Saturday, December 20, 2014

Friends for Life

One of my parents (maybe it was my Dad?) told me one time, when I was around the age of 13, that my friends from High School were probably not going to be my friends in 20 years. It was a difficult concept for me to fathom.

"But they're my BEST friends! And we'll always be best friends!" I assured him.

"They are your best friends now, but you will grow and change so much over the next few years, you will most likely grow apart."

Luckily for me, my dad's words were not completely accurate. I've managed to stay friends with several of my "best" friends after high school, through college, through weddings, and now with kids.

Yet, I understand what he meant. The friends I made in high school are different than the ones I made in college and now as a mom. I did end up growing and changing over the years and friendships certainly have come and gone.

I met Farrell the first day of college in September, 1997. Then Farrell met Rachel and introduced me. Then Rachel introduced us to Tracey since they were both School of Music students. And that's how the four of us became friends.

Although the miles keep us apart in physical contact, we've managed to stay connected through the years thanks to cell phones and Facebook.

Tracey lives in Upstate NY, Rachel lives in Virginia, and Farrell resides all the way in Germany.

Farrell makes a point to come back to the States at least once a year. And sometimes, she even gets to come to my house in South Carolina.

Rachel just recently became a SAHM and was able to drive down from Virginia the same week that Farrell would be in the South.

Unfortunately, Tracey both works and has three small children of her own. Driving down from NY wasn't feasible :(

Even though our hair and clothing styles have changed (thank goodness!) time hasn't altered our friendship much at all.

Its so crazy to see Rachel as a mom now. I can't say she exactly liked kids at all while we were in college! She thought Farrell and I were crazy for babysitting all the time :)

Violet was absolutely adorable and was a great playmate with Jocelyn.

My mom babysat while we had a kid-free lunch.

(Farrell, Rachel, our former professor from college, and me!)

We were sad that Farrell could only stay 24 hours, but very thankful she could even travel to be with us that long!

Rachel was able to stay a few more days so we took her and Violet to Story Time at the library.

We also went to the park near our college. 

I loved having my friends here :) I'm really hoping that my family can visit Rachel's this summer... and who knows? Maybe we'll make some new traditions :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Sounds of the Holidays

I might not get pictures of my big two kids dressed up in cute holiday shirts or sitting in front of the tree, but being older does have its advantages during the holidays. Both Jaina and Jayce have had the opportunity to sing in many holiday chorus performances over the years. I love watching my kids on stage doing what they like to do :)

First up was the BS Middle School Chorus (6th, 7th, and 8th grades). Brian had been asked to chaperone back stage and I was able to tag along since Jocelyn and Jayce elected not to go.

I have to say that I was appalled at the disrespectful behavior shown by these 7th graders. This experience has taught me that teachers simply do not get paid enough to try to teach kids like this. Part of me wants to remember that some kids act out because they need love and attention. Although that might be true for some in the class, I'm thinking the other 98% are just entitled spoiled rotten brats that have not been raised with manners or to show respect to adults. They were awful. Just plain awful.

At least they sing pretty well.

(Jaina is far left. I labeled her in case you needed help)

We are so thankful to have this wonderful woman as the chorus director. She seriously needs a raise. And maybe the ability to kick students out of her class that don't want to be there.

A week later, we were able to attend a 4th grade performance at Jayce's new school.

Jayce had a "solo" part, if you will. He had kind of an aside speaking part during one of the songs. I have to say that i was very confused about his part when he brought it home to practice but it made a LOT more sense when paired with the funny song. Jayce was definitely the high light of the show!

My best friends from college just happen to be in town and were able to attend Jayce's performance, too.

Rachel's little girl almost stole the show with her cute antics :)

For some reason, kids just LOVE Brian. She was highly amused and entertained by him.

More about my fabulous time with my friends in the next post :)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

30 Degrees

It was 63 degrees this afternoon.

In December.

We'll just ignore the fact that it was only 33 this morning.

I know this 30 degree difference between hi and lo temperatures is not unique to the South, but I like to complain that it is.

Although, you won't hear me complaining about the 63 degrees part. I love warm weather and the sun felt glorious on my bare arms today.

Typically, you'll find that our unseasonably warm temperatures will be followed by a nasty cold front. Some of our heaviest snow falls have taken place after 70 degree temperatures. 

