Attacking the Thyroid

Posted by on Jan 3, 2013 in Musings, Weight | 5 comments

Remember the diet I was on back in October? It’s called The Whole 30 and it really works. The problem is that it’s difficult to stick to – cuts out all grains and grain-like seeds (like corn and quinoa), dairy, legumes (including peanuts), sugar (even artificial or “natural” like stevia), and oils other than olive and coconut. I did very well; lost almost 20 pounds and a pants size in the first three weeks, all with no exercise. The food was delicious and I did not cheat…until the end of the three weeks. That’s when both boys were home sick from school for two days. Home because they each threw up, but neither was sick enough to dampen his energy one tiny bit. At the end of that second day home with them, I was making gluten-free chicken nuggets and I stuck one in my mouth. I hadn’t had a chance to fix anything for myself to eat and I just kind of cracked. It went downhill from there and the only good news is that I’ve gained less than five pounds back in the two-plus months since. I’m still wearing the smaller pants, though just barely.

I heard about the diet from a friend who tried it hoping it would relieve some GI issues. She had great results. I have GI issues as well, but I chose the diet because I was afraid I had developed diabetes. I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with BamBam and experienced some hypoglycemic episodes then, but they stopped after he was born. Unfortunately for me, they started again last May. Around the same time, I started having hot flashes. The two explanations for those symptoms that I could think of were diabetes and menopause. I figured the diet couldn’t hurt either way.

The diet also purported to help with various autoimmune diseases, none of which I thought applied to me, and chronic systemic inflammation, which TOTALLY applied to me. I’ll come back to all of that, though.

So, I stopped the diet in early November. In mid-November, after a talk with BamBam’s teachers and some of his therapists, I decided to allow the boys to have some gluten again – they’d been off it since August. It doesn’t seem to affect their behavior, and there seems to be a threshold under which it doesn’t affect their GI systems either. In early December, two friends who have hypothyroid disorders told me separately that they think I have a type of hypothyroidism called Hashimoto’s disease. Furthermore, one of them, who knows me really well, told me the reason she thinks I have it is that I remind her of her before she was treated.

Now, my therapist has been telling me to have my thyroid checked for a couple of years. And I have. Up to that point, I’d had it checked four times in the last three years. All of those tests were within the normal range given by the labs doing the testing. When I told that to my friend, they told me there was a controversy about what ranges to use and that the labs generally went with the wider ranges. So I began to research it and found that she was absolutely right.

More than that, I realized that the symptoms that led me to start the Whole 30 diet could be explained by Hashimoto’s disease. And that Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder. Remember how I said the diet I was on is supposed to address the symptoms of autoimmune disorders? Turns out Hashimoto’s is listed among them in that book. So, another reason to go on the diet. Actually, it’s more a way of eating than a diet.

I called my doctor’s office and asked for a referral to an endocrinologist to discuss possible thyroid issues. I threw in diabetes in case my doc was unwilling to make the referral, but I’m not sure the office even asked her about it. I called the place they referred me to and made an appointment. It was for January 3rd, my birthday, which was almost a month away at the time. Also, our insurance was set to change with the new year, so I called another place to see if I could get in sooner, but the soonest they had was February.

About a week later, I realized I was limiting myself by only checking practitioners close to me. A bigger clinic, one in, say, Seattle, might be able to get me in sooner. So I called the one where both my friends are seen. They had one doctor with a few appointments available on December 26th and 27th. Perfect, I thought. It wasn’t the doctor either of my friends see (I asked them later), but same clinic and who was I to be picky? I told them I’d take it. They told me to hold on because they couldn’t make an appointment until they had a referral from my doctor. No problem, I said, I’ll call them right now.

And I did. I told the staff I needed another referral for hypothyroid sent to this other doctor. They were a little put out, but said they’d do it. The guy asked what my symptoms were and I think this is where I made my mistake. I said something like, “I don’t know, whatever was on the other one…fatigue.” But the guy said he would send it. Actually, he said he’d have the clinic send it. You see, I go to a satellite clinic of a larger organization, so they have a central office that handles stuff like this by telling the satellites to do it. I’ve thought many times about changing doctors, but I really like the fact that they have my test results online where I can look at them myself and that I can email my doctor directly and make appointments online. I’ll put up with a lot of crap for good technology.

