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Hullo, hullo, hullo!

flower
I'm seeing some lovely end-of-year posts from friends here on LJ, so I'm going to do the same... as well as resolve to come back and post here more often. G+ just hasn't caught on with the people I want to connect with, FB is too oriented towards small bites (taste great but less filling), and I really need to be able to sit down and produce longer, more thoughtful pieces. I do have a WordPress food blog, and I might someday export this LJ to WP, but for now here I am and so here's where I'll post.

We are enjoying a lovely holiday season this year. Linc and Bill headed out to Seattle for the week before Christmas, so I had a chance to visit with some local folks, soak in the Korean spa, throw a ladies' holiday puzzle/ornament exchange party, finish knitting a gift, wrap and mail things to family, and generally laze about like a lump. We have started an annual tradition of hiring a cleaning service for a few hours in December, and this year I scheduled it for right before they left... so I had an entire week of an uncluttered, sparkling, decorated house. It was marvelous!

When they got back, we had a few more days of watching Christmas movies, making Christmas cookies, wrapping gifts, and playing 12 Days all together. It was all quite cozy.

The boys let me sleep until almost 10 a.m. on Christmas morning, bless their hearts! Clay even got Julia and Mike up for a video chat, so I had all my kids with us that morning, which was really a magnificent feeling. I think everyone got some nice surprises, as well as the traditional books and t-shirts that I tend to fall back on, and I know I was gifted with some really terrific goodies (a snuggly little otter from my dad, a book of scrollwork from Clay, an amazing collection of family photos bound in a book from Julia, a Fiestaware serving set and a magnifying lamp from Bill, a tabletop version of Tetris from Cordell, a poem from Linc, and beautiful PURPLE Uggs from my sister!).

Bill's big gift from me this year was a Weber Smokey Mountain cooker, and he'll be taking it for a spin this weekend (using the book I got him as a guide). Smokin' in the snow, nom!

The last few days have been mostly quiet... we finally got a thin blanket of snow on Christmas day (breaking all kinds of Chicago weather records), and we've been all snuggling up to play with, read, and otherwise enjoy our gifts and each other. It's been a truly lovely week, and I'm so very grateful for all of it.

I've been feeling like doing more calligraphy and illumination lately, and will be doing my very first nose-to-tail scroll for the SCA in the next week or so (The Society for Creative Anachronism, at least in the area we live in, gives out handmade scrolls that are really more like certificates or diploma-type awards as acknowledgement of service rendered or honors given to their members). I've been slowly getting better at the scribal arts -- both calligraphy (the lettering) and illumination (the painted decorations) -- and so I'm going to take the plunge and do an entire award for the next event. I'm a little nervous... the bar is set a bit high, with the amazing level of talent in this area... but every one of these folks did their first scroll at some time, and so now it's my turn. I'll definitely take photos and post it once it's been given to its recipient (but until then, I've been warned that all information about the scroll is to be treated like a state secret). Wish me luck!

I've been working on trying to read more, too. I'm on Goodreads, if you want to connect there and share reviews.

One thing that's been pretty difficult for me during the holidays has been struggling with this ear infection. Somewhere in mid-November, I had an earache that wouldn't go away, and after about two weeks of trying to deal with it using home remedies, I finally dragged my butt into the doctor's office. I got a physician's assistant who took a quick peek and said, "Yup. It's infected," and wrote a scrip for ear drops. I asked if it was a bacterial or fungal infection, and he said it was bacterial, but that the drops he was prescribing would take care of both. I asked for him to debride the ear, but he seemed puzzled that I would ask and was unwilling to do so. So I took the drops, and the sharp pain abated somewhat (it was OK during the day but worse in the evenings and night), however the feeling of pressure gradually got worse.

About two weeks into December, I used a gentle Valsalva maneuver to try to clear the very stuffed ear (it had sometimes worked in the weeks before), and noticed that I had air coming through my ear! I stopped immediately, called the PA, went right in and got a referral to an ENT. The ENT couldn't see me until almost a week after that, and I had a few days of freaking out about using the CPAP with a perforated eardrum. It turns out that it's not optimal, but not as horrible as I thought it would be (it will slow healing, but not make things worse, which was what I was afraid of).

