Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Slipping Difference.

I was in the E.R. tonight.
Ruptured Cyst. My first ever. My goodness did it hurt!
I would rather repeat the 18 hours of labor I experienced with my son than that cyst. Needless to say amongst all the test was a flu test.
I laughed.
"No, I don't have the flu." I proclaimed as they shoved that medical q-tip up my nose the full inch dead into my nasal cavity.
The result. Positive.
I have the flu. For the third time this year. I really do think this is a record.
Then a conversation with my mother made something click in my head. The conversation was about pain and the fact that the longer you live with pain the lower your tolerance is.

It's true.

I just noticed.

The so many changes that I've silently done.

I loved wearing all my high heels, but for months now it's been flats.

More days than not I opt for the comfy clothes rather than my business causal.

I take sick days now. I learned to say "It will have to wait till tomorrow."

I've gone slowly from healthy with sick days to sick with good days. 

Each day as I walk to class all the people who ride the bus with me seem to pass me. I kept telling myself that it's because they're in a hurry and I'm not. But the reality it loud and clear when I notice the one person who is always keeping pace with me; an older gentle man with a bad knee and a cane.
No. I am not taking my time. I am moving at the steady pace of pain.

I stopped walking the stairs at school. With a freshly healed broken hand from a fall on my own at home. I'm more aware now that my zealous adherence to the "A body in motion stays in motion" mantra while good in some areas is dangerous in others. I take the elevator.

Once when I was walking out the doors an acquaintance of mine made a comment about how she hated the fact that perfectly able bodied students where using the handicap buttons to open doors. "Hey," I said, "You never know if they're suffering, not all illnesses can be seen." I'll admit, her words stung because I recognized my use of them. Sometimes, they're just to heavy. 

But it's reality for me. The slipping difference between who I was and who I have to be.

I don't know how to feel about this. Most days, I know I am in denial. Some days I learn to embrace it. All the other time is just voids filled with a mental war between the denial and reality.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

My five strong wall.

I have five very inspirational people in my life. Two are no longer here with me today, but still their actions live on in me. 

The first and foremost would be my mother, who stood strong when adversity faced her. A single mom at the age of 31 back when being a single mom was not common, she managed to not only get her G.E.D but as of today holds her M.S. Degree in Nursing and Education. However this is not what makes her strong, this to her is just expected to be as it is. What makes her strong is her children, a boy with Asperger's Syndrome to late diagnosed and a girl with Bi-polar Schizoaffective disorder diagnosed early when there was little information on it and SLE later on in life. Though she wasn't perfect, though the end result wasn't perfect, she stood strong and pushed through all the social barriers trying to make sure her children were happy, healthy, and successful. We were for the most part, late bloomers on the successful end as we're both currently pushing through college. The fact that my brother and I have what resembles semi functional lives without the aid of any specialist is kind of amazing, it even amazed my psych doctor when I did go for three months last year. If anyone was the main first supporter of invisible illness in my life it was my mother, before I ever even knew myself to be ill.

My mother is my wall of strength when I am weak. 


The next person in my life was no less as strong as my mother; My Granda. This is the man who I looked up to an thought "this is what a man is". No he wasn't a big ball of loveable fun and silliness, however he was a man who set an example. He donated over 8 gallons of blood to the Red Cross in his life time. He turned an itty bitty 1 bedroom farm house of 500sq ft. into a flourishing four bedroom 2.5 bath house of 2,200sq ft. by himself while raising four kids and in the military. He served in the Navy for 50 years of his life and traveled the world during that time. Even growing up with segregation and it was all he knew most of his life, he still lived by the motto of "You don't judge a person based on their looks, you have to look deeper and judge them on the character of their soul". When the doctor told him to stop smoking or he'd have only five more years of life, he did everything in his power; even went with acupuncture and hypnotism skeptically complaining about it the whole time. He did manage to quit within six months of being told, he died a year later from emphysema. A month before he died he was made the Grand Master after the end of his term as Right Worshipful Master of his Masonic Lodge. It was one of the few times I saw him cry and they even allowed the families to attend the appointing which was rare.

My granda is my guiding light when all seems dark.

The last family member who has been inspirational in my life, really doesn't seem all that inspirational. She died four years after my granda, and she was my gran. I was never particularly close with my gran, as I was always following the heels of my granda growing up, but still she was there. She taught me that family service was not to be looked down on. Her entire life was devoted to her family. She raised a daughter with Schizophrenia when mental hospitals where considered the only choice. She raised a daughter who was deaf until the age of six and considered mentally retarded, my mother. Most people thought she herself was crazy because of it, but she was determined to make sure all her children grew up normal. They all went to school, they all worked on the farm. She even found time to pursue her hobby as a painter, and made sure every last child of hers knew music and knew art. My uncle is a baker, he loves to make baked goods and every year at Christmas we always looked forward to his tin cans filled with our favorite goodies. My eldest aunt is a pottery maker, even had her own kiln. My schizophrenic aunt is a craft maker, give her tooth picks and she'll make you an ornament that you couldn't even tell was tooth picks. My mother is the knitter, cross stick, crochet, you name it. After granda died, she felt it was time to leave and gave up on life. Her four kids where all happy and settled, successful in their own areas of life, even my aunt who's a real estate agent though she never really leaves her house. She even saw the birth of three grandchildren before her death. It was a slow death, she wasted away for four years and was bedridden by the last. I was her caretaker for that year, and the first one to learn she had passed away. She was always talking to granda those last two days. Our family always says that's how you know when someone's going to pass, cause a family member comes to get them.

My gran is my wisdom and my way of life when I feel lost.


The other two inspirational people are my not so close friends. We don't hang out all the time, we're not always talking, but they are inspirational to me because we are in the same boat. One is a sister of a friend, she suffers from Multiple Sclerosis she is a mother of three and works hard. She's always up for a fun night or or a lazy night in watching movies. Her favorite spot is sitting by the pool and even when she's sick, she makes it look good. The other is a lady I met in college, she suffers from Fibromyalgia. She took works hard as a manager of a fast food restaurant, while attending college full time, and she is super involved in her church. These two ladies had their diagnosis well before I even knew what Lupus was, matter of fact my college buddy was the one who really taught me the most about it since I met her right as I was diagnosed. These two ladies show me on a daily basis that we may have the illness, but it sure doesn't have us.