I called the Seattle endo place back the next day, but they hadn’t received the referral yet. I called again a few days later and it still wasn’t there. So, I called my doctor’s bureaucrats and was told that it was marked pending, but that she couldn’t see why and would tell the clinic to fax the referral right away.

I called the Seattle endo office again a few days later and still no referral. I called my doctor’s bureaucrats again and was told by yet another person that it was pending. Pending what? Pending verification of insurance. Here’s how the rest of that conversation went, with me getting more steamed by the nanosecond:

    Me: Why do you need to verify my insurance for a referral?
    Phone Bureaucrat: Well, we need to make sure it’s covered by your insurance policy.
    Me: Yeah, I understand why you verify insurance in general, but why do you need to verify it for me to see an outside doctor? You’re just doing the referral, not the service.
    PhB: Yes, but we need to verify that your insurance will pay for it.
    Me: But this is the doctor that I want to see and I’m willing to pay out of pocket for the visit even if my insurance company doesn’t pay. I just need the referral before they’ll see me. I need the referral before they’ll even let me make the appointment.
    FB: Well, we just need to verify that insurance will pay for it.
    Me: The payment won’t be coming to you guys anyway, so why the fuck do you care?
    Poor FB: I’ll have my supervisor call you back.

You’ve probably already guessed that I never heard back from his supervisor. I did call the Seattle endo office back an hour later and VOILA! My referral had magically arrived. What they did not have were any records on me. No labs and no chart notes, which they needed before they would make the appointment. No problem, said I, I can email the labs to you right now. But they only have ability for fax. Which meant I was going to Kinko’s to spend upwards of $20 to fax them my labs because faxing no longer works with our home phone service. So I trekked out to Kinko’s that afternoon and plunked down my credit card to send them my labs.

And didn’t hear from them for a week, when I broke down and called them. And they still wouldn’t make an appointment for me. Because the lovely people at my doctor’s office had listed fatigue as my only symptom. And my labs show that my thyroid hormones are within the normal range. I argued with them about the validity of those ranges, but they wouldn’t budge. They gave me two options to get an appointment:
Option 1: Have my doctor call the endocrinologist on Monday (December 24th, by the way) to make the case for evaluating me for a hypothyroid disorder. My doctor. The one who has been telling me for three years that my thyroid function is fine and I should just lose weight. Yeah, that’s gonna happen.
Option 2: Have my thyroid levels tested again and send them in. If they were outside the normal range, I could make an appointment with the endocrinologist.

So much for getting in to an endocrinologist before the end of the year. But I did take their advice and got the thyroid tests done again. I already had orders on file for a glucose and lipid panel, so I asked to add the thyroid tests on to those. And I just kept the appointment on the third with the endocrinologist who is closer to me and allowed me to make an appointment the first time I asked for one. And I have resisted the nearly overpowering impulse to write a letter to the Seattle endocrinologist demanding he remove the following statement from his web bio:

    “I strive to empower my patients to be active participants in their health care. By thoroughly explaining medical problems and treatment options, my goal is to educate and engage each individual in the decision-making process.”

I’d call that false advertising.

I found my thyroid tests disappointing. They were still within the standard range. Worse, my TSH was actually lower. Or I thought it was worse, until I looked at the functional ranges given in a book recommended by one of my friends called Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal? by Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS. According to that book, the pattern of TSH levels in Hashimoto’s is all over the map, so at any time it can be in, above, or below the standard range. What’s more, my Free T4 and Free T3 levels along with my TSH fit perfectly with the pattern listed for hypothyroid secondary to the pituitary gland. I printed out those pages to take with me to my appointment so I could use them to fight for an antibody test (the definitive test for Hashimoto’s) if I needed to.

