My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Whiny Wednesday and I have plenty to complain about...

It's Whiny Wednesday and I don't know that I have enough time to complain about all the things I want to complain about today.... but I'll give it my best shot.

My stomach hurts. Hurts. Crampy. Searing. Wake-you-from-a-sound-sleep kind of pain. It has hurt like this for days. It hurt all day yesterday at work but I was too busy to so much as stop and go to the bathroom. I had  so many projects I was working on simultaneously that I really wanted to cry but I didn't have time to cry. It's frustrating. I was in the midst of the end of the day bank deposit (counting somebody else's money is a huge responsibility in my book and I like to make it my only focus when I'm doing it) and in the ten minutes I tried to devote to that I had two people call about their payment problems - both involved very involved explanations - a third person that called with the same issue that my kind co-worker handled for me, I got a new customer to quote for home and auto on minimal information (and it needed to be done in the twenty minutes before I had to leave to go to the bank) and I had a teenager on the phone (mine) asking me to stop and pick up pizza on my way home from work. If there was ever a calgon moment... there it was. 

And it was cold and damp. Not only did my stomach hurt... my back hurt... everything in me that is arthritic hurts sooooo bad in the cold. I wanted to cry again as soon as I left for the bank... and because I'm short and my car is low to the ground and I don't have the ability any more to do much of a side-to-side movement, I have to put my car in park and unbuckle and get out of my car to drop off the deposit. I haven't complained. I just do it. It hurts, especially when it's cold and damp. It's a little skeeeery now that it's practically dark when we leave but... I just trust God to protect me. It's the closest thing we have in our little corner of the world to rush hour and it's a pain to avoid the people who try to get in the turning lane too early... or the people who change lanes without signaling... or the people who are doing thirty miles over the speed limit. It was unfun but it's one of those responsibilities that I'm only the back up on so I don't have to do it often. 

I had to ask Austin over a dozen times to change the litter box. I had asked him on Sunday. And Monday. And finally, yesterday, I decided I would keep asking every five minutes until he did it. 

I had no appetite so I ate a bowl of cereal for dinner. We're out of creamer so I had hot chocolate instead of coffee this morning. (the hot chocolate was really awesome, though). My lunch yesterday was a horrible choice, I just couldn't find any of my rubbermaid containers to pack a lunch in... since someone takes all my dishes into his hoard and I never see them again. If my back didn't hurt so bad and if I didn't know that seeing his room a mess would make me have an irresistible urge to start cleaning I'd go in there and reclaim my dishes. We're down to two forks and two spoons and one bowl and three coffee mugs. It. drives. me. nuts.

I got an email from the school that Austin hadn't turned in a major project for Economics. He has to pass Economics to graduate. He told his teacher that he and I were working on it at home and he forgot to bring it in. We aren't. He told me that he wasn't worried because it's "only a test grade" and he has a high enough average to still pass without doing that project. I'm so proud. Shortcuts. This is a kid who is going to be basically unemployable and I'm living in a body that is falling apart by the minute. Can you imagine the amount of stress that puts on me? Save your cardboard, friends, we're going to be living in a box under a bridge in the near future.

AND... and... he yelled at me for waking him up this morning. I would say that was probably the number one biggest problem I had with his father... the man simply would not/could not wake up in the morning. You had to physically touch him to rouse him from sleep but if you did, he came up swinging. I had to shake him and run in the other direction every single work day of my life. Austin is usually good at waking up but this morning... he's a grouch. 

Anyways... I'm going to go to work, turn in my payroll, do as much as I can of the things that are my responsibility and tough it out as long as I can, as long as my stomach will cooperate. The cramps I can handle because I've been living with pain for so long.... it's the ... ugh... that might get the best of me.

AND... one last thought because I heard this earlier and thought it was spot on... Obama campaigned on "hope and change" and has spent the past three years complaining about how the economy is bad because he inherited it from the previous administration. If we (and by we  I mean "not me") hired him to change things from the way they were during the Bush Administration... he obviously was not able to do what he promised to do, right? If it's all still the same way it was... 

I'm jes' sayin'...

So that's my Wednesday... whiny enough for you? Oh wait, one more thing... I support your right to decorate your yard in a harvest theme... the hay bales and pumpkins, etc are precious... I just have a problem with the mixing of the harvest theme and Christmas theme. It's confusing. 

Ok. That's all. Have a good day, y'all. Love and hugs.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

newsday Tuesday

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

We're expecting snow today. Not the kind of snow that makes our untreated roads skating rinks... just pretty, non-accumulatin' kind of snow. I'm sort of excited about it. The accumulatin' is supposed to happen above 2500 feet elevation. I think we're at 3000 feet but Austin (who obsesses over my GPS) says we're around 2400. Either way, it will fall and be pretty.

I'm still recovering from yesterday. We're now an office of six: Duane plus five agents in various stages of licensing and staff agreements. Yesterday we were D plus two... myself (who wasn't feeling one hundred percent, as usual) plus a licensed agent who is new to us and not fully State Farm trained and appointed. There is a lot she can't do yet. It was a taxing day. I took a short lunch and just kept going.

I went home from work - it's dark now on my way home - and crashed. Austin had leftover turkey and this chicken flavored rice a roni type stuff that he cooked in the rice cooker.

We really do use our rice cooker a lot.

My appetite is ... weird. I can't eat much. I had a baked sweet potato for breakfast, two mcdonalds hamburger's (the kid sized) for lunch... a plate of rice and a bowl of raisin bran for dinner. I've been eating like that a lot lately. I can handle about a 1/2 cup to a 1 cup of food and after that I'm in pain. Even with the burgers for lunch I had wicked heartburn all afternoon and could have thrown up a couple of times. I pushed through it. I was the only one who could do the bank deposit. I had to stay. I didn't let on how miserable I was. I even walked out into the rain to the mailbox to check the mail... last week, after I mentioned the trouble I was having walking, a sweet co-worker volunteered to do it. It almost made me cry. Compassion does that for me. She wasn't there yesterday and I didn't want to humble myself again having to ask for help.

My belly hurts this morning and I haven't eaten anything at all. I have had a cup of coffee.I'd be more worried about the belly-aching if I wasn't already scheduled for a colonoscopy on the 20th.

I'm afraid our friend Herman Cain is done. I think you just about have to be a narcissist to believe you can be President of the United States. It requires a huge sense of self confidence. Very few humble men become great leaders... that's a shame... because they would make better leaders. There's no limit to what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit. (that's not my quote but I heard it somewhere and really believe it). I think most men in leadership position have - at some point or to some level - have done something questionable in the way of abusing their power. I learned - in a very difficult way - that narcissists believe that they live by a separate set of rules than the rest of the world. At any rate... if Herman Cain were a liberal, he would be electable no matter what. The conservative base of the Republican Party isn't going to support someone of questionable moral character. No matter how wise he may be. And I'm less convinced of his wisdom. Bill Clinton and his bimbo eruptions were acceptable because he was a liberal. He may have been a decent leader but for me, he'll always be an unfaithful husband. Men who cheat on their wives will cheat on anything. Just my experience.

