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Friday, September 16, 2011

Tell it Like it is

It was a peaceful start to the day today with Dear Son still in HIS OWN bed at 8:30 this morning, sleeping soundly. We've only just recently gotten to the point where Dear Son stays in his own bed instead of wedging himself between the Husband and I in our bed sometime during the wee hours. I realize the child is only five, but not only is he big for his age, but sharing a bed with him is like sleeping with an octopus on crack. He manages to take up three quarters of the bed, starting in the middle and working out, and typically leaving me teetering for dear life on the edge of my own mattress. Not only that, he somehow he manages to kick me in the head all night, while simultaneously stealing the pillow out from under my head. It's a mystery. We have finally increased the incentive enough for him to remain in his own bed all night where he can kick himself in his own head to his heart's content.

Typically Dear Son is up before his big sister up in the morning, and we often have breakfast together, just the two of us, before I wake his sister. It's peaceful that way. If you've ever parented a spirited and precocious eight year old, you know what I'm taking about. This morning, however, it was Daughter with whom I shared breakfast before Son was up. I believe it may have been the first time this has ever happened (Daughter is about as much a morning person as I am). She was sweet as pie with her manners and overall presence as the two of us shared breakfast. I kissed her on the head and called her "my sweet girl," and in all the sweetness her eight-year-old self could muster, Daughter replied, "That's because Zach isn't up yet to fight with." Sweet girl, indeed. And she's also insightful and honest.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Twitterpated

Dear Son: "Mommy, if I was old enough, I would marry you!"

Me: (swoon)

I have the sweetest little yellow haired boy on the planet.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Believe I Can Fly!

My Dear precocious Daughter turned eight a couple weeks ago. Eight years gone in a blink. Halfway to driving a car. Unbelievable! Of course, I still remember the day of her birth like it was yesterday. She caused a stir before she even entered the world. My girl-child likes her some drama. She wasn't moving satisfactorily when my pregnancy with her was six weeks from D Day--or should I say Bday (haha)? My doc put me on fetal monitoring every 72 hours. That means a trip to triage every three days. On this fateful morning, I had eight days left before she was supposed to arrive, and I went to triage for monitoring on the way to my first meeting of the day. I never made it to the meeting. Doc agreed that day that Baby wasn't moving enough, and we (that means "me") were going to have a baby that day. Drama.

I was shocked and caught totally off guard. I didn't even have "the bag" packed. I was supposed to wait a looooong time at home when I started labor (directions from my momma, the labor and delivery nurse, who warned me that first births can take a really looooooong time). Don't go to the hospital until the baby is crowning. Or something like that. Of course, I've been told the story many a time, about how I was nearly born in the backseat of the car in the middle of an Iowa snowstorm after Uncle R (my momma's brother) had a heck of a time getting her out of the upstairs bedroom where she was in major labor and flopping around like a fish--or something like that, the story goes. My dad was in the Navy and somewhere overseas at the time.

So there I was, intending to head to my morning meeting as soon as the needle on the monitor waved around satisfactorily and the Velcro belt around my belly was removed. The baby wasn't crowning yet. I don't think she had even "dropped." I hadn't had a single labor pain. And the doc said I was having this baby today. Next thing I knew I was being admitted and someone was poking an IV into my vein and my mom was at my side reminding me agin that this could be a looooong process. I was calling the husband telling him to pack that bag that I never got around to and bring me some movies for the loooooong wait. Oh, and by the way, you're having a baby. Today.

Couldn't have been an hour into this process when I noticed Baby's heartbeat was slowing waaaaay down. By the time I said something to my mom, still at my side, she already had a concerned look on her face. "Turn this way!" She ordered. Pause. "Turn that way!" She ordered. Pause. She pressed the nurses button (I was delivering at the hospital where my mom worked, but my mom wasn't on duty that day). My mom then opted not to wait for the nurse on duty to arrive. I'll spare you some detail, but she needed to remove the medication that had been inserted by my cervix to get the job rolling. Now we needed to stop the labor quicker than we had started it. I realized later that my daughter may not have made it if my mom hadn't been there (my nurse must have been off having coffee somewhere as she waited out the loooooooong process). Drama.

