Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bargaining for Cobbler

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on January 11, 2015


This past week was our first week back to school after Christmas break. To say we “eased” back into it would be an understatement. On Monday I had a medical procedure done that took longer than it would have for any normal person. Then I needed to pick up some groceries. The kids worked on school while I was gone, but by the time I got home I was exhausted and the math I had assigned kind of got … postponed. On Tuesday a homeschooling friend of mine and her kids came over for a visit. Coffee drinking and chatting was way more important (and fun) than math. On Wednesday, the youngest had an orthodontist appointment, but I declared that when I got home we WOULD do that math. Wednesday was really cold, remember? So yeah, when I got home I was chilled and grumpy, but absolutely determined to do math with both kids.

Then my son, who may have a future as a lawyer, began pleading his case about how our Christmas break was significantly shorter than many of his homeschooling compadres and how if we jumped into a full schedule so quickly there might be a fair amount of emotional trauma inflicted on their delicate psyches. His little sister was nodding her head in agreement, like a little bobble-head dog you put in the back window of your car. I wasn’t swayed even when they began batting eyelashes. But then, his next appeal hit just too close to my heart to ignore. “How about I bake that peach cobbler for you? I’ll trade you math for Home Ec!” And that’s where my walls came down. The last time he baked a cake, he was so stressed at the end he swore he’d never bake again and if that meant never eating cake ever again for the rest of his life, he was okay with that. I want all three of my kids to leave this house knowing their way around a kitchen and possessing some basic culinary skills. His offer was a breakthrough in my mind. We shook on it and I walked out of the kitchen.

He stood there with his jaw on the ground. “Uhhh…aren’t you going to like, help me?” he queried. “No. You made this deal. Happy ….uh, cobbler-ing, my little Keebler elf.” And then I went off to put my feet up and munch on some bon-bons. Actually, (after explaining what a Keebler elf was) I ran to my desk to put the final touches on my lesson for co-op class this week and thought very strongly about putting in some earbuds. Not for music, but to discourage questions and let him bake the cobbler on his own without my help. But then I remembered my first cake-baking experience at age 14 when Mom asked me to bake a cake for her to take to a church party. I had assured her I had it under control because I had like, a whole nine weeks of Home Ec I under my belt. She got home to find me bawling with a very gnarly looking cake sitting pitifully next to me. I didn’t want my 16 year old son to someday have to tell his therapist about the peach cobbler that scarred him for life.


He did ask a lot of questions, but he baked the cobbler on his own. I heard him doing a Guy Fieri impression at more than one point talking about how he pretty sure this cobbler was “gonna be off the chain” (even though he doesn’t even like cobbler). I also heard him give the baking powder a good old fashioned Emeril Lagasse “BAM!” into the bowl. He seemed to enjoy the experience this time and now I can rest easy knowing that his future therapy sessions won’t cover the topic of culinary abandonment maybe as much as the fact I likened him to a small fictional woodland creature that bakes goodies in a hollow tree.

Past, Present, Future

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on December 28, 2014


‘Twas the night before Christmas Eve and all through the house were four teenagers, a TON of noise, and the sounds of “A Swamp Christmas” on one TV and video games on the other.
Well, at least that’s how it was at my house.

I had cleaned the house from top to bottom all day and planned to spend the entire evening binge-watching “Dr. Who”, but at 5pm my husband announced that he needed a snack food for his department Christmas party. I swear to you, sometimes it’s like he’s a 2nd grader who forgot to give me a note from his teacher a week ago. He pitifully said he’d just go get some Little Debbie cakes, but the crazy overachieving person inside me exclaimed, “Well, I never! He thinks he can just take store-bought cakes to a party and besmirch your good name! This will never do!”  One might think my inner me is dignified and speaks in a British accent. Truth be told, she is a haggard woman with flour smudges on her face, aching feet and very, very dry hands. And she sighs a lot. Pretty much, she’s a lot like the outer me.

I was out of vegetable oil for the cornbread. And I needed another cake mix and frosting for the cake balls my inner me insisted on crafting for my husband’s party. And we were nearly out of milk – I needed that for the potato soup for dinner AND Christmas morning gravy. So with a sigh I asked my husband to run to the store. I started the potato soup – but my daughter’s boyfriend and my son don’t like potato soup, so I started making hamburgers for them. Then my youngest daughter wanted me to teach her how to make cornbread. Another sigh escaped from the outer me.