What our country needs is a humble, man of God who will seek God's guidance for this country. And that kind of man could never be elected these days because people are too afraid to bring an evangelical Christian into office. People are afraid of losing their "right to choose" or are afraid of losing the separation of  church and state. The thing is... our founding fathers wanted a freedom from a state mandated religion, not an absence of religion. When you take anything outside of God's will, you introduce a limitless number of frustrating conflicts and confusion. When you keep something within God's will, you find supernatural abundance of peace and perfection. That's just been my experience.

In other news... Trouble has started sleeping with his head on the pillow beside me. He kind of curls around the end of the pillow and lays his head on it. He pats me on the cheek to wake me up. It's the sweetest thing. Not so sweet was the fact that he just drank out of my coffee mug. Ugh. He's rotten.

Austin's going to want me to drive him to school again today and it ain't happening.

The neighbors upstairs are continuing to have trouble with their daughter. The fighting got pretty loud on Sunday. I felt so bad for them - all of them. It's so hard when you feel estranged from your children... thats a real heartache. I've been praying for peace for them. The police came Sunday night.

And... I guess that's about all the news for today... hope you all have a beautiful day and that you feel love, joy, peace... all the good things. Love and hugs.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Reasons To Love Monday

I don't.
I don't love Monday this week.
It's raining and I'm congested and everything in my body that has arthritis in it is aching and sore.
I am sleepy. I want to do what I did yesterday and climb back in bed until 8am.  That won't work.
It's raining which means I'll need to drive Austin to school... on the other side of the county... making my commute go from 15 minutes to an hour. In the rain.
I'm pretty sure I have a fever.
And those are the reasons I don't love Monday.
Here are a few reasons I DO LOVE MONDAY:
1. I have cute clothes to wear...
2. My car runs and has a full gas tank
3. My job involves relatively no physical labor - it may hurt to sit, hurt to walk to the printer, etc... but for the most part - easy.
4. We'll be busy today... traditionally the Monday after a holiday weekend is busy and we have two people scheduled to be off today... busy means that time passes quickly
5. NO STAFF MEETING this morning! Woohoo!
6. Trouble has finally accepted the pink Christmas tree as part of our decor. He hasn't knocked it down in 24 hours or so.
7. I slept GREAT last night. I left the windows open and it rained so I listened to the rhythm of the falling rain all night.
8. We're getting closer to Christmas - and even though this Christmas will be very different for me - it's still a holy remembrance of the birth of My Savior and that's precious, no matter what else is going on.
9. We have a lot of food ready in the fridge that I cooked over the weekend... we have turkey and black beans and chicken and rice... we can put together a decent meal in five minutes which will make the evening - end of day - too tired to cook - situation much easier to deal with.
10. The kitchen is clean - Austin and I worked together last night to climb up all the mess and take out all the trash.
11. I'm still able to work. I don't know if I will always be able to do the things I need to do but today, I can get dressed and drive to the office and have the mental ability to answer questions confidently, to sell confidently, to do all the things I'm called to do.
12. Joel Osteen stays to treat every day like Friday... so I'm gonna get up and head out with a positive outlook and cherish every single day.

Have a great week, y'all!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ain't No Shame in my Game

Well. It's a done deal. I will be having surgery on December 21st. You might call it a major "back porch renovation". I've been sort of euphemistic about the nature and scope of my issues because it's a sensitive subject... but let's call a spade a spade: I'm having hemorrhoid surgery. It's a direct side effect of decreased sensitivity due to my back problems...and there are some other areas of concern, results of three natural childbirths and family history and ... well, obesity. Being fat messes with everything. But the long and short of it is they're going to be cutting me "where the sun don't shine".

Everything I've heard about this surgery is that it's extremely painful. One of the most painful surgeries to have, according to my surgeon. Painful enough that they send you home with a pain pump that delivers constant local anesthetic to the area. They've found that the pain pump allows things to return to normal digestively speaking... and that's a big deal. I'm told that I will have to soak after every ... bathroom encounter... which is part of the reason why you're unable to work for the first two weeks after surgery.

I've spent so much time in pain this year. I really very much don't want to volunteer for additional pain. I also have some major concerns about the symptoms I've been having... without grossing anyone out, things just aren't the way they should be. Hottie Heath having colon cancer and my mom having all the issues she's had... makes me want to get my "back door" in order. And... the Lord has blessed and made it possible for me to do what I need to do... with a supportive boss and supportive family members... and even the surgeon and hospital being flexible with my scheduling and financing... I know that I need to do this while I have the opportunity.

I've also spent a lot of time this year feeling guilty and ashamed about my medical conditions. I'm sorry that I haven't been able to be at church or be at family functions (such as Thanksgiving)... I feel guilty about missing work... I feel guilty every stinking time I park in a handicapped parking space, afraid that I'm taking the space of someone who is worse off than me. I feel guilty about not being more compassionate to others in the past who were suffering. I'm humiliated by the weight I've gained due to both the medications I'm taking and my lack of ability to shop easily, to prepare food... etc. I feel ashamed to have to tell people that my nerves in my back are compressed which makes sitting, standing, walking, and going to the bathroom more difficult. I am embarrassed to have hemorrhoids. I am even more embarrassed to have to have THAT kind of surgery.

BUT... if I've learned anything about living my life "out loud"... I've learned that for every emotion I've had, every situation I've gone through, there's been somebody out there reading my blog who has been through something similar... sometimes there's someone who has been through EXACTLY the same thing. Sometimes giving voice to my issues allows others to understand people in their life who are living through what I'm living through.

If you know someone who has chronic pain... you know that there is a very fine line between encouraging them and letting them know how much you want them to be around... and making them feel guilty about what they are unable to do. I can't tell you where that line is... but I do know that it's a very real boundary that has to be guarded. I know that for me, it's been easier to allow people to sort of drift away rather than try to maintain contact... I just don't have the energy. If not for social media I would be terribly isolated. I don't go anywhere other than work and the grocery store. I'm so grateful for the ability to communicate with people through this forum.

This weekend has been a huge blessing and a really good time with Austin. We haven't kept a spotless house but we've kept it liveable. I'm dreading going back to work tomorrow just because of the pain involved. I'm on the countdown now for surgery - 24 days - I've been told to go on a really high fiber diet now so that things are easier then. I'm having a colonoscopy the day before surgery so I'll be on a clear liquid diet for about 36 hours before surgery and a day or so after. Bring on the jello (no red dye) and broth... woohoo! If any of you have had experiences with these procedures, I'd love to hear your tips and suggestions.

So that's it. No shame in my game... it is what it is... I'll be getting a new back door very soon.
Dinner time!
Love and hugs, y'all.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

lazy days....

Today is day three of my lazy-palooza aka Thanksgiving break.
I haven't exactly gone "over the river and through the woods" but that doesn't mean we're bored here in the nest.

