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Monday, December 01, 2014

Shay's Thanksgiving Play

For Thanksgiving this year, Shay (who turned 7 on Thanksgiving day) wrote an original play for she and her siblings to perform.  Her siblings loved the costumes she designed, which consisted of headbands with either Indian headdresses or Pilgrim hats attached, but in the end, they revolted and refused to memorize their assigned lines, so the play never had its debut performance.

However, I thought it was a great play, particularly for a newly-turned-7-year-old author, so I thought I'd record it here for posterity. You know, in case any of your families want to give it that debut performance.  :)

"Thanksgiving Play"
by Shay

(spelling mistakes corrected by Mommy, to aid in your reading pleasure)

Director: The Pilgrims were sailing and found a place to land.

Pilgrim: We can live here!

Director: They found a place to live!

Pilgrim: Let's build a house for all of us!

Other Pilgrim: Okay!

Director: Their first winter was very hard.

Pilgrim: It is spring!

Director: The Pilgrims meet a new friend.  It was an Indian.

Indian: Hello.  My name is Squanto.

Other Indian: Nice to meet you!

Director: They became good friends!

Indian: We will help you learn how to plant food and cook turkey!

Director: They were harvesting!

Indians: We have worked so hard for the food.  We can have a feast.

Pilgrims: We can spend the feast together!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Allergic

One year ago today, on Thanksgiving Day of 2013, I had my first allergic reaction. Ben and I were hosting Thanksgiving for the first time ever, for my mom, his parents, and one of our friends. We had spend most of the day cooking. We'd all shared a wonderful meal. We were all full and happy. After dessert, the guys headed out into camp to do some chores for some friends that were away for the holiday.

 About a half an hour after we had finished eating, just as we were starting cleanup, I started to feel itchy. It started in my hands and built quickly. As I looked at them, they got mottled and red. They started swelling. I had to pull off my wedding ring, and then my watch. And then the back of my neck started to itch. I excused myself to my upstairs bathroom. I saw red welts started to raise there too.

 And then my stomach. I lifted my shirt and saw red welts there too. And then my stomach seized up. It was a good thing that I was already in the bathroom, because I don't know that I could have made it very far, with the force that that attack came on. I had wave after wave of intense stomach cramps and diarrhea. At some point, I also started vomiting in the wastebasket.

 I have no idea how long this went on before someone came up to check on me. I was in a lot of pain. I knew that I was having an allergic reaction and was even with-it enough to have determined that it was probably a reaction to the pistachio dessert I had eaten. My mother-in-law called my sister-in-law, who is a nurse, and she recommended taking some Benadryl to stop the reaction and putting me an a shower to clean me up. It seemed reasonable, so we did exactly that. After all, I'd never had an allergic reaction before.

 None of us had any idea how severe the reaction was. I took the Benadryl and got in the shower. Everyone else went back downstairs. I was hit with a wave of dizziness so strong that I ended up on the shower floor. I have no idea how long I was there. I just know that in the end, the only reason I literally crawled out was because my stomach started cramping again and I really, really didn't want to poop in my shower.

 I managed to get to my toilet, but after that, I basically passed out. And again, I have no idea how long I was there.... but that's how my family found me, some period of time later, naked, soaking wet, hunching unconscious on the toilet, bowels cramping. I cannot think of a single time in my life when I have been in worse shape.

 They managed to get me into bed and, I imagine, retreat to the kitchen to freak out. I blessedly missed the freaking out part, as I was unconscious.

 I do vividly remember the next day, during which every move I made was excruciatingly painful. I felt like I had been run over by a Mack truck. Maybe two or three times.

 So that was my first allergic reaction. I came away from it thinking, "Wow, pistachios suck." The next time I saw my general practitioner, I told her about it and she prescribed me an Epipen. But nothing about my daily life changed.

 Meanwhile, I continued to fight intense migraines. Two months before this allergic reaction, I had been pulled from full-time work due to severe migraines. Even though I was under the care of a neurologist and was taking three medications daily to prevent migraines, I was still having severe migraines at least six out of every seven days. My neurologist and my general practitioner agreed: I was not medically able to work full-time. So at the time of my first allergic reaction, I was still on medical leave for migraines, but basically steeling myself for the fact that I would not be going back to teaching. I did not even stop to think that the allergic reaction and the migraines might be related in some way.

 Several months later, maybe in March (?), I was out at Pizza Hut with some friends. I didn't eat anything that I hadn't had a million times before, although there was some serious carb-loading. But by the time I made it home from Lafayette, my body was freaking out. I was itching out of my skin, and I had to race to the bathroom as soon as I made it in the door. I knew better than to take Benadryl this time, but I was up for most of the night in agony. I had no idea what had happened to cause such a reaction. This was when I started considering the idea of seeing a doctor about food allergies.

 In May, our family went on an overnight campout. Before heading out, I sprayed myself and the kids down with bugspray. By a half an hour afterwards, I was in complete agony. I was covered in angry red itchy welts, and I was sweating out of my skin. My stomach was cramping mercilessly, and I spent more time in the bathroom of the lodge than at our campout site. I thought it must be something I had eaten; I didn't even think about the bugspray.

 It was that incident that finally convinced me to go see Dr. Benzinger at Indy Health and Wellness. He ran a diagnostic panel on me that identified my food allergies (yeast, cheese, peanuts, pistachios, corn, wheat, and mushrooms at first, though I've earned some of those back) and my chemical sensitivities. He's helped to figure out a diet that I can live with. After getting my food allergies under control, my migraines have improved tremendously--way more than medication could ever have done alone. For the first time in 15 years, I feel like I'm starting to get my life back instead of watching it slowly slip away.

 So even though I didn't eat stuffing, or corn, or gravy, or green bean casserole made with mushroom soup and fried onions, or light fluffy rolls this Thanksgiving, I am still incredibly thankful. I am thankful for this journey of learning about my allergies that I have had over the past year, because it has put me on the path to better health than I have been able to even dream of in a really, really long time. I am thankful for Dr. Benzinger and for the friends that sent me to him. I am thankful for Ben's love and support through this journey. And I am thankful for all the opportunities that I'm going to have with my family as I continue to feel better and better!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Nine

I'm having a hard time believing it, but Bryn turned nine last week.


The night before her birthday, she said, "Mom, will you cuddle me to sleep?"  She used to ask me to do that every night, but over the past six months, her requests have become more and more sporadic.  I agreed willingly, and as I listened to her breaths grow slow and even as she fell asleep in my arms, I couldn't help but think how blessed I am that she still asks for cuddles.  I know it probably won't last for too much longer, but I will happily comply for as long as she wants me to.


