Monday, December 7, 2009

Christ in Christmas

I read someone else's blog, and was finally inspired to post. About anything. I think it's Postcards From Insanity, but don't really know. I randomly click on links from the blogs on my sidebar, and I never know where I'll end up. This chick is a foster mom, or maybe adoptive by now, with an attitude. I've seen her stuff before, and the posts I read today were about the insanity of family pics, and the "perfectness" of the holidays. Today, I have her attitude. Merry Stinkin' Christmas to you too!

I love Christmas, but am lost as to where Christ fits in.

We have the school Christmas program this week, and no cute new outfits. I have thought several times that I need to get Christmas pics done one of these days. My sister did that Saturday at her totally cool photographer's for which she has 8 or so years of perfectly coordinated framed pics on her wall. I'm a little jealous of that wall. I finally cut up and put a wallet of my kids' school pics in my wallet today, only because the Rev at church requested pics of the kids. I've always done fall-ish pics, and need to find some motivation.

We have not one, not two but THREE church (Catholic and Methodist and C's UCC preschool/ community ecumenical) church programs this year to make the practices and actual program on time. Tom has to do the UCC/ Ecumenical one solo since I am working. Where is Christ in that? Even in the church programs, I'm not sure. And I confess I'll be glad when First Communion is done so that we don't have to juggle two church calendars, and E doesn't have to choose activities so often. I didn't think religion would be an issue in our kids lives, but it is. I wish I could buy into the Cath beliefs and just convert and make things easier, but I know what I would be missing across town.

We went to my mom and sister's yesterday for Santa on the Train. It's a great time, and the kids love a few minutes with Santa as he wanders the aisle and sits with each family group. I have blown my budget and put stuff on a credit card for Christmas, and C asked him for a $60 Rocky the Robot. Now I went out to get the cool toys on Black Friday, and I thought "Mission Accomplished." He's getting a DS of his very own. Used, but his. He and E can stop fighting over E's, and our lives as parents are easier. So, do I get him this robot, knowing it's going on a credit card that we can't pay off anytime soon? Why does Santa interfere with Christ?

I asked Evan yesterday morning what he was going to ask Santa for, and he was in tears because he didn't know what we had gotten him for Christmas, so he didn't know what to ask Santa for. But then I'll get two of things and I don't want that, he said. This was a huge issue for Evan. Ugh, I almost thought he had it figured out a week or so ago. Nope, not even close it seems. Santa is screwing up Christmas, and I still can't find Christ in all the presents.

I have a good (and well-paying) job, but Christ isn't in my motivation there either. I am part-time enough that I am not at the top of the food chain anymore. I don't get to pick where I work at or what I do. I just fill a hole in a schedule. I DO get to pick the shifts, but that's my only perk. I am good at what I do, but don't want to be doing it at 60, or even 50. Where is Christ in my heart, in my healing presence, in my "Breathing Easy?" It's just a job. I like it, but it's not a passion anymore, and life is too short to not be passionate.

And now, after a 30 minute interlude, my kids are home from school, my extra kiddo is up from a nap, and my house is noisy with the sound of laughter, playing and homework. That is where I find my happiness, my peace, my Christ. In the walls of my home, and the love within. Christ is here every day. It's not about the gifts, the decorating (or lack thereof this year), the perfect pictures, or the church programs. Sometimes, Christ isn't even in a church - it's a theatrical performance.

Always, He is in my heart.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, Colby!

















Today you ate a brownie for breakfast, just cause you wanted to. You are playing with your buddy Steven, and Jack will be here after school. You played with Anthony and Dominic before school. It's time for speech, then lunch, a nap, playing with friends, dinner, and cake with Grandma Rose and Papaw Ed. What a great day! I love you more than you know.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Awesome God

video




I think the preschool teacher has been singing (or playing) Awesome God with the kids. It is now highly requested multiple times a day at high volumes at my house. I thought I would share it with you.

I love it that Colby rocks to "Awesome God" at the top of his lungs! On our drives to Speech, he drives Steven crazy with the requested volume of music. "Turn it up, Mom." "No, too loud" says Steven. The two of them dance in their seats, play air guitar and drums.




video

Makes my day to see them act silly and be able to catch it on tape. And I hope he loves God enough to sing it at the top of his lungs when he's 17.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Colby-isms

Can I have your paint fingers?

Translation: Will you paint my fingernails, too?
I painted my fingernails for Justin's visitation and funeral, and cause it would keep me from picking at a really short broken nail and making it bleed. I was laying down between the funeral and my 3-11 shift, and Colby climbed in bed and asked me "Can I have your paint fingers?" My response? "Go ask your dad." He has one hand and foot painted a pretty purple. It goes well with the carnival wristband from 3 days ago that he won't take off. "It's pretty." Ok, I'll go with it.

I see a haff-taff!
I see a flag. It may or may not be at half staff. Two soldiers from neighboring towns were killed in Afghanistan this summer, so we saw and talked about flags and why they were at half-staff.

twain
Plane, crane, train, your guess is as good as mine.

"the whole of it"
Can I have that, all of that, the rest of it, or some version along those lines.

Short and sweet.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Justin

What a weekend. Friday was a great family day hiking, even if I can't figure out the video and am too tired to care anymore. Saturday and Sunday were just work. We are all struggling with a new computer system hospital-wide and were all crabby, but it wasn't horrible.

This morning... there was an email (ok, several!) from church about the pastor's son. He committed suicide in the wee hours of the morning, at their home. Twenty one years old, with the struggles of not liking college, not knowing what he wanted to be when he grew up, dating on and off again with another girl from church, finding a job, getting his EMT license and most recently deciding to go to Paramedic school. Nothing awful in my 35 year old head, but rough to a 21 year old.

I did not know Justin well, but I liked what I saw. He was a great young man, struggling a bit to find his way, but generally on the right path to being a happy, bill-paying, productive young man with a bright future. He loved music, and loved rocking the praise band at our contemporary service. He could rock at 8:30 am on a Sunday, and had plenty of energy to do so. He was a child of God. He loved music, loved God, and loved helping others. He loved his truck, his family, his friends.

And now, my heart breaks for Debbie, his mom, and Chris, his brother. Justin has gone to be with God, deciding (for whatever reason we may never know) it was a better place for him. Deb and Chris are left to pick up the pieces of their hearts and the pieces of their lives and fit them back together not into what they were, but into something different, for Justin took with him the life they all knew yesterday.

Today, we went to the zoo. What else do you do? While their world has fallen apart, the rest of the world still continues to rotate on it's axis, and my children do not understand that I just want to cry and hold them and keep them safe from monsters and the dark and growing up. And so Tom was superdad while I intermittently melted. Evan asked how they knew it was Justin and not a bad guy, and I am a little ticked at Justin for making me explain this whole thing to my highly intelligent but anxious kid. I was asking Evan in the car on the way to the zoo if he wanted to go to church with me to a prayer service for Justin and Debbie...
Me: "But Debbie won't be there tonight."
Evan: "Why not, Mom?"
"Because she is very sad."
Colby: "Is she sad because she lost her little boy?"
"Yes, she is very sad because she lost her little boy."
Colby: "Did she love that boy?"
"Yes, she loved that boy very much."

As I love my boys, and God loved Jesus and Justin and the rest of us sinners, she loves Justin and Chris.

