Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gone but Not Forgotten and I Might Still Be a Tad Bitter About It

This morning while checking in on my Twitter BFF's I found a link to a post by Crash Test Mommy about the childhood toys her momma sold in a garage sale. And posts like that, steeped in nostalgia with a tinge of "MOM? WHY?" always get me *right here*. And what woman in her late thirties doesn't have a few of those toys she wishes were still sitting around rotting in the attic? None I know personally, so it might really just be me and Crash Test Mommy.

Like all moms, my mother had to weed out the toys from time to time. It was - and is - a task better done on days when the kids are at school, otherwise the day is filled with whines and cries, wailing and gnashing of teeth, as the child vehemently pleads for the life of their toy, all the while exclaiming, "But it's my FAAAAAVorite! I'll play with it EVERY DAY! I promise!" Oh yes, it's ages old.

I bear no ill will towards my mother, whatsoever. I'm pretty sure my girls are going to be very upset someday that I boxed up all the Barbies last year and shipped them off to a friend down my Oklahoma City. Oh well. They can disappoint their children in the same way someday.

So without further ado, the toys I miss the most from my childhood are:

1. The Tree Tots - As the box so boasted they were "Your friends from the magic forest".  Heck yeah! Any family that could make a home as 1970's luxurious as that one certainly had to be magic. they had an ELEVATOR, people! That's pretty high-tech for forest friends.

And weren't they just the fanciest dressin' group you ever saw? Dad in his striped shirt and polka dotted tie....Momma in her apron....*cough cough gender sterotypes cough cough* And what do you want to bet the dog's name was Spot?

2. The Tree Tots Amusement Park -- Because you can't stay in the magic forest forever. You have to come out occasionally and go partake of fried cheese on a stick, ostrich burgers and other carnival food. Now, one might think I'm still a little hung up over the Tree Tots and one might actually be correct, but I just don't think you're grasping the awesomeness of this playset. For one thing, what kid hasn't envisioned themselves living in a tree - especially a tree that's whole top lifts up and exposes your house to the world! I mean, it was probably our introduction to the voyueristic society we live in today. The Tree Tots might possibly have been the gateway toy to reality TV. Just sayin'.

Sis and I LOVED this amusement park because you could reconfigure the thing in as many ways as you could possibly imagine. The possibilites were limitless! One crank ran the whole thing and there was a charmingly annoying bell that dinged while you cranked. I remember the airplane swings being my favorite part because I'd turn that crank as fast as I could and make those planes stand straight out, hopefully giving those tree-dwellers the time of their plastic lives. It was my first lesson in centrifugal force.

3. The Disney Romper Room Mickey Mouse Club FOR WEEBLES!!!!! -- It had lights! and a camera! so you could shout "ACTION!" and pretend that you had creative control over Mickey and the gang while they romped about all Romper-Room-ish. And the bleachers! Just like the real Club members sat on! The club house came with a mat and because of my early compulsive tendencies the house had to sit exactly in the spot it was supposed to. Sis could play with the mat on her stinkin' head or in the next room, but man, for me the house had to be in the right spot for the universe to not be thrown off-kilter. And I really liked the flag pole seat thing - you put a Weeble in, let go and it would shimmy down. Pluto went down it best.

4. A Metal Dollhouse - Now, I have talked to both Mom and Sis this morning and none of us can remember exactly whose dollhouse that was. We all seem to remember it coming at Christmas and it made it's appearance at Nan's house, but who was the recipient we have no idea. Sis and I both remember playing with it and fighting over it, but then, we did that with everything - including air. Regardless, the thing was magical. No, not like Tree Tots magical, but more like metal dollhouse magical. The furniture was very "fancy", four-poster beds, armoirs, claw-foot tubs....it all seemed so regal. However, the folks who lived in the ol' metal dollhouse pretty much looked like hobos. I think someone shaved a mouse and then Elmer's glued the fur to their plastic heads. The dad's hair looked like the guy's in Dumb and Dumber. (Jeff Daniels, not Jim Carey) Their clothes looked like someone had wrapped scraps of material around various body parts and hot glued it together. I don't think their clothes were actually constructed as like a dress or a suit. They were white trash rednecks living in a victorian house. Don't you know the neighbors were livid? I'm sure the Tree Tots loved them because they were all hippie and stuff, but I'm pretty sure the Weebles and Barbies thought they were better than them.

