Friday, November 25, 2011

Good-bye and .... Hello Again

I've been blogging since June 4, 2004, a fact I find hard to believe at times. I can't believe I've been blogging seven-and-a-half years. I look back at those early posts and I cringe. I was young and my kids were so little! My marriage was shaky at best and life was so much different that it is now. Now I'll soon be celebrating the last birthday of my 30's. I have two teenagers, my youngest is in her next-to-the-last year of elementary and my marriage is stronger than it has ever been.

My mom used to shake her head at the blog. She worried. Her early-morning television viewing showcased too many stories of women who had met someone on the internet and were then found months later, chopped into pieces and stuffed into 55-gallon drums, buried in some crazy's backyard. I guess she thought I had a bigger audience than I really did. Back in the beginning I shared a lot of personal information that, looking back, I should not have. I had a foul mouth and it spilled over into my writing. I trash-talked my husband and griped about everything. I wasn't a very positive person.

Fortunately, around 2008 I experienced a change in my life. While God has been a part of my life since birth and I have been a born-again Christian since I was seven, I certainly didn't act like He was a part of anything I did. In 2008 I rededicated my life and began an earnest attempt at living better, living right and doing everything for the glory of God. I undertook the painstaking process of removing all the f-bombs, s-words and other un-pretty words from the blog so as not to be a stumbling block to my children, the people who read my blog and mainly because I felt like I should.

A few years ago MySpace came on the scene and I got one. I spent a stupid amount of time changing my background, answering polls and searching for people I went to high school with. Then I heard about this Facebook thing and I wasn't intrigued in the least. I heard it was pretty utilitarian and you couldn't customize your page like you could with MySpace. For some reason, I liked the bling that went with having a page of "social media".  Then one day I caved and decided to check out Facebook.

That's when my blogging went to pot.

It's a time suck. It's a distraction in the worst way. It's addicting. And I'm's rarely used for good. I can sit here and say with a red face that I have literally wasted entire days doing nothing more than hanging around on Facebook. My kids were not paid attention to, my husband was ignored, my house was a wreck, we ate a lot of cereal for dinner and I became an observer to all of my 300+ friends' lives. For what?

Seriously. For what?

I have "friends" on my list who have literally made eye contact with me in Walmart and not spoken to me, turned the other way like I was invisible. It happened to me twice in one shopping trip. I have "friends" on my facebook who have started rumors about me. There are "friends" on Facebook who have trashed their "friends" while all their "friends" played judge and jury. Marriages have been ruined because of Zuckerberg's brain child. Lifelong friendships have been tossed aside because a "friend" smarted off on someone's wall and someone else got involved, whether invited or not. Lies are spread. Information is misconstrued. Jobs have literally been lost because of Facebook behavior. Facebook posts hold up in court, people. They hold up and they hold up bigtime.

We have become a society of passive-aggressive social idiots. We are losing the ability to communicate with one another face-to-face. The telephone took some of it away years ago. Email took more. Facebook is destroying it completely.

I've been threatening since Spring that I was going to delete my Facebook page. I decided to leave it until after my class reunion because, honestly, it was incredibly helpful in finding and communicating with classmates and putting together the reunion was made much easier. Then the reunion came and went and I kept my page. I have become increasingly more and more convicted about my use of Facebook lately and it weighs very heavily on me. I find myself more and more these days picking up my phone and calling people, even when Facebooking them would be easier. I also find myself loathing text messaging more and more every day, too.

We hide behind our devices. We avoid person-to-person contact. It's easier to be mean while typing than it is when we're standing in front of a person. We get involved in arguments and situations we should stay out of - and we would stay out of if we weren't sticking our noses in everyone's Facebook page.

I am a youth leader in my church. The kids in our youth group, save four, have Facebook pages. Sure, it's very easy to communicate with them through the site, but it's not worth it. I have their phone numbers. I know where they live. I don't need Facebook.

So I still have my account active for right now. I set up a page for our church awhile back and post things to it, but I'm thinking the pastor is internet-savvy enough he can do those updates as needed. The clock is ticking and soon.... I will be Facebook-free.

And I will not miss it.

I have, however, missed my blog. I've missed writing in general. I've missed out on a lot. I might miss out on some information, I might miss out on some news, but I will also miss out on the drama. That seems incredibly refreshing at this point.

I will miss my Farmville, though. I'll miss my imaginary cows and my imaginary crops and my imaginary pink tractor, but seriously? I have three kids and a husband who have been missing me more. They are real. They are mine. They are important. It's time to give up the thing keeping me from being as real as I need to be.

And who needs an imaginary farm when you have this?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

And here it is....November

Back in May we left the church we had been attending for just over a year. We made a smooth transition to another church with nary a Sunday off. The church we attend now is the first church I ever attended as a toddler. It's a small country church and always has been small, even at its biggest. Some years have been better, some not so great, but the doors of the church never closed - even when just over a year ago, there were 10 people attending and five of those were the pastor and his family. Now we average 80-something in Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible study sees 65-70 people as a general rule.

I have always had a heart for youth and at every other church we have attended, was never used in that capacity (or any capacity for that matter, but I'm not bitter). I began to doubt the desire I felt God had put in me, began to think I had misinterpreted what I felt so deeply in my soul. All five of us were discouraged that we had left yet another church and felt like we were wandering aimlessly.

Enter Hudson Creek Baptist Church.

We started attending there mid-May and the third week of June I was packed up and headed for my first week of camp as a sponsor (that week was Children's Camp, grades 4-6). By the second week (Youth Camp, grades 7-12), the pastor was already talking about Paul and I taking over the youth group some time in the future. About three weeks after that, while standing in the LifeWay store with the pastor and his wife, waiting to pay for our purchases, the pastor looked at Paul and I and said, "Oh and by the way, you're going to start teaching the Youth Sunday School class, right?" It really wasn't a question, more of a statement, and Brother Jerry said it so assumingly that either the statement itself or the look on my face amused the clerk so much he laughed out loud.

And so it was decided - Paul and I had officially become the Youth leaders.

When the new church year started, we split the Youth kids out of the Older Children Sunday School class and moved into our teeny tiny room just off the church office with bright red (hideous) carpet, two cinder block and two paneled walls and an abandoned church pew from the old sanctuary. We had about 11 kids that first Sunday. We average about six now. But Wednesday and Sunday nights our Youth come crawling out the woodwork to see what crazy stuff we've cooked up for them to do, witness or be subjected to. We've since painted the room so it's less dismal and have added some posters, a bulletin board and a white board which is the focal point of the room and usually covered in grafitti, names, hearts, stars and declarations of God's love, written by these kids who can smell a dry erase marker a mile away and are inexplicably drawn to them.

We average 11 kids on Wednesday nights and have had as many as 17. We've thrown rubber ducks at each other in a game meant to illustrate focus. We've snorted at each other in an attempt to make our peers laugh. We've played some very violent games of Red Rover and Cat & Mouse tag. We've wandered a corn maze with 23 kids. Paul and I spent an hour one night paintstakingly emptying a can of Sprite of its contents without breaking the seal on the pop tab then refilling the can with Coke as an illustration on judging things and people from the outside. I also sucked the insides out of a Twinkie and refilled it with ketchup and mayonnaise for the same illustration. We discovered that, unlike my youth group when I was a teen, this particular group of teens does not enjoy a rousing game of "King Frog", which leaves us scratching our head and wondering WHY? because, dudes, that game rocks. We've played many a "Minute to Win It" game. We've stayed up all night at a lock-in and plan on doing it again on New Year's Eve. We've answered texts asking for prayer after Midnight. We've listened to kids cry, gripe, whine, complain and argue. We've had our hearts broken by their disrespectfulness. We've laughed until our stomachs hurt. We've taught the unfailing, inerrant Word of God and learned many things in the process. We've opened our home to any number of them on any given weekend. We've been invited into their lives, something we've learned is an act of highest honor to a teen. We've taken the "Sword Drills" of old and turned them into Bible Trivia Smack Challenge: Extreme Church Edition. We've watched more football games this year than we have in all of our years of marriage because with a couple football players, three band members, a couple of cheerleaders and some on the dance team, we show up to see "our" kids do their thing. We've gone the cafeteria to eat lunch with them a few times, reliving our days of cafeteria corn dogs, cold tater tots and cartons of milk. We've been frustrated beyond measure, cried many tears, laughed at their antics, gotten more hugs and "thank you's" than we ever dreamed and even though yes, we have had times of doubt still that maybe we'd misinterpreted the calling, God quickly shows us that we are right where we are supposed to be.

It's exhausting. It's time-consuming. It's frustrating. It's difficult. It's fun. It's hilarious. It's rewarding. It's .....

It's one of the best things God has ever allowed us to do.

So when I break the cardinal rule of blogging and give excuse for my lack of posting and frequent absences, just know I think of you often, Constant Reader, and know that you're still out there somewhere. Hopefully your patience hasn't worn too thin. I am doing my best to find a balance for everything in my life right now - Christian, wife, mother, Youth Leader, Independent Sales Consultant for Thirty-One, babysitter extraordinaire and anything else my kids and husband throw my way. We're gearing up for our display at the Park of Lights (after a year off). We're trying to schedule our many family holiday gatherings and dinners. And somewhere in there I have to sleep. Some nights that works better than others.

I write a lot of blog posts in my head as I'm shuffling laundry from one machine to the other, while I'm scrubbing the soap scum from the shower walls and driving from one end of the county to the other, but when I finally get a moment to sit down....writing them with my actual fingers slips away as does my consciousness.....

.....but I'm working on it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mobile Blogging

Really, this is just a test post from my iPod because I got the Blogger app and want to see if it works.

