Thursday, June 26, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

From the Miami News-Record, June 22 (with a few extra pics!)
I have never been a gardener, nor been interested in gardening. It has been a long-standing rule around our house that I am not allowed to touch any potted plants or hanging baskets because when I do, they die. I moved to Stillwater at 19 and my mom sent a philodendron because, as she said, “You can’t kill a philodendron. Anyone can grow them.” When I moved back home six weeks later, along with a new collection of Eskimo Joe’s cups and t-shirts, I also brought my poor, dead plant. Last spring I received a hanging basket of beautiful pink flowers. I tried not to touch it, but I also didn’t want someone to think me rude by asking them to keep it away from me and whisk it off to the safety of my car before I had any effect on it. But I politely admired it and carried it myself and ….yeah, it died.

When we moved and I got this idea to plant a garden, my husband said it was a bad idea. He reminded me ever so gently of my plant-killing background. He was sweet about reiterating to me the fact that I do not have a green thumb. Yet I kept insisting, so he just went along with it and started tilling me a garden. He picked up some tomato and pepper plants and I excitedly called my mom from the seed aisle at Walmart because I didn’t know the first thing about what types of seeds to get - you know, because of the whole not-being-able-to-grow-stuff thing. Upon her advice I settled on yellow crookneck squash, okra, cucumbers, zucchini, peaches and cream corn, and green beans, then some jack o’ lantern pumpkin and watermelon seeds for the youngest (who actually does have the ability to grow things). I wanted eggplant and radishes and broccoli and lettuce and all the really tasty and wonderful things garden people grow, but no one here likes broccoli but me. And you can forget about eggplant – no one is actually sure they hate it seeing as how none of them have ever tried it, but they’re all relatively certain they do.
So. Hott.
We planted late because we were garden novices and had no clue what we were doing, but in our ignorance we saved ourselves some work because of the chilly spring freezes that took out a few gardens. Then when things started growing we had week after week of rain and things started looking pretty bleak out there. Enter the usual veggie-loving bugs and we all but threw in the towel. I didn’t check it for about a week, and then to my surprise one night we had pole beans in need of poles because they were attacking each other. After telling them to play nice while I unwound vine after vine, we drove in a few stakes, realizing quickly we needed more than a just “few” stakes. Paul took off for the shop while I pulled weeds. When he came back I could only laugh – he was carrying a cattle panel. Like for a corral. It actually works great and just kind of completes the redneck atmosphere we’ve got going on around our entire place.

Our little garden won’t win any awards, but we’re excited every time we find a new tiny veggie. I didn’t even bother with a scarecrow this year – I just grab my daughter’s pink Red Ryder BB gun and shoot the birds from the back porch window. I’m making a list of all the stuff we did wrong and things I want to try for next year and I’m finding that I actually like this new adventure and don’t mind the dirt and sweat too much. I find a strange peace while pulling weeds (and on evenings I’m particularly frustrated, it makes for a great stress reliever) and am in awe of seeing God’s handiwork firsthand in my little redneck garden with a metal cattle panel right in the middle.

Gardening ain't for sissies - or those who dislike dirty piggies.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Daughter, Myself

From the Miami News-Record, Sunday June 15
Of my three kids, I have two daughters. The oldest, Abby, is 17 and a half. She’s quiet, introverted, reserved, and sarcastic, doesn’t emote much, rarely cries, and would rather go through life just observing and blending into the background. She looks like, and is very much like, her father. The youngest daughter, Kady (or Bugg), is 12 and a half. She is loud, talkative, outgoing, boisterous, and emotional, loves being the center of attention, doesn’t know a stranger, and prefers her world to be full of fanfare, excitement, and noise. She looks like, and is very much like, me.

