All we have…


Today I was feeling a bit nostalgic.

I talked to a friend about her recent road trip with her mother and she commented how long it was and how much driving was involved.  I quickly responded.. Even though it was long, you made memories!
Almost immediately a ton of my own memories of road trips with my mom surfaced my mind.  It was hard for me not to get emotional.  One of my favorite things was my summers spent with my mom in Georgia.  Mom would say, “Lets get in the car and GO!”  I never knew where we were going, but she would have a plan.  The trusty map that she kept in her glove box would be newly folded with a route in mind.  She had the mileage written down next to each stop that we would take in her trusty notepad.  She always had the town that we would stop and get gas in written down and made sure we never had less than 1/2 tank.  I still till this day wonder how I have not picked up that habit!  I am the 1/4 tank queen!  She was always prepared and ready for an adventure.  We would visit old towns devastated by the war, Ate Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistle Stop Cafe, hiked the beautiful falls in Dahlonega, The Cabbage Patch Kid factory in Cleveland, The Cherry Blossom Festival in Macon… you name it!  If it was in Georgia or a state close by, we would visit.  I loved being on the open road and still do.  Part of the reason I went to college at Texas Tech (6 hours away) is the drive.   Watching the houses pass by and wondering about who lived in those houses and what they were doing at that very moment.  I always loved the fact that there was so much more to this world than just my own.  The one thing I could always do without is the smell of mom’s cigarettes.  My mom smoked like a chimney.  Always had since I could remember and did up until after about two years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Right before I moved her into a facility I was having to do everything for her including her groceries and her smokes were always on the list.  One day she left them off and I didn’t ask.  I had begged her my entire life to quit and she just could not.  And from that day on, she forgot she smoked for 45 years.  Was the strangest thing.  That is honestly when I really started getting worried about her.
I always joke about that day because I had just recently found out I was pregnant with my first daughter.  I imagined buying a carton of Marlboro reds being huge and pregnant and the looks I would get.  Still makes me giggle.  Days like today really I wish I could remember everything about those times with mom.  The talks we had in those many hours going to and from our adventures and more about her own past. I would give just about anything to just sit and talk like we used to.

I find myself really being very aware of writing down things that our girls can have it once we are gone.  So even when we are not on this earth and they want to feel a piece of us, they will find us in letters.  One of the things that I started many years ago before I got pregnant with my first child is a journal for my children and I encourage each and every one of you do the same.  Even if your child is 10 years old, DO IT!!  I have written in it every month when they were babies and now I write in it randomly with funny stories, or just to say hello.  I pray they treasure their journals as much as I would have if my mom had thought of it.  Sometimes daddy even writes in it too!  With our first daughter it took four years to get pregnant and the infertility journey is all in there.  Every painful memory.. the miscarriage, IVF, all the negative tests…  She will have no doubt at all that she was so wanted and loved and God had a divine plane for her life.  (Side note: starting to think it was because God had to perfectly craft the most strong will child ever)  #terribletwos

My mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease at 61 years old.  It has been the most heart wrenching journey I have traveled thus far.  (She is now 65) To see your mother physically and have her not be there at all is absolutely horrendous.  I didn’t even think to ask my mom all of the details of my childhood before it was too late and that is why I am giving my girls every chance to not feel the same.

Life is just so very short in the scheme of it all…
All we have when we leave this earth to live the eternal life in Heaven is our memories and our words…

If you feel led to help me fight the good fight against this terrible disease, Alzheimer’s please
join our team to walk here in San Antonio on September 19th, 2015.  Any donation is appreciated as 100% go towards the research towards research on prevention and cures.

Love always,

Piece by piece

For some time now I have been unable to write and get my feelings out.  This latest chapter in involving my mom and Alzheimer’s Disease has been a heavy one. This blog is my therapy.  Once I am able to get the words out, it seems to lift a burden off of my heart.  I can’t even count the number of posts I have written over the years and just not published.  I have sat in front of the computer numerous times in the last month and nothing.  A few nights ago I was praying and almost asleep and The Lord told me to write….