This.....yes, *this* is how exciting my life really is

Be jealous.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Van-tastrophe

Vehicles are kind of a sensitive subject for a lot of people. You have your Ford people, your Chevy people, your Jeep folks and then, the really amazing ones who are Dodge people. (Yes, we're Dodge people. Why do you ask?) There are some who are brand-loyal and some who drive whatever Consumer Reports says is best. Some drive beaters that are so environmentally unfriendly they are on the EPA's Most Wanted list and some, like my parents, who drive those hybrid ninja cars that make no sound and I never know they've driven up my 1/10 mile driveway until they knock on my door, scaring me to pieces and making me holler "Wait a minute!" while I scurry to find a bra.

Now, before I start this and you all immediately think I'm a whiner, please know that I truly do recognize my blessings. I really do. I know that there are a lot of people out there without homes, much less vehicles, but please indulge me a moment if you will.

When we got married in 1993, myself on the verge of turning 20, I was still driving the car my parents had given me at age 16 - a 1986 Chevy Cavalier that was still sporting the badly crackled paint job, the dent in the rear driver's side door where I crunched into Jerry Friend's pickup bumper in the school parking lot my Senior year and there was literally a brick holding the driver's seat in an upright position. I ran her out of oil once and still she kept on doin' her thing. She was a good car. When it got to the point where I had to put a quart of oil in her every single day, we decided to let her go. A family friend who owned a car lot gave us $2000 trade-in on her and boy, was that generous.

We traded the Cavalier for a 1989 Ford Tempo. A two-door Ford Tempo. And for a Ford, it was a good little car -- until we had our first child in 1996 and crawling in the back seat to buckle in a carrier carseat got real old real quick. We made do until  May 1997, then we drove to Tulsa to the car lot where my cousin worked and he finagled us a decent deal on a 1993 Mercury Sable. It was a spunky little car with a ginormous motor. That motor meant nothing to me, personally, but it was always a topic of conversation with Paul who took great joy in showing people how much space the engine took up under the hood.

In December 2001 we had our third child. The formerly spacious back seat of my car suddenly shrunk. Trying to get a forward-facing car seat, a rear-facing car seat with a base and a booster seat all crammed safely into that car became something requiring just short of an engineering degree. In March 2002, after literal tears from me, we decided we needed a minivan.

It was hard on me. It didn't bother Paul very much at all. Of course not -- he had just traded off the fancy new truck he had driven off the lot with 17 miles on the odometer for a big ol' honkin' Chevy pickup with dual exhaust that would rattle the fillings in your teeth. He wasn't compromising his manliness, his youthfulness, for a.....a....minivan. I found myself at 29 years old, a mother of three and sentenced to an eternal life of carpooling, chauferring and hauling. Granted, I'd have done all those things in a car as well, but there was just such a stigma attached to driving a minivan.

We found a 1998 Chevy Astro Van, a gigantic box of a thing, built on a truck chassis and capable of hauling approximately 742 people. Okay, I kid - it seated eight. I think it could've hauled a regular minivan around in it, strapped next to one of my kids in their carseats. It was a monster and definitely NOT a minivan. It took me about two days to fall desperately, madly in love with that ugly monstrosity. And I drove it until the back door would no longer open, the driver's window would no longer roll down (made ATM's and drive-thru's always fun) and Paul was worried the transmission was going to shift so hard one day we'd leave it behind us on the highway. I mourned the loss of the Astro before it was even gone, because I knew he  meant business. He was bound and determined to get me a new vehicle. I whined. I bulled up. I pouted. I griped. I begged. I pleaded. He wouldn't budge.

Then one day he called me and with an excited tone in his voice told me he had found me a minivan. I was less than happy. I said, "Fine. I'll come drive it, but I refuse to like it. No matter what." It was a shiny red 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan. A little old couple had driven it to and from the grocery store and church (sounds so silly, but it's true!) and it was in immaculate shape. I scoffed at the light tan interior, imagining the McNugget crumbs and melted suckers that would soon adorn it. I grumbled at the leather seats which were cold on my rump. I grumbled more when the salesman flipped the switch to the bun warmers, thus promptly toasting my backside, certain that I would end up with 2nd degree burns when they shorted out. I said I hated the dual sliding doors. I said the Astro only had one, why would I need two? Hmph. We took it home for the weekend to drive it. We ended up selling the Astro over that weekend, so ..... yeah, that next Monday we bought that stupid Caravan.

And now, here I am nearly five years later, pre-emptively mourning the loss of her. She's got new creaks and thumps, the air conditioner/heater is tempermental at best, she's got 160-some-thousand miles on her, she's 12 years old now, she smells like sweaty socks (probably because for some reason the kids like to leave sweaty socks in her overnight when she's all shut up).....I guess it's time. I hadn't fully admitted to Paul it was time, though, until last week. I have been quietly contemplating a new vehicle, mostly because with a new (to me) vehicle also will come a car payment and after three years of being totally debt-free, this causes me stress. Dave Ramsey himself says car payments are unacceptable debt. I know this. But we haven't really stuck to that whole "pay yourself first" thing because heck, we're doing good to tithe, pay the bills and clothe the kids these days, much less set aside any for an impending vehicle purchase. It's totally our fault. We know this. So we'll have a car payment and we'll survive. We just won't like it.

So, the other day, when I saw a brand spankin' new, probably 2011 Grand Caravan in the Walmart parking lot I nearly wet myself in excitement. THAT WAS THE VAN I WANTED! It didn't look like a traditional minivan, heck, it doesn't look like the Grand Caravan I'm driving now. It's lower profile, boxier shaped, looks more like a longer SUV than a van.....I call them SUVans. And I want one. So I parked close to it. Mosied over by it and gave it a look-see. Paul scoffed. And proceded to tell me it was a $40,000 vehicle and I couldn't have it.

SAY WHAT??? For one thing, I was pretty sure it wasn't a $40,000 vehicle and for another, he drove a truck off a lot with SEVENTEEN MILES ON IT, eleven of those put on by us on the test drive! Why CAN'T I have a new vehicle? I've never ever gotten a new one, never even gotten one less than four years old! He drives a 2004 Ram right now that is simply gorgeous and we paid wayyyyyyy too much for because he saw it and he wanted it and he got it.

Well, his laughter just infuriated me on the spot. I ignored him and went on into the store. We shopped. We checked out. We stopped by my Mom's office and I had her look up a 2011 Grand Caravan online.

HA! $26,000, BUCKO!

He grinned and said, "Okay, let's go find one and test drive it."

I crossed my arms and firmly said, "No. I will drive the one I have until parts start falling off of her. And then when the parts do start falling off of her I will just duct tape them back on. Because I'm not getting a new van. Period. I simply refuese."  His reply: "Okay."


Yeah. I showed him.

I turned on the air conditioner yesterday and the sound that came out of the vents was, I'm pretty sure, the van's signal to the mother ship, to beam it up, it's tired and wants to go home. Paul made a funny face, looked sideways at me, grinned and crossed his arms across his chest.

" got any duct tape?"

I so do not find him amusing sometimes.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

This is the Stuff

The life of a stay-at-home mom is not for the faint of heart. When your children are infants you yearn for the voice of another who isn't screaming to be fed, changed or burped and doesn't want to suck on a couple of your appendages. When your children are toddlers you yearn for the voice of another who isn't screaming NO! to every plea, request or bribe. When they are preschoolers you just want to hear someone NOT ask you question after question after question about poop or the color of the sky. And then they go off to school.....and if you're me, you start all over by babysitting.

Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and I dearly love staying home what with me being anti-social and all, but there are still days that the crazy starts to creep in.

Thursday night is Paul's golf night and I'm totally okay with that. I value my "me" time and I respect his desire to go walk around with his friends on a lush green pasture whacking at a tiny ball with a skinny pole. Usually he goes with his work friends and is home by 8 or 8:30, but this week he went with the men of the church and you know how Baptists are - they had to eat afterwards because Baptists think it's not fellowship unless there is eating. He didn't get home until 10. Normally I would still be up then, but I've been fighting off a weird stomach virus this week and just didn't feel well, so I was in bed when he got home. I had spent the whole day parked in my chair because I didn't have the energy for much else and rather than be unproductive, I started scheduling activities for the church youth group. I did so without any counsel from my fellow youth leader (Paul) or the pastor, so I was a little worried I had made flawed plans and hadn't taken into consideration some such other activity or event.

As soon as I woke him up Friday morning I kind of barraged him with talking. Looking back, this was a bad decision and I shouldn't have said all. those. words. so early in the morning, but I had spent all day Thursday feeling half sick while taking care of two three-year-olds (okay, so they watched a lot of Disney Junior that day) and had only seen him for about 10 minutes between him getting home from work and leaving for golf. I enjoy our usual after work conversations and frankly, I miss him all day while he's at work. I had a lot of things to say! Imagine how quickly my chirpy, caffeine-fueled chattering got under his skin and he told me to just please stop moving my mouth and allowing words to come out. Then when I didn't, he just shut down and ignored me altogether. Then I got my feelings hurt. Then he told me to quit being so sensitive and get off his back. Then I started crying. Then he stomped out the front door and slammed it behind him. Then I started crying harder. Then he drove off. Then I got mad and called his phone. Then he didn't answer it.

