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Nov. 25th, 2010 @ 10:00 pm Thanks
 to blognmomma  for the virtual gift.  That was so very thoughtful of you.
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Nov. 24th, 2010 @ 12:45 pm The gift of laughter
When we were dating, we would stay up late in the living room and my parents would retire to their bedroom.
My mother would often complain the next morning that,"Of course I couldn't sleep.  You kept me awake with your cackling."
Now, I sometimes try to muffle my laugh and am never very successful.
At times, I am caught off guard by a laugh and spew whatever drink I had in my mouth across the room.
Sometimes, I laugh so hard I bring tears to my eyes.
Sometimes, I laugh so loudly that people around us stare.
Sometimes, my daughter is embarrassed.
Sometimes, my son is concerned about my health.
Sometimes, there is no laughter left and no reason for laughter, but, somehow, it is discovered.
Sometimes, the people around me think I am insane....
because the reason behind all this laughter.....
the one who said whatever he said or did whatever he did to elicit such raw emotion from me.... 
that guy is next to me with just an ever so slight grin on his face....
looking bemused by the whole situation....
adding to the overall perception that I am bonkers. 
That guy and I will have been married for 14 years at the end of this week.
I look forward to many more years together and many more stares from strangers who think I am insane.
Thanks, honey, for the gift of laughter.
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Sep. 27th, 2010 @ 10:50 am An awesome thing happened on the way to the forum
I don't think I have written about it before, but I have always had an interest in being a writer.  I went to summer writing camps when I was in high school.  I took great pride in my papers that I wrote in high school and college.  I was so excited to receive kudos from the teachers.  I started a couple of books, but never finished anything.  I secretly dreamed of a day when writing would be something I did for a career.  Then, real life set in.  I got a degree in social work because I thought it was a great blend of all the things I was interested in AND I could actually get a real job with the degree and settle down to make decent money.  I got married within months of graduation from college and immediately had my first child.  Dreams of writing got put on the back burner for many years.   Since then, I have written bits and pieces here and there in my journal that I am proud of that were inspired mostly by my kids or my husband.  Mostly, I just read inspiring things that other people write and wish that I could write that beautifully and powerfully.  I have found that the writing that I enjoy most is emotional, raw, from the heart.  It paints a picture in the mind of feelings that are so hard to put into words.  Writers who have the ability to do this task are the ones I gravitate to over and over again.  I have picked up a select few blogs that I read on a daily basis that always deliver the goods.   They are nationally renowned bloggers, but they seem very down to earth when they tell their stories.  They have thousands of readers who "follow" them.  Anyway, a few days ago, I felt compelled to leave a comment on one of the blogs I frequent and let her know how much I appreciate her stories.   She not only responded to my comment.  She actually looked up my signature address (which was my livejournal address), read my livejournal entry about my daughter's 13th birthday and commented on my writing.  Thanks so much Stacey at www.anymommyoutthere.com.  I seriously am on cloud nine over this.   I feel like I know a celebrity now. 
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Sep. 26th, 2010 @ 11:11 pm The year of the headache

Thanks to the nudge from dogs_n_rodents , I am finally completing an update that is long overdue.  I have thought many times about writing and have even written bits and pieces about what has been going on for the last several months in my life.  The truth of the matter is, I have been physically unable to write for the last several months.  I have been continuing to work at my job as much as possible, but have had to take at least 200 hours of leave from work within the last year. Many other things in my life, including the typical acts that I perform as a mother and wife have been neglected.  I have spent every lunch hour for the last nine months in bed resting and/or napping in an attempt to escape pain or relieve it temporarily.  I have spent many, many hours after work lying either on the couch or in bed...... unable to interact with my family or complete my typical responsibilities of cooking dinner and other household chores.  I have given up driving except for the drive to work and back which is only two blocks from my home.  I don't even go grocery shopping alone.  The reason.... I have had debilitating headaches that have been unrelenting-- daily--- since October of 2009 from the moment of waking in the morning until I go to sleep at night. (Actually the headaches started as three times a week or so and moved to a daily thing around January 2010).  Even sleep has been unachievable without medication to help induce it.  Pain has been inescapable except with the use of narcotics(although many other medications and remedies have been tried).  I have rarely had an hour of more free of pain in this year without being medicated.  Even with medication, I rarely reach a moment that is entirely pain free.  Rather, I have moments(and sections of days) that are bearable.  I have always had  some headaches.... some debilitating headaches, but nothing this frequent or unrelenting.  If you saw me in person during this time, you may not have been able to see the pain in my face, but I assure you, it was there.  I have gotten really good at hiding/masking it.

