Thursday, February 23, 2017

We unintentionally unplugged one died!

Mom2MomEd Blog: We unintentionally unplugged one died!
Hey's been a while.  I have some serious stories to tell and I can't wait to share all of the crazy and exciting things that have been going on in my life.

But first.....a few weeks ago I got hit with a triple whammy. It was pretty much my worst nightmare come true.

Let me quickly fill in some gaps that may be helpful for you to get the full effect of my chaotic weeks!  I have been subbing at my son's school (read about how much I love his school here) and it has turned into a longer term position.  That's great and I love it.'s teaching kindergarten AND first grade.

You teachers will know that means!

Basically, it means that I'm spending all of my time with walking, talking petri dishes. Of course, a few weeks after I started working full time, my class was hit with the most horrendous strain of stomach bug that I've ever encountered! For several days in a row, I had only 50-percent of my class present, with the rest dropping like flies throughout the day.

Since I'm a mom and I can't help myself, I was running around checking foreheads and giving cuddles while my young wards waited for their parents to pick them up. And, I was letting them sit close to me during circle time. Needless to say, I got the bug too. I am no baby when I'm sick and I can tough it out 99% of the time.

Not this time!

I was bedridden with a high fever for a few days.
I smelled like putrid sweat and filth and barely did anything to even mask my odor.
I didn't play with my kids.
I didn't join my family for meals.

I literally laid in bed and occasionally shuffled out to the kitchen or the bathroom--only under emergency circumstances, of course.

The week before, I almost died from the this virus (seriously, that's how it felt), my family changed internet providers. They were supposed to come out within two days to hook up our new service, so we cancelled our old service, figuring we could manage for two days without an internet connection.

Guess what?

They changed our hook up date to two weeks later. Yes.....TWO WEEKS! I can't even explain to you how frustrated we all were.

By the time I almost died from the bug going around and was stuck in bed, we had no internet and guess what happened next? 

My phone ran out of data.
No data. No internet.

In bed, feeling like I was dying.

Of course, that all was super stressful and I almost had a panic attack. We're all so connected to our phones, tablets, and computers that I couldn't fathom how we could possibly survive.

Our sweet neighbors let us use their wi-fi, but the connection was so weak that it was more frustrating than helpful.

So we toughed it out.

The kids couldn't watch PBS kids. We couldn't check e-mail or Facebook. I couldn't prepare for my days as a teacher, communicate with Malea, or do any real work on Mom2MomEd.

I thought I'd spend most of the time mooching free internet at Starbucks, but I ended up going only twice for very short windows of time. 

In truth, there was something freeing about not checking my phone very often or absentmindedly scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. I think it was easier because I wasn't trying to disconnect consciously--I literally had no choice.

I can honestly say that I didn't miss being connected as much as I thought I would. Don't get me wrong! I did miss the world of the internet and being connected 24/7, but through this period, my time on the internet had to be more planned out and calculated. I made sure to get what I needed to do done and not waste time screwing around. 

It did become glaringly obvious that it's impossible to completely disconnect in our world today. We rely so much on e-mail and Facebook and social media to keep in contact with our friends and our families, as well as to do our jobs and so much more.

While it was nice to have fewer distractions from electronics, I fully admit that I wouldn't ever disconnect willingly. My kids like their time watching a show on the tablet and this mama likes her short bursts of quiet time while the kids are occupied. It's relaxing to scroll through Facebook and I love reading the news online.

Have you ever intentionally or unintentionally disconnected from the internet? If so, how did that go? Did you notice any changes in your daily routine or mood? Would you do it again? Leave a comment! I can't wait to hear about your experiences with disconnecting!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Financial Peace University~*~Week TWO review

Mom2MomEd Blog: Financial Peace University~*~Week Two in Review
Last week, I wrote about starting Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU). Week one was a great confidence boost and fired me up to get debt free and financially stable once and for all! It was a great overview of why so many of us wind up in debt and often stay there.
Week two, was just as good!

