Sunday, July 27, 2014

Round 2: Wean!

(You have to read the title in the style of the Street Fighter arcade games. Only we aren't fighting, we're weaning.)

A year ago tomorrow, Emma restarted her Enbrel after a brief, but glorious, eight weeks of being med-free and arthritis-free. Her wonder drug has helped us to enjoy this past year with no active arthritis. Now, we are once again in the process of weaning off the medication.

This is a stressful time for me. Yes, I want to get our kid off of a heavy-duty med with unforeseen future side-effects, but when a medication keeps the arthritis under control so beautifully, I fear life without it. Yes, I hate that I have to give my daughter a weekly injection, but she takes it gracefully, tolerates it beautifully, and it gets the job done. Without our Enbrel, I will become freakishly vigilant and begin checking her joints each day and watching her like a hawk for signs of stiffness each morning.

This time is different than when we weaned last year. We're doing it much more conservatively so the process will take longer. That annoys me. Let's just stop the meds and see if the arthritis comes back already! No? No. 

This time is also different because I'm even more of a hippie than I was last year. Now Miss Emma applies frankincense essential oil to the bottoms of her feet twice daily. Frankincense is awesome because it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and has many healing properties. I'm hoping it does the trick when the Enbrel is out of her system. Maybe this time we will have more than eight weeks of unmedicated remission.

Fingers Crossed.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Cup Runneth Over

I've been missing in action on this blog. I apologize. I have started composing many blog posts in my mind, only to find that I don't really have time to sit and write them out.

Tonight, I made the firm decision to go to bed at 8:00 P.M. because I'm exhausted and it's Mother's Day, so I'm entitled to certain luxuries. However, The Fates have aligned against me, once again. (It can't possibly be a coincidence that every time I plan on going to bed early, my children have a difficult time falling asleep/staying in bed.) That is why I am starting this post at 7:59 P.M. If I crawl in to bed, one of them will start crying for me. It's inevitable. So, I'll sit here and stay awake until I feel confident they won't ruin my slumber.

I've had the most amazing weekend.

Friday was fun. I took the day off work, took Emma to preschool, and spent a couple of rare, treasured hours one-on-one with my Liam. Then I ditched my sweet second child and had some grown-up time with old, dear friends. It started with picking up my forever friend and former college roommate from the airport. We then met with two more college friends and ate the most delicious food for lunch. (Do you live in the Bay Area? Eat at Burma Superstar. Seriously. Do it!) I inhaled the mango chicken and coconut rice and I fully intend to return there soon in order to do it again.

It's always fun to watch my kids interact with other adults. This weekend I watched them crawl all over Tanya, fight for a spot in her lap to look at pictures on her phone, and bring her book after book to read to them. They adore her, which is proof that I'm raising them up right. Emma was very attached and so excited to color with Tanya, play with her hair, dance with her, and cuddle with her in the morning. It was adorable and I'm grateful that Tanya enjoyed herself and was so kind to my kids.

Saturday morning was the Tri-Valley Walk To Cure Arthritis. Once again, we gathered together as friends and family to walk a 5K to raise awareness of arthritis. It is a very special event for me. So many people who are extremely important in my life come out to support my family and my brave, strong little girl. We had over 40 people walking with us! I was pumped! Excited to see such good friends, excited that our team raised so much money this year, excited to think that maybe... maybe we can make a difference in the treatment of Juvenile Arthritis. Maybe we can make someone's life better, easier, pain free. Maybe we can save a life.  

After the walk, we spent time with several of our "local" JA friends. I treasure these people. These women and their girls take away all the feelings of solitude that I felt when Emma's arthritis first reared it's ugly head. Arthritis is our common enemy, and that is a force that bonds us together differently than any other friendships I have known. I'm so blessed to have these people in my life.

Sunday has been lazy, which is good because I am tired and my thighs are still burning from yesterday's walk. This Mother's Day I am so grateful to be a mother of two stubborn, bright, funny little kids. I'm grateful for my husband who works so hard so that I can stay home (most days) and raise our children. I'm grateful for my own mom for loving me unconditionally and for being such an amazing grandmother.

Now it's past 8:30 P.M. and I'm certain my darling children are sound asleep. I'd better follow suite.

