Monday, December 17, 2012

I am that paramedic.

I write this on behalf of all of the first responders who had to endure living through the incident at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Because, you see, they can't write about it. They won't be able to talk about it, except they will, to a select few people like their coworkers and spouses. But they won't be able to get on Facebook and set straight the misconceptions. They won't be able to tell anyone what they saw and what they did as they attempt to grieve and comprehend what they went through...and what they're still going through. And because everyone knows they were there, they are going to be asked a lot of questions. That they will not answer in an attempt to keep the victim's privacy. Other questions will be asked of them by the parents and family members of these children, and then, they will have to sort through the horror fresh in their mind in an attempt to decide what and how much to say, both legally and ethically.

You see, for all of us who have been in EMS for a while, we are that paramedic. Many people think that we have some sort of pretty existence, that we somehow know how to deal with these tragedies, or that maybe they don't affect us like they would everyone else. But here is the truth: I have cried with the mother as I tell her what gender her stillborn baby is. I have held my breath while drilled into the bone of a baby in an attempt to give medications and fluid because we can't get an IV in. I have remained calm as I explained to a father that his 5-year-old son might die before, but that I was going to do everything I could to give him life. I have also been the one to have to walk in and tell a family that I'm sorry, but their son or daughter didn't make it, swallowing the lump in my throat as they begin to loudly grieve. I have been clung to as I recant the last moments of a young person's life to their surviving family, to let them know that we tried so hard, and that we treated that person with respect and dignity.

I have taken care of the victims of murder before. I have taken care of the victims of domestic violence. I have taken care of the victims of accidents. But let me tell you, there is nothing that compares to a child victim. And there is nothing that could compare to walking into a mass murder scene. I hope, for all of us, that the rest of us will never, ever experience that. Because I know how hard this is going to be. These are the things that no one, no one, should ever have to see.

There will be a society pushing for Hollywood details, wanting us to paint a picture of the pale faces, the blood, the numbers. This will be done through the media and through our friends. What none of them realize, though, are the things that will stick in our head and that will bother us. Like how light the body was when we picked it up to put it in the body bag. The paleness of the skin. The texture of the blood, and of how we later had to wash it off of our arms because the gloves didn't cover everything. How the irony smell of blood won't leave our nose. We will think about the dirty clothes still left on that victim's floor at home. We will remember the backpack with the child's name on the classroom floor. We will remember the helpless feeling and the adrenaline making our heart stronger while we waited for the scene to be secured so that we can enter. And we will remember wanting to save the lives of every single person there...Oh, and the photos in the media? We will hate them because it is just exploiting the families who had to go through this. Enough is enough.

Most everyone will attend an incident stress debriefing, but still...Sleep will be difficult. Seeing blood might be hard. Leaving our children will be impossible. Some people will not go back and will find different careers instead. And then, because we work in a small town, we will see the parents. We will pass the memorials every day on our way to other calls. We will read the online news articles and watch the televised press releases. And we will know what those releases got right and what they got wrong...but none of it will matter, because we couldn't give these babies and teachers back to their families, which is what we want to do.

More than anything else, I want the families of these victims to know that we weep with you. We are horrified and terrified with you. We don't always know how to go on, either. But we will, we will always, love your baby through the tragedy, even after their last breath is gone. As we carry their bodies, they will be safe in our arms, and we will not leave any behind.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Free Printables For Your Home Management Binder

Here is everything you need for the contents of your Home Management Binder! Feel free to customize it to fit your family and needs, and watch it change as you get the hang of what you really want and don't want in it. I've divided everything into the categories I use, and it should be easy for you to download and print the forms that I have found to be the best out there. Also check out my last post that goes right along with this one: Tips for Creating Your Home Management Binder. Enjoy!



  • Living Will/Health Care Proxy DIY (by state)
  • Vaccination Schedules (look through and choose the appropriate one(s) for your family) or Vaccination Refusal if you are not able to vaccinate your children (search for the form if your state requires one)
  • Family Health Information (have yet to find a good printable for this. Should include: Names, DOB, Allergies, Past Medical History, Insurance, Medications, Dr. & Contact info, immunizations, as well as general family history including if and who in the family tree has things like cancer, diabetes, etc.