I think the thought of losing my boys, of burying one of them, is what is bothering me the most. To plan your child's funeral. To not be able to go to their room and find comfort in the rocking chair that I have spent so many nights the last 7 years in. Debbie can't find comfort in Justin's room at the moment. And I'm a little ticked at him for taking that away from his mom. Dammit Justin, you were still a newbie EMT, but I'd have thought you had seen enough to not do it at home!

Kleenex, please...

And that prayer service? It was packed tighter than Christmas Eve. He had no idea how many lives he touched. I am sure Deb's not ready to deal with much right now, but I hope she and Chris felt the love overflowing from the middle of town to the west side. As a pastor, her role is to comfort and support us. She has been a rock in times of need, a voice of reason in insanity, a hug, kleenex and prayer in sorrow. We all want to comfort her now, but it's a little crowded and she needs space.

The echo from the prayer service to the many many young kids in high school and recently graduated was to choose life and find help. Choose life. Choose life, and the folks around you will support and walk with you through any struggle. I hope Holly, his girl, can begin to choose life again as her pain heals. That Debbie and Chris can choose life, one day or one hour at a time, whatever time frame they can deal with.

A small town mourns for many things. A young life lost. Warning signs unseen, left to be second-guessed by all. A pastor hurting beyond belief. Her church grieves with her.

Giant City - Marion, IL

This is from a day trip we took on Friday to a State Park near Carbondale. I'm not sure when Labor Day became a 4 day weekend, but it was for our kids this year. The "extra" is a family friend from church. His family is in the middle of garage sale-ing, selling house, and moving to DC in the next month, so I am happy to watch him to keep his parents from packing him in a box! We had a great time, with lots of science lessons from Eagle Scout Tom. And if you listen, there's a great comment from Evan about how old the rocks are - a million years old, or at least 40!


Eight hours later, the video hasn't uploaded. We'll work on that later!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ketchup, or Catsup, or Catch-up

Sometimes, I am just way behind in life.Colby found a friend in Yogi!


We went on vacation in July - what a great veg time. Tom told me I could not make an itinerary for anything. I could not make menus for meals. I could simply enjoy it as it rolled out. That was a little scary. We drove 2 cars with Tom's mom and dad and their camper. "Home" was Jellystone campground in Cave City, KY. We explored Mammoth Cave, Dinosaur Land, a wax museum, swam, went down the camp waterslide, wagon hayrides daily, crafts, part of a movie outside, roasted smores, ate lots of fast food as well as grilled, and had a great time! There was rain every single day in the forecast, but only 2 nights did it actually come down. There were 6 of us in the camper, and we still like each other. Tom and I are drooling looking at buying one again. That was the whole point of us buying the truck 5 years ago, and maybe just maybe when we don't have 2 car payments, we'll find a camper payment instead. He was looking at new ones, I was looking at Craigslist, but by the time we really get around to doing anything, the new ones will be craigslist-ed!


My 3 favorite boys after 7 or so flights of stairs up, and 2 miles of walking in the cave.

Watching the ducks at Jellystone pond.


School starts tomorrow for Evan - 2nd grade, and so it has been the last-minute rush to do all the things we haven't done yet. It was T and E at Six Flags last week, and E, his buddy and me at Raging Rivers yesterday, and Chuck E Cheese (Charles the Rat) today. Colby has another 10 days or so before Rainbow preschool T-Th mornings, and speech at SIU-E on M-W isn't until September. He went to the doc for his school physical, and guess what, he has an ear infection. Since he's completely asymptomatic, I opted for the chiropractor and probiotics instead of antibiotics. We'll see how that looks in 10 days.

This weekend is a subdivision garage sale at my mom's, so we'll spend the weekend there while Tom rearranges and does some finish work on the kitchen - drawer handles anyone? I have more cabinet space than I have had in my life, and the most inefficient use of it, so he's in charge of doing a better job than I have thus far. It shouldn't be hard for him.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Clouds & Rockets & Hammers

We were driving home from errands yesterday, and my small son noticed the light, puffy, fair-weather cumulus clouds in the sky.

Mommy, what made the clouds there?
God made them, but it's really water vapor in the sky.
No, did a rocket? Made the clouds come here? Cause rockets make clouds in the sky.


He is also exploring the origins of life. He knows babies grow in mommy's tummies, so he assumed that we swallowed a baby to make it grow. I didn't really correct that thought for a while, but we have talked about my friend Tanya miscarrying twins, and delivering one at home. I had to explain how the doctor had to cut me to get them out, but not Tanya. Are you confused yet? We have now discussed that us girls have a special hole for babies. aack, how do I explain this to a 3 year old, and what does he really want to know? Where is your father for these conversations in the dark at night, going to sleep?
Me - Ok, God made a special hole for babies to grow in and come out of.
C - Did he use a hammer to make a hole?
Me - No, I am pretty sure a hammer would hurt.
C - Then how did he make a baby hole?
Me - God makes us perfectly, with all the parts and holes we need.
Time to change the subject, please!

And Tanya has a beautiful baby boy who is almost a year old. It's interesting to me that Evan remembers how upset I was by her miscarriage 2+ years ago, and Colby remembers us talking about her. Memories like an elephant!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

From the Mouth of a Boy...

As we were driving home from E-ville yesterday after speech, in construction, on the shoulder of the interstate, driving on the "rumble strip"...

Colby said, "Mommy, the car is farting!"

Followed by hysterically funny laughter from the back seat. I loved it! Does a car full of girls have these discussions?

We got his hearing test done yesterday, as well. He can hear, although his right ear is worse than his left. Not surprising, as it doesn't have the tube anymore, and has had 3 infections since Christmas. But he probably hasn't been able to hear sounds clearly so didn't learn to say them clearly. Now, we have to retrain him and his stubborn brain about how to make sounds correctly. What fun. He is getting better, but it's hard for me to tell since I have been the one translating his whole life. But there aren't as many blank stares when he's talking to others.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Boy and His Dad

We stayed home today. No pool, no speech, no park. Just home. Which means the yard is trashed, the kids were sandy from the sandbox and wet from the sprinkler and dirty from the grass. And Tom came home from work and a trip to Home Depot.

Colby was done playing outside, so I took him in for a shower/ sandblast.

Evan stuck his head in the door "Mom?"
Tom: "Mom's washing Colby. What do you need?"
Evan: "Never mind."
Tom: "What? Why is it never mind if it's me?"
Evan: "Uh, it was a bad idea."

Ok, so if it was a bad idea, ask me and I might say yes? But you know your father will say no? Heck, I just might have said yes to whatever it was.

I love raising children!

My new toy

A friend at the pool had a new toy 2 weeks ago. I wanted it. I mentioned it to my techno-geek husband, and he ordered it for the 10 year anniversary of our first date. That was July 2, for anyone who is interested. He loves me... It's a Flip video recorder. Now I can torture the 2 of you who read this with video of my kids! Or you can just ignore it. I realized how little video of Colby we have, and thought this might help that situation. He is the second kid, after all.

video

Full screen, this is not nearly as pixel-ed as it is on my blog. And I still have some exploring to do on how to edit and get pictures from the video...


video

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fun With Son

As I wrote this blog in my head last night, I was crabby, selfish, and just plain pathetic. Last night was Fun With Son, but I was miserable. It was 97 or so real temp, who know what heat index. I was pitching a tent, getting eaten by bugs despite spray, and nowhere near running water. It was too hot to move, and I was soaked just from breathing. I didn't have too much nice to say about scouts. Ya know what? My kid was in heaven.

