Tuesday, January 7, 2014

For The Love of Horses

I'm so happy now to be able to share my love of horses with my kids. For years now, it just wasn't possible. Every barn visit was stressful and miserable and ended in tears. Usually mine. But because of the crying and the misery, I had to step back from something that was such an integral part of my life for so long. When I'd meet someone new and they learned what my husband did for a living, it would always make me pause a little when they asked, "And do you ride?" At first I would say I was on a little break since having a child. Then I would say I ride a little. And last year I would say, "I used to."
I USED to?? I couldn't believe I was that person. Back in the day as a young rider in the upper levels, we NEVER wanted to be that person! A big hit to the ol ego here...
So then, this summer, James's health started improving and we received a pony. And, well, someone had to ride it and it probably wasn't going to be my 6'2" husband. Thus began my re-entrance into being a rider again.
I sure was lucky to have this pony to rehab me too! Most of you have seen the pictures of Punky. She's cute as a button and is wonderful with kids. She's also a complete blast to ride and came to us very well trained. It was the perfect way for me to ease back into things and actually become a better rider because of it.
I have time to ride a few horses while the kids are in school now, which is awesome because it's so efficient, but once or twice a week now, they need to come with me. Now, one kid in a barn while working with horses: not too bad. Two kids?? Ages 5 and 2?? Whew. It can be mayhem. And I really don't want them to ever have a bad experience when they are so young, because we need them to be cool with horses. If they want to actually ride, that's great. But we NEED them to be happy there at least. We also NEED to be able to get a lot done. And the kids have been soooo great about it. Especially through these winter months! But it took some planning to figure out the most efficient way for me to school horses and keep the children not only alive, but entertained!
Hence, the creation of The Nook.

Okay so The Nook is just a line of gymnastics I broke down. They aren't allowed outside the poles, but they can do anything they want in there. They have water and snacks and the barrels provide endless fun. AND, as an added bonus, our horses are now EXTREMELY well broke. If you want to come try one of our off the track horses, rest assured they can walk, trot, and canter around The Nook while kids play gladiator games with the barrels without batting an eye.
And then after I'm done on a few of the horses, the kids get their turns!

Riding 4 horses may take ALL DAY now, but we have a lot of fun and pretty much NOBODY cries!!
I can't wait for warm weather.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another New Year

Happens every year! Same time! I see lots of conflicting posts around the internet...some are happy to see 2013 go and are ready for a fresh start with 2014. And some are reflecting back and thinking 2013 was pretty darn good. Fact is, our good times and bad times don't magically end on Dec 31st. Unfortunately, Jan 1 doesn't begin with a clean slate. More often than not, we all end up feeling pretty bad the morning of the first...hmmmm...
Anyway, you can tell I don't put a ton of stock in the magic of a new year. In the past I just went to work with a hangover, and now I raise kids....usually with a hangover. Except this time. Last night I went to bed at 9. It was magical. But talk to me again Sunday morning after our Saturday makeup New Years celebration...
In the past several years, my problems on Dec 31st (namely James' health) were still my problems on Jan 1st. And they seemed to get progressively worse!
But this year, someone asked (as they always do) how our year was. Tom paused for a minute (I honestly don't think either of us had thought much about New Years besides buying booze) and said, "You know it was good. James stayed out of the hospital all year."
I hadn't even realized....
It wasn't a totally smooth sailing year....
He's not all better....
And last Christmas and New Years, we stayed home last minute because we knew if we rocked the boat, he WOULD end up back in the hospital....
BUT, he didn't. And he's thriving(ish)!
I still have knots in my stomach every day. I still have frequent panic attacks in the middle of the night. But at least I know that they're currently unfounded! I still worry about what and how much he eats. But those feelings are starting to ease up. When I run now, I run purely for exercise and to keep my ass in check. Not to escape that itchy, heart pounding, panicky feeling from all the stress. Now...this means I don't run as much as I used to...so I should probably work on that. Lol!
So anyway, reflecting back, 2013 was pretty darn good. We are rejoining the world a bit, I've been able to do weird stuff, like trapezing (it's a word) and meeting my book girls who have become extremely close friends. I'm riding again and riding well! I have a truly amazing husband whom I not only LOVE, but I like him too. He's my other half and every minute with him I fall more in love. I have 2 hilarious and awesome kids that crack me up and make me wanna poke my eyeballs out alternately. I still have Charlotte AND Jake! That's pretty amazing!!
Yep! 2013 was great! 2014 will have it's ups and downs, but as long as the ups outweigh the downs, I'm good!!!

