River is officially a toddler. She took her first steps the day before her birthday, but now she's zooming around. It's such a fun age to watch as she figures out how her body works.
I think she mimics Viva nearly as much as me. She loves to crawl inside the kennel, with or without Viva. When Viva's not in her small, donut-shaped bed, River will circle around inside it and wedge herself in just so like Viva does. When Viva gives her toy the shake-of-death, River shakes her own head.
When Jason and I read about how dachshunds are as family dogs, it said, "not good with kids", and I initially thought that would be accurate with Viva. But she's a saint. Usually River's very gentle with her, but a couple times she's really pulled hard on her tail. Viva just yipes and gives a half-hearted growl.
The way they interact is quite cute and entertaining: River will find Viva's favorite toy--Sofie, a giraffe for babies that was originally given to River--, squeak it, and look for Viva to come. When she does, River flails it in front of Viva's face until Viva takes it. Then River takes it back (Viva knows that when River tries to take the toy, she needs to let it go) and hands it to me to throw. Then she claps as Viva goes to fetch it, Viva brings it back, and we do the whole thing over again: take the toy, flail it in Viva's face until she takes it, take it back, hand it to mummy and watch Viva run. It's an evening ritual as we have our nightly drink-and-pretzel chip-o'clock. River's an amazingly cool chick like that too. She just sits next to me in my big chair, munches on her crackers and sort of watches the Daily Show with us as she plays with her toys. I feel lucky every hour of every day that I have a child with such a stellar disposition.
I think it's time now, too, for a Koryn update. She's now attracting clients through her obvious skill in riding. A woman at our barn who I don't know put her six-year-old horse in full training with Koryn. She's super happy with how it's going, said she's not going to ride the horse at all and just wants to sponsor Koryn. She pays for Koryn to ride with me once a week. An old client of mine, who Koryn's been driving an hour to teach, just bought a new horse and put him in our barn for full training with Koryn. It's extremely satisfying because I've always been concerned that, due to the fact that I'm not out and about, she wouldn't be in a position to attract clients.
It also relieves me that she has other horses because I can't continue to support a horse for her, so I need to sell Bimini. He's a twelve-year-old and has show PSG, but we haven't shown him. I'm sending him to Jen Baumert, one of my best friends who's one of the few people I'd trust with my horse, at the beginning of April. If anyone is interested, they should contact her after she's had a while to get to know him because I'm not and never have been a seller. I've sold three horses in my life, two to the same person!
I want to send out a heart-felt thank you to all those who went through the effort to comment on Facebook or write me personal emails. I know it's a pain, and I appreciate you letting me know that you still care about my measly life. There are also several more reviews on Amazon, and I can't say thank you enough for that. They're SO helpful for people who are contemplating buying my book.
Sorry it's been so long since I've written. I said I would write as long as people were interested, and from the lack of Facebook responses, I'd assumed that time had come, but then I received a few personal emails saying they missed my entries and they so enjoyed them, please don't stop. So my joyful duty isn't over. I do very much enjoy it; I suppose it's an outlet for my joy of writing, as well as feeling that it's the least I can do for the public who's always been there for me. I also know it's a pain to write comments on Facebook because you have to go back and forth between pages as my website won't allow me to have direct messages, so I just appreciate all the comments before. My life. The main thing right now is my incessant battle with sleep. My tolerance for Xyrem hasn't been reduced during the seventeen month hiatus. (Neither has my tolerance to alcohol, which is lucky because I do love my wine!) The initial five hours of sleep I got from the maximum dose of Xyrem has remained resolutely at two and a half hours. I'm pretty comfortable getting through my next couple clinics on the Xyrem as I can take it a few times in a night, but I don't want to be dependent on drugs forever, even if we can find a stronger one than Xyrem, i.e. the date-rape drug.
I tried listening to a hypnotic sleep app, and at first it worked brilliantly. On the third night, I got a full five hours of straight sleep, and on the fourth, I listened to it six times to no avail. Apparently my body has the same rapid tolerance production to hypnotic apps as it does to drugs. I tried two other similar apps, but the people's voices weren't soothing at all, were actually slightly jarring.
Now I have a guided meditation app that I'm quite excited about. I didn't get a chance to listen to it fully last night because the night before, Jason had kindly let me Xyrem it up and he had a bad night with LM, so when last night started badly I had him go in the other room and leave her in bed with me, so sleep aids weren't happening. But I heard enough to know that I love her voice and her laid back way of speaking.
So onward and upward!
I also wanted to say a collective thank you to those who've done a review of my book on Amazon. I know it's time consuming and a bit of a pain, but I know, when I'm considering buying, it greatly helps me to read other's opinions. So thank you.