Soon after that my newest babysitting ward, Mary, arrived in full-scale three-year-old diva mode, bawling her face off while her father tried so sweetly to tame the savage girl-beast he was carrying. I totally related to her and was pretty close to a diva meltdown of my own. She eventually mellowed and her daddy felt like my safety and well-being wasn't going to be endangered by that of his youngest offspring and he left. Shortly after that Conner arrived and brought yogurt parfaits, thus further soothing Mary and myself (because I didn't have to fix breakfast!). I was feeling pretty confident that even though the morning had started off a little rough, it was going to be just fine. We were out of dog food for our swiftly growing German Shepherd pups and the plan had been to go to town and pick up a 740,439 pound bag of food because that's roughly how much those beasts eat in a week, a few groceries and be home by lunch time.

I called Mom to see if I could print off a few things for my Sunday School lesson and was given the go-ahead to stop by the house when I got to town. Oh yeah, I had the morning under control. In the short 45 minutes that had elapsed from the end of breakfast to that particular moment, Conner and Mary had managed to empty the toy box, Lego box and Hot Wheels box into the living room floor, so I told them to clean up quickly so we could go to Walmart. They both gasped in excitement and turned to, what I thought was, clean up. I grinned smugly to myself that oh yeah, I was doing great. I hurried to the bathroom to finish my makeup and while doing so heard the sounds of toys hitting plastic and three-year-old conversation. I assumed they were doing as I had instructed.

Silly me. They're three. Duh.

I finished my makeup, gave my hair one final spritz of hairspray and exited the bathroom only to see WHAT?!?! HOW DID THEY GET MORE TOYS OUT??? I thought they had already gotten out all there had been to GET out!! Did the toys somehow multiply? My living room looked like Santa's Workshop had vomited onto my living room carpet. I said, "Conner! Mary! Didn't Kiki tell you to clean up your toys so we could go to town?" They both nodded. I continued, "So why did you not do it?" Conner shrugged and said, "We didn't want to," and turned back to his Lego tower. Oh no he di-n't. I gently informed them that it wasn't really an option to which they resolutely ignored me and continued playing. I literally had to get all up in their faces and again, gently explain, clean up or else. Not sure what "or else" would entail, but fortunately they didn't try me. They understood I meant business at that point.

Then I discovered Conner had wet his pants. Wardrobe change. Tears.


As I was buckling Mary into her seat while Conner kicked up dust in the driveway even after I told him to get. in. the. dadgum. van. my phone rang and it was the school's number. Lovely. It was Abby telling me she had gotten a mosquito bite in Ag and it was swollen. Ooookay? My silence prompted her to continue, "No, Momma, you don't understand! It's REALLY swollen! Like, Ms. Tina even TOLD me to call you! It's HUGE!" I sighed and said I would bring her a Benadryl. I dusted Conner off from the self-inflicted dust storm and loaded him in, his butt hitting the seat and poufing up more dust. Usually I park right by the door of the high school and just run in when I have business in the office, but there was no parking by the door, so I had to unbuckle both kids and herd them into the building.

Sure enough, Abby's mosquito bite was about the diameter of a nectarine. She is allergic to them anyway and always reacts with huge welts, but this went beyond ridiculous. I marked the edges with an ink pen and told her that if it got bigger after the Benadryl to call me.

After re-buckling both kids we headed to town. I went through Sonic because at that point I needed a sweet tea. It wasn't until I was nearly to Walmart that I took the first swig to find it was about the strength of water. With a hint of sugar. Grrrr.

Sam has taken on this gigantic growth spurt as of late and is outgrowing clothes as fast as we buy them. He is currently jeans-less and since we are still holding out hope that eventually the weather will stop being quite so hellish here in Oklahoma, I figure it's time to buy him some. Yeah, you try buying jeans for a swiftly growing almost-13-year-old without him being with you. Not easy. As I was searching a rack for the ever-mysterious boy's size 18 of which only three pair are made in each style and each one of those three are sent to separate stores approximately 1300 miles apart, I hear this little voice go, "Kiki? Mary frew up."

*blink blink*

I quickly ran to the front of the cart to see Mary looking up at me with her big blue eyes, hands in her lap, certainly not looking like she had just "frew up". I said, "Mary, sweetie? Where did you throw up?" She pointed down. I looked under the cart. No barf. I said, "Mary, honey, where were you when you threw up?" She said, "I am sitting in the cart, silly." I said, "No, honey, the cart was moving....were we here when you threw up or over there?" and pointed to the boys clothing section. She shook her head. I continued looking around for this phantom puke. Then I heard her giggle. Then I heard Conner giggle. I put my hands on my hips and said, "Guys.....are you pretending to throw up?" They both busted up and then Conner grabbed his belly and said, "OOOOOH I'M GONNA FROW UP!" Well, I was in on the joke at that point, but those shopping around me all looked up in absolute freak-outed-ness at his very loud proclamation. I just grimaced and said, "No, no, no....they're pretending." Old women shook their heads and did not appreciate the imaginative play of my little darlings.

I continued to shop, fielding strange looks as they continued to "frow up" throughout the store. But when we got to the produce aisle it was then that Mary demanded popcorn chicken. I said, "No, sweetie, no popcorn chicken. We'll go back to Kiki's house and have lunch." Her requests got louder. Conner, not to be outdone, joined in. The cries of frowing up changed into yells of  "WE-WANT-POP-CORN-CHICK-KEN!" I firmly said no. They yelled louder. And louder. I then walked to the front of the cart where I could see their darling faces and said, "You are not speaking kindly. You are not asking nicely. You are yelling and you are being rude. You will not get popcorn chicken. Ever." Yes, it was an empty threat since their parents may probably someday feed them popcorn chicken, but I had suddenly turned into "that mother" in Walmart and neither of them were actually my children. People were staring. It was after my lecture that they both promptly busted into cries of, "BUT WE'RE HUNNNNNNNGGGGRRRRYYYYYYYY! Feeeeeeeeeeed ussssssss!"

It was then that the kind man stocking the bananas gave them each one in an attempt to make the screams stop because I'm pretty sure the Walmart police were getting ready to swoop in on me and either escort me out or call DHS because I was apparently starving the children.

We made it to the checkout line where the Associate said the words "d*mn" and "h*ll" three times apiece while checking out the woman in line ahead of me. In her defense, the other woman was saying them as well. I guess she felt peer pressure. I just felt annoyed.

I had to remove the kids from the cart because the groceries and plastic bags would've suffocated them and yes, while that would've made them significantly quieter, it's just a hassle to explain to their parents and the police. I threatened them that if they removed their tiny little hands from the carts that kittens all over the world would die. Actually, I did not say that, so please don't call DHS. I just told them that Kiki really needed them to touch the cart and to do what I said. I think they noticed the tic just under my right eye and they complied.

After some jackwagon barreled through the parking lot and nearly broad-sided me, I made it out onto the road. The kids were being incredibly quiet and I felt bad for the whole "we're hungry" pleas in Walmart and we had been shopping a long time, so I wheeled into McDonald's for Happy Meals. Again with the demanding of food. I quietly told them that when they could ask for their food the right way, they could have it. They both crossed their arms and pouted. Two peas in a pod, I'm telling you. I just drove on. They just continued to pout. I was okay with that. Finally, at the edge of town, I heard two tiny voices asking so sweetly for food. I was happy to pull over and comply.

By the time we got home they were fed and happy once more. I deposited them both at the table to finish up their apples and went out to unload the car. The dogs could apparently smell the Puppy Chow through the van windows, so they and the cats attacked me as I walked to the van. After kicking them all away I managed to get the dog food open and dumped some out onto the ground (who needs bowls) and then unloaded the groceries. I cleaned Mary and Conner up, took them both the potty and then told them to get their nap towels and blankets.

They wanted to watch Little Bear. I said no. They were already 30 minutes past naptime. They cried. I said they could watch Little Bear after nap. They threw themselves onto the floor. I said, "Fabulous. You're already on the floor for nap. Sweet dreams." I handed them their blankets, kissed them both and walked into the kitchen. Strangely enough, they both went right to sleep.

It was after I finally had the groceries put up and the kids were softly snoring their adorable little preschooler snores that I sat down and found myself humming this song:

Thank you, God, for the reminder.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lunchtime Reflections

When I was in Junior High we all spoke longingly of the day we could go "uptown" to eat lunch. I can remember from the time we hit 7th grade we all talked about the day we could go off-campus and partake of whatever unhealthy treats awaited us. Some of us loudly proclaimed we would eat candy for lunch because, let's face it, sometimes 7th graders lack imagination when it comes to dietary rebellion. Some of us said we'd only drink soda because after having no choice but white milk from Kindergarten up really builds up a sense of needing to break free in the beverage department I guess. The really rebellious ones had no desire to eat whatsoever - they only wanted off campus so they could either smoke or make out with whatever flavor or the week they were "going with". Looking back, the ones who said they were going to smoke, probably didn't. The make-outers, though, yeah....they probably did already while on campus. They were just tired of having to work so hard to be sneaky.

Freshman year was the magic year we could leave behind the security of the campus that sheltered us for six hours and 15 minutes a day and be free spirits for that 45 minute lunch break. Some of us found a loophole our 8th grade year and discovered that some kind upperclassmen would gladly take your $2.00 and purchase a $1.50 cheeseburger for you and not bring you back one red cent of change and we were totally okay with their profiting from our stupidity. We were just tired of square pizza slices and fish sticks every Friday. We thought we were cool being all sneaky with our contraband off-campus food and scarfing it down while watching for a rogue teacher to come wandering over between the gyms where we were hanging out.

