Been a while

I hadn’t realized that it’s been nearly a month since I’ve been online here writing. I was pretty good for a long while writing daily but I think since Snickers passed away and my blogging buddy is gone I started sleeping in (mind you waking up at 3-5am was NEVER a good idea) but now that I am waking up at 6am and starting the day for the kids is just 30 minutes after that, I do not have time to blog in the early AM. So now I have to find a time during the day to get on here and share. Behind the scenes I have been working on 3 books. One is Advice From Allie– a simple and funny book with witty sarcasm and life tips. One is Continue to Live and Flourish- a Guide to Surviving it All, and the 3rd is How to Live with Anxiety (title subject to change). I have been feverishly writing on weekends and week nights trying to get these edited, refined and ready for public viewing and publishing in the next few weeks.

I hadn’t realized til I just wrote that sentence – that this is where I have been the past month. I have been writing daily, just not here. I hope that sharing my life experiences can help others but it is so scary to put it out there. I think part of me is working too hard at refining the books when honestly they are ready. I may add one last chapter to one of them but other than that, they’ve been read many times, reviewed and they are good. I think I am holding them back. I think I am afraid of sharing my innermost secrets, the skeletons in my closet, the trials and tribulations of my life with the world. Mind you- if nobody shares the book, nobody will read them anyway. I have to truly embrace what I have written and stand by it and share it. Hopefully in the next few weeks I will be ready.

Til then I plan to be back on here posting about what we have been up to!

Loss

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Losing a pet is a huge loss. For us it means losing the furry friend who used to wake us up in the morning. It means losing our cuddle buddy and the one who got us off the couch to walk around the block or two. For me it means so much more because Snickers was my girl. She was my buddy.  The past 8-10 weeks we bonded more than ever. She was diagnosed with a huge mass on her spleen back in November. She did not have a good prognosis. So when she started needing to go out multiple times during the night, I was her companion. At first and for most of the time, I actually walked her outside and sometimes even around the block at all hours of the early morning, 1am, 3am, 4am, I walked her. In her last 2 weeks I let her out back and that was sufficient. She still needed to get up often and the last week nearly hourly. I didn’t mind at all. I had gotten used to no sleep, extra coffee to keep alert during the day and thank goodness for the Hallmark channel as I could watch 3-5 movies a night!

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Snickers loved her friends. She went to doggie daycare at Doggie Playhouse in Palatine 2 days a week. We quickly made those days Tuesdays and Fridays so she could be with Sheila (pictured above at daycare). Sheila not only hung out with her, she loved her. Snickers began to follow her everywhere. Sheila took her to go see the other dogs, to help feed the other dogs. Wherever Sheila went, Snickers followed. This was a special place, it is a special place. It was sort of appropriate that Snickers got to say her final goodbyes to Sheila on Friday. I got a call at Noon that she wasn’t doing well. I knew from seeing Sheila and Robin at daycare when I went and got her that it wasn’t good. Snickers lingered for one last kiss and we left. I had to run and do my part time driving job while we waited for our 2pm vet appointment. The boy in the car said “oh she’s so cute!” and she was, all curled up in her blanket. I knew it was the last car ride my dear girl would have.

We arrived at the vet’s at 2pm and she was gone by 2:20pm. She walked in, tail between her legs, head down and barely able to walk. She’d lost 10lbs or more- it was hard to tell with the mass being twice or more in size from when they’d seen her on the day of diagnosis. She was pale, her gums were white. I knew, they knew. She crossed over the rainbow bridge and ironically woofed, and snickered as she went. I wonder who met her first? Tyke? Scout? Both of them? For the kids, it’s hardest. They have had 3 losses in a little over 2 years. Tyke died in October 2015, Scout at the end of September 2016 and Snickers just 15 months later. It’s tough. Meghan is angry- “Why do all our pets have to die?” Cole is understanding but said “I never want to get another dog again, we have bad luck with dogs.” and Quinn said “well it wasn’t unexpected Mom but it’s sad.” I’m a mess. I’m not sure if it’s because she died or because of the lack of sleep I got over the past 8-10 weeks. Since Friday I have slept 2 nights. 8 hours one night and 10 last night and I feel worse than when I only got 3 hrs of sleep. I wonder if the adrenaline rush is gone. The adrenaline that kept me awake and on alert is gone. I am able to now rest and sleep and my body needs to reboot.

