Friday, April 30, 2010

You Capture- Spring (Again)

The challenge- Spring! Do not adjust your monitors, I seriously said spring again. I’m giving you a challenge within a challenge. Find spring but find it differently this week, seek out different subjects, different colors, fresh angles, new perspectives! Open your eyes and capture something NEW that means SPRING to you.

Well, this is my NEW tattoo, and it is pretty "springy" :)
It's my artful showcase of my kidney donor scars. We are now 5 months post op!

Timing is everything!

So, I went to the new school to register today, the class is full! I am now the first person a waiting list to get into the school that I am so sure that we are meant to be a part of. God is testing me on this one!! Do I have faith there will be a spot for Acilia next year when the year begins? That's what I feel pulled to do, but goodness that's scary!!

On another note all together, after my meeting with Pastor yesterday, I shopped the book sale that was going on at church. There was a book that I kept going back to. I wasn't sure fully *why* it was pulling me, but I went with it, and bought it. It's one of those "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books. I flipped through it last night and noticed they have a spot on their website where you can submit stories for future editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul books. This excited me!! I have been so eager to get the story of our transplant journey out there for all eyes to see and this was my ticket in to doing just that!
I get online and start checking this out. I found a book that our story would fit quite nicely into. The kicker? The deadline happened to be in less than 24 hours!!! I decided to challenge myself and put together a short story about our journey! I have completed it and will be submitting it later today!
Wanna read it? I thought you would!
Here ya go:

