Monday, July 07, 2014

"I HEARD YOU HAVE LUPUS!"

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)

I WENT TO SCHOOL FOR A FEW YEARS...

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)

 THE RELIGIOUS ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

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?

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

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.
READYSETGO!

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 INTERESTING BABBLE

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!

xoxoxoxoxoxoxo...infinity.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mina! (One day late)

Mina Sachiko Samsa

About a month before Mina was due, Jason started tearing up the carpet in our house and kicked off the tiling project of 2002. I was super freaked out about the prospect of being in the middle of this when the baby was born and I told her, "You are not allowed to be born before October first--and you are not allowed to be born AFTER October first, either!"

At around 11:30pm on September 30th I woke up in labor. Jason, remembering what we were told in Lamaze class, said we should try to get some sleep.

I couldn't sleep, and my water had broken, and the next hour or so involved Jason running around gathering photography equipment and calling people while I crawled around on my hands and knees panting!

He dropped me off at the emergency room door and went to park the car, and I crawled in going, "HEE HEE WHOOOOOO" with my pants falling down. And I was IGNORED. If I wasn't in wild animal mode I would have asked for help, I think... When Jason came in, they brought out the wheelchair. I know you're supposed to walk around, but seriously, I was way beyond that point. I barely got my pants off and she was out. I still had my pajama shirt on.

She was 8 lbs, 13 1/2 oz and 21 inches long... Chubby and cute from the moment she was born. I didn't want to be away from her and remember feeling tremendous longing when she was being held by other people across the room from me.

...

And from the moment she was born, she was a handful... I will just leave it at that!

But yesterday, when we were driving around together, and chatting the whole time, I was so moved by how much she has grown and I feel like eight year old Mina is like a reward for all the challenging times we've had! She is such a cool little person with sensitivity and insight well beyond her years. Her absurd sense of humor and creativity are an absolute joy to experience. She hardly ever cries anymore, but gets annoyed in the way that big sisters do when they're being looked at or bothered or breathed on. She no longer expects me to turn back time and make it so that I never wore the orange shirt that bothers her or do other impossible things. She is reasonable, and loves science and art and nature... She is someone I would have loved to be friends with as a kid and teenager.

Yesterday at her doctor visit she did almost all of the talking. SHE wanted to talk to the doctor about her concerns about her own health. She talked about feeling sick a lot and how nervous she gets. When he said the words "throw up" she yelled, "Don't even SAY IT! I hate hearing it, it's so gross!" But she didn't throw a fit... She talked about being nervous about germs and he said he was too and pointed out that he'd used hand sanitizer three times since entering the room. She even wanted a flu shot. She seemed slightly disappointed when they only had the mist!

After we bought the caramel apple pie she requested for her birthday she told me that the reason she wanted pie is because I don't like cake. *tear*

...

I will wrap this up by saying what I've said many times before:

Mina, I love being your mom. You rock. Keep on being awesome!






Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Switching Gears and Eating Humble Pie

Wow, I guess it's been a while...

I'm going to be switching gears and writing a lot about the things I'm learning about in school, the feelings associated with going back to school and rubbing elbows with smelly eighteen year old boys.

Just kidding! We ALL stink, because we have to park two miles away and race to class with arms full of heavy art supplies... I envy those who take the bus and get off at the door.

Did I skip ahead? Sorry. I started school a few weeks ago. I'm a full time graphic design student. I have this conversation a lot, about being a mother of three and full time student and how on earth do you to it? Here's my secret: No cleaning, no sleeping, minimal parenting. Ta-daaaa!

Jason has been very supportive and should be applauded for his tolerance of our new life.

I've been pretty impressed with myself (oh no) so far and have been quietly patting myself on the back for awesome time management skills and stellar school performance. This is always a bad sign, isn't it? Anytime I catch myself thinking, "I'm SO AWESOME! Wow!" I'm usually about to get a swift kick to the back of the head.

I love my classes and everything I'm learning. I could not possibly be more enthusiastic about my education. Outside of school and homework, I'm noticing design elements everywhere. My view of the world is changing. Anyway, what I'm getting at is that my enthusiasm and cockiness is monstrous and... premature. For the record I felt very wrong about it all, but tried to talk myself through it and shape it in a way that would be healthy and beneficial. I mean that I don't think I could interview well if I wasn't totally convinced that I was going to rock their world, and so in this way, it's a good thing, because I'd like to get a job someday...

Starting school brings back all kinds of emo feelings. At first, I really struggled with disliking everyone around me. (Sorry, everyone around me!) It's not so bad, now. I've developed a friendly rapport with some and an appreciation for others. Also, some of these youngsters are very good little photoshop tutors.

I have two classes that are each three hours long on Mondays and Wednesdays. In both classes we spend a lot of time learning/talking about design elements seeing them in action. The difference is in the expectations. I guess this could be a lesson of considering my target audience. One instructor is pushing me to be more controlled and deliberate, to simplify and to package and deliver a neat product (though he says he isn't looking for that... his suggestions on how to improve things tell me otherwise). Then, an hour later, in a class that teaches the same things, I have someone else telling me to loosen up, go off the page, and what she doesn't know is that I'm pretty good at THAT... And I'm still trying to challenge myself by applying the NEW things I'm learning, and she thinks I am some neat and clean kind of person who should get messy and explore. And that's okay, and I should do what she wants me to do. It's just really hard to switch gears between these two classes and I feel very much humbled (read: knocked out of la-la land) when made the example of what not to do twice in one class period!

I absolutely love her, by the way. She's from Australia and she has a lovely, subtle accent and soft, melodious voice that is really easy to listen to. I really admire her sense of style, too. Maybe that's why it's hard to be criticized by her--because I think she's really cool. Maybe that's the wrong word. Pushed by her. Encouraged. I'm trying to talk myself through this.

The ice cream on top of the humble pie is that I have a huge blemish on my chin and am trying very hard not to mess with it. If only I could use "spot healing" in real life...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

In Transit

Yann Tiersen. I am addicted to this music. When I listen to Yann Tiersen, I go on a journey. It's the only time I feel like I might not mind dying because in that moment I feel okay with the whole of the human experience--the joy, the pain, the life so real you can sink your teeth into it. I think about the ugliest moments of life and feel at peace with them. God, real life can be ugly!



Uglier than you ever thought, more beautiful than you ever imagined, and amazing in a completely different way than you expect. I want to lay down on the ground and run my fingers through the grass, feel the weight of each footstep, no more and no less than it is.

I think about my tiny plot of life when I listen to this music. For a second I understand just how brief it is, and instead of feeling its insignificance, I feel... just in awe of all that sweating and filth and bleeding and eating and drinking and... how BIG it is, all that flavor, packed in such a small blip.

I don't know what to make of it.

And then we arrive at the destination, I turn the car off, I get the kids out, we buy smoothies and walk around thinking about tomatoes instead.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Passion of the Christ

So, we finally watched this, and wanted to jot down some thoughts.

I was immediately turned off by the devil in the garden/serpent scene, and all of the demon/Satan appearances, really.

I wasn't bothered by the portrayal of the Sanhedrin.

Jesus could have been more Jewish, though.

The humorous scene with the table made me groan a bit.

Afterward, Jason asked me what I thought. Mostly, the whole time I was watching, I was thinking about how it would be to watch one of my own children be ridiculed, tortured, and killed in such a way, and be able to do nothing to stop it. You want to shield them from pain, dress their wounds, wrap them in cozy blankets and kiss their tears away... The scene where she's kissing his toes was pretty sad.

All in all, I thought it was okay and would have been better without some of the cheesy additions to the story.

What did you think, if you saw it?