August 2015 archive

Good Company

By Natalie

imageI must tell you that these three vivacious little boys have increased my stamina this summer. Solely throughout the day. Then I get home, and pass out on my dinner plate, but I stress to you that it’s the best sort of exaustion.

We discovered this awesome little outdoor play area near Southpark Mall’s food court. When I saw that it had those blue sail like shade panels I knew we’d have to check it out, cause this summer’s sun has been no joke. The boys have been retreating to the small shaded spots of the playgrounds, Unwilling to play due to the extreme heat.

At the parks moms, and grandmas have been sneaking glances over at me, and playfully stating, “So, three boys…”

And I’ll respond, “Yep, they’re wonderful little balls of energy. But the real hero is their mom. I’m just the nanny.”

Then the women become even more curious, by my care, and affection for these kiddos. imageI’ve started to notice some similarities between the boys, like the fact that after I set their lunch plates down, and before I can manage to get a bite of my own lunch, all three have scarfed everything down, and are asking for more. Those boys can eat! And all I can do is pray over the fridge in that kitchen, for the food to stretch, and multiply. There’s just no other way around keeping up with it.

imageLook at that handsome kid!!! He just turned ONE. Can you believe it!? He’s been walking all over the place, and loving to explore on those feet.


In efforts to beat this summer’s humidity we’ve been swimming at the neighborhood pool nearly every day!! By doing so the boys and I are happily avoiding laying limp on the sidewalk like a plate of cooked spinach.

imageOne day on our walk back to the house from the pool there were these neighborhood kids who had set up a lemonade stand on the sidewalk. Lost in the bliss of summer leisure Caleb and I found ourselves unable to resist a dollar a cup lemonade, from a genuine kid run lemonade stand. So we strolled back to the house, raced down the driveway, grabbed four quarters, and headed back up toward the stand.

All the way I was quizzing Caleb on how many quarters were in a dollar. He’d slow his skipping down the street to peak into his fistful of change, and respond FOUR!!

Check. Out. That. Grin. ↓ You just can’t put a price on it.

imageWe also discovered this fabulous little splashground just around the corner, where we sat for lunch, and stayed for play.

imageThough these brothers share some strikingly similar qualities, they remind me daily that they’re each their own little man.


constantly surprises me with his knowledge. I’ve loved getting to know him better on his summer break. There was a day this summer when Grant wasn’t feeling so hot, and got sick in his carseat on our way to camp. I decided to pull over into the library after hearing Ry say “Eww, nas-tyyy, nas-tyy!” Caleb, worried about Grant’s inability to keep his breakfast down, was not so sure what to do. He was confused and sensed a change in schedule, his sweet little mind allowing a bit of anxiety to wash over him.

I looked back at him and I said calmly, “Caleb, I’m going to pull over. Grantsy doesn’t feel well, so I’m going to stop, and clean him up super fast, and then I’m going to drop you and Ryder off at camp! And you are going to have so much fun at camp today, because you love camp!”

He calmed down a bit, but was still pretty uncertain about the slight change in plans. A moment later he reached his hand forward and said in a distressed tone “Madalie, hold my hand.. hold my hand please Madalie.”

I reached my hand back to squeeze his, as we drove into the library parking lot just like that.

I consider myself blessed to be someone who is able to walk him through the unfamiliar.. blessed in such a way that I don’t know I could describe. Whenever he is uncertain about things, and searching for my signals on how he should respond a wave of compassion rolls over me, and I think about how much I love him. How much I want for his future. If I can aid in him getting there, I have quenched something so great in me that no other job could ever satisfy.


is the quirkiest, silliest, curliest, tank of an affection-craver. I pushed him to tell me “Ryder’s Turn” when he wanted a shot on the backyard swing. Now, with minimal effort he says it in the sweetest way possible, and I never ever want to forget it.



has sort of turned into a mini Ryder. Eyeing my breakfast banana while he smacks his lips in expectancy. Don’t you pull your baby tricks on me Grantsy. I know all the secrets, cause I’ve pulled them all too.

He’s developling this strong personality. And most often he wishes to be close to where the action’s at. He loves games, and squeezes, and under the chin tickles which is where I’ve found the best belly laugh out of him. He definitely knows what he wants, and goes right for it. He has incredible focus, and I can already see how his qualities will develop into some wonderful assets in a man.