My name is Karrie, I refer to myself as Al's wife. My husband spent three of the five years we have been married on dialysis. Every experience in my life never could have prepared me for the whirlwind our marriage has been. I am grateful to have been blessed with such a unique journey.
Al and I were friends through high school before we started dating. During the course of our friendship I learned that Al had a kidney transplant as a child.
Two years after we started dating, we found ourselves pregnant with our first child. Al chose our baby shower to surprise me with a wedding proposal! Our daughter was fifteen months when we got married and we were knee deep in renovating our first house. I still joke to this day how we did everything backwards. Got pregnant, bought the house, then got married. Luckily for us, it was working. We had successfully completed the renovations on the house and we were moved in and settled nicely as a family of three. Al was working hard as an electrician. He was so dedicated to his work and to providing a stable income that it almost went unnoticed that Al's body started to object to his tough work ethic. He was feeling and looking run down. We thought for sure it was a result of working long hours. One day a cousin of mine brought to our attention that Al's coloring wasn't right. Her worry alarmed us. I made an appointment for Al to get blood work done. The news came three days later, news we could not possibly have prepared ourselves for. Al's transplanted kidney, which had served his body for nearly fifteen years was only functioning at 10%. Our lives changed within five minutes. Al was hospitalized and put on dialysis immediately. We were young, we had a young child, and we were newlyweds. How could this be happening?
Al and I had to work hard to settle into our new lives. We had a huge dialysis machine next to our bed and thousands of pounds worth of solution delivered to our house in boxes each month. Our house and our lives were taken over by dialysis. Al continued to work to support our family, I tried to help him remember that he was a strong young man, instead of a man that felt like he was dying.
We started trying for baby number two, because we decided not to put our lives on hold while waiting for a kidney. Within two months I was pregnant! What a welcome distraction! Nine months passed, and we delivered a healthy baby boy! We were in our glory raising two beautiful children.
Time passed and Al was getting sick more often. Extreme heartburn was plaguing Al so intensely that he was vomiting regularly. To top it off Al came down with appendicitis and had to be hospitalized to have an appendectomy! The stress in our lives started to build and he was taking it out on me. We went through a terribly rough time in our relationship. Finances were tight, stress was high, our relationship was struggling. Al was feeling sick all of the time, I was feeling the burden of having a disabled husband, and in the meantime we were raising our children to think that dialysis was a normal part of life.
We began the journey of being proactive about finding our own donor. We just couldn't sit and wait for our number on the list to come up. I posted an ad on Craigslist. Sounds crazy right? Who asks for a kidney on Craigslist? The funny thing is, I got the idea from someone else that had done it and was a “success story”! Within 24 hours I was contacted by a single, young woman who was very interested in helping us! We praised God for what seemed to be a perfect scenario! We began chatting and getting to know one another, we even met her in person. She went through all of the donor testing and things seemed to be checking out great! The final step came and the rug was pulled from under us! She could not be Al's donor and it broke all of our hearts! You may be asking why I didn't get tested? I had a sick husband, we had two kids and a household to run, if I got tested and I was a match, that would mean we would both be going through surgery simultaneously. What if something went wrong? What if recovery took a long time? Who would take care of the kids? Who would run the house? Who would pay the bills? All of these questions swirling through my mind, but something was still urging me deep down to get tested. What did I have to lose? What are the odds that I would be a match anyway right? There are five stages of testing. As a donor a complete health history is taken, blood work and urine tests are performed and, and, and... the news came about a month after my testing began. Would you believe, I was Al's match? We were literally living under the same roof, not blood related, just husband and wife, and W E W E R E A M A T C H! I never get tired of sharing that great news! I get the excited deep in my gut feeling every single time I share that God is so good news! December 3rd 2009 came. The day of transplant. All that time and anticipation and it past us in the blink of an eye! God orchestrated all of this and we are just thankful that he blessed us in such a phenomenal way! We went in on a Thursday morning at 5:45 am. We didn't sleep the night before...nerves, anxiety, excitement, everything balled into one! I was scheduled for surgery at 7:30 am. I recall getting the oxygen mask and then there is nothing to remember. I was out and before I knew it my eyes were fluttering open in recovery. The rest of the day I could not keep my eyes open. So tired, so out of it. The day is truly a blur. I hear there was a lot of hustle and bustle about Al that night. Surgery was supposed to be three to four hours... it ended up being about eight hours! When all was said and done, Al was stable and recovering, with a NEW...WORKING...KIDNEY!!!! The surgeon told us at one point that he urinated over a liter in the operating room! This may sound odd to mention, but for us it was a huge milestone! Al had not urinated in over two years. Think about it, something you do countless times throughout your life, something you take as "just part of the day", take it away. Imagine what that would be like. Then imagine that being what proves that the kidney inside of you is functioning! It's pretty exciting isn't it??
It's amazing what God does with our Earthly resources!! The fact that we are born with two kidneys, but only truly need one to function completely normal, leads me to believe that we are all meant to find a kidney recipient and share the gift of life!
As I share this story with you, we are four months post transplant, we are both feeling great! I believe we give true meaning to the saying “Match Made in Heaven!”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ahhhh, sweet signs of God all around

We have been agonizing over the last few weeks! Last time I posted about Acilia and school, it was pretty apparent we had a plan that was set to move forward. Well, that plan shattered when we decided public school is not for us. Ugh! Journey of exploration begins! It's not just as simple as finding a new school, it's also finding a match for Al from the church angle. I will lovingly say he is not a church goer. I can't blame him. I spent the better part of my life getting nothing out of going to church. I get it. I am 100% different now!! The Holy Spirit has touched my heart, and I actually count down to church day!! I love it, I get a lot from it, and it's actually FUN! I want for Al to be touched the same way I have, because of that, we are exploring other churches in the area. Seeing if anything tickles his heart.
We found a school a little further away than where Acilia attends now, but really, we liked everything we saw!! We visited a church service there as a family and it felt great to be there as a part of the congregation! Something has been holding us back from going and giving the registration check though, so I was committed to exploring all options. Thinking. Thinking. Visiting. Visiting. Agonizing. Agonizing. Discouraging. Discouraging. Praying. Praying.
Today I met with my Pastor. It's always great to meet with him, he gives me great clarity. As much as my meeting helped, I left thinking I was going to have to visit MORE schools in the area, and I just wasn't feeling up to that!! I am confused enough! Adding to the confusion was scary!
Today was a good day, but in the back of my mind, as always, thoughts were stirring. What to do. What to do. More praying. I even talked to my mom a little bit about how hard a decision like this is. I mean, this is our daughter's future! We want it to be a long term decision. I even fretted over the fact that just last year, I was agonizing over whether to stay in my marriage (seriously!) and now, we are agonizing over another H U G E decision! I was complaining about how my mind needs a break!

