Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Our Week – The One with the Reindeer Run, Our Girls Christmas Brunch, and More Sickness

Last week was just nuts, and I spent most of it on the struggle bus, but I finally got some big things off of my plate, and we got to have some fun, so it could have been worse.  My face looked like this most of the week, though:

Monday, December 11

Monday, I dropped the kids at school and headed straight to Walmart to do our grocery shopping for the next couple of weeks.  I got some blog work done for a bit after that, and then I went to visit my primary doctor because she wanted to follow up with me since I’d finally finished up with all of my cardiologist and neurologist appointments.

She recommended that I do take that medication that the neurologist prescribed, and I’ll keep taking it in conjunction with the other medication they already have me on for the vertigo, and then I’ll be following up with her again in a few months.

The rest of the day was spent working on blog stuff, ordering Christmas gifts, prepping for the Reindeer Run, addressing Christmas cards, and working on school auction baskets.  As you’re reading this, I finally have it all behind me (aside from Christmas shopping), so I’m VERY grateful for that.

I grabbed the kids from school at 3 (and tackled Christmas cards in the car line), and then we all headed home for the rest of the evening.  I had a million things left to do, but I dropped it all to go for a run, and it was the best decision I made all day!  That run cleared my head and, in turn, burned off some of my anxiety, so it was well worth it.


When I got back, we had Beef Stroganoff that had been simmering in the slow cooker all day along with steamed broccoli and Hawaiian rolls, and B and I indulged in a rare weeknight glass of wine.

After dinner, I got showered, and finished up some things, and then while the kids showered and got ready for bed, I did a Bible study.  We watched an episode of The Amazing Race after that, and then we got the kids in the bed.  B and I watched another episode of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart and then we headed to bed, too.

Tuesday, December 12

Tuesday, I had yet another long list of things to do, and I kicked it off by meeting one of the seventh-grade parents to pick up something for the class auction basket.  After that, it was Fresh Market for chicken, and then I headed home to work for the rest of the day.  On the agenda was much of the same as Monday, and I got a ton done… I even started wrapping gifts!

I grabbed the kids from school at 3, and then we headed home so they could do homework.  While they did that, I tackled a few more things around the house, and then Jacob and I got Olivia off to dance.  He and I had to run to CVS and then Publix after that.  Jacob’s religion class is having a baby shower for Jesus this week, and they’re collecting baby items for those in need.  The kids are supposed to use their own money and/or do extra chores around the house to make money to pay for the items themselves, so we’d had Jacob scrub down some countertops and toilets over the weekend to earn his extra money.  He ended up purchasing a pack of diapers, wipes, some rice cereal, and a pack of baby food.  All of the items will be donated to a local women’s shelter for those with little ones who are need, and I just love that our school does stuff like that. 

When we got home, I got dinner in the oven (one pan chicken, potatoes, and broccoli) and I had an hour while it baked, so I jumped on the stair stepper for 30 minutes and then prepped everything for Wednesday. 

When Brian and Olivia got home from dance, we all ate dinner together, and then I did a Bible study while they finished up getting ready for bed.  Tuesday is our late night, so by the time they were done with that, it was time to get them in the bed, and they both ended the evening reading in bed.  B and I watched another episode of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, and then we called it a night.


Wednesday, December 13

Wednesday, I had nowhere to be, so I was able to settle in and work on the blog all morning.  I knocked out two full posts and started two others and it was a productive morning.  I knew I would barely be home Thursday, and I wouldn’t be home at all on Friday, so I had to get the blog in order for while I was gone.

After that was done, I worked on Olivia’s class Christmas party, I updated my master list for the Reindeer Run, and I got everything packed for the run.  Our dining room has been home base for all of the various school projects I’ve been working on, so it’s been a disaster area for weeks.  Thank goodness we haven’t had to use it!  I also made some cute tags for the gifts that I gave all of my girlfriends... each one of them got a disco ball from me!  ;o)


At 3, I picked up the kids from school, and then we got Olivia dropped off at dance.  When we got home, I spent the next couple of hours finishing up packing for the Reindeer Run, and I got some gifts wrapped. 

I talked to my physical therapist Wednesday afternoon to update her on all of my cardiologist and neurologist testing… she had released me a couple of months prior since there wasn’t much more she could do at the time, and she wanted to revisit things after I’d been through all of my testing.

