If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, a grandson, a granddaughter, 3 dogs, 2 rabbits, 2 dwarf frogs, an unfortunate number of tadpoles, and a whole lot of love.




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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family Photo Day

I should preface this story with the fact that my husband has always hated Family Photo Day. It's not that I loved it or anything, but it was important to me. Family photos are extremely important to me. I love looking at them and I love taking them. We used to have them professionally taken, made into Christmas cards and sent out religiously the day after Thanksgiving. Notice the past tense? Let me tell you what happened in 2002…...

Z was eight, A was six, and K was three. Such cute ages for Family Photo Day! We also had two adorable dogs named Bo and Sadie. What could be more precious than two dogs in our Christmas picture? I scheduled a special pet-friendly photo session at a studio just fifteen minutes from the little house we were living in at the time. What could go wrong? Well, where do I begin? Right off the bat some mistakes were made by both my husband and me that played a huge part in the debacle that followed. First, we had chili the night before and I made the unfortunate decision to give the leftovers to the dogs. Secondly, he fed the kids chocolate donuts right before we left. Bear with me. This will all make sense in just a second.

We all got dressed up and everyone looked really nice. Anyone who knows us knows that this is rare. We don't get 'dressed up' and although I hope we look 'nice' when we go out on a regular basis, that's not the main objective. Our main goal is for everyone to be clothed. (A lesson learned that very same year when somehow all five us managed to get from our house to our van and then to a softball game without one person realizing that K had no clothes on from the waist down.) But I digress....

On this particular day, our neighbors got the rare treat of seeing us all fully clothed as we loaded into the van. But it didn't take long for things to take a downhill turn. We had barely gotten onto the highway when we noticed the effects the leftover chili was having on our dogs. It was almost slow motion as the smell permeated it's way to each of our noses and everyone's eyes opened to their fullest capacity. I jerked my head around to check K who has the most sensitive gag reflex of all of us. There she was, sitting in her car seat, violently dry heaving. Before the 'dry heaves' could become 'wet heaves' I started promising her things if she didn't throw up. “If you don't throw up, I'll give you balloons and candy when we get to the mall!” (If you approach parenting with the knowledge and acceptance that your kids are all going to end up in therapy anyway, I've learned it gives you a lot more freedom in the things you're willing to say in any given circumstance.)

My promise of balloons and candy seemed to do the trick....until the next round of silent gas escaped from the dogs. Without drawing attention to it, my husband tried to subtly deal with the situation by activating all of the automatic windows. Suddenly wind was whipping through the van. (And our hair, but that's neither here nor there.) Problem with that idea, besides the Photo Day hair, was that it managed to spread the smell faster and this time no balloon in the world was able to stop K's chocolate donuts from appearing down the front of her beautiful dress.

I suppose now is a good time to tell you that A has the second most sensitive gag reflex and I have the third. So not only did we have the dogs continuing their gassy antics that started this thing in the first place, but it turned into 'Puke-Fest 2002' as our mini van (slash wind tunnel) flew down the highway with my husband yelling, “EVERYONE STOP VOMITING RIGHT NOW!” at the top of his lungs. (For future reference, yelling orders has no effect on getting anyone to stop vomiting.) Z, who inherited his dad's zero-gag-reflex, was in the back taking K's dress off of her in hopes that it might help her stop vomiting. A nice attempt, but that didn't work either.

Realizing he only had one option, my husband did a U-Turn and we arrived back in our driveway a mere fifteen minutes after we left. Unfortunately, those same neighbors who experienced the rare treat of seeing the fully clothed and looking nice family load up in their van earlier, were still outside to witness us squeal into our driveway as two smelly dogs and four wind blown, chocolate covered people poured out of every available door, followed by a naked K who was happily skipping into the house asking if we were still going to get her a balloon and candy.

I wouldn't expect a Christmas photo from us anytime in the near future if I were you.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's beginning to smell like my Mamaw.



What is it about smells that take us back to our favorite places in childhood? I'm not sure, but what I do know is that right this second, I'm ten years old and I'm back at my Mamaw's house.

It's Thanksgiving Day and my house is beginning to fill with the aroma of my all-time favorite holiday. This is a holiday that doesn't have anything to do with gifts. This is the holiday that focuses solely on giving thanks to God for every blessing He has poured out on us.