When I went to church camp as a kid (Camp Jo-Ota) the cabins and mess hall had a/c. And we slept in cabins with pretty decent bathrooms. When I was a counselor (Camp Wesley Woods), the camps each had themes - homestead, horse, Indian teepee, Night camp etc. that reflected what you were doing or where you were sleeping. Most of them didn't have a/c, but you weren't on the ground either.

Needless to say, I am not a tent camper. Really, I am a Holiday Inn camper. I don't like hiking to the bathroom. I don't like bugs. I don't like heat. I don't like the ground. But my kid was in heaven.

This morning, I was really quite certain they should end the day at noon and send us home out of the heat. And then I looked around a little bit more. Nancy the camp leader was just as sweaty as the rest of us, and she was smiling. Bob the obstacle course guy had plans for us to have a good time. I'm hoping the older scouts that were helping out were getting a little financial compensation, but I am not sure that was the case. Thank you Nancy, for sharing your vacation time with my kid. And did I mention that my kid while hot, was in heaven?

Evan earned his archery, BB and swimming belt loops, and his archery & BB pin for Cub Scouts. He was hot and cranky from the walking up and down hills, but he was in heaven. The adult volunteers were sweating up a storm and working hard (and planning hard) so that my kid could be in heaven. I think I'll quit my whining, moaning and complaining now. My kid had a great time, and life quit being about "me" the moment he was born.

I had a great time at camp! Even if I didn't, it wasn't for me. Now it's laundry, Motrin, bed and work tomorrow.

And for anyone interested, Tom took great care of Colby while we were gone, and the house looked better than the cyclone state that I left it in!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Weekly Roundup

Evan and I are getting ready (ok, I am procrastinating packing) for Fun With Son tonight. It's 95 or so outside, and doesn't sound like fun at all to me. Evan told me last night though, "Mom, I've been waiting for tomorrow for four months!" Ok, ok, I'll suck it up and have a good time with him. I've been reading too many "dead baby" blogs - parents blogging about their child's short life - so I appreciate the two living ones I have more right now. At least until they drive me crazy, in about 5 nanoseconds.

Tom gets the sick, mellow boy tonight. C has been coughing and sniffeling for a few days, 3 days of swim lessons, and now an ear infection. Surprise, surprise! He had a lovely crusty bloody ear this morning. Yuck! I refuse to do ear tubes again, but it's the 3rd since Christmas. And he has a hearing test scheduled for Wednesday. Hmm, should probably move that back a week or so.

Coming home from the doc this morning, we drove through 3 small towns. All of the businesses had something on the marquis signs about SSgt Melton. He was killed in Afghanistan last week. I didn't know him, but he's from another small town nearby. I was a little sappy thinking about his life, and life in a small town - where you have to work together to get anything done, and E's friend 2 doors away whose father is still there, and my brother's Naval service, and my cousin' recent military retirement, and Independence Day, and and and...

Have a good weekend, and stay cool!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Swim Lessons

I'm taking a trip down memory lane. The first time Evan took swim lessons, we couldn't bribe him with quarters to go off the diving boards. And trust me, Kirk, our neighbor tried! Today, three years later, he swam across the length of the pool with something resembling a stroke and breathing! And he loves the diving boards.

This is Colby's first round of lessons. He didn't have a problem with one of the lifeguards dropping him off of the high dive into one of his favorite cousin's (a lifeguard this summer) waiting arms. Joey is awesome and he'll do almost anything for Joey. Joe also graduated from high school this spring. It has been a pleasure watching him grow up into a fine young man the last 10 years. Nine years ago, he and his older sister were candlelighters at our wedding. Gosh, I am feeling old!

Maybe Thursday I'll be able to get pics of Colby...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tooth Fairy




Evan bit into his sandwich last night and panic-ed. Mom, there's a huge hole in my mouth. I think I swallowed my tooth. No, he didn't, but teeth and bread look a lot alike. I sent the big boys to Cub Scouts and wondered just what the tooth fairy should leave for Evan. I had a few ratty tattered dollars, and thought about going to Casey's to buy a candy bar with Colby and asking if they had any decent looking ones in the cash drawer. Instead, Colby and I walked to Aunt Barb's new house to check it out. Not too shabby for a reposession that was a little trashed. She has worked hard and saved hard for it. In her dresser, she had a gold Madison dollar coin, so the Tooth Fairy could bring it. Evan got up this morning and didn't even think about it. I had to ask him well after he had woken up just what the Tooth Fairy brought. He looked in the little jar and said disappointedly "It's a quarter."

It's a what?
A quarter.
Are you sure? That's not the right color for a quarter.
It's not a quarter? What is it?
Look at it. I think it's a dollar.
Mom, it is a dollar!

Silly boy. Silly wonderful incredibly precious growing up too fast little boy of ours.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Day

Let me tell you about my work day...

since I am still thinking about it a day later.

I got to work in my favorite ICU - Surgery, Burn & Trauma. I saw it all this weekend.

My partner was late, and we had work for 3 of us, but only 2 to do it. 16 ventilator patients, 2 more very recently weaned from a vent, and 14 or so on breathing treatments every 4 hours spread out over 4 floors. A lot of work. And a very sick trauma patient with 3 docs and 4 nurses and an RT all hovering trying to get blood in, keep up with the blood out from wounds, watching the monitor and patient, making vent changes, drawing labs and blood gases, getting chest x-rays. There was a staff meeting. I was called (I hate our work phones!) twice while in said patient's room, telling me I had to be at this staff meeting. Don't you morons (er managers) understand I am trying to provide excellent care here? You know, that excellent care that we aren't meeting our targets and are losing our measly little bonuses for? Then someone from the office called my partner (up to his armpits already!) and told him to cover my stuff so I could go to this staff meeting, and the Charge RT came to the ICU to help. What, am I ten and being called to the principals office for detention? Sure felt like it! I walked into the office, tossed down the papers in my hand as well as my phone, and leaned against a counter with my arms crossed across my chest listening to the meeting in progress. Bad attitude and anger spewed with me not saying a word. The topic was a hot button, and the supervisor was talking in circles getting nowhere with it. After 10 or 15 minutes of the same heated discussion (that we had 2 months ago as well) between my coworkers and the sup, I piped up "Next item on the agenda, please," trying to move things along. The next item on the agenda... Me. She presented me with my 10 yr pin and plaque. Great, I am throwing a temper tantrum and am rewarded for it? Don't I feel a little embarrassed. I did send the sup am email apology. It's as close as I could get to a real one. Patient care always trumps staff meetings! When I got back to my unit, the Charge RT hadn't really left the trauma patient's bedside, so I was at least justified in needing help. The pt didn't make it, but we certainly tried.

About the time I caught up (well after lunch) we extubated a pt I fully expected to fail miserably. The attending has the final say in decisions, and he overruled an RT, RN and a fellow. For the most part every patient deserves to be extubated once and be reintubated before we ask the family about a tracheostomy and open a can of worms with long-term ventilator issues. Dang, I hate it when the attending is right, but I love it that the patient did better than any of us expected. Even the pt's mom was not optimistic. Go, kiddo, go! I hope they had a good night, and the vent is gone from that room.

The surgery team didn't have enough to do on a Sunday afternoon. They're "all grown up" doctors in June and hopefully know what they are doing. We get the crop of newly minted just graduated doctors who don't know much at all of life in a real hospital in July. Try not to be sick in July. It's a painful month for those of us in a teaching institution. Back to the surg team. They decided that since they had family consent, they'd do some bedside work. Two patients, two percutaneous trachs. Easier to do them at the bedside on a lazy (only for them!) Sunday afternoon than wait till there was OR time on Monday, or maybe end up getting bumped to Tuesday. Am I behind in my work yet?