My friends are my comfort in knowing that the fight is worth fighting, even when it doesn't feel like I can.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I keep thinking "Maybe today..."

Maybe today...

...I'll ask the young college girl talking to her friend about the 3mile marathon at her sisters school fundraiser sitting on the city bus if I could have her seat. I don't though, I stand through the jolts and turns baring my weight trying not to cry out in pain as the bus comes to a sudden halt. My ankles screaming at me in pain. I had to wear my flats today due to the swelling in my feet. I feel odd asking, I don't look sick in anyway. I look fat and lazy.

Maybe today... 

...I'll go to the bus station and get a handicap badge, but I haven't yet. Handicap, it's such a horrible word. It means I'm not normal, not capable of being like everyone else even though I look like them.

Maybe today... 

...I'll petition the apartment complex to put in handicap parking in front of our building so I don't have to carry those grocery bags from two buildings over. There it is again the word handicap, the signaling out that something is "wrong" with me. How do I explain that though I look this way on the outside, on the inside I'm decaying slowly. Eaten alive by inflammation and a slow deterioration of my joints.

Maybe today... 

...I'll speak up at the pool as the people move our stuff from our table so they can have the shaded porch area for their family barbeque. I haven't yet, instead I've just stopped going. It doesn't seem worth arguing over.

Maybe today... 

...I will take the elevator up to my class instead of walking the flight of stairs to the 2nd floor. I know that I won't however. I look at those stairs; simple things really, 30 in all. To take the elevator would be to admit defeat to the pain.

I look at my high heels, my pretty dresses, my scarfs, and I sigh. Maybe I'll wear them today, but I can't find the motivation. 

Maybe today... 

...I'll tell my son to help mommy a little more, but I won't. To feel like I'm a burden is in essence to fall into despair.

Maybe today... 

...I'll accept my doctors advice and not downplay my symptoms. But not right now, because today is someday in the future.

Maybe today...

... I'll learn to accept that I am ill. Still, how do I accept that I am ill when the mirror and the world see otherwise.

My SLE story

I'm 26 years old with one child and a loving husband.Two years ago my symptoms of illness got bad enough for me to go see my PCP (Primary Care Practitioner). The symptoms where new; I couldn't eat, or hold down food.

All my life I had issues. I was my mother's sick child. The one always in the hospital or going to the doctor for one reason or another. The answers were always the same "She's a kid, probably sprained her hand playing." or "Seasonal allergies affect the immune system so she'll get sick a lot if there's allergens in the air." They ignored the fact that "allergies" put me in the hospital for nearly a week. My mother chased after answers and finally gave up. She began saying "I don't know what you're going to do when you're my age."

I was too skinny so they put me on a diet to gain weight, then I became overweight and they began saying "Her weight is the problem." they told my mom to make me eat more vegetables and fruit. "Limit the junk food." they said and my mom's eyes bulged out of her head on the drive home. "'Limit the junk food?'" She'd screech "Like we can afford junk food and snacks." It was true too. There was always vegetables with dinner, we lived on a farm. Onions, green beans, collards, string beans, pole beans, kale, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, okra, and more. We grew them. Fruits? We had those too; pear trees, blackberry bushes, blueberries, apple trees, watermelon, and even strawberries. We got snacks when we were sneaking into the blackberry bushes.
The doctors would tell my mother, "Don't let her play video games or watch to much TV." yeah she went home steaming mad on those days too. We had four TV channels on one small TV in our living room. Video games? Maybe if I visited my friend in the city over. Nope I was a good old country girl, never found me inside. I was always out climbing trees and sitting on haystacks watching the cows eat, or my absolute favorite playing down by the creek and fishing. The creek was nearly a half a mile through fields and woods from my house. No population in sight. I loved it, even with the fact that my ankles couldn't support my weight and would frequently twist leaving me with said half mile to limp back home on a swollen foot.

I got use to the twisted ankles, the knees giving out randomly, the swollen hands, the consistent headache, the fact that within 10 minutes of being in the sun I looked liked someone had baked me and felt like I had been dipped in acid, and my chest tightening in pain then leaving me dizzy seconds later. It was just my body, the doctors had no answers for us so I just learned to make it apart of me.

Within just two years my mother and I gave up. I didn't care and she couldn't find the answers. I think that's why she became a RN. Now she has her M.S. in Nursing and is weighing the idea of a PhD, but I think she got tired of the doctors and went the only route she knew to go.

I was about to turn 24 when I began showing new issues. It started out small. I went from eating three meals a day to just 2, then 1. My one gradually faded into a half a meal then into a few bites of food a day. I began not being able to hold food down. One bite would send me running for the bathroom. My bowels began changing. My hands began to swell more. Walking became so painful. I didn't know what was happening. My doctor did an RA panel, it came back negative, so he sent me out to Gastro and Rheum specs. Who did a series of their own blood panels. I use to joke that I liked hugging a porcupines because my veins are really bad and just to get one vile of blood I'd be stuck five or six times. The Rheum specialist sent me to Neurology, who looked at me like I had no business being there.

Then the results came in, my best friend and I went, we both had appointments that day so we figured we'd carpool. The doctor came into me room and said "Let's go to my office to look over your results." Okay now I was nervous. They only ever do the office talk for the really bad stuff. She tells me "blah blah blah antiphospholipid syndrome syndrome, blah blah blah Lupus, possibly systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE for short, blah blah blah."

I walked out of the office and right up to my friend and she asks "So how did it go." and I look at the paper, then I looked at her and began laughing. She takes the paper from be and reads what the doctor wrote and begins laughing too "At least it's not cancer." and I look at her and smile. "Indeed" well I needed more x-rays apparently so we began walking over to the imaging center which was in the same building and all the while we're talking and laughing about me moving or Oregon or Washington, somewhere not sunny and having a "Green" house with my art studio set up in there.

And we spent the time waiting looking up information online about what SLE was, cause I'll be honest. WE KNEW NOTHING. With each new page of information we found the dimmer it looked and the more I began to shut down and suppress. Let me tell you, I am good at suppressing; I could be in a full blown hysteria and suppress it within seconds to the point where you couldn't tell I was any sorts of upset.

The next two years have been a horrific battle between my PCP and my RA doctor. My blood work is inconsistent, sometimes I have the antibodies, sometimes I don't. My RA says that without the blood work showing I have it, I can't be treated, my PCP says I have most of the physical symptoms therefore I should be treated.

