Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Autoimmune Awareness Month: The Spoon Theory

When I was first learning about Sjögren's & Lupus, I was nauseated by all the cheesy images in support groups. I didn't want people to see me as someone who was sick and tired of no one appreciating how sick and tired I am.

I came across The Spoon Theory and rolled my eyes. People with autoimmune disease often use The Spoon Theory to illustrate the way they have to carefully choose activity because once their spoons are gone, that's it.

The story goes that a girl is sitting in a diner with her friend, and her friend really wants to know what it's like to have Lupus. Finally the girl grabs all the spoons she can, hands them to her friend and says, "You have Lupus. Now everything you do will cost you a spoon."

It's hard to understand the sort of fatigue that comes with autoimmune disease. Everyone thinks they understand being really tired, but it isn't the same.

Etsy listing HOPE SPOON

People have latched onto the spoon symbol and call themselves "Spoonies" as a sort of...way of identifying with each other. I no longer roll my eyes about it because it's true. You only have so many spoons and when they're gone, you're done for the day. If you borrow spoons from tomorrow, it isn't going to feel good.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Today I'm annoyed.

I've been taking propranolol for migraines for a couple of months now, and it isn't doing a GREAT job. Since I've been charting my headaches this month, I'm still getting them about half of the time. Not as bad as I would if I wasn't taking it, but still there. So I got a new medicine, naratriptan, to take when I get one, plus two days prior to menses for seven days. That means that in fifteen days, I have taken nine, and now I'm all out because they only give you nine. I can't get a refill because insurance only lets you get nine per month. The pharmacist was chatting my ear off about it all and how they want to take care of me and do their best blah blah...but I was getting a headache...and I'm sick of it and don't want to listen to the nice things people have to say, I don't want to listen to ANYTHING.

I just want to crack open my skull and take out the pain.

Head pain makes people grumpy, impatient, annoyed with everything. The light, the sound, the thing you're wearing, what you're talking about, having to exist, medications running out at different times, it all seems so unmanageable, even impossible. It feels like big, cumbersome concrete puzzle pieces that a team of 30 people are dragging around trying to fit, trying to see the puzzle, but they can't and there's too much noise and everyone is confused.

Monday, July 28, 2014

MRI Results: Too Much Brain to Contain

I wasn't expecting to hear anything for a week, because that's what the MRI tech told me, but my primary care doctor called me the next day to talk about the MRI. It went something like this:

"So...what your MRI showed is that you have a congenital abnormality..." she began. "Your cerebellum is slightly enlarged, and it probably has been for a long time or forever, and you just didn't know it because you've never had an MRI. It's called Chiari I Malformation. This could be causing headaches..." 

She said more stuff but I kind of spaced out thinking about this news. She said she was going to send me over to Neurology. They'd be able to read the MRI and tell what's happening. She also said she was sorry I had had so many appointments but she thinks this is definitely something I want to look into.

Chiari I Malformation

What is Chiari I Malformation?
From UW Health:
In this condition, the back part of the brain extends into the spinal canal. Each person has different symptoms. Many times people with this problem also have a spinal cord cyst (an abnormal collection of fluid). This cyst is called a “syrinx”. This cyst could also be the cause of the symptoms.
I don't see neurology until September and I'm going to relax until then. I'm sure they'll tell me it's no big deal and of COURSE I don't need zipperhead surgery. Right?

Yeah. I'll try and relax.

I found an interesting blog to read if I don't feel like relaxing, though: http://chiari1.tumblr.com/

Crazy Time

I've been all over the internet reading about different experiences, and different recommendations... What things are no-nos for those with this problem, like roller coasters, trampolines, or even using those salon sinks for hair washing. The surgery sounds horrid. I'm kind of panicking about it, and trying NOT to panic about it, because ugh, what do I know? But it also sounds like everyone eventually gets the surgery. I'm just a little tiny bit protective of my skull and brain and wishing for something less scary and more treatable with like...eyedrops. :P 

Every time I get a new diagnosis I feel like my brain is falling into a million pieces for about a month, and it's all I can THINK about. I can't turn it off. I want rest from it. I want to be taken care of, comforted, and assured that everything will be fine. I want to not feel so scared and alone.