Since everything scary has been ruled out, she and I both agree that we think my vertigo was caused by a combination of my face/jaw drastically changing these last few months from my braces, my extreme neck tension that I had been experiencing leading up to the onset, and my anxiety (since that causes the neck tension).  My anxiety had flared up tremendously the day before the vertigo started, and so had my neck tension, and I’m thinking it was just a perfect storm. 

She told me that she’s had one other client experience vertigo during extreme stress (after her husband died) and hers lasted for months, but eventually resolved as her anxiety and grief settled a bit.  I’m hoping that will be the case with me, too. 

She did tell me to let her know if I’d like to try dry needling in my jaw or neck, so I’m going to think about it and wait until after the holidays to make a decision.  I’m too busy right now anyway and have zero time for extra appointments right now, and also, if for some reason that were to mess me up even more, I don’t want that to happen right before Christmas.

When Brian and Olivia got home, we made breakfast for dinner – eggs, grits, bacon, sausage, and toast – and then after dinner, we got the kitchen cleaned up.  I got in a mixed cardio workout while the kids got ready for bed, and then we finished an episode of The Amazing Race.

After the kids were in bed, B and I started another episode of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, but we turned it off early to go to bed.  I was exhausted.

Thursday, December 14

Thursday, I dropped the kids at school and then I headed straight to Walmart to pick up all of the cold items for the Reindeer Run the next day – whipped cream for the hot chocolate and chocolate milk for the babies.  I knew I couldn’t store all of that in my own fridge, so I had to wait to buy it so I could take it straight to the school.

I arrived back at the school at 8:15, and they had already opened the football field and concession stand for me + the gates and the shed where we keep all of our decorations.  I wanted to get as much done on Thursday as possible because that would be less to do Friday morning which would mean more time to sleep.  Since the run started at 8:20 AM, we had to have everything set up and ready to go before then on Friday, and I didn’t want to have to roll up at 5:30 AM to make it happen.  Ha!

When I got there, my friend, Becky, had already grabbed the Amazon delivery from the school office and she was already busy blowing up balloons for the balloon arch.  While she did that, I got everything refrigerated, and then I started pulling everything out of my trunk and carrying it into the concession stand.  I had bags and bags of stuff – cups, hot chocolate, marshmallows, sprinkles, candy canes, bowls, our yard Santa blowup, tape, scissors, etc. – and I got it all organized and stored in the concession stand. 

After that, Becky and I bagged up the balloons and loaded them in my trunk so we could put the balloon arch together in the school office.  Last year, we were able to put it together at the football field and store it in the concession stand overnight, but last year, it was really warm the night before the run, so we didn’t have to worry about the temperature affecting the balloons.  This year it was FREEZING, so we needed to keep the balloons in a temperature-controlled space.

Once the balloon arch was done, Becky left, and I gathered the remaining items that we needed from the school office and I got them down to the concession stand at the football field.  Then I drove down to the shed to grab one of our big artificial Christmas trees along with a bunch of other trees that we were going to use for the starting line.  While I did all of this, our crew at the school was busy setting up tables for me, along with the school’s step-and-repeat. 

Somehow, I managed to get all of that done before 11, so I was able to swing by the house to eat a quick lunch and do some work before I had to be at an appointment with my therapist at 12:15. 

After that, I headed to FedEx to drop a package, and then I still had some time to kill, so I swung by Target to knock out some more Christmas shopping. 

After school, the kids and I headed to music, and once they were in their rooms with their instructors, I walked next door to Publix to grab all of the items for my fruit tray for my girls’ brunch on Saturday.  I got to sit in on the last few minutes of Jacob’s lesson, and he had shown his teacher how he’d learned Fur Elise by Beethoven, and his teacher helped him with the last part of the song since it’s very different from the beginning.  It’s very fast-paced, so Jacob had to get his timing down.

After music, we headed home and I wrapped a bunch of presents, prepped for Friday, packed all of the remaining items that needed to go with me to the Reindeer Run on Friday, and then I got dinner ready. 

We had plenty of leftover beef stroganoff from Monday night plus some steamed green beans, so B and I ate that, and the kids had a random assortment of things because they’re not a big fan of the beef stroganoff. 

After dinner, I got in a stair stepper workout and did a Bible study, and then after the kids were ready for bed, we started the season finale of The Amazing Race.  After they went to bed, B and I started the last episode of The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, but we were too tired to finish it.

