Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge {Vol. XIX}


1.       What do/did you call your grandparents? If it's something unusual tell us the story behind the name. If you're a grandparent what do your grands call you? Who chose your moniker?

I called my paternal grandparents Ma and Granddaddy. My maternal grandparents were MaEunice (later changed to Grandma) and Granddaddy. When I was younger I couldn’t talk due to a condition I had so one of the few sounds I could make was Ma. I called my maternal grandma Ma + her first name (Eunice) until I realized all my cousins just called her Grandma; then I switched. 


2. Ever taken a road trip along the California Coast? If so what was the highlight of your trek? If not, any desire to do so? If you were to take a trip along the California Coast what's one attraction you'd have on your must-see list?


I have never been to California. The one place I have always wanted to visit in California is Alcatraz in San Francisco. 


3. What are three things you don't know how to do?


Dance, make a coconut pie, and draw. 


4. Tom Peters is quoted as saying, 'Celebrate what you want to see more of.' If that's true what will you celebrate and more importantly, how will you celebrate?


Unity. Not sure how I would celebrate this. I feel like our nation is broken and may not ever feel unity again. 


5. Thursday (February 16) is National Almond Day. Do you like almonds? Which would you prefer-an Almond Joy or a macaron? What's something you make that calls for almonds?


I sometimes eat roasted almonds as a snack. That and almond milk are the extent of my almond liking.


6. What does Saturday morning look like at your house?


Wake up a little before 6 am and take my daughter to dialysis. Come home and watch TV or read until it is time to go pick her up. Then sometimes I do grocery shopping or sometimes we just stay home and relax or work around the house. 


7. Share with us a favorite book you've read this winter.


Vanished by T.K. Leigh is probably my favorite that I have read so far this winter.


8.  Insert your own random thought here.


I am ready for warm weather to come around and stay. I think my perfect climate is a minimum of 70*F year round. Here lately we have a couple of 70* days and then a few 30* days and then a couple more 70* days; it’s gotten old rather quickly. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

When You Can't Fix It

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** I am sorry about the font. No matter how much I change it, it reverts back to this. **

When you become a parent you want to fix all that is wrong with your child. When they are sick, you want to make them feel better. When they hurt, you want to take the pain away. And when they are scared, you want to reassure them that there is nothing to be scared of. But, sometimes, that's just not possible. There are times you can't make them better or take the pain away, or are so scared that you can't reassure them 100%. That has been my life since November 19, 2016. 

Our oldest daughter turned 18 earlier in 2016 but remains living with us because she acknowledges that she cannot make it in the world alone right now. Plus, she's still finishing high school. She had been complaining of some common symptoms such as occasional tiredness, nausea, etc but insisted that she was fine. On November 19th, my husband was shampooing our living room carpet when I realized that she was really weak and fatigued. I finally convinced her to go to the emergency room. She could barely stand while I was checking her in. Since the ER was slightly packed, their policy is to have blood work done before you're called back so the doctor can have the results ready. Not long after she came back from having her blood drawn, a nurse came to the waiting room with a wheel chair. They wheeled her to the back while trying to explain what the urgency was to us. The normal hemoglobin level for her age is between 12-15; hers was a 4. They explained that they were giving her 2 units of blood via transfusion. After some back and forth, we were then told that she was in kidney failure. The nephrologist came in and began explaining creatinine to us. A normal level is 0.57 - 1. Our daughter's was 32.5. They moved her to the ICU for careful observation. She also received another 2 units of blood. By the morning of November 21st, her creatinine had gone down to 26 on its own. The nephrologist told us that dialysis was the only option at this point. She went in for a permcath and began dialysis that evening. She had dialysis again on the 22nd and 23rd. They deemed her healthy enough to come home on the 23rd. At this point, she had to be on dialysis three times a week. 


Since being discharged, she has had another 3 day hospital stay for high potassium level, several ER visits, had her permcath reinserted, and had minor surgery to have a fistula done. She needs a kidney transplant. We are working on getting her on the list; the checklist is complicated. She still has dialysis 3 times a week, on the renal diet, and on a medication to help regulate the phosphorus in her body. 


My daughter is only 18 and has to fight harder than any 18 year old should. Now, to answer the most common question I get: How did this happen? Back when my daughter was around 7 years old, she was diagnosed with Henoch Schonlein Purpura (HSP). I wasn't told much about this condition when she was diagnosed; none of the doctors then had ever SEEN a case of it. We were briefly told that the condition could potentially attack her kidneys or other organs. She saw a pediatric nephrologist when she was younger and he gave her a clean bill of health. Unfortunately, a person's creatinine level is not something that would be checked at a typical well - visit. When we first moved to a new area a few years ago, I did take her in to the local children's ER for what turned out to be a kidney infection. Part of me wonders if that ER had checked her creatinine, would we have found out about her kidney disease in its earlier stages? I did a quick research on HSP and learned that only 5% of those diagnosed with it develop kidney disease and only 1% have kidney failure. 


