Everyone has a Story

I knew something was wrong beginning in the sixth grade when I asked my mom to write a note to my teacher. I was constantly having stomach aches and I was in the bathroom more times than I was practicing fractions and multiplication; it got so bad that even though I was known as a “good” kid, my teachers were beginning to think I was smoking pot or doing drugs during my countless trips to the bathroom.

So, my mom wrote a note.

In fact, she wrote a note to every teacher I had in middle school and by the time I got to high school, I managed to sneak in the bathroom between classes – it somehow seemed easier to hide it that way. When I was in college, it was more of the same. I didn’t need my mom to write my professors a note, but I was still learning how to survive with my atomic stomach.

I saw numerous physicians over the course of several years and I was constantly told time and time again that I had a combination of two things: IBS better known as “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” and I suffered from “nerves.” In my mind, this was a gently way of saying I was always teetering on the brink of a breakdown and my stomach aches were a manifestation of that. Nice.

However, the IBS seemed to occur more and more from the different combinations of foods I was eating at a particular time, or so that’s what I was lead to believe. For example, my stomach couldn’t bear to withstand a pasta dish covered in globs of red sauce followed by a cup of coffee or ice-cream. Sometimes I found out the hard way, like the time I ate pancakes stuffed with warm apples on an airplane. Yeah, that didn’t go over too well.

Over time, I learned the different foods I knew I couldn’t eat together since my body couldn’t digest it properly, or so I was told, and although my symptoms would go away from time to time, I was still in the bathroom more than I care to admit.

During my college graduation, one of the most exciting times in my life – I wasn’t stressing about my hair or what I was going to wear that day, I was stressing over the idea that a bathroom would not be close. What will I do if I have to go? We’ll be in the middle of the football field, in front of thousands of people, what will I doooooo?

Well, I stood up during the middle of a compelling speech (you know, the kind of speech where you could hear a pin drop in a stadium filled by thousands) and kindly asked each graduate sitting in my row to excuse me as I quickly trampled over their feet trying to reach the end of the row. I then trekked across the entire length of the football field in the blazing sun to beg a security officer to open the bathroom for me.

I missed a huge part of my college graduation because I was in the bathroom. I feel like I missed out on a lot of things – because I was always in the bathroom.

Directly out of college, I started teaching full-time so you would think by now I would have this stomach thing all straightened out. But again, I heard more of the same. Stay away from dairy products after a heavy meal, especially anything acidic such as red sauce. Don’t drink coffee on an empty stomach. Blah blah blah.

Fast forward nearly 17 years later and I was still living with my atomic stomach. But this time, it was different.

About two months ago, I had an important meeting scheduled for 9am. About 8am, atomic stomach showed up right on schedule. I was in and out of the bathroom for roughly twenty minutes. At 8:45am, I needed to go back in one more time before the meeting and the bathroom was out of service – the cleaning ladies were in.

And then the fear struck me – just as it always has for all of these years. What will I doooooo? What am I supposed to say, “Ummmm, excuse me, I know we just started the meeting, but I need to leave and use the bathroom.”

At that very moment, staring down the corridor to witness the bathroom out of service and knowing atomic stomach could erupt at any moment was more than I could handle.

I had enough.

This just can’t be IBS. It can’t be nerves. There’s GOT to be something more to this.

So, I made an appointment with a specialist and after several weeks of pretty invasive testing, my doctor sat me down. For the first time in twenty-five years, the mystery was solved.

My doctor told me I have Celiac Disease. And I cried – not out of discomfort, or worry, or nerves – but I cried in relief.

For the first time in over two decades, someone finally got it right. And ever since, I’ve been reading and learning everything I can about gluten, what gluten does to my body, why I need to rid gluten from my diet, and how to live a gluten-free life.

I’m not going to get all technical on you and I don’t have plans on posting g-free recipes or begin a g-free blog. So you’re probably wondering why I even wrote this post.

I shared this because everyone has a story. And this is my story.

