Making things…

My momma would be super proud because she was always known for the stuff she made. First off she was and still is an amazing seamstress and second off she could make a craft absolutely amazing and out of nothing. Every Christmas people would wonder and wait to see what she had concocted for this year. I will be honest, I never quite appreciated it like I do now. I look back at the things I have that she made and realize that the effort that takes to make things sometimes is so much more meaningful than going to Walmart and purchasing something. However, I won’t lie I tend to be on the sentimental side. Don’t believe me? Look at my teaching wall which could be considered a wall of junk, but to me it will never be that. They are little mementos of the time someone took out of their lives to tell me I mean something to them and I matter. Therefore, made gifts have a similar meaning for me. There is nothing more valuable to me than time. I feel like I never have enough of it, so I feel like if someone takes that time to make a gift it is amazing!

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Earlier this fall my bestie Kpuff was dabbling in making cleaning products. Something I had never really thought about. In fact, I probably would have laughed at the thought of me doing that. A classic, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” She made laundry soap and told me how nice it was and that she loved it and asked if I wanted to try it. I thought sure! She brought me over about two cups of the stuff and it was funny. I used one and I was skeptical it would work, but it did and it smelled amazing. Then I was sure my family couldn’t use it because it did smell good. They are highly allergenic and anytime I try to switch from our All free and clear they break out in hives. I can’t use fabric softeners or dryer sheets or bleach. I started just using it on my clothes and one day in laziness I threw my guys clothes in there with mine. I said nothing. No complaints and/or hives. He also gets ridiculous sneezes and what not with laundry soap changes, but nothing! I expanded it. Two weeks later we all had our clothes washed daily with it. And no complaints from the allergy filled asthmatic, skin sensitive or the one who doesn’t like smells. Wahoo!

detergent1I decided to search Kpuff’s pinterest for the recipe and decided to make it. I found it @ Aprons and Pearls. I made some and my guy helped me to mix it in our giant trash bag. Once I realized how much it actually made and far just a little goes with it I had the idea to just place it into cute containers and give out as gifts. It is HE safe and it smells nice. A thing my highly allergic family had kinda taken from me. It is a subtle good smell though and not over powering. My whites are whiter than they had ever been. I never have to worry if my clothes are clean. The jars I bought were clear and let the pretty shine through and you could smell it. I gifted about 8- 2-3 cup  jars of it for Christmas and that left me with three large OXY clean containers full which will last me for a really long time. I love the stuff and if you feel like venturing out a bit and using it I highly recommend it. I have thanked Kpuff multiple times for it since and will continue to use it. I did pick a detergent2different scent than what the blogger picked. Of course, now I don’t remember what it was. It was purple so that was mostly why I picked it.

My second gift that I made for most of my confidants was this homemade milk bath. I just loved the natural ingredients in it and I struggle with incredibly dry skin in the winter so I thought hey! I made a double batch and also bought pretty containers and placed it into it. It was super easy to make and I am very happy to say since I have made it I have taken two milk baths and I love it. It doesn’t provide much scent which maybe good for some. I wasn’t really looking for a great smell and more to combat dry skin, so it worked perfectly. I would venture to guess an essential oil of your choice would be fine to add. Just make sure it is natural. I wouldn’t want to muck it up with unnatural chemicals. A lavender or lemongrass would probably be really good and probably add some great benefits. I was going to put a pretty ribbon around it like in this one and I even bought it. But once I got it into jars with the measuring utensils I bought I loved the natural look so I left it. This is a great and easy gift to put together for a fairly low cost. I do recommend doing a nice dry milk. I used the vitamin D goat milk to ensure that it had the quality I was after for gifts. I am guessing you could use a generic dry milk, but I am guessing you will lose some of the silkyness that is provided by the higher concentration of fats in goats milk.

I also did several of these color themed gifts for my gifts. I started out shopping for nail polishes that reminded me of my friends and then built their gifts around that. I bought candies, make up bags, manicure stuff all that centered around how I saw their personalities. It was super fun. I even did one for a secret santa exchange for someone I didn’t know that well and went with my old faithful favorite color of purple and I loved it so much. I had a hard time giving it up. The funny thing is it ended up being similar to a first year teacher survival kit which I didn’t intend, but she is a first year teacher so it worked.

A different sort of year in review…

Every year in the blog I do some sort of year end wrap up. This year is different. This year my blog has served a very different purpose than it ever has. It hasn’t documented the every day hum drum of life. It documents some things and some things get left unsaid, but if I do this review right most of the important stuff will easily be remembered.

I saw this on pinterest and thought it was a really interesting take on the year in review and hoping it serves as a walk down memory lane for me.

