Ten Things You Should Know About Me

July 22, 2013

This list is for my new BlogHer friends, we are trying to get to know each other!

1. I have a very strong southern accent, and it is okay to ask me to repeat something.  I try to talk slow. 
2. I attended the same college that my great grandmother did.  She graduated in 1933.  Impressive huh?
3. I am in the middle of a divorce. (Uh-Oh!) 
4. I have a 3.5 year old son who is my absolute joy in life.  
5. I have braces on my teeth, and they make me look much younger than I am.  
6.  I am a runner, actually a marathoner.  
7.  I am very opinionated and frankly it gets me into trouble.  
8.  I love social good, and helping others.  
9.   I auditioned for HLN’s Raising America at Mom2Summit and I got a segment.  
10.  I am a Champion for the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign.  I advocate for global        vaccine access.  I have made so many friends who are kinda like family now through the campaign.  Ask me how you can get involved!  
You can link up to Steph’s original post over on A Grande Life

Happy Manic Monday,


Happiest Girls are the Prettiest Girls

May 15, 2013
My dear friend Jen and I in Cali

I looked in the mirror today and I realized, the happiest girls are definitely the prettiest girls. I see a direction and purpose for my life. I am honestly relieved that my facade of a marriage will be over soon enough. It is nice to no longer pretend that everything is okay. The truth will set you free, but it will definitely annoy you first. One person can only lie to you so much before all faith is lost. I look at my son and I realize, we have a bond that will never be broken.
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For a lot of people I know, their workplace plays a huge part in their happiness. No one wants to work somewhere that drains their positivity and does not make them happy after all. Of course, there is no magical solution to the age old question of ‘how to keep your employee happy for real‘, but it cannot be denied that employees are more likely to stick around when they feel respected and valued by their employer.

Anyway, this cowgirl is ready to saddle up and ride off into the sunset. Today’s sunset was picnic in the park, we walked over to the park, played on the playground, and had snacks for a few hours. It was loads of fun, until Escobar managed to wiggle loose from his harness. I’m not sure how a short fat dog moves so fast. A ten minute chase and he was recovered. I have a love hate relationship with that dog. He better be grateful Gabe loves him so much.. lol

Being happy is not always easy though. With mental health being such an important topic in the media at the moment, finding ways to practice self care has to become a priority for each and every one of us. I was actually talking to a friend of mine about this the other day. She has struggled with anxiety and depression for most of her life but she has discovered that using natural remedies like CBD oil has made a big difference to her frame of mind. CBD oil has a wide range of health boosting benefits but it has been shown to be particulalry useful for people that live with mental health issues like anxiety and depression as it is believed to be a mood booster. Accordingly, if you would like to learn more about CBD oil, you can take a look at this guide to the best CBD oil UK customers can buy on the High Times website.

On a funny note, how does one sign up for a class and totally forget about it? No joke. I think I signed up for Human Health and Global Environmental Impact in February through Harvard Extension program. I wanted to make sure I got in before it filled. I get an email today saying, “Welcome to the first day of class!” What??!!! Yeah, like I needed this right now. I am going to suck it up and move forward. I have never taken one class at a time, only full semester loads. I think this course will help to improve my perspective on global health and strengthen my advocacy skills. It might even improve my chances of getting the dream job that I applied for.
Photo Credit: Nanny Stella
On a very strange note, I checked my inbox earlier to find an email from Nanny Stella. You might remember her as one of the nanny’s from The Nanny 911 Show. I thought to myself, I know Gabe occasionally throws tantrums but he really isn’t that bad. While I was in Laguna Beach for the Mom2.0Summit I filmed a segment with the New Era Mom Show about discipline. The segment is ironically titled, “When you disagree with your husband about discipline.” Nanny Stella is one of the co-founders of the New Era Mom Show.
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They were using part of my interview in the segment and it is set to air on Thursday.
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I’m slightly nervous, anxious, and apprehensive about it airing. I will also be participating in a twitter chat on May 23. So who is gonna tune in?
Happy Triumphant Tuesday,

Sarah’s Story: Postpartum Preeclampsia

April 5, 2013
I’m honored that my first guest post is from my friend and fellow Shot@Life Champion Sarah Hughes. She shares her story about the birth of her daughter and subsequent preeclampsia.  May is preeclampsia awareness month. I am hoping my readers will find a local preeclampsia event and help support so many women who have struggled with preeclampsia. 

