Checking in...

Summer is here and I'm in the middle of a whole lot of stuff.

First, I'm finishing up my travel agent course.  I have three units left before I take my TAP (Travel Agent Proficiency) exam: Cruises and Rails and Cars, Computers and Travel (should be easy), and Computer Reservation Systems.

Second, the kids have ONE day of school left. We're not gonna get it done today because I don't feel well and I had a doc appointment this morning but tomorrow for sure.

Third, the doctor appointment was a follow-up visit.  Back in February, I was having some severe stomach pain.  Turns out the anti-inflammatory meds I take for my neck was irritating my stomach.  The meds, combined with a hiatal hernia, led to some pretty nasty gastritis.  I'm much better, but I'm not well.  I can't eat citrus fruit at all (which are my favorites), salsa is a big no-no, and I have to put a lot of milk in my coffee to offset the acid.

Next, even though I haven't finished my travel agent course, I've already started my business.  I joined World of Magic Travel a few days ago as an independent travel agent and I'm training there for the various vendors and suppliers.

Lastly, we finished up our second year of Girl Scouts last month but there's planning to be done for next year.

Back to School

Every now and again, I’ve gotten the urge to start a business.  I’ve played around it.  I’ve even written about it, but I haven’t done anything about it.  I think that it’s time for that to change.
So a few months ago, I decided to go back to school to learn how to be a travel agent.  Yeah, I didn’t expect that either.
I need to work.  I need to keep busy. I need direction. If I can do all that and have a good time, then I’ll be doing something significant. 
My plan is to finish my class, get a professional certification, and then find a nice host agency.  In travel, your host agency is kind of like how a hairdresser rents a chair. I’ll get to take advantage of their infrastructure, but I’ll be bringing in business.  How?  I don’t have a clue.  I’m still working on that.

Loomed Bracelet

I took a class this past weekend on creating bracelets using a loom.  I am HOOKED!!  These are fun and gorgeous!

I made the first one at my class and then came home and made one for my daughter.


I need to write

Griffin-NuttellaNo really.  I NEED TO WRITE.

I am going along, living life, and thinking, you know, I need to write something.  The more I write the better I feel.  The better I feel, the more I write.  The more I write, the better my writing is.  The better my writing, the better I feel.  Etc, etc, etc…

But then I think, well, I don’t have anything interesting to say.  Or I think of something quick and funny and just tweet it or Facebook it. When the truth is the more I write, the better I feel, the better I write, the better I feel… lather, rinse, repeat.

Since I last wrote, I potty trained my boy (YES REALLY!) and he celebrated his 3rd birthday.  YES, REALLY!

Here he is after enjoying a snack of Nutella and apple slices.  He really likes Nutella.  He’s really growing up… sigh…


The Action Planner – Pages I like

I’m working on a full tour of what I’m trying but wanted to pass along this awesome resource.

Productive Flourishing puts together some amazing FREE resources as well as their Premium Planners!

I am using the weekly planners to decide on my priorities for the week.


The items listed aren’t tasks but projects.  Basically everything with more than 2 or 3 tasks needs to be a project. So “Print Perm Slip” which is Manda-writin’ for “Print Permission Slip” is a whole project that involved multiple steps (Create the slip, print them, sign them, distribute them, etc).

This form also makes you think about how much you can actually get done in a day.  Near the top is a little section labeled “Weekly Project Slots”.  Basically each day gets 5 slots and you mark them off as you create and schedule projects.  When the day is full, you can’t schedule anything else on that day or you’ll get overwhelmed, won't finish, etc.

I’ll be sharing more of what I’m trying.  So be sure to check back!

DISCLOSURE: This post and others on my blog contains affiliate links.  I may receive compensation if you purchase products from these links.  Just so ya know…


