Happy Birthday to me. I am 34 today.

It doesn't even feel like my birthday. There's too much going on right now, or it snuck up on me too quickly, or it doesn't mean as much to me anymore. I'm not sure what the differences are, exactly. Only that it feels strange to be writing this right now.

I traveled a ton in the last year, all within the country this time though. I traveled through Door County on an off weekend in August. Virginia, to officiate my brother's wedding. Down to St Louis, for a few nights with the kids. Covington, Kentucky to attend a wedding and develop a five-way addiction. Christmas in New York for possibly the last time. Minnesota at the end of winter for a massive conference. Out to Oregon and California for a good chunk of June to see everyone and check to see how my brother's children are growing. I had spent a lot of time cooped up in the city over the last few years, making little trips back home whenever I had some vacation I needed to burn. It was nice to get out for a while and catch up with everyone and drive around.

The last few months did go by in a blur. I was trying to help others through some personal struggles while figuring out how to stay at my job for another little while. Being busy is way better than sitting around and waiting for something to happen, so I will happily take the frantic pace over what was taking up that time before. And the feeling of self worth that is coming back from all of these struggles (even work stuff sometimes) has been really important to me.

I did put out a total of about 500,000 words last year in total, but a lot of that was daily pages or experimental or just stream of consciousness, and aren't really in a usable shape. I pretty much turned the faucet on and let the words out. I want to write a ton more about the experiences that I've had in the last year, and how my life is different. But I'm not sure how to find that voice and how to work those words out just yet.

And I know more about myself, and how I work. I've been pouring a lot of time into figuring out why I feel certain ways, instead of reacting to the feelings and freaking out. I've been keeping a better eye on how healthy I am being, but also not beating myself up for letting things slide or being lazy. I'm meditating regularly, although not going to the tanks as much as I would like. I think I am a more complete, better functioning human being than I was at this time last year, and I am very happy with that progress.

I imagine that the next year will look remarkably like this past year. Work will be different one way or another, but there is definitely a part of me that needs that change to happen. The rest of my life will shift and creek and rattle along, and eventually change into something else. I'm happy with this situation, and I hope that it goes as well as last year did.

Today: Woke up after alarm went off but laid around for a while. Cleaned the bathroom, paid special attention to disinfecting the tub after listening to Jon Tesh explain that these were germ filled, often neglected areas and I'm nervous about Jill's foot getting infected since the biospy site has not fully healed. My back is really sore and I'm not sure what I did to aggravate it. Last night I went for a leisurely bike ride. The girls stayed at home by themselves, I wanted to see how they would do and thankfully they were both well behaved as the TV was going. Yesterday Jill went to laser tag with her sister but had to sit down as her foot started bothering her. It's nice that the visiting nurse association is willing to drop meds off but it would almost be easier to pick them up myself since our summer schedule involves a lot of back and forth trips to and from summer school locations.

While I like to think of myself as the forgiving sort, once certain lines are crossed, I have a hard time going back to the way that things were. This was the subject of a conversation this morning which I won't get into but was upsetting. Last year we bought Jill a larger bike for her birthday. This morning we took her younger sister out for a spin on her bike while Jill was at her Harry Potter class. When she was in the hospital she expressed regret that she was missing so many of her sessions, the art therapist came to make a wand with her which helped a little. Jill painted a mask and she watched a lot of TV in the hospital so I was grateful that she had a creative outlet. We're thinking about getting Jane a bigger bike for her birthday. I feel really bad but with Jill being in the hospital we are really behind on a lot of things including party planning for Jane's birthday - these things always come up faster than I think they are.

Tomorrow Jill has two appointments, one with her regular pediatrician and another to visit a pediatrician we might be switching to. While I really like the first pediatrician I want someone who practices functional medicine as well as traditional. From reading the new doctor's bio I'm hoping that I have found someone whose lifestyle and philosophy is in line with what I believe. The doctor I wanted to get the girls into is not accepting new patients but I am hoping that this woman will be a good fit for our family. Jill has not been eating well so she's lost a few pounds. She went to both of her classes today and I think she overdid it. I made both of the girls lie down after lunch. Jane slept for a bit but I think Jill was up the entire time.

