Tuesday, January 31, 2012

eight years old!

Today marks the last of our family's many January birthdays, with Riley turning eight years old!  Sometimes this little gal, who continues to maintain her "old soul" status, seems older than eight and THANKFULLY, sometimes she seems younger, too.  Either way, I'm confident that she's right where she's supposed to be.

Riley's ultimate love is still gymnastics, but she's latched onto Zumba as well, as one of her coaches is an instructor.  Not only is she flipping and upside-down most of the day, but she is demonstrating her funky dance moves all over the place.  She lives for the attention of an audience.  She's started taking piano as well and is loving every minute of it.  She knows the names of bands that I can't even pretend to, and she has every lyric of every song completely memorized.  (This is not always a good thing!)  Anytime you want to goof around and dance or sing, Riley's your gal.  Actually, she's usually game for anything!

Riley loves school, has lots of pals and has fun wherever she goes. She has a grasp of things I couldn't imagine to at her young age, and I'm not just talking about the bars.  She tells me that she goes to bed the night before a meet visualizing what she wants her routines to look like.  She already knows the power of her own will and is starting to realize how to put it into action.  Just like Glinda the good witch says to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, "You always had the power..."; we've tried to deliver the same message to our kiddos.  Riley has gotten the message.

Riley is a great sister; the perfect middle child.  She doesn't often get caught up in drama and shakes things off easily.  She's more comfortable moving on than dwelling in anything and I love that for her!  Of course, the envelope-pushing that peeked in around this age for Logan has reared its head with Riley, too.  She's a champion foot-stomper and like me, she can emit a hefty, telling sigh.  But she quickly gets over the things that don't matter and for that, I'm glad.

I have so many wishes for this wonderful girl who brightened our world in unimaginable ways just eight years ago today at 9:05 AM.  After 24 hours of labor and 21/2 hours of pushing, I was barely afloat, but when Riley arrived, I would have gladly done it all again for her.  She is beautiful and creative and loving and giving, and intense and smart and driven and STRONG.  I love watching her make all her dreams come true.  Every good thing will come her way, this year and beyond!

Happy Birthday to my sweet Riley girl.  I love you!

Monday, January 30, 2012

tied for 1st!

Riley had a great meet this weekend at the UGA Cowgirl Invitational.  There was some stiff competition from other states and she still managed to tie for 1st Place All Around, but took 2nd because her tie-mate (and teammate) had the highest individual event score. It was a complete thrill and a huge confidence-booster for Riley, who felt great.  I can't even describe how Mike and I (and Logan and Finn) felt! 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

gourmet girls and a date with daddy

Our weekends have turned into complete blurs - filled with kid-related activity from beginning to end.  This weekend was no different.  Gymnastics practice and floor hockey were followed by a quick family gathering for Logan's and Riley's birthdays and then the Daddy-Daughter Dance at school.  What a great day!

I have to say, I love my gourmet girls.  Their palettes are bordering on "adult" at the ages of 8 and 10.  They want to try every kind of ethnic or unfamiliar food they see, from sushi to Thai.  This is very good news for parents that love to cook and eat.  There were no grocery store sponge cakes for their birthdays, oh no.  These girls don't mess around and while it's a lot of work, I love every minute!

For Logan, it was a chocolate cheesecake with a cookie crust and chocolate whipped cream on top.  For Riley, a lemon meringue ice cream pie with a gingersnap crust.  Both should have sat in the fridge up until the last second for easy cutting, but even though they were messy, they were DELISH!

After a quick party, the girls and Mike got dressed and headed to dinner and then the dance at school.  They had a wonderful time and they couldn't believe Daddy wore a tie.  (With jeans.)  They each got a slow dance or two with Daddy and lots of giggle time with their friends.  Mike had a great time, too.

Love this lifetime memory stuff - what a day!

Friday, January 27, 2012

waking up from a long winter's nap

I have been asleep for 4 weeks.  Looking back, my Topamax experience has been a wild ride and while I'm disappointed that it wasn't the easy fix that I was hoping for, I'm glad to say I've tried it and now I know better.

I went in with an open mind, not paying too much attention to the online complaints about this drug's horrible side effects and for the first two weeks, it wasn't so bad.  My initial fatique dissipated and I must admit that I enjoyed my out-of-character lack of appetite.  Life is a lot easier when you're not dreaming up fun dishes to cook each night!  I laughed at my inability to find the right word at times and only experienced minor frustration with my suddenly absent concentration skills.  Afterall, it would all go away at six weeks - that was how long I was committed to trying it out.  I hunkered down, toughened up and dreamed of headache-free days.

But when week three began at a higher dose,  my body hit the brakes like nobody's business.  What felt like fatigue soon changed to something unrecognizable, that in hindsight I can only call depression.  While throughout the day I thought things like, "I feel like I'm dying," or "This must be what people going through horrible treatments like chemo feel like," I still felt the need to go on, to make it work for both my family and me.