5. Baby Alive -- How could you not love a doll that poos and pees? Well, I mean when you're six. When you're 37 it just isn't quite the same, but man, when you're six a pooin' and peein' dolly is just the ultimate in mommy-ness. I loved her so much. I loved feeding her, burping her, rocking her, changing her......and then she broke. I don't know if her gears stripped, her bolts broke or maybe I just fed her too dang much, but for whatever reason Baby Alive quit eating. And if she quit eating she would soon be Baby Not-So-Much Alive Anymore. I was devastated. Then one Saturday morning I found my father in the office/utility room sitting at the big desk at the end of the room (the desk where his CB radio sat) (I had a handle - did you?) with the light shining over something he was working intently on. He turned around and held Baby Alive out to me and joy flooded my little six-year-old heart! She wouldn't become Baby Not-So-Much Alive Anymore after all! Granted, she now had a big black button on top of her head - a big black button like you would push if you were in a game show shouting "NO WHAMMIES!". Yes. Seriously. From then on you would plug a spoonful of "peas" in her mouth, then push the button on her head to make her eat. She still pooped like a pro, though, without any mechanical aid whatsoever.

I'm pretty sure that one didn't make it to a garage sale. No one could've loved a doll with a big black button her head as much as I did.

Let me take a moment here to praise my mother, though. Mom did save my Barbies, My Little Ponies and Strawberry Shortcakes. I'm sure she did that because those were the toys Sis and I played with most and she knew held the most memories. HOWEVER, I don't think any of us knew that some day in the far off future those Barbies, colored plastic ponies and fruit-scented dolls would be essentially rendered useless and downright gross because eventually the plastic in those things breaks down or something (probably leaking out carcinogenic slime and toxic residue because we all know the 70's and 80's should've killed every single one of us). My Barbies all have hair that is no longer luxuriously blonde tresses, but instead is one big melty-looking tress. As in singular. It's like someone held Barbie's head over the stovetop and well, melted her hair. The My Little Ponies also have the melty hair and their bodies are slimy. Like someone dipped each one in a vat of vegetable oil. All of my Strawberry Shortcakes appear to be going through chemotherapy - they're all going bald. When Kady gets the box out to play with them occasionally I find her standing over the trashcan shaking gobs of plastic doll hair into it.

Ahh....Memory Lane.....littered with broken plastic doll limbs, egg-shaped characters who wobble, ponies with tattoos on their flanks and hippies who live in a tree. 


Monday, September 27, 2010

Help Wanted

A little over a month ago I came about as close to desperation as I have ever been in my life. For two weeks prior I had been having an irregular heart rhythm that wasn't painful, but just there. I'd be going along fine then instead of the usual "thump thump thump" my heart would go "thump thump THUMPTHUMPTHUMP". It was certainly enough to make me notice. And the longer it went on the more I noticed it and the more I was convinced I was dying. Like, literally dying.

See.....I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Of course, I didn't know that then. I just thought I was dying.

I know I've joked around on here probably since the birth of the blog about how I alphabetize my canned goods and books and eat my M&M's by color and number, things I've done since childhood, but there's more to OCD than having a neat pantry and a spotless house. (By the way, I do not  have a spotless house. Just in case you were wondering.) The alphabetizing is the "C" of it. The "O" part is the obsessiveness, the inability to stop thinking about something once it's wormed it's way into your mind. It's horrifying. It's paralyzing. It's cruel.

My little sister was diagnosed with OCD several years back when she was having obsessive thoughts that something was going to happen to her kids. She was completely convinced she would lose them, that something bad would happen to them. My cousin laid in bed one night and convinced herself she had bone cancer. Another night she was 100% positive she had a blood clot in her arm. These two women are very close to me and as they told me these stories I was sympathetic and said, "Oh honey, bless your heart," but .... until you have laid in the dark at 3am and planned out your funeral, have started writing letters to your children so they won't forget you when you're gone, have envisioned in your head the Highway Patrolman coming to the door to tell you your husband was in an accident and didn't make it. Or had the recurring thought that because you looked away for 30 seconds and didn't see your kids step onto that bus that morning you have somehow caused the bus to wreck on the way to school ..... you cannot for one second be as sympathetic as you need to be.