In week two, Dave talks at length about the impact of money problems on relationships and why money fights so often lead to divorce. Most of week two was focused on couples and how to talk about money, the family budget, and so on. I had heard from a YouTuber that I follow that FPU is heavily focused on couples working their way out of debt together, so I was afraid that week two of Financial Peace University would hold little of value for me.

I was wrong!

Although I am not married or in a relationship at the moment, I still enjoyed the lessons on relating to your partner and to your money. I gleaned a few ideas on how to talk to my son about money as well. In week two, there was also a segment specifically about being single while on the journey to financial freedom.

I truly appreciated the approach to being single and in a financial mess as presented by Dave. He points out that single people trying to dig out of debt and to become financially free have some special challenges not faced by couples.

Namely, single people are trying to do this ALONE.

We need support just like people in relationships, but we are missing that counterpart and accountability partner. Our homework was, in part, to find accountability partners. Funnily, I had my annual lady exam and my gynecologist saw my Dave Ramsey book. Turns out she and her husband are doing FPU as well! It was a great way to break the ice as I'd never met this doctor before, and now we have a common bond.

But, I digress...

My dear friends, I hope that YOU, along with McKenzie, will step up and help me to stay accountable and on track! Posting about my FPU experience certainly will help, so please keep coming back and reading about my progress through FPU and towards my goals of financial freedom!

Week one's lesson was all about "super saving" and building up a starter emergency fund of $1,000. Well, I don't have a spare $1,000 lying about, but I did count out all the change in my coin bank last night and will set that aside as the base of my emergency fund. That's just shy of $20. I also applied for four part-time and on-call jobs to supplement my income. I have an interview with one of them on Monday. Any of the four would likely result in an extra $1,000 net monthly income which would--BOOM--give me that starter emergency fund!

As soon as you have your mini-emergency fund saved, you get to move on to baby step two in the Dave Ramsey plan: paying off all non-mortgage debt. I did send a little debt payment last week as I owe a friend some money. This friend saved my butt during a vacation that went wrong and I owed her a little over $600. I have gotten that down to $300! I'm super stoked to be more than halfway towards paying her back!

(Can you tell I spent my teen years growing up in California? I'm STOKED, y'all!)

At the end of each reading assignment associated with FPU are several reflection questions. This week, the one that stood out for me was "In what ways could stress and fatigue impact your financial plan? Give specific examples."

That reflection question is so timely for me! As a single mom, I feel stressed ALL. THE. TIME. Even when things are going well, part of me is stressed and worried. I think all moms (and dads) feel that way at times, but Dave mentions that single parents often feel a different type of stress since pretty much everything is on our shoulders with no one to help share in it all. 

I've been pretty stressed out lately due to my uncle's cancer diagnosis (see point 4 in THIS post...I also mention Dave Ramsey in the same post), but lately, I am even more stressed out due to a health problem of my own that has lingered for a few months now and suddenly has become worse after a very brief respite.

Plus, I'm under a lot of pressure from certain family members to "light a fire" under my son and to get him motivated (more on realistic expectations and marching to your own drum in another post). Add in recent stress at work (I can't really post about that situation though as I love my job and don't want to give anyone the wrong idea about anything), and the stress is just piling up!

And, on top of it all, it's *just me* trying to dig myself out of my huge amount of debt and to climb my way up Mt. Financial Freedom! I don't have a spouse or boyfriend to lean on. Most of my friends and relatives view debt as normal and most see it as a positive as it gives you a credit score (Dave has a lot to say about this!).

When I'm stressed out and tired, I don't spend time planning out my spending. I find myself grabbing expensive pre-made meals at the store or hitting a fast food drive thru. I spend cash at Starbucks instead of finding ways to earn a gift card to pay for my coffee. I cave in and buy junk food for my son.

I get lazy.

I have very few people around me other than a good friend in Phoenix, McKenzie, the friend that gifted FPU to me, and now my doctor, that are on board with the Dave Ramsey plan.

The lack of broad support is stressful...