A little over a month ago I got a call that I have been dreading.  Usually the baby will wake me up for her morning feeding, but on this day it was the phone.  Never a good sign.  Mom had been rushed to the hospital via an ambulance.  She had a seizure.  My heart stopped when the nurse from her facility explained what happened. What do I do now?  My husband had to leave for work and I had two small children.  There is no way I was going to wake up the 2 year old and take both girls to the ER.  I had no clue what I would be walking into.  Luckily, my mother in law came to the rescue to help with the girls so I could head up to the hospital.  Side note: I have seriously been Blessed with the world’s greatest mother in law! I can always count on her to help with the girls, great advice or just to listen to me yap.  <3

Up until that point my mom had been healthy.  (As healthy as one can be with late stages of Alzheimer’s).  Seeing her lying in the ER bed was heartbreaking.  She looked so frail and weak and was extremely tired from the seizure.  I was told that it was almost two minutes long.  That day and the day to follow were some of the worst that I have encountered with my mom and this dreadful disease.  Being in the hospital is absolutely horrible for most people, but admit someone with dementia and it’s a whole new ballgame.  It’s catastrophic. I had to make sure nurses knew so they would treat her differently than most other patients they would have that shift.  I helped constantly hold her down or re-direct her so she wouldn’t pull out IV’s and stayed by her side to give her reassurance that she would be ok. She was terrified. As of this point I was still the only person she knew or recognized.  The first few hours after her admittance I was constantly in tears.  Seeing my strong, capable mom so terrified and afraid broke me.  It brought me back to the day we moved her into the first facility almost three years ago.  Once we moved all of her things into the assisted living facility and were about to leave she looked at me and said, “Please don’t leave me here Tarah.  I want to go home.”  I hugged her and reassured her that she would be ok, and I wouldn’t let anything happen to her.  And as soon as the door shut I cried.  Hard.  And being 8 months pregnant it did not help.  Here I was once again, my hands tied and praying mom would be ok.

Fast forward to a month ago.  Ever since the hospital my mom has slowly started to regress.  Her speech was getting more slurred, her walking was labored and she was having smaller seizures though out the day. Even on seizure medication.  One day she even lost her smile.  That day I couldn’t hide my tears from her.  Every time I looked into those beautiful brown eyes that I have seen since the day I was born, my heart broke further and further.  What would the world be like without my mom’s amazing smile?  The smile that God so graciously gave me also?  She is slowly being taken away from me, piece by piece.

A week later I attended the Alzheimer’s Associations breakfast to celebrate the Champions and Grand Champions from last year.  I felt so proud to be apart of this group and to know that I had a part of helping to raise money to fight this destructive disease.  Even though I went alone and was very much out of my comfort zone, it was so uplifting.  I met others directly affected with Alzheimer’s and even met someone my own age who’s mother also has Early Onset.  Thank the Lord that I am not alone in this battle being as young as I am.

After the breakfast I had a meeting at my mom’s facility for her quarterly assessment.  I went into the meeting pissed at this disease and determined to make a massive difference this year with my fundraising goals.  I was on a mission and doubling what I raised last year!
And then, time stopped and I was derailed off my high.  After the usual assesment meeting where we go through her day to day requirements and how many points (levels of care have a point scale), the medical director dropped a bomb shell. She suggested that I start contacting hospice companies.  Hospice.  The word itself sends me into a panic.  Hospice is for people who are dying.  Mom is still here.  In reality though, the most heart wrenching part of this disease is that even though my mom is physically still here, she is a complete new person.  Her beautiful eyes, the hands that are so much like my own are here, but she is not here at all.  She is slowly dying on the inside and everything that I have known and loved about her is almost gone.  She rarely remembers me anymore.  She is a shell of my mom.
Long story short, we signed my mom up for hospice that weekend.  The realization of the end has finally settled and I am somehow moving more towards some acceptance even though I don’t know if I will ever really be there until she is actually gone.  I spend so much time talking to doctors, the facility, medical billing, etc that when that is all over… I don’t know if I will know what to do with that time. Being her caretaker these past four years have been so challenging, yet so rewarding because I know I am honoring my mother.

