Monday, December 08, 2014

December update (153.4)

Pictures in the Park pics are below....  As a whole, they weren't as good as usual. We weren't thrilled with the setting and more than anything it was the time of day.  It was 1 pm and the sun was up.  Cloudy days are so much better for photos than sun.  We still got enough good ones for a good Christmas card, but our family photo has Mark & me in the background.  The other group shots are horrible--shadows on our faces and the lighting is awful.  But it's 20 minute session for $55, and we don't get to see the pics on his camera.  So it's not a big deal.  The pictures of the kids are what really count, and we got some good ones.  

I'm like a lot of people right now--trying to keep my head above water this time of year.  I can't help it.  I am nowhere close to enjoying myself.  We haven't even put up the Christmas tree or any decorations.  Haven't had a free weekend yet.  This coming weekend we should have time, in between seeing a play on Friday night (neither of the kids is in it but we support their acting studio and their friends even when they aren't in a show) and Sophie is getting together with her friends in the show again on Saturday night.  

I have barely done any Christmas shopping, although I did get the kids (and Mark & me) each a Kindle Fire 6 when they were on sale on Thanksgiving day.  It's our first tablets (if you don't count iPods or iPhones).  Very excited for those.  So I have a lot to do on that front.  Thankfully we don't buy for grown ups or extended family--it's just my kids I have to buy for.  

And we aren't doing a big holiday meal this year with anyone.  Not even my mom.  I'm not sure if we are doing any holiday anything with anyone other than going to church on Christmas eve.  I think my mom is coming down to go to church with us, and we might go to dinner before hand, but that's still up in the air.  Since Mark's sister moved out of town, Christmas on his side of the family has been nonexistent.  But usually my mom does something.  She just decided this year not to.  So that simplifies things.

I have the whole week of Christmas off.  We have the 24th, 25th, & 26th as paid holidays, and I'm taking 22nd & 23rd as vacation days.  I'm very excited and can't wait. I'm working the week after; I'm off on the 31st at 4pm, off on the 1st, working that Saturday from 10-2.  The kids are off school for two weeks.  They'll either stay by themselves or Mark will be home with them some the week after Christmas. 

Sophie had her one year check up with the surgeon on 12/1.  Our original date was postponed because we had snow back in November, although on 12/1 I drove through 90 minutes of freezing rain in Illinois. The surgeon said the fusion looks great--it's 90% fused (which is different than what he said 6 months ago... he said it would only be at 60% or something at this point, but I'll take 90%).  She basically can do whatever she wants except full bends and twists at the waist and heavy overhead pulling or high impact sports (which she doesn't do anyway). But if she played soccer, she could be playing full games at this point.  So all in all she's doing great. 

Luke is still playing his ukulele.  He's learning to play Yellow Submarine, which is a tough piece.  He does better when he's challenged so it's a good one for him; he doesn't practice when he's bored. His acting & voice classes (and all the other acting, dance, and voice classes) are putting on a holiday show the weekend after next.  I can't wait to see him perform on stage with his class.  He can be stage shy I hope he does well out there. 

We have all (knock wood) stayed relatively healthy so far this winter, so as long as we can keep up that streak, I think I can handle this madness.  

I had another appointment with my therapist last week.  I needed it!  She's brilliant. Which is good and bad.  I couldn't get another appointment until early February!  But that's OK.  I usually see her exactly when I need her. 

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Long overdue update (155.4)

It's been forever since I've posted.  This is mostly due to my being very busy at work (which is when I find I post updates because it's when I'm on a computer) and partly due to the same old same old with my life--we are all healthy (thank God), jobs are going well, kids are doing well, nothing really new going on.  

But just to prove I'm alive, I'll take a few minutes and share some details. 

I think I wrote last time that Luke was going to start taking ukulele lessons (did I?) and I bought both the kids & myself a ukulele.  He's had 3 lessons and is enjoying playing, although practicing every night is sometimes a challenge to get him to do after a long day of school and homework.  His first song is the SpongeBob FUN song, which has motivated him to play. 

Sophie, being left handed, went back and forth on whether she was going to have us buy her a special left handed uke or just learn to play right handed (which I didn't of when I bought her pretty green right-handed ukulele from Amazon).  She has now played around with the uke,  and learned chords and songs that she's decided just to be a right handed player, adaptable leftie that she is, which will make things easier for her in the long run.  There are a lot of resources out there for left handed players, but if she plays right handed she can just use the regular songs and chords that I have. 

I LOVE the ukulele.  I taught myself by watching some youtube videos and then by printing songs from the internet, which have chords listed with the songs.  I also bought some music books.  I've been playing over a month now and am getting pretty good.  I can play quite a few songs pretty smoothly.  My favorite is Chim Chim Cheree from Mary Poppins--it has some complicated chords which I've been working hard on. And I can play a mean Rainbow Connection.  

The only thing is my fingertips went pretty much permanently numb after the first couple of days of 1 or 2 hour practice sessions.  They aren't just calloused.  I think I did some nerve damage. This isn't uncommon, according to my google searches of people who play stringed instruments.  Even if I take a night off (which I don't often do), they stay numb.  I just deal.  It's worth it.  I love this little instrument!  I play at least an hour a night, sometimes more.  It's a major stress reliever.  I just get lost in the thing.  The music is a puzzle I am solving. And it's pretty and I like to imagine what it would be like to perform on stage (which has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl.... but will likely never happen, but I can dream).

Speaking of puzzles, I've finished watching BBC America's Sherlock.  Best. Show. Ever.  If you haven't watched it, please do.  Absolutely brilliant stuff.  Mark was watching Sherlock this summer while Sophie & I were watching Dr Who.  Then Sophie started watching it, then I finally caught on.  Now I am re-watching episodes because there are only 9 of them and there's nothing else I want to watch that even compares.  The next new episode won't be out until late next year. 