God blessed us tonight with a clear sign. We have officially been called to this new church and school. Wow!

I went out tonight to a talent show at St. John. Fun night!! Great talent! Al was out too, he was working though, so we had a sitter for Miles so he could get to bed on time. I come home with Acilia to find paperwork for St. John's (church we visited). I didn't give it much though, I thought it was something Al had found in his pile of paperwork and wanted me to do something with it. I go upstairs to greet Al, he asked me if I noticed the loaf of bread sitting on the counter? Hmmmm, come to think of it, I did notice it. He said while our babysitter was here, someone from a church came to our door and gave it to us (take eat, this is the body of Christ) we were also given some brochures, etc. to inform us about the church. I told Al this may be the sign we have been waiting for! We went downstairs in full agreement that if it was from the church we were thinking it was from, then our decision has been clearly made for us, and we know where we are meant to be. Sure enough, it was from the church we had visited. God Speaks!

No more agonizing, no more thinking, no more searching, no more confusion!! A direct answer. We have found our new school. Praise God! Thank you! Amen!

You Capture! - Spring


Spring is my favorite!!!! So much life and beauty all around!!

Nothing like raindrops to say Spring is here!

Lilac bud

Trees blooming Spring. Takes my breath away!

Sure sign of Spring

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How did you get into the business?

I am invigorated and inspired and have real excitement inside of me!! Can you say that about your job?
I will be honest and say the title of this post is a bit off. You see, I am not exactly in the business yet. Heading that way, but not official.
Did you read this post yet? It is partner to the post I am writing now.
Every tale begins with a story. How did you get started? What spoke to you in a way that you were intrigued? I was sitting at a seminar last night, listening to the stories of these ladies up on stage, and I was flabbergasted at the signs that were telling me that *this* is my calling as a new endeavor!

