My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Quickie....

I've got to recheck my December work calendar. It looks like I have three long weekends in a row. I hope that's the case. What an awesome thing to be able to work on my little projects at the mountain house. There's not a lot of room here and... it's hard to drag myself out of the nest here. But in the mountains... with all that space and peace and quiet and ... *sigh*... I may still only accomplish a fraction of what I'd *like* to do for Christmas... but I'm excited about that possibility
of making happy things in my happy place for our first Christmas in the new family homestead.

It hardly seems possible that we're at the end of another week or another month or... for that matter... another year, almost! We just keep yabba-dabba-ing ourselves on through this life, don't we?

My project for this weekend is to go to the thrift store to find tacky Christmas sweaters for myself and a few co-workers who asked me to look for them. I LOVE thrift store shopping so that makes me incredibly happy!

I'm typing on the side of bed, sitting on the little stool that Oscar uses to climb up on the bed... because Oscar is sleeping so peacefully in my recliner that I didn't want to disturb him. If you see weird letters in the middle of words, that's why. Hard to type on the bed.

Lily the Incontinent Old Dog got me up three times last night to let her out. I am so. tired. I also woke up a few times due to my back spasms... and a few times to take myself to the potty... and once when Cody and Marquee got home from seeing Beauty and the Beast at the Fox and came to pick Sammy up. It was a rough night.

Today I work from 9am to 2pm. We have a luncheon in the middle of that time so it's work a little socialize a little work a little and then go home. The pjs are already laid out on my bed and once I get them on... I may not change out of them again all weekend.

Anyways... I'm getting aggravated at trying to type this way... gonna head out and pick up a Starbucks before work. I've earned it.

Love and hugs to all y'all!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Oh What a Whiny Wednesday! (sung to the tune of "Oh, what a beautiful morning" from Oklahoma)

I'm in love.

Entemannns bakery has a chocolate covered devils food donut that is uh-mazing!

Someone brought them into the office last week and I had one and fell head over heels for them. I sent Cody out to find some over the weekend and he came back with the regular chocolate covered donuts and ... they're good but they're not *the one I love*.

I stopped by Publix yesterday morning on my way into work and found them.... simply the best. Cody tried one yesterday afternoon and agreed... best. donuts. ever. And we have a Krispy Kreme shop within walking distance. These are moist and the chocolate coating is just the right thickness. Love, I tell you.

Other than that... it's a Whiny Wednesday here in the hood.

My back has been in major rebellion over the past two weeks, ever since I went to that marketing class. I've tried the daily pain meds that were prescribed. Twice I've taken the heavy duty drugs. I feel high... I get nauseous... I fall asleep... and when I wake up, same deal.

A couple of times over the past few days I've lost the ability to pee. I forgot the TMI warning  that. Sorry. It's the truth, though. You want to add misery to misery... try having a full bladder when you have interstitial cystitis (which makes a full bladder more painful than a normal full bladder) and add that discomfort to regular/excessive back pain. It makes one quite unhappy, I'm afraid.

Ultimately... that would be the only reason that they would attempt surgery on my back... if the "elimination processes" stop working. When I saw the neurologist (and dropped a chunk of change on that co-pay, thank you very much) he didn't detect any nerve damage in that area. I don't know how he would know that because he didn't do the same tests there that he did on my legs (not that I'd want him doing the same agonizing tests THERE that he did on my legs) but what do I know? I'm not a neurologist. I'm just the girl who can't PEE! TMI or not!

And then... this morning... I slipped getting out of the tub.

Part of this particular flare up has included a loss of feeling in my left leg. Actually... I don't know how to explain it... every time I step with my left leg, there's a shock of pain that hits in the small of my back... and my left foot feels sort of tingly and numb... and when I take a step, I don't really feel like the foot is planted right, I don't have the normal sensation.

So when I stepped out on my left foot this morning and tried to lift my right foot out of the tub, it didn't work right. I can't quite explain it other than to say I pitched forward and caught myself before I did a face plant into the toilet, which, fortunately, was closed. Added a whole new spectrum of pain to the picture.

Oh the joy of getting old before my time!

So today... the hair is not so cute because I didn't have time or energy for the usual glam routine but I wore a cute dress to compensate.

Early schedule today so I'm heading out the door to work.

I love my job. Makes it easy to go in, even when I feel like doping up and going back to bed.

Happy Wednesday, y'all. Make it a good one!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nothing New Under the Sun

My mama just asked, "are you not using your computer? you're not on facebook any more."
I'm on the computer all the time. A little less over the weekend as I've been battling a little head cold that made my eyes weak and gave me a bit of a headache. But... still... all the time.
I haven't been blogging because I haven't been inspired. There's really nothing new to tell you.
We elected the same durn President.
I've got the same durn back pain. Worse over the past few days.
I'm still fat.
I still love my job.
Austin is still in Pennsylvania and I miss his little mop head.
Oscar the dog still needs body heat or he will die. (this is an exaggeration... he only *thinks* he will die without body heat. He also thinks he can't feed himself so my parents feed him by hand.)
Little Kitty is still Trouble. He woke my mom up last night because he couldn't get in my room because I had shut the door so that Lily the Incontinent Old Dog wouldn't wake me up.
Lily still wants out several times a night. She takes turns going between me and Mawmaw and Pop. I took the early shift at 11:15pm so I figured I was done for the night and shut my door in case Lily forgot.
I'm sleeping more because I haven't felt good and because the pain meds make me nauseated and sleepy.
Doesn't this look like the same blog entry that I wrote a week ago and a month ago and so on?
There's really nothing new to tell you.
My brother Bryan is coming home for Christmas. I'm very excited that he will get to enjoy the new house. We'll have a four day Christmas weekend and then I have to get back to work and Pop has the youth group from his church coming to the new house for a few days so the rest of us will stay home for those few days.
I haven't seen Bryan in two years and I miss him.
I miss a lot of people.
I still haven't gotten to see Purple Michael since he's been in Atlanta. His schedule has been packed.. so many people to see while he's here in Atlanta plus trying to spend quality time with his parents who are not in good health and so forth. I had a bit of an epiphany the other day and realized that it was highly likely that I wouldn't get to see him at all this trip and it made me really sad. Usually I just go where he is... I would hang out at theatres where he was rehearsing... I would get involved in projects he was working on... I would go to Stone Mountain and visit with him between shows... but my new reality is that I can't walk far and I can't sit for long therefore my days of being a groupie are over.
I guess that's what's new. Learning to accept how my relationships have changed because of my disability.
Living with my parents, which has been wonderful for me... and I hope it has been for them. That's different.
Not being able to be a full time employee. Or have a full time salary. But since I've reduced my living expenses, that's not so bad.
Not being able to go and do and be like I used to. Whether it's church or going out to dinner or whatever it is that involves walking/sitting/pain.
I talk a lot about this on my blog but I don't say a lot in real life. I don't tell people when I'm hurting. I just stay home and avoid painful situations and let people think I'm a hermit. Or I go and I'm not as fun as I used to be. People in pain aren't fun because they can't think about anything but pain.
For some reason this didn't save correctly so I'm updating...
I went to work, spent two hours doing classes, real life and online... and by the time it was time to go I was in a real thick pain fog. I had to go by and pick up a prescription... they got it ready in ten minutes for me, which was amazing, unusual and awesome. I expressed my gratitude excessively.
Now I'm back in the pjs... heating pad on... kitty cat beside me tapping me on the shoulder trying to get me to give him treats...
Another day in paradise.
Happy Tuesday, y'all.