After dinner (the cornbread was great, by the way) I started in on the cake balls. And as I stood in my kitchen listening to my three kids and the boy in love with my oldest daughter make an inordinate amount of noise while playing Dig Dug on the Playstation, I thought about Christmases past.

Paul and I had three Christmases without children. They were quiet, serene events. Then in 1996 we began our relationship with Ol’ Saint Nick and his yearly nocturnal shenanigans. Now gone are the days of tiny, sticky fingers and precariously constructed gingerbread houses. We sleep past 5am now. 

No one gets that excited about icing cookies anymore. They didn’t seem too preoccupied with the trees or presents under them these days either – there was no peeking and shaking and repeated threats to stop. touching. those. presents. All the trees have been decorated evenly and all the way around for several years now. We said good-bye to the days of us buying our own presents and sticking nametags on them from the kids. Now, with driver’s licenses and trucks, they did a lot of their shopping on their own. This is the first year I had no idea what I was going to open on Christmas morning. This year we scheduled family gatherings around work schedules and boyfriend’s family gatherings. And this year I didn’t threaten a single child with placement on the naughty list. This was our first Christmas in our new house after 13 in the last house.

I know that the time is coming that my little birdies will flit away from the nest and that will usher in the return of quiet, serene Christmases for who knows how many years. Then, with any luck and maybe a pinch of Duggar fertility (although with far less intensity) we will again have tiny, sticky fingers around the house. The ornaments will again be haphazardly placed on only one side of the tree and only as high as their little arms will go when they help decorate my tree.


Ebenezer Scrooge was haunted by the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future. I, however, am not haunted by ghosts – I am merely reminiscent, exhausted, and hopeful. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

One to Another

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on December 21, 2014


Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” (KJV) As I sit here at my computer on a very quiet Friday morning, I am pondering the very idea of kindness.

A few weekends ago I had a humiliating experience at an area Walmart. I won’t go into detail, but let’s suffice it to say that the person who was the humiliator went way beyond where he should have with what I’m sure he thought were clever quips and “jokes”. However, to a momma on a limited budget every day of the year, Christmas is just simply a very financially stressing time. My father was two days away from having part of a cancerous kidney removed and I was scheduled to go out of town to be with him – my stress level was already maxed and threatening to exceed its limits anyway. I left the store in tears while he grinned at his cleverness. Why couldn’t he have just been kind?

Just yesterday my mom, sister, and I spent the day trying to finish our Christmas shopping. The three of us hadn’t had a day out together in….well, I couldn’t tell you because it had been so long. In the 13 hours we were in Joplin we saw a menagerie of folks, from all walks of life, in just about every demeanor possible.

We had doors held open for us – and doors left to close as we struggled to get stroller, bags, and selves out of the drizzling rain quicker. A few folks saw we had dropped a bag or box and stooped to pick it up and hand it back with a smile. As I was holding a pile of bags back in an attempt to avoid an avalanche of plastic and purchases, my sister was trying to shove a gigantic parcel into back of the car. A box slid out and hit the ground with a thump. I made eye contact with an approaching woman and smiled. She looked down at the box that had fallen, looked up at us doing a comical disaster avoidance drill, looked away and walked on like we had suddenly become invisible.

Once as I was again trying to keep bags from sliding onto the wet pavement and Sis was trying to gather up the three carts that we had just emptied, a woman saw Sis heading toward the door with the carts, opened the door as little as possible to slip in, then let it close, never looking back. I saw the incredulous look on my sister’s face,  but before either of us could exclaim our amazement, a woman with a giant smile quickly ran to the door to hold it open and wish my sister a Merry Christmas.

I have thought of the quote by Ian Maclaren quite a lot lately. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” How often do we get caught up in our own struggles and schedules, worries and whinings and forget that there are others that have it worse than we do?

I am glad I didn’t lay into the young kid behind the register at Walmart. First, two of my kids were watching my reaction. Second, he was as well. While I probably should’ve held back my tears and instead spoke kind words, at least I didn’t call him the names that were bouncing around in my head. 