Vagina Envy

I have a theory about why the Mommy Wars come up over and over again.
It’s because we compare every other woman to ourselves.
First of all, we don’t generally get openly combative about why men do what they do.  In our minds – whether we admit it or not – men are somehow different or even inferior to us.  They cannot experience what we experience.  They can have no understanding of PMS or child birth or a particularly awful menstrual period.  Now if a man says he understands, that is an open invitation for us to kick him in the balls and express to him again that “NO” he does NOT know.  So men, if you’re reading, don’t express sympathy verbally – just bring chocolate and nobody gets hurt.
No, every woman compares every other woman to herself whether intentional or not.  We all want Kim Kardashian’s ass or Katy Perry’s boobs or Miley Cyrus’ legs.  And we all compare every other woman’s choices critically to our own.  WE would never leave our children with a nanny.  We would never go on government assistance.  We would keep completely tidy homes.  We would… and on and on and on. 
Every woman I know, when you enter their home, the first thing out of their mouth is some excuse as to why their home doesn’t look like something out of Southern Living.  “We’re remodeling.”  “We just got back from vacation and haven’t been able to clean.”  Meanwhile their home is at least reasonably tidy or usually, so clean that you could eat out of the cat bowl.
So when a mom says things like “I stay home with my children and I feel sorry for women who have to work” the working moms jump to defend their decision to work.  The working mom may work outside the home because of financial reasons (health insurance costs, education costs, you don’t know so stop guessing), or because the thought of spending more than a few hours with their kids makes them want to crawl inside a hole (not everyone likes to hang out with their kids all day – get over it).  They may have built a career they love or it may be so hard to keep their accreditation or other professional requirements that leaving the workforce for stay-at-home-motherhood would mean they could NEVER return to the workforce in their capacity.
So Working Mom makes sacrifices too.  She gives up being with her kids.  She gives up the freedom to attend every school function.  She gives up a part of her soul so that she can continue in something that she WANTS or NEEDS to do.
Stay at home mom, I’m not done with you.  I understand.  You've given up a lot too.  You’ve had to cut back on vacations (if you get one at all), there’s no after work cocktail parties, no new outfits just because.  Sometimes, you cut back on entertainment, fancy coffee drinks, and cute shoes.  You give it up but you give up a little of your soul too.  The independent part of yourself that used to be free to do all those things and never mind the cost.  You know, like me, that if you ever go back into the workplace, you’ll have to start over.
If we would stop and look and see that we, as mothers and women, ALL make sacrifices so that we can each live our best life in what ever way that looks like. ALL women are doing the best they can. Yes, some women are going down the wrong path.  Some women are trapped in bad relationships, bad situations, bad places.
If would we stop pointing fingers at each other and just notice that yeah, everyone makes a sacrifice for their children, then I think the Mommy Wars would never be fought again.  If we'll give each other and ourselves a little bit of GRACE, we'll all be able to see through the eyes of love.

Tracking Birthdays and Anniversaries

One of my resolutions in 2014 is to remember birthdays and anniversaries. 

My Perfect Planner

I’ve talked about my Household Notebook before.  It was a lofty goal and one fraught with perfectionism.  What I have discovered is that ONE book can’t do all I need it to do.
So here’s what I need my household notebook to do:

Homeschool Planner

  • I need to be able to look at a glance and see what our schooling plans are.  Additionally, this needs to be a running record of what we have done for documentation purposes.
  • Paper is a better choice for this.  Edited on the computer and printed out is what I’m thinking.
  • I’m using the Well Planned Day paper planner right now and it’s almost what I need.

Blog Planner

  • I want to plan out some specific goals for my blogs.  I say that I want to do things with this blog for example but then I get sidetracked and things I intended to explore don’t get done because I don’t have written down what my plan is.
  • Edited on the computer and printed out is what I will try first.

Household planner

  • I have a need to get things out of my head!  I know things that would be useful to someone if I weren’t around at the time.
  • I also want to be able to detail some cleaning routines.
  • This needs to be a combination of paper and iPhone.

Girl Scout planner

  • I have a Daisy/Brownie troop that I need to plan for.
  • I have a troop notebook already that has all my forms and things that I HAVE to have at each meeting and I think is mostly working for me but I need to have some sort of planner for thinking through meetings, planning volunteer meetings, etc.
  • Again, I’m thinking paper for brainstorming purposes.

Financial documents holder

  • I need a place that financial documents can be easily found.  I have a pretty extensive filing system, but I still seem to to be the only person who can find anything in it.
  • This also needs to be something that has account information that can be easily accessed.

Family telephone directory

Address and phone listing and would be nice to have birthdays and anniversaries documented.

Emergency planning

What are our emergency plans? Could I grab this information quickly and get out of the house if I needed to?
This video makes me think:

A place for journaling, notes, ideas, brainstorming

  • Really this needs to be my brain on paper.  What are my priorities for the week?  I have a tendency to be trying to deal with whatever the “emergency” seems to be.  It would be nice to get ahead and not have any emergencies.

Bible Study

  • Somewhere to document my studies and journal.

Family Calendar

  • Right now, Google Calendar is working for us pretty well.  I share the calendar with hubby and I can access it when I need it.

Task list 

  • Using Awesome Note on my phone right now.  It’s a good but not perfect solution.  I’d really like to be able to quickly set-up tasks on the computer instead of having to input everything in the phone.


  • long term and short.
  • Action lists.

I also want and need some of this on my iPhone.  Some of it needs to be shared with my husband.  Some of it purely for my use and enjoyment so it needs to be pretty and or creative.

So what about you?  Do you need a planner?  Do you need a hybrid planner?  One planner? Several planners?  What needs to be in yours?  Let me know in the comments below.

Thankful for my healing

A few months ago, I couldn't text, open bottles, or even reach the back of my head with a brush without a struggle. I was having a good day if the pain level was under 7. I was diagnosed with a bulging C5 - basically, I have a pain in the neck!

Through my doctors, physical therapy, the healing neck massages from my husband, and the grace of God, I now rarely have pain over a 5. I can do most of the things I did just 6 months ago.

And I am so thankful. Even on a day like today when I'm struggling with something that I used to be able to do effortlessly, I still have trouble with reaching over my head to get things off shelves. I can't fully trust the strength in that arm for that. And I have trouble with things that require super fine dexterity like pinning my hair up, making jewelry, or even inserting a tampon (TMI sorry).

I am still thankful for my healing.  I'm hopeful that one day the rest of the feeling and strength will return to my hand. I will try to stay in a mood of hope and gratitude rather than mourning what I've lost.