Friday, November 23, 2012

My Thanksgiving Post

 This makes me happy.
My cousin Christie. My gorgeous niece. And my super cool new Christmas shirt that I intend to wear as much as possible during the Christmas season. 
And this....

That look of pure delight... my girls riding on the back of the 4 wheeler with Cousin Christie's husband Nathan. I'm pretty sure this was the highlight of their day. 
 And that's Cole up front, helping his daddy drive. Cole's mama, Christie, came into our lives when I was 13 years old. She was my baby doll. I dressed her up and fixed her hair and toted her around and loved her to pieces. I still do. And now she has two little dolls of her own. 
Smart Pop. Teehee. Still cracks me up. Angie bought tickets for Mawmaw and Pop to see Keith and Kristyn Getty in concert on December 20th and she went ahead and gave them tickets so they would know to plan for it. His ticket was in a SmartPop box... mom's was in...

a nut bar box... Sarabeth looks dubious there... 

it was funny... 

Mom and Pop and Oscar are up at the Mountain House this weekend. I'm here in the hood... enjoying my new laptop (although I am having some internet connectivity issues which are making me a little ill) and taking care of the rest of the fur babies and stuffing myself with Thanksgiving leftovers and watching lots of CSpan3 and the History Channel and working on and staying in my cozy pjs. Luxurious, lovely weekend ahead for all of us!

Austin made it safely to PA. Haven't heard much from him but that's typical. Ryan's roommate, Charlie, is an old family friend who has been a part of my kids' lives for ten years or so. He's done more towards raising my kids than their dad has... between Ryan and Charlie, I know that Austin will be relatively safe and sound. 

I hate the double chin in this picture but love, love, love my Jamie girl posing in a cuddle with me. Sarabeth is at the age where she will suffer a hug but she doesn't exactly cuddle. I always say, "don't just suffer through it... hug me back!" and we laugh. Yesterday it was, "that's a lame, one handed hug... I want both hands!"... and we laughed. But Jamie is an all in, full out, squeeze you hard enough to give you a chiropractic adjustment hugger. I hope that never changes.

And Jamie loves to take pictures. Here she's taking a picture of her Great-Aunt Ginger on the swing set. How blessed are we to have these extended family relationships? I love my Great-Aunt Bette, one of my Steel Magnolias, but the times I have spent around her have been few and far between. I know her better now because of her sweet granddaughters who (through the magic of facebook) have become my friends. My kids and their cousins have been so blessed to be able to know their Great-Aunts and a few Great-Uncles. 

This is her own self-portrait. 

This is Jamie supervising Pop opening his SmartPop. I love this picture, not for it's great photographic composition but because it shows the precious, close relationship that Sarabeth and Jamie have with their grandparents. I've mentioned recently the twig of our family tree that is mostly broken off and separated from the rest of us... and the fact that we all grieve that loss in our own way... but these girls far and above make up for that in our lives. They love their Mawmaw and Pop (and Aunt Heather) and don't have to be prompted to spend time with us. They fill those empty spaces. 

This picture happened because Jamie took me by the hand and said, "let's go outside and see the horses together" and I said, "but Jamie, you know I can't walk far..." and she said, "You can do it! I know you can do it!" Yes, I feel it today. I can tell I did a lot of things yesterday that were bad for my spine... but they were good for my heart. So I posed my Jamie girl for a picture with the horse looking over her shoulder and... the horse moved before I could take the picture... 

I probably have a hundred pictures that Sarabeth and I have taken together over the past ten years... the difference now is that I'm not bending down... we're standing level beside each other... she's almost as tall as me. 

This year has brought a lot of changes and transitions and crossroads into my life. I'm thankful for all the new and exciting possibilities. I'm thankful for surviving Austin's high school years. I'm thankful he's back in the nest. I'm thankful that I'M back in the nest with my parents. I'm thankful for the circle that remains unbroken, for the things that don't change, for the bonds that are strong enough to hold us together even when times are tough. I'm just so grateful for all that this year has brought, in joy and in tears, in good times and pain, God has sustained us and helped us to grow stronger through things that should have broken us. 

God is still good. 
 P.S.  I'm also thankful for my little Trouble kitty. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Special Deliveries

I'm up earlier than usual today. Like I used to, back in the days when I had to wake up a kid for school and get to work by 8:30. My standard wake up time lately has been about 6:30. Last night I didn't sleep well... and my mom didn't sleep well... and Pop got up early and cooked breakfast for Austin before taking him to the airport so there has been lots of early morning activity around here. 

Pop was going to walk Austin to security and we've gone over the maps of the Atlanta Airport so he knows what gate to go to and hopefully he won't have any problems. It's only his second flight and the last time he was very young... maybe seven or eight. Austin asked if Pop could just drop him off at the Concourse where his gate is.... so he really doesn't have a good grasp of how things work. During my long night of not sleeping I was praying for traveling mercies for my boy. That's delivery number one.

My doctor's appointment yesterday went well. I saw the P.A. who is a cutie and very chatty and personable and remembers that I'm a Gators fan. I told him I just couldn't live with the pain any more, that my quality of life has really declined. I explained how I had to allow for recovery time any time I have any additional activity in my schedule... that an errand as simple as going to the grocery store knocks me out of commission for the rest of the day. 

We went over all the options and came up with a plan that will help me deal with the everyday aches and pains and then give me a safety net, so to speak, when the pain is out of control. Because my primary diagnosis, the degenerative disc/arthritis issue, will get progressively worse as time goes on, they wanted to hold off on anything too strong as long as possible, however, two years (almost) of having  a daily battle with pain is E-dang-nough! So I'm taking a mild/moderate pain reliever daily  (if needed but never, ever, ever when driving or working although with this one you CAN drive, etc). And he prescribed me a hard core narcotic for occasional use when the other pain reliever doesn't work.

I'm so relieved to have this treatment plan in place. The down side is that I have to see the doctor more frequently and there's a lot more lab work and stuff like that they have to do. They are keeping me under the limit for narcotics that would require a narcotic agreement and the really expensive drug screening but... the P.A. agrees that we've run the gamut of other options. Two years and fifty pounds later, I finally feel like we're really doing something to make the pain go away. I was so excited when I picked up the prescriptions that I almost cried. Delivery number two.

My laptop is in route and should be delivered today. My mom has been so generous with hers but I feel guilty having to borrow it. I can't wait to see that little brown truck! Delivery number three.

