Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Google Tag (Especially for My Blogger Bud, Natalie)

Those who read my blog on a regular basis know that I'm pretty private when it comes to my personal information. But, because Natalie has tagged me (and asked so nicely, too), I will, just this once, share some really personal stuff.

I'm not going to tag anyone specifically to do this; if you'd like to participate, just let me know you've done it by leaving me a message, so I can check yours out, too! :) (Although I would like to see Don's response, though! ;)

So, without further ado, I give you:


Favorite past time:


Favorite color(s):

Black, white, and red.

Arlington (MA)
Favorite Vacation:

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire (childhood)

Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas (adult)

Favorite food(s):

Mexican and Italian (too bad they love me back! :)

Favorite animal(s):

Koalas and otters.

My age:

45 (sorry I couldn't find a "gentler" image, but hey... you gotta give me credit for the creativity! :)

Favorite treat:

Ice cream (see how it mocks me, as it's attaching itself to my hips?? ;)

Place that I would love to visit:

Well, all of Europe, actually.

Last name:


Middle name:


First name:

Cheryl (I think I even owned that album, at one point! Too bad I didn't own that body at one point in time, too! :)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Something I Felt Compelled To Share

If this video offends some of you, I'm sorry. I guess that's what the "delete" button is for.

But really, this is one of the most profound things I've read in a long time. No need to pass it along, if you don't want to. If you take away its message, that's good enough for me.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm Exhausted, I'm Broke, and I'm Counting Down The Days

My, my... what a flurry this week has been! I thought for sure that this week would feel about 538902874982433490873 years long, but with all we've had to do, in preparation for back-to-school, it's just whizzed by.

We got R.'s school supply list, and fortunately for me, I had most of the staples in the big school supply box we keep here in the house. Unfortunately for me, there was still a bunch more stuff left, and believe it or not, I had to go to THREE different stores to find some of 'em. Who knew that a nine-year-old needed THREE packs of index cards??? One of the other items was three packages of 3x3 Post-It's (I wondered if her teacher would make her take them back if they were, oh, say 2 1/2 x 2 1/2??? Geesh! Where DO they come up with this stuff???)

Anyway, while at Target, shopping for school clothes and the cherished Jonas Brothers CD/DVD combo (sold exclusively at Target, so stopping there for that priceless Christmas present was a MUST! Hey... I can't knock her though... I recall having quite the crush on my own set of teenybopper brothers back in my day, too! ;), I looked at their measely school supply section (guess the buyers there didn't get the memo that school's about to start????), and found Post-It's... for FOUR DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS for a package of three! Are they out of their freakin' minds???!!!! Of course I passed on them there, and headed to our local Dollar Tree when I was on my way back home. I found a generic 3-pack for a buck! Much more my style, thankyouverymuch.

So, her list is done, but I refuse to pack her off with some of the items on it. For example, what the HECK does she need with two boxes of 20 Ticonderoga pencils?? If there were 22 kids in her class this year, and each of them brought in 40 No. 2 pencils, that would be 880 pencils!! Are they building a dang LOG CABIN this year, or what?? I put a few sharpened pencils in her brand new pencil box, and kept the rest at home. If she needs more, I'll send them in with her.

We also went shopping around for school clothes... a MAJOR endeavor this year, considering all three of my children went through HUGE growth spurts this summer. My son is now over 5'11" (he's 13, almost 14); my oldest daughter is almost 4'11" (she's 9 3/4); and my little one's even sprouted. Not sure how tall she is, but she's gone from a 2T to a 4 or 5T in pants! Yikes!

So, another major chore this past week was to weed through clothes, to see what fit, what doesn't, and what can go to charity and what's just way beyond repair. I'm glad to say that not much of my daughter's late spring/early fall clothing is too small, even though I did buy her a few new (VERY cute!) outfits. You gotta have new clothes on the first day of school, right?

My son got some new clothes and undergarments, too. He tried his new stuff on, and the pants I got him are too big, but all the shirts fit fine. So, it's back to the store for me to return the pants and hopefully find them all in a smaller size. He won't need them right away, anyway... he wears shorts until the frost hits the grass in the mornings (the doofus!).

And, I've been picking up things here and there for my little one, too. She's got the nice beginning of a fall wardrobe going for her. I still have to pick up sneakers for her, but I wanted to wait until the very last minute, to make sure she doesn't grow anymore before I buy them! :)

Oh, and the haircuts came this week, too. I cut about two inches off of my oldest daughter's hair (to make it look fuller and less stringy), and I've started blowing it out after her showers, so it looks all straight and pretty again. And, I took my son to my girlfriend's hair salon today to get his hair cut. He DESPERATELY needed it -- his hair's so thick, and grows like a weed, so he looked a bit like a Neanderthal man! She also told him it was time for him to start shaving, and he agreed. My husband told him he'd show him how to use his electric razor. Sigh.

So... now that everything's purchased, their backpacks are full-up and sitting in the front hallway, ready to go, and their clothes will be finished up by this weekend, all I'll have left to do is to iron some things for next week (I always make sure that they look presentable for at least the first week of school. After that, all bets are off! :), load some film in the camera, and see them all off.

N. starts the 2nd (with his half day orientation at his new high school); R. starts the 4th, and S. starts the 23rd. Poor little thing is going to be wandering around the house, not knowing what to do with herself.

And I'll be enjoying the silence.

Ain't back to school grand? ;)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another Minute Post, To Again Tide You Over

I have a big, back-to-school update coming (I promise!), but until then, I wanted to post a brag of sorts.

Since last Monday, when I vowed to take better care of myself and "take my life back", I've lost almost four pounds!
Yay, me!
Now I only have another 78975508787987203956804 pounds to go!
More later.....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Okay, So I Know I've Been Lagging, But Hopefully, This Will Tide You Over...

It's been a flurry of craziness around my household, with old clothes flying and new clothes trying... back-to-school shopping has commenced (more on that in another post, I promise).

But, until then, I wanted to share something else. A bit of fun "fluff", if you will. Another thing that warms the cockles of my very heart.

As is typical here, I went to rent movies on Friday. This is done, fairly ritualistically, because there's virtual CRAP on TV on the weekends. Disappointingly enough, there was crap left on the shelves in the video store, too (guess everyone has the same idea in the summertime).

So, I came up with a grand idea. Genius, even. I went to the "classics" section, and made it a John Hughes night. What a blast! Not only are the movies just a small slice of Heaven, the memories abound with the clothes, the hairstyles, the atmosphere, and the teenaged angst.

So, without further ado, I share with you three of my favorite scenes from the movies I rented:

1) Duckie's infamous rendition of Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness":

Oh, and for the youngin's that come and visit my blog... those things that Duckie's leaning against are called albums.

2) The gang from "The Breakfast Club" dancing to Pinback (what I would have given to get five minutes alone with Judd Nelson back then! Sigh...)

Again... an album is being played here. This is the land before iPod.

3) Sixteen Candles. Love the whole movie... so here's the trailer:

Enjoy.... hot stuff! :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Speaking of the Olympics... I Think This Is Just AWESOME!

As the mom of two children who have ADHD (one minute, one full-blown), the "behind the scenes" story of Michael Phelps just warms the cockles of my heart. (You should have seen the ear-to-ear smile on my daughter's face when she realized that an eight-time gold medal winner has the same thing she does. Talk about an inspiration!).

Here's the article, published recently in the New York Times:

August 10, 2008


Phelps’s Mother Recalls Helping Her Son Find Gold-Medal Focus


DEBORAH PHELPS’S third baby and only son was larger than life from Day 1 — 9 pounds, 6 ounces and 23 inches long. As a little boy, said the mother, he asked 25 zillion questions, always wanting to be the center of attention. If he wasn’t zooming by on his big-wheel tricycle, he was swinging past on the monkey bars.