Please read as Sarah shares her story:

Photo courtesy of Sarah Hughes: The Hughes Family

We mothers are so used to being the nurturers and caregivers that very often we make light of what we are feeling in order to continue on with the routine.  So when I woke up 6 days after my c-section unable to catch my breath, with blurry vision and a dull headache I thought I was just tired. I had a newborn and a toddler, I didn’t have time to think something was wrong with me or what I could do to fix it, but my husband Rob insisted I call my OBGYN. 

Hayley was my second baby.  She arrived full term via scheduled c-section on October 25th.  Our little princess had arrived and even my son Derek, at just 26 months old, was thrilled for our family.  I was released from the hospital and spent two days in that post baby honeymoon phase. When I agreed to called my OBGYN I was surprised at the stern immediacy in her voice when she insisted I get to the hospital right away.
My in-laws rushed over and I kissed my babies good-bye trying to be strong but unable to hold back the tears. Derek was going to be a fireman for Halloween that day, plus my brand new Hayley Jane, I needed to be home and dress Hayley in pink and cuddle her…would she forget me? Would we never bond? I didn’t realize then that it would be 3 hellish days till I saw them again.

Preeclampsia.  I heard the word, I knew it had to do with pregnancy and headaches and blood pressure (mine was 220/110)……but I wasn’t pregnant!!!!  There I was, a mother of two, about to be hooked up to a Magnesium IV so I wouldn’t have a seizure or stroke due to preeclampsia and I had NEVER even heard of having preeclampsia postpartum!

A very sweet nurse sat down next to me and grabbed my hand firmly. She asked me to tell her what I was thinking.  I told her, “I’m scared, I just want to be home with my babies and I’m nervous what will happen to me and I’m afraid that I might die”.  That was the honest truth, I was petrified that I would seize and die.
The first night I was on the magnesium I saw 5 of everything. I had to wear an oxygen tube because my oxygen saturation levels kept dropping so low that every time I would drift into sleep I would wake up gasping for my breath. I was pumping every two hours, unable to get out of bed and hooked up to a catheter.
I felt so sick, oh so sick. The magnesium makes you so so so sickly feeling.  After I came off the Magnesium I felt “better”. My blood pressure was still high but low enough that I could go home eventually.
It took a few weeks for my BP and me to get back to normal. I feel so lucky that my preeclampsia story only involves me and that Hayley was unharmed by it all.  Most people aren’t so lucky since Preeclampsia is the leading known cause of prematurity.  

Photo courtesy of Sarah Hughes: Sarah and sweet little Hayley

Thousands of women and babies die or get very sick each year from this dangerous condition called preeclampsia, a life-threatening disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Affecting at least 5-8% of all pregnancies, preeclampsia and related disorders such as HELLP syndrome and eclampsia are most often characterized by the presence of protein in the urine and a rapid rise in blood pressure that can lead to seizure, stroke, multiple organ failure and death of the mother and/or baby. Swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision are important symptoms; however, some women with rapidly advancing disease report few symptoms.
Typically, preeclampsia occurs after 20 weeks gestation (in the late 2nd or 3rd trimesters or middle to late pregnancy), though it can occur earlier. Proper prenatal care is essential to diagnose and manage preeclampsia. Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH) and toxemia are outdated terms for preeclampsia. Globally, preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death. The Preeclampsia Foundation www.preeclampsia.org the only non-profit in the US devoted to hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, serving the 10 million women worldwide who develop preeclampsia each year.

In the 5-15 years after having had preeclampsia I am now twice as likely to develop heart disease. According to the Preeclampsia Foundation there are an estimated 4.5M US women alive today who are at risk to die from Cardio Vascular Disease or stroke because of their preeclampsia history.  Both Hayley and Derek’s future wife are at a higher risk for developing preeclampsia because yes it is hereditary.  I have hope that one day we will find a cause and a cure for preeclampsia.  I will forever being trying to help in the education of preeclampsia and raise money for The Preeclampsia Foundation.  I am the volunteer walk coordinator for the Promise Walk for Preeclampsia Philadelphia/South Jersey.  May is officially Preeclampsia Awareness Month.  Won’t you join our walk on Saturday, May 11th, 2013 at Challenge Grove Park in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  We walk on Mother’s Day Weekend to celebrate Mothers and Babies!! If you aren’t local to the Philadelphia area you can find a walk  closer to you at www.promisewalk.org We can’t do it alone!

A little bit about Sarah: 

She grew up in Staten Island, New York.  She escaped working in New York City for a new life in Philadelphia when she started dating her now husband Rob. They have two children, Derek is 4 and Hayley is 2. Finnegan is their 5 year old Australian Shepherd and really more like a third child than a dog. All of their children love to sleep in their bed!! She is a Shot@Life Campion and a Preeclampsia Foundation Walk Coordinator.  She blogs over at www.finneganandthehughes.com

Please stop by and visit her blog!

