My Baby Boy

by Tina Michelle Cameron

On November 30, 1994, I had a scheduled c-section to deliver my second little boy. Well, there was nothing little about him. His name is Hunter Samuel Stout. He was two weeks early and weighed in at 9 lbs. and 15 oz., 22 inches long and 14 ½ inch head and chest. He had to be rushed to the Special Care Nursery because of a low blood sugar and the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck. He was by far the largest baby in there! He was beautiful and perfect.

IMG_20181129_222114There are certain days that stand out when I think of him. One is the day I picked him and his older brother Corey up from daycare, and he started crying in the backseat. He was 4 or 5-years-old and was sitting in his car seat behind me, and I asked him what was wrong. He cried, “I don’t want to leave you when I go off to college.” How sweet was he?

Growing up he played soccer, and I was his assistant coach for several seasons. He looks just like me, however, he towers over me at about 6’3”. He loves to rest his elbow on top of my head when I stand next to him (I am 5’5 1/2”).

Hunter is smart and funny and loves music, movies and football. He is a diehard Tennessee Vols fan (I am from Knoxville). He is now 24 years old and has his undergrad degree from Winthrop University where he majored in history. He is also an alumnus of the Pike Fraternity. He is completing his first year of grad school at The Citadel in Charleston. He is getting his Master of Art in Teaching. His goal is to be a high school social studies teacher and eventually earn his Ph.D. to teach at the university level. He also has a part-time job at Groucho’s Deli as a server.

I love this kid more than he will ever know, and even though we may not always get along because we are both stubborn and just alike, I am so proud of the young man he has become and so proud that he wants to make a difference in a kid’s life. I cannot wait to see what his future holds for him.Screenshot_20190403-050746_Facebook

Dogs Leave Paw Prints on Our Hearts

by Tina Michelle Cameron

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Fluffy

I have owned 13 dogs in my life. All of them have touched my life in their own unique way, but some have left their paw prints on my heart forever. My Nanny gave me a dog when I was nine-years-old. He was a tiny ball of white fluff, so his name became Fluffy. He was a Cock-a-Poo. He was my everything as a child and would play hide-and-seek with me and my brother. He would cuddle with me at night and was there to comfort me if I had a bad day.

He went missing for two weeks when I was a teenager. My family and I searched and finally found him on a truck that had just been brought in to the animal shelter—he was already being adopted when I heard his bark over the other animals. He was also hit by a man in a van and suffered fractures in his back. At times, he was unable to walk and would have to be hand-fed and carried out to the grass to use the bathroom. He bounced back after about two weeks and became the same energetic Fluffy.

When I was in college and married, he was the bright spot in my life and my heart. I got into a disagreement with my husband (now ex) about Fluffy having an accident in the house during a time when he was having pain in his back. I left for work and came home that evening and found that he was missing. I searched for him for months and found out later by police that there was a cult that had taken over 100 animals and sacrificed them. My heart still breaks to this day over this. He was 13 ½ years old, and my heart was forever broken. I will never forget him.

After Fluffy crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, I promised myself I would have more dogs, but that I would never get that close to another one again because my heart could not take it. Well, I could not keep that promise. Each dog I have owned since Fluffy has touched my heart and made me fall in love with them. Molly the golden retriever, AC and DC the yellow lab brothers, and Greyson the Dalmatian all brought joy to me and my two sons. However, my heart did not know how bad it could break over the loss of a dog until my sweet Yorkie, Haley Michelle, had to be put down on June 25th, 2018.

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Haley in her bed.

My first blog last year was about her. She was almost 10 years-old when she passed and crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I became her mommy when she was a 2 lbs. 4 oz puppy. She was healthy until she turned 8 months old and developed Inflammatory Bowel Disease and ended up having emergency surgery. She had issues with this every few weeks, but it eventually got to where she was only sick every few months. That is until she turned two and was diagnosed with liver failure at one of her regular check-ups. I was told unless she went on oral chemotherapy everyday for the rest of her life, she would not live past four years old. The chemo pill was $60 a day, and as a single mom who had two sons to put through college, there was no way I could afford this. I researched her condition and changed her diet, and her elevated liver enzymes started dropping. They were still abnormal, but better. She continued to have numerous other health problems throughout the years but was still a happy and playful sweet girl.