Starting with preschool, teachers complained: Michael couldn’t stay quiet at quiet time, Michael wouldn’t sit at circle time, Michael didn’t keep his hands to himself, Michael was giggling and laughing and nudging kids for attention.

As he entered public school, he displayed what his teachers called “immature” behavior. “In kindergarten I was told by his teacher, ‘Michael can’t sit still, Michael can’t be quiet, Michael can’t focus,’ ” recalled Ms. Phelps, who was herself a teacher for 22 years. The family had recently moved, and she felt Michael might be frustrated because the kindergarten curriculum he was getting in the new district was similar to the pre-K curriculum in their old district.

“I said, maybe he’s bored,” Ms. Phelps recalled saying to his teacher. “Her comment to me — ‘Oh, he’s not gifted.’ I told her I didn’t say that, and she didn’t like that much. I was a teacher myself so I didn’t challenge her, I just said, ‘What are you going to do to help him?’ ”

In the elementary grades at their suburban Baltimore school, Ms. Phelps said, Michael excelled in things he loved — gym and hands-on lessons, like science experiments. “He read on time, but didn’t like to read,” she said. “So I gave him the Baltimore Sun sports pages, even if he just read the pictures and captions.”

She will never forget one teacher’s comment: “This woman says to me, ‘Your son will never be able to focus on anything.’ ”

His grades were B’s and C’s and a few D’s.

It was a tough period. Ms. Phelps and her husband, a state trooper, were divorcing. She had just gone back to school to get a master’s degree to become an administrator, she said, and at the same time she had to be the 24/7 parent.

Michael grew like crazy, but not evenly — his ears looked huge, and when he ran, his arms swung below his knees. (He was on his way to being 6 feet 4 inches tall with an arm span of 6 feet 7 inches.) Kids bullied him, and when he whacked one on the school bus, he was suspended from the bus for several days.

When he was in fifth grade, during his annual check-up, Ms. Phelps and the family physician, Dr. Charles Wax, discussed whether Michael might have A.D.H.D. — attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. By then, the Phelpses were a swimming family. (Michael’s older sister Whitney at 15 was ranked first in the country in the 200-meter butterfly, though her career would be cut short by a back injury.) Dr. Wax’s children also swam, and he’d noticed Michael at the Phelps sisters’ swim meets. “Michael used to run around like a little crazy person mooching food off people,” said Ms. Phelps.

The doctor suggested sending assessment forms to his teachers. Their consensus: Can’t sit still, can’t keep quiet, can’t focus.

At age 9, Michael was put on Ritalin, a stimulant used to treat hyperactivity.
His mother thinks it helped a little. “He seemed to be able to focus longer,” she said. “He could get through homework without moving around so much.” She said he was still a middling student. “It might have raised some C’s to B’s,” she said. But if a homework assignment had to be at least four sentences, she said, “he’d just do four sentences.”

After two years, Michael asked to get off the meds. He had to go to the school nurse’s office to take a pill at lunch, she said, and felt stigmatized. “Out of the blue, he said to me: ‘I don’t want to do this anymore, Mom. My buddies don’t do it. I can do this on my own.’ ”

“I was always stern as a parent,” she said, “but from Day 1, I included my children as part of the decision process. So I listened.” After consulting with Dr. Wax, Michael stopped medication.

In the meantime, Michael the swimmer had appeared. By 10, he was ranked nationally in his age group. Ms. Phelps watched the boy who couldn’t sit still at school sit for four hours at a meet waiting to swim his five minutes’ worth of races.

When Michael was 11, his swim coach at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, Bob Bowman — still his coach — took the Phelpses aside and talked about Michael’s gift. “Bob says, ‘By 2000, I look for him to be in the Olympic trials,’ ” recalled Ms. Phelps. “ ‘By 2004, he makes the Olympics. By 2008, he’ll set world records. By 2012, the Olympics will be in New York and’ — I said ‘Bob, stop, he’s 11, he’s in middle school.’ ”

As it turned out, the boy would move four years faster than his coach’s prediction (and New York would lose its Olympic bid).

At age 12 Michael needed an algebra tutor, and was so antsy in school that his mother suggested the teacher sit him at a table in the back. And yet he willingly got up at 6:30 daily for 90-minute morning practices and swam 2 to 3 hours every afternoon.

By 15, in 2000, he was at the Olympics; at 16 he had his first world record; and by 19, at the 2004 Olympics, he had won 8 medals, 6 of them gold.

Of all his mental gifts, the one that amazes his mother the most is this: “Michael’s mind is like a clock. He can go into the 200 butterfly knowing he needs to do the first 50 in 24.6 to break the record and can put that time in his head and make his body do 24.6 exactly.”

He always did his swimming homework. “In high school, they’d send tapes from his international races,” Ms. Phelps said. “He’d say, ‘Mom I want to have dinner in front of the TV and watch tapes.’ We’d sit and he’d critique his races. He’d study the turns — ‘See, that’s where I lifted my head.’ I couldn’t even see what he was talking about. Over and over. I’m like, ‘whoa.’ ”

These days, Ms. Phelps, 57, is principal of Windsor Mill, a middle school in Baltimore County. Her A.D.H.D. son is so renowned, she was hired this summer by a pharmaceutical firm, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, as a “celebrity mom” who will answer questions about her experiences with A.D.H.D. on a company-sponsored Web site.

While the company makes an A.D.H.D. medication, Concerta, and arranged my interview with Ms. Phelps, during our three hours together, Ms. Phelps never mentioned the drug. Nor did her son ever take it. Like so many parents, she seemed conflicted about having given her son any medication. “There were so many things going on at the time — the divorce, Michael’s maturity, we changed school districts,” she said. “Were meds the right thing? I could be on the fence either way. That was the decision that was made.”

More to the point, I think, is the moral of her story, which offers hope for parents of any child with a challenge like A.D.H.D.: Too many adults looked at Ms. Phelps’s boy and saw what he couldn’t do. This week, the world will be tuned to the Beijing Olympics to see what he can do.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mika's My New Hero

I think it's pretty obvious why I think this song is AWESOME!

Why I Left, And Why I'm Back (or, How MC Got Her Groove Back)

Before I start typing any of this out, I want to send out a disclaimer of sorts. Please forgive me if some of this gets a bit "random" (as my kids would say).... I'm probably going to slip into stream of consciousness mode, in an effort to get everything out in the way of an explanation for my absence. And, I can almost guarantee that this is going to be excruciatingly long, so really..... get into a comfy chair, put your feet up, and read on, if you dare.....

Okay.... you've been goes......

As I mentioned, I slipped into another one of my "funks". This one was bad, and I got scared. I took to my bed for two days, barely getting up to do the minimal amount of stuff needed to take care of my kids. After forcing myself to get out of bed (and fighting the urge not to climb back in), I finally decided that I just simply couldn't do that anymore. I had to take my life back.

I did a LOT of thinking, and came to the conclusion that there were three major sources to my problem:

1) I know this might sound very strange, considering I've got a house full of people here, but there are a lot of times when I'm incredibly lonely. The only people I have to really talk to on a regular basis is a 3-year-old kid and a 78-year-old mother (who, for all intents and purposes, might as well be another 3-year-old kid!).

Yes, there is my husband, but he's a service technician, which means he's not usually available to talk much during the day, since he's up to his elbows (quite literally) in washers and dryers. And, when he comes home, he's dirty, he's hungry, and he's tired. He gets washed up, cooks dinner some nights, or just plain eats it on other nights, and then sits down on the couch for the remainder of the evening to watch TV.

In the first part of the post-dinnertime hours, my kids try to monopolize almost every single conversation we have, so we've learned not to try and have more private, "adult" conversations around them. In the latter part of the post-dinnertime hours, my husband fights tooth and nail not to pass out. So, it's pretty much like talking to a wall.

I do have all of my online buds (through my groups, and my blogs), but you all know how that goes... it's just not the same as having a "real life" friend. Someone you can go hang out with, or call up and talk to, for the most part.

