Archive for the Friends & Family Category

Welcome To The New Year!

Posted by Jen in Health Nuts, Parenting |
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Yep – I’m back…for today, at least.

It has been a BUSY couple of months – the holidays always take up so much time, but things are slowing down a bit.  Or rather, I am learning to slow down a bit.  I have been doing so much reading about mindfulness and meditation and living in the moment…it sounds hokey, I guess, but it has made such a difference in my life.  I never realized how much time I actually spent thinking about the future or reviewing the past…and how much that actually affected my daily mood.

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”

I have learned so much that I actually don’t know where to start, but one of my biggest changes is to no longer be bothered when someone “innocently inconveniences” me.  This includes the slow driver in front of me, the new checkout girl who is taking too long, the guy who connects me to the wrong number when I call for technical support, etc.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I threw a hissy fit when that happened, but it would definitely cause some irritation and I was tired of feeling irritated.  Acceptance and peacefulness sure feels a lot better and definitely feels a lot more natural to me.  I used to be such a tolerant person,  but found that I have become impatient and ill-at-ease over the past few years.  It was definitely time for a different outlook.  :)

So, everything else is going fairly well in my life. Here’s the quick summary:

1 – I have my temporary job starting in 2 weeks.  The money from that should pay for at least one of my college courses.  I’ll only have 2 more classes to go after that.

2 – I started physical therapy last week for my neck and back.  They haven’t been feeling right since the mono last year.  I had some x-rays done and they showed a compression fracture in the middle of my back. I actually have no idea where that came from actually…the middle back only started hurting about a month ago.  I fell on my stairs about 4 years ago, so maybe it finally started hurting now?  I don’t know.  I also have muscle spasms in my neck and some osteoarthritis in my lower back and neck.  Ack!  I feel old.

3 – Meghan was taken to a natural homeopath last week.  She was still struggling with severe, but intermittent stomach pains.  It was determined that she is dealing with systemic yeast (Candida) overgrowth.  Normally the body can keep the yeast levels under control, but Meg was on birth control last year for a few months for her ovarian cyst and then she was put on 3 rounds of antibiotics for her sinus infection this fall.  That pretty much killed all the good bacteria in her system.  She also eats a lot of simple carbs and sugars, which is what the yeast feeds on.

So, how is it being treated?

Well, she’s been put on a yeast-free/sugar-free diet for the next 6 weeks.  Sugar-free also includes artificial sweeteners.  The only sweetener she can have is Stevia or xylitol.  I haven’t tried the xylitol, but Stevia can be a little bitter.  She’s having a rough time getting used to it.  Unfortunately for her I am quite a lousy cook and haven’t had a lot of luck making her meals for her.  My veggie soup came out way too salty.  My french toast tasted like cardboard and my spaghetti squash meal was gooey and gross.  :-(

At the rate we’re going, she’s going to starve before these 6 weeks are finally over.  LOL

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Jen in Books, Movies & TV, Happy Holidays, Parenting, Spiritual Life |

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is here already!  I’m so very very VERY excited.  This is my favorite time of the year.  Thanksgiving is just the beginning…then we have the entire Christmas season to look forward to.  Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas trees, Christmas Carols, twinkly lights, mall Santas, Salvation Army bell ringers, eggnog, very special Christmas episodes on our favorite TV shows, Advent calendars, presents, family visits, snow (hopefully!), decorations…wheeee!  There is no other time of the year like this one.

Last year we didn’t get our Christmas decorations up until the middle of December.  That bummed me out so much that I made us keep them up until the end of January to make up for the late start.  :)   This year, though, we started early. November 21st was our decorating day and the house looks beeeeaaaauuutiful!  (I’m hyper-excited, can’t you tell?)

