• Kids
  • Summer: it’s on like donkey kong!

    Summer’s officially here!

    My oldest had her promotion ceremony and will be starting kindergarten in the fall. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?!

    My sweet D has grown up so much during her year in pre-k. She loves to write, to attempt to read and is fascinated by language. She loves to add and subtract, to practice writing her numbers and alphabet, and to build things. She’s also a budding artist, wanting to draw constantly. She joined the swim team at her school for the first time and is now able to swim the entire length of the pool at her practices. This girl is amazing, I am constantly blown away by all the things she does and love the person she is growing into. My sweet D, this momma is so, so proud of you.

    I can’t wait to spend the summer with my girls. It’ll be exhausting, I’ll lose my cool more than once, and there will be days where I want to wave the white flags only a few hours in, but at the same time, I can’t wait to just hang out with my babies and throughly embrace this time with them.

  • Home
  • House Facelift.

    Our major house renovation has begun! We plan to expand the kitchen, tearing a wall so it’s more open, and expand the dining room so there’s a bit more room in that area. The laundry room will also get an overhaul, it’ll be a bit smaller to make the kitchen less claustrophobic, but will be cleaner (no more textured walls), with higher ceilings. New floors will also be laid (?), replacing the tile we currently have.

    Oh god, what have we gotten ourselves into?

    It’s a bit stressful right now because we have a few factors that are pending, factors that will help pay for this remodel. If these factors fall though, you know there will be a massive panic attack on my end here. Thank god my husband is the calm, steady type, with a huge dose of optimism because I’m most certainly not that type, ha!

    Right now, there’s no turning back, as made evident by these pictures.

    Those two little butterballs make everything seem perfectly fine. I’m keeping the faith that everything will work out.

  • Kids
  • Moving on up.

    It’s amazing how time flies. Summer’s right around the corner, marking the end of another school year. As it is with the last few weeks of the school year, it’s been a flurry of activities for the family. First up was my youngest daughter’s graduation from the toddler program at her school. Alise will be entering pre-school in the fall and will be at school for the entire day. I’ve mixed feelings about this – I’m gonna miss hanging out with my little bud in the afternoons.

     

    In the picture above, she was awarded, ‘The Humorous Student’ in her group. And I can’t imagine a better title for her because this little girl is constantly trying to make people she loves, laugh. And we, do, easily.

    They then, had an quick graduation ceremony where all the kids who were slated to move up to preschool by fall, were moved in the back and dressed in graduation gowns.

    She looks so tiny on that stage there! I remember looking at her through my camera’s viewfinder and feeling amazed how far she’s come. Long gone are the days where I worried about her premature birth, the tentative diagnosis of cerebral palsy (which ended up not being the case), of her developmental delays, of the impact of the move on her. That baby girl is perfectly fine. She loves to swim, to run with her older sister, to draw, paint and attempts to write. She loves clothes just like her momma and will spend hours changing her outfit, digging through her dresser drawers looking for a specific shirt or leggings. She loves to walk around the house with her little ‘I love you’ book, her Dad’s old Snoopy stuffed doll, her bags filled with odds and ends. She asks, ‘Why, who, why, where’ all the time and loves to talk about random things like cows being milked, swimming with her sister, and going to the store (to name a few).

    Most of all, she makes all of us laugh. And love.

  • Health
  • My new normal.

    The long waited appointment with the urologist finally happened and from it, came a mixed bag of both good and bad news.

    The good news? I’ll live.  Ha.

    Nah, let me start with the bad news first. The doctor (Dr. Ruff in Austin, he is AMAZING) said that based on what he surveyed in the images from the CT scan, his conversations with my other doctors, and my symptoms, he said it sounds like I have the dreaded Nutcracker Syndrome. In short, the vein that goes to my left kidney constricted by two larger veins, much like a nutcracker (don’t worry y’alls, my husband’s nuts are safe). There’s blood in my urine but the doctor wasn’t too concerned about that and said it’s actually a common occurrence.  He’s more worried about the pain factor, about my quality of life. Again, based on my research, my pain levels are tepid compared to what some people with the same syndrome go through (think, frequent ER visits and morphine drips) and I told him as such.