Jill's inflammatory markers are still elevated. That is a cause for concern even though I know that a bone infection is difficult to treat. Typically the infection is caused by one of three bugs, two of which are staph and strep. Cultures for one of the three can take up to two weeks to grow so we may have some waiting time before we can find out what is causing the infection. We've settled into something of a routine. Jill has five doses of IV antibiotics over the course of a twenty-four hour period. One is every twelve hours and the other is every eight. It isn't difficult to administer but the one dose takes about an hour to complete so there's a fair amount of waiting around we have to do. Fortunately the grenade style is portable so she can walk around instead of being confined to one spot.

I'm trying to stay optimistic and positive and focused while getting things done around the house but it is really hard. I'm tired, there's more paperwork to deal with, the meds were supposed to be delivered this afternoon and they still haven't arrived which is making me fidgety. I'm glad I got the bathroom done, Jill ate a salad and part of a burger for lunch. She's supposed to have as much protein as possible but she didn't want an egg for breakfast and I decided not to push it. The pharmacist said that whatever we can get into her is good. Her appetite was okay at lunch but a handful of apple slices with some peanut butter should not have held her until one o'clock which is when we had lunch. I did my yoga DVD but my back doesn't seem better, wish me luck going forward, it looks like I'll be needing it.

Posting this a day late so as a bonus you get two logs in one! The holistic/conventionally trained pediatrician was not what I expected. I may have to keep searching until I find someone I really like, still thinking about my options and what I want to do. The nurse came out for Jill's dressing change. She said that Jill's arm looked good and foot did as well. My uncle was in from out of town so we met up with him and my dad. I'm glad we went even though it meant that the girls were up very late. I stayed up way later than I should have but I started organizing the bathroom closet but waking up to a less cluttered closet was so nice. There's a rumor about a bleeding eye statue at our local cemetery. Jill wants to take a friend to explore but then Jane has nothing to do - I feel bad since we didn't send her birthday invites out on time as Jill was in the hospital, I feel like that poor kid is always getting the shaft. Yesterday I bought some raw milk cheese to see how that would go over with the tummies in my family. Kind of hard to explain how much I have missed cheese.

There's an apartment for rent near where the girls go to school. As badly as I want to move out, right now, I can't afford it. Currently no one in my family takes any vitamins or supplements, I believe that there is a level of health that many people I know aren't aware of and don't seek. I don't want to look good, I want to feel great. I want to be the mom who can keep up with her kids on the soccer field or throw some snacks in a backpack and take off on a bike ride. I'm tired of living in fear, pain, and denial and it's been hard to acknowledge the numerous opportunities I have missed but at least now I know that things like that are out there so I can add them to my list of future hopes and dreams. Yesterday a guy who follows me on Twitter told me that one of his friends died in a car accident, I felt bad for him and I don't want to minimize anything he is going through but that exchange made me realize how many levels there are to sites like Twitter where there is a lot of superficial fluff covering deeper issues.

The other day I noticed that there was a definite distinction between the hair on the top of my head and the hair that hits my shoulders. I have a ring that separates the light from the dark and it wasn't until I saw a red mark on my forehead that I realized my bike helmet blocks the sun from the top of my head. So I have a weird hair color transition that probably looks really funky in back but I can't see it and I'd rather have the rides and the memories than uniformly colored hair although I'm still self conscious about it. Jill's nurse said that she can take her IV treatment with her if she needs to. This is another thing that is stressing me out but I need to start letting go of some of my fears that bad things are going to happen since I can't control everything. There are so many things spinning through my mind right now, I have to find a way to channel that into productivity. Now that the bathroom closet is back in order, I'm going to tackle the one in the hall.

