Losing Aaron: Remembering a Superhero from Afar

img_1978This past week has been filled with such sadness, and I am having a hard time finding words to explain why. It took my husband and I almost a week to tell our kids because our hearts were filled with such grief, such pain and such loss. On Monday, October 10, I was reminded about the greatest enemy in life – death. Eight years, I wrote about a sweet young boy, Aaron, who was diagnosed with cancer. For eight years, the world saw Aaron as a fighter, a beautiful soul, a force to be reckoned with and most of all the things, he is most definitely a hero. I say this because Aaron was the first person who I personally knew that had cancer. I really didn’t know much about sarcoma until I heard his mother tell me. Since day one, Aaron showed his strength – his super power.aaron-jadyndscn3272aaron-benUnfortunately, my family would moved away from Aaron and his family a few months after his diagnosis, but we followed his journey online through his parents’ Facebook profile, his Facebook page and also his CarePages.com page. Aaron was a funny kid. He was like any other kid…like my kids, except he had cancer. He didn’t let that stop him from going to school, playing football (and even attending Arizona Cardinal games // cheering for the Denver Broncos, too) and loved playing the outdoors – fishing, swimming or surfing. My family would be fortunate to see Aaron when he visited MD Anderson in Houston a few year ago.img_1981 I think the kids forgot that they were in a hospital, as they laughed, laughed and laughed some more. They ate sweets, talked about Minecraft and acted like zombies. Well, the boys did. 😉 This is how we will choose to remember Aaron – the 11-year-old super boy who defied cancer and is living life in heaven with Our Savior.

Rest easy sweet boy, you fought an unfair fight with the strength of a thousand soldiers, and you did it with grace. No more struggling. Enjoy your feast with Jesus. We love you, and we look forward to seeing you again.

During this time of grief, it has been hard for our family. I have to admit that this IS the truly the hardest part about living abroad – not being able to hug our love ones in good times and times of mourning. Fortunately, for Facebook, we can send messages of condolences. Other ways we learned we can be there for the family are:

Special Delivery
The next best route to communicate aside from the telephone is by email or through the post office. Consider sending a weekly card in the mail for a year — this will be appreciated in the weeks and months that follow the loss when many others have withdrawn support. Consider sending a note of remembrance with a sweet story. If you sense that your friend is having trouble with daily life, you could order practical help for her such as a meal delivery or cleaning service for a set period of time.

Memorialize
In the case of a death, you might consider finding ways to honor the memory of the person. Ideas might include making a donation to a non-profit organization or to the funeral costs, planting a memorial tree, or having a quilt made out of the person’s favorite items of clothing. Tributes such as these show your friends that their loved ones’ are still in thoughts of those around them.

Infertility: My Story and Hope with #TheStorkOTC

The journey to parenthood can be difficult, particularly if you’re one of the 7.3 million couples in the U.S. having trouble conceiving. If you’re not experiencing difficulty yourself, you likely know someone who is. Fertility troubles are an all-too-common issue–one that I am honored to discuss in partnership with The Stork OTC, an at-home option that could bring hope to many. We each have a story that has brought us to this point of struggling with infertility. Here is mine.

I hit puberty later than my friends, I was fifteen and my periods were extremely unusual. Or rather, I guess I never knew when I would have one. Months would pass, and I would not have one, and then it would come with painful vengeance and last a week or two. I felt like I couldn’t handle what all other women since the beginning of time dealt with every single month. When my period would start, I would curl up in a ball in bed and just cry. The idea of standing up was terrifying because every time I felt as if my abdomen might rip open. I couldn’t sleep because of the pain. I was miserable and truly embarrassed to complain about my period. I went to the doctor and tried different brands of birth control, which actually created more problems and made me incredibly depressed. Nothing seemed to cure the problem, and I just learned to live with it.

Finally, at the age of 22, I found an OB/GYN, who explained that something was not right if my period was causing me enough pain that I could not function. He scheduled a laparoscopic surgery to check for endometriosis. I will never forget laying in the out-patient surgery recovery after my first surgery. My doctor came in and said it looked as if endometriosis was all over my uterus and my ovaries, and he was able to “clean up” the scar tissue. At this point in my life, I was newly engaged. My doctor said that if I ever wanted to have children, I should do it soon. What?! I was planning my wedding NOT planning on adding more people to our family.

Actually, it was the week of my wedding that I have a “flare up” of my endometriosis. I could not stop bleeding. Talk about a great way to start my romantic life with my husband. It lasted for months, so my doctor put me on a six-month cycle of Lupron. This put my body into a menopausal state to allow the endometriosis to die down. While on Lupron, I was extremely emotional and had terrible hot flashes. It stopped my period and all the spotting, and that was such a welcome change that I happily accepted hot flashes in exchange!