Shortly after the beginning of 7th grade I quit eating school lunches. Every day the line wound up the two flights of stairs that led from the Junior High hall down to the cafeteria below and spilled out into the hall and sometimes into the lobby. Waiting in that line left absolutely no time for me to socialize and my 12 year old self would not give up social time, nuh uh, no way, no how. When I first started skipping school lunches I would instead buy a Diet Coke from the lobby vending machine and a $1 candybar from the Junior High Pep Club sponsor, Mrs. Reid. For $1.50 I got an afternoon's worth of caffeine and sugar and absolutely no nutrition whatsoever. Not long after that, my best friend, DeLisa, somehow talked her mother into preparing she and I a lunch every single day and that kind woman never asked me once for payment. I guarantee you that I never told my mother this fact because she would have been mortified that RoseMary fed her eldest child every day for nearly two years and was never reimbursed. Mortified, I tell you. In fact, if she reads this she may very well call RoseMary up and offer to write her a check.

My Freshman year finally arrived and even though our family qualified for free lunches through the state program for poor, malnourished kids, I would have considered prostitution on a street corner to get money to eat uptown rather than visit that cafeteria (and that would've been something considering that until October of that year I had never been kissed and frankly, found the whole process of mere kissing to be disgusting). Fortunately, every Monday my mother somehow always managed to send me with lunch money for the week, thus saving me from a life of prostitution. My father was in nursing school, we were living off of her meager income as a legal secretary and the money she made cleaning houses on the weekends, so really I don't know how she found an elastic area of the budget to allow for her self-centered 14 year old to eat junk food every day, but she did. She's amazing like that.

I don't remember eating uptown with the aforementioned BFF, DeLisa, that year and I think it had something to do with athletics. I think basketball girls either got out of gym too late to go uptown or had to be in the gym too early the following hour to allow it. Or maybe the coach demanded they put something halfway healthy into their bodies. I don't remember eating uptown with Stacie much either. But Chloe and I, man, we were the queens of tuna sandwiches from the cooler, a bag of Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles and a bottle of Coke. Every day, the same thing. The chip flavor didn't change. The soda didn't change. Occasionally, the tuna sandwiches would all be gone by the time we got there and we'd instead get a couple of Blow Pops to substitute for the loss of protein. We managed to eat this feast for $1.72.  Of course, I rolled my eyes to hear my mother freak out about how expensive that was because back in her day, she'd get a sandwich or burger, a bag of Fritos and a bottle of Vess for .52. The times, they had definitely a'changed. They've changed even more. It costs my oldest child $3 or more every day now. *sigh*

Eventually C&R Grocery closed - I think during my Sophomore year - and we turned to eating greasy cheeseburgers from a little burger grill (I think simply called "The Cafe") that took advantage of the opportunity and opened up right across from the gymnasium. They were heavy on mustard and onions and grease would just drip out of the waxed paper pocket they came in. If you were dying of starvation because Typing had just been ever so strenuous that day, you would sometimes bite into the greasy goodness before removing the toothpick, thus injuring your palate. I'm pretty sure every kid at Wyandotte High that year gained 15 pounds because of those burgers. To this day, I can still taste them, though. No really. I mean, literally. Sometimes I belch and I'm like, yep, that one tasted like my Sophomore year.

It had to have been the latter half of my Sophomore year - because I'm sure I was driving by then - that I gained about three hours of infamy because of lunch time at school. We had all gotten our Recommended Daily Allowance of grease and mustard from The Cafe and I was finishing up my Diet Coke (oh, the irony) as the bell rang. I tipped the can back as far as it would be and slugged back the last of what was in the can. Suddenly, I felt a strange sensation on my tongue. And the roof of my mouth. And my throat. I coughed. Then I gagged. I coughed some more. It occured to me what had happened. I stopped walking in the midst of the herd of trampling teenagers and loudly screamed, "I JUST SWALLOWED A TRASH BEE!"

What we called "trash bees" are actually yellow jackets. We called them trash bees because they swarmed those outdoor trash cans like crazy. Apparently they liked mustard and hamburger grease as much as we did. The only thing I can figure out is that one of them had wandered inside my soda can while I talked with my friends, languishing in the saccharine-y delights ensconsed within that aluminum can, and when I tipped back the can, it got caught in the deluge and ..... yeah..... I drank it. It fought the good fight, stinging all the way down, but succumbed to the horror of being eaten alive by a 15 year old. My next class was Home Ec, so I ran in, half laughing, half crying, to Mrs. Johnson and told her I was probably going to die soon and could I be excused to call my mom before I expired? She gave me a cup of ice cubes and sent me to the office where I told the secretary and principal the story, all the while my tongue getting larger and larger, my throat getting narrower and more sore. RoseMary called my mom at work who in turn called the family doctor. He advised getting some Benadryl in me ASAP, told her to have me suck on some ice cubes for the swelling and to alert the staff that if I stopped breathing to call an ambulance. Duh. I don't know where the Benadryl came from, but by the time school let out that day at 3:12 my tongue, while still sore and thick feeling, was no longer resembling something out of a sci-fi movie. From then on, I kept my thumb over the opening of my soda can. So did my friends.

By the time I was a Senior, Butterfield's General Store had opened and our menu veritably exploded with variety!  We could choose from a hamburger, chicken strips, Frito chili pie, a bowl of chili with cheese, fries and tater tots. And the fountain drinks were aplenty! The second the bell rang after our 4th hours class, we would stampede our the doors and head uptown and invade that teeny tiny store. Some local adults in town were usually there when we arrived, sitting at the bar stools, but we didn't care. We didn't have time to sit, we grabbed our food and ran.

One day the store was particuarly full. Cyndi and I were toward the back of the crowd waiting our turn to order. Another kid in our class, Keeling, was particularly snarky that day and apparently I was particularly cranky. He mouthed off to me, I snapped back at him. He responded by calling me a b*tch. I hauled back and slapped him across the face as hard as I possibly could. The whole entire store went instantly silent as the pink hand print blossomed across his cheek. He blinked a couple of times. I fumed in anger and turned around to wait my turn in line. Eventually people started talking again and a few of the "regulars" sitting at the counter chuckled and looked back at me.

Little did I know that would be the first time my husband would lay eyes on me. He was a skinny red-headed 28 year old, I was a short, overly-emotional 18 year old. He was employed and living on his own. I was a Senior, angry with the world and angry that I had to grow up. We wouldn't meet for nearly another year and a half and it would be another year or so after that before he'd tell me he was in the store that day, sitting at the counter with his friend, Dean, impressed at the attitude and anger I displayed as I waylaid the kid who called me a name.

I'm guessing he liked it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The End of an Era (part 2)

I know like, the first rule of blogging is to never apologize for an absence, but I kind of feel like I need to explain my eight-day space between Part 1 and Part 2. See, I am teaching the three- and four-year-olds at Vacation Bible School this week and lemme tell you, they are EXHAUSTING! I am out of practice - especially when you put seven of them in my classroom and two of them cry hysterically when momma leaves every night and all of them have to go potty at the exact same time, which is about every 20 minutes, but man, they are adorable. Then Monday (which was the second day of VBS) I had the church girls at the church for 12:30 until 5:30 for a Girls Day. We cooked and did crafts and talked about school coming up and laughed a lot while we all got frustrated trying to learn to square braid. So see.....I have been a very busy, tired and overworked Diva lately.

Now.... on with the story!

Paul wasn't happy at the rescheduling, but it freed up our weekend to go to Tulsa with some friends for a visit to the Lifeway store and Mardel's and a kid-free dinner. He fretted all weekend, though, and by Monday morning had stewed himself into a tizzy. I told him I'd rather go get my dang tubes tied then listen to him whine another second. I grabbed the phone to cancel the appointment, but thankfully he told me not to. (whew!) At noon he took an Ativan. At 1:00 he took another. At 2:00, another. He kept saying they were faulty and no good because he wasn't relaxed at all. Funny, he kept yawning and eventually fell asleep. I had to wake him up to leave for town. When we got there, the doctor said laughingly he was pretty sure that the wall Paul had stumbled into had actually jumped out in front of him because, yeah, those big tough guys never, ever walk into that office sedated.

I went back with him and asked the nurse a few questions, helped him get into his gown ("Yes, honey, you really do have to remove your underwear. Yes, really."), giggled as he scratched parts previously unshaven, kissed his face, then went to the waiting room to well, wait. At the one hour mark I started to kind of get concerned, but it was just moments later he came through the door, kind of wobbly and grinning. Since he had already told me, "If this hurts, I will never forgive you," I was happy to see him smiling. The nurse said, "He needs his shoes tied. I was going to do it, but he said he was going to make you." The nurse shrugged at me with a confused look on her face. I'm not sure what the thought process was there, but I tied his shoes nonetheless. I guess it just needed to make sense to him. He held his hand out to me, the nurse made sure I had his "goody bag" (pun?) and we began our slow shuffle to the parking lot. About halfway down the ramp outside he stopped. I asked if he was okay. He kind of moved one leg, adjusted himself and said, "You DO know I have an ice pack in my pants, don't you?"

Yes, I was the woman who was literally bent over at the waist in the parking lot of the doctor's building that day, laughing hysterically and gasping for breath. I don't know if it was a release of nervous tension, the way he said it or just the literal thought of an ice pack in my husband's pants that did it, but I just went goofy.

It was 107* in the parking lot when I turned on the van and I was kind of wishing for my own personal ice pack in my pants then.

He got home, I eagerly fetched the bag of frozen peas that had been staring him down from the freezer for a week and wrapped it in a towel. A few nights before I had made peas for dinner and he nearly had a stroke when he saw them on the table. "WHY DID YOU COOK MY PEAS, WOMAN!?!??? THEY WON'T DO ME ANY GOOD COOKED!" I calmly showed him the super special bag of .76 Great Value peas, bought just for him. I wasn't about to let him put the bag of pricey Schwan's peas on his junk. Oh, sorry, I digressed. Anyway, I managed to get him out of his jeans and into a pair of pajama pants, watched as he clumsily stuffed a bag of frozen legumes in his draws and bit my lip trying not to laugh hsyterically again. He fell back into his recliner and closed his eyes as he sighed heavily. I turned to get him a blanket when I heard him slur, "I needtapee." Seriously. After all that.