It took me years to fully appreciate our eldest’s quiet demeanor. She would rather be subjected to root canals sans anesthetic than speak before a crowd. This blows my mind. Why would you NOT want to speak in front of a crowd? Now, know this, I am an introvert – an outgoing introvert (Yes, we exist; look us up - we’re fascinating), but an introvert all the same. Our introverted personalities, scathing wit, ability to spin a yarn, and our utter intolerance for grammatical errors are pretty much the only personality traits we share. She hates chick flicks, I love them. I like sci-fi, geeky, nerdy, comic-bookish things, she laughs at me and all of my fellow nerds. I talk a lot, she does not. The list of things we do differently goes on awhile. We get along fabulously.
The youngest child is my mini me. We both have a strict policy that no one cries alone in our presence (something I inherited from my own mother and passed on to her – you ought to see the three of us watch “Steel Magnolias”). We love to hum, sing, talk, and communicate. We can read for hours on end and become totally lost in the story. We both have big feet. When we are mad and frustrated, door slamming seems to make us both feel better. We are both simultaneously scatter-brained yet strangely organized all at the same time. We fight. Constantly.
I knew we were a lot alike, but it wasn’t until this past week when I was helping her pack for church camp that I realized the depth of our similarities. She asked if I would help her organize her suitcase, a task she was more than capable of handling on her own, but she asked for my help and who was I to turn down quality time with my youngest before she headed off to camp? And as she whipped out note cards, color-coded for each day of the week of camp, each containing a list of the day’s outfit, color of flip-flops, bracelets and earrings, I busted out laughing. As a tween and teen myself, I would start weeks before camp, writing lists and making tags and labels for different pieces of an outfit. It was a bit of déjà vu. I mean, if listening to her cry over math on a daily basis wasn’t enough to make me realize she’s my spiritual doppelgänger, this freakishly organized packing ritual certainly was.
We do fuss a lot. Because we are so very, very much alike. We are both sensitive and emotional creatures and when you put that much passionate energy together, sometimes bombs go off. I slam doors in her honor and she slams them in mine. And after a particularly rough math lesson last week, as I fumed behind a firmly closed door at how infuriating she had just been to me, I was hit with a revelation: I used to infuriate my mother just as much. Because we, too, are so very, very much alike.
So while the relationship with one daughter has been easy from the start, I am now holding on firmly to the hope that the relationship with the other will get easier and stronger as we both age. Much like the relationship between my own mother and me.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Surprise Visits

I grew up with the notion that when you went to visit someone, you called first. It was the polite thing to do, I was told. We never spontaneously dropped in on someone when I was a kid and people didn’t drop in on us. My husband’s family, on the other hand, never calls first. They just show up. I went straight from my momma’s house to my own, so I went straight from forewarned to surprised.
For a young married woman, this was unnerving. I was barely 20 and trying to get my sea legs for homemaking. Then later, for a young mother drowning in diapers, toys, VHS tapes of puppets and animated dragons, and a house that was rarely tidy, this was the seventh level of Hell. I just couldn’t understand why they didn’t just call first and was always flustered and embarrassed we had to move a pile (or two) of laundry from the couch so visitors could sit. I died a little every time we just had to kick a path through Legos, dolls, and Hot Wheels so they could make it to The Couch of Laundry and Hidden Sippy Cups. The porch was always covered in dirty shovels and pails from our latest yard expedition. Wet swimsuits were hung over chairs and the “decorative” antique ladder that was only “decorative” until the new puppy decided to eat the garland of autumn leaves, knock over the pot of mums (that I would’ve killed anyway), and I won’t even mention what he did to the Jack O’Lantern.
Needless to say, I will never end up on the cover of House Beautiful, but if they ever decide to publish one called Cluttered and Disorganized, I am a shoe-in for their spokesperson.
The kids are older now and there aren’t many toys in our house these days. And aside from the classroom (which is always in disarray – because learning is messy) (that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it), the house isn’t as cluttered. Now I welcome the drop-ins.
And I am loving it.
For the first 21 years of our marriage we lived closer to my family – the family of warning calls – and now we are within two miles of pretty much all of Paul’s family – the family of surprises. If we go a day without a visit from someone we start to wonder if everyone has the flu. There is almost always a brother, nephew, or neighbor in the yard and the female counterpart to the guy in the yard can usually be found on a bar stool in my kitchen. Sure, I still have to stack up a pile of bills and receipts and move it from the bar so they can set down their sweet tea, and with two teenagers and a tween there is usually still a pile of laundry or two on the couch, but now that I have stopped worrying about the details I can enjoy the visits so much more. When I was younger I spent the visits silently berating myself for the mess, zoning out of the conversations while busying myself with cleaning up toys – and the conversations continued without me.
So today, at this point in my life, I am just…visiting. And now that I am tuned into the conversations and the precious people in my home I am aware of the goings-on, the news, the updates, and the whole reason they came to our house in the first place – because they love us. They didn’t come to judge my housekeeping skills, my ability (or lack thereof) to keep dust off the bookshelf, or to tsk-tsk at how the kids just tracked grass through the house after their latest water fight in the yard. They didn’t come to see our house; they came to see us. Which would be fine if they hadn’t caught me without makeup or without a bra.

Hey, I’m a work in progress.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Our First Graduate