Doc arrives on the scene quickly while nurses and techs poke and prod me some more and someone thrusts a clipboard under my nose informing me that I need to sign it before I can go to the OR. I saw three pages of microscopic text, and was pretty sure that somewhere within I gave full consent for the medical personnel to do whatever they wanted to me with full agreement from me that I would never sue them for the mistakes they could be about to make-including that I could become paralyzed for life or die. We needed to do a c-section. I called my husband who had just finished getting me movies for the looooooong wait. I informed him that I just signed away all my rights and was at the mercy of the white coats wielding needles and knives. It hadn't clicked for me that there was any rush, so I didn't tell him to hurry. I hung up, and next thing I knew they were suiting up my mom to join us in the OR in case the husband didn't make it. Husband ended up arriving just as they began wheeling me out the door towards the OR. Drama.

I watched the ceiling as I was rolled through this corridor and that. It was a view I hadn't seen before, except for a dramatic camera shot here and there on the old tv series, "ER." I felt vulnerable and terrified. I didn't pay attention to this part in my birthing training. This isn't the route I was going to take. I was going to go into labor at home and wait a looooong time before I went to the hospital and deliver a baby without medication and without that baby being cut out of my abdomen. Doors swung open. People talked about me like I wasn't even in the room. Some man stood at my head unsmiling and later barked at me for fidgeting so much. I realized later he was the anesthesiologist. And he had a terrible bedside manner. I was flipped and turned and moved to a gurney that only half my body comfortably fit on. The "wings" came out and my arms were strapped down. There was a mask over my nose and mouth. I felt claustrophobic and waaaaay too vulnerable. This was seriously cramping my "gotta be in control" style. Sheet went up below my face. Doc asked if I could feel this. Then, could I feel that. Crap. I was freaking out. Not only could I not feel it, but my brain was telling my feet to move, and nothing was happening. Seriously freaking out. Panic. Drama. "No," I informed the doc. "I can't feel a thing." Crap. I can't feel a thing. I can't move.

The doc started narrating what she was doing. That she was cutting and which layer she was in. Crap. Shut up! I don't want to know this stuff. I can't feel a thing. I can't move. I'm laying on a 2x4 with my arms tied down. While I'm panicking, Mr. Personality Anesthesiologist is barking at me to be still, and the doc is informing me that she is cutting through my abdomen. And I had just signed away all my rights under great duress. Drama.

Then, "Oh, she's a cute one!" A baby crying. Lots of talking and hubub. In a few moments, they handed her to my husband. I could barely muster a care. I was shaking so bad that I was sure I would shake right off that 2x4 with my arms still tied down, and land on my face with my guts spilling out of my gaping belly. And then the doc narrated that she was sewing me up. Please stop telling me these details! It took forever. I gotta get outta here-but my legs won't move! Finally, the doc finishes. In rush the aides and nurses. They flip me this way and that off the 2x4. Oh crap-I'm looking at the blood splattered floor. Now I'm looking at the ceiling again! They're gonna drop me on my face for sure this time! Still can't move! Feet won't respond. Panic. Drama.

It was traumatic. But it didn't take long for me to fall in love with the tiniest person I had ever seen.

And the drama still hasn't stopped.

"I want' to be an inventor!" she recently announced, and then she began drawing intricate blue prints for various contraptions. I would find them all over the house. Detailed, complex robots. Crazy (but creative) ideas--one after another. This particular day (represented in the photographs), she decided to see if she could fly. She spent a good hour and a half creating gear and dreaming up how this could work. Cardboard wings. StuffMart bags around her arms and ankles for parachute action. Two balloons in her arms with clothespins holding them shut until she was ready to release the extra force of their air. Helmet, knee pads, elbow pads. And Crocs. That's an excellent choice in footwear when you are trying to fly. "I'm going to take a flying leap off the bed of the pickup!" she announced to her daddy and I. We convinced her that wouldn't be wise. But not wanting to break her spirit, we agreed to accompany her outdoors in the 105 degree heat to help her find something appropriate to jump off of and to cheer her on. She wanted to fly, and I figured the Wright Brothers had to start somewhere, too.

