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A Farewell

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us on this blog, but it is with sadness that I must close it down to focus on my daughters illness full time. She has been suffering with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome for the past few years and I have become a pretty vocal person in the movement to raise awareness about this illness. I will keep our HMMB facebook page up and running with new posts shared to it occassionally, but right now I will be focusing full time on my daughters pages in order to raise awareness about this rare chronic illness that she is suffering from. You can find us online at www.facebook.com/prayersforej, www.instagram.com/prayersforej, or at www.prayersforej.wordpress.com.

Thank you again for all of your support. It’s been greatly appreciated.

Sarah

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Prayers For E.J.

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Summer 2015-Age 6
Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Warrior

This summer has been a whirlwind. We didn’t do much, because every time we turned around our daughter was sick again. She was in the hospital at Blank Children’s in Des Moines for almost a week in May. By the time she was halfway feeling normal again, we spent another 5 days there in July. She was diagnosed the first time with what was most likely a viral illness triggering her CVS. She had an NG tube placed, was vomiting nonstop, and continued to get worse and worse. By July, they diagnosed her with a secondary instance of something viral, only this time it was viral pneumonia. From May 5th through the end of July, EJ had not one, not two, but FIFTEEN different tests and procedures done. This is not counting blood tests and labs. These are actual procedures. Think enema. Think EGD. Think Xrays. Think tubes going into a six year olds lady business. Yes, things that no child in KINDERGARTEN should ever have to deal with, we endured. By the time her immune system was well enough again for anything, summer had ended and school began.

I was fortunate in that her teacher was willing to sit down and listen to us, because the first week of school she had another episode. She has had a fever for three days of the past week and dark eyes, which are never good signs. I have been spending so much time raising a two year old and struggling with my daughters health and getting her into the Cyclic Vomiting Program in Wisconsin that I have barely had time for myself. I graduated from college in May with my AGS. I am training as assistant manager at a local theater in town. When time goes on, I may go back to school for nursing. After all, what better way to advocate for your sick child than becoming a part of the medical field yourself?

Thank you for sticking with me while I figure this all out. I have had 75 new likes in the past few months, so I wanted to take a moment to say thank you and update you about what was going on. I may begin a new blog about EJ’s fight, but for now, I know that would be one more thing I placed on the backburner. Until then, please follow us at http://www.facebook.com/prayersforej or on instagram under the same user ID. We could use all the help and prayers you have available. If you are interested in helping out monetarily, you may check out our GoFundMe page under “Heylittlefighter.” (www.gofundme.com/heylittlefighter) Of course, we expect nothing of anyone and ask only for prayers!

If you are a fellow CVS Warrior or an Invisible Illness sufferer, be sure to shoot me a message or join us over on Facebook so we can all love and encourage one another.

Much love.

Sarah

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Hey Little Fighter

I realize I have gone radio silent once again, but my daughter was hospitalized earlier this month and there has been a lot to deal with regarding that. Please pray for our family. 🙂

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EJ’s Journey

I realized today that I haven’t posted here very much recently. When I started this blog, I was pretty pumped about it. I had just had a successful run with another blog called Parenterest. It routinely had 15k hits a month and while that sounds like nothing for you professional bloggers, for a girl sitting in the middle of an Iowa Cornfield, I felt famous. I shut the site down, because I felt that the name didn’t fit, the content didn’t fit, and I wanted to make something that was more about my entire life than just about parenting and crafts. After all, I am no pinterest mama. I don’t do arts and crafts well and as much as I try, any dessert I make falls flat. My point is that I had every intention of blogging daily, sharing my life, and having my old followers join me here. Instead, I started to withdraw. I fell back into radio silence and left people in the dark, because I find it hard to share when the times are tough and my kids are involved.

I have said this before and I know I keep saying it, but it’s a process. I will try to write more, I will try to update more, I will try to advocate and be a voice for my child until her ailments are cured and her tiny little soul can be freed from the chains that are keeping her from being a regular six year old.

For those of you that are new here, my daughter EJ was diagnosed with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome in the summer of 2014. You can read about it in the link at the top of the page near the about section. Since that diagnosis, things have happened so fast that I haven’t had time to sit and breathe. Most of you know that I write here, but only a handful of you know my personally. I am currently a full time college student with a part time night job. My boyfriend is a full time college student with a full time job. We have two girls, EJ and AJ. One will be two next month, the other is six. Pair kindergarten events with 2 working parents, 2 parents in full time college, a toddler hitting the terrible 2’s, and a mysterious illness and as you can imagine, things get crazy.