That appointment was this morning. The endocrinologist was not very impressed with my TSH levels, though she did note that my T4 levels were consistently straddling the low number of the standard range. She was, however, very concerned about my glucose levels and, especially, my cholesterol. So, I got the standard lecture about diet and exercise and an admonishment to take my cholesterol medications (I stopped taking them while I was on the diet). I endured and promised I would (that was my plan anyway) and that I would figure out a way to exercise around my plantar fasciitis. My glucose levels aren’t high enough to make me a diabetic, thanks in part, I think, to my three weeks without sugar, but my fasting blood glucose is consistently over 100, so she prescribed a medication that’s supposed to help with that. And she ordered the antibody tests for Hashimoto’s. I didn’t even have to pull out my research. She told me I could wait and do the antibody test in six weeks when I have my cholesterol and glucose checked if I didn’t want to have my blood drawn twice. She obviously doesn’t know me at all. I drove straight to the phlebotomist from her office. The results should be in by Monday. I just wish her office had the technology to put them online.

Insomnia and fatigue are two of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and I have both in spades right now. So, if this post is a little flatter than my usual stuff, I’m totally blaming it on that.

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Getting Pruney

Posted by on Jun 22, 2012 in Autism, Musings, Weight | 4 comments

Monday weight: 253.4


The movie French Kiss is a guilty pleasure of mine. There’s a moment when the heroine is telling her ex-fiance not to feel guilty about what he did to her and she stops and tells him to go ahead and feel guilty. “Swim in it ’til your fingers get all pruney.”

This week has been a crazy one in Quirkyland. On Monday, Zoo Keeper had his school award ceremony and was called an animal expert by his teachers. We all think that’s pretty cool. And true. Sparky took him to his school’s field day on Tuesday and then school was out for him.

BamBam’s afternoon class has been out for a couple of weeks, but the morning class lasted until this week. They had a class party/concert for the last day of school on Tuesday. He practiced hard and knew all the songs and moves, but I only know that because he sings and dances when we watch the video at home. During the actual concert, he was way overstimulated by all the extra people and the heat of the room. So he didn’t participate much. Here, I’ll show you:

I am a Pizza 2012  *(I apologize to those of you without QuickTime, but this was the only way I could get the video small enough for WordPress to let me post it.)

Yes, that’s me sitting behind him. He entered the room crying and had just submitted to sitting in a chair when he spotted me and lost it all over again. He ran to me and refused to rejoin his class until his teacher asked if he wanted me to go with him. He did, so I did. For all the parents who now have me on their kid’s video: You’re welcome.

He did end up participating a little, especially on the pirate song. When she asks for rhymes for numbers, he just shouts the number back at her until she acknowledges him. Yes, BamBam, five does rhyme with five. That’s the wonderful, fabulous, amazing, best-special-ed-teacher-in-the-multiverse he’s shouting at, by the way. Oh, wait, I forgot to show it to you. Here it is:

Pirate Ship 2012  *

The reason everybody laughed when they’re rhyming four and one of the kids said, “Nor,” is because that’s the name of one of the girls in the class. And, yep, on ten the little girl in the back said she pooped. It was pretty funny, even to me, and I was having a rough time with my boy.  He really did not want to be there and I can’t blame him.  He didn’t understand what all those people were doing there or why they were staring at him. I think his teacher had tried to explain it, but his receptive language just isn’t that sophisticated yet. He didn’t get it. And it was hot in there with all those bodies. And it was a change in routine. He doesn’t like those. Not one little bit.

On a side note, BamBam’s expressive speech is really coming along. He talks all the time, though we still don’t understand most of what he says, which is frustrating for all of us. He’s pretty patient with me, though. At least for the moment. It took me forever to figure out what he was saying when he would do humpty dumpty. Or that “schwimpy fush” means slippery fish, which is a song they sing at school. And I only really got that because Zoo Keeper’s school sang the same song a couple of years ago, so I knew the words. Unfortunately, it was pretty easy to get the new phrase he uses when he’s hungry: “Chicken stwip backet wiff gwaby?” I don’t know where he learned that. Honest.

Anyway, when BamBam and I met Sparky and Zoo Keeper at home and then Sparky left for work, the reality of summer set in. I’m home with these guys for two months with a schedule that changes every week. There’s no set routine. The boys are in some camps, but they are at opposite times, leaving me with next to no downtime this summer.  And these guys are…high maintenance.

What I’m trying to say is that I realized in that moment how much this week was going to suck. Not that I didn’t already know it, I am the one who manages the schedule after all, but at that point I could feel it in my bones. And I’d started back on the Program diet that morning. The first week on the program is the hardest because your body goes through a kind of withdrawal and you feel like complete crap. Major headaches and grumpiness. Great.