Luke turned 9 yesterday! Slumber party at our house tonight (Harry Potter themed--just three boys coming over).   Sophie is in a play that opens November 21--Peter Pan. She's got tons of homework every night but she's getting As and hanging in there.  We go to St Louis 11/17 for her 1 year check up--I'll post pics of her X-rays when I have them.  Mark is doing well; he's handling work just fine, he's got his chronic back issues under control for the most part with quarterly back injections and regular physical therapy.  My job is good; I go to Indy next week for our company's appreciation day.  Our campus is probably going to get Campus of the Year (based on the numbers, our campus Pres thinks we are going to win, which is pretty cool). 

We will go to Indy for Thanksgiving this year with Mark's family.  I get Wed, Thurs, & Fri off work, company paid days off--all three--which is sweet.  It's hard to believe we are already almost to that time of year.  

I have a lot to be thankful for this year.  Compared to what was going on a year ago, my family life is a giant leap forward easier, calmer, simpler, happier, healthier and more secure.  I'm going to do my best to remember that this Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September update (154.6)

Barely squeezing in an update for this month, since it's the 30th. Work has finally slowed down so I'm taking a break & sharing some info with you. 

This was an insane month.  Really an insane two months.  I started working overtime August 11 (voluntarily). Any week I worked a Saturday, I'd put in 4-6 hours of OT.  Some weeks I'd also work for Mark, so there were weeks I'd work almost 50 hours.  

The work for Mark is minimal--I create the meeting summary letters that are mailed to his fee-based clients; there's a template & I fill in the data and summarize his notes into a letter format. He is doing everything else.  So I don't have to do much for him anymore.  I wouldn't have to do this, but I want to help & it's the ONE thing I can do for him. When I don't work OT, it's not a big deal to spend a few hours every other weekend doing these. 

Anyway, since our Fall quarter started 9/22, OT is DONE. Back to a normal 40 hour week.  But it all caught up to me this past weekend.  

I had a mini breakdown Saturday. Too many things undone, too many responsibilities on my shoulders on a daily basis, too many inadequacies as a mother and wife weighing me down. So I cried on the bathroom floor for a while and spent most of Sunday in a funk.  

I worked all day Monday and a couple hours last night for Mark, and I'm OK today, although the responsibilities and inadequacies are all still there.  I just don't feel like I need to curl up in a ball at the moment. 

I did see my therapist, Julie, last Monday, 9/22.  We talked about what's happened over the past 2 years since I'd seen her last (a LOT), about how to parent Luke (who I've been having issues with), how to parent a teenage girl, about my marriage. I see her again at the end of October (that's the earliest she can see me).  We'll be talking about my breakdown, for sure.  

Mark and I are also seeing a marriage counselor. We had one appointment in early Sept and we see him again on Oct 6. He's the same therapist we saw 15 years ago before we had kids; he's semi-retired, we are lucky we found him!

We had a huge fight--huge--back in August. I won't go into details, but Mark was angrier than I've ever seen him, ever (he has always had anger issues--anger, the emotion that evolves from fear).  His anger during the fight was astounding to both of us, mostly to him. What scared us into deciding to go to counseling was he dissolved into a puddle of uncontrollable tears by the end of the fight. And because neither of us could hear the other's point of view no matter how hard we tried, we knew it was time to bring in a third party.  

Seriously, after the year we've had, I should think we'd need marriage counseling.  We probably should have gone before now.  But as our therapist said, we're "highly skilled," so we've been handling things pretty well ourselves through all these changes.  But we've reached our limit and we need help. 

Oct 4 is my 2 year OA anniversary of abstinence.  No desserts and no binges for 2 years.  Unfortunately I haven't been working my program.  I'm a 3 stepper right now, which I'm not proud of.  This past year has been nothing but keeping my head above water and maintaining the status quo--no room for personal growth.  

On the flip side of that-- I went through a major life change and didn't gain 50 pounds.  So I haven't done my 4th step yet.  I still went to meetings, I maintained relationships, I got out of bed everyday, and I didn't need sugar to get me through the day.  I guess I shouldn't beat myself up too badly. 

As far as the kids go....
Luke is on Harry Potter, book 3.  It's so cool to see my 3rd grader read real books.  In his high ability class (which meets once a day at school), he does advance math worksheets once a week at home, and my goodness, the math that child does in his head.  Blows my mind. He's got A's in all his regular class subjects. Yet the little guy is immature in so many ways. We have to be really careful with making sure when he eats & sleeps, because he will melt down if we get it wrong even a little bit (ADHD kid on meds & also highly sensitive).  Julie gave me a book to read to help me with him, which I've started but haven't gotten far. The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabary (she's an "Oprah doctor").  He'll be 9 in November.  Part of me thinks it's OK that he's immature, since he's a boy and he's my youngest.....which is likely part of the problem, eh? 

Sophie is doing amazingly well.  In 7th grade honors classes, working hard for her As. She's self motivated, I don't have to ask her to do anything with her homework.  She's in a play that opens Oct 10th (Legend of Sleepy Hollow) then goes straight into the next play, Peter Pan.  What's really cool is that Peter Pan opens exactly one year after her surgery.  She'll be on stage on the one year anniversary that she was in a hospital bed.  We meet with the surgeon the Monday before the play opens.  Hopefully he'll tell her at that appointment she can finally touch her toes!

One last fun note.  We are all watching Dr Who.  Sophie started watching it this summer.  I started watching with her in late summer, the episodes with Matt Smith (love him!) and then when I would watch TV when the kids were asleep (so I wouldn't watch shows ahead of them), I started at season 1.  I'm still with David Tenant in my "catch up" watching, and I haven't yet finished Matt Smith (I think I have 6 episodes left with him, boo hoo!).  Sophie was home sick yesterday and just finished Matt Smith and is now watching the new episodes we have on the DVR.  We are total Whovians now.  

I even bought her some Dr Who socks on Amazon.  Great story--the 5 pack of ankle socks have a pair that say "bow ties are cool" except they are misspelled and say "bow ties abe cool."  Nice one BBC!  I didn't read the reviews, doh!  She is so clever, though.  She picked out the red threads on the bottom of the "B" so it looks like an "R." We just have to stitch in some white thread to stop it from making a hole. 