I won't have to tell you that she didn't get far. But if precociousness and perseverance is any indicator, eventually she will go far one way or another. It's been a wild ride. One that I hope stops its breakneck pace. Eight years went waaaaaaay too fast, and in the rush of the next eight I'm certain I will long for her to be satisfied to jump off of stuff in the backyard with homemade wings and shopping bags and balloons rather than trying to learn to drive a car. Slow down, Sweet Girl. You haven't let me catch my breath in eight years!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Turds Hanging from a Chandelier

Dear Daughter: "I wish I was a hippie!"

Me: "I wish I was one, too. Only I don't have cool straight hippie hair, so I'd have to wear dreadlocks."

Dear Daughter: "Dreadlocks! No way! That looks like turds hanging from a chandelier!"

She does have a point.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

He's Playing My Heart Strings Again

Dear Son: Grabs my hand and whispers to me, "Mommy, when I grow up I'm going to live right next to you!"

Me: With heart full of warm fuzzies,"That would be wonderful, Sweet Boy! I will remind you of that when you turn 30!"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Real Life Word Problems

Dear Daughter: "I'm getting excited about my birthday! It's only two weeks and ten days away!"

Me: "Well, you know ten days equals a week and three days, right?"

Dear Daughter: ...pause..."Okay, so it's three weeks and three days away then...."

(...sinking in...) "I think I liked it better the other way."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Conspiracy Theory

There are bugs in this state that is considered "Midwest." Lots and lots of bugs. Large bugs. Large bugs that are noisy. Smallish bugs that are poisonous. Very large bugs that are completely benign (and even quiet). Most of our bugs, however, are really qualified to be bugs of a southern state caliber. And let me qualify something here--while this is considered a "Midwest" state, we live in the far southwest corner of this "Midwest" state, and this far southwest corner is a mere 30 minutes north of a "Southwest" state, and a mere 90-ish minutes west of a "Southwest" state. I don't think the bugs here understand that they are not occupying a southern state, or most certainly they would pack up and move a bit more south, or west of us. It must be Global Warming that is confusing them. I realize I post each year at about this time about the bugs where I live. But the bugs here this time of year really are headline worthy.

I won't make this another post about the thousands of massive buzzing green June Beetles that hatch and overrun our neck of the woods each summer for about three weeks. And yes, we are infested with those as I speak.

What I really want to comment on has to do the poisonous spiders that live in the area and which are apparently especially prolific this year, and which we recently discovered have set up house--in OUR house. These spiders are known as Brown Recluse, and in all the years I've lived here, I've never felt the need to know anything more except that such a "boogey-spider" existed in this area. I assumed them to be some big hairy largish critter with large googly eyes, and about the size of a tarantula, and living only in the backwoods of the remotest hunting and camping spots of the region. Or something like that. This was all I needed to know or believe about such spiders. Afterall, while I've been known to hang out in, and thoroughly ENJOY, the backwoods and remote hunting and camping spots in wilder places of the United States (such as the northmost points in Idaho), I didn't live among bugs there. Oh sure, there were Grizzly Bears and the like. But there weren't bugs. And if there were bugs, they must have been quite small, as I never saw them.

When our pastor was recently bit by a Brown Recluse spider, requiring a visit to the Emergency Room, I became morbidly curious. Google is equally handy and horrifying when a person is morbidly curious. I apparently now know more about the Brown Recluse spider than the professional exterminators who have come to our home recently, and who exterminate Brown Recluse for a living. After reciting a couple Brown Recluse facts, he informed me that he had learned something from me that day. That's when I decided I didn't need to talk to Google anymore about Brown Recluse spiders. Too much knowledge isn't always a good thing.

First of all, for those of you who are NOT familiar with these curiously NOT big hairy or googly-eyed spiders, here is a picture of what they look like (don't worry, I'll keep it a small picture):

See? It's not at all hairy. They don't even have barbs on their legs. And while they have six eyes (rather than the eight that spiders typically have) their eyes are not at all googly. And they are not even big. At full growth, their leg span is not typically much wider than a quarter, but they may only reach about dime width. That's a small specimen who can create quite a big injury. I'm not going to talk about the bites here. Suffice it to say that they are quite painful and can cause a big mess. In some cases even death, though more common a necrotic wound that will heal successfully if treated quickly. Nearly everyone I know around here either has been bit themselves, or know someone who has been bit.