    The good news? At this point, due to my low pain and discomfort levels, he recommends I just don’t do anything at this point. I’m going to take a wait and let’s see approach to this whole ordeal. This comes with a huge dose of relief because he explained that the one procedure with the more successful outcome is well, actually moving the impacted vein around. In other words, it’s major surgery involving some delicate parts and I don’t want to do it for as long as I can. Just recently, a woman in my Nutcracker support group passed away from this very surgery because her surgeon cut the wrong vein. Yikes. Yeah, I’ll take a hard pass, thank you very much.

    So I guess this isn’t going away any time soon. I’m grappling with my new normal, the ways my body has let me down but also realize that I’m still luckier than a lot of people in many ways (straiiiinnning really hard here to be Polly Positive here).

  • Creativity
  • Blogging.

    Damn, I’m terrible at this whole blogging thing which is odd because I love to write. For some reason, it’s hard to sit down and actually do the duty; it’s almost an anxiety provoking activity (although, really, I do love writing!). I think my anxiety stems from the fact that I feel like I don’t have enough hours in the day to get the stuff I need to get done versus the stuff that needs to be done around the house. The latter seems to swallow my precious minutes of personal time, some of which could be devoted to this blog. Now, this is where you may tell me, ‘ well, Jenna, do it at night after the kids are in bed.’

    Bwahaha! By that time, I’ve either fallen asleep with them or I’m drained of ALL energy, the only thing I can do is change the channels on the TV. When the evening rolls around, I am completely, utterly spent. Its all I can do to get my kids to bed, and then all I want to do is just remain immobile like Jetta the Hut for a hour or so.

    I’ve joined a bible studies group and in it, received a journal of Biblical proportions (haha). I love it, I love the safe environment in which I can learn about God without any shred of judgement, but I also love that journal. Every night, I’ve managed to squeeze in a few minutes to jot down my thoughts to the different stories within the weekly session. So, I know I’m love to write, now the question is – how can I make blogging a more desirable activity? Should I jump ship and admit that it isn’t working for me? Me, do-do?

  • Health
  • Updates.

    Well, it’s been an eventful start to the year, to say the least.

    First, we’ve had to deal with, you know, those two guys moving into the White House. I along with the vast majority in this country, cringed and have been looking on worryingly. I’ve developed this need to check the news ALL the time and can’t believe what I’ve been reading. The cabinet appointments, that stupid undocumented immigrant ban … you get the idea.

    Also I’ve been having some, well, health challenges. Since last year, I’ve been having some pain in my lower left pelvic area. It’s been getting worse over time, waking me up multiple times through the night, and it got to the point where I started to worry it was indicative of something serious, like cancer. I’ve also been having extreme fatigue – to the point where I was trying to sneak in two, three naps per day – and this weird, galloping heart palpitations. When January rolled around, I decided it was high time that I go and get it checked out with my doctor.

    My primary care doctor said, ‘oh it sounds like it may be a kidney infection or even a UTI.’ She made it sound it’d be an easy fix so I relaxed immediately, dozed through my CT and lower calf scans (I was also experiencing some pain there). So imagine my surprise when the lab results came back, with terms like ‘varicose veins near ovaries, partial compression of renal vein that may be attributed to pain.’ Yo, where’s the kidney infection? I’ll take that over this, please!

    Long story short, I have pelvic congestion syndrome and may also have the nutcracker syndrome. Fun stuff. Treatment includes putting in stents and coils and moving veins around, and at the extreme end, the removal of a kidney. *sighs* I did join a support group for both syndromes and it does sound like that my symptoms are much more milder than most – silver linings folks, I’ll take even the thinnest of the thin ones. Because there is blood in my urine, I’m to see an urologist so I’m very curious about what he’ll say about my scans and test results, and what he thinks the next steps are in terms of treatment and pain management.