All of my other friends are pretty much my age or older, and those who have kids have ADULT kids.... NONE of them have youngin's. They're also working full-time, and can't be imposed upon at work. And, since my nighttime is so busy, I can't really talk to anyone on the telephone until right about now, and most of my friends usually busy doing their own stuff, and aren't available to talk until much later in the evening. And frankly, being the mom of three kids... my bedtime has gotten considerably earlier. I can't be on the phone until all hours of the night anymore (without suffering miserably the next day, that is).

So... all of that being said.... it's been really hard not to be able to have adult conversations with anyone lately. I miss being a grown-up. I miss having friends that I can pick up the phone and talk to, whenever I need to. And, most of all, I miss having any kind of private time with my husband.

2) I've been leading a VERY sedentary life lately, and there's no one to blame for that one but me. I think, with the passing of my husband's cousin (who was only four years older than I), I got really nervous. Although I'm blessed to say that I wasn't plagued with her health issues, who's to say that I wouldn't wind up with some of them somewhere in the near future? I'm overweight and don't move around a whole lot.... a poster child for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, and all of the other not-so-lovely ailments of a person who suffers from the "O" word (sorry... I can't even bring myself to say it). Pretty scary stuff for the mom of three young kids to think about.

It was actually thinking about my littlest one, and she got me the most worried. I couldn't bear to think about leaving her at a young age, and missing SO MUCH of her adult life. And, putting myself (and my body) in the position it was in wasn't helping.

Not only that, but because my life consisted of so much inertia, so did hers, by default. She started to become cranky, whiny, miserable, and completely out of bounds.... all because she was bored senseless. We made a good pair, she and I... a bored, bratty little kid, and a depressed, crying overweight mom. Life was just a party!

So, I decided to take my life back. Which means, I need to learn to be a bit selfish. Of course, I'm not going to put myself so far up on a pedestal that I neglect my children; they most certainly will come first... ALWAYS. But, I need to have a little bit of "me" time, even if that means going to the public library one night a week, plopping in a chair (maybe with one of the Stephenie Meyer books! :), and reading for an hour. The "old" me would always bring at least one kid, to lighten the load for my husband (who, by the way, winds up being left alone in this house waaaaaayyyy more than I do), but I really need to capture some of my "space" back (and those of you who have a 3-year-old jammed semi-permanently up your butt KNOW what I'm talking about!).

I also need to take my little one's needs into consideration, because I'm not being fair to her. So, I made a vow that, on nice days, I'll take her OUTSIDE to blow off some steam. We'll either go to one of the local parks, or go for a walk, or find something else to do where she can run around, giggle and play, and get herself all tuckered out. And let me tell you... she's LOVIN' this "new Mom"! :)

The other promises I made to myself were to exercise more regularly. I dusted off my old "Walk Away The Pounds" videos, and will begin by doing the 1 Mile tape, three times a week, and I'll work my way up to the 2 Mile, then the 3 Mile, and so forth. I've also vowed to eat better. No more starving myself all day, to "save" the food for the kids (again, being a bit selfish here), and then loading up my dinner plate with carbs and protein, and topping that off with a big heaping bowl of ice cream!

We have to be very careful about buying food on a budget, and I was using that as an excuse for not buying more healthy options. Like I told my husband today, if I substitute some of the junk I've been buying on a regular basis with some healthier alternatives, then the grand total shouldn't change that much.

The BIG thing I had to change was the mindset of eating better to "lose weight", although I'm sure I probably will. Since I am a big girl, and have a bunch of weight to lose, I get frustrated, I get overwhelmed ('cause it's not coming off fast enough), and I give up. I've got to keep reinforcing the fact that I'm eating better to get healthier, not only for my kids, but for me, too. If the weight starts coming off, that's terrific!

I have work really hard to convince myself that I'm not doing this work to wind up looking like Cindy Crawford (heck... even Cindy Crawford doesn't look like Cindy Crawford anymore! :), and that what I'm doing has to be a gradual, for-the-rest-of-my-life kind of thing. This is mostly because I'm one of those kinds of people who's really good at losing weight (and have done so by following pretty much every diet program under the sun), but I've never been good at keeping it off for good. I need to learn how to do that part.

So... I'm three days into this newer "lifestyle", and so far, so good. I've done my workout tapes twice already, and Miss S. and I took a nice little walk together before we went to the park today. It felt like quite an accomplishment, let me tell ya! I've also been making a conscious effort to eat something that's fiber-filled for breakfast (Go Lean Crunch is the BEST!), having a light lunch, and since I tend to get hungrier at night, having a dinner that's normally portioned, with a BIG salad. I've also stopped drinking soda, and have replaced it with water (can't give up the coffee, though.... sorry!).

The other thing I've had to come to grips with was getting a better handle on my depression. My doc seems to believe that it's mostly hormonally induced (since I'm in the throws of perimenopause), and he's suggested that I finally "up" my dosage of Wellbutrin to two times a day instead of once. When he initially prescribed this medication to me, he suggested that I start off taking it twice a day. I did, and it made me so wired that I couldn't sleep. So, he said if once a day was working all right for me, then that was fine with him, too. But he'd keep my prescription at two times a day... just in case. Well, two years later, and based on the conversation he and I had a few days ago, I'm back on two days a week.

Let me tell you... that decision was gut-wrenching. It really was hard to come to terms with having to "rely" on that medication more. But, the way I looked at it.... I have hypothyroidism, and I take Levothroid every day for it. It's necessary, because it keeps my pituitary gland working correctly, and keeps me from getting VERY sick. The Wellbutrin is doing the same thing for me, only on an emotional level. It's keeping me from getting "sick".

I've been taking two tablets a day for three days now, too... and I've already felt a difference in my mood. The only way I can describe it is the feeling of a veil being lifted from my face, allowing me to breathe freer and easier again. I did have a really bad headache last night (forcing me to go lie down early), but I'm not sure whether that's a side effect. I don't have one yet tonight, so maybe it was just a change-of-weather thing, seeing as how we went from it being in the '80's and muggy, to the mid '60's and dry.

I also had a discussion with my husband last night, asking him to try and support me, and to let me know if he notices any changes, even if they're subtle. He actually admitted to me that he was scared for me, because he knew that I didn't want to act the way I behave when my "funks" come on, and he wants me to get better, too. It really suprised me to see that he could actually notice a difference in my behavior. And yes, I did tell him that I needed him to really try to talk to me more, but I know I couldn't make him do it; the decision needed to be his. He agreed to try, and that was enough for me.

3) There are definitely some outside influences that I need to work on, too. Getting more money into this house is one (I don't care what ANYONE says... when you're constantly strapped for cash, it wreaks havoc on your emotions), and reeling in my mom is the other.

A few months back, I inquired about a new job I got through an e-mail from a local after school program for middle school kids. They were looking for some people to come on board as part-time counselors. I replied to the director, expressing interest. She quickly e-mailed me back, we chatted back and forth a couple of times, she asked me to come in with my resume in hand, and must have liked what she saw and heard, 'cause she hired me on the spot!

I knew her summer was going to be an incredibly busy one: a planned trip to El Salvador, to our town's "sister" city; a move of the entire facility from one location to another; a certification visit once the new location was up and running, and; a vacation week. When I didn't hear any updates from her, I sent her a "touch base" e-mail, and she told me that not only had she NOT forgotten about me, she was thinking about adding more to my initial position, and wished to ultimately make me an Administrator of their facility. Because of my level of expertise, and my past job experiences, she thought that I'd be a perfect fit for a position she'd had in the works for quite some time.

Of course, we have to discuss all of the logistics that this position entails -- primarily making sure that my two daughters are taken care of in terms of some sort of daycare for S., and after school transportation and care for R. And... I also have to REALLY think about whether I want to be thrust into a full-time job, after being a full-time stay-at-home-mom for the past four years (thinking about going back to work all those hours makes my heart race!).

