December 30, 2008

An Official Diagnosis

About three weeks ago, Savannah came to show me her big toe which had a large red bump on it and was sore to the touch. Tom and I both looked at it, poked and prodded it, felt it for warmth (it wasn't) and decided with our vast medical wisdom that it was probably a spider bite. We washed it, put Neosporin on it, and went merrily on our way.

I've been keeping tabs on it, and while it never looked any better, it really didn't look any worse either. I told her that if it was still bugging her after Christmas, I would take her to the doctor to have it checked out. A promise I made "knowing" that it would be fine by then, and I wouldn't have to spend yet more money on medical bills (this past year has been a red-letter year for that). Christmas day, it actually started looking worse, the red was expanding, and it was getting markedly more swollen. Being the good mom that I try to be, this morning we headed off to the doctor.

There the doctor did the same poking and prodding that Tom and I had done. They took x-rays to rule out a broken toe, and drew blood (a very traumatic moment for Savannah and thus for me) to rule out infection, inflammation, and rheumatoid arthritis. Her diagnosis: "I really don't know." She's too young for gout, especially with no family history. The arthritis is a stretch too, but we needed to rule it out. She called an orthopedic specialist and got us an appointment for this afternoon.

By this time, my worried-mama mind was heading in MANY terrible directions. This afternoon we went in for the appointment with the specialist, prepared for the worst. I think we both expected her to be admitted to the hospital, with perhaps an amputation in her immediate future.

The new doctor listened to the story, looked at the poor, swollen toe and then put a blood pressure cuff on the opposite ankle. "Just for fun" he wanted to cut off the blood supply to that foot for 5 minutes. In "normal" people (he obviously doesn't know us!), as soon as you release the cuff, the blood will instantly recolor the foot. In other people (like Savannah, as it turns out) it will take 7-10 seconds to gradually recolor the foot, and then the entire thing will be a really pretty scarlet.

So what is it?

Vasospastic Syndrome: Definitions:1. an inherited tendency to respond to stimuli such as coldness or emotional stress with inappropriate vasoconstriction or insufficient vasodilatation in the microcirculation.

In English, this means that when her hands and, in this case, her feet get cold, the blood vessels shrink up and block the blood flow to toes and fingers. If it's bad enough you get tissue damage such as what Savannah has. And it more than likely was inherited from me (my fingers are ultra-sensitive to the cold of winter; just one more reason I hate snow). The cure for this is to keep hands and feet warm and dry, covering them with what turns out to be the world's most expensive and hardest to find kid-size socks (SmartWool, only $12 per pair!) and another new pair of snow boots (The last pair were bought, coincidentally, 3-4 weeks ago, right before this problem). The new boots are not nearly as stylish as the old in Savannah's eyes, but at least they're warm, and waterproof.

To sum up: Today I spent $70 in co-pays, $45 for new boots, $20 for wool socks, and Lord only knows how much I'll owe for x-rays and blood tests. But the priceless moment? The priceless moment is having your daughter medically diagnosed as a SPAZ!

Hmmm... what does that say about me?

December 27, 2008

Precious and few...

Last month, right before Thanksgiving, there was a nasty accident in Sardine Canyon that took the lives of 3 people: 2 young parents and a 9 year old neighbor girl they had with them. Their own 5 year old daughter survived, but with several broken bones, and their toddler was unharmed.

Sardine Canyon is beautiful at all times of the year, but especially in the fall. When I worked in Ogden, I used to treasure my daily drive to and from work, even though it was an hour each way. However, I DREADED the winter: steep hills, sharp curves, horrible wind that created blizzard-like conditions at the "dry lake" part, insufficient snow plowing (especially early in the morning and late at night, the times I normally drove through), and a lack of a barrier between my lane and oncoming traffic, just to name a few things.

After I had Savannah, I continued to commute through the canyon, taking her with me to a daycare close to my work each day. Savannah was a very colicky baby and would literally SCREEEAAAMMM her way to and fro each day. She had a nasty habit on the return trip of finally falling asleep when we reached the reservoir, which was approximately 3 minutes away from home. Needless to say, between the screaming baby and the thought of winter, I decided it was time to find work closer to home. Although I had loved my job, I have never regretted giving it up, and it has been a huge relief to not drive through Sardine.

No sooner had I given up my job there then Tom got a job that required him to make the same tricky drive, and it scares me to death, especially after tragedies like those I mentioned at the first. He was literally cars behind the crash that killed the 3 I mentioned earlier. He had a front row seat to watch as the police and paramedics put up a shield to keep people from seeing the wreckage, and again as Life Flight landed. This accident really touched me, probably because of the young ages of all involved, to the little girl Savannah's same age who died. It's all too easy, driving through that canyon as often as we do, to imagine that it could have been one of us. To help ease my nerves, Tom calls me each day as he leaves work so that I will know, approximately, what time I should begin to panic... Usually each night, about the time that I reach for the phone to call and check up on him, I see his trusty headlights coming down the road.

Like most couples, we have our ups and downs and don't always see eye-to-eye on everything - often even major things. However, I am reminded how much I love him each night in the winter as I wait anxiously for him to arrive home. The problems we face fade in the light of imagining a life without him.

Christmas Eve this year also brought a reminder of just how precious life is. One of Josh's very best friends from high school, Eric Jorgensen, died in an avalanche while snowmobiling that morning. He was 22 and had just gotten married earlier this year. He and Josh and a group of about 4 others were basically inseparable: the kind of friends that kept in close touch even as life moved them in separate directions. A skiing accident claimed another of the boys, Chris, their senior year which I think made the remaining friendships all the more strong. They all knew firsthand how quickly things can change.

I am so sad about Eric and I cannot imagine the pain his family is going through right now, especially at this time of the year. Since Josh has joined the Army and moved on to start his own life, we do not see this group of great kids very often except when he comes home for a visit. Eric served a mission for his LDS church so had been gone for the last couple of years and hadn't been around for these visits.

Just over a month ago I was sitting in our living room on a weekend afternoon, arguing with the boys over something stupid (none of us can even remember now what it was). I saw a truck pull up and some shaggy guy got out and came to the door. Even after I answered it and he asked for Tom, I couldn't figure out who it was. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be Eric. He had grown a beard and mustache, and had just returned from hunting so he did not look like himself at all, but he truly looked content and happy! I am so glad now that I got to see him that last time.

I am once again reminded of just how precious life is, and how quickly it can be taken away from you. The last couple of years has brought me reminder after reminder of this fact, but it seems like I have amnesia, and it's so easy to get caught up in the annoying "little" things, especially with those we love like our kids and spouses. Like many parents, I find myself longing for the kids (teenagers especially!) to be grown and on their own. I am resolving this next year to spend more time enjoying their uniqueness, their goofy personalities, and even their annoying traits.

Josh is flying in on Monday for the funerals, and I am going to hug on his neck even if he calls me T-dawg or any of the other annoying nicknames he has for me (apparently guys don't EVER grow out of this trait). And with all the other kids, each time they drive me crazy I will try to remember: "there but for the grace of God go I."

Now go hug a loved one...

December 20, 2008

Up Close and Personal...

Yesterday was the culmination of a long week at work, with more work ahead of me for the weekend: Christmas cards (yes, I've still not done them, but I DID finally get my real letter written), laundry, wrapping presents (or as Savannah asked: "Mommy, when are you going to fold our presents?" Can you tell how much of my life is spent on laundry?!), grocery shopping, and finishing up the gift buying.

With all of this in mind, and with the snow falling in great gobs, I decided that I really didn't want to deal with cooking dinner. I ordered pizza from Hyrum for the kids and dinner for Tom and me from the small restaurant here in town. Anyone who knows me well knows that even though I've lived in Idaho and Utah all of my life, I am NOT a fan of snow. I do not ski (although I'll admit that I'd really like to try cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing), snowmobiling is fun for about the first 10 minutes before frostbite sets in, and ice skating is a personal recipe for disaster. All those songs about "dreaming of a white Christmas" are a total bunch of crap in my book!

But I digress... Although most sane people would order pizza and then have it delivered to them in the comfort of their home, and although the only thing I hate worse than snow is having to DRIVE in the snow, I also have this part of me that feels guilty about making somebody else have to drive in it. So, I ordered it to go. Braden and I hopped in our Tahoe (thank GOD for 4-wheel drive) to drive the 7 miles to Hyrum to pick up the pizza.

