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.

September 16, 2008

And Now I'm Off to the Funny Farm

Well, folks, it's official. Tom and the kids will soon start looking at nice homes for me to live in where the rooms are all padded and they play nothing but soft, soothing canned muzak. Or maybe I'll be the youngest person ever to enter into an Alzheimer's care facility. I don't know what, but something has to be done!

Let me explain by first stating this: I am the WORLD'S WORST MOTHER. I'm not proud of it, and I really have tried to do better, but there it is. I yam what I yam, as Popeye would say it...

This morning, Evan came into my room before I was fully awake to remind me that it was Tuesday, and therefore he would need a ride home from wrestling practice as he has each Tuesday for the last 3 weeks. I clearly remember this conversation (in retrospect), and I remember telling him I'd be there at 5:15ish, and to have a good day at school. So far, so good in the caring mom category, right?

Yesterday I ended up taking half of the day off of work because Savannah had caught a nasty cold. She feels much better today, so it was off to school for her and off to work for me. At work, I had many things to do to catch up. I was working along at a pretty good clip when 5:00 p.m. rolled around, and I remember thinking that if I worked until 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. each night I could make up all those missed hours and not have to use any of my sick leave.

So, like the diligent, conscientious worker I am, that's what I did. I closed up shop at 6:00 p.m., shut down the computer, and locked up the office. I meandered out to my car and drove the 25-minute drive it takes me to get home. A drive, I might add, that takes me RIGHT PAST THE HIGH SCHOOL. I sailed by, noting the football practice going on near the north entrance, and enjoying the lovely drought-tolerant garden that the school planted near the front entrance. I then continued on my merry little way until I reached home.

As I pulled in the driveway, Braden, the son who still loves me, came out to the vehicle. He is taking Spanish this year, so he quite often tries to carry on conversations with his limited vocabulary.

Braden: "Donde es mi' bro-her?"

Me: "Where is WHAT?"

Braden: "Donde es My BROTHER? He never rode the bus home..."

Me: "AACCKKK!!! Oh my God - I'll be back!" And off I went...

Luckily, Evan was still waiting there, right where he'd been for the last hour and a half, even as he watched me zip by without so much as a look. I have tried passing it off as a test of his patience, but he's not buying it. I've also apologized profusely, and assured him of my undying, yet oft-forgetful love for him. I also bought him dinner at McDonalds and a gallon of his favorite gatorade, so I really should be off the hook.

Sometimes there are good things about losing all your marbles, so maybe this will be one of those painful memories I'll block out. Still, I have the feeling he'll be reminding me of this one for the next 10 years or so... At least until he has his own child to forget!

Love you Ev!

September 13, 2008

You know God loves you when...

…He gives you a microwave cart!

Alright, I know that’s a little bit weird, but it’s true. Let me explain.

Last year for Christmas, my parents’ Christmas present to Tom and me was wood laminate flooring for our living room and kitchen. We bought the house we live in almost 8 years ago, and let’s just say that the people who lived here before us did some very, ummm, “creative” things to “fix” problems in the house. It reminds me of a chapter in one of Patrick McManus’ books about a bicycle built by a guy with three hands. Anyway, one thing I’ve always hated is a counter that ran along almost the whole front wall of the kitchen: a counter which had absolutely no shelves built into it, and about 6 drawers in various states of disrepair (and really, we all know you only need one junk drawer – 6 was just too many!). The one redeeming feature of this counter that made it absolutely impossible to fit a kitchen table in the room (well, without also blocking the fridge door), was that there was plenty of space to put my microwave.

For the last 9 months, we’ve had boxes and boxes of our beautiful new flooring stacked up in the house. However, just because you have it doesn’t mean you know what to do with it! Tom is an absolute wizard at fixing vehicles, but he’s a little “challenged” when it comes to doing major home repairs (Sorry honey ;-) ). My brother Forrest helped my mom and dad install theirs, my cousin Kenny install his, and then did his own, so he is now a bonafide expert. Really, after helping with ours, he is an absolute magician, but that’s another story as well… Anyway, schedules being what they are and life being what it is, my mom and Forrest haven’t been able to get up here to help us, and we just haven’t had the money to hire anyone else to come and do it for us. Two weeks ago, my mom called to let me know they’d be here that next weekend (1 week ago).