Austin took advantage of his spare time to hang ornaments from my shelf...  isnt that picture of my three boys absolutely precious? A sweet lady in our church had a coupon for a free photo at Olan Mills and she gave it to me... she said, "don't buy anything else, it's too expensive" and because we loved and respected her, we didn't. That sweet little 8x10 has hung on the wall everywhere I've lived. Love those sweet babies! And that's my Gator easter basket... my barbies... and other assorted little treasures... the lights were a great idea, he had fun and I appreciate that he wanted to help feather my nest.

We also went to Ingles yesterday for a grocery run. Paying the surgeon last week (had to pay in advance, remember) ate up my comfort zone in my checking account. Fortunately we had enough child support left to make a decent grocery run AND... earned our last turkey point so we got our free turkey! Woohoo! We're thinking about cooking it the way that Martha Stewart showed where you take out the backbone and cook it flat - it's called "spatchcooking" and it looks like it takes less time. Austin thinks he can handle removing the backbone.

I'm on a medication for cystitis - another one of those lovely side effects from my back problems - can't tell when I have to go sometimes, haven't had any accidents but I do hold it too long. I was afraid I had an infection but no, fortunately not. They gave me this med that has an anesthetic quality to it so that some of the cramping I was having last week will get better. So far, not so much. I've been doubled over most of the weekend. The up side... it makes you pee blue... it's entertaining. TMI?

Austin declared that my keyboard on my laptop needed cleaning so he took the canned air and blew it out and... blew my backspace key right off. If you're keeping score, poor laptop is now missing the right hand shift key (I've adjusted my typing accordingly) and now the backspace key. I backspace a lot. Not fun. The nice computer man in Cleveland said he could replace our keyboard for $40. I may just have to take him up on that. Love my laptop.

In my hours browsing Pinterest (if you're not on yet, you HAVE to check it out)... I found the frugal way to microwave popcorn. I like making popcorn. I'll either do a chili powder and garlic flavor... or cinnamon and sugar.. there's just so much you can do. Microwave popcorn, while not ridiculously expensive, isn't cheap. I saw on Pinterest that you can make microwave popcorn using old fashioned kernal and a brown paper lunch sack. I thought... eh... whatever... won't work... but... we'll give it a try. IT WAS FABULOUS!  Just 1/4 cup of kernal in a plain brown sack... no oil of any kind... fold the top of the lunch sack over two or three times... put in the microwave for about two minutes. Just like with microwave popcorn, you have to listen to where the popping slows down... and it was absolutely perfect. I melted a little real butter to pour over it... unbelievably easy and good.

It's just been a good weekend. Peaceful. Restful. Austin hasn't stressed me out too bad, although his room has a major hoard going on and we've been talking about getting that cleaned. I've been loving my computer games... watching lots of tv, alternating between really butch stuff like football games... and really feminine stuff like chick flicks and Oprah. The cats have been enjoying their perches. We've done dishes but not laundry. 

Austin just walked out of the house with a golf club. Not sure what's up. Gonna post and head out for a bit. 

Love and hugs, y'all

Friday, November 25, 2011

feline photo finish friday... aka crazy cat lady pictures

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

My Thanksgiving Day blog post is usually my most inspired post of the year. It's the blog Superbowl for me. It's a time to show my depth of appreciation for the blessings that truly overflow in my life each year. Usually. I don't feel that kind of groundbreaking articulation bubbling up inside me today... but I would be remiss not to count my blessings.

The inescapable truth is that this year has really sucked. I haven't lost anyone close to me. I haven't faced some of the horrible tragedies that I have seen in the news this year. I have a safe home in a nice place and am gainfully employed with a reliable vehicle. But... still... 2011.... not my best year.

I have peace. I have contentment. I have many people in my life who genuinely care about me and who demonstrate kindness beyond what I deserve. I have given little in return for what has been done for me... and may never be able to reciprocate or even "pay it forward". All I can do is express extreme gratitude to all of you who have made the effort to make a difference for me this year. You restore my faith on an almost daily basis.

I could have never imagined what this year would be like. I could never have dreamed a scenario that would have included a fire in our home. Even though I spend my days helping people prepare for and survive such situations... I could never have imagined it happening to us. I went forward in faith because that was all I had left... but it turned out that it was all I needed. I could never have imagined that a fire would end up being such a great blessing for us... that it would allow us to relocate to a more budget friendly home with less negative influences on my child. Yet here we are. It was completely divine design.

I don't know yet what purpose the multitude of medical issues that I've had are meant to bring to us. I still believe that God is good. I still believe that nothing happens without a reason. I watched over the doctors shoulder yesterday as she scrolled down the screen that held my list of diagnosis... it was startling to see them all in a list like that. I don't know for certain that I will be able to go through with the surgery right before Christmas. It strikes two of my deepest fears: lack of money and increase in pain. I know that whatever happens, whenever it happens, it will be what is meant to be. I only know that I'm supposed to keep moving forward.

It doesn't seem that long ago that we were living in a trailer park in Jonesboro, Georgia. I wondered how I would ever manage to get my kids raised ... how Austin would ever survive that environment... and here we are, one very wild ride later in a beautiful place... no longer suburbanites but instead real "country folk" in a really fabulous community where faith still matters and your neighbors still care what happens to you. Here we are with Austin in his senior year in high school and my last baby nearly grown... what seemed like it would take forever has really just been a blink.

It seems like the pattern of my life is to feel stuck and stagnant and then find that God has been working out an answer all along. No matter how dark things seem to be... the answer always ends up being beyond my wildest dreams. I'm thankful for the confidence that comes from trial after trial being met by blessing after blessing. I'm thankful for the journey and the people who have helped me along the way. I'm thankful for continual evidence that *there is a God* and *He really does like me*.

And this year... I'm thankful to be able to stay in my nest and rest for four whole days. I'm thankful that I'm able to watch the Macy's parade all the way through for the first time since 2005 instead of traveling. I'm thankful for whatever this day holds for us... whether we decide to cook or go out... I'm thankful for those who will miss us and I'm thankful that there are people in our life to miss.

Thanks for being a part of my life and for being interested enough to read what I write. It's no Superbowl post this year... so thank you for reading all the way through! Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wonderful Wednesday!

Do any of you have bits of children's books permanently tattooed on your brain? Things like, "I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam I Am"...

At 3:37 am I woke up to find Trouble the kitty cat standing on top of me, tapping my cheeks and he was obviously about to sneeze... and as he rared back with a "AH... AH... .AH"... the first thing that came out of my sleepy brain was, "stand back, said the elephant, I'm going to SNEEZE"... and he did. Baptized in kitty snot first thing in the morning middle of the night.

Guess he had to top his "uh oh" moment from yesterday... just as I turned off the water in the shower, he jumped in with me... little paws couldn't get traction...slip sliding across the bathtub he grabbed onto my wet foot to stop his slide... and cut a huge gash in my foot. Lovely. It was pure cartoon. He's a cartoon kitty.

Austin is in the doghouse - if we had one - I would say he's in the cat house but that means something else. I asked him Sunday night to do the dishes. They still aren't done. I don't have the energy to go ten rounds with him over it.

Speaking of ten rounds... my pink Christmas tree is now hanging upside down from the coat rack. It's the only place I've found where Trouble won't bother it. We're going to review some holiday etiquette over the weekend.