One final thing: I have some riding boots to sell if anyone who's a size 9 1/2 needs some. I believe I have a light brown pair, a dark brown pair and a black. Email email@example.com
River's up north birthday party was as fantastic as her Florida one. We had to cancel last-minute due to the weather, but luckily nearly all the guests could do a lunch party the following day.
We've had quite a momentous week. On February 19th, the day before Little Miss's birthday, she took a couple of unsure steps on her own, and on the 23rd, she marched (sort of drunkenly) across the kitchen.
It's been fascinating to watch how her personality is appearing: we tried for over four months to get her to take formula-- mixed it with breast milk, tried everything. Then one day, she just decided to drink it, straight up. Same thing with walking. For a few weeks when she was dependent on walking with two hands, Jason would try to trick her into walking by letting go with one hand and baiting her with the other. She'd just get mad and sit down. Then one day she was standing and holding on to my knee, not walking at all, and she decided she was ready, let go and just went for it. We used to always take the small things she found on the ground to prevent her putting them in her mouth, then she began to just hand them to us when she found things. We're so lucky to have a baby with such a good disposition who's always happy.
The other thing I'm touched by is her natural affinity for animals. If we go to dinner at friends' houses, she always asks to be by the cat or dog. She loves peering at the horses when we go to the barn. She takes Viva's toy to her, plays a bit of tug-of-war, then hands it to me to throw. She actually mimics Viva quite a bit. She crawls into the kennel, tries to wedge herself into Viva's tiny dog bed (I wish I could post a video), and when Viva gives her toys the shake of death, she shakes her head.
Recently a reporter from the Chronicle interviewed me and asked what surprised me the most about motherhood. I answered, The entertainment. Man, that girl is funny.
I just got back from a fabulous weekend in Wellington. I went primarily to visit friends, but they threw a birthday party for Little Miss! It was awesome...all my best friends, Lendon, my dad and step-mom...it was awesome. The whole visit was incredibly special. I got to spend every one of my five nights with my best friends and Florida gang. They say they barely see each other otherwise even though they're best friends without me, and I have to remind myself that it's like when Jason goes to New Zealand: his two best friends and every member of his family dedicate the entire time we're there to hanging out all together, although their lives are usually very separate and scattered. They make the effort because we're there, and it's not like that all the time. If I didn't think of it that way, it would be anguish to think I'm missing out on such fun. I also got special visits from the Hasslers, who are so near and dear to my heart. They've been such a big part of my career since the beginning, but even without that, they're just the type of people that make my heart open like double doors and envelop them. Also from Laura Tomlinson (Bechtolsheimer), who I simply have a special connection with. You know those people who you've just met but you feel you've known them your whole life? That's us. We've actually only even met a few times, but each time has been special in its normalness. I say in my book after the first time meeting her, "it may be ten years, but just like tonight, it will be easy". And it was.
River's first birthday is actually February 21st, and Jason and I are having a party with my up north friends this Saturday. My sister's flying in from Chicago, and I'm very excited. It will be another fabulous celebration of the light of my life.
After the nasty cold we all caught after diving into the germ factory of Little Miss's activities, we skipped a few weeks in order to be well for her parties, and I'm very much looking forward to getting back into it. My sleep is still an ongoing challenge, but it's slightly better and much more manageable since I've realized what's wrong with me and stopped wondering why I've suddenly become an atrocious person. It feels good to have life return to the joyous occasion it's always been for me.
This photo is from River's swim class. Two weeks ago, we had a swim class--which she was the star of!--, a tumblin' tikes class, and went to the indoor gym. Last week, we paid the price for it by all coming down with horrendous colds. I knew those places were germ factories, but the way I see it is we're building up her immunity now, so that when she starts school it will be good and strong!
Have I mentioned how lucky I feel? I get to spend so much time with my daughter.... just watching her wake up from her many naps on my chest. Yesterday, it was particularly fascinating watching her as she figured things out. We were spending the day in the baby room that I had enclosed so that Jason can work (which, by the way, I'm so thankful we made!!), and Little Miss was using me as a jungle gym. I was sitting against the wall with one knee up, and she tackled certain tasks and then diligently worked on them. For instance, my knee was up and a toy she wanted was on the other side, so she decided to crawl under. When she got to the other side, she forgot about the toy and decided to crawl under again, but she was too sideways and didn't fit. She eventually straightened out enough to fit through, and on the other side, she sat up. I could almost see the gears in her head spinning. Then she went through again, making sure she was straight, but her legs were too upright making her back to high to fit through. She must have gone through a dozen times putting it all together. Then she tackled stepping over the lower part of my leg: back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Then she tried stepping over the part of my leg that was connected to my body and realized that wasn't possible when she face-planted into my other thigh. My favorite was watching her practice-- she was really practicing-- standing without holding on: she'd stand holding onto my knee and then let go for a moment. A couple times, she fell on her bottom, but she was unperturbed.