Regardless of whether I take on the full-time or the part-time position, the extra income, and the fact that I'm CONTRIBUTING money to our household, would be a wonderful thing. Don't get me wrong... my husband has never once made me feel even the teeniest bit inadequate because I don't work. He always refers to our money as just that... our money. And I really do love him for it. But, I've been working since a month after I turned 16, up until four years ago, and it feels awfully strange not to be paying my own way. Does that make sense?

Anyway... I should know more within a week or so, once the director is back and done with everything else that made her summer absolutely nuts. When I know something, I'll be happy to share.

As for my mom.... well, I've been writing passages that will eventually lead up to the "here and now". But, in a nutshell, she's been experiencing "panic attacks" (I'm not sure if that's the correct term for whatever it is she's going through, but that's what she calls them, so that's what they'll be termed, until I know the appropriate medical terminology for it), and basically... she's deemed me to be her "babysitter". This essentially means that I'm not allowed to leave my house, to go ANYWHERE, without her. Now, stop, and just absorb that for a minute. Think about what your life would be like, if you had to deal with those kinds of ramifications, ON TOP OF the needs of your own children, and while also trying to squeeze out a little bit of time for yourself. Maddening, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong... I love my mother. She's been a good mom, and is a great grandmother. But.... to have to have her "tag along" to EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY PLACE you go.... oh, my!

AND, whenever I was able to "sneak out" on my own, I'd later hear things like, "When I noticed your car wasn't in the driveway, I got so nervous, but I knew you wouldn't go far." Huh????? What does THAT mean??? Does that mean I can't take a ride to Nashua, New Hampshire, if I want to do some tax-free shopping? Or does that mean I can't travel to the next town????

I hope you don't think of me as the cruel and evil daughter, but I truly do believe that having that kind of pressure and responsibility on one's shoulders would make even the most stoic of people want to take to their beds, too!

So, anyway.... there's my long, rambling post about my numerous epiphanies.

If you've made it all the way through, you deserve a cookie. Low fat, of course. ;)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Something to Share.....

I Believe...
That just because two people argue,
It doesn't mean they don't love each other.
And just because they don't argue, It doesn't mean they do love each other.

I Believe...That we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

I Believe...That no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.

I Believe...That true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance.
Same goes for true love.

I Believe... That you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I Believe...That it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I Believe...That you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

I Believe... That you can keep going long after you think you can't.

I Believe...That we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I Believe...That either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I Believe...That heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I Believe...That money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I Believe...That my best friend and I can do anything, or nothing, and have the best time.

I Believe...That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down, will be the ones to help you get back up.

I Believe...That sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I Believe...That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.

I Believe...That it isn't always enough, to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes, you have to learn to forgive yourself.

I Believe...That no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief.

I Believe...That our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

I Believe...That you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.

I Believe...Two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

I Believe...That your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.

I Believe...That even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.

I Believe...That credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

I Believe...That the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.

'The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; They just make the most of everything.
Thank you God for all the wonderful people who help us throughout the journey of life..
May Angels guard you and guide you.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Need To Be Quiet For A Bit

I'm a bit overwhelmed with feelings right now (and I've probably slipped into what I call one of "my funks"). When I get like this, it's best for me to be still, and be quiet, and kind of fold into myself. If I fight it, it only gets worse.

I'll probably be lurking for a bit, but hopefully I'll be back to my usual posting soon.



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oh, But There IS A Bit Of Good News... and I Need To Thank You ALL!

For those of you who read my lament about my engine light coming on, and proceeded to add me and my car to your daily prayers... I want to extend my deepest gratitude, 'cause the light went OUT yesterday afternoon!!!!!


Isn't it nice to know that good things actually do happen to me once in awhile? ;)

I Feel Like I'm Chronically Complaining... But Here I Go Again

First thing this morning, all of the kids were loaded up into my SUV to head towards the Club. R. had camp again, and my son actually got his butt up out of bed bright and early this morning, so he could go there and hang out with his friends. When S. and I arrived back home after dropping them off, she finished with her breakfast, and I got her settled in to watch a video. The plan was to check my e-mails first, then start in on finishing up laundry, and then, since it's been beautiful out today, take her to the park for a bit before I pick up the kids.

While I was on the computer, the phone rang. From the caller ID, I could tell that it was my husband's cousin's husband's number. Now, mind you...we don't talk to most of his family AT ALL anymore (and believe me when I tell you, that's one LONG story!), with few exceptions. But, we never had anything against this particular cousin. In fact, I always liked her, and her mother (my husband's aunt -- his mother's sister -- who is also his Godmother). But, we still didn't talk much to her, either... mostly because we all had our own lives, and she had a LOT of issues to deal with.

So, when we got a random letter from her a few months back, we knew that the contents had to be pretty darn important. She wrote to let us know that her mom had passed away, after a long illness. My husband called her as soon as he got home from work that evening, found out the details of his aunt's services, and wound up going a few days later. That was the first time he'd seen anyone in his family in six years.

His cousin called again a few weeks later, to tell Stephen that she was dealing with her own health issues (she'd ALWAYS been sickly, all of her life, with some rare disease that came and went), and she was getting so incapacitated that she could no longer take care of her 16-year-old daughter. She asked if we would be willing to take her in.

My husband and I talked quite extensively about it, and I prayed about it. A LOT. We both finally agreed to do take her in, even though she was virtually a stranger to us. We thought it would be better for her to be brought into a "normal" home, rather than have her face any of the other consequences. I told him it would just kill me to find out that that poor girl, who'd lived with so much pain and suffering to begin with, would wind up being stuck in some foster home, with people who were only taking her in to get her money for their own gain, or abusing her in some way. I didn't think I could live with that.

He called his cousin back once we'd made our decision, but at that point, she said that she'd made arrangements for her daughter to go and live with her best friend for awhile. My husband told her that the offer was still on the table, and if anything changed, to call him and let him know.

That was about six months ago.

So... when I saw his cousin's husband's name come up on the caller ID today, I thought for sure it had something to do with the daughter. I let the call go to the machine because 1) This man is VERY long-winded (and we all know what it's like to try and talk to someone on the phone with a three-year-old around), and 2) if it was an issue involving the young lady, I thought it was my husband's place to have that discussion about her, not mine.

The message that was left on our machine had nothing to do with the daughter, however. He called to say that my husband's cousin passed away, and that he wanted us to call him back as soon as possible.

I immediately called my husband on my cell phone, and played the message back to him so he could hear it. He called me back as soon as he finished up with his service call, got the telephone number, and his cousin's husband.

In the meantime, I was trying my full-best not to bawl my eyes out, especially when S. handed me a paper-doll like sticker that she put together for me and wanted to hang up on my wall. I told her she could hang it on my bedroom door instead, and she went off to try and put it on my door. She came back a few minutes later, crying and saying she'd ripped her sticker. I told her not to worry, I'd fix it for her.

I went into my room with her, and asked her to go and get another piece of paper from the scrap drawer, in an attempt to get her out of sight so I could take my tape and the scissors out of the top drawer of my dresser (I have to hide these items, 'cause my kids would use a roll of tape a DAY if I allowed it, and scissors and R. just don't mix). I fixed her sticker, put a piece of tape on the top of the paper for her so she could go hang it on my door, then turned my back to try and slip the scissors and tape back into my drawer unnoticed.

My husband called me back when he finished his conversation with his cousin's husband. I was so engrossed with the information he was relaying to me that I didn't realize at first just how QUIET S. had gotten. I called out her name, and got no response. I called again. More silence. I was just on the verge of getting up to see where she was (and more importantly, what she was into), when she came running out from my room, into the dining room, telling me "See, Mama? I got all of the yuckies out of my hair!" She was holding the right side of her hair in her hand, so I couldn't immediately see, and I FREAKED OUT when I finally saw what she meant.