Since EJ was diagnosed with “CVS,” we have had appointment after appointment trying to figure out what’s going on inside her tiny body. In an effort to brace you for the next sentence, I am giving you a fair amount of time in telling you that this is a TMI warning and you may want to brace yourself. Okay, ready? Since her diagnosis, she has battled ongoing UTI’s and yeast infections relentlessly. We have had one infection get treated only for the meds to CAUSE the other infection. We have had her on so many medications to treat these things at once, we’ve just about lost track. We’ve watched her suffer from a severe bladder infection that caused her incontinence and pain for days on end which ended up being caused by E.Coli. We’ve watched as she has struggled to figure out when she needs to use the bathroom as she has no urge to go until she nearly pees herself, and we have watched as she has had procedure after procedure performed only for everyone to be at a loss about what’s wrong.

We have a pediatric gastroenterologist, nephrologist, and urologist all working together to determine what is going on inside her tiny body. Last week she had a painful procedure done which included her being catheterized. My tiny little fragile six year old daughter had to have a room of people standing around her naked from the waste down little body pinning her down as they shoved tubes into her bladder. She cried and I stood there feeling absolutely helpless and weak. In the end, the test determined she didn’t have what they were looking for, which only made me feel worse. Obviously, as a parent I should be glad she didn’t have the ailment they thought she did, but if she had….we would have had answers.

Answers. What a challenging word. Can you ever really have the answers? I feel that math and science are the only areas in the world with definitive answers these days. (Not that I am any good at math.) The fact remains that we have walked through this process for the past ten months and we have come no closer to any answers. We don’t know why she has CVS, we don’t know what causes it, we don’t know if there’s a cure, we don’t know if she has to be on cyproheptadine or amitriptyline for the rest of her life, we don’t know why she has bladder infections, yeast infections, problems feeling the need to urinate, or why she was born with a labial adhesion that no one would operate on even after I was repeatedly told that it would cause her problems in life.  I don’t know anything these days.

What I do know is that my daughters health is more important than a blog, or a job, or homework, or anything else that may stand between me being there for her. If It took losing my job, waiting another semester to graduate, or losing “followers,” then that’s no big deal to me. She is my flesh, my blood, my miracle in this world, and she is hurting. She is confused and she is in pain. She doesn’t understand what’s going on inside her body and neither do I. During her last five day long vomiting episode, she looked up at me with weak and weary eyes and said to me: “Mom…I wish this never happened to me. I wish this happened to someone else instead.” I told her we should never wish that pain on another person, but that we could wish it hadn’t happened to her. So she put her head down gently towards the bucket which was once upon a time designated for mopping, but was by now known as “The Puke Bucket,” and she whispered quietly, “Okay then mama…I wish this never happened to me or anyone else.” A year later and this moment is all I can think about as I keep saying to myself over and over again, “Me too baby, me too.”

If you don’t know the pain of seeing a child who at age five has a BMI that is so low the doctors are telling you it isn’t even on the chart and she hasn’t stopped vomiting for five days, I envy you. If you’ve never had to speed your daughter to an emergency room 30 minutes away because she is constantly losing consciousness due to her severe dehydration and exhaustion after over 100 hours of vomiting only to find out upon arrival after six blown veins that she is so dehydrated they will have to stab the iv in through the top of her foot…count your blessings. If you’ve never had to wrestle with the demons that come along with trying to decide whether or not to switch your child from cyproheptadine to amitriptyline which is classed as an antidepressant and can cause holes or otherwise cause issues in the brain of a still developing child, then I would say to you “enjoy this.” I miss the days where we didn’t have to think about packing medications every time we left to spend the night somewhere. I miss the days where we didn’t have to call in refills and pay for prescriptions because her insurance doesn’t cover the medication she’s on. I miss not having to drive hours and hours at a time just to watch strangers I don’t even know put my daughter on a table and stab/poke/jolt/upset her. I miss not having to worry about how much she ate or weighed or whether or not her teachers are going to respond to my emails. Today I was talking to her about everything that had gone on lately and she simply said, “Mom, I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” before walking away. In my stunned silence, I hugged her awkwardly as she passed. Six year olds shouldn’t have to think like adults. Six year olds shouldn’t have concerns about their health. Six year olds shouldn’t understand…but she does.

She is six years old.

She is confused.

But she is also strong and brave.

I am confident that I will break well before she does. This seems normal to her now. It’s routine for people to talk to her about her vagina or bodily functions or bathroom habits. It’s normal for her to sit in hospital beds, hospital gowns, and hospital waiting rooms. It’s normal to have blood drawn and IV’s placed. It’s normal to her.

And that’s not normal.

