JULY - AUGUST
Multiple Sclerosis Relapse
I had a relapse in the middle of summer break. It sucked... really badly. I would characterize this last relapse as one of my worst. Not because of the physical limitations, which I EXPECT. (I have a pretty new cane. It's like a copper mermaid tail. And I have handicap parking now!)
However, this time, I turned into a monster. I was a totally different person... Even worse? I am aware enough to recognize that my behavior is psychotic, but I am TRAPPED inside my own brain. It's one of the more uncommon facets of MS, but it is definitely very real. It's an "emotional, personality change characterized by elevated neuroticism and reduction in empathy, agreeableness, and conscientiousness".
It also sometimes manifests as euphoria, where I can't stop laughing at completely inappropriate times. Of course, there's also the cognitive issues of memory loss, with a side of processing delay. And I can't hear very well during a relapse either. I don't know WHY, but it's a thing. It's why I have a "brain box", which is literally a box of 3x5 index cards with tasks written on them for every day of the week, with step-by-step instructions on how to do those tasks.
We got a picnic table. I was excited. Troy was excited. Everyone was excited. It was an actual dream of mine FULFILLED. We now make horrible messes outside, and I don't care if people spill their drinks. IT'S MAGICAL.
Neighborhood Summer Camps
This was our first year of hosting Neighborhood Summer Camps in Los Alamos. I feel like these were a rousing success! We had a new theme each week, and most of our weeks were sold out. However, I think I may downsize the number of kids I allow in each group because it got a little crazy with 8 kids, plus my own. In fact, I think this next summer, I'll do smaller groups, on different days, and close the age gap. A 4 year old, and an 8 year old have totally different learning and creative styles. So I'm thinking I'll have a 4-6 yr old group, and a 7-10 yr old group. Except I would make exceptions for siblings, so that parents can send their kids together as needed.
Daniel Cousin Camp in AZ
2016 was Daniel's 10th year, so he got to head to Arizona for cousin camp. He had a wonderful time visiting both sets of grandparents and cousins. It's nice to live closer to family, because it makes visits so much easier... cheaper too! The other 10 year old at Cousin Camp was my niece Megan. She is such a sweetheart, and they had a blast together, swimming and diving and adventuring. Daniel is also a very spiritual kid, and he wanted to visit as many LDS temples as possible. Grammy and Grandad Ellsworth took the kids on a temple tour through three states, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.
Football and Cheerleading
Daniel started football. It was his first year, and he did great. He got more and more playing time as the season advanced. He had a great time, and loved being on the team.
Taylor also began cheering this summer. She was a very enthusiastic cheerleader, and she got to take a tumbling class where she learned how to do a proper cartwheel. We're still working on her back bends!
The kids started school in late August. Thaddeus is an old man in middle school; 7th grade to be exact. The other kids all go to the same elementary school, where Blayne is in 6th grade, Daniel's in 5th, and Taylor's in 4th.&
We also had an instrument switcheroo. Daniel changed instruments from the cello to the trombone. (Sidenote: Troy plaved trombone for a year once. We have a photographic evidence and everything!) Taylor started on the violin, Thaddeus is percussion ensemble, and Blayne is still trumpet. Also, we now OWN our instruments. With the money we made from summer camps, we were able to purchase our instruments, which turned out being less expensive than renting them anyhow. I'm mostly excited because I have dreams of becoming The One and Only Original Family Band... and if you have not seen that musical, you are dead to me. That's the movie where Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn first met!
I started teaching preschool out of our home. I have some cute little boys in my class, and we are having a super fun time learning all about the world, We do a new country each week, and we have passengers boarding our alphabet train, and it's all very fun. And I try to do a small snack for each country, but sometimes it works, and sometimes, it just doesn't. At any rate, I have three of the sweetest boys, and we are having a good time learning. Which is mostly what I hope they get out of it anyways... I want them to be excited about learning, and curious about the world around them. And the parents of the boys are fabulous, which makes preschool even easier.
For the past few months, I have been visiting a lot of doctors. due to a growth on my thyroid, Now, the growth has been there for the better part of a decade, and it has never really been a problem. I've been on hormone replacement therapy ever since Thaddeus was born, no big deal.
This last year, I started having some weird issues with eating and swallowing. I mostly attributed it to my MS, because when I relapse, I lose the ability to taste, and I can't chew food either, because it's extremely painful. Anyways, I figured it was an MS thing, and didn't even think anything of it.
At my routine ultrasound exam with my endocrinologist, it was discovered that my little growth had doubled in size. Now, the growth was on the backside of of my thyroid, so even though it was getting bigger, nobody could tell, because it was pressing on my throat, towards my spine, causing the eating and breathing problems.
Also, when a growth grows by more than 10% in a year, they routinely will do a fine needle biopsy to see what type of growth you have. So an appointment was made for the biopsy, which is no big deal. They have very thin needles, guided by ultrasound, and samples are taken from each "side" of the growth. I had 5 samples taken, then went home and didn't think any more of it.
Until the results came in.
The results were "indeterminate" which means, it's not a benign growth, but it's not necessarily malignant either. When this happens, the samples are sent out for genetic testing. Well those results were't exactly promising. So it was determined that we would WAIT and WATCH and RETEST everything after a three month wait.
Three months later, I have more imaging and testing. The growth gets measured. It's bigger. I have more biopsies. Indeterminate. Samples are sent for genetic testing. This time, the chances of me having cancer have gone from 60% to 75%.