My child is facing so much in her short life. And it devastates me that I can't fix it.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge {Vol. XVIII}


1. What's the last thing you did that someone else thought was super? 

I'm not really sure. I get told all the time that just being a homeschooling mommy to 7 is super enough. My kids thought the fact I just painted my entire master bathroom by myself was super. 

2. The last thing you ate that tasted superb? 

Hawaiian Porkchops. It's a recipe I found while searching for one my daughter could have. It's a porkchop topped with pineapple ring, red onion ring, green pepper ring, and a pat of butter. It's wrapped in a foil packet and baked. They tasted so good. Recipe found here

3. Supersensitive, superstitious, superwoman, superambitious, supercilious, supervisor, superficial...pick a super word from the list and tell us how it relates to your life in some way recently or currently. 

Definitely supersensitive. Politics is taking a toll on me. 

4. Do you love easily? If you're comfortable doing so, explain why you think that is.

No. My past is filled with pain and disappointment so I keep myself guarded.  

5. Valentine's Day lands on a Tuesday this year. Will you mark the day in some way? If you're celebrating with a dinner out somewhere will it be on Tuesday or will you celebrate over the weekend? 

I do not celebrate Valentine's Day. 

6. What's something you are loving right now? 

Binge watching shows. Watching new shows. Loving Scandal, Designated Survivor, Emerald City, 24:Legacy, The Haves and the Have Nots, and Too Close to Home. Cannot wait until The Walking Dead comes back on Sunday. 

7. Write a three word (or less) phrase you'd like to see on a Valentine candy heart.  

Mine Always. It's always nice to feel wanted and loved. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

I've lived in this house for a year. The master bathroom was a spring green color with an ivy wallpaper border. It was ugly for a bathroom and I hated it. I bought all the stuff several months ago to redecorate it. After two days of painting, it is now a tan/gray/off white color (Indian Muslin to be exact), border is gone, and it is now decorated with my seashell theme. There's no window in my master bath so there's no natural light. The new paint makes it look so much brighter and bigger. I am very happy with how it turned out. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge {Vol. XVII}



It's been a long time since I have participated in Wednesday Hodgepodge or even blogged at all.

1. Share one favorite moment/memory from your Christmas holiday. 

Watching my kids open their gifts. 

2. What was the best thing you ate over the holidays? Was it homemade or store bought? If it was homemade did you make it?

We didn't do much for the holidays. I had to alter our menu this year so we only had Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, corn, and green beans with bacon. I will have to say the turkey, which I couldn't season with much, as well as the Green Beans made with little sodium were the best things I ate. I did make them both. 

3. What was one of the most beautiful things you saw over the holidays?

My children's smiles. We have had a rough month and a half so those smiles were worth it. 

4. What does fresh start mean to you?

Starting over. Not being judged based on past decisions but current/future decisions. 

5. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being very positive and 1 being not so great) how would you rate 2016 in terms of personal achievement and well being? Explain. 

2. I'm really glad that 2016 is over. It started out GREAT. Moved to a nice house in a nice neighborhood. I started back to grad school and had a 3.8 GPA. Then right before Thanksgiving everything went downhill and those few days made 2016 the worst year of my life (and I promise I will explain in a separate post so bear with me). 

6. Every January 1st since 1976 Lake Superior University has published a list of words they'd like to see banished from the Queen's English. Words may be banished due to misuse, overuse, or just general uselessness. Go here to read more about how the words were chosen or, if you're like me, to find out what in the world the word or phrase even means or the context in which it's used. There were quite a few on this year's list I'd never heard before.

Here's the 2017 list of banished words-

You, Sir-focus-Bete Noire-Town Hall Meeting-Post Truth-guesstimate-831-historic-manicured-echo chamber-on fleek-bigly-ghost-Dadbod-listicle-get your dander up-selfie drone-frankenfruit-disruption

Which word on the list would you most like to see banished in 2017? What word or phrase would you add to the list?

I actually heard this Tuesday morning while driving my daughter to an appointment. On fleek needs to go. I detest that phrase. If I could add a word, it would definitely be bae. I hate it. 

7. Large or small, light or deep, share with us one goal you have for the new year. 

This year I plan to take better care of me. This is something I have been lacking in for a long time. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I have so much to do and it seems like I have so little time. I wish there was 24 extra hours in a day because I definitely need them. Also, stay tuned to a post dedicated to what in 2016 made it the worst year ever. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Review: Tapjoy

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I began to play a mobile app that uses Tapjoy for users to obtain extra game currency rather than buy it. This review is about my experience with Tapjoy in relation to the game that I play.

When you run out of the daily allotment of game currency that the app gives you each day, you have two options to obtain more. You can either use your credit/debit card and purchase more or you can complete tasks via Tapjoy to be awarded various amounts of currency.

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Above is an example of tasks available.
Below is an example of a detailed task once it it opened.

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Some tasks are not worth this many coins. Some are worth 500 - 4000 coins. Those are the easy tasks. Usually it's a short quiz about health topics, downloading and running an app, or reading a quick webpage of information. I have never had a problem receiving my award from these tasks. However, that is where the easiness of Tapjoy ends.