This went on for a good 45 minutes. Then she put on and removed a bottle top for ten minutes. Then she pulled a ball in and out of a cup for another ten. Then together we put rings on a cone.
A friend of mine said there was a recent study on the sudden incline in diagnosed ADHD cases, and the conclusion was as follows: the way children learn is through repetition, and by repeating things for so long, they learn to focus. But with all the busy parents putting their child in front of the TV or iPad for entertainment, they never develop the ability to focus. I'm so lucky that I can spend full days just watching my daughter figure things out and helping her along the way.
Get a cup of tea, settle in and prepare yourself to tackle a little novella if you're going to read this because I have a feeling it's going to be quite long!
My vacation in New Zealand was fantastic. We spent several days in Auckland and then ten days in the Bay of Islands at his family's batch... no internet, no cell phone...so restful. I'd actually consider moving there as it would be great for River, (it's rated one of the top places to raise kids) except for the complication of visiting friends and family; Jason's are all around one city, within a half-hour drive, whereas mine are in seven different states, so spending two weeks a year in New Zealand means spending a restful amount of time with each and all of them whereas two weeks a year in the States would mean a continuos stream of chaotic travel in an impossible mission to see everyone.
The restfulness of this time allowed my mind a clarity of thinking I didn't realize was missing, and the core reason for my sudden self-doubt hit me like a slap in the face: I'm perpetually tired. It's now been seventeen months since I've utilized any sleep-aids, seventeen months since I've gotten more than four and a half hours sleep total in a night. I don't know why it took me so long to figure out; I suppose stupidity is one of the symptoms of over-tiredness. A few years ago, I was taking a shower and couldn't figure out how to change the water from faucet to shower, I literally had to have Jason come and do it for me. I called my neurologist because I was convinced that this moronic slip-of-the-mind was an effect of the high potency sleep drug we'd finally found that worked on me: Xyrem, the date-rape drug, Ruffies. When I explained the situation to him, he said, Nope, sounds like you're over-tired, and sure enough, when I took more Xyrem, my mind came back.
The absence of my proper brain caused such angst; I couldn't think of what to say at the proper times, wasn't able to follow along the meaning of conversations, was forgetting things. I felt totally inadequate. (I speak in the past tense because I figured it out, not because it's remedied.) The personal frustration and feelings of inadequacy were accompanied by severe discontent with my teaching abilities. Before, I'd always felt I was a good teacher, was thankful that if I couldn't ride, at least I could teach. And then suddenly that was taken from me, too. I don't know why I didn't realize (well, I guess I'm now discovering why the reason eluded me). Before I had River, I knew that although I could function normally on 4-4 1/2 hours sleep, to teach properly for a whole day I needed six hours, so before clinics, I'd dose up on the Xyrem to make sure I got enough sleep.
My plan was to stop breast-feeding after New Zealand anyway, and now I have a new reason to do that. I teach one clinic before she'll be completely off the breast, but I'll plan to pump and dump (pump my drugged breast milk and dump it rather than feeding it to her) for that one, so I should be good to go. I'm extremely humiliated that some people may have seen me teach during those months (I'd say since June), and judged my value based on what they saw. I'm saddened that through my poor teaching at the NEDA show, I (rightly) lost some potential local clientele. But I'm happy that I now see a legitimate reason and eventual return to normalcy rather than just lamenting that it seems I've forgotten how to teach.
I'm excited about life again. This morning I registered Little Miss for weekly swim classes as well as tumblin' tikes, which is like a start to gymnastics where they play and tumble. It's officially for 1-2 year-olds but she got special dispensation. Of course Koryn or Jason will have to get in the pool or tumble with her, but I get to watch and I feel so lucky to have that ability.
(in case you can't tell, she's leaning on a window in the photo!)
I'm leaving for New Zealand on Saturday... for three weeks!! Yippee!!! It's by far the longest we've been. One time we went for six days because I didn't want to leave my horses, and two days of that is travel!
Traveling with a ten-month-old could be a challenge, but River's such a superstar I'm not too worried. However, Daddy's been doing laps trying to prepare for his non-stop aisle-pacing!
Little Miss is standing whenever she has a chance, is furniture-cruising and loves this wagon she can hold on to and walk by herself. I have a feeling her first independent steps will be taken in New Zealand. She's so big; everyone said kids grow like weeds, but my little dandelion (because of her yellow hair) is shooting up at rates faster than the eye can see--at least eyes that are on her all the time!