As we were slowly returning along the dark, long, skinny, and slippery 2-lane road (with a deep drop-off to the canal lining the entire thing) home, Braden calmly said "deer." I have long-suspected that Braden has more than just a touch of A.D.D., so in addition to constantly fidgeting, he doesn't often say anything in a calm manner. He's very enthusiastic about life and everything he has to say!
Anyway, he had been yammering on and on about who knows what while simultaneously tapping a raucous drumbeat on the top of the pizza box. The word "deer" briefly entered my subconscious as not fitting in with the conversation, which I'll admit I was only half listening to as I concentrated on the road. Then he calmly said it again. Because of his natural exuberance, I've often worked with him about not screaming something when he DOES get excited because it will more than likely cause me heart failure, even if it's for nothing. Finally he'd learned his lesson, just when a nice, rousing shout of "GREAT MOTHER OF ALL THAT"S HOLY" would have been better.

All of this transpired in the space of about two seconds of course, so about the same time that I was pondering it, I also saw the deer in the headlights. I knew I couldn't stomp on the brakes because the road would be too slippery and we'd go off into the ditch for sure. I also knew I couldn't hit the deer without doing some major damage to both it and us. We braked, it looked at us, we slid, it looked at us, we slid some more, and it finally decided to meander out of the way.

Honestly, I don't know HOW we didn't hit it or go off the road. That is the closest I've ever come to certain disaster, and it really did seem to play out in slow motion. As we finally drove past, Braden congratulated me on my good driving (which was really a compliment coming from him) and continued on with his story... Meanwhile, my heart was trying to take flight within my chest, and the good old adrenaline kicked in and my leg (which was really needed for pushing on the gas pedal) started shaking like a chihuahua in a snowbank...

This just goes to prove my point, once again, that I should have been born as a bear so that I could just hibernate the winter away.

December 17, 2008

Let's be honest

One of the things that I love about this time of the year are all the Christmas cards from friends and family, and I especially love getting the generic Christmas letters that some people send out to everyone on their list.

I'm not being sarcastic when I say that, either. I think it stems from my grandmother. She wrote Christmas letters every year that I can ever remember, and I used to love reading them, especially to see what she'd written about me (there's nobody like a grandma to make you feel like queen of the world, even if in reality you were a totally shy, nerdy girl!). I still have several of them that were sent to me once I had grown up, married, and moved out on my own, and I absolutely love reading over these snapshots from the past. Not only do they bring back memories long forgotten, but it's a little like having her back with us. I can practically hear her voice in my head as I read them. Since my grandparent's were both blind, I had the privileged job of being "reader of the mail" from the time I was in 4th grade. At Christmas-time, I looked forward to reading those letters from their friends as much as they enjoyed hearing them.

I know some people complain that those letters are "impersonal," but I know how busy my own life is, and if I had to write a completely personal letter to each person on my mailing list, it just wouldn't happen. In fact, if I'm being totally honest (as the post title suggests I will be), I'm doing well on the year's I actually MAIL my cards. I dutifully buy them each year, but I probably average every-other year in actually sending out my Christmas greetings. I'm working on it. As of today, I still haven't mailed out this year's greetings, but it WILL happen, even if I have to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Easter Blessings, all at the same time! Anyway, I understand that my life is not the only one that's scarily out-of-control, so I love reading my own friends' letters to catch up on their lives, especially those that I don't get to visit with as often as I'd like.

I'm bound and determined to get mine sent out by the end of this week, but I want to include my own letter as I've done the past few years (at least those where I was on the ball!). Here's the problem, though: I don't know what to write. 2008 hasn't been the worst year for us, all things considered, but it hasn't been the best either. I know that we can't be alone in this, and I have to wonder just how many of the letters I receive are "padded" a bit to make life sound good. It seems like every one has a perfect marriage, perfect kids, perfect jobs, ad nauseum...

Have you been to my home? Perfect we ain't! So, in the spirit of getting "real" this year, here are my proposed highlights:

Tom has worked as service manager of the automotive shop for another year without going totally insane, especially given the state of the economy, the cost of gas to get back and forth, and the attitudes of certain underlings who also happen to be the boss' sons. The eye twitch has subsided with medication, and we feel positive that the anger management classes will be a grand success!

Tracy continues to work at the university where she always feels like a loved and highly valued employee. The gray highlights in her hair continue to fill in nicely, and she's excited to have added 57,000 miles in the last year to her vehicle shuttling surly teenagers from event to event. Referred to fondly as "Momster," she lives only for her childrens' needs and asks nothing in return. Except back rubs, which she NEVER gets.

Evan is on a real roll and has remained ungrounded, through sheer luck and deception, consistently since the end of October! We go into the next year with high hopes that he will pass the 10th grade, and he'll probably only have to take a few hours of summer school to reach this goal.

Braden looks up to Evan as a real role-model and is following in his scholarly footsteps. In other highlights, he almost shot his first elk earlier in the year, and would have had it had he BROUGHT more than just one bullet from the truck parked 3000 vertical feet and 2 miles away in snow a mere 3-feet deep.

Savannah continues to be a "daddy's girl," honing the much-needed future skills of manipulation and perfection of "head games" on her unsuspecting father. Sadly, she has frequently fallen ill. It's some sort of new disease that is brought on solely when asked to complete some chore around the house or in her bedroom.

So there you have it! The true goings-on from the Jones family. At least it'll make you feel better about your own life!

Merry Christmas everyone... :-)

December 13, 2008

Daddy/Daughter Conversations

Savannah rides her morning school bus with a couple of little cretins, errr, I mean little boys, that pick on her. This pair has been dealt with many times by the bus driver (not just for picking on S), but the problems never seem to get solved. Because of this, last year Tom started giving her a ride to school each morning, which has worked out really well. I have to wake up earlier than they do to get to work on time, so I usually get ready in blissful silence (at least after the boys leave!), and then I wake them both up just minutes before heading out the door. Savannah is totally a daddy's girl, so I just assumed that this was good quality time for the pair.

A few days ago I had another one of my sleepless nights, and I just could NOT drag myself out of bed on time and opted to gain at least 1 more hour of sleep before heading to work. Tom had an appointment at 10 a.m. which meant he also got to sleep in a little before showing up for it. Sooo... I decided that I would take Savannah with me when I left and drop her off at school. I don't know if it was just because she doesn't get to see me much in the mornings, but she was in full-on chat mode. She talked my ear off, never once stopping to catch a breath! Tom wandered in after I sent her in for cereal, and made the comment "Wow... she hardly ever talks to me... She just looks at me really weird." Hmmm... There were so many ways I could have responded, but I decided to be nice and didn't take the bait!

As I was driving her to school, I decided to approach the subject to see if I could figure out why.

Me: So Daddy says that you don't hardly even talk to him in the mornings... How come you don't?

Savannah: Because he's a GUY, and they just don't like to say as many words (this stated with the tone of voice "Duh mom!"). Plus, he doesn't do GIRL talk...

Me: O-Kay... He also says that you look at him weirdly... What's that all about?

Savannah: (Real matter-of-factly, indeed, almost cheerfully): Oh, that's because he's got blood all over.

Me: What??!!!

Savannah: You know, from where he gets cut shaving.

Needless to say, I giggled the rest of the way to work. Later in the day I told Tom that I had figured out his problems, and shared the story with him. Yesterday, he called me after he got to work to tell me that things had gone much better, and she talked to him more.

To help set the conversation up, however, you need to know a little information about our darling Tweener. Savannah has recently been traumatized by the fact that two of her cousins who are only 2 years older than she have started wearing training bras. The horror! All of a sudden, you can't even say the word without her saying "that's disgusting!" I keep explaining to her that she'd better get used to the idea, because baby, your time is coming soon!

Anyway, back to the original story. Here's how their conversation went:

Tom: So what kind of GIRL talk should we talk about?!

Savannah (looking at him to see if she'd really heard correctly): Umm, I don't know..

Tom: Should we talk about BRAS!

Savannah (giggling): DADDY!

I think the ice has been broken. :-)

December 5, 2008

Not exactly my style, but... was pretty sweet all the same.

As I've said before, I really love listening to my favorite music. The boys, Tom, and Savannah all have their own favorite tunes too, of course. Each of our tastes are often VERY different, although there's usually a few places where common ground can be reached: Chris LeDoux, Toby Keith, etc.

