Thursday, December 1, 2011

plunging below

Blogging every day is hard.  It's not that I don't have anything to say, because trust you-me, there's plenty of material to draw upon, it's just sometimes I don't have the brain power to mash it all together so it makes sense, or I'm physically unable to take the time I need to sit and write something out.  In any case, nablopomo was a bust.  Actually I don't think I've ever followed through with any long term projects.  YES A MONTH IS LONG TERM IN MY WORLD.  WUT?


Yesterday was a sort of powerful day for me. 

Nothing dramatic happened other than I had some realizations and got a glimpse below the surface of of the deep end of the pool.

Through a convoluted series of events set in motion by nothing other than fate herself, I have become friends, close friends, with someone recently.  This woman is 32.  At 32 she's lived enough life to have known pretty much every kind of heartache a woman can have.  Yet she continually puts herself in places to act as a beacon of hope, a lighthouse to others as they face their darkest hours adrift at sea.  Somehow she continues to have hope, and somehow she has the energy and abundance of love and empathy to help others heal.  She can reach into your soul and pull this amazing light out of nowhere.  She is a healer by nature. As we sat last night in her dark dining room with nothing but the candlelight shining on her face and she spoke about such things that a mother should never have to speak, an incredible wave of gratitude and humility came over me.  Just as she says things like "What are MY problems?  There are starving children in the world!", I humbly check my puny problems at the door.  What are my problems?  I don't have problems.  I have inconveniences.  I have obstacles.  I have a pretty fucking easy life.  And yet so often I feel so overwhelmed and challenged by just being alive.  Not to minimize what I'm experiencing in my life, but really when you have perspective about it, you realize you are just being a whiny fucking spoiled silly little bitch.   My life is a constant situation comedy.  Not much tragedy or drama.  Nothing to cry about, and a ton to laugh at.  Last night I realized that all I need to is to try to remember this perspective and love my life with more honest gratitude.

I also had an awesome Self Nurture Class last night with Savannah of Nurture Life Coaching.  I'm on week 5 now, we're halfway through.  Last night brought up a lot of self limiting beliefs that I have burned into my brain.  It's empowering and depressing to have the awareness of everything you're dealing with.  The trances you travel through life in, not letting your wise or true self see the light of day, moving from moment to moment under the spell of insecurity, shame, jealousy, fear, anxiety, and hopelessness.  The most powerful message to me last night was this:  If you feel your world, your state of being or your heart contracting, this is a sign of being caught in a trance (self limiting belief that is hard wired into the brain, basically).  If you feel an expansion, where the world is full of potential and everything is possible, that is when your wise self is in control.  That's where love and joy is.  That's where confidence, trust, compassion, and empathy are.  I don't know if this makes sense right now, I'm regurgitating the message, probably not very eloquently.  But it's in my soul right now, stirring and settling in.

Lots to let settle into today.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

sucking wind

I'm failing at blogging every day. We moved my office and now I hardly ever get on my computer! More later.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

thanksgiving gangstadancefeastday

assorted pix from our day today. Andy is it's a thuglife for us.

do I look like a 15 year old boy??

turkey dinner cookin' dance partay!

See, we're mostly normal.  ;)  I'll get better pictures tomorrow.

We had a fabulous day today just goofing around and having tons of fun.  I made Andy get out of bed and dress the turkey.  Sophia chopped up everything for the stuffing and sauteed.  Aric made deviled eggs.  Max just made messes, and Reggie RELAXED!  Wish Zach could have been here but he is down with family on the coast visiting relatives.  Lucky guy!  <3

Hope everyone had an amazing day of giving thanks and hugging on their families.  Here's a little update from my sister!!!