It is hard to tell others who don't get what I'm doing or why I'm doing it that I can't go out to lunch, I can't drive across town just to say hello, I can't just go shopping, I can't stop for Starbucks without a gift card. 

I can't, in good faith, do things that keep me from my goals of debt freedom and financial stability.

I want to be debt free and financially stable so I can live my life like no one else--to learn more about that, be sure to check out my book review of Love Your Life, Not Theirs by Dave Ramsey's daughter, Rachel Cruze.

Are you following a Dave Ramsey inspired path towards financial freedom? How has it been for you? Be sure to share in a comment!
Curious about Financial Peace University, but not ready to take the class? You can still read the associated book, Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money. Just click HERE or click on the picture to buy it on Amazon.
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Friday, February 3, 2017

REAL MOMS: Your first colonoscopy--what it's REALLY like

Mom2MomEd Blog: REAL MOMS~*~We tried it: Your first colonoscopy and what it's really like
Friends, fair warning here--just like your gastrointestinal tract, this post is a wee bit long...

A few years ago, I would have been mortified and refused to admit that I...gulp...had a colonoscopy! I mean, I'm only 42! Surely too young for this right?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the recommended age for a first colonoscopy is 50 years old.
I'm 42.



But a couple of months ago, I had the worst stomach pain of my life and ended up not only in the Emergency Department, but admitted to the hospital and meeting a surgeon! It turns out that my colon is not fixed in place as it should be and was folded over on itself. 

I felt like I was being ripped in half.

Ultimately, I didn't have surgery and instead was sent off to the GI doctor after being released from the hospital.

And, a few weeks later I was getting 'scoped--a colonoscopy and an upper endoscopy (or EGD). The EGD part was super easy and I'd had that done before 15 years ago.

The only major prep for the UPPER portion of the exam? Don't eat anything for several hours prior to the exam. I could do that! Nothing to be worried about or embarrassed by, right? Easy-peasy!

The lower end....the colonoscopy...however, was something entirely different!

Really, go and ask several older people in your life about their colonoscopy experiences. How many say, "Oh, it was so easy and pleasant! Not a big deal at all!"? Probably NOT ONE will tell you that!

My uncle, a neighbor, older friends, and so on told me how much they hated their colonoscopies. Several told me that it was so unpleasant and embarrassing that they would *never* have another colonoscopy again.


I had always assumed that when people talked about how horrible their colonoscopies had been, that they were embarrassed by the procedure itself. I mean, seriously, the test involves putting a camera UP YOUR BUM and taking a look around.

Plus, you are lying there (asleep usually, but still...) on a table with your bare backside on view to anyone in the room while your doctor is a little too close for comfort in order for him (or her) to perform the exam.

Your BUTT is on full display.
Your BUTT is being probed.
Your BUTT is basically being violated by someone who is almost a stranger.!

I was dreading this exam, but it was the only way to be sure I didn't have any other issues or problems that could have caused my guts to fold up on themselves (McKenzie has nicknamed my problem "twisty guts"). When the procedures were scheduled, the scheduler handed me a prescription for "prep" and information detailing special dietary restrictions and so on that I would need to carry out in the few days before the procedures.

I already knew that part of the prep would involve a lot of, forgive me for being a little crude (but you knew I would be based on my BUTT talk, right?), pooping. A LOT OF POOPING.

You guys! After all of that prep and pooping, the colonoscopy itself was NO BIG DEAL! I wasn't at all embarrassed or worried about my butt flapping in the wind (wow...I hope I don't have a butt that flaps!).

Frankly, by the time I was sitting on a gurney in the procedures center and wearing a flimsy gown under a thin sheet and an oh so (not) chic hair cover, I wasn't thinking about my backside being on display or what my doctor was about to do to it.

I was just glad to be DONE POOPING!

The procedures themselves were easy compared to the prep! After I was all ready--gown, hair covering, sheet, IV and monitor--I was wheeled on my gurney into the procedure room itself where my doctor sat in the corner as two nurses were getting me situated.