Not to mention, I've gotten worse. I live on Phenergan now take 2-3 times daily as needed. I'm suppose to be on several different pain killers, they're sitting in my medicine cabinet collecting dust, on really super bad days my husband might cram them down my throat with his loving "I'm worried" eyes as he stares me down. I'm on an anti-inflammatory called Diclofenac 75mg twice a day. My doctor keeps throwing around the term "Pain Management" and I'll be honest, I duck him when he does. It's scary, I know what those medicines do to you and when I think about how one bad day lays me up in bed completely useless to my family, I shudder at the thought of those pills. I'd rather suffer the pain and enjoy my family than suffer non existence due to drug induced comatose. These drugs are very scary. I'm still recovering from the Prednisone they put me on at the start of August. Finally got rid of the ear infection and I'm starting to finally dry out the acute bronchitis that was brought on by a lovely cold that laid me out cold for several days.

I carry an umbrella with me at all times, which living in Florida is actually quite handy. If I forget my umbrella and have to spend the day in the sun do to errands or an event, I can promise a lovely hive looking rash that burns like acid. Needless to say, I very rarely forget my umbrella. People on my campus look at me really weird too when I'm walking to my next class.

I've had to give up a lot of things like dairy, eggs, bacon. I've gained a lot of things too, though, like the ability to look at a load of laundry and say to myself "Tomorrow, I've done to much today." use to I'd just keep going until I regretted it.

We've got it confirmed now, new RA and all. I indeed do have APS and SLE. We know it affects my digestive system, musculoskeletal (i.e. my joints), and my peripheral nervous system. No kidney involvement, even though I show the signs, the tests come back clean. Which I am grateful for. The kidney issues seem kind of scary. At the end of the day, it could be better than again it could be horrifically worse, so I'm grateful and happy.
The sun and I; we'll never get along, however it won't stop me from being outdoors.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

30 Things About My Invisibility You May Not Know.

With Invisible Illness Awareness Week just around the corner, I thought maybe it's time I share my story.
There are millions of stories out there so particularly I wouldn't consider mine much of anything, yet I represent a large part of the community both the mental illness community and the physical illness community.

I am living with Bipolar Schizo-affective Disorder and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).

"Approximately 96% of people who live with an illness have an illness that is invisible. These people do not use a cane or any assistive device and may look perfectly healthy" (2002 US Census Bureau). This is a major problem with invisible illness, this is my biggest obstacle in day to day life. I have no cane to walk with, no wheelchair to aid me, no back brace showing my pain. I look like any other woman you may see walking down the street with her family. Yet with each step I take I break a little inside. My joints are swollen with arthritis, my ankles have sever bone spurring and extra bone growth, my spine is riddled with inflammation. This does not stop me, I refuse to let it. I'd rather walk than sit, play than watch, learn than shut down. Like millions of other suffers, I'd rather live than waste away. I'm blessed with a family that is super supportive, and my husband who is still just a marvel to me.

This is the 30 things about my illnesses you may not know. 

1. The illness I live with is: Bipolar Schizo-affective and SLE
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 1999 BP/SA and 2011 SLE
3. But I had symptoms since: As long as I can remember for the BP and since the age of 10 for SLE.
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: Seeing myself as sick.
5. Most people assume: I'm lying.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: Putting my feet to the floor.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: House, because there is always a cure. Plus his sarcastic nature is right up my alley.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My computer.
9. The hardest part about nights are: Laying down.
10. Each day I take _13_ pills & vitamins, mostly vitamins. (No comments, please)
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: am highly supportive and practice them myself.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: Neither, they both bite.
13. Regarding working and career: I am going to school full-time with International Relations/Linguistics as my Major. I hope to work with others who not only suffer from illness but struggle with daily life especially on the international level. Working for UNICEF or the U.N. is my ultimate goal.
14. People would be surprised to know: That both my Psych and PCP doctors are shocked at my well-being and that even with both these illnesses. 
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: That I cannot do it all, that I have to accept days when getting out of bed is nearly impossible.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Function without medications. I'm 11years off Psych medications and instead use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
17. The commercials about my illness: are non existent that I know of.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Bikram Yoga.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: because I felt so much better after doing it.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: writing.
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Go to the beach with my family and spend most of it in the sun!
22. My illness has taught me: it's okay to take a break and go slow with things.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: "Oh it's not that bad." or "That's horrible!"
24. But I love it when people: Laugh and say "Damn that sucks."
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: A body in motion stays in motion.
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: There may be no cure, but there's no death sentence either. You can still live and it's living that is important.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: How little people know about it.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: ordered dinner. My husband is awesome.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: more people should know the truth.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Excited.

One of the many blood work bruises I get left with.

Pulling plasma, one of the few treatments I'll accept.

Making best of being in the hospital. I don't think they like it much when he curls up in the bed with me.

Two days after I got my official diagnosis. NEVER STOP LIVING!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

College, Moving, Homelessness, and Life Altering Choices.

It has been months since I could breath, since I could sleep well, since I could sit down at my computer and type something more than an essay for school. Moving is stressful to the average well planned person and I am that well planned person. You name it, I did it: Check lists, time charts, research, research, research. We had the plans all laid out, the budget perfectly lined up, yet we failed. There was one failed plan after the other failed plan.
We were broke. We ended up homeless.  Schools had hang up after hang up with the paper work. My doctors? Still in the other city we left behind.

Plan A. 

We had nearly $3,000 in savings for the move once we knew we were going to move. We were going to enroll into college, search out doctors for everyone, find little one a good private school, and find our apartment.

The Reality. 

Shift Happens. No literally, shifting happens. One of my husbands job laid him off because their holiday income wasn't as expected. His job wasn't seasonal, he had been with the company for about a year. That hurt, it was his main job for the hours even though it was is lowest wage. The "shift" was survivable because he had two part-times that equaled full time income (which he had long before that job so it was okay) and I worked a seasonal job to pay for Christmas and a little extra so we didn't have any of those evil holiday bills to deal with and the seasonal influx of energy use was covered. 

None of the private schools were accepting of the projected I.E.P. plan my son had. The only one I did find that would accept him had an unacceptable idea. To take him out of first grade and put him in a mixed class of advanced kindergarteners and late blooming first graders. He was going into 2nd grade at the time.