My poor husband... here he was, all mournful and upset over the loss of his cousin, and I just about lost my freakin' mind, especially when I went into my bedroom and saw the huge pile of hair on the floor, and another pile on top of my dresser. I started sobbing... her beautiful hair was ruined, and there was no way to blend the cut section in anywhere... she'd chopped it off from the side all the way around the back. The only thing left to do was to cut it completely off.

I'm heartsick over it, but thankfully, her hair grows back quickly!

When I was finally able to calm down enough to actually LISTEN to what my husband had to tell me, he informed me that his cousin's husband asked if we could possibly give (loan) him $1,300 for her service expenses! Neither one of them had/has any money, and the husband said he'd already tried calling all of the other members of the family to ask them for the loan, and we were the ONLY ones who called him back! NO ONE ELSE seemed to either care, or want to bother! He said that he had a service scheduled for my husband's cousin for tomorrow, but if he can't come up with the $1,300, he might have to cancel it until a later date.

My heart just broke for him, but we don't have that kind of money, either. Shoot, I had to cut my daughter's hair myself, 'cause we don't even have the $12 bucks to take her to my girlfriend's salon to get it cut! If I did have it, I'd give it to him in a minute, though.... no questions asked. I wouldn't even want it back. Everyone deserves a decent service.

The moral of this?

1) My husband's family just plain SUCKS!

2) My little one now looks like Suri Cruise! (And shhhhhhh...don't tell her I said this, but she looks adorable with her new "bob"!)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ever Have A Day That's About A YEAR Long???

That's how it feels around here today. Even though I made my two girls their breakfast, brushed hair and teeth, helped to get them both ready, finished making and packing up my oldest daughter's lunch, then piled the two girls in the car and took my oldest off to camp. Even though I came back, and throughout the course of the day, made beds, swept my hardwood, vacuumed my rugs, did the dishes, mended a pair of my husband's work pants, made lunch for my little one and me, played with her a little bit, rewound a movie for her (Lazytown... FOUR times today! Ugh!), washed five (yes, FIVE) loads of laundry, dried, folded and put away four loads of laundry.... even though I've done ALL THAT, this day is still ddrrrraaaaaagggggiiiinnnnggggg BY!

Maybe it's 'cause this is our third day of rainy, gloomy, yuck outside, and we've become housebound once again. Maybe it's just 'cause I've become an "Olympics Widow", and therefore, have no one over the age of 13 to talk to in this house (unless of course, you count my delusional mother, who doesn't ever let me do much of the talking, but instead recounts events that have happened either in her recent or not-so-recent past....over and over and over and over and over and over again, and if you think that's not exactly like talking to another kid, then you've got another thing comin' to ya!), and so I'm maybe kinda lonely.

My e-mails are sparse, no one's posting much on their blogs... heck... not too many folks are even on Instant Messenger. I'm starting to feel like Robert Neville Smith in "I Am Legend":

My name is Mama C. I am a survivor living in the suburbs. I am broadcasting to anyone who would like to participate in a halfway decent conversation. I will be at my computer workstation everyday, at regular intervals, morning, noon, or night. If you are out there... if anyone is out there... I can provide laughter, I can provide company, I can provide advice. If there's anybody out there... anybody... please. You are not alone.

The Ten Books To Read Before You Die (according to AOL)

How many have you read?

1) I never had any interest in "Gone With The Wind"... so I'll pass on that one (I haven't seen the movie, either)

2) We do have the entire Lord of the Rings series, and I do want to read them at some point (especially now that I've seen the movies, and can understand the "language" better). Maybe someday I'll "borrow" them from N. (who has read them all) and get through them.

3) I think I read the first two books of the "Harry Potter" series. I was into reading the third one, and it just got, well... too boring for me. So I stopped. We have all of the books in that series, too. Maybe someday I'll get to the rest of those, as well.

4) I read "The Stand" a LOOONGGG time ago, and frankly... it freaked me out. The possibility of that happening for real is just a bit too close for comfort for me.

5) I read "The Da Vinci Code", too. Again, a little too realistic for comfort.

6) I've never read "To Kill A Mockingbird". It's another one we have around here, somewhere. I guess I'll have to add it to my list! :)

7) I've never even heard of this book. Maybe I'll look it up.

8) I made an attempt to read "Atlas Shrugged" a long time ago. I think I may have even gotten through it... I can't remember now. That's how excited I was about it, I guess! :)

9) I read, and re-read "The Catcher in the Rye" when I was in high school. It's a phenomenal book. So is its sequel, "Frankie and Zooey".

10) There have been many, MANY times when I've picked up the Bible, to try and read it. The language is just a bit too hard for me to get through.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympics Widow, Car Update, and Other Nick-Nacks

Anyone else out there have a spouse/partner that's turned you into an "Olympics Widow"? I mean, don't get me wrong... I'm as excited as the next guy that they're here (and I'm definitely rooting for the good ole' USA), but geez! I'm with three kids ALL DAY LONG, and I look forward to some kind of adult conversation at the end of the day!

Husband's been GLUED to the set, every night (until the wee hours of the morning, I suppose... I'm never awake when he comes to bed), since the opening ceremonies.

I asked him earlier tonight, "Am I going to lose you all night long again tonight?" You know what his response was? "Well, the Olympics are only on every four years." So, in other words.... yes, dear, you ARE going to lose me again tonight, and every other night until the very last competition is over, and the very last medal is awarded. Sigh.

On the way home from picking up R. at the Club (more on her assessment of her first day at camp later), I ran into one of my brothers as I was heading into my front door. Since he's been having a bit of difficulty with his car lately, and has developed quite a repore with a mechanic, I figured I'd ask him where he went and what his opinions were of the dreaded engine light. He seemed to think it wasn't much of a big deal -- that it was probably a sensor that wasn't connected right, or that the gas cap wasn't screwed on properly (uhm... been there, done that), or that it was very likely some kind of other minor malfunction.

At first, he told me that I shouldn't worry about it too much, but when I balked about the possibility of being out somewhere with my kids in the car, and having my car die on the side of a road somewhere, he said he'd meet me back at the house after I dropped R. off at the Club tomorrow, and go with me to see his mechanic.

I sure hope he's right, and that it's something really tiny. Maybe, just maybe, that would mean there's a glimmer of hope that SOMETHING will finally go our way after all! :)

As for Miss R. -- she LOVED her first day of camp! She said they made a bunch of craft-like things in the morning (which I assume were left in their room to dry overnight), and then they went to Stone Mountain Creamery in the afternoon, where they got to "concoct" their own ice cream treats. She said everyone was surprised when she was the only one who finished her entire ice cream (little do they know what a bottomless pit she can be!).

She went upstairs at 4:00, as part of the drop-off program, and called me to ask if she could attend the next free swim. I agreed, as long as she made sure to meet me outside right at 5:00, which, I was proud to see that she did.

And, as predicted, she was tired as all get-out when she came home. She showered, ate, brushed her teeth, and headed upstairs to bed. I wouldn't doubt it if she was asleep soon after her head hit the pillow!

I'm so glad that she liked it, and that my little one was an angel today -- well, except for the brief lapse, when she managed to get into my Vaseline AGAIN, and daubed some into the front strands of her hair -- right after I'd just finished washing it too! Ugh! Guess that girl can't hold her halo straight ALL of the time! :)

Wish me luck tomorrow, and please, please... pray that there's only something minor wrong with my car. I know that there are lots of worthy people who are on a waiting list for a kidney, but I'd rather keep my set in tact for now, thanks!

What A Difference A Day Makes!

Today was R's first day of summer camp. She's going all week, from 9:00 in the morning, until 4:00 in the afternoon, at our local Boys and Girls Club. I told her she could go upstairs to the drop-off until 5:00, too. So...she should be GOOD and tired by the end of the day!