(As a side note, this is a very personal post. I am letting you into my world and I am having a rough go of things lately. I hope you can all understand why I would post this, why I would put this out there into the world, and why I would ask that you be patient and understanding with me when I don’t update the site as often as I should. I also want to point out that due to EJ’s condition, we have had to have extensive talks with her about who can touch what where and when and who shouldn’t and things of that nature, as that was something I was worried about at her age. If you have ever been through something similar in any way, shape, or form, please comment here, message me through the link or on my Facebook page, or find me however you can. I am very vocal about EJ’s illnesses, issues, procedures, and so fourth, because I never want another family to feel as lost and confused as we did at the start of all this. In fact, we still feel lost. The doctors are lost. No one knows what’s going on. That’s the worst part of Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. It is so unknown that every day is a battle, a search, a desire to learn new information that the world can benefit from. For more information on CVS, please visit CVSA.Org.)

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Christ is my Compass.

Can I just start by saying, “Wow, what a year we’ve had.” I started going to church in October and even though I felt uncomfortable and out of place, I kept going. By my second month there, I broke down and cried. Being raised without a “traditional” family in a “traditional” home, I’ve always had a sense of loss. I know that it sounds like I am asking you to pity me, but I’m not. My troubles only made me stronger and put me on the path I’m on today. Even still, the fact that I grew up with two parents living in two homes in two towns is no surprise. How many parents in America are divorced before their children start Kindergarten? Honestly, that’s just a sad fact of life for many. The fact that my mother remarried and then once more did nothing to help the situation. I can understand her side of things more so now that I’m an adult. She was just a woman who wanted to find love. I envy the fact that she never gave up looking for true love, even after her relationships failed. Unfortunately, having no strong male role model growing up has left me awkward around men and unable to effectively communicate. This means that when I want to talk to my Pastor or any male inside my church, I do so without even making eye contact, because it feels incredibly uncomfortable and personal to me.

Growing up, the only other person I had in the house was my brother. You would think that as the “man of the house” more often than not, we would have developed a close bond. Oh how I wish that were true. We are two different people and we lead two very different lives. There are shows that I see coming on the tv late at night where brothers and sisters get together for dinners, for parties, for heart to hearts and I feel a twinge of jealousy that I will never have that. We have never been close and I feel that is something we will never be. I love him with all of my heart, but the feeling just doesn’t seem mutual. His views of the world and the way we were raised are strong and he can’t understand how it is that I want to live my life in a different way. You see, growing up in a certain way means you end up turning out in a certain way if you aren’t careful to avoid it. Either you let the pattern repeat, or you do your best to break the cycle. We each went the opposite direction from one another. He lives in the way that my parents lived. He does what he feels needs to be done, regardless of consequence. He isn’t afraid to call you out if you disagree with him and call you names. He can’t get through a day without beer in his hand, just like the majority of the family I was raised by.

So why did I weep my second month of church? Why did I collapse to the floor while cooking lunch one day because the pain in my chest was so overwhelming? I will tell you why. For the first time in my life, and I’ve said this before, I feel like there are people I can turn to. I feel like I can ask people to pray for my children and they will listen. I feel like I can voice my opinions and they will be heard. I struggle daily to talk to these people that I barely know who aren’t familiar with my story, and I can attest that making friends as an adult is no easy task, but I try. I have people that I feel a connection with in a way that I have never felt with anyone else. These are people I feel I can turn to and tell anything. They feel like my sisters without actually being my sisters.

This past year, we have struggled more than I have ever struggled in my life. Isn’t it funny how this is the same year I felt the need for Jesus in my life? Our daughter has been in and out of the hospital since last July. Between her Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome and the unknown issues she has right now, we are spending the majority of our free time driving her from Specialist to Specialist and Hospital to Hospital. The miles on the car are rising fast. As of right now, my poor six year old has a Pediatric Gastroenterologist, a Pediatric Nephrologist, and a Pediatric Urologist. She also has daily medications to prevent her from vomiting and that allow her to gain weight, but you can read about all that in a previous blog post or two.

This past week, she had yet another appointment. In fact, it was her second in one week. She had to have a procedure done called a Vcug. We were assured it wouldn’t hurt, but I knew it would. The hospital was great and the nurses were as well. Unfortunately, it did hurt, and I was left once again fighting back tears as my baby screamed and tensed up in pain on that table. I keep asking myself why she has to go through all of this. I keep asking myself why we can’t just get answers already. The incredibly guilt I feel every time she has a test done that comes back normal is almost unexplainable. You don’t often hear parents say that they wish their childrens test results would come back with an issue, but in her case, it would mean answers… it would mean medication, control, treatment, or a cure. In her case, abnormalities would mean answers, which is all we’ve wanted this year.