Once I finally got into the ENT, he extracted an unnervingly huge glob of black junk from the ear canal, confirmed otomycosis (a fungal infection), and not one but two ruptures of the tympanic membrane. He dumped in some gentian violet (which was not fun at all, but made sense... we use it to help moms and babies battling thrush, which is a candida or yeast infection, so using it against fungus seemed right). He has no experience with CPAP use and perforated eardrums, though, and had no other advice besides another scrip for eardrops and to use a blowdryer to dry the ear.

Once I got home, I read online that gentian violet is ototoxic and not to be used with a perforated eardrum... but I have no way of knowing if that made things worse or not. I was pretty upset at first, but there's no way to clean the middle ear or to undo what he did, now I'm just waiting for everything to heal so I know how much hearing I still have. I'm getting copies of my charts, though, just in case.

The ear has been partly to mostly deaf for most of the month, which has been really hard to deal with. Unfortunately, it's my "good" ear, so every time I try to hear something better, I unconsciously turn that side towards what I'm trying to listen to. I think both the bacterial (if it was ever there) and fungal infections have died down, but the ear is constantly moist, which is not good for healing the ruptures or getting rid of fungus. I've turned down the humidifier part of the CPAP machine, and might try removing it entirely, but all night I hear squeaks and crackles from the ear as air is forced through it... it was pretty disturbing at first, but now it's just annoying.

I saw him again yesterday, and while he did suction out more crap (sorry if this is TMI), he changed the eardrops and told me to come back in three weeks. I'm a little surprised that this is his protocol (from what I am reading, frequent clearing of the site is paramount to eradication; three weeks seems like a long time to leave crap in there), but after the beginning of the year, I'll be in a better position to choose my own care providers and will reassess whether to continue with his practice or not. He did confirm that the infection cultured as Aspergillus niger, which is pretty common and definitely associated with perforations. When I asked about diet changes or supplements to help fight this off, he barely stopped short of laughing out loud and scoffed, "Save your money." (I don't think it was a laughable question. Caprylic acid, found in coconut oil and ginger, and garlic are pretty potent antifungal substances, for example, and people with chronic yeast problems respond well to cutting sugar from their diets; would aspergillus react to this kind of diet modification as well? I did get some validation from the nurse, who commented, "She's asking some really good questions!" and who earned a dirty look from the doc.)

So, tl;dr... currently in a holding pattern with the ear. Ow.

I've known for years that I do better physically and mentally when I am regularly practicing yoga, meditation, Nia or some other regular exercise, and especially deep hot-water soaks. I am also in a bad place financially where I can't pay to do any of these things right now, and I really really suck at self-motivation for doing them here by myself at home (especially since I have no dedicated place to do them without being exposed to the chaos and curious eyes of other family members, unless I get up at a crazy early hour).

What I would love (besides winning a lottery) is a neighbor or friend who lives close to me who would like to work on these things together, but that's not possible in this neighborhood. At this point, I just need to hang on until we CAN move, and then be VERY VERY picky about where we move to, making sure we have a tub (or place to put one), friends close by to walk/exercise with, access to a studio that offers yoga and Nia, and maybe a meditation center. Until then... gah. I do some of these things very sporadically, but I'm at a loss as to how to get myself to do them regularly enough to make a difference.

The gluten-free diet has been helping, thank goodness. My wonderful mother-in-law helped me stock up on some gf supplies for cooking and baking, and that's been a huge help. So the worst of the joint aches have subsided (unless I backslide) and that is a blessing indeed. I've also isolated asparagus as the (so far) sole culprit for my gouty finger, and that's easy enough to avoid, thankfully.

With the new PPO health plan, I'm hoping to find a health care provider who is also an integrative medicine practitioner (like Jane Murray in Kansas City), who will help me find my way back to a place where I'm not susceptible to these awful bacterial and fungal infections anymore, and help me deal with this whole fibromyalgia mess. There's also a possibility of finding some kind of medical prescription for some kind of in-home water therapy, or maybe a referral to a facility close by (I haven't found one, though, and I've been looking). I also need to call the closest YMCA that offers Nia and see if the PPO will cover membership (the HMO did not), so I can start doing that again (it's five miles away, though, and getting there and back in Chicago traffic can take longer than the class itself, which is a huge disincentive; also, Linc has aged out of their childcare program, so I'd need to deal with him as well).