 

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Haley

Fast forward to June 13th, 2018—my sweet, spoiled, dress-wearing, hairbow-hating, cheese-eating dog was 9 ½-years-old and began losing weight. Despite eating like a pig, I could feel her bones. I was absolutely floored and devastated when I took her in thinking it was her liver failing her and was told she had pancreatic cancer. I don’t remember a time when I have cried so much. I took her home and checked off as much as I could on her bucket list. Twelve days later, I made the hardest decision ever to end her suffering. I remember that terrible day as I sat in this room alone with her and the vet staff, holding her and telling her I love her more than anything. I am still mourning her loss, and so is my other Yorkie, Peyton. I have her buried in a small garden in my backyard. I still call her name by accident at times and can still remember her ear-piercing bark.

 

She will always hold a special place in my heart as will each dog I have ever owned. Dogs are not just pets; they are family, and they have a way of leaving paw prints on our hearts.

 

Update on My Weight Loss Journey

by Tina Michelle Cameron

Hi everyone. I am 10 weeks and 5 days into my weight-loss journey. I have been under physician supervision since I started this journey in December 2018. I have not done as well as I had hoped regarding working out, but I am pleased so far with my weight loss and improvement of my blood pressure. I have cut out my go-to snack of Pringles, and I am 5 days short of 1 year without any soft drinks. I’ll admit there are times when I would love a good ice-cold Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew. This is the longest that I have ever gone without soft drinks since I was a teenager.

I am following the Keto diet. I know there are mixed feelings about this diet, but I am doing more of a modified Keto. I am not eating lots of fats every single day. I have increased my protein intake and decreased my sugar and carbohydrate intake. My nurse practitioner wants me to have a little carbs every day just not a lot. I have increased my water intake from 1-2 glasses a day to almost 3l daily.

When I began Keto, I found an app on my phone to log my food, water, weight, and exercise daily. The app calculates it for you and makes it easy. I will admit, I have not logged anything in the past few weeks, but I need to get strict again with this as it really helps you see what you have done. I also will be getting back in the gym tomorrow morning as my graduation is fast approaching in May, and I want to look nice when I cross that stage for my BSN degree at the University of Alabama.

I have found some really good recipes from a coworker-Brittany who is also doing Keto, and I have found some by simply doing a Google search. For the first time in a very long time, I am cooking every few days and enjoying it. The recipes I have enclosed below will last me a few days and with my hectic schedule, it is just easier to eat the same thing for 3 or 4 days in a row. I hope you enjoy the recipes, and I look forward to hearing from you. As of today, I have lost 21.5 lbs. and my blood pressure is within a normal range.

Egg Roll in a Bowl

This dinner recipe features ground pork, cole slaw mix, and seasonings to create a low-carb egg roll served in bowls.

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 25 minutes

Servings 4 servings

Calories 396 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground sausage
  • 1 bag dry coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • sliced green onion

Instructions

  1. In a large, deep skillet, brown sausage. Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine garlic, soy sauce, and ginger; set aside.
  2. Once sausage is cooked through, add dry coleslaw mix to skillet and stir to combine.
  3. Pour soy sauce mixture into the skillet and stir, continuing to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until cabbage is wilted, but still a bit crunchy. Serve with sliced green onion.

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving

Calories 396 Calories from Fat 270

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 30g 46%

Saturated Fat 10g 50%

Cholesterol 81mg 27%

Sodium 1804mg 75%

Potassium 544mg 16%

Total Carbohydrates 10g 3%

Dietary Fiber 3g 12%

Sugars 4g

Protein 20g 40%

Vitamin A 3.9%

Vitamin C 52.3%

Calcium 6.7%

Iron 13.9%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Enough is Enough

 

by Tina M. Cameron

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Enough is enough is the hashtag I use almost everyday on different social media sites. It has to do with the articles I read about the numerous, daily, senseless, heartbreaking murders of our country’s Law Enforcement Officers (LEO). They run into danger, and they risk their lives every single day that they go to work. They are husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, moms, and dads. Some are even the furry kind. LEOs are overworked, underpaid, and even disrespected by some until those people need help.

I don’t even watch the news anymore because it is too depressing. What our world has come to? Unfortunately, it is a daily occurrence for gang violence, mass shootings, and police deaths. Police are dying either at the hand of criminals or by their own gun.