I'm having a major issue with dizziness this morning. I keep having to close my eyes and wait for the wave of dizziness to pass. This is NOT GOOD! I really need to be at the office today. Pray that I would be delivered from this NOW! Delivery number four, I hope. 

More later... have to close my eyes... have a great day, y'all!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reasons to Love Monday

At first we had days ahead of us here in Neverland... and then it was hours.... and now I'm watching the minutes fly by. I am glad to go home but I just haaaaaate to leave our little Mountain Sanctuary. I carefully planned the time of departure and my activities to that point... packing... loading the car... etc... and I am quickly approaching the end of cyber-socializing this morning. ARRRGH!

And yet, it's Monday and most of us here in the U.S. (waves to Wendy "down under") have a short work week, if any work at all this week. To give us all an inspiration, I'll set forth, for your perusal, a few Reasons to Love Monday.

1. Unless you're in retail (and thank the good Lord, I'm not!) this will be a short week. If you're in retail, God bless you and keep you safe as the hoards of greedy consumers descend upon you.

2. Thanksgiving is the biggest family holiday we celebrate. As I've gotten older and my cousins have grown up and married and made little nuclear families of their own, we don't do the whole "multi-generational" Christmas. We have our largest gathering of the year at Thanksgiving and I'm so glad to see those folks. There are a few more I would LOVE to add to the party (waves at Cousin Melissa in Alabama) but I count it a blessing to have time with the family.

3. Have I mentioned that Austin is leaving tomorrow? I'm gonna miss him but I'm sooo excited for the adventure ahead of him with his big brother and fair lady Sara and my friend Charlie and so forth. I'm sure this will be a trip that he remembers the rest of his life.

4. My fabulous friend Beth, through whom I live vicariously via Facebook, has a week of fabulous Christmas parties ahead of her... Viscount Linley's party, Prince Albert of Monaco, Mayor Boris Johnson (the Mayor of London) and I can't wait to see photos of Beth in her fancy party clothes! To think... 26 years ago we were trying to find a table in the school cafeteria... and now she's living the high society life! It can happen, people!

5. My new computer is coming! Today or tomorrow!

6. I'm going to have a positive attitude about the doctor appointment today. I'm believing for good things.

7. I think we're having breakfast at Panera afterwards. Maybe.

8. I'm going to see my Little Kitty in just a few hours! (and my mom and dad and Cody and Marquee and all the other fur babies) I wonder if he'll be watching in the window for me like he does sometimes!

Ok... that's all we have time for... must do a semi-glam so I don't look like a raving crackhead at the doctors office... time to go! Love and hugs and Happy Monday, y'all!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Reality Checks

Time to start cashing in a few "reality checks".

It's our last day here at the mountain house. I wanted to do more in the way of decorating but... just couldn't get past the pain from last week. I have come to avoid situations like the eight hour work day because I know that once I get to the point of that level of pain, it takes a long time for it to ease up. I'm on my fourth day since ... and I'm still highly uncomfortable.

I have an appointment with the pain doctor tomorrow and - if not for my precarious insurance situation, I would fire him. I mean... I sit in my little exam room every time and hear him refilling prescriptions for oxycotin and morphine and he basically gives me an advil. No, I don't want to be one of those cracked out prescription medicine junkies but is it too much to ask that we move beyond the stuff that we've already determined isn't working? Could I have a few hours a day without pain? A few days a month?  It makes me depressed every time I go.

However... I know that finding a new doctor will be next to impossible. Doctors don't like to take "self-pay" patients. If/when I qualify for medicaid (and I'm not really sure if I do) it will be difficult to find a new doctor that will accept medicaid. Sort of painted into a corner here... and it bums me out. Obamacare/Schmobamacare, it won't matter a bit if  you can't find a good doctor unless you have deep pockets. But I won't get into that today. That reality check is coming soon enough for all of us.

So.. doctor's appointment, drive home, get Austin's laundry caught up and get him packed... cuz he's leavin'... on a jet plane... don't know when he'll be back again. (December 4th)

Back to reality on Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday will likely be long-ish days at work. Work tends to either be feast or famine before a holiday. You either have a hoard of people who are trying to take care of business before the holiday or people are too busy getting ready for the holiday to take care of business. I volunteered to be available beyond my scheduled hours if needed. I kinda sorta hope I'm not needed.

Then... Thanksgiving prep... I think I'm probably making deviled eggs because that's what I usually do (and they're usually quite good, if I do say so myself!) and something else but I don't know what else. We won't have to travel far. By "we" I mean "me" because all my birdies will be out of the nest. I've been a mother for 26 years, other than the few months Austin lived in squalor with his friend's family, I've been a "we" longer than a me and even when I was a "me" I was part of a family of seven so there was never much in the way of just me for anything. At any rate... we're having Thanksgiving at my cousin Christie's house which is fairly near to us.

I haven't quite decided if I'll be back at the Mountain house over the Thanksgiving weekend or if I'll just stay close to the Nest. The fact that I have yet to undo the extra damage I did last week while sitting for an extra few hours a day has me a little unsettled. Pain is quite a shocking reality check. It's not like I did anything outrageous or risky like... ride a roller coaster. I just sat for three hours more than usual... and it has cost me dearly. Adding another two hundred miles behind the wheel within the same week seems counter-productive, to be honest. It makes me a little wistful but yet... more than anything.... I'm grateful to have a very short work week and another very long break ahead. These things matter.

And there's the tv factor. I realize this seems really shallow but I'm the kind of person that has a tv on constantly so ... as much as I love the Mountain House, being without tv, especially on football Saturdays, is a bummer. Austin brings his tv and watches Netflix while he's here plus he has a full social calendar. Fat Pat (who isn't really fat) and Logan both spent time here this weekend. Both are decent guys (although I am always suspicious of shenanigans going on down in the Whine Cellar when I'm quartered upstairs) and I'm glad that Austin is able to maintain his connections up here. My friends tend to hang out at the place of worship and I wasn't really up to sitting much this weekend... or any weekend over the past two years, unfortunately. (refer to previous blog entry). But without television or 3d entertainment, I get... not bored... I just miss my tv.

I bought a new computer. I solicited input via facebook and got a lot of good information. My favorite comments were the ones who encouraged me to spend the "extra money" to get a certain brand. OH, don't I wish, I could just access the extra money that I don't have to buy something better than what I can afford? Sounds very much like the government, doesn't it? Come to think of it... that advice came from an Obama Voter, so... there you go. Here at Heather First National Bank we only spend what we have, which, on a part time salary ain't much! But I did manage to buy the same computer (I think) that my mom has for a little bit less than Pop paid for hers. I am SURE that I could have saved another hundred dollars by doing the butt-crack of dawn Black Friday thing but there is no amount of money that would make it worth it to me to be jostled around over a laptop. I found what I wanted online and paid a little extra to narrow the delivery window to a time when I feel certain that someone will be home to receive the delivery. Hopefully tomorrow.

