Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Apache Ice Cream Scream

We were sitting inside watching some cartoons this evening before we put "L" to bed.  She had had a long day of movie watching and swimming with her Grandma.  There wasn't a nap in site so an early bedtime was called for. We finally had "L" winding down and next thing I know she is jumping up and down on our couch.  Now that, for those who may not know, is probably not out of the ordinary for my energetic little girl.  She could run laps around me, swim across the Atlantic, and still have energy to run a 3K run. However, the thing that got my attention was hearing the words Ice Cream Man screamed like an Apache war cry! 

We had a recent conversation revolving around the Ice Cream Man. (Notice the upper case letters used.  That is because he IS the ice cream man.  That is apparently his name, no other will do. I am guessing that is similar to Santa.) "L" had noticed that the Ice Cream Man had not been around lately.  She had decided that he had been on "bacation" to take ice cream to the other little girls out there. Apparently she has been keeping her ears trained on our street to make sure that she was immediately aware of his triumphant return. Well, it worked!

Once the Apache war cry had settled into my daughter's very own ice cream warbling, I heard the iconic tinkling coming. We live at the end of a street and usually by the time we hear the music he's gone past and we catch him on the return trip. Knowing this my daughter suddenly rushed into a mad dash for her shoes. She grabbed one pink crock and a glittery jelly shoe and tried to put them on as she hopped toward the door. I screamed "Forget the shoes!" and scooped her up on my way out the door. The door was flung open and I was ready to fly down the sidewalk when I was brought up short.  The saintly, wonderful, kindly Ice Cream Man was waiting outside our door.  He waved at us and was patiently expecting our arrival for our ice cream. We are most definitely "repeat offenders"!

Lorelei picked out a scrumptious looking cookie sandwich. She generously gave me a bite.  It tasted as good as it looked. Tim surprised me with an ice cream bar of my own. Mmmm!  Nothing tastes like summer better than sitting on our front porch steps eating our ice cream on a beautiful evening.  The day was cooling down.  The cars were driving by with their music rolling out the windows. Our dogs had their faces smooched up against the window longingly hoping for a taste. It's the stuff memories are made of. I am sure I will always remember these ice cream nights....and the Apache Ice Cream Scream that went with it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Taking a Cue From the Squirrel

Last night we went out with some friends.  I happened to have had an embarrassing case of Brain Fog while out with them. Or as my brain keeps wanting to call it...Brain Frog. For those who don't know "Brain fog is often experienced as problems with memory or difficulty focusing or problems with processing information or numbers or with paying attention. It is an experience of feeling not quite ‘all there’ mentally." (This definition is taken from an article from Sjogren's World  here.) It's quite common for people who have autoimmune diseases to have this happen.  It can be so frustrating and make a person feel so helpless. I most often  experience it when I mean to say one thing and quite another comes out of my mouth instead. I can go months in between times with this.  Last night I had a Brain Fog "moment" twice! Not fun!  So I was thinking that my brain must be fried and I need to relax as I was falling asleep at bedtime.
This morning I came down the stairs to find the little guy, above, lounging on my deck.  He was so cute, laying in the sun, I had to take a picture!  

Disclaimer: This squirrel's permission was not granted before posting his picture.  Please don't tell him! The end result would be an unpleasant inter-species lawsuit!

Then I thought, if Mr Squirrel can do it, so can I! Happily enough I had just an activity planned for this today! Some Mommy friends met up with "L" and I at T. J. Rockwell's for some lunch and a play date on their humongous (My daughter's favorite word for the moment.  Had to sneak it in for her!) deck out back. It reminds me of something straight out of one of my favorite movies from childhood.  It looks like something the Swiss Family  Robinson's would have built.  There are wooden deck levels everywhere.  Quite a bit of the decking is covered by grass huts and umbrellas.  The best part, according to my daughter, is that there is a mini playground right off the one side of deck. 

The kids clamored onto the playground as soon as they were permitted.  However, my friend and I clamored into the shade given off by the umbrellas as soon as dealing with the kids permitted!  We saved a seat in the shade for another friend. The kids kept each other company til the food showed up. Games of tag and and "sand removal" were played. I took some random shots of the kids with my camera.  We were also silly and took some photos of us, on another friend's camera. (She left it at someone's house last time were were together. I was given the task of getting it back to her.  Teach her to forget her camera, right!) It was warm but the breeze teasingly blew through the umbrellas from time to time, making it bearable. The conversation was great and the food delicious! Unbelievably, the kids had so much fun that we never heard "Mommy!!" once while they were playing.  I can't even tell you how refreshing that was!

At the end of the meal I realized three things.  First was that my shirt was sticking to my back due to the sweat.  Second my daughter was sooo filthy from playing that I wouldn't allow her in the house til I hosed her off out front. And third, I didn't care about either because I had had such a fantastic morning with friends!

