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.

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...