Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Hey!  Long time, no blog.  I'm turning into one of those horrible bloggers, like that Looking For George lady who leaves her admiring readers dangling for months at a time (hint, hint). 

I'm sorry, precious readers.  All two of you.  I would promise to do better in the future, but I'd be lying.

I hope you had a very merry Christmas.  Ours was nice, but hectic for the person who does all the planning, shopping, wrapping, baking, cooking, decorating, falling down crying, etc...  I assume most of you can relate.  It's, um, infuriating nauseating frustrating funny to look around on Christmas Day and see people lounging on the couch, looking exhausted, when you know darn good and well that you did all the work, isn't it?  Yeah...  funny.

We got lots of great pictures of Christmas morning this year!  You won't be seeing any of them, however, because there was no memory card in the camera. By the time we realized it, the gifts were opened and the excitement was over. I did get a couple cute pics of this guy, though:

For the second year in a row, I did all my holiday preparations while feeling sick, which put a damper on my Christmas spirit. I hope feeling like crap at Christmas is not the beginning of a new Holiday Tradition. All in all, though, it was a good Christmas. We were greatly blessed by a generous soul who made sure our kids would have gifts to open, and that made my Christmas morning, sick or not, PERFECT! I know Christmas is not all about the gifts. Of course, I know that. But still... You can't help feeling like a loser parent to think you might have nothing to give your kids. Thankfully, that didn't happen (and thank you, again to the sweetheart who helped us!).

Which brings me to topics 2 and 3...  You guys have been so awesome to keep checking in on us and asking about how I'm feeling or about Darrell's job and our financial situation, so I feel I owe you an update.  To be honest, I've avoided it because I don't have any positive news to report, and I hate to be a downer. 

As far as my health goes...  Oy.  It's pretty much the same.  I feel like crap a good part of the time.  Still in pain.  Still not in a position to go to a new doctor or try any new treatment options, so I'm just trying to manage on my own for now.   I'm currently trying to alleviate the Fibro symptoms with exercise, which goes against what my common sense tells me to do (why would anyone hurt themselves on purpose, right?), but I'm willing to try anything at this point.   So far, I can't say it's helping.  If anything, I'm hurting more and feeling much more run down than usual (keep in mind, that on an average day I already feel as if I've been working out for a long time anyway, even if I've done nothing).  But, I haven't been doing it very long and, from what I've read, it can take months to feel any improvement.

Speaking of Fibro...
For my family and friends: I found something I'd love for you to read regarding Fibromyalgia: Ten Things NOT to Say to Someone Who Has Fibromyalgia.    It's not too long, so it won't take much of your time, and I would sincerely appreciate it!

I can honestly say I've had some variation of each of these said to me.  Some of them are said often.  And it can be hurtful. 

I try to be understanding (Bless your heart.  You don't know what you're talking about), so if you've said these things to me, chances are I've forgiven you and love you anyway.  Probably.  Maybe. 

Here's the thing...  If you don't have Fibro yourself, it's best not to make snap judgments or assumptions about things you have not personally experienced and do not understand.  And maybe, when we don't know what we are talking about, we should, um, just stop talking.  Possibly?  That seems to be common sense, and could be applied to anything really, not just Fibro, but it's amazing the hurtful, moronic things we can say to others with the best of intentions, isn't it? 

(In other words, I'm getting a little sick of the assumption, and insinuation, that I'm just lazy and maybe if I just moved a little more/went on a diet/tried harder/insert other assinine suggestion here, I'd feel better.  So, please...  If you care enough about me to make a comment or suggestion on my health- I thank you for your concern; I know you want to help me- but please, please also care enough about me to read the above list and/or educate yourself just a little on the topic before you choose to comment in the future).

On to other, happier (?), things...  The Great Poverty Debacle of 2011: 
I have applied and reapplied for every single night job I've heard of, with no luck.  Darrell has been able to stay busy doing "small jobs," but nothing big has come along. By small jobs, I don't necessarily mean the size of the project, or length of time the job takes- I mean the income has barely covered our most basic expenses. He just finished his last week on the job he's been working on, with nothing else lined up. To me, those are the scariest words in the English language right now: Nothing else lined up.

My running joke this year has been "we're too poor to file for bankruptcy!"  Only it's no joke.  And it's not funny.  So, I don't know why I keep referring to it as a joke.  That seems kinda weird now that I think about it.

I hope you're not reading this whole thing as a pity party or whine-fest.  See?  This is why I put off blogging because it all sounds like such a downer.  But I truly do not feel sorry for myself.  I definitely DO worry. I fear. But abject terror and self pity are two different things.  I have moments of pity party-ish tears and gripes. But I know there are so many people in our country right now in the same boat or worse. I am truly thankful for the fact that we still have a home and my babies have never gone hungry. But some of you guys have asked how things are, and... This is how things are.  Blah, blah, blah...  You've heard me say all this before.

Fortunately, through the goodness, mercy and grace of God, that same kind and generous relative who helped us at Christmas has been helping us throughout the year here and there to keep food on the table, keep the lights on, etc.  Truthfully, we would not still have a roof over our heads if not for "Benefactor X."  Needless to say, we have been beyond grateful. 

And therein lies the upside to hardship that no one tells you: Being in a position of need, and having no choice but to accept help, while indescribably embarrassing and humbling, allows you to experience a level of gratitude that you never would have known, otherwise- which has done us a lot of good.  I thought I was grateful for all I had before.  I am grateful now. 

And a little humbling is good for all of us from time to time, don't you think?  Your pride takes a huge hit when you have to accept help, and apparently I was waaaay more prideful than I ever realized.  I've really had a tough time learning to receive.  So...  as our bank account continues to shrink, hopefully, our characters are growing.  At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

I don't know what God has in store for us in this coming year, but I hope and pray 2012 will be better than 2011.  I trust there will be something good coming, but I've been trusting in that for over a year now and I don't mind telling you I am scared to death as I consider what the next year may throw at us.  I would love it if 2012 could be a bit less terror-filled.  Maybe a bit more stress-free... 

For me 2011 will be remembered as a year of struggle, mixed with moments of incredible blessing.  I'm ready to say good-bye to The Year of Stress and Strain.  Don't let the door hit you on your way out.  Welcome, 2012!  Please be nicer to me than your predecessor.

I hope 2012 will be a great year for you, as well.  Friends, thank you for sticking with me this past year.  Thanks for making me laugh when I desperately needed to, for listening to my gripes, for continually praying for me, and for the precious gift of your friendship.  May the coming year bring blessings to all of us! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Locks of Love 2011

I'm obnoxiously proud of my sweet girlies. We mailed off two beautiful braids today to Locks of Love. This is Olivia's 2nd year to donate and Bri's first. They both look really cute with their new bobs, but I'm willing to admit I'm a wee bit biased.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The long and short of it (But more long than short)...

When I posted at the end of June, I was in the middle of a whinefest about my health.

Wait a sec...  Do you even remember me?  Should I reintroduce myself?

This is the fat chick who blogs here.   

And this fat chick has more important things to talk about today than herself (write that down- you don't hear that from me often).

As you know from my last post, Darrell is related to the I*rwin family, whose baby, L*isa, has been missing since last Tuesday.  I've posted links to articles and pleas to pass around her picture several times on FB, so this post isn't going to be about that. 

Of course, I do hope you will all continue to keep your eyes open for L*isa and pass her information around.  And I desperately hope you will continue to pray for her safe return  (I'm not yet ready to believe she's "no longer with us," or will not be coming home.  Shove that cynical, jaded part of you aside {come on, you know you have one- we all do- the one that says, "She's dead," or "They'll never find her"} and believe with me that she's still out there and can still be brought home.  Humor me, if you have to.  Stranger things have happened.   Miracles do happen).

What I'd really like to say today about L*isa's "case" is just a simple, common-sense reminder not to believe everything you read or hear.  Please.  Seems funny, coming from a blogger, I know- but I'm getting more frustrated and angry as the days go by with each article I read. 

For example, when you read "Parents Have Stopped Cooperating With Police," you are getting one, very skewed version of the story with a definite agenda involved.  You know that, right?

My opinion about that whole refusal to cooperate thing, since you asked so kindly, is that asking for a break from questioning to go home, see your kids, rest, think, or not think...  after hours, and hours of interrogation, being asked the same questions again and again, being asked to implicate someone you love, being asked to go over your "story" one more time, then 10 more times after that...  That is not the same thing as a refusal to cooperate.  That is called "exhaustion."  That is called being on the verge of mental/emotional collapse. 

I don't care who my family is or is not- I absolutely believe J*eremy I*rwin when he said he just needed a break.  I do not believe he refused to cooperate with police.

It is obvious that the KC police have started zeroing in on L*isa's mother and believe she "did it."  They told her she did it.  Did she?

Honestly?  I don't know what's going on.  And neither do you.  Or any "journalist" out there.  AND...  At this point, neither do the police. 