After our pastor was recently bit and I launched my research, feeling relatively sure that I had never seen a spider like this, I happened by the sink in our basement kitchenette, where a spider caught my eye. I did a double take, as it looked exactly like the one in this picture. I stooped over as close as I dared, to examine the back of the critter to see if I could see the token "violin" shape. Indeed, there it was. I screamed for Dear Husband, who didn't spend near as much time or get nearly as close as I had to it in order to confirm the identification of it. He swooped in with a folded paper towel and squashed it, shrugging his shoulders and saying, "So?"

So? SO? SO???!!!!!!

Rest assured that I had already ordered some Catchmaster glue traps over the Internet, deciding that I was determined to see what we would catch. The traps arrived the day after Husband squashed the spider in the sink, saying, "So?" I ordered him to place them around the house. Lots of them. I had ordered 60 traps. Within a couple days, we started catching them. We went from not knowing what they looked like and never suspecting them in our home, to catching them by the dozens. I quickly made an appointment with the exterminator, and by the time he arrived, we had caught over 50.

At this point, we had spent two long days tearing apart our large basement storage area and garage. We store out of season clothing and linens in our storage room. And things were stored in cardboard boxes. Isn't that what storage rooms are for? Clothing and linens and boxes? I learned that is what Brown Recluse like to hide in. We tore it all apart, re-storing clothing in vacuum packed space bags and plastic bags with zip ties. We got rid of all the cardboard boxes. We went through everything. We only found about 2-3 Brown Recluse in the process. But in all, in the past three weeks, we have caught or killed about 75 of these critters. I've learned that they are known to be common HOUSE SPIDERS in this area, living in MOST-if not ALL-houses in this area. Who knew? Hairy backwoods spiders, indeeed.

If there can be any comfort in all of this, the vast majority of what we have caught are dime sized or even smaller. There have only been three or so quarter or larger sized. There have been many tiny ones the size of ants. I would guess we've had more than one relatively recent hatching, as we have juveniles at different stages. However, the exterminator told me that even the juveniles are capable of biting and causing damage to human bite victims.

And it provides a bit of comfort to know these spiders are called "Recluse" because they are, by nature, reclusive. They are shy, nocturnal predators that prefer to hide during the day and live in quiet undisturbed corners and crevices. They are not at all aggressive, and are incapable of biting unless their bodies are compressed, as would happen if sat upon, rolled over on in bed, or smashed against your skin when putting on clothing. So this is why bites often happen when you are sleeping at night. Yeah, suddenly my comfort level wanes a bit. In order to be bitten while sleeping at night, that means that the critter has to be IN your bed.

Most of what we've caught have been in the basement--but we have the kind of basement we LIVE in. Our family room, kitchenette, kids' playroom, office--all are in the basement. We have caught them in all of our bedrooms upstairs. We have 60 traps planted strategically around the entire 3,600 square footage of our home. I check them every morning and every night. I am the vacuum queen--vacuuming diligently in every corner and crevice regularly. I'm confident we are now having a dramatic decline, though I won't be satisfied until they are GONE from my home-something I've been cautioned is practically impossible in this area.

And common, indeed. So far, most people in this area I've commented to about our Brown Recluse battle respond that they have seen and killed them in their homes as well or are battling an infestation of their own.

I was even greeted by a largish Brown Recluse in the sink in the ladies' restroom at my office last week. I thought I was losing my mind. I'm pretty sure I muttered, "You gotta be kidding! These things must be following me!" before I wearily sought out one of the guys around the office to take care of it. Guys like to do those sorts of things--it feeds their egos.

Thankfully, no one in our household has been bitten. I'm vigilant to check bed sheets each night and rub the kids down with peppermint oil (speculated to be a deterrent). The exterminator will be back in two more weeks, and I will call him back every two weeks for as long as it takes.

I'll mention only briefly here that during the week that we caught the first 50 Brown Recluse in our home, I also killed a huge Black Widow in the garage. There are two poisonous spiders that live in this region--and both types apparently like our home.

I've thought a bit recently about moving back to the wilderness area of northern Idaho where I never saw bugs, and where I could leave Brown Recluse, massive golf-ball sized buzzing June Beetles, and other assorted very large and very noisy insects behind, and live peacefully in the mountain forests with the Grizzly Bears.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Rationalizing...

While working on a little craft project with the kids today, I said we had to take it easy on the amount of tape we used as we were running low.