I need to get some work done now.  See ya next month.  :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

August update

Kids went back to school last week. All in all, everything went ok. We
got Sophie's PE class switched to 2nd quarter in hopes her
restrictions will be lifted (or close to) by then. And Luke has the
best 3rd grade teacher in the school--everyone says so. Fun
fact--she's been teaching 40 years, but she doesn't look it (young and
fit 60s) and she taught my husband in one of her first classes in
middle school!

Sophie gets on the bus really early. Originally it was 6:40! Now it's
6:52. Every extra minute helps. Luke is picked up at 7:40.
Elementary schools start later this year--8:15 to 3:10. Middle school
is 7:30-2:30. This is a schedule change from last year. Middle school
starts 15 min earlier. Elem added 25 min to their day and starts 25
min later. Long day for them.

Best part of this schedule is that the kids don't see each other in
the morning. Luke wakes up after Sophie leaves in the morning. Last
year Sophie picked on Luke constantly, to the point of tears some
mornings (Luke and me both). I was beside myself with worry on how to
parent the situation. Now I don't have to deal with it! Hooray!

Onto other things. I am slammed at work. September start is our
busiest. We can work overtime the next four weeks if we want. It's not
mandatory (yet) but we can if we need to or want to. I will be the
weeks I'm working on Saturday.

I signed up to run the Princess Half Marathon next February, have I
mentioned that yet? Did that a few weeks ago. I have to run a race by
December to qualify for a running corral or else I'm stuck in the last
walking corral. The only local race that will fit my schedule is a 15k
on Sept 6. I'm so not ready for a 9 mile race, but I'm doing it anyway
and praying the weather cools off by then. In the meantime I'm trying
to run. I did 5 slow miles Saturday. I'm so slow. I mean slow. I may
end up in the waking corral after all. Whatever.

I am going back to my therapist. I see her Sept 22. I'm way overdue. I
have too many issues. I'm too controlling. Too much of a
perfectionist. Don't know how to parent a teenager or be a wife to an
aging husband. Medication and OA aren't enough. I need help. And my
insurance covers it (it should anyway).

One other thing I don't think I've mentioned. Another area of my life
I simplified. I haven't been on Facebook for months and months. I
decided that FB is like dessert--it's ok for other people, but it's
not healthy for me. It is emotionally bad for me. I would read other
people's status updates about how fabulous their kids or vacations or
jobs or workouts or whatevers were, or on the flip side I'd read how
sad or angry or disgruntled or righteous someone was feeling -- and
I'd internalize it irrationally. Depending on my mood for the day.

If I was feeling good about myself then it was fine. But more often
than not, I'd feel inadequate and would compare my insides to their
outsides and would make myself miserable. And not just once or twice a
day. But all day long. Because that's how Facebook works. People post
all day long. And the app is on your phone so you have to keep it
current. And when you have OCD you have to read all the way back to
where you finished the last time you read so you're all caught up. So
yeah. Some days it was out of control.

I wasn't that bad all the time. But i was feeling bad enough
emotionally that I decided to just call it quits for good and stop
checking it all together. Yes, I miss out on lots of happenings with
my friends. I have no idea when celebrities die anymore until people
talk about it at work. (I don't watch the news or listen to the radio
either. I live in a bubble, basically.) I figure if people want me to
know stuff, they'll call or email.

I checked it one day a few weeks ago just for a "taste" and the first
post I read was from one of our friends who is an attorney, whose wife
stays at home with three young kids, and they only write Christmas
card versions of their lives on FB. His post was "we're seriously
thinking of giving up cable TV. Thoughts?" I wanted to punch the
phone. Really? I didn't read any further. I got mad at his post
because of my feelings of inadequacy of never dreaming of living
without cable with kids in my house--or for myself. I love cable TV!
And mad at my assumption at his superior attitude of "look at us, we
don't need cable TV." See, this snarky crap is NOT who I am. FB brings
out the worst in me. I don't care if you don't have cable. That's
great if you don't let your kids rot their brains with TV for hours. I
just don't want to read about it on social media. It's my issue. So I
removed myself from the equation. Haven't been back since.

So that's enough of a brain dump for tonight. Thanks for reading my rambles!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back home (154.2)

We made it back from Florida on Monday.  Our flight out of Orlando was at 7:10am and we were in our house by 9:30am (with the change from EST back to CST, we gained an hour, the flight is only 90 minutes, and the drive from the airport is 45 minutes).  

I was awake at 3:15am, and it was a long, long day. The kids were troopers & are great travelers, but we were all wiped out.  We watched the last three Harry Potter movies when we got home. I had the beginnings of a migraine by 1pm (not enough sleep, too much TV).  I took a maxalt by 5pm and was asleep by 8pm.  

I went to work on Tuesday at 10am and worked yesterday until 8pm. I was a zombie most of the day, and had very little appetite. I just didn't feel well all day and wanted to be home.  Vacation afters.

The last two days have not been easy.  I'm still tired and feel out of sorts. We are slowly making our way through laundry.  Mark is helping a lot and I'm just dealing with the mess.  I'm still sleep deprived and adjusting to getting back to normal. 

Kids were home by themselves yesterday, which was a little rough at times on them, and not ideal but we don't have better options.  They are with my sister today, which will be fun because she's taking them to a movie & to feed the ducks (it's in the upper 70s here, gorgeous weather).  

There are only three & a half weeks till school starts; Sophie has one week of camp next week, & Luke will be with my mom.  Then two weeks of just the two of them at home or with my mom.  I wish school started earlier.  I don't want to put them in camps, they don't want to go to camps, but they don't want to be home alone with each other all the time either. There isn't an easy solution. We all just have to deal & make the best of it at this point.

I'm very thankful I didn't gain weight over vacation.  We walked a ton and I never made horrendous food choices and never stuffed myself, so vacation weight gain wasn't really a huge concern, other than the water weight from salty restaurant foods.   