He wouldn't let me help him up, so he wallered around until he got up and then like a football player with the ball under one arm, he put one shoulder forth and charged for the bathroom. I cringed as I watched him nearly catch one foot on the step up to go down the hall, but he managed to make it without a faceplant. I stood in the hallway, listening for him to hit the wall or for the sound of the shower curtain being pulled down as he fell into the shower, but it didn't happen. Then like he had been shoved by a schoolyard bully, he flew out of the bathroom, hit the wall across from the doorway, bounced off it to the other wall and then laughed at the look on my face. Finally he found his recliner again, got his ice pack replaced and within seconds he was snoring loudly.

It's now been over a week and he's doing great. As far as the vasectomy itself goes, he has had very little discomfort and no side effects. However, Saturday we ended up at Rapid Remedy because he pulled the muscle that attaches to the large tendon in the upper leg, perilously close to the groin. He had actually pulled it before the vasectomy, but then because of the vasectomy his gait changed somewhat to protect the boys, thus pulling it further. But directions to apply heat and take it very easy for the next six weeks and a prescription for muscle relaxers made his boo-boo all better and we have nothin' but blue skies and sterile days ahead.

Hallelujah. I'm considering getting this shirt:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The End of an Era (part 1)

We have three kids, ages 14, 12 and nine. We are way past bottles, diapers, fussy crying all night, temper tantrums (well, sort of--that teenager can drum up some dramatic stomping on occasion), potty training and having to pack up half the house to make a trip to Walmart. Our kids can all go to the bathroom completely unassisted and just last week Abby drove the van for the first time.

I am 38 years old. Paul is 10 years older than me. It won't be long before I leave my 30's behind and Paul waves good-bye to his 40's. We like where we are right now. Our marriage is stronger than it has ever been, our kids are well-adjusted and self-sufficient and we just love life right now. So for the past few years we've talked about doing something permanent to ensure our nights remain full of sleep -- well, at least until Abby starts dating.

I have had three vaginal births. With Abby I had an epidural that took only on one side. I also got a Badge of Honor by way of an episiotomy with her. With Sam we tried the epidural route again, but he came so fast that by the time the anesthesiologist got it in (after FOUR tries) he was here and I wasn't numb until after he was born. With Kady I didn't have so much as a Tylenol. She was born au naturale. Our very pregnant niece and I were texting the other day and I was telling her that natural childbirth was the way to go. She was not convinced and pointed out that after a completely natural childbirth I haven't done it since. She made a point, although not entirely valid. We really hadn't planned on Kady, so SURPRISE! Baby #3 made her appearance without planning aforethought. Since #3 wasn't planned, we didn't plan on a #4 either.

A few years ago I started the ball rolling to have my tubes tied at the Indian Hospital. Then I chickened out because I thought there might be an eensy weensy chance we might possibly want another baby. But you know, like a bolt from the blue one day we both told the other we didn't want any more babies. And there was a peace there. We were totally okay with it. We felt our family was complete.

I didn't relish the thought of having surgery, albeit of the outpatient variety. I asked Paul to get a vasectomy and he wouldn't even discuss it, so I dropped it. Occasionally I'd bring it up again and every time he would shut me down before I even got started. I don't believe in taking the pill (and couldn't if I wanted to because I have Factor V Leiden), so hey, if the guy wanted to use condoms for the rest of his life I was going to be okay with that. I decided I was going to be stubborn on the issue and apparently he felt the same way. Remember I said Kady is nine. That's a lot of prophylaxis, dudes.

Then out of the blue back in May he off-handedly mentioned a vasectomy and asked a few questions. I wanted to do cartwheels, but instead I answered his questions and shut my mouth. Then The Great Kidney Stone Adventure of 2011 happened (parts one and two chronicled there and there). A few weeks after his dismissal from the hospital he had a follow-up appointment with the urologist. He came out of the doctor's office and I looked up to him from my seat in the waiting room. He grinned and handed me a packet of papers with an appointment card paper clipped to the top. It had his name and a date and time and in the nurse's handwriting across the top it said VASECTOMY.

I'm telling you, I heard angels singing.

He scheduled his week's vacation around V-Day, as we call it around the house. The procedure was supposed to be on Friday, he'd recover over the weekend and by Monday be up and ready to get into mischief all over the place. Then last Thursday, the day before, the receptionist called the house. She asked if he still wanted to have his vasectomy. Uhh....yeah. Well, while she was on vacation they had schedule the doctor in surgery for that Friday and she was having to reschedule everyone. I explained that his vacation had been planned around the blessed event, so the earlier she could get him back on the books, the better. So things were bumped back to Monday (yesterday) at 3pm. be continued.....

Two Weeks of Sweat and Blessings

The third week of June my three kids and I packed up half the house and headed to Grand Lake Baptist Assembly in Grove, OK, for a week of Children's Camp. I was going as the girls' sponsor and while Abby was technically too old and Kady was technically too young, Sam was just the right age (this was his last year at Children's Camp, though). My nephew, TotTwo, also went that week. Given my pops' recent health problems I didn't want to burden Mom and Pops with taking care of two extra kids for the week, so Kady went as a "junior camper" and Abby went as a "junior sponsor". We all loaded up my van to nearly bursting and left Paul here to hold down the fort.

All together, including sponsor's kids, we had 11 girls and six boys. Some were from our church, some were from the church whose cabin we were using. The girl's dorm was positively brimming over with estrogen and drama, but what a wonderful group of girls they were! As it has always been, I was the cabin hair stylist, spending a good chunk of every day braiding, French braiding or fishbone braiding someone's hair. I also spent a good deal of time hollering the words "SHUT THE DOOR!" Our pastor, Jerry, and his wife, Nickie, and Melissa, another female sponsor, said it, too, just not with the same volume I did. I definitely had the best lungs in the group. The girls called me Camp Nazi. I took it as a term of endearment whether they meant it that way or not.

There is something positively awe-inspiring in an open-air Tabernacle full of boys and girls singing and clapping and praising God. No matter how many times I go to camp, I will never get over that. Three girls in our cabin accepted Salvation that week. Hallelujah! There was only one truly miserable evening in the Tabernacle when the wind decided to not blow, but the rest of the week was hot, but not too hot. The band was a string trio and the pastor was Royce Railey, a professional bass fisherman who really knew how to get the kids' attention.

Thursday night was the last night in camp and the boys had teased the girls all day about "prank night", so when it came time for bed the girls asked if we could push a bed in front of the door to ensure our safety from all pranky-ness. I had no problem with that at all. I do not enjoy pranks, doing them or being the subject of them. The door securely barricaded, I hollered for lights out and told the girls to get quiet, but they had a problem with the fact that there was SO. MUCH. NOISE. coming from the boys dorm. Considering Jerry and I hadn't really discussed enforcement of lights out or noise reduction that final night I figured well, he's the pastor and followed his lead. I then told the girls I was tired and was going to sleep and as long as they stayed in our dorm and kept the noise to a minimum they didn't have to sleep. They were giggling and talking and bouncing and giggling and giggling and giggling and I was just about to doze off when we heard WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM on the front door of the cabin.

All motion and noise stopped instantaneously. Then again WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM on the door. Immediately girls who were not in their own beds dove for their own in the dark. All I could hear was heavy breathing. I also didn't move because, hey, I was tired and snuggled in. I figured Jerry would answer the door seeing how he's a man and all. Then again with the banging, only seemingly louder this time. The girls started stage whispering "Kristin! Do you hear that?" Well, DUH, girls. I said, "I do, but I'm letting Jerry deal with it. If it's security, he'll smooth it over with them." Quiet reigned once more.


I was more than perturbed at Jerry for not handling the situation and wasn't at all excited about greeting a security guard at church camp with no bra on, but with the whamming still continuing I didn't have time for a support garment. I had one of the girls help me move the bed blocking the door and out I stomped to the commons area. I flipped on the inside and porch light to see not a security guard, but OUR PASTOR.

No wonder the boys had been so noisy on their side! They were un-chaperoned!

I unlocked the door and opened it to the greeting of  "WOMAN! YOU LOCKED ME OUT OF OUR CABIN!"

We both got completely tickled as I told him how he had scared our poor girls nearly to death and how I had begun doubting his chaperoning skills as the noise from the boys dorm grew louder and rowdier as time went on. Ahhh....communication.

We left camp around 9 that Friday morning and took the kids to McDonald's for breakfast. We were bordering on Duggar status escorting that many kids into a fast food restaurant. The boisterousness from the night before had all but dissipated and they ate in relative silence and we adults were thankful for that.

The kids and I got home and dumped all camp laundry into the living floor, divided it into 15 loads and then I started running them all through the shower so they could scrub off a week's worth of dust, grime, goo and sweat without having to wear shower shoes. There is nothing quite like that first post-camp shower.  By 5pm I had all but the sheets washed and re-packed because Abby, Sam and I were heading back to camp on Monday for Youth Camp. Kady stayed with Mom and Pops that next week because that first week had just worn her little junior camper self out. Also, knowing the temperatures were forecast to be in the 100's by mid-week, I figured she needed to stay where there was ample air condidtioning.

Monday afternoon we headed back to the cabin and greeted the other sponsors doing a second week with a hearty "WELCOME HOME!" This time we had three boys and five girls in our cabin, some ours, some the other church's- considerably a smaller group than the week before. We were okay with that.

