Monday, August 31, 2009

Sick girl

Josey has been genuinely sick since Friday. And when I saw genuinely, I mean, it's not a bumped knee blown out of proportion or a pin-prick size red spot on a toe that deserves vet wrap and a band-aid. No, she's ran a fever since Friday and her legs hurt.

So today, for about five-and-a-half hours, I sat with her at her house. Mainly, we snuggled on the couch and slept. I got up at intervals to unload/reload the dishwasher, bring her sprite and cook scrambled eggs. But otherwise, we were planted on the couch. I left one time, when she was asleep, to go outside and talk to her mom and when I came in, Josey met me at the door.

"Holly, I was looking for you," she said.

We snuggled and napped some more.

Here's the proof:

Before I left, she said, "Holly, I'll miss you. Will you come pick me up tomorrow?"

Of course I will.

Friday, August 28, 2009


How many feel burdened, completely overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, numb - raise your hand.

Mine is raised.

I told you a week or so ago that the past eight days had been emotional and rough. The eight days or so following that haven't been as bad but it's like the calm after the storm. Yeah, it's calm but there's a lot of clean-up and work to be done still.

Katie has her house, which was a huge answer to prayer. Then it was painting, laying new carpet, moving stuff in while at the same time, taking Ev to and from school, a doctor's appointment in Nashville, a yard sale on Saturday - all the while, with two babies underfoot. There have been times where we all have wanted to ... put socks in their mouths? Hire a babysitter? Give them away?

Exhaustion has turned to numbness, stress has morphed into a heavy object that just rides around on our backs, our good attitudes have run short and we've been bitchy at each other and the people around us.

But we are (stuck) in this together and we fight through.

That's the beauty of friends and family, right?

My Niece, the Communicator

Meet Evalyn - my absolutely spoiled-to-the-hilt niece who, despite the fact that no words come out of her mouth, keeps the household marching to her tune and lets everyone know the way things are (and aren't!) going to be.

The Stats:
Age: three years, two months, and 12 days old
Weight: 17-18 pounds
Height: not quite sure
Special factor: she has cerebral palsy
Education: two weeks, three days into preschool
Informal education: being a part of the Wise family for three years, two months and 12 days

Evalyn's wish is our command. And by 'our' I mean everyone who is in a ten-foot diameter of her at any given time. It could be her desire for you to look at her, to speak to her, to get away from her, to pick her up, hand her to her mom, come closer, walk further away....if she knows what she wants she's going to communicate it to you. Somehow, someway.

Her forms of communication vary but she's got a few commands through hand signals, tongue signals and noises that we all recognize.

Tongue out of the mouth/to the Side, Hands Partially Raised:
This is just a warning signal that she's getting irritated. She'll turn her head all the way to the left, stick her tongue out and start squawking. Usually, a change of position or acknowledging her will bring a smile and she'll be good.

Eyes wide/hands flung out, shaking/voice elevated
You're screwed if it gets to this point. She can go from zero to 60 in about, uh, two seconds. One minute she's fine, the next she is PISSED. Usually this is because you've had the audacity to a) leave her in her chair or 2) not responded to her signal of wanting attention. There will be no tears in this stage but even after you pick her up, there will be many sniffles (among the smiles!) to remind you that you should really always just listen to her the first time.

Evalyn loves to smile. That's her main form of communication when it comes to expressing her pleasure over something. Even when she's sad, if you talk to her and tell her good things, she will give you a teary-eyed smile.

Poochy Lip:
The poochy lip used to be for everything that she didn't like but with her other communicative signals, she reserves the poochy lip just for the most serious offenses that really hurt her feelings. Things like: when Mommy is trying to type on the computer while holding her with the other hand, when Mommy tries to do anything that doesn't involve 100% attention devoted to her. But mostly when she wants everyone in her vicinity to look at her, that's when she'll whip out the poochy lip. Who can resist that?!

Since she started school, Evalyn has taken to gut-wrenching laughter/near hysteria. And in true form, it mostly has to do when people get hurt (this is where her informal education comes into play!) Our closest friends aren't surprised at this recent development of Evalyn's humor - they all just look at us and say, "She has your dimented humor!" And it's true. Her teacher told us on Monday that one of the little kids grabbed the teacher's aide's foot and almost tripped her. No one else laughed but...Evalyn, who thought it was hilarious. And when we were sitting at the dinner table one night last week and Katie said "penis" you'd have thought she'd just told the funniest joke EVER. The funny part was that Evalyn was the only one who laughed at it but then when we started laughing because she was laughing, she just carried on. That moment was probably her most three-year-old moment yet.