No matter what, loss is hard. I’m glad we’ve had the 5 dogs we’ve had in our life. Lucky, Cedar, Tyke, Scout and Snickers. I am open to getting another dog but I shook on it with John and we will not be getting another one. I understand his logic- we have 3 kids who are active – and we are gone a lot of weekends and we just don’t have the time. Had it not been for doggie daycare we wouldn’t have been able to have Snickers. There were many Saturdays we put her in daycare for the day while we did our weekend thing or we’d board her overnight so she was able to run around with her doggie friends while we ran around. I am forever grateful to have had 5 dogs though. They really did make up a huge part of our lives. I loved them all and we will someday see them all again.

Treat Yourself Well

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Treat yourself! It’s important to take care of YOU. If you feel bogged down by life perhaps it’s because you are doing everything for everyone else and nothing for yourself. I have been busy volunteering, taking care of the kids and being a supportive wife and friend. I have sacrificed my time and my energy to care for others and with our dog having cancer my sleep has been greatly sacrificed of late. A lot of people would have put their dog down by now. She’s got cancer and a diminished life span but she’s happy for most of the day and so I can’t. As long as she still pees and poops outside she will remain with us. She even goes to doggy daycare at an expense which means I usually don’t buy anything for myself. Well that ended last night and boy-oh-boy was it fun!

Last night I was invited to a private Lularoe sale. No – I am not one of those people who can wear or wants to wear leggings as pants and if you are that person go for it- you probably have a smaller butt than me 😉 But in all seriousness, the leggings are buttery soft and the tees too so a combo of that and I’m in for pajamas/loungewear for home. I do however love their dresses and the price point on those is $65 or less. I wore one to the Christmas party for John’s work and it was so pretty and COMFORTABLE and it had pockets too! So when I had a chance to pick from her live sale and pay just $250 for a box I jumped at the chance. I was able to get 4 dresses, 2 tees, 2 pairs of leggings and much more. I can’t wait to go get my box of goodies today. I can even edit the box in case I don’t like what I chose. What a gift to ME! I opted to use the money my mom sent me for Christmas to offset the cost so it was a fun night, 3 hours online checking out different styles and items and chatting with new friends. It’s the first time I spent money without a care in the world and it was invigorating and it made me feel good to do something for ME!

So take time for you- whether it’s going for a walk you want to go on or buying a new this or that or getting a cup of coffee out because it feels good to be waited on, do it. Take the Oxygen mask first and take care of yourself. Some of us might take a few hours to read a book in the quiet of our rooms while our spouse takes care of the kids. Some of us would feel rejuvenated by going to dinner with a friend. Taking care of yourself looks different for all of us. For me- it’s buying something for myself. I do pretty well with reading a book and seeing friends but I refuse to spend money on myself.

I am taking money away from the family because I stay at home. Now before you get all mad at me for saying that- it’s a little bit true YET if you add up all the stuff I do my husband would be in the poor house if he had to pay for services rendered. Maid service, chef service, TAXI service (no joke I am in the car more than I am not), child care services, tutoring, and more, I do it all. And that’s ok. Our marriage is a negotiation and from day one we decided that we wanted to raise our kids and I would stay home until I felt the need to get a job. I did work outside the home for about 18 months until we homeschooled and let me tell you that was a huge job without any financial compensation and I loved it for 5 whole years. Now I am a part-time driver and am seeking a new business opportunity (making websites- check out my new venture Websites by Allie when you get the chance). I am contributing more than money can buy and that is good enough for me. We all negotiate differently for what we want in our lives and our marriages for me- I am happy to be here when the kids get home from school (after I taxi to get them of course) and I enjoy cooking dinners and taking care of the house although there are days that a maid seems appealing.