14587398123_69b593e6a3_z10 Highlights-Accomplishments and Best Memories: 1) Watching my family’s faith, love and strength grow in immeasurable ways. This is not really the way you want it to happen, but I remember in those first days several people tried to tell me if there were some good to come from it all that would be it. I had no idea how it would bond us all. 2) The absolute elation when Dr. Banas here in Fort Wayne told us, “I can’t help you, but I can set you up with the best.” I was so worried our lives would be forever spent in protein shakes ashbday10and pain that I had to sit and witness on an hourly basis. 3) And that moment wasn’t that far from the phone call from Indy from my guy after seeing Dr. Cohen-Gadol he said, “They are getting me in in a week.” 4) Not to be out done by telling my guy 247+ times that they found two compression’s on his brain that were aggravating his trigeminal nerve. It was very groundhog’s day like, but wonderful each and every time. 5) Not every good moment centered around TN, Baby girl # 1 turned 13 and we got her good with a surprise party. 6) #2 was picked to help compose a musical piece for FAME something she saw her sister do and wanted to do since. 7) Getting accepted into the Ball State PhD program. 8) Starting a masters program in communications and rhetoric and learning so many new things that I thought I knew or should know but don’t. 9) #3 starting kindergarten and doing amazing despite concerns since she was our last. 10) The massive amounts of support we received this year from friends and family is hard to utter without losing my breath. We are blessed beyond comparison. 

10 Disappointments-Failures or Missed Opportunities: 1) The biggest by far is having to defer my PhD program indefinitely and I am not sure I will ever feel resolved over this, all I know is I cannot realistically be the student I can and need to be at this point with my guy’s TN. I hope one day it won’t be a regret or missed opportunity when my life looks very 41different. 2) Getting healthier in my life. There is always an excuse for why I need the caffeine I do. This year was my best excuse yet, but I know it is just that…an excuse. An excuse I need to quit making. TN isn’t going anywhere and neither is my busy life. I need to just derive my lack of energy from what I eat. 3) I miss my family a lot. I live two hours + away from them in almost every direction and sometimes it is so hard to pack us all up to leave and go see them. I want to and need to, but I don’t because it is hard. Refer to excuse above. But then when holidays come and I don’t have my mom’s cooking or my grandma’s hugs I feel sad and lonely. I learned a huge lesson this year in the importance of my family and I feel close to them all, but I need to see them more. I realized this weekend that my nieces and nephews are almost adults and how much I have missed on seeing them because it is hard to travel and I don’t like it. 4) Softball season. The second it is over I am sad. The minute it is here I complain about the money, travel and time. I need to get over it because I love the chaos and crazy and family time we get traveling. 5) How much time I spend beating myself up for not looking pretty enough, for not being perfect enough, for not cooking enough, for not being a good enough friend, daughter, mom, wife and the list goes on. I seriously look at social media sometimes and feel so inadequate and I am not sure bf1why. I know my priorities but I still let it kick me in my side every time. 6) The opportunity to spend more time with my guy. I made a promise in the darkest days that our relationship would forever be changed and I would always know just how fragile life is and our relationship. And for the most part I do, but man is it easy to go back into being upset because the toilet seat is up and he stinks at matching socks. 7) Another year has passed and on my priority list I am about at the bottom. This reflects in my health and diet more1d84c-6a019aff3f67ab970c019affb5be14970b-pi than anything. 8) To continue to try and make our lives as normal as possible and realize TN is just another component to this crazy life, it is NOT something I can control. 9) A better garden. I love to garden, but since I have had kids I just let it fall by the wayside. When I have energy (which is seldom) I usually opt for something else beside the garden. It is an awesome family activity and something that my guy and I both love, so why would we not do it? 10) Probably the most important of all of these is to be more forgiving of myself for all the above. You know that saying, “You are your own worst critic” ? Yup that is me. I know my time is limited, as is my energy and I am only one person. I also understand that that can be an excuse, but most of the time it is truth. It is my truth. 

3 Game Changers-Three things that shifted your priorities. 1) The most obvious is my guy’s TN diagnosis. It was piano11devastating, life altering, priority shifting and heart breaking all in one and we went through it twice. 2) Seeing my guy in ICU. I will never ever forget that fragile state and what it did to me. It changed me to the very core. I imagine myself as a quilt being sewn and there is a wrinkle that you find in it after you have sewn it all. That wrinkle is not something you can get out and you just have to find a way to live with it. I feel angry, sad, happy and changed for seeing it. 3) This is a strange one to put into words. But my guy takes care of me. It isn’t in anyway where he takes my independence away from me, but he truly makes my life easier in a whole lot of ways. We have been together for a ridiculously long time and all of that time being taken care of I had to finally stand on my own two feet alone this year. I stood alone in ways I never even dreamed were possible. It was so super scary, but in the end it was so good to see I could. There is an independence within me that I never knew I had.  