    The findings completely knocked me off my feet and I’m slowly finding my way back to my normal. Despite it all, I’m reminded to never take my body, my health or life for granted. Things can change so quickly, and on a dime too. May all of this propel me to get up from bed each day with a purpose and gratitude.

     

  • Family
  • Dad.

    andre
    My father, Andre Ezis.

    My dad was an epic story teller. So, on the 5th anniversary of his death today, I’d like to tell you a story about him.

    It was in southern California. I was, maybe, 10 years old and a terrible softball player. The kind that was stuck out in outfield as the rover, where no balls went (hopefully), left to entertain myself by pulling the flowers around my feet – while, of course, when hits ACTUALLY came my way.

    So my dad had it in his head to train me all summer long, to make me a better player. One of those days, as we headed out to the softball field to practice, we passed by an old, worn-out truck (think, bad paint job, dented fenders all around, and even more dents on the body) on the shoulder of a very busy road, with two guys, dressed in shabby clothes, checking out the trunk. Smoke was billowing out from the open hood – it didn’t look good.

    ‘Dad, let’s pull over to help them’

    ‘Nah, honey, we need to get to the field. There’s a ton of other cars on the road, someone will pull over to help them’

    As we drove back down on the same road, two hours later, the same truck was there, sitting on the shoulder, smoke long gone, with two dejected looking guys looking out on the road as they sat on the truck’s back fender.

    My dad slams his hand on the steering wheel: ‘oh seriously, no one pulled over to help then? For crying out loud …’, as he turns the steering wheel to make a u-turn (a feat given we were in California traffic), pulls up behind them, gets out of the car and walks up to them.

    I watch from the car. I see him gesturing with the two guys (they didn’t speak English). He checks underneath the hood and pokes around in there, again gesturing with them. Then he walks back to our car, shaking his head, gets in and pulls over to a gas station a few miles to use their phone. (yes, I lived in a time before there was cell phones) There, he called a tow truck and paid to have their truck towed to a garage and fixed.

    He later tells me, ‘It was the right thing to do. They’re people, like us. I can’t believe no one stopped to help them.’

    My dad and my grandparents were war refugees. My dad was also a die-hard Republican. But first and foremost, he believed in kindness and honesty, in respect for others, regardless of their status in society, their wealth (or lack thereof), their educational status – to him, everyone had something valuable to contribute. Everyone. He also believed in being fair, in open communication – he made sure when people spoke to me, as his deaf daughter, that I understood. That I mattered.

    So my dad helped two illegal immigrants that sunny day in California, when no one else would, because it was the right thing to do. And as I observed from the sidelines as a child and later as a teenager, he continued to do the same, for others, for his family, for me. That in of itself is a powerful lesson to pass down onto your children.

    In some (very few) ways, I’m glad my dad isn’t around to see what was happening to this – his beloved – country. He would have been pissed – ‘oh for crying out LOUD!’ Regardless, five years later, he’s very much missed and loved. And I try to continue his legacy – I don’t always succeed or follow through, but I like to think I try. I hope that he’s nodding his head in approval, ‘that’s my girl, Jenna’ with a ghostly pound on my back, or forgives me when I fall short, wherever he is now.

    Es mīlu tevi, Dad. Man tevis pietrūkst, always, and forever.

    p.s. because of that summer, I made it to the All-Stars team the following fall. The flowers survived that season.

  • Goals
  • New year, new ideas, new … you get the idea.

    I ain’t gonna lie. I wasn’t really looking forward to the new year. In a few weeks, that guy’s gonna be our new president and it’s gonna be a shit show. I don’t think I can even watch. In face, I can’t even stand looking at HIS face, much less watch him talk.

    Nevertheless, the new year calls for new goals, renewed energy and drive, and of course, focus. While it may be a cliche, but I really do enjoy taking the time to outline goals for the new year. To me, it’s a chance to start over, to reassess what happened in the previous year and what I want to happen in the next.