A couple of years later, the Real Geek Dad were ready to start a family. After trying to get pregnant on our own for almost a year, my doctor used the word “infertility,” and he explained all of our options. In 2003, while Real Geek Dad was getting his sperm tested, I began taking 50mg of Clomid, and at my first scan it was clear that I still was not ovulating. Real Geek Dad’s tests came back, and he was not the problem. I had never thought ovulation was my problem, and here we were on medication to make me ovulate and it still wasn’t enough! The next month they doubled the dose and I did ovulate, but I did not get pregnant. Each month, he increased my dosage, and after six months, my doctor stopped Clomid. Both financially and emotionally, we were at our limits. We decided to walk away and pray. Lord, your will not mine. Six months after we stopped infertility treatments, I became pregnant naturally. Unfortunately, I did not carry this baby to term. Our little angel went to heaven on the New Year’s of 2004. A word like “sadness” cannot explain the feeling of loss and disappoint that we felt, but the hope that we had was that I was able to be pregnant. It would be later that year that I would be pregnant with Jadyn, meaning “thankful” in Hebrew, because we were so thankful that the Lord gave her to us.

What is exciting for me to hear is how the medical community is trying to help infertile families like us. Did you know that there is a drug-free conception device that offers a relaxed and private way of conceiving at-home using new technology based on cervical cap insemination? It’s called The Stork OTC. It’s a sensible option that puts you in control, and is widely available over-the-counter, without a prescription to optimize your chances of conceiving this month. Newly published data in the Surgery Technology International demonstrates that The Stork OTC is more effective at delivering sperm to the cervix than natural intercourse. In an age when reproductive treatment options are largely high-cost and complex, The Stork OTC offers an elegantly simple way to optimize chances for conception, in the privacy of home, and a fraction of the cost ($79.99/single-use device) than invasive procedures such as IUI, IVF, etc.–procedures often not covered by insurance, and that we would have simply not been able afford.

This is my infertility story. If you have recently be diagnosed with endometriosis, or your endo is now leading to infertility problems, I hope that you know you are not alone. Fortunately, there are products like The Stork OTC available to help you on your journey. In the end, I hope you find peace through prayer because you will never be alone with Jesus. Know you are no alone in this fight for a family.TheStorkRealPoshJoin me and others for a one-hour Twitter chat on December 8, 2015 at 12PM ET. We will be asking questions and sharing stories with the Twitter party hosts (@TMChatHost, @theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe and @EmilyMcKhann), using the #TheStorkOTC hashtag. There is also a giveaway for five CVS gift cards. Can’t wait for you to join us!

Disclosure: Real Posh Mom was commissioned by The Stork by Rinovum to tell my story of infertility. For more on The Stork OTC, visit rinovum.com/thestork.com.

Things I Would Tell My 10-Year-Old Self

world-is-your-oysterToday is my oldest’s birthday. I can’t believe I have a child who is officially in the double-digit range. My mini-me is now a 10-year-old.

Here are 10 things that I know now, and I hope my daughter will know.

  1. It’s not what you have in your life, but who you have in your life that counts.
  2. You are responsible for what you do, no matter how you feel.
  3. There are people who love you dearly, but just don’t know how to show it.
  4. True friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance.
  5. No matter how good a friend someone is, they are going to hurt you every once in a while, and you must forgive them.
  6. Just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. And, just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.
  7. You don’t have to change friends if you understand that friends change.
  8. You shouldn’t be too eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.
  9. Even when you have pains, you don’t have to be one.
  10. Every day you should reach out and touch someone. Like you and Olaf, people like warm hugs, holding hands and friendly pats on the back.

Image Source: Rifle Paper Co.

Only A Mother’s Love

CheesyFamily

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.
A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.”

Sophia Loren

As much as we love traveling and being out in the world, we also cherish our cozy, loving & simple home life. My boy is rarely ever ready for school on time because he is playing around the house and just hanging. Mornings are the best. It is so hard to break our rhythm and go about the rest of the day. We wake up, and we go out on the terrace, I enjoying my coffee while the kids eat a little breakfast.HappyKidsWe cuddle…a lot. The kids love cuddling on the couch and watching a movie or laughing at our favorite TV show. My son is an earlier riser, so his cuddles come with my warm cup of coffee, as the sun is rising. My daughter is a night owl, and she loves to cuddle when the boys go to bed. These cuddle times are sweet. It is when I hear the hearts of my kids – how school is going, what they dream about and what they fear the most.