It was a great trip, I'm glad we did it.  I would do some things differently, like not go to Clearwater (although I'm glad we went, because Luke met a boy from Scotland there who he has facetimed & traded addresses with, and hopefully will stay in contact with, and that's really cool), but we probably won't go back there (way over crowded).  New Smyrna was awesome and the hotel was wonderful (Best Western), and that will be our go-to place for the Atlantic coast.  Universal's Diagon Alley is a MUST for Harry Potter fans, but wait a year or so to go. 

10 days is a long vacation, but it's better to be ready to go home than to get to the end of vacation and be regretting having to leave.  We were all ready to come home. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Florida report

Just had to let you all know we got to go to Diagon Alley the day
before it officially opened and didn't have to do the 5 am insanity.
It was awesome.

When we went to Hogsmeade on July 7, we bought Luke a wand right away,
and the girl helping him told us that the Hogwarts Express train was
running and Diagon Alley was open. Unofficially, and the ride
Gringotts wasn't running, but we could go on over.

It was just word of mouth so it was busy but less so than Hogsmeade.
We got right into Olivanders, the wand shop and did the wand ceremony
experience, which can often be hours and hours of waiting.

We spent about 4 hours there and saw all the shops and sights. It's
totally immersive, just like being in Diagon Alley. Incredible.

July 8 we got up early and went to Hogsmeade at 8 am for early park
entry for hotel guests (hour before general admission). It was crazy
busy. We did the castle and rode the ride (which terrified Luke, no
more rides for him). We didn't last long--very sunny and very crowded.
We headed back to the hotel around 12:30.

Luke and Mark went swimming in the hotel pool, which was huge, and
Sophie and I took naps. Later Mark and I took turns going back to the
parks and rode a few rides ourselves. I rode a couple of roller
coasters which was fun.

Yesterday we did Diagon Alley at 7 am (hotel early park admission) and
got in line for Gringotts by 7:30. This ride has been plagued by
breakdowns and it suffered a few yesterday morning. When we got in
line we were in for a 210 min wait. We had 2 breakdowns added to that.
We finally rode it at 11:10.

That sounds like a long wait, and it was, but we talked and laughed
and were never in the sun and there are amazing things to look at
along the line that are part of the story (once you get into
Gringotts--which was after we'd been waiting about 2 hours).

I'd prepared to wait. I'd brought snacks and water. I bought more
water when we broke down the first time. I took Luke and myself to the
bathroom when we broke down the second time. Since Luke didn't ride,
we did child swap (one parent rides while other parent sits with the
kid in a waiting room) and he earned money for waiting it out, which
yes is bribery but it kept him happy and it made us happy.

Was it worth it? Omg. Yes. Best ride ever. We aren't amusement park
people. But we are movie people. And we love Harry Potter. And this
ride is like being inside of a movie. I seriously was tearing up at
the end, it was so incredibly beautiful and astounding what the
engineers have created with this ride. It's a roller coaster that is
on a turn table that's inside a 3D (really, 4D because there are heat
and wind and water affects) holographic movie.

And the energy of every person on the ride was joyful and happy
because you were only there if you were a hard core fan. Applause
every time a train left and every time a train arrived. It was a once
in a lifetime experience. Except for Sophie, who got to ride it twice
since we do child swap and she rides with each parent. Lucky girl.

Luke in the child swap room was happy because they had a movie reel
playing of the two movie scenes of HP in Gringotts. And we'd all been
wanting to watch HP movies since we got to Universal, and he was the
first one of us to get to.

We stayed in DA for a few more hours to revisit a few shops again,
making sure the kids did everything they wanted and not rushing them
out. We may never come back, or if we do it will be years, so we wrung
out every drop. They did it all and we left.

We rode the Simpsons ride, ate at Mel's Diner, left in the sprinkling
rain, walked back to the hotel, got our luggage, an drove to the Gulf.

Now we're at Clearwater Beach, getting ready to go relax on the calm
shore of the gulf (I'm waiting for my turn in the shower).

Much different here from the Atlantic. This is our first time in
Clearwater and we don't yet know our way around so we have a lot of
exploring to do. Hopefully we'll find a lot of shells.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer (155.4)

Last week & this week the college required mandatory overtime because the school as a whole was behind on financial aid packaging of continuing students, so even though our campus was on schedule--and even though I only handle new students and don't have anything to do with continuing students--I worked 45.5 hours last week and will work 45-46 hours this week. 

And since we close early on Fridays, and last Friday I left at 1:30 to pick up Sophie from sleep-a-way camp, I've been putting in 9-10 hour days. 

It's been nuts. 

Work is good, though.  I still really love it.  This is the first time in weeks it has slowed down enough during the work day for me to spend a much time doing non-work stuff at work.  (I work until 7 tonight, it's almost 5:30, and I'm pretty fried.)  So I thought I better post an update. 

Summer has been crazy busy.  June is the month of camps. Every week is something different.  I have it coordinated down to a science.  Thankfully work is flexible enough that when they were in acting camp together a couple weeks ago, I could drop them off at 8:45 and be at work before 9 (camp is 10 minutes from home, and school is 5 minutes from camp).  Then I'd spend my lunch hour picking them up at 3 pm, taking them home, getting them settled with a snack or whatever, and then going back to work until 6 or 7pm (on the nights I worked late, which is twice a week on a regular basis).  

Last week Sophie was at sleep-a-way camp and Luke was at Puppet Theater camp at the acting studio (so same morning schedule as above, except Mark or mom picked up Luke at 3pm since he can't stay by himself). 

This week they are together at an outdoorsy-type camp at a local historic site, and Sophie is a counselor-in-training (which means she has to work with the little kids & it is WORK).  I drop them off at 8:15 and am at work by 8:30.  Camp is 3 minutes from the house and 15 minutes from work. Monday Mark picked them up (I worked till 7), Tuesday they went home with friends and I picked them up there at 6:15, today & tomorrow I pick them up on my lunch hour & come back to work until 7,  Friday I'm off at 3.  No need for help from my mom this week. 

