A Decade Later


Ten years ago today I had a bone-scan done.  I was about 5 months into a 6 month span of time that had me in the doctor's office frequently for one reason or another.  One of those issues started when, on a February morning, I rolled over to turn the alarm clock off and I reached across with my left hand and a loud and excruciating pop came from my chest.  I laid there for several minutes trying to catch my breath and let the pain clear away, which it eventually did.

I got up and got dressed for my classes and then later to work that afternoon but the area in the center of my chest cavity was still extremely sore and achy.

I gave it a few days to go away and when it didn't, I made an appointment with the Dr's office because I noticed that a few of my ribs in the upper part of my rib-cage were now sticking out further than normal. 

Exams and X-rays ensued with little clarification as to what had happened or was going on, so I was scheduled for a Bone-scan on February 27th.  I got up that morning and drove to get the shot.  (They give you a shot of a radioactive...something...so problem areas show up better on the scan.) 

Let's just WebMD it, shall we?  I'm usually against looking anything up on WebMD because of the panic it typically creates, but just this once.
"For a bone scan, a radioactive substance is injected into a vein in your arm. This substance, called a tracer, travels through your bloodstream and into your bones. This could take several hours.

A special camera takes pictures of the tracer in your bones. Areas that absorb little or no amount of tracer appear as dark or "cold" spots. This could show a lack of blood supply to the bone or certain types of cancer.

Areas of fast bone growth or repair absorb more tracer and show up as bright or "hot" spots in the pictures. Hot spots may point to problems such as arthritis, a tumor, a fracture, or an infection."  (Source:  Web MD)
So, we're all caught up. 

I got the shot/tracer, drove back to campus, went to my classes and then drove back to the hospital (20 minutes away) and had the bone scan.  My family and my then-best friend met me there and sat in the waiting room while I laid on the table and let the machine work its way from my toes on up through my body.

I watched the screen as various colors came up on the screen, purples, blues and greens mostly, if I remember right.  Then we got up to where I was having the issues, right at my sternum and the whole rainbow came into play.  Yellow, orange, red.  Whatever it was, it looked mean and angry compared to the rest of the screen.

So I asked the tech more about it.  "What is that?"  "What could that mean?"  "What does it typically represent?"

Of course, he's just the tech and he told me that and told me that the tests are run for any number of reasons but given my issues, he would expect that it's being run to "rule out the possibility of a tumor".

While I appreciate his wording he used, I heard his whole statement but I really only listened to the very last word.

Tumor.

I'm looking at the screen and this angry mass of color is right at my sternum and spread out right across where my heart is, which--if you ask me--is a very vital organ.

I left the hospital and went to work and then to my apartment where I spent what would then be the longest night of my life alone.  (It's now the second longest night of my life.  That record would be short-lived as a month later I would lay--but not sleep--on the cold, hard hospital floor next to my cousin's hospital bed.  I'll do an "A Decade Later" post on that one next month.)

I slept that night only because I cried myself to sleep.

But the next day was a new day and also my sister's 22nd birthday.

And it was the day we got a good report back from the doctor.  Whatever was going on, it was not a tumor or cancer.  At that point I didn't care what it was or even that it was bothering me because it wasn't the worst case scenario.

We'd do a few more tests and the doctor was able to determine that one side of my ribs had grown ever-so-slightly longer than the other side and the morning that I felt the pop, I had turned my body at the right angle, reaching across my body, and my sternum popped and dislocated a couple of ribs which was resulting in the angry red-yellow coloration on the bone scan that was revealing some resulting arthritis.

My chest still pops when I move just right, especially in cooler weather, and my ribs still stick out a bit more than the others, but it's not visually noticeable. 

Ten years ago I was worried if I'd have one more year and what it would be filled with.  Ten years later I'm thankful for every single moment in between.  The heartache, the joys, the tears, the trials and the many, many blessings.

Ten years later, again on my sister's birthday (her real birthday this time, the 29th) we have a family member going through the same thing.  They'll be going on the 29th for some tests and procedures and on the 1st for the results.  And even though I've been through it before and even though I know that everything will be alright, it doesn't make it less scary.

So, if you will, take a moment and say a little prayer, today, on the 29th and on the 1st and every moment you think of it in-between.

