{Books} March 2018

Little Soldiers
by Lenora Chu

Little Soldiers was a fascinating read about an American woman raising her son in China.  He was part of the Chinese school system there and she got an insiders look at it.  It is incredibly competitive, and gave me good insight to my student's lives.  Many of my students are involved in multiple sports, some sort of musical instrument lesson, in addition to math, English and Chinese tutoring.  It's incredible.

The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah

I could not put down The Great Alone.  If you have ever said to me that you wished you had lived in Alaska, please read this book.  It's so good, and it gives a very accurate portrayal of life in rural Alaska.  The harshness and the beauty.  The desire for independence, and the need for community.  Gah, I just can't say enough- it was such a good book.  I underlined so many lines, and I felt like the entire book was a walk down memory lane to our time in the village.

The Case Against Sugar
by Gary Taubes

This book was a hard read (sometimes boring) and I'm super glad I was listening to it (not reading it myself), but in the end, I am so glad I read it.  It made things very clear to me about diabetes and it's link with cancer, Alzheimers, and metabolic syndrome.  It re-inspired my dedication to reducing the amount of sugar in my children's lives (our goal is 24 grams or less each day), and made me disgusted with our food culture.  I highly recommend listening to it.

The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale might be one of my top five reads ever.  It's one of the biggest books I've ever read, and I read it in record time. I found myself carrying it with me everywhere I went.  It's about two sisters torn apart during World War II.  It is, like The Great Alone, un-put-down-able.

Option B
by Sheryl Sandberg

Option B is about Sheryl losing her husband unexpectedly and how she moves forward.  The book also offers a lot of practical advice about how to walk your friends or loved ones through a loss such as hers.  I listened to the book on audio, and it was really lovely.

Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven was amazing. I listened to it, and I found myself looking for chores around the house that I could do while listening. Laundry? Yes please. Dishes? Sure! Anything so I could listen for ten more minutes.  It's a story that takes place in a post-influenza world where the entire infrastructure sort of crumbles.  The whole story is so well written, I found myself completely riveted, and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next.

The Immortalists
by Chloe Benjamin

The Immortalists was a book that stuck with me long after I had finished it.  It's about a set of siblings who has the date of their death revealed to them by a fortune teller in their childhood.  The book then goes on to tell how this impacts them as adults.  It had me questioning whether I would want to know; how it would impact me; and whether or not I play my life too safe.  I highly recommend it.

Every Note Played
by Lisa Genova

Every Note Played is a book I had highly anticipated after loving every single other book by Genova (Love Anthony, Left Neglected, Still Alice, and Inside The OBriens), but it fell way, way short.  I hated all the characters in this book and felt the whole book was short on feeling.  The entire read left me feeling disappointed and let down.  My suggestion? Don't waste your time.

Uncommon Type
by Tom Hanks

This was an unexpected delight that I listened to on audio, and fell in love with.  It's a collection of short stories that had me smiling and feeling light hearted and happy.  It made me want to write more and read more and live more.  The best part was that it was read by Tom Hanks himself, so I could really hear him as he told the stories.  Hear his heart. It was a fantastic book.  Nothing deep, but exactly what I needed.

Today Will Be Different
by Maria Semple

I finished this book in about a day.  I listened to it on audio and just never stopped listening. It was engaging and fascinating and Semple's characters are just so real and relatable.  It helps, too, that her books often take place in Seattle/the Northwest (where I'm from) so I love that!  Another book that was entertaining from start to finish and left me feeling really good about myself as a human.  Ha!

Cold Tangerines
by Shauna Niequist

This was a book club pick that I liked in the beginning, but by the middle felt like an uninspired collection of blog posts someone threw together and called a book.  There was nothing cohesive about them, and the author seemed kind of self important or whiny... It just wasn't the book for me right now.


I was shocked (!!!) that I was able to read eleven books in one month. It made me really proud of myself to make a goal (8 books) and stick to it. It makes me want to make more outrageous goals and stick to them.