Friday, December 15

Friday morning, I got up earlier than usual (yuck) because I had to be at the school at 7, and then I hit the ground running – setting up the hot chocolate bar, decorating the Santa picture-taking area, and setting up various other areas.  I was scrambling and stressing out a bit, so I recruited Brian to come set up the blow-up Santa so that would be one thing off of my plate.  He was dropping the kids off at school, so he just happened to be there, and I was grateful he was able to take the time to do that.

We had some people who had volunteered to help, and once they showed up, it was smooth-sailing from there, and we managed to get everything set up and in place by 8 AM which was even earlier than needed since the first wave didn’t start until 8:20 AM.  Since we had some extra time, I was able to grab a few pictures with Santa and our resource officer since we were all hanging out and chatting.

The next three hours were a whirlwind of making hot chocolate, spraying whipped cream onto the kids’ hot chocolates, doling out sprinkles, refilling marshmallows and candy canes, cleaning up spills, checking up on Santa, and making sure everything else was running smoothly.

We did the run in waves starting with fifth grade and working our way down to the babies.  When fourth grade came out, I was able to step away and hang out with Olivia for a few minutes.  I didn’t watch her run the race (it was just a single lap around the football field and then the kids got to get a little bell necklace as their “medal” for running), but I was able to hang out with her afterwards. 

She went through the hot chocolate bar and got her hot chocolate with all the fixings – whipped cream, marshmallows, sprinkles, and a candy cane, and then she sat on Santa’s lap and asked him for a real turtle.  *forehead smack*  (Spoiler alert – she will NOT be getting a real turtle for Christmas.  Haha.)  After that, she got her face painted, and then her class headed back to the classroom. 

I got back to work after she left, and then after the teeny-tiny babies came through and got their chocolate milk, the middle schoolers came out.  They didn’t do the run this year, and instead they played “reindeer games” AKA Spikeball, Cornhole, etc. and they got hot chocolate, too.  Jacob came and found me to give me a hug, and I do not take it for granted that my middle school boy will come up and hug me in front of all of his friends and classmates.  I hope that lasts forever.

Once middle school was done, it was time to clean up, and all of my volunteers were just FABULOUS.  We had the whole place cleaned up in less than 30 minutes and I was soooo grateful because I was starving and ready to get out of there.  Haha.  A big shoutout to the administration, volunteers, and our resource officer who were all THE BIGGEST help on Friday.  I couldn’t have done it without any of them!

Last year, after the Reindeer Run, I immediately had to drive around and get in the car line to pick up the kids, but this year, since the high school didn’t participate (they had to study for exams), I was done and home before noon!!  Woo hoo! 

Since I had unexpected time on my hands, I ate a quick lunch with B (who was off Friday) and then he and I laid out every single gift that we have for the kids.  We decided what was going to be from us, what would be from Santa, what would go in stockings, etc.  I was able to take pictures of all of it, reorganize my Christmas gift spreadsheet, see what else we had left to buy, and then pile up the gifts that are going to be from us in my office so I could get them wrapped.  It was SUCH a productive afternoon, and it was awesome that we were able to do that since I’d been thinking I would have no free time after the run before it was time to pick up the kids.

At 3, I grabbed them from school, and then we headed back home.  The kids played video games for a bit, and I wrapped every single gift for Brian, Jacob, and Olivia and got them all under the tree.  I finished organizing all of the other gifts, I went over my spreadsheet and made a list of the things we still needed, I ordered a couple more gifts, and I got my office all tidied up.  Whew.

B headed out to pick up pizza for dinner, and while he did that, I got the kitchen cleaned up and got all of the stuff put away from the Reindeer Run.  After dinner, I got in a Bible study while the kids got showered, and then we finished The Amazing Race season finale, The Lego Masters season finale, and we watched another episode of The Santa Clauses. 

After the kids went to bed, B and I finished The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (highly recommend!) and then we started The Peripheral.  About an hour into our TV watching, Olivia came downstairs and told us that her tummy was hurting, and everything went downhill from there. 

She ended up staying up until almost midnight with severe stomach pain, but she had no actual symptoms of a stomach virus.  She ended up waking up two times in the middle of the night Friday into Saturday with stomach pain, too.