But don't worry, you won't have to wait ten years for an update on this one. 
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

Battle of the Bilge


Last week (On Valentine's Day, actually), I saw a friend's Facebook status that I absolutely loved.  It said, simply and perfectly, what I've said over and over again--to myself and others--about words.
Be careful with your words.  Once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.
For anyone who's read me for any period of time, you know this is a topic that I bring up over and over and over again over the past ten (plus) years.  Sometimes because I think others need to see it, but also because I need to write it for me.

Again, anyone who's read me for any period of time knows that I sometimes shoot off at the mouth (or keyboard) when I shouldn't.  I try to be conscious of it and--believe it or not--I really edit what I actually write from what I really want to write.  I also try to be conscious of when I write things.  Timing is everything, which is why I'm writing this blog this week, instead of last weekend as I had originally planned to when I first found this quote.

Pearl Strachan Hurd
But this is one of those topics that we all need because we all need to remember how powerful our words are.

As a country we're gaining an awareness of the damage that words can do as it relates to bullying, and thank goodness we are!  Children will never learn to stand up and speak up for themselves if the adults don't set that example for them!

But what about words that aren't considered bullying?  The words that we say in anger?  The words that we say without thinking?  What about the words we think we're justified in saying?  (Yes, I did just imply that we actually have no right to use our words to intentionally hurt others, even if we feel justified.)

Don't worry, I just stepped on my own toes, too.

But does saying these things we say actually do us any good?  I mean, yes, we get the (very brief and often unrewarding) satisfaction of saying what we think at that very moment.  But then we get to deal with the fallout of those words.  Because as much as we'd like to think we can say what we want and then just apologize it away when we're calmed down...those words don't go away just like that. 

Just as a physical wound would have to heal, a verbal wound takes time, too.  And the deeper the cut, the longer it takes and the more likely it will leave a scar.

And not only do we hurt others with the things we say...we hurt ourselves, too.  Our words show who we really are in these moments just as clearly as our actions do. 

Don't believe me?  Read Luke 6:45.
"The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."
What can be clearer than that?  If I speak evil it's because I have evil in my heart.  If I speak good, it's because I have kindness in my heart.  What I say to others reveals to them the true nature of my heart.  It also reveals to them how I really feel about them.  When we love someone and we don't want to hurt them, we bite our tongues.  When someone matters to us, we show it by what we do and don't say.  So when I speak hatefully and hurtfully to someone, I'm giving them the non-verbalized message that it means more to me to say whatever I want to say than that person actually means to me.

That's why we have a rule in our house.  "I'm sorry but..." is not allowed.

"I'm sorry, but" doesn't mean you're actually sorry.  It means "I know I shouldn't say this, but I don't respect you enough not to say it."

So "I'm sorry, but" isn't an option.  It's outlawed.

But even still, we're not perfect.  No couple is.  So there are times that one of us will pop off something in anger that we really, truly don't mean.  But we're getting better about owning up to it.  And the sooner the better, because the longer that hurtful words are hanging out there in the air...the more damage they do.  And some words do irreparable damage.

So my goal is to watch my words, not as they leave my mouth but before.  My goal is to encourage others to watch theirs.  My goal is to put their feelings and my love for them above my need/want to be heard because the people in my life are there because I love them.  Just saying "I love you" isn't the only way that I should be telling them that. 



Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits. 
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.


That's what careless words do.  They make people love you a little less.
Arundhati Roy

Words are pale shadows of forgotten names.  As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in minds of men.  Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.
Patrick Rothfuss



Did I touch a nerve?  Don't take it personally.  Life applies to us all.

Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

Ethics Applied to Real Life


I spent the day in Continuing Education classes.

It's a necessary evil.

And most of the time (web CE excluded) it can be pretty enjoyable.

Today was the day that made up for any of the instances where it's not.

Because today was a blast.  The topics of two of the classes were restoration.  One was Mold Restoration and the other was Textiles Restoration.  And to end the day we had our Ethics class.

There's no dressing up Ethics.

It takes a lot of work to make ethics interesting.  Much less fun.  But our instructor today did all that and more. We had the best time.

And I even took something home with me.  Aside from the intended requirements.

Because in the course material I read this:


And then I re-read it.  Except when I re-read it, I read it as:
"If we, as individuals, conclude that relationships are a cut-throat world where anything goes and ethics (or manners) go out the door, then relationships (and faith in each other) suffer and individuals will begin to think and act in a defeatist way."
Why did I read it that way?