At nine years old, Bryn loves to read more than anything else.  She still has that intense attention that she had as a toddler-- when she's focused on something (be it reading, television, coloring, whatever), it's incredibly hard to break that focus and get her attention for something else.  She excels at school and is at the top of her class.  She is our quiet, serious child, but with her close friends, she can be crazy and goofy.  She had a sleepover with three close friends for her birthday, and as Ben said, "If you girls are the quiet ones in your class, I wouldn't want to meet the loud ones!"


I am most especially lucky, though, because at nine years old, Bryn still tells me, honestly, that I am her very best friend.  By this age, she understands that it's not that way for all mothers and daughters.  She knows that what we have is special.  She tells me everything.  As we head into the challenging pre-teen years (yikes!), more and more, I feel a divide between the "mom" moments where I have to scold her for something and she rolls her eyes at me, and the "friend" moments, where she invites me to sit on her bed and she tells me everything she's thinking.  I know that the "mom" moments will never end; they're my job.  But I also pray that the "friend" moments will never end; that's the relationship that I want to endure long after she's grown.


I feel so incredibly blessed to have a daughter like Bryn.  She's one in a million.  I love you, Brynie-Boo, and happy birthday!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What I Can Do

This morning I learned a very important lesson in both life and theology from my four-year-old.

He said to me, in that confident kid voice, "I can do anything!"

Then added, in just as confident of a voice, "That God wants me to."

I can do anything... that God wants me to.

I thought, then, of dozens of times in my life when I have wanted something desperately, tried for it to the best of my ability, sometimes even well beyond the reach of what I logically should have done, and still failed. Competitions lost. Relationships that didn't work out. Jobs I was rejected from. Even those all-too-normal, frustrating days when I work as hard as I can all day, only to look around at the end and instead of seeing a job well done, feel overwhelmed by all that is left undone.

And for each of these things, I beat myself up, thinking that if I had just tried harder, worked longer, done better somehow, things would have been different.

I don't think I'm alone in this. I think everyone does it, lives with those regrets to some extent. It's part of the falleness of our human condition.

Which is why it's so freeing to realize the truth of those words: "I can do anything... that God wants me to."

Those things that I couldn't do? Those times that I failed? They weren't part of God's plan for me. He had something bigger, better, far more perfect in mind.

And it's not just me. God has a perfect plan for each of us. He can't wait to show us. It's just that the cynical world has gotten in the way for most of us... but not for my trusting, enthusiastic, four-year-old. Which is really what makes the whole thing so beautiful.

So take a lesson from him. Stop beating yourself up. Stop living in those regrets. Because you can do anything that God wants you to do. And the things that you can't do, well, those are just signs of something better that He has in store for you.  Approach your life with enthusiasm and trust, and there will never be cause to fear.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Transplanted



You know that saying, "Bloom Where You Are Planted"?  I really felt like our family was doing that.  I felt like we had been Planted at Camp Tecumseh (see my posts about how we ended up there back in 2011 here and here).  Ben had a job that he truly loved, and his work was bringing great good to countless other people.  I also had a job that I loved, working as the teen librarian at the Monticello Public Library.  I wouldn't go so far as to say that I was bringing "great good," but the kids did refer to me as the "cool librarian," so I must have been doing something right.  :)  As for my own kids, they loved their schools and had wonderful friends with awesome parents.  We had a wonderful friends both at camp and in the Delphi community.  Life was good.  Not perfect (it never is), but really good.  Yes, we were blooming.

And then a storm came that lifted us up by our roots, swirled us around, and blew us far from the field where we had been planted.

It's a long story that I'm not sure I even fully understand, much less can explain to all of you.  In its simplest form, we learned partway through the summer that Ben's position was no longer going to exist at camp in its current form, so since there was no longer a job for him, we would need to leave camp at the end of the summer.  The whole situation was devastating for our entire family, and I still have a very difficult time talking about it.  Camp was and is home to us in so many ways.  Liam and Aiden (and even Shay, in many respects) don't remember living anywhere else.  But it's more than that.  Camp is what we actively chose over everything else that the world had to offer.  It's been the home of my heart since I was 11 years old.  To be sent away from that.... well, it's pain like I can't describe.

What made it even worse (if "worse" was even possible when discussing terms of leaving the place I love most on earth) was that we moved to camp from Indianapolis and decided to return to Indianapolis, because we figured that Indy held Ben's best chances of finding a job.  (Because this news was sudden and he had no job prospects lined up for after camp ended.  Thankfully, he does now have a job.  It's an hour's drive from where we ended up living, but it's a job.  Thank God!)  But the schools in Indy are on a "balanced calendar."  Which meant that from the day that we got the news that we'd be out of both a job and a house (because our house was owned by camp) at the end of the summer, we had less than two weeks to pull ourselves together, decide where in Indy to move, find a house, pack up everything we owned, register our kids for school, and make the actual move.  Did you catch that?  Less than two weeks.  Maybe there are times in my life that I have been more stressed, but none are coming readily to mind.  Combine all of this with the fact that I was constantly sobbing by heart out over leaving camp, and it was definitely not a pretty picture.

But we did it.  We spent the first week deciding on a game plan.  Then Ben took one day off work and we came down to Indy and spent that day looking at rental houses.  We rented the best house that was available that day (and was available for near-immediate move-in).  That was a Wednesday.  We returned to Delphi.  I worked through the end of the week.  We packed like crazy people.  Ben worked all weekend.  One of our dear friends took our kids into Lafayette (in our car) for a day of fun so that I could pack undisturbed, and they ended up being the second car in a five-car pile-up.  Thank God, everyone came out uninjured, but the car had to be totaled.  Somehow, someway, we made it through all of this.

We moved on Monday.  We unloaded a U-Haul into the rental house.  Ben returned to Delphi that night and went back to work on Tuesday.  I registered the girls for school on Tuesday, and they started school the next day, Wednesday.  And then it was full-steam ahead into our new life.

It was just the kids and me for an entire month before Ben found a job in Indy and was able to come and join us.  Let me tell you, that was a long and insanely stressful month.  It was filled with unpacking boxes, learning new schedules, and finding my way around a new city (we're on the opposite side of Indy from where we lived before).  But most of all, it was full of missing Ben and missing camp.  Now Ben's here, but the feeling of missing camp hasn't gone away.  Maybe it never will.