SO the big news is big improvements with both of my girls!!! lets start with baby. Depending on how xrays go this weekend there is a possibility of coming off traction and no cast this week even!!! Just dont see how its possible to heal so fast, but babys are incredible little things! Well see what it shows. fingers crossed. She is off the vent and even off the nasal cannula as of this morning. Ox...ygenation is great but she still sounds junky. Cant sit up and work it out like she would normally be able to. She is getting chest PT and is doing well. slight fever this am - hope that is nothing. Apparently her chest xrays have been looking good. She is not sedated like before and is being weaned off pain meds. She is calm, looking around with those big bright blue eyes and is the favorite of all the staff here - everyone is in love with her!! she really is amazing! My baby girl!!! Lyssa continues to make awesome progress. She is supposed t be transferred to Magee tomorrow for inpatient spinal rehab, and her progress here amazes me! We cut off her long long hair yesterday - she made me do it - if I didn't do it she was going to give herself a buzzcut - couldn't have that! She just wants it to be easy to care for especially for rehab and while she is recuping. No voluntary movement yet of her left leg however - using her right leg to brace she is able to turn HERSELF over! She sat in a chair for almost 4 hours yesterday with her back brace on and her spirits are high. See the pix of her new do. Joe is cooking up our Thanksgiving dinner and we will eat it with her and Jon here in the hosp. Once everyone is home we will have a proper feast at home! Eternally Thankful on this day to have my family still here with me, and doing so remarkable well! Do me a favor and just hug and kiss your family today and really spend a minute truly appreciating them!! Love you all! Have a blessed day!
And a few pictures of Lyssa!

Fancy back brace/superwoman uniform!

Beautiful Niece!!
Thanks for all your prayers and well wishes!  Keep them coming!!!  <3

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

my first anniversurgery *nudity warning*

On this day last year, I was recovering from my surgery.  In all I had a breast lift, implants, lipo on my hips and an abdominoplasty.  I blogged a lot about it at the time because I felt like it was something that should be seen and talked about.  Take the mystery away from it.  I had a really hard time finding any good pictures about what to expect.  In the end though, I was getting really weird hits to my blog which had nothing to do with finding good post op pictures, but rather just weird fetishy type searches. 

So while I won't post a bunch of skin pictures here, I do want to post at least a couple.  I think it's still important to see, so if you are squeamish, morally or socially opposed to plastic surgery, under the age of 18, or just judgy mcJudgypants, you should hit the back button and go no further.  You can't unsee this.

All the before pictures were taken on November 16th, 2010.  All of the after pictures were taken today unless otherwise noted.

But first, a word about surgery...

If you are thinking about the "mommy makeover" experience, which is what I had (although I hate calling it that because that makes it sound so trivial and like a day at the spa, which I assure you, it is NOT), consider that you're going to be recovering and needing long term help for at least 2 weeks.  I didn't feel like I rounded the bend until 10 days post op.  The pain was horrific but not intolerable.  Even though I was taking pain meds I didn't get much sleep because I'm a tummy sleeper and obviously one cannot sleep on their tummy after this for like 2 months.  You have to wear a compression garment for 4 weeks, maybe 6.  I felt like I couldn't breathe or stand up straight without it for probably 3 weeks.

You should not expect perfection.  You should understand that you will have scars and maybe some abnormal looking skin folds and indents and lines.  My hips are shaped differently.  One side is bigger than the other due to surgery.  I have weirdness on my hips and lower back from the liposuction.  The liposuction hurt worse than lower back and hips felt constantly asleep, numb, tingly and tight.  The drainage from the lipo gave me HORRENDOUS bruising in the shape of chaps across my butt and down my legs.  It was pretty nightmareish.  But that didn't hurt, it just looked crazy awful.

You might have numbness and loss of sensation on your scars.  I am just now starting to feel sensation in my nipples.  Like if you pinch AS HARD AS YOU CAN....I might be able to feel it.  No bueno.

All in all though, I'm so happy with the results.  I rarely complain about the way clothes fit and that I don't fit into anything.  I still have some work to do to get to where I feel strong and fit and where I want to be, but I'm not obsessed with my body.  I just want to be strong and healthy.  <3

Here's some before and afters.  If you want to see the really squeamish after pictures, I'll share but not me.  amy dot m dot wilbanks at gmail dot com! 