I truly want to believe the mother knows nothing of her baby's disappearance.   And I do believe her.  Right now.  Not because we share a few family ties, but because I honestly do think she sounds credible and truthful when she speaks. And she appears, to this mama anyway, to be truly devastated, overwhelmed and heartbroken by her baby's disappearance.   She certainly wasn't serving her own best interests when she publicly admitted police told her she failed her poly.  That seemed very open and honest to me.  Keep in mind: There is a difference between failing a polygraph and being told by the police that you failed a polygraph.  We do not know if she really did fail it.  To my knowledge, the police haven't made any public comment on it, which I also think is odd.  Why wouldn't they?

I know the police would not be doing their jobs if they didn't look at everyone and consider every possibility.  By all means, they should be looking at the parents.  Of course.  What disturbs me about the attitude I'm seeing in the police is that the focus which should be placed on finding L*isa is now being placed on finding someone to blame.  They don't know if a homicide has been committed, but they're trying to catch a murderer.  If they're doing that, can they effectively track down a kidnapper?  I fear manpower and time are both being channeled away from finding a living little girl.  What a waste. 

Before I (finally) stop rambling, I should make it clear that I am in no way an I*rwin family spokesperson. In fact, I can't recall the last time I even saw J*eremy I*rwin (L*isa's father). So my opinions are straight from my bamfoozled head, and not spoon-fed to me by family members, or influenced by family loyalty.
And that's all I have to say about that.  Thank you for allowing me to vent.  That's been building for days. 

On another, equally sad, note...  As you pray for L*isa, please also remember my son, Evan, in your prayers.  His closest friend shot and killed himself yesterday.  I'll probably blog more about this soon, but until I know that all his family has been notified, I don't want to print the young man's name or discuss it too much on a public forum. 

Obviously, it's been an emotional week around here, to say the least.  I appreciate each and every prayer from you guys.  I feel we need them now more than ever, so keep 'em coming!  Thanks, guys!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

KIDNAPPED: Amber Alert issued! Please read!

A cousin on Darrell's side of the family was kidnapped last night in Kansas City (she is Darrell's 1st cousin's grand baby).

She is a 10 month old baby girl named Lisa Irwin and was apparently taken from her crib as she slept. You can read about it here:

At this time, I have no idea who took her or where she is.  I only know what's in the article- that an intruder possibly entered through her bedroom window, and that neither parent is suspected. 

She may not even still be in the KC area, but please don't hesitate to call the TIPS hotline number: 816-474-8477, if you see anything suspicious or a baby fitting her description. 

Please, please pray for her safe return. Thank you!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fibro Follies, Part One

I didn't know what to call this post, so I settled for the above title.  ...Meh. 

If you have any quippy, funny, smarty-pants ideas for future post titles on the topic of Fibromyalgia, I'd love to hear them, my darling, precious 4 remaining readers.

I received a few emails after my post the other day (about the pain I'm in), as well as a comment or two here, and I wanted to clarify a couple things.  I hope those of you who wrote me personally won't mind if I answer here... ???  I'm busy lazy and it's easier.   

If my goofy health and/or Fibromyalgia is of zero interest to you, skip this one.

For starters...  I think one or two of those who emailed may have missed this post where I finally "came clean" about my struggle with chronic pain.  This is not a new situation, nor is it an undiagnosed one (although I'm not 100% convinced the diagnosis is accurate, but you can read about that here). 

Thanks for your concern and prayers.  There's no reason to worry about me, but I wouldn't exactly complain if you kept the prayers coming.

Now...  As to the "you sound really depressed" issue.  Do I?  Do I seem a little down?  Huh.  I can't imagine why that would be! 

Sorry.  I'm done being a smarta*$ now.  I do appreciate your input and I don't mean to make fun.  You know me.  I'm a snot. 

Yes, I feel a bit depressed at times.  BUT, I can assure you any depression I'm feeling is the RESULT of the pain I'm in and whatever is making me sick, and NOT the CAUSE.  This is not one of those "chicken or the egg" things, open to debate.  I have no doubt which issue came first- the pain and fatigue.  It is very, very, very, very hard (I hope that was enough very's to make my point clear) to feel upbeat when:
  1. You HURT all the flipping time.
  2. Your daily routine- no, your entire life- has been totally turned upside down, and there's not a darn thing you can do about it.
  3. Your ability to be productive, feel useful, and even interact with your kids has been shot to he**.
If I may elaborate on that third point just a bit...  I have always (even years before getting "sick") based my self-worth on my productivity.  Meaning: How clean can I keep my house?  How well can I keep up with laundry?  How much "quality" time can I spend with my kids?  And even- How smart are my children (not entirely under my control, I know, but being a homeschool mom means even that is a responsibility I carry on my shoulders)?  

If I'm not living up to my own twisted standard of being the perfect mom, I start to feel down on myself.  I've always known I expect waaaaay too much from myself, but that's how I am, just the same.   I am trying to cut myself more slack now that life is "different," but, right or wrong, I've always considered myself useful when I can look around and see all the worthwhile things I've done.

And now?  I don't do anything useful.  At least that's how it feels to me.  I don't clean.  I'm not outside playing with my kids.  I rarely cook.  If I do, it's exhausting.  For example, I burst into tears the other day because I was making dinner and trying to slice through a stick of butter but I wasn't strong enough to do it.  My shaking hand and weak arm couldn't do it.  My collar bone was screaming at me; begging me to stop.  Darrell had to take over.  It was BUTTER, for Pete's sake. 

So yeah, there's some depression sneaking in there.  However, I do not consider myself a depressed person.  There's a huge difference, I think.  I don't think I "suffer" from Depression.  Any suffering I'm doing is from physical pain only (and I really don't like using that word- "suffer"...  Parents who lose a child suffer.  Captured soldiers suffer.  I just hurt).

I understand that Fibro is not a widely understood condition, so I don't get offended when you toss out ideas like the depression thing.  Don't worry about offending me.  Why on Earth would I be offended by a caring friend?  Again, thanks...  But, I'm good. 

I also do not think I'm suffering from a stress-related pain "disorder" (I think I also got a comment or an email about that).  The way my last post was worded could have easily been interpreted to mean that my pain and stress level are linked.  In fact, I apparently gave my mother the impression that her impending visit was causing me more pain (Whoopsie!  Sorry, Mom. 8( )!  Not what I intended to say at all!  This recent pain flare-up started before we heard mom was coming, and before the water pipes broke.  I was just kind of chillin' and minding my own business, then BAM!). Truthfully, I would be thrilled if Fibro was brought on by stress!  That would mean two things:
  1. During times of low stress, I would be pain free.  I would LOVE that.
  2. I could anticipate and prepare for pain flares when a stressful event was coming on.  That, too, would be awesome!  As it stands right now, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to my flare-ups.  I can't predict when it will happen.  I've had to cancel many, many events I looked forward to because of it, and fake my way through others I couldn't cancel, while I felt like I was dying.  It would be so much easier, from a scheduling standpoint, if I could predict a flare-up.
Now, to answer another emailed question ("What does it feel like?")... This is the part I hate describing, because I fear sounding like a big pansy.  I don't want to come across like I'm exaggerating for effect, and I'm certainly not trying to complain, get sympathy, or throw a pity party.  I'm just answering your question as honestly as possible, okay?  Okay... 

Fibro pain is in the bones and muscles.  I have "spots" that hurt all the time, as well as areas that don't bother me much until a bad flare-up hits.  The daily pain level ranges from something akin to a really bad bruise- only painful upon pressure (I like the times when it feels like a really bad bruise.  Those are what I consider "good" days), to a pulled muscle, a sprain, an arthritic joint, and even sometimes like the day after exercising too hard- sore and stiff.  Then, I also have "flares" when certain spots become extremely painful for God-only-knows how long.  When I'm having a flare-up, the pulled muscle feeling becomes more like a broken bone feeling, or an "Oh dear Lord, there is a metal spike being driven into the middle of my shoulder, hip (etc)" feeling.  Right now, my left collar bone and shoulder area feels "broken" to me- it's almost not functional.  The pain is a constant, sharp ache.  The other collar bone aches (and I'd probably smack you if you touched it-lol), but doesn't feel as "debilitating," so the pain doesn't always affect both sides equally.  There is stiffness and weakness involved. Sometimes the weakness makes me shake.

It seems to be a "spreading" kind of thing.  Meaning, as recent as a year ago, my collar bones didn't really bother me at all.  The year before that, my elbows weren't affected.  I guess you'd call it degenerative, maybe?  That makes it sound so serious, though.  Like I have a horrible disease.  I don't mean to make it sound that way, but I think it's pretty common in most Fibro folks that it continues to worsen and affect more of their bodies as time goes on.

There is also an extreme fatigue component, so it's not just about the pain.  I feel worn out all the time.  There is never a time when I feel refreshed and rested.  Never.  And I don't sleep well.  I've given up on hoping for sleep.  I haven't slept normally since I started getting sick.  I talked about all that before, though- in that previous post I mentioned above.

Oh, and yes- it does hurt to touch me.  I used to love Darrell's back rubs.  Not anymore.  I cringe when someone approaches me for a hug.  If you accidentally "tap" my elbow, I might jump out of my skin.  I used to think of myself as having a pretty high threshold for pain... well, actually I still do, but it wouldn't look that way to you.  To an outsider who can't see any reason I'd be in pain (no black and blue marks, no bones jutting out of my skin, no red, swollen areas, etc), I'm sure I appear to be very wimpy and jumpy over the littlest thing.