March Tally: 11
2018 Tally: 21
Yearly Goal: 21/60


Around Here: Week 16 {2018}

Peak Flow: Wyatt's "normal" is 250
His yellow zone: below 200
Hospitalization: 125

Going... to see my new counselor for the first time.  He provided a lot of insight considering we only talked for an hour (and most of that was me pouring my heart out, while crying).  He validated that what I've been through with Logan and Wyatt has been traumatic (both getting the phone call from the school that Logan had been seizing and witnessing the seizure at our house in third grade; as well as going through Wyatt's hospitalization for his lungs not working back in December) and he said I may be working through a bit of PTSD and that those experiences may be leading to my own physical health anxiety. Like my mind may be trying to predict the next big thing, and that's why when something hurts, I freak out like I do.
He also said that life has always been vulnerable- I've never had the ability to save my kids or loved ones- but we build up walls and safeties to protect ourselves from that truths, and I had mine ripped away in a pretty traumatic way in December when Wyatt was in a  hospital bed unable to breath, with a doctor in our hometown telling me there was nothing else he could do. (Thankfully, another medical team was on the way to transport us to Spokane where the children's hospital could do more, but it was a scary time nonetheless).
So my work with him will be on accepting the truth that life is unexpected and fragile.  Along with some other things.  I'm looking forward to getting to the bottom of some of my issues.

Feeling... better, bit by bit.  I am working on sleeping enough and exercising (walking the kids to school as much as possible, which is my favorite exercise) and taking my Prozac.  I haven't been feeding my body well this week, and I'm hoping to improve that next week, cause I can tell it's impacting how I feel. I crave comfort food, but it doesn't actually make me feel better, if that makes any sense.

Appreciating... all the love & support I've received after sharing about my (sort of) breakdown in my last "Around Here" post.  You all are amazing, and I'm so glad to have such an awesome village of mama's who have been where I'm at and rally around (and don't judge) when I am going through a rough spot. I have seriously felt nothing but love all week, and it means so much to me. Thank you.

Remembering... that recovery from anxiety is an up and down process.  I'll have two days where I feel pretty darn good, and then the third day I wake up feeling like I have been chased by a bear and downed two dozen cups of coffee.  It's frustrating, especially when I'm doing the same thing everyday for my recovery... but I just breathe, and know the scared feelings will pass, and especially remember that (for me) the mornings are the worst.  I move about my routine at a normal pace and trust that with time I will return to my old self.  I am also trying to watch my thoughts- staying in the moment helps me be assured that my thoughts aren't contributing the anxiety.  If I "hang out" in the future ("Is Logan going to have a bad reaction to his medication?" "Will I have more migraines next month?" "Will Josh get in a car accident on the way to work?") I tend to have more physical symptoms. It's a vicious cycle.  Staying I the moment, where I am, really helps.

Watching... Jack receive the Roaring Reader award at his school (Go Jack!) and getting all the boys' report cards.  They were all pretty darn good, and I'm proud of them for their hard work.  Wyatt especially is an amazing student, and I can't wait to see where the future takes that kid.  He's in first grade and already completed all the first grade reading curriculum, and first & second grade spelling words.  Little smarty!

Enjoying... date night with Josh (last week and this week) with some homemade pizza (Hawaiian, our current fav) after the kids went to bed Friday night and dreaming of getting away together.  Life has been heavy lately, and the thought of going away somewhere just the two of us is a dream I often indulge!

Reading... Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (who also wrote The Memory of Light, which I loved) which was such a good story about a boy with Aspergers trying to make it in "the real world".  I listened to it, and really enjoyed it. I want to read all his books now.
I am also still working on Seizures and Epilepsy in Childhood: A Guide for Parents.  I am learning a lot about how Logan's seizures changed and what that means for him.  I am hopeful that at his follow up appointment in three months, I'll be able to ask more intelligent questions and understand more fully what is happening in his brain.
And lastly, I am listening to the second half of The Untethered Soul, which I started in March, but my library checkout ended before I finished it.  It is full of life changing advice.  I'm hoping to do a post devoted to its advice soon!

Taking... the twins to the dentist, and hearing "No cavities!" which makes me so happy!

Meeting... Josh for lunch one day last week with Carly in tow.  It was so nice to squeeze in some extra time with him, and to show Carly where daddy goes when he's "at work".  His students (he teaches fourth grade) thought Carly was the cutest, and it was so sweet.