Braden is my truly musical child. He has always been able to carry a tune beautifully (which he did
not get from me), although now that he's hit puberty he sometimes hits an odd note. I love to sing, but I can truly say that I suck. When the kids were little, there were no lullabies in the world that came from my mouth that would calm the kids; I daresay that they usually cried harder after my feeble attempts to soothe them.

Anyway, back to Braden. In addition to being a really good singer, he also is very talented on both piano and guitar, even though he's never really had lessons. A few years ago, Savannah had wanted to start piano lessons. We do not have any room in our house for a piano (although I would LOVE to), so my mom got her an electric keyboard that she could keep in her room. Unfortunately, the person I'd hired to provide the lessons quit teaching before we'd even arranged the first lesson (but not before I'd bought all the books she told us we'd need; arrgghh!). Since then, I just haven't done anything about it.

Braden can hear a song on the radio and then get on the keyboard and pick the notes out by ear. He amazes me! He has been able to do the same thing on his guitar. This trimester at his school, he FINALLY is taking a guitar class, something I've wanted to give him forever, but we just couldn't ever afford it. For the past few days he has been practicing at home, continuously playing the intro to AC/DC's "Iron Man" song. As I said, we don't exactly have the same tastes!

Earlier tonight, Braden came in, insisting that I listen to him "just this one more time." As he played, he ad-libbed the words, changing it to "I love my mom..." There was a lot more to it (ad-libbing and usually ruining songs is another talent he has. He has forever ruined the song "Return to Pooh Corner" by Loggins and Messina for me. I won't tell you the words he's come up with, but suffice it to say that Pooh, Tigger, and Owl do NOT fare well in his warped version.).

So, even though I would prefer to hear him croon Jim Croce's "I'll Have to Say I Love You In a Song," I'll take what I can get!

December 1, 2008

My favorite Black Friday

This past Friday I slept in until about 9:00 a.m. and then wandered out of the house around 10:30 to hit the stores, without kids - usually my idea of heaven on earth. I wasn't really in the mood for the typical craziness that accompanies the day, so I wandered aimlessly through a dozen stores or more, wondering more than once WHY I continued on when I obviously wasn't in the mood. I am really trying to get into the Christmas spirit, but I would love to find a way to make the focus more on the meaning of the day and less about the "gimme" attitude that people seem to focus on. The clerk I talked to at Wal-Mart (where I bought milk and cereal, nothing else) told me that there had been three fights that morning and they'd even had to call the ambulance for one of them. What's wrong with this picture?!

I had never done a "Black Friday" shopping spree until about five years ago when my mom somehow convinced me that it would be "fun" to stay over on Thanksgiving, sharing the couch with 2 dogs, and then wake up before the crack of dawn to go out in the freezing cold. Great, sign me up! And you know, it really was fun, if for no other reason than nobody else in the family (in other words, the kids) wanted to tag along, so we actually had quality time just the two of us, which never happens anymore. We enjoyed it so much that we did it again the next year.

Three years ago, just weeks before Thanksgiving, I ended up having to have a hysterectomy. Me being me, it couldn't just be an easy, stay-for-1-night, typical operation, and I ended up having pretty severe internal bleeding and an emergency operation again the next day to fix the problem. Needless to say, it was not a fun time and my recuperation time was extended quite a bit. I definitely wasn't up for sleeping with the dogs on the couch and going out early! However, being the bargain shopper that I am, I couldn't help but look through the pounds of ads in the paper that day.

On Black Friday, I was feeling more than a little sad because I couldn't be out with the crowds, finding all the great deals, or more importantly, having that important "mommy-daughter" time that I'd come to look forward to. Tom, showing a husband's true love, took pity on me and took me out (although NOT at the crack of dawn) to Wal-Mart. This from the man who suffers from a severe case of "mall leg" if he even steps foot in our small, local grocery-store! Anyway, he bundled me up, drove me to Wal-Mart on the busiest day of the year, got me situated in one of those electric carts they provide for those who need them, and gamely followed behind me. I just have to say that driving those carts is not as easy as it looks, especially if there happens to be 3,000 people crammed into the same aisle as you. We laughed our way through the store with him liberally apologizing for my lack of driving abilities. I was terrible!

That year I did most of my shopping online, and I honestly can't remember if we found any treasures that had to be taken home with us that day, but I will never forget the fun we had and the sacrifice he made to take me ... I do believe it was the LAST time he's ever been there even though I'm pretty sure his shins have healed by now.


November 29, 2008

Never too young to mess with...

Tonight Savannah came into our bedroom holding a small, white scrap of paper in her hands.

In a worried little voice she asked, "Mama, what's a consumer (pronounced 'kahn-soomer')"?

Thinking that she had been watching television reports on Christmas spending or something similar, I replied that it's a person who buys something.

She silently held out the slip of paper, ripped off of her mattress just moments before:


"Will I get in trouble if I take this off?" was her next timid question.

My motherly response, said with a completely straight face: "Oh man, I'm sorry, but you are sooo going to jail..."

Sometimes I really don't know what gets into me, but I can't seem to help myself. What fun is having children if you can't mess with their minds, just a little!

November 26, 2008

Mommy Melt-Downs

Every so often, my children push me into what I have come to not-so-endearingly call my "mommy meltdown mode." You know, the kind where after you're done, you're not sure who's older, you or them. Or you suddenly realize that you've reclaimed your own "inner child" when you're stamping your foot and whining like a 2-year old. I know I'm not alone in this, even though, like me, most of us are probably more than a little embarassed to admit it. At least, I HOPE I'm not alone in it!

Anyway, life has been kind of stressful for the last several weeks, both at work and at home. You'd think, after being raised by such a calm, caring, incredibly PATIENT mother, the adorable offspring would be more than willing to lay off of each other so as to bring peace and harmony to their stressed out mother.

Yeah, not so much at my house either.

Even though the work-week has been a short one, it really has felt like MUCH longer, and I was sooooo looking forward to just coming home and relaxing. Before I could even pull out of the parking lot, my cell phone rang with marching orders from the teens in my life to rent a certain movie, pick up McDonald's french fries (I promise I'll pay you back as soon as you get here!) and purchase highly-sugared and caffeinated soda. Since it's Thanksgiving-eve, I thought I'd do them the favor and comply with the demands.

I went to 2 Redboxes, a grocery store, and finally the drug store before I could find the movie in question. I rushed home, french fries in hand (literally - I only ate 4! It's a good thing I have to watch the stupid salt-thing or I probably would have gobbled them all) to spend time with my lovely children. Unfortunately, all 3 of them had school off today, so they'd been home doing apparently everything except their chores. So, mean mom that I am, I started barking out orders to get everything done. Then, I noticed my camera on the kitchen table (emphasis on the "my" - the kids don't seem to understand that). Somebody, the universal "Not Me" that abides in the home of every child, has taken the memory card out of it, and nobody knows where it is. We have torn the house apart looking for it, but it's just gone. The card has all the pictures that I've taken in the last two months: halloween, Evan's birthday party, the trip to Bear Lake, etc. GONE. Nobody knows who did it, and honestly, nobody cares. Here she goes again... you can hear in their deep sighs. They're just so picked on!

It wouldn't drive me quite so crazy if this were the first time that I've dealt with this particular problem. But it's not. Not quite 2 years ago, "Not Me" took the first card which had all of our summer hiking pictures on it; it eventually turned up AFTER it had been through the washer in somebody's pants pocket. When Josh came home on leave this past summer, Evan took his memory card from his camera to download all the pictures onto the computer and then promptly lost it. The good news is that we have now found that one in the search for mine (I'll mail it to you!). Words cannot tell you how frustrated I am...

Then, as if by mutual agreement, they've all been particularly hyper tonight. Bray and Savannah were wrestling around. Here's how that conversation went:

Mom: "You two had better settle down before someo....

Savannah: ** Cries of Anguish **

Mom: " gets hurt."

Gosh, who saw that coming?

I really am thankful for my family, but at this moment, I'm most thankful that tomorrow's a holiday, and I get to sleep in!

Deep sigh of my own...

November 15, 2008

I may have to disown him... :)

Sorry for being gone so long... I don't know if it's just because I've been in a bit of a funk (true), if my children haven't been overly cute (somewhat true), if they haven't been overly obnoxious (untrue, but there are only so many blogs you can write about beating your head against the wall), or if I just have no life and, thus, nothing worthwhile to write about (also true). :)

Anyway, I figured it was time to get back to it before silence becomes a habit.