Though words don't come out, Evalyn will concentrate so hard on forming her lips to make sounds come out when she's trying to tell us something. Usually, she does this when she's been away from one of us or when something important has happened. The last time she did this for me was yesterday when I had to pick her up from school because of a poochy lip episode that her teachers couldn't get her out of. By the time I got to the school, she was fine and she even started laughing when I put her in her carseat. On the way home, she told me her version of the story. But I still contend that she has every single teacher right where she wants them - in the vortex of her every whim. Basically, she just didn't want to be at school and figured the best way to get picked up was to poochy lip it the whole time until we were called. It worked.

Dirty Looks:
If there were a queen or a princess of dirty looks, Evalyn would be stiff competition. If you piss her off to the point that she deems it necessary you get a dirty look, I can only hope that you fall within her good graces soon. Boy, she'll wrinkle those eyebrows and cut her eyes over at you and then look away. You can feel your heart-hairs being singed.

Pre-falling out of bed cry:
Mind you, Evalyn is mostly immobile and I say "mostly" because for whatever reason, she can wriggle her way out of her bed and onto the bean bag by her bed. She never moves that much, I swear. Now she has a special cry she customized just for the moment where her legs are hanging over her six-inch high bed and she's ready to tumble to the bean bag but she wants you to run in and save her. She just developed that in the last week or so.

There isn't much this kid doesn't understand. She'll be throwing a huge fit while sitting in her chair or laying on the floor. AS SOON as you say, "Evaly, do you want me to pick you up?" she stops. I mean, STOPS. And if you ask her to, she'll hold her hands out to you.

So, those are, in some form or another, Evalyn's forms of communication. With all those, is there really a need for her to talk?

But after her third day of school, her teacher, teacher's aide and a classmate told Katie that Evalyn said, "Hi" that day at school.

A-mazing. I can't wait to hear more of that voice.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Big Helper!

Inbetween helping (learning how to do) laundry, Josey and I danced in the laundry room to songs like John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" and "Rosemary's Granddaugher". Her giggles and laughter were evident of her being thrilled over turning help-time into playtime too. Plus, what girl doesn't like to dance in the laundry room?

But then it was back to work:

She's been quite vocal tonight and in what I like to call "normal English" and not just her baby talk. I had to explain to her that we were going to "Katie's new house" and when we pulled in the driveway, she exclaimed from the backseat, "Wow, it's big! I wanna see everything!" When she walked through the house, she kept saying, "It smells so good in here!"
I let her help me paint a part of the wall and she held the tape while we taped off the kids' room. She went in one of the bedrooms and asked, "who sleeps here?" I said, "this is Katie's room."
"Where are you going to sleep?" she asked. I told her probably with Katie.
And then she looked at me and said, "Well, where's my room then?"
She ran to the back bedroom, spun a circle in the middle of the floor and yelled, "THIS is my room!!"
I love her.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Snuggle Bunnies

Today was a day I spent nannying Josey and Riot in-her-house, which I managed to survive mostly because we were busy, busy, busy planning, cleaning, baking cupcakes, decorating cupcakes, making Happy Birthday banners and twirling crepe paper for a two-year-old's birthday party. Otherwise, I'd have probably lost my mind. Being in their house for any length of time usually conjures up memories of being stuck there for hours on end and results in a clausterphobic (sp?) episode of get-me-out-of-here! But today I managed to avoid that.

My nanny task of the day was to plan and execute this birthday party for a little boy who just turned two - his mother is also a friend of mine so it was indeed a pleasure. Plus, it made me feel good to see Josey and Riot so excited about doing something fun for someone else. They even hid with party-blowers and yelled SURPRISE when Allan walked in the door. Pretty priceless - made my mama-like heart proud.

What did not make me proud was the fact that I only bought 10 stars for the Happy Birthday banner. I distinctly remember standing in the line at Wal-Mart counting down H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y on my fingers - only to come up three short?!

And then I was using the balloon pump on one of the balloons (which, really, is not worth the $2.75 it costs) and COULD NOT figure out why the balloon wasn't getting any I looked. And it had a hole in the end of it. Mind you, this was after about, oh, 45 seconds of me furiously pumping the balloon pump, which I ended up ditching anyway because I figured out I could manually blow up the balloons faster.

When Riot pooped and peed his pants today, I could pass it off to his mom. But when I asked him, "why did you do that?" He said, "Josey made me." The excuses this kid has are priceless!