You may not suffer from atomic stomach like I have (in fact, you might not suffer at all) but you may have a gluten sensitivity. Or you may know someone with the disease who can relate this post. If only one person connected to this post, I’m glad to have shared my story.

I want to learn as much as I can about this disease, especially because I’m living with it. The problem is, we’re not doing enough about it in this country. Dr. Peter Green, Professor of Clinical Medicine and The Director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, says that only 5% of those living with the disease are diagnosed in America. In countries such as Finland, Italy, and Ireland, that percentage is much greater, since those countries have a great awareness about the disease.

Why aren’t we receiving this diagnosis in United States? Mainly because the pharmaceutical industry hasn’t supported medical research or education about this disease. Why? The simple answer – because they can’t make money off of it. There’s no therapy, pill, or costly remedy to fix this disease. The only thing you have to do is remove gluten from your diet!

I am not a doctor, but if you know in your gut something just isn’t right, go get checked and request blood tests that actually test for this disease. Educate yourself and try to find the cause of what’s giving you pain. Don’t wait twenty-five years like I did to accept prior diagnoses that simply are not true.

I hope in time, we begin to spread awareness about this disease in the United States since it affects so many people who don’t even know they have it.

I was one of them, until now.

Everyone has a story – what’s yours?

The momAgenda Brand Ambassador Program

I have been an avid spokesperson for the momAgenda brand, partnering with Nina Restieri to lead and manage a talented team of women called the Council of Media Moms for the last five years. Currently, Nina is seeking established digital influencers to represent her brand through a Brand Ambassador program.

Are you an organizational freak like me? Do you love opening a crisp, brand new planner and get totally excited filling in important dates and appointments? Or maybe you are not the best organizer but you are on a quest to live a more organized life? Well, we’re looking for you!

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momAgenda® is accepting applications now through the end of the month. For compensation information, full details about this program, and the benefits of being a momAgenda® Brand Ambassador, be sure to check out the momAgenda website. Please help us spread the word on social media and tag any of your updates, posts, and photos with #momAgendaCOMM

Sample post or tweet: Have you heard? @momAgenda is seeking Brand Ambassadors! Details and application: http://www.momagenda.com/council-of-media-moms-application #momAgendaCOMM

Thanks for your support – we look forward to connecting with you!

A Decade of Motherhood and Everything Changes

My life is not a constant rerun of changing diapers and cleaning up spilled baby food anymore. It’s not dealing with the nightmare of switching to a toddler bed or wondering about the effects of birth order parenting. My life is now full of hours of homework, endless trips to soccer practice, and the Common Core. In fact, my son has shown me a thing or two on PowerPoint and recently told me, “I think I’m going to make a Prezi for my next presentation mom – you can do so much more with it than PowerPoint.” He’s in third grade.

He is a whiz when it comes to Minecraft and he loves cloud computing; when he has difficulty with something, he asks me if there’s an app for that. His nightly homework features structural analysis and math requires performing a partial sums algorithm. What?

We’re at the lovely parenting stage where he begins to question my parenting. “Well, so-and-so had Instagram since second grade and so-and-so has seen THAT movie. Why can’t I?” Because I’m your mother and I said no. The end. But next week, it will be something new – the part where parenthood requires more conversation and explanation; the part that means there are going to be many tough days ahead and my kids may not always agree with me. They will constantly share notes with their friends and see what they can get away with – and it’s my job to stay true to my convictions regardless of what the majority is doing. Motherhood is not one size fits all, remember?

My daughter is coming home with stories about some of the other kids – and some of the mean things they say. Mean girls – it doesn’t start it high school people, it begins in first grade. First grade. My daughter is also growing up in a digital world and doesn’t know anything different. She is accustomed to instant gratification and this is one aspect I wish I could change but have very little control over.