Everyone else seems to be doing pretty well. Cordell and Clay both got straight As and were on the dean's honor list (Julia got an A in her organic chemistry class, too!). Cord did a bunch of tutoring, both at DePaul and for some homeschoolers. Clay is still a lifeguard for Wright Community College. I think they'll both continue those jobs into 2013. Clay has been spending a lot of time in Kansas City in December (yay, cheap Megabus), but when he's here, things have been going really well. In fact, both Cord and Clay have really stepped up to help with things around the house, and I'm incredibly grateful for it.

Bill got a paper accepted for publication in November, which is awesome, and has a lot on his plate in the lab. His class for next semester got cut due to low enrollment, so he'll have even more time to devote to research and writing. He's been really supportive through this whole ear odyssey, thank goodness. I'm really glad he got to go to Seattle this year; I know he misses his friends and family there a lot, and I wish we could get him back there more often. But he made the most of this visit, and it seemed to do him good. He's been baking less (mostly due to my dumb gluten issues, darn it) but mixing up some yummy things at the bar in the last few months. I'm really looking forward to his experiments with the smoker! He's been trying to shake the cold he picked up in Seattle... his lungs are his weak spot, and it's going to take a while to clear out, but I think he's over the worst of it.

Linc is all about Minecraft these days (we have a full-time server up, so if you or your kid would like to join us, let me know your player name and we'll whitelist you). He also is constantly drawing comic books (Swordsman Jack is his main protagonist) and "training" with his boffers. He has made the most out of the dinky amount of snow we've gotten, but would really like to do some sledding before winter is over. He has had some issues that has made me think he might have a sensory processing difficulty, and I'm reading The Out-of-Sync Child in order to find out more about it. He's really loved the regular homeschool days at the local trampoline facility, so I'm looking into a regular weekly homeschool gymnastics/trampoline program as well. He's a voracious reader, and takes a few books to bed with him each night. Wolves are his favorite animal, green is his favorite color, gum is his favorite treat, and pizza is his favorite food. He has had a few colds this month (well, so did his brothers and dad; somehow I've managed to dodge them, thankfully), but in general seems to be a healthy, happy kiddo.

So Bill will be eligible to apply for a sabbatical next academic year, and if he gets it, I want to think about a way that we can celebrate our Big Birthdays next spring (I'll be 50, and he'll be 40). Even though it would almost certainly require us to go into more debt, I am hoping that we can pull off some kind of big trip together... Europe, Japan, Thailand, Australia are all potential destinations. The idea of doing one of the Thai food tours seems tantalizing beyond words. We are just starting to talk about it, but I know we will do SOMETHING big together next year.

Yikes, that's a lot. I think I'll wrap it up for now. (Maybe if I wrote more than once a month, I wouldn't have to do these huge novels. I'll work on it!)

Here's hoping you and those close to your heart have a warm and wonderful 2013 ahead of you!

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
wordweaverlynn
Dec. 29th, 2012 01:09 pm (UTC)
Sending hugs and wishes for a good new year. Sorry about the ear -- what a freaking mess.

Am I in your G+ circles?
mamagotcha
Dec. 29th, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
Yes, I see you are in my G+ circles. And thank you for reading, and responding!
lunacow
Dec. 30th, 2012 02:28 am (UTC)
Always nice to read your updates. Hope the ear improves soon. Yay on all the nice things!
mamagotcha
Dec. 30th, 2012 07:43 pm (UTC)
Last night, the ear noises actually abated for the first time in a few weeks, which is making me cautiously optimistic for recovery. Also, I can hear conductively really well, so the hearing apparatus seems to be doing OK (your head makes a LOT of wild noises when you drink water!), so now I need to get these holes closed up. The pain is almost totally gone, thank GOD because I am a total wuss about such things. Glad to know you're reading!
lunacow
Dec. 31st, 2012 05:27 am (UTC)
Glad for some good news on the ear front. Keep healing!