My exhaustion was not clearly evident to me today until I went to town to pick up the birthday pizza I'd ordered. Okay, Dominoes is pretty much in the middle of town. I drove from one end of town to the very other end of town before I realized where I was and what I was doing and that I needed to backtrack. But even when I backtracked, I still overcompensated by a few streets and still did not end up where I needed to be. Finally, I did. There's this symptom of Lyme Disease called "forgetting where you're going and not knowing how to get there." Yeah, that was totally me. I'm just not sure how much of it was LD and how much of it was the fact my brain had pretty much shut down.

As it is trying to do now. I'm fully prepared to collapse onto my bed (where my heating pad is warmed up!) and sleep.

But first, a picture of Josey and I's snuggle bunny moment today. She's been a little clingy lately and loves it when I take pictures of us together on my phone. We sat on the couch for a few minutes this afternoon while we watched a movie and she (again) special-requested I "take a picture!" So I did. And here it is.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"Awful, Beautiful Life"

Life in the past eight days has been very emotional and just tough. It's like all the forces of "things-not-going-as-planned" joined together and BAM! hit all at once in eight days. Reminds me of what life used to be like not so long ago and makes me thankful that I don't live under such stress and oppression all the time.

I've been wondering lately (actually, for a few months): is God even listening? Have I somehow along the way lost our Connection? Because life, my life, is not going as planned.

As I have planned.

Yesterday I was working at Curves and admittedly, a glazed, numb look was over my eyes. I cannot hide my emotions. It's all right there, on my face, in my eyes for everyone to see.
For the past three or four days my flight response has been in full force - run! hide! retreat! But I didn't.

A lady came in to Curves to work out (she's a self-proclaimed evangelist). It was just her and I in the club and she asked me if I was married. Looking back, that was how she sucked me into the conversation because me and my numb eyes got up and went to talk to her. Then she started in about how my overweightness is the reason why I have self-esteem and self-confidence issues and that I need to get up and start exercising. I tried to interject something about my "health problems" and she said I needed to stop making excuses. So I just quit talking, nodded every once in awhile and tried to wipe the numb look out of my eyes.

Really. If being overweight was the only thing I had to worry about right now, life would be awesome.

But it's not.

Yesterday I prayed a very specific prayer. Maybe "prayed" isn't the right word - more like, demanded, pleaded, interceded for, begged.

I prayed for a house for Katie. More specifically, I asked God to please, please honor the decision she has made and to please, please, please bless her. She'd been looking for houses for a week and nothing had turned up - her discouragement was palpable and there was nothing I could do but make a request.

In the God-I-know form, He answered. Today.

We all went and looked at a house that someone told us about and it's perfect. Perfect in location, price, all the things she wanted. It's hers.

Thank you, Lord.

He's me. I know that now.

So I'm asking myself maybe I'm not asking God for the right things for myself. I'm asking for the things I want. Maybe I'm still not surrendered to what He wants. Or maybe He's already answered - just not in the way I'd like.

This life really is awful and beautiful.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Watch the attitude

I know this is not Monday. So technically it's not Monday Memory (or Memory Monday, whatever I'm calling it) but I'm still going to start this post with a memory (if I can get past transcribing the Little Bill Noggin show going on behind me in the background - Little Bill's in my head while I'm trying to type!!)

One of the parenting techniques my mom used to use that I abhorred was putting my younger siblings in bed and letting them cry and then fall asleep. I hated this because it ripped my heart out to hear them crying and I really wondered how Mom could be so mean.

Fast forward twenty years and about a dozen kids later.

This is really the most useful parenting technique ever.

Take this morning for example.

I'm babysitting my neice and a 10-month-old boy, L, while Katie and Kris (L's mom) are running their yard sale. Both babies are high maintenance and used to being the center of attention. So one starts crying, the other starts, the first one cries louder, the second one screams at a higher pitch. The trick is to not let them get started but sometimes even the kid prowess in me isn't that capable.

I mean, I am just human, afterall.

Obviously since I'm talking about this NOT happening, that's exactly how our morning transpired.

L was awake first (at 5 something but I took over my duties at 6). He fell asleep next to me in the chair for about 10 minutes, just long enough for me to get Evalyn dressed after she woke up at 6:38.

Then it started.

I had to devote attention to Evalyn, which meant L wasn't being held, which meant disaster.

After about 30 minutes of not being able to move without L screaming (and making Evalyn cry) I was sweating (these kids are heavy!) and thoroughly tired of hearing screaming babies.

"Watch the attitude or you can go back to bed."