As I sat fuming in the car on the way home that night Mr. Maclaren’s quote nudged me gently. What if that kid had just gotten his butt chewed by a supervisor? What is his dad has cancer as well? What if his dog had been run over just that morning? I don’t know what his battles were that day, but his need for kind words from me was greater than my need to call out his rudeness. He was fighting his own battles.


So, all that being said, have a Merry Christmas, Constant Reader – and be kind, one to another.

15 Chocolate Chips

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on December 7, 2014


‘Tis the season to think about family, traditions, and the things that give us a big ol’ case of the holiday feels. I’m not particularly nostalgic as a general rule, but there is something about this time of year that even makes my Grinch heart grow three sizes on occasion.

As I type this, my kids are participating in one of their favorite holiday traditions: watching “Home Alone”.  I guess because this movie takes place around Christmas time it gets lumped into the Christmas movies, although, there is nothing about this movie that warms the cockles of my heart or makes me feel less Grinch-y inside. In fact, about the only thing that happens when I watch that movie is that I feel slightly more inclined to want to bash my head against a wall. Yet, my kids look forward to it being on ABC’s “12 Days of Christmas” television lineup every year. When I was a kid, our big thing was to watch the Bass-Rankin stop-animation classics like “Rudolph” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “The Year Without a Santa Claus”.  The Peanuts Christmas special was cause for Jiffy Pop and hot chocolate. My kids got those movies on VHS when they were little and I guess we broke the magic by giving them access to them any time they wanted. Hmm…maybe I should consider buying “Home Alone” on DVD….

Up until this year, if you were to ask my kids what the most memorable part of the holiday season is at our house, they would answer: when Momma goes bonkers and starts griping while we drag out the decorations and trees until everyone is grumpy and usually Kady cries and then Momma goes to her room with the door shut for the rest of the evening. I’m not going to say that the past 13 years have been super duper shiningly loving and serene, but hey, it’ll be a hoot for them to talk about what a crazy person I was when it comes time for my memorial service.  Strangely enough, I didn’t raise my voice even once this year. It was nice. Weird, but nice. I think I’ll try it again next year. They seemed to like it.

 I bake all year around, but more so here at the holidays. From the time the kids were little, any time I made chocolate chips cookies I would set a pile of chocolate chips for each of them on the counter. It kept their little paws out of the dough and no one could say one got more than another. I always counted out 15 chips for each – enough to look like a ton to a child, but not enough to hype anyone up too much. Last week I decided to make cookies and the weirdest thing happened – no one was underfoot, no one asked to crack the eggs, no one asked to help stir, no one was even paying attention to the fact I was loudly crinkling the chocolate chip package in an effort to get their attention.

I carefully counted out 45 chocolate chips and divided them into three little piles. And then I hollered, “Kids!” I heard footsteps approaching the kitchen punctuated with some sighs and a grumpy, “Whatcha need?” I said not a word, just busied myself with dumping the remaining chocolate chips into the dough. When I knew they were all in the kitchen I stepped back from the counter and heard, “Yesssss!”, “Chocolate chips!”, “Hey, that’s MY pile!” as they scooped their treats into their hands. And boom, just like that, they were gone and out of my kitchen once again.


Then that big ol’ boy of mine snuck back in, kissed my cheek and said, “Really, Momma. Thanks.” And then one daughter came back in with a hug, then the other with a kiss and a squeeze. All over 15 chocolate chips. Yeah, those Christmas feels. They got me. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Pre-Thanksgiving Adventure

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on November 28, 2014 


Last Wednesday I had an eventful day. I try to cram as many things into a trip to town as possible because we live so dadgum far from everywhere. On that particular day I had a doctor’s appointment and I also had to pay a bill, renew my car tag, drop a Netflix disc in the mail, stop at Braum’s for my mother-in-law, and go to Walmart. Keep in mind this was the day before Thanksgiving. Yeah. Talk about an unfortunately-timed errand day.

The trip to pay the bill was completely uneventful (the only thing that day). My doctor’s appointment had one small adventure that my mother made me promise to not share with you in print, Constant Reader. Maybe it’s the fact that it involved a urine specimen cup. Seriously, though, if you run into me at Walmart hit me up for the story. It’s too good to not share – and frankly, it’s a great story told better in person anyway.

