A few weekends ago, we were at my mom and dad's.  I had an itch on my left side and under my shirt there was a bump. When I looked...there was a little tick stuck to my skin. 
    "Hey mom!  Do you have any tweezers?"
    "Yes, why?"
    "I have a tick."
    "Oh!  Let me see.  There's nothing to worry about unless there's a white dot on their back."
     "Ummmm, mom.  This one has a white dot on it's back."
     "Oh!  Well, maybe it's not a white dot that's dangerous.  I don't know.  I'll get the tweezers."
This led to my first ever internet search on ticks.  It turned out that the tick that I had, was fine.  It made me realize though, just how much I didn't know (or care) about ticks to begin with.  We haven't found a tick on our kids yet, so it never crossed my mind. 
     If or when you might get a tick however, have I got a treat for you.  I've put together some helpful information from the several websites that I found.  (Yes. My life is full of excitement.)
    Keep in mind...I am not a doctor, so if any of this information is wrong or invalid and you are the keeper of all knowledge on ticks (and yuck)...please feel free to correct.
                 TYPES OF TICKS  (ewww)
                     Lone Star Tick
    The Lone Star Tick female is easy to identify from any other tick by the white dot or "star" in the center of her back.  The star is actually part of her shield. 
    Lone Star Ticks are found throughout the southeastern and south-central states, but have been identified as far north as Maine and as far west as central Texas and Oklahoma. 
    The tick will feed on humans, and other animals (dogs/cats) and may be quite aggressive.  The saliva from Lone Star Ticks can be irritating, but the redness at a bite site does not necessarily indicate an infection.
    Although Lone Star Ticks are not known to carry Lyme Disease, research has found that they may cause STARI, or Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness, causing a rash that may be accompanied by fatigue, headache, fever, and muscle and joint pains.  STARI has not been linked to any arthritic, neurological, or chronic symptoms however - and the rash and accompanying symptoms have resolved following treatment with oral antibiotics.

                   The Brown Dog Tick
      The Brown Dog Tick will feed on a wide variety of animals, but dogs are the preferred host and attachment to humans is uncommon.  Dog Ticks can however, reach extreme pest proportions and infestation in houses and kennels.  Brown Dog Ticks have not been shown to transmit the bacteria which causes Lyme disease in humans, however in parts of the Southwestern United States, it may transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and in Europe, Asia and Africa, it is also known to carry what is locally known as Mediterranean Spotted Fever, or Tick Typhus. 

                   The Wood Tick
      Wood ticks are most active during the spring and summer months. They tend to be near field edges or wooded trails. Wood ticks usually take up to 24 hours before they begin feeding, giving you time to remove them.  Wearing repellant and proper protective clothing will help to avoid getting wood ticks.  Wood ticks may carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. 

              Deer Tick (Black Legged Tick)
       Deer ticks present more of a risk from around mid-May through mid-July. The risk is present, but lower, again in early spring and in the fall (late September-October) when the adult stage of the deer tick is active.  Deer ticks can carry Lyme Disease.  The risk of contracting Lyme Disease is small if the tick is removed soon after it becomes attached.  They must remain attached one to two days to transmit the disease and not all deer ticks carry Lyme Disease.
   (Lyme disease was first recognized in 1975, after researchers investigated why unusually large numbers of children were being diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in Lyme, Conn.)
   Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease may include: Flu-like illness, headache, extreme fatigue, red ear lobes, TMJ/ Jaw Pain (Temporomandibular Join), beck & back pain, joint pain & swelling, bone pain and EM rash (erythema migrans) or "bulls-eye".
     If you find a tick...don't panic.  Use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to its mouth as possible.  Gently and slowly pull the tick straight outward from as close to the mouth/head as possible. 
     Try not to squeeze the body which may push infected fluid from the tick into your body.  Do not try and smother the tick with Vaseline, nail polish, liquid soap, a hot match, or any other crazy trick you've heard of.  This could cause the tick to burrow further into your skin or release infected fluid, increasing your risk of infection. 
     Once the tick is removed, wash the area and apply antiseptic to the area.  You may want to keep the tick in a zip lock bag if you have any concerns.
     Okay, I officially have the heeby-jeebies, so I'm going to stop with the tick stuff.  I hope this trusty guide will come in handy for you if you need it, but even more so, I hope that you never will.
                    Happy Summer!!!
Please Remember to Vote by Clicking Below! We need to move UP!
Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
     Our staff had a fun breakfast pot luck at work this morning.  I made a recipe that was given to me from a mom friend in my daughter's preschool.  It was off the charts good.  Like, Christmas morning good. 
     I knew I wasn't alone in thinking this when everyone at work today asked for the recipe after just one bite.  On the heels of my Pinterest disdain...I thought I'd try something different.  It's a little old thing called, sharing a recipe from a friend.
     Her name is Nicole and she is the cutest thing with a family of thee boys and ANOTHER on the way!  The recipe has been in her family for years.  She gave me the go ahead to post it - and you can thank her on her awesome blog: www.aboutthecaldwells.blogspot.com

One pound of sausage (cooked well, then drained)
8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar cheese
2/3 cups of milk
3 eggs
1 deep dish pie crust

Mix milk and eggs, add salt/pepper to taste.  Add sausage to the mixture and mix well - set aside.
Sprinkle half of the cheese in the bottom of the uncooked pie shell.
Pour sausage mixture over the cheese.
Top with the remaining cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. 
The recipe can be doubled or tripled for larger groups. 

