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Archive for January, 2008

One of the things I love about my mom is that she is a lot of fun to hang out with. She’s game and spontaneous, and I get my philosophy of Life Is An Adventure from her. Because I get home once a year and the visits are always a whirlwind, my mom and I don’t get the chance to have much quality time together. This Christmas, I wanted to make sure that Sadie wasn’t the only one who got to enjoy her Grammie. So we carved out some time to get away, and she took me on a tour of the coolest house. It is a bed and breakfast where she used to work, and the owner let us have the run of the place on a day they were between guests. Most of my header pictures of late have come from that event. I ran around oooohing and ahhhhing over the built in EVERYTHING, the marble mantles, the window seats, the chandeliers, and all of the antiques in the house.  I even got to tour the attic and the basement. Funky, musty, uneven-floored bliss! The woodwork in my most recent header picture is just a teeny example of the amazing craftsmanship that went into building this house in the 1860’s.  I can’t even put into words HOW MUCH I LOVED doing this.

 I have been dying to go through this mansion since I was a kid (I have always had a fascination with old houses thanks to Nancy Drew–I dream of someday finding some secret passageway that leads to a hidden staircase that leads to an underground tunnel which is connected to another old mansion where I find a cryptic message hidden in the secret drawer of an old desk that gives me the exact clue I need to solve the mystery of the family silver that was lost during the Civil War…) so exploring this place was the highlight of my Christmas. Seriously. I wouldn’t have needed any presents.

After we toured the house, we went to Sheetz for coffee and a hot dog–which was a TOTAL treat for me. I KNOW it sounds gross to get a hot dog at a gas station, but let me say that Sheetz is WAY more than a gas station. When I think of things I miss about living in Pennsylvania, besides the woods and the amazing mountain scenery and being with my family, Sheetz has to be one of the top things on my list. It is a phenomenon in Western Pennsylvania. I mean, people give each other Sheetz cards for Christmas and birthdays. You’ll just have to go to their website to really get a feel for the wonder that these convenience stores really are. Dan mocks me endlessly when I long for a Sheetz franchise to come to town (big whoop, it’s a gas station…and they taste like any other hot dogs…) but I don’t care. People mock what they do not understand.

I had such a wonderful time; thanks mom. I loved that day.

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So Sadie was sick and out of school all of last week. I tried to go into work once (lugging a suitcase full of entertainment for Sades: dvd player, coloring books, stencils, glittery pens, granola bars, barbies…) and why did I think I could get any work done? Oh, wait. I had forgotten. I still live in Realityland. One hour (and half a typed quiz) later, we repacked the suitcase and lugged everything home.

By Friday, her fever was down, but I still kept her home. Oh how I anticipated the coming of Monday, with all things becoming normal again; my life and time becoming somewhat my own again.

What’s that? No school?? Martin Luther King, Jr. Day?! Crap. I had forgotten. Ok. I could do one more day.

THEN I heard rumors of ice and sleet and freezing rain. It’s probably nothing, I thought. So I jumped out of bed Tuesday morning thinking ‘Hooray! Hooray for work! Hooray for school!’ And as I was joyfully drinking my coffee and daydreaming about how I could spend some time with adults again, Dan came in with the news. SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED!? You have got to be kidding me. I ran out and actually touched the road in front of my house. “It’s not icy HERE,” I shouted. Desperately.

So here it was. DAY 7 (not including the weekend) of How-THE-FREAK-did-I-do-this-before-Kindergarten??  I was literally at the end of my stay-at-home strength. I got into the shower, and I bawled my eyes out. I’m talking sobs, people. Edge of the cliff. Breakdown imminent. I started praying, telling God that there was ABSOLUTELY no way He could expect me to do this AGAIN. I was all out of energy, I was so tired of being the entertainer, I was weak and darn it! I just didn’t want to.

Then I realized that God would not give me more than I could bear, and so I changed my prayers to asking for strength to face the day. And to help me accept whatever He needed me to learn though this difficulty. I know, some people have terrible diseases, and people are dying of starvation, and there is suffering everywhere, but my desperation was real to me. So I decided, still there in the shower, to thank God for all of the things I was grateful for: Sadie’s health, a warm house to live in, the gift of being a mom, an amazing and understanding husband…

And what do you know? As the hot water was running out, I really started to feel better. Like Aslan breathing on Lucy and saying “Now you are a lioness,” strength came back to me and knew I could do it. (All of my homeschool mom friends are like, rolling their eyes, and thinking what a wussy-pants!! We do this EVERYDAY, sister!) And oh how I admire and applaud your efforts.