I am not recording this entry for sympathy, but rather as a record to myself of what has actually happened over the course of this year so that I will have a place to go back and see the numbers in black and white.  This entry is to help bring some order to the chaos of my life over the last several months.  Hopefully this entry, just the act of writing it and that I am able to sit up, stare at the computer and compose this entry means that I am on the path back to being headache free.  At this point, I don't even hope for a pain free existence, but just less pain on fewer days and what my husband and I refer to as "being more like a human again".

Here is a list I have of the procedures, doctor's visits, medications, etc that I have undergone in the last 12 months:

17 doctor's office visits
with 3 different neurologists, an eye doctor and a neurosurgeon.
36 medication prescriptions filled
38 doses of self-injected subcutaneous pain medication
8 small vials of pain medication dosed via nasal spray
1 outpatient visits for IV pain medication
2 ER visits for IV pain medication
5 days of hospitalization for IV pain medication and demerol PCA pump
6 days-- 8 hours each day of IV chemo-type medication given to work on brain chemistry to try to break the cycle of headaches
3 occipital nerve blocks(needles inject lidocaine and steroids directly into nerves in the head)
8 visits (or so) to a chiropractor
2 CT scans
X- rays of the head, neck, chest and abdomen
1 split lamp eye exam
1 radiographic guided spinal tap
$500.00 copays for medications-- would be much more without insurance
$1060.00 copays for doctors office visits and testing- again, would be much more without GREAT insurance 

All the doctors and testing revealed nothing unusual (except a previously diagnosed case of mild hydrocephalus for which I was fitted with a VP shunt as a child).  They all diagnosed migraines and tried multiple medications to help them.  At first, some of the medication seemed to help some.  Recently (within the last six months of so, at least) the medications led to more and more word finding difficulties and fogginess and no real pain control.  I began having more difficulty with nausea and lost about 20 pounds from not being able to stand the thought of food.  I started seeing a chiropractor who helped, of all things, my appetite, but not the headaches.  The headache specialist recommended a round of chemotherapy-like medication that works on brain chemistry to stop the cycle of headaches, since no other medication seemed to be working.  I spent 6 long days in his office getting the IV therapy.  On the last day of the therapy, he reviewed my CT scans from June again and immediately referred me to a neurosurgeon.  The neurosurgeon finally had an MRI completed to see if the CT scans missed anything.  He found small areas of bloods clots on my brain.  Technically, subdural hematomas.  He thinks there was bleeding at one time, but the bleeding has stopped now.  He feels the blood clots may have been there since the beginning of the headaches.  If the blood clots were more acute or larger, they would have to be surgically removed immediately.  Since they aren't, the plan is the monitor their appearance with another MRI in three months.  At which point,  they will hopefully be improving on their own (which is a possibility) or may need surgery to remove at that  point.  The more sypmtomatic I am, the more likely surgery will be necessary.  Ironically,  I have had some good days since the diagnosis.  I don't know if I have some type of relief from knowing what the problem is, if the IV chemo meds are helping, or if it was just time to stop having so much pain.  Either way,  I welcome the good days with open arms, and try to deal with the bad ones the best I can.  I stopped taking the medication that was causing the word finding problems(Topamax) and am now on a similar medication (Zonegran) that should help reduce migraine and seizure tendencies.( I have never had a seizure, but the bleed increases my risk.)  I am also on Verapamil that is a heart medication, but is also used in migraine patients in which traditional migraine medications fail.  I still have to take something to help me sleep at night, but hope this will not be needed once the pain is better.  I truly feel that I am on the right path now toward being a whole person again.   I hope to be back to journaling frequently soon.  I have so many stories to tell.