     Thank you Nicole! - You're the Best!  Can't wait to meet that little one!  XOXO
    Please Vote by clicking below Each Day!  Thank You!
Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
     I have a total love/hate relationship with Pinterest.  I love it...and it hates me. 
     It taunts me with its fancy pages of, "Look at me.  Look at my awesomeness.  If you had any skills at all, you could do this too."
     I find great ideas and cute crafts, then think about doing them.  Note the word, "think".  Most of the time that's as far as I'll get, but every once in a while, I'll totally go for it. 
     Take Groundhog's Day for instance.  If you've followed this blog, you already know about my mad Pinterest skills.  I can take an adorable idea like this:
          And make it even more amazing, like this:
       Yep.  It was so incredible that the kids didn't even know what to say. 
       My latest bout with Pinterest came tonight.  Our daughter's dolls have all gone through some strange sort of wind tunnel of doom.  For some reason, they all have crazy hair that could house small colonies of rats. 
       Turning to (what else but) Pinterest, I found the answer to my prayers.  You don't have to throw those dolls away, noooooo.  You don't have to cut their hair.  All you have to do is mix two tablespoons of liquid fabric softener with eight ounces of water and spray it throughout the doll's hair.  Easy enough, right?  What could be better?!
     We started with who else, but her Tangled doll, Rapunzel.
             Our daughter mixed the magic potion...
                  ...sprayed her doll's hair.
            Then brushed...and brushed...and brushed.
    And dag-gone it Pinterest if you didn't get me again.  The pictures you showed were of beautiful, gorgeous results.
      Ummm, yeah.  Pretty close to how ours turned out too.
      We decided to work on Doc McStuffins for another try.
     And ooooh, Pinterest.  How you get to me so.  The fantastic results that you promised like this...
      ...in reality, end up for those of us who are the Pinterworst...like this.
       Our last and final attempt is going to be with Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  It makes me nervous because she is our daughter's favorite.  I hope when their hair dries, it will be a little better - but who am I kidding?
      I know I need to just stop pretending that anything I see on Pinterest will come out half as well once I try to do it.  It's a vicious cycle - and I can't seem to get off this train.
     I'll be sure to fill you in on any remedy or recipe I try that actually does work, if such a thing exists. 
     Until then Pinterest, I'll be watching you.  Aaaalways watching...