So take some time to take care of yourself today. Call a friend, get a coffee, buy a new dress or some shoes you’ve had your eyes on. Life is good and as long as you aren’t going to go into debt to get yourself something then by all means treat yourself. It means that you matter. You deserve it. You and I both know that if your kids needed something you wouldn’t hesitate so why hesitate with yourself? Treat yourself today!

Date Nights and Why You Need To Have Them

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John and I have been married since 2001. We met in 1999 and we dated as most people do when they first meet. We would go to a movie, dinner, and even canoeing. We did fun things together and we did them all the time. We’d have stay-in dates and adventure dates, like a weekend in Nantucket or Vermont. Then in 2003 we had our first son, Quinn, and our date nights ended. Quinn had a seizure disorder and I was NOT leaving him with anyone. It was nearly a year before we left even for a few hours. I barely left him alone with John let alone us both leaving. We began to do date afternoons, times when family could watch him. They were short, like a few hours, but they rejuvenated us. We would eat out or go for a walk and talk and reconnect.

Those dates meant the world to us and it helped us keep our marriage strong. We moved in 2004 from Massachusetts to Seattle and had Meghan. We had no family there and again, no date nights for nearly a year. We met a lovely couple who had a child who loved to play with Quinn so we went on a date to the movies while they watched him and Meghan. It was so much fun and again- we felt connected and in love again. In between dates, which were often months apart, we’d be sure to watch TV together at night or eat a late dinner after the kids went to bed.

We always had early bedtimes for the kids. They were asleep by 7pm until all 3 kids were about 5 or 6 yrs old. So we had evenings to ourselves until about 2009 when Quinn was 5 and began to go to bed later. By that time we’d moved back to Massachusetts and found a sitter. She was a college student and full of energy and great with the kids. We needed someone who was willing to play with the kids, put them to bed and tidy up afterward. Alex was amazing. She used to clean more than a general tidy up and it was like having a maid and a babysitter in one. She actually taught Cole how to tidy up or inspired his inner cleaner as to this day I credit Alex with Cole’s tidiness.

The dates we’d go on when Alex came were very creative. We had to pay her $14/hour which left little to go toward a proper date. We’d go for walks, get ice cream or go to the mall. It was well worth it though as we reconnected without 3 little ones at our feet because in 2006 we had our 3rd child Cole after we’d moved back to Massachusetts, this time South of Boston and about 90 minutes away from my parents and 30 minutes away from John’s sister’s family in Rhode Island. We splurged one night after having had Alex for a year or so and we went overnight to Providence Rhode Island. I can’t recall what we did except to say we had a great night’s sleep in a hotel! Those 24 hours away really rejuvenated us and getting away was so worth it. Date nights and especially that overnight kept our marriage strong and reminded us of how much we truly loved each other.

Since we moved to Illinois in 2013 we didn’t find a sitter and again were in a place with no family. We began to realize with the kids being older that we could leave them for a few hours and go out to eat. Saturday Sushi afternoons became a thing. We’d be gone an hour 1/2 to 2 hours and it was divine. We’d talk and discuss our future, our life, our marriage, our goals. It truly was amazing. Every week 2 hours together and it kept us connected and it continues to keep us together except today our kids are 14, 13 and 11 and we can venture out a little later, a little longer and boy are we having fun. Last night was our 2nd date night in a month. First in December we went to the company Christmas party and it was great. The kids were accompanied to a school event with my cousin- I actually have one cousin who is local here in IL but I had no idea he lived here when we first moved here. Anyway- the kids were dropped off from their event at 9pm and my cousin went home. We were at the Christmas party til Midnight and arrived home at 1am with our 14 year old greeting us. All was well and we’d checked in with them often.

So, last night we went to Second City in Chicago and saw a Comedy show. It was awesome and it was particularly great because it was my Christmas present from my husband, John. It was so thoughtful and a really great time. We ate at the restaurant next door and it was delicious. I had a hot buttered rum and it was so good and quite relaxing. We ate, we talked, we laughed and then we went to see the show and we laughed a whole lot more. AS we drove home and checked in with the kids again we heard how happy they were and how proud they were to be in charge for the evening. We arrived home at around 10:30pm and they had fun and we had fun.