Heck of a day! And I stayed over for an extra 4 hours, which made 16 on Sunday. I love my job, when management lets me do it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's Raining Again...

The insurance paperwork from the basement flood is ready to be turned in after Tom looks it over. Let that fun begin!

The excavator was supposed to be here today to dig for the sewer valve, but it's raining again. Maybe tomorrow, when I have to work - great! Papaw, where are you? Come and babysit the workers when it's not raining again.

Three out of 4 Wednesday night baseball games have been rained out. We have a make-up scheduled tonight - let's see if that happens, since it's raining again...

It's the first full week of summer vacation. The kids are running and screaming (and laughing) upstairs with the neighbor kid who is a teenager. We're stuck inside because it's raining again.

I think I need to find some vitamin D and a "happy" light for Seasonal Affective Disorder because it's raining again.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Win, Lose and Draw

Win - Tom interviewed for a different job title at the base. He is the new Unclassified Operations Engineer. He doesn't know if it's just a job title or if there is money behind it. Woohoo! Kudos to him.

Lose - The city can't seem to find where the storm and sanitary sewers mix, but the result is somebody else's s@#t in my basment - it finally came up from the base of the toilet and over the shower edge last night. We tore the playroom carpet out and have talked to insurance, backhoe, plumber and flooring folks today. I am so glad Tom had planned to take today off as his "Memorial Day." We are trying to figure out where the best place is to put a check valve so it can't backflow. The mayor informed me today that they are working on a grant to find the problem. Gee, thanks! I told them there were still problems and got blown off 6 months ago.

Draw - PAT may or may not be gone, pre-k may or may not be around in the fall (could you make a decision, please?) but my kid is signed up for the private preschool in town just in case. I love C to pieces, but he needs to go somewhere!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Death of a Program - PAT



It's a sad week in our school. Illinois budget cuts have hit close to home. You'll all be happy to know that Parents As Teachers has received its grant approval for next school year. Unfortunately, there's no $$ to go with it. Our school system hasn't gotten paid for PAT since December. They have elected to cut the program altogether for next year, since the state isn't timely in it's payments. If the state starts sending $, the full-time and part-time teachers could be rehired, but it's not likely, and they might actually need to move on with their lives and earn a paycheck. Those are the facts.

Here's the emotion. I have spent 7 years of my life involved with PAT. Janet had to chase me down in the midst of gutting our bathroom and redoing plumbing in the basement when Evan was born. Boy, she was persistent in that "new baby" visit! Lynn entered the picture about the time Colby was born. They have walked with and supported us through the 2 kids, infertility and ovary surgery, Tom's illness, several deaths and how to help the kids cope, my adventure in providing home daycare and getting Colby into speech. And we aren't exactly an "at risk" family!

PAT has been cut in the hopes of saving the pre-k program, but it's part of the same grant funding. If there is no $, there is no pre-k. I was counting on that for Colby next year. There is another preschool in town, and we are lucky to have been fairly untouched by the economy. I can pay for Colby to go to preschool. There are plenty of his classmates whose parents cannot. What about the truly "at risk" folks in town? I have seen a few through my daycare days. It's not pretty.

I am so appreciative of what the PAT program has provided us. My kids have now aged out of the 0-3 years, and I am grateful for the learning they have received. Unfortunately, we are now in a town with no commercial day care, and no school involvement for the 0-3 years. It's one more strike against the youth of our community. What does our town offer my kids to come back and raise their kids here? No jobs, nothing in the community for the twenty-somethings except bars or church, nothing for the young family until they are old enough to play city baseball. I was raised in a large college town, and chose to live my adult life in urban areas. I didn't want to live in this cornfield when we got married. My job was 40 miles away. Tom's family was here, and he didn't mind a crazy commute. I went from working 1 1/2 jobs to part-time with a baby and the only people I knew were the family I married into. I needed PAT to help me meet the folks in town and make connections to survive. PAT is one of the first community activities I got involved with. I found people from church there, and we still meet every Thursday for "Jesus Lite," aka Women of Faith.

So when the state has gone to hell in a handbasket and nobody from Illinois can pass literacy tests in 25 years, here's why. Political decisions were made by corrupt politicians with no thought about the future. I won't have social security. Our kids won't have early intervention when they need it. Stop making my children pay as adults for stupid shit we are doing now!!

Soapbox away.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What a wonderfully boring weekend! Saturday was the city-wide garage sale. There wasn't much to buy nor a ton of folks to buy it. It rained all last week and Saturday's forecast was iffy, so I think folks just skipped it altogether. Bummer. I want a loveseat for my basement. Tom spent Saturday afternoon hanging stuff on the walls. I love my new curved shower curtain, and there are finally (10 years later) pics on the living room walls. I figured out that we really need to re-frame the Ansel Adams prints that I bought at someone else's garage sale 2 years ago. Maybe that's why they never went up when I bought them.

Sunday was spent with my sister and bro-in-law and their kids, his parents and my mom. Kate and Maddie had their spring dance recital, conveniently held at a former school with a playground for the boys (Zach and mine) when they got bored - about 3 minutes after we got there. My BIL stumbled onto a batting cage with a machine. It was fun watching the big boys take a swing, and my nephew helping Colby to hit a few balls. Don and Tom could still hit a few at 88 mph.

This week brings Evan's first coach-pitch baseball game, and the rest of my Mother's Day - Billy Joel and Elton John with my friend Jill from Columbia, and working next weekend.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

0712 AM - Mommy, I went poopy!

This was followed by me finding wet undies on the floor and realizing he woke up wet, removed his undies, and crawled into our bed to get warm and dry. Thank you for at least removing your offensive undies.


Happy Mother's Day to all my favorite moms. We are off to spend the day with my sister and mom to watch her girls dance recital.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Sarcoidosis and Other Things

Nine weeks later, Ladies and Gentlemen, the diagnosis is sarcoidosis, by default. The petri dishes didn't grow and Tom's symptoms largely have disappeared. What is sarcoidosis? Click on it to go to the National Institute of Health website for more than you ever wanted to know unless you have been diagnosed with it. The short version - a chronic auto-immune disease that can be treated with steroids and immune-suppressing drugs. Tom's version - we won't treat with anything unless he becomes symptomatic again. It does go into remission, but I'm not sure you are "cured." He will follow up with the fine WU folks every 6 months for several years and repeat CT scans and lung tests. This is a live-able diagnosis.

Today was the zoo field trip for first grade. It has rained many years in the past when the first grade goes to the zoo, and today was no exception. But a good time was had by Evan and his pal T. I have seen FB pics from T's mom at the science center and the turtles, so they are having a blast.

I am trying to navigate the SIU-E Speech program for Colby - it's not nearly as convenient as 2 blocks away from home, but it's almost 4x the amount of minutes and they don't take the summer off. Things to think about...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Read, Right and Run, well maybe walk

We celebrated my "vacation" weekend. It was Read, Right and Run - 26 books, 26 good deeds and 25 miles, with the last 1.2 miles at Forest Park on Saturday morning with many thousands of other kids. I think I heard 57 schools participated. We were toward the end of the starting group, and my wonderful, intelligent, but not very speedy kid walked the entire course. He strolled it more correctly. He was the absolute last kid to finish, moseying with one of the volunteers on her bike. I had to drag him jogging the last 1/10 mile or so. He walked it last year, with the principal jogging & dragging him the last little bit across the finish line. "Mom, do I have to do Read Right and Run next year?" "No, Son, you do not. I didn't make you do it this year. I just made you finish what you started."