I hate going to the doctor and because I use the Native American Tribal Healthcare System for my medical needs it is sometimes a crapshoot getting in to see a doctor unless you have a severed limb or chest pains - and believe me when I say I was considering telling someone, anyone who would listen, that my chest hurt. I  needed to see a doctor and I needed to see one soon.

I managed to be the first one through the door on my second attempt at an appointment. That was totally a God thing - He knew how badly I needed to see someone. The RN who triaged me was concerned at the heart rhythm and got the doctor to order an EKG immediately. It showed nothing abnormal whatsoever. I kind of knew it would. See, I did this same thing roughly 17 years ago - irregular heartrate, elevated blood pressure, crying jags, etc. - and after an EKG and an echocardiogram was told I had a healthy heart, was suffering from panic attacks, was given a prescription for Xanax and sent on my not-so-merry way. Eventually life evened out (ie, we got pregnant) and I was fine. I never even refilled the prescription. So even though I was conviced I was dying, I knew the EKG would be normal. Because I knew what this was - anxiety.

The doctor came in, listened very intently to my ramblings and said, "We got this. This we can handle. You knew when you came in that OCD runs in your family. You are experiencing an undue amount of upheaval in your life right now. You not only have OCD, but also Situational Anxiety which gangs up on your General Anxiety Disorder. Now, here's what we're going to do for you..."

And right then I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. He didn't think I was a nutjob. He didn't think I was insane. He didn't even think I was weak. His words were, "You're not broken. You just need some help right now." Those were the exact words my sister comforted me with days before - "You just need some help right now."

I struggled for a few minutes with the diagnosis of what is a "mental illness", but I for once didn't dwell on it. I knew I needed help, know I still do and I'm going to be okay. I'm not insane, I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that needs some balancing. In order to be a better wife, mother, person in general, at this point in my life I need help.

My help right now comes firstly from my God who is strengthening me daily. He is the Great Physician and I know He will see me through. My second help is in the form of a daily medication (an SSRI used to treat depression and also OCD) and an additional one for the attacks that creep up on me out of nowhere. I feel so much better. I was worried the medicine would disable my ability to feel anything and I'd be an emotionless zombie, but now I just feel life. I can still cry. I can still laugh - in fact I laugh so much more than I did. I don't walk around with my fists clenched and my jaw locked. My teeth don't hurt from being gritted continually. My blood pressure is lower. My husband is happier. My kids are happier.

I am happier.

Friday, September 10, 2010

She's Nearly Nine

I've been sick the last couple days and have pretty much sequestered myself to the bedroom away from the rest of the family. This is hard for me since I'm usually all up in everyone's grills and stuff, telling them what to do, cooking for them, making them cry over helping them study spelling words and other "momma" type stuff. The first night I laid out in the bed and in my feverish haze would holler instructions and orders interspersed with pleas for ice water and Tylenol.

So since my fever broke this morning and I felt like a human again, albeit a human with a nagging cough and a minorly sore throat still, I came out of hiding and spent the evening with my family. I didn't cook. In fact, I'm pretty sure Abby had potato chips for dinner and Kady had popcorn. I don't have a clue what Sam ate. We watched Valentine's Day first and after it took a break to go play in the yard with the dog. Then we all met up again in the living room and decided to break out a vintage movie I recorded off of The Movie Channel quite awhile back, Mask. You know, the one with a very young Cher and a smoking hot Sam Elliott and Eric Stoltz, about the boy with the rare disease that disfigured his face. Yeah, that one.

Normally, I'm a cry-er, y'all know that, but I'm taking some medication that is well, making me less of a cry-er these days. (Yeah, there's a big ol' blog post a'brewin' about it, trust me.) I'm not sure I like it, but it sure does make watching sappy movies easier on my sinuses and my eyes are far less puffy the next day. Kady is my partner in cry - if I bawl during a movie, she will crawl up in my lap with a box of tissue and we'll sniffle through the final scenes, making all the rest of the family members roll their eyes at us. We are cry-ers. Just like Truvy said in Steel Magnolias, "I have a strict policy - no one cries alone in my presence."