I had pretty much decided to postpone the diet (again) until next week. So, I was standing in my kitchen trying to figure out what kind of pizza to order when I just stopped. I thought about how hard the diet would be and how hard the non-routine quirky-boy time would be and I decided to just throw myself in the deep end. Swim in it ’til my fingers got all pruney.

They’re pretty pruney, but I’m still standing. And it’s Friday. And I’ve lost six pounds. With no exercise. Because, no, I did not add that in this week. I’m not a complete lunatic. Please don’t disabuse me of that notion.

So next week I’m starting back to the gym. Wish me luck.

P.S. I’m getting kind of an angry vibe off of Sparky, who just walked in and realized I still haven’t unloaded the dishwasher yet, so I’m off to help. Cheers!

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Happy Birthday

Posted by on Jan 3, 2012 in The List, Weight | 1 comment

I’m 43 today. My mom’s pretending I’m 23 because of what her youngest child being 43 means in terms of her own age*, but I’m actually glad I’m not 23. I was pretty clueless and lost at 23. There’s been a lot of growth for me in those 20 intervening years. It wasn’t all fun, but most of it was worthwhile and I’m glad to be who and what I am today. I started to call this Happy Birthday, Loser, because it’s going to contain info about resolutions I made last year that I didn’t follow through on, but I don’t actually think I’m a loser and I decided to own that more this year. And to be nicer to myself. So, Happy Birthday, Self. You’re pretty awesome, if you do say so yourself, and you do.

As I said, I didn’t have a lot of follow-through on my 2011 List. Here’s the breakdown:

# Goal Progress
1. Lose 30 pounds (Down to 160) Gained about 60 pounds
2. Finish a half marathon Done – I walked it, but I did finish
3. Write first draft of the Kaylee novel Haven’t gotten past discovery yet
4. Log all the books I read on the blog Yay! I did this one! Well, I haven’t posted them yet, but they’re in a file ready to go.

Well, that’s half done, which is better than I thought when I sat down to write this. You all know 2011 was pretty rough for me, so let’s just call it good and move on to the 2012 List.

# Goal Progress
1. Lose weight to 180
2. Start running again and run a 5k
3. Write first draft of the Kaylee novel
4. Log all the books I read on the blog

Pretty much the same as last year with a few tweaks. I don’t know what I weigh today and there’s no way I was stepping on a scale on my birthday, so I don’t know exactly how much I gained last year. I do know that it was more than the 50 pounds I lost on the Program. So this year my goal is to get back to where I left off with the program. If I manage more, great, but I’m not going to push for it. I’m planning to start back on the program next week (too many birthday plans this week), so I’ll post my weight here as of Monday morning and every Monday or Tuesday after that.

I am going to push for exercise. I want to start running again. I had trouble with it after my surgery – it was a longer recovery than I expected. But I think I’m ready to start again, so I’m going with my goal from the first list of running a 5k.

With the boys in school, I’ve got some free time coming up. I’m not use to that and am trying to ease into it so that I don’t go crazy filling it up with stuff and end up burnt out by February. One of the things I know I want to use it for is writing. I plan to blog every week, but I also plan to finish a first draft of a novel. That’s not a crazy goal. It’s within my grasp and I’m going to do it.

The last goal, logging the books I read, is just a continuation of the goal from last year. I like doing it. I can look back at the list and remember that I did take time for myself. Time to read, which renews my spirit and helps me cope with this fast-paced world. It’s important and I’m worth it.

So, not a crazy list, but a doable list. I can do this and I’m going to. Thanks for the support!

*She’s kidding about the 23 thing and Mom will probably be by later to tell you that herself. At least it will get her to comment. 🙂

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First Days…and Not

Posted by on Sep 6, 2011 in Autism, Musings, Weight | 5 comments

Today was supposed to be my first day back on The Program; the beginning of hard-core exercise and a few weeks of a very restrictive diet that would give way to a sustainable low-calorie, well-balanced diet. Only yesterday was quite taxing and I didn’t go to bed until 11, which led to turning off my alarm when it went off at 5:15 without waking up enough to realize I’d done it. So, today’s exercise…not so much. I haven’t eaten anything off plan yet today, but I can feel that coming based on my morning.