The weekend. The long, praise you Jesus I needed a break weekend. We are not going anywhere for Thanksgiving. I delayed making a decision until yesterday but the reality is that there is too much pain in my body right now... my spine is horribly inflamed right now... it feels like I have a bladder infection (going to the doctor today) ... my legs ache so bad it feels like I have weights attached to them... I can't do it. I broke the news to Cody last night. His sweet grandma-in-law invited us to join them for Thanksgiving dinner after we did lunch at my Aunt Ginger's. Instead... we'll be rocking the stove top stuffing, cranberry sauce and small turkey breast here at the Nest.

The surgeon's office called back and backed down on the amount of money I would have to pay for my surgery. I have to pay them $157 - and that just leaves whatever obligation the hospital requires before the surgery and making up the difference in lost income from missing work. I looked at the calendar... knowing that the surgeon isn't working the week between Christmas and New Year (which would have been my ideal time - surgery happens under this year's deductible, recovery happens with next year's sick leave) my best case scenario would be to have the surgery on December 23rd. I talked to the mean old scheduling lady who had taken her rudeness back a notch or two... I gave her my availability as being the week before Christmas. If we couldn't do it then, we couldn't do it. She insisted on taking my portion of the payment before she would attempt to schedule. Whatever. I paid and then prayed... if I'm meant to do this... if there's a way... it will happen that week. She hung up and called back about thirty minutes later... they can do the surgery on the 21st. That means I have a colon-ah-scopy (my spelling) on the 20th, go home, stay on clear liquids while they review and determine what has to be done... then I go back on the 21st and have the surgery... I'll get nipped and tucked and have everything that's not supposed to be "back there" taken out... and have anything that isn't sturdy enough, shored up... and be sent home to recover over the holidays.

Since I'm long since out of sick leave for this calendar year... I'll need to replace roughly 9 days worth of income... I'll have holiday pay for one of those days... (Lord willing) and I have a hospital surgical policy that will reimburse two more days... that leaves me six days of income to replace and then... it will be the new year and if I'm not full recovered... one more day of holiday pay and then my sick leave and vacation starts. On paper it looks entirely possible, it will definitely require a financial blessing but I feel like this is the best timing we could possibly have.

So if you go into a convenience store and see my picture taped to a mason jar on the counter, toss a few coins in there to make sure we can pay our rent for January.

I know that God is good. I am so humbled by the many people He brings into my life to pray, to make sure we don't go hungry, to help with Austin... I cried again yesterday... but it was a good cry. It was a cry of relief in full belief that we are going to be ok. I am apprehensive about the pain... apprehensive about the logistics of it all.... but I'm certain this is the right time. I still have to get permission for the time off... but I'm in complete trust that if I don't get permission, if I can't line up the replacement income, then this is a surgery that I don't need to have.

Looking toward a beautiful, restful four day weekend. Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Monday, November 21, 2011

i'm not gonna lie... i wanted to cry...

One leftover question from last week that I just saw yesterday...

why don't you blog on the weekends? you blog in the wee hours of the morning when you have you be at work but you generally don't blog much on the weekends when you have all day...

Blogging is more about me being able to put order to my thoughts and experiences than it is meant to entertain. If people read and enjoy that's a bonus. If people read, enjoy and offer encouragement or validate my thoughts or even feel like they know me through reading my blog, that's a great payoff for the effort. But, the basic premise is for me to be able to consistently track my efforts (or lack of effort) to lose weight... to be in control of my weight (hence, Tightening the Corset) and to be able to articulate what is happening to me.. It's part of my early morning routine... make the coffee, feed the kitties, check the news websites, play a game or two, blog, shower, etc. My weekends are much less ordered and organized. If I have something to share... pictures... a thought or concept... then I blog. Otherwise, I'm just chillin'.

Yesterday was the Monday from Hell. Capital H - Hell. It seemed like there was no end to the meanness and smarmy-ness (which I don't think is a word) and unkindness I had to face. My pain was off the charts. I can always tell when there's inflammation in my back because when it's at it's worst, I have a hard time going to the bathroom. I spent the day with a full bladder that I was unable to empty. Pain. So I had the back pain and the full bladder pain and developed a headache and it was one of those day that every phone call was someone with a complaint... I wanted. to. cry. I didn't cry. But I wanted to.

I had called back to the surgeon to see what the possibility was of rescheduling the surgery and that evil woman who schedules said that she would not even look at the calendar UNTIL I paid off my balance with Northeast Georgia medical - that's a combination of the hospital, my doctor's office, and various specialists, like the surgeon, who fall under the same umbrella - $518 (not bad considering how much I've paid them over the past year) and my "past due" balance with their practice (to which I said, "I've seen you once - was told I would be billed for my portion - haven't received a bill OR an explanation of benefits where you filed with my insurance - I saw you three weeks ago - how do I have a past due amount?) that amount is $47. (which means my insurance was billed $470 for ONE surgical consult)  AND she will have to have the portion for the surgeon up front, which, depending on when she schedules me, will either be $157 or $1570.

Welcome to the world of the working poor. I have insurance. It just has a high deductible. I work every day (as much as possible) but my income isn't enough to absorb these types of medical bills. And the snotty way that woman talked to me... no compassion.

Part of my job is to talk to people who are behind on their insurance premiums and help them get their payments in without having their policy cancel. I work very hard to show compassion to people. I understand what it's like to not have enough money to take care of your obligations. There are people who take it too far... one yesterday that had gotten three letters in the mail and had talked to people in our office twice where there was no room for interpretation about when their insurance would lapse...and then they were mad because it cancelled. I even asked, "what more could we have done?" At some point, personal responsibility kicks in. BUT AT NO POINT was I unkind. I even said, "this is easy to fix... here's what we need to do... "

The mean old scheduling woman could see where I had consistently made payments on my account... and at no point was I ever told, "you have to pay every dime you owe before we will treat you again"... nope. But she wanted me to make a payment of - get this - $2,135 before she would even look at the schedule to see when they could do my surgery. I told her I needed to talk to the manager of her practice. I can't possibly be the only patient they see who doesn't have the financial means to schedule a surgery that will require that I miss at least two weeks of work - who wouldn't also be able to afford a steep financial hit before the surgery. I said to the mean old scheduling woman, "so it's the intention of your practice that poor people should suffer?" She didn't have an answer. But she did say that she would check with her supervisor to see if they could offer me an alternative.

Hung up the phone with the mean old scheduling woman and had the previously mentioned phone call from a client who was mad at me because their insurance got cancelled... for not paying their premium. I. wanted. to. cry.

I walked to the mailbox ... not a long walk but on a day like yesterday when everything is painful... that short walk had me ready to... can you guess it?... cry.  For the first time ever since my back issues started, I asked to be relieved of a duty - being Kevin's backup for going out to check the mail. It takes less than a minute. It's not a big deal. Unless you have trouble walking. And I do. I felt humiliated. Kevin's out until next Tuesday.