Daughter busily worked away, and I became distracted with something else until she spoke up as she taped a piece of paper down on her project, "I'm going to have to rationalize this since we are running out of tape!"

I'm pretty sure she meant that she needed to "ration" the tape, though from the looks of what she was creating, rationalizing could help a bit as well....

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Turning Corners?

My Dear Daughter, in all her almost-eight-years-old-ness, has developed a penchant for passive-aggressiveness, especially toward her little brother. If you're a mom, you know the kind I mean.... I'm talking about how she has this uncanny way of saying something to her brother under her breath or behind our backs or in just such a way that she knows will really get her brother's goat. The kind that allows her to follow up with overdone "innocent eyes" and an overdone, "What??!!!" followed by something like, "...all I said was that the show Zach wanted to watch on tv is a 'baby show'." And this really translates into, "You're a total stupid-head if you like to watch that show, so you'd better agree to watch what I want to watch." Dear Son knows that even if his big sister's words appear relatively innocuous, he senses that he's somehow been made fun, belittled, or manipulated. He doesn't have the verbal savvy his big sister has to express exactly WHY he gets so fed up in response to her, so he simply handles it by slugging her. Hard. Eight times in the face.

And some of the time, I confess, I feel like I really can't blame him. HOWEVER--we have been working on the hitting thing since the boy-child was about two years old. No consequence for this behavior ever mattered enough to short-circuit the brain pathway he had built around the idea that when his sister is subtly passive-aggressive or manipulative, the only way to feel better is to smack her. It's been a hard habit to break.

I've come down hard on them both this summer, deciding that it didn't matter if it cost them their entire summer if it had to; the subtle antagonizing and the not-so-subtle beat-the-crap-out-of-my-infuriating-sister behaviors had to stop.

I had long discussions with my girl-child about how she repeatedly sets her brother up to hit her. I had long discussions with my boy-child about how I know his sister knows which buttons to push, but that no matter how antagonizing she is being, it's not okay to haul off and deck her.

The kids lost a trip to play in the water fountains downtown and a trip to the water park another week, and still the rotten behaviors continued. Then one day I promised my little gamer boy-child that he could play Sonic on the Xbox after lunch that day, until I found out he had punched his sister in the face for annoying him earlier that morning. I looked at him sadly and calmly informed him that he was not going to get to play Sonic after lunch after all because he hit his sister, and that has GOT to stop. Whereas he was seemingly unfazed by the other lost privileges this summer so far, apparently this one hit home hard. He left the room silently, and a moment later I heard absolute wailing and sobbing coming from his bedroom. Even Daughter was caught off guard and ran to his side to see if he got hurt. It is not Son's M.O. to cry and wail when he doesn't get his way. He didn't throw a fit, he just sobbed like his little heart would never mend again. I stood my ground, sad as I was myself about the whole ordeal, stressing to the boy-child that he simply had to learn to stop hitting. Meanwhile his sister was impacted by how sad her little brother was and realized how she had again set him up. He asked her to stop doing something that was annoying, and she didn't. So he punched her in the face. I sternly reviewed with her how she is the older sister and how she behaves affects how her brother decides to behave, and how she repeatedly sets him up, blah blah blah blah.

Son, while absolutely devastated over losing Sonic for the day, was very well behaved the rest of the day and the next morning, and I rewarded him with an hour of Sonic that morning. Not an hour after he got to play Sonic, he hit his sister again. It was out of habit. He didn't think before acting and when I called him on it, it was like he hadn't even realized until that moment that he had hit his sister and thus blown it again. The consequences weren't pretty. The kids lost all summer privileges again for a few days. It was sobering for them. I emphasized how their summer is passing them by while they choose to treat each other rottenly.

And that was the last time such behavior happened. It's been 11 days with no bickering, passive-aggressiveness, hitting....My kids have become delightful to hang with. We've gone to the regular park and the inflatable park with friends and tomorrow we plan to have fun at the fountains with friends. Even just hanging around the house with them playing Go Fish! and Checkers has become enjoyable. I'm hoping (albeit cautiously) that we've finally turned a corner.... Hold your breath!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Highly Distracted

I don't often find myself fumbling for words, and I've often been told that I actually tend to put them together quite well.