However, this week, it looks like its going to be upper 50's and 60's ever day. I could get down with that.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ten on 10 :: Crazy December Version

I can barely keep up with taking ONE picture a day for my 365 project, but here I am attempting a Ten on 10. Its been ages since I've actually made it past two hours :) It helps that we were home for a lot of the day. Even so, one picture is from my camera phone and I skipped 10:00 AM, noon, 6, and 7:00 PM. Oh well, that's my life right now!

(3:00 PM) Taken at our pediatrician's office

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

An Unexpected Birthday Surprise

I turned 36 the day after Thanksgiving this year.

Eight days before that, I received the news that I have a medium saccular aneurysm in an artery at the base of my brain stem.

Um, yeah. I pretty much knew zilch about aneurysms before November 20th. I just knew they sounded bad and people died from them.

Oh, and they were different than embolisms, which are bad, too. You kinda don't want aneurysms or embolisms, just FYI.

So, here's what an aneursysm is:

An aneurysm is a blood-filled dilation of a blood vessel caused by a weakening of the vessel’s wall. Aneurysms typically develop because of the general wear and tear of blood pressure on the arteries’ walls, called hemodynamic forces. A weak spot in the artery wall bulges out, giving way to the pressure of the blood flow, forming a sac. For this reason, areas of artery or vessel wall which are submitted to higher blood pressures are more susceptible to aneurysm development, such as the branching points of arteries, called bifurcations. In the same way that a balloon stretches, the aneurysm sac balloons out from the vessel wall usually slowly, progressively becoming weaker.

I even have pictures to prove it.

Although that's a cell phone pic of a computer screen, so its kinda hard to see it.

Anyway, there's good news and bad news:

Good News: We found it completely by accident. My neurologist had ordered an MRI to find the source of my migraines. He found the aneurysm instead. Its true that many people that die from ruptured aneurysms never know they even had one. Its good to know what we are dealing with so we can prevent it from getting worse.

Bad News: My lovely aneurysm isn't really in a good spot. Normally, there are a few options for dealing with them, but location rules out two of them. Its also 10 mm in size, which is considered "medium" and it will continue to grow (at what rate is anyone's guess) and increase my chance for rupture.

And let's not forget that unruptured aneurysms typically don't cause any symptoms. I'd love to blame my daily headaches, frequent migraines, and my love for Excedrin Migraine on my birthday present, but I can't. And I can't blame my thyroid, either. My labs looked great.

The neurologist suggested I try a headache preventative called Topamax. It has a laundry list of side effects but I was willing to try it. He failed to mention that Topamax acts as a Co2 inhibitor and interferes with your body's ability to taste carbonated beverages.

I think you all know I'm the biggest Coca Cola fan alive. I drink it like most people drink coffee. Its my 8 ounces of indulgence every morning.

The first morning after I took my Topamax, I opened up a can of Dr. Pepper (the coke was out in the garage and I was being lazy) and took a swig.

"Hey Brian... something is wrong with this Dr. Pepper. I wonder if it froze out in the garage or something?"

I went out to the garage and grabbed a can of Coke.  Same thing. Damn, we were going to have to throw out that 6 pack, too.

A few hours later, we all had lunch at a local cafe. We all ordered Dr. Peppers (Pepsi products were being served there and we all know that Coke is NOT Pepsi!). I sipped my Dr. Pepper hesitantly and was dismayed to find out that this restaurant had the same problem with their soda that we did at our house.

Brian looked at me like I was an idiot. "Um, don't you think that YOU are the problem, NOT the soda? We all ordered the same thing. All of us think the Dr. Pepper tastes fine. Its not us. Its you."

My two friends, masters of the Google Search, quickly confirmed that Brian was right.

And, just like that, I had tasted my last taste of soda for a while.

I guess I could learn to live without soda if I truly needed this medicine and if it truly worked. However, it doesn't. Several unpleasant side effects, three migraines, and many days worth of headaches later, and we've pretty much decided that Topamax doesn't work for me.

As far as the aneurysm goes, I'm still waiting on the Greenville specialist to review my chart and see what they are going to do with me. I'll keep everyone updated :)

In the meantime, we continue to make jokes as only people with our dark sense of humor can appreciate.