For the past year I have been writing a weekly column for the local newspaper. As long as no one objects (and really, this is my blog so if you object, just don't read it lol) I plan to start sharing each week's column here. I'll probably share some of the older ones as well, seeing as how I'm working on lesson plans for the class I'm teaching this fall at our homeschool co-op, plus my own kids' lesson plans, plus keeping house, keeping my children from killing each other and various other glamorous things. As you might surmise, writing time is limited for me these days. 
Anyway, this is what was published a few weeks ago, the weekend of Abby's graduation. Just thought I'd share - and add a few pictures. 
Our oldest daughter graduated this weekend. Since we homeschool there was no cap, gown, Pomp and Circumstance, or walking across a stage. We didn't sit in a hot gymnasium or on bleachers at a football field – we just got together with our friends and family, ate some hot dogs and hamburgers, and celebrated a pretty amazing young woman. She got a diploma, of course. I debated long and hard about who to say the certificate was issued by. See, our school’s “unofficial” name is The Hoover Academy of Higher Learning and General Shenanigans, but I was afraid the line wasn't long enough to hold all of that. One example I read online was, “Her parents, Bob and Suzy Homeschooler”, but I was afraid that would just really drive home the awkward homeschooler persona. Eventually, I just decided on “Hoover Academy." It looks nice. And not at all like she completed a lot of her school work in her pajamas on the couch.
It’s been 17 and a half years since her birth and I remember it like it was yesterday. After a very uneventful and quick delivery, she was laid into my arms, a quiet — slightly blue — wide-eyed gorgeous papoose with black hair and eyes so dark her pupils couldn't be seen. She didn't cry, just looked around at us like we had seriously offended her by forcing her entry into the world. We were in awe. We fell instantly in love. She was a miraculous blessing, a thing of wonder, a promise, a fulfillment, a tiny piece of joy in a crazy, stupid, busy world. She rarely cried, memorized If You Give a Mouse a Cookie when she was 18 months old, carried her toy tools in her Elmo purse and drove her Barbies around in her Tonka dump truck. She was a good starter kid. She eased us into the crazy world of Parenting.
She is a Pre-K dropout, but completed her final two years of high school in one year. She is quiet and sometimes shy, yet she’s a force to be reckoned with. She is passionate. Few people possess her determination. She never feels the need to small talk, chit chat or just fill the air with unnecessary words, but will talk to you about important, meaningful things as long as you want. She is amazingly artistic and if she wasn’t scared to death we’d beat her until candy comes out, she’d be decorating the world with graffiti any chance she got. I marvel at the things that kid can create. She started her own hair bow business a couple of years ago and is responsible for many a little girl’s accessorizing. She has little tolerance for blatant stupidity, people who aren’t nice to animals and children, boys who don’t respect girls, and any green vegetable. My sister taught her the art of sarcasm, which she has mastered. She is kind, gentle, witty, wise, and has amazing hair.
So look out, world. We have unleashed upon you amongst this year’s graduates, a tiny little tornado named Abby. She has promise. She has talent. She has overcome bullies and haters and is more compassionate for it. She can make a mean grilled cheese. She can count back change. She loves Jesus. She doesn’t like to camp. She thinks ice cream and cheesecake are two of the best things on this earth. She is allergic to pretty much everything in the air around her. She wants to be a foster parent. She is simply wonderful and she’ll rock your socks if you’ll let her. She already rocks ours.

Congratulations, Abby and the rest of the Class of 2014. Here’s my advice: Be kind. Make a difference. Make good choices. (And when you make bad ones don’t beat yourself up too much. Just learn from it.) Go through this life looking for experiences that will make for amazing stories later. Look out for the little guy. Laugh – a lot. Make us proud.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Droids, Washing Machines, and My Mother

My washing machine died a horrible, painful, loud death yesterday. It stopped agitating last week, the repairman replaced the faulty part, but after his repair it was making a horrific screeching, grinding noise when it spun that was about to send me to the funny farm. He came back out yesterday to make sure he hadn't left a screw or other random item (possibly a small chihuahua or perhaps his invitation letter to Hogwarts). He hadn't left anything weird, but did tell me that the transmission was loud and was "going out". I asked for a definition, a time frame, some hint as to how long she had before going off to the giant Whirlpool in the Sky, but he said, "Well, the transmission in my car has been loud for three years and the mechanic told me it was 'going out', but so far I'm still driving 'er. So just use the washer until it quits - that's about all I can tell ya." Then he gave me a shrug and went about his merry repairman way. Three loads - THREE LOADS, I SAY -- of laundry later, we were auditorily assaulted by the sound of grinding and OH, THE GRINDING. Paul called the repairman who said, "Well, I told your wife the transmission was going out..." to which I yelled across the living room, "BUT I KIND OF FIGURED I HAD MORE THAN THREE LOADS BEFORE IT HAPPENED." He laughed. He's a merry little repairman, that one. 

Since last Monday we have done a total of five loads of laundry in this house. Folks, that's sometimes a daytime total around here. We generate a lot of laundry here on Hooverton Mountain. So, I'm kind of borderline panicking about lack of clothing - mainly underwears. I don't do commando, dudes. And no one else in my house does either. Or at least, they better not.

I asked Mom if we could use her washer to catch up at some point this week and of course, she said that was fine. Because my mom is totes cool like that. However, we now live 40 minutes from my mother and going there and back is 1/4 tank of gas. Things are pretty monetarily slim around here right now and 1/4 tank of gas is pretty much the equivalent of winning the lottery, so I'm waiting until we are at UNDERWEAR DEFCON:1 before I haul my dirty laundry to town. Priorities are hard sometimes.