This is getting long, so I'll cover the other questions I was asked soon, in a Part Two.  If you have a question, feel free to ask and I'll try to include the answer. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pillow Talk

This is an honest-to-goodness conversation I had just moments ago with the Samster...  God help me.

Me (with eyes closed- trying to look asleep- and jaw clenched): Mommy's getting mad, Sammy.  Go to sleep.
Sam: Okay.

Sam:  I patting yuhs arm, Mom?  I pat yuhs arm.  ... That nice, Mom?  I be nice, Mom?
Me:  Yes, that's nice.  You are very nice.  Mommy is still getting mad because you're not trying to go to----
Sam: BOOP! I gots yuhs NOSE, MOM! (laughs)
Me: Yes, I noticed that.  You have quite the sharp fingernail, there.  Is Mommy bleeding?  Is my nose blee--- can you let go, hon?  You're seriously hurting me.  NOW, please. 
Sam: HAHAHAHA! (I assume he's laughing because my voice sounds all nasal and funny, not because he's hurting me.  He let go.)
Me: Thank you.  No more talking.  Go the... to sleep.  I MEAN IT.
Sam:  Okay.

Sam: You get yuhs own widdle baby chicken.  On yuhs own widdle baby plate (these are lines from a tv commercial he loves to repeat...  at 11:00 p.m., apparently)
Me:  I stopped drinking before having children.  Did you know that, Stinkleton?  Sometimes I question that decision.
Sam: Drink?  I has a drink?
Me: No.  Sleep.
Sam:  I not tie-yud.
Sam:  You tie-yud, Mom?
Me: God, yes.  Samuel ROBERT, it is after 11:00.  I want you to stop talking and GO------
Sam: Eight, nine, ten, ewebben.
Me: SAM!
Sam: (fake snores, eyes squeezed shut) Nigh-night (more fake snores).
Me: Night-night.  That's my good boy (I kiss his forehead).


Me (thinking to myself): Thank God.  I think we're in the clear. 


Sam: Yeah.  I good boy.  ...I good boy, Mom?

Me (to myself): You've gotta be kidding me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What a week I'm having...

This is going to sound like a Complaint Post, but it's not.  It's simply a recap of the past week.  If it's whiny, I'm oh-so-sorry.  I'll try to say something happy at the end to balance it out.

Last week, I started feeling a pain flare coming on which was concentrated mostly in my left shoulder, collar bone and down my arm.  Several days into it, my arm wasn't working well, and I realized I wasn't going to get much accomplished around the house... or anywhere else for that matter.  I'd had a rough and busy 4-5 days anyway, so I decided to take a day off and hope the pain got better.

This is around the time I found out we will soon be having out-of-town visitors. 

Of course. 

These are the kind of out-of-town visitors for whom you scurry around like a psychotic person.  The kind whose impending arrival can cause you to spew every form of hateful commentary at your precious children.   But, and this is important, we're very happy they're coming.

As the days went on, the pain continued to worsen.  It moved up my shoulder muscles into my neck and down my arm to my elbow.  My left arm is currently a useless, dangly accessory (and have I ever mentioned I'm left-handed?).  It completely ignores my pleas to function and do something useful. 

By the way, in case you ever need such information, I've found that yelling at an appendage to "Pick up that rag and scrub, DA##IT!" is a fairly futile activity.

I made it very clear to my family- in that sweet, loving way I have- that I need as much help from them as possible to get this house in order for company.  "ALL HANDS ON DECK, DA##IT," became the mantra of the week, spoken in sugary tones of maternal love and devotion.

There's been a lot of "DA##IT" around here this past week.  I'm sorry.  I'm not a perfect mom. 

Sometimes, I just think it's fun to state the obvious.

A couple days into the ALL HANDS ON DECK frenzy was around the time I found out from the Water Meter Reading Guy that we have used over 13,000 gallons of water already this month, so there must be a leak in our pipes. 

Of course. 

There went all that "help" I was supposed to be getting.  Darrell had to rent a big yard-digger-upper thing and use all the boys to search for and then repair the leak.  And, oh- snort- did I mention- ooohahahabwaaahaha- that I also forgot to record a BIG check I wrote, so we actually have waaaaay less money than I thought we had?  I didn't?  I can't believe I left that out, because it's a- hahahahaha- really important detail- mwaaaahaha.  I've totally screwed us for the week month!!  I don't know how we'll catch up! Wooo, boy- hahaha!  How's that for a knee-slapper? 

The "missed" check, on top of the rental fee for the yard-digger-upper thing, on top of the huge water bill we'll have to pay for water we didn't even use, oh and- HAHAHAAAAA- the overdraft fees from the bank!!!  I forgot the overdraft fees we're going to have!  You mix that all together in a big 'ol vat of crazy and what do you get?  Huh?  Do you know? 

You get a huge, writhing-in-agony, half-paralyzed cow, who cries and laughs at the same time and shouts unsavory words at her beautiful, angel-faced babies who are only trying to help.  You get an earsplitting "I CANT TAKE ANOTHER SECOND OF THIS CRAP, DA##IT!" when you tell me we're out of ice cream.  That's what you get.

Darrell and the boys did get the leak repaired (we hope), and they all pitched in around the house yesterday and got a lot done.  Which is awesome.  No complaining there.  However, there is still MUCH to do, and the fat half-a-plegic feels no more ready to scrub or shop than she did last week. 

There's also been the fun little plot twist regarding my toe.  Have I mentioned my toe?  No?  Probably because it would be in poor taste to tell you about my toe.  You'd be really grossed out to hear how my ingrown big toenail on my left foot was hurting so bad that I ended up going after it like Jack the Ripper on meth just so I could walk, and now it's, uh, worse.  Way.  Waaaay worse.  I've hobbled myself.

Kinda funny that I was trying to do an in-home surgical procedure to avoid the cost of going to the doctor, and now I've pretty much guaranteed that a Dr. visit will be absolutely necessary if I want to put any weight on my toe ever again.  Yeah.  That's so, so funny.

Speaking of doctor's visits...  Did I tell you I found out the infection I had in my eyes is the kind of thing that will keep coming back?  I'll always have problems with it.  Oh, Man!  BWWAAAHAHAHA!  It just keeps getting better, does it not?   Oh, wait- I didn't mention that the eye drops are over 70 bucks a (tiny) bottle!  That's the ree-hee-healy funny part.  Not to mention the joy I feel over hearing the words, "Unfortunately, this is something you'll just have to learn to live with," EVERY.  SINGLE.  TIME.  I go to the doctor these days.  How is it possible that all these chronic, recurring conditions have chosen me for their very own?  Huh?  Seriously.

So, anyhoo... what was the original topic?  Oh... Our visitors come next Sunday.  I have one week to do a one-armed, thorough cleaning, catch up on all this dirty laundry that's cluttering the floor, and shop for "company food" (meaning, I don't want to serve PBJ's and chips).  One week.  Yeah, not gonna happen.  I move like a turtle these days.  One week is not enough.  It's just enough time to do a half-a*$ job of it and stress and cry and throw an enormous pity-fueled, expletive-heavy fit in the bathtub, where the kids aren't around to listen, but it's not enough time to make the place sparkle. 

My sparkle days are done, I'm afraid.  And that "clean house" smell I once loved so much?  That smell of lemons, bleach and windex?  That's been replaced by cat pee.  "Welcome, visitors!  Please, come in and relax.  Take a deep, cleansing breath of cat pee!  Aw... the sweet, sweet smells of home."

And oh, yeah...  next Sunday is Father's Day, too- so I also have to run out and get something for the kids to give their dad.   Hahaha.  I have to find a good gift with no money.  "Happy Father's Day, Darrell!  Please accept this can of Pepsi and beef jerky from the gas station.  Live it up, hon, you've earned it!  Sorry if I got a little bit of eye goop on it, there.  Better than the goop from my toe.  Enjoy!" 

Gee whiz, all we need is a trailer, a crawdad on a stick, and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon to make my Redneck Nightmare complete.

Wait...  I promised to end this post on a happy thought, didn't I?  Let's see...  something positive...  some. thing. positive...


I'm not married to Anthony Weiner!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Standing at the corner of Overwhelmed and Emotionally Exhausted...

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  ...Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. " 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16

If you're my family or friend, you know how close we were to the recent tornado that hit Joplin, MO.  If this is the first you're hearing of it, I guess now would be a good time to tell you that we live really close to Joplin, MO. 

I keep feeling like I should say something.  Tell you guys about it.  I've been completely absorbed by it and haven't really thought of much else, but I don't know what I want to say.  I doubt I could tell a story that isn't already floating around out there somewhere, or show a picture that hasn't been shown on FB or the Internet.

In fact, that photo above is the only one I'm going to post.  Not only because I imagine you've already seen them.  But mostly because none of the pictures can come close to showing you how devastating the storm really was.  I do not mean this to be snotty, but if you never knew the pre-tornado Joplin, you just won't get it.  You don't have a clue.  Cameras have lenses, but they do not have eyes.  They don't SEE. 