"Hold on there... don't go giving yourself an aneurysm or anything! Oh, wait... too late."

And now all my readers can go insist on having MRIs to make sure they don't have secret aneurysms lurking about. You're welcome.


Friday, December 05, 2014

Back to the Wolf Den

Back in 2012, our family took our first trip to Great Wolf Lodge up in Concord Mills, NC. We had a blast! We were only there for 24 hours, but it made quite an impression on us all. Even Jocelyn, who was not even a year old yet, had a good time.

The kids have been eagerly awaiting our return. We skipped going last year (Um, hello, DISNEY WORLD trumps GWL any day!) but decided to try again for this year.

Four days before our trip, Jocelyn was diagnosed with pneumonia. The paediatrician assured us that Jocelyn was not contagious and based on her lack of fever and activity level, coupled with a strong antibiotic, she'd be fine to continue with our Thanksgiving day and Great Wolf Lodge plans.

However, we would end up leaving a sick child behind. Jayce came down suddenly with a sore throat after family pictures the day after Thanksgiving. Our doctor's office was open Saturday morning so I took him in. It wasn't strep; it wasn't the flu. Just a bad virus and he was miserable. And contagious.

Jayce was too sick to even care about missing the trip. He asked if he could stay home with Grandma and play video games. And he did just that.

The rest of us packed up and headed out the door with promises to bring our sick boy lots of goodies.

Each child received a pair of Wolf Ears upon check in. Luckily I had thrown in a "nice" (i.e. non-character shirt) in Jocelyn's bag in case we went out to dinner. It just happened to be gray and it is now known as her "wolf shirt".

Jocelyn absolutely LOVED the "Wolf Den Suite" and pretty much just wanted to stay there and play with her wolf puppy (a stuffed animal dog she brought from home). We finally convinced her to go downstairs to get a glimpse of Santa arriving in a helicopter. 

It was packed! We couldn't see Santa very well at all, so we headed upstairs for a better view.

And then! The tree lighting! 

Okay, I was a little disappointed in the luminosity of the tree.  I think my expectations were a little high.

After the tree lighting, we went out to dinner. We *thought* we'd be eating at Quaker Stake and Lube. Only it was closed. Like, not in business any more. We chose Sticky Fingers instead.

Back to the Lodge for Story Time...

We got a kick out of watching his hat fall off mid-performance :)

At the end, it started to "snow". 

Jocelyn was freaked out at first. Then we told her it wasn't real snow, just bubbles. 

Then it was dance party time!! I need to get Brian to upload the video from his phone. Jocelyn was hilarious! She was getting down!

Then it was off to bed. Well, Jocelyn pretended to go to bed while Brian and Jaina played MagicQuest.

That's the closest she'd get to sleeping for the next TWO hours. Y'all, Jocelyn has never been a great sleeper, but she's NEVER resisted bedtime. Never. This was a first. And hopefully a last. She was uncontrollable. Absolutely refused to lay down. Kicked and screamed and hit when I picked her up to lay down next to me. She finally cried herself to sleep at 12:30 AM.

While the toddler was protesting bed time ("NO! THE HOTEL IS NOT GOING TO SLEEP NOW!"), the 12-year-old suddenly found herself sick to her stomach. She moaned and complained for hours that she felt like she was going to throw up. But she miraculously was better the next morning. Brian made her sit out of the water park anyway, just in case.

Jocelyn lasted about 10 minutes in the wave pool. A face planting episode in the kiddie pool area the day before made the water park a "big scary place!" to our 2-year-old.

 "Can you take my jacket off now? I just want to sit by Jaina."

This is what the wolf Holiday Ears looked like. She scored both pairs.

After Brian and I rode a few water slides together, we walked around the rest of the resort and then took pictures in the lobby before heading out.

If we keep with our traditions, Jocelyn will be almost FIVE when we go again. That just blows my mind. Craziness! These kids just need to stop growing!

We sure missed our Jayce! He loved his beef meximelt that we brought him back from Taco Bell. Sure, the sword and wolf ears were great, too, but that boy loves his Taco Bell :) We were just glad his throat was better enough to eat it!

Next up on the blog catch up... my birthday, migraines, and MRI results. Not quite as fun as Great Wolf Lodge by any means :)