Praise and Worship at Youth Camp is also an even more awe-inspiring event because those youth just get all kinds of crazy with the worship. It thrills my heart to see them abandon "cool-ness" to praise their God holding nothing back. The band was Ryland Russel and his band. A-MAZE-ING group of guys who just knew how to play what the kids (and sponsors) needed in order to worship God. The camp pastor was Eric Hovind, aka Dr. Dino, with Creation Science Evangelism. His mission is to prove God and Creationism and disprove evolution. It was enlightening to say the least. There were times I thought my brain was going the explode from all the information he presented.

One girls accepted Salvation and I am so proud and joyous to say that it was my darling niece, TotOne! Talk about a happy family last week!

The temps soared and kids were sunburned, tired and very, very dirty. Recreation involved blood, sweat and tears and that camp nurse was kept hopping. Most of our kids just hit the pool and tried to stay cool there. It was simply an amazing week. Exhausting....but amazing.

I am so thankful for where I am in life and that I am blessed with the time and ability to take two weeks and go to camp with these kids. They are the future of our churches and they have so much to offer. I get my socks just blessed right off when I'm around them. They are hungry to learn, but also teach me in the process. I am so excited at where our little church is headed and how it is growing! God is so good and loves us so much it's just ..... well, it's just awesome.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Tasty Trip Down South

Since Monday I have been trying to reach the Little Debbie factory store in Gentry, AR, because they donate snack cakes to churches doing camps and VBS and such. One of our previous churches had Oatmeal Cream Pies running out our ears from June through December, so we knew it was worth the drive to go. However, no amount of punching the numbers for the Cake Donation Line would get me through to a person. It took my mother calling the number and letting it cycle her through the menu twice before she got fed up and punched zero when it said, "If this is an emergency please press zero to speak to a person." I guess the prospect of not getting free snack cakes sometimes merit emergency procedures. The security guy she spoke to gladly transferred her to the donation guy who said we were the 134th church that had asked for donations this year. And it said it kind of not nice. Now, here's the way I look at it: If you give donations, lovely and thank you so much. If you no longer wish to give donations or choose to cut your donations after the 4,000th Swiss Roll, so be it, just politely tell people you have given your alottment for the year. There's no need to be hateful, Little Debbie Dude. Then when Mom said we needed snacks for 60 people he sighed annoyedly (Is that a word? Eh. Who cares if it isn't.) and said, "That's not even a case, ma'am." Mom said, "Okay, make it 100." Another sigh. "That's not even worth your drive." Mom said, "Okay, then I'll take more." He harumphed and said, "Well, sure. Everyone will take more!" My mom, being the darling she is, just said syruppy sweetly, "Sir, after church camp we will have Vacation Bible School and you know what, 300 would suit us just fine!"

This morning the kids and I left the house around 8 to drive the hour and a half it would take to get to the hills of Arkansas to pick up our 300 servings of Little Debbie goodness. I figured they'd give us some pumpkin rolls with persimmon icing or something after Mr. Crankypants' attitude yesterday, but hey, they're free and kids at camp will eat pretty much anything, so on we went.

The girls didn't even get dressed for the occasion and chose to travel in their pj's. Abby even took her pillow and slept most of the way. Sam sat in the front seat with me and we chatted and talked excitedly about camp and summer and the sleepover he's attending tonight and how I am totally jealous he's going to see Green Lantern without me. The road went from nice, wide highway to narrow, winding and scary. I didn't say anything, but I'm sure the folks who were following me were saying things. About my driving. And possibly my momma. One particular curve sent Sam grabbing for the armrest and sent Abby sitting bolt upright. Kady just went, "WHEEEEEEE!"

It was just as we crossed the state line into Arkansas a radio commercial came on with background music of a more hillbilly persuasion than we are used to. Sam reached over the touched my arm and whispered, "Drive faster, Momma. I hear banjos." That sent us three girls into a laughing fit like no other. We also passed Connie's House of Products which made us all howl with laughter. What a name. Not "House of Amazing Bargains" or "House of Stuff You'll Put in a Garage Sale Next Summer" or even "House of Awesome", but simply "House of Products". I guess it's up to you to decide what kind of adjective to put on those products.

When we got to Gentry we found the store easily enough, drove to the back of the store, backed in and I got out to ring the buzzer. I was standing facing the buzzer, waiting for someone to come out of the building I had just rung. Instead some dude with a perm came up behind me and said this very startling, low "Hellllllo". I nearly wet myself right there in Gentry, Arkansas. He ushered me into the little storage building and asked who I was with. I said told him and he said, "Wow, are you Baptists congregating somewhere next week? I have seven Baptist churches picking up stuff today! I've never seen the likes of it!" I just said, "Oh you know Baptists, we like to eat." He wasn't amused. I refrained from any further Baptist jokes, such as those regarding dancing. I just loaded up my 300 units of cakey goodness, thanked him and got the heck out of there.

Of course, any town that has a Sonic in it has to be visited by me and mine and after a sweet tea, Powerade slush, Dr. Pepper and a Coke we headed back to Oklahoma. We stopped in Grove in search of a store a friend told me sold henna because the kids wanted tattoos before church camp, (Yes, I know. No, we really are Baptist. Really.) but the guy was out and will be for two weeks, so we came back home henna-less. Never fear, though.....I own a whole bunch of Sharpie markers in various shades, so they will go to camp with semi-permanent tattoos after all. No, they won't last as long as henna, but they'll do for now.

Bub's Not of This World ink

I think my next tattoo will be on the inside of my wrist (much to my mother's horror), so I'm playing with various designs until I decide on something. My kids' initials in birth order spell ASK, so I'm trying to work that into something. Kady wants an ice cream cone. I am so glad 9 year olds can't really get tattoos. Imagine her being 87 years old with an ice cream cone tattooed to the inside of her wrinkly ol' age-spotted arm. Of course, unless I get a boob lift soon, that ladybug on my chest is going to morph into a caterpillar in a decade or so.

Monday, June 13, 2011


As far as I know, no one in my family has ever had breast cancer, but still, I am a staunch supporter of awareness and early detection and I preach it to my daughters, sister and mother. So back in November when I went to the Indian Clinic for my yearly well-woman exam, two months shy of my 38th birthday, I knew she was likely going to suggest a baseline mammogram. And sure enough, she did. And today I was mammogrammed for the very first time and I lived to tell the tale.

I had a scare a few years ago when I discovered a lump in my breast and upon a clinical exam, the PA discovered a matching one in the other breast. There I laid on the table, topless, trying to catch my breath as I listened to her say "There's another one." Instantly I went into panic mode, but...turns out, a matching set is not a bad thing. She said identical lumps in both breasts usually indicate normal hormonal changes in a woman's body - or excessive caffeine intake. Well, I've been in perimenopause for about three years now so that explained any hormonal changes and I used to drink so much caffeine my sister swore if I died no one would discover it for a week because it would take that long for the caffeine to run through my system and my body to stop moving. I think I hummed I had so much flowing through my veins. So magically, a drastic increase in my water intake and dramatic decrease in my caffeine intake made me far less lumpy.

I have had no anxiety about the impending mammogram whatsoever, even after having to reschedule it three times - once because of the blizzard, once because I had a horrible stomach virus and the third time because they were upgrading their mammogram "suite" to all new digital technology. I hear women all the time talk about how horrible mammograms are and how they are just awful experiences, but I look at them the same way I do pelvic exams. No, I don't want to do one every day and they are not the most pleasant thing I've ever experienced, but they are absolutely necessary and both could possibly save my life. And I have a lot to live for.

Paul has been teasing me for the past week, telling me he would help me prepare by slamming my breasts in the refrigerator door, but I declined. I figure it's one of those tests you really don't cram for. Pun kind of intended.

Because I am one of the many uninsured in this great nation, I utilize the Indian Health Services for preventative care and when I'm so sick I can no longer treat myself at home with Benadryl, Tylenol and a heating pad, so the mammogram was done at the Claremore Indian Hospital, a place I've never had reason to go to until today. I text my friend, Stace, last night asking for the best directions considering she out-Indians me by about .... well, a lot. (I'm 1/128 Cherokee and she's about all Seneca-Cayuga.) She text me the directions and between her directions and my untrusty Garmin, who thrives on getting me lost, I made it about 30 minutes before my appointment time. They suggested 40 minutes, but there was construction on the turnpike so I was running behind. I walked into the building and was instantly overhwelmed.

I was just about the only white woman there. And there were a LOT of people there. I walked up to a woman in what looked like a bullet-proof cubicle and waited while she had a cheery conversation about her daughter's babysitter or something and acted incredibly put out that I was speaking to her. She told me to check in at Registration. Great. Now, where was Registration..... I finally decided the cubicles (more bulletproof shields) was the blessed Registration and stood in line until it was my turn. Fortunately, the girl who checked me in was incredibly nice and made me feel less overwhelmed. She checked me in and directed me to x-ray. I waited in line to check in there and when she had me checked in, I asked her where the nearest restroom was. A pot of coffee at home and a bottle of water combined with the newness of being in a building I had never been to before had me a little....anxious. The woman cocked her head and gave me a funny look as she said, "Hmm....well, I think there's one on the other side of this horseshoe.....and there may be some down another hall....oh, but wait.....they're not using those....." and with that dismissed me and my needy bladder to sit down and wait.

I immediately sent a text to Stace and told her I really had to pee and would likely have an embarrassing accident when the squishing began if I didn't find a restroom. God bless that woman, she called me and walked me through the building to a restroom. I love her a very much lot.