With all of that being said, I think our family is doing well in Indy.  He likes his new job.  While it's not saving the world, he enjoys the "mental puzzles" that it presents.  And he's making a paycheck that actually pays the bills, which is a really luxurious feeling.  I'm home with the kids for the time being and joke that my new career is "full-time box-unpacker."  While I really, really miss working at the library, I do love getting to spend time with Aiden especially.  I had time at home with all the other kids when they were little, but never with Aiden--I was babysitting other kids from literally the day he was born, and then I went back to full-time work when he was six months old.  I actually thought I'd never be at home with him, so this time really is a precious gift to get to know my baby in a way that I never would have had a chance to do otherwise.  The girls love their elementary school, and Liam loves his preschool.  It has been wonderful to reconnect with old friends and enjoy all that Indy has to offer.

So for us, I guess, the saying should be "Bloom Where You're Transplanted."

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Witch Doctor, Part 3

This week I went for my third appointment with Dr. B.  Ben was able to take a day off work to come with me and meet the doctor and see the magic for himself.  Although I think he was skeptical to begin with, he was wowed by the entire experience.  Dr. B is just pretty amazing like that.

The visit was full of good news.  My health continues to improve like never before.  I'm actually starting to feel like I have some energy.  For the first time in 15 years, I feel like I can make it through the day without wanting to curl up and go back to bed an hour after waking up.  For 15 long years, I have literally spent all day every day thinking of and longing for the next time I could go to sleep.... because that is how exhausted I have been at all times.  I felt like I was just lugging my unwilling body through every day.  Now, sure, I may experience a post-lunch slump or may indulge in a weekend nap.... but I don't feel like I could just pass out any time, any place, at any given moment from sheer exhaustion.  This is HUGE to me.  As I start to feel less exhausted, the bits and pieces of life start to seem far more surmountable... everything I do starts to seem just that much easier as it takes less energy... or rather, as I have more energy to give.  I know that I still have a really long way to go.  Dr. B says that a process like this can take a whole year or more.  But for the first time ever, I can actually SEE results and feel some HOPE.  I was honestly at the point where I never thought I was going to feel better again.  I cannot describe how thankful I am.

And the turnaround is incredible.  From that first appointment, where my tests showed nearly all my systems in red and yellow, with only a few in the healthy green levels, it's all turned around.  At this appointment, I showed six systems red (stressed) and all the rest green.  I am so proud of myself!  In two months, I've almost completely reversed my body's systems through completely changing my diet.

Because my system has turned around so effectively, I've even earned back yeast, cheese, and peanuts in small amounts.  HOORAY!  This totally revolutionizes what I can eat.  With those back in small amounts, I'll have so many more options.  Mushrooms, wheat, and corn are still no-nos though.

On this strict diet, I've already started losing some weight.  Dr. B recommended in order to kick-start more serious weight loss, that I eat only protein and fats (meat, avocado, eggs, and nuts) for 3 days straight (basically like Atkins), then go back to the more healthy, well-rounded diet permanently.  So today is my second of those three days, and let me tell you, I can't wait for some fruit!!  I definitely could not sustain this long-term.  But three days, I can do.

Dr. B also did the accupressure on some of my personality points with Ben present, and all of the readings came back to demonstrate things about my intense perfectionism (true story) and how I feel paralyzed by a big decision weighing over me that I feel I don't have any power over (boy howdy, yes.... but that's a story for another time).

After seeing all of this, Ben actually called Dr. B a witch doctor to his face.... and Dr. B just laughed and said that yes, he could see how someone would think that.  Man, I love a good self deprecating sense of humor.

After the appointment, Ben and I went shopping at both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.  How have I made it this far in life without ever having set foot in a Whole Foods?  I now want to live there.  I can home with all kinds of delicious goodies and a renewed sense of peace.  It was the best day that I'd had in a long, long time.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Witch Doctor, Part 2

Three weeks after my first appointment with Doctor Benzinger, I went back for a recheck.  As instructed, I had completely given up yeast, cheese, mushrooms, and peanuts.  These things were NOT easy, as they comprised some of my very favorite foods, but as he predicted, cutting them out of my diet did lead to me starting to feel better.

Notice that I say "starting" to feel better.  Everyone kept asking me, "Do you feel better now?" and I kind of felt like I should be able to respond with this resounded "Yes! My 20 years of medical problems have been CURED!"  But of course, in reality, it's just not that easy.

Then, and now, I keep getting weird little bumps of itchiness--not quite a full-on rash, but definitely more than isolated spots.  According to Dr. B, these come from cutting out yeast.  They are basically the toxin or the allergen rising out of my body.  Yep, that's the yeast, rising out of me.  Put me in the oven and bake me.  ;)

During me 3-week check, Dr. B re-ran all the accupressure tests on me.  Remember when I said that my tests were pretty much all yellow and red?  Well, they looked like a world of difference this second time around.  All the yellows (which are the really dangerous ones, which I know sounds backwards, but it's a European system of measurement) were GONE, and I'm now about half green and half red.  Dr. B said he was honestly "amazed" and "astounded" by my progress.  He said he could tell that I wasn't "cheating" at all and that it's extremely rare that a patient is able to turn things around things quickly.  He said that he could tell that I'm very determined to get well.... heck yeah I am!!  So already I was able to dial back on the supplements after that appointment--yay!

However, when I mentioned that I was still having some stomach problems, he said that was probably an indicator that there was an allergen we hadn't caught the first time around that was still irritating me.  So he re-ran the tests and..... nooooooo!!!!  I also need to eliminate wheat and corn.  These have proved to be a LOT harder than the previous four items.

While "gluten-free" is becoming a popular diet, it has a very steep learning curve.  I've messed up quite a few times already.  For example, I ate meatballs, completely forgetting that they have breadcrumbs in them (and WOW, was my stomach angry at me afterwards!).  I also ate french fries, completely unaware that they have traces of wheat in the breading (stomach not nearly as angry that time... must be less in those).  Or soy sauce and teriayki sauce, which have gluten in them.  Things I didn't know before....

The other problem is that many gluten-free items are made with corn as a substitute (for example, the gluten-free pasta at my local grocery store), which means that I still can't eat it.  And then when you take into consideration the amount of gluten-free recipes that contain cheese.... or mushrooms.... or peanuts.... or yeast.... well, I'm kind of struggling.  I've had some friends suggest that I look into paleo recipes, so that's on my "to do" list for after I finish combing through the gluten-free cookbooks that I've checked out of the library.