After the doctor’s appointment I went straight to the tag office to renew my tag on the ‘Rango. I had my renewal card, insurance card, and check ready to go when I stepped up to the counter. The woman who helped me displayed Ninja-like skillz as she took my documents and handed me my sticker all in about 30 seconds. Score. I was smiling as I ran into an adorable Spiderman, his little brother, and his mom as they, too, were on their way into the building to experience tag office nirvana. As I got into the car I remembered I had forgotten my grocery list on the fridge. I called my oldest and asked her to read it to me. As Abby was reading off “paper towels” she heard me ask hatefully “EX-CAH-USE ME??” I said that because at that precise moment a man opened my passenger door and started to get into my car. Bless his heart, he was as startled as I was and apologized profusely. Note to self: don’t forget your grocery list so you won’t have to sit in a parking lot to have it read to you and get not-really-carjacked by what appeared to be a really nice man.

After my hands stopped shaking, I (locked my doors) finished getting my list. Then I dropped the Netflix off at the mail box in the tag office parking lot and drove off toward Walmart. It wasn’t the usual mid-day crowd – there were more people, more teenagers, more frowns, more grumbling, more chaos. All-in-all, though, it wasn’t too bad. I did some pre-Christmas gift scoping-out and scored some four-packs of Play-Doh for $1.

After leaving Walmart I stopped at Braum’s to pick up a gallon of milk for my mother-in-law where the clerk told me they had sold 1,000 gallons of milk already that day – and I believed her. She giggled at my astonished expression, then apologized and said, “Well, maybe only a hundred…” Maybe the Walmart crowd addled me more than I had thought. I shook it off and decided I needed a Sonic Route 44 strawberry water to clear my head. Sonic was without power, so I had to wait a bit. Finally, everything was back online and with drink secured and sitting happily in my cupholder, I then headed out of town via the truck route.

A Miami police car pulled out behind me. As soon as I stopped at that first stoplight I saw him pick up his radio and I knew he was going to pull me over. After the second stoplight I thought that maybe I was wrong. Then he got me. For a burned out brake light.


So in the spirit of the holiday I was about to celebrate the very next day, I had but one thing to say about last Wednesday: I was thankful when it was over. Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving holiday was lovely – and far less adventurous. 

About a Boy

Originally posted in the Miami News-Record on November 25, 2014


As I write this, it is the wee hours of Thursday morning, November 20th. It was right about this time 16 years ago that my husband and I arrived at Freeman Hospital. We had traveled mostly in silence, the quiet occasionally broken by, “Do you think he’ll look like Abby?” or “What color eyes do you think he’ll have?” The other would answer and the silence would resume. I was terrified. Not about the labor or delivery, but about the condition of my heart.

About halfway through the pregnancy with my son I was driving to Joplin with my mom. My then not-quite-two-year-old daughter was in the back seat, jabbering incessantly about probably nothing, kicking her little legs, and pointing at things out the window. Some question Mom asked about the baby, or how I was feeling, or maybe about the crib bedding prompted me to tears. She, knowing my propensity to bust out into random, unexplained crying, wasn’t all that surprised at all, but gently asked, “Kristin, what is wrong?”

It was then that I said the words I hadn’t been able to say out loud, but had been holding inside for months. With tears streaming down my face I said, “Mom, what if I don’t love him like I love Abby? I mean, I love her so much my heart is full. I already love him, don’t get me wrong, but…..how on earth can I ever love another child the way I love her?” By then I was sobbing, embarrassed that I had uttered such awful words. My mom, such a wise, wise woman, reached over and patted my leg as she said, “Oh, honey. You won’t love him like you do Abby. It will be different. But you really don’t need to worry about having enough love. A mother’s heart is equipped to do a lot of stretching. Of course, you feel like your heart is completely full with love for Abby, but here’s the thing – the second that baby boy is born, your mother’s heart will instantly grow so all the love you have for him can fit. Don’t worry, honey. You’ll have plenty of room.”