I sat in the waiting area across from two women in their 50's who were utterly jubilant over their mammograms and had scheduled them for the same day and made a whole event out of it. Shopping would ensue afterwards. They were adorable. Shortly my name was called and I was taken back to the mammogram suite. The woman had me address two envelopes to myself, sign and date a paper and then told me to step behind the screen and get all topless. Now, by this point I was still not nervous about the scan itself, but worried that my lack of deodorant was going to offend the poor woman who would soon get to know me very well. The information letter said not to wear deodorant, so I complied. Apparently I could've worn it and then removed it with the moist towelettes provided, but you know me, all rule follow-y and stuff. I slipped on the little vest which could've certainly used some bedazzling or at least an applique of some sort and stepped from behind the screen, stifling a giggle as I envisioned the Great and Mighty Oz in the mammogram suite. Pay no attention to the topless woman behind the screen!

The woman was very business-like and told me she was going to put some stickers on my nipples for identification purposes. I again stifled a giggle because I never thought of my nipples needing identification. I haven't ever given them names or anything. My friend, Tanya, warned me of the stickers and said she nearly lost nipples that way and had cautioned me to only secure one edge for the safety of the sisters. Fortunately, the woman merely applied two adorable Hello Kitty bandaids and I breathed a sigh of relief that my nipples would live to see another day.

She explained the procedure, that she would do the scan horizontally and then at an angle, that the scan might be uncomfortable, but shouldn't be painful and if I had any questions to feel free to ask at any point during the process. It wasn't bad, ladies. Like I said in the first paragraph, I wouldn't want to do it every day, but it wasn't bad at all. She was very good at her job and I wouldn't have it for all the money in the world. She handled my girls in ways I'm not even sure my husband has. I only got the giggles once and that was when she was trying to move the upper plate into place to begin pressing, but the position I was in my other one kind of got in the way. I had to ....ahem....shift things to right the wrong and she chuckled which made me giggle. It didn't hurt. It wasn't all that uncomfortable really. I guess if I had to say it was anything, it could be mildly embarrassing if you're a modest person, but obviously the people who do mammographies for a living don't think twice about your breasts once you walk out the door, so to me embarrassment wasn't an issue. I mean, I guess if yours are particularly dazzling or something, they might mention them to their husband at dinner time - "Hey, Fred, you should've seen the boobies I handled today!" - but I'd say most women's average boobs are very unimpressive to a technician who handles three sets an hour for an eight-hour shift.

When she was done, the technician congratulated me on surviving my first mammogram and told me to help myself to anything in the basket on my way out. I removed the Hello Kitty bandaids, got dressed and helped myself to a pink ink pen, a pink mint, a sheet of SBE (self breast exam) stickers AND a packet of seeds that will grow - you guess it - pink flowers.

And my mother-in-law, who had watched the kids while I went to my appointment, turned about 67 shades of pink when I got home and told her the kids' and my project for the day was to go plant flower seeds in honor of my breasts out in the yard.

So ladies, go get squished.
I promise you, you will survive your first mammogram
-- and you, too, have a lot to live for.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Scary Week

Sunday after church we came home to eat a bite of lunch then drove into town to an auction Mom was working. The kids wanted to go to Joplin to shop, but thank God Paul and I both felt that with the weather being iffy and storms forecasted to move in that evening we decided not to. We are totally big chickens when it comes to weather and don't stray too far from the 'fraidy hole when we know it's likely to get bad. We didn't even go to church that night, however Mom and Dad did. I called her while they were driving toward the church (which is about 2.5 miles from our house) and said, "Keep your phone on silent if you need to, but keep it where you can see it go off. I will text you if we go under any warnings. It takes less than five minutes to get here, so be ready." She assured me she would, but seeing as how she thinks I'm a nervous Nelly with weather I figured she wouldn't heed my warnings.

Paul and I had the kids pack their 'nader bags and put them underground, then we settled in to watch the storms roll in. We were watching the local NBC affiliate when the tornado warning for Joplin was issued and were also watching the tower cam when the tornado appeared on the screen seemingly unbeknownst to even the newscasters on the air live. They were showing graphics of tornado safety tips and the radar, but when they popped it over to the tower cam even they were feeling the same shock and awe we were as we saw a HUGE tornado hitting the city of Joplin. We could see the flashes as it took out power poles. We all five sat in horror and watched it slowly destroy everything in its path. I happened to be on the phone with Sis, who lives in Yukon, OK, and I kept saying, "You don't understand! It's happening RIGHT NOW! Even Jeremiah Cook and Caitlin McCardle didn't know it was there and THEY'RE THE METEOROLOGISTS!" She hung up with me to call her ex because he was on his way back here to Miami with my niece and nephew at the time. They weren't in danger, but she wanted him to be aware of what was going on.

Our NOAA radio was about to wear itself out it was going off over and over with various t-storm watches and warnings, followed by tornado warnings right and left. I text Mom and told her it was getting bad and we were going to the cellar. I was on Facebook and saw where someone said there was a tornado on the ground in Fairland. We are about five miles north of Fairland. That was when I called Mom. In church. She answered in a whisper and I said, "WHERE ARE YOU?" She said, "Hudson Creek. At church. Why?" I said, "Mom, I just heard there is a tornado on the ground in Fairland. Y'all need to take cover NOW."  Mom interrupted the preacher and told him. He said, "Oh. Okay, well, we should probably stop what we're doing then." About that time a first responder's radio went off and he ran out the door. He came back in moments later and said the tornado was in Ketchum, not Fairland, so the threat was somewhat less, but still imminent. They prayed and dismissed. Mom and Dad came here right after we came up from the cellar. We went in the house and watched in horror as the first pictures from Joplin started coming in.

Mike Bettes, with the Weather Channel, has been doing his Great Tornado Hunt this past week and drove into Joplin on the heels of the devastating twister. When a seasoned, veteran meterologist is rendered speechless and cries shamelessly on camera surveying the devastation and horror you know it's bad. We sat and cried as we saw the town we knew so well was now completely unrecognizeable. The surreality of it was stunning.

Monday we woke up to rain and the rain wouldn't stop. It rained so hard our main pond here at the ranch overflowed its banks and then some. Our driveway washed out to where I wasn't sure my van wouldn't get lost in it. Sam was supposed to go to basketball camp that morning, but his coach called me to see what I thought and also reassured me that they would take the kids to the safe room at the slightest hint of anything severe. It eased my mind and I decided to go ahead and take him. Then about 30 minutes later as I'm running my three kids and Conner to the cellar because there is rotation over my house, I text Coach and said we wouldn't be there. He already had kids in the safe room. By noon, the severe threat was over, however the rain just kept coming. I decided to go ahead and send Kady to the afternoon girls session of basketball camp and Sam stayed with her. At 12:30 the water was over our dirt road, but still passable. By 2:30 when Abby, Conner and I left the house to pick them up it was so high it was up the bottoms of the van doors. I called Paul and said, "You should probably come home as soon as you can. We're going to be flooded in soon." I turned out onto the highway and made it nearly a mile to the low water bridge and watched a car stall out trying to go through. I turned around and made a frantic call to my mother: "MY KIDS ARE IN FAIRLAND AND I CANNOT GET TO THEM!!" She tried to direct me down other dirt roads, but my van sits so low I didn't dare chance anything. I called Chad, Conner's daddy, and asked if he could get to the kids. He said he could and that he thought he could get through the low water bridge, too, seeing as how he drives a big ol' Dodge. Paul called to say he was in his Thunderbird and could I call Chad to see if he could wait for him, too? Poor Chad ran a taxi service that day, ferrying wandering Hoovers home. The Highway Department closed the low water bridge just as they got there and after an hour and a half of driving around trying to find passable roads, they made it here.

Miami canceled school the following day because of the widespread flooding and threat of severe weather the following day (Tuesday). By morning we were completely flooded in, so Courtney couldn't have made it anyway. Paul couldn't get out to go to work. By noon the rain had stopped, allowing the water to recede enough that we could get back into Fairland to pick up Paul's car, so we took Kady to afternoon ball camp and Paul spent the afternoon repairing our poor driveway while Abby, Sam and I put as much valuable stuff as we could fit into the cellar. We've made many a run to the ol' 'fraidy hole, but this past Tuesday was the first day I put baby pictures, the deed to the house and other important documents down there. I went to Paul and said, "The box isn't that big and if you think there is room, can you help me put the box of the kids' baby pictures in the cellar?" He got a mischievous grin on his face and started to make a joke. Then I busted into tears and said, "Paul, I'm scared. Please don't." He grabbed my hand and said, "Baby, go get the box. We'll get those pictures underground." We were completely and fully prepared to be blown away. The anticipation was horrible and I clenched my jaw so hard all day I was pretty sure my teeth were in danger of breaking. After picking Kady up from camp we just sat and waited, flipping the TV back and forth between local channels and TWC.

They closed the Canadian County courthouse early, which is where Tater works. She and her husband work in El Reno and live in Yukon and had planned to ride out the storm in their guest bathroom, but as they saw it making a path for El Reno they decided to head into the City where they rode out the storms in an underground parking garage. El Reno was hit and five were killed.

Back in the old days you ran for cover from the tornado when you saw it lifting off the neighbor's cows and silo, today we are given 24 hours warning, which is by all means a good thing, but still nerve-wracking. We went down into the cellar twice that night. Fortunately the storms didn't hit here like they did around us. Welch got some wicked winds, Grove had some tornados over the lake, but we managed to get by with some minor rain, moderate winds and not even a single hail stone. Praise God!