I’m so glad that now that the kids are older and responsible enough to handle being alone for a few hours so we can go on  a date like it it’s 1999. We may be older, I may have gray hair and John has less hair (sorry babe) but we still have the same love for each other. Has our love changed? Well of course- its different because we have grown up together. We are different people than when we first met online back in 1999. John has the same job- well same career- different companies throughout the years of course- he’s still a Software Engineer with added management now that he’s older. I went from working to a stay at home mom to working to a homeschooling mom and now staying at home again while I transition into what’s next for me. Life is good and Date Nights, or Date Afternoons are important. I can’t wait to plan another one. It felt so good to reconnect and hold hands and laugh. We even kissed a few times which rekindles the sparks. So go on a date- you’ll really will benefit from spending time alone with your significant other.

Hallmark and Lifetime Movies

I used to compare my life with a really long Lifetime Movie- you know the dramatic story of a heroine who goes thru some awful stuff and yet comes out ok in the end and sometimes not so okay. The movies are long, they are full of drama, grief, suspense and usually a bad guy. From 1990 to about 1998 my life was a series of bad Lifetime movies. There was no happy endings, there was strife and uncertainty. I always wanted my life to be magical and beautiful and full of sweet things. I wanted good friends, a great relationship, I wanted to have kids and have a full life. What I wanted was a Hallmark Movie ending and I am happy to say I got mine.

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Well I by no means have an “ending” because true love and happiness doesn’t have a happy ending because there is no end in site.  I have been married to the love of my life since 2001, having met in June of 1999. We have 3 beautiful kids, 2 of whom are teenagers, and 1 on the way. We have evolved past sleepless nights and diapers and the kids are practically self sufficient so it’s time for me to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I have always had a thing for writing. I journaled as a kid and always wrote stories. I enjoy sharing personal stories with friends and family and since Facebook I have shared my life with my friends and family. What I began doing about 4 years ago was blogging and now I have decided to publish a book or two. One based on this blog is exactly that- a compilation of blog posts which have been edited and expanded to share life tips, and serves as my personal survival guide. The other book is based on my other blog, Continue to Live and Flourish, and it’s going to be a more gritty guide to survival. I will go into the reality of the harsh years (my Lifetime movie) and how I survived it all and how you too can survive anything too.

I am excited and I know that my life will end like a Hallmark Movie- with a happy ending. I’m in the middle of it- happiness, love and joy and I couldn’t be well happier. I am 45, gray haired, and occasional aches and pains and I could care less because I am fulfilled and I am happy. My husband is a supportive force and my kids are the best. I am surrounded by love on a daily basis. Our dog, Snickers, is a cuddle bug who shares the wee hours of the morning with me while I write. I have everything I have ever wanted and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me. I know that there is much more to this life and I look forward to sharing it with all of you.

Christmas and New Year’s Wishes

Christmas is often a wonderful time of year where you can reconnect with family near and far and you can start to plan New Year’s wishes. Christmas for us is a much needed week of family stay-cation. This week we have plans to hit the Chicago History Museum, Orbit Skate, and GameWorks all courtesy of Groupon. Saving money is what one needs to do when you’ve had the medical spending year we have had. So, one of our New Year’s wishes is no more medical drama and costs for 2018. Christmas was lovely. A slow, carefree day although the kids were up at the crack of dawn- no joke- Meghan was up at 4am and woke her brothers up and they remained up til we woke John up at 6:58am. By the time we sauntered downstairs it was 7:25am and because they’d been up so early they simply wanted to see the tree and the evidence that indeed Santa had come and then they all wanted breakfast. Breakfast on Christmas day is my now famous danish. It was so good, buttery and overly indulgent. It was the perfect way to start the day.

This danish is reminiscent of the Entemann’s Raspberry and Cream Cheese Danishes and in fact that is how I found this great recipe! It’s easy as all you have to do is toss the ingredients into the bread machine in the dough setting- take it out when it beeps just before the rise, form into 5 logs, slather your cream cheese filling and raspberry jelly and cover in saran wrap- let it rise for 30 min and bake for 40 min and drizzle with icing. It’s a fantastic way to start the day. I make it the night before and put slices into the toaster oven for a warm, buttery, breakfast.