Pictures!  Here ya go!

a great comparison!

front comparison

side comparison

rocking a new swimsuit - 11/22/11

just me, feeling comfortable and happy.  <3

Friday, November 18, 2011

let me tell you about a man

I met him in 2005.  I was pretty much a hot mess; a single mom with four kids, fresh out of a divorce that consumed my 20's and my self-worth, trying to be independent and strong.  I hadn't planned on anything so serious.

We were friends first - the best kind,  the kind you can be a total dipshit with, and they still think you rock.  We talked about our horrible dates as we were both single and doing the thing.  We laughed at anything and everything.  We were each other's wingmen.  We had inside jokes and made fun of each other.  Neither of us had anything planned for the 4th of July, and I didn't have my kids so we decided to go on a road trip.

It didn't take us beyond Sisters, OR to realize there was something more.  By the time we came home three days later, high from endorphins and the sandy coastal beaches, we were inseparable.   And totally and helplessly in love.

A few months later, I was diagnosed with a grapefruit sized benign tumor in my sacrum.  A month after that the kids and I moved up to his house.  A month after that I had my tumorectomy.

It seemed that if we could make it through all of that, we could make it through anything.  And we have so far.

This man and I have been through some rough stuff together.  And some amazing and wonderful stuff.  You know, the stuff that life is all about.  In 6 years we lived through college, jobs, parenting struggles, a new baby, attacking ostriches, near drownings, dead cars, house renovations, 3 boys in puberty and lots of failed attempts at trying to manage small children in public. 

But this guy sticks with me.  Even when I'm a raging bitch and tearing off his head or a clingy lunatic begging him to stay home from work to snuggle me.  Somehow he thinks I'm worth it all.  I still don't get it...but I'm extremely grateful.

Because this guy?  He's pretty damn amazing.  And now I'm his wife, which makes me even more amazing by proxy.

<3 some of my fave pictures of this man who stole my heart like a damn thief.

at the coast july 2011
by the  FABULOUS MIKE BURRY of Umbra Photography
think I was a little surprised?  Hello upside down universe!  I love you!
My sweet gorgeous man just before the hair got donated in 2010.  (sadpanda loves his long luxurious hair!)

hello, stud.  please carry my child to the car. arm veins = UNF!
cutest ever in 2006?

dancing while waiting for the fair bus in 2007.  I was pg with max but I didn't know it yet!  :D :D

Thursday, November 17, 2011

beautiful things

I have no energy to blog tonight.  So I'm slipping through with a blog about things that I find beautiful.  People, objects, scenery, etc...

*all found on*

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

family update

So the situation is that my niece Lyssa, her daughter Elaina, her fiancee Jonathan and his mom Joyce were on their way to the hospital just before 5am Sunday because Elaina was having problems breathing. Lyssa was holding Elaina according to the police report. Elaina is 8 months old :( Most likely trying to keep her comfortable or calm or something. She's always in her car seat. I'm sure the scene was frantic. Nobody was wearing seatbelts. :( :(  {edited 11/17:  Elaina WAS in her car seat and Lyssa was buckled up as well.  Jen and her family are looking into legal action because the police report is false.  It makes sense with her injuries that she was in car seat, too.}

According to what I heard through family, Jonathan hit or swerved to avoid hitting a deer and ended up crashing into some trees.  The police report doesn't mention the deer, so I don't know if that is accurate or just wasn't included in the report.

Elaina and Joyce were thrown from the vehicle upon impact. Lyssa was trapped. Jonathan was driving and escaped with minor injuries. Lyssa and Elaina had to be life-flighted to the trauma center. 

Lyssa has a fractured back.  They did surgery to remove crushed vertebrae and put a pin in.  She has feeling in her arms and feet however she can only move one (swelling most likely the cause), has several rib fractures, a collapsed lung and head trauma. Her skull fracture doesn't show depressions or hemorrhaging.  They are talking about putting in a vein filter to prevent a blood clot from reaching her heart because she's so immobile and will be for a while. She is sedated but is awake and can talk, and Jennifer and her had a good visit yesterday for several hours.