Happy Friendly Friday,

Some birds were meant to fly

February 10, 2013

Some birds were meant to fly and I flew the coop a long time ago.  I have always been adventurous and slightly audacious.  When I graduated high school at 17, I was ready to leave that sleepy little town that I loved to explore the world.  I have been fortunate to travel and meet lots of interesting people along my path, and yet I feel like my journey has just begun.  

Today, I took my another big leap out of my nest.  I left my son with my mother while I am gone to Washington, D.C..  I know we are both ready and we need this.  In his three years on this earth, he has traveled to Idaho, Nevada, throughout South Florida, along with the countries of Colombia, Curacao, and the British Virgin Islands, and countless stops inbetween.  If you count the 9 months I was carrying him, he has been a few other places too!  I was determined to teach him to have wings too, but sadly I realized I have been hindering him.  We have never slept in separate rooms  and tonight will be our first night apart.  I have never been away from him for more than a few hours.  

I am an Army wife, and I have an Army life.  My husband is gone alot.  He has been gone since shortly after Gabe turned one year old.  In honesty, if you counted up the days, he has been gone close to half our marriage.  It is the life we chose and I am grateful for his career.  Sadly, I sometimes feel like Gabe is being short changed in the parental department.  My family lives about two hours away.  It is just Gabe and I most days.  I feel guilty leaving him when his Dad is gone all the time.  

I believe in teaching a child by example.  I need to teach Gabe to fly by watching me.  He needs to know that I have dreams and I am not afraid to follow them.  I can’t make him afraid to leave the nest or always need me to fly with him (although I gladly would).  Leaving him asleep this morning wasn’t easy, but in my experience nothing that came easy was ever really worth it.  

Today I dusted off my wings and hopefully Gabe will start to use his own.  Watch out Washington this Bluegrass Belle is on her way!  I am so excited about advocating for the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign.  I say this repeatedly, I may not be able to change the World, but I can work to make it better even if it is just one person at a time. 

Dear Boo, 
Momma will be home soon enough.  I miss you bunches and love you more than you will ever know.  Big a big boy and don’t be too mean to Escobar. 

Happy Soaring Sunday,

Vaccination: More than JUST a shot

January 27, 2013

As a mother, I can remember all the important milestones in my sons life.  The first time he said, “Mama,” we were driving through Boise, Idaho.  His first steps were in our living room.  He stole my heart for the first time, the very moment I laid eyes on him.  I am hopeful I will get to see many more milestones in his life.  His college graduation, marriage, and eventually the birth of his own child, are  just a few I would be overjoyed to see.  There are millions of children and parents who won’t get a chance to see just one of those milestones, because they do not have access to vital vaccines.  Measles, polio, rotavirus, and pneumonia are just a few of the diseases which could be prevented with very simple vaccines.

I believe that vaccines are a personal choice for each parent.  I never second guessed my choice to vaccinate my son Gabriel.  I just hope that if a parent chooses to not vaccinate, they would make an educated decision with their healthcare provider and without the aid of anti-vaccination propaganda.  We lived outside of the United States in Bogota, Colombia.  Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, measles,  yellow fever, and malaria are all prevalent in that country.  Malaria is the only disease which cannot be prevented with a vaccine.  We went to Bogota completely prepared.  Parents in other nations would be willing to walk miles for a chance at getting vaccines, while people here often take those opportunities for granted.  I was saddened recently to hear the story of a father in the U.S. who had denied his daughter access to the flu vaccine, and she died shortly after from complications of the flu.  It is heartbreaking to believe that her life could have possibly been saved with the use of the flu vaccine.  Last year 26 children died of flu complications in the U.S. alone.  That could have been 26 chances at high school proms or drivers licenses that were lost to something as simple as the flu.  There was 1.5 million children who died in developing nations of diseases which could have been prevented through vaccines.  

Gabe and I will the Presidential Palace guards in front of the Colombia Presidential Palace in Bogota
The United Nations Foundation developed the Shot@Life program as a grassroots movement to advocate for and provide vaccinations to children around the world.  They work in conjunction with the GAVI Alliance. They provide vaccination opportunities through various other programs and organizations such as the World Health Organization, World Bank, and United Nations Children’s Fund.  There are so many ways to help through both donation and advocacy.  Did you realize that $20 would cover the cost of vaccination for measles, polio, pneumonia, and rotavirus in one child?  

It has taken me 30 years to discover my true passion in life which is advocacy.  I would love to give a child at shot figuring out their passion too!  What would you give a child a shot at?  Please read more about Shot@Life at their website www.shotatlife.org