So why do we continue to put her through this? Why do we force her to see specialist after specialist in town after town? Why has she had nurses and doctors looking at parts of her body for the past six months that I never thought would need to be seen until puberty? Why have we had to have in depth conversations about who is allowed to check her over and look at her in certain ways? Why are we allowing this difficult and heartbreaking process to go on? The answer: We have no choice.

Now, let me back up a minute. When I say we have no choice, I don’t mean that we actually have no choice. Of course we do, we are her parents. We could pull her out of these offices and just say, “No more. We’re done. She is too tired to carry on!” However, we would never do that. She deserves answers. She deserves a normal childhood, a medication free morning, to experience the joy of eating without being forced into it, the sensation of wanting to eat, the ability to buy clothes in her own size and not need to wear clothing that would fit her soon-to-be 2 year old sister around the waist. She deserves to be able to rough house without worrying about bones breaking due to how thin she is. She deserves to be able to wake up without her eyes looking black and sunken every morning due to one thing or another. Doesn’t she deserve all of these things? She is only in kindergarten and she knows more about female anatomy than I did by fifteen. How is that fair? How is that okay for a small child?

We put our daughter through these things because we want to find the problem and have it solved. We put her through these painful procedures, in the hopes that one day, the right test will reveal what we’ve been missing all along. This is the real world. There is no Dr. House out there who can look at her case file and cure her ailments in thirty minutes while telling us how overwhelmingly stupid we are for not putting the pieces together. There is no magical thirty minute solution that would allow us to determine what has been going on with her tiny little body all this time, because if there were, we would have found it by now. Instead, she continues to struggle. Tonight, she struggled to eat, to use the bathroom, to fall asleep, to follow directions…struggles. Her struggles are my struggles. They become family struggles. We all feel the pain when she is hurting, exhausted, or emotionally drained. We see the annoyance in her eyes when we tell her she has yet another appointment that she has to miss school for. When she hurts, we hurt. When she doesn’t hurt, we still hurt. We hurt because we are her parents and it’s our job to hold her, hug her, love her, and promise her it will all turn out okay, but as her parents…that is not something we can do right now. So instead, we turn to Christ.

In Christ, I tell her, things will work out. In Christ, I tell her, the answers will be found. God wants us on this journey with her in this moment and we can’t understand why just yet, but one day we will. She smiles as I tell her these things and her eyes sparkle as she tells me that God loves everyone. She enjoys telling me stories that she hears at church and asks me if I knew there was such a place as Jerusalem. A year ago, on a night when she was suffering from her sickness, she cried and her eyes had sunken further back into her head than usual. “I wish this had never happened to me.” She whispered. “I wish this would never happen again.” “Me too,” I would tell her as I stroked her hair away from her face and looked down at her swollen and cracked lips while fighting back tears, “Me too.” It was in these moments that I was always demanding to know why.

“WHY GOD? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO HER? SHE IS SO SMALL, SO FRAGILE, SO WEAK!” I would think.

“WHY GOD? WHY CAN’T YOU HEAL HER? CAN’T YOU SEE HER BODY IS ABOUT TO GIVE IN?” I angrily shouted towards him in my mind.

I thought that in those moments, my anger would be powerful enough for him to hear me, answer me. I thought in those moments that my silent screams were prayers. I couldn’t accept that our Lord would allow a child to suffer in the way she had been suffering. I resigned myself to the fact that if there was a God, he surely mustn’t care about us. I was convinced we were being punished.

A year has passed since that trying moment where I shouted those angry accusational prayers. A year has passed and we are no closer to answers. The months have gone by slowly and with each month that passes, we have yet another test or appointment for Emma. I wish I could tell you the exact moment things changed for us. I wish I could tell you the exact moment I stopped feeling angry with God for hurting my child and started asking for his help navigating these dark waters instead, but I can’t.

What I can tell you is that through it all, we have not remained strong. Our faith has not been solid like a rock. Our foundation has not held steadfast. Our family has quaked and quivered under the stress of it all and we’ve nearly been broken by it a time or two. We can’t honestly say that we turned our eyes to Jesus and kept them there in the most trying times. We can’t honestly tell you that we don’t still feel angry at the world for not giving us the answers that we need.

BUT, What I can honestly tell you is this:
In the midst of all this chaos, I felt an intense need for Christ in my life. I had questions that needed answers. I had a hole in my heart that was never patched, regardless of what It was I used to fix it. I had talked to God before through the tears. I had shouted angrily at him into the skies. I had even cursed his name for allowing my child to feel pain, But never had I gotten to know him. Never had I learned of his life or death on the cross. Never had I heard the stories of the bible. I once told a friend that there was no reason to get to know God, because he had already written me off as a sinner. How could I have known that the reason Christ still loves me today even WITH my sin is because he died on the cross so that my sins could be washed away? How could I have known?