I almost didn't care what was happening at this point because I was DONE POOPING and just so relieved to not be running to the toilet every five seconds.

A minute or two later, the nurses were injecting heavy duty sedatives into my IV and I was OUT. The next thing I knew, I was shaken awake by one of the nurses. Just a bit after that the doctor came in and told me that he thought everything looked really good (YAY!).

Moms (and dads or anyone else reading this...), the actual procedure of a colonoscopy is NO BIG DEAL (assuming you are sedated and OUT...).

The awful part is the preparation. It was sooooo much grosser and more embarrassing than anyone prepared me for! The doctor didn't really say much about the prep when I initially met with him, and the scheduler totally downplayed what I was about to experience. The pharmacist said nothing as she went over the prescription for the bowel prep solution with me. My parents, neighbor, uncle, and older friends said nothing about the prep.

The prep...OH. MY. GOD!

The prep involves a LOW fiber diet, followed by drinking an oral laxative solution, a clear liquids diet, a bowel prep solution, more clear liquids, and more bowel prep, and finally NOTHING for several hours prior to the procedure.

I wish someone had told me more about the prep! I knew it would involve a lot of time in the bathroom, but not quite the reality of the situation! I didn't think about how this prep might impact my sleep habits or my ability to do chores and errands and to just live life.


In order to have a clear view, your doctor really needs you to be *cleaned out*. You have to poop out EVERYTHING except for your brain.

The prep results in a lot of abdominal discomfort...cramping, bloating, and a lot of gas followed by a sudden need to RUN to the bathroom. This will continue off and on for HOURS.

The need will get even stronger and you'll be cramping up and pooping and passing gas to such a degree that you'll be afraid to fall asleep lest you have an accident in your sleep.

Forget leaving the house or doing your normal chores. STAY HOME!
Forget meeting friends for some pre-procedure camaraderie. STAY CLOSE TO THE BATHROOM!
Forget going on a hike or even walking your dogs. CANCEL APPOINTMENTS!

Make sure you have PLENTY of toilet paper or consider investing in flushable wipes...but be careful that you don't clog your toilet! Poop some...wipe a little...flush. Repeat. Don't poop a ton, wipe a ton,'ll simply overload your toilet's ability to do its job efficiently. Thankfully, I realized the potential for a toilet pooptastrophy right away and took measures to avoid a toilet bowel overflow!

For the two days ahead of my procedures, I really couldn't focus on a whole lot except how far I was from the bathroom.

Now that the whole thing is a month behind me (haha!), it feels less traumatic, but I still never want to go through that prep again!

But....I will.

Colonoscopy is an incredibly powerful tool in screening for colon cancer, and colon cancer kills. While you likely won't need a screening before the age of 50, unless you fit into certain categories or have risk factors for colon cancer, it's something you should be ready for, no matter how awful the prep is or how embarrassing you might find the exam. 

It turned out that my insides are pretty gosh darn healthy other than that bizarre twisting I experienced (the twist has since resolved, but I'm still having a lot of pain and nausea).

Am I looking forward to a repeat experience? Nope. 
Will I go ahead and do it, despite the horrors of the preparation? Yep!

The year is 365 days long (except leap years...), and the prep only impacts two to three of those days and usually only every 10 years or so.

And you can do the prep in the privacy of your own home.
And you don't need a colonoscopy annually--every 5 to 10 years will do, depending on your risk factors and medical history.

I can deal with that.

And, I've been promised that pretty much every colonoscopy is just like your first.

I wish I'd known more about the realities of colonoscopy prep ahead of time, and I hope you found this post helpful if you are facing your first colonoscopy! Of course, we all have our own, unique experiences, and what I found objectionable about all of this might be different from your own experience. Regardless, if you are facing a colonoscopy, EGD, or any other procedures, I hope your final result is a clean bill of health!