Attending... baseball games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights this week.  It was a crazy-busy week at the start, and so freaking windy and cold! I can't even describe the cold. It was miserable!  But it was also awesome because Josh got a chance to come to one of Wyatt's games finally, and I was able to go to one of the twins' games. (So far, we have missed each others' games because of overlapping game schedules!)  Josh was so proud of little Wyatt hitting the ball and running his heart out to first base, and I was SO proud of Jack pitching and SO proud of Logan (our leftie!) playing first base.  They both got multiple players out, hit like champs, slid into some bases and just played super awesome.  Seeing them out there in their uniforms also confirmed for me that the changes we've made have definitely made a difference in their bodies.  I know they have lost weight (at least ten pounds each) since the new year, but seeing their bodies from the bleachers, I can really see it.  It makes me so proud of us.

Grateful... Logan is adjusting well to the secondary anti-seizure medication so far.  We are on week three, and he's taking a small dose, twice a day.  By week five, we will be upping the evening dose (-it's a very specific titration schedule that we have posted in the bathroom, so that we increase his doses very slowly so he is less likely to develop the very rare, but super-scary, possibly life threatening rash that can occur with this and other epilepsy medications.  Deep breath, Shelly.  Deeeep breath!)

Caring... for Wyatt as he went from playing in a baseball game with a slight runny nose Wednesday night (and blowing a 250 on his peak flow meter) to coughing all night long and not being able to get off the couch Thursday morning (and barely blowing a 200 on his peak flow).  A drop of 50 peak flow points is unheard of for Wyatt thus far, and it had me thoroughly freaked out.  I managed to get him a same day appointment with our doctor, who put him on oral steroids (a 5 day course) as well as albuterol and inhaled steroids for his nebulizer (a 3 week course) and also found a double ear infection (Wyatt's third in three months!) and prescribed a course of 10-day antibiotics, as well as gave us a referral to see the Ear, Nose & Throat specialist to talk about getting tubes put in once he's healed up.
Thursday his peak flow number dipped down to 195, and he spent much of the day coughing on the couch moaning with flushed cheeks.  After just one dose of oral steroids, we could see a difference, and by yesterday (Friday) night his numbers had jumped back up 225 after albuterol treatments every four hours and while he's still coughing and we are not at all in the clear, I am far less scared.  This sickness took him down so fast, just like the one back in December did, and it's been an exercise in faith to walk it with him.
The truly crazy thing is that Carly has the same cold, and other than some snot, she's perfectly fine. Wyatt's asthma just kicks in as soon as he gets a cold.  So while he has an "asthma" diagnosis, "Reactive Airway Disease" is a far more fitting explanation of what happens to him when he gets sick.


A note of encouragement for everyone fighting their battles:
Keep going!


Around Here: Week 15 {2018} In Which I Reach My Breaking Point

100% accurate

Wyatt spelling his name in Pretzel

{Logan pitching}

Wrapping... up spring break with a mellow weekend, which was just what we needed.  Lots of sleep and cleaning and preparation for the week ahead.  Josh also made more progress on our white picket fence for the front & side yard, which is making all my house dreams come true.  It's going to be SO cute!!!

Reading... To Kill A Mockingbird and my Seizures and Epilepsy in Childhood book to better understand what the neurologist was talking about at Logan's appointment last Thursday. 

Stopping... in to let the office know of the changes to Logan's seizures and the new protocol for his seizures, including not calling 911 unless his seizures are more than five minutes long.  It feels so scary to be the one "in charge" of his seizures.  I'm hoping as I continue learning more, I'll feel more confident in this role.

Baseballin'... with all three of our boys this week.  Jack was starting pitcher at their first game (so so proud of him!) and Logan played first base (he's our leftie!).  At their second game, Logan played pitcher and Jack got his first pop fly.  Wyatt is doing an amazing job, hitting almost every time he's up to bat, and playing with an amazing attitude, which is a huge change from last year.  It's so fun to see them growing up in the game, and seeing their skills improve so much over time.  Josh loves the game, and I love watching the boys and their dad bond over it.