/Crazy Time

Enough of this pity party today! I thank God for PROJECTS...and for the daily have-to-dos at least for now, that propel me forward even if it is slowly.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

MRI'd to Sleep

This week I had my first ever MRI. I had just had a CT scan of my sinuses a few weeks prior, so I figured I'd be in and out quickly like I was with the CT scan, but I was wrong.

Why MRI?

Because of my persistently right-sided migraines, the ENT doctor sent a message to my primary care doctor recommending an MRI. The CT scan of my sinuses was unimpressive to him, revealing only a mucus-filled cyst (affectionately named Pete)...

From Mayo Clinic:

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within your body.

 Getting Ready

 It's probably best if you plan ahead and take off any jewelry at home. I don't want to think about what would happen if you forgot about that tongue ring or something and went inside of a giant magnet, but I bet it isn't that fun. I went into a little dressing room and got into scrubs, which were gigantic, and put all jewelry, clothes, including undergarments into the locker. 

Are You Claustrophobic?

They asked me a number of times. I laid down on a table and they put a wedge under my knees. Then they had me put in ear plugs, and there was this cage-like thing for my head called a head coil, plus more ear coverings. They gave me a ball to squeeze if I needed anything and assured me they would be in constant contact with me. They also gave me a warm blanket and I went into the MRI machine head first, up to my legs I think.

She would get on the speaker and tell me how many minutes I had to hold still. Then it was like a fire or tornado alarm, a fairly loud alarm like beep plus pounding. For some reason I must have found this comforting, because I kept falling asleep. I also kept feeling like I needed to cough or swallow because that's just what happens when I'm told I have to keep still.

Contrast Dye

After a few of those sessions she said, "Okay now I'm going to come in and give you the contrast dye." I was alarmed because I didn't know I was getting contrast dye. Suddenly I wondered if I was deathly allergic and this was going to be it for me. She assured me that it was safe and that it would stay in my body for 24-48 hours, and that if I experienced any discomfort I should increase my fluid intake.

It was an IV in my arm and back into the MRI for more beeping, pounding and falling asleep. I thought I was going to be so nervous, but the truth is I was incredibly warm and comfortable in the enclosed space with all the beeping and banging.

The whole thing took a little over an hour.

Afterward I had a terrible, unrelenting headache for the rest of the day, but all in all it wasn't bad.

Monday, July 07, 2014


It can and often does take several years to diagnose Lupus. I'm not in any hurry to be in poor enough health for that day to come. Dr. House says, IT'S NEVER LUPUS. It's not Lupus, right? Everyone knows that House MD is the most accurate medical show on television.

According to Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of Lupus include:
  • Fatigue and fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness and swelling
  • Butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and bridge of the nose
  • Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure
  • Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold or during stressful periods (Raynaud's phenomenon)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches, confusion, memory loss

 So do you just have bad allergies, or what?

All my life I thought I had allergies. I had itchy, gritty eyes, I'd get hives and other rashes, a sniffly nose, respiratory illness every summer. My gums were often irritated and ulcer-ridden. Sometimes they'd peel, and I switched my toothpaste many times in frustration. I'd been to the doctor complaining about allergies plenty of times, and they would tell me to take Benadryl, Zyrtec, Claritin (which didn't work) and prescribed Flonase nasal spray (which didn't work) and various inhalers.

Then one day, last year, I finally saw an allergist. He diagnosed my sinus infection and was sure I had seasonal allergies and food allergies. I had tests done on both arms and no reaction. I had blood tests. All negative...

Except one. The Anti-Nuclear Antibody test, or ANA. Now, according to the American College of Rheumatology, 3-15% of healthy individuals will have a positive ANA, so that alone isn't cause for too much alarm. My ANA titer was 1:320. The percentage of healthy adults with that level is more like 3.3%, so there's a little more cause for alarm.