Happy New Year to all of you!
mh75
Dec. 30th, 2012 06:11 am (UTC)
1. I have to update Goodreads. I like it. But when i get a little behind, i find it daunting to catch up. Still, have to so i can evaluate my goals for last year.
2. Ear: ow. And i'm sorry.
3. I've known for years that I do better physically and mentally when I am regularly practicing yoga, meditation, Nia or some other regular exercise, and especially deep hot-water soaks. I am also in a bad place financially where I can't pay to do any of these things right now, and I really really suck at self-motivation for doing them here by myself at home (especially since I have no dedicated place to do them without being exposed to the chaos and curious eyes of other family members, unless I get up at a crazy early hour). Jeese, do i hear you here, on all channels.
4. He has had some issues that has made me think he might have a sensory processing difficulty, and I'm reading The Out-of-Sync Child in order to find out more about it. I hope to get to my post about William soon. This is something i've been exploring with him, too. Reviews on Amazon made me think a different book may be better, but i haven't read either yet. I have had some success implementing a few suggestions that i got around town, though, even though William would not currently be diagnosed with a disorder. (I have my ideas about that, too.)

Did Lincoln give you the message i told him to give you? (That he was a great house guest, and i hope he comes back soon. Josh and i both thought he'd grown up a lot since the last visit.) I also hope he likes the books William and chose for him...

Sorry about the sick. We are a plague bearing house, sadly.
5. The food we had in Thailand was really amazing.
6. I'll try if you try.
mamagotcha
Dec. 30th, 2012 07:58 pm (UTC)
I don't include all my books... I just couldn't. I do tend to troll other people's lists to build up my already-read shelf. My ratings are all over the place, don't trust them. If I'm having a bad day, everything gets a low score, and if I'm feeling magnanimous (or if I know the writer), I throw out stars like a Jerry Lewis telethon.

Ear is actually showing signs of improvement, for the first time in weeks (all I had to do was publicly assert how sucky it was, and NOW it gets better? I shoulda done this ages ago!). Fingers crossed...

I was where you are now about 18 years ago (three littles) although not working outside the house... despite my current whining, I want to give you hope that IT DOES GET BETTER! Once everyone is out of diapers, you will see the world as shiny and new again! Hang in there... you WILL sleep again someday, I promise!

I got that sensory book from the library; if you hear of others that seem better to you, let me know (hard to believe there aren't any, this one seems pretty old and dated); but I think I'm getting some of the basics and that's helping. The fact that so many kids fall into this category seems to indicate it's just another way that kids are, not really a sign that anything is broken... but that our regular coping/teaching strategies and expectations need to be adjusted to fit them. This is the first kid I've had these issues with, at least to the point that I want to try to change things. What's funny is that another friend in Kansas City did a lot of work to have her kid diagnosed and treated for this, but when I did childcare for her, her kid and mine just did the same things and I thought they were totally normal kids, thought she was seeing problems where there weren't any. And now I know they were indeed doing similar things together, that they were meeting similar challenges with similar behaviors. I'm not convinced Linc needs any "treatment," but I do think that there are things we can do to help him get through his day more securely and comfortably. I might write more about this in another post...

Those books are great, and he's been enjoying them a lot. I didn't get the message, but we'll let it slide. Thank you so much again for opening your home up to my boys for a whole week, and I hope to see a lot more of your whole family in 2013!
mh75
Dec. 31st, 2012 05:52 am (UTC)
(Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with SensoryProcessing Issues - Lindsey Biel; Paperback ) is the one i found that Amazon seemed to prefer. However, my friend recommended the Out-of-sync child book to me personally (and there may be a new edition). She came across it on the recommendation of the occupational therapist her son worked with...

As far as i can tell, sensory processing disorder is a purely functional diagnosis. In other words, the diagnosis is made if a child needs a diagnosis because they can not function without some extra attention. Madeleine got the diagnosis for her eating issues when she was a baby, because it allowed us to visit an occupational therapist to look at what sort of problems she was having, BUT, i do not think she has big sensory issues in general.
William's probably are worse, but still not something that would lead to an obvious diagnosis with intervention. So i'm pretty comfortable with trying to find techniques that might help without actually trying to evaluation where he is on some sensory integration scale.
Some kids are obviously having a difficult enough time that time with an OT is very beneficial and its nice to have a diagnosis that can help them get that time/make sense of where they are.

I also recently read 'Raising your spirited child' and found it to be useful without actually thinking that my kids might qualify as 'spirited' by the book's definition. THAT book i really do want to review on Goodreads, and maybe in my lj. I am surprised how useful i found it to be. I think that the book i mentioned at the top here is probably my next parenting book.