Anyway, back to the news from Dr. B.  I was also hoping to feel a huge surge of energy, but instead was feeling really worn out.  He said this wasn't surprising at all.  He said that during the "cleanse" phase, people generally just want to sleep around the clock, because their bodies are working so hard at getting rid of all the toxins that it uses up all their energy and completely wears them out.  Not exactly ideal for the mom of 4 kids who is also working and also living at a summer camp in full swing..... so yeah, I'm just REALLY tired, but hanging in there, and in spite of the tired, I do feel moderately better during the hours that I'm awake, and it would just pretty much take an explosion to wake me at night.  :)

He also reiterated that I need to stay away from bugspray and start getting all the chemical cleaners and stuff out of my house, so I'm currently starting to research homemade cleaners and essential oils as alternatives.  Hello, homeopathy!  So between that and the new diet, I have plenty to think about.  Another appointment coming up in about three weeks.  Fingers crossed for another good report!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Week that Changed My Life

Twenty-four summers ago, I had an experience that changed my life forever.  Upon the recommendation of my next-door neighbors (Peg and Anne, I can never thank you enough), I became a camper at Camp Tecumseh.

I will never forget my first check-in at Camp T.  I made the journey to camp in my mom's blue mini-van with my mom, my brother Brian, his best friend Scott, and Scott's mother Carolyn.  Most of the journey was pretty unremarkable, but as we turned onto the winding hills of Springboro Road, the heavens opened up and an intense hailstorm began.  Chunks of ice the size of quarters pelted our car as we navigated the camp roads for the very first time.  We were basically driving blind.  Even once we pulled into the makeshift parking lot set up in Main Field, no one was able to get out of their cars until the storm was over.  The storm was so heavy that the all-camp picture from that night, taken hours later (after dinner), still shows large piles of hail on the benches in front of Mount Wood.

If I'd known anything about God back then, I might have thought that He was trying to get my attention.

While not every Tecumseh camper has a story that dramatic about their first check-in, I think my first week at camp was pretty typical.... in that it was utterly amazing.  I was in Catawba cabin, and Stork and Kristen were my counselors.  I was a pretty shy and awkward kid, but they made me feel so loved and accepted that I immediately knew that Camp Tecumseh was something really special.

I remember opening campfire and standing up to cheer for "our neighbor to the west, the great state of Illinois!" (a habit which became so deeply ingrained in me that I still sometimes find myself standing and cheering for Illinois at opening campfires, even though I have now lived in Indiana for 17 consecutive years).  I remember clinic raps and subsequently choosing to try archery for the very first time.  I remember discovering that the tree outside Catawba cabin was laden with fresh mulberries and eating them straight from the tree.  I remember the delicious coolness of a soda during pop stop, somehow unmatchable by any other drink at any other time of the year, and the amazing anticipation of being able to pick any treat I wanted during Trading Post time.

I remember learning and laughing over the silly songs of flagpole.  I remember going on a campout in the woods and waking up to Stork singing "Alligator!" at the top of her lungs.  I remember learning about hoppers and shared responsibilities.  I remember singing graces in the dining hall, holding that "Ohhhhhhh" what seemed like forever at the beginning of the Johnny Appleseed blessing.  And oh, I remember those meals in the dining hall, where a picky eater like me pretty much subsisted on bread for the week (this was long before the introduction of today's improved menu and awesome salad bar).

I remember the hike to the lake, which seemed to take an impossible, breath-draining for-ev-er at the beginning of the week, but made me feel strong and at home by the end of the week.  I remember how "the Braves had the beat" and we proudly stood on our chairs to announce it.  I remember trust hikes through the dark of Main Field and feeling intensely close to the other girls in my cabin.

I also remember chapels in the Green Cathedral, reading song lyrics out of dogeared blue folders.  I remember feeling something stir inside me as I looked out at the sunshine over the Tippecanoe River.  At night, I remember sitting with my cabinmates around a flickering candle for devotions.  I learned about the "I Am Third" motto for the first time--putting God first, others second, and myself third.  I remember my awe the first time I saw "the coming of the great chief" and heard the reading of the Sagamore Creed at closing campfire.  I remember learning more about the heart of God and His love for me during that one week than I had in the rest of my church-going life combined.

I remember: "The flicker of the campfire, the wind in the pines. . . . For love is for those who find it, I've found mine right here, just you and me and the campfire, and the songs we love to hear."

Perhaps most importantly, I remember being "Welcomed to the Family."  Even twenty-four summers later, I still get a lump in my throat ever time I sing those words, as I think of all the campers and counselors that have gone before me and will come after me.  More than anything else, Camp Tecumseh is family--generations of family that go on and on, loving each new set of campers with the love that has been passed down to us.  And that's what makes this place so amazing.

And all of that is why I came back here as a counselor in college, and then dragged my college boyfriend along for the ride, and then that college boyfriend and I got married and brought our kids to live here full-time.  But today, all of that is why I am so, so excited that twenty-four summers after I first drove up Springboro Road, I will be pulling my own blue mini-van up to Catawba cabin to drop off my oldest daughter, Bryn, for her very own first resident camp experience.

Even though she lives at camp, I know that this week will be an experience like none other for Bryn.  She'll be cheering her heart out with her cabinmates at opening campfire tonight (which is a distinctly different experience than sitting in the back with me).  Tonight, before bed, she'll join her cabinmates in devotions over candlelight, led by counselors who love God and have felt their own lives changed by the goodness of this place.  She'll be sitting front at center at chapel tomorrow morning, getting that perfect view of the sun over the Tippecanoe River.  And on Saturday morning, when I pick her up, I know that she will be a better version of herself.  That's the power that camp has.

There's no way that my parents and I could have known that  a week at camp, twenty-four summers ago, would change my life.  But see, now I know about Camp Tecumseh.  We are in the business of changing lives.  I would dare to say that every kid who comes to camp leaves changed--because we serve an amazing God, and He uses us to change each precious life, each in exactly the way He desires.  Love does amazing things, and Love overflows here at camp.  Some kids will go home with a deeper sense of faith, some will go home more self-confident, some will go home with new and lasting friendships, some will go home changed in ways that I can't begin to predict..  I can't wait to see what camp will do for Bryn.  She's about to embark on an experience to last a lifetime.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The Witch Doctor

As those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time (or know me in real life) know, my health has been deteriorating for.... well, pretty much forever.  What started as a "mystery illness" in college was later diagnosed as chronic thyroid problems.  The thyroid problems then proved to be just the tip of the iceberg when I moved into my childbearing years, and said thyroid problems resulted huge chemical problems that resulted in three miscarriages.  My four successful pregnancies were accompanied by PUPPPS, slipped discs, a misaligned pelvis, severe anemia, pinched nerves, varicose veins so intense that I had to be on bedrest for 13 weeks, and, of course, migraines that appeared during my first pregnancy and haven't gone away since.  These migraines have elevated to the "chronic" level to such an extent that I now take 3 daily preventative medications, carry 3 different migraine meds with me at all times for the still-not-preventable at-least-two-migraines-a-week (one of these meds is an injection for the really bad migraines), am prohibited from holding a full-time job, and am pretty much besties with my neurologist.  Meanwhile, I can't seem to shake the spare 50 pounds that I've put on, no matter what magic diet/exercise combo I try.  In the last year, I've also developed high cholesterol and have started displaying severe allergies to foods and environmental triggers that have never bothered me in the past.  I am also exhausted beyond reason all the time... like so tired that I can barely make it through the day, no matter how much sleep I get or how much caffeine I consume.  My quality of life is absolute crap.  But whenever I try to say any of this to any general practitioner I have ever encountered, they respond with, "Well, you have a thyroid problem.  That accounts for all those other things."