As for the rest of life – it’s all going so well.  The college savings fund is growing at a slow, but steady pace.  My new interest in tapping into my creative side has been a lot of fun.  I’m currently playing around with scrapbooking and some creative writing.  I don’t have much drawing talent, but scrapbooking is kind of like doing a web layout on paper.  I don’t really have to draw anything – thank goodness!  Digital scrapbooking is fun, too.  I am using a program by Serif, called Digital Scrapbook Artist.  It’s a really fun and addicting with a ton of free designs to use.  The creative writing…well, I’ve actually read a lot of books on writing and journaling recently, but I haven’t actually spent too much time doing the actual writing.  This is typical of me though.  I spend weeks and months preparing for a task before I actually do it.  :D   I’m getting there…

Meghan is feeling so much better these days.  The doctor finally determined that she was probably suffering from a flare-up of her previous sinus infection.  That is why she was getting daily headaches and low-grade fevers.  Her previous antibiotic didn’t quite clear it up and it was getting progressively worse during the past 2 months.  Her energy is back now and she doesn’t seem to feel quite as miserable as she did a few weeks ago.  Hopefully, this is the beginning of a positive upswing.

Speaking of positive…I have also been reading some pretty interesting books, which have been giving me a much more productive and positive view on life.  It kind of started with one of Judith Orloff’s books about positive energy. That led me to some books on living “in the now” (Zen-type books) and then I switched over to Steve Covey’s books (The 7 Secrets of Highly Effective People) and ended up reading a little bit of Bruce Lipton and finally moved on to Wayne Dyer.  His books focus on positive affirmations, higher energy living, service to others, etc.  I’m kind of taking a bit of everything and filling in the gaps with some of the beliefs – including the Christian beliefs from my childhood – and the habits which have worked for me in the past.  The final result is…well, I’m not sure yet.  I’m definitely a lot less worried these days and I feel a lot more centered and enthusiastic about all the little twists and turns my life is taking.  I no longer see my problems as “problems”…they are “projects.”   I forgot where I read that, but for some reason that really stuck with me.  Labeling them like that can put a positive spin on those situations which normally cause us stress.

So – all in all, it’s been a good couple of weeks here.  I cannot wait to enjoy the rest of this holiday season.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Enjoy your holiday! :-D

Feng Shui, H1N1, V

Posted by Jen in Books, Movies & TV, Friends & Family, Health Nuts |

Hmm – I just saw the message that WordPress has updated to the next version.  I’m a little leery about doing the upgrade right now.  The last time I did that, I had to go through all my posts and delete a bunch of odd little characters which were randomly inserted throughout my blog.

So, I have taken a break from my marathon of blog posting.  I knew that would happen.  I’m still tweaking my schedule a bit here and I haven’t been quite as diligent about sticking to the schedule I actually make for myself each day.  It’s a work in progress…always.  :)

So, my brother, Chris, is out in California now.  He just started his new job yesterday.  He’s loving the weather and actually found a few old high school friends nearby so that made the transition a little easier.  So far, the jury is still out as to how he is going to like this new job.  His boss is a bit of a micromanager.  Christopher has been his own boss for the past year of so and to suddenly have someone looking over his shoulder again can be a little rough.  Our family tends to be the “I can do this all by myself” kind of workers (for better or for worse!) so I am really hoping that it doesn’t cause too much stress for him.

It’s been quiet here without him, definitely.  He is missed.  :(

On a positive note, I think we have finally decided what to do with his apartment downstairs.  We are going to turn the living/kitchen area into a library/rec room. We have books stored in various bookshelves and drawers and closets all over the house and we thought it might be nice to have them in one central location.  I’m going to be in charge of “Feng Shui-ing” the room to make it cozy for reading and relaxing.  My brother did not appreciate Feng Shui.  At all.  I’m actually not sure if what I do is actual Feng Shui, but it’s all about removing the clutter and filling the room with happy, positive things.  Nice lighting, comfy chairs, lots of pillows, etc.   His bedroom and bathroom will just get a good cleaning so that it can be used as a guest room.  (For all those guests we NEVER have…lol.  It’s good to be prepared, though.)

Meghan stayed home from school today with her fever and sore throat.  The nurse called twice last week to get me to pick her up from school, but Meghan really wanted to try and stick it out, so I let her stay.  She only had a 99 fever both of those days with a bit of a scratchy throat.  Yesterday, though, we finally gave in and I picked her up early and took her home.  The truth is, the school is becoming filled with sick kids and even though her illness seems to be pretty mild, I don’t want her catching anything worse.  In a few weeks the school will be getting a shipment of the H1N1 vaccine and I signed her up for it.  I’ve decided not to take the chance of her getting that flu.  I had a friend who just recovered from it and she said it was the toughest battle of her life….and she is not a sick person usually.  I did request the vaccine version that is Thimerosal-free, but I’m not sure if that’s even available from her school.  We’ll have to just wait and see.