No doctors because we're not official residents yet.

Plan B.

We'll cut back our spending, see if I can lower some bills, and as long as we don't touch our savings that will be okay.

As far as his school. I'll look into the Florida's First Choice plan and toy with a homeschooling possibility. 

As far as doctors. I'll put that on hold, but I have their numbers still.

The Reality.

I had already lowered my bills are much as I could when I could no longer work. Internet was $10 a month. We didn't have cable. My phone bill was about $30 a month for unlimited everything, I got it lowered to $25. Rent and utilities all together was about $700 a month, not bad considering we lived in a really nice area. Two cars; wish we had a different choice, but living out in the suburbs where the nearest store was 2miles away and no public transportation (or sidewalks for that matter) and if you wanted to go to the post office or a doctors office you're looking at 8+miles. Still we managed to only touch just a little of our savings, and mostly it was because of some last minute "cash only" costs of the wedding. We still had about $2500 in savings.

Until one of his jobs switched his hours and they conflicted with the other one. 

Little one's school, FFC wouldn't deal with us until we had residence in said county. 

Plan C.

We'll pull little one from school a tad early and transfer him over to the new school. We found a great apartment at a killer price, can' let it go as it fits our budget perfectly. Plus, husband really needs to start classes as soon as he can for work related reasons. We can't afford to move later.

The Reality. 

Pulling little one from school didn't happen, his I.E.P which we worked so hard on for nearly two years would have dropped and we would have had to start over at the new school because we didn't yet have the final end of year end of testing meeting. 
My husband commuted the 1h45min drive to his classes every day, averaging nearly $150 a week in gas. I had to commute about twice a week for school related appointments dealing with paperwork hang ups on my transfer and dealing with the disabilities department (Student with disabilities at your service). Thank the heavens my car is fuel efficient, that was about $40 a week. All in all $190 a week in gas alone hurt the budget. We got our lease stretched for an extra two months.

Plan D. 

Husband found a job in the new city, he was going to stay with a friend (so said the friend because it would have been only for a few weeks.) while he works and goes to class and we can get an apartment in June when little one and I move down there. Saves our savings from the horrid gas prices. 

The Reality.

He quit the jobs in our city and the new job didn't bring as much anticipated income as expected and could no where cover the loss of his two previous jobs. The friend bailed on him never allowing him to stay. We ended up spending even more gas on his commute due to the added work load. 

Plan E.

Not ideal, but had to do it; Husband camped in his car. We'd save the money from his work and wouldn't be spending the ungodly amounts the gas needed to commute. We'd find a different apartment, or see if we could lower the starting setup of first and last months rent, deposit and processing/application fees.

The Reality.

The apartment wouldn't work with us, so we had to look else where. My husband wasn't saving any money he made because he was having to eat out a lot due to living in his car. Granted it was still way cheaper than the gas he was spending in the commute. 

Plan F.

I found an apartment that rented super cheap. Okay so it was one of those college dorm style apartments, but hey at this rate, I'll take it. It was full utilities paid, we'd just have to rent to rooms so said the lady over the phone. Family friendly! Okay that we're married! No pets, so no extra deposits!

The Reality. 

The lady was clueless. We get there to rent the apartment, the manager comes out to inform us that we'd have to rent the full apartment. 1 bedroom per a person. Well... seeing as two bedrooms were $500 ($250ea) three would be $750 not ideal but with all utilities paid we'd do it, the deposit was cheap enough. It would have drained every penny from our ever disappearing savings, but better than nothing. Just 50 bucks more and we could take out a student loan to cover the difference if anything happened. Between grants and scholarships, we don't have to use loans for school so it wouldn't hurt to take out a small one. Except: to rent the full apartment at said complex with no roommates, $1200. Nope can't do that.

Plan G. 

Renamed, "Plan F**k it! I give up." This is the cosmos telling me "You're plans are laughable". By this time, I pitied the poor fool who attempted to tell me "God only gives you what you can handle." she did not deserve the verbal lashing she got, however don't ever tell a mother who's looking at having to explain to her child why they are homeless that phrase.

The Reality. 

After two nights of camping in the car. I found a homeless shelter that would take all three of us. I still view them as god sent even after the horrors I witnessed in that place. We were there for three weeks. We had a private bedroom with a lock and two twin beds. Our sleep sucked. Even my son started asking if we could go back to the car, but we were relatively safe and it bought us time to get back up on our feet.

In the End. 

We got a nice apartment, we're in a nicer neighborhood with a good school, and we're happy.
We're both now in our second semester of school, passing our classes. Little one is happy at his new school and we're super close to O2B Kids. So the friends he made there are at his school too, well some of them anyways. Husband now works at the school and he's getting ready to take the ASVAB. We're okay. And aside from now being on food stamps. We're making it through the day.

We just finally took little one to our school Planetarium for our first family outing since being here. It was free for husband and I, like most school events, and we enjoyed every minute of learning about Black Holes.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Florida teen arrested and charged with 3 felonies after science experiment explodes.

Kiera Wilmot was experimenting with mixing toilet bowl cleaner and pieces of aluminum foil in a water bottle outside but still on school grounds. Bartow High School assistant principal Dan Durham, in charge of discipline, heard the explosion and called police. 

I ask who here hasn't mixed up some sort of science experiment out of curiosity or even out of a valid desire to win a up coming science fair? I know I have many times. I was never arrested for it, most of us never were. However for Miss. Wilmost the reaction was that she was expelled and marched off in handcuffs, accused of felony possession/discharge of a dangerous weapon. She is now facing 3 felony charges and will be charged as an adult.

“She is a good kid,” principal Ron Pritchard was quoted as saying by local media. “She has never been in trouble before. Ever.”