Mom had an upturn these past few weeks after we took her off a medicine and I am hopeful because she seems to be getting back to her “normal” self that she was before the hospital.  Even though some things may be getting better, her manic behaviors are increasing.  Since she is stronger and more agile than most patients living at a Alzheimer’s facility everyone is having a hard time medicating her.  Her hospice nurse told me last week that mom is her only walking patient.  My mom does laps all day around the facility.  She never, ever slows down and doesn’t sleep much either.  It is exhausting to watch.  Sooner or later she will run herself into the ground.  Of course we can try different medications to help slow her down, but all come with their own gamut of lovely side effects.  It is a never ending battle to find the “right” medications.  I honestly believe at this point it is unobtainable.

I am working on giving this burden to The Lord, but trying to do everything on my own is what I do.  I have some amazing friends that truly love me and I have no clue what I would do without them.  Two of them most recently have gone over and beyond and have been such a light for me during this dark month or so of my life.  Jennifer and Christy, thank you both so much for pouring into me.  Your love and the love that He shows through you has helped me more than you know.

This battle is far from over.  Hurt and heartache are bound to be plentiful ahead, but I am staying firm in my faith.  The beauty of this life is that we will always have trials and tribulations.  God didn’t make this life on earth easy.  It is what you do with the obstacles that we are faced with that defines us as humans.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

We are a little over a month away from the Alzheimer’s Walk here in San Antonio,TX.  Will you join me in my fight to raise money?  To battle this disease head on and shout from the rooftops and heighten awareness that this isn’t an “old persons disease!?”  To collectively gather funds so more research can be done so we can eradicate Alzheimer’s!?  Let’s put an end to this painful disease that is stealing away our Grandparents and Parents.  Let’s make sure our children don’t face this same battle… Join Melanie’s Memories Matter today!

*If you will not be able to attend the walk with us on September 26th you can still donate to our team in honor of my mom or in memory of your own loved one!

Marriage is hard


On a daily basis I a reminded of how hard marriage really is.  Sharing your life with someone is just plain work.

When I was married over 7 years ago I went into it with realistic expectations.  As a child of not one, but two divorces I knew the journey ahead would not be easy.  Since I knew what divorce was and what it did to children caught in the crossfire, I was going to work my butt off to make my marriage work.  There would be NO easy way out.  Divorce would never be an option.  Ever.

Fast forward 7 years and two children and I now understand.  I totally get how people can throw up their hands and move on to something “better.”  Or just give up and divorce.  This stuff is hard!  And you have to work on the relationship DAILY!
One major thing I have learned is communication is key.  That and surprises!

Surprises- Now I don’t mean presents per say.. (but I do love presents)   🙂
Just something different from the day to day monotony of life.  Sweet notes written with markers on the bathroom mirror, other special notes hidden through out the house for your spouse to find, flowers.. get creative.  Money is NOT the primary here, it is the thought.

Communication- Communication sucks.  No lie, I was a communication major in college.  I can talk to people.  I love people!  Yet, sometimes telling my husband that I feel neglected in some way or that feel like I need him to help me out more in an area around the house is super hard for me.  Honestly it is just easier for me to keep my mouth shut!  But is “easier” really going to help this relationship long term?  No.

Since we have hit the “7 year itch” mark I have found that we have been going through some major growth in our marriage.  We have now been together almost 10 years and we know each other.. well.  Yet, as life moves on day to day our “normal” if there was ever one, has changed.  And with that becomes some serious work in the two of us.  Thankfully, we are not alone and we have the Lord to help guide us and give us direction and support in our marriage.

“But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and two will become one flesh.  So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”  (Mark 10: 6-9)

Powerful.  Marriage has been around forever and God smiles upon the sacred vow.  Praying and calling out to Him for help or get connected to people of faith to give spiritual advice is key.  I don’ t know about you, but I just love the part about “becoming one flesh.”  I put this verse on our program at our wedding and it still gets me warm and fuzzy on the inside all of these years later.  It is romantic to me… living out the rest of your life with one person who knows you like no one else.

I have not one doubt in my mind that on that fateful Christmas night that Chris and I were supposed to cross paths.  I know we were put together to make a difference in not only our children’s lives, but those around us.  We want to share our love of God and our passion for quality health for all that will listen.  No matter how hard the day to day may seem of sharing my life with my husband, I will do my best everyday to work at us.  Because we started with “us” and until my last living breath.. it will end with us.