So, the new V is on tonight.  I hope it’s good.  I have the old mini-series on DVD and I watch it about once a year.  It’s a little cheesy and dated, but I still love it.  I’m a sucker for a good “us vs them” storyline.

Life Changes So Quickly

Posted by Jen in Friends & Family |

It’s amazing how quickly things can change.  In my case, the changes are pretty good – with just a touch of sad mixed in.  My little brother, Christopher, is going to be moving out to California at the end of this week.  He was offered a job opportunity last week to do web design for a start-up business out in Sunnyvale.  His old boss was offered a job and then put a good word in for Chris and the next thing we knew, he was offered a job, too.
And away he goes! :-D

So, how does this affect the rest of us?  Well, our family is pretty small and we have always lived near each other.  In my case, my brother has lived downstairs for the past year.  Our house has a odd sort of layout.  We have 4 bedrooms upstairs and each section is kind of separated into little wings – which is great for privacy.  My parents are in one half of the house and Meghan and I live in the the other half.  The back of the house has a guest bedroom and study.   Don’t say a word about the fact that I live in the same house as my parents…I’m incredibly sensitive about that.  LOL  :)   Having somewhere to stay as I finish my degree has been a blessing…I love my family – they are amazing.  XOXOX
Okay…back to the story….the downstairs part of our house is also finished off with another bedroom, living area, etc. That is where Chris has been staying.  (My mom jokes that she feels like she’s on the Cosby show…the kids leave, but they keep coming back!)  Well, Chris left his full-time job about a year ago to start his own web business.   It has been a rocky road…and one I guess he won’t have to travel anymore.  With this new job, he can do what he loves and get paid a nice amount of money for it, too.  Crazy how things work out.  I love it, though.  It gives me hope when I see things happen like this!  :)

The sad part is that I am seriously going to miss him like crazy, though.  He is probably the one person I hang out with the most (next to Meghan.)  We like most of the same shows, we’re both programmers (although he is MUCH better than I am now) and we like gaming and debating and just chatting about the world.  I have friends…I do…but most of my friends barely have the same interests as I do.  I met most of them over the years because they are parents of Meghan’s friends.   Blogging, the internet, Twitter, etc. is so foreign to all of them.  Blah. At least with Chris, I had an adult friend who actually knew what I was talking about.   Bummer.

So, this is going to be one heck of a busy week.  Lots of packing and I’m sure there will be quite a few tears.  Change is exciting, but it can be a little bit sad and scary, too.  I’m so proud of him, though.  I guess I know where Meghan and I will be visiting for our summer vacation next year!

Not Feeling My Best

Posted by Jen in Anxiety & Me, Friends & Family, Health Nuts |

Hmmm.  It’s been a strange day.  I had such a terrible time sleeping last night.  I think I went to bed at 11, finally fell asleep at 3 (frustrating!), woke up around 4-ish, woke up around 5-ish and then woke up to get Meghan to school at 6.  So, I started the morning off tired, obviously.

That was fine.  I’ve been tired before.  Meggie wasn’t feeling well, though – she’s been having such severe stomach pains for the past few months.  They’ve been intermittent, but chronic.  We are still in the process of trying to determine what it is, but my initial guess is IBS.  So, I ended up driving her to school.  An hour later I came home and decided to get as much work done as I could before I eventually crashed.

At 10:30AM or so, I had reached the point where I could barely keep my eyes open.  So, I decided to try a little cat nap.  Well, as I went to lie down I realized I was feeling dizzy.  Not only that, but my hands were shaking…really really shaking.  My heart was racing a bit and I just felt ODD.  My first thought, of course, was that this was a panic attack.   (For those who have known me, I have had some rather epic battles with this anxiety disorder of mine.  I have baffled many doctors with the severity and rareness of my symptoms, but those symptoms have been pretty darned silent for the past few months.)

The second possibility for my sudden symptoms was a drop in blood sugar.  Mild anxiety and low blood sugar feel very similar.  I’m not diabetic or anything, but my body is very sensitive to sugar levels and sugar crashes.  I purposely eat a low-glycemic diet for that reason, but it’s always possible that the sugar levels can go a little wonky from time to time, I’m sure.