We take leisurely walks to the beach. We listen to music together, and sometimes the kids join in on the song. Honestly, it is usually after I let it go. 😉 We browse through clothing and toy store windows along the center of town while enjoying some gummies or an ice cream cone. And, there are times when we cry together. Life is hard, but in the end, we have each other.SlothKids

We do our thing. It is simple, but it is ours. And, I am grateful to God for these two amazing gifts.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the incredibly courageous, strong and beautiful women!

How My Life Changed in a Year

2015This year has gone by in the quickest of flashes. Each successive day seems to differ just slightly from the last. When a year’s worth of those days has passed, I find myself in an entirely new place from when I began. While the past must stay in the past – as dwelling will do no good – I think that reflection is an important component of personal growth. Looking back at a period of time all at once, like a snapshot, allows me to see what I’ve accomplished and how I’ve grown – spiritually, physically, emotionally and more.

Reflection can be done at any time – and can focus on any amount of time – but when the end of a year comes around, reflection always seems to join it naturally. With the final days of 2014 making their appearance, I’m looking back on the past few hundred of them – and urging you to do the same.

January
My family was preparing to move to Morocco. In our preparation, we were visiting ALL the doctors (event the ones we put off seeing) we needed to make sure we are healthy, have all our prescribed medicine and correct prescription for glasses. My son was just wrapping up his eye therapy (with a patch).

February
Wait, plans have changed. Montenegro job opportunity became available. Really?! Pinch me. My husband is fluent in Serbo-Croatian, and I have some elementary knowledge of the language AND absolutely love the people of Southeast Europe. This journey to expat life had its hurdle (time of reconciliation), BUT I think we really may be moving to Europe. Pinch me again.

March
We started purging, selling, donating and packing our life for our big move. We actually started doing this months ago, BUT this month I feel like this is all I did. Although, we did make time to celebrate my and my son’s birthday. Side note: The Game Truck is an awesome party concept, especially when your house is all in boxes…or actually empty with just suitcases. 😉

April
‪I was humbled by my dermatologist about the importance of getting your skin checked annually. At 37, I had my first visit to a dermatologist, thinking you only go if you have acne (when younger) or sunspots (when older.) Well, I had three spots that were biopsied. People, put sunscreen on (even if you are not pale skin), don’t tan in beds, wear wide brim hats and don’t neglect the largest organ on the human body – your skin. I am so thankful for my planning in January to reveal these spots months later.

May
Saying good-bye is never easy, especially since I have been so blessed with amazing friends. These people are like family – wait, they are my family. One of these friends also became my first contributor of this site, Jayne. I think one of the hardest part of moving to Europe is not being close to these friends, BUT I am fortunate to be able to have seen each one of these special ladies before I left the country.bridesmaids
June
Our final month in Texas, and we decided to go out with a bang. The kids camped at Pine Cove for a week without mommy or daddy, watch a dear friend get married on the beach and travel one last time to hang out with friends at SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica. And, my oldest FINALLY had her dream birthday party at the American Girl Cafe.AGBirthday
July
When moving away, good-byes are not only for you, but for the people that you leave behind. Actually, I would say it is more for those you leave like your family, so it is important to take time to just be with family. This month, we spent quality time with my husband’s family in Arizona and mine in Texas. Of course, we took the kids to wonderful places in US along the way. Even though Europe has much to offer, so does the amazing country of the United States of America.GrandCanyon
August
The transition period is real. This month was a time of reflection. A time where I looked back at all that I had and looked forward to the unknown. During this time, I discovered something about myself; how insecure I am. During all this time of transition, the fear of the unknown also made me feel that people are just being nice to me, but are not truly my friends. The power of fear is amazing – what a waste of time. Taking a leap of faith is powerful and like Dorothy, I packed my ruby red slippers. Because when I miss home, I could put them on and click them together and be transported back home (via Skype or Facetime). 😉

September
We moved to Montenegro! The kids started school…in Montenegrin! It is only a short walk from our house, which is a cozy place on a hill with a nice large terrace to see the Rumija Mountains and the Adriatic Sea.Back2School

October
Our first month reflections in Montenegro: ‪The people are friendly, relaxed and the cuisine is fresh & flavorful. Unfortunately, the struggle is real for cross-cultural living for my kids, especially for my girl who keeps begging me to go back to America. My son was frustrated that his head hurt so much because of the language. I don’t only expect bright, sunny days here, but I am praying that the transition becomes easier for my kids because when they hurt, I hurt. We truly love it here and love the work we are doing, but this month we transitioned past the “honeymoon” phase.