At 11:56am on November 20th, 1998, a 7lb 7oz boy named Sam entered this world quickly, loudly, and dramatically. I think he was born right before the noon hour so he wouldn’t miss lunch – and he’s been eating constantly ever since. He was a screaming, dark-headed thing with a very crooked nose when he entered this world. The nose straightened itself out, but the screaming lasted for years. He was our second child, our first (and only) son. He ate voraciously, made a lot of noise, slept little.
Now at 6-foot tall, he likes to rest his arms on top of my head and state, “You’re short.” Ha. Yeah, that never gets old. If you ask him to do something for you it’s “Yes, ma’am” as he jumps to his feet. He loves to joke around and make stupid faces. It’s impossible to not laugh around this kid. He’s got a heart for God and a passion for helping others.  And when he gets tickled about something, his laugh is what makes my heart happy.

And Mom was right – like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that blessed day in November, 1998. There was no difference in how I felt about him and my worried, 25-year-old heart had plenty of room for two children – which was good, because little did I know my 28-year-old heart was going to undergo construction for an add-on just a few years later.


So, Happy Birthday, to my dear Sammy. And to all of you driving the streets of Miami and the surrounding area roadways: If you see a big red Durango with a license plate reading RDNKDVA and a zombie family and “STUDENT DRIVER” sticker on the back, well, wave first, then get out of the way. Whether it’s him or me driving, it’s probably just best you move.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I Survived

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on January 4, 2015


I guess I shall just go ahead and do what everyone else does this time of year: reflect.

We began 2014 by finishing the remodeling of our new home. We adjusted to having a well and sulfur water (and my husband swears we didn’t get near as many tick bites this past summer because of it). I learned that living 45 minutes away from my mom and sister is harder than I ever dreamed possible. (But having a mother-in-law and sister-in-law who live less than a mile from you comes in handy when you need a can of diced tomatoes or some parmesan.) I got shingles less than a month after moving and spent most of the year trying to find a medication to help with the subsequent nerve pain – and discovered that sometimes the medication is worse than the problem you originally started with. But I survived.

Paul and I resigned from our youth ministry positions not long after the first of the year. There were many tears over that and some spiritual bruises and scratches. We licked our wounds and prayed a lot. Someday God may call us back into active ministry and if He does, that’s okay. But if He doesn’t….well, we’re okay with that, too. But in the midst of it all, God saw us through…and we survived.

Our oldest daughter graduated from high school a yearly early and got her first job. Our son got his driver’s permit. Our youngest daughter became a teenager. There were a few heartaches, attitudes, and tears, but such is life with teenagers. We all survived.  

My dad was diagnosed with cancer. But now he’s cancer free and only had to sacrifice 1/5 of a kidney to get that way. All glory to God, he survived.

My sister married my brother-in-law and I gained an instant niece. Then nine months later, I gained a new nephew. The whole living-45-minutes-away thing got even harder, but I learned how to make the most of the time I do get with them and savor it even more. I will survive not having immediate access to squishy baby cheeks, although I think the kid goes home thankful for the break from all my kisses.

I built my first garden and learned how to can. I now have approximately 45,062 jars of apple pie filling to prove it. (I also may exaggerate a bit.) I was asked to teach a class at our homeschool co-op and discovered that I love it way more than I imagined I would. I learned that sometimes friendships are only there for a season and that sometimes neighbors are just neighbors and you don’t have to be best friends with everyone you meet. I learned that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes even if it’s hard to do so. I was reminded that the prayers of a dear friend are precious.


I have learned that life doesn’t always turn out the way you had it all planned out in your mind. Some years of your life are going to be absolutely amazing. Some won’t. Sometimes your kids are well-behaved and polite and other times they tell their Kindergarten teacher that Daddy farts a lot. 

Sometimes life is hysterical. Sometimes it’s like a bad Lifetime movie – the kind you don’t want to watch, but you can’t stop and before you know it, you’ve gone through a half a box of tissues and your husband is ready to have you committed. Happy, sad, up, down, hills, valleys, sunlight, rain…it’s all just life. Dreams of white picket fences and perpetually clean, two-story houses turn into lived-in modular homes on 32 acres on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere. 

It may not be what you had in mind when you said “I do” at the tender age of 19, but with some prayer and the ability to adapt, you realize that it’s going to turn out okay…..and you survive.   

Yes, Yes, Yes

Originally posted in the Miami News-Record on November 16, 2014


Sometimes I overextend myself. I don’t do it intentionally and most of the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it until it’s too late and I find myself sitting in the middle of the classroom floor surrounded by piles of tulle, cotton batting, and glitter, tears streaming down my exhausted face, swearing to anyone within earshot that I will never volunteer for anything again. Oh wait - there is no one to listen to my wails and declarations because they all went to bed hours before. They’re all nestled snug in their beds with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads whilst I accidentally hot glue my fingers to the same piece of cardboard over and over again.