So, I grabbed a bunch of grapes, drank a little bit of juice, and waited 10 minutes.  Wow.  It was bad.  My face was going numb, everything was cold…yes, this was beginning to feel more like anxiety.  So, I took a Xanax.  I am a pill-phobic, so taking a Xanax is always my last resort.  That completely knocked me out, of course, but…I don’t know.  The symptoms have subsided, yet I am sitting here now at 5PM and I feel weak, a little trembly, a little dizzy…something’s off.  I will be devastated if I am going to have to take up arms against the Panic Monster again.  He’s a tricky little thing.  (LOL – yes, I occasionally imagine my panic disorder as a creature.  He has warts and an evil laugh and likes to find new sneaky ways to scare the living daylights out of me.)

I just came off of another nightmarish battle with my anxiety during the months of March to about July or so.  I know I don’t have any blog posts about that time period, but I do have a bunch of drafts which I really should clean up and finally post.  Before that time, my panic disorder had been dormant for nearly 4 or 5 years, I think.  I ended up contracting mono last February and that just seemed to trigger the panic again.

*sigh*  Well, I am going to take it really easy tonight.  Just camp out in bed with the laptop, watch a little TV and head to bed very very early.  The longer I’m awake, the more my mind will start to run away with worry that these symptoms are a sign of my impending doom.  8-O

On a less medical note, I have been doing a ton of brainstorming lately for a bunch of different web sites I want to build up.  I need to open again and do a major overhaul on the database.  I know a lot more today than I did when I designed it a few years ago, so I hope I might be able to draw a lot more traffic there.  My little brother, Christopher, is on the verge of partnering with his old boss to begin a web parking company and he is one heck of a web designer, so I am going to bounce some ideas off of him and get a little ‘professional’ input.  It makes me a laugh a little bit sometimes…I still see him as my “baby brother” and it’s strange to think of him as a professional!

Sunday With Monica

Posted by Jen in Friends & Family |
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This was not my usual Sunday.  I usually like to sleep in on Sundays until 10AM or so and then spend my day reading or catching up on the shows I taped on my DVR.  Nice, right?  :)

I made a worthwhile exception on this Sunday, though.  My 7-year-old niece Monica has been staying at a care facility for the past week and I was able to take some time this morning to visit her.  She was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder) when she was much younger and she has been having a bit of trouble with aggressive behaviors this year in school.  It was rough to watching her struggle these past few weeks and I’m just glad that she may finally be getting the extra help she needs.

Monica is such an amazing little girl.  She’s one of those kids that you meet once and always remember.  She is smart, bold, funny and curious!  She’ll ask questions about anything and everything and her imagination is incredibly entertaining.  She really listens to you when you talk and has such an enthusiasm for learning.  For the most part, you can’t even tell that she is dealing with any type of disorder.

When’s she’s having a good day…there is not a single person who can’t or won’t smile when they are around her.  Her energy is infectious.  On her bad days, though…she can be stubborn and difficult.  It’s almost like she shuts down and just reacts – usually in a manic, wild manner.  That part is what her school – your normal run-of-the-mill public school just couldn’t handle.  They tried…sort of.  I think they seriously just hoped that her mom and my brother would finally remove her from the school.

Last week, an aggressive incident at school finally caused her to be sent to a children’s center for evaluation.  They immediately changed her medication and reevaluated her condition.  She has been away from home for about 10 days now, but seems to be happy and excited to be experiencing something new.  The medication seems to be working and her aggressive behaviors are better…and they haven’t turned her into an emotionless zombie either.  The good news is that she’ll be coming home this Wednesday and they’ll be looking to temporarily enroll her in a special school for a few months.    I hope this will be the beginning of some good things for Monica.  She definitely deserves it…and her mom deserves the peace of mind that comes from knowing her child is happy and healthy.

So, all in all – a very good way to spend my Sunday morning.  We played checkers (Monica won…mostly because she sweetly asked me to be kind to her and to not break her heart by beating her) and we played Sorry….which is a game that can take FOREVER if everyone keeps getting sent back to start.

I actually came home and slept for the rest of the day.  I thought I was catching up on the missed Sunday morning sleep, but I think I might be fighting some type of cold of something.  I’m feeling really, really fatigued.  I’m not sure all that Purell is really doing its job.