Because I've been there.  Remember how this blog started out?  A single mom who believed pigs would have to fly before she would find a man worth marrying.  And I remember all too well how I got there.

But it's not just me.  I've seen example after example of how this applies to our personal lives.  Be it romantic relationships, friendships or even family relationships.  It's not something only I have felt.  And it's not something I've only been on the receiving end of.  If I totaled the number of friendships I've had throughout my life and the number of friendships I maintain....my batting average would be at the bottom of the boards.  And that's every bit as much my fault as it is anyone else's.  (Possibly more, I am horrible at keeping in touch.)

But it takes two.
And if both sides commit, equally and fairly, to a healthy relationship where only what's right goes and necks are hugged instead of slit....good things happen.  Because that's how it's meant to be.

We should give to our friends, family and spouses the same that we give in our professional lives.  They are, after all, far more important in the grand scheme of things.  Do what's right and do what's good.  Take care of those who matter.  Because ethics aren't just for business.

They're a type of continuing education we all need.
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

Disclaimer


Unless directly stated, no comments or statements on this blog site are directed at any specific individuals or situations.

I do not believe in calling people out or airing dirty laundry in a public forum, much less an international once-it's-out-there-it's-forever-there type of forum.  If I have an issue with a person or a situation, I prefer to figure out how to get over it myself, or take it to the person/people involved and handle it as adults (when possible).  Only the best things in life deserved be detailed and made immortal in writing.

However, since life is life and I write about my life, there are sometimes topics that I write about that may, in some-way, connect to things that have happened either recently or in the past.  Therefore, this disclaimer:  just because I write about a topic does not mean I am connecting it or aiming it at any single person.  I write about it because I believe in what I'm saying or I feel the need to say or share it.

I am not the person to take jabs or stabs at others through statuses, posts or ugly comments.  So if there is anything that you perceive in that way, please know that it is not my intent to make you feel guilty.

We're all human, we all make mistakes.  I might be writing about a mistake that I have made myself, which has a lot to do with many of my posts.  That's how I learn and grow and reinforce the behaviors I hope to cultivate within myself.
There are some topics that you will see on this blog site frequently.  Behavior, manners, respectability, and--perhaps most frequently--words.  I don't write about these because I'm superior than anyone else in these respects (or anything else), I write about them because I feel strongly about it and I have the right to. 

For years I've hesitated to write or not written at all about things that I believe in because I've felt a disclaimer was necessary so that others didn't think that I was writing about them, which would make someone feel all the more that I really was.  But since I write about things that I, myself, am guilty of, I will no longer not write about things just because others are guilty of them as well.  I never like double-standards, anyway.

And finally, if anything I write offends you, you're free to stop reading at any time.  I know that sounds extremely rude, but I'm past the point of writing for the purpose of gaining readers or pleasing others.  If I felt that need I would have written different material in an attempt to get published.  And while I don't rule that out in the future...it's not what I need this blog for right now.  This blog is for me to be me, so if you can't be respectful you don't need to be here.
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

And they're off!


Day two of the early morning walks is complete!

And I'm still alive!

Funny how you just know you'll die if you have to get up and *gasp* do something good for yourself that involves sleep loss, discomfort, or loss of time to just sit and be lazy.

But guess, what?  I'm still living!  It defies logic, right?

And even more, I'm really enjoying it!

Not only do I feel a lot more productive (really!  I typically would never whip that word out before 10 a.m. but I already feel like I've accomplished a bit!), but I get some girl time in that I typically only get at work.  And visiting time at work is limited because...well, it's work and we have work to do.

It's 6:45 a.m. and typically I would have gotten up, showered, gotten semi-dressed and plopped in front of the computer until Ty's alarm went off, and then I would have gotten him up and gotten his clothes out.  That's where I would be on a normal day right now.

Instead, I've gotten up, gotten exercise clothes on, brushed my teeth, went for a nice walk with one neighbor friend, visited with another neighbor on the way home, gotten some coffee started, taken a shower, gotten fully dressed, made and ate a breakfast sandwich, gotten the boy up, dressed and his teeth brushed (he's decided to eat breakfast at school today or I'd have to get that going for him, too), his shoes on and all I have left to do for me is slip on some shoes, fix my hair and makeup and then get out the door by 7:20.

Definitely doable.

And I'll have time to get another cup of coffee in there, too.

Not only am I still alive.  I think this is going to work out better than I expected.
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

Accountibili-Buddy


Step One:  Accountability

Check.