Today, I go to church every Sunday. I participate in a Women’s Bible Study and I e-mail my Sunday School teacher regularly. She has been an amazing tool in my journey to Christ. She makes the stories of the Bible come to life and seem as though they could pertain to life today. She has passion and motivation, charisma and understanding, and best of all, no question is ever too stupid for me to ask her. She allowed me to speak to the class on Emma’s condition and she has included Emma in her group prayers. She has a personality that is so free and fun that it’s almost childlike. Her excitement is contagious and it doesn’t take long before our entire class is laughing as she stands up and cheers for her favorite parts in the story. Her husband, my Pastor, has also been an incredible tool in my journey. He was the first one to meet with me and answer my questions. He was the first to tell me I should take his wifes class. He was the first to teach me in a classroom what it meant to allow Jesus to be the King of my life. When I think back to the past and wonder why I had to live a hard life and why my daughter is having to do the same, I realize that we often times have to face darkness, hardships, sorrow, and mourning in order to truly be willing to turn to Christ. As someone raised with no religion and as a skeptic, I never thought that I would be able to trust Christ with my life, my problems, or my soul. It’s a sad life when you decide before you turn 21 that you will spend ETERNITY in Hell, because of who you are as a person and how you were raised. Now, at age 28, through the trials and tribulations of my life, I am finding Jesus right in the middle of this storm. I am asking him to be my guiding light when I can’t see through the torrential downpours and I am asking him to be my compass when I don’t know which way to turn. I am relying on him to get me through all that we are facing.

Ten years ago if you had asked me about Jesus, I would have given you my standard reply, “I don’t believe in God, I just believe in something.” I was afraid to say I was a Christian. I was afraid to say I believed in Jesus. I was afraid to speak those words out loud, because that would allow that truth out into the world, which I wasn’t ready for. How can you say you don’t believe in God when you mumble a silent prayer to yourself in hard times? How do you say you don’t believe in a God, when you thanked him for your children and called them his miracles? How do you say you don’t believe in a God, when you’ve seen things in your own life that wouldn’t make sense if not for his divine plan for you? Sometimes, in this life, we refuse to be the people we are, because we only want people to see who we think we should be. This is something I struggled with for many years and continue to struggle with today. I speak to people in my church, in my Sunday School class, or online and I think immediately that they don’t like me. I play the conversations back in my head a dozen times and analyze every facial motion I see. I feel almost like a hypocrite for having been raised the way I was with no religion and then claiming no religion before one day suddenly deciding that I needed Jesus in my life.

Let me tell you something right here and now. I am no Christian Scholar. I am just a few months in and learning the basics, but I feel closer to Jesus with each new page. I listen to Christian music, I talk to my daughter about the Bible and Jesus, and I add my own stories in to our bible study tales in order to make them feel like they are more relatable to my own life. I whisper prayers inside my head as I’m falling asleep or driving to the store and I have even done it in the shower a few times. I think of how patient Jesus has been with me when I am getting angry at my children and I try to calm myself, because if my Father can wait 28 years for me to believe in Him, then I can wait 15 extra minutes while my children brush their teeth and get ready for bed.

This year has been a hard one, but it would have been a lot harder without Jesus or the people he placed into my life during the past six months. As for Emma’s illness, while I still struggle with understanding a reason why she is going through what she is, I also use this opportunity to advocate for her and other children like her who suffer from a disease so rare it is thought to affect a mere 2% of the population. If there is one thing her condition is good for, it’s spreading the word about it and educating people on what she’s been through. Maybe that’s the master plan in the end? I have no way of knowing. For now, I will just turn my eyes to the light in the darkest times and pray that Jesus will help me find my way again.

At this time, I would just like to take a moment to say Thank You to those of you who have read my blog, followed Emmy’s story, as well as my own story about finally Finding Christ, e-mailed me, prayed for us, or supported us in any small way at all. Sharing these personal stories isn’t always easy and It means the world to me when strangers I don’t know and friends alike both take the time to reach out to me, ask questions, or simply tell me that they continue to pray for my family.

Love. 

Much Love.

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Our FIRST Giveaway!