But basically, I feel like one big old mess.

I should also point out that on a daily basis, I take 15 pills (some RX, some vitamins, all prescribed by my various doctors) to manage my various medical conditions--thyroid, migraines, cholesterol, etc.  It seems to me that if I'm spending all this time and money on "getting well," I shouldn't feel like absolute death all the time.

Which is why I let me friends Katrina and Jen talk me in to going to see Dr. Benzinger at Indy Health and Wellness.  Katrina is very into homeopathic treatments for everything.  As should be obvious from my 15-pill-a-day regimen, I am, uh, not.  So I was rather skeptical when she told me about Dr. Benzinger, who uses acupressure points, dietary remedies, and supplements to reset your internal system to health.  But then my friend Jen also went to see him.  Jen also suffers from chronic migraines.  She told me that he had her change her diet dramatically, and that while she did feel worse before she started feeling better, she is now experiencing migraine-free weeks for the first time in 17 years.  That sold me and I made an appointment.

The first few page of Dr. Benzinger's patient information form was similar to most, but when I got to the "balancing body chemistry" section, I started to realize anew what an intensely hot mess I am.  Do I have headaches over my eyes? Yes.  Do I feel nauseous or queasy very often?  Yes.  Do greasy foods cause me distress?  Yes.  Do I experience head congestion?  Yes.  Do I crave sweets or coffee in afternoon or mid-morning?  Yes.  Do I get shaky or light-headed if meals are delayed?  Yes.  Am I especially vulnerable to insect bites?  Yes.  Am I a worries, feel insecure, and/or highly emotional?  Yes.  Do I have "splitting" type headaches?  Yes.  Have I experienced my memory failing?  Yes.  Do I experience abnormal thirst?  Yes.  Have I experienced weight gain around my hips or waist?  Yes.  Am I especially intolerant of high temperatures?  Yes. Do I have difficulty losing weight?  Yes.  Am I experiencing reduced initiative and/or mental sluggishness?  Yes.  Am I easily fatigued or sleepy during the day?  Yes.  Am I sensitive to the cold or have poor circulation in my hands and feet?  Yes.  Am I experiencing excessive hair loss?  Yes.  Have I experienced weakness and dizziness?  Yes.  Weakness after colds and slow recovery?  Yes.  Nails weak and ridged?  Yes.  Perspire easily?  Yes.  Crave chocolate?   Yes.  Tendency to anemia?  Yes.  Reduced or lost taste or sense of smell?  Yes.  Susceptible to colds and/or infections?  Yes.  Shortness of breath with exertion?  Yes.  And about two dozen more "yeses" that I'm not going to take the time to list here.  As I said, HUGE MESS.

Once I entered the exam room at the office, Dr. Benzinger's nurse took my blood pressure and vitals, the same as any other doctor's appointment.  But then she told me that she was going to measure the energy levels of my internals systems by through the acupressure points in my hands and feet.  Say WHAT?  She pressed what looked like a metal stylus to various points on my hands and feet, and it fed different readings on a bar graph into the computer.  I had no idea what any of them meant.  She told me that some were for my kidneys, large intestine, etc.  Crazy that they could get all that information from points in my hands and feet!

Then she left and Dr. Benzinger came in.  He looked at the energy graphs on the computer and said, "Well, I can tell a couple of things about you right away.  For one, you must be an incredibly determined person.  For two, you must have a very high pain tolerance."  I think my jaw must have dropped a little, because he continued, "Only someone with an absolutely iron will could come in here an introduce herself to me with a smile while displaying levels like that."

Um, thanks?  So what do those levels indicate?

Well, it seems that a "normal" person would display energy levels at 95.  Across the board, mine leveled around 15.  He said, "Frankly, I'm surprised that you could drag yourself here today.  With levels like this, you honestly shouldn't even be capable of getting out of bed in the morning."

So I have something going on besides just a thyroid problem?
Oh yeah.  Way more than just a thyroid problem.

Next he glanced at my blood pressure reading.  It should be mentioned that for my entire life, I have had low blood pressure.  EVERY SINGLE DOCTOR that I have EVER seen has gotten a low blood pressure reading on me, and none of them have ever considered it to be a problem.  In fact, about 90% of them have said, "Oh you have such nice low blood pressure!  That's so great!"  Dr. Benzinger, on the other hand, took one look at it and said, "Wow, your blood pressure is really low.  Is this typical?"  When I told him that yes, it's always that low, he said, "Well, that's explains why you often feel dizzy or lightheaded.

Oh.  Duh.  WHY HAS NO DOCTOR EVER SAID THAT BEFORE???

Then he said, "So based on your symptoms, I'm going to assume that you have primarily German heritage.  Is that correct?"  Wow.  Yes.  "And you probably also have English heritage, right?"  Wow.  Yes.  Right again.  He then told me that the reason I crave salt (which was one of many food-related statements I had checked in the food portion of the background section of the patient info form) was due to my genetic heritage, and that I should listen to what my body is telling me.  He said that if I ate more salt, it would raise my blood pressure, and therefore I wouldn't be so dizzy all the time.  So therefore, he said, I should eat all the salt I want, as long as it's sea salt.

So within 5 minutes of meeting me, this doctor had figured out more about my medical problems than any other doctor I had ever seen, identified my ancestry based on my medical symptoms, AND provided me with a basic solution to an ongoing problem.  I was totally sold.

We then talked through my medical history.  I told him all about my thyroid and my migraines and how I had a family history of both of those.  Then he asked me how long it's been since I felt really, truly healthy.  I reached back in my memory.  Far, far back.  I remembered back to junior high, when I started getting intense headaches every Sunday afternoon as I stressed out about the week to come.  I remembered talking on the phone to my best friend Melissa and saying, "I'm just to tired of feeling sick."  And I realized that my initial answer of "I started getting sick in college" (which is when my thyroid disease started to manifest) was actually incorrect.

And while this was completely surprising to me to realize, it somehow was NOT surprising to Dr. Benzinger.  Instead, he said, "I see that was around the time that you had your tonsils and adenoids removed.  Can I assume that you had severe sinus problems leading up to that?"