I also got my drinking buddy back when...

She brought this little gem into the world! Good year!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Things I Learned at Girl's Night

My brilliant friends, Rachael and Leslie, came up with this amazing plan to forgo Christmas presents in exchange for spending time together. SUCH a sweet idea and I especially loved it because I had no intention of getting them anything anyways, so this let me off the hook! I'm not entirely sure how a girl's night turned into Trapeze School but I'm not entirely sure how Rachael's mind works. I just go with it.
I had NO idea what to expect. I guess I figured I'd swing on something and fall a lot. I mean, I'm pretty strong, but I wasn't entirely sure how well my arms could hold me up....
I double triple quadruple questioned this when we showed up and our instructor told us we'd be hanging from our knees upside down and doing a backflip. As Sarah said, "I'm sorry I zoned out for a minute. Did you say backflip??" Exactly. Listen people, I can't even do a cartwheel. The only remotely acrobatic thing I can do is the cup on my forehead trick. I don't even think I could somersault without hurting myself....
Anyway....well...here I am.
It was pretty frigging amazing! Let's just say we already booked our next class. Completely. Hooked. (I might have a slightly addictive personality...)
As I don't get out for a girl's night very often, and never to this magnitude and hilarity, I found a few things that I learned worth mentioning:
1: Cabbies with the first name 'Getachew' are not from Mexico and don't speak Spanish.
2: Regardless of how badass you are on a trapeze, no dude looks cool in metallic, paisley spandex.
3: The human body + physics are an amazing combination.
4: Consider trapeze clothing choice carefully: they put a belt around your waist SO tight that you end up looking like a canister of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls that's been busted open, and then someone inexplicably tightened a belt around the middle.
5: Ladies, don't take your boyfriend to trapeze school to show him how good you are at it and how uncoordinated and awkward he is. It's completely emasculating and you will never want to sleep with him ever again, even if he deserves a medal for trying. (Btw, this truly applies to riding as well. Don't take your boyfriend riding unless you think he can NOT look like an idiot. There's nothing less attractive.)
6: I'm completely and blindly trusting of people in their given professions. These people were holding us in midair, guiding the safety ropes, and telling us what to do in the moment, and it never even occurred to me to think "gosh I hope they take this seriously...".
7: Only I can pack for an entire day at the barn with 2 kids, trapeze school, a dress and makeup for dinner, and only forget underwear.
8: DC is the worst laid out city in the entire world. Ever.
9: Having stoplights within a roundabout COMPLETELY defeats the purpose of the roundabout.
10: Cops in DC apparently aren't very busy, because out of boredom, they pulled me over on the busiest on ramp, in the dark, to tell me my registration stickers were expired. (They weren't actually. I explained that I had lost the stickers and couldn't find them, when in actuality I couldn't remember if I'd put them in the car or not and haven't bothered to look for them. I even tried to pass it off like the stickers were lost when I handed the young officer my registration card but the fact that they were stapled to the back really gave me away. On the plus side, I found them!! And the 2 police officers that were necessary to pull my Prius over put them on my plates for me. That was nice for when I was driving home at 2am. Thanks guys!
11: African editors are very friendly people and good photographers.
12: Good waiters are trained to keep a straight face so it doesn't seem like they're eavesdropping on your conversation, but they can only hold out so long.
13: And finally, I will never in my life get the dress code right with these girls:

(Here was last time we got together:

I'm too brunette.)

Friday, December 13, 2013

One At A Time....