This morning I was lazing around in bed like a good homeschool mother should (KIDDING, I only laze around in bed a few mornings a week) when my mother sent a text. What follows is the hilarious conversation that had me giggling for half an hour afterwards.

Mom: Laundry room is available. You go, girl. Clean those undies! 
Me: Actually, probably won't come in until tomorrow - Paul has three uniforms and I usually wait until Wednesday to wash those. We may just go buy a washer tonight. Heck, it's just money.
Mom: Yes, it is just money. And which would you rather have? Money or clean underwear?  
Me: That is Sophie's choice, right there.  
Mom: Who is Sophie?
Me: The movie? "Sophie's Choice"? She has to choose between her two children in Auschwitz. Really, Mother? The movie is from 1982. You're losing it.  
Mom: Have never seen that movie. But really, what gives this Sophie the right to decide whether YOU have clean underwear or not. I need her cell phone number. 
Me: YOU'VE NEVER SEEN SOPHIE'S CHOICE?!?!? I feel like my whole life is a lie. I will order it on Netflix so you can agonize with Sophie. Gracious, and I thought me having an underwear shortage was a crisis. Turns out, my mother needs a movie intervention. ........... Aaaaaaand.....I don't think they issued cell phones to the Jews at Auschwitz. So you might have to look Sophie up on Facebook if you want to chat with her. Oh wait. Nevermind. You don't have Facebook. 

At this point she just calls me. I answer the phone not with "Hello" but with laughter when I hear her laughing on the other end. Then she tells me a story about a guy who was whispering a whole conversation because of "droids" who were following him.

I let her finish the whole story before I told her they were drones, not droids.

And I started to tell her about that scene from Star Wars, but I didn't want her asking for Obi Wan Kenobi's cell phone number.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Easter Tradition

A year ago, sometime around well, heck, I don't remember what time it was, but I do remember it was dark and I was asleep, Kady began barking the siren song of her people. You know her people: people with asthma. That siren song is a croup-y baby seal bark mixed in with with a raspy, horrible stridor and sometimes accompanied by wheezing and almost always by a look of absolute terror on my child's face.

Breathing treatments at home didn't help and she was panicking more with each breath, so I did what I have done so many times before: I tossed her wheezy butt in the car and drove for the hospital.

They released her just right about the time sunrise service was beginning. Paul took Abby and Sam to the church and I took Bugg and I home to the couch where I fell promptly to sleep while she, hopped up on asthma meds, watched TV and talked incessantly. No, it didn't matter I was snoring and drooling, she talked anyway. That's how she rolls.

This year we aren't attending any particular church and it had been awhile since we'd gone to the church where my Pops pastors, so we made plans to drive the hour there to be with Mom and Pops at their church. Shower schedules were set forth, everyone's Easter clothes were pressed and ready to go, I had the coffee pot fixed to kick on about the same time I hit the snooze button the first time, the day was essentially planned.

Until at 12:30 am Paul flips on the bedroom light to tell me that Bugg had just christened the bathroom with The First Official Barf since we moved in. He actually got a horrible stomach virus when we were nearly done with the remodel and ended up spending a few days sequestered here, sleeping on the hide-a-bed in the classroom, to keep the kids and me from getting it, but we weren't officially living here yet, so his barfing doesn't count. Kady gets the prize. Woot.

The poor kid puked about every 45 minutes for a solid 12 hours and ran a fever to boot. I didn't sleep much - but neither did she, so I shouldn't complain.

I'm a thermostat nazi and refuse to turn on the AC in April, so I slept with the windows open and I guess I really didn't know birds chirped and tweeted at night. I was used to owls at the other house, but never songbirds. I suppose I thought they tucked into their little birdie beds at night and slept like we do. In my restless dozing through the night, my brain mixed up the tweeting with my imagination and I was pretty sure I heard a mocking jay like in The Hunger Games. And of course, my dreams then sent me to the arena with Katniss for the next half hour or so to fight for my life. Fortunately (for me, not Kady) the sounds of retching woke me. My next pitiful bout of rest produced a dream in which someone was trying to break into our house and I, the hero of our story, grabbed a bolt action rifle and proceeded to shoot at the offender repeatedly. I don't even like to shoot bolt action rifles. I text my mom at 6:30 this morning to tell her we would not be attending Easter services to avoid spreading the love. Then I tried to doze some more, but Princess Barfypants in the next room wasn't having any of that.

It's now 7:30 pm. She's been puke-free since nearly noon. She is complaining about some lower abdominal pain that is freaking me the heck out after her brother decided to create a new holiday last October called "Appendix Liberation Day" - a day in which he was celebrated by a surgeon he pulled off the golf course as well as the on-call surgery staff and was the honored guest at his very own emergency appendectomy. So yeah, I'm a little paranoid when any of the kids (well, except Sam now) complain of abdominal pain on the right side.

I'm just ready to get some sleep. Without intermittent barfing or Katniss Everdeen and a random burglar visiting my subconscious.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

And Then .... I Broke My Butt

Before I get to the part about my broken hindquarters, first I have to backtrack a bit.