Tonight I did cry, but not my usual sobbing, hic-hic-hic, snot everywhere kind of cry, just a few sniffles and some tears. Kady, however, bawled her little face off. It has been a long week, our schedule has been off because I've been sick and it was after 10. She was absolutely exhausted, which only added to the drama in her crying. She finally calmed down only to say, "And you know what? (hic hic) We watched a stupid STUPID movie today in school!"

Well, of course, I had to ask what on earth kind of movie would merit two stupids in the description and she answered, "It was about that day. (sniff sniff) You know...." Her voice got quieter. "....you know.....that day." I didn't know what day she was talking about, actually, so I asked her to clarify. "You know, Momma....September 11th. When those towers fell." And the crying began again in earnest.

I patted the couch in front of me and opened my arms. She barreled off the chair she was in and dove into me, sobbing. I smoothed her hair and wiped the tears and said, "I do know that day, actually. I remember it very well. Wanna know why?" She looked up and nodded. "I was sick. I had four -itises!"

"You had four what?" She giggled and sniffed, wiping a tear on my shirt.

"I had otitis." I pointed to her ear. "I had sinusitis." I pointed her her nose. "I had pharyngitis." I tickled her neck. "And I had bronchitis!" and I tickled her chest. When the giggling subsided she said, "Wow. That is a lot of -itises!" I answered, "Yeah. And? I was pregnant with you! So I couldn't take a lot of medicine. I pretty much just laid in the recliner all miserable and let your brother and sister go wild." She laughed.

Pushing her hair behind her ear I said, "And we were watching Blue's Clues when the towers fell." She looked up at me, one tear threatening to spill. "I sat in my chair and rubbed my belly, where you were, and hugged your brother and sister a lot - and I cried a lot, too. And it's okay to cry now, too. Sissy, in the midst of all the bad that happened that day, there was good, too." She looked up at me, cocked one eyebrow up and said, "Huh? There was no good in that video, Momma. None."

I answered, "That one day brought all of us together. There were no rich people, no poor people, no black people, no white people. We were all just people. The people in New York were covered in ash that day and no one could tell what color anyone else was. No one saw anyone else's clothes. People helped other people. People saved other people. Peopled prayed. People died, but....people also lived. We weren't just people that day, we were Americans."

She looked up at me and said, "You mean there weren't Democrats and Republicans?" I laughed and said, "No, Sis. On that day, the Democrats and Republicans got along and it didn't matter who was who." Leave it to her to bring politics into any conversation.

She put her arms around my neck and said, "Momma, I know every year you read us Bravemole* on September 11th, but maybe this year.....maybe we should skip it. I'm not sure you and I need to cry that much tomorrow. You know that one even makes Abby cry."

"Oh honey, this story should make us all cry."

*If you have never read the story of Bravemole you need to find a copy. It is a fabulous way to talk about 9/11 in a way children can understand..........Well, as much as anyone can understand.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Cherishing on Labor Day

I have the day off today. So do the kids. I slept until 9:30, made French toast then retired to my room for what I thought would be a quiet day of blogging, writing and picture organization. See, my husband, in an effort to cheer me up out of the blues that had threatened to overtake me lately, bought me a gorgeous new quilt for the bed, new shams, sheets and pillowcases. My bed has eight pillows on it and it beckons to me constantly. I really do *heart* my bed. I go to it often.

But instead of a day of peace and pillow-filled tranquility, my daughters have decided to be all up in my business. I keep telling myself to cherish these moments because all too soon they'll be gone, grown up and married with annoying children of heir own. Yep, I keep on telling myself that. A lot.

Just a few minutes ago Abby took a kleenex from the box and said, "OooooOOOOoohhh! Do you want to see my magic trick? Dooooooo youuuuuuuu?" Without looking up from the computer I said, "Uhm....no. No magic trick. Go away." Then she waved the kleenex in my face and said, "I'm going to perform my magic trick annnnnnywayyyyyyyyy." Then, using her kleenex covered hand, she took my glasses off my face and said, "OooooOOOOoooooh! I made your glasssssssessssss disappeeeeeeeeear! Wherrrrrrre areeeeee theyyyyyyyyy? No one knowwwwwwwwwws!"


Kady just announced, "Hey, Mom. Mom! When I grow up I'm going to be a weather girl."

I said, "Well, then I hope you like math because your Yaya was going to be a meterologist and she had a LOT of math classes in college."

She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Okay then. I'll be a blacksmith."



Oh, I'm cherishing.

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...