Pritchard agreed that Wilmot had merely been trying an experiment.
He told WTSP: "She wanted to see what would happen (when the chemicals came together), and was shocked by what it did. Her mother is shocked too."
She was completely honest about what she had done. 
No one who knew her in Bartow, FL. had anything negative to say about this girl. "An exemplary record" they say she had. "A good student" they call her.
The police report, filed by Bartow investigating officer Gregory Rhoden, said Wilmot told Durham “she was conducting a science fair experiment.”
No one was hurt and no property was damaged. But Florida assistant state attorney Tammy Glotfelty, contacted by Rhoden, “advised this officer to file a charge of possessing or discharging weapons or firearms” at school.
Polk County Schools, in a statement, said the incident Monday “was a serious breach of conduct.”
Bartow police spokesman Sgt. David Wyant said whether or not it really was a science experiment is something the state attorney general’s office has to decide.
“That was her excuse,” he said. “We can’t prove that.”
Pritchard was quoted by the local Ledger of Lakeland newspaper as saying he was standing nearby when he heard a pop.
“She left it on the ground, and she stayed there,” he said. “We went over to where she was. She saw that we saw her, so she didn’t take off.”
You might image from this reaction that this explosion caused vast damage to school buildings, which had to be evacuated.
Not quite. The top of the bottle popped off and there was some smoke. No one was hurt. There were even some kids in the vicinity, all curious too. She believed, and was informed by a friend, that there would only be harmless smoke and not the small explosion. 
Polk County Schools released this statement:
"Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff."

But is charging a 16 year old as an adult for 3 felonies really upholding rules in a code of conduct? Her only visible crime: Her science project doesn't appear to have been an officially sanctioned by school as an educational experiment.
Now she faces the "F-word" she faces being called a Felon. This could ruin her life. Take away her rights. She faces years of imprisonment, a ruined education, a future of dead end jobs because no one will be willing to look past her label of "felon"
Who's truly exercising the wrong judgement here? A child of 16 who was merely curious and didn't think her actions would cause any harm? Or a school and state seemingly bent on making an example out of her to prevent any more kids from truly seeking out the process of science and experimentation. 

The science community has come together for the sake of Miss. Wilmot
By Thursday morning, 3,400 people had signed a petition on Change. org asking Polk County to rescind the expulsion. Facebook and Twitter campaigns were also up and rolling.
Scientific American published two essays in support of Wilmot. Nature Geoscience wrote in her defense  Scientists also created a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #KieraWilmot.
“Most of us didn’t become scientists because of something that happened in a classroom,” Dr. Danielle Lee, who wrote one of the essays, told the Star.
“She wanted to see for herself. That is a classic experiment. Sometimes things blow up.”
“When I was a child, I discovered the calcium hypochlorite and polyethylene glycol reaction,” Joel Bondurant posted on Twitter.
“Blew up a capacitor,” wrote Geoffrey Seitz.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

My chaotic journey with Vegetarianism.

As I child I was always interested in being a Vegetarian. The idea of eating living animals was just appalling to me. I loved animals. I was always rescuing them. Possums, rabbits, baby birds pushed out of their nest, injured birds, and so on. I lived out in the country and enjoyed laying on haystacks as the cows below me ate from them. I couldn't understand how some animals were chosen to be pets and some were chosen to be food.

Trying to become a vegetarian was no easy feat as a child. My mother being a single mother wasn't against it, but her philosophy was I eat what the family eats or I buy it and make it myself. As a young child of course this wasn't possible. By the time I was an adult and had a son of my own. I had adapted. I wasn't a vegetarian however I did limit the intake of certain foods such as pork; that was the first meat to go followed by beef. I started cutting out GMOs, nitrates, preservatives,  food coloring, and most anything else that was "all natural" or "organic". We started eating more fish and doing "vegetarian Friday" to help cut back on our meat intake. This was going well and steady and I had planned on slowly weeding out the meat in our diet. 

Then I met my now husband, an absolute chicken lover. He would come over for dinner on my "vegetarian" nights and pout about there being no chicken. He would complain that he wasn't "full" or he didn't feel like he had eaten a meal. 
Slowly Vegetarian nights went back to Vegetarian Friday and then faded into the background as a distant memory. Then it got worse, he hated fish, so my salmon and river trout faded into obscurity and we began eating only Tilapia. Then slowly fish too faded into "Fish Friday" and on into the background of distant memory. Beef slowly reentered into our house, as did more pre-made meals. The nitrates were back, much to my dismay. Finally I made my now husband sit down and watch Food Inc. with me. It helped, kind of. I was able to bring back more vegetarian meals. 
Becoming a vegetarian was by no means as easy as I thought it would be even as an adult. Sure I had all the control over what was bought now, but still being raised with eating meat it just didn't really seem such a big deal if I ate chicken here or there, or stopped in at the local drive-thru for that hamburger. It's all to easy now days to make excuses to not become one. Who wants to eat salad every day? Not to many restaurants in my area offer Vegan choices, what am I suppose to do when I'm away from home?

Well it's not so hard. Now days a lot of restaurants do offer Vegan options, just maybe not the local Drive-Thru. Now days there are lots of resources out there for people wishing to live a more economical and moral life style. 

TOP 3 Reasons why I am going Vegetarian:

  1. Saving the Planet: Regardless of if you believe in Global Warming consider this: "A human population expected to grow by 3 billion, a shift in developing countries to eating more meat, and global consumption on track to double in 40 years point to the mother of all food crises down the road. How much food we grow is not just limited by the amount of available land but meat-eaters need far more space than vegetarians. A Bangladeshi family living off rice, beans, vegetables and fruit may live on an acre of land or less, while the average American, who consumes around 270 pounds of meat a year, needs 20 times that." also we must consider "Farming, which uses 70% of water available to humans, is already in direct competition for water with cities. But as demand for meat increases, so there will be less available for both crops and drinking. Rich but water-stressed countries such as Saudi Arabia, Libya, the Gulf states and South Africa say it makes sense to grow food in poorer countries to conserve their water resources, and are now buying or leasing millions of hectares of Ethiopia and elsewhere to provide their food. Every cow fattened in Gambella state in southern Ethiopia and exported to Abu Dhabi or Britain is taking the pressure off water supplies back home but increasing it elsewhere."
  2. World Hunger: "60% of the world's usable farmland is being stripped and destroyed by live stock. An acre of prime land can produce 40,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 pounds of carrots, 50,000 pounds of tomatoes; but only 250 pounds of beef. It takes 23 gallons of water to produce a pound of lettuce, 33 gallons for carrots, 4 gallons for apples. To produce of pound of Chicken it takes 815 gallons, for pork 1,630 gallons, and for a pound beef 2,500 gallons."
  3.  Disease: "According to Dr. Frank Hu, co-author of a new Harvard study on the topic, what is new “is the magnitude of risk associated with very moderate red meat consumption.” Predictably, the magnitude is greater. And the magnitude for processed meat is even greater than that.
    The Harvard study concluded that one serving of red meat a day increases the risk of early death by 13 percent. The same single daily serving of processed meat (like bacon or hot dog) increases that risk by 20 percent. And “one serving” means that little deck-of-cards sized lump that doesn’t satisfy anyone over the age of 10."