I was to see a rheumatologist, and the wait was long–about four months.

My body reacts severely to mosquito bites.

In the mean-time I read everything I possibly could and and then burned out. I started to feel like I was going crazy waiting and not knowing what's going on. My eyes were in so much pain every day. My knees, hips, and shoulders were hurting and I used a heating pad on them every day. I had been diagnosed with rosacea years prior and wondered if that was a wrong diagnosis. My dental hygienist nagged me about my dry mouth and I wondered if that was part of it, too. I was at the dermatologist for folliculitis and itchy inflammation of the scalp, and continued to have chronic sinus issues. Was it all connected?

Heating and icing joints, medication on scalp rash and thinning hair...

When I finally saw the rheumatologist, I felt silly, since I wasn't in pain that day, but she was great about it. Listening to my symptoms and looking at my medical history, she definitely felt there was something going on and that even if they couldn't make an official diagnosis they could start treating some of the problems. I started taking Plaquenil in hopes that it would help some of my skin issues at the very least. It took 3-4 months to tell but it appears to be working well.

Plaquenil has a rare but serious side effect that causes loss of vision, so I had to get a baseline eye exam. The ophthalmologist confirmed my dry eyes and told me to use Systane eye drops and ointment, and suggested down the road I consider punctal plugs to conserve moisture.

Dry, irritated eyes

I went off of my antidepressants that were contributing to my dry eyes and mouth, and switched migraine medication.

The dermatologist and rheumatologist suggested that some of my skin sensations were due to peripheral neuropathy. The rheumatologist is going with Sjögren's Syndrome (SHOWgrins) for a diagnosis and she said they are still thinking Lupus or other connective tissue disease, but right now we just have to wait for more evidence.

I also suffer from a disturbance of sense of smell and taste and wondered if that was connected. My primary care doctor ordered a CT scan of my sinuses to see if I had an infection or tumor or anything else. They found a mucus filled cyst in my face but the ENT was unimpressed. He said, "SJÖGRENS is your problem, THAT'S what's causing the smell disturbance. If there's no moisture, you can't smell properly." Because of my migraines, the ENT and my primary care doctor agreed to order an MRI just in case there was something else going on.

What is Sjögren's? 

The Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation defines it as a chronic autoimmune disease in which a person’s white blood cells attack his or her moisture-producing glands.

Symptoms vary from person to person but may include:
  • a dry, gritty or burning sensation in the eyes
  • dry mouth
  • difficulty talking, chewing or swallowing
  • a sore or cracked tongue
  • dry or burning throat
  • dry or peeling lips
  • a change in taste or smell
  • increased dental decay
  • joint pain
  • vaginal and skin dryness
  • digestive problems
  • dry nose
  • fatigue
  Sexy, right?

There is always a bit of a rash on my face. It feels like sunburn but it isn't.

I'm supposed to wear protective hats and clothing, stay out of the sun during most of the day if possible, and always wear sunscreen, even when I'm inside. This is alright since going in the sun makes me feel like I have the flu, and I burn easily, and as far as exposing my body, I've always been rather shy. I'm glad I don't have to feel like a wuss about any of it now. Give me all the coverings!

It's a healthy glow, right?

I look a little sunburned all the time anyway.

I am very vain, and have taken great precautions against having bad skin, such as not drinking alcohol regularly, cutting back on caffeine, not using any soaps or cleansers, drinking LOTS of water, and obviously staying out of the sun. I also wear plenty of makeup, as it has sunscreen in it, creates a barrier that helps, and covers up the bad skin. You might think, "Life without alcohol, sunshine and coffee? That hardly seems worth living!" Do a google search of Lupus rash...