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May. 19th, 2010 @ 06:51 pm Birthday Letter
To My Daughter on your 13th Birthday,
In a way, I can't believe it has been thirteen years since I first held you in my arms and stared into your face.  It seems like only moments ago that I held you that first time..... and then again, it seems like a lifetime ago.   You were such a beautiful baby.  Everyone said so.... but I knew, you were the most beautiful baby that every existed.  I know every mother feels that way, but I knew that I was the first mother that was right.  This year, however, as I have watched you grow and change so rapidly that I have had to hold on to something just to stay upright, I realize that I was wrong back then.  That baby that I thought was so beautiful doesn't hold a candle to the beautiful girl I see before me now.  I literally have to catch my breath sometimes when I see you.  I can imagine your face as you read these words.... the way you will roll your eyes and say, "Mama",  like this is all the most ridiculous idea you have ever heard.... but it is all quite true.  And yet,  you will continue to become more and more beautiful as you continue to work your way toward womanhood....a journey you are just beginning.

You are so different this year than last in ways.  Last year, the school year was trying.  You spent many hours crying over the adjustment to changing classes, difficult teachers and difficult classes.  You took pride in getting yourself up for school every day and getting on the bus for school.  This year, you never ride the bus.  I have heard very little about school work and much more about  your relationship with friends and teachers.  You are starting to recognize teachers as people..... enjoying the personalities (of the ones with personalities, that is) and avoiding the ones without.  You are committing your heart to extracurricular activities like guitar playing and gymnastics.  You are assuring me that you are still concerned about school, but I have yet to see you crack many books this year other than pleasure reading.  You certainly enjoy reading about vampires though.

I am often embarrassed, but still pleased, to see a healthy dose of humor and sarcasm developing in you right along with a huge stubborn streak that has always been there and a mouth that can talk back with the best of them.  I fear the stubborn nature comes from both of your parents in equal parts.... so your were doomed to develop that.  It will serve you well in the future if you don't abuse it.  The sarcasm and humor are also a gift as long as you know when to show them and when to hold them back.

You would think that now that you are older I could stop worrying a bit and sit back and enjoy all the hard work of parenting a bit, but that is not exactly the case.  You see, I have just replaced the little worries of your younger years with bigger worries.  I worry about you getting your heart broken AND I worry about you not risking your heart getting broken by protecting your heart too much.  I worry about you being too carefree and not focusing on what is important like school or work. I worry about you being too serious and missing out on the fun in life.   I worry about you taking an unusual career path in life and not being about to make a living. I worry about you not taking a risk and being stuck in a job that you hate.  I worry that you will settle down and become a mother too early and miss out on some adventures of life.  I worry that you will never become a mother at all and miss out on the mystery and magic and pain and drama and overwhelming love that is motherhood and that NOTHING else can match. 

Being your mother is never easy, but it is a gift I treasure always.  Happy 13th Birthday.  Bring on the next one.
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May. 1st, 2010 @ 09:40 pm just breathing
Tags: ,
It's been a long time since I posted.
I have been busy and sick with migraines.
The longer I am away from posting, the more I feel behind.
It is a viscious cycle.
So, I realize, I must just write.
The thing is..... I do write daily.... in long frantic emails to a dear friend
and in detailed IMs to my husband.
However, I rarely save them.... but they would be a great personal diary and now I regret getting rid of so many of them.... but I have them in my heart and maybe everything is not meant to be kept in journal form.
Anyway...my husband got up really early this morning to go on a fishing trip with guys from his work. He is NOT a fisherman and dreaded going.  He goes fishing once a year on this trip because it is a company thing.  He had to get up at 3:00AM on his day off to go be with his work people on his day off.  He got home about 3PM and was exhausted.  He rode with another guy who has an aluminum boat.  He said he got banged up all day on the water and his back was hurting. Now, I recognize that lots of people love this kind of day of fishing, but again, this is not my hubby's cup of tea.  After having lunch, he fell asleep on the couch.  Right now as I am typing, I can hear him breathing from my position on the other couch.  It is not exactly snoring.  It is more like a gentle moan every now and then.  Now, if it was 2:00AM and I was trying to sleep, that sound would be annoying. But, right now... when I know he is getting the rest he deeply deserves... that gentle sigh is a beautiful sound indeed.
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Jan. 24th, 2010 @ 01:33 pm Growing
She was the tiniest little thing when she was born---
at least that is what everyone kept saying. 
I was amazed that something so big (and amazing) had come out my body...
but that is another story.
This entry is about how that little tiny baby has always been such a little child.
She has always been one of the shortest and smallest girls in her class.
She has often been mistaken for younger than she is when people look at her 
(until they talk to her, of course.)
All of the women in my family are rather short, so it doesn't come as a huge surprise that my daughter may be a little, how should we say, deprived in the height department.
My friend,who has three daughters, always reassured me that my daughter would hit a growth spurt at some point and surprise me.
But the years continued to pass and all of my daughter's friends continued to grow.
My daughter felt left behind because she continued to have to buy her clothes from the girl's department.
She continued to be able to wear the clothes that started the school year at the end of the school year.
She continued to match the size of her clothes with her age-- which is apparantly a rarity.
But this year, there has been a subtle shift.
Clothing has had to be purchased a little more often.
Sizes have increased more rapidly.
Size no longer matches age.
After years of weighing relatively the same amount, she has gained about 25 pounds in the last year.
And the shortest girl in school is still one of the shortest girls in school, but only by a few inches now.
In honor of this big change, I am feeling nostalgic and decided to pull down the notes from twelve and a half years ago when my daughter was born.
During that first year of her life when I carefully documented every pound she gained and every inch she grew.
When every pound and every inch was a milestone.
So without further adieu, here are the records from that fragile first year of her life at the end of which she remained at only the 25th percentile for weight and the 10 percentile for height.