Saturday, December 16

Saturday morning, she seemed to be a little better, but she was still off, and she laid around most of the morning and complained of a stomachache off and on.  If you’ve been following for a while, you may remember earlier this year that she went several weeks back in February experiencing stomach pain that was eventually accompanied by a rash on her cheeks, and the doctor never could figure out what it was.  She started having stomach pain again at the beginning of November, but thankfully, that was short-lived.  Now she’s back at it for the third round this year, and we have no idea what’s causing it.

I had a girl’s brunch on Saturday morning at 11, so I headed to my friend, Jessica’s, house for that, and we had the best time.  Jess is the hostest with the mostest and she had the cutest tablescape along with some fun little Christmas touches here and there.  Everybody brought a dish, and we ended up with breakfast casserole, sausage balls, cranberry orange muffins, cinnamon rolls, cheese grits, blueberry French toast, and various other things.  I brought a fruit platter that turned out cute, even though I had originally wanted to do a Christmas tree pattern.  I realized very quickly that there was no way I’d be able to transport it and get it there still looking like a Christmas tree, so I opted for this design instead.  It’s still Christmasy, but not as cute as I’d hoped. 

We had mimosas to start, and then my friend, Jen, had made and brought along her family’s coquitos.  Coquitos are traditional Christmas cocktails that originate from Puerto Rico, and they’re similar to eggnog, but with a coconut flavor.  They were soooo yummy.

After we ate, Jessica gave everyone sugar cookies and frosting to decorate, and then after our cookies were decorated and devoured, we did our ornament exchange.  It was such a fun morning/afternoon with my girls, and it was so nice to have a brain break amidst all of the chaos that has been the last few weeks!

Once I was done there, I headed home, and I immediately started working on the auction baskets for Jacob’s and Olivia’s classes.  I FINALLY had all of the items and I had to get them organized, displayed, and photographed so I could send pictures to the parents and to our administrators.  Once that was done, I went ahead and loaded every single thing in my car so I could drop it all off at the school on Monday.  It felt SO GOOD to get all of that crap out of my dining room.  Haha.  In the words of Taylor Swift, GET IT OFF MY (proverbial) DESK.  Lol.

Olivia felt pretty decent all afternoon and she and Jacob ended up riding around on their scooters outside pretty much all afternoon.  While they did that, I worked on a boatload of stuff – so many little things that I don’t even remember as I’m typing this – and I worked until it was time to leave for church.  I was hoping to get caught up on a multitude of things, and while I did put a good dent in my to-do list, I was still drowning.

At church, Olivia’s stomach continued to hurt off and on, but it was mild.  We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant afterward with my parents, Mama Cass, and two set of my aunts and uncles, and Olivia did okay there for most of the time.  My Aunt Joy’s birthday had been earlier in the week, so my uncle had them come out and sing to her and they put ice cream all over her face!  Usually they just dab a little on your nose, but they got her good.  Haha.

After Mexican, we headed home and watched the last episode of the season of The Santa Clauses.  Then after we put the kids to bed, Brian and I watched more of The Peripheral.  Spoiler alert – I’m not a fan.  It’s an interesting concept, but it’s just not my thing.  Brian is enjoying it, though.


Sunday, December 17

Saturday night, Olivia slept through the night, so I had high hopes for her on Sunday.  She ended up doing pretty well Sunday, only having mild stomach pain off and on throughout the day.  I spent the morning catching up on some things I couldn’t do Saturday, getting my planner ready for the week ahead AKA making the longest to-do lists known to man, and doing yoga, and the kids spent the whole morning on their scooters outside despite the fact that it was cold and gloomy. 

We went to my MIL and step-FIL’s for Sunday lunch, and it was nice to have another couple of hours to just BE and REST and hang out with everybody, but then when we left there, it was time to hit the ground running again. 

We dropped Jacob off at his friend, WJ’s, house for the afternoon to study, and then we headed home so I could get my blog post done for Monday, get pictures off of my phone, prep for Monday, make a grocery list, and a million other things. 

I was so frazzled by the time we had to leave for my parents’ house for dinner that we ended up being late, and then when we arrived at their house, Olivia immediately doubled over in pain yet again. 

She lay on the couch while we ate dinner, and by the time we were done eating, she was in bad pain.  I wanted to leave and take her home, but she didn’t want to move at all, so I sat on the couch and held her for a long time.  She had broken out in a rash all over her cheeks and chest again, so I figured it must be the same thing that she had back in February.  (Which we never figured out what it was.) 