Getting... used to the twins' new transition lenses.  They have begged for years for transition lenses, and this year we finally got them.  They LOVE having the shades during baseball and when playing outside, and they are keeping their glasses on so much more.  It was definitely worth it (less than $70 each) and will be so good for their eye health.  We didn't get them for Wyatt because his glasses prescription is so small, he can just take off his glasses and wear shades if he wants to, without losing much sight.

Attending... MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) this week, which was great. We had a guest speaker who spoke about creating (and maintaining) strong marriages.  He gave some great nuggets of wisdom- including the idea that every husband desires being "wanted" more; that every husband needs your desires laid out clearly; and that husbands will likely respond well to an apology if you do it right. (And if you do it right, your relationship is more likely to move on past a hiccup instead of staying stuck.)  It made me want to put a little more effort into "us" and make sure that Josh is getting the BEST of me, not the REST of me, after the kids and life!

Grateful... for spring(ish) weather and walking to school everyday this week.  There's been some clouds and wind which haven't been strictly spring (and sunny) weather but it's been close enough that I walked everyday and I'm so grateful for that daily exercise for me and the boys, even if we did get sprinkled on a little bit a few times.  Clocking those three miles (it's 3/4 of a mile, there and back, there and back) everyday day feels so good!!!

Experiencing... a lot of anxiety and panic the last few days, and with it, all different sorts of health anxiety & worries.  Between Logan & Wyatt's health issues (the asthma and epilepsy which require constant monitoring); my hormones; the normal exhaustion that comes from caring for four kids and my early morning work schedule (which requires waking at 3:30am 3x a week); I am just suddenly worn out.  Fried.  I woke up five days in a row, in a complete PANIC this last week.  Heart pounding, arms shaking, dizzy, terrified, shaking, like the feeling when you almost get into an accident...

Deciding... that enough is enough and going to the doctor for my worries & accompanying panic.  He put me on Prozac, starting me on a low dose to see how I do, and he also suggested I increase my migraine medication in hopes of bringing my number of migraines down.  (I'm currently having about six per month, which has me feeling trapped and kind of depressed because they make me such a miserable person to live with.  I hate suffering so, and making those who live with me suffer.)  The Prozac should help with any depression from the migraines, the anxiety & panic, any OCD tendencies I have (which manifest themselves when I'm having health concerns) as well as reducing headaches.

Calling... a therapist as well, and hoping that the mix of medication and therapy will help me get back on my feet.  I just want to stop feeling scared all the time.  I want to stop thinking I have cancer or some other deadly disease everyday.  I want to stop living in fear.

Telling... myself that it's okay that I don't have the strength to fight this on my own.  It's okay to need help.  It's okay that carrying the weight of Logan & Wyatt's diagnoses became too much.  It's okay that some days it feels unfair. And some days I cry. A lot.  It's okay that other people can carry on just fine without help, and I can't.  It's okay.  It's okay.  It's okay.  {deep breath}



Around Here: Week Fourteen {2018}

Wyatt's peas

Always stacking things

Flashback to Alaska
Flashback to our old life

Left Centralized Slowing on EEG
Generalized Slowing on EEG

Hosting... Easter at our house and having family in town for the first half of spring break. It was so fun to spend time with Josh's parents, brother & sister and nephews.  His aunt, uncle & cousins also joined us on Easter day, and it was great to see them as well.  Carly enjoyed spending time with our nephew Alvin who adores her, and the adults enjoyed playing Cards against humanity after the kids were in bed, which is so naughty, but so hilarious (seriously, so.much.laughter!)  There was lots of grandma time for the kids.

Celebrating... Easter in all the ways- dyeing eggs with the boys, hosting an egg hunt and filling Easter baskets with treasures for our kids.  This year we filled them with tic tacs, one small chocolate bunny, a color book, water bottles, swim goggles, a stuffed animal and some stickers.  The kids were tickled, and so was I, as most of it was purchased at Dollar Tree!  I also really enjoyed dressing Carly for the day, and getting my house ready for company.  I love an excuse to deep clean and tidy up.