Just as it can't be captured properly on film, it can't be summed up in a thousand words or less, either.  Looking at this much destruction honestly sucks the words right out of your head.  There are no adequate words.

When you are driving through a town you know so well, and suddenly you can't even be sure what street you're on because there is nothing recognizable or familiar to you (even though you're sitting at a major intersection)...  That's when you get it.  That's when you see.  Watching people stumble around in their "yards" that look more like nuclear testing sites, with blank, zombie-like stares...  You see it then. 

We're about a 10-15 minute drive from Joplin.  It's the closest "big" town to us (with a pop. of roughly 50,000, compared to my own Redneck Crossing's 5,000).  It's where we shop, go to movies, or go out to eat.  I'm there at least once a week, usually more.  And you know what?  I love it.  I didn't know that until two weeks ago, but I do.  I love Joplin, MO.  I thought I hated it.  While I've enjoyed raising my kids in a small town, I've always missed little bits of the life I left behind years ago. 

I thought of Joplin as a pretty poor substitute for 'city life' whenever I was in the mood to shop or attend cultural events.  The first time I drove over there to shop, some twenty years ago, I remember thinking my life was turning into a bad remake of "Green Acres."  And fine dining?  You eat at a restuarant that has peanut shells on the floor and, by gosh, you like it.  In fact, those kinds of restaurants became my idea of a cultural event. 

Little did I know, Joplin had somehow managed to worm its way into my heart.  It's home.  Peanut shells and all.

We have friends who live or work there- some own(ed) businesses there.  For the most part, our small circle of friends is "okay," physically.  We do know quite a few people who lost a loved one, their own home, or are now out of work.

I believe the most recent number given of those who died (and I'm hoping this is the final count) stands at 141.  And, while I know this is the most unoriginal thought ever, the craziest thing to me when I'm looking at the crumbled buildings and empty slabs where homes once stood, is not that this storm killed 141 people- it's that it only killed 141 people.  I'm truly amazed that there are so many survivors.  You look at these heaps of rubble and think, "Someone actually crawled out of that?"  If it would have happened on a week day?  I don't even want to think about how high that number would have been.

When the tornado hit, I was cooking dinner and watched it touch down on TV.  The weather guy said there was a confirmed tornado on the ground in Joplin  and I was honestly a little relieved.  I was thanking God that this really bad storm they'd been calling for all day appeared as if it was going to miss us.  I kept cooking dinner. Of course, I didn't know yet.  Obviously.  I may be a self-centered, crappy person, but I'm not that self-centered and crappy.  The tornado was "rain-wrapped," so you couldn't clearly see the destruction as it was happening.  Living in this area means you hear of tornado sightings all. the. time.  Tornado watches and warnings are just a part of life.  You get a little desensitized, I guess.  You just assume everything will be okay.

I've thought a lot this past week about those first moments- about how, as over one hundred people were losing there lives and hundreds more were losing everything they owned, I was casually watching, feeling relieved that my family's dinner wasn't being interrupted.  I was glad that, for the moment anyway, I didn't have to turn off the stove and go sit in our shelter where I'd have to reassure my kids that we'd be "just fine, honey" (while simultaneously having a claustrophobic FIT and feeling like I definitely will not be "just fine, honey").

 (I hate that shelter, by the way.  Have I mentioned that before?  I thank God we have it, but I hate it.  My fear of being trapped in the shelter is right up there with my fear of tornadoes.)

It was a few hours into the evening before we really realized that the situation in Joplin was "bad" (ummm... keep in mind here that I'm trying very hard not to overstate things, embellish, or otherwise pack this post full of repetitive, obnoxious superlatives- so if I err, it will be on the side of understatement.  And calling the situation "bad" is a definite understatement).

As soon as the news reports started coming in, the emotional overload began and it hasn't stopped.  I've burst into tears every. single. day since May 22nd- and I wasn't even involved.  I can't imagine how much stronger that feeling of "overload" is for the people of Joplin.   It hits hardest when you're over there, looking at it, but every little thing- TV, FB, an email from a friend, triggers an unstoppable flood of tears.  I keep wondering when that will end and why it's overtaking me so completely when I wasn't even directly affected. Do you all react this strongly to these kinds of things, or is there something wrong with me?

It's taking a toll on the kids, too.  If you were reading this blog in May 2008, you may remember the tornado we were in then.  I think I shared at that time that several of us, me included, were struggling with a lot of fear, anxiety and nervousness over every little raindrop.  It had a long-lasting effect on us that wasn't gone by any stretch, and now... 

One of my kids is so freaked out, I really think he may benefit from some professional counseling.  I'm getting worried that this latest disaster, on top of the residual fears from 2008, has scarred him for life.  And I'm not kidding.  He's been asking if we can sell the house and move.  This is the only home he's ever known, yet he'd walk away from it today if I said we could. I'm trying to make him understand that almost every part of our country has the threat of some type of natural disaster.  If it's not tornadoes, it's hurricanes, earthquakes, wild fires, or floods...  He's still willing to take his chances somewhere else (if anyone happens to know, right off the top of her lovely noggin, which state is least-affected by natural disasters, I'd love to hear it).

The aftermath of the tornado puts the phrase "emotional roller-coaster" to shame.  It's all just too much.  The destruction and chaos.  The losses of life and property.  The survivor's first-hand accounts.  The stories of those whose lives were just beginning and now they're gone (like Will Norton, who was just leaving his high school graduation with his family.  The tornado pulled him from their vehicle, despite his father's efforts to cling so hard to his son that his arms were injured.  Or Harli Howard, age 5, and Hayze Howard, 19 mos, who died with their 29 yr. old father, Russell, as he held them in his arms, trying to keep them safe.  They were all laid to rest the other day... together, exactly as they'd been found- the two children in their daddy's arms). I find myself grieving for these people I didn't even know.  

There are the good stories too, of course.  And, thankfully, we're hearing more and more of those every day.  Joplin is jam-packed full of heroes, as far as I'm concerned.  If you watched the coverage of the memorial service last Sunday, you may have heard Obama, Gov. Nixon, and various pastors mention the sense of brotherhood and community here.  Everyone is helping.  Well, almost. There are the jerks- looters, the people of Westboro Baptist Church (which is a post for another day), one or two obnoxious people who seem to think we're in some kind of tornado contest and Joplin wasn't "anywhere near as bad as Tuscaloosa" (which is not accurate, by the way). But they're the crappy exception.  Catastrophes bring out the worst in some, but the best in most.  People are coming by busloads from other states to help. It feels as if everyone cares. Everyone is giving as much as they can of their time and money.  You see hand-written cardboard signs all over town, saying things like 'FREE MEALS SERVED HERE,' or 'WE HAVE SUPPLIES.'  Everywhere you look, you will see hordes of volunteers, shovels or chainsaws in hand, wiping the sweat from their brows.  The donations and volunteers started coming the very night the storm hit and they continue to come.  Everyone is going above and beyond.

That, too, is like nothing I've ever seen before. It gives us all so much hope.  While I'm sure the city will accept and appreciate whatever help it gets, no one is sitting around waiting for the government to swoop in and rescue them.  These "Show Me" Staters are showing everyone how it's done. 

I'm so, so proud of my small-town, Midwestern, crap-kickin' corner of the world, and even prouder to be a Missourian (by birth.  I'm only a Kansan by marriage ;P).  And I'm proud of Joplin, my town.  The town I love.

Please, please keep the people of Joplin in your prayers.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Next time? Just say NO...

Sam speaks clearly enough that our family understands most of what he says, even if you wouldn't.  For example, I know that "Foosh a bunion" is "Push a button."  But, sometimes- like when he's trying to pronounce a word we haven't heard him say yet, he's excited and speaking quickly, or when he's rattling off entire one-sided conversations- we have no clue. 

Sometimes I have to say, "Honey, I'm sorry.  I don't know what you're saying."  But then he looks so disappointed, or maybe it's disgusted- I'm not sure.

This is the short version of a lovely chat Sam and I had this morning.  Please, puhlease tell me what I've agreed to do:

Sam: "Tay uhno fee nay BICK honno uhfeh (...something, something, something)!"
Me: "Are you serious, dude?"
Sam: "MOM! No. Tay. Uhno. Fee. NAYBICK. Honno. Uhfeh (...something, something, something)!"
Me: "Ummmm... ...  ...  ...  ...  ...Ohhhhkay ...(???).  Yeah."
Sam: (jumping up and down)"YAAAAY!!  TayuhnofeeNAYBICKhonno dooooOOOOO!"

Naybick honno do, guys.  Naybick honno do.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I hate it when that happens...

The other night, I had the best idea for a book.  It was a murder mystery kind of thing and as I was about to drift off to sleep, I was thinking of plot twists and even character names, for Pete's sake, and getting really excited.  I couldn't wait to write it all down 'tomorrow.'

So you know what I'm going to say, right?  'Tomorrow' came, but the book idea did not.  I had forgotten it.  The whole thing.  Other than the fact that it was the best idea for a book and it was a murder mystery kind of thing.  I love those murder mystery kinds of things. 