Do I have Lupus? Sometimes I think I don't have anything and it's all nonsense, but that's not reality. Some people with these kinds of diseases tell people "Lupus" because it's the only thing anyone's heard of. I want to be accurate when I talk about this journey so I will just say...just because they're "thinking Lupus" doesn't mean it IS Lupus, but it's something Lupus-ish, and my symptoms are my symptoms.

I have done a LOT of googling looking for other people who are going through this, and that's pretty much why I decided to write about it. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

WHERE have you BEEN? (Part 3)


These first year projects... Oh... They kind of make my stomach cramp up. It's all part of the journey, right? Ehhhh...

Concept Development. We weren't allowed to use computers. I KNOW. But it was for our own good! And Design Fundies? All that weird exploration. Those beginner computer graphics classes... It hurts my pride just thinking about it.

Since I was already studying the Bible, I had Pastor Mike help me with these ideas, which I thought was pretty funny since I'd always thought Tarot cards were supposed to be Satanic or something...

 Late in December one year I decided I was going to bang out a Christmas card (left, hopefully obviously) but I only got like 1/3 of them written and sent. Because it was FINALS and I was BUSY!

Leta needed a lot of help with math and I thought maybe I could help her visualize it... I found myself "designing" every little thing around the house and family life had a way of sneaking into projects... What would the kids think was fun? Ice cream clouds?

I'm not going to lie...it seemed really impossible to juggle going to school full time during the day, then managing the craziness of the kids after school and all their homework and problems, dinner, laundry, bedtime and THEN settling in for hours and hours of MY homework after everyone else went to bed. Fortunately, whiteboards and sticky notes kept me sane.

We had a little shin-dig at my house after graduation and I told people it was to help me catch up on dishes and laundry. For some reason everyone just stood around eating and talking instead. THANKS, GUYS.

I learned a lot and met some great people, and I lived through it, mostly.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Where Have You BEEN? (Part 2)


This is a journal cover I made not that long ago. I thought it was really hilarious. It still makes me smile in kind of a perverse way, the idea that one's journal is filled with fibs about one's holiness, but it also reminds me of what I used to think about prayer and religion in general.

At some point very early in life I started to feel really lost, and was wary of most everyone, and I had this recurring nightmare:

That's basically how I felt about many Christians for most of my life. Either they were monsters, or they were weak, brain dead victims.  When I was a kid I didn't understand it, and I saw so much contradiction, hypocrisy, and FEAR... I wanted perfection out of my role models and didn't understand that people were works in progress.

In the end I concluded that if I couldn't make sense out of it, there's no way these other people could, either. Did they just want eternal life to be real? Was that enough to believe?

I had written all Christians off as liars who couldn't possibly be buying this magic act. I wanted just ONE of them to level with me and tell me it was all nonsense and no one knew what they were talking about or believed any of it. It was like they had made a pact of silence. Yes, the dark and paranoid conspiracy theories ran rampant.

Or maybe... Maybe they really DID believe... And maybe they really DID understand... Could it be?


On New Year's Eve in 2001, my steady boyfriend Jason was in a funk. He didn't like NYE and didn't know why we had to celebrate it. He called it a day just like any other day.

Flippantly, I said, "Well, so is Christmas, but you didn't hear me bitching about it!"

I couldn't figure out why, for the next two hours, he didn't want to talk to me. I was seriously freaking out. I ran through the conversation over and over, failing to see where it went wrong. Finally, he said, "When you say things like that, it really hurts, because... I'M A CHRISTIAN."

Blinkblink. I could not believe it. We'd been dating for SIX MONTHS. And I had no idea. I never would have guessed he had any attachments to religion or the notion of Santa Claus in the sky. Immediately, I was defensive. I felt judged.

"Well, just because I'm not a Christian, doesn't mean I'm not a good person! I have morals, I don't need God for that!"

I don't remember everything that was said, but I remember one thing pretty vividly. Jason asked how or if I could ever want to marry him (since I was a nonbeliever). It was then that I realized it wasn't he who was doing the judging, it was me. I was judging and persecuting all Christians, when I had thought it was the other way around. I had made him feel embarrassed, ashamed, unwelcome, stupid. I had hurt him, and I decided I never wanted to do that to anyone again because of their faith. I felt so ashamed at being the kind of person who made him want to hide his feelings.