I found the pack-and-play and spent about 45 seconds trying to figure out how to put the damn thing together (while Evalyn's crying and L's trying to eat paper.) Now, if you've seen me try to do something when I'm frustrated, it's not very pretty or coordinated. To this moment, I can't tell you how I managed to get the pack-and-play set up because I was just jamming it, jerking it, and moving it until the sides finally went into place and I could put a child (safely) in it.

And I did.

Here's the best-parenting-technique-ever in action!

Seven minutes later (yes, I was counting), he was asleep. And Evalyn was fed in peace until she decided to be a little poophead and cry about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

"Watch the attitude or you can go back to bed."

The thing with Evalyn is when she's tired, she gets excited about going to bed. So at the first mention of bed, she was all smiles. And then cries when I wasn't holding her. Then smiles. Then cries.

You get the picture.

I held her off till 9, put her in bed, at which time L woke up. And here we sit. I'm blogging and he's playing.

My weariness is exacberated by having had Josey and Riot all day yesterday and not getting home till 1:15 a.m. after sitting in the ER with Josey and her mom. Josey has a UTI.

Cheers to today...and naptime!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Memory

Remember when....

I was strong enough to haul hay?
I was always the one called on to open the jar of pickles?
I took the place of a man when moving furniture or any other heavy object?
I packed babies around for hours on end?
I kick-boxed, walked, kinda ran and played relentless racquetball?

Those are my memories today - memories of days ago but hopefully to be reality again when I beat this thing:

And trust me, one day I will.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I'm a good waiter...I think

I am waiting in earnest.

And while I'm waiting, I'm thankful, peaceful and content...on most days.

Generally speaking, I'm loving these days. I love being close to my sister, my niece. I appreciate my friends, their support and their knowledge of me. I'm finding comfort in the familiarity of this place. I can't imagine my summer without the lake and I'm so blessed to have been able to spend this summer here.

Not every day is easy. But I'm easily encouraged.
Not every day is healthy. But I'm energetically optimistic.

The other part of me misses the rest of my family...desperately. I haven't seen them for four month - the entire summer and then some. That makes me sad enough to cry.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Byte of Lyme: My Body's a Host to a Spirochete

What is Lyme Disease?

Um, it's a disease you get from being bit by ticks - ???

What does it do to you?

Messes up every body system you can think of - ???


I don't know.

The above questions are reasons why I decided to dedicate Thursdays (or Friday, in this case) to the research and knowledge of Lyme Disease. When people ask me questions about this disease, I don't have the answers and since I'm an information junkie, I decided it was about time I educated myself on this bacteria that I currently host in my own body.

To answer some of my scientific questions about Lyme Disease (LD) I'm going to refer to Dr. Scott Taylor's 2004 report on "LD: A Plague of Ignorance Regarding the Ignorance of a Plague."

What is Lyme Disease?
According to Taylor, it's a "seriously complex multi-system inflammatory disease that is triggered by the bacterial lipoprotiens (BLPs) produced by the spiral-shaped bacteria called Borrelia. Borrelia are difficult to isolate, grow and study in the laboratory" which is why there is limited technical knowledge of the bacteria. What studying has been of the bacteria has been conducted through clinical studies and observation.

What is Borrelia?
Borrelia species are placed in the spirochete family of bacteria, same as syphillis. Taylor provides the scientific definition of a spirochete - they are "long, thin, spiral shaped bacteria that have flagella (tails). Borrelia species grow extremely slowly....their slow growth partially explains its ability to cause chronic disease."

Spirochetes are movers - they have a "unique mode of motility that allows them to easily travel through tissues of the body. By rotating their axial filament the flagellum rotates causing the spirochete to actually move in a cork-screw fashion. This mode of motility allows spirochetes to literally "screw" themselves into and through the tissues of the body. They can also contract like a spring and move through tissues as they uncoil. Sprichetes hide their flagella from the host's immune defenses, which are normally antigenic and would trigger an immuned response if detected."

I am not a scientist and hardly anything scientific makes sense to me. But Taylor explained that the molecular component of Borrelia are bacterial lipoprotiens (BLPs.) These are fat-soluble toxins that are part protien and part lipid.

"These BLPs trigger many harmful responses in any tissue and organ system of the human body....the inflammation triggeered by the fat-soluble BLPs toxins is responsible for most, if not all symptoms of Borreliosis."

At this point in Taylor's paper, I'm lost. He goes into cell makeups, etc., etc., etc., and I just don't have the mental capacity right now to absorb that information.