Mark helps when he can, but honestly it's not worth it to depend on him to pick them up.  He never knows what the market or clients are going to do, so only in rare instances, like Monday, do I bother to ask for him to get involved.  

Next week they are home together & doing nothing. They are ready for a break  & will enjoy being couch potatoes for a few days.  My mom might come get them and take them to my sister's house with my niece to go swimming at their pool.  

Sophie has one more week of camp as a counselor in late July (mom will keep Luke), and then it's back to school on August 11.  The rest of the weeks they are home together (I pay Sophie babysitting $--she's 13 now) or my mom will keep them. 

We leave on July 4th for vacation for 10 days. We're flying on a direct flight to Orlando, Florida. There's a close by airport that has great deals on flights (although they get you on baggage costs--I have to pack very carefully!). Vacation is....
New Smyrna Beach for 3 nights

Universal Studios Orlando for 3 days/2 nights--get this! They delayed opening Diagon Alley (Harry Potter World, for you Muggles) until July 8.  We check into the hotel July 7--that has been the plan since I booked the vacation last spring. It is pure luck we are going to be there on the opening day.  We are staying on property.  We will be able to get into the Wizarding World, and I assume Diagon Alley, an hour before the general public, along with the rest of the hotel guests, our first morning there.  Yes, it will be insanely busy, I'm sure.  But as Sophie said, it will be Epic. We are telling the kids to keep their expectations low.  What happens, happens.  We are getting 3 day tickets and will do what we get to do & expect it to be insane.  

Clearwater Beach for 4 nights

Our approach to vacation has always been--keep planning to a minimum and keep expectations low.  Then everyone is happy with whatever comes.  So we have hotels booked, a car rented, and tickets for the Studios bought, and that's it.  Plus all we really want to do is hang out at the beach.   Hopefully I'll have more time next week to research stuff in the areas we are staying but if I don't, then we'll figure it out when we get there. 

I'm planning to ship a box of sunscreen & other liquids like shampoos & stuff to the hotel via priority mail, this Friday.  I'm packing us this weekend as much as possible.  Since the kids are home next week, hopefully they'll hang out in PJs & I won't have much to wash, haha. 

So, now onto ME!

LOVE the new medicine.  Topamax (generic) is a good thing for me. It seems to have mellowed me out enough that I feel like it's doing what it's supposed to but I don't feel medicated.  I'm not depressed, I'm not a zombie, I'm not like the guy in "Office Space" after he gets hypnotized and doesn't care about anything anymore (although how I wish that were possible to get in a legal prescription pill and still be able to function on a daily basis).  I still am sometimes uptight and stressed, and am still ME, but the edge isn't there like it used to be.  At least that's what it seems like anyway. 

After about a month on 50mg, things seemed to level out.  When I went up to 100 mg almost a month ago, I barely noticed the increase. So I guess that's good.  

The weird side affects have pretty much gone away except for the metallic taste in my mouth, and I drink a ton of water, which I've always done anyway but this makes me drink even more.  I don't have a foggy brain--I don't lose words anymore. My appetite is normal, although I'd say it has helped take away some of the obsessive thinking about food, which is makes sense since it has helped take away some of my obsessive thinking in general--which is the point of me taking it in the first place. I can't drink soda at all b/c of the metallic taste thing.  If I sit still and am calm (which, let's face it, is rare) I sometimes get a small, pleasant buzzy, tingly feeling over my body.  I don't really know how to describe this.  I don't feel it unless my mind and body are completely relaxed and not all the time.  I'm sure it has to do with how the chemical is reacting in my brain, but I haven't had time to research it to see how other people experience or describe it.  Anyway, if you've taken it maybe you know what I'm talking about.  It's not a bad thing.  It's just different. 

I take Wellbutrin XL 150 mg (generic) in the morning.  It's working OK now too.  I rarely take xanax, only if I'm really stressed and hormonal.  I'm still not eating desserts (has been almost 2 years since I've had a dessert) and rarely overeat and don't binge.

I am still going to OA meetings, although I'm not working my steps like I need to.  I haven't started running again either.  Both of those things make me sad.   But seriously, I don't know how to fit them into my life right now.  I also still work for Mark on the weekends a couple times a month, although he is doing almost everything himself now.  There's just not much spare time anymore.  I figure I'm doing the best I can and I'm not beating myself up about any of it.  It is what it is. 

One thing I have to share where I simplified my life.  One day I was driving Sophie to school and I chipped a nail.  I got all ticked off and mad, and when she asked what was wrong I told her, and she said that seemed like a silly thing to get upset over.  And I said "Well, I spend a lot of time on my nails!"  And I HEARD myself. Really heard myself. I spend. a. lot. of. time. on. my. nails.  So guess what?  I stopped painting my nails. Now I just keep cuticles trimmed and keep them cut short (I always kept them short anyway--I have to b/c I type so much), with a clear coat of polish.  I take the clear coat off on the weekend and start fresh, and usually put on another coat of clear in the middle of the week.  I found a Sally Hansen strengthener I like that seems to be keeping them from peeling.  It's such a small change, but it's made a big difference in simplifying my life. 

OK, that's enough for now.  I gotta go get some work done before I clock out. 

Thank you so much to all of you who are still coming here to read my barely existent blog!  :)  Hope you're having a great summer. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

6 months post op pic

Here's the X-ray from Sophie's 6 month visit. The one on the left is
most recent. The lower curve looks great.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Random string of updates (157.2)

School's out tomorrow.  Luke & Sophie both finished the year with straight A's. 

The summer is planned out as far as kids go, and it's going to be packed.  God help me. 