Today is the day after Christmas and lucky for us we have 5 slices of danish left. It’s a day of reflection and beginning to think about fulfilling our Christmas wishes and preparing for the New Year. One of my wishes is to lose the 15 lbs that have found my waistline in the last 3 months. I started today off with just 11 minutes on the exercise bike. I know that if I do too much to start I will never be successful. My goal is to do a minute more each day til I’m up to 30 min and I will continue that daily. It’s a great and fast way to sit and ride while I catch up on email and Facebook. I can distract myself while the minutes pass. What has changed in the past 2 months is no longer walking Snickers far distances. Her cancer/mass is making it harder to go for long walks and the cold is making that impossible today. So I need to replace my 30 minute walk with the bike. I need to add some other things too. I found my old fit bit and I’m going to charge it and see how many steps I am taking. I never did 10,000 (did that on a rare day) but I was about 8-9K and I built up to that from a meager 2700 when I first put the fit bit on over a year ago. I want my 2018 goal to be 10,000 steps a day and I want to start walking on the fitness track at the local Community Center. Hopefully I can find a partner in crime to meet me 1-2 nights a week to add that into my regimen.

Healthy food choices are another item on my to-do list. I have been eating drive-thru goodies that I should not be. Breakfast sandwiches, and donuts from the best donut place around, Spunky Dunkers. Not daily by any means but a change from my no-drive-thru policy. I am excited to start cooking meals more often and to ensure we have foods like baked lasagna ( I make a mean vegetarian healthy version) and chicken casseroles that are not only good for you but taste good. For me it’s not about not eating this or that it’s about portion control. I also think that hitting 45 has done something to my metabolism so I’m going to work on kick-starting it again. Fifteen pounds doesn’t sound like a lot but my pants don’t fit and I just don’t feel like myself. I’ve maintained 145-150 for nearly 15 years with one blip year where I got up to 169 over our first winter here in 2013 and just as fast as it came on it came off. It was the year of the Polar Vortex and I baked a LOT. I am hoping this is another blip year. I have been baking more and the past 2 weeks alone I have eaten more cookies than I normally consume in a year. So 2018- is a less cookie eating, more exercise year for me.

I am looking forward to hearing what the kids’ New Year’s Wishes are. We make a list every single year of things they want to do, either individually or with the family and we accomplish each and every single one of them over the course of the year. In year’s past items like, ride my bike, learn to cook dinner, playing more board games, going to the Science Museum, etc. are all on the list. This year I am putting going to the Aquarium and the Planetarium on the list along with the Discovery Museum in Milwaukee. I’d like to see the Red Sox play again next summer and we plan to go back East to visit family in June and there are a lot of things to add to that week’s to-do-list. I can’t wait to see what the kids want to do.

I wish for a healthy 2018. That is probably one of my biggest wishes. We have been relatively healthy but 2017 was full of doctors, exams, a major jaw surgery for John (double jaw) and he’s still 5 months into recovery still recovering. Cole was in a wheelchair for 6-8 weeks (I’ve lost track of time there) and then had a bout of issues that caused more tests. Last year we had a blood disorder diagnosed and thousands of dollars in medical bills, tens of thousands. Medical bills really put a crimp on our life. We were unable to go back to New England to visit family last summer simply due to all the money we have spent on medical this past year. We hope that 2018 is a low cost year for medical. We have found a new doctor, a great Chiropractor, who I believe will keep our costs reduced simply by checking in with him. I was having neck issues and probably would have landed in PT and more and a few weeks of 100% covered visits (as we’d met our max deductible) and I’m 100% again. He helped Cole get back to walking and gave us some tips on how to reduce his IBS symptoms which are now also 100% gone. I had no idea Chiropractic could truly heal and treat the entire body.