Sometimes I feel like I just need to be more honest about how this back issue is changing my life so that people don't think I'm just a slacker... or unsociable... or unreliable... or all the things I imagine that people think I am because of the ways that my life has changed. However... the truth is... when I do attempt to explain... it's humiliating... which is why I push myself whenever I can...

That's my Whiny Tuesday post. Today, being the middle day of the work week, today is going to be better. I will not cry. I will not WANT to cry. I will go to work and do whatever is asked of me regardless of how it hurts. I will be nice to mean people. I may even convert a few. Tomorrow is going to be a joyful, happy, celebratory post. Just wait!

reasons to love monday, Thanksgiving edition

Amanda, Allison and Ashley Hedden with the Gant Girls... Sarabeth, Jamie and Angie
(picture snagged from Angie's facebook)

Jamie, Jorjann, Sarabeth and (I think that's a Nelken girl) dancing at Ashley's wedding.

These girls are in such high demand as flower girls that they ought to charge for it!
Yesterday I talked about what makes me happy... those three pictures... and the others that Angie posted yesterday... just warm my heart in away that I can't even articulate. I couldn't love those girls more if they were my own... and I love how much OTHERS love them too. They're just a joy to be around 99% of the time.

There are so many reasons to love Monday this week...
1. It's a short week, praise the Lord and pass the turkey!
2. The boss is mostly out of the office this week and Kevin's on vacay so it's an Estro-fest at the office this week. The down side is that I will have to kill spiders myself.
3. Austin is out of school all week and planning to work around the property with Morrie. It's good for him to learn how to do these things. He's learning valuable job skills and that's a very good thing.
4. My aunt and uncle have offered to help pay for the surgery. I will need to talk to them about what's involved... see if I can get it scheduled again... I'm still ridiculously apprehensive but I was more apprehensive about NOT doing it. I'm having a lot of stomach cramps and some other unpleasant symptoms that are hard to ignore.
5. I'm still on the fence about Thanksgiving. Pop gave me some gas money to help with the cost of traveling but honestly... more than anything... it's the fear of driving that far, dealing with the kind of pain I have sitting in the drivers seat for two hours. My piriformis syndrome is wickedly painful, even just driving the very short drive to work. It feels like I'm sitting on a knife. Not to mention the other stuff that needs surgery... hard to sit. And still with the stomach cramps... I just want a four day weekend where I'm not in pain. But I don't want to disappoint anyone. Quite a conundrum. Either way, I'm excited for a four day weekend.
6. Austin and I had a great weekend... he's doing such a great job of stepping up, doing the things that I can't do and he is starting to develop that work ethic that I'm so proud to see in his brothers.
7. There's a pink tree in my window. We may not have decked the halls but we decked the windows!
8. This year has taken us through a lot of changes that we weren't prepared to make... but for now, at this moment, we are at peace. Life is good.

Hope you have a few reasons to love Monday too!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

what makes me happy?

I love to drive into town on weekend mornings... when the very first light of day has broken through and the rest of the world is just beginning to stir... I love the solitude of just me in my car with Christian radio playing in the background... it's then that my pain level is usually the lowest, having not demanded much of my spine by that point in the day... and my thoughts are the clearest. Today as I was giggling and smiling for no good reason... finding joy in every little thing... I thought to myself, "this makes me happy"... and then I thought... "what makes me happy?"...

The leaves are no longer vibrant and vivid. The rain and cold over the past week have turned them brown and knocked them to the ground. Yet the stark branches were beautiful in their own way... the view is clearer and even with the fog and rain this morning, I could see things I couldn't see before. That makes me happy. The changing seasons make me happy. The comfort of the sameness of a colorful fall following a miserably hot summer which followed a beautiful spring... which followed the excitement of the occasional snowfall during the winter... those patterns make me happy. Predictability makes me happy. Nature makes me happy... God's creation makes me happy.

I glanced down at my gas tank which was still above full after I had stopped and filled up yesterday morning. Having adequate resources makes me happy. A full gas tank. A full pantry (thank you Mawmaw and Pop!). Bills that are paid on time. Having enough in my checking account to get me through to the next payday. A spare roll of toilet paper. Clean laundry. Hours to rest. Time, energy, money, food... having enough of these things makes me happy.

Yesterday we went and had a "we're not going to see you on Thanksgiving" lunch at Jim and Angie's with my parents. They're taking a train trip to New York for Thanksgiving. Spending time with family makes me happy. Knowing that my parents are embarking on an adventure they've never experienced before... a train trip and New York City at Thanksgiving... they're going to get to see the Macy's parade from my sister-un-law's boss's apartment above the parade route... that makes me happy. Getting to watch Sarabeth play basketball (she's very good!) made me happy. Reading a sweet letter that Jamie had written to me made me happy. The sandwich and chips simplicity of our meal made me happy. That my overachieving sister-in-law took my advice to "aspire to greater mediocrity" and saved herself the stress of a big meal made me happy. Watching football with my dad and brother made me happy. Austin wearing his grinch footie pajamas made me happy.

And lest I forget... my pink Christmas tree makes me happy. Knowing that my mom found one and remembered that we had lost ours in the fire... made me happy.

When I left out this morning Trouble the kitty cat was half asleep on my bed... when he heard my car he went to the window and watched me drive away. When I came back, about thirty minutes later, he was still in the window watching... he may have walked away at some point, I can't say for sure... but he was expecting me to come back and his big fluffy tail started to wag (yes, cats wag their tails too) when he saw me. I make a difference in his little life... that makes me happy. Knowing that I matter... makes me happy. Knowing that you can set the clock by Trouble patting me gently on the face with his soft paws at 3:30 every morning (he doesn't know that time has changed) to wake me up. He knows that I get up at that time. Both kitties meet me in the kitchen first thing in the morning because they know that while my coffee is brewing I will reach under the sink to the big bag of "num nums" and pour a scoop full into their dish. They know they will get fresh water. They know that I will settle into my nest with the laptop once I'm through in the kitchen. They know that when I take a shower and spend time in front of the bathroom sink putting on makeup that I'm going to be leaving soon. They know that putting on pantyhose means I'm leaving soon. And as pitiful as it is... I love hearing Trouble start to whimper and whine when he realizes I'm leaving. I love that they wait expectantly for Austin to come out of his room... and I love that they both scamper off to their hiding places when he does. My kitties make me happy.

The triumphs of my children make me happy. Of course I would love for them all to be living here in the mountains but the fact that they found their best life in distant places makes me happy. I would rather them be far away and successful and happy... than be close by or under my roof and be unhappy. It makes me happy that the two older boys work so hard... it makes me happy that Austin is here to help me do the things I can no longer do for myself. It makes me happy to hear about the things that make Austin happy... although I can never remember the names of his games that he wants to buy or rent.. his passion about these things makes me happy. Austin's persistence makes me happy... he's not always made to feel welcome everywhere he goes (kids can be unkind and cruel... like the girl who told him at church last Wednesday night, "nobody wants you here")  but he doesn't let that change his desire to do the things he wants to do. I wouldn't have the same determination but it makes me happy that he does. It makes me happy that he doesn't want those kids who are unkind to get in trouble... he doesn't want anyone to say anything to them... he just wants to ignore it. I wouldn't have that kind of forbearance, it makes me happy that he does. It makes me happy to see my children displaying positive traits that I know they learned from me and not displaying all of the negative ones (believe me, there are many that they could have picked up)... and it even makes me happy to see them displaying the positive traits of their father.