A decade of motherhood also requires more “grown-up” stuff. When we first had babies, buying a new car and purchasing a home were the big grown-up ticket items. My world consisted of numerous trips to Home Depot and glamorous Saturday nights were spent shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond. Now, our grown-up stuff consists of beneficiaries, life insurance, living wills, and saving for college. That’s right – our son will be off to college in a mere eight years which in parenthood time is like, tomorrow.

My Dad turns 70 this year, my husband turns 40 and I am quickly close behind him; our parents have aged and we’ve noticed little things that we didn’t see even five years ago. They walk a little slower, they awake with new aches and pains and they always seem to have a doctor’s appointment. They are no longer chasing grandbabies and babysitting every weekend; their oldest granddaughter is headed to college in one year and their youngest is my youngest – 6 going on 16. There are no lullabies to sing at night, no more walks in the park, or races on the beach. They are losing their hair and sometimes don’t remember what you told them yesterday. Everything changes.

I never thought of my parents getting older, even though I knew it would happen. But now, they are resembling more and more like my own grandparents, and that to me is scary.

When the pizza delivery boy shows up at my house, I’m almost old enough to be his mom; I have tons of laugh wrinkles on my face and crows feet around my eyes when I smile. My hair is thinning and my husband is greyer than ever before and I often wonder, how did we get here?

A decade of parenting.

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When I started this blog six years ago, I was in the trenches of new motherhood. I had an infant baby girl and a little toddler boy. Somehow, my world seemed less complicated than it does now. In addition to raising kids, I am contending with that grown-up stuff and trying to stop the ever-so-quickly aging process.

As I approach my birthday next month, I am going to hold onto my thirties as long as I can.

Because a decade of motherhood – and everything changes.

It’s a Minted Christmas

This is a special time of year I look forward to – and it’s the perfect opportunity to share in the joy and spirit of the holiday season with family and friends. I shopped Minted for the infamous family Christmas card this year. Minted is a thriving community of talented designers who are creating beautiful customizable products, making minted.com the world’s premier marketplace for independent design.

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Still looking for that perfect, unique holiday card for your family? Shop Minted and be inspired. For a full review and more details, see my recent post about Minted.

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Theta Mom® abides by word of mouth marketing standards and believes in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. I was provided Minted credit to review the product and service. However, all opinions expressed are my own and the content of this post was not influenced. 

Shop National Geographic this Holiday

As a former elementary school teacher and a mom who values education, I am a strong supporter of National Geographic. I am also a National Geographic Kids Insider where I may receive promos and related discounts as part of reviewing products for NG Kids.NGKids

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Wondering what to get your kids this holiday season? Consider the gift of books. My kids are avid readers and love reading National Geographic at school, so you can imagine their excitement when they receive Animal Stories and 5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything) 2 this holiday.

These books are packed with fantastic stories and “fun facts” that always seem to have the kids gasping! “Mom, can you believe that…” is typically what I hear when they are enjoying a book by National Geographic.

Now through January, you can also enjoy a discounted savings of 15% OFF any order sitewide at the National Geographic Store using the code MR21092 at checkout.  See below for full details:

Offer expires 1/31/15 at 11:59 p.m. PT and can be modified or canceled at any time. Offer excludes donations, digital products, magazines, Geographic kits, Cafe Press merchandise, 10th Edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World, Around the World in 125 Years 3-volume Collector’s Edition book from TASCHEN, and Weekend Photo Workshops. Discount cannot be combined with other offers; not valid on previous orders. Applicable for online orders only. Prices not valid in the National Geographic UK Online Store or Road Less Traveled Store.

Also, if your child’s teacher has a classroom pet, National Geographic Education is also running a fun Facebook promotion called “Teacher’s Pet” now through December 31st. Teachers can share about the pet in their classroom and receive a coupon worth 20% OFF any National Geographic purchase at PetSmart stores! Select photos will be shared via the NG Education Team’s Facebook page. For full details, visit here.

Theta Mom® abides by word of mouth marketing standards and believes in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. I was provided product as part of the National Geographic Kids Insider Brand Ambassador program. However, all opinions expressed are my own and the content of this post was not influenced.