Which reminds me, I should really put some peanuts outside as a "thank you" for Mr. Squirrel. Seriously, it's not a pay off for posting his picture with out permission. Shhh!

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Small Celebration!

Ok, I know, sooo not a good picture of me! But I am loving this picture. It's proof that my nerves/ muscles / whatever you want to attribute it to are making small strides. They may be small but I am thrilled with it!

I guess to explain this I have to tell you partially about my pregnancy, back in '06.  I had many many things happen during my pregnancy.  Some things were semi-expected during a pregnancy like carpal tunnel and preeclampsia. I also had some "freak" things happen. You know how doctors always tell you about complications and add that there's a 2% chance that "this" or "that" will happen to a person?  Well...I seem to be that 2%. I ended up with Bell's Palsy, during my third trimester.  It left me with one side of my face completely paralyzed. To find out more about Bell's Palsy, see WebMD.  According the EMedicine there are 25 cases per 100,000 people.  Pregnant women (almost entirely during their 3rd trimester.) are more likely to get it than non-pregnant women. Facts that I find fascinating now, but was down right bitter about when I was one of the "25".

This is what I looked like the day that I gave birth. That's me smiling just in case you couldn't tell that. The right side of the face in that picture is completely frozen.  I couldn't even chew without food falling out, or talk without slurring. The red patch of skin at the corner of my eye, just under my glasses, is raw because I had to tape my eye shut every night to be able to go to sleep. My eye burned constantly because it was always exposed to the air.  So I had to use a thick gel to keep it moisturized. (You won't find me complaining about having to use "normal" eye drops for my Sjs dryness.  After what I experienced with BP that is fantastic!)

According to my ob, my face was suppose to "go back to normal" shortly after giving birth.  There isn't too much that is known about BP.  The ob's suppose that pregnant women end up with it because of all the hormones overwhelming their bodies.  I question that since I found out about having Sjs the fall after I gave birth.  There's also the fact that my brother and father have also had BP. Guess we won't know about that one! Things really didn't change afterwards.  They sent me to a Physical Therapist who helped a little. I stopped short of getting electrical stimulation done.

Since 2006 they have found out about me having Sjs.  My rheumy. Dr. "A" seems to think that my body is working so hard to fight off the Sjs that is doesn't have enough resources left to work through the Bell's Palsy's after effects.  My body has been slowly getting better.  Now, you really can't tell that there was is anything "wrong" with my face unless I smile or try to raise my eye brows.  And really my smile is just a little crooked now.  So you wouldn't naturally think that there was anything different about it.  Occasionally it's more pronounced when I am tired, but I can live with that. 

I've come so far in appearance from when I first found out that I had Bell's Palsy.  I know the picture at the top of this blog doesn't look like much. If you look real close you can see a little wrinkle over the right eyebrow.  That means that something is "coming to life" in there.  It gives me hope that I might actually be able to raise both my eyebrows, at the same time, in the near future! That would be a great thing! Until then I am happy with the new "wrinkle" and will go do a little "Yay Me" dance!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

What a Beautiful Morning!

 Yesterday we had to drop off one of our doggies at the groomers.  She has got about three layers of fur and gets incredibly hot in the summer.  While we waited for her to get a hair cut we decided to go to our local zoo. What a beautiful day we had for it!  High seventies and a bright blue sky.  There were fluffy white clouds that dotted the blue here and there. The first thing to catch my attention was how majestic the flag looked on top of the Kissing Tower. I'm itching to turn it into a line drawing!

We spent the morning checking out all the animals in the zoo.  Now, if you are going to Zoo America expecting a zoo the size of the National Zoo you would be sadly disappointed! If you are walking (with no kids) at a fast pace it might only take 40 minutes. It gets rather boring to go through once you've toured it for the tenth time in one season. What it does have going for it is the amazing ability to thrill my daughter every time we go. And for that alone I love it! 

I took my camera along and got some great pictures.  We had a fantastic time, ran into friends, and had a picnic lunch with some of them. My favorite moment of the day would have to be the prairie dogs. They are usually in their burrows sleeping when we visit.  For some reason they were all out and playing, in frisky moods. We heard a lot of chirping going on.  It was really fun to finally get a chance to watch them. Most definitely a fantastic morning to be had by all. (Even the prairie dogs!)

And here's a picture of "the haircut". Just because I had to slip it in here! 

Images are my own

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gone Camping

I had the song "I'm leaving...on..a..jet plane" stuck in my head on Thursday.  We were heading off on our camping adventure with the family.  I had officially been a good girl and had plenty of energy to use.

...In my head I am seeing myself fist pump and yell, "Yes!"...