And, because R. isn't here, Miss S. has been as quiet as a mouse. She's finished her Cheerios, had her fill of juice, and is now lounging on the chair in my living room, watching Princess Dora. The only noise coming from her is an occasional response, when Dora asks the viewers to help her by repeating something, either in English or in Spanish. S. keeps mumbling her responses through her beloved pacifier.

I have the feeling that it's going to be a VERY quiet week around here! :) And, R. was very excited about getting "her turn" to participate in camp. She just loves it, and it's so good for her, too.

I was planning on taking S. to the park today, but AGAIN, it's dark, cloudy, gloomy, and cool. I have no idea what's prompting all of this funky weather, but someone needs to inform Mother Nature that it's August, for Pete's sake! Not that I'm complaining, really.... I'm not a big fan of the heat, so this weather's fine for me. It's not so good for little ones, though, who want to go outside and run and play, and can't understand why it's not allowed. It also makes me want to go crawl underneath the covers and go back to sleep. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, S. will take a nap, which would mean I could, too. If I wanted to.

But.... with the burgeoning hamper in our bathroom, I'll probably be a good little doobie and wash a load of clothes, instead. I'll just have to wait and see how loud that bed gets when it calls to me! :)

Oh... and BTW.... my engine light is still on. Sigh.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Am I Blue? Am I Blue? Ain't This Paint on My Face Tellin' You?

Oh, man... where do I even BEGIN with this one!!! I'd barely woken up this morning, and was on the potty, when R. came downstairs and "announced" that S. had "somehow" gotten into a tube of blue paint from one of R's craft kits (all of which should have been thrown away by now, by the way), and when I finally saw S.... she looked like a member of the Blue Man Group. Or an Oompa-Loompa.

She was blue from head to toe!

So, I had to wash her completely down first thing this morning. That was it. It was the final straw that broke this camel's hump. I gave R. her medicine (so she wouldn't be off the wall), and told her to go wake up her brother (who's been taking it upon himself to sleep the day away lately! I warned him last night that I'd be getting his lazy butt up out of bed bright and early this morning, and I wasn't kidding!!), and TOGETHER they would clean her room, then clean his.

He came downstairs, all mopey and grumpy 'cause he had to get up so early, and I told him that he had to clean too. He said, "R's not going to help me clean", so I told him to send her back downstairs and I'd take care of it.

When she came down, I said to her, "I'm only going to say this once, so you had better listen. If I hear, one time, that you're not helping to clean, not only will I tell your brother to stop cleaning and make YOU finish both rooms BY YOURSELF, but when your father comes home from work, I'm going to have him remove EVERYTHING out of your room but your bed. That means your TV, your Gamecube and all of your games, your CD player and all of your CD's, your desk, your nightlight, your lamps, your toys.... EVERYTHING. And... you will be made to sleep in your room with JUST YOUR BED."

I knew that the threat of her not having a light or some kind of sound would be enough to move her tiny little hiney in gear. They've been upstairs cleaning ever since. I've been informed that they've finished R's room, and they've now moved on to N's. I told him that I want everything up off of the floor and put away where it belongs, 'cause when they're done cleaning, he's to come down, get the vacuum cleaner, and vacuum both rugs.

Tough love sucks, but it works!

And, what's my little one been doing the whole time? Sitting quietly on the chair in the living room, watching Dora, and peacefully rubbing her beloved "pup pup" on her nose. They're soooooooo much better when they're separated!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Good News, and The Bad News

Whoo wee! What a busy day! My little one was being a spitfire, and man, did she wear me OUT! I did wind up talking with their pediatrician about her, too, because her off-the-wall behavior is becoming a bit concerning to me. He actually saw some of it in action while we were in the examining room, and he said that although he's not ruling out that she's being a typical 3-year-old, with an AMAZING intelligence level, he is definitely willing to keep an eye on her, and continue to hear me if I come back time and time again and gripe about her hyperactive behavior. I personally think I have another ADHD child in the making, but I guess we'll just have to wait it all out and see.

So... do you guys want the good news, or the bad news? Oh, I guess I'll just start with the good news first.

We didn't go any further than the customer service desk at K-Mart, because I got quickly annoyed and exasperated by my little one, who went everywhere else but right beside me, even though she promised she'd stay with me (as an obvious ploy to get out of going into a carriage). Once I made my returns and layaway payment, we walked over to TJ Maxx, to try our luck on the clearance racks there.
Lo and behold... we found one pair of cute jeans, one pair of denim capri pants, and a really adorable "hoodie" style button down baby-doll top for R. All in the Juniors department (which we now have to routinely shop in, because of her budding "figure"... ACK!), and all totalling less than $20!! I also found a really cute pair of Champion sneaks (reminiscent of Sketchers) for $10 bucks at PayLess. So, she's pretty well set for back-to-school.

The bad news is, on the way out of the TJ Maxx strip mall, and on the way to another stop off at a local bakery (they have the BEST fresh rolls and bread ANYWHERE), I noticed a funky light come on on my instrument panel. I pulled into the parking lot of the bakery, pulled out my owner's manual from the glove compartment, and panicked when I found out what that light was a symbol for -- the engine!

I grabbed my cell phone, called my husband, and tried my fool best not to flip out. He asked me if I'd gotten any gas lately, and I said yes... I'd just filled the tank before we headed out. He reassured me that maybe, just maybe, it was a sign that the guy didn't tighten the gas cap on enough, and that I should try to tighten it again. He thought that would do the trick. So, I went in, bought my bread (and resisted the urge to shove half the loaf into my mouth all at once -- I eat when I'm stressed), and took the girls back out into the parking lot, securing them both into their seats before futzing with the gas cap.

I took it completely off, and tightened it enough to hear that "clickclickclick", got into the car, started it up.... and still saw the engine light.

So, once we got settled into our next destination... lunch at McDonald's... I called my husband again to vent some more. Again, he reassured me that it might take a day or two for the car to "run through all of its checkpoints" before the light went out. I have no idea what that means, exactly, but I sincerely hope that it's true.
Engine work is the kiss of death for a car, and we can't afford the repairs right now.

It's always something, isn't it?

Pray that there's no light tomorrow. We still need groceries.

Another Day At The Races!

Today's going to be another relatively busy day. First, I've got to get the bills straightened away (I just LOVE paying them all online! It saves so much time, and a ton of stamps! :). Then, the girls and I are headed off to K-Mart. I have to return a couple of things, and plunk a good hunk-o-change down on my Christmas layaway. This is the SECOND one I've got going, by the way... I took the first one out a few weeks ago, because it also had a bunch of back-to-school clothes for N.

I may check out some more clothes for R. while I'm there, but I'm already pretty sure that I won't have much success at this particular store. They tend to have a lot of "hoochy-mama" things in her size, and I'll be damned if I'm going to have my 9-year-old daughter wearing a shirt that says "Bite Me" across her budding chest, and pants that expose her entire navel! Uhm... no thanks.

I also have to run the mundane errands, too... filling up my tank with gas (I take a big, heaving breath before plunging off that particular cliff!), running to the post office, and probably picking up a few things at the grocery store to tide us over until Sunday, when we'll do our "big" grocery shopping (usually two heaping carts full, which is why I have to wait for a day when my husband's home from work, so he can push one of the carts around the store. Hey... I'm good but I'm not that good! :). R. also has her ADHD follow-up with her doctor today at 3:30 this afternoon. So... once I get off this thing, I'm going to pretty much be hitting the ground running.

Before I sign off for the time being, though, I want to share with you all a not-so-pleasant "transition" I've been going through with my son, lately. He's turning 14 at the end of next month, and I know he's probably only trying to assert his independence a bit, and therefore he's "pushing" his father and me, to see how far he can go. Trouble is... I push back.

Case in point: My son called home at around 4:30 last night, just before the Club was about to close. My husband answered the phone, and then came to check with me about my son's request. He wanted to go over to a friend's house after the Club closed, and wanted to know if that was okay with us. Since we had nothing planned, I said it was fine with me. My husband returned to the phone, telling him it was okay, and also letting him know that we expected a phone call at some point, letting us know what time he needed to come home.