Me: Well, no, my brother was the one with sinus problems....
Dr. B: But children don't have surgery for no reason.  So why did you have your tonsils removed?
Me: Well, I guess because I had a lot of sore throats growing up.
Dr. B: How many is 'a lot'?  Three a year?
Me: Yeah, 3 or 4.
Dr. B: And how did your childhood doctor treat those?
Me: With antibiotics.
Dr. B: So I'm to understand that you were given penicillin or one of its cousins 3 or 4 times a year from roughly preschool to sixth grade?
Me (doing the mental math and realizing them implications): Yes....
Dr B: Well, that's the root cause of your problems right there.  Your system started to be compromised when you were overmedicated as a child.  It introduced all kinds of toxins to your system.  When you had your tonsils removed, your body reacted by starting to make you physically sick in other ways because the toxins couldn't follow the same paths as before.  By this point, you've got so much damage that you're basically full of poison.  I'll bet you've even started having allergic reactions to foods that you've never had problems with before, right?
Me:  Um, actually, yes.  Severe reactions.  Several times in the past few months.
Dr B: I'm not at all surprised.  But we're going to get you re-balanced.

And the heavens parted and the angels sang.
Not really.  But that's certainly what it felt like.  I actually felt hope on the health front for the first time in about 20 years.

Next we went into another room across the hall.  He did another acupressure reading.  This one was slightly different, in that I had to hold a metal rod in my left hand while he did the acupressure points on my right hand.  It measured base point readings for lymphatics, lungs, nervous system, endocrine system, liver, stomach, and tons of other organs and body systems (30 in all).  Again, the stylus fed the readings into the computer.  This time, the readings fed out on a bar graph that showed how "balanced" these systems were.  The bar graphs all came out with specific numbers, but also color-coded for easy reading.  Red meant "stressed," yellow meant "weakened," and green meant "balanced."  Dr. Benzinger said that a healthy person would show 80-90% green and the rest yellow.  I showed 1 green (which he said was actually somewhat of an accident), 4 yellow (at least 1 of which was because it was being controlled by my thyroid medicine), and the other 25 red.

Have I mentioned that I am a huge, HUGE mess?

What's cool about this system, though, is that while I continued to hold the metal rod, Dr. Benzinger was then able to put an assortment of vitamins and supplements onto a pad attached to the computer and we were able to watch as my systems "balanced."  The program was set to recognize what each kind of supplement does for the body and calculate how to create order out of the chaos within.

This was the point when I decided that if Dr. Benzinger had lived at any other point in history and had these skills, he totally would have been burned at the stake as a witch.  Don't get me wrong--I think he's absolutely amazing.  And I literally think that the information I learned from him during that appointment is going to save my life.  Because I truly do not believe that I could have continued on my medical trajectory without dire consequences.  But the information that he was able to uncover simply by using a metal rod was scarily accurate.  So when I call him a "witch doctor," I mean that as the absolute highest form of compliment (even though I know it doesn't sound like it).

So after looking over my results, Dr. Benzinger said, "So I saw on your chart that you don't exercise very often--maybe once a week.  Can I hazard a guess as to why that is?"  Sure.  "Is it because it makes you feel physically sick?  Like headaches, stomachaches, lightheaded, like you're going to faint, takes several hours to recover?"  YES, actually it is!  I just feel really stupid saying that to people--oh, exercise makes me sick, I can't do it.  It sounds like such a whiny-girl, loser excuse.  But no, it's actually true.  And here's this doctor, telling me that I'm spot-on right, and furthermore, that I should listen to my body and NOT exercise, at least for the time being.  And here's why: My body is so full of toxins that exercise is literally making me sick.  It releases poisons into my body.  Yikes.  And here I thought I should tough it out.  But no, I need to balance my nutrition first.

Which brings to me what Dr. Benzinger is all about.  In the short term, he's giving me these vitamins and supplements to help balance my system and undo the damage it's been through.  But all these supplements and Dr. Benzinger himself are not a long-term solution.  He says that his ideal is for patients to learn to care for themselves.  Which I'm all for.  I don't want to be on meds forever.

So the solution to long-term care is through diet.  And the way that I take care of my system is by eliminating the foods that aggravate it.  His magic acupressure system also measured all of that.  Right now, the foods that I need to cut out completely are bread (because of the yeast), cheese, peanuts, and mushrooms.

I want you to take just a second to read that list over again.  Those four foods, in varying degrees, pretty much comprise Amy's Complete Menu.  And yet they are also the foods that have been aggravating my system, making me feel sluggish and tired, giving me stomachaches and giving me irritable bowels, triggering allergic reactions to other foods, etc.  What do those foods all have in common, by the way?  Fungus.  They all come from some kind of fungus.  (yeast, cheese, nut, mushroom)  Yuuuccckkkk.

So I'm cutting out pretty much everything I have ever eaten and loved (pizza, oh pizza!), at least for the time being.  Dr. Benzinger says that after my system achieves balance, some of those foods can be added back in again.  Here's hoping, anyway.

Other things to avoid if at all possible:
* sugar - soda, candy, fruit juice, sports drinks, chocolate, cakes, buns, pastries, ice cream, breakfast cereals
* starch - bread, pasta, rice (except brown rice is okay), french fries, potato chips, porridge, muesli, oatmeal
* margarine - only allowed to eat butter
* beer - that's okay, I didn't drink it anyway

Which leaves me with:
* meat - too bad I'm afraid to touch it raw
* fish and shellfish - ditto on the raw thing
* eggs
* vegetables
* dairy products - except cheese
* nuts - except peanuts, and also not pistachios, which I am allergic to
* fruit

I will admit that I am still eating things from the "things to avoid" list (albeit in DRASTICALLY reduced quantities), just because I am having such a hard time finding things to eat while avoiding the foods that previously made up my entire diet.... so hopefully I'll get to the full level of achievement eventually (my appointment was only four days ago).

Anyway, Dr. Benzinger also told me that in addition to displaying allergies to foods, he suspected that based on my levels, I would also be displaying severe levels with anything including perfumes or chemicals, so to avoid direct skin contact with perfume, sunscreen, and bugspray.  At which point I kind of freaked out and was like, "Wait!  You're telling me that my body would display a severe allergic reaction if I used bugspray?"  He said yes, and I literally held my head in my hands as I thought back to the previous weekend when I had sprayed myself and the kids down the bugspray, packed up the car, and headed out for a family campout.... only to have me spend the next 48 hours in utter agony. Within a half an hour of applying that bugspray, sweat was literally rolling off my body.  I was clawing at huge itchy welts at my arms and legs, and my stomach was covered with red bumps.  My stomach was searing with gut-clenching agony, and let it suffice to say--I made many, many trips back to the lodge to use the toilet. I was absolutely sure that I must have eaten something that had completely poisoned me--except that I hadn't eaten anything that day that I hadn't consumed hundreds of times before.  It took me a full 48 hours to recover.  And all from using bugspray!  Dr. Benzinger suggested a book that will teach me how to make homeopathic bugspray and sunscreen that will not trigger my toxins, and I've already requested it from the library.