A trip up the stairs resulted in full-blown stars and lightheadedness, I lost the ability to be social in anyway without almost painful levels of concentration and my motivation to do anything fell off the radar.  I was losing about a pound per day and rememberring the previous day as if I'd been totally drunk.  I didn't care what I looked like or wore and as soon as Mike came home at the end of a day, I went right to bed, only to sleep in fragmented bursts, broken up by unsettling dreams and sleepless hours.    This fed my unimaginable fatigue, making each day harder than the one before, and leaving me in tears at some point each day.

Sunday morning, I read an article by Neil Patrick Harris, the story of his lifetime relationship with partner, David Burtka.  It was well-written and moving and made me realize one thing, I had felt literally nothing in the last four weeks; I was not engaged with my life at all and I missed my life.  I called Mike and told him that I had to get off the Topamax.

So, I did. I am.  I'm on the end of the 5 to 7 days it takes for what turned out to be poison for me, to leave my system.  I am feeling things, I am happy, I have motivation and plans, I no longer feel like a spectator in my own life.  Oh yeah, and with the return of my life came my headaches.  And my appetite!

When I let my doctor's office know that I was quitting, they immediately tried to shove another preventative down my throat; this time one that alters the way your heart beats.  I thanked them, but declined.  Instead, I'm seeing a holistic chiropractor with hopes he can help me figure out how to heal myself.  I'm jumping in with hopeful heart and knowing one thing for sure:  this treatment has no adverse side effects.  Right now, that's exactly what I need.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

really? ten?

It's truly unimaginable to me that TEN whole years ago Mike and I brought Logan Olivia into this world and began this wonderful and wild parenting odyssey!  In what really does seem like the blink of my eyes, Logan has grown into such a beautiful young lady, with great manners, amazing creativity and such a wonderful sweetness about her.  She's silly and giving and loving and honest - so many things I could have only hoped for my first daughter all those ten years ago.

This birthday seems like such a big birthday.  Ten is closer to college than birth!  (You may have just heard the deep breath I forced myself to take.)  As a writer, especially as a writer that so frequently captures the daily ins and outs of our family life, I feel I'm especially sensitive to time and how fast it's actually slipping by.  Even with that sensitivity, Logan's 10th birthday comes as a complete shock.  As I climbed the ladder of her loft bed to wake her this morning, I just couldn't believe my baby girl was 10. 

It's that simple.  Not that she's 10.  That she's my baby.

Happy birthday to my baby.  My very first one.  May your every wish come true.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

temporary topamax blues

After thirty years of headaches that have increased in both severity and frequency since having kids, I finally bit the bullet and tried another migraine preventative on January 1st.  It was a big decision; I did lots of research and dug up as many folks as I could find who have actually taken it so that I could balance out the onslaught of online negativity about the medicine and its side effects.  At the 9-day mark, it's been pretty darn good, with minimal problems.  Some of the "brain fog" mentioned has crossed my mind throughout each day, but it seemed to be dissipating as the week went on.  Until yesterday.

Completely by accident, I took an extra dose on Monday morning.  This weekend, I'm supposed to step up to this dose, but I assure you that I'm no longer looking forward to it.  It took me 12 hours to figure out what I had done, 12 hours of misery and wondering what kind of horrible virus I must have contracted.  When I forced myself out of bed at 8 PM to take my nightly Topamax dose, I was shocked to see that the little pill wasn't in my pill box, so it could only be in me.

That explained everything.

I took it with my other pills around 9 AM.  By 10:30 AM, I was freezing cold, wearing my winter coat in the house, with my brother Dan saying, "It must be the Topamax!"  By noon, I was foggier than ever, forgetting the words in normal conversation.  By 4 PM, I had a horrible stomach ache and was terribly nauseated, sure that I would never eat again in life.  When Mike got home at 5:30, I got in bed.  I couldn't sleep though, because my face was burning hot and my feet and hands were freezing cold.  Finally, around 9, after realizing what I'd done and checking with the pharmacist about taking the regular nightly dose (which she said not to), I crashed.

I feel better this morning, but I am dreading the upgrade this weekend.  Still, after nine days of ZERO headaches, I am confident that this is the right drug for me.  I have had the typical precursor to my headaches; bad tension in my upper back and arms, four times this week, but no headache has followed.  So many folks say that if you can hold out for six weeks, the side effects will all disappear.  The first couple days will be the worst and then my body will start to adjust.  And I'll still be headache free!  I'm buckling down because I just know that it's all worth it! 

So, out with the old..... and in with the new!  This should keep me on track!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

our champion emerges

What a thrill it was to watch Logan at her swim meet this weekend!!  She swam her hardest and took 1st in her heats for 50 Fly and 50 Free, 4th in 100 Back and had a great showing in her other three events.  Always a great supporter of her siblings (and her parents success, too!) it was absolutely phenomenal to see her hopping out of the water for her heat winning "tags".  Thanks to Nana and Tony and Uncle Dan for coming out to support her! 

Way to go Logan!!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

christmas 2011

Here are some favorite shots from this year's festivities!