My mother came to New Mexico to run the household while I had the right half of my thyroid removed. Surgery took longer than expected, per my usual. Other than that, everything went well, and the surgeon was able to take out the suspicious bits, which were tested, and...
I DON'T HAVE CANCER!
However, I do have another little growth on the remaining half of my thyroid. It's being carefully monitored. Also being monitored are my thyroid levels, which are totally and completely OFF KILTER. I know this because I have gained 25 pounds in the three months since. It's always exciting when your stretchy pants no longer fit.
Thaddeus has been dying to have a phone. Troy and I devised a plan, and had decided that in order to have a phone, you had to:
- Be in Middle School
- Play an Instrument
- Participate in a Sport
Halloween was awesome. My kids brought home 25 POUNDS of candy. We also discovered that I, Caroline Bingham, am allergic to chocolate.
Thaddeus was a hippopotamus. Blayne dressed as Alice in Wonderland, and sometimes a witch. Daniel was a hot dog one night, and a hamburger the next. Taylor was a steampunk girl, and I made her an awesome pair of goggles.
Blayne was in the Los Alamos Children's Theater production of Peter Pan. She played the Pirate Murphy, and had a peg leg and long black hair. She had three lines, and did AWESOME. She made a lot of new friends, and went a little bit out of her comfort zone. It was really great for her. She was the cutest pirate I've ever seen.
We went to Arizona for Thanksgiving. I got to be the boss of all the food, which is exactly the way I like it. We ate pies for lunch. Then had Thanksgiving dinner at dinner time. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but I hate eating at non-meal times. IT BOTHERS ME GREATLY. So I was very happy to be the boss of the kitchen. My turkey was delicious, and my dad smoked a turkey using hickory, so it was like eating a turkey and bacon at the same time, which has led me to a new life goal: owning a smoker.
My sisters Verity and Sarah and their families came to dinner as well. We played some fun minute to win it games, and then around 8 pm, everybody left, and we got to watch movies in our jammies on the couch eating more pie. It. Was. Glorious.
Also, while we were there, Grandad Ellsworth and Troy built us cornhole boards. Grandad even got us regulation size beanbags. It's pretty much the most awesome gift ever, and something that I didn't even know existed prior to living in Virginia. WE LOVE CORN HOLE! (Because they used to throw corn cobs through the hole.)
Okay, this is probably the best gift of the year... THEN it's Corn Hole. At any rate, WE HAVE A DOG. We inherited him from Meredith and Tyler, who were accepted into BYU-Idaho, and student housing, and couldn't have a dog. It has worked out great for us! We have a cute, blonde cock-a-poo who we have christened Lucky.
Lucky is my shadow, and he loves most of the family. He is warming up to Troy, but he didn't really trust that guy at first. Lucky is very chill. He likes to talk to the birds outside, he cries when people go to school, and he sleeps at the foot of Daniel's bed.
Lucky LOVES the snow. He prances and dances in it, and like to burrow underneath. He's pretty silly.... and spoiled rotten.
I have also been honing my dog grooming skills. I need a better comb, but it's going pretty well. I bought special toenail clippers, and I even have learned how to drain his anal glands. It was horrifying for the both of us. Luckily, I have a huge box of gloves, and I did it in the tub, because I had a feeling that I would need to give someone a bath right afterwards. Not gonna like though, it smelled nasty. But you gotta do what you gotta do! Especially when the pet groomer is an hour away.
I have a teenager.
I also have a YOUNG WOMAN.
Half of my babies are out of primary! It makes me feel a little old. I remember a LOT of things from when I was this age, so I know that my kids are also going to remember a LOT of things. It kinda puts the pressure on to be a nice person. Because they will remember you turning into a crazy monster person!
Anyways, Thaddeus is 13. He loves computer programming, history, and running. He has had a few rough spots with some friends, as is typical for his age, but he's learning how to navigate through that. He is also learning how to work at school. Thaddeus is crazy smart, so he's always been able to just coast by in school, so this whole taking notes and paying attention thing is kinda killing him. I not-so-secretly love it. Troy and I keep telling him that THIS IS THE REST OF HIS LIFE. You have to learn to get along with people, and work with them, even when you don't like them! It's so hard to figure out.
Blayne has graduated into Young Women's at church. And she is almost a tall as me now. In another year, she'll probably surpass me. She fits into my shoes, and has commandeered a few pairs. (But not just her exclusively. Currently, Thaddeus, Blayne, Daniel, and myself all wear the same size shoe!) Blayne is thrilled to finally have a REAL DOG to play with. She is also a fantastic trumpet player. She's actually fantastic at everything she tries. School is going well; she has a few really nice friends, which has been fun. This is the first place we've lived that has had girls our same age. It's typically been a big ole pack of boys. We are enjoying the girl scene very much. Blayne has a fabulous and SHARP sense of humor. She's fun to banter with.
It's really nice to see glimpses of who my kids will be when they grow up. I sure do love my December babies!
The last few years, I have made a vow to have ALL my holiday shopping done before December 1. It's really stinking awesome because December is crazy! We had a lot of fun decorating the house, and hanging up the lights.
But you know what happened this year? THADDEUS WOKE US ALL UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT! Guys, I have never in my whole parenting life, had a child wake up this early. This knucklehead wanted to open gifts at 2:30 in the morning! I gave up about 4 in the morning and we let everyone open their gifts, because it was obvious that nobody was going to be able to go back to sleep. It was fun, and exhausting, and after church, we napped. So it was a pretty good day!
And that concludes our year in review. Happy 2017!