BeBop turned five in May. He’s not quite ready for kindergarten, but the public schools don’t allow kids who are already five in their developmental preschool program. His old preschool was not an option for various reasons, so he started kindergarten prep at a new school today. It’s a private religious school and we’re not at all religious, so it felt kind of weird. It’s a good school, though, and its primary purpose is education, so we’re good with it. And he’ll already have a friend there because J, who we carpooled with to his old school, will be in his class this year as well. The new school is much closer to home, but I’m still excited to continue carpooling.

Plus, all the kids in the new school learn Japanese. How cool is that?

We went to meet his teachers last week and they were very warm and welcoming. I discussed his diagnosis with them and they seem ready to work with us to make this a great year for him. The classroom is fabulous – even has a loft/clubhouse type area in one corner with a ladder and everything. He has to wear a uniform, but he doesn’t seem to mind it. I think part of that is that the optional sweaters are red, his favorite color.

As we were putting on BeBop’s uniform this morning, he said something about J telling him to go away. This was not a good omen. He hasn’t even seen J for several weeks. It’s something J used to say to him sometimes, mainly to rile him, and BeBop just can’t seem to let it go. The kid’s memory is better than mine used to be, and I passed a 400-level modern algebra class by memorizing 4- to 5-page proofs that might appear on the tests. I was not happy to have him bring this up. Breakfast seemed to go well, though, so I thought it had passed.

So, BamBam and I took BeBop to his first day of school this morning.

The best full picture I could get in his uniform.

BeBop and J

My favorite pic of the day.

And there he goes…

As we were exiting the car, BeBop spotted J in the parking lot and shouted, “You’re not my best friend anymore*, J!” Ugh. I don’t think J heard that. I really hope not, anyway. He doesn’t need that baggage on his first day of school. I’m sure he has some of his own to carry. I never realized that about kids this age, but I think it’s true. I had a little talk with BeBop before I let him continue out of the car and he seemed fine after that. I hope it will last.

BamBam, however, was another story. He was okay while we were walking from the car to the front of the school. Then there was a lot of milling around of all 100 kids and their families. Not so great for BamBam. He got extremely over stimulated and it only escalated from there. The principal led the school in the school prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. BamBam screamed throughout both and bit me at least twice. I considered asking the principal if she was glad I hadn’t let her talk me into enrolling him in the twos class. Had I known this was the procedure for the first day, I would have done some things to make it better for him. Like bring his headphones. I’m going to send an email to BeBop’s teacher and ask for a heads-up when things like this will happen again. I think I might have gone home and had a drink if I hadn’t had to drive him to speech therapy.

Now I’m sitting in my car waiting for him to finish occupational therapy (after speech for today only) while a woman circles my car talking at full volume into her cell phone and I contemplate running her over. Go sit in your own damn car, lady. Why do you find it necessary to invade my peace? She now has her back to me so she can’t see me giving her the stink eye. I wonder if she’d go away if I started honking.


Anyway, I’m not sure the whole diet thing is going to stick today. I’ve told you before that I eat my stress and I seem to be quite stressed today. Tomorrow is another day. And it’s also a day I get to see my therapist, so that should help a lot.

*On the way home, I asked BeBop who he played with at school and the answer was J. He said J is his best friend again now.

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Ch-ch, Ch-ch, Changes

Posted by on May 17, 2011 in Autism, Musings, Weight | 3 comments

First, an announcement: The Benefit Concert for Japan is this Saturday night at 7* pm. If you’re in the greater Seattle area, please consider supporting this worthy cause. You can get tickets here.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled babblings.

Yeah, I know, there’s no weight up there this week. I have a good reason, though: I’ve decided to stop weighing myself for the time being. It serves no purpose other than to taunt me right now. I’m going to concentrate on eating healthier things, meaning things that don’t make me feel physically sick by irritating my digestive track, and exercising regularly. I hope that those two things will help me fit into smaller pants, or at least not require bigger ones, but that’s really just a side effect at this point. I need to do it to help me feel better. Period.