At birth------05/15/1997--------- weight      6lb12oz     height  19 1/2 inches
                    05/29/1997----------weight     7lb14oz     height  20 3/4 inches
                    07/15/1997----------weight   11lbs           height  22 1/4 inches
                    08/29/1997----------weight   12lbs13oz
                    09/29/1997----------weight   13lbs6oz
                    10/29/1997----------weight   13lbs14oz   height  25 1/4 inches
                    05/11/1998----------weight    19lbs          height  28 inches
one year      05/25/1998----------weight    19lbs5oz    height 28 inches
three years  09/20/2000----------weight    31lbs          height 36 inches

and today--- at twelve and a half years----  weight 96lbs  height 60.5 inches---which puts her in the 45 percentile for weight and 38 percentile for height.

I know all parents must feel this way, but is amazing to see a woman growing out of the fragile infant she once was.
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Jan. 19th, 2010 @ 03:12 pm Current favorite TV shows
Bones--- anxiously awaiting Season 5 to come to DVD-- we watch them all from beginning to end on Netflix-- FUN
Big Bang Theory--- because we know people like this and almost are people like this
Fringe--- because madness and genius are very close together
Hoarders---- because what is it that causes a person to start to consider things more important than people and to 
                       start to consider garbage something worthy of space in their home
***the shows, i realize now as I type, all have some psychology at their base.... one my most favorite topics.
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Jan. 17th, 2010 @ 06:12 pm Embarassing the children

Sitting in what is currently our favorite restaurant
A combination Vietnemese/Chinese place called the Asian Bistro
Settling down after being seated
Waiting for the waitress to take our order
He catches my eye gaze out of the corner of his eye 
Raises his eyebrow
Gets that mischievous look in his eyes that makes me smile
Makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up just a little
Holds my gaze a little longer than normal
I find myself leaning in toward him without even realizing it
Compelled by some kind of internal gravitational force
Just as our lips are about to meet, the spell is broken by giggling from across the table
The kid's menus have been raised to form a barrier between us and them
and they are studying the menus with unusual fervor..... and giggling.
Apparantly, they noticed the glance as well
And have seen it before
Seen it enough, in fact, to identify it and know what comes next.
Embarassing kissy face stuff that they would like to avoid seeing.


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Jan. 11th, 2010 @ 09:41 am Feeling the love-- I warned you
There is not a inch of my body that I have not agonized over---
too flabby, too bulky, too short, too long, too this, not enough that.
But lying in your arms,
my skin pressed against yours,
the heat from my body warming yours,
our legs in a tangle,
my ear against your chest listening to your breath.....
for a moment, I can forget all my imperfections,
because for a moment I see myself through your eyes and your heart.
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