    Please VOTE each day by clicking below!  THANK YOU!!!    
Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
      So things have been crazy.  Like, crazy-crazy.  I went back to work last week and everything's been in full swing.  I have my first post-op with the neurosurgeon this Wednesday so I'm hopeful he gives me the thumbs up towards my healing. 
      Anyway, back to the crazy part.  I know that the perfect, beautiful ideal of summer, consists of lazy days and sandy beaches.  One of those days would be nice.  We can't even seem to keep our heads above water though.  Take this weekend for instance...
      Between the four kids, there are a lot of fun birthday parties to go to.  It can get kind of bonkers sometimes though, when you multiply the number of kids in their classrooms, friends and neighbors, to the number of birthdays there are.  The parties are always great...unless you're someone with no sense of time - and even LESS sense of direction.
     Our daughter's friend was having her fifth birthday party at a really cool place.              
     Notice how there aren't any other kids in this picture?  If you're like me that's probably because,
     1.)  You're really lost and had to stop in this nice place to ask for directions...or
     2.)  You're very, very early...or...very, very late.
     In this case, neither applied.  (Well, I guess technically number two did.)
     As we made our mad dash into the place we hoped was the right location, we were met with emptiness.  No children playing, no cake, balloons, ice cream...unicorns.  Nothing but crickets.  
     A woman sitting at the front desk was startled by our attack mode and almost dropped her phone.
     "Can I help you?"  She questioned.
     Knowing that something was wrong (again, either number one or number two) I looked around frantically.
     "Why is no one here?"  I thought in my head, and evidently said out loud.    
     Putting her phone down, she laughed and replied, "I don't know!  Why are YOU here?"
     Turning to look at her, I smiled back.  "Oh, sorry.  I must be at the wrong place."  I held out the invitation for her to see.
     Reading it, she laughed a little harder.  "No honey.  You're at the right place and you're even here at the right time.  You just picked the wrong day that's all."
     Oooooof course I did.
     I don't know if we'll ever get to experience the lazy days of summer.  I don't know if they even really exist in this day and age to tell the truth. 
     I do know one thing for sure...I can relax knowing where and when the next birthday party will be.  We won't get lost and we'll be perfectly on time...hopefully even be on the right day too. 
  Please Remember to CLICK Below each day to VOTE!  XOXO  
Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
    Getting ready for the weekend, it's hard not to look back on years past of the celebration of the Fourth.  My mom loves a holiday and made sure that we always had something fun to do. 
    My hometown in Ohio had a drive-in movie theater which we used to love to go to and watch fireworks.  My friends and I would run around and catch a lightning bug or two. 
     I used to stare wide eyed at the designs I'd make with sparklers that were half fascinating/half terrifying, as I worried that my hand would get burned.
     It's the little things that stand out in my memory of growing up with the Fourth of July and I can't help but smile when I see my kids enjoy the same.   
     I hope this year will bring fun and celebration to you and yours...and maybe even a sparkler or two.  Happy Birthday USA!
                   Happy 4th of July.  
Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
   He Loved his bike!  Thank you for the Birthday Wishes.  :)
          Happy Birthday Preston!  Love You So Much.
           Please Click Below to Vote!  Thank You!
Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
   Our third son Preston is turning seven years old today.  He asked last night before he went to bed if he was going to be taller in the morning, just like his brothers.
    It's hard for him to be the youngest of the boys.  It seems as though almost everything in his life has been a hand-me-down from clothes, toys, sports equipment and video games.  He often has to sit waiting forever to have his turn, as his two big brothers continue to tell him just "one more minute".
     To make matters worse, he doesn't even get the benefit of being the youngest.  He has a little sister to contend with, giving him that whole "middle child" issue to have to deal with as well. 
      I can understand how this makes him crazy.  A good example of what he deals with is when he got his big brother's old bike because they'd outgrown it, then we got a new bigger bike for the boys and a new pink bike for his sister because she's a girl.
     Tonight for his birthday, that's about to change though.  My parents found a perfect bike, just his size.  It's too small for his brothers and it's totally all "boy" so his sister will want nothing to do with it.  It will be his very own, brand new bike...just for him. 
      I whole heartedly believe that siblings should learn to share and deal with turn taking, etc.  Sometimes it's just nice to feel special and have something all your own though.  
      I'm so excited to see his reaction.
      Happy Birthday Little Pret.  We Love You and thank God  everyday we get to watch you grow.  Especially now that you're so much bigger...because you're seven.  :) 

      One Click below on the brown box equals one VOTE! 
             Thank You and you're Awesome.
Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
    Have you ever had a time when EVERYTHING seemed to go wrong?  You know how it is...when you just can't catch a break?
    In the past few weeks, it's been one thing after another.  Never mind the big things like a trip to the ER or back surgery, it's all of the little nuances that seem to add up.  The air conditioner in the car died, then the air conditioner in the HOUSE went out too.  The dryer kicked the bucket, then water spilled over the computer.
    I believe it's important to keep in mind that life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you deal with it.  On the other hand though, there's got to be a point where you just throw your hands up.
    Today I was reminded of something important however.  Sometimes, even when you don't know why things happen, no matter how furious they can make you...there really is a good reason.
    When the repair guy came to fix our dryer, he said that the whatcha-mathingy blew out because the dryer wasn't working efficiently enough.  When he asked how long it had been since our dryer vent was cleaned, I had to stop and think.
    "Ummmmmm...maybe a year ago...ish?"  I said with a smile.
    "You need to get it done.  Now."  He replied, without a smile.
    He fixed the dryer and left, stating that I needed to call someone immediately once he was gone.
    I Googled a guy and he came out today with his dryer vent cleaning thingy equipment.  Within a few minutes, I heard him yell, "Ugh, Ma'am? Can you come here please?"
     Going into the laundry room, he had that "look" on his face.
     "I can't get through this vent.  It's pretty much like a concrete wall in there.  I'm actually surprised you guys haven't had a fire by now."
     He worked on the vent for sometime and eventually got everything cleared.  With the amount of laundry that we have between the six of us, we use our washer and dryer pretty much non-stop.  Thank God the dryer broke before a fire started.
     The bottom line is - in the midst of the chaos that we all go through everyday, it's always good to remember two things.
     Number one.  Don't sweat the small stuff.  Things happen constantly that can make us crazy.  Most of the time it feels like there's no reason for any of it...at all, but sometimes - just sometimes, you may never know.  
    And number two...always clean the dryer lint.  :)
    Please Remember to Click below for a VOTE each day! 
                        Thank You!
Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
    It's so great to write the first blog in such a long time with absolutely and 100% no pain. 
     The surgery was scary to do, but now that it's over, I'm so glad that I did it.  We didn't know until the surgeon got "in there" that a cervical disc had already ruptured and another was close to rupturing.  I wondered if the pain would get better over time once the surgery was done, but as the doctor said would happen...when I opened my eyes, the pain was gone.  Nothing. No shooting and numbness down my left arm, no weakness.  It was amazing.
     The cut in my neck doesn't look so bad...
    And the drugs they gave me in the hospital knocked me out pretty well... (I was talking to the walls)
    I'm home and am taking it easy.  I'm off the pain meds now and healing well.  I haven't had my follow up with the doctor yet, but hopefully he'll give me the "all clear" so I can get back to life.
    It's been a pain to go through all of this, (bad pun) but through it all, it's been a nice reminder of how wonderful it is to have such beautiful friends and family.  THANK YOU for your prayers and kindness.  This world is a Wonderful place because of you.  XO     
Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
If you read this blog with any regularity, then you know my wife.  She can make you burst into laughter, then fall into tears only words apart.  If you’ve caught any of her more recent posts, you know that she had back surgery yesterday.