Last summer, midst a flurry of church camp and VBS, an ever-growing and demanding youth group, three kids of my own, and a new school year bearing down on me I was bitten by a spider. A very. nasty. spider.

I woke up on a Sunday morning in July to an itchy spot on my hip. I had worn pajama pants to bed, so I figured it was a particularly ravenous mosquito who had bitten through the fabric. I commented about how bad it itched while I was getting ready for church, put some cream (or ointment or whatever) on it and went on to church. By the time we headed back to church that night for our YouthVBS program, the bite was as big as the diameter of a baseball and oh golly, how it itched. I took a Benadryl before I went to bed and marveled at how I had reacted to the silly thing.

Some time during the night I woke up drenched in sweat and aching all over. I had a house full of kids and I'm not exaggerating on that in the least. I had my three kids, my friend Kasey's three kids, plus her sister's two kids who were in from Tennessee. Kasey is a twin and her sister comes home once a year - I took the kids so they could hang out, so imagine how bad I felt when I had to call her at 8am and tell her I was sick as a dog and Paul was bringing all the kids home ASAP. I called the indian clinic, managed to get the very last same-day appointment with a nurse practitioner (with whom I was about to become very well acquainted with over the next few months). The bite was ugly looking, I felt like I'd been run over, I had a fever, I was nauseous -- needless to say: I was sick.

Abby had been bitten by a brown recluse a few years prior and considering we killed one of the nasty things about every other day somewhere in the old house, I assumed the offending spider was a recluse. The symptoms were the same, the bite looked the same, etc. The NP told me to expect it to form the traditional black spot as my flesh began to *gag* rot at the site of the bite, gave me two shots of steroids in the rear end, oral antibiotics, a prescription for Benadryl, said to drink water until my eyeballs floated and to stay down until I felt better. Two days later I woke up to find myself covered from the top of the head to the tops of my legs in a rash that made me look like I'd been dragged across the carpet for eight or nine hours nonstop. A call to the clinic then put me on oral steroids, more strict bed rest, and so much Benadryl I was *this close* to drooling. In fact, I may have actually drooled. More than once.

The following Sunday after the bite, after seven days of misery and pain, I sent Paul, Kady, and Sam off to church for the evening service while the Abby stayed home with me. I had been feeling funny, just slightly... off.... all day. Then my left arm, hand and fingers, the toes on my left foot and my face went numb. Well, my face was numb, but tingling. It was weeeeeiiiiiirrrrrdd. I called the indian hospital in Claremore, asked if someone could give me some advice before I drove the hour to the hospital for what might be nothing. They said they really weren't allowed to give advice over the phone, but asked what was going on anyway. When I described what was going on, I was patched through to a nurse who said, "Get here. NOW." I explained that I was an hour from the hospital and she said, "Then leave NOW. And get here." Abby flew to the church to get Paul and I called my mom to have her come get the kids and off we went. I had a little emotional meltdown in the car on the way because, as someone with OCD, I tend to imagine the absolute worst in any situation and imagine it often.

They drew blood (took five sticks, ow), examined the bite, called an internist and the final diagnosis was extremely elevated white count, systemic poisoning, definitely not a brown recluse, probably a black widow, the numbness/tingling was my body reacting to the poison, follow up with my primary in three days for a repeat white count. It took six weeks for my white count to return to normal. I was put on Neurontin for the pain that affected only the left side of my body and told that the nerve pain could come and go for as long as three years. She said stress would cause flare ups and also said to be very cautious during flu season because my immune system was pretty well shot.


By October I no longer needed the Neurontin with any regularity. I had a flare-up during the holidays due to stress, plus the remodeling of the new house, plus moving stuff, plus youth group stuff, plus a generally hectic schedule, but I was better.

Then in February I noticed this weird tingling sensation in my lower back on the left side. I immediately assumed it was a nerve flare-up and started back on the medicine. It didn't help. It would itch and burn and tingle, but when I would scratch, I couldn't actually feel it on my skin. When I was picking up a refill at the pharmacy I mentioned offhandedly that I was getting no relief and he got a verbal order from the NP to up my dose. Tripled it actually. Enter my new absent memory and a general foggy feeling in my head for about an hour, three times a day. But itching/burning didn't get immediately better.

It was Shingles.


Actually the whole shingles experience wasn't as bad as I've always heard. It was uncomfortable and I really don't want to do it again, but I never developed the blisters, so there was my little bit of mercy in the whole mess. I really only had two days where I hurt, but I survived.

So now it's April. I had my yearly well-woman exam, my mammogram, and my six-month follow-up for labs and general checkup all in a week's time. Turns out I do not have breast cancer (always a plus), but I'm anemic, my cholesterol is elevated, but my liver and kidneys are doing a good job at whatever their appointed tasks are. My lower left back is still numb/itchy/tingly and she said I may never regain sensation there. Dadgum stupid varicella.