Sunday was spent at Ruth Bruns 80th birthday party. She is Evonne Timmermann's mom. Evonne and Ruth were the only people to babysit Colby. When Evonne got a job at WashU, I had looked at the city's list of babysitters enough that I decided I was done. I would be the babysitter because it was easier than trying to find one in this town. That still hasn't changed. Evonne passed away unexpectedly about 18 months ago, but I still see her in my life and miss her. Every time my kids eat at her picnic table, or play a marble game from her...

Colby would like to buy a bobcat, or maybe a combine. Anyone got one for sale with his budget in mind? "Mom, when I get bigger, can I drive that and that and that? Then I'm gonna drive a combine. And a tractor. And a dump truck." Right after you learn your colors, numbers and letters. He has no interest in any of it. The speech teacher gets about 4 words out of him on task, and then he's off on his own tangent with no more cooperation from him. If 50 is the new 40, then 3 must also be the new 2.

Tom survived his first day shift in a while. It is good to have family meals again, and help with bedtime, and a million other things you lose on evenings. We still have no diagnosis, but he is coughing less and less as time goes by. He's still tired, but I can live with that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spring Break 2009




Evan and Flat Evan

and

Colby

at the Magic House



I have been teased a bit for not updating my blog in a week...

Tom came home on Thursday from the hospital. We still have no diagnosis, but they must have rearranged his lymph nodes enough that they aren't sitting on a nerve. Yes, he still coughs wickedly, but not as continuous as before. We won't have biopsy results until about May 1. He has worked the last 3 days and felt tired but not horrible. I'll take that - it really is an improvement.

I worked the weekend, and the boys had a great time with friends all day both days - thank you Rose & Kathleen. Nobody moved before 8 am Monday morning :). You wore them out quite well!

It is Spring Break in our town, and we have played hard. Monday afternoon was swimming at Korte - the pass expires next week, so we have to fit in pool time now. Tuesday was The Magic House, and it was indeed magic. It has doubled in size, and is way cool! My mom came to spend the week with us and fell Tuesday morning. She didn't have such a great time as her knee was hurting badly, but the boys did. Today was the Science Center - Sue the T-Rex and the planetarium. We left Grandma home with ice packs and Tom - what a pair! - and Colby with G'ma & Papaw, so it was just Evan and I. It was a nice "big kid" day, but having seen Sue in Chicago, we weren't as impressed here. Tomorrow is Purina Farms with all their cute loveable huggable but not bring-home-able baby animals. I've never been there, and E is taking a friend, so it should be great fun. By Friday I'll be ready to not leave the city limits!

One of my friends is encouraging Weight Watchers again, without the payment plan - on our own. I can do that. Time for Tom and I to make some better choices in our lives. He has lost 20#, but I swear he pushed it over to my side of the bed in the dark. I don't do stress well. I do donuts and Mountain Dew really well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Biopsy done

Yeah, we have finally ruled out lung ca or lymphoma! The non-cancer options are:
sarcoidosis - chronic ani-inflammatory disease treated with steroids
histoplasmosis - weeks to months of antibiotics
fungal infection - weeks to months of anti-fungal meds

Sarcoid is the ugliest of the choices, but even it is not bad for the spectrum of diseases at Barnes. We won't be able to narrow it down from there for several weeks - things gotta grow in petri dishes - but at least now it is growing. Tom has a two inch incision at the base of his neck, and had no problems with the surgery. He is tired and emotional, but the drugs and stress can make you a little PMS-ish. We are here for the night again, which isn't a bad thing. He can rest, and go home to little boys tomorrow.

One prayer is answered as we travel this road together. Thank you for the prayers, phone calls and mental health checks.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Another Tuesday PM

These redundant titles are getting old! Thoracic surgeons came by and consented Tom for everything in the world, and they will do the biopsy Wednesday - woohoo!! The actual procedure involves cutting just above his sternum and snaking a camera and instruments behind his sternum to remove one lymph node and test the heck out of it. It could be an out-pt procedure. Maybe now we can start treating the problem, not just making it up as we go along. Don't get me wrong - I don't expect answers tomorrow, but at least we are finally on the hunt for a cause, not just symptom management. He isn't coughing as much today, but is sleeping way more. Hmmm... I am hoping we also get to come home tomorrow. I haven't seen my kids since Monday morning, and I kinda miss them!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Monday PM

Tom coughed and puked for 6 hrs Sun night. I gave him the option of the ER or a doc in the daylight. He opted to wait until daylight, which was fine. He is at Barnes again. The pulm Fellow that has been following us seemed a little annoyed that I wanted him admitted, but there is only so much I can take care of and watch him go through. I am sick, Colby has ear infections, and Tom was just more than I could deal with. We think one of the lymph nodes is sitting on a nerve to stimulate the cough reflex. We didn't see the Thoracic surgeons today, so I don't know if anything will really happen tomorrow. The other option is to deal with Interventional Pulmonology - think of IV contrast and real-time chest x-rays or CT scan. They can biopsy a lymph node that way - less invasive, but nobody seems thrilled with that option. The bottom line is that there is no treatment until we figure out what we're treating, and we don't know that until after a biopsy. Then let's get the biopsy done. This isn't rocket science!! He has lost 25 lbs in 2 weeks, he's not eating, he's not sleeping, he has gone through all of his sick leave and a good chunk of vacation time, he's depressed that he can't do simple things like read a book to Colby without coughing and getting out of breath, and the goofball is worried about money. I love him that he's worried about us, but spend that energy elsewhere!

Ok, I have vented for all the world to hear, and now I'm going to bed - right after I enjoy my antibiotics. Life is really not that bad, but I'm sleep-deprived so it seems like it is. The Son always rises, right, Sheila?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Life

Ho hum, the end of the week looks a lot like the beginning. Tom is still coughing, spiking fevers now and then, back to twice a day lasix - once a day didn't work out so well, tired, no energy and very frustrated. He goes to work, comes home and tries to sleep, gets up for an hour or so to help me get Evan off to school, goes back to bed and gets up in time to get ready for work. He's tired of that routine. He doesn't have a ton of patience right now with the kids, so as long as he can take care of himself, we are going places and doing things and letting him sleep. It's not great, but it works for the moment. My thought for the week is that we are finding a new kind of normal... not one I would choose, but we'll deal with it. My boss let me drop all the shifts I had picked up to work during the week, so I am back to just the weekends and am available for dr appts and whatever needs to be done (gee, raising kids?). Typing of that, the pulm doc set up an appt with the thoracic surgeons for a week from Tuesday, and the pulm appt on Wednesday.

Evan got some stress management today, and he's looking forward to Monsters vs. Aliens later tonight. Colby, I dunno about him. He has told me two days this week that he misses me. "Where am I going, Colby?"
"I'll miss you when you die."
"I am not planning on dying until you are a very old man and I am an even older mommy." Maybe he's picking up on the stress level more than I realize, since he's home all day. He has also had a lovely snotty nose, cough-till-you-puke, breathing treatments and just don't feel good week.