Elaina has two fractured femurs, fractured hips, ruptured kidney (surgery Sunday to remove it), and a fractured skull. There's no sign of skull depression or hemorrhaging. She's had 4-5 units of blood (basically her body volume in blood) and during surgery Sunday her bp kept dropping, so they have her on medicine for that. Yesterday they put her in full traction and went in to clean up from the emergency kidney surgery now that she's stable.  They are taking her intubation out today because she's breathing over it.  :D  Her color is good, vitals are good and they are starting her on nutrition today.  Feed that baby!  <3

Joyce had a collapsed lung and was intubated for a while but she's since had that removed and is doing well.  Tomorrow she's having facial reconstructive surgery for several crushed eye socket bones.  

Jonathan came away with hairline fractures on his wrist and arm I think...a dislocated knee and bumps and bruises.  He's limping but not having to use crutches or anything so he's doing good.

Please keep everyone in your hearts and hold a compassionate space for them as they heal and face whatever lies ahead.  <3<3<3

{edited 11/17:  Elaina is developing pneumonia so they are changing her antibiotics.  Lyssa got a back brace today so she was able to sit for a little while today but it made her sick.  Jen was able to give her a bath and wash her hair in bed yesterday.  Everyone is still stable and working hard to recover. }

Sunday, November 13, 2011

please pray for my family

Bad accident today involving my niece and her baby and family. Everyone is stable but so badly injured, especially the baby. My heart is broken. :(

Saturday, November 12, 2011

how far would you go?

Reggie and I have been throwing ourselves into our latest TV obsession: Breaking Bad. I love the story which begs the question "How far would you go?". If you had xxx amount of time to live (which really we are all on a temporary pass), how far would you go to leave your family financial security and peace of mind for after you're gone?

What if it's not so drastic. What if you're just tired of scraping by and your tens of thousands of dollars of student loans are weighing on your shoulders?

How far would you go?

I recently read about this website called "SeekingArrangments" which is a matching site for sugar babies and sugar daddies. For a 2-3k a month "allowance", you have a sexual/sugar baby relationship with usually an older wealthy man who is interested in you as a playmate once or twice a week...someone to wisk off to exotic locations, take on spending sprees, take you to fancy dates, etc. And you can have more than one "SD", too. I read an article last night that said more and more college students are doing these arrangements to pay off student loan debt and pay their tuition and bills. Its not legally prostitution because there is an ongoing relationship that may or may not include sex. I wonder if it feels like prostitution though? Basically sugar babies are being paid by sugar daddies for their time, and within that construct, there is an expectation of sex. You are free to decline or leave the relationship or date and there's not an obligation to stay, except I imagine it would be hard to adjust back to being broke after you have a 5k a month lifestyle for being a playmate and spoiled. I don't judge people who do this, after all the only person they could potential hurt is themselves.

Breaking Bad is all about this uptight straight and narrow family man/chemistry teacher who turns to making meth in order to provide for his family. He'd been diagnosed with lung cancer and not given a very optimistic prognosis. So naturally he decided to cook meth. Pretty soon he's rolling in the dough...but a comedy of errors forces him to lose his fortune time and time again.

So in the end, you have to it worth it? Is the reward worth the risk for a sketchy lifestyle? How far would you go? For a thousand dollars? For 10k? For a million?

Would you take an Indecent Proposal?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I'm just not a horribly crafty person.  I have tried to be in the past...and I think there might be some hidden talent in there somewhere, but it's buried under the weight of kids and duty and country.  Whatever, it's buried.