I also mentioned the intense pain in my tailbone. Since last fall I have had a very hard time sitting. Actually the sitting isn't as painful as standing after sitting. My lower back hurts nearly constantly and did I mention my tailbone hurts? Well, it does. She got on to me for wearing crappy shoes, told me to wear good supportive shoes and an orthotic insert and said she wanted to do an x-ray of my lower back and pelvis just for good measure.

The next morning, bright and early, her nurse called to tell me that I was a congenital deformity in my lower back, to wear supportive shoes, and they had mailed me a handout to explain it all. Good-bye and good day.

Say whaaaa? I needed a bit more than that. So I spent the next 24 hours freaking the heck out.

So today I got the handout.

I have lumbar spondylosis. Actually, the spondylosis is no big thang really. Yes, it's degenerative and it's just one more glaring slap in the face that screams, "YOU ARE POSITIVELY ANCIENT, YOU OLD BAT." So that's nice. But it's actually pretty common. The handout they sent says that 80% of people over the age of 40 have it and it, in and of itself, has no real symptoms. It is typically found when they are looking for something else.

And for me, that something else is a pars defect. Yeah. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Pars defect. Say it like you mean it. Beautiful.

Anyway, this is the congenital deformity the nurse mentioned. And I have spent the last five hours Googling it relentlessly. And here are my findings:

My back is broken.

Like, seriously.

It is a break in between vertebrae and is typically found in athletes. HA. Like, I am so not an athlete. Mine is the L4 and L5 vertebrae, as is fairly common. Pretty much it can be a congenital birth defect or it can be from repeated hyper-extension. And since I have yet to be hired by Cirque de Soleil, I'm pretty sure it's a birth defect. Or from playing the bass drum in the marching band. Either way, I'm not supposed to have any high-impact manipulations at the chiropractor. I'm pretty sure this will keep my professional tap dancing career at bay. And also, if this keeps me off of roller coasters I am going to be so. pissed.

Because I have no one to blame, I am going to blame the spider. Pretty much everything bad that happens in my life these past nine months has been blamed on the spider bite - solar flares, my computer's motherboard dying a painful, messy death, the national debt, that time I smeared my toenail polish, and the fact that McRib isn't really pork, but instead gelatinous globs of pork-flavored pasted pressed into a patty thus rendering me physically incapable of eating the one sandwich that made me happy before I started eating cleaner. Yep, all of it. Blaming it on the spider.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

So. Many. Things.

Christmas Eve. Seriously? It's been since Christmas Eve?? I am the world's worst blogger. Okay, not the absolute worst, but pretty bad.

So, what has happened since Christmas Eve? Well, for one thing: Christmas. It was a low-key, frugal, and somewhat bittersweet holiday because it was our very last one in our House on Hudson Creek.

That's right - we moved! After nearly 13 years there on the banks of Hudson Creek, we loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly....Hills, that is. Okay, not Beverly Hills, just the Wyandotte Hills. We moved back to Paul's and my hometown - Wyandotte, OK. We're about 30 minutes from the other house, which means that since my sister and I were neighbors, sadly we are now 30 minutes away from her. We're now about 45 minutes from my Mom and Pops. The distance between us and my Dad hasn't really changed, we're just in a different direction now. It's been an experience, moving with two teens and a tween this time. We had 13 years of accumulated crap, three kids, two dogs, four hamsters and a whole lot of memories to pack up and relocate. The house we moved to was in pretty bad shape per the previous occupants and we did a major overhaul before we moved. We started at the end of November and moved on January 18th. And did I mention we did all of this in the midst of the worst winter Oklahoma has had in a few years? Yeah. That was fun. Fortunately, we picked a great weekend to do it and assembled our amazing family, collaborating the move like a well-oiled machine. We are now across a field from one of Paul's brothers, about a mile from his mother, and less than two miles from the other brother. There are also uncles and nephews in the close vicinity as well. For 20 years of our marriage, we lived closer to my family and Paul never complained. I figured it was time to return the favor. When I was younger (and the kids were younger) I'm not sure I could've lived this far from Mom (Momma's girl, right here, totes guilty), but I'm a big girl now. Some days, anyway.

The week before Christmas my sister and brother-in-law announced the forthcoming addition to the family! They were married on November 1st and pretty much just got busy. We now know that he is a sweet, active, perfectly healthy baby boy and I am just itching to get my hands on him. Because of my sister's clotting disorder she will be induced a week or so before her actual due date, so we are expecting him around the end of July, first of August. The name is a big secret, something I find so very rude (cough cough Heather cough secrets suck cough) but they're enjoying watching us all squirm and try to figure it out. I'm determinedly praying red hair onto that kid.