I know that the challenges will change as my kids age. Marie is almost a year already, and i know from the first two that this is around the time i start really feeling more independence. Still have to figure out a way to be disciplined about taking care of myself without throwing money towards an external discipline (gym membership or class subscription).

Keep on keepin' on - i am glad you wrote this post.
rightkindofme
Dec. 31st, 2012 11:01 pm (UTC)
I don't think my kids are "Spirited" in the way that book references either but I found it enormously helpful anyway. :)

Two thumbs up!

My favorite right now is: Give the Love that Heals. You can find it on Amazon. It speaks to my particular brand of parenting issues remarkably well.

Err, since I saw books being bandied about. *cough*
elainetyger
Dec. 30th, 2012 02:43 pm (UTC)
It's a shame you haven't had good fortune with bartering (eg tub use for child care, meditation room for knitting, etc) in your new neighborhood; I seem to remember you discussing its benefits to you in KC.

I hope that writing it all out helps you think through it. For me, if I can talk to a live person, it helps. If you want to talk to the phone, I'm happy to listen in increments of 20 minutes or less (I get antsy after that).

Thanks for keeping up. I may do a similar long post later, if lj decides to honor me by loading the pages, which it wouldn't do for the previous 2-3 days.
mamagotcha
Dec. 30th, 2012 08:01 pm (UTC)
I do have some bartering going on, just not for those things. I should try to see if I can be a little more creative with it...

Thank you for your kind offer of a friendly ear. It is much appreciated, and I might take you up on it sometime!

Hope LJ starts to behave, I'd like to hear more about what's been going on with you. I love your slice-of-life photos and inspection stories; I learn a lot!
jedusor
Dec. 31st, 2012 12:10 am (UTC)
Urgh, the ear thing sounds terrible to deal with. I'm glad to see in the comments that you've been feeling better--hope that continues.

What exactly is going on with Lincoln? I don't have a ton of background in sensory integration, so I probably can't help diagnose or anything, but it fascinates me.
jedusor
Dec. 31st, 2012 12:11 am (UTC)
Also, the thing for Amanda is gorgeous, wow. Did I tell you Dr. K is completely enamored with my wristwarmers? She was super impressed when I told her you made them yourself.
mamagotcha
Dec. 31st, 2012 03:25 am (UTC)
Hmm... once I finish what I'm making now, I could totally make her some. What's her favorite color(s)?
jedusor
Dec. 31st, 2012 05:16 am (UTC)
I think she was just admiring them rather than coveting--she's mentioned not being big on fingerless gloves. She'd be over the moon if you made her a hat or something, though. I don't think she has a favorite color, but she tends to wear steely colors, grey and blue and black and muted purples.
mamagotcha
Dec. 31st, 2012 03:56 am (UTC)
I think I'm going to do a separate post for that... but I'm not feeling terribly worried about it. Stay tuned...
jedusor
Dec. 31st, 2012 05:17 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm not worried either, I'm just curious. I like brains, if you hadn't noticed.
rightkindofme
Dec. 31st, 2012 05:24 pm (UTC)
Hello, I would like to leave a weak-sauce apology and excuse here for you to read.

In order to click through your last link I would have had to make a ravelry account. I understand that it is truly not complicated. I could do it in like ten minutes. It's simple. But for no particular reason right now (and for a while now) New Things are making me cry. So I'm skipping everything I don't *have* to do. An account on ravelry is something I don't *have* to make right now. So I haven't.

So I never responded to your kind offer to knit stuff for my kids. And I felt like a rude asshole. I have done a lot of hand-wringing over this. I'm sorry.

This is why I generally tell people, "Make what you like to make and I'll be happy with it." Adding the extra step of me picking means that it gets put into my anxiety loop and it may or may never get out.

I didn't mean to involve you in that. It was very inconsiderate. I shouldn't have spoken up in the first place. I'm sorry. :-\
mamagotcha
Dec. 31st, 2012 07:04 pm (UTC)
No worries! I'm sorry to hear that this exchange has caused you distress, but perhaps there's something else we can do... I have a little shoulder bag that I bet a small child would like, and could knit a matching bag or hat or something to go with it (you've got two kiddos, right?). May I ask you to email me a delivery address so I could pop them into the mail? My email is mamagotcha@gmail.com

(also, I remember life with little ones, and I admire you for setting limits as to what you are willing to spend your resources on. hang in there, it DOES get better, I promise!)
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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