I suppose this is long enough... but I've spent a lot of time this year talking about suffering and how uncomfortable, downtrodden, discouraged and miserable I am... and I thought it was time for me to share the things that make me happy. It has been said that happiness is a journey, not a destination. I know this to be true. I also very strongly believe that happiness is not being in perfect circumstances, it's the ability to find joy *in spite of* your circumstances. I don't think I share enough about these moments of joy in my life... there are so many. I hope you find joy along your way too...

Friday, November 18, 2011

facebook questions...

Right before I signed off the computer I posted the following facebook status:

"Give me some blog inspiration for tomorrow... what question have you been dying to ask me?"

My friend Danielle, a military wife and fellow Gator fan had a whole list. I'll start with hers... 
So, as promised, here are my answers:

1-How is Cody enjoying married life? 

I think Cody was born to be a nurturer. From here... it seems like he's enjoying married life quite well. He married a great girl and her family LOVES Cody to pieces so he's - as far as I know - doing well.

2-Does Austin still have a girlfriend? 

Austin dated a girl, Charity, from the time of the fire (July) off and on until last week. She was sketchy and his patience with her ran out. He's currently "dating" a girl who lives in California - Modesto, I think - this is a girl he met on Myspace and she was also sketchy. He was trying to save up money to fly out there and I was NOT encouraging for that. Online relationships can be so disappointing.

3- Have you thought about dating again? Maybe someone from church? 

I have thought about it but after the disastrous foray I had into dating last fall and how hurt and rejected I felt... I'm just not in an emotional place right now where I can handle it. I also feel like I'm too much of a burden for anyone right now. I work and sleep and very little else. 

4- Would you join an online dating service? 

I have and I would but after meeting Darby that way... I'm a lot leery of people. 

5- What's up with Barry? And also Purple Michael? 

Not much has changed with Barry. He's still caring for his father ... and I think dad is 94 now? Not entirely sure. I haven't talked to him in several months. 
Purple Michael is working for Macy's somewhere in Chicago. He's at the makeup counter, managing something or other, he told me but I  had not heard of the brand he told me so I didn't retain it. He is still with Ross, who I LOVE *blowing kisses to Ross* and we are in contact frequently but not nearly enough. I love him and miss him.

5- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

It is likely that in five years I will be completely disabled. It's hard for me to look forward not knowing physically what I'll be able to do. Even in the past ten months since my back problems first started I have lost a lot of mobility. I have a really hard time with any side to side movement of my back... I have a hard time walking any kind of distance. I have a hard time going from a sitting to a standing position (which is embarassing at work because our printer is in a central location so if I have any paperwork I print out for clients I have to stand up and walk to the next room to the printer and they, of course, watch me. So... that being said... I would really like to be in a place where I can live long term and cheaply if my income is reduced to just disability.

 6- Have you thought about going back to school? 

No. I would like to take writing classes because I do plan to use my writing skills to supplement my income when I can no longer work a regular 9-5 job. It would be difficult for me to sit in a desk in a classroom so I would have to have some type of non-traditional schooling.

7- Do you ever talk to your "Left coast wife"? (I've been following your life for years as you can see!) 

I have about ten of my facebook friends whose updates to their status stream to my cell phone. Hers is one of them. I still love her dearly... I still think that we'd be unstoppable together... she's been through quite a lot over the past few years and it breaks my heart not to be there for her physically... but I do faithfully pray for her. We had a rough patch around the time that I married Michael but true friends never really break bonds... they are always there and when you get past your anger over a situation... it's easy to reconnect. After my overdose she was one of the first people i called. 

8- Do you remember that girl that was from Georgia and married that guy she met on myspace or something and used to be on he radio? She moved overseas with him then they had a baby and she came back here....what happen to her? Her blog became private...I know her husband got real sick....hope he is ok. 

That's Nicole. She is the one of the strongest people I know! She moved to Morocco, they came back, she had a baby, her husband got sick with Leukemia and ... she has been through a wild ride over the past five years! She recently lost a huge amount of weight and she looks amazing. She has a blog and I don't think it's private. If so, I'll get in touch to see if she will let you in. Her husband is in remission, I believe. 

9- I think you would be a great sunday school teacher or womans bible study have a lot of life experiences to share with others. ♥

I do feel a great burden to mentor younger women and to serve as an encouragement to all women. My problem with being involved in anything right now is that I literally have zero energy and am in constant pain. I'm extremely inconsistent. My life has really narrowed to just work and sleeping. I have a few hours before work and an hour or so after work but other than that, I'm worthless. 

OK... that's all of Danielle's questions...

Next up... Marvin aka Crunch n Munch wants to know what he can do to make himself more attractive to me. 

How am I supposed to answer that? You live too far away, you are a night owl and I'm an early bird. I'm nearly done with raising kids and you're just starting. You're too smart... I like to be the smartest person in the room... but the real answer is in what I said earlier...  I've got too much baggage right now and probably forever to allow someone into my orbit. 

Ross (aka Hoot, aka Purple Michael's love) asks: When are you coming to Chicago? 

I was thinking about that this morning. I need to be enveloped with the love of my guys... if my offer for buddy passes still stands (Christy?) once my vacay resets in January... I'll be able to look into it. I'm thinking springtime. Maybe around my birthday. 

Amy asks if I miss VL (Vicky Lynn) - this is our pet name for each other... which is an inside joke of sorts about our time together in Holly Springs. Amy now lives in Denver or some such fruity tooty town where her husband works for a major internet search engine whose name I'm not sure I can reveal publicly. LOL. I MISS YOU SO MUCH VICKY LYNN! And I miss your Z kids and your fur babies and I miss laughing with you. 

My friend Christy asks "why were we both married to ***heads for so long?"

Oh girl. I wish I knew. I think we were just good church girls who got "in trouble" and believed that we had to marry our baby-daddies and believed that we had to stay married because that's just what you do. The fact that you found happiness after all those years of putting up with someone who didn't deserve you... that gives me hope! I'm so happy for you!

This was fun.If you have any questions, leave them in comments and I'll answer them later. Hope you have a great Friday!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

crazy cat lady photos and thankful thursday

 Lots of love from my kitty 

he loves curling up in the nest

However, he also loves the warmth of the tv

 looking out at a squirrel. or bird. or other kitty. 

cuddling Austin in between rounds of wrestling

"you wanna piece of me?".

That's your weekly dose of crazy cat woman photos... now on to our blog entry....
"I hate to rain on your charade"... Dennis Miller.
He. cracks. me. UP! He speaks in puns... and I am fluent in that language. I'm better at understanding than I am at creating puns but still... love the pun.
I'm actually fairly fluent in all the sarcasm languages. Not that I'm bitter and cynical. I just truly enjoy the ironic side of life. There's a fine line between funny and snarky, though. I have to be careful.
And today is Thursday, if you didn't already know what... or if you're not reading on the other side of the world ... but i think you're still only half a day ahead... or if you read my blog in chunks, several days at a time.
Today being Thursday, it's time to talk about the things that I'm thankful for... which... I should have done more of this sort of thing, this being November and Thanksgiving being next week... but.... honestly... I've been less inspired than usual. Go figure.