It’s not that I can’t say no – that’s not it at all. I can say it and say it often - it’s that once I start saying yes, I can’t stop. It’s a slippery slope, my friends.

For nearly a year now I have said no quite a bit actually. We resigned from our youth ministry positions shortly after the first of the year and then moved to a whole new part of the county soon after that. The lack of 25 extra youth to keep track of greatly reduced the amount of stress in our lives right off the bat. Then add in that we moved roughly 45 minutes from everyone and everything we were used to being close to - that also reduced our activities. We needed some rest. Youth ministry ain’t for sissies (and it’s usually done by folks a lot than us). We soon settled into our new, quiet lifestyle and it was good.

Our weekends have been spent mostly at home since January. Our evenings have been spent mostly at home as well. Before we moved, the kids were begging to stay home on the weekends – as of late they have been asking to please go somewhere, anywhere besides our house or yard. When my husband and his oldest brother built a fire pit at the brother’s place this fall and suddenly we found ourselves ‘round a campfire a few nights a week the kids thought they’d won the social lottery.
Then our son asked to play basketball. And we said yes. We went from binge-watching half a season of Hell on Wheels or LOST at a go, to (gasp) leaving the house for hours at a time, several days a week. Then, in a moment of social weakness, I agreed to participate in our homeschool co-op’s Christmas Craft Fair. That youngest kid of mine is so dang cute sometimes she should be considered dangerous. She can talk people into stuff they have no intention of ever doing. The second I said yes to the fair, she whipped out her iPad, opened up Pinterest and started talking a mile a minute about decorated clothespins, snowman tea lights, Christmas trees made from sticks and ribbon (like I have any intention of going out and picking up sticks) and other hand-crafted items of extreme cuteness and adorableness that some women find enjoyable. I only see the work involved, laid out in the Excel-like spreadsheet of my overly analytical mind.

We are a week away from the craft fair. We’ve narrowed it down to two crafts. I’m voting for the one that uses the half bag of cotton balls in the bathroom cabinet and that partially dried-up watercolor set in the craft bin.

And as I write this it’s now 11pm. Not only am I just now writing my column, but I also just remembered I volunteered to create new classroom signs for the homeschool co-op. Chapel begins in 10 ½ hours.


Oh well. In all honesty, it has been a few weeks since I hot-glued my fingers to some cardboard. 

A Medical Adventure

Originally posted in the Miami News-Record on November 9, 2014


The older I get, the more often I find myself visiting medical facilities. Last week I found myself at the Indian hospital in Claremore for a CT scan.

As I pulled into the Sonic in Claremore (hey, I was early for my appointment and needed a sweet tea to calm my nerves) I got a call from my oldest telling me she was bleeding from her right ear. Since she hadn’t been to Sierra Leone recently I figured her Ebola risk was nil, so my next question was, “Did you stick anything in there?” She sighed and I’m fairly certain rolled her eyes (moms can typically sense an eye roll even over the phone) and said that no, she hadn’t put anything in her ear because she wasn’t a toddler. It sounded like a ruptured eardrum to me, so I did what I do in any crisis: I called my mom. After asking if she had Ebola and if she had stuck anything in her ear, Mom, too, said that it sounded like a ruptured eardrum. I then called Abby back and told her that she was going to have to take herself to the doctor. She was mildly freaked out by that what with being all new-to-adulthood and all, but I reassured her and hung up, ordered my sweet tea and as I reached for my wallet realized that I had her insurance card with me. I called the clinic and they told me they would see her and could look her up by her social security number. I called her back, reassured her once again that she could indeed take herself to the doctor, and then headed to the hospital. By then I was resigned to the fact that the sweet tea was going to do nothing to help my nerves.