My old computer lasted me three and a half years. I loved it dearly and am sad to see it go. I will take it to the computer guy here in the mountains who helped me save the old girl when she locked up on me a few times... he never charged me a dime and refused to take any tips that I offered. I figure I'll let him replace the power supply and maybe the keyboard and see what he can do to speed it up and then I'll pass it on to Austin. That's further down on the priority list behind fixing the oil dipstick that the mechanic broke when my car was repaired last time... and all those other things that I need to be fiscally responsible with and about.

So anyways... it's getting close to bedtime. Have to be out the door before 9am in the morning to make it to the doctor on time. Back to life... back to reality...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sarabeth and the Secret

When I realized I had this big gap of time away from work, I just saw the blank days on the calendar and thought it would be nice to have a time to rest and heal. Over the course of the past two years I have learned to plan less, expect less, build a cushion of recovery time after every time of activity and just to know that chances are that if I have to choose doing something I love with someone I love despite the pain it causes, more often than not, I'm going to choose not to hurt. It's not that I love that person any less, it's just that when the pain starts, I'm not myself. I don't think straight. It's hard to communicate. The only thing I can think about it getting to a place where the pain is diminished.

It makes me sad at times. Other times it just makes me wistful. I wish I had done more before the pain started. I wish I had more relationships where, instead of being put into a painful situation, people would meet me where I am and allow me to share in their lives where I can be comfortable. And there aren't many places that I'm comfortable.

My mom comes and sits in my room with me. She folds clothes on my bed. She sits in my makeup chair or on the little footstool beside my bed that Oscar uses to climb into bed with me. Before I lived there... I couldn't bear the hundred mile trip unless I built in recovery days afterwards. Now, circumstances have brought me to a place where I get to see mom, Pop, Cody, Marquee and all our fur babies on a daily basis. I didn't realize how lonely I was until I moved down there and got to actually interact with three dimensional people!

Even sitting on a couch, which you would think would be comfy and cozy, because of the pressure it puts on my lower spine, is agony. Sitting around a kitchen table on hard wood chairs... forget about it. Going out to eat is a whole 'nother level of hell because there is inevitably wait time... sliding into a booth requires a side to side movement that makes my legs go numb... the chairs are hard... and so forth. Socializing is difficult.

I'm in that period of declining ability where I look perfectly normal. Old people glare at me as I get out of my car parked in "Princess Parking" (a handicapped space).  I don't need a cane (or as my Grandma calls it... "a walking stick") but there are times that that extra stability would be nice. I can walk. I just can't walk far. I can't climb stairs without pain. I have to plan the route before I go somewhere to make sure it's something I can handle. We went to Walmart yesterday and, even leaning on the cart, the last few minutes in the store were difficult. (And to add insult to injury, the computer I was going to buy that was $288 was out of stock and they wouldn't offer me a rain check.)

There are friends I want to hang out with. Family members I dearly miss. Lots and lots and lots of free time that I could and would and SHOULD be filling with loved ones but it's just so hard to go where they are.

Then yesterday... Bubba asked if I could take Sarabeth to basketball practice. Jamie had a game at 5:30 in one location, Bethy had a practice at 6pm in another and Angie was out of town. Austin and I were just sort of sorting out the Christmas stuff we brought up from Riverdale and I thought that Sarabeth would have fun going through that in between the time her dad had to go and the time we needed to leave for practice.

They got there... Jamie was dressed in her little basketball uniform. She asked, "are we Pilgrims or Indians?" Her dad told her that I would know. "Pilgrims" I told her. "On the actual Mayflower, Stephen Hopkins was your 11th great-grandfather and was the father of the baby born during the voyage." She processed that knowledge with her little Popeye wink, looking into the glare of the afternoon sun. I didn't expect Jamie to be an athlete, since she tends to take after me but she made a free throw the night before in a game! And Sarabeth is tall and lean. She makes a great basketball player.

So anyways... Jim and Jamie left and SB came in with me.  Austin had supper ready (because we have him in the habit of eating with the old people at 4pm)... so she and I sat at the table and ate our steak and fries. Austin went down stairs so we could have "girl talk". I explained what I was thinking about doing with the decorations and was deep into explaining the whole ribbon, light, garland perspective when she... looking down at her plate... says to me, "I know the secret." I lift an eyebrow and say, "THE secret?" "Yes." She says, wise beyond her ten years. "But Jamie doesn't know so we can't say anything to her." I said, "What made you..." and she interrupts and says, "I have known for a few months now. I asked my mom and at first she didn't really say... she just said that she knew Santa very well..." and she went on to tell the story of how it all came out.

I should sidebar here and say that my brother Bryan, you know, the New York City lawyer who could read when he was two (ok, maybe a little later than that but... still...) found out by reading the Home Life magazine that they pass out in church. In it was a little vignette that made him realize "the Secret". He cried all during church. He was probably around 7.

 I told Sarabeth, "You know who told me? It was YOUR DAD." I was seven. She said, "well, there were a lot of kids in your family. It was probably hard to keep a secret." That cracked me up. Insightful little doll.

I told her that finding out that someone in your life who you KNOW and see everyday wants to give you things that you really want is a precious, wonderful thing and that knowing the secret helps you know how loved you really are.

We set to work putting together my parents' artificial tree. Austin couldn't figure it out but with a helpful hint from Mawmaw, Sarabeth was able to put it together handily. We gave her eggnog with nutmeg sprinkled on top (our family imperative for decorating). She didn't know if she had it before but she liked it... said it tasted like melted ice cream. I talked to my mom on the phone and told her Sarabeth knew "the Secret" and SB shot me a warning look and whispered, "does Austin know?" Which shows you that her 18 year old cousin is, in her eyes, just a big goofy kid. And he is.

We talked about the computer that I'm going to buy. She gave some suggestions. She showed me the computer game she likes on And then it was time to go.

Practice was being held at her school which is about a ten minute drive from our Mountain house. There's an intersection with a stoplight (just the one) where we needed to turn left. There isn't a turning light so you have to yield to oncoming (swift) traffic. We waited almost an entire light cycle to be able to turn and she asked why we had to wait until everyone else went... so I explained the whole "right of way" perspective. She worried that I wouldn't know where her school was and I reminded her that it was on my way to work for four years... and that I had been there several times. "Yes.... but we are coming from a different direction than my parents usually come so we will have to turn right instead of going straight at the four way stop." She talked me through it... "this is it... this is the four way stop here..." and so forth. She was very brave and didn't need me to stay with her... which was good because there was no seating available other than criss cross applesauce on the gym floor.

I left and thought what a fabulous time that was for me. It wasn't Disney World or unicorns and rainbows... it was just hanging out... getting to hear her thoughts... knowing that this formerly shy girl speaks openly with me.  It was her being where I was... like a balm to my soul!