Taking... out the giant hedge of bushes that lined the entire front & side of our property.  Josh, his brother and nephews worked tirelessly for two entire days over Easter weekend, cutting, digging and pulling the bushes out, bit by bit, until they were completely gone.  Then they took them, load by load, out to our cousin Januari's place, where she said Josh could burn them.  Josh enjoyed taking the boys out to her land where he grew up playing with his cousins on school breaks and during the summer.
Josh's dad also helped (a ton!) and moved a giant rock Josh wanted by the front door, and also moved mounds of dirt with his tractor to help level the yard for when Josh is ready to plant grass and put in a fence.  Josh's Uncle Paul allowed Josh to dump that excess dirt & rock on his property, which was another huge blessing for us.
So many neighbors have stopped by, saying what a good job Josh has done and how good it already looks.  It's nice for him to get accolades on all his hard work.  And boy are we grateful for all the help he had over the weekend from family.  Thank you all!!!

Grocery shopping... on my own, which was lovely (thank you, Carol!) while recovering from hosting Easter and having company.  The house was a mess, the fridge was empty and there was so much laundry to be done! Ain't that the way?!?  I also got nice break when Julie & Januari took Carly for a walk while the twins & Wyatt dyed Easter eggs.  So grateful for family who is gracious when this mama is running low on patience!

Replanting... Wyatt's peas as they continue growing.  We are still having occasional freezing temps, so we can't put them outside just yet, but they outgrew their egg carton, so we put them into red solo cups, where they are growing like weeds in the laundry room window!  I can't wait to get them into the raised beds outside.  They are going to do so well.

Heading... to Spokane for Logan's yearly neurology appointment.  He also had an EEG, which is a test that detects electrical activity in your brain.  It's his third EEG.  His first was after his original grand mal seizure (October 2016) and showed no abnormalities.  His second was in the spring of 2017, and showed centralized slowing on the left side, indicative of a seizure disorder.  And the one yesterday showed both centralized and generalized slowing, meaning his seizures, and where they originate, have changed.  This is why we've seen new petite mal (absent or "staring" seizures) lately (one in October 2017, one in December 2017 and two in February 2018) and this is also why his medication is not controlling them.  His current medication worked fine for centralized seizures, but is not effective for generalized seizures.
So we left the doctor's office yesterday with a new prescription for a drug that works on both centralized and generalized epilepsy.  We will very slowly work him up to an appropriate dose before slowly weaning him off his current medicine.  Possible side effects include dizziness, drowsiness and double vision in addition to a super scary rash.  So please, if you think of him, pray for him.  Being on two medications at the same time could be really exhausting for his little body, but we don't want to take him off his current med until he is fully on the new one for fear that he could have more seizures in the interim.
I was telling my mom yesterday after the appointment that I vacillate wildly between feeling so grateful that he only has epilepsy and that it's treatable with medication and feeling so frustrated that it's something he has to deal with at all and wondering why he has it and what caused it and wishing it would just go away. Kind of the same way I feel about Wyatt and his asthma.  I'm so glad we can manage it, but so frustrated that we have to.  I know there are other mama's out there who have it so much worse, and they give me strength on days when I struggle.

Loving... the twins matching last night after their showers.  They decided to wear identical clothes to bed and Logan even wore Jack's old glasses so their glasses would look the same.  They knew I would get a kick out of it, so they surprised me.  I could hear them in the hallway saying, "We look just the same!" Hahaha!
Since it's spring break, we also let them sleep together in Logan's bed, and it was sweet to see them sleeping together before we went to bed last night.  Their bond is just something else.

Playing... with friends during different playdates the week.  Knowing we had family coming the first half of the week, and Logan's neurology appointment the second half of the week, we planned the week to be a bit of a "stay-cation"- playdates, shooting with Josh, family movie night and (if the rain will stop) the skate park.

Remembering... our life in Alaska as Facebook shows me "On This Day" from 2012, 2013 & 2014.  So many memories of life in the village.  And of our sweet boys when they were so little!

Reading... To Kill A Mockingbird in preparation for reading Go Set A Watchman and enjoying it so much.

Feeling... exhausted after a week spent on the go, nonstop and up before 4am every morning except Tuesday.  Josh and I have joked that we're going to need a vacation from our vacation. Ha!

Looking forward... to date night tonight and to sleep this weekend.  I am really desiring some down time.