The other night, after driving home in the darkness (can I just say that I really hate the time change) I entered the house to see that Braden was asleep on the couch and therefore had not even started on cleaning the kitchen, his chore for the week. I powered on the laptop and settled in to check my email, read my favorite blogs, and check my facebook account. I recently replaced my mp3 player, which had been broken for the past several months, so I've been happily listening to my favorite tunes again, something I haven't done FOREVER. I don't know about other people, but I absolutely love music. There's nothing else that I can think of that speaks to my soul in quite the same way, regardless of my mood.

I know that my musical taste is a bit different, especially for a girl who came of age in the '80's. I sat at the table happily listening to my tunes, while Braden kept taking "breaks" from his dishes to come steal the headphones out of my ears. Two of my all-time favorite singers are James Taylor and Jim Croce, and I find them especially comforting when I'm feeling like I have been. There's just something so soothing about each of their voices and their songs just capture my mood. Anyway, every time Braden would steal from me, he'd find me listening to some slow ballad. After about the third time, he pronounced that James Taylor "sucks." In the words of a favorite book of mine, he "took out my heart and stomped that sucker flat."

Obviously, today's kids have absolutely no musical taste! I guess that I have truly arrived as a mother, fighting with my child about what is or is not music. Fortunately I know better than he...

Anyway, this probably-boring story makes me want to share the story behind my blog name. When I first thought about starting the blog, I could not for the life of me decide on a name for it - something that kept me stumped and not writing for at least a month after I decided to take the plunge. It finally came to me one day as I was driving to work, listening to the radio. My man James' song Up On A Roof was playing on the radio, and once again, the words really spoke to me:

"When this old world starts a-getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face,
I’ll climb way up to the top of the stairs
And all my cares just drift right into space.

On the roof, it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below don’t bother me.

So when I come home feeling tired and weak,
I’ll go up where the air is fresh and sweet.
I’ll get far away from the hustle and crowd
And all that rat race noise down in the street."

So, there you have it. These ramblings of mine, as I've often said, are here to record the varied goings-on in our life, but it has also provided me my own "rooftop at the top of the stairs" where I can go to get refreshed.

Happier postings soon... :)

November 5, 2008

Diary of a Tooth Fairy

Tonight Savannah came to me to let me know that she had a loose tooth. When she first started losing them, she'd come to me at the first sign of a wiggle, but now she waits until they are literally ready to leap from her mouth, which is much better from my perspective. I've never enjoyed that portion of motherhood that asks me to put my delicate fingers into a slobbery mouth... Ewwww! Anyway, it took me all of 30 seconds to reach in and wrest it from it's perch, and another 30 seconds for her to grab my wallet so that the "tooth fairy" could visit. There's no mystery there anymore since the night the tooth fairy couldn't outlast her and then didn't wake up early enough to slip her the loot! Actually, Evan came to my rescue that time after hearing her cries and slipped some money on the floor beside the bed for her to find. Stupid tooth fairy anyway!

Savannah doesn't have too many teeth left to lose at this point, and I swear if she loses many more in the coming days I'm going to have to use the blender to prepare all her food. She seems to be on a streak, and the tooth fairy is going to have to take out a loan at this rate!

Every time one of my children has ever lost a tooth, it has always reminded me of my Grandma Mary. Born blind, she was a truly amazing woman who could do anything. What many people didn't know about her, except for her still-traumatized grandkids, is that she was a frustrated dentist in disguise. And not one of those kid-friendly, pastel-clad dentists like my kids go to today, but one of those that are nicknamed "the Butcher!" :-) I learned at a very early age that if you had a tooth that was even thinking about coming loose, you'd better keep it to yourself for as long as you could because if Grandma found out about it, that baby was coming out now! I have vivid memories of her trying to get one of my teeth out. She tried her fingers, pliers, tying it to the door with a string (you should have seen my leap after that door when she shut it!), and making me eat an apple, all to no avail... After that experience, I kept loose teeth well-guarded, more closely than state secrets!

When I had Evan and Braden, I was lucky enough that she was able to provide daycare for them as she had with all of us other grandkids when we were growing up. The boys were her pride and joy, and she loved them dearly. However, that inner-demon,, had not gone away. I can remember when Braden was teething that she would use her fingers and literally "massage" the tooth through the gums. I know it had to hurt like crazy at the time, but he sure didn't suffer through teething as long as other babies. I would never have the heart to do that myself, but she really became gleeful at the prospect!

It's funny how little things like Savannah's tooth tonight can bring up such fond memories. She's been gone several years now, but when I think about losing teeth, her smiling face and her silly "Oh goody!!!" leap immediately to mind.

November 2, 2008

Say What?!?!

Part of the reason I wanted to start this blog was to have a record of the strange/ comical/ touching things that come out of my children's mouths. Many times all three can even be rolled into the course of one 2-minute conversation. Last night was a perfect example...

Yesterday I did my weekly shopping with both Evan and Savannah in tow, which is usually a recipe for pushing me completely over the edge. As usual, I was teetering on the brink and once again asking myself "WHY, WHY, WHY did I bring them both????!!!" I'm a fairly bright woman, and I should KNOW how it would turn out... But alas, there we were. Evan has an uncanny ability to know when he's reaching dangerous levels, so he then employed his "I'm too cute, you can't kill me" method of survival: turning on his considerable charm and wit. Both he and Braden can do the most authentic Australian accents you've ever heard, and they both were huge fans of the late Steve Irwin. Soooo... Evan spent the last 30 minutes giving the running voice-over in his best Crocodile Hunter voice: "Crikey, let's take a look at this she-devil! Look at those eyes..." And on and on it went. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't help but laugh along with both of them.

Then, while cooking dinner in the kitchen (my most-awesome lemon-chicken spaghetti), Evan was playing on the laptop at the kitchen table and being his usual smart-alecky self, giving me a hard time about everything. I turned around to give him a retort, and saw that he had stuffed one of my little ceramic frogs up his nose (mind you, he IS 16 now; you would think he would be past this in the child-rearing stage, but anything to get mom's goat!).

Without even thinking about it, I snapped: "Evan, get the frog out of your nose!" Braden just happened to be wandering through on his way outside and drily commented, "Now there's something you don't hear every day..."

Well, maybe not in other peoples' homes! I know that I find myself saying things like that all the time, and they're so commonplace that I don't even find it odd anymore. :-)

Then, even later in the evening, Savannah and I had to run into Logan. On the way back, she asked me "Mommy, can I ask you something?" I learned several years ago on a "just-us-girls" weekend trip to Idaho that those are dangerous words. It was apparent that she had been thinking about MANY intense things for quite some time, and now I was effectively held hostage. That was the LONGEST, most PAINFUL trip I've ever had!

Anyway, there were those words again. I'm a big believer in being totally honest with your kids, answering their every question to the best of your ability, but being mindful of age-appropriate explanations. Taking a deep breath, I shored myself up for whatever was coming. "Sure honey, what's on your mind?"

"Why do you and daddy kiss all the time?" But it wasn't just the word "kiss." It was "KEE-YISS," dripping with the most disgust and horror that can only come from a 9-year old girl's mouth. First off, Tom and I don't Kee-Yiss all the time: I get a hug and a peck in the morning, and another when he comes home from work, if he remembers... :-) That's it each day, sum total. But apparently for Savannah, that is just too much!

Sheesh... Is it any wonder that I'm ready for the funny farm?

October 30, 2008

Happy birthday to Evan

16 years ago today, I gave birth to one of the cutest baby boys ever to walk the face of the earth (cutest, that is, until 20 months later when the other cutest baby boy was born to create a tie)...

Yes, Evan turns 16 today, which is very exciting to both of us. However, it also means that I'm getting to be REALLY OLD. Ah well... I figure I've earned all of these gray hairs. Not surprisingly, most of them have probably come courtesy of my Ev-Man, but that's a post for another day :).

Anyway, when Evan was born, I had planned on creating a journal to record all the cute things he did. A short 2 1/2 years later I actually purchased two journals: one for each boy. And I wrote in each of them for approximately 2-3 days. I know, I suck... I always figured that "one day" when I had the time, I would sit down and write up all the stories before I forgot them. Well, I think we all know how that's gone, especially considering my track record as of late (such as leaving Evan waiting for hours at the high school, as one example among many).

