive. Writing. Project. And now I hereby announce {Although I'm not promising that everybody will read it. Sorry. I have some big decisions to make regarding its future!!} Little Miss Secretive Writing Project!! It is my life story. Which nobody who I am in close proximity to has read. Yet. Perhaps sometime next week!! I am getting excited now!!
Self-acceptance. Life has a way of freely handing out opportunities to exercise this. In my experience, that is!! The other day, I had an appointment to a dermatologist. Because I have this scaly bald "patch" on my scalp. My self-described "snake skin". At the dermatologist's, we learned that it will not ever heal. Yep. My hair will never grow back there. The positive is that other strands cover it up nicely. But, the last thing my head needed was yet another physical imperfection. I already have twain surgically-created "cranio" scars!! Welcome to another lesson in self-acceptance....  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


"I’m not a poster boy for good behavior and recovery in Hollywood. I’m just a guy who knows he has a lot to be grateful for." --Robert Downey Jr.

Mmmm, I love, love, love this quote!! Love. Love. Love!! Robert Downey Jr. spoke those words in 2008. Yes, I know that I just quoted Robert Downey Jr.!! However, after an emotional week of soul searching, growing, plus many, many, many mood swings, as strange as it may seem, I am feeling connected to these words right now!! Because I'm an oddball!! Happy. Grateful. And connected. Soul searching experiences are good for you, right?



Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Blogging Friends.... Last week, Robert Downey Jr. was being interviewed. On some special program, not Oprah or Ellen DeGeneres. The one-hour Web show began like this. Interviewer: Hi Robert. How you doing? Robert Downey Jr.: Happy. First off, Robert Downey Jr. spoke that one word with pure sincerity. He was not joking!! Because Robert Downey Jr., is, indeed, happy!! And, you know what? For a man who was the absolute opposite of "happy" throughout much of his adult life, nothing pleases me more than to hear him say that word!! Nothing pleases me more. Interviewer: Hi Robert. How you doing? Robert Downey Jr.: Happy. I love, love, love that answer!! It is so different from the normal "good", "okay", or "great". But, then again. Who can expect "normal" from an eccentric like Robert Downey Jr.? Enough said!! From here on forth, I wish to follow suit with Robert. If anybody were to ask me the question of "How are you doing?" {Unless I am suffering through another roller coaster ride mood swing!!} I'm going to answer with one word. "Happy.". Because I am!! I'm happy and grateful!! See, I have an agenda for myself this week. Never mind that it is nearly half over already!! I am going to share with my family Little Miss Secretive Writing Project!! Why haven't I already, you may ask? Twain reasons. One. An obstacle which is a deeply personal secret. I have kept it for over one decade. {Eleven years and two days. But who's counting?} It is going in Little Miss Secretive Writing Project, because I haven't a choice. And, two. Pride. Yes, it seems that God is attempting to work in me humility, even though I did not realize that I needed it!! Well, this week, I must swallow that stubborn pride, "get over myself", and move forward!! Because I am moving forward with life. I'm accepting and embracing my "terrible privilege{s}". Oh, and, how am I doing? One word. "Happy".    