One of my many blessings is memories of my Mamaw. I can't smell a batch of Communion Bread baking without thinking of her. (See my April blog entry titled 'Remember Me' for the story.) Add to that the smell of a turkey roasting, a batch of ooey gooey dressing and a boatload of mashed potatoes made with whole milk and too-many-to-count sticks of real butter and you understand why today of all days I can't stop thinking of her.

She always said she chose me to pass down her cooking gift to and I can only pray that she was right. Her cooking was simple. It was warm. It was welcoming. And it was DELICIOUS. The same could be said of her home. It was simple, warm, and welcoming. She never once got frustrated or stressed when any of her grandchildren, and eventually great grandchildren, were running amok while she prepared the feast. She offered her meal buffet style and fed several shifts of family members without even one complaint or mention of the time and cost. She cooked for her family out of love.

That's not to say that the rest of the year she didn't have her quirks. She and I butted heads on more than one occasion in my adult years. But that never once changed the dynamic of our relationship. I've been told that I'm "Just like Mamaw." The people who have said that didn't exactly mean it as the compliment in which I took it. My response? "I sure hope so." But rather than focus on the quirks they're referring to, (and that I'm trying to work on), I choose to focus on the many memories that she ingrained and passed on to me.

Yesterday, as is tradition, I spent the day cooking with each of my children one at a time while they prepared (or helped prepare) they're favorite foods for our feast. K helped me make the rolls & her favorite dessert. (Both recipes courtesy of my Mamaw.) The pumpkin spice cake was made by my one-armed A and she did a fabulous one-armed job. C layered peppermint patties in between the layers of brownie mix. (A creation I highly recommend.) And all three girls worked together making some sweet & salty candy treats. You might suspect that my Little Man, Z simply shows up to the meal to eat, but you'd be wrong. Z makes his favorite corn casserole and has prepared, seasoned, and baked the turkey ever since he was nine years old. My Mamaw would be beyond proud of these children of mine. Our cooking is simple. It's warm. And hopefully it's welcoming and delicious.

Add to the menu above baked beans because my husband loves them. We'll also have another corn dish because a friend gave me her yummy recipe. (Thanks Natalie!) Throw in some Reames noodles, my Mamaw's much-too-fattening mashed potatoes and her dressing and the meal is complete. You might notice that we have zero green vegetables making an appearance this year. Again, my Mamaw would be proud.

In a few hours our extended family will be arriving to our house for dinner. They'll be armed with more desserts. My kitchen will be set up buffet style. My children will be running amok, much to my enjoyment. We'll give thanks to God. We'll eat. We'll talk. We'll play games. We'll laugh. We'll eat some more. We'll miss the family members who couldn't make it this year. We'll remember my Gramps who passed away this past summer. We'll remember my Grandma, who passed away five years before that. Grandparents who left their own set of special memories imprinted on my heart.

Today I'll be surrounded by the family I love and who love me, amidst the aroma of our feast, rooted in memories of yet another grandparent I cherished. As I'm sitting in our simple home, that I pray is warm and welcoming, I'll remember my Mamaw.

So today as you eat, remember the many people and things you've been blessed with, the memories and traditions you still share, and give thanks to the one who generously poured them out. Happy Thanksgiving!

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good." (Psalm 106:1)

*In the interest of full-disclosure, I have a confession to make about the dressing. Three years ago, I got sick the day after Thanksgiving, and violently vomited my Mamaw's dressing recipe for two days straight. I've never been able to eat a bite of it since. Sadly, no one else in my family likes my Mamaw's dressing. For the past two years, I've continued to make the dressing in honor of my Mamaw and in hopes that a year will come along where I'll be able to stomach the thought of eating it again. Maybe this will be that year.....(fingers crossed)....

**In the interest of full-full-disclosure, I have another confession to make. I didn't just get sick the day after Thanksgiving three years ago. I took an over-the-counter diet pill that claimed to 'block the fat from entering your system'......it worked.....

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When Beth Moore and Good Housekeeping collide


I'm notorious for hammering myself with self-destructive thoughts. Countless times a day, I find myself on trains of thought that lead me down paths of regret and shame. Nothing is off limits. Things I've done. Things I've thought. Things I've said. People I've hurt. People I've offended. Big or small, it doesn't matter. I can find a way to abuse myself with it. Sometimes I'm not even aware of the moment I've jumped on that train, but will find myself traveling along throughout my day emotionally beating myself to a pulp.