Here's what's happening in my world: my back is flared up... which means the nerves get more compressed and there is less muscle control from about the waist down... which means the whole digestive process gets interrupted and I get these stomach cramps that beat anything else I've ever experienced, including but not limited to childbirth. Which also means that my cystitis gets flared up which contributes an entirely different kind of pain... and the area that needs surgery that I can't afford to have gets more irritated and uncomfortable and muscle spasms kick in and the piriformis syndrome goes nuts and honestly... it's the kind of pain that makes me understand how people go off the legitimate medication grid to find something that puts them into lala land. I won't. Don't worry. Because the only thing I can imagine that would be worse than hurting this bad and having to drag my pathetic pity party into the office would be taking this show on the road to the county jail for possessing illegal substances. I just take deep breaths, count down the hours until I can trip the light fantastic back in the nest, limp my way through the day with a lip gloss stained smile so that nobody knows... the trouble I've seen... . It's less than honest ... I mean, there's really a fine line between honesty and overshare... and one thing you learn very quickly when dealing with chronic pain is that "how are you?" isn't always an invitation for you to really explain how you are.

So there's that.
I mean... I've accepted that there are a lot of things I can't do right now, maybe never again. I've accepted that there will always be a little bit of pain involved in any physical activity... (and I swept the kitchen floor last night knowing that it would hurt. so. bad. later)...  I really can get through most work days just out of sheer determination and stubbornness. I understand that I'm grading myself on one scale while the world grades me on another... from the outside it looks like I barely do anything... but from where I'm sitting... I get a heck of a lot of normal people kinda stuff done considering the amount of pain I'm in at any given moment. And so today when I put on my big girl panties and "deal with it"... and paint on my cover girl war paint... and maybe pull my hair that needs styling back into a ponytail... I may not be much to look at ... but for me, relatively speaking, I'm Wonder Woman.

I'm thankful for the ability to keep going when I don't wanna.
I'm thankful that there is still a cozy nest that I can call my own.
I'm thankful that there's num nums in the cabinet for the fur babies... and still a decent amount of food in the pantry for my doodle bug and me.
I'm thankful for anything and everything I'm learning or have yet to learn through this process.
I'm thankful for the humility it's teaching me.
I'm thankful that I could afford to get my meds refilled yesterday.
I'm thankful that I'm closer to Saturday today than I was yesterday.
I'm thankful for the awesome new wardrobe that Tracey has been sending me, box by happy box.
I'm thankful for the book that Kelli sent me a few months ago about the Holy Spirit. My heart is finally in a place where I can read and receive it.
I'm thankful for working through that little stubborn "God must hate me" period that I was falling into.
I'm thankful for the cool weather... for what little bit of color that's left on the trees after the rain yesterday.
I'm thankful for the way that Austin is engaging in his community. He makes me really proud.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

whiny wednesday but it's still good...

Welcome to Whiny Wednesday... it's raining and my belly hurts and the rainstorms have my arthritis in my back flared up which means the nerves are compressed and the piriformis syndrome is kicking in... so my right cheek (not the one I smile with) is in crazy muscle spasms... my stomach is in muscle spasms because of the other issue and... it's looking like I'm going to need to drive Austin to school because it's pouring rain outside.

Other than that... life is good. Today is payday. I owe more than I'll make but we'll be ok. I'm going to have to sit down and calculate whether or not we can realistically plan to go out of town for Thanksgiving. It's one of those things you sort of get on auto pilot about - "of course we'll be with our family for Thanksgiving" - but when I think about the logistics and what's involved physically and financially... I just don't know that I can drive two hours down and back, even if I split it over two days. My fifteen minute commute to work is uncomfortable sometimes. I don't know that we can afford an extra tank of gas or two this paycheck. I won't have the financial reserve to handle any problems that pop up along the road. My biggest whine (since it's the only day a week I ever complain, right?) is that all the things that I've taken for granted all my life have become really big deals to me. I'm not able to just pick up and go. Maybe that happens to everyone at some point... you lose your spontaneity.

I did say that life is good, didn't I? I really do mean it. While there are little pitfalls and roadblocks along the way... for the most part... I'm able to greet each day with optimism. I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN. Keep moving forward. Every day brings joy, even if it's just a giggle with a friend or reaching a new level on one of my games or cuddling one of my fur babies... or Austin's latest discovery...

Austin said yesterday... "do you realize we actually live ON Mt. Yonah?"... he had a long explanation of why and I'm not entirely sure that's true but the excitement he had on it was precious. He also helped the maintenance man with some... well, maintenance... around the property and got to actually see down into a septic tank. He was hilarious describing the things in it... "party balloons and candy wrappers and... " and the way the dog was licking the grass where the septic lid had been. Rusty is disgusting!

I never get tired of seeing life through his eyes.

He said he is working to have the money to buy me a Christmas present. He said, "you never get much for Christmas and I want to be able to buy you something with my own money". If THAT doesn't bring a tear to your eye. And... that's not entirely true... the past two years people have been incredibly generous. I feel bad because I can't do the things I want for people... but I'm finding some great ideas on Pinterest and I think I might get crafty/motivated. For Austin to have empathy and compassion ...he really is growing up.

The rain keeps pouring and I've got an Elvis song stuck in my head, "Kentucky rain keeps pouring down..." only it's not Kentucky rain... it's Georgia rain. Austin just stuck his head out of the door and said, "can I get a ride this morning?" Sure. I'll have a curly day no matter what I do anyways. Might as well spend my time driving to the other side of the county. Maybe I'll even stop by and get some pecan rolls from the bakery on my way through town.

One thing I have learned over the past ten months since my back first went whack on me... I can do a lot more than I think I can. Even when I wake up in the morning in a lot of pain, most days I can work and more often than not, I'm really glad that I got out of bed and kept moving forward, even when it gets uncomfortable. Life is still good.

I guess that's a pretty amazing thing that even when my quality of life has decreased, it's still a good life. I hope yours is too. *hugs*

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

News Day Tuesday - choosing joy

It's a Happy Newsday Tuesday in the Nest! My friend Tracey sent me another huge box of clothes to expand my wardrobe for my expanding body. I may be chubby but I'm dressing well. I'm leaving out the other fat girl tendencies such as going to the tanning bed (because we all know that tanned fat is less noticeable than pale white fat) and getting acrylic nails (because then you notice the nails and not the morbid obesity)... and buying lots of accessories and shoes (because they are available in normal sizes no matter how big your hips are). Tracey has incredible taste and I'm delighted at the wardrobe possibilities I have.