It's been close to a year since we drove up to New York and started down this biomedical path of supplements and probiotics. It's been a bit of a bumpy road, but it's sure as shit been better than anything else we've tried.
As I mentioned when we put James on all these different things, we did it very methodically, starting with the things we were pretty sure weren't going to cause a reaction and ending with the things that had more of a potential of some sort of side effect or die off effect. We only kept the things that benefitted him.
Probiotics are frequently known to have a die off effect when the gut is crowded with bad bacteria. This means, basically, that the good bacteria are crowding out and killing off the bad. During this period, it can make you feel kind of cruddy, but then it should ease up. The probiotic that we put James on, I had heard was a bit gentler on them. And it really seemed to make him better almost immediately. In fact, at one point I had him on a slightly different one (because the names were stupidly similar and I hadn't realized I'd gotten the wrong one), and he wasn't doing so hot. When I noticed my error and switched back to his normal one, he was markedly better.
Well, when we went in for that fasting blood test several weeks ago, he had 24 hours without any supplements. The next morning I stared at him (creepily) for a while and realized he looked better. His color was better, his face a bit less drawn. He also didn't have to rush to the bathroom as he'd been doing for the past couple of months. I decided to, again, add back his supplements one at a time and see if something was now causing a problem. (Btw I realize my tenses are all wonky...bear with me.)
Anyway, I suspected the probiotics were causing issue so I saved it for last. He just kept doing better and better, pooping as close to normal as he ever has. I didn't even want to put him back on the probiotics at this point, but I knew it wasn't a perfect experiment unless I did. So I gave him a quarter of a dose and he immediately ran to the bathroom.
Talk about killing him with kindness. Course, the doctors don't quite know what to do with this information. His labs actually show he has a need for probiotics. So there are questions of....which one do we put him on and why is he so much better without it? And why the change??
At this point though, he's gained a pound and a half, probably mostly in fluids, and has gained huge ground in his interest in food. He wants to try everything! Interestingly enough (kind of), putting your kid on a GFCF diet is super easy when they don't care about food. Gets tricky when they want all the things other kids are having. We've been having veeeeery lengthy discussions when we go other places about what is gluten free and what isn't. And who eats gluten free and who doesn't. And what will happen if he DOES eat gluten. Etc etc. Etc......etc.
Anyway, he's all into sandwiches now. So I'm, of course, soaking and dehydrating raw cashews and making nut butter so he can digest it. And he is actually eating lunch at school now and doing SO well. It's just....weird. It's definitely opening up a whole new world for us.
I talked to another mom recently about a really long term, intensive feeding program she was considering for her son, which is something we have considered at different times. Some of them are pretty hard core. And I may have given different advice before our latest experiment. But I threw out there that without figuring out WHY her kid wasn't eating, an intensive feeding program would probably be stressful, and probably would only work temporarily. Which is something that Jenny McGlothlin told us many times. It's kind of like losing weight on a juice cleanse diet. It's probably comin back!
It's wonderful to see James feeling good and having energy. We aren't really sure what's going to happen next because....I still haven't gotten The Plan. But at least we are at decent place right now where hopefully we can see some results!

On another note, it's really cold here. But it's the first time that James has felt well enough to play in the snow! He's never been able to last more than a few minutes and it pretty much always ended in tears. This year, he even outlasted Eve!!

They like to watch videos of themselves sledding. While they are sledding.



Friday, December 6, 2013

Guest time?

Tis the season, and all that jazz. Lots of people are having Christmas or various holiday parties.
I'm not.
I even pawned off Thanksgiving on Annie and Rob. It was awesome.

And delicious.

And the kids totally behaved.

However, it's a time where people seem to get all kinds of into entertaining. Play groups become cookie swaps and BBQs are swapped for cocktail parties. Maybe it's because, on top of all the holiday cheer, most of us are stuck inside a great deal more, so we want other people to come in and wallow in misery with us. I mean....have a lot of indoor fun with us while fucking up our house. (....too much?)
Anyway, it can all get very stressful. Kids are playing with decorations that are only supposed to be looked at but also look exactly like a cool toy. Everything is breakable. Everything gets dirty....
We like our house to look clean before everybody tramps in and dirties it up!! I mean....
So this year, I say nay nay.
This year...I will clean my house AFTER you come visit. Don't take it personally. I'm not doing because I care that you or your kid is gonna stomp dirt in my house, I'm doing it so that I don't HAVE to care!
This year...I will attend OTHER people's parties. My kids will look cute, they will behave...I may even bring A dish, or lots of wine. I'll put makeup on! And I'll probably be overdressed out of pure excitement.