Hello friends and a happy Monday to you! I am excited to announce that we are going to be hosting our FIRST giveaway, just in time for Spring! So, the amazing folks over at MyHeartCreative sent me a baby ring sling to review and an extra one to give to one lucky reader! All you have to do is head on over to Facebook and “Like” my page. Once we get 200 “likes”, I will use a random generator to choose the name of one lucky winner! Did I mention that means we only need 50 new people to like our page? If you already like my page, you will be automatically included in the drawing! If your name is drawn and you aren’t interested, simply comment “pass” and I will draw another name! There are no gimmicks here. You won’t pay shipping. You won’t pay handling. You won’t pay a DIME. Best of all? This sling retails at $80!

20150316_230954Click Here to visit the MyHeartCreative Website!

Every so often, a company reaches out to me asking me to review their products. As I try to promote an image that caters mainly to families, I tend to shy away from things that I don’t feel would be beneficial to myself or my readers. So when I got an e-mail from a small company out of Oklahoma asking me to promote a baby related item, I decided to jump on the opportunity. I did my research, exchanged correspondences, and made sure that the company was reputable before agreeing to do my review. After all, I wouldn’t want to agree to review an item I didn’t have faith in, right?

After a short waiting period, the packages arrived at my house and I was ecstatic. I had wanted a ring sling since AJ was born in 2013, but as I had already used a Baby K’tan and a front facing carrier, I felt that buying another would make no sense. Once she was able to sit up on her own, she was no longer content in the front facing carrier I had, so It was put away. Shortly thereafter, she also grew tired of the way the K’tan fit her. I opted to use her stroller exclusively from then on out. Each and every time we were in public, I cringed at the thought of having to drag that stroller out of my trunk and all over the place just to run a few simple errands! I even managed to accidentally run it into clothes racks in a tightly spaced store while trying to find her some new clothes. What an embarrassment that was. There were a few times that we opted to have her dad carry her around the mall just because we did not want to deal with the amount of room that was wasted by having her giant stroller in the trunk. If you’ve ever held a squirmy toddler who weighs 25+ pounds in your arms for more than a few minutes, you’ll know how exhausting that can be.

The day that the packages arrived, I immediately looked over the little pamphlets that were included in the box. I was nervous because my child is no longer an infant, but a 23 month old toddler. Luckily, these ring slings go up to 48 months! I took it out of the package and spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to put it on correctly. I realized after the second time that I had the sling over the wrong shoulder and the stitching facing backwards. This is why it’s important to read the directions, but a little trial and error is to be expected before attempting to place your actual child inside it. The first time I put AJ in it, I felt a lot of pressure on the base of my neck and then I realized that I had the rings in the incorrect position and I hadn’t remembered to spread the fabric evenly out over my back. I took her out, made my adjustments and placed her back inside the sling. Overall, figuring it out took me about ten minutes. The first time she was placed in it, AJ told me, “No like, mom. No like.” I took her out, waited a while, and proceeded to try again. After all, she hadn’t been in a sling in a very long time and I knew she wasn’t fond of changes to begin with. This time, I wore her around the house in it for about five minutes while she started to loosen up. Again, I took her out, waited a while and decided that we would try it outside this time. I grabbed both of my girls and we took a long stroll around the neighborhood. Normally my stroller would take up the entire sidewalk, my six year old would insist she could push it and almost veer off into the street or someones yard, and then when I asked her to stay off to the side, she wouldn’t listen and I would run over her shoes with the stroller. Using the sling made things MUCH simpler. I just placed AJ in (using the toddler positioning) and off we went!

ringslingTesting sling positions at home before heading out!

For the first few minutes, AJ clung to me like she was unsure that the sling would hold her, but once she let go, she loved it. She changed her stance on things and said, “Wee mama! I like. I like.” Before long, she was waving her hands and dancing around in the sling. With each person we passed, rather than acting shy and turning into her stroller, she waved to them and shouted “Hi.” Perhaps the comfort of being so close to mom made her feel safe and confident enough to come out of her shell a little bit. Since I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just the baby who was comfortable in the sling, I opted to go for a nice long walk. After a while, I did need to adjust the rings a little bit, but it was really simple. I only stopped walking for maybe less than a minute and I found later you could adjust them while walking if you felt comfortable enough to do so! Once we got back home and I took the baby off, she was in a good mood and I wasn’t feeling the back pain that I had felt with my other carriers. As she rode more on my hip with my arm resting underneath her helping to support her weight within the carrier, it was much easier on my arm and my back than I’d anticipated. Best of all, the slings themselves are so versatile, I can simply keep it in her diaper bag, my purse, or the trunk of my car for outings and I don’t have to deal with a huge bulky stroller. I particularly like it for when she is feeling under the weather, because she gets that snuggly mom feeling and I can still get the things that I need to done throughout the day! Not to mention that because they are washable, if she does happen to get snot or other baby related fluids on it, I don’t have to go through a huge ordeal just to get it cleaned up. That’s the practicality all baby related items should have and I’m sure any parent out there would agree with me!