Friday, May 10, 2013

Raising Awareness

Question. Is it egotistical for somebody such as myself to raise awareness for her own birth defect? {That would be congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Although I was also born with craniosynostosis, and Wolff-Parkinson White syndrome, both which were surgically repaired!!} Is it egotistical when so many children are still dying--50%--from C.D.H., and you want so desperately to do something about that? Is it? I oft wonder this. But then I am reminded of Killian. Whitney. Timoteo. Wyatt. Ramsey. Ava. Catherine. Parker. Clara. Jude. Clay. Memphis. Sunni. Lincoln. Bonnie. Atiksh. Camden. Oliver. Jim. Claire. My goodness, have I "met" so many Fellow Kindred Spirit C.D.H. Friends through this wonderful world of Blogging!! And I wish to raise awareness for them. It is not about me. I'm just another survivor. Am I aware of the fragility of life? Yes. Am I aware that any one of these children's very oxygen can be sucked away from them? Yes. Which is why I pray hard that these children grow and develop into adults. Like me. Because these children have something in common. They are hard to kill!! And, while reading one of my new favorite Web sites, TinySuperheroes, this morning, I "met" for the very first time yet another Fellow Kindred Spirit C.D.H. Friend, an incredible little girl, whose name befittingly means "life". Zoe. Her Mom granted me permission to share Zoe's story off of TinySuperheroes. No C.D.H. experience is exactly the same. They are like a zebra's stripe pattern, these children!!
“Her zest for life is mesmerizing and her joy is so rewarding. She never ceases to amaze me.” — Super Zoe's Mom
We're very excited to introduce you to Super Zoe (she is one of my new best friends)! We couldn't be happier that TinySuperheroes is reaching and empowering children all over the world, but it's always exciting when we're introduced to one closer to home so that we can meet and personally deliver their cape! When Super Zoe was nominated as a TinySuperhero, and I saw she lived just a ferry ride away, I knew she and I were going to be friends! We made her TinySuperhero cape yellow and blue to match the dress of her favorite Disney princess, Belle (who she recently met in Disney Land)! Super Zoe is indeed a TinySuperhero, and also a miracle whose resilience has surprised even optimistic doctors! Super Zoe's fight started before she was even born. While her parents awaited her due date, they knew Zoe would be born with a condition that gave her only a 50% chance of survival. Zoe was born with CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia). You may remember Super Ramsey who is also thriving after his CDH diagnosis. CDH is a birth defect that is often detected in utero, where a hole exists in the diaphragm (the muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity). Because of this hole, some organs that should be in the abdominal cavity move into the chest cavity. These organs then take up space that is reserved for the heart and the lungs to grow. The survival rate of babies born with CDH is only 50% and is dependent on many factors, though largely affected by how much the lungs were able to develop. Super Zoe revealed herself as a TinySuperhero on August 12, 2008. They weren't sure of Zoe's lung development when she was born, so she was placed on the ECMO machine, which would breathe and oxygenate for her so her lungs could rest until they knew more. CDH requires surgery to place the organs in their intended locations. Zoe remained on bypass machines and ventilators until she was 1 month old, at which point they performed surgery to correct her CDH. During surgery, they discovered that she had just 2/3 of a lung on her left side, because it had been compressed by other organs during development. Her parents were able to hold her for the first time just 2 days before this surgery! "It was the most amazing thing ever." Zoe finally went home in November, over 2 months after she was born. In the months and years that followed her homecoming, Zoe has been on Oxygen, had a central line for medicine, a pulse oxometer to watch her oxygen levels, CPAP, NG feeding tube, then a G Tube … life for this precious girl and her amazing parents hasn't been easy. Today, Super Zoe still deals with medical complications. Primarily, Zoe suffers from severe pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension is abnormally high blood pressure. Because of it, Zoe is on a 24/7 IV medication that she receives through a central line as well as a number of other medications. Zoe also has a ASD and a VSD. Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) is a form of congenital heart defect that enables blood to flow between the left and right atria. Ventricular Septal Defect (ASD) affects the wall that divides the left and right ventricles of the heart. These heart defects will need to be closed through surgery in the future. Zoe is so strong. These medications are really helping her now, but a lung and/or heart transplant could be in Zoe's future. Along with medications, Zoe is on oxygen at night, goes to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Those are the medical obstacles that Super Zoe overcomes daily, but let me tell you about the love contained in this Extraordinary TinySuperhero. When I met her to deliver her cape, she was shy at first. It probably didn't help that I woke her up from her nap! About 20 minutes into our visit, I heard her precious giggle...and we bonded! So, when I had the opportunity last weekend to spend time with her again, I jumped at the chance! We picked up right where we left off! She came to our sewing day to help us make capes for other TinySuperheroes! She even helped me unload the fabric from my car! The most beautiful moment I had that day was when Super Gabby arrived! Neither Zoe or I had ever met Super Gabby. We were both super excited to see such an incredible member of our Extraordinary TinySuperhero Squad! It was a beautiful day outside. The three of us were talking, and Zoe told me that Gabby's arms were cold. Zoe then proceeded to rub her hands up and down Gabby's arms to warm them up. It was the most simple, pure act of love - and it is reasons like this that I'm the luckiest person in the world to be surrounded by the Extraordinary TinySuperhero Squad. This is just the beginning of my friendship with Super Zoe, but if you'd like to continue to follow her, you can at her blog:
I pray that Zoe's health improves, and for continued progress, plus many milestones reached!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Go Dodgers?

My Dad returned home from California today!! He visited his mother, brother, sister-in-law, plus several other relatives. Dad also saw an LA Dodger's game yesterday!! His beloved baseball team. Unfortunately, however, the Dodger's pulled a Boston Red Sox from when I travelled clear down to Houston in 2008. They lost!! As I slowly transition back into the swing of life after being preoccupied with Little Miss Secretive Writing Project, and conjure up some stories about Rose, here is a picture. Shadow says: Go, Dodger's!! Or perhaps not. Look at that very enthusiastic face!!  