November
We are thankful for so much. We are thankful to have a new contributor, Jacqueline. We are thankful to have this job that we have worked for six years to get. We are thankful for our health. We are thankful for the new friends and the old friends who have been there for us this year. We are thankful for our new neighbors, with whom we ate Thanksgiving. But most of all, we are thankful for the loving God who abundantly gives to us, even when we forget Him.

December
Living abroad is not all beaches and bungalows. Here’s a glimpse into my life of a typical day. As an expat, you have to expect the unexpected daily. Fortunately, there is lots of coffee and laughter that help you get through it.

2014, thank you for all you’ve given me. 2015, let’s do this.

My Salvation Experience

Before I knew Christ, I was attended church when i visited my grandparents or on holidays. When I moved to Missouri in 1991 from all my childhood friends, I was invited by a friend to attend Young Life. It was a place where all the kids socialized after school on Wednesdays. That year, I was the group was going to a Young Life camp in Colorado for a week in the summer. It was on this trip, where I met the person of Christ. I was overwhelmed the love of God who came down to the Earth to offer himself for ME and my sinful nature. Later, as I grew to know God, I made a decision to show others through my baptism in January 1998 at Casas Adobes Baptist Church in Tucson, Arizona.

I implementing silence and solitude into a daily quiet time in the morning. During this time I read God’s Word and spend some time in prayer. Currently, I am resting in God’s timing and learning about Him through His psalms. Many of them say “wait.” I am learning a lot about this word during my quiet times. As my kids are memorizing verses for AWANA, I am also working on Scripture memorization. I am also memorizing verses that talking about God’s timing to apply this to my heart and mind.

Online Deal Gone Bad (Updated!)

When you buy an online deal, how do you know a store will honor it? Today, I walked into Posh Nail Spa in Dallas Texas with a “Posh Manicure and Pedicure” voucher that I purchased through Gilt City, and I found out the hard way that not everything is what it seems online.

I purchased my voucher from two weeks ago, as I just loved the name. I thought I check it out by buying the voucher in hopes of this being my “go-to nail salon.” I called Posh Nail Spa, and I made my appointment notifying that I had a voucher. I walked in, and again shared my voucher, and the nail technician began working on my feet. She was friendly, and the appointment was going so well, that I was looking at my calendar when to book again.

And then, it happened. I looked at the time. It was 60 minutes into the appointment when I asked my nail tech how much longer it would be. The voucher said “60-minute manicure and pedicure duo.”  I really got no answer other than, please check with our receptionist to reschedule the manicure, which I did. Instead of booking service or even asking how much longer I had, Maggie the receptionist  said “I am sorry but you used a coupon, and we don’t provide the service that we do for those who pay full price.” Oh, no she didn’t. If you know me, you know that I am not a fan of the word coupon. (I know, I know.) Then, she went on to say she would not provide the manicure except for following the pedicure. Note: I could have stayed longer, but the poor language to a customer, her arrogance and lack of respect for me made me upset that I just had to leave.

The nail tech nicely finished my pedicure. She asked if I was returning, so she could finish my package, in which I directed that the receptionist was NOT allowing this to happen. Maggie the recpetionist blamed her owner as informing her that she must treat customers with “coupons” differently as “you really didn’t pay for the service.” So, I ended up NOT getting the neck & shoulder massage or the manicure as I paid to Gilt City.

Lesson is beware of using deal sites like Gilt City. Lesson learned that I will NEVER go to this nail place again. Customers should be treated the same across the board. Posh Nail Spa is a HUGE oxymoron as it was not “posh” or a “spa.” Avoid it at all cost, and head to Hollywood Nails. 🙂

UPDATE: After notifying Gilt City about my service from Posh Nail Spa, they responded:

Hi Jennifer,
We sincerely thank you for providing your feedback on your Gilt City experience with Posh Nail Spa.
At Gilt City, we strive to provide you with excellent, luxurious and stress free experiences. After reading your post, we can see that you clearly did not receive the treatment we had in mind for you. We sincerely apologize that some services for which you paid for were not fulfilled. We completely agree that customers should be treated the same across the board. Contrary to what they told you at Posh, you did pay for those services, and you were entitled to them. We thank you for bringing it to our attention that this vendor does not seem to agree. It is very difficult to determine the caliber of how a vendor will treat our members prior to doing business with them and we are indebted to you for recounting your experience for us.
As you did not receive the extent of the services you paid for, we have issued a full refund for your Gilt City purchase.
We again offer our sincere apologies for the experience you underwent. We thank you and encourage you to keep providing us with your feedback in the future.
Best,
Rachel
Gilt City

Thank you, Gilt City! I will try you again, but next time, I might just buy products and foods, like Lilly suggested in my below comments.