This year...I will have play dates and I will have nothing made but coffee. Or champagne, if you prefer (I'm always down). And guess what...no one will care! (Let's face it...no one wants my gluten free, all natural attempts at muffins anyway, unless I make the rum ones. Everyone wants my bubbles.)
This year....I will actually decorate for Christmas. But stay within reason. This is the first year that we will be purposefully at home. And the kids are old enough. We will have a proper tree....and that's probably it. Don't judge me. Baby steps.
This year...I'm not even attempting Christmas cards. But still send me yours. Unless you don't put pictures on them. Then I don't care.
This year...I will probably again be making a bulk, but deliciously homemade Christmas gift. My chimichurri or my salad dressing. I'll take votes.
So this year, I plan on celebrating the first Christmas in over 5 years that hasn't had an underlying suckiness to it. I'm going to enjoy it and teach my kids to remember the true meaning behind it. And also, contradictorily, be a leeetle bit selfish about it. And I won't think ill of anyone doing the same!
I also promise to have a big, outdoor BBQ this summer where everyone can come. I'm still not cleaning my house until after.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wah Waaah: The Anti-Climax

I have been SO excited recently. So. Excited. I haven't even posted anything because I was waiting to make a post about the latest test results. Two weeks ago I got the call that the results were back, and that I had to wait two weeks for the phone appt where I could hear about it. Sigh. But okay. I took the first available appointment, of course.
Now here's the thing: I didn't go so far as to think this was going to be a cure-all. But I did think we were going to develop A Plan. A really good one. And maybe we'd reach a few conclusions...
I sort of hoped so much to the point that I thought maybe it would help form, not the end of or journey certainly, but something to begin wrapping up part 1 of publishing this blog, to hopefully help other parents out there. (Cause nothing makes us feel better than reading about other people's pain and struggles.)
And this still may happen...The Plan.
However....apparently no one in the office out my appointment into their computer. So while I organized Tom to take the kids to school so I could have a phone conversation that didn't consist of "who are you talking to?", "what are you talking about?", "why did you say that?", etc etc in the background....they didn't have their shit together. First they wanted me to reschedule for Thursday, which I can't do. Then they said they'd gather up as much as they could and I should call back in 7 minutes. Apparently it takes 7 minutes. Fascinating.
Anyway, I should have just waiting cause I only got partial info. Dr Mumper didn't have all the information in front of her cause...turns out it does take more than 7 minutes to get all the labs in one place. So she went over what she had, but without the rest of it in front of her, it didn't tell us much. So I'll be getting an email and a letter soon.
I was seriously pissed when I hung up. Tom got an earful of how I feel about the medical community at large. But now I'm just resigned to waiting. Again.
It's fine.

Friday, November 15, 2013


I find myself at this strange point in life where I swap in and out from horse world to real world, horse world to real world. Since James was born, I've actually really been in neither world, so you can imagine my own confusion. As I find myself being able to re-enter society, I'm having to figure out juggling the horse world and the real world.
See, even in the horse world, it's a notable sight to see someone in real world clothes, or who has a real world job, or KIDS! Not much more real world than that, I suppose.
In the real world, well, I guess if you're dressed in Ralph Lauren, that would look normal. But...you usually don't...
My riding days are worked around the kids' school schedule. I drop them at 9 and drive half hour to the barn, then have about 2 hours before I have to jump back in the car to pick them up at noon. Depending on if the horses are ready and what they need to do, I can usually work 3 of them. But I do need to get my boots and spurs and 427 layers of jackets. I usually drive to school looking fairly normal...jeans or workout pants and Ugg boots. A shirt. And then I just change shoes and ride in whatever I have on.
Usually, by the time I'm done on my last horse, I'm running behind, so I whip off my boots or chaps (I can rip chaps off faster than a stripper gets out of Velcro pants), throw the Ugg boots on, redo my ponytail, and peel off jackets. I haven't thought to bring another shirt cause I don't think I could be that organized, but it'd be a good idea because despite frigid temps this week, you tend to sweat under 427 layers. (I hate cold weather.)
Anyway, school is pretty used to me and my extremely half hearted attempts to appear normal...but sometimes I forget about other people. Yesterday I scurry into school a few minutes late in a really bizarre shirt paired with a possibly mismatched Pacific Farms vest, with dirty yoga pants tucked into my dirty, black Uggs. I totally had dirt under my fingernails (that's another real world thing....I kind of have fingernails now). And I probably (definitely) stunk. Lucky for me (and them), there was a well dressed couple there waiting to have a meeting with the teacher. I, of course, introduced myself and shook hands before looking down at myself...and my hands...crap. I felt like I wanted to explain how I ride, and that's why I'm dirty and smell, but they probably wouldn't have believed me cause I was wearing yoga pants and Ugg boots: the uniform of stay at home moms everywhere. If I'd stayed in chaps, no explanation would have been necessary.
Clearly....my plan needs refinement.

Or maybe I just need refinement...