3 Things I focused on 1) It is no secret, I am so passionate about what I do for a living. It will always remain one of my steadfast dedications of time. It is mine. I didn’t get it because I know someone. I worked hard for it and I work hard to maintain it. 2) Part of that job was something new I began to focus on. I have always loved theater. That love didn’t change
once I grew up. My love is different than the usual loves of theater though. I love the back stage, the lights the sounds and the chaos. I got to stage manage and light/sound/tech for our school play. I am doing the same for the musical this spring and I am in love all over again. I realized I will always be the silent theater type and I am completely okay with that.
3) My family. We had to really just rely on each other so much because no one can really understand what it is like to watch someone go IMG_0172through what my guy has gone through. I am so grateful for the focus on all three of them. They are amazing little people who are growing up to be amazing big people. 

3 Things You Forgot About1) How much I love to cook. I often cook to relieve stress and get a break. I need to do that more and make more time for it. I have never walked away from cooking being disappointed. 2) More time on me. I need to make time to take care of myself and my needs. It is so hard, but I have too. 3) Photography – I need to remember to take pictures more with more than my cell phone. I love photography, but doing it so much for school I often don’t feel it at home and I need to capture those moments more. They are vital to my existence. 

Reflections for Next YearI need more family time, more time for myself and more focus on the inward and less on the outward. I have an amazing job I love doing what I love doing. I need to focus more on the things that I love to do with my family and for my family. In that I will get more time with my extended family and my immediate family. As we head into TN this January I hope to deal with it with more grace and love than I did last year. I will also be more forgiving of myself if I am not and recognize that the person I love more than anything in this world is hurting and therefore I hurt. I need to be grateful for every single second of my life because I know you aren’t promised anything in life. I need to always remember that love always wins, you just have to let it. 

Baby Girl Updates

Holy cow, how in the world do I have a 13, 10 and 5 year old? When did that happen? Life just does that doesn’t it? I realized yesterday as I was reading my blog that most of my blogs are about Kyle and his TN and not really the original reason that I started this blog so very long ago. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I hate blogging about them the older they get because I just feel like there are things they need to decide to share, not have me share for them.

AshleyBut what Momma can’t tell you the good things about her kiddos? I know I can. I guess I will start with baby girl # 1. She is 13. As in the big teen years have arrived. I always envisioned she would be irritated by me and my presence as she was growing up. But I find that I think she actually enjoys my company more now. She has begun to matriculate to her room and there feels like days we don’t see her. She lives on Instagram and netflix. But that is okay. She is always good for a shopping or movie date. The girl loves movies almost as much as her Momma. Thankfully, we like similar movies, unless they are romantic comedies, then she is out. She is a pretty cool kid and she has officially surpassed me in height. She still struggles with her allergies and asthma and usually they are fairly under control. This fall has been a little different, but I am imagining that is a metabolism change. She has struggled a bit more and meds have had to be readjusted. She also is following her momma in the migraine path. Thankfully, she and I recognized them much earlier than I ever did and she has meds as needed for those. She has been doing amazing at school and seems to absolutely love it. She can’t wait to tell us all about it at the end of the every day. The girl is super smart too! Scared sometimes to make mistakes, but super easy going personality.

Then we have the beautiful #2 who although she looks just like her Daddy is just like her Momma. She is my kindred spirit. Sheabbie will be sitting with the family having a normal conversation and just disappear. Once we go looking for her we will find her and she tells us she had a story idea so she just had to go write it down. That is so me. One day I was cleaning up files on the computer and I found a ton of stories written by her and man were they good. I love that about her. She is also super sensitive, but has just absolutely just flourished at the middle school. I was originally worried how the middle school transition would go for her, but she has just done amazing with it and really seemed to have blossomed. She has some truly awesome friends that understand her and seem to love her as much as she loves them. But she loves nothing more than her puppy and her family. Roxie has proven to be quite therapeutic for her and she has taken much responsibility for her care. It has made them especially close. She also is doing amazing in school. Ironically, both of the girls made it to the final rounds of their grade level spelling bees and will be competing against one another in the school wide competition after break. # 1 tends to be a natural at academics, as in she doesn’t need to really study, but number # 2 obsessively studies. We sometimes have to make her stop. So we shall see how this goes for the two of them. She has such a fun loving personality, but don’t fire her up. If you do you will know it.