I can not tell you the reason why my husband came to me the other day and proclaimed that he wanted to be vegetarian. I can tell you I have been giddy and thrilled ever since he said it.  I'm making up menus and researching recipes.  Plus breaking out my old recipes and cook books that have long since been collecting dust in these recent years.

For more information about Vegetarianism and reasons why or why not to become one, please feel free to visit the links below.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Paper me please!

Paper towels have become so convenient to use they almost seem like a necessity in our homes now days. So much easier when little ones spill their drinks or to wipe down the bathroom sink. Just wipe and throw away. I'll admit it. I got sucked in too. Even now when I walk down that isle in the store I glance at the paper towels longingly. However, when it came to needing to cut costs in the house, they just had to go.

I'd buy the big jumbo packs that lasted about two months for $9.97 + 07% sales tax I was paying nearly $6 a month just for paper towels. Not a lot up front I know, but it adds up over time. That was $72 a year.

Then we'd factor in the paper plates and bowls for those "easy to grab" moments. You know being a single mom, I didn't want to always do the dishes. With school, work, and a kid some nights it was just easier to use items that you just throw away. Then when I got married, my husband (coming from a family that used paper plates all the time.) fell right into routine. I didn't like certain brands, they just ended up being to flimsy and easy to cut through. So I had my favorite brand. Plates $6 for 80ct, and bowls $5 for 70ct. That lasted us about two months before I had to buy more since I did use actual plates for dinner most of the time. Bowls seemed to go faster with my son. So you're adding in another $66 a year just on these items.

That's a $138 a year! I mean that's a Zoo family membership + Membership to the local science museum here for the whole year. Which is so much more awesome than "easy to use" items around the house.

Well that's one way to shave down money. Then I got to thinking about it. I'd like to think of myself as an advocate for healthier living, but in all my "Go Green" thoughts, you know recycling and buying healthier local foods. For some reason my paper towels and paper plates just didn't factor in to the whole "Go Green" idea. I mean, my favorite brand did happen to be from recycled materials. It was a "green" product, biodegradable and all. In reality though how green was it?

I hate waste even long before the "Go Green" movement. Growing up on a farm, waste really wasn't an option. We didn't even waste our potato skins! Hello potato skin chips! I'm sure all of you are with me when I say we also teach our kids waste is bad: "Turn off the lights." "Don't leave the water running.". So how did I slip into this? I mean, I have a dishwasher, it's noisy and dirty work, but very manageable. I have no reason's why this should be a problem even on the most stressful of days. Unloading it is very tedious, but again, very manageable and not hard at all, plates with plates, bowls with bowls. Just stack, Cups up, pots down. Dish rags and towels work just as well as cleaning up spills, all you have to do is rinse. Hello, my name is Jessica and I am addicted to paper products.
So how did I get hooked? With a very inconvenient truth: Paper products make life easier.
 Getting back on track has been no easy feat. While we've finally cut out the paper towels at least, it took a lot of hard work. So keeping rags on hand to wipe down the bathroom and remembering to use the dish cloth for spills wasn't so hard, but I'm southern and I like my occasional fried foods. So how do I drain the grease? It was so much easier with paper towels.

My contraption. Pasta colander with a bowl underneath.
So we were having fried fish, with fried okra, french fries, and green beans. Hey it's got two veggies, it's healthy I say! Okay so the way I justify this dinner is the veggies are organic and from local farms. I know, I know, it's my indulgence.

One thing that I've always done. Is just 1 pot of grease, first comes the french fries because they are mild in taste, second come the okra, third is the fish because we all know you can't reuse grease after meat/poultry/fish have been cooked in it. Contamination.
Also, not gonna lie here, I use the 1 pot method because I really do just hate doing dishes.

 First the fries are drained and salted here. I let them "drip dry" while frying the next batch, occasionally shaking the colander gently and tossing the fries.

Second of course, the okra. After removing the fries to individual plate. I remove the okra and do the same process.

Yes, I even did this with this with the fish.

 All the grease dripped into the bowl. Saving the world's trees 1 drop at a time.

Okay so this hasn't solved all our problems. The addiction and ease of paper products is still there. But I can say happily, through perseverance, we have been paper towel free for 1 month now.

And how do I clean my sliding glass doors?

Newspaper of course!

Of course the paper plates and bowls were a lot easier to stop using. That just took a little bit of will power and resignation that washing dishes just isn't so bad.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Youth Needing Direction.

I look around now days and I'm shocked at what I see. I grew up mostly in a small town. Summer's where spent down by the creek fishing and swimming.
Round Lick Creek TN.(This was the creek I grew up playing in.)

Fall time was spent harvesting crops between school days. Winter was spent canning and packing tobacco leaves. It was also spent with family and friends, warm kitchens and lots of foods (mostly fried in some sort of grease.) Don't get me wrong, as a teenager my friends and I tested the boundaries and stumbled around the meaning of adulthood. Some of us went on to college and careers, while others of us picked up a trade, married, settled down (Not necessarily in that order.).

Watertown, TN. Downtown Square
I always use to roll my eyes when I heard adults call the days they grew up in "simple times". Now I get it, life seemed so much simpler before I moved to Florida as a teenager. I didn't have to worry about the latest fashions, or cell phones, or music videos, or Facebook feeds. There's just so much now days, people are so connected, however we all become so disconnected on the personal level of things. We've come to become so media focused that we're losing true values. I don't know when it began to happen, all I do know is my friends call me old-fashioned.