Now.... fast forward to 9:00.... and still no phone call from my son. My husband was practically spitting nails, especially considering 1) we'd gotten him a cell phone, primarily for the purpose for keeping in touch with him at any given moment, and 2) we've expressed our frustration and disappointment with him about his "forgetfulness" before.

My husband left, storming out of the house to go retrieve our son from his friend's house. And of course, once my son got into the car, my husband lit into him about being more responsible and doing what he was told.

When he walked into the door, I gave him a piece of MY mind, too... probably reiterating everything my husband said. I told him that he was NOT going to keep turning into this kid I didn't know, and didn't like very much, because he felt like it. That he was going to quit doing what he felt like, going to bed when he felt like it, getting up when he felt like it, calling when he felt like it, going where he felt... it was all going to STOP. He mumbled, "Okay, Mom".... as he was reaching for his XBox Live game piece! (This was taken away from him at 10:00 the night before, because apparently, he has no self-control when he plays the dang thing, and stays up until the crack of dawn to battle all sorts of evil-wrongdoers, and can't get his hiney out of bed until the middle of the afternoon!).

I told him, "Don't you dare even begin to think that you're getting to play with that contraption tonight. And, if you don't stop acting like a little punk, your phone will be taken away from you FOR GOOD." I also reminded him that it was less than a month before he was back in school, which meant he had to get up even EARLIER than he did for middle school, so he had better start getting used to going to bed and getting up, or he was going to be in BIG trouble.

He went sulking off up to his room.


I hate, hate, HATE being the "bad guy" to my kids. But honestly, this boy, who never, ever gave me an ounce of trouble, is turning into some punk kid that I don't particularly like. So, a serious case of reeling in is in order. He's going to remain respectful, decent and kind.... even if it KILLS me! :)

Okay... off to give all of my husband's hard earned money away to the utility companies, the car companies, the Internet company, the dentist, the orthodontist.....

Thursday, August 7, 2008

And We're Off!!

Mornin', everyone!

We've got to leave out of here in about 20 minutes, to go to both my son's and my oldest's daughter's orthodontist appointment. My son is going for his first follow-up since getting his braces off, and my daughter is going for a consultation, to see if she needs them. The orthodontist said that he may be able to do some preventative work now, which would eliminate braces all together. Wouldn't that be wonderful???

Problem is, it's another gloomy, cloudy, rainy day here, and all I really want to do is crawl back into my bed and hibernate. Do you think I'd get in any real trouble if I gave my 13-year-old the car keys, and told him to drive them there?

Just kidding.


Say hello and let me know that you stopped by, and I'll check in when I get back.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In The Grand Scheme of Things, A Month Isn't Very Long at All (Part 6)

For those of you who don't have a calendar handy, I'd like to remind you that today is August 6th. Now....think back to a month ago. July 6th. Can you remember what you were doing? Maybe finishing up your cleaning after your Fourth of July celebrations? Maybe taking your kiddos to the park? Or your dog for a walk? Or planning a trip to the beach? Maybe you were posting a blog about the events that had happened in your life.... the friends and family you saw, the fun you had, the places you've been.

My guess is, that no matter what it was you were up to, you can probably remember some of the details pretty clearly. Why? Because it was only a month ago, right?

Now....keep that in mind as you read this. Because my point is, as the title of this post suggests, in the grand scheme of things, a month really isn't very long at all.


Sunday, August 20, 1989: My husband and I walked in through the door of our tiny apartment, after our virtually silent ride home from The Cape. Our plan was to drop off all of our luggage (much of it still untouched), check in on our kitties and make sure they still had enough food and a fresh supply of water, and then head off to the hospital to find out more about my Dad.

A short time later, we were standing at the registration desk of Mt. Auburn Hospital, finding out which room they were holding my father hostage in. We walked through a maze of hallways, and took what seemed like a dozen elevators before we'd finally found it. I hesitated for a moment before I stepped inside, took a deep breath, and put on a cheesy smile. At least I could attempt to make light of the situation, and not stress him out any more than he probably already was.

I walked in to find some of my family already there. My mom was sitting on a chair next to his bed, looking pretty shell-shocked and worn out. My guess was she hadn't been home much since she left the cottage a few days before, and it clearly showed. My sister was there, too...sitting on the radiator in front of the big plate-glass windows. My niece Alison was sitting beside her, and the two of them looked as if they were just about holding each other up.

I moved closer to the bed, where my father was taking up space. He was propped up to a near sitting position, and was chatting up everyone when I walked in. He saw me, and said, "Oh, there she is!", as he had done so many times whenever I came to visit. But, this time, it sounded so much smaller somehow, and his voice sounded deflated, as if he were a balloon whose air is slowly leaking out somewhere. He looked old, he looked tired, and he looked really, really sick. It took all I had to turn around and bolt.

We all made small talk for a bit, and then my mother asked me to go to the cafeteria with her, to get something to eat. I knew my mother well enough to know that she probably hadn't eaten a thing since she brought my father to the hospital, and I wondered what she really wanted of me.

As we were walking, she updated me on Dad's situation. She told me she'd spoken to the head Oncologist, who had also consulted with the head Oncologist at Brigham and Women's. They both agreed that there was a slight chance that they could "minimize the cancer in Dad's liver by giving him a large dose of chemotherapy, followed by radiation". My heart actually leaped up to my throat when I heard this... could there be a possibility that my father might survive this, after all?

Then, my mother hit me with the bad news. Given my Dad's weakened state, the dose of chemotherapy they're considering might kill him.

And then, my mother dropped the real bombshell.

She told me that she gave them permission to go ahead with it, and that his first dose was scheduled to be administered the next morning.

My head was reeling. I didn't know what to think. Should I be optimistic, and hope, possibly beyond hope, that this "plan" could work and restore my Dad's health? Or, should I resign myself to the fact that my Dad was going to die?

Suddenly, the idea of grabbing a tuna fish sandwich and a bag of chips in the cafeteria didn't quite appeal to me. In fact, I was trying really hard to keep myself from hurling all over the place.

I took another deep breath (I took a lot of them, in those days), and told my mother that if she'd talked things over with Dad, and he agreed to the procedure, that I supported the decision 100%.

That's when she told me that Dad didn't know a thing. In fact, he still thought that he'd had a hernia, and the surgery was to repair it.

What???? WHAT????

I couldn't contain myself. I asked her how in the HELL could she possibly think that keeping that kind of information from him could be a good thing? She said, "Because I know your father, Cheryl. Probably more than anyone else on earth. And I know that if he realizes he's as sick as he is, he won't fight it. He'll just give up."

How could she possibly think that? My Dad would never give up on anything. ANYTHING. But, she seemed to be convinced that this was the right thing to do for him, and I knew it would be pointless to even try to make her believe otherwise.

Thursday, August 31, 1989: My Dad had been through the full cycle of chemotherapy, and was suffering miserably because of it. With the first two or three treatments, his strength and health seemed to get a bit better, and we all sincerely hoped for the best. But, as the massive amounts of toxic chemicals kept being pumped into his body, his body finally broke down because of it, making him vomit, sweat, have chronic diarrhea, and feel generally like crawling into a deep hole and never coming out.

He went from having moments of clarity and lucidity, regaining the dry humor and amazing intelligence that was typical of my Dad, to suffering bouts of hallucinations: talking to ghosts of ship mates long past, with whom he'd seen many things that no 17-year-old boy should have to witness, as a sailor in the Navy during World War II; having conversations with my dearly departed Nana, whom he fiercely adored and missed tremendously; and recounting events from our childhood that we'd all long since forgotten.

Monday, September 4, 1989: My father's 62nd birthday was celebrated in his hospital room. We'd all brought in flowers, cards, presents, and a huge cake. It was actually a pretty decent day with Dad. He was "in the moment", and seemed happy and content to have us all there with him to honor his special day. He even managed to spend most of his time with us sitting up in a chair, rather than lying in bed.