  • Folder with local restaurant menus/contact information (I have mine tucked in a page protector)
  • Business hours and information for local movie theaters, mini-golf courses, Science Centers, museums, etc.
  • Story Hour, MOPS, and other age appropriate social group information.


As Needed
  • Search online for "free printables" to help you stay organized when preparing for camping, shopping, a particular holiday, traveling, hosting a party, holding a yard sale, and more!
  • Devotional lists.

PS- photo at the top of this post came from and it is hers, not mine. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tips for creating your Home Management Binder

A home management binder is literally, a three ring binder with dividers that contain important information, menus, schedules, ideas, and so much more (I'll be giving you everything you need to make your own tomorrow!). Unfortunately, many people don't know where to start when creating a home management binder. It's simpler than you may think, though, and the effort is so worth it! You will always know where information is, have ideas at your fingertips, and will be able to manage your home more efficiently and smoothly. Here are seven tips to help you get started:

#1: Collect your supplies. 
You will need: a three ring binder (good sized), a 3-ring hole punch, paper to print forms off of your computer/Internet with, clear plastic page protectors, write on/wipe off marker, pens, tab dividers, a zippered pouch or two that will go into the binder, and a few business card page holders.

#2: Print a nice cover! 
You can download the ones in the photo for free by clicking here.

#3: Laminate/use page protectors for "to-do" lists so you can write on/wipe off instead of have to always print new ones.

#4: Keep your binder up to date.

#5: Make copies of anything really important you want to put into your binder, like automobile registrations, birth certificates, marriage certificates, diplomas, etc.. Keep those originals in a fireproof safe or filing cabinet!

#6: Use dividers to organize your binder

#7: Get the printables for the contents of your binder. We already put together a list of everything that should go in your binder, as well as a bunch of Free Printables For Your Home Management Binder. So get clicking and be organized! :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Twenty More Years To Live

I got one of those phone calls last week. You know, the kind that you don't want to have. The background to this phone call is that I've had a lot of strange symptoms for YEARS that no one has been able to figure out. Mostly, the sypmtoms of hypothyroidism like fatigue, dry skin, adult acne...then, I had other weird things, like an elevated liver enzyme last year, elevated erythrocytes periodically, and back pain/leg aches, and body twitches when I'm exhuasted. Nothing has ever been diagnosed, so I stopped looking, really. Then a few weeks ago, my knee started hurting. Badly. No reason why. Then a few hours later, my other knee started hurting. Slowly, the pain spread to other areas including my left hip, and it felt like I had bruises on my arms (but, no bruising was seen!). After two weeks of this, I visited the Dr. during a few hours I had off before work. They ordered blood work and I made an appointment two weeks out to follow up with a different Dr.

Then, a few days later, I received a message on my phone at 7pm. It was the PA who ordered the blood work, not even the one I'm following up with. She told me that I needed to call the office ASAP in the morning. YAY! I instead, opted to call back the number that called my phone. No one answered, so I hung up and resolved to call in the morning. At 7:30pm, she called me back again. On her personal phone. Great...

I was told that I have a significant finding, a positive ANA test. Grouped with my symptoms, I need to see a Rheumatologist as soon as possible, and even before the rest of my results come back. Lupus. Rhematoid Arthritis. Maybe something else? Maybe?

Considering that my grandmother has lupus and my symptoms line up, I'm thinking that's the most likely cause of my pain and the positive ANA. I'm slowly beginning to learn about it, though I'm holding off on doing a lot of research until I see the Rheumatologist. In the meantime, I hurt. My hands hurt. My calfs hurt. My eyes hurt. My back hurts. I'm exhuasted, which makes the pain worse. Thank God for Ibuprofin which does help take the edge off! Thankfully, the symptoms come and go, although they're coming a lot more than they're going right now. :)

And then, today, this is what I read about Lupus:
In the past, lupus was not well understood. People who had lupus died younger, usually of problems with vital organs. Now that the disease can be treated more successfully, life expectancy with lupus has increased significantly. Up to 90% of people with lupus live at least 5 years after diagnosis. Nearly 70% live at least 20 years after diagnosis. (WebMD)

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Nearly 70% live at least 20 years after diagnosis?! I will be 48 in 20 years.