Suddenly he went from being this cocky young professional with all his ducks in a row, to a man who admitted to loving God? Somehow it made me love him more - especially, that someone like him could love someone like ME.

Fast forward. We got married. We had babies. We had sickness. We had existential crisis. We had family death. Life happened every day. And there was just something...bugging me. I started asking around. What does it for you. Community. Faith. Church. Volunteering. Family. Giving. Making a difference. What makes you tick. What makes you believe one thing or another. What is this magical faith thing. What makes you happy. And I kept thinking back to that pastor I argued with at my daughter's preschool and wondering how HE would stand up to my questions. 

 I ended up emailing him, and we went out for coffee, and I bombarded him with all my questions, figuring that I had nothing to lose since I didn't really care what he thought of me, he wasn't my pastor. Maybe he would be offended, defensive, ruffled, even angry. Nope. He asked questions, too, was empathetic, laughed at my crass jokes, admitted it when he didn't have the answers. He was super careful because if there was any hint of pressure I would run for the hills, but said he was curious about what my thoughts on the Gospels would be. TRICKY, I know. The next thing I knew I was tearing through all the different Bibles we had wondering which translation was best, wishing I knew Greek and Hebrew, reading each chapter like this (see above) and scribbling furiously in the margins.  

I would email my unedited responses to each book of the Bible and the discussions that followed were priceless. Sometimes they had to carry over into coffee, and sometimes coffee was just coffee.

As I came to learn, "Faith comes from hearing the message," and what was once a pulse so faint it couldn't be heard was growing louder. A faith I thought was dead was growing, slowly, and I didn't quite know what to do about it or what to make of it. I struggled as I judged myself, and thought about "coming out of the closet" as a Christian to MY friends as being like a thousand times harder than it ever was to introduce my family to my girlfriend years ago. It would be especially hard for my husband, who had swung the other way and was now a staunch atheist.

Eventually I couldn't deny it to myself or to my loved ones any longer.

I was baptized. I took the Bible Information Class. I was confirmed. It's been a happy and kind of a lonely thing, for me, because I know how people feel about it, I know how I would have felt about it. That my friend or family member has gone insane, or was no longer fun, or reasonable, or...you name it. And on that note, I am truly sorry for having been so mean-spirited and judgmental in the past.

Sometimes I do some design stuff that's uh, super religious. SOooOOooo, that's another thing I've been up to in the last few years. 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

WHERE have you BEEN?! (part 1)

So I have been busy... That's a terrible thing to say, isn't it? I mean, who hasn't been busy? I stopped keeping a blog. And if you've decided to read this post, if you're still subscribed, or if you saw a link posted and clicked on it, thank you.

Some of you I know from my livejournal days. Remember livejournal? If that's you, whoa. We've been through a lot. We've come a long way. Thanks for hanging around. You know way too much about me. Wow.


Maybe you were a reader here a long time ago, or at the art blog I had, or the cake decorating blog, or who knows... Maybe you're a facebook friend, or my mom, or someone googling an obscure medical condition.


However you ended up here, I am grateful for you. You seem like an awesome person with excellent taste in blogs. This is my (long neglected) blog home and I intend to get REALLY COZY here. I hope you visit often!

Friday, June 10, 2011

That was funny

Remember when I was going to elaborate on all of my Facebook status updates at the end of each week? I forgot.

This week I've been allll upset about Christianity and homosexuality. And I have been looking forward to my birthday, which is tomorrow, but mostly, the gay stuff. These are the topics most people just ignore so they can go on worshiping comfortably, but we all know it's there, don't we, if we dare to look...

I wonder what a "homosexual" way of life was in the first century AD. Were there life partners? Was it associated with prostitution? Goddess worship? Hmm... A bit different today, isn't it.