What I find most troubling about the whole thing, is that the regrets I find myself reliving are the very things I've sought forgiveness for and have attempted to rectify to the best of my ability. So what the heck?!?

While recuperating from my surgery, I've spent the past couple of weeks lying in bed reading things I've been meaning to catch up on. First and foremost, my current Beth Moore workbook, "When Godly People Do Ungodly Things." The current section is addressing 1 Thessalonians 5:17: "Pray without ceasing." Beth Moore says: "By 'pray without ceasing' Paul didn't have in mind repetitive, wearying formulas. He was talking about a perpetual line of open communication with God throughout the entire day. A pray-without-ceasing relationship means seeing everything against the backdrop of God's presence."

Sounds nice. So I mentally added that to my 'to-do' list and moved on to the next riveting piece of reading material beside my bed. My giant stack of Good Housekeeping magazines where I came across an article by Betsy Rapoport titled, "How to stop beating yourself up, putting yourself down, and selling yourself short." One line was larger than the rest and written in bright purple font and it said, "Imagine snapping a rubber band around your wrist every time you put yourself down."

And that's when God took over and connected a few dots for me. What if I combined those two philosophies?

For the past few days, I've been mentally wearing a bright red rubber band around my wrist that says, "I will pray." Every time I find myself on my self-destructive train, no matter how far down the tracks I've gone, I 'look' at that bright red band, give it a hard snap, and immediately talk to my Savior.

"Remember that time I hurt that person when I".....*SNAP*......"Thank you Father, that you alone can forgive the unforgivable."

"I can't believe I made such foolish choices when".....*SNAP*....."Thank you Father, for never giving up on me."

"I did it again. I'm so stupid"......*SNAP*....."Thank you Father for creating me and for being a God who doesn't create mistakes."

"I'm unlovable".....*SNAP*.....(Singing) "Jesus loves me, this I know......"

It's still a pretty new practice for me and the muscle it requires is weak. But so far, it seems to be working. My goal is two-fold:

1. I want to pray without ceasing.
2. I want to stop being a willing passenger on Satan's train of self-destruction.

Enough is enough. I screw up. I have regrets. I'm a sinner. But I was obviously important enough to God that he sent His own Son, Jesus Christ to die for me. How dare I diminish that sacrifice by allowing Satan any say in how I see myself?

"Nobody is going to read this. People come here to laugh, not to read some lame attempt at".....*SNAP*....."If this helps even one person, Father, thank you for using my fingers to say it."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Things you shouldn't do on Vicodin.

I had my surgery on Friday and all went smoothly. My new wonderful GYN not only showed up, but showed up early! And when the surgery room was delayed and I wasn't wheeled back until an hour after my allotted time, he was waiting by the door in his scrubs and said, "I never left. I've been waiting here the whole time."

Everything after that was a blur. I vaguely remember the doctor telling me that the lump was removed and that it was the size of a large chicken. And I remember thinking, "Wow! That would explain the large roll of skin below my belly button!" My bubble was burst later when the nurse clarified that it was the size of a large chicken egg. (So much for that roll theory and it became clear why they require a responsible driver after a surgery.)

In my foggy stupor I recall being offered some toast....and somewhere along the way I remember my husband asking if he could have my toast. At one point I was forced to drink some orange juice with the threat of having to stay longer if I didn't. So I downed my orange juice in record time. Shortly after, it reappeared along the side of the road about a mile away from home.

Ever since then, I've been in the security of my own home, surrounded by my wonderful husband and children, and lingering in a dream-like stupor....somewhere between reality and Vicodin.....and in that world, there are rules.

Rule #1: In 'Vicodin-World' you shouldn't operate heavy machinery. (Enter exhibit A: The coffee machine. Two fingers on my right hand paid the price for that lapse in judgment.)

Rule #2: In 'Vicodin-World' you shouldn't make decisions of consent. (I apparently turned over control of my Facebook account to my teenagers at some point.)

Rule #3: In 'Vicodin-World' you shouldn't ask questions. (When you vaguely recall your husband telling the dogs to stop wrestling on your belly and for the kids to stop playing mind games with you. Some things are left un-explored.)

Rule #4: In 'Vicodin-World' you shouldn't handle knives. (Whose bright idea was it to carve pumpkins less than 24 hours after my invasive surgery?)