I've had trouble with my words and my focus over the past eleven days or so. We live approximately 60 miles from Joplin, MO. Yes, this is the place that has been all over the news for the past week and a half--where the EF5 tornado hit and demolished this city. I've read the twister described as a "multivortex monster" with winds over 200 mph. While we have no direct family or friends who lost lives in this storm, we do have friends whose families have lost their homes. And even if we didn't directly know any of the 140 lives lost, I have felt very somber and in a true "funk" since the event. Highly distracted. While we scurried to find cover as the tornado warnings entered our area, they soon passed, and we ran outside to see the beautiful, yet eerie, double rainbow that hung in the strangely colored sky. The entire double arch could be seen in our backyard. I didn't yet know the extent of the massive impact on our neighbors in Joplin--of the babies ripped from their mommy's arms in the 200 mph winds, the daddy found with his arms wrapped around his two young children (all of them found deceased and buried under the rubble in a local big chain store), of the teenager sucked out of the sunroof of his car and out of his father's grasp immediately following his high school graduation. I didn't yet know these or the countless other horrifying stories that would begin to surface in the following days. I only knew a twister had touched down in a community nearby, and that the sky looked weird.

I had never heard of a "rain wrapped tornado" in the many years that I've lived in this area. Tornadoes are somewhat common here, and in the past decade we have seen the paths of destruction that tornadoes make. We've seen houses destroyed just a few short miles from our own home. We've known of lives lost to tornadoes. Several times each spring, we scurry to our basement to watch the local weatherman narrate what is going on in the current weather patterns as tornado warnings post to our area. We perch, ready to crawl into a concrete room in the corner of the basement on a moment's notice. It's almost normal to us, in a weird sort of way. But I confess that even as we find ourselves huddled before the basement television, watching the weatherman and the storm-tracker radar, I don't often feel great concern. We get desensitized to it around here. Tornado sirens are common and most often don't amount to much more than several moments of watching the weatherman and then returning to our "regularly scheduled" lives. The night the tornado hit Joplin, we carried out this ritual of scurrying to the basement, yet something felt strangely different. Perhaps it was because we had just heard that a tornado hit Joplin minutes earlier. We had not yet heard how massive the tornado was. It had not yet been classified as an EF5. We had no idea that nearly 7,000 homes had been destroyed and that 140 people had died or would die in its wake. Perhaps this time felt strangely different because as I grabbed my cell phone on the way to the basement, I received a text from my pastor's wife asking if we were okay and telling us that our dear associate pastor's daughter had lost her home in Joplin. Whatever the reason that made this time strangely different, my heart pounded heavy until the warning lifted and we got the "all clear."

It could have been my community just as easily as Joplin. And I realize now that if it had, we would not have had time to take cover, as apparently this "rain wrapped" beast was not detected until it was upon Joplin. They had little to no warning. Five minutes, I've heard, but many didn't know anything about a tornado headed their way until it hit-blowing their home and family to the four corners. We, too, would have been blown apart, as we were outside building a patio, and only came in when the rain started and the sky began to look a little odd. I went about feeding the kids dinner as Dear Husband picked up outside. "Check the weather!" He called to me. I was busy putting something in the oven and decided I'd just let him check it when he came in. If we hadn't been blown apart while still outdoors working, we may have been blown apart while Husband was picking up tools and I was putting dinner in the oven. Or even while perched on the couch watching the weather, assuming we had time to dive for cover in the concrete closet.

Yes, it very well could have been us. My heart breaks over and over again for the loss of our neighbors to the west. The aching arms of moms and dads for their lost children and the aching arms of spouses for their partners. Wondering how it must feel to be sitting down to dinner with your family one moment and the next moment have no home or family left. Wondering how a person picks up and goes on after that. It's overwhelming. Word's can't even begin to make sense of it, and in these moments, I am thankful for my faith in knowing I have a God in Heaven whose grace and mercy abounds even in the midst of stuff we don't understand.

...and I'm thankful He can interpret the groaning I feel inside that I can't quite justify with words.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tender Life Lessons

A couple weeks ago my parents joined us for the wee ones' Saturday soccer games. Between the two games we had just enough time to give our patronage to Small Town Pizza Joint. The conversation turned to Great Grandma H, who turned 93 last November. Dear Dad offered the information that she is not doing so well, has really lost quality of life the past year, and has begun to comment that she is "ready to go 'home'." It's been a year and a half since Dear Husband and I and the kiddos have gone to visit her eight hours away at her assisted living facility, but Dear Daughter remembers the visit well. I talked some with Dear Dad about what I might be able to mail her to lift her spirits, and then the conversation was lost as we moved on from pizza for lunch to the final soccer game.