Have you been on before?  It's like...a talent show of the craft world with unreasonably high levels of awesome.  And while I'm not a sewer, knitter or otherwise "craft" type person, I did find some crafty things even I might be capable of producing.

sweater sleeves and old buttons.  HOW HARD CAN IT BE?

old tshirts turned into skirt ruffles.  hello, sexy.

cardboard tubes.  Seriously, if I can craft with toilet paper rolls, what hope is there?

for when I'm feeling carpenter-y

milk jug igloo.  because it's cool, that's why.

cloud lights.  this is probably well above my diy ability.

it's freakin scotch tape!  WINNING!

scrubby soap to buff your skin make you stink good

I'm just sayin..I probably drink well enough to decorate my house in these fixtures.

fine art creation that I don't even have to make!
So while I won't be knitting a hoodie for my camera or little mittens for my children anytime soon, I'm pretty sure there's a level of craft that I can attain to. 

Thank you Pinterest.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

my sisterfriend

There's definitely been times in my life when I didn't feel so great about my relationship with my sister.  We've had our roller coaster moments and shit to work through, but she'd walk through fire for me, and I would totally bury a body for her.  We're sisters, afterall!

There were circumstances which occurred this year that have prompted her to make some decisions about where she lives and where she wants to be.  One of those contemplations has her moving here with her family (husband, 4 year old and 10 year old) and living on our property somehow.  It's been my job to research the housing options to see if it's possible.  I don't know what that looks like yet, but I am optimistic that we'll find a way to make it work.

In the meantime, I find myself daydreaming about living closer again.  She lives on the east coast and we rarely see each other.  We have lived together before though.  In 1999 when I was previously married, my husband at the time moved out from our Bellingham home and went to Michigan suddenly.  His brother had just died and was going through something...and he just...went.  I was devastated and confused and didn't know how I was going to keep me and our two boys afloat.  My sister uprooted herself from her New Jersey home, packed up her 2 kids, pulled herself from school, and hauled ass to move in with me.  From New Jersey.  Just to support me.  I had been in college, so I had to quit and find a job as soon as she got there.  Somehow we managed to make it work.  It was fall of 99' and for 6 months, we did everything together.  I distinctly remember taking the kids trick or treating, watching our little costumed creatures stumble around the neighborhood, we took our time and soaked it all up.  We cooked together, shopped together, gardened together, played together and just really enjoyed life.  At Christmas, my husband came home and we tried to work things out.  Well, we did....for another 4 years and 2 kids.

So while I'm not excited for the crap she and her family have been through this year, I am totally stoked about the possibility of having my big sister around again.  <3

Jen and me in the gorge in 2005

"Oh, you want to tickle my foot?  I'll tweak your nose, betch!  Take that!"  not playing nice in 2005

Monday, November 7, 2011

dependent independence

Max is screaming his head off upstairs.  Aric is probably trying to do something for him again.  They're all home today, sick...supposedly.  Too sick to go to school, but not down enough to stop chasing each other around the house, antagonizing each other, rough housing, tearing up room after room, gasping for breath through swollen throats as they yell that someone won't stop doing something.  I started this morning by asking them to use their problem solving tools.  Then I separated them.  Then I started screaming.  Now I've separated them again, thrown away the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that they were walking around the house with (why do they continue to do that even after I've told them a million gazillion times to eat at the table!?!????), and so far, everyone is quiet again.

I've been at my computer all morning trying to upload client sessions and get caught up.  If I didn't have any other distractions like work and Facebook....I could probably handle the kids more gently and patiently.

But I am working.  Because I have to.  Also, because I want to.

It's not much yet, but my photography business provides me with more than just an outlet to express my creative talents.  It helps provide me with security and sense of self.

I have frequently hated that throughout my life, I have always been totally dependent on others for my very survival and financial care.  I love being a mother (not today, but most days...), and I understand it's a sacrifice to stay at home and raise children, and that the sacrifice comes at a huge risk of dependence and some cases, a desperate feeling of being trapped.

I've been that single mom of four kids with no college education or real work skills or experience to support my family of five.  I've tried.  When that didn't work, I went back to being dependent on a broken system that holds you in poverty;  if you make too much, you lose everything.  You are rewarded for having nothing.