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Arc Reactor Treats

"I've got a cluster of shrapnel, trying every second to crawl its way into my heart. This--stops it. This little circle of light. It's part of me now, not just armor. It's a... terrible privilege.". Today has been emotional for me, but only in warm, positive ways. Tears have filled my eyes, and gratitude has filled my heart. Why? Because 365 days ago, on May 4th, 2012, we saw "The Avengers". 365 days ago, on May 4th, 2012, Tony Stark/Iron Man profoundly changed my life with that line. "Its a... terrible privilege.". Wow, one year. I never could have imagined that I'd be inspired by such a character as Tony Stark, or the path God would set me on afterward. A journey toward self-acceptance. We saw "Iron Man 3" in some local theater yesterday. What an amazing one-year anniversary event!! We did not see it in the theater where Tony Stark reached through its screen with his muscular arms and grabbed me. Touched my heart. No, we saw it elsewhere!! However, I entered this theater wide-eyed and observant, as if awaiting another life-changing impact. I witnessed their "Iron Man 3" movie poster. This theater's old-fashioned looking light fixtures. Red beams which illumined their stairs. Diverse people who entered long after us, as we arrived a bit early. Kids. Adults. Teenagers. This guy wearing an Iron Man T-shirt. Yes, I observed everything--for memory's sake--just in case Tony Stark "spoke" to me!! And.... Nothing!! Isn't that just like Tony Stark? Now, I will not give away any "spoilers" from "Iron Man 3". I can keep secrets, remember? But, I will say this. It was very, very, very good!!
So, in celebration of 365 days since Tony Stark/Iron Man did change my life, I decided to do something crazy. Crazy, even for me!! I am self-described as being "artistically-challenged". Yet, I baked Rose arc reactor biscuits this morning!! Yes, arc reactor biscuits!! What on earth was I thinking? That I am freakin' Martha Stewart?! Anyway. I used this circular cutter. Then, I took a knife, and carved an upside-down triangle. Inside it, I carved this smaller upside-down triangle. Three lines. And, that is it!! They are far from being flawless. But I am proud of them!! And they taste like cinnamon!! Mmmm!!
Rose would rate this recipe four "paws" way, way up!!

Fruity Biscuits

The berries used in this recipe make the biscuits an unusual purplish color. {They are brown!!} If you use raspberries only, they'll be pink, which can make a fun Valentine's Day or Christmas biscuit. If you don't have blueberries or raspberries on hand, you can try some other type of fruit. This biscuit's sweetness is a real treat for dogs with a sweet tooth.

--For the egg wash--
1 egg
Pinch of salt

--For the batter--
1 cup whole wheat flour, plus extra for rolling {I used white flour for rolling!!}
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup soy flour {We haven't any soy flour. So, because the rebel within me loves to use alternate ingredients, I did 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups white flour!!}
2 tablespoons flax seed meal or wheat germ {I chose wheat germ.}
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup warm water
1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen) {Mine were frozen!!}
1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen) {Mine were frozen!!}
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon safflower oil {We haven't any safflower oil. So, as again, the rebel within me loves to use alternate ingredients, I did canola oil!!}
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 F. For the egg wash, beat one egg in a small bowl and add a pinch of salt. {I whisked it!! Because I am a rebel!!} Set aside. {For the future. When baking arc reactor treats, I will leave out this egg wash. Why? Because the egg seeped through my arc reactors, hiding its art!!}In a large bowl, combine the flours, flax seed meal or wheat germ, and cinnamon. In a food processor, {I think that any blender will work just as well, for those who do not own food processors!!} combine the water, fruit, honey, oil, the two eggs, and vanilla. Pulse until smooth. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir to combine. (Don't fret if there are little pieces of fruit visible.) {No visible pieces of fruit. However, I did run into some minor complications right about here. First, my dough was a bit dry. So, I added water. Just a little bit!! Then, the dough was so gooey, that it bonded to my hands!! Literally!! I defeated gravity with it!! So, I began to knead my dough on our floured countertop. At last, something that I could work with formed!!} Knead the dough in the bowl until it makes a nice ball and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. {Dramatic eye roll. This rebel should have followed instructions!! Whatever.} Roll out to a 1/4-inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters. Place biscuits on ungreased baking sheets. {I misread that. I greased my pan!! Oh well!!} Using a pastry brush, brush egg wash on top of each biscuit. Bake for 15 minutes or until tops are browned. {I baked twelve treats at a time for 25 minutes!!} For crunchier cookies, turn the oven down to 200 F and bake for an additional hour or two, or until they reach the desired crunchiness. Store at room temperature in a loosely covered container. {To avoid any molding, I froze most of my little arc reactors!!}