I also need it to fit into my current life, rather than trying to shoehorn my current life into a diet plan. Which is part of the reason I’m putting the GFCF diet on hold for the moment. I just can’t deal with it right now and that’s going to have to be good enough. We’re taking BamBam to a developmental pediatrician this week. I plan to talk to him, as well as our regular pediatrician, about the lab tests and the diet. Until then, and maybe for a while after, it’s on hold.

That’s all I can manage today, so I’ll leave you with a card I found last week that spoke to me:


*ACK! Edited to reflect the correct time for the concert. Sheesh!

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In Summary

Posted by on Apr 5, 2011 in The List, Weight | 7 comments

◊ Tuesday Weigh-in: 218.3 (O.M.G.) ◊

At the risk of sounding like McCroskey (and seriously dating myself with that comment), looks like I picked the wrong week to quit eating. Actually, all of April is looking pretty tough in that respect. Going to try, though. And there’s always May.

And speaking of it being April already, I thought maybe it was time to (finally) summarize the list that started this blog and expired in January. Here’s the list with the progress noted:

# Goal Progress
1. Lose 100 pounds (from pregnancy weight) Lost 80 pounds
2. Run a 5k Done! 6/26/10
3. Finish writing a novel Finished NaNo
4. Read 20 books I already own Done! 11/22/10
5. Learn to knit Done!
6. Wear the purple dress Done! 9/25/10

Now I’ll go through them individually.

1. Lose 100 pounds (from pregnancy weight) – I didn’t lose the whole shebang, but did manage to lose 79.2 pounds. That’s pretty good, even though I’ve gained back 40 of that. Needless to say, this will be on my list for this year as well.

2. Run a 5k – Not only did I run a 5k, I ran a 10k. Ran both all the way, no walking. Yay me!

3. Finish writing a novel – I wrote a 50,000 word novel. It needs a LOT of editing, but does have a beginning, middle, and end. I won’t say that I accomplished this goal because my intention was to have a finished product, not just a first draft, but it’s closer to a finished book than I’ve ever come before and I am going to give myself a big ole pat on the back. Yay me!

4. Read 20 books I already own – Finished this one, but there was never any real fear about it. My intention was not to buy any new books until I had read 20 that I already owned, but I dont’ think anyone who knows me thought I would make that. I held out for a long time and didn’t buy very many, so I think that’s pretty good.

5. Learn to knit – This is kind of an ambiguous goal for me and hard to quantify. I can knit now. Not very well, but I can. Sort of like I am with the piano. And the flute. And…well, let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

6. Wear the purple dress – I don’t fit into it anymore, but I did wear the dress. And I looked damn good in it. The hostess at the restaurant said I looked elegant.

So…that’s it. Is it just me or does that feel really anticlimactic? Oh, well. On to my new list.

New list for 2011:

1. At the beginning of the year, the first item was to lose 30 pounds, getting down to 160, which was my original goal from the last list. Unfortunately, I have since gained 30 pounds, so the number to lose is now 60 pounds. *sigh* Still keeping 160 as the goal by the end of 2011.

2. Finish a half marathon. I’m signed up to walk the Rock&Roll half marathon in June. Since I’m walking, I’m not really worried about finishing. I haven’t really been exercising much lately, though, and the 10k I half walked/half ran a few weeks ago rendered me virtually paralyzed for several days, so I think I better get my butt training. I have started a training program since then, but last week didn’t go so well…

3. Write first draft of the Kaylee novel. This item was originally to finish a novel all the way through editing, but I’ve decided that’s too ambitious for this year with everything that’s going on for our family. Next year BamBam will be in preschool (look for a very excited post about that in the near future) and I’ll have some time that I can devote to writing. I’m pretty sure that will be on the list for next year.

4. Log all the books I read on the blog. I like this goal because it’s just about reminding myself of the pleasure of reading. I’m going to read whatever I want, no restrictions. And I’m going to log it so I can look back and remember that I did treat myself to some time to read. Right now I’m reading The Likeness by Tana French. I highly recommend it as well as her first one, In the Woods.

And that’s it. I started to put in some stuff about the boys or our family in general, but decided that I want the list to just be about me. Besides, that kind of stuff (like be a better mom) isn’t really quantifiable and I need that for the list. For this list, anyway.

See you next week!

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