Later that day, I was working out in the garden, pulling the weeds and preparing it for the new spring planting. Dear Daughter came out to join me with her shovel, proud that she had figured out how to "chop a box" around the weeds, thus being able to pull them up, roots and all. As we worked in the warm spring sunshine, Dear Daughter's wheels were turning, as they so often do. "Mommy, that's really sad about Great Grandma-that she is sad and wants to go home. But I can understand why she feels that way. I mean, she has been at the nursing home for a really long time, and I can understand why she wants to go back to her old home." Clearly this had been eating at her since she overheard the conversation over pizza a few hours earlier.

I was moved by her interpretation and felt a bit sadder myself as I realized that I needed to explain further to my sweet daughter. "Well, Honey, Great Grandma didn't mean that she is ready to go to her old home...." (pause...as I try to find sensitive, but more accurate wording) "...Great Grandma meant that she is feeling ready to go 'home' to be with Jesus." A long pause followed. Dear Daughter stopped digging and leaned on her shovel as the realization sunk in.

"But why, Mommy?"

"Well, Sweetie, she is just getting really tired and worn out now that she is 93 years old. She can't see very well anymore, and she can't hear very well anymore, and her back hurts her all the time because of her Osteoporosis, and she can't move very well, and she doesn't always remember stuff very well anymore, and...well...imagine how it would feel to just sit in your chair all day and not be able to hear, see, or move or think real clearly anymore. She's had a long, good life, and her husband, Great Grandpa, has been with Jesus for ten years already, and she's just ready to go there, too. You know, in Heaven she won't be so tired and sore and she'll be able to hear and see and move perfectly. So you can imagine, can't you, why she might be looking forward to just going to be with Jesus where everything is perfect?"

Long pause.

"Yeah, I guess I can understand that. But it still feels sad that she is feeling that way."

It was one of those hard facts of life that I rather hated for my tender child to be learning, but from which I knew I could not shelter her. This is my last living grandparent, and her last living great grandparent.

We silently, solemnly went back to our weeding.

"You know, since you are learning to write letters properly in school, you could write Great Grandma a letter any time you would like. And she would love to have a picture to go with it. And I plan to pick up some chocolates next time I go to the store. She loves chocolates. And we can mail all those things with some pictures of you and Zach's soccer games to her. I know she would like that!"

Dear Daughter lifted her face to look in mine. The cloudiness began to fade from her eyes as the sparkle returned.

"That's a good idea! I think I will go write her a letter right now!"

And away she went indoors to work for the next hour on a letter about her little seven-year-old life and a picture of a horse galloping gaily in the springtime. I assembled the package over the next couple days, with the chocolates and photos that I promised along with her letter and picture. I let her write the address across the package in her neatest not-quite-eight-years-old scrawl, and put her return address in the corner. And then she was okay again for a little while.

Later that evening after the lights were turned out at bedtime, we had one of those times that we contemplated the meaning of life as we snuggled closely under the blankets in her narrow twin bed. "I still feel sad about Great Grandma and how she is feeling," her little voice trembled in the darkness. And we talked about it some more, and what it all means, as her tears fell and she sniffled in the dark, and then my tears fell and I sniffled, too.

Mish Mash

First of all, can I just say that Blogger has come a long long long way since I first started this relationship in 2004? It's amazing how little html or web design language or knowledge a person now needs to do this gig. I used to have to go into the actual code to change color, font, page design, column width, etc. Now I only have to click this, click that, try this or that out in instant real time application before I commit to it, and when I've clicked around and played around enough to be satisfied, I just click the option that basically says, "Yeah--go ahead and do that" and voila!

I'm pleased to say that the Monkey Virus is largely gone now, save for the radiating pain in my teeth. Bizarre, yes. Sinus infection, no. All I know is that my Dear Mother had this illness a few weeks ago and also admitted to painful teeth.