Her weight is actually causing me a problem. Because my muscling is so uneven, of course my left side does the vast majority, if not all, of the work. This unevenness strains my neck in unusual ways, so much so that swallowing hard hurt. But I guess I just need to schedule regular visits to the chiropractor and get used to perpetual neck pain because it's so worth it. She's a tremendous amount of fun, and the pediatrician agreed with us that her personality is stellar.
What else can I say? Regarding the horses, it will have been a long time since I've seen them when I get back because we've had a lot going on: Koryn went on a horse-hunting trip to Holland last weekend, we need her to nanny/Courtney-sit every day this week as Jason needs to do his Christmas client-visits, then I'm away for three weeks. I can't wait to see the progress Koryn will have made. It's very satisfying to see Koryn start to flourish as a trainer. I was worried that since I no longer run a barn full of clients, her progression as a trainer may suffer, but I put one past client onto her, word of mouth about her fantasticness spread, and now she's strapped for time. A couple of her clients are previous clients of mine, and I know what excellent people they are. I feel so lucky to have been involved with such stupendous people and have them still involved in my new phase of life.
So that's my life. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a joy-filled three weeks!
A three year-old girl came to our booth at Equine affair, and Little Miss was so obsessed with her, trying to climb on top of her, the girl ended up cowering into her mother, and when she left, River screamed bloody murder. At stores and the park, she's fascinated by other kids, so she's obviously in need of some time with other little people. I was very disappointed to lose the ability to go to the park due to the cold, so to sate her curiosity, my friend told me about an indoor park and we have a play date there tomorrow. I'm very excited. I also called a daycare that came highly recommended because, as much as it pains me to think of spending a whole day without her, I think it would be good for her socially to go one day a week. Jason and I are going to go check it out, and we aim to start to take her when we get back from our holidays in New Zealand.
Talking to a wom1an at Equine Affair reminded me of something I regret never writing about before. She was telling me how wonderful it is that I'm so open and my willingness to share my journey has helped many people, and my response was, It's too bad it took the accident of a top person to inflame the attention to safety, but if it had to happen to someone, I guess I was a good person to have it happen to because I'm fine. I have plenty of other good things in my life to focus on. And it's true; I was a good person for it to happen to. I can see how many others would clam up and shut out the rest of the world, let devastation consume them, and therefore, very little good would have come from their accident. But my nature is to be open, so I was happy to share. I shared simply because the public expressed that they were interested, and they've helped me so much in the past, I figured that's the least I can do. But now nearly five years later, I'm able to appreciate the good my openness has caused
I was at Equine Affair in Massachusetts last weekend and it struck me that things like that should elevate my self-esteem. Many people tell me I'm an inspiration, that I help them get through their own struggles. Several cry when they see me, say it's an honor to meet me. That should definitely satiate my ego, give me a big head, but my head remains the size of a pin. And as my husband pointed out, people idolize and adore actors and rock stars for their their talents, but they love me for the person I am. I said, I don't know what's wrong with me; I just feel embarrassed and undeserving, and he replied, that's the thing, you've always been too humble. And maybe that's it. Maybe I didn't have a buffer of ego, so when my self-esteem was challenged, it simply deteriorated. I decided to try to have this experience inflate my ego, so I consciously replayed in my mind the instances when people praised me and purposely took them to heart. And thinking of all the thanking me and praising me on Facebook really allowed me to adopt a better frame of mind, to think of my positive attributes instead of only the negative. So once again, I owe you, the public, my deepest gratitude.
Forgive my month of soul-searching, but I promised to share the good and the bad. And now the Courtney who's inspired so many is back. And boy does it feel good! I'm sure I will still have moments of self-doubt, but now they'll be balanced out with self-appreciation.
Now onto how I am currently. I often find myself thinking, this is heaven. Whether Little Miss is sleeping on my chest or my mini dachshund is curled in my lap while my daughter is playing with my necklace. And I think how lucky I am that I can spend all this time with her. My step-sister told me that at every stage they are, you'll think this is the best age, but when River was an infant, I thought, no, for me this is the best because we're both immobile. But she's right; now when she's interactive, I'm sure this is the best age. She's a bundle of perfection, made more perfect by the imperfections I'm sure time will bring.
Of course a large part of my anxiety and self-doubt stemmed from feeling like I wasn't a good mother because of my inabilities, both those caused by my accident and those I was born with. But I've come to a heathlier frame of mind: I may not be the best mother in the world, but I'm a good mother because I try hard, and I'd bet my life I'm the most loving mother!