Paul and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary on New Year's Day. We were exhausted and punch-drunk from packing and remodeling and painting and cleaning (oh, so much cleaning) but we celebrated with the church youth at some friends' house (since ours was full of boxes). The party was scheduled to be over with at 12:30, but those kids party like we old folks do and were ready to go at about 12:05. We didn't go to dinner on our actual anniversary. In fact, I think we just worked on the new house. Now that I think about it...I don't know as if we've ever gotten around to dinner for this anniversary. It's April. Ooops.

I turned 41. We had moved only three days before. The only celebrating was done by way of sleeping in.

Paul and I resigned from our youth ministry positions at our church. We had been feeling an unease of spirit for awhile before we actually resigned. After much prayer, much soul-searching, and plenty of tears, the decision was made. When we sat down with the pastor and made the announcement, nothing but peace followed. We don't miss it, although we miss some of the kids. (Frankly, most of the kids didn't care much for us anyway, not that we were in it to make friends and gain a fan club - we were simply being servants) We have peace. And we have restoration in our health and our marriage as well. It had taken a toll on us both physically and relationship-wise. Probably because at the end we knew we were resisting God's urging to resign and continued longer than we should have. If God chooses to put us back into ministry positions, we will go. If He doesn't, we are okay with that. We have since realized that being called into a ministry position doesn't always mean a lifetime position - sometimes you are called for a season and a reason.

In February I started feeling this weird numbness and tingling on the left, lower side of my back. I figured it was leftover neuropathy from the spider bite because I still suffer from random bouts of pain and numbness/tingling in my face and left arm as a result of that whole debacle. I mentioned it to my favorite pharmacist while picking up my medicine refills one day at the clinic and he said I just needed a higher dose of my nerve pain medicine. He visited with my PA, she tripled my dose, life went on. I mentioned offhandedly to my mom one evening about the tingling/itching/numbness and she said it sounded like Shingles. Yeah. I got the Shingles. It is April and I am just now not feeling like I want to claw off part of my skin all day long.

We are six weeks from the end of school and Abby's graduation celebration. EEEEK.

Last week my dad got a cancer diagnosis, so after the initial shock, a full day of intermittent crying, I am at peace with the news. I am concerned, but not worried. After spending the evening of what I refer to in my head as Diagnosis Day with Dad, I drove home and started crying again. I turned on the radio and found KLOVE. During two songs that will forever be dear to me (just like Chris Tomlin's "I Lift My Hands" will be special to me because of the comfort it gave me when Pops had his stroke) God really impressed upon my heart that my tears were unnecessary and He assured me, His precious daughter, that He was entirely in control of things. I haven't shed a tear of worry over Dad since. I do think we all are realizing the absolute precious nature of life now more than ever.

So now we are settled in, settling down, enjoying life a little more, and I am determined to keep up with the blogging - and writing in general - from now on.


I've said that before.

Someone should hold me to this....

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Gift of Remembrance

The kids and I have been talking quite heavily about gifts the past few weeks. ‘Tis the season for whispered conversations in the utility room, squeals and a flurry of movement as doors are slammed on an offending sibling while the other is wrapping their present. Everyone seems to know exactly how much money they have in their possession and spending limits are taken very seriously: “Mom, if the limit is $20, is that $20 before tax or after?”

When the kids were little my husband and I bought the gifts for the kids to give each other. It was easier than trying to take two toddlers and a preschooler to Walmart and make a somewhat pathetic attempt at secrecy. We found it exponentially simpler to go buy color books, hair bows, new markers, a new piece of furniture for the dollhouse and stick it under the tree ourselves. 

Now we have two teens and a tween. One drives. My life should’ve just gotten a whole lot of simpler. Then Oklahoma decided to have the snowiest winter in YEARS. Abby’s S-10 pickup doesn’t do so well on the ice rink of a road to our house, so for the past few weeks she's been borrowing my 4WD Durango to do her errands, thus leaving me sitting home not buying presents. Although, the deal was, if I allowed her to use my car, she must take a sibling with her so they could do their shopping as well. I was kind of proud of myself for using that little bargaining tool.

I guess there will never be an “easy” Christmas shopping season for us. When they were little it was a task to keep track of what action figure, Barbie, or Kidz Bop CD they had and pray as I stood in the checkout line that I wasn’t buying a repeat. (If I barely had time to shop before Christmas how on earth was I going to find time after to stand in the return line?) Now I find myself trying to remember if that boy child of mine has a particular tomahawk, knife or military issue whatever. I’m nearly going mad what with trying to remember if girly teen girl’s favorite sweater is more of an aqua or a teal so I can buy her coordinating earrings and bracelets. And we can’t forget the hormonally charged tween who has a shoe size larger than her older sister’s, but feet freakishly narrow and shaped like a rabbit’s foot -- and has only asked for shoes and boots this year.