First things first, the surgery went “fantastic”.  Speaking with the doctor immediately after the surgery, he confirmed that she actually had a ruptured disk (which caused all the pain), a herniated disk, and a bone spur.  He was confident that the procedure would quickly resolve Beatty’s pain in her arm and back, and optimistic that the numbness/tingling down her arm and hand would disappear.  Spending the night with her in the hospital, she confirmed, aside from the back and neck pain from the procedure itself, her arm pain and numbness/tingling are no more!  The surgery was a huge success.

Next, since Beatty is otherwise indisposed, I asked her if I could fill in as a “guest blogger” for a day or two.  I figured since I have a front-row seat to Beatty’s blog, it’d be okay to give my perspective.

Confronted with recent events, Beatty and I took the opportunity to reflect a little more on our lives.  Sure, thousands of surgeries happen daily worldwide, but the vast majority of time, it’s to somebody else.  Once in a while, though, your number is called, and it becomes your turn to go under the knife.  To some people, it’s really not a big deal; to others, (and I fall into this category), it gives a moment to pause and reflect…on life…and death. 

It’s in this dichotomy; I do admit that I find comfort in the trivial world of sports.   Anyone who knows me knows that I love the San Francisco 49ers and San Antonio Spurs.  And anyone who follows sports knows how agonizingly and excruciatingly cruel the past few years have been for both the Niners and the Spurs.  Both teams have come heartbreakingly close to winning their championships, only to lose in the end. 

And yet, I remind myself – it’s all a matter of perspective.  Who wouldn’t be thrilled to have the incredible success that both teams have experienced?  Sure, they’ve come up ever so short on the brightest of stages, but isn’t being one of the best good enough?  Or must we win it all – to be declared the champion – to be called a success?  What’s your definition of success? 

Then there’s this perspective: I remind myself that I’m only a fan (a pretty big fan as Beatty would attest).  And, it’s only a game.  Because for those who come across life and death on a daily basis: patients battling disease, the doctors and nurses who work with them, policemen, firemen, our nation’s Armed Forces, that inspire us all.  

The Spurs played for another chance at a championship just a few days ago.  Call it redemption or a mission from last year’s gut-wrenching loss…call it whatever you want.  Simply said, they destroyed the Miami Heat in historic fashion.   Many called their performance “epic”.  As a Spurs fan, it was beautiful to watch as the team came together selflessly.

It’s been said that in the Spurs’ locker room, is the Stonecutter’s Creed, which translates remarkably well in life. 

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it.  Yet at the hundred and first blow, it will split in two, and I know that it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

When you toil so painstakingly – in life, with your family or your friends, in your careers, spiritually - don’t lose sight; keep toiling away; keep at it.  The toils are not in vain; the effort will be worth it.

It’s so easy to feel the victim.  It’s easy to complain.  Why do I have to get back/neck surgery?  It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself.  And it’s easy to make excuses.  Simply put, it’s much easier to take the easy way out.  BUT… 

As much as we can attest that life is incredibly challenging and demanding, continue to stay the course.  Stay true to yourself.  Stay true to your values, to your faith and your loved ones.  Continue striking the stone…

To the doctors, nurses, and the entire medical staff, Thank You.  My sincerest appreciation for all that you do daily, and for taking care of my wife.  To our family and friends, my deepest heartfelt thanks for your continued love, support, prayers, fellowship, and friendship.  To our four children, I give you all that I am.  And finally, to my wife, the heaven-sent angel who took my breath away a long time ago, I adore you and am eternally yours.  Best wishes for a speedy, healthy, happy, and blessed recovery.