Stuff to think about and investigate.

But for now, bedtime.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Leta!

The events of Saturday, March 27th 2004

8am-Still pregnant. Breakfast with the family
10am-Waddling through the grocery store for some last minute items with mom.
12:30pm-Lunch with Mom's friend Leah at Monty's, where I downed a mocha and a breakfast burrito. Still pregnant.
2:30pm-Drove by the house I liked and headed over to a photography exhibition.
2:31pm-Looking at photography, listening to hippie music and feeling trouble brewing. Beads of sweat forming on brow.
3:00pm-THERE WAS NO BATHROOM. That's when we went back home.
3:30pm-Announced that we should get ready to go.
3:45pm-I was kneeling on the floor with my upper body on the seat of a rocking chair, breathing and rocking through some very uncomfortable contractions and Jason was looking for a watch.
4:00pm-Contractions were 1 minute long and 5 minutes apart. TIME TO GO, LIKE I SAID... ;)
4:05pm-I remember gripping the door handle through contractions on the way to the hospital and listening to The Cure.
4:30pm-Arrival at St. Mary's
4:45pm-Jason helped me into my gown and they checked my cervix in triage. 5cm.
5:00pm-Checking out the luxurious birthing room with the whirlpool and leather couches.
5:00:10pm-My back was in nonstop agony and I couldn't tell when the contractions began and ended and I did NOT want that stupid heart monitor strapped around my belly...
5:20pm-I tried out the tub. It felt pretty good although the PRESSURE was unbearable.
5:30pm-I couldn't stand the tub. I was overheating and wanted more control/stability during contractions. AND THE PRESSURE!!!
5:45pm-My wonderful fantastic superb sympathetic doctor broke my water--YEAH!!!!! Relief! One of those things people don't think is a good idea but OH EM GEE was it ever a good idea. Oh but wait--she discovered the baby's head was facing wrong direction...I gave a push and she turned it around for me, and VOILA--no more back pain! <3
6:00pm-9cm dilated...
6:15pm-This is when I couldn't seem to hold back my urge to push. I was on all fours and could no longer control my breathing.
6:25pm-Time to push! They said things like "push like you have to poop"--um..."chin down, hold your breath while you push! Relax those legs(this is hard to do...) It's coming"
6:35pm-"that's it! Just like the last one, that was great!" the unmistakable burning sensation now...and I heard them commenting on how much hair was on the baby's head...
6:46pm-Leta's head was born! Yes!
6:47pm-The rest of Leta was born! Jason and I cried tears of joy and incredible relief...
7:00pm-I was rewarded with a bagel and apple juice and it was glorious.

I had no tearing, no stitches...not even enough swelling to warrant the usual frozen diaper treatment.

There were times when I felt guilty about having such easy labors with all the kids but I just have to appreciate it.

Leta was born with black hair, a dimple and hairy little shoulders. She practically came out saying, "OooOOOOooh, that's cuuuuUUUUuute!"

Leta has always been a great company shopping, having lunch, having coffee... And right now she's making it very hard to write this so I guess I better go actually spend time with the birthday girl! Hopefully I will have time to write when the party is over.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Elaborating on status updates

After some discussion about what facebook has done to journaling, I started to think about what it's done to blogging... Especially after having been so pleased with myself for writing when the girls were younger and being able to go back and enjoy those times through reading. Last night I spent a lot of time converting livejournal entries to XML files. I was really worried because that's five years of almost daily writing that could just go away someday. I do like the sort of ADD quick fix aspect of facebook and twitter. It's instant gratification. You publish your thoughts nearly as they happen. But I was thinking, why don't I just use this as a tool for writing bigger chunks in a journal (or blog)? Facebook can be where I take my notes, and at the end of the week, I can see what I have to write about.

That's what I'm about to do.

I finally finished filling out my FAFSA and submitted it this week. I started it really early on, but I hadn't done my taxes yet, so I didn't have accurate numbers to go on. We finally got our taxes done, so I was able to OH THIS IS SO BORING NEVERMIND.