Tasks such as the one shown above are rarely awarded coins. I performed this particular task by purchasing this very domain name. I waited for my 336,000 coins. Nothing. See on the first screenshot at the bottom right corner where it says "Missing coins"? Well, I tapped on that and was taken to a form to choose the offer I had not been awarded for as well as supply an email address. Once that was submitted, I received an email. This email asked for proof of completing a task whether it be a screenshot, welcome email, or billing invoice. I replied back with a screenshot of my order as well as the welcome email from GoDaddy. I waited. No coins were received.

Tapjoy then directs you to download their app so that you can track tasks and coins. That screen is shown below (and don't judge me. Yes, I play a Walking Dead trading card game).

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This screen shows the tasks opened, not necessarily attempted. The yellow clock means you are waiting for a reward. The green check means that the coins have been awarded. If Tapjoy decides you have not completed a task, there will be a red exclamation point. Many of my previous large amount tasks have this red exclamation point. 

This is where my problem with Tapjoy comes in. Their process seems almost sketchy. For many of these tasks, you provide information in order to be awarded. This information includes name, address, phone, email, DOB, as well as income range. I rarely get my awards when I complete a form like this. If the task says to take a survey, you answer question after question and when you get to the point there is no more "Next" buttons, you are told you are done. However, there is a list of offers on the final page. I never sign up for these "extra" offers but I also don't get the coins promised even with screenshot proof. This is one thing that infuriates me about this service. 

Next, there are offers much like the GoDaddy one mentioned above. However, some of these offers are free trials for a period of time and then they charge your card or paypal account. Some I have signed up for, I am awarded the coins. However, there is another one that I was denied coins for that required me to sign up for a free trial to a credit score agency. This included providing a payment method for after the trial. I did all that was asked in the task and was denied. Just from this task and the GoDaddy task, I am owed over 500,000 coin credits in this game. This doesn't include the other tasks that I am not mentioning. 

A third thing that bothers me about this service is that there is no way to actually contact Tapjoy. They do not respond to Twitter. You get form emails in reply to missing coins complaints. There is no contact information on their website. I did find one email address but again all you get is a form response from them. I have emailed them several times and explained that I was being denied credits even after demonstrating proof of completion, not once, not twice, but three times! I got so annoyed with the lack of communication that I contacted GoDaddy and informed them that I was directed to their site for the deal because of Tapjoy and then not awarded what was promised via Tapjoy on behalf of GoDaddy. They agreed to look into it considering I am very obviously using the product purchased. 

My advice when it comes to Tapjoy: Try to stay away from it. Many of the tasks seem really sketchy considering I am owed a large amount of credits for all the tasks I have completed. I have also talked to others in the game community who are also owed several hundreds of thousands of coins from Tapjoy. Most are from the same tasks I was also denied for. 


** NOTE: I was not approached by Tapjoy to do a review. I was given nothing in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed in this review are mine. **

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Guess Who's Back?

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It's been over 5 months since I was last here at The Italian Bella Diaries. A lot has happened since then.


  • We moved. I hated where we were. Crazy neighborhood and just not worth the money to be there. We found a a nice 5 bedroom house in a wonderful neighborhood. This process took up the first 3 months of the year. 
  • Our son, CJ, turned 6 right in the middle of our move. We tried to give him a decent day despite the chaos. He had a homemade cake and went shopping for Paw Patrol toys. 
  • In April, I went back to grad school after taking 6 months off. I switched schools and am really loving my new school. I originally decided to go back for my Masters in Psychology with an emphasis in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. By the end of my first class, I had decided that I still wanted to be a Sport Psychologist so I switched. Luckily, my first class was a general one that has to be taken no matter the course of study. 
  • In May our oldest, Tina, turned 18. Not quite sure how I got to be old enough to have an ADULT child... We gave her the one thing she had been asking for since we moved and that was a keyboard. She has another year of high school left so she's sticking around for a bit. 
  • I also bought a domain name for this blog. What does this mean? I'll be around a lot more. I kind of missed it here. I may not post every day but I'll be posting more. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Fork in the Road...

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I've come to the proverbial fork in the road. 

I love this blog. I've made this blog {and the location before it} my home on the web since 2008. I have shared my life, my family, my thoughts for 7 years here. 

But, my life has taken different turns since then. I went back to college. I got my bachelors degree in Psychology. I started grad school. And the childhood dream of mine to be an author keeps resurfacing. 

Between the things I have to do {take care of my family, home, etc} and the things I want to do {write a novel or two or three...}, my time is scarce. I enjoyed writing here for the last month on a more regular basis. 

But, this isn't where my heart is anymore. 

So, after a little thought, I have decided to leave writing here for awhile. There is no time frame on this. I will still complete my 30 Things My Kids Should Know About Me on this blog. I will be doing Wednesday Hodgepodge and Monthly Goals from my author blog. I will write here if I feel like I need to share something that I do not feel appropriate for my author blog. 

For those that wish to follow me over there, here is a brief run down of what I share over there. I share poems or writing prompts that I write. I share progress on my novel and other writing projects. I share some about myself through writing. I do not share much, if anything, about my kids. I do keep them out of my "author" life and may mention them in passing.