It started a little over a month ago. A cousin of mine invited me to a spa party. How many times have you attended a spa party, or some other party that you went with intentions of hoping you like something enough so you could support the host? I have always gone to these parties with an open mind, and lo and behold something always caught my interest enough to want to purchase. Except once. It was jewelry. Another story for another day :)
I went to this spa party, alone. That's always a task. It's more comfortable to go with a friend. I spent time with my cousins, everyone there, I was related to; yet I felt like an outsider. It was ok, I have learned to be anywhere and just soak up the surroundings. Let God speak to me, to remind me why I am where I am at that very moment.
The spa festivities began and the product was nice. I enjoyed the night, and when I left, I had a little spark inside that had been ignited. I can tell you what it was. It was the list of ingredients that don't belong in your products. (I listed the ingredients in this post) It hit me like a ton of bricks!! I went home and immediately started looking at the list of ingredients on each of my products, and wouldn't you know, atleast one off the list was included on each and every one!
It's in "fashion" these days to be more green, to take better care of your "whole self". Most companies are out to make money. This company was different. They are out to make a mark. They are out to inspire, they are out to put only pure products on the pages of their catalogue. That speaks volumes to me! I immediately called the consultant that was at the party that night (also a cousin of mine) and let her know my interest was peaked, what else could I learn about it?? She invited me to a seminar. The clincher was it wasn't for a month! Anyone that knows me, knows I am rather impulsive! I get excited about things, then as time passes, it tapers off. A month is a long time, but I put it on my calendar and vowed to make it! The month passed, and I will admit I wasn't nearly as excited when the time came to go to the seminar, but I went anyway. I got there when I was told to get there, I looked all around me and soaked it all in. I met with my cousin, the consultant who had invited me. She showed me to the seats that had been saved for us. We sat in the second row. I had no idea the buzz that was made around the speaker for the evening. I had no idea who she was, no idea what she looked like. No idea that she happened to be sitting RIGHT in front of me with her husband. No idea that when she shook my hand that it would mean so much more after I heard her speak. Ah, the joys of hindsight :)
The seminar began with three ladies that went up on stage. It was a mom and two daughters. The mom began speaking. She stated what her life was like 6 years ago. (Pre Arbonne changing her life) She was living in "hunter's land" wearing overalls and birkenstocks. Using bar soap for cleanser. She was skeptical when Arbonne was introduced to her, she made a joke that she lived amonst hunters, how could she possibly sell them lipstick?! Reminded me of my dear mother, who is skeptical down to every pore! The two daughters spoke up about their skepticism as well. One of the daughters entertained me; she mis-spoke a few times, causing the audience to laugh. Her quirks with speaking showed we had some similarities! She teared up when she talked about the day she brought her first born daughter home. 11 months earlier she was working multiple jobs to provide for herself and her husband. They were regularly eating tuna for dinner because that's all they could afford! Perspective came when she brought her daughter home in a white Mercedes. (One of the perks of Arbonne, you can earn a Mercedes of your choice!) Skepticism doesn't get you the things that releasing fear gets you. Next came the speaker of the night. Rita Davenport. Look her up! She's got multiple inspirational books, she has a list a mile long of credentials and she has been a part of Arbonne for 23 years.
Rita began speaking and I was immediately captivated by her speaking talents! She had gotten the attention of the entire room with her quick wit and stories! She didn't even skip a beat when there was an emergency in the audience. Someone passed out and she immediately changed tune; asked everyone to remain in their seats calm and pray. That brought her to a whole new level of connection for me. I respect so much when someone is able to boldly declare their heart in a tender moment.
After the emergency, I was so impressed with the ice breaker! Rita shared a personal story with us all about a time that she broke her arm in a store. The paramedics were called and she noted how it's impossible to find a medic who is not good looking! One of them asked her what she does for a living. She felt that cute medic boy wouldn't know what "Arbonne was" so she let him know she's an exotic dancer. Whoa good laugh from the crowd on that one! Good answer!! Gonna need to remember that one in the future! She said she had great support from all the medics and highly recommended using that line in the future! Brought us back to why we were there, such a great segway. The rest of her talk left me tearing up numerous times, not because I was sad, but because I was so sure I was in the exact right place. All the things that have been happening recently, have left me feeling as though my life has a lot of changes coming. Many of which are out of my control. I had control over that night. I had chosen to be there, and I am choosing to move forward on this adventure, because I feel deep down it's something worth believing can change my life.

I furiously took notes, trying to soak it all in. I leave you now with a few great quotes that I was able to take away from the evening!

"Never be too big. Never be too little"
"If you keep doing what you are doing, you are going to keep getting what you are getting"
"There is a four letter word for someone that says "no" to you- N E X T!"
"Make more to give more"
"Get your ASK in gear!"

I ask you to dare to dream! Dare to claim a future that you can really be proud of. Hard work will pay off. Will Arbonne be for you? I can be confident you will find a product you like. I hope that you get from it, what I have gotten from it! It's not just lipstick, it's a community of people that want to help you succeed!!
I absolutely can not wait to be a part of this!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Did I tell you I write poetry?

It's been ages since I've been inspired to write a poem. A very very very dear friend of mine was pregnant and miscarried. I've been thinking about her, praying for her, and was also inspired to write this:

The road twists and turns
the hills, the ebbs, the flows.
know that every step
there is God who knows just what you need,
happy times, hard times.
days that seem like they couldn't possibly get worse
nights that are endless with thought, worry, nightmares
sun will shine, just wait it out
there is a day that will bring no doubts.
dear friend you know I am always here
to lend a shoulder, or listening ear.
so rest comforted and surrounded by love
You will find peace from up above.


Stop what you are doing, and pick up some of the products that you use, whether you put them on your face (cosmetics, cleansers, lotions) or use them on your skin, or ingest them....
Read the ingredients. If any of the products you are using have the ingredients listed below in them. Stop using them! They are damaging your skin! I have in my possession the knowledge to share about why these ingredients do *not* belong on your body or worse IN your body, and what you can use instead!!