I have a walking buddy. 

And one less excuse for why another day has or will pass without me getting off my duff and getting back into shape before my shape evolves further from what it was.

So, tomorrow, at 5:30 a.m. the adventure begins.

Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

Tyisms: Party Planning


We were stopped at a stoplight on the way to school this morning and--like he does every day--Ty's looking around, reading various signs on stores and banks around that intersection.We're just starting to move when he looks over and reads “Party Planning” outloud.  He stops and thinks for a second and then he excitedly tells me, “Mama!  We can go there to get stuff for my birthday!”

Me:  “No, Bud.  That’s not for birthday parties.  That’s for grown up parties.”

Ty:  “Cause they smoke in there?”

Me:  “No, that’s the Liquor Store, Bud.  They sell alcohol there.”

Ty:  "Oh.  You're right.  We don't want to go there."
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

Recipes | Cheesy Pizza Dip & Pizza Crust Dippers



Cheesy Pizza Dip and Pizza Crust Dippers
From Paula's Best Dishes Episode:  Cravin' Italian

Ingredients
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup Italian sausage
1/2 cup chopped Canadian bacon
1/2 cup chopped pepperoni
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon (6-10 slices
      depending on thickness of bacon)
Pizza crust dippers (recipe follows)

Directions


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium eat.  Add the mushrooms, peppers and onions.  Cook until the vegetables are tender, 5 to 6 minutes.

In a skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Add the sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon, Canadian bacon, and pepperoni.  Cook until the sausage is done and no longer pink.

Add the cream cheese and stir to melt and combine.  Stir in the Italian seasoning and bacon.

Spoon the mixture into a 1-quart baking dish.  Bake until dip is browned and bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes.  Serve the dip with the Pizza Crust Dippers.

Pizza Crust Dippers


Ingredients
2 (12.8 ounce) cans refrigerated pizza crust dough
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon grated Romano


Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

On a clean, flat surface, unroll the dough.  Brush the dough evenly with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with cheese (I also sprinkled with Italian seasoning).  Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 2 by 3-inch rectangles (I cut mine into smaller, 1 by 2-inch rectangles).  Place on prepared baking sheets.  Bake until lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

And then it happens


My boy came home with his first broken heart yesterday.

Of course, as a parent, you know it's inevitable.  But you think you're safe when your child's only in first grade.

And then it happens.

"Gracie broke up with me today."

I evaluated him as I processed the unexpected news.  He looked okay.  A little down, but not torn up.  So we discussed it and I encouraged him to see if they could still be friends even if he's not her boyfriend.  After all, this is the girl that only a few months ago he claimed to be "the sweetest girl I ever met, besides you, Mama."

Plus, she didn't seem to be a gold-digger like the previous one who (in October, I believe) told him that she could only be his girlfriend if he got her a Pink Nintendo DSi for Christmas.

Come bedtime--as often happens--he was even more down about it than he was earlier.  Most of it was being overtired (which we've all been this week), but he broke my heart in two when he cried "but now she won't be my best friend anymore!"

And so Mama cried, too.
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.

Kidisms: A Happy Heart


When you have kids, you coin all sorts of new phrases for your family.

Cute things that they say, misprounounce or can only explain with the simplest--and often most accurate--of words.  Siblings and relatives earn nicknames that children make when they're little often stick around for years, if not for life.  Mispronounciations become the new normal.

Like last year when Ty referred to cursive writing as cursula when a little girl he was sweet on taught him how to write some letters in "cursula".

Or my nephew referring to dinosaurs as "saurie".  That's now what they are.  And they probably will still be "sauries" when he's old enough to beg us to quit calling them that!

One of my favorite phrases Ty has given me is one that he told me when he wasn't even 2 years old yet.  We had barely lived in our own house, just the two of us, for a few months and in a sweet moment with him he looked up at me and told me "You make my heart happy."

Of course I melted all over the floor and vowed to remember that forever.

I have my "Tyisms" tab on this blog just for such things like that.  The little things he says that I want to always remember.

But that one phrase has always stuck with me.  What a perfectly simple way to explain how love feels.

What's your favorite "kidism" and why?
Ashley Wife & Mom

Ashley is a thirty-something wife and mother of two boys. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as reading and decorating their home. Her blogging adventures began in 2006 as a single mother and have carried on through marriage and a new life with a husband, a ten-year-old, and an infant.