I have now decided I will never procrastinate on writing down a book idea again.  Nevereverever. 

I have decided this before.  Quite a few times, actually.  Almost as many times as I've decided to lose weight.  And I never get around to it.  But I've never had an amazing, fresh, creative idea go POOF and disappear like this before. 

Of course, I've never had an amazing, fresh, creative idea before, period.  Bwaaha.  I kill me sometimes.

So, from now on...  I'm writing down my book ideas as I have them.  There's this one idea in particular that's been clunking around in my big 'ol head forever.  It may not be the best book idea I've ever had, but there could be a good story in there somewhere.  I think...

I don't really remember.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Back from the brink of death...

Okay, I might exaggerate just a bit, but I'm back from the brink of feelin' really, really crappy, and that just doesn't roll off the tongue the way 'brink of death' does. 

The only bad thing is...  I'm gearing up to get sick again.  I can feel it coming back.  I'm trying to tell it to go somewhere else, but the crud isn't listening to me.

A few weeks ago, I was feeling so icky that I was seriously wondering if I'd end up in the ER.  I couldn't breathe.  I found out the following week that it was a(nother) respiratory infection, but at the time, I honestly didn't know what was happening to me.  I just knew it was scary.  My lips were getting numb and tingly.  My head was making this cool whooshing noise along with the sound of my heartbeat.  Everything sounded far away.  I was so, so lightheaded.  It was nuts.  If I wouldn't have thought I was dying, it would have been kind of fun.  Oh, except for the lack of air.  That wasn't fun.  At all.  After being sick all week, I started getting "abnormally uncomfortable" on a Friday afternoon.  Of course.  I resisted going to urgent care or the ER (who wants to pay that bill?), and decided I'd make myself hold out until Monday to see the doctor.   Longest weekend of my life.

By Monday morning, I thought I could breathe a tiny bit better and I'd get well on my own, so why be a pansy and call the doctor?  Why, you ask? (actually, no- you didn't ask.  I did.  But stop trying to interrupt the flow of the story with your goofy semantics, please).  As I was saying...  Why call the doctor if I might be getting a tiny bit better on my own?  Because I woke up with my eyes glued shut with yucky eye goop, and then I spied myself in the mirror, and thought I looked a tiny bit demon-possessed.  And...???  Oh, yeah...  my temperature was 103.  I'm too old to have 103 degree fevers and shake them off like Wonder Woman.  In fact, let's just decide today that I'm too old to do anything like Wonder Woman anymore, okie dokie?

So...  The doctor was called and I was seen.  I had: An ear infection, respiratory infection, and pink eye.   Who gets pink eye at 44 years old, especially without getting it from their kids first?  Has that ever been done?  When I told the doctor about my awesome weekend without oxygen, and trying not to go to the ER, he said, "Yeah, you shouldn't do that."

The pink eye is still here (it's viral- lasts longer), and as I said above, I'm gearing up for another round of chest crud.

In spite of these hardships, I am bravely arising from my sick bed to give a few updates (cause I'm awesome that way)...

First and foremost, I need to bring you guys up to speed on Mike.  He's not going into the Army.  He was supposed to leave tomorrow, but a couple weeks ago his medical file got "red flagged."  I don't know if any of you will remember this, but he injured his knee during his first football practice of Soph. year, and has had occasional problems with it ever since.  I guess that was enough to raise an eyebrow with the Army because it was never "fixed."  So the recruiter told Mike he could reapply (or re-enlist?? Whatevs), but he'd have to provide full documentation that the injury has been fixed.  So...  I'm a happy(er) mom. 

I didn't have peace about him going at all.  I feel better about Evan's decision to enlist, just because he's talked about this for two years now and, although I don't like it, I know he's thought it through and is sure it's what he wants.  With Mike, on the other hand, it seemed almost as if he got the idea one day and signed up the next.  I've been worried ever since.  So I'm sort of feeling as if the knee thing is God's way of answering my prayers.  Now, Mike just needs to figure out what he does want to do and set some goals to get there.  He's a little aimless right now. 

Onto another kid...  I didn't get a post done for Bri's bday.  I felt bad about that, but I was preoccupied with fighting for oxygen at the time.  I'll have to get a pic of her up soon.  She did have a lovely birthday and she and I got to have a nice (belated) day out together, which was a lot of fun.  I also took both girls out just recently to see Soul Surfer.  We loved it!  Good, uplifting movie with a strong spiritual message.

Next...  I've had a few people asking about our financial situation.  Thank you for caring.  No, things haven't changed.  We've had a meeting with an attorney and are in the process of filling out a ton of paperwork.  We're still managing to juggle and shuffle enough to keep our heads above water and the kids fed (with a little help from an overly-generous family member), so we're hanging in there.  Don't worry about us.  Please pray, if God would have you do so, for Darrell and his job.  The little job he's had going is about to wrap up and there's nothing lined up to start afterward.  Some of you have let me know you are praying for us and I can't tell you how much that means to us.  It makes all of it easier to bear, knowing that our names are being lifted up before the Lord.  Thank you.

We had a very nice Easter.  Hope you did, too.  And Sam's second Adoption Day is coming up on the 27th, so there'll be another celebration in a couple days.  April is full of days that involve cake or sweets for us.  How can a fat chick be expected to lose weight in April around here?

And speaking of my weight...  My readers came out in droves to answer my little poll.  Do you see that up there?  A whopping fifteen people voted (or my three readers each voted five times).   I try not to let the fame go to my head, but it's hard.  Thank you for voting.  The responses were only slightly more in favor of starting another blog, so I don't know.  I may get a wild hair to do that one of these days.  I'll keep you posted. 

First, I need to go buy a bag of cough drops and a jar of Vick's.  Again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dude, you're confused...

As you can see, I've moved the poll (about starting another blog) to the sidebar, since the votes are still pouring in. I mean, it just doesn't stop, people. You know, you often hear celebrities talk about how hard it is to be so famous, and I really can see they're right...  I'm just getting pounded by these things (that's what she said).  The count is in the tens, now, so it's quite exciting and clearly anybody's guess how it will come out.  You still have time to answer, if you haven't already (meaning, please, please answer my sad little poll.  This is me, on my knees, begging- oh, and just ignore the creaking noise.  It's normal.  It's just hard for a fat girl to get down on her knees.  And, there' no guarantee she's gettin back up, either).  Come on, people!  Let's silence all those naysayers (I think there were like 2 of 'em... maybe 3) who said I could never reach the masses and be the incredibly successful blogger that I am today!  Let them see that literally tens of people would want to read what I say.  TENS!  That's like...  around a hundred, just about.

Anyway...  Massive, celebrity-like, blog popularity aside, I do actually have something to tell you today.  Something funny.  This will be a shorter-than-usual story, but too cute not to share.  And, let's be honest, you've earned a short post or two from me, haven't you, my long-suffering little friend?   I was going to post it only on FB, but didn't want to embarrass one of my boys, and you'll see why in just a sec... 

Okay, now for the Story of the Day, titled:
Dude, you're confused... 
(Dim lights, begin music)...

The other day, while sitting on our couch next to Sam, one of my older sons (I will refrain from humiliating the boy by revealing his identity, although I'd like to.  I really would) engaged in a certain... oh, let's say, a 'flatulatory behavior, ending  with a thunderous release of what can only be assumed was a fetid, evil presence.Are we on the same page, here?  It was a belch that took a wrong turn, in other words; a canary killer; the song of the South; an air biscuit; the barking spider's mating call...  a *F*A*R*T. 

And the big kid obviously did it. There was much smirking and proud snickering involved.  Sam was right there, but he was completely innocent of the heinous, disgusting act of biochemical warfare perpetrated upon the whole Fam Damily, leaving the room aglow in the haze of a thick, neon-green fog, which, incidentally, made the dog's hair fall out...

This sequence of events makes sense to you, yes?  I guess it didn't to Sam.  He heard the noise and suffered the following assault on his other senses, and he said...

"Uh-oh! I pooped!"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Happy Birthday to one of the sweetest, most beautiful girls God ever made! 
You are so precious to me.   Hope today is filled with blessings for you!

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I've been kicking around the idea for a while, of keeping a separate blog/journal on health and weight stuff, to talk about topics relating to that and to track my progress as I try to lose weight and reclaim my health, but I keep procrastinating- wondering if it would be of interest to anyone but me, or just a waste of time.  Then, a friend suggested I do it, so I'm just wondering... 

If I started a second blog to talk about and track my progress on health and weight related issues, would you read it?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dear Dad,

You would have been 80 years old today.  I keep trying to picture what you would be like now, as a little old man.  I imagine you with your grandkids, trying to talk them into clipping your disgusting toenails, or asking them to go catch gophers in your yard- anything to make them laugh. 

It may surprise you to know that I think of you all the time.  In the ten years since you've been gone, I bet I've thought of you every day.  I have trouble talking about you sometimes without getting a lump in my throat. 