The final step of the appointment was another round with the acupressure machine.  This one was to achieve not physical wellness, but emotional--because both are essential to a balanced system.  The acupressure machine tested literally thousands of possibilities that have been around for over 400 years for what negative emotions are poisoning my system.  It identified seven, and each and every one was SPOT ON.  I'm not going to share all of them here, but one indicated that I feel that my "efforts also go unrewarded" and another stated that my "joy has suffered because" I have "neglected" my "own particular interests." (ahem! this is my first blog post in *how* long?)  Eerily accurate.  Yet another reason why I feel that Dr. Benzinger is a witch doctor (in the best possible way).

Now, it's not like he can fix those problems, but he feels that it's important for patients to see them identified so that they can pray over them (he's a Christian) and begin the work of addressing them to right their spiritual/emotional health in addition to their physical--because both need to be in order to truly healthy.

So, to wrap up this (incredibly long) post, let me just say that seeing Dr. Benzinger was probably the single best hour of time I have ever spent.  I came away from that appointment feeling encouraged and hopeful about the state of my overall health for literally the first time I can remember.  I FINALLY feel like somebody actually understands what is going on with me health-wise and has given me the tools to control it.  I feel like I have the chance to get my life back and--someday--live like a normal person.  I cannot wait for the day when I wake up headache-free, not exhausted, able to play with my kids and function in the way I see the people around me doing.  And I am so RELIEVED that someone has finally said to me, "No, you're not crazy, you really can't do all those things--stop pushing yourself to do all that, take care of yourself first, and THEN you'll be able to do that."  So in spite of my initial skepticism I HIGHLY recommend that anyone who has some kind of "mystery" medical condition that hasn't been able to get an answer out of a regular doctor goes to see Dr. Benzinger.  He is absolutely worth it.

Updates to follow as I see how this all works out.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Migraine

I can feel it coming for me.

I feel it as soon as I wake up.  There's the wonderful drowsy feeling of slumber, then my alarm, then the pain behind my right eye.  And I know that it's going to be a migraine day.

It's this winter.  This horrible, horrible winter, with different storm fronts moving in nearly every day and electrical surges of cold so strong that I can feel them pulsing in my head every time I go outside, even just passing from my house to my car.  Extreme weather is one of my triggers, and every day for the last three weeks has qualified.

It has lain in wait for me for the last five days.  A constant pain behind my right eye--always there, never leaving, surging every time I step into the cold, picking up in intensity any time I get hungry or don't drink enough water.  Definitely a headache--more than just a naggy daily headache (because I have plenty of experience in knowing the difference), but not quite a full-fledged migraine either. 
Twice I tried taking a migraine pill to get rid of it, mindful of my neurologist's advice to nip it in the bud before it became full-blown.  And it disappeared then, for what I suppose was the duration of the time that the pill remained in my system.  And then it was back, that pressure, that pain, right behind my eye, not exploding into full-blown migraine, just enough to remind me that it was there and refused to go away, constant pain, refusing to be ignored.

And then, this morning, the explosion.

I know that migraine is, by definition, a neurological disease.  And yet it affects the entire body.  I knew that this was going to be the real thing because as the pain started to bloom behind my eye, the nausea blossomed in my stomach.  I need to eat, I thought, at the same time as the other half of my brain shouted, I need to throw up!  The first argument against myself.

Quick, get the kids off to the sitter.  They shouldn't have to see this.

The pain moves into my jaw.  Down my neck.  All on the right side.  Muscles tensing.  Knowing my body is in for a battle.

My right eye is a cavern of pain.  My left eye is fine.  I'm split against myself.

I argue, This is a chronic condition.  I need to learn to live with it.  I can't let it beat me. 

But my body screams for relief.

I think of the kitchen floor, covered in crushed cereal, spilled by the baby, stepped on by the bigger kids, needing desperately to be swept.  I think of the mountains of laundry I scheduled for today.  I think of the hours of work I need to put in to my work-from-home job--I had to quit my real job after the migraines got to be too much.  I think of the emails I need to respond to, the phonecalls I need to return, the commitments I have made.  I ache when I think of all the people I will disappoint, my family first among them, by just giving in.

But my body craves the dark room and the ice pack.  It will not be denied.  There are two of us inhabiting this body, having this argument, and the voice that is me is losing to the voice of the migraine.

The migraine steers me up the stairs.  Can I just start one load of laundry first? I plead.  No, it answers, but it does allow me stop and grab an ice pack, because it knows that it likes how that feels.  But I'm not even tired, I argue.  Just lay down, it says, and at least it won't hurt for a while.  And then the dark room, the pill, the ice pack, the silence, nothing but the arguments inside my head, fighting back and forth between me and migraine, until migraine wins and I pass into unconsciousness.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Looking Ahead to 2014

What a year 2013 was!  It has featured a new house, new jobs, new schools, and new skills. 


What’s next?
As we look ahead to 2014, we hope for continued improvement with my migraines.  This month, I am launching businesses as a personal consultant for both Thirty-One and Premier Designs Jewelry, with the hope that these from-home businesses will offer the flexibility of scheduling that her migraines require while also generating the income to handle some of those medical bills!  Ben looks forward to another year of record-breaking attendance at Camp Tecumseh.  We’re sure we can look forward to more new hobbies and new skills for each of the kids.  We’ll be another adding new cousin to the family when Kristin and Brian Padgett have their first child at the end of March. Most of all, we feel incredibly blessed to have come out of such a crazy year in such good shape!


Sunday, January 12, 2014

2013 in Review: December

What a year 2013 was!  It has featured a new house, new jobs, new schools, and new skills.  Here’s the story, month by month:

December 
I'm now down to 1-2 migraines a week, which is a huge improvement over what I was experiencing before.  However, my neurologist says it’s still not good enough to return to full-time work, so it was with great regret that I recently had to resign from my teaching job.  However, I have recently started a part-time job as a Youth Services Librarian at the Monticello Library.  I'm really enjoying this new career!  Bryn, Shay, and Liam all did beautifully in Christmas programs for their schools.  Aiden continues to be the best-natured baby in the world, rolling with all the punches while wearing a constant smile.  Bryn, Shay, and I all finished up quilting projects and gifted family members with them at Christmas.  The entire family traveled first to Michigan to celebrate Christmas with the Meyaards, then to Illinois to celebrate with the Pfanschmidts.  Ben found the final few days of 2013 to be quite busy, with year-end donations coming in to camp.  We ended the year with some excitement when, on December 28, Brian and Lakshmi added baby Siva Reddy (our first nephew!) to the family. 