I hope that 2018 brings new opportunities for me. I am working on editing my 1st book and republishing it as well as finishing my 2nd book and getting it published. I want to work on my blog and perfect how to market it more. I want to write daily and find opportunities to make some money. I’d like to pay down all our debt (well all but the mortgage of course) and still find time to put some away for fun. I want 2018 to be filled with family fun and finally a real vacation. We haven’t been away for a real vacation in years. One where you go out to eat and you go to new museums, lay on a beach and swim and watch the kids have the time of their lives. I do not remember the last time we went away where we all had a great time. Last year we went to a water park in Wisconsin and I survived that trip. Although the kids had fun, I did not enjoy it. Sensitivity to chlorine and the noise- the amount of noise drowned out any ability to possibly read a book or enjoy any conversation. I will never do that again. What I will do is a quiet beach, and a week in New England by the ocean. That I can do and will do next June.

I also wish for health and happiness for all my friends and family. I know that each of us are on our own journeys and they look and feel different for everyone but there are some commonalities. We all want to be healthy and we all want to feel good about ourselves and we all want to enjoy time with loved ones. We want less stress, and we want to be financially secure and even have a bit more for some fun money. We want to be good and we want to give. Giving is the best gift we can give ourselves. And we all want something else, something more and that’s not universal. Some of us want to buy a new home in 2018 or we want a new career or a new baby. Some of us want to fall in love and find happiness. Some of us want to read more, and exercise more and enjoy fun times with friends and family. Whatever you wish for- I hope you get your wishes and have a Happy and Healthy 2018!

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Christmas is Coming….

Christmas is a coming,
The goose is getting fat
Won’t you put a nickel
In the old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a nickel
Then a penny will do
If you haven’t got a penny,
The God bless you

Christmas is a coming,
The snow is on the ground
Elves are wrapping presents,
And cheer is all around
Santa’s getting ready for
His sleigh ride tonight
Rudolph is the leader,
With his nose so bright

Christmas is a coming,
Let’s decorate the tree
Hang up baby’s stocking,
Make sure there’s one for me
Mom is in the kitchen,
Baking gingerbread
Daddy’s tasting frosting, his
Mouth’s all green and red

Christmas is a coming,
The goose is getting fat
Won’t you put a nickel
In the old man’s hat
If you haven’t got a nickel
Then a penny will do
If you haven’t got a penny, then
God bless you
If you haven’t got a penny,
Then God bless you

If you want to hear this lovely tune you can go to this

YouTube video and listen for yourself!

Christmas is really coming and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  Some years I can’t wait for Christmas to come and other years I dread it but this year I am not sure. I was so excited for it to come and yet know I’m not ready. Actually it’s the first year I am ready. All the presents are wrapped. That has never happened before. I can’t recall the last time we didn’t wrap presents til the wee hours of the morning on Christmas Eve and this year with teenagers who don’t sleep til 11pm I was imagining an “all nighter” but apparently that will not happen this year. I had a spare 3 hours the other day and I wrapped up everything.

We even had time to adopt a family friend this year- they just got diagnosed with cancer and it was obvious that they needed Christmas so we just made it happen with the generosity of some friends and some ingenuity. Maybe that’s why I feel like this Christmas doesn’t matter. When you know someone is fighting for their life, Christmas is just another day. But it is magical. I wonder if the magic of the season will consume this family so they can enjoy some much needed magic before Chemotherapy starts on the 26th.

I don’t know if I should bake more, or do more, or rest more but I do know this will be a special few weeks. It’s the first time the kids have been back to public school in 5 years and the first time we have this limited amount of time with them in between semesters. Quinn isn’t even happy about having 2 weeks off, “I won’t see anyone for 2 weeks Mom!” I guess he will miss his newfound school friends. I imagine we can invite them over but it’s the teenager’s world so I will ask if he’d like to do that. Meghan will have friends over and she will go places as she’s not afraid to make her social life happen. Cole will have a few friends over and enjoy every minute.

So Monday is Christmas and it will be magical if I get my mind in the right headspace. I miss family from Massachusetts and that’s probably putting a damper on it for me too. Mind you, we haven’t been traveling home for Christmas since we moved but for whatever reason, aging parents etc. are making it feel more important than ever. We will skype over the holiday break though to ease any home-sick-ness.