Sophie turns 13 on Sunday!  God help me. :)

We had her 6 month check up in St Louis on Monday.  Rods & screws look great.  Spine is in same place, lower curve looks like it may have even improved, to our untrained eyes (I'll post a pic later).  We learned it takes a full FIVE YEARS before the rods are fully fused to her bones.  So she has to be careful of impact movements for the next 4.5 years.  Not just the next 6 months.  After one year, they are 30% fused.  No trampolines, no jumping in pools, no bounce houses, no water parks, no roller skates.  Lucky the girl isn't sporty, or there'd be lots more "no's."

I walked 10 miles last Saturday in a race I signed up for months ago, then didn't train for, but promised my best friend Amy I'd do with her any way.  We had gorgeous weather, so we just decided what the heck.  I was thrilled and grateful my 44 y.o. body didn't rebel against walking 10 miles.  We were the next to last finishers.  They published the participants names and places in the paper.  That was humbling (and I won't do it again). 

I've been taking new meds for almost 3 weeks. Wellbutrin 150 mg (back on) in the morning and topamax 50 mg (new) at night (both generic).  The topamax is to quiet the voices (not the crazy kind, my own) in my head and settle down the intrusive thoughts.  I'm not so much depressed as anxiety and crazy ridden. I just want my brain to slow the hell down.  It seems to be helping. 

I had some weird side affects, esp at first, like numb spots in my face and tingling hands, but no hair loss and no memory loss (although sometimes I do lose a word or two, but seriously, it's no worse than normal!  I "lose" words all the time... I've complained for years I have early alzheimers).  It gives my mouth a metallic taste, so food is sometimes less appealing--this is not a bad side affect, in my opinion, at least for the time being.  

Life is OK right now.  So stinking much going on, and I've got a lot of overwhelming LIFE issues to deal with (who doesn't?) but I'm just trying to take them a day at a time.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

April update

I'm sorry it's been so long.  I have been swamped at work and have very little free time to write.  And after work I spend as little time as possible on my phone and I never get on my laptop (can't tell you the last time I checked Facebook--I've pretty much unplugged).  40 hours a week on the computer at work is more than enough, even thought it's all work and very little play. 

Work is going really well for me.  I passed my certification test on April 7 (aced it--93/100).  I feel like I'm making a contribution to people's lives.  We had our spring graduation ceremony Friday, and I gave the benediction, which I got lots of compliments on.  I didn't know any of the students, but it was still really special to be on stage in graduation regalia (all the staff and instructors wear gowns and hoods and sit on stage with the graduates) and be part of the event.  I now can add graduations to funerals and weddings as places I always cry. 

We are wrapping up the school year--only 4 weeks left.  I'm planning summer camps and all that.  Kids should have a good mix of having fun at theater camp and one other camp (which is outdoors) and being lazy bums at home.  Sophie will watch Luke for a lot of the time they are just home, with my mom hopefully keeping them a day or two to break it up.  

Luke's had terrible allergy issues.  He has missed a few days of school, because he can't sleep at night.  I washed everything in his room and that has helped keep his night time reactions down. Started giving him claritin at night instead of morning (and REAL claritin, not generic--I talked to one mom who said generic doesn't work for her son or husband, and by golly, the brand name stuff is making a difference) and he's using his qvar inhaler twice a day again.  He started back up on ADHD meds, and this one so far is just right for him. He can focus but it's not shutting him down. 

Sophie is doing very well.  A's and one B (math) in school and her back is doing great.  We go to St Louis for her 6 month (!!) check up on May 19.  Cannot believe it's been almost 6 months.  She turns 13 (!!!) on May 25.  

Mark is doing really well at work by himself, although he says it does get lonely without me.  The other three guys there are connected at the hip, and for whatever reason they don't include Mark in anything.  It was like that since before I left, but he just feels it more with me gone.  At home, has has taken over a huge amount of chores--he almost always does the kids' laundry and towels every weekend.  He grocery shops for himself.  He keeps us stocked on grilled chicken and beef (he buys, grills, and freezes).  He takes the recycles out to the big bin outside.  My working 40 hours a week isn't an issue at all, with him picking up all these chores. 

My depression has gotten better, although I still don't feel out of the woods.  I'm going to see the nurse practitioner Friday to talk about new meds.  

I'm still going to OA, but not working my program as I should be.  I'm on the 4th step, and haven't done anything with it yet.  I've gained some weight--I was 160 this weekend.  I'm not eating desserts, but I eat too many refined foods and am still not running, so I've gained.  I can still wear my clothes, though, thankfully. 

We're planning a trip to Florida in July.  It's been 3 years since our last big vacation.  Kids are excited. I'm nervous that it's going to cost too much, just hoping Mark can make enough extra to cover it.  We have our plane tickets already ($960 for four of us from Owensboro, KY, flying direct to Orlando-Sanford on Allegiant--that cost includes 2 checked bags and 2 carry on bags, which isn't much for a 10 day trip, so I'm going to have to pack smart!).  We are going to New Smyrna beach (Atlantic side) on 7/4, then going to Orlando to Universal Studios (Harry Potter world) for two days, then going to Clearwater Beach (Gulf side) for the rest of the trip.  So lots of relaxation.  We may try to go down to the Kennedy Space Center when we're in New Smyrna, since it's close.  Other than that and Universal, it's all beach time.   I'd welcome your input if any of you have been to these places. 

That's all I have time for today. Thanks for thinking of me!  Hugs to you all. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Anniversary weekend

We're in Louisville this weekend celebrating our 19th wedding
anniversary. We drove over yesterday and are going home this

Pic below is a pic of the picture our server at Morton's took. They
put the photo in a paper Morton's frame and wrote Happy Anniversary in
silver pen on the inside.

Morton's is right around the corner from our hotel--21c, a hotel/art
museum that is made up of 5 converted tobacco and bourbon warehouses
from the late 1800s. There are exposed thick wood beams and brick
walls everywhere. The art is all 21st Century--lots of photographs and
weird sculptures...I prefer the Impressionists, but it's still cool to
be around all this culture.

It was our most expensive meal ever. I joked that we had a $100 dinner
and got a $150 photograph. Yes it was stupidly expensive--but totally
worth it. Neither of us can remember when the last time was that we
went out of town just the two of us. It felt nice to splurge and spend
time and money on ourselves for a change.