List of "NO NO" ingredients:
Mineral Oil
Mineral oil is the stabilizing ingredient of many skin formulas. Mineral oil forms a film on the skin, blocking the pores and interfering with normal skin respiration. It may therefore, not only dry the skin, but also be a contributing cause of blemishes!!

Petroleum products do not penetrate the skin, but sit on the surface blocking natural respiration, excretion, and absorption of other nutrients.

Beeswax is a sticky sealant. It attracts pollutants, dirt and bacteria and glues them onto the skin as it seals the pores.

Solvent alcohol
(propyl, isopropyl, SD alcohol.) The alcohols are very drying to the skin.

An oily excretion of sheep, lanolin is a common lubricating ingredient in skin formulas. Extracted from the wool, lanolin has been indicated as a cause of allergic skin reactions in sensitive people.

An animal product. Collagen molecules are too large to penetrate the skin and can therefore clog pores, and in some cases, cause allergic reactions.

Artificial colors
Formulated chemically from a wide variety of sources, artificial colors are known to cause allergic reactions in some people.

Artificial fragrances
Chemical fragrances have been known to create allergic skin reactions and photosensitivity in some people

Animal products
Animal products are NOT used in ARBONNE SKIN CARE!

Now, I will let you in on a little secret. I. Do. Not. Take. My. Excitement. Lightly. If I am excited about something, there is GOOD reason. And when I say there is good reason, I mean there is GOOD REASON! I am floored, I am thrilled, I am shouting from the roof tops! I am offering a link to great products! As put by the ever so amusing Rita Davenport, we have something that takes you from the basket to the casket. Baby products, skin care products, blemish fighters, wrinkle diminishers, COSMETICS, LOTS and LOTS of cosmetics, products for men, vitamins, weight loss system, there is literally something for EVERYONE! And it's NATURAL!!! GOOD FOR YOU!!!! Seriously, doesn't it sound like a dream??
Please, I urge you, if I have ever done anything for you, if I have ever inspired you, if I have ever made you ponder, please, check out .(*PLEASE* DO NOT PURCHASE ANYTHING UNTIL YOU HAVE MY ID) Do it simply because I am asking you to do this favor.
You WILL find a product (or many!!) that you adore. I will get you a sample, if you would like to try before you buy. I must note, the return policy is great! If you do not like it for any reason, it will be replaced, or refunded. I don't want to just tell you about it, I want you to try it, to feel it on your skin, to sense others looking at you and noticing there is something different that you have done. A step you have taken to better care for your one and only: Self. Don't thank me, your body will thank you!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Only in my dreams

As a child I dared to dream about the future to get me through my days! I absolutely could not wait to grow up and be an adult. I spent large portions of my day thinking about what I would do as an adult. Somewhere along the line I stopped dreaming and starting living and I am finding slowly that I am fulfilling the dreams I had as an adolescent!

I used to plan my wedding. Details such as flowers, dress, cakes, etc would be torn from bridal magazines and I would write stories about the details of the day. Things including the age I would be by the time I got married. I believe 2004 the actual year of my wedding, was on target within a few years of what I had envisioned! I never could have dreamed I would have my daughter as my flower girl, but I certainly wanted to be a mom very young, as soon as possible! I idolized women that were pregnant around me and had vivid dreams where I was in labor or walking down the aisle. When I saw the groom, his face was blurred, but all of the other details were completely clear!

I remember spending countless hours sitting at the desk in my room, drawing up floor plans for the house I would have built someday for myself and my family to live in. I loved it! I dreamt about the day I would live in the house I designed, but never "dreamt" it would become real. If that makes sense.