So I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May 2018 be a wonderful year full of Health and Happiness! Here’s a Happy Holiday pic that our doggie daycare took of our dog, Snickers! Merry Christmas to all!!!

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The Village is Real

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A week and a few days ago my friend’s life got turned upside down. Her beloved husband, Mike, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Esophageal cancer. Mike, a self employed auto-body painter, is now out of work and home preparing for the fight of his life. Chemo begins on Dec 26th so they have a bit of time to enjoy some time together. Life is expensive and they are not prepared for the loss of income -nor are most of us- and so their Village has come together.

Friends arrived last week with groceries, and Christmas is being gathered as Elves (most of whom do not know the family personally) purchase and wrap gifts for the entire family. Christmas dinner is being purchased and delivered and we are working on helping as much as we can. This is proof that there is love in the world. Cancer Sucks and we all know this but there is still GOOD in the world as we go through horrible things.

I am trying to just wrap my head around how a 54 year old, healthy man, wakes up one day with a Stage 4 diagnosis and no symptoms prior to this- just a few days of not feeling quite right and a lump on one’s neck. That’s it. The good news is he hasn’t been sick before this. Most folks walking into Chemo with Stage 4 Esophageal cancer have been sick for a while, are thin from issues with eating prior to their diagnosis. Mike has a fighting chance and it’s our turn as the community at large to help.

I have never done this before but I am sharing their Go Fund Me page here just in case you want to do some good before the Holidays.

If you find yourself in a position of need, do share that with friends and family. Start as I lovlingly call it an “Oh Shit fund” as we never know when something awful could happen to us. But even with the best savings plan as recommended by professionals – having 6 months of income in storage- we are all just a paycheck or a few away from disaster. Without friends, family and other sources of assistance most of us in this situation would be in a similar spot.

So during this Christmas season- do some good- it doesn’t matter if it’s for Jill and her family or for anyone else. Surprise your neighbors with tins of home-made cookies. Walk your neighbor’s dog. Buy the person behind you a coffee, or pay someone’s library fines. Little gestures or big ones are all part of what makes this world an awesome place. Go- do some good today! (Best part is you feel great when you do!)

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There is so much LOVE in the world

loveworld

When 2017 has been a tough year for a lot of folks with political issues and the world seeming to be not as nice a place to live sometimes things come back and surprise you. Yesterday I wrote Cancer Sucks on my Continue to Live and Flourish blog and it’s true, Cancer does Suck. Our friends family just got diagnosed and it’s going to be a really rough ride. I am a blabbermouth and although I have not shared who these people are I have talked to my friends about it, friends that do not know them.

I mentioned that I was worried about how they’d make ends meet. The Dad has cancer and can’t work. He’s self employed so it makes things a bit more complex. Money will run out and soon. So what do you do to help I asked a friend. She said “give me a minute, I’ll call you back!” Huh, what just happened. So a few hours later and I’ve got Christmas dinner for the family and presents for under the tree. Mind you, after I told my friend, I ran to Target and did some Christmas shopping after getting a very small list from the family. I wanted to relieve the burden of Christmas so they can concentrate on getting to the Oncologist (they were diagnosed less than a week ago and are having 6 appointments this week to determine a plan). Life is complicated enough they do not need to worry about the holidays and they have a 12 year old so I want to make sure his Christmas goes off without a hitch.

Meanwhile I wrote some friends from our local Boy Scout troop and asked for help. In the email I mistakenly added my Orthodontist office and just like that everyone is pitching in- even the Orthodontist. NONE of these people know this family and they are all bringing cash, gifts or gift cards to our Monday meeting. By Tuesday I will be able to have Christmas wrapped up and ready to deliver. I will also have gift cards, enough to pay for a month worth of groceries, and cash to just well- be used for whatever the heck they need. My faith in humanity is restored.