I spent the evening afterwards watching Big Bang Theory on Youtube. I stayed up late - until after midnight - and slept until nearly 8am. The only thing on my agenda today is a shower and trying out these big curlers that my mom bought from AVON. Austin had Fat Pat over on Thursday night and Logan came over yesterday. And, of course, we got to visit with the nice folks at the bakery and Bubba and the girls... so we haven't been lonely here at all. It's the perfect balance, almost...

Life sure is sweet.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sherwood Drive vs. Mountain House

We're settled in here at the Mountain House to enjoy our nice long weekend. We won't go home until Monday, after my doctors appointment in Gainesville. If you're a clock watcher, like me, that means we have about 72 hours to go here in the Hills.

It's still surreal for me to realize that *this* is my parents' house after all the years on Sherwood Drive. Not to malign the place that has been home for our family for 36 years... but this place seems like a mansion in comparison. Here are a few differences so you can see what I mean:

Living Room:
Sherwood Drive: tiny, with enough space to walk through, open to eat in kitchen
Mountain House: medium size with a lovely stone fireplace and views of the lake. nice comfy sofa, two recliners, open to dining room

SD: single file only, hard to have more than one person cooking, cabinets packed full like those Russian nesting dolls
MH: huge, open kitchen, tons of counter space, large pantry, lots and lots of room in the cabinets

SD: one. small. can pretty much hear what's going on in the rest of the house... and vice versa.
MH: three and a half baths. I've never even used the one on the top floor. I can't remember if I put toilet paper up there.

SD: four. Pop's room. Mawmaw's room. Computer room/Austin's room. Converted garage where I sleep.
MH: five. Mawmaw and Pop's room. My room (which is completely empty other than having some of my clothes in the closet). Austin's "bomb shelter" room with no window (just what he's always wanted - makes for best gaming lighting). Two rooms upstairs that are going to make excellent guest rooms, computer rooms, craft rooms, office, whatever they evolve to be.

SD: ha!
MH: huge living space in the basement (aka Whine Cellar) where I have all my living room furniture and my disco ball.

Square Footage:
SD: maybe 1100?
MH: 2500, give or take

SD: suburban street with lots of pedestrian traffic, Dawn's fence
MH: woods or lake, depending on which way you turn

SD: two cars on the driveway, one beside in the mud lot, overflow parking goes to Cody's house next door
MH: easily four cars on the flat part near the house, could park a dozen more on the level spot beside the road at the top of the hill

SD: Cody and Marquee on one side in the house my parents own, drug dealers and their noisy brats on the other
MH: Now that the leaves have fallen off the trees we can tell that there are houses on the other side of the lake... there are houses on either side of us but they both seem to be weekenders like us... two sisters live across the street and I can see their light at night but have never caught a glimpse of either one of them

Outdoor space:
SD: There's a screened in porch and a deck that we built in 1983 or 4. Both have become overflow/storage spaces for the stuff that won't fit in the house.
MH: rocking chair front porch, screened in porch, two decks on the main level, long patio on the basement level, fishing dock with tiki hut.

SD: attic accessed by drop down staircase which I can no longer climb, back porch, storage shed, closets packed out, utility room
MH: two "dwarf attics" under the eaves of the top level, two walk in closets in the master bedroom, two linen closets, a huge storage/utility space in the basement, another space under the stairs, storage building

SD: typical suburban fenced in backyard, small front yard
MH: two acres, lake lot

SD: not to be crass but if you pass gas, the whole house hears it
MH: had to text Austin to come up for dinner last night

SD: Puts the "Hood" in neighborhood, smack dab in the City limits of Riverdale
MH: private drive, about half the homes are owned by "weekenders", waaaay off the beaten path

Creature Comforts:
SD: washer/dryer, cable tv, internet, garbage pickup, no dishwasher
MH: internet, books, hamper in pantry to collect dirty clothes to take back, trash gets hauled back to SD in the trunk after a weekend, dishwasher that leaks a little

SD: rarely done in Riverdale, usually I'll drive down to Fayetteville to avoid the thuggery that Riverdale has become. My favorite thrift store is in Riverdale and I go there about once a month. Publix.
MH: the "Amish Bakery" (they're really German Baptist), Loganberry Heritage Farm, Ingles

SD: pretty much anything you want is within driving distance.
MH: North Georgia Barbeque (in season), La Cabana, Glenda's for breakfast

My Favorite Things:
SD: my nest, my Little Kitty, having Oscar snuggle up beside under his blankie in my nest, seeing Cody and Marquee, Pop's cooking, spending time with my mom, having Austin with us, my job
MH: Pop's recliner, the view - especially first thing in the morning when the mist is rising from the lake, peace and quiet. This is home.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Heading to the Hills!

At the risk of sounding like someone living with chronic pain and BEING a chronic pain because of it... over the course of the 22+ months that I've been dealing with this back pain, I've come to know which problem causes which kind of pain. I've also learned to avoid activities that aggravate those conditions. Fortunately, by the grace of God and the generosity of my family, I've been able to eliminate a lot of those painful situations.

And so... when I was asked to take this two day - 8 hours a day - class... I knew that the prolonged sitting was going to compress those two herniated/bulging discs. Out of all of the categories of pain that I experience... that feeling of vertebrae squishing disc is the most uncomfortable of them all... and honestly, the one I am least equipped to deal with. Once that gets aggravated, there isn't much I can do to resolve it, other that stay in the *one certain* position that provides the most relief. So my trade off was that AFTER taking the class, I would be given a nice super long weekend to recover.

The class was good. It was more of a marketing, sales process type of class. I know the basics ... I know them in my sleep... truly, there was one time that I was at a party and had a few cocktails and was ... let's just say that I wasn't at my usual level of sobriety... and I completely explained the auto insurance quoting process to another party-goer who was complaining about their car insurance rates. Literally. I know this stuff. However, the technology is constantly improving and I haven't really had the opportunity over the past few years to network with other agency team members or receive specific instruction about the advancements in our processes that our company is making. For that reason, the class was very, very good for me. I would almost describe it as going to State Farm church. Or a pep rally. There were about two dozen people with different roles in the organization, with different levels of training and tenure and we had sixteen hours to dialogue and expand our skills. Minus the pain - I LOVED it.

However... post class.... I am at a fresh level of hell with this pain. I'm glad I went but I'm also I planned a break afterwards because I desperately need it. And I'm so glad we set up Austin's trip for AFTER this weekend so he will be with me at the mountain house to tote that barge and lift that bale, as it were. I'm going to need his help - and he really has been uh-LOT of help lately.

We're transporting the family Christmas decoration collection to the BIG house this weekend so that we can decorate THAT house during the Thanksgiving weekend to enjoy over the holidays. Now that Austin and I have crashed my parents' empty nest, there's not a lot of room to decorate the Riverdale house. My car is small but it's just me and the kid and we have so much stuff at the mountain house that we pack fairly light... a favorite pillow... a few changes of clothes... meds... just the basics. We'll stock up on food when we get up there but the pantry is relatively well stocked with basics and spices now. I try to keep powdered creamer on hand so we don't have to rush out to get fresh creamer before that first morning cup of coffee. Anyways... Austin will be gone over Thanksgiving so he won't be around to help other than this weekend. Then... after Christmas... we can just leave the decorations at the mountain house.