Eventually, she was at the point where she was crying and writhing around in pain and it scared me to death, so we loaded her up and took her to the only pediatric acute care that was open at 8:30 PM on a Sunday.

Thankfully, there wasn’t a single other person in there, so they took us right back.  The doctor or PA or whatever she was didn’t really know what to do, and she honestly seemed like she didn’t even have any medical training at all, and it was unsettling and just WEIRD. 

Luckily, I was able to look in Olivia’s pediatrician portal to see the medication that they had prescribed for her back in February when this happened the first time, and the PA/doctor/whatever she was sent that over to the pharmacy for us.  There was only one pharmacy open in the whole city and it was about to close, so I was VERY grateful that everything came together quickly to allow us to get that medication before the night was over.

They had already filled the prescription by the time we arrived, and we were able to get Olivia home before 9:30.  Momma and Daddy were already there with Jacob and Maui, and then they left after we got home.  We gave Olivia a dose of the medicine, and thankfully, she passed out almost immediately after I tucked her in. 

By then, it was after 10 PM, and I still had tons of stuff to do, so I spent the next hour and a half ordering Christmas gifts, finishing up my grocery list, and doing other random things from bed, and then we ended up going to bed super late while visions of tasks on a very long to-do list danced in my head.

I had hoped that having the medicine for Olivia meant that she would finally have some relief, but unfortunately, she ended up waking up FOUR TIMES in the middle of the night Sunday into Monday.  I am beside myself wanting answers, y’all.  It is just the worst thing ever seeing your babies suffer and not being able to do anything for them.

And that was our week.  Monday, we ended up taking her to her pediatrician, but I’ll save all of that for next week’s recap. 

Hope your week is off to a better start than mine!


  1. It's awful when your kids are sick and especially if you don't know why or can't help them! I hope you get some answers!

  2. I don’t usually comment but the symptoms were so familiar. When my oldest was little (25 years ago) he would get the same symptoms and we couldn't figure it out. Until one time the rash looked like Scarlett Fever so I had the doctor test (reluctantly) for strep throat. It was positive!! He never had a sore throat, never had a fever but he had the same thing happen a handful more times until he was a teenager and every time it was step.
    It is hard when you littles are sick and you don't know how to help.. Hopefully, you can get it figured out.

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know about this. After I saw your comment, we took Olivia to be tested for strep, and unfortunately, it was negative. I was praying that would be it because it would be easy to treat, but they weren't able to figure it out. I'm just glad it's gone! Praying it doesn't come back!

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about Olivia not feeling well! I'm sure you've thought of a million causes... but maybe it's a whey allergy/sensitivity? I have it and if I have whey in anything, I will have mild to severe stomach pain that lasts for days (no nausea, no vomiting, no diarrhea...) for years I thought I was lactose intolerant until I got the most painful stomach ache ever after eating lactose-free products, and I did some research and realized my pain was more a whey sensitivity. It feels like my intestines are inflamed and have cement in them. I think it can cause a rash too. So, maybe something to think about, or watch when she eats dairy items to see if that could be it. I hope she feels better!!!

  4. Oh, I feel for you with Olivia and her stomach pain. I'm telling you, I went through something similar with Autumn for a couple months and it was so stressful. The medicine did help that the doctor gave her, but she still had it off and on, but not as bad and we had to just monitor it for a bit/hoping it was just nerves from starting h.s./dance team (and then it finally went away). Praying for her to feel better. You have had such a busy week and kudos to you for all the volunteering you do! That girls Christmas brunch looks so fun, I really need to do something like that!


  5. Whew - what a week! You are making the right call about the turtle! I kept some when I was a teacher, and they are sooo dirty. We watched Peripheral, and all I remember is that it was weird! :) Merry Christmas.

  6. Oh yes, we always told me kids that Santa doesn't deliver life animals (at least not to our house because he knows mommy doesn't want any more even if you do!) LOL. After having lived through owning a turtle I really don't recommend them either.

    I sure hope Olivia is feeling better soon and they can figure out what it is.. I too was thinking strep or possible food allergy/sensitivity but it's so hard when it's (thankfully!) so infrequent and yet so intense.

    1. Lol. Yes!! That's so funny. And I'm glad to know that owning a turtle isn't recommended either. I really don't want one, and you're not the first person to tell me this! Haha.


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