We have decided that every Sunday night we will have some time for us and our week.  Talk about the week ahead, our finances, pray, and hopefully finally start a bible study that we have been talking about for a while now.
I challenge you to do the same!  Let’s make 2015 the year that marriages are strengthened, restored and rejuvenated!


My baby is not a baby


Someone told me when my eldest daughter was a baby that the days are long and the years are short.  It couldn’t be more true.

I can not even believe that my baby girl will be 6 months old tomorrow.  How did it go by faster this time than my first child??  I am sure part of it is that the girls are only 18 months apart, but it needs to stop!!  Right now it is 10:00 at night and I am watching sweet baby E roll around on the floor in the living room.  From her back to her stomach and then to her back again.  She loves her new “game.”  Since this kid has been 3 months old she has gone down at 8pm, sometimes sooner.  She isn’t a consistent sleeper though the niter and do have a pretty regular nursing session at 4am.  I want to finally move her into her room, but it will be sad to see my baby go.  I will however enjoy hopefully sleeping a continuous 8 hours (I hope.)
Tonight she is smiling, laughing and acting as if it was 10 in the morning.  Hmmm…  It has to be a growth spurt or another tooth. Infants are so unpredictable, but I love that about them.  One of the many things I adore about my #2 is her amazing disposition. For example.. something is definitely up with her and she is happy and laughing and “purring” like a champ.  She is like this 99% of the time!  We are so very Blessed with this baby girl.

At this time 6 short months ago we were at the Birth Center and I was in active labor.  My dreams of a successful VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) were about to come true!  These past few months I have been going through some serious personal growth and whenever I get down on myself about something or have negative self talk, I remind myself about my birth with Everleigh.  I have never EVER worked so hard at anything and been so determined.  Praise God for my friend Chelsea Lietz and the pictures she took of our birth.  If you or anyone you know are on the fence about birth photography.. DO IT!  Natural, drugs, c-section, in the woods.. I don’t care how you bring a miracle into this world, but get it on film from someone that isn’t as vested as you and your partner!  And ps. If you are in South Texas look up Chelsea.  She is pretty stinking incredible at Newborn Photography, but I continue to be constantly impressed by her skills in other areas!

My goal in the next week or so is to finally write out my birth story in entirety.  Not only for me, but to inspire someone else that may have a dream of a natural birth as I did.  Until then, watch the video of my sweet baby girl’s Birthday.  I promise there are no super graphic photos.  Those are just for us!  <3
Birth of Baby E by Chelsea Lietz

Be Blessed,

A few weeks ago I threw my daughter a 2nd Birthday Party.  2!!!!

Seriously.. where does the time go?  I am learning the joys of having a small child and “themes” of parties as well.  Up until about a few months before the party I was for sure that a Sesame Street theme would be exactly what she wanted.  She had become obsessed with Elmo almost overnight.  I had even been collecting items to use for her party over the past several months.  Then my sweet girl decided that she was going to become completely and totally attached to her Minnie Mouse doll that I bought in Disney Land when I was pregnant with her.  She wouldn’t leave the house without it and it became attached to her permanently.  The picture below is her “school” picture from her Mothers Day Out program.  They couldn’t even get a picture of her without Minnie.  <3  So a Minnie party it was!

When it comes to planning parties I may get a bit crazy, but I can’t lie.  I LOVE it!  If I didn’t enjoy the late nights of decorating, the planning out every detail and the glue gun burns then I wouldn’t do it.  But I honestly do.  And now being a mother I am discovering I like it a lot!  For Adalynn’s 2nd Birthday I did scale down a bit more than I did for her first (I still never posted about her 1st because I was so exhausted after and was pregnant.)  There are so many ideas that I could have done, but didn’t.  I tried my hardest to stay of Pinterest and really let my own imagination run wild.  I also had a very sweet friend from my MOPS group that had a Minnie Bday for her daughter (and has a Cricut) and she let me have some of her decorations.  Was an adorable and fairly stress free party if I do say so myself!  And there were NO goodie bags… just a cookie for our guests.  Best idea ever.


This picture kills me!  She was waving at everyone as they sang her Happy Birthday!  So adorable!

I had such a wonderful time celebrating my sweet Addy’s 2nd Birthday and am looking forward to many more Birthday’s to come for my girls.  <3