I have a doctor's appointment on Monday morning... I plan to shop for a computer this weekend... and other than that... no obligations or responsibilities... sit and stare at the lake for most of five days in a row. Like a stay-cation, one hundred miles north... and hopefully the parts of my spine that are getting their revenge on me for asking too much of them over the past two days... will settle down and behave again.

Austin leaves Tuesday morning for Pennsylvania. He'll be gone for two weeks. My mom is off work all next week. I'll work Tuesday and Wednesday and be off for the four days after that. *sigh* Peaceful easy feeling... enjoying a little mini-intentional sabbatical... makes for a Thankful Thursday, indeed.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Reasons to Love Monday

It was a long day... although only 5 hours, I got a lot done and am ready to tackle these two 8 hour days that I'm facing tomorrow and Wednesday. I know a lot of y'all work a lot more than that every work day of every week and I wish I still could. I have to remind myself to "grade on a curve" and not measure my accomplishments against the average worker.... but instead against what doctors have told me I could and should be able to do. Everything I do was more than anyone (including myself) thought I'd be able to do at this point. Sixteen hours stand between me and a five day "yabba dabba do" and I'm going to find a way to push past the pain and get this training that will make me better at what I do and more valuable to the folks I work with and for. I really do love my job.

I didn't have time this morning to crank out a blog entry and it's been a Monday... but a blessed Monday to be sure. I don't want to miss the opportunity to share the things that gave me a Reason to Love Monday.

1. It's Monday but I've already fulfilled my employment obligation for the day.
2. I had an online class to complete today in the midst of preparing to be out of the office for the next week. I read fast. It was a sprint but I fulfilled my educational obligation for the day.
3. I was starving when I left work. The little pack of trail mix I had at 8am had long since run out before 2pm. I stopped and picked up Captain D's and it really hit the spot.
4. I knew I had a little bit of commission coming my way and a few extra hours that would go on this paycheck but is it any small coincidence that the amount of extra on my paycheck equals the cost of the new laptop I want/need?
5. A family member who had received a scary medical diagnosis recently, today was given some very optimistic news about their prognosis. God is good.
6. I wore a new dress today and had time to actually fix my hair. Feeling pretty makes for a better day!
7. Oscar the Wiener dog is curled up beside me in the Nest.
8. Lily, our big canine furgirl, has had some really ugly wounds where she has been gnawing herself. It was really looking bad last week but it is much, much better today. She is no longer having to wear the cone of shame which makes for a much more peaceful house. (Although she woke us all up at different times last night.)
9. It's going to be a great week. I just know it! Today was just the start of good things ahead.

Hope your Monday is flying by and that you're feeling a sense of peace and accomplishment today, as I am. No matter what obstacles lie ahead of us this week... we can do it!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Watching College Gameday and (still) enjoying the use of my mom's laptop as the old girl has completely fallen down on the job (my laptop, not my mom). Even with the new power cord, I can't get the thing to charge. I suspect it's the place where the power supply plugs in, there seems to not be a solid connection. I could take it to be repaired but... honestly... at this point... she's old, she's slow, she's missing some vital keys of the keyboard and I've just about worn a hole through the mouse pad thingy. My plan is to buy a new one with the next paycheck (next Friday), hopefully the budget will allow.

Austin is still with us. He's been uber cooperative and has had a great attitude. He has been a lot of help to mawmaw and pop and we have all enjoyed having him here.

Ryan stopped by Thursday night on his way  from a job in Pompano Beach, Florida to his home in Pennsylvania. I walked out the front door on my way to work and saw this big Penske truck parked out in front of Cody's house and thought that either a) Cody and Marquee were moving out, b) some jerk in the hood decided to hijack the parking in front of Cody's house or c) Ryan had made a pitstop. I called Cody (because he's always up early calling his dad to get him to wake up so they can go to work - that's a whole other story) and he confirmed that it was Ryan. I told him to sneak and open the front door so I could go in and sing the Wake Up Song.

See... there was this song I learned at Camp Pinnacle when I was 9... you sing in this really soft pleasant Disney kind of voice "way up in the sky... the little birds fly... way down in the nest... the little birds rest... wwwwiiiiiiiitttttthhhhh a wing on the left and a wing on the right... the little birds sleep all thru the night..." and then you whisper, "sssshhhhh!" and then you yell at the TOP OF  YOUR LUNGS, "YOU MIGHT WAKE UP THE BIRDIES"... and the rest is also sung very, very loud, "THE BRIGHT SUN COMES UP THE DEW FALLS AWAY, GOOD MORNING, GOOD MORNING THE LITTLE BIRDS SAY". And this song was the punishment my children suffered whenever they wouldn't cooperate with getting up in the morning and/or whenever I just wanted to annoy them. My nieces love it but they live on the top floor of their house and when I stay there I sleep on the bottom floor so after climbing two flights of stairs, I'm not exactly able to find the lung capacity to belt it  out.

Whenever Ryan comes down and is peacefully sleeping on Cody's couch, I like to wake him up with that song. Unfortunately... yesterday... the storm door slammed and it woke Ryan up before I could. He was just passing through so by the time I was off work yesterday, he was already well on his way to PA. However, the great thing is that Ryan took the time to take Austin to breakfast yesterday before he got on the road and that little bit of attention was awesome for Austin. Austin has spent most of his time with me and my mom and we are both pretty much at the point of not having energy to do more than work our part-time jobs.. Pop spends time when he's home but he has a pretty busy schedule between work, church, golf and Grandma. Cody and Marquee kinda do their own thing. And Austin's dad... well... he's stopped and said hello to Austin once in the month Austin's been here, despite driving by twice a day to pick Cody up for work and drop Cody off from work. That's an "F" for effort in my book.

At any rate... Ryan has decided he's going to fly Austin up to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving and Austin is over the MOON excited about it. Ryan and Cody have always had a super tight bond and Austin's always been sort of the odd man out... to be able to hang with his big brother ... to be able to actually take a trip somewhere and more than that, to be able to fly (it's only his second airplane trip) is a huge hairy deal for Austin. I'll avoid discussing my anxiety that Austin will end up on the no-fly list or make an inappropriate joke to an air marshall... or not be able to find his gate... so many variables... (any friends out there who work at the Atlanta Airport who have security clearance and can walk him to his gate?) and I'll just be excited that Austin is going to get some great bonding time with his brother and hope that this will be a catalyst for Austin to sort of figure out his path in life.

The bummer is that it will mean that I won't have any of my babes at Thanksgiving. Cody and Marquee are probably doing Thanksgiving with her family as our events occur at the same time. It's not looking like any of my brothers will be around. We're going to be a small enough crowd to fit in a booth at Denneys. Ok. Maybe not a booth. But still. Last year Austin and I had rotisserie chicken from Ingles, just the two of us. My picture perfect Norman Rockwell, "way it used to be" Thanksgivings are a thing of the past. Just let me see the Macy's parade... have a good meal and get a few hugs... and I'll be ok.