But since God gives each of us DIFFERENT gifts…let me just say THIS Wussy-pants is jumping for joy that my baby is at school, and I got to go to work today. I love normal! 

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Every Sunday I plan meals for the week, cut coupons, and make a grocery list. Every Monday morning, I drop Sadie off at school, go to work, leave there around 10:00am, head to our local WalMart Supercenter and purchase said groceries. Sadie used to go with me, and every once in a while, she realizes that I go without her now. This past Monday morning, she said she didn’t feel good, so instead of going to school, could she go shopping with me? As Mother-of-the-Year, I suspected that she was feeling fine– and was just jonesing for the inevitable treat she gets when she goes to WalMart with me. I checked her temperature (slight fever–99.1 or something like that–but her temp always runs high) so I said ‘You’ll be fine. If you get to school and still don’t feel good, have your teacher call me, and I’ll come pick you up.’ I then emailed her teacher and told her about the slight temp, and said to call me if Sadie started acting UnSadielike.

We get to the drop-off line at school and Sadie says ‘Mommy, I really don’t feel well. Pleeease can I go shopping with you?’ You can’t fool me, I think (but of course don’t say out loud.) What I do say is ‘No sweetie, you’ll feel fine as soon as you get in to your class and start your day.’ (I have a teeny doubt since all manner of sickness has been going around, but I tell myself She’ll get to school, start having fun, and forget about WalMart.) Then as a final diversionary tactic, I put in the High School Musical soundtrack and she starts singing ‘Getcha’ Head in the Game,’ and all is well. Kiss kiss, off she goes.

I keep my phone handy, and check my email often to make sure she’s ok. I don’t hear from her teacher, so I assume she did fine. Her teacher walks her to my car in the pick up line after school, and says ‘Same old Sadie for most of the day–just was a little droopy towards the end.’ Good, I think. ‘Ok, Sades, off to the park,’ I say. (We have a running play date with some of her classmates on Mondays after school.) She gets in the car and says ‘oh! I’m so glad you brought my coat! I was freezing after we came inside after recess, and my blanket didn’t even warm me up at rest time.’ Her teeth are chattering as she puts on her winter coat. Hmmm. She’s wearing a long sleeve tee and a hoodie, and it’s 50 or so degrees outside. I wonder why she is so cold. As Mother-of-the-Year, I mentally shrug and we head to the park. We get there, and when I pull her out of her booster, I can feel significant heat radiating from under her armpits THROUGH her winter coat. I mean heat. I finally get it. The kid’s burning up. I look at her face and feel alarm–it is ashen and her eyes look sunken. ‘I don’t think I want to play at the park,’ she says. ‘I just want to lay down.’ I put her right back in her seat and we race home.

Her fever is 103.8. Oh. My. Word. I quick get the Motrin, and she lays on the couch until dinner (which she doesn’t eat). So begins the Week-of-the-Ridiculously-High Fever. It is also the Week-of-the-‘Oh-Wait-I-Still-Have-an-Anxiety-Disorder.’ Funny. I had forgotten, what with the lack of any recent crisis and all of the normalcy. At one point on Tuesday, Sadie’s fever hits 104.8. Hello, People–BRAIN DAMAGE only 1.2 degrees away…

We get to the doctor and he diagnoses Strep EVEN THOUGH the test comes back negative. No, no, no! I NEED a positive test. Please. Now, in my mind, she has Rheumatic Fever, or Meningitis, or Encephalitis, or some rare auto-immune disorder that only Dr. House and his expert team of good looking young doctors could diagnose. It’s Polio, or Mad Cow or E-Bola, or Bird Flu… Don’t tell me it’s Strep-but-not-Strep.

We go to the pharmacy and pick up the antibiotics.