A few days ago I spotted a big ol bug on the dining room floor, and I squealed, and yelled for Caleb to grab his Croc, and smash it. I am not in the business of trapping bugs, and carrying them outside. Too much can happen on the trip outside, and I’d rather not risk being touched by them or potentially losing them. Bugs in the house get squashed when I’m around.

So Caleb runs to grab his Croc, and Ryder is squatting down to inspect this creature. I noticed Ryder’s intrigue and quickly screamed for him not to touch it. But of course that only intrigued him more, reaching for the bug now with a smirk on his face. Caleb got to it first, and began slamming his shoe on the little centipede looking thing.

At this point Grant was interested in all the ruckus, and he was making his way over to the action. “No Grant!” I yelled, as he peaked back at me. Caleb kept smacking against the floor, the lifeless bug flying in the air with each hit. Ryder kept trying to grab at it, and Grant was getting closer and closer to the whole mess. So I grabbed a paper towel and squeeled as I scooped the bug to toss him. The boys were giggling at my disgust all the while.

I thought to myself, these boys… My little bug smashers… They are exactly who I want to be around.

Giving a Voice to an Invisible Illness: Part 2

By Natalie

You can read part 1 to this post here. You can also read similar posts here, and here.


Do you ever feel scared? If so, what about specifically?

It’s scary when I hear about Lupus sufferers experiencing damage to major organs as a result of a flare. Chemotherapy treatments for severe symptoms, the reality of this incurable disease becoming fatal and the risks involved with pregnancy. Would I have complications? Would I be able to handle the inevitable exhaustion of caring for a newborn? I worry about my husband having to take care of me more than he already does and a baby. Will I have to reevaluate my career in teaching and eventually leave the profession because the responsibilities and stress take a toll on my body?

 What do you want people to know about you, and your illness?

She sighs

Good mornings may turn into rough afternoons, and evenings as symptoms are sometimes unpredictable. I’m healthiest when I choose activities carefully and pace myself.
It’s sometimes lonely because I feel people just don’t understand what Lupus is or what it’s like to live with this chronic illness. I don’t get to live my life the way that I want to.

I wish people could validate what I’m going through and knew that I’m fighting harder than they realize. It’s hard for me to articulate what I feel or need because I know I usually look fine on the outside. They have no idea that I go home after a long workday completely drained of energy and utterly exhausted. I’m often unable to enjoy life after work or on the weekends because my body needs rest.

I don’t get to live my life the way that I want to.

Lupus sometimes forces me out of social events. I have to explain to people that I can’t take part in a party or celebration. Having to reject requests to spend time with others due to my health always brings along some sadness and guilt. I don’t want people to get offended or annoyed, but I get tired of explaining my issues to others. However, I’ve also learned that if I am to expect a broader understanding from those around me, it’s important to honestly vocalize what I’m going through so others can empathize.
I also don’t want to burden people. I feel bad and push myself because I don’t want people to think I’m taking advantage of them. For example, after Nadir’s baby showerHosted a baby shower for our sister my foot was hurting really bad and I was feeling fatigued. Sean asked, “What would you do if you could get up right now?” I appreciated his willingness to help, but felt obligated to limp across the room and start cleaning. I struggle with not wanting to feel useless. It’s important for me to still feel useful. I need to feel like I’m still serving a purpose.

How can people be most helpful?

Encouraging words. If there’s something physically to be done while they’re around. Motions around the home.
It’s easy for people to forget because I try to look good on the outside.

How does having lupus affect your future?

Nem: I don’t know if we’re ever going to start a family. I’m getting older, and to change the dynamic of our family is scary. Would Sean end up caring for our child? The new normal requires that I keep up with medications, and pace myself. I’m not supposed to overexert myself.. I need to get enough sleep. It definitey restricts me.

Sean: You know, it’s kind of a lose, lose situation. Either we don’t have kids and later regret it, or we have kids and risk Nem’s health. It’s why for so long we keep avoiding the subject.

What have you learned?

I have so much more compassion and understanding for people living with a chronic illness or other health issues. I don’t always feel strong and courageous, but I hope to inspire others with my story. Raising awareness and knowledge empowers me and gives me a voice!
I’ve always been pretty self sufficient, so it’s been hard, but I’m learning that it’s ok to accept love and compassion from those who care enough to ask me how I’m doing. I deserve the support, sympathy and help that others offer without feeling any guilt.