Thanks for reading and please, keep in touch.

jess

Hop #13

Dragged my ass out of bed early, as I had an 8am reservation for the airplane. Got to the airport still yawning and waiting for the cup of coffee I'd had to kick in, and found that my CFI wasn't there yet. So I went to preflight the airplane. Everything looked fine except for it needing gas, so I went back in to use the facilities before flying and bumped into him coming out of that same door. He took the keys and said he'd gas the plane up.

When I walked out onto the apron, he was finishing fueling the plane (yes! Less chance of spilling 100LL all over my shirt for the Nth time). Got in and did the preflight. The day was slightly muggy in that way that tells you that although it's morning, it's going to be really hot later on. The sky was perhaps 30% overcast but way up, at least 8-10 thousand feet up, and blue sky was rolling in from the west. There was some haze 5 miles or so out and around the ridgelines south of the airport, but it was already burning off.

Taxied out to One Four, did the runup and checked the pattern. Nobody around, so announced and departed, bringing it around within the pattern for a landing. The first landing went smoothly - on final, I added a short burst of power about a quarter-mile out. Floated the airplane over the numbers, held the flare level, and got the stall horn before touching down gently and managed to make the turnoff by using the brakes as shown.

"Nice. Let's do that again."

So we did. Again, made landing with no drama, and made the turnoff. As we were taxiing back around, my CFI said those words you wait for: "Well, I don't need to be here. Drop me off at the fuel pump and I'll get a handheld radio."

I dropped him off, but had to wait while he ran into the FBO because my logbook didn't have any spots left in it for a solo endorsement and he had to go check the wording for a written one. After five minutes or so, though, he came back out and passed my logbook and certificate in the window and waved, walking out towards the runway.

Started up and headed out to One Four. When I got there, I did another runup since I'd shut down the engine before - everything looked fine. Did the pre-takeoff check he'd given me the previous time - fuel selector, trim, flaps, mixture, carb heat - and then announced. *click* "Northampton traffic, Skyhawk 12732 is departing One Four Northampton." Rolled to the centerline, rolled in the power and...

The airplane lifted earlier. I had forgotten that there was less weight in it, and it happily started climbout at a sharper angle than I was used to. Holding it at 80 MPH, I looked around to check for traffic-

Holy crap, I'm flying. And I'm alone in the plane.

Got a huge, huge grin. Brought it around in the pattern, everything almost automatic but checking nonetheless. Pulled power at the numbers with carb heat in, added ten of flaps and held it to 90 MPH on downwind. Announced, turned base and added the second ten of flaps. Turned final almost immediately (I tend to turn more gently when under low power, so my actual base leg is typically shorter than my crosswind on climbout as the turns are wider). Added another increment of flaps and watched the speed gently drop down to 70 MPH; dropped the nose to hold that speed and looked. VASI was red over white, and the runway looked...right. So I pulled power and flew it down, and pulled back to flare just past the runway numbers. The stall horn creaked, moaned, and-

*thmp*

Bounced slightly, once, maybe 2-3 feet, but it settled back tamely. Braked and made the turnoff, working real damn hard to maintain Pilot Face(tm). Cleaned up the airplane and announced clear of the active (a light sport had been waiting to go) and before I could ask, my CFI got on the radio from where he was standing out near the windsock. "Nice. Go for another."

*Click* "Don't mind if I do. Thanks!" So I did.

Got in three landings as Pilot in Command. The last one I came in a bit high - turned base a bit early, I think, and had been 100 feet high on downwind, so carried a little energy. Recognized it as soon as I turned final, though, and went to full flaps and pulled power, and the airplane obediently steepened its sink rate, and I ended up still touching down in about the same spot, and made the turn.

Taxied back in and parked it, shut down, got out and got a grin and a handshake from my CFI.

SOLOED.

Wahooooooooo!

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