Thank you to all of you who helped make this weekend so extremely wonderful!!!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

February Is One Heck Of A Month

My cute little family has been passing colds around since mid-December and I, for one, am sick and tired of being sick and tired. Last week it was Emma who had a cold with an incredibly runny nose, cough, and low-grade fevers. Now it's Liam's turn. I'm glad I stayed home from work today to take care of him, because he has a double ear infection! Poor buddy. These kinds of colds make it hard for kids to sleep well at night, and if kids don't sleep well, Mommy doesn't sleep well. Poor Mommy.

Anyhow, since I'm home from work and Little Dude is napping (I should really be napping too, but that's just not my style.) I figure it's time to write a quick blog!

This is how he feels about ear infections, Nursery, and Daddy spiking his hair.
February is a big month for us. Liam hit the 18 month mark, which meant he got to attend Nursery at church for the first time. That didn't go over so well. Previously, he had his sister and a parent in there with him. This time his family ditched him. He was okay for 20 minutes, then he noticed we were missing and he sort of lost his mind. We'll try it again this Sunday, if he's well enough to not snot on all the kids and toys.

18 months: 25 lbs 11oz

4 years: 35 lbs 6 oz
Emma turned FOUR! I had no desire to throw a party and bring other people's germs into my house, but we had to celebrate. Emma wanted to go out for ice cream, so that is what we did. We invited four of her little girl friends to come to Menchie's with one of their parents. I bought the girls ice cream, they watched Emma open gifts, they ran in circles around the tables, and then we all went home. It was one sweet hour of my time and everyone seemed to have fun. I loved it.

Hello from the Oakland Temple
Barry and I had our sixth wedding anniversary, and Valentine's Day was also our fifth anniversary of being sealed in the Oakland Temple. We celebrated by leaving the kids at home (Thanks, Mom!) and having a weekend adventure. The glory of being able to eat my meals without making sure kids were eating first was worth the weekend away. That, and sleeping through the night without having to get up to tuck anyone in or wipe any noses, are just a few simple reasons why parents need adult time. 
This was devoured shortly after I inhaled a cheeseburger.
My happy place.

I hope all of you are doing well and not coughing through the night.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Adventures in Hypothyroidism

On Christmas day I gave up sugar. It definitely wasn't the most convenient timing ever, but it's what I decided to do. I had been in a horrible funk, unable to regain energy after my afternoon crash, and I thought this little break from my best friend might help.

I went one month and four days without any desserts, candy, or other magnificent sweet. I wasn't perfect, because bbq bacon cheeseburgers happen, and I'm fairly certain that Chili's bbq sauce is loaded with high fructose corn syrup. I also had pancakes on a few occasions and ate a sample of cinnamon raisin bread at Costco before thinking about its sugar content. (It was delicious.) Overall, I rocked it. I am feeling a lot better, still often tired and lazy, but not as wiped out as before.

Wednesday last week I decided to reintroduce sugar. I had one little See's chocolate with lunch and one mini ice cream sandwich (made with coconut milk instead of dairy-so good!) with dinner. I didn't die or feel horrible the next day, so things are good.

I've decided to allow sweets into my life on a limited basis, and only with meals. I need to make sure my blood sugar doesn't spike and plummet too much if I want to prevent my midday exhaustion, so grabbing a cookie when I'm hungry between meals is a no-no.

In addition to cutting out sugar, I increased my thyroid medication at the start of the New Year. That's probably helping with my energy levels some as well. It's also helping prevent my wee-hours-of-the-night ridiculously low heart rate of 40 beats per minute from happening so often. Good thing, too, because I don't like feeling my heart do weird things in my chest.

Now, if I could just sleep for more than a few consecutive hours at a time I'd really be feeling great...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Books of 2013

I love to read. It's my escape from reality without actually having to leave my house. Miss Emma stopped napping during the summer, so the past six months have involved less reading than I'd like, but such is life.

Here's what I read in 2013. (The * denotes books read for my book group.)

Reached - Ally Condie
This fictional trilogy is about a young woman in a dystopian society who comes of age and has to figure out what to do with her life. It sucked me in right away and was a very enjoyable read. It's sort of Hunger Games meets Twilight. I liked it.