    I haven’t really taken the time to go over my goals in the several areas of my life (e.g., personal, business) but I know I do want to …

    1. Working on saving money – it’s almost ridiculous how much we spent on going out, on alcohol and frivolous stuff. Given that Willie and I’ve some big goals, that needs to change.
    2. Taking care of my body – I’m joining the world-wide chorus of ‘I need to go to the gym more often’. I’ve slacked off in this area and would love to work on strength training and running. Also, in February, I’m starting a Fast Metabolism Diet which of course, the progress and my experience with, I’ll share with you on this blog.
    3. Focusing on my business – I run a Direct Sales (heeeeey now, don’t roll your eyes!) business under Agnes & Dora on Facebook and would love to hit some big goals – and numbers – before I ‘retire’ it.
    4. Doing some fun stuff – I plan to read more often this year AND do a craft activity every month. No, I’m not in preschool, why do you ask?
    5. Hanging out with my husband, and just my husband alone – in other words, this year, I’d love to go on a date with Willie every month. We barely see each other these days, I miss having fun with the guy. It’s time to well, make the time for us.

    So, yeah, I’m ambitious. But then again, if, you know, that guy can win the presidency, then I can do these things, surely. So, 2017, despite it all, I’m ready for you!

     

  • Goals
  • Back to my regularly scheduled posts.

     

    “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.’  – unknown

    Whoa. Since that whole stomach flu fiasco the day before Thanksgiving, I’ve been letting certain things, including this blog, slide. It’s hard to get back on track when you’ve slipped off and decided it’s okay to take a brief vacation because, #treatyoself!

    As a result, I haven’t been to the gym for almost a month now, I’ve been eating and sleeping craptastically, and wine’s my BFF in the evenings. I’m still not feeling (or looking) too hot. I still cry about the election (jeez, never, ever did I anticipate the strong emotional reaction I’d have seeing Hilary get the ‘the door’s over there, don’t let it hit you on the way out’ message by the crazies in this country). In sum, I haven’t been taking care of myself and it’s affecting the other areas in my life.

    So, it’s time to get back to myself, so I can be a good mom, wife, friend, community volunteer (you get the idea). Earlier today, thanks to Cook Smarts, I’ve got my dinners planned out for the week. I plan to hit the gym more often than not this week. And most importantly, I’m going to make sure I get to bed at a decent hour and get up at a time that doesn’t result in a mad, frantic rush in the mornings.

    Regardless of it all, last month’s posts reminded me I’ve so, so much good going on in this precious life of mine. It’s time to start embracing it, not let it slide by because I’ve not been doing the little things that keeps me fully engaged.

     

     

  • Gratitude
  • Day 24: Turkey Day

    Whoa. The last two days were a doozy. I’m not sure what happened Tuesday – I think I was really dragging my feet, feeling tired and out of it – so it wasn’t with much surprise that I came down with a vicious case of the stomach flu yesterday. I threw up, became very intimate with the toilet, had aches and pain from head to toe, and was fully immersed in a pity party of one. But by Thursday evening, I started to rebound, with an almost absurd craving for sweets (my darling husband ran to Whole Foods to indulge by getting me a fruit tart. I LOVE YOU BABY!).

    Today was nice. I’m so glad strangers opened their home to us, let us join their friends (some of whom are mutual friends). We brought a salad and stuffing, and dined on some great food and had even better conversations. The girls had fun playing with the other kids there, when it came time to leave, Willie and I had to drag them to the car. I don’t blame them!

    We’ve so much to be thankful in our lives right now. I could go on and on but I think if you skip the last 20 or so posts, you’ll get an idea of what I’m grateful for these days. Life is good, it has its ups and downs but somehow things always swing back to the center, to that point where I’m content and happy and just grateful for everything.

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    And that's it for us, folks.
    And that’s it for us, folks.