I've been in a funk the last 2-3 weeks. The endlessly cold weather
(one or two nice days is simply not enough) has been a factor. Plus I
think my Meds are now working against my brain chemistry. I'm weaning
off them, giving my brain a little holiday. Hoping it will reset then
I'll start them again when I can feel the depression coming back. I've
weaned off several times before and recognize what's going on. I
already feel a bit better.

Work is crazy busy, both for me and Mark. I love my job but it can be
overwhelming some days and I'm fried when I get home.

Kids are great.

Sophie's play The Little Mermaid was last weekend. She had a small
part, no lines, one short solo singing part, and was part of the
chorus for a lot of scenes. It was amazing to see her on stage,
considering her surgery was 4 months ago. She got A's and one B (math)
on her report card. She's happy and has great friends.

Luke got straight As on his report card. He is still going to acting
class each week. We took him to see a psychologist for his ADHD Meds a
couple weeks ago, because they were impacting his emotions very
negatively. Doc switched him to a different med, which didn't last as
long and after 5 days made him see a big bug on the floor that wasn't
there. Hallucinations are a side affect. So he's off that. His
pediatrician wrote a script for a third, but we haven't given it to
him. He's been off Meds for 6 school days and his grades are still
great and his teacher hasn't noticed any abnormal behaviors. And we
have our happy, spirited, funny boy back! He had been having major
anxiety and some OCD issues and was really sad and lethargic at night
and even on weekends when we would not give him medicine. Keeping our
fingers crossed he can manage school without medication.

Spring break for kids is this week. I'm working. Mark might take a day
off. Sophie is going to watch Luke a few days and they might be with
my mom one day. The kids actually do pretty well together at home, and
Sophie likes saving her babysitting money.

So we are on our way to brunch and then back home. Life is pretty
normal and fairly stable. Which are great things.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

All is well (157)

I really have nothing new to report.  Which is awesome.  Normal is awesome.  Here are the random stats of my life right now.

Work is great, although I'm working a lot.  Last Saturday I worked at the college from 10 - 2, then went to "the office" from 3 - 6:30.  So the only day I had off was Sunday, and it was a busy day filled with church, taking Sophie & her friends to the mall, and having a friend over for Luke.  It was a good weekend, just full.

Sophie's doing great.  Has really adapted to living with her restrictions.  She has straight As so far this quarter.  She's in a play (no speaking role, just singing).  She goes to youth group at church every Sunday night with her friends.  So pleased with how she's doing.

Luke also has straight As. I mentioned his Math genius last time.  His teacher wrote a note on his last math assignment "show your work."  He's doing math in his head.  Smart little bugger.

We are taking him to see a psychologist in March.  When I told his pediatrician (well, his nurse, who told the doctor) about Luke's extreme reactions to disappointments, he referred us to a psych.  I plan to have him tested for ADHD, so we know all the aspects of how his brain works. He's actually gotten better the last couple of days, because I've been restricting his screen time and enforcing it, so he's getting used to it.  When he's tired or hungry is the worst time for him.  So I'm being more careful about what I ask of him then.  I send healthy snacks (grapes, broccoli, z bars) to daycare with him so he's not starving when I pick him up after 5.  He never eats day care snacks, so it's no wonder he was a beast at the end of the day.  His ADHD medicine kills his appetite in the afternoons, so he doesn't want to eat much anyway.

I still get a little thrill every time I pull out my insurance card for doctor's appointments.  Did I tell you yet that our old insurance approved the appeal for Sophie's surgery, and everything is paying in network?  That was huge.  I got a call from the hospital last month, saying we had an outstanding balance of $26,000.  Thank God I was able to tell them we won the appeal and they should be reprocessing as in network!

I'm so ready for spring.  I'm starting to get the itch to get outside and run again.  The past few days have been warm and the runners are out in force.  Makes me jealous.  Which is a good sign that I WANT to be outside pounding the asphalt.

Mark is doing great at work.  He also has stepped up at home. When I work on Saturdays, he does all the laundry.  He keeps up with the dishwasher when I work till 7 on Monday and Wednesday.  We really are closer than we have been in a long time.  He's relieved he has a happy, not-stressed-out-about-money-anymore wife.  We celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary next month!

I absolutely love my boss and my job and the college.  I'm meeting with students regularly, which is really great and I enjoy a lot. There's a steep learning curve and I have to ask a lot of questions.  The other financial aid analyst is a huge help to me and generous with her time.  I'm swamped every day right now, and that's OK.  Keeps things challenging and makes the days go fast.

I've even been able to get every Tuesday afternoon off to take the kids to acting class (both of them take acting lessons).  It was just too hard for Mark to get away from the office at 3:15.  He even forgot one Tuesday and Luke missed class (Mark was so upset with himself and felt horrible; Luke was sweet and understanding about it, which I was proud of him for). When I work Saturdays (avg of 2 a month), I'm off Tuesday at noon.  When I don't, I'm off at 3:30p.  My boss was totally fine with it, as long as I get in 40 hours a week.  How awesome is that! 

The Princess Half Marathon is this Sunday.   My friends are going again, and of course I'm not.  It's good that I didn't sign up--couldn't have gone anyway with the new job.  But I'm a little heart sick not to be part of it.  I really want to go next year.  They think it's the last year they are going to go.  A couple girls are going to try to do the Coast to Coast challenge, which is a race in Florida and a race in California in the same year.  They are sisters in law, and their husbands co-own a company together, and they have a ton of money, and neither work outside the home, so they can do that.  I won't be going to CA for a race unless we win the lottery (and that's impossible b/c I don't play the lottery :).

Happy almost spring time!  May all your snow melt this month.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Busy (156.6)

I have been meaning to post all week. Sorry for the delay.