* A Girl Named Zippy - Haven Kimmel
A memoir of a girl growing up in a small town in Indiana. I confess, I didn't finish reading it, partly because I couldn't get through it fast enough before it was due back at the library. Some of the stories she shared were hilarious, though.

* Princess - Jean Sasson
Wow. This book was an amazing, horrifying eye-opener. It's a true story of a Saudi Arabian princess in modern times. Her stories of wealth and extravagances contrasted with stories of horrific female oppression had me riveted. I couldn't put it down. I was hooked and disgusted at the same time. You should read it.

* Star Girl - Jerry Spinelli
A young adult novel about a unique girl who shows up out of nowhere and turns a clique-filled, judgmental high school upside down.  It's awesome. You should probably read this, too.

Heaven Is Here - Stephanie Nielson
A true story about a mother, not much older than me, who survived a plane crash which burned 80% of her body. This woman nearly lost it all, but held tight to her love for her family and her faith. It's a great story of hope, faith, and survival.

* Ruby Red
Sapphire Blue
Emerald Green - Kerstin Geir
I LOVED these books! Another fictional, young adult series that sucked me in with the first page. The story is about a girl who inherited a rare time traveling gene. These books are full of humor, adventure, young love, and mystery. I can't wait to read them again!

The Maze Runner
The Scorch Trials
The Death Cure - James Dashner
Yet another fictional, young adult series (I'm sensing a theme, here.) that I enjoyed. The first book was my favorite. It's a very mysterious, adventure-filled page turner. I was hooked and had to know how it would all end. By the second book, I started to tire of the bad luck the characters face over and over, but it was still a fun read. I'm thinking of reading the prequel, The Kill Order.

* A Wrinkle In Time - Madeleine L'Engle
I chose this one for book group because I loved these stories as a kid and like any opportunity to reread them. It's a sci-fi adventure where the kids save the day.

The Host - Stephanie Meyer
I saw the movie first and decided I needed to read the book. This story of aliens who have taken over humans' bodies and conquered the Earth was fun, with great characters and creative experiences. I really enjoyed it.

* Pope Joan - Donna Woolfolk Cross
I absolutely could not put this one down. I recommend it to everyone. Pope Joan may or may not have existed, but this historical fiction novel tells the story of her life as she was educated, disguised herself as a man, and rose through the ranks of the Catholic church. The characters are well developed, and the author did a fantastic job of displaying what life was like during the Dark Ages. Read it!

* Stumbling On Happiness - Daniel Gilbert
I confess, I didn't get very far into this one, but I liked what I read. (After Pope Joan, I just wanted to get sucked into another novel.) The author is witty and explains how our minds work and that we only think we know what makes us happy. I'd like to come back to this sometime and try it again.

* Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
This is a favorite of mine. I enjoy Austen's novels, because of her characters, their dialogue, and the wit of her heroines. Plus, reading the book gave me an excuse to re-watch the movies, which I did with Emma this time around! Yay!

* The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey - Susan Wojciechowski
This is a great picture book about a wood carver who is befriended by a young boy and reminded of the spirit of Christmas. It made me cry a little. You should read it.

Seventeen completed books. Not too bad.

I'm currently reading To Kill A Mockingbird, but am about to put that on hold to read The Little Prince for book group. I'm planning on reading The Book Thief and Wool in the near future too, along with a book a month with my group! Here's to another year of great reading!!!! Cheers!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

It's a new year! Again!
Didn't we just do this?

A quick snapshot of Liam at 17 months old...
LIKES: His family, cars, turning on the vacuum, eating, tackling his sister and pretending she is a horse to ride, playing with toys, petting the cats, being outside, baths, reading books, climbing, putting food on his head and calling it a hat, and sleeping.
DISLIKES: Being told "no", growing his upper molars, the hair clippers, his sister taking objects away from him, being made to come inside, the mornings when I tell him that Daddy is not home today.

Welcome, welcome 2014!
My thyroid levels appear to be in a happy place, my family is healthy, my year is wide open for all kinds of fun and adventures.
Let's do this!

How many tries does it take to get a family photo? Apparently, just one more...