Saturday, January 11, 2014

2013 in Review: November

What a year 2013 was!  It has featured a new house, new jobs, new schools, and new skills.  Here’s the story, month by month:


November 
All 3 girls (me, Bryn, and Shay) celebrated birthdays this month!  At 8 years old, Bryn is a total bookworm.  Shaylee (6) is still a ball of energy, always singing and talking, constantly on the move.  Both girls love school and constantly rave about what they’re learning.  My neurologist eliminated most of the really scary possible causes for my migraines and found a combo of meds that began to reduce my migraines.  We hosted Thanksgiving for the first time ever and enjoyed getting to spend that time with both sides of our family.


Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 in Review: October

What a year 2013 was!  It has featured a new house, new jobs, new schools, and new skills.  Here’s the story, month by month:

October 
My chronic migraines had been worsening for the entire year but reached a crisis point this month.  A trip to the ER made it clear that something needed to be done.  In spite of taking a daily preventative medication, I was suffering 5-6 migraines per week.  My neurologist put me on medical leave from teaching and began running various tests and experimenting with different medications.  The entire family enjoyed a trip to Indianapolis for Butler’s Homecoming, and of course Halloween held plenty of cuteness.

    



Thursday, January 09, 2014

2013 in Review: September

What a year 2013 was!  It has featured a new house, new jobs, new schools, and new skills.  Here’s the story, month by month:

September 
I entered my second year of leading Bryn and Shay’s Girl Scout Daisy troop.  Bryn and Shay also caught the quilting bug and began their own projects.  Liam loudly expressed himself to be quite jealous of all these things—it’s hard to keep up with big sisters!  We visited Indianapolis and Peoria.  Ben enjoyed participating in some disc golf tournaments.  Aiden continued to grow by leaps and bounds, learning new skills and new words and abounding in cuteness.




Wednesday, January 08, 2014

2013 in Review: August

What a year 2013 was!  It has featured a new house, new jobs, new schools, and new skills.  Here’s the story, month by month:

August 

We were all sad to see summer camp end, but the beginning of the school year is always exciting.  I returned to teaching at Logansport High School.  Bryn started second grade at Delphi Elementary.  As part of the High Ability program, she is in a split 2/3 classroom and does advanced work—and loves every minute of it!  She is truly a child who loves learning.  Shaylee started full-day kindergarten at Camden Early Childhood Center and absolutely loves it.  Liam began preschool for the first time, attending Ready Set Go.  Aiden took his first steps the day before school started!  Meanwhile, Ben’s disc golf club created a new course and he played in his first sanctioned tournament, the Wabash Wash-Out, which lived up to its name when a typhoon-level storm rained out the second half of the tournament!  And most importantly, August held huge relief for us when we FINALLY sold our Brownsburg house after two and a half years on the market!


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

2013 in Review: July

What a year 2013 was!  It has featured a new house, new jobs, new schools, and new skills.  Here’s the story, month by month:

July
We kicked off the month with a fantastic trip to Michigan to celebrate Ben’s uncle Dan Meyaard’s wedding to a wonderful woman named Ann Marie.  It was three days of non-stop party, including an impressive fireworks display on the Fourth.  Great time with family!  Bryn, Shay, and Liam each got to have an extended solo stay with Nana and Papa Meyaard at the lake house this month, going on special outings, playing with cousin Elizabeth, and generally getting spoiled.  Bryn attended a second week of Day Camp with her very best friend Hannah when the Elstros came up from Indy and stayed with us for a week—great times for all!  Bryn and Shay appeared as adorable Alley Cats in the local production of “Curiosity Cats.”  Amy took Bryn, Shay, and Liam to St. Louis for a weekend to visit lifelong friends the Raguet-Schofields and the Chins.  The kids had a great time making second-generation friends, exploring the Science Center, and visiting the Zoo.  Amy also took up quilting, coached by some of the wonderful women who attend Quilt Camp at Tecumseh.  And, of course, we also hung out with the counselors and played at summer camp!

 


Monday, January 06, 2014

2013 in Review: June

What a year 2013 was!  It has featured a new house, new jobs, new schools, and new skills.  Here’s the story, month by month:


June
Summer camp was in full swing!  Through Ben’s work as Director of Camper Support, more than 500 kids were able attend Camp Tecumseh on scholarship this summer.  Our kids loved being “camp kids,” playing with the counselors, eating in the dining hall, and attending campfires.  Ben and I hosted home-cooked dinners for the counselors every Monday night of the summer, which led to some fantastic nights of fun at the big white house.  Both girls got to attend a week of Day Camp, where they had the time of their lives.  The kids and I made trips to Peoria to visit family and Indianapolis to visit friends.  The kids also enjoyed participating in various Delphi library programs.  Our baby Aiden turned 1 on June 18—where did the time go??


 

Sunday, January 05, 2014

2013 in Review: May

What a year 2013 was!  It has featured a new house, new jobs, new schools, and new skills.  Here’s the story, month by month:

May
Ben traveled to Michigan to celebrate his cousin Cara’s wedding, but I stayed behind to coach my students through the ECA exam.  To celebrate improved scores, I then took my students on a fieldtrip to camp.  Shay graduated from Ready Set Go preschool with plenty of pomp and circumstance.  The family enjoyed a weekend visit from grandparents Dave and Diane.  The summer camp counselors arrived for training, and the kids immediately made friends with all of them!
 


 

Saturday, January 04, 2014

2013 in Review: April

What a year 2013 was!  It has featured a new house, new jobs, new schools, and new skills.  Here’s the story, month by month:

April
Another month of travel!  We started off with a trip to Michigan to see Brian and Lakshmi’s daughter Hattie's traditional Hindu haircut ceremony.  It was so neat to get to see this, and of course wonderful to see all the cousins together!  I also made a solo trip to Chicago this month for my lifelong friend Jolyne's wedding.  I had a fantastic time getting caught up with some of my high school friends during this weekend! Back at home, Shay’s preschool put on their annual production of “The Wizard of Oz,” and Shay gave a stellar performance as Auntie Em.  Aiden continued to amuse everyone with his patented “Quasimodo” crawling method, in which he dragged on leg behind him like a wounded soldier—but it certainly didn’t slow him down any!