I think we packed better then normal.  It looked like we had an incredible amount of boxes for this trip, but it all seemed to fit in it's perfect spot.  I am always amazed at how much you have to pack for a kiddo. We started camping with my daughter at two months old. The amount of things needed to camp with a baby is astounding.  Every summer I think it will get better because she's a year older.  And every summer I am disillusioned all over again! Extra clothes in case some get dirty...check. Hair stuff...check. Bedding and night-night animals...check. Toys...check. Toys...check. Toys...check.  You get the picture!  This time there was actually space left in the back of our vehicle.  I think we're getting better at this packing with a kid, despite all of "L's" stuff!

There was a lot of camp fire making.  "L" had apparently decided that this was the summer that she would master starting a campfire. (Not that we would ever let a three year old do that!)  So she spent lots of time picking up kindling. And spent quite a bit of time following my Dad around, since he has deemed himself "official fire starter".  And we can't forget the sparklers around the fire!

We also spent a lot of time roasting hot dogs and eating.  That's the whole point of camping right??  We had friends come to visit us on Saturday, who also have a three year old girl. We took them down to the lake to swim.  The girls had a blast in the sand.  My Dad made sand castles with them.  So we actually got to relax in the lake for awhile!  It was fantastic.  The sun wasn't too bad.  Just hot enough to keep us warm in the cold lake water. A rain storm came in while we were there.  It was beautiful to watch the rain bounce into the lake and the fog roll along the mountains. I think it's a memory that I'll always have.

Some time was set aside for fishing.  My daughter has her own rod.  Pink, of course, with Barbie on it. Classic. I think she likes the idea of fishing more then actually doing it.  In her eyes, she can't touch the bait because it's slimy. It's boring to wait for a bite.  And the fish just freak her out, staring at her all the time! We did manage to let her catch two fish before she was just done with it.

Of course I can't forget all the time that we wasted away in our hammock and swing that my Dad hung for us.  "L" even managed to convince my Mom, who is currently on crutches, to push her on the swing for awhile.  She's a wiley one, that girl of mine! Many songs were sung and made up in the hammock this weekend.

We have been camping at the same state park as a family since I was two years old. Every summer of my life has been spent at this park.  It's come to be a special place to me.  I long to be running around this camp ground, while I am wading through the slushy snow in winter. I feel like I am coming "home" when we are on our way there.  So every time we go we have to make a stop at the same restaurant. It's the sort of place that you would find in a movie celebrating small town country life. When you open the door, all you hear is the creak of the seats. That's the noise made as all the "townsfolk" turn to stare at the strangers that have invaded their restaurant.  There's still classic country played over the place's speakers. There's enough plaid, ratty tees, and trucker hats to cover the state of Pennsylvania!  The thing that makes it all redeemable, for me, is the food.  You wouldn't expect it, but they have the best hamburgers and it would be hard to find much better than their fried fish. The thing that makes it redeemable for my daughter is the company.  We have found out that Santa Claus, apparently, has a vacation home in that area. Every time we go for dinner he's there with his curling white beard and twinkling eyes.  He pulls "L" up into his lap and they have conversations.  He poses for pictures with her. (I think we'll be able to make a chronological time table some day with the Santa pictures alone, from every summer!) And he always makes sure to wave her way.  It's all she talks about for the rest of dinner and the rides back up the mountain to our campsite. He just MAKES the trip to the restaurant for her!

Despite all of the fun times we had my favorite moment had to be Sunday morning. "L" and I had shared the bed that night.  That's a treat in itself for her since we only share a bed on vacations.  I think if she had her way she'd sleep right in between my husband and I. She's stick her head on my belly and her feet would wind themselves around her Daddy's legs. Anyway...she had woken up Sunday morning with this perfect little smile on her face.  It wasn't filtered or influenced by anything. There was no ulterior motive behind it. (You know how three years old are! Ha!) It was just pure sunshine bottled up in her adorable little package. That MADE my trip!

So I had a fabulous weekend at my second home with my family.  I am looking forward to getting back there this summer.  Til then I will have to be content with the pictures...

When Life Hands You Lemons....

I wanted to feed the animals!! We were suppose to go to Lake Tobias with our Mommy friends last week. I knew that I had to conserve some energy since we'd be going camping with my family at the end of the week.  So I had to make the tough decision to not go. I wrestled with the choice for a couple of hours the night before. It's THE WORST, to me, to have to tell my daughter that we can't do something because of being too tired. I am resolved to try my hardest to not let "L" miss out on anything because of her Mom. It's usually a pretty easy choice to make. Sometimes it can be downright hard. The instinct is there to not care what's going on with me as long as my kid is having a good time. What would you choose if you were quite often making that choice? Most of the time the choice is to spend the energy now and lay around the house exhausted later.  This time the choice was spend the energy now and lay around exhausted while we were camping.  Not something I wanted to do.