There's not too much on the calendar for the weekend, and none of it "mandatory," so here's to a rainy, cold outside 2 hour nap kind of weekend.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tom, Chapter 3

We got bronch biopsy results back today. More good but less than helpful news. The lung tissue was negative for cancer cells. The microbiology was no growth to date. If it was going to grow a superbug, it would have by now. Next step, you ask? Our original consult date, April 8, is now our follow-up visit, and at some point Tom will have to have at least 1 of the lymph nodes removed through his chest wall. But this is Barnes, so it won't be next week. We'll be lucky if it's next month. We have to see the lung guys first, then see the thoracic surgeons, then schedule the OR time. And I'd really like them to take out all 3, but the lung Fellow that we've been working with didn't think they would do that, just one. And a CT scan in 6 months to figure out the right lower lobe thing and make sure it's not growing. If it's the same, it's probably scar tissue. If it's larger, well, God did give him 2 lungs, right?

Tom did go back to work this evening, with his stylish support hose on. That was a 2 person job, and I remember why I don't wear pantyhose! He's feeling decent, but no energy, legs are still swelling if he's not very careful about how he spends his time (horizontal is good!), and coughing. He's got some bumps on his arms that I can't figure out, either. One more issue on the list for the pulm docs, I guess. We sent my mom back home for a few weeks until spring break, when I'll make her be a tourist and see the sights with the kids.

Evan finished Upward basketball this week, with the closing ceremony tonight. He's so excited about his new lunchbox, dang it I have to make him a lunch for tomorrow. He had a good time and got some exercise, which was my goal for him. Now it's baseball sign-up time - coach pitch instead of t-ball, woohoo!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday PM

HOME!! The bronch went well - Tom was highly medicated and doesn't remember it, which is exactly what I wanted to happen. My coworkers are awesome! The rapid tests they did on his lung tissue came back negative for cancer, but that doesn't mean much, just gotta wait until the real stuff comes back for more definitive answers. We'll know tomorrow when our follow-up appt is. The gut feeling is that the legs and lungs were 2 different things - 1 didn't cause the other. We just kinda happened upon the lung nodules while trying to fix the leg swelling. Nobody at Barnes really thinks it was cellulitis, but nobody knows why any of it happened. There really are no answers. We know what it isn't, but don't know what it is. Meanwhile, take some lasix and pee. His BP is down with the fluid and swelling gone. He still has the cough, which is what really bothers him the most, and the docs care about (or perhaps are the least able to fix) the least. He spiked a low grade fever again tonight - could just be the trauma of the bronch and increeased activity of coming home. Waiting, waiting, waiting for test results.

It will be good to take my kid to school in the morning. I need a routine again.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wednesday PM

Today was not as planned, although nothing adverse happened. Tom had the CT scan early this morning, which didn't show anything we didn't already know. Lymph nodes and the RLL thing. Nothing to explain the legs. That's a good thing. The pulm guys finally came today since the medicine docs had run out of ideas. They couldn't get the bronch & biopsy done today, but will tomorrow morning. Pulm function test were ordered, but not done yet. Those can be done outpt, so they won't hold up the bronch or discharge tomorrow. He is still getting lasix 2x day and his legs are looking much better, and we went for 2 longer walks to the main floor today. He's not sleeping well, but he is 11 floors above the hospital ambulance bay, so he gets to listen to those as well as the helicopter landing. It's a hospital, not the Hilton!

My mom is taking Colby to the aquarium tomorrow, so it'll be a fun outing. I think at least 1 kid will go to his buddy's hockey game tomorrow night. Life is ok for them. Tom is nervous about the bronch, but I've tried to minimize it for him. I'm just glad to be home a little earlier and go to bed early. Sitting and waiting sure wears me out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday PM

It is a day of mixed blessings. Tom does not have anything wrong with his heart, says the echo at BJC. I'm still waiting for results from the Cornfield hospital. Tom does not have any blood clots in his legs. Tom has lost 10 lbs overnight with the help of lasix. Pee, Tom, pee! Tom's feet are still swollen, but better looking. It leads us to why his legs are not fluid-shifting. The plan for late tonight or tomorrow is a CT of chest, abdomen and pelvis to see if there is something in his lower belly impinging on the vena cava returning blood/ fluid back from his legs. That was not something that we had thought of. Tomorrow is also bronch day. The ones I saw as a student were awful to watch, and I am trying not to really tell him anything, hoping he just won't remember it. Literally, it's a garden hose with a video camera through your mouth or nose and into your lungs, gagging and coughing all the way. He will be medicated (highly I hope!) but it is still awful! Hopefully, it will also be discharge day. He was moved to a regular inpt room today instead of the admitting holding area he was in, and has a roommate. I am grossed out by them sharing a bathroom. Tom is highly picky of the bathroom design, and the tp roll is literally in your lap - who designed this? Not a patient!

Mental health check? We are both tired and easily tearful but generally ok, and very grateful to the locals and grandparents who have stepped in to raise our kids and run our lives this week. Sorry Mrs. H if my kid thinks it's all a party this week. To him it is, and I'd like it to stay that way. I was home tonight just in time to sit with them, and couldn't kiss and hug them enough.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday PM

As advertised, Tom was admitted to Barnes for testing. He doesn't feel any worse (or better) at this point physically, but we both feel things are or will be getting done. Today it was just a chest xray and ekg - nothing exciting. He is hoping to be home tomorrow, but I'm certain he won't be. Things won't happen that fast. The family is tag-teaming the kids and they'll be back at home tomorrow for any playdates offered. Evan was excited to ride the bus today - wondered why I felt the need to get him out of class to tell him we were going to the hospital. I love the innocence! Thank you to my friends and church family for the calls and prayers, and playdate offers.

Tom, Chapter 2

Dang, I love it when things happen!

I gave my SIL a copy of our CT scan yesterday when the family came over for cake and ice cream. She is also an RRT at BJC - how I ended up marrying her brother, and much higher up on the food chain than I am. She tracked down Dr. Russell, and Tom will be a direct admit later today. That's a much quicker way to get tests done than out-patient! Woohoo! Both of our heads are spinning, but I am thrilled too. He's just plain scared.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tom, Chapter 1 Part 2

Dang doctors. I called the WU office and left a nurse message, which they promised to return by the end of the day. A friend at work called the doc directly, but she was in the middle of something and just said she'd look at it later. I left another nurse message. And it's now 5:20 on a Friday afternoon. I don't want a miracle or even an appointment tomorrow. I'll settle for the month of March. At this point nobody is treating my husband. His cellulitis is very slowly getting better, but there's still this lung/ heart thing. How would the lady working at Casey's making $7 an hour with only half her teeth get medical things done? Oh wait, she goes to the ER and gets admitted. Maybe we'll try that...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tom, Chapter 1

Get comfy, it's a long post. It's been a heck of a ride this week.

Ten or so days ago, Tom complained he didn't feel good - achey, fever, nothing huge and obvious, just yucky. Two days later, he told me his feet were swollen. Last Friday, he was short of breath walking up the stairs and really felt like crap. Well, it's midnight. I made an appt for Saturday morning. The doc called it cellulitis in both legs, gave him an antibiotic, drew blood for good measure and a chest x-ray. His breathing was worse to me as the weekend went on, so we were back in the office Monday morning. Swollen legs, short of breath, wheezing, dry persistent cough, blood pressure up. A week ago he was overweight but healthy outside of sleep apnea. This week, it's an effort to go up stairs from out basement. The visit resulted in more bloodwork, CT scan, echo, and stress test appointments, and another sleep study. They called us back emergently based on the bloodwork to do a CT scan on Monday, looking for a blood clot in his lungs. What they found is 3 enlarged lymph nodes behind his sternum and something in his right lower lobe. The chest xray showed an enlarged heart. Since then, we've done the echo - no results until at least Monday. I called Wash U pulmonologists for an appt, knowing that would take weeks to months to get in. Our doc set up an appt with the local pulmonologist who sees us for sleep apnea. We saw him today. He didn't seem to be totally together with everything. He was discussing a biopsy of the lymph nodes, and I mentioned that we had this WU appt for April. At that point we were summarily dismissed. I think it pissed him off that we were already working on a 2nd opinion. Apparently, he'll see us for OSA, but I won't let him touch us for anything else. I would be a fool to not utilize the resources in my own backyard - top 10 hospital 38 miles away, with physicians I know and (mostly) like.