It’s like that scene in the Grinch where his heart grows 3 times the size. I feel like the LOVE in Palatine is just oozing out of every single person I talk to. I’m not done yet either. I am going to blast their funding page when it gets built all around the world. I know it’s hard to ask for help. I know how hard it is to wonder how you’ll pay the mortgage when an income earner is down and out. In 2010, John had a health episode that led to 9 months out of work and we could have easily lost our home. I went back to work but couldn’t pay the mortgage. Similar to my friend. She works full time but in today’s day and age you divide and conquer. She can pay some bills, and food, etc but not all of it. Life gets messy and our savings- what savings- dwindles to nil at times and in this case they don’t have savings to survive for long.

This is where humanity pitches in. We are all one paycheck (or a lot of us) from being homeless. John and I found out how important this was back in 2010 and we began to save. If this happened to us today we’d be able to make it for about 6 months. Our financial adviser told us we need to bulk up our savings to cover a year or more of costs. I didn’t fully appreciate how much a family should save because in one quick swift twist of fate it can all change in an instant.

Our friends will be ok. I’m not sure health-wise how things will go but no matter what happens, no matter how grave, this mother and son and father will be surrounded by love. The people that do know them are pitching in. Dinners to be made, a help calendar established by another good friend. Life will keep on going. Mom will take unpaid family leave to care for her husband and family and friends will figure out a way to make the mortgage payment. I feel strongly about this. I remember coming home in 2010 to an envelope on the door. It contained an odd amount of cash- like 83 dollars and I drove straight to the gas station and filled up. From that day forward our mailbox was the ATM. Anonymous and often signed notes with cash, checks and more kept flowing in. This is how we paid our mortgage for 3 months. Family, friends, college friends, when folks heard about John’s situation and being out of work they all pitched in to help.

Christmas 2010- the PTA from our school dropped off presents. Like a few bags of presents. Nobody wanted for anything that year. It was almost embarrassing how full our tree was. I was really in shock. I didn’t ask for this but somehow people knew and we were going to be ok and we were. I feel strongly that this is God’s way of asking me to pay back and pay it forward. We have adopted a family each and every year to buy gifts for as a way to always remember Christmas 2010 but my friend’s situation hits closer to home and I know I had to do something.

So if you are reading this and you haven’t figured out what charitable thing to do this year consider making a donation. It would go directly to a needy family. I am managing the donations for now. Once the Go Fund me page or whatever fundraising tool they choose goes up I will edit this blog and put the information here. I am buying Jewel Osco gift cards with the cash to make grocery purchasing easy for the Mom.

It’s going to be a hard road ahead and a tough fight. They did a PET scan and the cancer has spread. It’s not going to be easy by any means but it can be easier with the help of friends and family and complete strangers.

SO when in doubt remember- LOVE really does WIN. Love can conquer all. It doesn’t save everyone, and it’s not going to fix the world or fix our political system or fix a leaky pipe or a broken bridge but LOVE will show up just when you need it. I know that all of the generosity and LOVE that is oozing out of Palatine will help right the world for this family. It will make it so they can concentrate on healing and for that I am forever grateful.

How to Keep a Cough at Bay

In 2009 I had a bad flu followed by a severe cough. I was put on cough medicine with Codeine and the cough was suppressed but I felt awful. I landed in the hospital for 14 days with a severe lung infection and it took months to recover. While in hospital the doc said “you know- you should never use cough medicine! Instead use VICKS vapor rub on your feet.” I thought he was crazy. But apparently if you suppress a cough you allow the germs to multiply and remain in your lungs. Coughing gets the crud out of your lungs, not coughing and it can turn into awful things like lung infections.

Ever since 2009 I have used Vicks Vapor rub on my feet to control my cough and it works in minutes. I also take Mucinex which helps break up the mucous but the Vicks is my go to. Peppermint and Eucalyptus oil mixed with coconut oil works too. It’s a trick that even goes beyond coughs. Vicks can be used to treat toe-nail fungus, chest congestion, cough, achy muscles and more. Read all about it’s 12 amazing uses here.

I hope you don’t get a cold before Christmas but if you do- use Vicks Vapor Rub. It’s a real life saver!