Families both blood and blue are being devastated by these tragedies. Children are losing a parent. Wives are becoming widows. Enough is enough. These brave people signed up to serve and protect, and they are being targeted. My heart breaks when I read about their stories. I’ve been told, “stop reading about it,” but it is nearly impossible to not hear about. I am a very sensitive person with a big heart, so I care about people including those who I don’t even know. I feel the family’s pain. I am also a huge dog lover, so when I hear of a K9 officer being injured or killed, my heart also breaks for them.

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My brother retired last December from law enforcement, and I am so thankful he did and that in his career he was fortunate enough to make it home to his family. I have many friends in law enforcement, have dated officers, and just recently in December, I got to spend several hours with the K9 unit from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. It was amazing.

In January 2019, we already lost four police officers by gunfire, and another four officers were shot and injured recently in Houston. Two K9 officers have also been killed. This is unacceptable. Enough is enough.

I wrote about this because it weighs on my heart. If you see an officer, thank them for protecting our streets and tell them to be careful—I do both every time I meet an officer. They deserve nothing but respect from everyone for running towards danger as most would run away. They are heroes without capes.

#enoughisenough

#respect

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Transitioning Through Life

By Tina Michelle Cameron

If you follow my blog, you know that I am an advocate for paying it forward and for doing volunteer work. And, just like many people who want to volunteer with their families at Thanksgiving and Christmas time, such as serving meals to the homeless or at a shelter—I have always wanted to do that on those mornings. Unfortunately, with my work schedule and other demands in life, it never worked out or the shelters had no openings for volunteers. I know that is not a good excuse, as there are 363 other days that these shelters need help.

transitions-facilityI am a nurse and have always wanted to help people and to care for them, it is just my nature. Well, I signed up a few weeks ago to volunteer at a shelter in Columbia called Transitions. It is in downtown Columbia at the site of a hotel that was torn down. It is a beautiful brick building that blends in with the rest of the buildings downtown. If you did not know what it is, you probably would not ever guess that it is a place for homeless people as well as others who are of various ages and stages in their life. Many have lost their jobs resulting in losing their homes, and some are people that live on the streets every day. Others have some income and a job, but need a place to stay for a few months to truly get back on their feet and in permanent housing.

I completed my orientation and walk-thru with the director last Wednesday, December 19th and served my first breakfast the next morning. We had 6 volunteers that morning and a nutritious breakfast to 100 people in 15 minutes. By the time I drove home an hour later, I knew this was what I wanted to do as a small way of helping people who are down on their luck.

Every single person that I served that morning, thanked every single one of us and told us how appreciative they were to have us get up on a cold, rainy morning and drive there to serve them breakfast. They wished us Merry Christmas, and all told us God bless you. Some were young, some were old, but they all were so thankful to have a hot meal and a place for a few hours or overnight to get out of the cold and wet weather.

According to their website and the amazing Community Outreach/ Event Coordinator, Cathy, Transitions was founded in 2011 and have been able to help 2,179 people find jobs and permanent housing. They have 240 beds- they have a day center that serves meals, they have a 30-day unit for men and women to stay short-term and then they have a much larger building to house people for several months to help them get back on their feet. They have numerous classes held daily to help with job skills, AA meetings and empowerment classes for women. They also have a raised vegetable garden that was created by a Boy Scout for his Eagle Scout project. Transitions is a non-profit organization and is the largest homeless center in Columbia, serving numerous counties in the state.

transitions-logoPlease consider volunteering at Transitions. It is easy to sign up as a volunteer on their website. I am already excited to return. I am blessed to have a wonderful job, a beautiful family and home, but, many of us could be in the same boat and be 1-2 paychecks away from losing everything. Life is what you make it, mine is not perfect by any means, but I want to know I made a difference.

#payitforward

#spreadkindness

https://transitionssc.org/

Reflecting

By Tina Michelle Cameron

As 2018 is winding down and 2019 is just around the corner, I have been reminiscing about everything that has happened to me this year. Overall, it has been a wonderful year, but, has also been filled with sadness in the passing of my beloved Yorkie, Haley. I have been blessed to have opportunities come my way such as being accepted into an amazing RN to BSN program at The University of Alabama; being chosen to be a blogger for Every Woman, and a very brief (few seconds) shot in Lexington Medical Center’s Christmas commercial.