Mina got new glasses on Thursday. They're bright red and beautiful. I think it's the first wearable item she has ever been excited about, so I may have allowed her to pick unusually expensive frames... Her old glasses were these sort of crappy Shopko glasses... The new ones were handmade in Italy and purchased online at solobambini.com. (love) The difference in quality is pretty obvious and Mina says she can actually see a lot better with these. Of course, her prescription is slightly different, and her old glasses were really scratched up I'M BORED WITH THIS TOO.

Wow. It really is hard to do this now. I do not have the attention span to write more than 140 characters. Sad.

In my Drawing for Illustration class we're working on a scratchboard illustration for the Henry Vilas Zoo's 100th birthday, which is also raising money for the proposed Polar Bear exhibit. Several classes are working on it and between you and me, I WANT TO WIN. I MUST WIN. I've never been very competitive, but I think my new career path has roused a sleeping giant.

This week I have also started reading the book of Joshua of Old Testament fame. I'm not quite over the death of Moses yet. Those are big shoes to fill. I'm about ten chapters in and already have lots of questions.

I get the urge to talk about the stuff I'm reading pretty frequently and don't have too many people to talk about it. I don't necessarily always want to talk to super religious people... It's just that I think it's pretty fascinating and I know that there are other friends of mine who have always meant to read the Bible at some point even if just to strengthen their arguments against religion. I just haven't quite figured out how to have theological discussions without making people want to throw up.

I was thinking about posting some of my thoughts and questions about the things I read here, and if anyone felt like reading or engaging, they would be free to step forward.

Last but not least... Tomorrow Leta is turning SEVEN. She's having a few girls from school over for crafts and cupcakes and pizza. I'm excited to revisit her birth story tomorrow. The day before Leta was born I had my 39 week OB visit. I went with my mom, who was sick and thinking about going back home, but Dr. Demopoulos said my cervix was already FOUR cm dilated and I better have my mom stay where she was because she thought I would be having that baby within the next 24 hours. And she was right.

Now look at her. She just rescued the princess on Super Mario Brothers for the DS. They've been playing this game for months and months. This is a proud day for me as a parent. *I* never rescued the princess~

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011!

I was going to do a picture post of the year in review, but it was going to be way too many pictures because I just couldn't decide on a few to accurately represent everything.

I know this year has been hard for a lot of people, and many people are hoping 2011 will give them a break from the hardships and tragedies. I hope so too.

For me, this year has been pretty great.

In January, from what I can tell from my pictures, I made some fun hats.
I donated blood for the last time, maybe ever.
The Samsa family suffered a terrible loss unexpectedly.

In February we celebrated our 8th anniversary as Husband and Wife.
I started thinking about life and people and wanting to understand both more, and began to ask a lot of questions about what people believed about life/death and why. This prompted me to email the pastor from the church/school where the girls had gone to preschool, to pick up on a "conversation" we'd started over a year before that kind of started as a heated argument... (long story) Anyway, we went out for coffee and he put up with all of my questions no matter how vicious they were. He put me up to a challenge and ever since, I've been reading the Bible, emailing insane questions and commentary, and occasionally having coffee with the pastor. It's been a big highlight of my year.

In March my little princess Leta turned six. She had a ridiculous cake with a unicorn and a waterfall and a rainbow, and a party with her school friends.
My mom also gave me all of my old dollhouse stuff and I had a blast setting up all the rooms, but discovered that my kids aren't ready to handle my precious, delicate dollhouse furniture so I had to pack it up and put it in the basement so I didn't end up with everything broken.

With April came spring projects and parties and friends with new babies...

I believe my May was all about Cullen's rash and documenting everything he ate every single day. It's still a mystery.