BUT... at least I'm going to have a lot, a lot of down time over the next two weeks... I'm working Monday, in a class on Tuesday and Wednesday, off for five days, working Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, off for four days, working Monday, off Tuesday. Lots and lots of rebound time built in for me which makes me happy. Lots of time in the mountains.

Even when I'm not in the mountains... life here is good. The fall colors are beautiful, even in the suburbs. Work is busy but great. I look forward to being there. I'm usually fairly uncomfortable by the time I leave, which is discouraging because I would actually not mind being there more and making more money and being able to take on more responsibility but every day, almost without fail, I hit a wall and get to the point where the pain drowns out any cognitive thought, where I'm not as articulate and accurate as I want to be and I know it's time to clock out. It's frustrating but every single day it reminds me that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be... in a place where they focus more on my ability than my disability.

I've been working on a particularly difficult but really interesting twig on my family tree that involves intermarriage between White settlers and the Cherokee and Creek Indian tribes in the Southeast. It's difficult because the Indians (Native Americans, whatever) usually have an Indian name that is spelled out in syllables (like Wa-si-ya) , an Anglicized version of their Native American name (like Running Deer), and an American name (like Tom Carpenter). The trick is to review all the different sources and match families up based on one or all three of these versions, dates of birth and death and matching anecdotal information. Very time consuming... requires a lot of reading through old documents and so forth... but it's still fascinating.

Anywho... So that's my Saturday. Have a good weekend, y'all!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Day After

Mitt Romney lost and I don't feel so good myself.
Four years ago when Obama was anointed as President, I was somewhat removed from the process.
That year on the day after Election Day I was traveling from Helen, Georgia to Albany, Georgia for the funeral of my (then) stepson's 35 year old mommy who had died tragically, 9 days after giving birth.
I was worried for our country but I was too grief stricken to focus on that.
Today, to be honest, I am discouraged and frustrated.
But today I will get up, put on my big girl drawers and deal with it.
I will go to work. Come home from work, by the Grace of God, and life will go on until it doesn't.

 I will focus on my family and my career and appreciate all the gifts that God has given me.
There will be weekends in the mountain house, peaceful, restful, good times.
I will try to do a better job visiting my sweet little grandma who had a birthday yesterday - 89 years old.
We went to Ruby Tuesdays and had crab cakes and salad bar. Her crab cake (and mama's) were too spicy but she loved the carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese frosting that they brought her to celebrate her birthday. She loved that I fixed her a big salad at the salad bar since she can no longer walk steady enough to get her own. We talked politics and family and had a really nice time with her. She has settled in beautifully in her new home and she seems to really enjoy being there. She was so proud to introduce us to every staff member and resident that crossed our path while we were there. I'm so relieved that she's there and happy and although I know that she will always miss her home in North Carolina, I know she's in a good place.
Me too. I'm in a good place. Austin is in a good place. Geography has more to do with your own attitude than it does with ambiance. Yes, the mountain house is restful and I thank God that we have that - as a family - as a place to go to.
And although the divisive politics of our nation have put us in a place of uncertainty - and although I stand on opposing sides from many people that I love and respect - ultimately, my happiness is determined by my attitude and my perspective. My success is determined by my courage and willingness to continue on and to choose to rise above my circumstances.
Look at that beautiful smile. My Steel Magnolia. Her life has not always been easy. Her father died when she was a teenager. Her first husband turned out to not be the man she thought he was. She raised three kids alone. Her second husband only lived a few years past their marriage. Her last sweetie became very sick and frail and she kindly and lovingly tended to him until he passed away. She wanted to stay in her home in North Carolina but there was no way for us to keep her there safely, it was just too far away. But here she is... in a new place... with her same sweet smile and perfectly manicured fingernails and her stylish clothes... being light and salt in the place where she lives.
After lunch I told her, "Let's do it again next year". And I hope we do.
And then we went to visit my brother and his kids and it was bittersweet but still, beautiful. Rather than being sad that I don't get to be the kind of aunt I want to be for those babies... I'm just grateful that they exist, that they are happy and beautiful and smart and that if my only job is to love them from a distance and to cover them with prayer in the way that I always have, then I am grateful to do that, to have a spiritual influence over their lives even when I can't have a tangible influence.
God is still good.
God is still God.
 And my little kitty will always find outrageous places to perch... on top of the dog biscuits... on top of the tv... under the bed... in a windowsill... on my pillow, on my face... he goes wherever he pleases (except outside, we never let him outside) exploring, investigating, supervising, making the best of his climbing ability and enjoying his world.
And my little Sammy granddoggy... who always has that inquisitive, optimistic little head tilt whenever I say, "where's your mommy? where's your Cody?" He reacts to either "Cody" or "daddy" for Cody because he hears Marquee call him Cody. He also responds better to Spanish commands than English since his mommy talks to him in Spanish. Sammy can destroy a dog toy in ten seconds flat. He lifts a leg wherever he wants. He eats cat poop out of the litter box. He sneaks the big dogs' food even though, as a little doggie, their food isn't really good for him. He loves wearing doggie clothes and he is always happy to come to Mawmaw's house during the day. Whenever we have to all be gone, he goes into his little crate and he never complains. He knows that someone will come and let him out eventually. He just always enjoys wherever he is and whatever he's doing.
And I guess that's the point.
Whatever hand life deals you, play it.
Rise to your circumstances.
Rise up in spite of your circumstances.
If you're reading this... you're probably not in ICU somewhere. You're probably not in jail. You're most likely not in North Korea or Iran or some similarly restrictive country. We're still Americans. We can and will  be our best, regardless of who is in office. Bloom where you are planted. Shine a light in the darkness.
Happy Day After, y'all.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Met Her.