As for the CT results, a few of the possibilities are lymphoma, infection, sarcoidosis, lung cancer ?? We don't know anything, and aren't getting a ton of help from anyone we doctor with locally, and Tom still has all the other stuff going on. He is going to work in between appts. He figures it's a desk job - as long as he can walk from the parking lot in, he can feel crummy at work. His job doesn't offer a lot of sick/ vacation time, so he'll work as much as he can.

Upcoming is the stress test next week and the WU appt (a pulmonologist that I know and really like to work with) in early April. I imagine cardiology folks from WU will also get involved if stuff shows up on the echo/ stress tests.

I am trying to tell Evan on a need to know basis and protect him from garbage that he doesn't need to hear, but he's a wise and sensitive soul, too smart for his own good sometimes. Colby's oblivious - the aunts and g'ma & papaw have tag-teamed him this week, so his life is great.

In the midst, it's Evan's birthday on Sunday, so we have to have a little party. That cannot be overlooked!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Colby's Comments

At 0730, before a glass of milk... Mommy, whenit dawk ouside, can I have a bedtime nack?
Sure, you can have a bedtime snack, but can you tell me what you want for breakfast first?

We had a sensory playdate at Parents As Teachers this morning. That means we got messy at school - all the things we don't let them do at home - finger paint, shaving cream on the table, making pudding in a ziplock bag, sand and rice tables. He put his hand in the shaving cream once - Mommy wash. He put one finger in the finger paint - Mommy wash. But the floor walk - car mats, door mats, bubble wrap, sticky mat, carpet, piano - that was a hit for him. And the homemade playdough. A fun morning.

It's 80 here - spring fever. So glad it was a 1/2 day! I am feeling the need to dig and plant something, and clean out the garage and closets. Beware, Tom! The Christmas tree that we haven't put up in about 6 years is in the front yard, waiting for trash day Wednesday.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Doorway Mess

This is the doorway from the playroom into the office. Tom was surfing, or working, or whatever it is he does on the 'puter with the door closed. I was working and he had the kids for the weekend, so maybe he was just hiding from the kids. I do it every chance they'll leave me alone for a few minutes, so it's not really a bad thing. Tom could hear Colby puttering in the playroom, but wasn't exactly sure what he was doing. Colby's answer? "I'm building a mess so Evan can't tell on me. So he will trip and fall and he will forget and he won't tell on me. So then I won't get in trouble." I've since cleaned up the mess, and it reappeared larger.
His other share-worthy story? A family friend is pregnant, due any day now. "Mommy, howdat baby dit in her mouth?" He knows that to get to your tummy, you go through your mouth first. My answer? "I don't know. It's just a gift from God." He's happy with that so far. And, he's starting speech therapy. Woohoo! His vocabulary is high, but his enunciation stinks. I really was having to translate for others when he wanted to tell them something.

Evan has finally started sleeping, thanks to a counselor. I don't know what they talk about, but they draw and make stuff - a guard dog from clay, and they are working on a shield to protect him from scary stuff - and he's slept most nights for a whole month. Whatever it is, it's working. We are all sleeping better.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Power (St)Rangers Birthday

We are celebrating Tom's 50th bday this weekend. He doesn't like my choice of bakeries for his cake, so I told him he had to arrange his own cake. We were discussing the cake and how it should be decorated this morning. My helpful response? It's your birthday, pick out whatever you want. As he was leaving today, Colby told him he wanted a Power Rangers (or Strangers in our house) cake. My silly husband - he ordered a PR cake, just cause he could. That's the best thing I've heard all day! If I die first, please someone, offer him judgment in picking out my tombstone!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nordies at Noon

I have found Facebook. It can be wonderfully addicting, a huge time sucker. I look up at the clock and realize it's been 30 minutes when I just wanted to log on the the puter and check the bank balance. On FB, I found a friend from jr high, high school and college. She bought another friend's house when the 2nd friend moved to KC. In one of her FB posts, she mentioned a book that a jr high and high school friend had written. It was "Nordies at Noon." The coauthor (there are 4 ladies) that I went to school with is Patti Balwanz. We played basketball in jr high and swam when we were freshmen. She continued on to be a great high school athelete in many sports. The book is the story of these 4 women, each diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 30. I knew the ending thanks to the FB post, and absolutely bawled my way through the book last night. Patti was diagnosed at 24, and passed away at 29. Wow. We were still invincible at 24, weren't we? Tom came home at midnight (I worked yesterday, so was up at 0430 - why still at midnight?) to find the lights on - he was worried that one of the boys was sick. Nope, just me, reading and crying, a mountain of kleenex on our bed, and Conan on the TV. I hate Conan, but couldn't be bothered to change the channel. I hope I never need it as a resource, but what an inspiring, tragic, breast cancer book. I think it's time to go feel my boobies now. It's been a while. I turn 35 this year - my mom was 45 when diagnosed with BC the first time. Gotta get that first mammogram this summer, too.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Wii, Alzheimer's & Snow

From Evan to Tom - Dad, when you and Mom die, can I have the Wii?

Tom? - God willing, Son, we'll be on our third or fourth Wii, or you'll be old enough to buy your own.

It was a tragic week. I dropped and broke the Nintendo screen. Tom ordered the parts to fix it, but the computer geek couldn't get it to work when he soldered wires and put it back together. Have you ever taken one apart? Pretty intricate and delicate. Maybe we should have given it to Colby to let him fix it. Dang it, we were going to give it to Colby and get Evan a new one for his birthday so they'd stop fighting over it, but now that's goofed up. We told them they were wireless until his bday in March. We also have invested in a b-ball goal for the driveway. Evan is playing Upward b-ball and loving it. Mom, I really really really want a goal for my bday. That's all I want. Thank you, Wal-Mart for your $0.97 shipping. I'll gladly have it delivered to my house for that! It was a better deal than what I found on Craigslist.

My mom went to visit her sister this week - alzheimer's - went to the nsg home in October. She has very fleeting moments of lucidity, but for the most part doesn't wake up. She's not eating on her own, and it takes several people to help her walk anywhere. She was always a gracious hostess, always fussing over food and asking how you slept, taking an interest in my hospital and my job. She was a nurse, my mom followed her footsteps, and so loved to hear about the big city stories - so different from her rural community hospital. By the time my sis and I had kids, she was in the beginning stages and had a hard time keeping track of who was who, but always asked about the little kids running around at family gatherings.