In June I turned 30! I love birthdays. For my birthday we went to Milwaukee and saw Group of the Altos play on a boat. It was so lovely. There were even fireworks. Not for me, but you know, aren't fireworks kind of for everyone? My mom was awesome and babysat the kids so we could spend the night.
There were lots of birthdays and barbecues and a visit from my brilliant sister-in-law Laney (who co-authored a book of poetry that makes me super happy and you should totally check out)... And of course, a visit from "Aunt Laney" wouldn't be complete without a trip to Little Amerricka.

July was the start of dance lessons and swimming lessons for the girls. It was cool to have a little bit of Cullen time again. Summers are hard sometimes, and I feel like I don't appreciate anyone because they're all climbing all over me at the same time...

In August we went to Door County and stayed with my grandparents, who were renting a condo for the month. It was really nice to spend that time with them and I know the kids were just over the moon to be there, and go swimming every day and feed goats and eat ice cream...
At the end of August I started going to school at "Madison College" (MATC) full time for Graphic Design. It's been totally amazing and I love it--it has also been much harder than I expected and I don't have an extra minute for much of anything!

In September the girls were back in school, and fast forward until Christmas because let's face it, not much happened between then and now except for school (and a couple of birthdays)...

OH, a visit from my brother sometime in October I think. That was a treat, to spend the day doing brother/sister bonding--relaxed goofing off and wandering around without any kind of schedule. The girls were in school so it was just us and Cullen. I think Cullen and Shannon bonded, too.

Now, it's a new year, and I'm bored with this and it's taken me too long to write it and I don't know how to wrap it up but I have laundry to do. Hooray for the new year. I have no resolutions. Just going to keep being fabulous (and delusional). :)

Monday, December 13, 2010


Really. This is good stuff. Just wait.
I have a bunch of random junk floating around in my head so I decided, rather than clog up everyone's facebook with 25 status updates in a row, I'd put them here. Yeah! This place! Where I used to write!

Life balance?
This semester of school is almost over! Just two more classes and then I can go back to cleaning and drinking and cleaning and drinking. And reading. And emailing people. Then it's back to school.

Remember CDs?
I dug up some CDs today that I hadn't listened to for a while. It's amazing how much your own life experiences can color what you get out of a song. These songs have totally new meaning now because of everything that's happened in between. I listened to Tori Amos today and suddenly her lyrics didn't seem so crazy and trippy and random.

Tarot, and secrets about Jesus
One of my school projects was to design a Tarot deck. I decided to go with the Biblical symbolism already present in many classic decks because of this whole Bible reading project that's consumed this year. I even harassed my friend the pastor for ideas. (Thanks!) I know lots of people think Tarot cards are tools of the devil. I'm pretty sure they're just cards.
Somehow, all the googling I did during this project lead me to lots of reading about Christian mystics/esotericism. Something about it seems rather smug but intriguing, nonetheless. Sort of like, "Well, of course we all know that Jesus was trained by magicians..." or "You don't still believe Mary was a virgin...?" And I think, where are you getting your information? I want to know. I demand it. But it's a secret. And we all know that secrets don't make friends and friends don't make secrets!

Dr. Dude moving to MN
In other news, Cullen had his 3 year well child check on Friday. He weighs 40lbs. He's around the 95th percentile for height and weight. Pretty interesting, right? The REAL news is that Dr. Dude is MOVING. Man. It's like the end of an era. If Dr. Awesome leaves I'm going to slit my wrists. Just kidding... Wow that's not a funny joke at ALL. Sorry. He was still a resident when he delivered baby Cullen. *sniff*

Well, as my grandpa once wrote to me, I'm all out of gas for this trip.

Maybe I'll write again in a couple of months.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Cullen!

I cry a little every year on Cullen's birthday.

When I was 17 weeks pregnant the ER doctor told me I should prepare myself mentally for my impending miscarriage. Labor pain was nothing compared to what my heart felt in that moment.

Today, my boy is three! He has been such a warm fuzzy in my life since the moment I met him.

I love you so much, Cullen! Sorry I can't write more, but we have to get going for birthday dinner!