However, he makes this point:

"Borrelia have over 150 genes that encode for the BLPs that are the key to their pathogenicity. This is over 50 times greater than other pathogenic bacteria. That is, other bacteria usually have only 3 genes for lipoprotiens, while Borrelia have 150!"

That information helped me understand (better, anyway!) the scientific explanation of Lyme Disease the Borrelia bacteria that makes up LD.

But what is the physical manifestation of LD?

The symptom list of LD is varied, depending on the source and the agenda of the source. I found a list from Denise Lang's book, "Coping With Lyme Disease" that is most exhaustive and accurate. Are you ready? For about 60 symptoms to be thrown at you?

Well, here you go, the symptom list divided into body parts/systems:

Head, Face and Neck
unexplained hair loss
headache, mild or severe
twitching of facial and other muscles
facial paralysis
tingling of nose, cheek, or face
Stiff or painful neck, creaks and cracks
jaw pain or stiffness
sore throat
pain in teeth
loss of taste/smell

decreased hearing in one or both ears
buzzing in ears
pain in ears, over sensitivity to sound
ringing in one or both ears

Digestive System
irritable bladder
upset stomach (nausea)

Musculoskeletal system
joint pain or swelling
stiffness of joints, back and neck
muscle pain or cramps

Respiratory System
shortness of breath, cough
chest pain or rib soreness
night sweats or unexplained chills
heart palpitation or extra beats
heart blockage

Neurological system
tremors or unexplained shaking
burning or stabbing sensations in the body
weakness or partial paralysis
pressure in head
numbness in body, tingling, pinpricks
poor balance, dizziness, difficulty walking
increased motion sickness
lightheadedness, wooziness

mood swings, irritability
unusual depression
disorientation (getting or feel lost)
feeling as if you are losing your mind
overemotional reactions, crying easily
too much sleep or insomnia
difficulty falling or staying asleep

memory loss
confusion, difficulty thinking
difficulty with concentration or reading
going to the wrong place
speech difficulty (slurred or slow
stammering speech
forgetting how to perform simple tasks

Unexplained menstrual pain
unexplained breast pain
unexplained weight gain/loss
extreme fatigue
swollen glands
unexplained fevers (high or low grade)
continual infections
symptoms seem to change, come and go
pain migrates to different body parts

The italicized/red symtoms are mine. But guess what? I don't have every one every day - it might be 20 symtoms presenting in the morning and by lunchtime, it's a new set of 10. By bedtime, I could be fine. Or I might not be. I just never know.

Over the past week, I've been dealing with ringing in both ears, loss of hearing, insomnia, extreme muscle fatigue, tiredness, stammering speech, forgetting simple tasks, memory loss, overemotional reactions, headaches, poor balance, and diarrhea.

On Wednesday I overdid it and this is how: (for those who really know me, you'll notice the drastic change this is from the girl who could once haul hay and move furniture without a problem!)

At my "job" I showed a lady how to work five machines. I did maybe three reps on each of those five machines and my muscles felt like jell-o. The next day, my right arm was numb for part of the day and I just had to let it dangle next to me while I was driving.

After that, I went over to a friend's house to clean it before they got back from vacation. I swept two floors, vacuumed and mopped the kitchen. I could barely move the rest of the day and that night, my back, legs, sides and arms felt like they were on fire. I just laid in bed as still as possible to alleviate any strain on them.

But it's a catch-22 - the more still I am, the more stiff I get and the more difficult it is to move.

It took me about 24-28 hours to recover from "overdoing it."

The kids I nanny for know they have to speak loudly for me to hear them. I feel like I'm 80.

When I'm having a conversation with someone, I have to stop and formulate my words before speaking. Even then, I still stammer, stutter and can't find the words I want sometimes. I usually just laugh it off and carry on. But it's really because I can't remember what I want to say.

The point of this post and all upcoming Byte of Lyme Thursdays is not to pity-party myself or make it sound like my life is horrible because it's not. I've lived with this disease for a year and a half now and on most days I have the ability to disguise my symptoms and carry on. And if it's a bad enough day where I can't hide it, then I usually just retreat to the recliner and sleep.

Through this venue, I want to educate my friends and family and friends of friends and family that Lyme Disease exists in Western Kentucky. While it is often a misdiagnosed and hidden disease, it is real and its victims are real.

NEXT WEEK: transmission of Lyme Disease - just ticks? Maybe not.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Byte of Lyme Postponement

I'm currently in the presence of my five-year-old and three-year-old nanny children and can't get away long enough to write my Byte of Lyme post.

Watch for it tomorrow!


Josey and I were driving yesterday to get McDonalds before going to church.