These years will be fleeting, I know this. In the near future, Christmas gifts will morph into gas cards, mixers, toaster ovens, maybe making a car payment during the holiday season when they themselves are struggling to find the Lego set that every other parent is also searching for - and come up with the money to buy it. I will long for the days of re-decorating the tree after the kids go to bed. I will dream of icing and sprinkles and colored sugar on every surface of my kitchen. I will miss the days of last-minute runs to Walmart for batteries – or 7am runs to a convenience store for batteries when the days before Christmas found us exhausted and scatter-brained and absolutely certain that we had plenty of batteries in the cabinet.

We are creating a new tradition this year. It’s called “together”. We are a homeschooling family and typically spend a lot of time together anyway, but this year on Christmas Eve, the cell phones are going off, the iPads and iPods and smart phones will be put away (if only for a few hours) while we make cookies and cake balls, watch Elf and A Christmas Story (for the umpteenth time) and Christmas Vacation  (something the kids have never seen - I'm such a bad mother) while this momma soaks up every single minute of Christmas 2013. I will commit to memory every single giggle, snarky remark, thrown ball of cookie dough, obnoxious burp, joke, snort and awkward teenage sibling hug. 

 And someday when I am snuggling my own grandchildren, I will remember.

Oh yes, I will remember. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Today You Are 12

My dear, sweet Kady Bugg,

Today you turn 12 years old. I don't even know how that happened. You are growing up way too fast! But it seems you've always been in a hurry and definitely apt to doing things your own way. You tried to come into this world way before you were ready and after a sincere heart-to-heart, you were convinced to stay in and cook awhile longer. Then, when it was okay for you to go ahead and make your entrance you were like, "Nah, I'm good. I'll just hang around here awhile longer." Oh, my Kady....I think you just wanted to make sure you had our attention.

Your Papa Leo used to get such a kick out of you because you've always wanted to do the things your older siblings and cousins were doing. Even as a toddler, you weren't about to let your age or size get in the way of you doing something that looked fun. You've always kept me on my toes.

I have always had anxiety about your safety for some reason. Maybe it's because we had a scare where we thought I had miscarried you before we had even fully gotten used to the fact we were even having you. Then we dodged a bullet when you didn't come as early as you wanted to. It seems like I've spent your whole entire existence just trying to contain you.  I am learning that containing the exuberant and hilarious windstorm named Kady is just nigh impossible. And I'm learning to be okay with that.

I know I tell you to "rest your voice" a lot. Truth be told, you sometimes wear my ears plumb out, kiddo. I seriously don't know where on earth you get the energy to speak that  many words in a single day. But can I also tell you a secret? I wouldn't have you any other way. On the nights you're not at home? I miss your words. Your daddy and your sister don't talk much at all. Your brother speaks in fits and starts. But definitely got your words and ability to speak them with great volume from me.

So, baby girl, speak those words that bubble up inside you. Speak them loudly and with passion! Even if I tell you to rest your voice occasionally, please don't ever - for even one second - think that I am telling you to stop speaking. Speak loudly for what you love and believe in. Forever. But sometimes my ears need to rest. My heart doesn't...but my ears. Oy vey.

If I can wish one thing for this coming year it's that I hope you and your brother get along soon. I hope you find a friendship that only a brother and sister can have. I love and adore your Yaya, my own sister, but I always kinda wished for a brother, too. I wouldn't trade her for the world, but I hope you soon realize what a gift you have in a big brother. He would walk across hot coals for you, little sister. He'd probably ask you to reimburse him for the cost of his medical bills later, but he'd still walk 'em for ya.

You two used to get along. See?  

Oh and that big sister of yours? Trust me when I say that I totally get how she is sometimes. If you'll remember, I'm a big sister, too. Ask your Yaya. I used to be pretty awful to her. There's this thing called "Growing Up" that you'll both do and I hope and pray with all that is in me that you two girls will have the amazing relationship that my sister and I share. Go easy on her, even when she's not that easy to extend grace to. She's got a lot on her plate right now. Be patient. Love her through it. It will be worth it.

Sweet Kady Bugg, you are simply one of the best things to even happen in my life. I've said it many times and will say it many more: We never knew how badly we needed a Kady in our lives until we had one. 

Now life would be totally weird without you. Of course, sometimes life is pretty weird with you in it as well.

 You've brought glamour into our world.
And a fair share of drama and tears. 

You're far more social than your siblings and make friends easily. I got so tickled on the second week of  homeschool co-op when a mom walked into the parent room and asked, "Okay, so who does this KadyBugg belong to? Because she seems to be somewhat of a celebrity around here!" I'm glad you are well-liked and friendly. Kids and adults alike seem to see something special in you. You're amazing.

You are a sweet, kind spirit and you're not afraid of much. You have an amazing talent with babies and little kids. I don't know what it is about you, but they are all drawn to you. You're like a sassy Pied Piper with braces and big feet.

I'm so proud of you and I am enjoying this adventure of getting to be your mom.

You make me laugh, you make me want to scream, you make me proud, you make me glad I'm your mom.

Happy Birthday, Bugg!

I luzz you.