Rule #5: In 'Vicodin-World' you shouldn't proofread anyone's college English paper. (I barely remember my husband and son awkwardly propping me up at the computer and telling me "No pressure, but we really need high grades on these." I wish them well with that.)

Rule #6: In 'Vicodin-World' you shouldn't try to shave your legs...or under your arms....or, um, anywhere else for that matter. (Note to self; get more bandaids.)

Rule #7: In 'Vicodin-World' you should't have sex. (Ooops. Refer back to Rule #2.)

And on that note, in 'Vicodin-World' you probably shouldn't post a blog entry.

So I guess I'll sign off and do the one thing you're actually allowed to do in 'Vicodin-World'.....sit back and enjoy the pretty colors.....Hellllllooooooo Vicodin World.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's raining, It's pouring


"When it rains, it pours" is how the saying goes. If this week of finishing up our remodeling project and preparing for my surgery on Friday was the equivalent of raining, then today it escalated to POURING.

I spent the first part of the week preparing and stocking our freezer with meals, on the assumption that my new GYN will actually show up to do my surgery. He pinky swore, so I have high hopes. (If you can't trust a pinky swear, what can you trust?)

Last night, our daughter came home from basketball practice with a black eye, a skinned up knee, and she was gently cradling her elbow. She fell during a drill. She could move her fingers and said it didn't feel broken, so we did what any responsible parent would do....we pumped her full of Motrin and sent her to bed. Right?

This morning when I woke her up for school her elbow was very bruised and very swollen, as was her eye. (Uh oh.) I called my husband at work and he told me to keep her home and if her elbow wasn't any better when he got home, we'd take her to the emergency room.

We spent the day nursing it with ice, elevation, and lots of Motrin to no avail. We left Z home with K & C, and headed to the hospital at 3:45 this afternoon. At 4:15 we were sitting at a complete stop half a mile away from the entrance to the ER due to an accident that happened right in front of the hospital. By 4:30, she and I were out of the van and walking the half mile to the hospital. As we got closer, I saw a sheet covered body and no one was rushing around. I quickly averted my eyes, told the policeman where we were heading, and he stopped traffic and allowed us to cross to the hospital entrance.

We were called back to the male nurse who asked her what happened. "I fell" she said. (Oh crap. That's what every child with 'mysterious' injuries says.) He immediately said, "Then what happened to your eye?" and she said, "I hit my face too." (Oh, this isn't going well.) I explained that she hurt herself at basketball practice and he continued on with his questions. "Last period?" he asked her. And she said, "American History." (Holy crap. He's going to think she has a concussion.)

When we got into the examination room, I knew I only had a second to give her a heads-up about what I thought might soon happen. I quickly explained that they might suspect she's been abused, try to separate us, and ask her a bunch of questions. I told her to answer all of their questions honestly and right down to the last detail. NO MORE VAGUE STATEMENTS LIKE "I fell!" And PS: If they ask you about your 'last period' they're looking for a date, not a subject!

Less than two minutes later a nurse came in and moved me to the opposite corner of the room and a doctor followed close behind, stood between me and my daughter, and gently but persistently hammered her with questions while the nurse kept me busy with registration. It was nerve wracking and part of me felt sick about the whole thing, but mostly I was thankful that this hospital was so diligent in their care of children and I knew we'd pass their test. Once we did, their entire demeanor toward us changed, and we enjoyed the friendly staff as they took such good care of our daughter.

My husband finally arrived from the roadblock as she was being whisked away for x-rays. While we waited, I casually said, "How quickly things can change." And my husband said, "Just ask the guy under the sheet." (Touche.) A short time later, we got the verdict. Her elbow is broken in two places. They wrapped her in a temporary sling and referred us to a bone doctor who is expecting my call first thing in the morning.

Here's where things could get dicey. What are the odds that a bone doctor will have an available appointment for a brand new patient with a double break in her elbow tomorrow when we call? Or will he need to see her on Friday, the day of my surgery? Will begging help? I'll find out tomorrow morning, won't I? And will my husband, who allowed the house to crumble in around us when I had the flu for two days last year, be capable of caring for my daughter, myself, our other three children, and our home for a week or longer without permanent damage? We shall see.

In the meantime, the downpour continues as we face the unknown of what the rest of this week holds for us. But one thing we've learned about storms is that the sun eventually follows. So here's hoping the sun will come out tomorrow. (Crap. Now I've got that stupid 'Annie' song in my head. Bet you do too, huh?)