Now that I have had the sling for a while and used it a few times, I am very confident in its abilities. Of the three slings I have owned, it has by far the sturdiest fabric, the most secure stitching, and it makes the most sense in the durability department as well. Once I realized that the tail of the sling had a deep pocket I could use on my walks, I was sold. We have already taken a few strolls where I simply threw in my wallet, keys, and cell phone and was left with two free hands! (As a parent, I’m sure you know how rare it is with more than one child to actually have a “free” hand at any point in time!) It’s so nice that I don’t have to worry about digging through my pockets or carrying a purse on a walk or lugging around any additional baggage. I can just grab the baby, the sling, throw a few things in, and I’m ready to go! When it comes to baby/toddler wearing, practicality is what it’s all about!

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All tuckered out after our last long walk.

If you are interested in purchasing a ring sling from MyHeartCreative, you can do so on their website. They also have some wonderful tips, tricks, and articles on babywearing listed on their site. Be sure to check out their instagram and Facebook pages for more information!

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Android broke my phone!

Odds are, if you follow my personal account on Twitter you already know what I’m talking about. I spent the last two days without a phone and tweeting/direct messaging with 2 companies to try and remedy the situation that is: My phone. Yes, my sweet phone, which is a mere five months old, is now a paperweight. The culprit? Android’s newest operating system, Lollipop 5.0.

So, back in September, I got my new phone and I was very excited. Then I began to see the reviews of people pushing for a new operating system update to be released and I told myself that when the time came it would update, but I was in no rush. Two weeks ago, my phone updated itself overnight and I woke up to a brand new operating system, and a HOST of problems.

First, the Wi-Fi issues began. My phone decided that it would connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi every 2-3 minutes. I know because I timed it one day. As you can imagine, this drained my battery very quickly. I followed the advice from Verizon and turned off my Smart Connect, cleared my cache, etc. The problems persisted. Then, I did a full factory reset as I was told there may be a glitch in the new system causing these problems. No problem, I thought, as I had everything backed up to the cloud anyway. A few hours later, everything had been cleared and I was happy to see that my photos, contacts, and messages were still there once I downloaded them again.

I figured I could live with this issue as long as I put the phone into power saving mode and left smart connect off. I was glad to see that within about 3 days the issue had stopped. I thought I was in the clear, but I was wrong. Next up, the overheating began.

One day I picked my phone up and I was alarmed at how hot it was. After all, I had left it face down so it had plenty of ventilation and not only was it not charging, but it wasn’t in use. I flipped the screen over and saw the notorious warning about the phone overheating. I unplugged it, took the case off of it, and left it alone for hours. Still, the phone continued to overheat. A simple 5 minute phone call was almost painful from the heat radiating from the phone. I totally believe now the stories of the phones melting and starting on fire! So again, I factory reset at the advice of “The Droid Guy” and several other people who had similar issues after the 5.0 update. Nothing helped.

Following the Wi-fi not connecting and the phone overheating came, yes, you guessed it, screen glitches! Randomly, my screen goes black. Other times, it glitches and gets lines all through it before this happens. Either way, it makes getting things done difficult. Well, my phone is currently a paperweight, so I guess it’s not THAT difficult as I just use my laptop to get things done instead.

So, we have covered 3 issues, now for #4. Are you ready? The 4th issue I had is the phone randomly powering off. Normally, this issue would be mildly annoying, but it would be something I could work around depending on how often it took place. Unfortunately for me, the phone powers off completely without playing any sound, songs, or graphics. There is no warning and the phone remains off for hours at a time. Which brings me to the last and final, #5. My phone REFUSES to turn on. It has been off for hours now and yesterday it was off for hours before it finally (randomly) turned back on. I have followed all the advice, pulled the battery, cleared the cache, factory reset the phone, turned on power saving mode, turned off smart switch for the Wi-Fi etc. Finally, I got so fed up that I tweeted my frustrations to Verizon Wireless and Samsung Customer Support…a number of times. Okay, a lot. I couldn’t understand why a new device that wasn’t even six months old yet was having so many issues. Of course I was given the standard reply of, “We don’t OFFICIALLY have any reports of issues with Android 5.0,” but a quick Google search will show you hundreds of others with the same, exact problems. With no “official” issue on file, there was not much that could be done.