My friend Natalie has written a book about her experiences with her husband Michael who suffered from bipolar disorder and eventually committed suicide. The contract with the publisher has been signed and she is well on her way to being a published author. I am so excited for Natalie, but even more, she lives a precious life of faith and service and I *just know* that her book will be a huge blessing for everyone who reads it. Natalie's daughter Jorjann is one of my adopted nieces... you'll see her on the left side of my blog. Natalie is also Austin's teacher it the Catalyst Christian program.

I think the key to my survival has been the Godly people in my life who surround me with prayer. I've definitely had some dark moments this year and believed at times that I couldn't go on... but I could and I did and I will. My quality of life may be physically diminishing but in other ways, I'm growing stronger. I'm learning to not take any single day for granted, even the bad ones hold treasures if we're willing to see. Friday night I was terribly low and discouraged and Austin was so strong and helpful. He made me laugh... he helped me to get past the situation that was bringing me down.

I started working on my Christmas cards yesterday. I know it's early but it's so hard for me to complete a project. Sending cards is important to me because RECEIVING cards is the highlight of my Christmas. I want to see your long family letters... I want pictures of your kids... I want to deck our halls with the love that comes from the friends that live in my computer. I will try to make sure I reply to everyone who sends me a card... and this year I plan to save all my cards to open on Christmas morning so that I can fill that day with happy thoughts and warm wishes and remember on that Holy day that there is a great big world of people who love me, whether or not I deserve it! If you wish to send me a little Christmas cheer, my new address is 134D Primrose Dr, Sautee, GA 30571

(about five of my mother hens just passed out at me giving my address via the internet... I'm willing to take the risk, y'all!)

I'm going to turn my new pink Christmas tree that my mom is bringing up this weekend into a card tree. I can't wait!

If your address has changed since last year or if you think I don't have it... you can email me at, message me on facebook... whatever works for you.

I discovered a new way to gift my long distance children...  You can actually send a "gift card" to their FACEBOOK account! I thought that was way fun and I hope BooBoo did too. Great for last minute, long distance gifts. This is helpful because my gift budget is limited. Suh-VEEER-ly limited... I can't afford a decent gift plus shipping... but with a few clicks... there it is! And BooBoo is a big reader so I can imagine he bought a book... not sure... but that's my best guess.

Anyways... I guess the news from the nest today is that JOY has returned to my humble little home. I'm still in pain. I'm still suffering from the affliction that needs surgical intervention and I'm still having to postpone that surgery. We are still financially hampered and will be ... probably the rest of our lives... but we've laughed a lot over the past few day... we've made some good meals... we've loved on the kitties... and we've gone off to school and work to fulfill our obligations... we're finding JOY in spite of circumstances not because of circumstances. That sets us apart... most people are happy only when things are good. We're happy no matter what. We are - I am - choosing to be happy for happiness sake.

Hope you have a great Tuesday and that you are filled with JOY no matter what happens!
love and hugs!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

25 Reasons to Love Monday

We had sloppy joes for dinner last night. I forget how much we like them... and how cheap and easy they are. Nutritious? Eh. Maybe not so much. Better than ramen noodles, though.

It's been like Christmas in our house this weekend... first time we've really had food that didn't seem like it came from the local food pantry. It didn't. But we've definitely been living out of the bounty of our pantry. Having meat three meals a day (at least Austin did) was a treat. Personally... I'm borderline vegetarian so I don't really care. He's a growing boy. I could literally be happy with cereal three times a day. At least for awhile.

And they had the BIGGEST pomegranates I've ever seen at the grocery store. They're labor intensive but sooooo good. Got one ready to go for today. It yielded two cups of seeds/kernals/whatever the proper term is for the innards of a pomegranate.

The weather has been seasonal.... cold nights, mild days... bright, warm sunshine... I slept with my windows open last night. It's 58 degrees right now at 5:30 am.

We found footed pajamas at Walmart and Austin, who is notorious for wearing pj pants to school, picked out a pair of grinch footed pjs. They ended up looking a bit like a speed skater's outfit on him... and the little grinch heads on the foot freaked the cats out. But they're cute and we both got a great laugh out of them. He'll be wearing them Christmas morning... although he is wearing basketball shorts over them for the sake of modesty.

We got tickled at something the cats did and laughed so hard we both were snorting and had tears running down our eyes... Austin was holding Stubby (something Stubby HATES) ... and Stubbs worked himself loose and landed in the middle of my bed. He ran in the direction of what LOOKED like the easiest path, toward my bedside table, my recliner and then freedom. Except... little Trouble was hiding under the bedside table and jumped up and scared another life out of Stubby ... who knocked over my big container of water... which knocked over another drink and sent liquid spilling in two directions. The liquid scared Stubby even more... and Austin and I both reaching for the two cups to mitigate the damage... maybe you had to be there... it was ridiculous.

Our upstairs neighbor was having a loud argument with her 16 year old daughter on Sunday... it's not that we were trying to eavesdrop... I mean, we might have muted the tv and opened the window... but still... there's not a lot of excitement here in Hooterville. After hearing some of the senseless things they were saying to each other... Austin and I started replaying some of our less than stellar moments... some of the ridiculous things we've said to each other in fights. THIS is where parenting is fun. When you can both laugh at your shortcomings and previously stressful moments.

I've added something to my bucket list. Before I die I want to see what Dolly Parton looks like without her hair and makeup. Is that too much to ask?

My oldest baby is 25 today. I could talk about all the hours and hours I was in labor with him... the fact that he was ten days late... enduring a traumatic forceps delivery... but that seems ages ago... and honestly, those are not the details I remember when I think about his birth. I remember holding him for the first time and feeling as if I finally understood what love really is. You think you know... but until you hold in your arms the gift of a life that God has entrusted to you... you don't have a clue.

Ryan was the smartest baby... the calmest baby... he had horrible reflux and projectile vomiting that could hit a wall ten feet away... he had allergies, asthma... had his first surgery at 7 months old - tubes in his ears - they let me walk most of the way down the hall with him and instead of using a gurney, they just carried him in their arms. He was such an independent, confident child EVEN THEN that he willingly went to the nurse... dutifully waved and said, "bye bye mama"... and I went back to the waiting room in tears. He was back in the waiting room in just a few minutes and handled it all very well.

At 13 months old he was in Scottish Rite with pneumonia. He was a very sick baby. He was so grown about it... so calm... it was right before Christmas so we had lots of visitors and lots of little gifts. I would cry every time someone would do something for him. I'm still emotional when people do kind things for my kids. That is the most tender part of my heart... the part that covers those three boys. I grieve when I'm away from them. I treasure my time with them. But I'm so proud of who Ryan has become. I worried... but I shouldn't have. He's so resourceful... so stable and strong.

He was always an old soul. We never moved breakable things or put poisons away. He just knew what not to do. Even now. He takes care of his friends and family like a mother hen... throws huge parties... is loyal to his brothers... has a good job and works hard.

My twenty five reasons to love Monday this week are the twenty five years that Ryan has been in our lives.
Twenty five. How did I get to be the parent of a 25 year old? I barely feel that old myself.

Anyways... Happy Birthday Boo! I love you!

 And Happy Birthday to two of the closest, most precious friends I've had in this life: Sheree and Amy... I miss you and love you both.

Happy Monday y'all!