I'd like to think that I am a good mom, even a pretty cool one, with all the neat things that we do. What other Mom would encourage complete messes all in the name of art, I ask you?  Wait...don't answer that! Back to the point at hand, when I have to give up some cool activity because I am too tired...I feel like the world's worst Mom!  Now, I realize that there are sooo many other ways, a hundred times worse, to be a "Bad Mom". There's just no way to "talk me down" from that feeling while I am experiencing it, however. Fortunately for me my husband came up with the perfect funk-busting activity!

We don't usually indulge in extravagances in our household. Being a one income family requires us to be frugal when we can. If something is on sale, we're buying.  Restaurant coupons are made for us.  Buy one get one free, I'll take four thanks!  Considering the funk I was in my husband decided that a little indulgence was called for. He gave us some money and sent us off to the movies for the day. Not just a regular movie would do for this occasion either! Being three we had a limited selection to choose from, but I think "L" and I were both happy with the choice we made. We settled into our seats to watch Shrek Forever After in 3D!

"L" had her lap filled with treats. She was alternately chugging down lemonade and stuffing popcorn into her mouth as fast her little arms would allow.  Movie theater popcorn and lemonade are a treat we don't often indulge in after all. Of course I had a bag of popcorn and a cup of my favorite soda to partake in as well. A couple of days later I read that movie theater popcorn can be up to 1200 calories in one bag.  That didn't stop it from tasting like the best popcorn that I had ever eaten! Even better was the fact that we had the theater to ourselves.  "L" was able to get up and dance, talk, and laugh as boisterously as she wanted.  Which she did, of course!!

The movie was cute, laughable with some adult humor hidden in it. The popcorn and soda tasted divine.  And the empty theater was fantastically freeing.  But if you asked me what our favorite part of the whole experience.........The glasses!

So I guess in short...When your life hands you lemons go out and buy yourself some lemonade and a pair of 3D glasses!  Everything will look better after that!

Images are my own

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Highs and Lows

A swipe of alcohol drenched cotton, a stab of a needle, and an ice pack for good luck, it's part of my daily routine on Wednesdays. I have been going through rounds of allergy shots since last fall. The thought is that my body is so busy trying to fight of my Sjs that there is no reserve to fight off my allergies. (In my head, I'm seeing little men in hats marching towards the battle field.They've got to be busy little guys!) According to my allegist the shots will help build my immunity to my allergies. Hopefully, at some point my allergy problems will make like the Terminator and say, "Hasta la vista"! So far the up side to this is that it seems like this might genuinely be working. I have had far fewer sinus headaches since starting the shots.  The down side to all this is that on Wednesday evening I hurt after I've had the shots. It's not just a hurt as in, I've tripped, banged up my knee, and need a band aid kind of hurt. For my daughter that is easily fixed with a kiss and an ice pack. That just doesn't cut it for me. I'm talking a hurt that feels like I've had a hundred brawny men line up to take punches at my arms for twenty four hours. It leaves me laying on the couch bewildered and quizzical.

By this morning I was feeling better and wondering why I made such a fuss over everything the night before. Maybe I'm just a wuss? But, that's usually the way it works. My daughter and I had nothing planned today, so I thought I would surprise her with a trip to feed the ducks. The weather man was calling for "hot". We left the house with a pleasant breeze floating through the air. A stop was made for bread and some slurpies. What goes better with a warm spring day than a slurpy?  I can buy "L" a slurpy and I'm "the best mom in the whole entire world" for the rest of the day! (Those are her words, not mine. But, hey, if the shoe fits!) The dock was peaceful as we waited for the birds to swim to us. It's always amazing to see how excited my girlie gets when she is surrounded by all those birds. She can't throw the bread out fast enough to keep herself or the birds happy. We had ducks quacking, swans hissing, and geese honking while they all impatiently waited for more. I began to understand what old "Mr. Noah" must have felt like on his ark!

When the bread was gone and the noisy birds had forlornly floated away we decided to go walking. Random sticks were picked up and left-behind fishing line was found. They played into our imagination and we went "fishing". This was no ordinary imagining!  My husband LOVES to fish, so "L" knows quite a bit about the fish one can catch around here. We caught Bass large and small.  There were some Sunnies we threw back and some Crappies (Yes! That really is the name of a fish and not the description of what might be considered a "bad catch"!) were bagged. Did you know they make for some "good eating" as my daughter had said? Sometimes I am just blown away by her imagination.

All in all it was a great bonding morning and not one that I will soon forget. It's being sorted under "purest moments of life" and being copied to "I feel like a 'good Mom' moment". Now, don't quote me on this because I will be the first to admit that I am terrible at repeating things word for word...A favorite author wrote something to the effect that you can't achieve the highs until you've crawled through the lows. I completely understand that. This morning was most definitely one of my "highs". And knowing that I go through all the "lows" of Sjs could even be considered a blessing in disguise. Because the "lows" makes the "highs" just that much better!

Image found here