Who is the Real Posh Mom?

In the last year, my family and I are applying for a job to help others. It has really been a learning process, and part of it includes an explanation of my faith. If you read my blog, you already know that I am NOT preachy, but this post is who I am to the core. This was hard to post, but I’d like to share we you the underlaying message in all my post of why I exist and what motivates me everyday.

Frontier RanchGrowing up in the “Bible Belt,” I have heard many times that Jesus saves. But it wasn’t until I was at Young Life’s Frontier Ranch that I listened. We are all saved by unmerited, undeserved grace. No one lives up to what God wants of her: not the most sinful, evil person in the world, and not the most moral, virtuous person in the world.

I realize now what had been completely controlling my life up until the point I became a Christian: the desire for approval. All my life, I had tried desperately to be better than other people: smarter, more athletic, etc. Worst of all, morality just became one more category, the category that trumped them all. My adherence to moral principles was my last resort when all else failed. No matter how smart, athletic, I always had this: that I was a good person. I’m very prideful – pride in my righteousness and pride in my humility.

But the Gospel shatters all self-justification. Jesus says: none of you can be your own savior. You are all sinners: the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the Pharisees, the pastors, the bishops, the kings, the businessmen. You’re all suffering, you’re all dying inside.

Who of us, when we are being most honest with ourselves can truly say that she doesn’t need any help, that she’s got it all together? If you think that you do, let me just suggest to you that you might be as terrified as I was to admit to the opposite. And most of the time, we can convince ourselves that we’re basically doing ok. But we’ve all had glimpses. God always allows us to go through times when suddenly everything falls apart, and we realize how desperately in need we are.

But the Gospel also offers the hope that is the only real hope: God loves even the worst of us. In all my self-justification, in all of my pride and contempt, what I was seeking for was meaning in my life. I had tried to earn that meaning through academic success, through athletics, through all kinds achievement, but it was never enough. And worse, the gospel told me that I was completely lost and morally bankrupt. Throughout the Bible, Jesus’ message is that God loves us not because we are good, but because He is good. Jesus came to save not the righteous, but sinners. He gives us the verdict that we are all longing to hear: that we are loved, that our lives are worth something, worth so much, in fact, that God gave up the treasure of His heart to save us. What we couldn’t earn despite our best efforts, God freely gives.

Knowing Jesus has made a tremendous difference in my life. I still struggle with pride, but now I can look to Jesus who “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

I hope that the rest of my life will be spent learning to depend entirely on God’s grace. As one of the writer of a letter in the Bible, Paul states eloquently, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

Honest Scrap Award

I received the honor of being given the “Honest Scrap” weeks ago from Carrie Anne (@cbadov) at Another day, another thought. She is an avid blogger, and I only wish I could be as dedicated.

My first award

So as recipient of this honesty award, I now need to tell you 10 truths about me:

  1. I don’t like chocolate. Yes, I said it. I live in a household of chocoholics, but I would choose chips & salsa over dessert.
  2. I love traveling and people watching. There is so much you can learn about a culture from just watching people and listening.
  3. Even though I’ve heard I’m a great cook, I wish I did it more. I’m too lazy to plan out a menu, go to the market and prepare it at home, even though my family always gives BIG SMILES when I do it.
  4. I’m truly blessed with the best husband a woman could have! He was an unexpected candidate, but one of my best life choices.
  5. The best part of pregnancy for me was feeling my babies move inside of me – instant bond!
  6. I don’t think every baby is cute. Fortunately, mine are beautiful 😉
  7. I question my mothering skills more than I’d like. I want the best for my kiddos, and in the end, I hope I am giving it to them.
  8. I enjoy reading people’s statuses and perusing through pictures on Facebook, Flickr & Twitter.
  9. I am not a writer or a photographer, but if I had more time, I wish I could put more energy in these areas.
  10. I wish I had a job where I could stay home and get paid. I like the challenge of business, but I love the comfort of being home and watching my kiddos grow up.

And now I forward this award onto the following bloggers (for them to reveal some truths to us too):

Daily Prayer

“…Teach us almighty father, to consider this solemn truth, as we should do, that we may feel the importance of every day, and every hour as it passes, and earnestly strive to make a better use of what thy goodness may yet bestow on us, than we have done of the time past…” Jane Austen