Now we come back to the counter. Tom and I had previously decided that we’d rip out the counter when we did the floor. So, that weekend that’s what we decided to do. In addition, I decided to walk on the wild side, and ** gasp ** actually repaint the kitchen and living room (which are basically one large room divided by another counter) in a color other than white, off-white, or very light tan. We finally settled on forest green on the front wall, with a mocha color on all the other walls. Well, when we ripped out the counter, we discovered that the reason they had placed the counter there was to cover up two very large holes in the wall. Unfortunately, the sheetrock that part of the house was built with is only as thick as a piece of paper. All right, it’s ¼” thick, but it might as well be paper. Needless to say, nobody carries that thin sheetrock anymore, so we could either redo the ENTIRE wall in the living room and kitchen with new sheetrock, or we could improvise.

We patched the holes as best we could, and then settled on some knotty pine beadboard to cover the bottom half of the kitchen wall. It looks absolutely GORGEOUS! Last weekend we got the floor put in (mostly – I still need to decide on the baseboards I want and then stain and install them), and we moved the table so that you can actually open the fridge without having to hire a moving crew. In the meantime, we had to put the microwave on the only open counter space we had (another drawback of the kitchen), so I made plans to buy a small microwave cart to put where the table had once been. After one of my marathon shopping trips, and after looking at about 5 different stores, I finally found the microwave cart I wanted, but it was $70. Well, after spending so much on paint, beadboard, tools, etc., I decided we really couldn’t afford it “right now.” I talked myself into and out of it several times before finally leaving the store, figuring that I could live without one until my next payday.

That was last Sunday afternoon. Sunday evening, Savannah accidentally slammed one of her fingers in the front door, totally ripping the nail out of the nail bed, and as I was to later discover, fracturing the tip in 2 places. A few days before this I had one of my major vertigo attacks, so I had been nauseated and off-balance for days. Monday I stayed at work as long as I could take it and then decided to come home a little early to try to sleep it off. Savannah arrived home from school at the same time as I did, so I decided to re-bandage her finger before I went to bed. Well, it looked even worse than it had the night before, so I made an executive decision and took her to Instacare where she received her first stitches and x-rays. After finally getting done there (by this time it was about 8:30 p.m.) we headed to the grocery store to get her prescription filled. Again, we had to wait. We left the grocery store about 9:00 p.m., and got roughly half-way home before my vehicle started making really weird noises, all the gauge lights came on, and the temperature went through the roof. So, we pulled over, called Tom to don his Knight’s costume and come rescue us, and waited. On the way home, as we were all squished together in his little two-seater pickup, he casually mentioned that we have to tighten our belts as much as we can, because his boss had come to him that night to let him know that if the economy doesn’t pick up and things don’t get busier at work, he may have to close the shop.

Well, that’s just SWELL…

Needless to say, it had been a VERY BAD DAY. Tuesday I called in sick, sent the kids off to school, crawled into bed, buried my head under the covers, and slept for 5 hours. Later, I wandered into my beautiful-floored kitchen to find something to eat when it hit me: I could no longer get a microwave cart. Not this week, not next week, probably NEVER. I was in full pity-party mode about everything, and doing some pretty hefty grumbling, er, I mean praying to God…

Now here’s the good part: I logged onto the computer to check my yahoo email account (which I rarely remember to check) and found a Freecycle (great site) notice which had been sent several days before offering a microwave cart. I emailed the person, but figured it would already be gone as things tend to go quickly. Thursday I received a return email saying that the people who had contacted her for the cart had never shown up, so she gave me her address and told me that whoever got there first could have it. I stopped by after work (only 2 blocks out of my way from my regular trip home!), and there it sat: the microwave cart. And not just any microwave cart, but the EXACT one that I had wanted. And the best part? I didn’t have to put the thing together!

It just helps to remind me that God really does have things in control, right down to our smallest desires. What an awesome way to end a crazy week!

September 11, 2008

So many others say it better

I have so many things to update since my last posting, but in honor of 9/11, I thought I would direct you to the posting of another blogsite that I really enjoy. She has created a roughly 5-minute video clip that is definitely worth watching.

May it be a reminder to always lift up our country, our leaders (both present and future, regardless if they're republican or democrat), and our citizens in prayer...