What other embarrassing situations, issues, or concerns do you have questions about but are too afraid to ask? Let us know and we'll do our best to answer! We're real moms and want to help other real moms just like us!
Please note--nothing in this post is meant to be medical advice.
This post is merely an expression of my own personal experience.
If you think you need a colonoscopy or have health issues that need to be addressed,
please consult your doctor or healthcare professional!

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

My son's birth story and why you need an advocate in the birthing suite

Mom2MomEd Blog: My son's birth story and why you need an advocate in the birthing suite
The summer of 1998 was a hot one in Portland, Oregon and I was exhausted and having a lot of lower back pain as I walked through Portland's downtown Saturday Market with my son's father and two of his other kids. I was expecting to give birth in well over three weeks in mid-September, despite my being pretty sure my due date should have been in late August.


I was young and scared of life. 
I trusted my midwife even when my gut instinct said she was wrong.
I trusted my son's father even when my gut instinct screamed at me not to do so.

I made a lot of wrong moves in my early and mid-20s, but I wouldn't undo most of them because those choices eventually resulted in my son becoming a part of my life. 

Over the course of my pregnancy, I ran into several complications with my insurance plan and I was sick a ALL. THE. TIME. Because of the insurance issues, I had to switch from the OB/GYN clinic I had chosen to a midwifery clinic I knew nothing about, and worse, I couldn't get in for a few MONTHS. I couldn't get lab work done for several months either and I missed a lot of early appointments because the insurance plan kept giving me conflicting information.

Meanwhile, I was vomiting all day, every day and couldn't stand up without wanting to pass out (and I did pass out was almost a daily occurrence). I was LOSING weight instead of gaining and ultimately gained so little net weight that none of my neighbors realized I was pregnant until I came home from the hospital with a baby.  

I was NOT healthy.

I was too scared to go to Planned Parenthood, even though I did consider an abortion very early in my pregnancy--I already knew I was in a bad relationship and I was terrified to add a child to the mix and subject a child to the anger and psychological terror of my partner. 

And, I was too scared to leave the relationship.

I was a mess.

Eventually, in the SEVENTH MONTH of my pregnancy, I was able to get lab work that showed that I had virtually no measurable iron in my system. As soon as I started taking iron supplements, my symptoms improved and I stopped passing out. I still felt awful, but I was so much better!

Throughout those months though, my midwife kept telling me I was experiencing normal morning sickness. 

I knew she was wrong. 
I'd known many pregnant women and none vomited as much as I did. None LOST weight instead of gaining. None passed out routinely. 

But, going back to that day in Portland, perusing stalls at the Saturday Market and holding my aching back, I was just wishing I could sit down in the shade with a cold, tall glass of lemonade for the rest of the day. My ex--I left my son's father when my son was four years old--scoffed each time I wanted to sit or rest and we plugged onwards. Sunday, we pretty much did the same thing, despite the fact that my back was aching even more now. Only a hot bath followed by a heating pad calmed the pain.

I still was buying into my midwife's assertion that my son wouldn't be born for a few more weeks despite that little voice in the back of my mind whispering that my son was due VERY. VERY. SOON.

I shouldn't have been surprised then when I woke up Monday morning with the worst cramping pain I've ever experienced. The pain came in regular waves and was across my entire abdomen, but especially in the lower belly and my pelvis. 

I was in labor.

My son's dad told me it was false labor and to go back to bed as he continued to get ready to go to work.
I called my midwife and she told me it was false labor and to "stop being hysterical" and to keep my scheduled appointment for later that day.
My belly and pelvis told me IT. IS. TIME. 

The contractions became faster and harder and I finally convinced my son's father to take the morning off of work and to drive me to the hospital.

The nurses checked me out and told me I was nowhere near ready to deliver and that I should go home. I wasn't having any of it and insisted that I stay. The nurses agreed to let me stay checked in and sent me to walk laps around the building. After two laps, the contractions were so strong I couldn't stand when they hit. The nurses checked me again and said I'd progressed, but not nearly enough. They still wanted to send me home and I still refused.

More lap walking at the hospital with occasional howling on my knees when the contractions were severe.