When R had been dating for about 6 months, I was in the process of getting evicted from my low income apartment because my four young kids were too loud in our upstairs unit.  Never mind that even tiptoeing across the floor would cause it to creak and groan.  We got our last warning and I broke down.  There was no place to go from there.  I couldn't afford a better place to live, so R took us all in. 

I hated that I didn't have options.  Do you know what it feels like to be 31 years old and not be able to provide a home for your children?  Don't get me wrong, I was and am grateful EVERY DAY for R and everything he has provided so graciously for us when he didn't have any obligation or need to.  He is simply an amazing human being.  However, I want to feel the independence of being able to provide not only for myself, but for my kids as well.  I want to own a home that I bought myself.  I want to own a car that I bought myself. 

The lifestyle that R provides for this family is enough for us all to have our needs and a good number of wants met, and that is amazing, but it's still *his* money.  Sure, we talk and decide about financial decisions equally, but if he wants something, he'll just get it.  If there is something I want, I have to ask for it.  It's humbling.  And humiliating.

The flip side of dependence and hating to ask for everything is that I feel like a huge burden.  When we got together, R had a lifestyle where he could pretty much have anything he wanted.  He had disposable income and plenty of ways he wanted to spend it.  Now it's a stress each month to figure out how we're going to meet all of our needs and have a little extra for movies and fun things so we don't go batshit crazy.  I hate this.  I daydream about moving out and getting back on the system and letting it take care of me and the kids until I'm able to do so.  I daydream about seeing his bank account fill back up.  I desire to see him have a 401k again and a savings account and his own security come back.  Whenever I bring this up, he always says the risk is worth the reward of having a family and this crazy lifestyle, as stressful as it is. 

I am working because I have to but also because I want to.  I want to turn my photography into something sustainable and profitable that can help provide my family with stability and security.  I want to grow my business and build something for myself that is all mine, but from which I can support my family with.  I know it will happen, but when the kids are screaming and sick and the house is trashed and I feel like a huge screaming mess...the reality of running a successful photography business seems so far away.  It's good to have something in my life that I have control over. ;)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

the power of idiotic thoughts

The other day I was talking to a friend and we were talking about kids being sick. I said: "My kids haven't been sick in AGES!". Hahaha!

I immediately regretted saying it. My friend karma likes to be an asshole when I say things like that. Naturally, about 5 minutes after I said that my kids have immune systems of steel and rarely get sick, Max's nose started running and he started sneezing, as if on cue.

Today, Aric came home from his friends house barely able to talk. His throat hurt. I picked up Soph from a friends house and immediately I noticed she had a runny nose. She coughed all the way home. Fevers. Chills. Chicken soup, cough medicine.

Why don't I think before I say stupid shit.

a night with friends

Last night I tried to post a blog from my phone, as I was out with friends and had forgotten to post something before I left, but alas it failed.

I have amazing friends. I'm blessed to know a handful of loudmouthed, hilarious, beautiful, brilliant and generous friends who genuinely love me. Who get me. Who want me in their lives. Who make me laugh until my sides hurt. Who share their hearts and lives with me. I love that. Makes me feel value and worthy and important and reinforces my sense of self. I like being a friend. <3

Friday, November 4, 2011

if you need me...

I'll be in my new office.  Reggie and I have spent the past week gutting an abandoned bedroom downstairs, moving stuff out, painting and moving my stuff in so that I have my own little office!

still have to hang everything up and organize!  Eventually the green carpet will become wood laminate flooring. ;)

Do what makes you happy.  Be with those who warm your heart.  Surround yourself with love.  For all the happiness you give to others all year long, give yourself a perfect day.  ~ Cheryl Hawkinson.  I love the image above that quote that portrays Snow White as a fed up mom in reality.  Happily ever after doesn't exist, folks.

I made this a year ago and I've never had a good place to put it, until now!  :D

And now I have a place for this beautiful painting that a dear friend made from a self portrait I took when I was pg with Max!

And among my prints that I'm anxious to hang up, this is my favorite.  <3  Sophia and her friend Caleb.  <3