I have been feeling very sentimental lately, what with Evan reaching this big milestone, and also since I've gotten on facebook and reconnected with some friends from my high school days, among other things. So tonight, in honor of Ev's birthday, I record for all posterity the story of his birth, which is the only story in his journal:

March 22, 1995

Dear Evan,
You were born October 30, 1992 in Ogden, Utah, and you were 2 days overdue. I started labor on a Thursday night (the 29th) while your father and I were out to eat at the Athenian Restaurant (apparently you didn't care for Greek food!) with your Grandma and Grandpa Vaux. While I was in the hospital, they monitored my contractions to see how we were doing. You apparently had other ideas about being born, because after each contraction would push you down a little bit, you would wiggle back up to where you had started! After what seemed like an eternity, you were finally born at 3:27 p.m. in the middle of the first big storm of the season. I can vividly remember being in the middle of labor and the electricity and lights in the hospital kept flickering on and off. When you were finally born, and they placed you in my arms, I cried. Never had I seen such a beautiful baby, and I fell completely in love with you in that one instant.

It's funny, but even though I can no longer remember what I had for lunch yesterday, that memory is still as ingrained in my head as it was in 1995 when I wrote it.

And I'm still just as much in love with you now, seeing the young man you are becoming, as I was back then when all I could do was imagine your future.

I love you, and happy birthday!

October 29, 2008

Walt Disney had some SERIOUS issues...

I know I'm not the first to mention it, but just WHAT exactly is so appealing about a giant rodent that people will plan vacations and spend big bucks to go celebrate it? I like Disneyland as much as the next person (although admittedly it's been almost 20 years since I've been there and the thing I remember most was a GREAT stuffed baked potato that we had for lunch at one of the stands), but after my most recent adventure, I just don't get how Walt sat down one day looking for a way to get rich and decided to create a lovable mouse character. Where had he been? Had he SEEN how disgusting they really are? It's obvious that there was not information about the hantavirus back then. And can you imagine the risk of the virus there would be if mice were really as big as Mickey and Minnie?!

Anyway, now that the weather's getting colder (at least here in Utah), the mice in the area are starting to pick up and move to nicer digs, namely my house. We live out in the "country" in a neighborhood where all the lots have to be at least 1.25 acres, so we're pretty much surrounded by fields. We have cats outside, but they are apparently unionized and won't do their jobs to the best of their ability.

But I digress: the past few weeks we have seen mice in several rooms of the house, so I went shopping and bought the little poison bait bars to place discreetly in the rooms. I also bought a few glue traps, great little pieces of REALLY sticky glue that fold into little tents:
in theory you place them against the wall and the mice, who LOVE hugging the walls, run into them and get stuck. Notice the emphasis on "in theory." What actually happens is that you place them against the wall, the mice run along the edge, take a sharp turn to go around the trap, and continue on their way.

The night before last I went to bed, and actually got to SLEEP (an accomplishment if you've read my other posts) without any sort of sleep aid. Life was good! Then I awoke at 2:45 a.m. to the very distinct feeling of having my finger gnawed on. For such little animals, their bite hurts like none other. I jerked awake, and then my poor befuddled brain tried to rationalize that it couldn't
possibly have been a mouse, or any other type of animal, feasting on my finger. However, the throbbing then commenced so I blearily trudged to the bathroom to assess the damage. Hmmm... blood, and a tiny little gnawed-looking hole. Definitely a bite.

I washed it a million times, and then put a huge glob of Neosporin on it and bandaged it up. I wandered out to the kitchen and spent the next 30 minutes googling "mouse bite," "rabies," and "what was wrong with Walt Disney anyway?" I couldn't find answers that were as definitive as I'd like about mice and rabies, or Walt either. Some sites said there was no chance of contracting rabies, others said there were slight chances, others gave the encouraging news that "only 2 people in the U.S. have survived rabies once they've contracted the disease." Now that's cheery...

After spending the next 4 hours with a giant case of the heebie-jeebies (and again, NO SLEEP ** sigh**), I went to work. I decided that I'd feel much better if I went in to the Instacare and got the bite checked out. One hour and 1 freshly administered tetanus shot later, I've been assured that I will live...

Our house is now beginning to resemble the house on the movie "Mouse Trap," and I have decided to use the money I'm currently throwing away on my 401(k) to invest in an assortment of mouse-torturing devices.

The kids called me at work today to report the first victim: found in my bedroom trap. Ahhh... victory is so sweet! I may have him stuffed and mounted.

October 27, 2008

The New Love of My Life

We bought our current home almost 8 years ago now, which has been heaven, even though the current house has often presented many challenges. When Tom and I first met, he had just purchased a 2-bedroom bachelor pad which was just way too small for his newly-enlarged family. So, not quite a year after we married we packed up and moved into a larger home, one of many such moves to come. The first 6 years we were married, we moved 6 times, and not just house-to-house but town-to-town. Needless to say, you would have to physically dynamite me out of this place, just because the thought of packing everything up one more time is enough to send me screaming for the hills.

The first few years in this house were like a honeymoon phase, easily overlooking the things that we disliked because we were so blissfully happy not to be moving again. Soon though, just like in the best of marriages, the honeymoon was over and I started noticing things: the kitchen's too small, there's absolutely no closet space, a person could literally freeze to death in the basement bedrooms, etc. etc. Feeling picked upon, the house soon proceeded to act with classic passive-agressiveness: the swamp cooler developed a never-ending leak, one which still torments us to this day; the water main to the house broke in our yard, making it our responsibility to pay for, in the middle of winter when it would be ridiculously expensive to dig up and replace; and my all-time favorite, the propane tank with a leak that NOBODY from the petroleum company could find (of course, they didn't have much incentive: we were paying $150-$200 per week just to keep the water heater running; it's truly a miracle we didn't all get blown to bits).

Finally, after much love and affection, things seemed to fall into place and we haven't had to fork out much money for major home repairs. In the past year, however, the appliances in the home have decided to get in on the act. First to go was the dishwasher, which we've never bothered to replace. Why, when we have three dishwashers, er, I mean loving children to do them for us? Two years ago the trusty old refrigerator that we had died a violent death, so we replaced it. A few months later, the kitchen stove followed suit, so we replaced it a year ago. This year it was the dryer. Actually, it had been going out on me since last summer, but we kept suffering along, until I finally put my foot down: I could either get a new dryer or we could all dry clothes one piece at a time with the handheld hair dryer. I got the new dryer.

Well, for the last few months, the washer has been acting up. There have been several close calls where I really thought it was done, but then, like a prize boxer, it would bounce back up and work for a little while longer. This last week it too finally gave up the ghost.

Like any good consumer, I studied up on the internet and had myself armed with the best brands for the money, the benefits of a front loader vs. top loaders, etc. Tom balked some at the extra cost for a front loader, but I persevered, and by Saturday afternoon we headed out in the pickup to find a working washer.

We came home several hours later with my new 400-pound baby: a white Frigidaire front-loader with 10 different wash cycles. I woke up early Sunday morning and did 3 loads of laundry before waking the others up for church. I made my customary cup of Earl Gray tea, loaded up the shiny chrome barrel, added the soap, and pushed the start button. I then oohed and ahhed as it washed load after load of clothes with barely any water (I swear our old machine used 100 gallons per load, minimum), and spun them faster than I ever thought possible. Taking them out to put into the dryer, they are just barely damp. It honestly has cut 20-30 minutes off the time needed in the dryer.

Hopefully we are done having to purchase new appliances now, and honestly, I can't think of anything else that could possibly go out (I know, I know, I should NEVER have sent that statement out into the universe. In fact, I take it back!). I can't decide if I've reached a new low or a new high in my life, but I am unashamed to proclaim it: I (HEART) MY WASHING MACHINE!!!! Who knew that I was so easily entertained?

October 20, 2008

My new rating system

Aside from the recent whining I did a few posts ago, I really do love my job. There is always a huge variety of things that need to be done, so life rarely gets boring, which is good (usually). My previous job was maximus tediosum! One of the greatest perks are the people I work with: they really are, for the most part, a great group. One individual I work with long-ago created a rating system for us to share how our days are so we would each know just how much each of us would put up with before going postal. It's a fairly complicated affair involving the alphabet and many numeric levels, kind of like the pain scale they have at the hospital. For the life of me, I can never remember if a D1 day or a D5 day is preferable. Either way, it doesn't seem to matter as this person enjoys pushing my buttons, regardless. If I'm really in a mood, I have finally resorted to just saying "Watch it, I'm feeling SENSITIVE." Problem solved.