I have been back in school since January 2016 working on prerequisites just to apply to the RN to BSN program at Alabama. I cried when I received the acceptance letter. It has been my dream to have a four-year degree since I was 18. That dream is coming true and I will graduate on May 3rd, 2019. I just completed my second semester and have all A’s-I am so proud of myself as one of my classes required two papers that you must pass. Let’s just say that APA format is not my friend! I also was chosen for a scholarship. I could not believe it and felt very blessed to have been chosen. It was the Barbara Hester Lowery Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Dr. Lowery was director of the Lowery Resource Learning Center, Capstone College of Nursing at The University of Alabama. I intend on paying it forward and starting a scholarship for single moms returning to school to finish their BSN degree.

I never thought after entering a contest on Facebook that I would be chosen to be a blogger for Every Woman Blog. I remember sitting there when I found out with my mouth open for a few minutes—in shock. I have had the pleasure of meeting some outstanding, fabulous women and fellow bloggers. Together we are all successful women with a variety of backgrounds-chef, nurse, teacher, cancer survivor. It had always been in my mind that I wanted to blog, and it has been an honor. I look forward to blogging for a longtime to come. Thank you to Emily and Jennifer for your support. You ladies are a blessing.

facebook_1544749125589 I must talk again about the incredible loss I had on June 25th, 2018. My beloved 9 ½ year old Yorkie—Ms. Haley Michelle Cameron. Unless you are a dog lover, no one really understands how dogs become family and that people mourn their loss just as you do a family member. I think of her every single day. I always said she was the daughter I never had. She was very girly and frou-frou. I can still hear her high-pitched, ear-piercing barking. The way she would stare at me until I gave her a Chick-fil-A nugget or waffle fry and how she used to have to sleep with her fur-babies (stuffed animals). As I unpacked our Christmas boxes to decorate last month, the first box I opened had our stockings in it and hers was on top-I immediately broke out in tears. My heart still hurts and my other Yorkie—Peyton Manning is not the same. She will come and cuddle with me and just whimper. She just seems lost.

facebook_1544749060590In closing, I want to thank my wonderful sons Corey and Hunter, my parents and my friends who have supported me this year and helped me with school. Thank you for listening to me cry over APA format and papers and especially the support of my loss. I love you all very much and could not be doing any of this without your support.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Looking forward to 2019 and what the future holds for me.

 

 

Remembering our Veterans at Christmas Time

By Tina M. Cameron

Recently a friend of mine Beryl posted something on Facebook that she had just signed up for as a volunteer. She shared the link and I opened it to see what it was about. It is called Wreaths Across America. It is an annual day to honor our veterans by laying a wreath on their grave. According to the Wreaths Across America website, Congress voted December 13th, 2008 as Wreaths Across America Day. On that day over 100,000 wreaths were laid by over 60,000 volunteers. This occurred in 300 locations and included cemeteries in every state as well as 24 overseas cemeteries and Puerto Rico.

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Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor or a volunteer can go to their website (which I will include at the end of my blog).  Arlington Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries that wreaths are laid at.  Wreath laying at military cemeteries began when the Worcester Wreath Company had a surplus of wreaths leftover and decided to honor Veterans. It began small and has now spread worldwide. This eventually led to the non-profit Wreaths Across America.

This opportunity to lay a wreath to honor our military is a great way to include your children in volunteering and to teach a valuable lesson to them on what it means to give back, to honor someone who fought for our country and to spend time together. When wreaths are laid at each grave site, you are to say the person’s name out loud to remember them and to let them and their families know they are not forgotten. I am looking forward to this on December 15th at Fort Jackson National Cemetery in Columbia, SC.

If you want to participate, simply go to the Wreaths Across America website and either choose volunteer, your location closest to you and sign up. If you are unable to volunteer to lay wreaths, you can choose to sponsor a wreath and donate money. I plan on making this a yearly experience and would love to eventually go participate at Arlington National Cemetery. My friend and I are trying to get a group together so if you are interested feel free to contact me via email and we can discuss meeting up on Saturday, December 15th.

To learn more: https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org

(On the right-hand side, use the drop- down box to choose volunteer and follow instructions from there)

Here is my email address if you want to join us at Fort Jackson National Cemetery: tmcameron@crimson.ua.edu