So as I am getting ready for church and sitting on Twitter, I start to see replies and DM’s come in from both companies. As I have no phone, I use this opportunity to talk to them before contacting each individually via their chat clients. Here’s what I learned:

  1. If your phone has a defect under warranty, you get a USED phone in return. This is a Certified Pre-Owned product. Now, my phone sells as a “CPO” on their website for $99. I paid much more to have the phone new. Do you think, as I am being sold a used phone after paying the retail price for it (2yr contract update pricing) that I should get my money credit back for the difference? I do. Does Verizon feel the same way? No. So I have now paid for a NEW device, but I will have a USED one…for the price of a NEW one.
  2. If you send your phone in under warranty and they find any physical damage or liquid damage on the phone, they charge you $500. That’s right If YOU send YOUR damaged phone in to the company to have THEM repair it under warranty, which is what warranties are good for, they will charge you more money. This means that the money you spent to purchase the phone AND be sent a used device is considered AS well As an extra $500. You would be looking at anywhere from $700-$1200 total by the time all was said and done for a REFURBISHED CPO PHONE. This to me seems like it’s not only wrong but it is taking advantage of a customer without a doubt in my mind.
  3. If your device breaks and you go directly through the manufacturer, you will be told that they will fix it but you won’t have a device and they don’t know how long it will take and they don’t know what to tell you when you ask if the device will be returned to you if it is not repairable. Instead you get the same reply, “IT WILL BE REPAIRED,” a hundred times without acceptance that perhaps the phone is beyond their repair. Also, you will not have a cell phone whatsoever in this time and I was told it could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Yeah, that’s not a huge chunk of time to be without a phone for a single mother with 2 kids who also works and is in college. Heaven forbid someone gets hurt and we need to call 911, because Lord knows my phone is going to be a paperweight!
  4. It will take Tweeting, DM-ing, Chatting, and finesse to get anyone to actually offer a solution to fixing your phone. It will still take days to get the phone as it is NOT shipped overnight delivery. You are still without a working phone in this time frame. You DO have to send the phone back that is defective, fortunately the company provides you with the shipping label. (How nice of them.)
  5. Your “new” (CPO) phone does NOT come with a battery, a charger, a sim card, headphones, or anything else that came with it new in box. Instead you are to keep those items from your old device and simply reuse them in the CPO phone. Let me reiterate that you have paid FULL RETAIL VALUE (2yr contract update pricing) for this NEW PHONE and now you are not only getting a used phone, but you are getting a used phone without any of the accessories that come along with a phone..but still for full price.
  6. If that doesn’t bother you, perhaps knowing that your warranty does NOT start over from the date you get your new CPO phone. Instead your warranty continues from the device you are sending in for repair. This CPO phone is a NEW device. Shouldn’t your warranty begin again? If you have Total Protection Coverage, you are able to have an extended warranty, which I have. However, if a warranty is simply a company sending you someone elses used phone that was busted and fixed in order to be shipped out the same way your phone will be, is there any point in using it? Why not pay the $100+ claim with Asurion and get a new phone? At least then you have peace of mind, a warranty from the correct date, a box with proper contents, etc.

So as you can imagine, I am none too pleased with how this all played out. I got a Tweet from a different phone company telling me I shouldn’t put up with this behavior and that I should switch to an Iphone 6 on their carrier, and for a moment, as much as I have always been a Droid girl…I seriously thought about it. With the way business practice is being done now-a-days, I’ll be lucky if I actually get the phone taken care of, replaced, it works, and the old one gets sent back on time. I made sure though to take photos of my device because there is NO physical damage and I don’t want to be scammed by someone saying there is later on down the line and charging me $500.

The good news is, the phone is being replaced. The bad news is that it took a lot of running around and talking to people about things and that I will have a USED device at the price of a new phone without any of the things that a phone should come with. The important thing here is that my phone will be in working order again. As long as it doesn’t come pre-loaded with Lollipop 5.0. Because if it does, I might cry.

I miss having a phone. I miss being able to communicate with people. I miss knowing there is a way to call 911 if anything happens to me while I am home alone with my kids. How do you explain to your 6 year old that in an emergency she needs to go next door to borrow the phone to call 911, effectively leaving a 2 year old home alone with a hurt/injured/unconscious/dead parent because there is no phone? Besides, the least that Verizon could have done after keeping my money and sending me back a used device is OVERNIGHT it.

Rant over.

Moral of the story, don’t update to Lollipop 5.0 until Android gets all their bugs worked out.
Make sure you know how your phone company is going to handle a defective phone before you purchase it.
The internet/social networking is a great way to get someone from a company to listen at 8 a.m. on a Sunday, because they don’t like the bad press.
It just sure would have been nice if Android hadn’t broke my phone.