anna1Then we have baby girl # 3. She also seems to be following in the path of her sisters academically. Thankfully, we put her into school younger. She had met all of the kindergarten benchmarks at their first round of testing in the fall. However, socially she is right where she needs to be. This was something we kind had to maneuver around with the other two. We wanted to get it perfect this go round and it seems we have. We did worry a little that it was too hard for her. The rigor of an all day classroom, not necessarily the academics. She would come home and just crash and if she didn’t crash you would wish she had because dang she was a treat to live with. But it all adjusted out and she loves it. I do wish that half day were an option, but in our state it really is not unless you want to pay heftily for it. She to is also flourishing. She is making friends and is in love with school and her teachers. She hates missing which is a tough when she is sick or there is a delay. Her first delay day she through a fit that I was driving her to school. I told her no one would be there and she did not understand. Clearly she is at that state where you believe your teacher and school staff live at school. She so very inquisitive now and obsessed with figuring out how the world works. She also identifies the stories people tell on the radio or in person as fiction or non-fiction. It is quite humorous.

I am so ridiculously proud of all three of them and how wonderful each of them are each in their own ways and the cool things they bring to the world. I am so proud of them with how they have handled this past year. It has not been easy. In fact, I know when they look back it will be incredibly hard, but they have been amazing little people that are growing into even more amazing big people. I know that we didn’t create that amazingness ourselves. They are surrounded by love, laughter, awesome supportive friends and family who love them unconditionally and support each and every single move they make. We are so very lucky and blessed to be parents to these beautiful people.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours! This year our family wore teal and sent out teal focused Christmas cards to support Trigeminal Awareness. We also raised $ throughout the year in different ways to send to http://www.facingfacialpain.org/

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Life is what you make of it.

The E clan has been perpetually sick since Thanksgiving. It has been one thing after another. In the fourish weeks since Thanksgiving some one in my house has ran a fever, puked, been puked on, had a headache, had a stomachache, had breathing treatments, passed out, had nerve pain, a root canal and multiple cavities filled, braces worked on and teeth pulled, had an earache has slept almost 24 hours and had the flu (the illness not the stomach version). christmas2014m

It doesn’t take rocket science for me to know it was kinda our own doing. Stress will kick you in your butt and keep kicking. Those last two weeks before school got out my guy and I were literally grasping through the hours. We just wanted to get through them and not get the dreaded call from school that one of the girls were sick. Or have to finagle classroom subs because we were sick. All of which happened and we survived.

But by the time we got there I knew it was so very important that we re-evaluate why things were so rough this fall. The stress of my going back to school has disrupted the schedule. The stress of trigeminal neuralgia and trying new meds. And somehow both of our jobs have been incredibly stressful this year both for very different reasons. Add in sports schedules, a play, piano practice and a myriad of stuff and it was a perfect storm of not enough sleep, not enough healthy eating and too much caffeine to survive for me. I am trying to revamp it all because not much is changing for the spring semester.

Kyle got into the neurologist with Goodman Campbell who Dr. Cohen likes to work with. He sees him either the 16th or 19th. I am not sure because I don’t have it here in front of me. They added additional neurotin to his meds and with it has come some memory issues. Mostly they are just entertaining at this point, but he is on the same dosage as last year before the surgery. Thankfully, this year he doesn’t have all the other meds added in. But it is still frightening that we are here again. I can say two things for sure, he can eat which is not at all where we were this time last year. In fact, I remember us struggling because Santa could not eat his cookies last year. The other is that his pain is not where it was last year. It has returned to the surgical side and it is also on the right side. Last year his pain was off the charts. He is not there now. He is having the shocks on both sides and the constant numbing like pain. Again migraines have been pretty well controlled and really only flare when he is crazy tired.

FamilyphotoI am hoping in January we have more of a plan of action and idea of where he is headed. He struggles (we struggle) with the meds. They make him so tired. They steal his memory. They age him. Their side effects right now aren’t outweighing their benefits for now. That is why it is so important for me to control that above chaos as much as I can. Calm and peace are so important.

But finding it is the difficult task when you are raising kids and you are in the midst of prime of your life. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and not even realize it until you are dropped down into a mess of stress/life induced illnesses. I guess you could say a new year’s resolution, but it isn’t really that. It is more about admitting to defeat that we did this fall semester did not work for us. And us has to be a priority because life is what you make of it.

And we gotta make it better. We know that. As big of an advocate as I am for my husband it is so easy for me to let myself drown in the daily ongoings of TN and I just can’t do that. My girls need to see and have us function as normal as we possibly can. Therefore, I intend to do my best to make this life better.