What I really want to say tonight really should not go into in a "mish mash" sort of piece, so I am going to wrap up the "mish mash" in this post and move on to something real next....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Funk

What is this illness that plagues our household the past two weeks? I usually get one or two colds each year, usually have one or two really bad days during these colds and then I'm back at the top of my game. This time I must have contracted some rare monkey virus or something, and sadly, Dear Daughter has been plagued with the same. I've been miserable for nine days and counting. Just when I think I'm pulling through, I find myself back in bed, unable to function. My head is throbbing, the snot is running, and I feel like I got run over by a steamroller. Dear Son started us out a couple weeks ago with my typical cold M.O. He was miserable for a day with a low fever and loss of appetite and energy and then the next day he was his old self. Oh what I wouldn't give right now to be my "old self." I finally told Dear Husband tonight just to take me out in the backyard and shoot me and put me out of my misery. Bleh!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where Have I Been?

It's been so long since I came here that I actually forgot both my login username AND my password.... *sigh* There's been many a time that I thought about how long it's been, and then I just could never manage to move it high enough up on my priority list. Lots of crazy life has been happening.

Shortly after my last post in October, we enjoyed a blissful 10 days oceanfront in Yachats, Oregon...gazing at the amazing Pacific Ocean sunsets in our backyard, lots of beach combing, time with cousins (first time the kids met their cousins), time with Grandpa and Grandma M.

It was also the kids' first time on an airplane. We had a couple layovers, which required the kids to entertain themselves in the airports--something that is never too challenging for them, easily amused as they are.



We also visited Heceta Head lighthouse (also the scene of my first date with Dear Husband 15 years ag0), Yaquina Head Lighthouse-where we also watched dozens of whales spouting, fluking, and breaching-Munson Falls (highest waterfall in the coastal mountain range), Tillamook cheese factory, stuck our fingers in lots of tide pools, and watched the sea lions at Newport (always endlessly amusing).



After returning from this amazing family vacation, most of us got really ill with some exotic bug we picked up at one of the airports. This pretty much overshadowed Halloween and brought us close to Thanksgiving.

Dear Son turned 5 in December and insisted on a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese (shudder), and the holidays pretty much passed in a blur. I'm not exactly sure what else has happened in the past several months, but we have had an outstanding year of homeschooling (with 5 weeks left in our year).

Dear Son has actually completed Kindergarten now and is reading, and doing simple addition and subtraction. Dear Daughter is finishing second grade, and has learned about the birth of the United States, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the presidencies of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the inventions of Benjamin Franklin and Eli Whitney, the beginning and ending of slavery, the Louisiana Purchase and the Oregon Trail, and thorough US geography. She is writing in cursive and doing multiplication. Yes, it has been an awesome school year!

I've been swamped with work. The business never stops rolling in and I never have enough time to manage all the work, which is a good problem to have. It also requires discipline, boundaries, and organization, not to mention perseverance and patience and lots of tolerance to juggle this along with the homeschooling. Much of the time I manage it with great skill and grace. The rest of the time (when I get overwhelmed) I curl up in a ball in the corner and babble incoherently for a few hours before I pull it together again and go on.

And so blogging has quite appropriately taken a backseat the past months as I focused on such things as educating the wee ones and juggling my counseling practice--and squeezing in a load of laundry and a round of vacuuming whenever I got the chance. As I see this school year to a close with the kids in a few weeks, I am hopeful to return here to log some more simple pleasures and memories. It's a great way to reflect, log the blessings in our lives, and write off some steam.

It's a busy life, but it's a good life. Today was the second mowing of the year, and as I buzzed around the five acres of grass for two hours on the mower, I pondered the meaning of life. It's my favorite thing to do when I get those blissful two hours to let my mind wander guilt-free and I can't hear any "Mommy, Mommy!" over the drone of the mower engine. As I pondered this afternoon, I thoughts of what a good life this is. I love my independence. I love to be self-employed and answer to no one but myself as I manage my career and do business on my own terms. I love the freedom to school our children and teach them at their own pace, to thrill in the joy of learning with them, and instill excellent character and morals in their little lives. I love to look out our windows and see open space, smell fresh air, and hear tree frogs and coyotes howl in our backyard at night. I love to watch the deer munch our lawn, grow our own vegetables, raise our own chickens and gather eggs with the kids each day.

It's a good life. A simple life, but a life rich in rewards.