Now day's we allow our kids to dress like adults, we do their hair and put their make-up on them. We expose them to adult humor content on TV and in the movies they watch. We're allowing them to watch music video's featuring over the top music artists who are showing so much skin it makes you wonder what the point the clothes are. Back up dancers dancing so sexually, that it really should come with rated-R viewer ratings. With lyrics such as "I got a dirty mind. I got filthy ways. I'm tryna bathe my ape, In your milky way" playing on our radio. We wonder why America is leading the way for first world nations in early teen pregnancy. More than 365,000 teens, ages 15–19, gave birth in 2010(this is not including miscarriages and abortions) which was actually a historical low showing a declining by 9% from 2009 and 44% since 1991.[1] But shockingly out of 12.2 million single parent families in 2012, more than 80% were headed by single mothers. Today, 1 in 3 children – a total of 15 million – are being raised without a father. Of that group, nearly half live below the poverty line. Around 45% of single mothers have never married, around 55% are either divorced, separated or widowed. Half have one child, 30% have two. About two thirds are White, one third Black, one quarter Hispanic. One quarter have a college degree, one sixth have not completed high school.[2]
This was me. A single mom at the age of 19. No college education, working a full-time job at our local McDonald's. Trying to balance school, work, and a bouncing baby boy by myself. I don't blame anything for this fact, but I do know a few things. I got caught up in what my friends where saying, I got caught up in what they were doing. I didn't have low self-esteem, but it wasn't the best. I had to much free time on my hands and nothing outside of school and a social life to fill it. My friends here didn't camp. They didn't go fishing. There was no canning and harvesting of crops. There was hanging out at the mall, and going to the movies. Hanging at this friends house or that friends house. There was just to much focus on media and to much opportunity to get into trouble. And nothing really productive to fill up my time. I was in school programs. Tennis team, Art Club, Drama Club, Student Theater Director, Crime Watch. But that didn't really give me a lot of extra skills. It wasn't me stepping outside of the School/Home ratio. Yeah I did volunteer work, with the school. 

Trust building exercise at one of the youth groups.
What can we do about it? We're busy, times are tight, money is slow to come in and fast to go out, and it's not like the old days of letting your kids head down to the creek camping and fishing with just themselves or their friends.
If you're not a church goer like myself. Options may seem expensive and limited, but they're not! Churches are a great way to go if you're willing though. They offer a lot of single sex camps, and co-ed ones. They really get the kids involved and working while teaching moral values. A good site that really exemplifies this would be Life Teen which is a Catholic Organization.

If the churches really aren't the way you're wanting to go then there's still plenty of options moms!

A VISIONS teen volunteer.
One of my favorite programs may seem expensive, but not if you get your teen to work for it by doing summer jobs, or if you have a preteen and you want to get them into it when they are in high school; planning ahead is a great way to go. The Organization is VISIONS.While yes, it's a huge chunk of change up front, this program is really good. Though it's not as long as the Mormon's Missions that they do for their young adults, it provides a similar background allowing your children experiences beyond normal scope of your community. It allows them to travel, see the world, and experience new cultures all the while they're building leadership skills and gaining confidence that helps support self-esteem. All without the religious aspect.
If this really isn't up your alley and your thinking that you have a more "at risk" teen who just seems to be that fast maturing rebel, who really wants to test their boundaries in anyway possible (much like I was for a few years till I got into a program that got my head on straight...ish.) then maybe something more like Outward Bound and their Struggling Youth program just might be the way to go. This program really works with both your teen and you in learning successful tools and communications skills. There are many programs and youth camps much like this one. Just look up a directory in your area. Most organizations such as YMCA and Salvation Army also have Youth Camps that cater to a more tight forming budget, and really really work on the parents jobs and income to get their kid(s) into any program. I used YMCA for my son.

Mom's if none of this is up your alley cause it just doesn't seem to fit your life style. Get your kid volunteering at local organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. Getting your kids a first hand eye opening experience to the economical issues and struggles in their own community can also strengthen their self-esteem and social awareness.

Some programs such as the Youth Volunteer Corps start at the age of 11years old for their programs.

Even better Volunteer as a family with programs such as United Way.

We may be the age of instant gratification, technology, and media. But we can still place the old time values of hard work, morals, and appreciation for what we have with or without the guidance of religious organizations. We can still teach our boys that it's polite to open the door for women, and we can still teach our girls that sexy bikini's and make-up isn't what makes them beautiful.

1.^ "Birth Rates for U.S. Teenagers Reach Historic Lows for All Age and Ethnic Groups". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 08, 2013.
2.^ "Single Mother Statistics" Retrieved April 08, 2013.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A budget wedding like no other.


 Now days you hear the words "Budget Wedding" go hand in hand with the price tag of about $20,000.  As of 2012 the average cost of a wedding was $26,000. For us that's just out there!!!

Now I was working with a $5,000 budget thanks to my parents being willing to pay. Or else it would have been down to the court house we go. What I can't believe is that I feel my wedding was a bit over the top. We could have really shaved down the cost (which the total was $5,987.79)

Our Mistakes:
  1. Over ordered our invitations. We should have ordered 50. I wanted to order 75 but I followed my moms suggestion and we ordered 125. That added up when you factor in we did a package order so it was Invitations, RSPVs, Mail back RSPV envelopes,  Reception Cards, Envelopes, Thank You cards, and the envelopes.
  2. Waited till the last moment to pull together decorations. 
  3. Didn't shop around for alterations.
  4. Didn't shop around for accessory items such as the garter and veil.

Still I took very little short cuts that you read about on all these blogs about how you can save money by having the "ceremony at a public park/beach" or by being "...friends with the owner..." or "REALLY Limit your Guest List"

I didn't do any of this. We went with a very popular vendor for weddings. I really just had to have my outdoor wedding. And we didn't like the idea of a park or the beach. While very nice ideas, we didn't want something that was open just for anyone to walk by or join in on.


There was a very nice restaurant in our area that offered everything we were looking for. Outdoors, by the water, in a remote setting. We had to do a lot of negotiations. Most of the dates I originally picked were already booked, but my husband and I were flexible. We talked it over and decided a Sunday afternoon wedding would be nice. They already had a booking for that evening at 6pm in their upstairs ballroom, which was too big for our party anyways, so they let us use the downstairs "Garden room" and "Tapestry room" for half the cost. The only catch was that we had to be cleaned up and out by 5:30pm. So we did a 1pm Wedding Ceremony.
Tapestry Room
The Garden Room which over looked where we held the ceremony.

The venue provided Catering (for 35-40people), Cake Service, Bar Set-up, Wine for toasts, chairs for ceremony, tables/chairs/table linens/glassware/tableware for reception, and centerpieces it ended up being a total cost of $1,808.00. We got massive savings by doing a "Brunch" style buffet with more finger foods instead of the traditional dinner style menu.