Today, another of my favorites from here (whom I lovingly refer to as my "cheerleader" because they are always looking for ways to help me better myself by FINISHING my degree before my youngest (9) finishes her Ph.D.) left a comment on my previous post about my always-sad lack of sleep . Rather than shamelessly plagiarize, I thought I'd share it with you all. Here, from the mysterious R:

"How do you function the next day after a day like this? In your office, you need to develop a system like the one used to monitor air quality in the valley. Here's my suggestions for how you approach the problem:

"Green Day: It is a good day. You can bring your requests for assistance to Tracy. I will smile pleasantly, not kick the dog, hum to myself, and be a team player.

"Yellow Day: Conditions are questionable. Try to complete your projects without a great deal of my help. You'll have trouble distinguishing between a smile and a grimace. I will push around small animals in my way, talk to myself, and, if the building catches on fire, you are on your own.

"Red Day: The bells are ringing in my head, Tom's snores can be heard over a fleet of B-52s, and my whimpering would arouse the passions of Mother Theresa. I'm sympathetic to the extinction of certain dogs. Professors who ask for assistance will find a burning bag of doggie doo on their front porch on my next Green Day. I know where to get the doo, and I know how to use it. In the meantime, I'm going to sharpen my elbows, get a cork for those damn dogs, and have a pleasant night at the Crystal Inn."

How could I not love where I work with friends like that?!

October 16, 2008

Hmmm: I think it's him...

Sasquatch, with a baseball cap. It could happen!

October 15, 2008

More Notes on Recovery

Well, I have eaten solid food for 2 of 3 meals today, which is a good sign that I'm recovering. But, I still feel incredibly drained. I foolishly tried to go into work on Monday, but realized my folly after about 2 hours. I went to my follow-up doctor's appointment, then came home and went to bed. I have not accomplished much more than that since then. You should see my laundry pile!

I probably would have been well enough to go to work for at least part of the day today, but guess what? Savannah now has caught the dreaded gomboo... She started the night off early by sleepwalking, which I've noticed she usually does if she doesn't feel well or if she's stressed. I think that last night was a combination of both. Then, about 2:30 a.m. she woke me up to tell me that her tummy hurt. And it was off to the races from there - the poor thing. It is sooo hard to watch your little ones being sick like that, especially knowing there's nothing you can do but let nature take its course. I did manage, however, to try and smuggle some potassium into her system! At one point in the day I smooshed one of my over-the-counter potassium pills into a powder and then stirred it into her apple sauce. She only took a few bites, but I felt better knowing she at least had a little more than she did earlier! I have a feeling I am going to become the neighborhood potassium pusher.

Anyway, I'm going to take a much-needed break from dwelling on our illness and post some pictures of the good sights we saw on our drive Friday, BEFORE the real adventure began. :)

Savannah, with Bear Lake in the background. It always amazes me what a gorgeous blue it is!

The second campsite: I like this one even better than their usual camp, but I understand it was a leveling nightmare. Seems to me (not being the leveler) that it would be worth it!

For some reason, this photo reminds me of pictures I've seen of Lewis and Clark, after they finally made it to the Pacific. Annie, the fearless explorer.

Daddy/Daughter reunion. She sure missed her dad!

Braden, practicing his aerobics moves. I don't know WHERE he gets all his energy. All the other photos I tried to take of him came out blurry because he was constantly moving too fast. I do have one that looks amazingly similar to the Bigfoot photos you always see. It could explain the smell of his socks!

Look! There were still some trees with leaves left on them...

October 11, 2008

Lessons Learned

Okay, I now have a new definition of what exactly qualifies as a “bad day.” As you know from my previous post, I had a really hard day at work on Thursday, followed by a really long night with the kids, school events, etc. Yeah… whine, whine, whine. The bright spot in all of it was that I was taking Friday off to drive up to Bear Lake to help drag the 4-wheelers home for Tom and Braden.

Well, yesterday, that’s what I did. I let Savannah stay home from school so that she could ride up with me, and we headed out about 10:30 a.m., after going to Bray’s school for his first Parent-Teachers conference of the year. Afterwards, we hit the open road. It’s always a beautiful drive through Logan Canyon, and I was happy to see that there still were some trees with leaves left on them, so I got at least a taste of the beautiful fall colors. We found their new campsite with no problem (they’d moved the trailer lower down in case it snowed that night) and then proceeded up to their old campsite to load up the ATV’s on the trailer. Where it SNOWED on us. In OCTOBER. Not even mid-October! I have NEVER seen snow this early before. Anyway…

Coming back down the road, I started feeling slightly nauseated, but nothing horrible. With the Meniere’s, I spend more time than I’d like to admit feeling nauseous, so I didn’t pay much attention. By the time that we got home at 4:30 p.m., I was REALLY not feeling well. I excused myself to bed, feeling guilty because Tom didn’t really want to cook dinner any more than I did. Nonetheless, he went to the store to get the makings of spaghetti. After laying in bed for a short time, I started in with the most horrible case of vomiting and diarrhea that I’ve ever had. I called Tom at the store and begged him to not come home without medicine in hand., which he did.

In the meantime, I decided to take a bath, thinking that it would help me feel a little better. While in the bath, I started feeling horrible again, so I got out, vomited some more, and then started feeling really weird. My whole body started tingling (I’m told I must have hyperventilated, which I’ve never done before), and my whole body was going numb. I knew I was in trouble, so I managed to get to the bedroom door to call for Tom to come and help me. In the meantime, my arms and hands started curling in on themselves, as did my feet. While Tom and Savannah tried to call 9-1-1 because I couldn’t even walk at that point, Savannah kept telling Tom that “Mommy’s feet are shrinking.” It was VERY scary. I have never had anything like it before in my life, and hope to never go through it again.

Sooo… we had a houseful of paramedics, sheriff’s, etc. It seemed like forever before the paramedics arrived, and it turns out that they actually had a tire blow-out on them on their way here, so had to call for another ambulance. They started me on an IV to get me rehydrated, which took forever. Turns out I have “shallow” veins, and they kept having to stick me and stick me before they finally got one. THAT HURT LIKE HELL because my muscles in my hands and arms were so tensed up and turned in on themselves. It literally felt like my muscle would shatter like glass if anyone even barely touched them. By the time they got me to the hospital my blood pressure had returned almost to normal (it was 160/120 the first time they took it) and after more fluids in my system my hands and arms finally relaxed back to normal. After drawing blood, they discovered that through the vomiting, I had “totally depleted” my potassium reserves, and that was probably what caused the symptoms I had so they gave me an IV bag of potassium too… Wow! Who knew that potassium could cause such problems?

All in all, it was a pretty horrible night. They kept me until about 12:30 this morning, when they finally let me go. We soon discovered that in the rush and excitement from the house, I did not have any shoes or a coat to wear home (and it was dang cold).

Anyhoo, I will no longer whine about my day at work Thursday. As I’ve always known (and I should have known better), IT CAN ALWAYS GET WORSE. I’m still not feeling wonderful, and my arms and hands are extremely achy today, but it’s still WAY better than it was. A special thanks to everyone who stepped up to help with tracking down the kids (the boys were at the corn maze while all this was going on) and for my Pastor and his wife who came and made me laugh and then prayed with me. It's times like this that just bring home to me how blessed I am with the friends and family I have...

October 9, 2008

To hell and back

Luckily, most days are not as awful, from start to finish, as today was.

I won't go much into my day at work, but suffice it to say that just because one works surrounded by Ph.D's who are arguably very bright people, that doesn't always mean that they have common sense. In fact, I would propose that the higher the level of education, the LESS common sense they actually have. Anyhoo, it was a TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO-GOOD, VERY BAD DAY. And LONNNGGG... Did I mention long?

Then, after work was finally over, I got to rush home to grab Savannah and Evan, run back to Savannah's school, because, YIPPEEE! Tonight was the school carnival! My favorite day of the year!! Except it was a nice, warm 50-degrees with a windchill factor of I would guess -90. It was DANG cold, but Savannah REALLY wanted to ride the ponies, one of the few events that they kept outside. We waited in a long line until I developed hypothermia, then I put my foot down and declared "There will be NO pony rides this day!" Mean mama, I know, but I was just too darn cold to care.