I’ve become more educated about the illness and I’m learning to listen to my body so I guess you could say I’ve found a new normal which reduces some of my fears. My quality of life has drastically changed because of Lupus, but it’s all about perspective! Although I have physical limitations at times, I will probably always have to take a bunch of medications, and experience emotional ups and downs.

I’ve learned to value the blessings in my life so much more now! My faith and the incredible support system I have in my family and friends, keeps me going and I’m so grateful! God still has a plan and purpose for me and it is good! I try to embrace life one day at a time and not let setbacks hinder me from dreaming and setting goals. Faith has always been my life’s anchor and I know that God is STILL in control, even when I feel like my body and circumstances are out of control.

Summer So Far

By Natalie

Laura came to Charlotte for a week. Which meant we essentially had the opportunity to have a mini staycation while we showed her all around town.


We went to a Knights game, where we ate our fill of peanuts and cracker jacks.


After the game we ran across the street to Romare Bearden Park, cause I had been wanting to visit. And the lights out there were just too magnificent to pass up. imageWe tromped around through the grass, past a black lab chasing after a light up ball. Past some guys doing a little meditation, and past the color changing waterfall. Silly things happened at Romare Bearden. Some very silly things. image


Carowinds is essentially in our back yard, so we decided to spend the day there. And it was hot hot hot. Which is why logically we stood in line for a good 30-40 minutes for this white water rapids ride. Oh yes, we did. It’s part of the experience.



How lucky was I to have a buddy spend the day with me on my birthday??

We ran a few errands before heading to breakfast at my favorite brunch spot uptown (where I succesfully parked on the street! Go me!!), only to realize they only serve brunch on the weekends. Womp womp.

After peeking at the lunch menu we decided to stick around for the chicken salad sandwiches, and run to Amelie’s after for our coffee fix… and we had a couple macaroons there too, not gonna lie. After a long totally soul satisfying girly chat on life, and futures we ran over to Freedom Park, to show Laura some of Charlotte’s green.

Once B came home we all got ready to go to my birthday dinner at Fahrenheit. Which was not only a delectable dinner and dessert seated on the 21st floor, but right outside was this spectacular view.




We hit up Mama’s Coffeehouse for breakfast so Brandon could nail this pano of us behind every door. And so Laura could leave her mark in Charlotte. imageimage


How sweet is that? ↑

Pause for these little cuties.

We went on a much too long, so long I may have developed blisters on my feet walk along the greenway.

You see, the thing about this greenway is that it doesn’t loop, So I keep walking, and walking, not wanting to turn back too soon. And that’s how we ended up strolling for 3 miles. But deep down I really don’t mind it, because there is something about the sippy cups in the back pocket, swaying next to the baby wipes. Something about a morning stroll through the trees that really makes me feel like a true nanny.  image

The Thursday after Laura flew home my sisters came for a visit, which was a bit of a surprise since I was originally expecting Nem, and our mom. Mom stayed behind (Don’t worry, she’s here now!) so that Nadir, and Norah could suprise me for the best ever belated birthday present.

That’s right. My niece’s first road trip was to see her Titi!The auntie version of Tia, if you don’t already know.

And we had some beautiful sister time that I had been craving… which p.s. how odd is it that now we have this fourth member to add to our girl clan? Norah!! You have Rodriguez girl in you.

imageAnd yep.. we like to bring our guests here. It’s our fave coffee spot, can you tell?

We met up with Mandy and little G so all my family could meet eachother. And it was perfect. imageimageYou’re about to find out that I have a thing for babies wrapped in blankets. Perhaps I should have my baby in the winter..imageimageNorah went to the mall with us!!! And she did amazing! Even when her Titi’s took too long in the dressing rooms. She just went along for the stroll, happy to be a part of our very first foursome shopping spree.

imageNorah wrapped in the blankey I made her. ↓ My first time sewing with satin binding. Not too shabby eh?

When I rocked this sweet girl to sleep I couldn’t help but stare at those sleepy little eyelids of hers. Thinking to myself how innocent and pure she is. How small she is. How she has no idea how many people love her so much. And all I could do as we rocked was pray for her. For her precious mind to be guarded, and her innocence to keep. For her to feel the love around her, and to give her parents the strength, and patience to raise her.

Sleeping babies, they really get you thinking.

imageWhen Norah’s not power napping she’s working out those cheek muscles and giving out smiles to those who are worthy. Go on Norah take us out with a smile!

GOOD-NESS My heart is melting. image