My Ceremony Area.
Part of our buffet.


The attire was what really put my budget over the top. We went to David's Bridal for my dress, I had in mind one of the discount dresses you know, the $299 and cheaper. Well it didn't work out that way. I am glad I paid extra for the dress $500.00 And the care package was worth the $150.00. However the alterations and other items were highly over priced.
The "Bride's Accessories" was the garter and a sheer shawl that I didn't really use. I could have gotten them from some place like Target for half the cost that I paid at David's Bridal. Same with the veil, it was next to impossible to find one already made, but I stopped by my local craft store and they did have the items to make it, but my mom insisted on buying it from David's Bridal. Would have saved use around $100-$120 if I had made it. 

It was the applique on the veil that made it so expensive.
My dress hanging in the ready room provided by the vendor.
Couldn't find strapless heels, so I had to remove the straps.

Let's not forget the shoes and jewelry. Though my jewelry cost was a bit on the extreme side, mainly cause I wanted louder than traditional jewelry as per my usual style in jewelry accessories, all in all my jewelry cost about $130 and that was for two bangles, a necklace, earrings, and the tikka. The shoes were very reasonable and I got them while they were on sale.
Photo showcasing my jewelry.

My husband did excellent with his tux and the ring bearer tux for our son. He was able to talk to a manager at MensWarehouse and manged to get the tux for our son at an extreme discount. Because I had gone to David's Bridal we received a $40.00 off coupon for all tuxes bought under our wedding party group ID. Which included his Best Man. On top of the $40.00 off coupon, my husband managed to get another $60.00 off of little one's tux. We also avoided renting shoes since everyone already had a pair of dress shoes for one reason or another.


Now the rest comes from wheeling and dealing or having a great social network of friends. For us, it was the wheeling and dealing.

Our Photographer was a hassle, we interviewed and interviewed.  The biggest problem we ran into was "rights release" yeah I was able to get most of these photographers to come down off their $1,200-$2,500 price tag down to something more reasonable in the $400-$500 range. But what I couldn't get them to budge on was their $300-$600 "Rights Release" which would allowed me my photos without their logo across all of them. Plus a lot of photographers put a limit to how many photos they'd give you. We also had an issue with a photographer bailing on us for a bigger paying gig. With two weeks looming till our wedding we found one guy who was just awesome. 4hours, no rights release hassle, and all in all our photographer gave us 800 photos on DVD, "Photographer's Choice" Slideshow DVD, and all of the edited photographs on a "Custom" DVD. He made 3 copies of each DVD so in all we had 12 DVDs!!!

Our Cake came from our local Publix Grocery store. They don't have a lot of exotic flavors, but if you plan on sticking to the basics like we did, well then maybe your local grocery bakery might do the trick like ours did. They had a lot to offer as far as design, but my husband and I wanted to steer away from the traditional wedding cakes you see and put a more "Indian/Nepali" feel to it. We went with Two tier Chocolate/Vanilla (His favorite/My favorite) cake that feed 45-50 people. I added the personalized monogram initials and silk flowers to the cake myself (That's factored into the "reception decorations" price and not the total price of the cake.).

 Decorations got a little pricy, but that was mainly because I waited till the last minute to do everything. And because I wanted to add color in the reception room outside of just the flowers. It had a very "white" feeling to it, with white linens, white napkins, white walls, and white ceiling. Which would have been fine except I like a lot of color. With my mom's pull towards traditional white and black and my smuggling in of color I feel we got a very tasteful balance. 

The table runners was the most expensive part to the decorations. We ended up going with a cloth that was $12 a yard and when you're talking about 10+ yards and then beading which was $8-$12 a yard for 8-9yards. it adds up. Fabric, tassels, and materials to make them the runners cost me about $30 a runner and we ended up needing 10 runners. Which still saved us a good bit of money because the runners in the style I was looking for turned out to be about $45-$65 per runner.

The flowers were very reasonable, however if I had the chance I'd go back and make them myself. Mainly because working with the vendor I had was more hassle than it was worth. They did turn out very pretty though and the cost was within budget. 

My bridal bouquet

My Maid of Honor Bouquet
The most surprising part that I attribute to my vendor and not the florist, is the fact that my vendor managed to match my centerpieces almost perfectly to my ceremony flowers without ever seeing a picture. The only major difference was they didn't have the Mokara Orchids, which all of the ceremony flowers contained.
Centerpieces provided by vendor


Beauty and Health

Extra Items

Hair and Makeup

Prewedding Pampering



Dress and Attire                  $1,487.78


Bride's Accessories$41.00

Dress and Care package$650.00

Headpiece and Veil$200.00




Additional Items

Bride Bouquet

Bridesmaid Bouquets

Ceremony Decorations

Groom/Groomsmen Boutonnieres

Reception Decorations


Invitations and Reply Cards

Jewelry                              $130.00

wedding jewelry

Men's Attire




Ring Bearer

Officiant                  $368.00

Marriage License$93.00


Photography                $300.00


Venue                                                                                      $1,808.00

Bar Set-Up$100.00

Cake Service$75.00


Ceremony Venue Fee$500.00

Non-alcoholic drinks$125.00

Reception Venue$200.00

Grand Total:
                                                                                           $  5,987.79

After the wedding, me being me, I went back and calculated where I could have saved more money. You know, the whole "Hind sight is 20/20". Plus, I'm one of those real arts and crafts type of people, so the wedding could have been way more DIY for savings.

Where We Could Have Saved:

  1. Invitations: Cost $168 if we went with 75 SAVINGS: $150
  2. Veil: Cost $90 if I had made it. SAVINGS: $110
  3. Accessories: Cost for Bride $20 if I had shopped around. SAVINGS: $21
  4. Decorations: $450 if I had stuck to the black and white theme instead of the table runners. SAVINGS: $450
  5. No per-wedding pampering (for me and my mother) SAVINGS: $110
  6. If I did hair and make-up myself. SAVINGS: $150
  7. Jewelry had I gone with traditional pearl set: SAVINGS $130
  8. Flowers had I done them myself: SAVINGS $170
Total Savings:  $1,291

Which would have brought the final cost of the wedding down to $4696.79

In the end we were very happy with our wedding. Though we probably could have watched our budget a bit closer, and though there were many areas we could have gone DIY with, I am still ecstatic that we kept it all under $6,000 after it was all said and done.