I've told your grandkids all my stories about their Papa.  They've heard about the fact that you let me believe you were an Indian until I was well into adulthood, and how I always believed you had served in Korea, when in fact you were stationed in Oklahoma at a desk job (by the way, I think you passed your fondness for lying to children on to your daughter.  I had Evan believing that we hoped he'd be a dwarf.  I told him we'd prayed throughout my pregnancy that he'd be one.  An odd lie to tell, I know, but one that would've been right up your alley). 

They've also heard about that time you introduced their Nana to someone and said she washed dishes for a living, even though she was a Vice President.  They love that one.  Hahaha- Do you remember how mad she was over that?  Good times.  

They know that every time I went with you to Dixon's Chili (which is still the best place to eat on Earth), you would say, "You can have all the crackers you want here.  As many as you can eat."  When we go to Dixon's now (which is rare- I'd give anything for some of their chili right now), we sit at the table where you often sat, and we pass around the cracker basket in your honor.  Someone will say, "All the crackers you can eat!"  And we laugh.  I always have to blink my eyes really fast so the tears don't fall out. 

I'm always recalling how much you loved the boys and how they loved their Papa.  Your little buddy, Alex, is a man now. And he's a good man. He's smart, hard-working, and handsome. Mike and Evan are awesome, good-looking young men, too. They both plan to go into the Service, which I know would make you proud. They all remember how you'd let them run around in your garden and smash the watermelons that were rotten. Tucker has grown into a great kid with a heart of gold. I wish you could have had more time with him. Now, he'd talk your leg off.  You would probably say something like, "Garsh...  You can talk just like your mom."  But then you would let him go on and on, acting interested in everything he said, I'm sure.

I have a picture on the wall of you holding baby Olivia, shortly before you died.  You'd be amazed to see her now.  She's almost 11 and the sweetest little girl.  She has such a big, beautiful heart.

Dad, I've added two more children to the bunch since you died.  We adopted both of them and I often wish you could have been around to share our excitement over their arrivals.  I think you would have been one of the few people to be happy for us and I know you would have loved these kids so much.  You now have five gorgeous grandsons, and two beautiful granddaughters, from our bunch, who would have easily wrapped you around their little fingers. 

Bri never got to know you, but she would absolutely be a Papa's girl.  She loves to laugh, and I know you'd be egging her on, trying to get her to giggle.  Our newest addition, Sam, would be the apple of your eye.  You'd get a kick out of watching all the funny little things he does.  He reminds me of you in a lot of ways- his big brown eyes, some of his facial expressions, and his headful of dark hair, just like yours.  His middle name is Robert, after you, Dad.

I know you'd be so proud of them all and I wonder sometimes if you would be proud of me. 

I often think of that last day together, just you and me.  I knew I'd have to leave you soon to start the long drive back home and I kept hoping I'd be able to have a conversation with you.  My heart told me it would be my last chance.  You would hardly speak.  If you tried, it was a garbled whisper.  You could barely stay awake.   I remember asking if you were scared.  You looked up at me and answered with one small nod of your head.  I could see by the look in your eyes that not only were you afraid, but also that no one had bothered to ask you about it before that moment.  You almost looked relieved that I asked.  I think maybe you wanted someone to talk about what was happening to you.

You looked at me with the eyes of a terrified child and in that moment, you were no longer the uninvolved, alcoholic father I spent my youth blaming for everything wrong in my life and the source of so many painful and embarrassing memories.  I ran my fingers through your hair and said, "I love you, Daddy."  I couldn't recall the last time I'd called you Daddy or said I loved you.  Did I ever? 

I asked you if you'd like to pray.  Remember that?  You nodded again and one tear rolled from your eye into your hair.  I took your hand and you held onto mine so hard.  I was surprised you had that much strength, but you did.  As I prayed aloud for you and with you, your eyes were closed and I thought you'd drifted back to sleep, but at the end of the prayer you said "Amen" in a loud, clear voice.  It was the last thing I ever heard you say.    

I think of the day of your funeral.  I don't know if you could see me, but if so, I imagine you being shocked.  I hadn't expected to cry that much.  I don't know where all that emotion came from, but I wasn't prepared for it and I couldn't stop.  I think the thing that hit me so hard that day, Dad, was the feeling that I hadn't had enough time.  I felt as if I'd barely gotten to know you; I'd barely scratched the surface of who you were.   

I don't remember ever being Daddy's little girl.  I don't remember you ever acting interested in me as a child.  I don't remember you ever saying you were proud of me or "I love you." 

Now, looking back, I see clues that you loved me.  Like the night I was put in the hospital for five long months at age 14.  I was scared to death.  I didn't want to be there.  I was led away by a nurse and heard the big heavy door shut behind me.  I turned to look over my shoulder and I saw your face in the tiny, square window.  Your eyes were filled with tears.  That was your "I love you."  You didn't want to leave me there.  I was too angry with you at the time to notice that or care. 

I grew to truly love and appreciate you by watching you love my children.  I was finally seeing your heart.  I think that was the biggest and best gift you ever gave me, Dad- you loved my babies... and you let them know it. 

Growing up, I never really felt like I'd had a father, but my babies had a wonderful Papa, and through them, I saw sides of you I'd never known were there.  I realized, by watching you with them and seeing your love for them, that you had probably always loved me, too- I'd just never seen or felt it.  I believe now that you did the best you could, Dad.  I think maybe you loved me the best you knew how, at the time. 

I think of all the times, as a grown woman, you'd insist on giving me twenty dollars for gas money to drive back home after a visit, even though I'd always tell you I didn't need it.  That was an "I love you."  Now, I miss those twenties.  They were always covered with creases from the way you'd fold them into tiny squares and stash them in that secret pocket in your wallet so mom wouldn't snatch them.  I wish I would have saved one of those because I've often told the kids about Papa's folded, hidden twenties.

It took most of my life to get to the good part of having a dad.  And then it was taken away so quickly.  I wish I'd had just a little longer.  I wish I could hear you laugh again.  I wish you were here to make me laugh again.  I could really use it right now.

And can you believe Mom is dating a guy with an earring? I mean, seriously...  I can see the look on your face about that, with the rolling eyes and everything, and I'm sitting here laughing all by myself.  He's good to her, though, and I know you'd like that part. You'd probably sit and have a beer with him.

I love you, Daddy.  And I miss you.  I really do.  Happy birthday.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Another Sam Post

Sammy, Part 1
Thanks for the input on Sam's rash.  Several of you suggested I talk to Laurie.  I'm sure she would know- I feel a little weird though, since I really don't know her.  Asking doctors I don't know for their opinions, seems... I dunno.  Tacky, maybe?  Impolite?   Don't they kind of frown upon such things?  I did check her blog for contact information (since, you know, I'm all about the tacky and impolite) but didn't see an email.  Am I blind? 

Anyway, Sam's better for now.  His elbow is still driving him nuts.  I get him snookered up on Benadryl at night, so we he can sleep.  Hydrocortisone still bothers him.  He acts like it burns, although the patches are healing well and no longer look as swollen or inflamed.

I emailed all the pics I took to his doctor, who is forwarding them on to the doctor at CMH.  That doctor is going to make an effort to make sure he gets in sooner next time this happens, so they can do some scrapings.

Sammy, Part 2
This part is for Sam (and his mother's failing memory), although you're welcome to eavesdrop.  We'll call this part:
"What I Like About You"
Sammy, these are just a few of the things you're doing lately (at 28 mos) that make me fall more in love with you every day:
  • The way you count...  I love listening to you count!  Juan, Two, Fee, Foh, Fibe, Sick, Sebben, Eackt, Nine, Ten, Ewebben, Telb, Furtee, Fohtee, Fawtee, Nightee (I don't know what happens to 16,17,18 and 20).  And watching you try to fingerspell the numbers is one of the cutest things ever!  You try so hard to get it right.
  • There is a female in our family who has a butterfly tattoo on the back of her hip.  You've seen it.  You love it (God help us).  And apparently, you think butterflies just come standard on everyone, because you will spin in circles, like a dog chasing his tail, trying to catch a glimpse of your own butterfly tattoo.  If I ask what you're doing, you say, "Buttfwy.  Butt."  Loosely translated, I'm thinking this means, "Mom, I'm looking for the butterfly on my butt.  Obviously."  I'm sorry, honey- you don't have one.
  • Our bedtime routine:  We sing 39 songs.  I say, "Okay, now it's night-night time.  You need to stop singing and close your eyes."  You sweetly say, "Uhhhh... noooo.  I can't."  You squeeze your eyes shut for 3 seconds.  You sing 2 more songs while I try to feign sleep.  I whisper a reminder, "Shhhh. Nighty-nights.  Go to sleep...  I love you."  You whisper, "No, fanx you...  I yawz (love) you." Forty-two minutes later, you are asleep.
  • When we ask you to point at different colors, i.e.: "Show me something purple... Show me something green," you will always point to something in the room of that color.  But when we ask you to show us something brown, you point to your own leg.
  • You love to draw sunshines with smiley faces, snowmen and letters. 
  • Your love of music... You are the most musical little guy I've ever seen. And you can really carry a tune, too. I've never seen such a young kid sing or hum so well. You are fascinated by music videos (we watch your favorites every night on my computer), Guitar Hero, Just Dance, iPods, cell phones- anything musical. You do the most awesome dances, too. If the guys are playing Guitar Hero, you will do these cool little moves, where you strike a pose and freeze (kind of like fat Elvis in Vegas). It's hilarious! You will often grab two spatulas to use as drum sticks, or strum one as your guitar. You ROCK, dude!
  • Like any other two-year-old, you like to say "No!" and "Stop it!"  But, unlike many two-year-olds, you still mind your manners.  If I'm tickling you, or trying to talk to you while one of your favorite commercials is on, or otherwise being obnoxious and ruining your day, you don't demand that I "Stop it, Mama!"  You say, "Stop it, Mama, please?"
  • Sometimes, you'll say, "Yous uh good boy, Mama."  Thank you, Sam-Sam.  I think you're a good boy, too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Skin problems


I know some of you with IA kids have had to deal with some odd skin disorders.  We're going through that with Sam, now, too.  I'm posting some pics below, hoping you've seen this before and can tell me what it is.  Any and all input is appreciated.