We had a great snowstorm this week. Perhaps you were there... ice on Tuesday, and 6" of snow Tuesday night. Of course, I had to make it to work on Wed am. I was a little late, and love the metrolink! The first 20 feet are the hardest - kinda like going on vacation. The hardest part is getting out of the driveway! Looking forward to a warm end of the week, and walking outside again. The winter is starting to get long.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our Freedom

What a great day for America! It's a great day every 4 years, but this one especially. We are one of the few countries in the world that can decide on a small group of potential candidates, freely elect one of them, have them exchange power in a formal ceremony, and nobody has to get killed in the process. It's not a dictatorship of the oppressed, rule till ya die or are removed violently... Today everyone came together to celebrate our freedoms. We were united, regardless of your political party, belief in the Electoral College, or any other government or racial issue. What a great country we live in.

Someone I know is struggling with her marriage. First, pray for them. Second, she can initiate a divorce without fear of repercussions because of her gender or religious beliefs. If she were in the Middle East, it wouldn't be an issue. His family would kill her, legally. What a great country we live in. She can worship freely and control her own life, and that of their children, however it ends up.

One of the themes of my mother's life post-divorce was that she was glad she chose a profession (nursing) that she could always take care of herself and her children. That was a lesson she felt was important to teach us. Never lose yourself in your husband or children so that you don't recognize the individual you brought to the marriage. He may die tomorrow, and those kids grow up eventually. I don't have any desire to work 40-60 hours a week to support my family - 12-16 is enough to pay the bills - but I could go back to work full-time tomorrow if I had to, and we'd be well above the poverty line. My pay scale is published within the job description, so I know that I am making the same amount as the man I took the position from. What a great country we live in. I am not judged or paid less because I am a female.

Time for the evening recap - I think I have OD'ed on Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams today. Tomorrow, it's back to the daily grind.

Perspectives from a 6 year old - Were Grandma and Papaw alive when Martin Luther King was? When Abraham Lincoln was? We've had some good discussions about blacks and whites pre-MLK and now. He wasn't impressed by today, but maybe it'll be a big deal when he's 30. Then again, maybe it'll be no big deal - blacks and whites really will be equal when he's old enough to care.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Landlord?

No, we aren't becoming landlords.

I was wondering last night if life was easier when I had one, though. Easier perhaps, but not better. The last time I had a landlord was 8 years ago. I was living in South County in a 1 bedroom, 800 ft sq apt with a million similar apartments within a mile. I was an anonymous face. I didn't know my neighbors, and didn't really care to know my neighbors. I worked 2 jobs, nights and evenings. I was *quite* proud of myself - to be on my own, out of the city I grew up in, too independent to be within 100 miles of my parents, paying my own bills.

Last night, the drain pipe was clogged, and the washer bubbling into the shower in the nicely carpeted basement. The plumber could come, but it would cost $350 after hours. Last week, the same plumber gave us a bid of $1200 to dig up the front yard and put a valve in so that when it rains, we don't get other folks toilet paper and assorted s#$t into that same shower. But the city is plumbed correctly, and the storm and sanitary sewers don't mix, says the city. The plans for our income tax $$? An egress window for the basement ~ $2000.

I gripe about our house. It's the house Tom lived in long before me, or plans of children. It was not a place I planned on staying for any length of time, but it's now ours. There is not an original piece of furniture from either of our single days, there is at least 2 new coats of paint on every wall, there are boys dirty handprints everywhere.

Eight years ago, I came home to a flooded apt, 2 terrified cats, and a fiance dealing with my landlord already. He had come by to tuck me in for the "night" at 8 am as I was in the middle of a stretch of night shifts, and found the carpet more than soggy. He blamed the cats. It was really a pipe in the bathroom, but it was wall-to-wall water, 2 inches deep near the bathroom and bedroom. We packed his car, my car, later his parents truck and his sister's Suburban, and I moved to the cornfield.

Last night, it was nice to call the in-laws and announce our imminent arrival for the night. They provide a nice bed and breakfast. The plumber came and snaked the drain, and it wasn't $350. I do like our moneypit, and one of these days, it'll be paid for - before the kids are in college! Maybe then we'll become landlords and buy ourselves a newer house.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Wow! I'm a little behind...

We started the Christmas vacation with Evan's class party. I've never gone to one of his parties, and I was drafted to be in charge of it. Hmm, how'd that happen? The kids made some crafts, played pin the nose on the snowman and ring around the Christmas tree, ice cream and hot chocolate and called it a day. It was fun - not as chaotic as I expected, with lots of help from 6 or so other parents.

The weekend brought the Church festivities and Santa there. Colby beat up his buddy who I watched last year, and he beat Colby back. Good thing it was only 2 short songs!

Mon-Wed found us at my mom & sister's so my mom could have foot surgery on Tues. Monday Colby and I got to hang out in their fine 16 bed hospital with 1 inpatient - not us! He had bilateral ear infections, and that tonsil looks ugly too. By the way, I don't see ear tubes. Surgery day, he came to the hospital and was a very mellow version of himself. Mom had 7 warts removed from the bottom of 1 foot, which had been bothering her for several months -probably from chronic prednisone. It was slick, nasty snow and ice getting her home that afternoon, not much fun trying to keep her off her foot. Wed was Christmas Eve - a decent drive back home, with Mom in tow.

We opened presents on Thursday, and spent the afternoon with Tom's parents and family.

There wasn't an intentional theme with the books, but I found it amusing when I looked around and everyone but me had a book in their hands! We have broken in the Wii in the background, too. Finally, video games that interest me. The kids ask me for help in Mario on the DS, and I don't have the patience for it.

We sent Mom home with my sis on Friday, and I worked all weekend. I took care of a guy from here who was in a car accident on C-mas Eve, and he's pretty stinkin' sick. If you're a praying person, say a prayer for Joe. It's gonna be a long recovery.

Monday was C-mas with my dad, stepmom and stepsis, sister and family came back and brought Mom. The neighbor girl was here too, just for good measure. Her dad's in Afghanistan, and her mom was at work - she may as well stay. There were girl things left over from the school party, so I fixed her up a gift to open too. It was also dreaded dentist day. Evan was threatened a few weeks ago by the dentist that if he didn't get his 2 front bottom teeth out, he would pull them. His permanent teeth have been in for a few months, and baby ones loose, but he wouldn't work on pulling them on his own, so Dr. T had to. Santa, the tax man, the dentist and the tooth fairy all in the same month - it's too much!! Evan was quite mad at me for most of the morning, and shed a few tears. I told him when he got them cleaned that I wasn't sure the tooth fairy came if the dentist had to pull the teeth, but Dr. T assured me he would work it out with the tooth fairy.

Tuesday was Gingerbread houses - I love doing those, even if they are a lot of work with little kids. Six kids, 2 adults, 3 houses. This is ours.


Wednesday was work again - finally, a day that we weren't horribly short-staffed. It was pleasant. There tends to be a lot of call-ins on the weekends lately, and it gets old and frustrating and bone-weary to always work short with high workloads and late or no lunch. It doesn't do much for morale or quality care either one.

Thursday - woohoo - Branson for a long weekend! A friend gave us a 3 nights at her timeshare place, so there were 16 of us - 3 families - for the weekend. It was much appreciated. There was swimming, Chinese Acrobats, the fisheries and dam, a water park, and more swimming. They made it back for a leadership meeting at church on Sunday afternoon, but I played hookey on that one. We came home, did laundry and cleaned up the Branson stuff.



That leads us to this week. Tom is going back to working eves for a while, so while I love it that he's home during the day, he & Evan miss each other in the evenings. Tom gets woken up in the mornings for a little bit so they see each other. It is time to organize the toy room a bit so this stuff gets put away, and get the tree down. I love all the stuff, but it's time to reclaim the living room and kitchen!

Here's to a calm 2009!