Three nights in a row, she wakes up on fire, in the 103 range, and we end up laying on the couch together watching the same four episodes of Hannah Montana on DVD until the Motrin kicks in and she can stop the pitiful moaning and get back to sleep. Then, those same three days, she’s up at 5am, not being able to sleep, refusing to drink anything, not hungry, and just so sadly sick. I don’t want this to be all about me here, but by yesterday, I was on the edge of a breakdown. Dan banned me from the internet (nothing like WebMD to feed your OCD…), and still I was short of breath from all of the anxiety. Also, I was a little bit cranky. Sadie called for me, and I hollered ‘WHAT’D YA WANT?’ with this angry werewolf voice .

Dan raised his eyebrows at me (I was just as shocked…) and he motioned for me to start taking deep breaths. I started praying, and he came over and hugged me tight and whispered that it was going to alright, and to let it all go. That works for one minute, then I sneak over and Google ‘Signs of Dehydration in Kids.’ Inside my head, the ambulance is pulling into our driveway, and they are wheeling Sadie out on a stretcher, hooking her up to an IV. ‘Dan, you HAVE to get her to DRINK!’ I halfway shriek, and Dan calls from the kitchen ‘Are you on the computer again!??’ He calmly gets her to eat a popsicle, and really. She is fine. Me on the other hand…

So last night, lo and behold, my terminally ill child sleeps soundly through the night, and wakes up at a normal time, with a teeny fever. It only gets up to 101.4 (cake, really) and then, a few hours after her medicine, it just floats away. She is joyful. Silly. Delightful. Sings at the top of her lungs. Dances to Hannah Montana. Runs at me with a tackle hug. Hums. Cooperates. Eats, drinks, acts absolutely normal.

Sometimes reality and my brain don’t see eye to eye. All I can say is that I’m thankful 1) that I have a rational husband (who will be receiving mutiple crowns in heaven for his longsuffering with me…) and 2) that I have a recovering, almost all the way well, daughter.

And if you ever want to know all of the words to the Hannah Montana theme song, I’m the one you want. Sadie and I will sing the whole thing for you. (“You get the Limo out front…hot styles, every shoe, every color…)

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Oh, the weekend drearies! Maybe it’s just the weather. But I find myself wandering around the house, wondering what to do with myself. (Wait, I do that every day of the week. Why should I expect the weekends to be any different?)

At least I’m happy to be back into some kind of routine again. Having time off at Christmas was terrific, but there is something to be said for normal life. I take things for granted when I’m here–my comfy (albeit ugly) couch, my electric blanket and just the familiar rhythm of things. I don’t notice their absence until I have to pile 50 blankets on myself in a strange bed in Pennsylvania.

The super hard part of going and coming back though, is knowing how many miles are between us and our families. And believe me, on a 20 hour car trip, I felt every one of those miles. Sadie and her cousin had such a great time, it makes me sad that they only get to see each other once or twice a year. I grew up a few miles away from both sets of my grandparents, and I saw my cousins at least monthly. Sadie’s world is a lot different than mine growing up. I know I feel it more intensely than her–she doesn’t know any different way of life. But our life is good here in Arkansas, and unless God makes it clear that we are supposed to be somewhere else, we’re here. And I’m glad we are. I just get wistful around the holidays.

In other news, Dan and I rented ‘Stardust’ last night–so very delightful! A fairy tale for grown ups. Loved it. Oh, and we are teaching the Young Adult Sunday school in our church starting this Sunday. Super laid back, get some yummy sweet stuff, and some coffee, then we’ll watch a short video clip, and discuss. We’re doing the Nooma videos by Rob Bell. Hopefully we won’t be the only ones who show up. Oh, well, more sweet rolls for us 🙂

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Loss

My friend, Sylvia, died yesterday. She was 85, and liked to listen to the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack. She said The Bee Gees could really get her revved up for a project. She let us pop in on her anytime, and kept a stock of Diet Coke just for me. She laughed easily and often, and let Sadie play her new keyboard.

She told me once, when I was worried about getting my housework done, that if she could do it all again, she’d worry less about her house. She regretted scrubbing her floors instead of playing with her kids. She said I was doing a great job as a mom, and not be so hard on myself. “Sadie is a good girl,” she said to me. “You are doing it right.” She had no idea how much I needed to hear it at the time.

I miss hearing her genteel southern voice calling for her ever elusive cat, Popsicle. “POP-sic-kle, POP-sic-kle. She always worried when the cat disappeared down the storm drain. I never could lure that silly animal out.

I cried a lot today. She was so full of life: all white haired and rosy. We never did get to have a tea party.

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