Inside we went, but OH MY. You wouldn't think that they could pack that many people into one little hallway. You literally could not get through the crush of bodies to even see what cheesy, OOPS- I mean fun, games they had set up. The best part? If you could make it to the cafeteria where there was actually room to breathe, they had Teacher Karaoke! Very LOUD teacher karaoke, I might add. My life is now complete... :)

I guess the good part of the day was the fact that I had worked so long at work that we only were able to spend an hour at the carnival. As soon as it was 7:00 on the dot, we were off again, rushing to church for Savannah's Christmas play practice. Normally this wouldn't be so bad, but after the day I've had, all I wanted was to come home and crawl into bed.

On another note, Tom called me earlier today to let me know that he and Bray are coming home tomorrow instead of Sunday (crap, now I have to cook again!). I guess that the weather's been absolutely miserable all week, and they haven't seen a single elk (usually they see them, just the wrong kind). The forecast is calling for more rain tomorrow night, and then, yippeee! Snow on Saturday. Excuse me while I weep... As our pastor pointed out in church last Sunday, it has only been 9 1/2 weeks since the snow on top of the Wellsville mountains was gone, and last Sunday there it was again. Can I just say that I am NOT ready for winter again?

I am taking tomorrow off of work so that I can drive up to their camping spot and help haul their ATV's home. I think a drive up the canyon to see the beautiful fall colors will do me a world of good (provided all the leaves haven't blown off with today's wind), and getting a break from work will be even better! I feel a little guilty leaving my co-worker there alone all day to fend off the fiends (sorry Becky), but I'm sure I'll get over it come 6:30 a.m. tomorrow when my alarm DOESN"T go off!

Anyway, I'm home now, have my shoes kicked off, and am not moving off this comfortable couch cushion until somebody forces me from it! Thanks for letting me vent... :)

October 6, 2008

No Boys Allowed

The first week in October is our family's favorite week of the year, for different but similar reasons. You see, Saturday was the first day of the elk hunting season, so Tom and Braden are off being manly-men and living in the woods for the next 10 days. Tom eagerly looks forward to this time each year as his time to just relax and get away from it all. In all the years that he's done this particular hunt, he has NEVER gotten an elk. I have tried in vain to convince him to take the time, make the trip, but leave the guns and the money he spends on elk tags behind! He might as well get the enjoyment out of it, but save at least SOME money in the process... ;-)

Anyway, Savannah and I always look at this time as our special "mommy-daughter" time. We go window-shopping, see a movie, and then our favorite, dinner at the Olive Garden at least one night (we are both addicted to their Zuppa Toscana soup - just one more sodium-laden thing that I can't have any more *** excuse me while I stifle a cry ***
Okay, I've got it back together now). We eat whatever we want for dinner, which at least one night during that week will consist of a bowl of sugar-laden cereal. To put it mildly, it's like a vacation for all of us. Tom and the boys get away from work and school and, although I still have to work, I get a vacation from cooking the 3-course meals I usually serve up each night. Hallelujah!

Last year, Evan was grounded because of his performance at school, so he had to miss out on the annual trip. Being the (overly) nice mom that I am, I still allowed him to come with Savannah and me on our special dinner out. You have NEVER heard such sniveling and whining as I had to endure from him. He hated the wait, hated the decor, hated the salad dressing, hated the options on the menu, blah blah blah blah blah... Needless to say, it was NOT a good time for any of us. I do believe that may be the closest he's come to death, and he's had many times that he's pushed me to the verge (I am a big believer in Bill Cosby's quote on parenthood: "I brought you into this world; I CAN take you out."). But I digress.

This year, Evan wisely decided by himself to stay home so that he won't be buried alive by homework after a week away from school. At least that's the story he's telling. Personally I think it's got more to do with his fear of telephone withdrawals. He and his girlfriend (Annie the girl, not to be confused with Annie the dog) are constantly on the phone, and that is not an exaggeration. The other night he was on the phone and the computer that's located in our bedroom, while I was relaxing and reading a book in my bed. I kid you not: they spent 30 minutes just sitting there, with him occasionally singing along with songs he liked that were playing on the radio. The worst part is, I remember doing the same type of thing at his age. How could I have been so ridiculous?!!! How can they?!!! I am soooooo glad to have gotten past the teenage stage of my life, and it's brought me a whole new level of respect for my parents that they let me live through it too...

While it's been nice (so far) having him home, Savannah is feeling sad because we're not getting our "alone" time. My suggestion to her: tomorrow we dress him up in a nice shirt and skirt, and it can be "JUST US GIRLS." I was rewarded with her adorable giggle, and the request for a wig as well. I think that's the least he can do. :)

Ahhh... I love October!

October 1, 2008

Snips and Snails...

Boys are I really don't know WHAT they are, other than sometimes pure joy and very often pure frustration!

When I had the boys, I was so excited to have them close together (20 months apart) so that they would always be each others' "best friend." Obviously I hadn't had two boys 20 months apart before! My brother and I were 8 years apart, so I had woefully misguided yet idyllic visions in my head about how fun it would be to have a close companion at every turn. I longed for a sister, and even dressed my brother up and did his hair in ribbons so that I could pretend. Lucky for me I was so much older, so he couldn't resist! I didn't realize that someday they would go crazy from having companionship at every turn.

It started at such a young age too! When they were little, my grandma (who was totally blind) watched them for me while I worked. For those of you who never knew her, she was absolutely amazing. She raised four of her own children and then had a direct hand in raising all of us grandchildren. However, Evan figured out early on that "grandma's eyes are broken," so he could be a total hellion so long as he did it quietly, and then blame it on Braden. For several months I would pick the boys up from Grandma's and hear about how horrible Bray had been (at age 2), how he'd gotten into the fridge and dumped out ketchup or mustard on the floor, how he'd take all the books out of the bookcase, etc. etc. Finally, near Halloween that year, grandma told me how Braden had gotten into her Halloween candy and dumped it everywhere. Finally, the proverbial lightbulb came on over my head: there was NO WAY that Braden could have gotten up to the cupboard that the candy was placed in, even had he been able to push a heavy chair over there. The poor little guy had taken the blame for months, when it had been Evan all along. I still feel awful for that one...

The next summer, he got his revenge. The boys had one of those big, yellow Tonka dumptrucks that I swear every little boy who has ever lived has had, and I was watching them play in the yard through the kitchen window while I did the dishes. Evan had again been pulling his "big brother" act, taking every toy that Braden played with. Braden would just shrug, and go find something else to play with. Eventually he'd had it, and I watched as he casually got up, went over to where Evan was playing, picked up the dumptruck and conked him over the head with it. No tears, no fighting, just "problem solved." You could almost see the thought in his head: "You want it big boy, you got it!!!"

Thus, the constant wrestling began, which is still what drives me craziest. It starts out as good fun, but it ALWAYS gets out of hand. But if I try to stop them when they first start, I get the same "Oh mom... we're just kidding around." Anyway, I'm sure that some day they really will be best friends, and I am starting to see glimpses of that now.

Watching them play football in the yard tonight was another of those moments that gives me hope that they will actually be friends, even after they leave home. It's so fun to watch them and see how far they've come, and I love listening to the sound and timbre of their soon-to-be grownup voices. I think the fact that Evan will be 16 this month is hitting me hard (and making me feel REALLY old!). I know it's trite, but it seems like just yesterday that they were playing with those trucks and fighting over who got what bunk in their room...

** Sigh ** Now if only they could pull this off for more than 30 minutes before it turns into another brawl... ;-)

September 27, 2008

I'm not asking for much, really...

All I want is one good night’s sleep!

Those of you who know me know about my current struggle with Meniere’s disease. Although the worst symptom is the vertigo and it’s wonderful close friend, extreme nausea, I am currently only having a bout of that about once every 2-3 weeks or so. Not fun, but at least the diet seems to be lessening their frequency and occasionally even the intensity.

One of the more irritating symptoms, at least for me, is the tinnitus. I notice it infrequently during the day, mostly because work is always so busy and there’s always lots of noise around me, so I don’t focus on it as much. Night times, however, are another story... It doesn’t matter how tired I am at night when I finally collapse into bed, as soon as I lay down, my ears kick into overdrive, screeching with wild abandon. The exact sound is hard to describe: the closest I can come is to the annoying tone that plays on TV before a severe weather alert, but in a much higher pitch that goes on forever and ever...