"Knock-knock," she said.

"Who's there?"

"Orange," she replied.

"Orange who?" I asked.

"Orange-banana!" and she erupted into laughs before she could get it out.

Then it was my turn.

"You say knock-knock," she said.


"Knock-knock," I said.

"Who's there?"

"Banana," I said, thinking, I have no idea where I'm going with this!

"Banana who?"

I cringed. I had no good answer.

"Banana-banana," I said tentatively.

And she laughed as if it were the best joke ever.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Memory

Mom's Cooking

I'm going to take a small moment and do a little boasting by saying there are some g(ooooooo)d cooks in my family and much of our talent I attribute to Mom.

Some of my favorite memories of Mom don't come to mind until I start cooking. And sometimes it's not even a specific memory, it's just the essence of her.

I was making homemade cinnamon rolls last weekend and while I was kneading the dough, I remembered the times us kids crowded around our wobbly table and listened to it creak, creak as Mom kneaded dough and punched it down.

One time, we were in Barry, Illinois, parked in a friend's driveway and for several weekends, Mom made a huge batch of cinnamon rolls and we'd all take them to the kids who gathered at the local arcade (I think it was.) They looked at us like we were crazy but gratefully accepted the homemade treat. Last weekend I thought about those kids.
How did Mom's cooking impact their lives?

I have a repetoire of recipes logged in my brain and all of them were staples in my family. The fact that they still are was confirmed about a month ago when I called home and my little sister told me, "Mom's teaching me how to make enchiladas." One of our personal favorites.

Casseroles were/are a large family's stereotypical dinner meal but Mom did her best to mix it up and honestly, I don't remember a lot of casseroles. I mean, there were some but not an overabundance. But maybe that's just my perception.

A week ago, I was missing Mom - needing her company, wanting her sitting across the table from me, wishing she were accessible in person. So I made tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich and it was like she was there.

We always made fun of her for making soup on the hottest days. Without fail, she'd cook up a gigantic pot of chili when temperatures reached 100. Why? I don't know. But today soup makes me think of her - potato soup with ham brings back threads of memories, nothing too complete but I see flashes of people, scenery. But I don't recognize it.

Her broccoli and cheese soup is famous, though. I promise.

And usually when I'm cooking, absorbed in my own thoughts, I can't help but remember her one true disaster - lentils. They were cooked in a round casserole dish and we tried to mask the taste with ketchup but nothing worked. My younger brother and sister, who weren't even born at the time of the Lentil Incident, crinkle their noses at the word 'lentil' just because they've heard the horror story so many times.

Mom created in us the ability to try new recipes and the joy of serving food. One year (1990?) we volunteered for the Red Cross in Illinois and served thousands of sandwiches during the Mississippi River flooding. We traveled in a wide radius for the Red Cross, making and delivering food to the levee workers and displaced people. I remember dirty crowded rooms in buildings that were flooded just days after we'd been in them. Mostly, I remember how food impacted these people's lives. And I remember Mom at the helm.

To this day, cooking for family meals is a group effort and it's a time when we all come together, talk and pitch in. One person's making sweet tea, three others are peeling potatoes while a couple are getting the vegtable tray put together and others are setting the table. All the while, we're keeping up with a steady flow of conversation and/or sarcasm (most likely the latter!)

So yeah, food is a legacy I take from Mom - not just the food itself but the service, the joy of preparation and the satisfaction of watching people enjoy it.

I think this is why I'm reflective when I'm cooking.

I remember Mom.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Blog Projects

I'm going to start two new projects on my blog and they will start tomorrow.

So be prepared!!

One will be:

Memory Monday. It's going to be just that - a random memory that I decide to share with you all. Despite the fact that I can barely remember sentence-to-sentence in a conversation lately, I have been having random memories pop into my mind. So I'm going to record them here...every Monday.

The other is:

Byte of Lyme. (that name may change - I don't know.) Anyway, I'm going to post every Thursday a little something about Lyme Disease and how it's functioning in my body particularly. It's bothered me that when people ask me questions about this disease, I don't really have all the answers I'd like to give them. So I've been doing an incredible amount of research lately and would like to use this forum (as well as my other blog to spread the word about LD and its effects on our society.

So there you have it.
(scroll down and read my two other posts from tonight! I've been busy!!)

Do homeless people have driver's licenses??

A couple (okay, more than a couple) weekends ago, I lost my drivers license in the lake. How? Here's the story (in a run-on sentence)...