From the time we brought Sammy home, he'd get these bumps that look exactly like large mosquito bites.  He'd scratch them, they'd scab, then heal, leaving a scar.  In the beginning (the first 2-3 times this happened), there were only two or three bumps.  Honestly, we assumed they were mosquito bites at first.  Then winter came.  No mosquitos.  Yet, he still broke out.  He breaks out every 4-5 months, or so.  Each time it happens, it gets a little worse.  Now, instead of a few bumps, he's covered.  The break-outs don't last long.  Only a few days.

We just had a large batch of bumps show up on Thursday morning.  Sam was miserable.  Scratching, crying...  It's awful.  I took him to the Ped. on Friday morning (it was the soonest they could see him).  She has no idea what it is.  One of her partners suggested flea bites, which almost made me foam at the mouth and run, cursing, down their hallway.  I might be an idiot, but don't insult my intelligence.  I think I'd know if my home was so infested with fleas that my baby is being eaten alive.  If fleas were that bad in our house, why would the bumps heal after a few days?  Wouldn't the sores be constant?  Do fleas take breaks?  And why wouldn't the rest of the family get bitten, as well?  Stupid. 

Anyway...  The Ped. scheduled him to see a specialist at Children's Mercy, to get some samples of it, but Chilren's Mercy couldn't see him until tomorrow (Wed, 24th).  His bumps were almost completely gone yesterday (Mon, 21st), leaving only a red spot, like a scar, where the bumps were.  He still has a couple scabs left, too, from the ones he picked at.  So, the Dr. said to cancel the appt. at CMH, since they'd have nothing to test.

I cancelled, but I'm left feeling so frustrated.  How can I help him, if the outbreaks are so short, that they heal before the specialist can see them?  (Another local dermatologist wasn't even willing to look at him until August.  AUGUST!  How can I predict whether or not he'll have it in August?)

I sent a message to a doctor in the RMI who was a great help to us while we were there, asking if she knows of anything that may be unique to the Marshall Islands, like a parasite, or something, that I could tell my doctor here about.  Unfortunately, I think there may have been a bit of a communication barrier, because she apparently thought I was wanting her to diagnose him, without seeing him.  So...  That was a bust.

Here's what they look like. These photos were taken Friday, after his Dr.'s appt.  With this recent outbreak, he had some large patches of little bumps, instead of just sparse, large, red bumps, as well as some on his fingers, which has never happened before.




If you recognize this, or have any ideas, I'd be grateful!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Will you do me a quick favor?

I'm doing a little survey and if you give me just a moment of your time, you could be eligible to win... 

Uh...  I didn't think this one through far enough, I guess.  I forgot to think of a prize.  BUT- if you give me just a moment of your time, I can promise that no salesmen will call or visit.  How's that? 

I'd like to know what you spend each month on groceries and household supplies (like toilet paper, toothpaste, Windex, etc.- all the things you rely on to keep the family running oh-so-smoothly every day). 

Even if you never comment, I hope you'll play along this time.  Crawl on up outta that hole and let us know you're alive.  You have nothing to lose.  Nothing to win, either- but definitely nothing to lose.  And no salesmen will call or visit. 

Leave me a comment with:
  1. The amount of your average monthly bill
  2. The size of your family
  3. Your approximate location  (And don't freak out.  I know some of my blogger friends try to be very careful about guarding personal details.  It doesn't have to be a specific location- keep it vague, "The Northeast," "Southwest U.S.," "Canada." Comment anonymously, if you'd rather, so nobody knows it's 'You.'   Besides, even if you say where you are, no salesmen will call or visit)
If you're feeling chatty, I'd also be interested to know:
  1. Do you do all of your shopping at one store for convenience, or do you go to several to get the best prices?
  2. Do you use coupons?  If so, how much do you think they save you each month?
  3. Would you like a salesman to call or visit?  ...Would you change your mind if I said he's good-looking?
Come on, guys...  You can do it.  It will take you ten seconds.  Maybe 30, if you're a crappy typist.  Please?  Pleeeeease?  I assure you, no salesmen will call or visit.

This is for no other reason than to satisfy my own curiosity.  I've been talking with local friends and family about grocery expenses and it just sparked my interest.  I always feel like I spend SO MUCH at the store, but I wonder what my bill would look like compared to ones from other parts of the country. 
I watched that show about people who spend all their time finding coupons and searching for good deals.  Have you seen it?  These folks are seriously hardcore savers, which is awesome, but it seems to take over their lives (Olivia watched it with me and she is now inundating me with coupons, trying to help- bless her heart- only some of her coupons are for things like $5.00 off at Garfield's restaurants...  Um...  Do poor people go out to eat?  I think not.  I had to ask where she was finding all these coupons, since we no longer take the newspaper.  I didn't get a complete answer.  She just "found them."  I suppose I should go around the neighborhood, asking if anyone is missing their newspapers...).  I feel like whenever I do use coupons, I actually end up buying things I wouldn't normally buy, or sometimes a more expensive brand vs. a cheaper store brand, which I think, is exactly what 'they' want me to do.  You know how 'they' are.

Thanks (!!!) for the input on the last post (about diet/health).  I was honestly surprised that anyone commented or emailed at all.  It was so long, I wasn't expecting you to finish the dumb thing, let alone want to comment. 

I got a couple helpful emails linking the sore armpits with the fevers.  I feel stupid (more so than usual, I mean) to admit it, but that hadn't occurred to me.  I was looking at the armpit thing as just another random nuisance.  Now, I totally see there could be a connection.  Duh.  As soon as our sitch improves, I'm hoping to get into a (different) doctor.  Thanks!

Also...  I can't be positive, but I'm fairly certain my hair is falling out (again/still).  Has nothing to do with anything.  Just tossing it out there to let you know how my day is going.  Is there anything sexier than a fat gal with no hair?   Don't hate me because I'm beautiful, guys.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's GO time... (exceedingly loooonnng post)

I've been planning to give an update on my stupid health issues for over a month now, but when I stumbled upon this old post, written a little over a year ago, I didn't want to put off writing this any longer.  And it's probably going to be a long one (even longer than my usual), so don't say I didn't warn you.  In fact, I almost split it into two (or three) posts.  If you have no interest in my health, and only come here to hear me say something funny, or extremely stupid and/or personally embarrassing, do yourself a favor and skip this one.

I was humiliated and ashamed of myself as I read last year's post about all the changes I was pledging to make the day before my 43rd birthday.  Needless to say, those changes never happened.  Any weight that I lost was minimal, and quickly regained as soon as I returned to my old, familiar eating habits.  In fact, of the 40 pounds I lost 3-4 years ago, I have now gained back... 40 pounds.  It was gradual; I'd gain 10 lbs here or there, then lose 5, then gain 15, but now it's all back, just the same.   I am now the fattest I've ever been.  Again.  And it shows. 

My Chaz Bono chin/neck appears to be on the verge of giving birth.  I've
decided to name my chin/neck, since she has become such a prominent member of the family.  You see her before you see the rest of me, so it felt rude (and impossible) to keep ignoring her.  She is now Laverne.  I bought Laverne a lovely scarf, but she doesn't like it.  It's itchy.  Naming my chin/neck caused my gigantic arse to become jealous, so it had to have a name, too.  Since my backside is so large, I felt that each side needed a name of her own.  So, now...  The left cheek is Mary Kate, and the right is Ashley (and are you thinking, "Oh, gross," right now about this pic?  It's okay if you are.  You can say it.  Gag if you want to.  That's not me.  Did you think it was me?  Seriously?  Not quite.  Not yet).

Anyway, I still have the same health problems I blogged about in that old post, along with one that I've been keeping a secret from almost everyone.  Only a few friends (and of course, my immediate family) (oh, and the people my husband has told, "so they can pray for me," even though I asked him not to say anything) know about it. 

The "big secret" will be of no interest to my friends in Bloggerville.  It will only matter to those who know me- those who've been kept in the dark about it- or who've been basically lied to every time I told you I'm fine.  If you fall into that group, I'm sorry.  I'm nowhere close to fine. 