We'd also received some good news from his doctors. They seemed to think that, even though my father wasn't 100%, he was well enough to attempt going home. Of course, this news made us all incredibly hopeful. So much so that my mother went through a flurry of preparations to get their apartment spic and span for my father's homecoming. She hired several contractors to install new carpeting, paint the inside walls and trim, and make some repairs -- all of which my father had promised her he'd get to, but never got the chance. She wanted so much to make his home as "revitalized" as his health seemed to be.

Saturday, September 9, 1989: My father arrived home, and although he was weak and tired, he was definitely glad to be in his familiar surroundings. Before he'd left the hospital, he'd had his second round of radiation. His doctors felt that, since he'd done so well with the first round, that it was "safe" to continue with the rest of his treatments.

On Monday, my mother arranged to begin at-home hospice care for Dad. But, she was quite dismayed when she found out that their insurance only covered part-time care. Since all of us (including her) were in desperate need to return to our jobs, which we'd all pretty much abandoned while Dad was in the hospital, she scrambled to find volunteers to come and stay with my Dad for the other half of the day.

I was scheduled to be one of those volunteers. Unfortunately, I'd come down with some horrendous virus, which wound up landing me at my own doctor's. She told me that I had a really bad gastro-intestinal virus, and that it was HIGHLY contagious. She warned me not to go anywhere near my Dad for at least 48 - 72 hours. I was devastated. My mom was furious.

She did manage to find other family members to go and care for Dad, who seemed to be holding his own at home. For the entire week, he was brought back and forth to the hospital to continue receiving radiation. All seemed to stay steady.... until my dad returned home after receiving his fourth radiation treatment.

Saturday, September 16, 1989: My Dad wound up getting diarrhea so badly that he could barely make it from the bed to the bathroom, and wound up soiling his pants several times over the course of the weekend. My mom later recalled that at one point, she rocked him as he cried like a baby, apologizing over and over to her for being so helpless. It was so uncharacteristic of my father to ever need any kind of help, and going to the toilet was seriously private for him. So, to not only need help going back and forth to the bathroom, but also having his wife clean up after his "accidents", made him feel deeply ashamed and humiliated. I can't even imagine just how badly her heart broke for him.

By Sunday night, he'd turned to my mother and softly stated, "Toddy, I think it's time for me to go back to the hospital." She knew, right then and there, that there was very little hope left.

Monday, September 18, 1989: My parents' 42nd wedding anniversary was celebrated as my father's birthday was.... in a hospital room. My Dad had been transported, by ambulance, back to the hospital the night before, right after my Mom made a quick phone call to the Oncologist, to let him know of my father's current condition, and to ask for his advice. He suggested that my father get back to the hospital.... quick.

Given my father's demeanor on the evening of their wedding anniversary, I almost couldn't believe that he was having any real problems. Yes, he looked fragile and weak, but again, his spirit was back in full force, and he was enjoying having his children and grandchildren around, wishing him and his bride love and best wishes for a future we'd all hoped they would have.

It wasn't until I encountered a brief moment alone with my Dad... a moment when he asked me to help him get to the bathroom and back, that I realized fully how dire his situation was. He was sitting in the chair, and as I gently helped to get him upright, I could feel that he was nothing more than skin and bones underneath the Johnny that draped around him. And he had an underlying smell that was almost putrid. A smell that went beyond dirt and grime. A smell of death.

Tuesday, September 19, 1989: When I first contacted my boss, letting her know of my father's situation and the need to spend some time with him and my family, her initial response was, "Take all the time you need." Apparently, the time I needed was far different from the time she expected me to be out of the office. She started calling me, telling me that my projects were beginning to pile up, and although she was terribly sorry to bother me at such a difficult time, my presence was sorely needed at work. So, I began going into the office, to try my best to play catch up with all of the lingering work I needed to complete. This was before the age of the laptop, and the ability to work from home, so it was almost mandatory that I show up to make some sort of dent.

I managed to put in a full day that Tuesday, and was reassured by my boss that she greatly appreciated my presence, and that if I could even come in for half-days for awhile, she'd be grateful. As I was leaving the office to head towards the hospital, I told her I'd do my very best for her.

As a result of putting in so many hours, and fighting through the rush hour traffic to get to the hospital, I didn't show up there until early evening. I walked into my Dad's room, expecting to see the same man I'd visited with the day before. I was completely shocked to see such an enormous transformation.

He was in serious pain, and was practically writhing from it. His hallucinations had come back full force, and almost everyone he encountered was thought of as someone else. His skin was turning yellow from the jaundice he was beginning to experience -- a hazard of his non-functioning kidneys and liver, which were both beginning to completely shut down.

Shortly after I arrived, the family and I were whisked into a conference room to meet with the team of doctors who had been working on my father's case. Their faces where blank and their voices were matter-of-fact as they gave us the rundown on his current condition. Not only were his liver and kidneys shutting down, but his other vital organs were following suit. Despite their efforts with the chemotherapy and radiation, his cancer appeared to have metastasized throughout his entire body, and he was in dire pain. His prognosis was fatal; they didn't give him much longer. He was dying.

They recommended that his morphine levels be bumped up considerably, to keep him comfortable "until the end". I think I'd pretty much blacked out from the information overload, up until that statement. I awoke from my protective fog to hear sounds of weeping from several members of my family.

I had an important question to ask, and I wanted to make sure I had the answer before I could cast my vote on the morphine issue.

"Can you tell me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my father is no longer lucid enough to make his own decisions regarding his healthcare and pain management?" All three doctors concurred -- with a resounding yes.

My vote was in. My Dad began receiving massive quantities of morphine.

My mother was all but inconsolable. My sister decided to take her to the cafeteria, to let her air out for awhile before taking her back to see my Dad -- maybe for the last time. Everyone else went with them. Everyone but me.

I went back to my father's bedside. He was sleeping soundly, but woke up when he saw me. He must have seen me as his young bride, because he called out to me, "Toddy! Hold my hand, Toddy! I'm so scared." I couldn't hold back any longer. I started to sob as I took my father's rough, well-worked hands. The hand I used to hold when crossing the street. The hand I held when I pretended he was my boyfriend. The hand that used to stroke my hair when I was sick. The hand that lifted me up when I was down, protected me from harm, and held me when I needed comfort. Now that hand, and that man, needed comfort from me. So, even though he thought I was his young wife, in a life they'd had so long ago, I held him. I sat, and sobbed, and held him as he lay dying.

It was the last time I saw my father alive.

Wednesday, September 20, 1989. As promised, I went into work that morning. I had a lot to accomplish on my first half-day, and was eager to cut through the paperwork on my desk, and return to the hospital to see how my Dad was doing.

I'd been there for about an hour, when Sarah Bodge, my co-worker and dear friends, knocked gently on my office door. Since her office was right next to mine, I could hear her on the phone moments before. By the end of the call, she was crying. When she knocked on my door, I almost wanted to tell her to go away and leave me alone, because I knew, in my heart of hearts what she had come to tell me.

Instead, I slowly turned my chair to face her. Her usual beautifully applied make-up was streaking down her face, along with a steady stream of tears. She seemed completely oblivious to it though. The information she carried to that door with her held much more importance.

"I just got off the phone with your mom. She asked me to tell you this as gently as possible. I'm so terribly sorry to tell you this, sweetie, but your Dad just passed away."

What happened next was a total blur. I remember falling into Sarah's arms, screaming "No! No! NO!!!!", and sobbing in a gutteral, animal way I'd never cried before. Someone must have called my husband's work, because he showed up shortly afterwards to take me to the hospital -- to be with my mother and the rest of my family. And to say my last goodbye to my Dad.

One month. One short month. No one knew, on that evening down The Cape, that all we'd have left with him was one short month. No matter how you look at it, it just wasn't enough time.