My Pain in the Neck

On the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, I was playing with my kids, when I felt a severe pain in my shoulder and neck. The pain subsided quickly and I really didn’t think anything of it.

Next morning, my shoulder was sore and I felt like I had a crick in my neck. But before the holiday weekend was over, I was at the emergency room in severe pain unable to raise my arm. The pain on a scale of 1 to 10 was about a 20. I’m not a wuss. I’ve had two c-sections, a dry socket, chronic appendicitis and an appendectomy and a tonsillectomy with more than 50 stitches (most tonsillectomies have none to 5 stitches YOW!) so I know pain and my level 10 pain (”the worst you’ve ever felt” says the doctor) is quite a bit higher than other folk’s level 10.

Now, I have a medical degree from Google with a fellowship from WebMD (meaning I am an expert internet researcher and not much else) so I went into the ER thinking that maybe I had a torn rotator cuff. The ER was hopping busy and I never saw a doctor but did see a physician’s assistant. She took x-rays and agreed that it was likely a rotator cuff tear. I was given Vicodin and prescription strength Ibuprofen and a muscle relaxer.

What are the symptoms of a torn rotator cuff?

  • Pain when moving your arm
  • Pain at night
  • Weakness in your shoulder

I was also experiencing a bit of neck pain but it was minor in comparison with the shoulder pain and I really thought nothing of it. More interesting was the fact that I had numbness and tingling in a direct line that I could trace from my shoulder to my thumb.

Within 2 days, I was trying desperately to get an appointment with my orthopedic but they were booked up for several days. I started rationing the pain pills because they only gave me 5 day supply and my appointment would be on day 5 exactly. This was not necessarily a good idea but I had no other recourse except to make it work out or go back to the emergency room for another 6 hour visit. By doctor day, I was desperate for relief.

My orthopedics' office is a large practice with several doctors who specialize in different things. MY doc is the knee and shoulder guy. I like him a lot and knew he’d be able to help.

He walks in and starts asking questions. I told him about the incredible pain and then I mentioned the tingling. That stopped him in his tracks. He said, “This isn’t a shoulder problem. This is a neck problem. If I were to guess, I’m thinking maybe a rupture or bulging disc at C4 or C5.” Then, he ordered X-Rays.

The x-rays revealed an impingement at the between the C4 and C5. He prescribed more Vicodin and physical therapy. If it wasn’t better in 3 weeks at a re-check, he’d order an MRI.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve in your neck includes neck, shoulder, and arm pain, tingling or burning sensations, and numbness. Weakness is also possible and complaints of loss of strength and trouble with lifting the arm, bending the elbow, or holding onto objects are not unheard of.

Folks, I had every single one of these symptoms.

I started physical therapy the next day after my doctor’s appointment. My PT was all about getting the muscles in my neck to relax as the therapist suspected that most of my pain was related to spasm rather than the actual impingement (the fancy term for pinched nerve). But PT days were hell for me; they would often leave me in more pain than I started in and the next day would have me a level 10 pain that would only help a little or sometimes not at all.

There were a few nights after the initial diagnosis that I actually considered going back to the emergency room because I couldn’t sleep because I was in so much pain. After 5 days, I called the doctor’s office again and told them that despite 3 PT appointments and the medicine that was prescribed, I was still in so much pain and didn’t see any improvement.

They ordered the MRI and moved my care to the team physiatrist - a doctor who specializes in pain management. He would get the MRI results and consult with the other doctors on the team if necessary to decide what the next step in my care should be. Meanwhile, they were refilling my narcotic pain reliever and wanted me to continue PT.

I’ve never had an MRI. I was asked several times if I were claustrophobic and until the moment that I was stuck in that tube, I honestly thought I wasn’t.

The MRI was an older one where you’re laid down on a table and pushed into a tube. The tube was literally 2 inches from my nose.

The first time they pulled me out of the tube, it was to adjust some cords attached to the headphones that were put on to protect my ears.

The second time they pulled me out, it was because my arm started twitching from being in such a weird position on my back and I grabbed it and messed up the cord again.

The third time they pulled me out of the tube is because I told them that if they didn’t get me out, I’d throw up in the machine.

They scheduled me for open MRI the next morning. That was much better and didn’t take as long either.

Fast forward a couple weeks, the pain is actually getting better. The most relief I’ve gotten is from the TENS machine being used in PT. Secondly and probably more importantly is my husband giving me a massage on the nights that I don’t have PT. I saw great improvement after those started.

By the time that I see the physiatrist, my daily pain level is averaging around a 6. Much better than the 10 I was experiencing days before. The physiatrist looked at the MRI report and told me that I did indeed have a pinched nerve. But now we knew it was caused by a bulging disc in my neck - the C5 disc to be exact.

His suggestion was an epidural.

The epidural was such a non-issue that it’s hard for me to even discuss.  I mean it was so easy and relatively painless.  I can’t say that it was a miracle cure but I can say that lowered my daily pain level down to about a 4 or 5.  The worst part of it was when I sat up too fast and got an epidural headache.  That was NOT pleasant but it went away quickly.