Today Paul is in Joplin helping some of his family's family empty what's left of their elderly uncle's house. The man is 97 years old and the house is demolished. The things left inside have been subject to theft the past few days. They are working furiously to empty what they can to keep the heartless looters away. I don't understand how people can be so low and I try to focus on the good I've seen coming to Joplin rather than the scammers and looters and heartless evildoers who plan to picket the town for their "wickedness" that caused the tornado. I try to think about the Tide Loads of Hope truck, the Duracell truck, the fact that Sam's Club is allowing anyone to shop there without membership, about the $1 million each that Home Depot, Walmart and Tamko Industries has donated to the cause, the KC Chiefs players who are clearing yards, the little girl in Texas who is sending her own personal belongings to Joplin, the doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers and volunteers who are working tirelessly.

I pray and praise God in the midst of it all. I am very detached from it really, and everyone says seeing it in person is so much worse than what you see on TV and the internet. I hug my kids a little tighter. I am thankful. I am sad. I am proud. I am hopeful.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Stoner (Part 2)

I made it to the hospital that Thursday morning by about 5 after 7, kissed my swollen and puffy husband's face then settled in with my iPod to partake of free WiFi while we waited for the Surgery nurses, also known to kidney stone patients as Angels of Mercy. Paul told me he had had a bad two hours during the night when the stone was trying to move again and he maxed out on pain meds and commenced to doing the Funky Chicken all over the room. His nighttime nurse was a Godsend and he said he's forever grateful to her. It must've been bad.

It was after 8 when the two gals from surgery came up, got his IV unhooked from the pump, put his cute little bootie socks on his feet and it was just as she pushed the Versed in his veins to make him a little groggy before they took him downstairs they realized he still had his Bermuda shorts on under his gown. (Dude is a little bit modest and said he didn't like his "junk" out there all flappin' in the breeze, so he wore his underwears and Bermudas under his gown. He is just precious.) The girls kind of giggled and said, "We'll step behind the curtain so you can slip everything off." I stepped over to the side of the bed to hold his IV line out of the way and quickly realized my husband was absolutely 100% drunk out of his ever-lovin' MIND already. We're talkin' like two minutes. I gently moved his hands from the zipper where he was trying to repeatedly unzip his already unzipped shorts and kept saying, "Come on, honey. Help me out here." I heard giggling from behind the curtain. I was not amused. Okay, I was kind of amused. I said, "Uhm....girls.....he's plumb goofy, could I get some help?" Just more giggles. So finally after several more minutes of me trying to get him to lift his rump I managed to get the Bermudas off him. I left the underwear for the team of professionals downstairs. I figured they were getting paid the big bucks, let them lift his rump from that point on.

I kissed his forehead and gathered my things from around the room and went down to the surgery waiting room. I checked what was going on around Facebook, glimpsed quickly at Twitter, but it was reading Testify Blog that soothed me and passed the time for me without nerves. About 30 minutes after they took him I saw Dr. Stout come around the corner. He sat down next to me and bluntly said, "I couldn't get it." I love this guy. Most of the time when you see him he looks like Paul Bunyan, usually with a full beard and a lot of hair (on his head and all over his body) and sometimes he wears flannel. In the office. He played the oldest brother, Ruben, in the local little theater's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat a few weeks ago. He's just an all-around neat guy. So there he was in his surgery scrubs, sitting in the chair next to me like we were old friends catching up, all relaxed and laid back, explaining that the stone was too high, as he had thought it might be, while I sat on the edge of my seat in horror that this ordeal was not over yet. He also said that the kidney they thought was fine and not blocked, was indeed blocked and when he placed the stent....well, I shan't describe it here as he described it to me. Suffice it to say....YUCK and EWWWW. Then he reminded me that he was leaving the following afternoon for Boston and wasn't going to be in town until early the next week. Oh the tears that wanted to spill at that moment.

He said, "I can send him home with that stent in place and we can schedule a lithotripsy (where they bust up the stone with sound waves) for when I get back if that's okay with you." Well, I had no choice, huh? I nodded dumbly and looked at my hands, feeling helpless and worried and knowing that Paul was not going to do well in that scenario. Dr. Stout patted me on the leg and told me I could go on upstairs and wait for Paul there. As I gathered my things, I glanced down at my iPod where the post on Testify I had been reading had quoted the old hymn I recall Tennessee Earnie Ford singing when I was kid, "It Is Well With My Soul". I blinked back the tears, took a deep breath and as I walked the long hallway toward the elevators I prayed. God, you are in control of this. You are the Great Physician and I can't worry any more. You have this. I know it. Paul is in the palm of Your hand and You are in control. It truly is well with my soul.

And I made it to that empty hospital room with a renewed spirit and no worry. And moments after I sat down in that hard-backed chair to await my Prince Charming the room phone rang. The nurse aide came screeching into my room hollering, "ANSWER THAT! ANSWER THAT! IT'S DR. STOUT!" I said hello with trepidition - had something happened to Paul in those few short moments between then and now? I pushed the thought away and listened as Dr. Stout told me he had called Oklahoma City, pleaded the case, arranged for them to send the mobile lithotripsy unit up the following morning and the procedure was scheduled for 8am. There would be no waiting the weekend, no dismissal to home with the stone still there, no having to wonder if another urologist was available in Dr. Stout's absence.

Talk about God's favor!

I took Paul a long time to come around what with him being a sedation lightweight and all and as he had when he had his EGD procedure back in March, he had some temporary amnesia and asked me questions over and over and over. It's cute at first. It gets less cute after you answer the same question for the 27th time. He was groggy and nauseated, in a lot of pain and just generally grumpy when it finally hit him that the stone had not been rolled away, so to speak. He refused to eat that day. He was depressed. Peeing was excruciating for him. Watching him under all of it was excruciating for me. He had a lot of pain medication in him. He was intensely nauseated. They were pumping the IV fluids in him like crazy and there was very little output. He swelled up like a poisoned pup.

I went home that afternoon to get the kids off the bus, let them re-pack their bags for another school night sleepover at Gram's and said I'd take them to Sonic after going to see Daddy. Abby caught me off to the side as soon as we walked in the hospital room and said, "Why does  Daddy look like that? Why is his face so FAT?" That had to be startling and I assured her he was fine, just retaining a lot of fluids, like PMS on steroids. She giggled. They visited with him for awhile, then hunger got the best of them. After kisses good-bye we headed to Sonic. As I puilled in my father called and said the storms headed our way looked bad, to get the kids to shelter and forget Sonic. They needed food and Sonic is fast and close to Mom's. We made it to Mom's, flipped on the TV, watching the radar show the storm go around us. Mom and Dad were eating dinner and with the weather iffy I decided not the leave the kids alone. I took that time to put my feet up since they were swollen from sitting in that dang hard backed chair for two days.

Dad dropped Mom off at the house and headed up to see Paul and take him some magazines. I loved on my babies awhile longer, visited with Mom and then headed to the hospital myself. He was in the shower when I got there and seemed to be feeling better, probably knowing the end was near and he was 12 mere hours away from relief. I went home again that night to sleep alone, no Little Joe to protect me from the big, bad coyotes and panthers and bobcats out here in the woods, but I was so exhausted Fitty could've waltzed in and hacked me to bits without me ever knowing.

I was back to the hospital by 7 the next morning, things were very delayed and x-ray didn't come get him until after 8. They had no sooner gotten him in the elevator the anesthesiologist walked in. He looked around with a confused look on his face and said, "Uhm.....your husband? He would be.......where?" When I said x-ray had just taken him he said, "Come on, we'll go catch him" and whisked me off to the surgery elevator. We missed him by moments and waited patiently outside the x-ray room door. The anesthesiologist also laughed when he said he was only giving Paul a half dose of Versed this time since he was hit pretty hard by the full dose the day before. I rolled my eyes and said, "Don't I know. You ought to have been the one trying to take off his shorts while the surgery nurses laughed at you behind a curtain! That's blog material for sure!" He laughed then assured me he would take good care of him and headed for the OR. I got to kiss Paul's face before the other surgery guy (far less giggling from him) whisked him away, I met Dad in the hallway and we waited together this time. The hour and 15 minute wait was made far easier with him being there.

Finally Dr. Stout made his grand appearance with specimen cup in hand. He showed us a stone fragment that had already passed when the stent had been removed. It was about the width of an unsharpened pencil lead. Ow. He said he had also managed to bust up some of the stones that were in the proper position in the left kidney, thus hopefully eliminating a few episodes in the future. I thanked him for all his string-pulling, mad stone removal skillz and wished him safe travels on his road trip to Boston.

And thanked God the ordeal was over. And praised him for his goodness and mercy and healing.

Paul was awake, alert and HUNGRY when he got back to the room this time. The nurse aide brought him a sandwich because it was still and hour and a half until lunch trays would be there. He ate and acted more like himself than he had in four days. And he ate part of the lunch on his tray when it got there. He put on his Sooner pajama pants and OSU hat - he is an enigma, that man - and said he was ready to go HOME.

By 2pm we were heading home with three prescriptions for antibiotics, pain and nausea meds. Our kids were insanely happy we were both there when they got off the bus that time. We were, too.


Fast forward to yesterday, one week after dismissal: Paul passsed SIX stones/fragments yesterday. They were all about the size of a match head. He never even knew he'd passed them until he saw them in the urinal. Talk about God's favor again. I can't fathom trying to pass something that size.

Sweet tea has not touched his lips since and he says it never will again. I doubt that. I mean, we live in Oklahoma, for cryin' out loud, that stuff is everywhere. He's been drinking a lot of water and since he heard lemonade helps to etch stones that are already formed, thus reducing them in size, he drinks a LOT of lemonade. Hey, I guess whatever floats his boat. Or his stones.

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...