I had it in the back pocket of my shorts when I got on the boat with no intention of getting in the water but after we went out and the boys wanted me to get on the innertube, I caved and did so, forgetting that my license was in my back pocket and thereby losing it.

My gift to Lake Broccoli.

So I need to have Santa Fe send me a new one. But in the meantime, I don't have one, and it makes it difficult to do things checks!....without a valid form of ID. Trust me, an expired license does not count as valid ID.

Katie and I were sitting in the uber-big chair tonight watching TV and talking (this was before I hit her in the face) and she said, "Well, why don't you just get one here?" Meaning, a driver's license.

"I don't want to," I replied. "Because I don't want to use this (pointing at Lucas's house) as my permanent address and I don't really have any other address to use."

"Well, I wonder what homeless people use," she mused, looking at me inquiringly (sp?).

I thought for a split second and then replied, in utmost sincerity, "I don't know."

That's when I punched her in the mouth.

**EDIT: No, I didn't really punch her. Well, actually, I did. But not because of this story - I just thought it made a much more dramatic ending. And it probably couldn't be classified as a 'punch', per se, more like an "elbowing to the lower lip." Or "elbowing the lower lip into the top teeth so as to make the lower lip bleed." Yeah, that's what it was.

I put my hands behind me to push myself back in the chair and when I went to do that, my elbow popped her pretty hard in the mouth. Hard enough to make her head snap back a little and her eyes to go buggy for a minute. Then she said,

"Are you serious?"

I said I was sorry.

Birthday party!!

I threw a birthday party today....
....for a five-year-old..... the pool....
....with maybe 15 guests.... an hour and 45 minutes.

Because I'm just that good.

And I took pictures, which I'm going to show you.

Josey and I
Josey and her Tinkerbell cake
She loved being thrown in the water by her Granddaddy Terry

Thursday, August 6, 2009

This is mainly about the dogs

Today was my day and I did enjoy it.

Some of my favorite things I did today:

slept in (just till 9:30)
swam with the dogs in the lake for a couple hours before lunch
brushed my dogs
changed back into my PJs
watched TV
let the dogs play in the lake again
got a few groceries
made homemade pizza and yellow cake

You know my dogs love me, right?

I didn't realize how I've neglected them until today when they were both (especially Jada) so, so, so, so, so happy just to be with you. How do I know that? I wish you could have seen it. But I'll try and explain. :)

It takes a lot for Jada to get excited but when she is excited she's the most adorable dog ever. Her whole body is wagging and she's jumping up off the ground and running back and forth. Every time she saw me today, that was her reaction. Even when I was wading into shore from swimming in the lake and even though she'd seen me the whole time I was out there, she acted like she hadn't seen me all day. And when we went on the dock, she was just wagging under my feet, looking at me, watching my every step, waiting for my next move. I love her.

And....Jada's not a swimmer. She doesn't bother herself with silly nonsense like chasing after things in the water. Mind you, she loves the water but she loves to wade - not swim. Usually when I'm out there, I have to call her out to me and she'll oblige. But today she just kept swimming out to me on her own. She'd swim out, I'd hold her for a minute and then let her go. But she'd just swim in a circle and come right back to me. She makes me smile.

And then there's Skye. I've made the mistake of not exercising her the past few days. Not the best idea for an eager German Shepherd. Last night she was running circles in my room, across my bed, in the bathroom. She pretty much went crazy. I was laying there talking to my mom and she'd run across my body and then throw herself on the pillow next to me, her long snout across my face.

So today she was exercised...a lot. And hopefully tonight will be calmer.

Tomorrow it's more of what I did Wednesay except (hopefully) minus the anger part.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

This place is my therapy

When I love, I love with every thing I have.
When I work, I work with 110 percent of my perfectionism.
When I care about something, I care and don't look back.
When I believe in something, I can't hardly be disuaded.
When I serve, I serve well.
When I'm having fun, watch out world.

When I'm mad, I'm mad. And in the words of Terri Clark, I just wanna be mad for awhile. The good news is it takes a lot to push me to that point, which is why some people reading this have never seen me there.

But I'm totally there - I have been all day and like the proverbial "root of bitterness," this anger in my soul has not left me, which makes me wonder what is your problem?

I was falsely accused today of two things in a managerial error of generalized accusations.

Falsely accused....

It was one thing (along with lying and outright disobedience) that Mom did not tolerate when we were growing up. It was one thing that hurt me growing up as much as it pissed me off today. I think because it's the dichotomy of the pursuit of truth that I've devoted my life to. Find the truth and expose it.

Plus, the accusations just insulted me and my work ethic.