Supposedly, I have Fibromyalgia.  I haven't even decided yet if I believe Fibro exists (which is not to say that I think people are lying about their pain.  I don't.  I believe it has become a very popular catch-all diagnosis in recent years when a doctor doesn't know what else is wrong with a patient, to the point that some people are being misdiagnosed with Fibro when they actually have something else). 

Actually, the onset of my "illness" and all the continuing symptoms line up most closely with Lyme disease, from what I've determined through my own research since all this started.  Here's what happened... 

(If you want to shorten this post, and couldn't care less about Fibromyalgia or how I got "sick," skip all the blue type and jump to the end)

Several years ago, I started running a fever and feeling achy, like the flu was coming on...  Only it never did.  I had a solid week to ten days of high fevers and feeling really tired and out of it (but no other flu or cold symptoms, like coughing or congestion, nausea, etc.).  And when I say tired, I mean laying down to take a little nap, then sleeping for the next 18 hours.  This happened several times throughout that week (Thank God Darrell was home at that time to help with the kids, at least).  It was weird.  But, again, we thought I was coming down with something, so it wasn't that weird.  The aches kept getting worse, but finally the fever stopped.  I expected to get better, but the aches and fatigue continued.

After a couple weeks of that, I went to the doctor.  He asked me if I'd had a tick bite and/or a rash when I first got sick, and I said 'No.'  This ruled out Lyme, as far as he was concerned.  But...  Wouldn't it be possible to get a tick bite and a rash in a place you wouldn't necessarily see?  Especially if you're, um, large-ish, like myself?  Now, several years after the fact, I wish the Dr. would've just tested me for Lyme anyway.  He thought it sounded more like Leukemia and tested me for that, as well as for Lupus.  Both were 'negative,' so he said Fibro was the best fit. 

I have never heard or read of another case of Fibromyalgia that initially presented itself with fever.  Plus, I continue to have bouts of unexplained fever.  In fact, I've been running a fever every day for the last three weeks.  Whenever this happens, I hate it.  I always feel like I'm just about to get sick, but never do. 

During the time of waiting to see what was wrong with me, I also started to notice that, as the fatigue became worse and I was feeling more tired, I was actually sleeping less.  It's as if those 10-18 hour "naps" in the beginning were God's way of prepping me to never sleep again.

I don't know what the heck it is, but I do know that I am in pain, to some extent, almost all the time.  Often intense pain.  It does go through 'cycles' (for lack of a better term) where it gets better or worse, but some part of me is always hurting.  The cycles of pain do not seem to follow the cycles of fever, either.  There is no absolute pattern to any of it. 

Right now, as I write this, the bones and muscles all around my collarbones and in my pelvic/hip areas feel like I've been beat to crap in a bad car accident.  I've had times when it's hard to walk, hard to lift my own baby, hard to get myself in and out of the tub or the car.  Oftentimes, weakness comes with the pain, and you can see me visibly shake as I try to lift a glass.  It's ridiculous.  To watch me walk around during these times, you would think I was 40 years older than I am. 

Because of that, I have become a hermit of sorts, even avoiding phone conversations (especially with my mom, who probably thinks I'm a horrible daughter for not keeping in touch as I should.  Sorry, Mom).  The kids always say I have a "pain voice" and they can hear it when I'm hurting.  It took them a while to learn the difference between my pain voice and my angry voice- lol, but now they can hear me say "hi" and know immediately that I'm in pain.  And it's just hard to make small talk or focus on a conversation when you're in pain.  When I'm hurting the worst, I will avoid you like the plague.  I won't go to church, or the store, or any other place.  I'm like an old cat, who will slink off to a closet to die alone (speaking of which...  I just realized I haven't seen Mama Kitty since yesterday...  Hmmm).

The long and short of it is that Fibro has added about twenty years to the way I feel and the way I function.  My "Quality of Life" sucks.  I'm lost in a constant brain fog (pain distracts you from everything else).  I'm slow.  I'm unproductive.  I'm...  pitiful. 
Aside from the pain, the most frustrating aspect of this is the extreme fatigue.  I am tired all the time (but can't sleep, which is also apparently a normal part of Fibro) and always feel worn out, as if I've just been through a rigorous work-out. 

And guess what?  When people see a big woman who says she's tired and is having trouble getting out of a chair, you know what they think?  They think "LAZY!"  "LARD*SS!"  They think, "Maybe you should put down the cake, honey."  That's what they think.  You can see it in a person's face, sometimes...  you know, when they're judging you and making assumptions about who you are based on your weight.  I hate that part of it, too.

I'm no longer on any pharmaceuticals for it.  I tried several (for years) and they didn't work.  I think this lends more evidence to the idea that I have something other than Fibro, but what do I know?  I'm not the one with the degree on my wall.  I'm just the one in pain.  And currently, I'm the one in pain with no health insurance, so there won't be any further testing or prescriptions in my near future.

In addition to the Fibromyalgia-or-whatever-it-is, I still have uncontrolled Diabetes (the fat chick kind, Type 2- not the "born with it" kind), high blood pressure, ridiculously high cholesterol, HORRIBLE insomnia (and have I mentioned I can't sleep?) a bad thyroid, and a hormone imbalance that drives me up the wall ( PCOS- Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome).  And, as long as I'm listing ailments, I've had a new, weird thing going on...  In the past 8 months or so, my armpits have started hurting, too.  What the heck is that?  I have no idea whether or not that's part of Fibro, or Lyme, or any other thing, but it seems like a strange area to be hurting.  It's even painful to shave or put on deodorant.  As if the rest wasn't enough, huh?  Well, I've always had to be a little unusual.  I guess my pits are no different.  I'm a mystery, wrapped in a pancake. 

Wow.  This is a lot of rambling.  Look at all these words!  Are you even still here?  Am I flipping talking to myself again?

It's a little late to make a long story short, but basically...  It's time to take the bull by the you-know-whats and do something.  I don't know what.  But something.  If I don't change my ways, I'm going to die.  I don't mean that to sound all melodramatic, like I'm dying today, or anything...  I just mean I can't reasonably expect to be around for my children's children if I'm going to continue choosing to ignore my health (or at least the parts of my health that I can control, anyway).

I can't do anything about the constant pain or fatigue.  I'm stuck, there.  And the point of mentioning it in this post, is not so that I can whine and complain.  This is not a "poor me" thing.  This is about me being fed up with all the things in life that are beyond my control, and wanting more than ever to get control over the few things I'm able.  I know my weight is to blame for some of this. And some of this is to blame for my weight.  And really, the only thing I have a real shot at controlling is my weight.  And by controlling my weight, maybe I can have a little control over the diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, and just maaaaybe, my life expectancy (not that I truly think I can control how long I'll live, but you know what I mean...  I'd like to add a few years if possible).  I'm hoping I can find the strength to knock down this one huge domino in my life, and then that domino will... well, you know how dominoes work.

As far as getting the weight issue taken care of...  I just don't know how to do it.  I know that I'm not going on another diet.  I'm more interested in learning how to eat better, healthier, and more organically, than I am in following some restrictive plan that will leave me feeling deprived and only yield short-term results.

I just want to live a healthier life and feel better.   That sounds like it should be easy.  Why isn't it easy?  Am I really asking for too much?

If you read Looking For George, I'm looking into a lot of the same things Elaine is interested in (bio-identical hormones, etc.) trying to live as naturally and healthfully (??? Healthfully?  Is that a word?) as possible without a reliance on pharmaceuticals.  I'm trying to find more natural ways to manage pain and insomnia effectively (which I haven't yet) and trying to figure out a healthier diet for myself and my family.  That's where I'm struggling the most.  I've told you guys before that I don't know the first thing about eating (or cooking) healthy food. 

I'm very confused right now about what exactly qualifies as healthy and what doesn't.  A lot of "lite" or sugar-free products, like yogurt, for example, contain Aspartame and/or lots of other chemicals.  So is it really better to give up the calories, but eat the chemicals?  OR should I be looking for more natural, unprocessed products that may have a higher calorie count, but contain less "crap?"

I may or may not blog about my little Journey to Health, and my progress (if there is any).  I haven't decided yet.  If I'm successful, will it even matter to anyone but me?  Does anyone have the slightest interest in hearing that one of my fat rolls shrunk by 1/8 of an inch?  And if I'm not successful (again), do I really want my failure recorded here, staring back at me for all eternity, in black and white?  If I do blog about it, maybe it will help keep me accountable?  Or maybe it will just help me lose the 2 readers I still have...  I don't know. 

I certainly will not blog my starting weight, but my goal is to lose 75 pounds, and give Laverne, Mary Kate, and Ashley their walking papers.   I want to be running around outside with Sammy this Summer.  I want to get some type of activity into every day.  This will be very hard to stick with on my "bad pain days," but I hope to do something, even if it's only walking around the block.

I may blog more about my plan, once I know what my plan is going to be.  Right now, I'm confused.  And frustrated.  And feeling like the odds are against me before I even start.  But...  I still have a tiny bit of hope, too.  I feel a change is coming.  And it's just got to be a good one, right?