Life is good. I love my job. Love love love. Started meeting with
students last week. Also started working till 7 on Monday and
Wednesday. And I've been swamped. Getting there early and working over
part of lunch some days. I punch an online time clock so I'm donating
some time, but not because I have to, just so I feel prepared. (I
still haven't mastered the time clock. I worked an hour and a half
overtime because I planned on a 7 hour Friday but took an 8 hour
vacation day. And sometimes I get extra time if I clock in 5 or 6
minutes early.)

I was in Indy two days week before last. Leave for Indy tomorrow at
4:45 am for four days of advanced training. Then done with training
till March. (Not driving up tonight because of the Super Bowl. Go

I took Sophie to St Louis on Friday (great memory Vickie) for her 2
month post op check. She's doing great, doctor said. Her spine has
settled some. The lower curve is slightly more pronounced (I
think--it's hard to tell) now than last month. She was 5'2 3/4" tall
on Friday. After surgery we measured her at 5'3 1/4". Must be normal
because the surgeon didn't say anything about it.

He also said no scar cream; young skin repairs enough on its own. He
has 3 years post op pics on his website and scars are barely visible,
so I'm sure hers will be really faded by the time she's in high

She can start swimming in two more months. No jumping in pool. She
still won't be able to bend to pick things up until 1 year. I thought
it was 6 months. She can apparently bend a little more in 6 months but
not fully. We go back on May 30, and will find out her range of motion
then. Summer camp and another play in summer--so hopefully she'll be
able to move more.

She's in the March play, which started rehearsals two weeks ago. She's
sore after but it's tolerable. They know her restrictions and she's
good about not doing what she shouldn't so not worried about her.

Lest you think I only have one child....Luke is amazing. He started
acting class again in January. He is scary smart. He scored "advanced"
on his recent Dibels tests (reading/comprehension). He never misses a
math problem. Never. And we don't practice math facts at home. This
kid was doing simple multiplication in preschool. Thank God for ADHD
medicine. It's really allowed his mind to excel.

Mark has adjusted to working on his own. Clients have responded
positively. Soon as they hear it's because of insurance, they get it.
And then usually get side tracked complaining about Obamacare. He's
really stepped up and is dealing with things well. Although he's
working a ton and gets stressed a lot. I worked 6.5 hours at the
office yesterday. So a 48 hour week for me last week. Mark did the
kids' laundry and grilled four pounds of meat while I worked. He's
stepping up at home too.

Still no exercise. Bloody cold weather makes me want to hibernate.
Food's been ok. Not stellar but not horrible. Still going to OA
meetings Monday night although I get there 10 minutes late because I
work till 7 now.

So that's pretty much everything. Basically things are really good
and we're all healthy and I cannot complain. I've come a long way in
the past month.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Work travel

I'm in Indy for training. Got here last night at 10pm CST (Indy is EST
but I'm CST). Slept fine, got about 7 hours sleep.

Training today was fascinating! Financial aid is complicated stuff.
And I love it so far.

Building on my previous "what's in my desk" post, here's another
positive life change.

In the past when I've traveled alone for work, I'd spend a ton of time
finding the best food I could. Looking for restaurants. Eating foods I
didn't usually eat at home. Ordering room service at night, if it was

I justified every sugary bite I put in my mouth. I deserved fancy
desserts and decadent breakfasts and expensive dinners. I was alone,
on the road, working like a dog! Of course I deserved to eat whatever
I wanted.

Not anymore.

This morning I had breakfast at the hotel's complimentary buffet--a
hard boiled egg and small bagel with small tub of cream cheese (no
peanut butter available) and coffee.

In the training room is a basket of mini chocolate candies. I had no
desire for them. None. Before I'd have eaten a few pieces then
obsessed about how to get more without anyone noticing how much I

Having my brain free from sugar as well as free of the obsessive
thoughts is a wonderful thing.

They ordered lunch in for us. I got a salad that was healthy and tasty.

For dinner I drove to the mall downtown and went to Panera. I was
alone and didn't want to do Fancy by myself. I will do fancy at some
point, prob PF Changs, if I can get the other two girls from out of
town to go with me.

Point is--this trip isn't centered around food. I'm alone, but I don't
need food as my companion any more.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

What's in my desk (157.2)

So today as I was pulling a bottle of water out of my desk drawer at
work, and I had a mini epiphany.

I used to store chocolate bars in my desk. Now I have water bottles.

Why water stored in my desk? I don't drink tap water (the amount I
drink a day gives me a headache and makes me tired. Researched this
years ago, and it's probably the copper and whatever trace minerals
and junk are in tap water). And the college doesn't have a water
filter (old office has state of the art fancy shmancy filter and was
fine; Britta isn't strong enough) and I only have one clean canteen
that I bring filled from home. So I have a case of water bottles in
the large bottom drawer of my desk.

A little over a year ago, I never, ever went without having a Hershey
bar or three stashed in my desk. Every afternoon was chocolate break
time. Now I have green tea in the afternoon.

In my desk, along with the green tea and water, I also have a box of
"weight-loss" oatmeal (more protein, less sugar) and a bottle of
cinnamon for the oatmeal. A jar of peanut butter in the fridge. And I
bring my lunch everyday.

Yes I still have work to do to get where I want to be physically. And
I will always be a sugar addict. But today I feel good about the
changes I have made since last October when I went to my first OA

Sunday I leave for Indy for 4 days of financial aid training. I drive
home Thursday night. Only working 2 hours next Friday since the drive
time counts as 6 hours of work. Then we're off for MLK day, then back
to Indy for two more days of training that week. I'll go again the
first week of March for 3 days of advanced training. And on Jan 31 I
am taking Sophie to St Louis (day trip) to see Dr Bridwell for a check

I love hotels. I love to learn. So as long as Mark and the kids keep
it together this will all be fine. And they have been apart for me for
days at a time before--Florida half marathons--so I know they'll be

Best news--I now have employer-sponsored health insurance!! 30 days
employment today and I'm a card carrying United Health insurance
member. I swear, I'm so stinking proud and excited of that thing. I
want to frame my temporary card and hang it on the wall.