Forty-eight years old. Now, I'm not saying I have Lupus. I'm not saying I'm freaked out about any of this, beacuse I'm not. But reading about this "great" life expectency thing has made me think about this: if you knew you weren't going to have a "normal" lifespan, how many years do you think you'd need to feel peaceful about leaving this world?

I think 20 more years would be ok for me. I don't need a whole lot to feel peaceful about going to Heaven, because let me tell you, I am really excited about seeing Jesus face to face. The things that I need are pretty simple: I want to watch my children grow up, and I want to know that I've trained them to provide for themselves and make good decisions. I want them to be self reliant. I want to see my grandchildren. If I'm to die young(er), then I'd like my husband to still be young enough that he finds a wonderful new wife to be his companion while he ages (come on, I've done the single thing and it's really not great).

How long do you need? What would make you feel peaceful about being given a life-expectency less than "average"?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

How To Do The "No Shampoo" or "No-Poo" Method

It's something I heard about a long time ago, actually, on a message board with a thread title of "no-poo support group." And my thought was: how does someone NOT poop? That can't be healthy! Little did I realize that it actually meant I don't use commercial shampoo. And then after that, it took me a little while longer to realize that not using shampoo doesn't equavalate to saying my hair is dirty. In fact, according to all of my research, for all of these people (who aren't generally hippies, by the way), they actually have not only clean hair, but it's soft, shiny, and really healthy looking.

And then...I discovered that two of my former piano students who moved away years ago have now gone shampoo-free (I still can't call it "no poo")! Their hair, one of them mentioned, has been much curlier and healthier since the transition. Then, a coworker mentioned that she has been shampoo-free for two months and is loving it--and loving her hair!

What to do?! More research. So here's the scoop:

No-shampoo doesn't always mean "I'm not using anything to clean my hair with." In fact, you will almost always see using Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) to clean the scalp and Apple Cider Vinegar to rinse the mid/end of the hair (BS/ACV) references for a cleansing regime. Most people seem to use this to just transition from shampoo to only water, and then just use the BS/ACV method periodically if they think their hair needs an extra push.

There are other things commonly used, too, like lemon juice for the rinse, egg yolks for a moisturizing mask, and brown sugar for exfoliating properties. The main thing about this idea is that we're not using the chemicals that are KNOWN to be harmful and that are LEGALLY in our shampoo and conditioner products (and a host of other products!). We're saving money, resources, and giving our body a chance to actually regulate itself like it's designed to do. Many people report that going No-Shampoo has relieved their dandruff, oily hair problems, and frizziness.

Here is how you do it, in a nutshell: (and I'm copying this directly from Kitchen Stewardship)

  • Use 1 Tbs baking soda to a cup of water – you can mix in an old shampoo bottle

  • Shake the bottle to combine, then sprinkle evenly on your scalp

  • Allow to sit a minute, then scrub your scalp in circles with your fingernails, working the baking soda through evenly, especially on the top

  • Rinse with warm water while scrubbing

  • Use 1-2 Tbs apple cider vinegar per cup of water – I mix this in a spray bottle, but others just use a cup and dip their hair

  • Apply as needed to detangle and clarify

  • Rinse well, preferably in cold water on the scalp at the end to close the pores back up. This one I just can’t handle in the winter sometimes, but it is easier if you have a hand-held shower head so your whole body doesn’t have to frigidify just to get your scalp cold!

  • I've also read that a lot of people just make a paste in their hand with 1 tablespoon of baking soda and massage it into their wet scalp instead of making a mixed bottle solution. The biggest thing, from my understanding, is that you will have a "transition period" when your scalp is still over-producing oil (from years of compensating for our shampoo stripping our hair of the oil). Apparently, your hair looks kinda gross and it may also feel rather gross while your body figures out how to regulate everything back to its normal state.

    If you're having any problems, a great article that troubleshoots the specific things can be found here:

    And that's it! Who is up to the challenge?