Al and I have spent years talking about our dream house. I have visited open houses for years, and scoured the Internet for homes on the market and truth is, nothing knocks our socks off! We have strict standards for the next house we purchase because we want to plant our roots and stay there for years to come. For some reason the other day the words that left Al's mouth clicked, even though they weren't the first time I'd heard them! He stated he would love to build our dream home! This idea both thrills me and terrifies me! We spent 14 months renovating our current house and it about tore us apart!! He is a man that does it all himself. He's electrical genius/plumber/sander/painter/vaulted ceiling installer/floor repairer/spackler/tile layer/you name it, he can do it! One thing he's not great at is multitasking. Bless his heart!! That's why he has me :) I can multitask like the best of them! The 14 months we spent renovating this home took him away from me and Acilia 7 days a week from sun up to long after sun down. He was carrying a full time job at the time and then going to the house and putting in long hours doing all the work on his own. We have a great house to show for it, but we lived at my parents house at the time. Renovation or anything of the sort, I swore would never enter our lives again! Granted building a home is not renovating, but I fear the similarities!

At this point, I feel as though our lives are on the verge of a whirlwind! I have pictured for years moving closer to my parents house and sending Acilia to the local public school, now it seems as though that path is unclear and we are exploring other options. Dreams can happen, but only if you submit yourself to what comes along the way. It's scary! It's scary! It's SCARY!! I thank God that Al and I are at a place in our relationship where we can discuss our future in a way that is both thrilling and logical and I know deep down he has his family's best interest at heart. He wants the world for me and the kids, and I feel safe that he knows how to get it. The only way to find out what's in store is to walk that path. Did I mention that's scary?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Picture of the Day

I adore everything about this picture!!
Miles exploring tanks

You Capture! - Sweet


So many options, hoping to capture much sweetness for the next week!

Update: Two days before "You Capture! Day" and I had my camera out, I was able to catch some "sweetness"! Enjoy!

"Mommy's little SWEETie"

Something sweet about the formation of these tulips

Awwwwww sweet!

Friday, April 9, 2010

You capture! - Fresh



Fresh and clean baby

Fresh cut peppers

Fresh ingredients for a tasty meal

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

You Capture-Comfort


In sticking with the theme of "Comfort" I share with you a milestone Acilia just achieved. At the age of 6 and 3/4 (particularity is important at that age you know) our little girl is now without training wheels. I must say I was a bit out of my comfort zone at first! She is doing quite well though, she learned within about 10 minutes and has been on a biking frenzy since! Guess she was ready!

Acilia looks pretty comfortable...dontcha think?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Awww, so sad

Statistically speaking, a lot of children have felt anxiety by first grade. A true fact is that I started having severe panic attacks in first grade. Something triggered it. A boy threw up in my classroom. Ugh! I remember the day clearly. I felt like I was going to die, right there, in the middle of the classroom and I just wanted to run! The adrenaline was unreal.
My sweet 6 year old. 1st grade. Described to me, the way a panic attack feels.
We had spring break last week. School resumes tomorrow. It shouldn't have surprised me that today, of all days would trigger some chat before bed. Acilia began asking me if she has school tomorrow. My answer was yes. "Well, what if I'm sick" "Why would you be sick?" "I feel sick at school" "How so?" "Well, my head hurts" "Anything else" "I just feel sick all over" "Where" "In my head, my belly, and I feel embarrassed"
I was glad she could describe it with such clarity. I always tell her that if she talks to me about what bothers her, we can fix it together. We will fix this together. If we have to. She's blessed to have me. Of all people to have as a mom, I "get it" after experiencing 25 years of anxiety.

Easter 2010

The day of Easter was fabulous! We were blessed with beautiful weather, picture wearing winter coats with Easter "sun dresses" and you may be able to envision years past! This year, we prepared by purchasing a sweater for over the dress, didn't need it halfway through the day! What a treat!!
So we awoke, the kids hunted for eggs, we attended church, went to my parent's house for a tasty dinner with my grandma. It was her first year without grandpa. Sadly I remember them being together at last year's Easter like it was yesterday. I believe that was the last holiday we were able to celebrate with him. We are left only with our memories of him and what an amazing man he was. Grandma seemed to enjoy her time with us. Glad we could bring her some good food and good company. Many credits to my mom for a great meal and for hosting us!!
After dinner, we were off to my aunt and uncle's house. They always open their doors in the most hospitable way. Great day and great night! Both kids fell asleep in the car on the way home :*)