I made my way back to the maternity ward at about noon and was checked again and told, "Wow! I've never seen a first time mom progress this fast! You need your epidural NOW or it will be too late!"

Now, friends, this is where you NEED an advocate in your corner when giving birth! My son's dad new my wishes for my birth experience and my wishes for things like an epidural, thoughts about episiotomy, beliefs regarding skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth, and much more.

My midwife knew my wishes as well.

The hospital had been given a copy ahead of time in case my midwife was not on call when I went into labor.

Yet, the ONLY person to ever ask me about my goals and wishes when we arrived at the hospital or during labor was a student midwife, and she was told--right in front of me--by my midwife, "I never follow those things."

When the student pointed out that I seemed to be struggling and that the baby's heart rate was dropping and suggested that an episiotomy might help because I simply wasn't "stretching enough to accommodate the head", my midwife balked and said, "She just needs to push and stop crying."

I was horrified but in too much pain to speak up or advocate for myself.
My son's father was oblivious and ignored pretty much everything except for the noises I was making and was teasing me relentlessly over my groans of pain, telling me that I was "squealing like a pig."

NO ONE WAS ADVOCATING FOR ME EXCEPT FOR A STUDENT...and she and I were both powerless in that moment.

I ended up with extreme tearing and a lot of emotional trauma and my son was whisked away from me, not immediately breathing. I didn't even get to touch or see my son for his first 30 minutes of life. 

I was terrified and no one was talking to me.

I finally heard my son cry and was told he was fine. He was swaddled and held up so that I could see him and then he was taken away to the NICU for a few hours before finally being deemed healthy.

And, the whole time, I was still scared, angry, and exhausted. I was pissed at the midwife who ignored the student's concerns and who ignored my wishes and goals. I was pissed at my son's dad for teasing me instead of holding my hand and supporting me through the birthing process. And, I was pissed at my son's dad for NOT being my advocate. 

In the end, my son was healthy and well, but I was not. 
I was angry.

While I know now that many women don't have their birth plans followed very closely--or at all--I also know that many women DO have their plans and wishes attended to. Many women have births that veer away from their plans, but with support and encouragement from the medical staff involved. Many women have advocates--spouses, friends, significant others, family--who intervene when they see staff NOT attending to dropping heart rates or NOT attending to concerns of unnecessary tearing or NOT attending to other concerns that are readily addressed.

If you are pregnant and looking forward to your child's birth, or if you are considering giving birth in the future, be sure you have a friend, partner, or family member who can step in and advocate for you when you aren't able to do it for yourself. 

Had my ex not been a bully and had he paid attention, perhaps he could have supported the student midwife's concerns. Perhaps I wouldn't have had tearing so severe that it was problem for YEARS after my son's birth. Perhaps my son's heart rate wouldn't have been allowed to drop so low before he was actually born. Perhaps my son wouldn't have been born NOT BREATHING

Perhaps my discomfort could have been mitigated and my son could have been born breathing and crying and he could have been placed on my chest immediately after finding his way into the world.

Of course, I have no way of knowing if anything would have been different if I'd had an advocate on my side. Maybe nothing would have been different, but moms...

I want you to have the OPTION of a better birth by having someone on your side who understands your wishes and goals on an intimate level and who is ready to stand up and intervene to get you the attention and care you and your baby need when you actually need it.

Thankfully, my son has grown up to be a healthy, intelligent, mature young man and he has a bright future ahead of him because I have learned to be HIS advocate.

I'm 42 now and I have no plans to have another child, but I also haven't closed the door on the possibility if the right guy came into my life. If I were to have a child in the next few years, I'd be an older mom, but I'd also be much better able to advocate for myself or to enlist someone to advocate for me in the birthing suite.

What was your birth experience like? Was it mostly positive? Negative? In between? Let us know in the comments! Or, if you'd like to be featured in our REAL MOMS interview series, please use the comment form on the web-version of our site to drop us a note and we'll get in touch!
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