Once I got to the hospital I checked in at registration, checked in again at x-ray, then sat in a faded pink hard plastic chair to wait my turn. I watched The Price is Right, listened to a woman have a rather loud and obnoxious conversation on her phone, gritted my teeth as a different woman sent text after text, which normally would be a non issue except she had the keyboard sounds turned up to about 40 million decibels and all of us in the waiting room were treated to “BEEP BEEPBEEPBEEP….BEEP….BEEPBEEP…BEEP…BEEPBEEP…BEEPBEEPBEEP” for a good 20 minutes, and got my toes stepped on twice. When the x-ray tech called my name I think I got up a bit too eagerly and nearly bowled him over as I ran into the CT room.

I was good and nervous by then so I was only moderately mortified that I had to don a gown for the procedure – not because I’m all that modest but because of all days to wear my comfiest underwear with two holes in them, it would be a day I’d have to wear a backless gown. It took them three sticks, a call to the lab for backup, and a full hour of inspecting my veins before they got my IV going. The dye made me nauseous and woozy and as I tried to maintain control of the world spinning around me all I could do was envision was me lying on the floor, my backless gown a’flapping while I showed off my holey underwear and legs only shaved up to the knee (because I totally phone it in in the shaving department from October through March) thus giving all of the staff of the lab department something to talk about at the dinner table that night.


Fortunately I stayed conscious and came away with nothing more than a metallic taste in my mouth and two wicked bruises. Oh, and my husband took me underwear shopping this weekend because apparently the thought of me wearing holey underwear to my next doctor visit concerns him, too. 

Monday, November 03, 2014

Cat-tastrophe

Published in the Miami News-Record on October 12, 2014

About a month ago one of the kids noticed that our momma cat, Chuck Norris, was putting on some weight.  I inwardly groaned because I knew it meant that Chuck was in a family way. Her last litter of kittens was about four months old at the time and while we like to keep a cat or two around, we don’t want to get crazy with feline overpopulation.

Typically when we notice a cat is pregnant around here there is usually time to prepare for the blessed event. I told the kids we had about a month before the kittens came, but Chuck Norris, well, she likes to keep us on our toes. A mere week after our discovery, we had another discovery: four teeny tiny kittens in a barrel out by the shop. Our oldest daughter’s pup, Josie, took to barking at the kittens, which wasn’t much of an issue considering their ears were still shut, but apparently Chuck didn’t much care for it. A little over a week ago she moved her babies to an unused doghouse right by our front porch. Josie didn’t bother them there and all seemed right with the world. They figured out how to crawl and wiggle out into the sunshine and loved being paid attention to. They just needed giant sunglasses and they’d have been little kitty Kardashians.

And then the rains came.

While I was at homeschool co-op and our oldest was at home, she discovered one had nearly drowned after she wiggled out of her house. After some drying and lovin’-on, she perked up, Abby secured them all back into the doghouse while the rains kept coming. Then Chuck decided that her accommodations were worthy of a scathing Yelp review and left her kittens high and dry. Actually, low and soaked. So in the middle of a downpour, we moved a barrel to the porch, put the kittens in it, and Chuck deemed it suitable.

And then the winds came.

The barrel started filling with water, again soaking the poor critters. When I went out last Monday morning one kitten was gone, two were soaked to the bone, and one was barely breathing. Chuck would have nothing to do with them and kept bolting away when we tried to put her with the wet little varmints, running for cover like she was insisting the rain was going to make her hair frizzy.  We found most of our Monday school day whittled away by bottle feedings and mewling kittens. My husband was less than thrilled that our No Indoor Pet policy had been pushed aside in our humanitarian (felinatarian?) attempts. I was adamant that we were doing the right thing and that we were only showing our kids how to be kind to animals.

But at 3 am when those kittens started hollering that the milk replacer was gross and they  missed their momma and could they see Santa and “Are we there yet?” all rolled into a bunch of  “She’s touching me!” type shrill squeals and meows, I found myself having misplaced my kindness. I found myself with a scratching, wiggling ball of fur in one hand while I blearily tried to fill a miniscule bottle with milk replacer and warm it so as to not scald the poor thing’s gizzard. It was a flashback to when my own kids were newborns, although with less scratching, but pretty much the same amount of yowling.


Since then Chuck has been forcefully placed into a confined area with her kittens and is only let out when the little ones aren’t screeching with all their might. She glares at us when we let her out and I’m pretty certain that look says, “I’d rip your heart out right now if I could.” And again, it is reminiscent of when my husband and I had a newborn. I’m pretty sure I blearily directed that thought at him more than once at 2 am.