My anger goes something like this:

1) the initial incident
2) the incident marinates in my mind for a little while
3) I realize how unjust the incident was
4) I want to prove my point

As soon as I feel the anger start building, I know I have to RUN ten steps backward or I will say/do something I will regret. And I refuse to let that happen. In a situation where I or someone else has been wronged, I struggle to keep my emotions in tact long enough to wait for a logical method of handling the incident. But I do.

Today I was driving home crying. Angry tears. Angry sobs that choked up and threatened to make me pull over.

Why am I so bitterly angry about this, I cried in my soul.

The more I realized about myself, the more I wanted to scream-cry.

I realized that I was stooping to someone else's level of what they deemed important and it was a far cry from what has been important in my life. Their drama had become mine and it was a scene I did not want any part of.

I'm used to driving home from work with real issues on my mind. Issues like a girl having her head blown off in a ditch with a high-powered rifle. Issues like a kid being stabbed on their way to school....talking to people who don't know where their next meal will come from....politicans' promises....the layoff of 1,000 people in two days....the local pitbull fighting ring....and on and on and on and on the stories can go.

What have I traded that life for?

I don't know.
But I miss it. I miss it terribly.

More then anything, I miss not making a difference (and here come the tears again.)
I miss....
figuring out the name of the victim before the police had and gaining instant access to an investigator because of it
I miss....
50 people showing up to volunteer at the food pantry because they read my story about the starving and homeless in our county
I miss....
casually talking to politicians in my office and then later holding them to their promises - but didn't you say that????
I miss....
rolling out of bed to a phone call of "get your ass at the high school - there's been a stabbing"
I miss....
holding the county finances responsible to the public
I miss....
not being able to straighten my hair because the mine just laid off 1,000 people and I've got to get there
I miss....
touring ranches on my days "off"
I miss....
the office at 1 a.m., my eyes burning but my heart proud because we were going to turn out a damn good paper the next day
I miss....
the truth and the pursuit of it.

Tears flooded my eyes when I realized that a lot of my anger stemmed from the fact that I feel like a loser. A loser for letting the mistake of someone less experienced and less mature then me get to me that bad. A loser for putting myself in that position. A loser.

I recently applied for a(-nother) job at a newspaper. (and just noticed a typo in the e-mail I sent...probably won't get called back on that resume!)

In my cover letter, I wrote:

It’s been almost four months since I’ve written and/or edited copy and I miss it. Some people live their whole lives never knowing what they want to be when they grow up. I consider myself fortunate to not only know that I am and will always be a journalist but to go to work every day loving what I do.

Corny and sentimental, I know. But so true. I have never once doubted my calling as a journalist and the day I do is the day I look for something else to do.

Me, in true optimist unangry form, consider this: at least now I know how miserable people are who work at a job they don't like. I pity them.

Yet I am thankful.
I'm thankful that I do have a calling, that I know what it is, that I know it makes me "tick" and that I sure as hell am counting down the days to when I can walk in that again.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Simple things

I did simple things today and simplicity is what I've been craving.

Today I did things like....

....go to the a picnic at Pierson's excitement over picking out a present for Evalyn....give the dogs a bath....swim in the 20 minutes for no reason due to miscommunication via text messaging with my sister....feed a kid lunch....take another kid for a walk....trim the butt hair on my a magnificent storm blow in across the lake....put another child to bed....tended to my Farm Town....talked to my mom a couple times....prayed....texted my more of my (never ending) Michael Connelly book....tried to watch Hell's Kitchen but the cable cut out due to above-mentioned storm....vacuumed my floor....made my bed (I'm weird and make my bed at night, right before I'm ready to get in it)....drank a couple glasses of lemonade....walked my dogs....spoke to friends....

I *heart* simple things.

Monday, August 3, 2009

What to say....

I don't really have anything of note to blog about tonight. Some things I'm thinking about are:

- changing my diet to a more Lyme-friendly one
- the job I almost applied for today that could very well have been a stalker/killer
- the fact that my Blackberry is PISSING me off
- bugs keep biting me!!
- my mom and siblings and how I want everyone to just be happy...and fulfilled
- the length of my book and how the writer could probably have narrowed the pages to half. It's annoying and yet, I'm still reading
- did upload new positions I can apply for?
- blogstalking
- what Pete and I will do tomorrow - today we had an "in-house day" complete with pillow fights, Memory, Candyland, rest time, etc.
- Josey's birthday party tomorrow and what all I will have to do to help things along
- my car needs its oil changed VERY BADLY
- my friends who are very sick