Just as an aside: Wouldn’t it be nice if God would use this obnoxious little system that emergency planners have created to give us information about upcoming storms in our own life?! I could stand it more if I knew there was useful information forthcoming.

BLEEP... BLEEP...BLEEP... Long screech, then a deep mechanized voice:

"The following message is being brought to you tonight by God. SEVERE WARNING:
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, purchase the rug you won’t quit coveting at Home Depot.
It doesn’t matter if it is on sale. It doesn’t matter if it goes "perfectly" with your new decor. You don’t need it. Just a hint: You MAY want to save every penny for the fuel pump that plans to die on you next week. I'm just sayin.'"


ANYWAY, back to the topic at hand. Because of the screeching every night, I am having a terrible time getting to sleep. I have tried drinking a cup of sleepy-time tea before bed, but even though I love the taste, it doesn’t knock me out, plus drinking it at night and being on diuretics is not a good combination! ‘Nuf said there...

I’ve tried taking melatonin, which I’ve heard is all-natural, but it leaves me feeling way too tired the next morning, regardless of how small a dose I take.

I’ve tried something by the company that makes Tylenol PM (Pharmacist Preferred!) called "Simply Sleep," which deceptively promised me that I’d "fall asleep fast; wake up refreshed" in its lovely lettering. It MUST be true if it’s in italics AND bold!! Needless to say, I have spent many moments between midnight and 2:00 a.m. composing hate letters in my head to the advertisers of this product who duped me into buying the 100-capsule bottle.

Eventually I drop off from sheer exhaustion, but the alarm clock doesn’t seem to care that I’ve only had 4 ½ hours of sleep... Rise and shine, you poor schnook!!! By the time 5:00 p.m. on Friday rolls around, I am barely able to lift my head up off my desk. I LIVE for Saturday mornings when I can sleep in. That knowledge is what keeps me going. But last night was one of THOSE nights.

I somehow managed to keep myself awake long enough to pick the boys up from the homecoming football game. They really have no idea what a sacrifice they are requiring from me to still be functioning well enough to drive at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night! Then Braden hadn’t eaten, so he HAD to go to McDonald’s for dinner, so we waited forever with the teeming hordes there.

Finally home, and off to bed for me! I’m so tired, I just KNOW I’ll fall right to sleep this time. And you know, I was almost there until Tom came to bed at 11:00, and the nightly snore-fest began. If I flounce around and "accidentally" aim elbows in just the right spot, he’ll usually roll over and it goes down in volume to a more tolerable level. I quit looking at the clock around midnight, so I must have gone to sleep shortly after that. Then, at 2:30 a.m., Stitch, our sweet-natured but slightly neurotic black lab, started barking. He never barks, so I decided I’d better get up and check to make sure things were okay. Everything seemed to be in order, other than Savannah had moved out to the couch in the living room and was sound asleep there. So, back to bed for me. Unfortunately, Tom was once again in full snore mode, and no amount of flops, jabs, or even kicks seemed to help. I finally gave up and went to fold myself into the loveseat in the "sitting area" of our room. No good... I could still hear the snuffles and snorts just as clearly. I can’t go into the living room, because Savannah’s already claimed the couch. WAIT! I’ll go into her room...

Oh, but FIRST I think I’ll step square into a fresh pile of doggy diarrhea left in the hallway by Annie sometime during the night. YES! That’ll set the right tone for a good night’s sleep! Then, when I recoil and leap in horror at that squishy, gooey feeling between my toes, I’ll make sure to land with my clean foot in ANOTHER pile! After cleaning up the mess, both on me and in the hall, I staggered into Savannah’s room. I now understand why she has been asking for a new bed. That is THE most uncomfortable mattress I believe I’ve ever laid upon. Back to the loveseat... nope, still too noisy there. By this time, it was almost 5:00 a.m.

In desperation, I flipped on the bedroom light (Tom didn’t even flinch, nor I may add, subside in his deep breathing routine), found the combination to his highly guarded footlocker, dug out the keys to the camp trailer, dragged my blankie and pillow out across the driveway, and went to bed in quiet solitude to sleep until noon.

At 8:00 a.m. Savannah came looking for me, and now here I am again...

Goodnight all; wish me luck!

September 24, 2008

Teenagers drive me nuts

So, both of my boys have struggled ever since they got into middle school. I shouldn't say they've "struggled," because that implies that they are actually attempting to do their work and just having a hard time.

I cannot tell you how many times that they have been grounded, lost ALL privileges, had to listen to mom nag endlessly, etc. etc. They'll get caught up for a week, and then revert to old habits. Here's the thing: neither one of them are stupid. They're both bright, and have personality to spare.

I just don't understand why you would DO the work and then not turn it in. Or turn it in eventually (after you've listened to one of mom's endless lectures) only to get half credit, which, by the way, still gives you an F. My favorite is the grade slips. Most teachers in their schools send home grade slips to let parents know how their child is doing, and they give a a very generous number of points to the student if they turn it back in, enough to actually raise them at least half a grade. No matter how miserably my boys' are doing, they ALWAYS show me their grade slips, I dutifully sign them, and then THEY NEVER TURN THEM IN, thus dropping their grade even further.

Why? Why? Why? (Insert sound of me repeatedly thunking my head against the wall).

Anyway, there's no lesson or valuable moral in today's post. I just needed somewhere to vent where people might actually listen and care.

September 20, 2008

Still processing things...

So, I knew today was going to be a crazily busy day, what with my woman's Bible study group this morning, running errands, and then my cousin's wedding and reception this evening. And, oh yeah, there was the "big meeting" of the Ex with the boys and me for lunch.

Actually, for all the hoopla and stress this has brought into our lives for the last three weeks, it really was kind of much ado about nothing. I don't mean it meant nothing, but it just didn't turn out (for me at least) like I had thought. Over the years, there has been a lot of anger on my part when I think back about the demise of my first marriage, and about the way he had just walked out of the lives of the boys, not to mention me. However, my DH came into my life just over a year later and has always been "Dad" to them, for better and for worse with them and me. I think he won the boys' hearts before he even won mine. They are as much his as they are mine, and most people are honestly surprised to learn that he's not their natural father.

I think, as human beings, that we all have a tendency to look back on the past and wonder "what if..." Today, seeing him for the first time in 11 years, I expected to feel that same old surge of anger and hurt, but it wasn't like that. It was more like running into an old friend from high school that you hadn't seen in 20 years (Wow, it's hard to believe it really has been that long since high school. Man, does time fly when you're having fun!). Good to see him, fun to catch up on family, but absolutely no regrets for how things have turned out.

God has been working in my life for the last couple of years on forgiveness: not necessarily in this situation, but for other things that have happened in my past that I won't go into. Suffice it to say, there were A LOT of years that I really struggled with this, particularly with one individual (not the ex). If you had asked me a dozen years ago if I would ever accomplish it, I would have just laughed (albeit bitterly). But the craziest thing happened: Once I finally determined that I just didn't have it in me to forgive that person on my own and dumped the whole sorry mess in God's lap (and here's the important part, actually left it there), He completely took it from me. Whereas I used to dream about running down this person in my car, I can actually see them now and feel absolutely nothing.

Today with the ex (I really need to come up with some sort of nickname) was just like that. It's not as though I don't remember all he did, but it just didn't matter to me. I've been the lucky one who's gotten to keep the boys to myself and have total say in how they are raised, and I hate to brag, but I think I've done one helluva job! By him walking out, I didn't have to struggle the way a lot of divorced parents do with dealing with the kids being bounced back and forth every-other weekend, or having different disciplinary styles or any of that. Even though we have our challenges (and trust me, WE DO), I have every confidence that they will both turn out to be fine young men. They both already make me proud with their sincerely kind hearts (just not always with each other. What is it about boys and that constant need to wrestle and mercilessly harass each other!). The X-man has been the only one who has missed out, and he will never be able to undo the damage that was done. He will never enjoy the relationship with them that Tom has or be the one they call "dad." I actually felt sorry for him today, because I think he's finally reached a point in his life where he truly "gets" it. For his sake, I hope that he's sincere in trying to change his life. I think everyone deserves that chance. And for the boys', I choose to believe that we can never have enough people in our life who care for us, and I'm glad that they at least will have that opportunity to do with it what they will.