It doesn't take very long for newcomers to my blog to realize that I am a doting and devoted aunt.
I couldn't love my two red-headed nieces more if I had birthed them myself.
I post so many pictures of them that if you didn't know better, you'd think they were mine.
I'm one of five kids and my parents have 12 grandkids, which, if you're doing the math, you realize that subtracting out my three kids, there are nine grandkids which were not birthed to me therefore, beyond the two red-headed little girls (+ their best friend, Jorjanne, my adopted niece) there are seven more nieces and nephews in my family.
In my family. In my heart. But sadly, not all in my life.
My brother Michael lives in Chattanooga. I see his two sons about once every year or so. They don't do holidays so we don't "gather together" so to speak. They are good boys and he's a good dad but we don't see each other enough for his kids to be really comfortable around me. His daughter lives in Nashville and is grown and a mother of two. It's been years since I've seen her, although we facebook often.  (Love you, Tiffany!).
And then there's another brother for whom there is a bit of a broken branch off the family tree. He has four kids: 13, 8, almost 5 and 3. Up until five years and four months ago we were very, very close. Something happened that splintered us and - for many reasons that I can't really go into - his family has kept a distance from our family.
In three days it will be five years since his little girl, Maddie, was born. On that day, I was inconsolable, living in Jacksonville and already feeling very, very alone in a marriage that was anything and everything except what I thought it would be. Knowing that another precious treasure had come into the world, another niece, that I might not ever meet was more than I could bear. As I bought her baby gift - a gorgeous little dress with tiny little cardigan - I grieved the thought of having a niece that I would probably never meet.
Believe me when I say that just as you can love a child the moment they come into the world - you can grieve a child in the same way. And, man... that was a raw and miserable wound for me.
Time went by. My life took a lot of twists and turns. By the grace of God, I moved closer to my red-headed nieces. By His same loving hand, for reasons that He understands better than me, I moved away again. They know me, Sarabeth and Jamie. We share special memories and private jokes and favorites songs. I know where to go for the car rider lane at their school. I know their little friends and they know me. These girls are such a huge part of my life and I am so grateful to know them like I do... but I have always grieved this sweet little Maddie that I had never met.
Until today, that is. Today. Three days shy of five years I finally met her.
She is beautiful with fair skin, dark eyes and long dark wavy hair. Snow White's coloring, every bit a princess.
As vivacious and outgoing and energetic as my little Jamie... not the least bit shy... or afraid of this stranger who walked through her front door... she chatted with me and told me all about her birthday in three more sleeps and her birthday haircut that she's getting and...
I...I just drank her in with all five senses...
I didn't dare whip out my camera and start taking pictures because, as it turned out, we missed a text message and didn't realize that our visit was "not at a good time" for them.
Turd in a punch bowl sort of awkwardness.
It took five years for me to see her and it was only a brief, very few minutes but it was so, so precious.
She has a little brother. He looks just like her big brother. So much like her big brother that it seems as if time stood still and the five years since I saw three year old Caleb had not gone by... as I listened to sweet, animated, three year old Joshua telling me all about Star Wars and Superheroes and trick or treating and all these wonderful, wonderful things that he wanted to share with me... and I would look over and see Caleb and realize how much time I've missed... and then focus back on Joshua's carefree, honest chatter, so grateful that he wasn't afraid to talk to me.
Me. His Aunt. Who he had never met.
And when our brief visit came to a quick end... and we grieved a little more in the car on the way home... that this branch has splintered and that these kids are not a part of our lives...all I could think was...
"I met her. I finally met Maddie."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Some Other Stuff

I'm planning to wear red tomorrow to show my support for Mitt Romney.
Oddly, I could never keep the red state/blue state thing straight until my friend Mr. Drake who is the most diehard Dem I've ever known gave me a clue: R for red, r for Republican.
I'm not working on Tuesday - scheduled day off. I'll be obsessively watching the news all day.
Right now I'm watching a special Sunday edition of The Five. I'm a happy girl!
I got my replacement power cord for my laptop in the mail yesterday. Sixty cents on amazon. Yes, cents. The first power cord replacement I ever bought was over a hundred dollars. I've wised up.
It's a shame how much markup we sometimes pay for things.
The shipping on it was about $6 but even so....
It's working. It's a temporary fix. This old girl is gonna need replacing. (the laptop, not me)
I'm just hoping that I can put it off for a month or two until my end of the year blessings and bonuses show up.
I've found the one I want - it's a Lenovo from Staples. $330, there abouts.
In the meantime... I can always get online via my mom's when she isn't using it or on the old desktop in Austin's room aka the Computer Room.
He's getting along pretty well here, I think. He's been a trooper. Helpful and stuff. Complaining little. Those months of poverty seem to have made him appreciate things more.
He was in the kitchen helping my dad cook today... and I had to grin... the kitchen here at the Old Homestead is small. Like... NYC apartment small, without the fabulous restaurants nearby and no delivery, other than pizza.
And... my dad is a good cook but he can be a bit intense when he's cooking (and he's going to ask me what I mean by intense... love ya, Pop!) and Austin is a bit animated, in an - at times - annoying kind of way. So that dynamic in the kitchen (which is right off of my bedroom) really cracked me up.
Those are the kind of moments that make memories, much more so than the big events or holidays.
Cooking in a little kitchen.
They made chicken pot pie for lunch. Chili for dinner tonight. And meatloaf for later in the week. So far it's all been good.
And by all I mean the chicken pot pie, which is all I've eaten so far.
It's been a good weekend.
I got up before dawn yesterday to go to this special shopping event at Belk's with mama and daddy.
You pay $5 for tickets to get in and that money goes to the charity you bought the ticket from.
You get your $5 off of your purchase so it's a great deal.
I got a gorgeous new dress that will be perfect for dressier events or when I need something a little nicer than my usual "business comfy" style.
I also got a long sleeve tee shirt with embroidered "Merry Christmas" on it. Since I am too cool for tacky Christmas sweaters, you know.
And a new bra. A good one. For about half price.
And two new pairs of stockings - tights. I always wear dresses to work. Well, about 90 percent of the time. During the Winter I wear tights. A good pair of tights lasts me several years. Heck, I've even stitched them up to make them last longer.
I had two pair blow out on me last week so I replaced them with a good brand for about half off - with the discount they were only slightly more than the Walmart brand I usually get.
I was hoping to find Christmas gifts for my girls - my daughter-in-law, my son's girlfriend, my nieces, etc.
Nope. I just bought stuff for me.
I got into a long conversation with the lady who was manning the table for the DAR. She had been a teacher at my Jr. High School.
I didn't have her for a teacher because I was in the gifted program, which, in Jr. High took the place of your English class and in High School took the place of your History/Social Studies class.
The two subjects I enjoyed, much more than Math or Science.
I still haven't heard from my friend Eva who lives on Staten Island. She hasn't posted to Facebook, not that she was an everyday Facebooker but still, I'm worried.
My son in Pennsylvania is now in Pompano Beach, Florida for the week. Any destruction at his place is going to have to be fixed after he gets back home. His work sends him all over the place.
Speaking of all over the place... some photos of my nieces from Disney World...

Presidential Wisdom

I have a lot of opinions about this current Presidential race but my opinions are the limited to my education and experience. We can only know what occurs within our own personal borders. I always seek to expand my knowledge and hopefully, help you expand yours. 

Today I started reading through Presidential Quotes to see the perspective of the leaders who came before us. I'll let their words dominate this blog entry today and I hope that we will all be strengthened, encouraged, amused and enlightened by those who came before us. God bless the U.S.A.

(these quotes were found and are attributed to 

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. 
John Adams 

All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation. 
John Adams 

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. 
John Quincy Adams 

The extravagant expenditure of public money is an evil not to be measured by the value of that money to the people who are taxed for it. 
Chester A. Arthur 

I believe the most solemn duty of the American president is to protect the American people. If America shows uncertainty and weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch. 
George W. Bush 

Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.
George W. Bush

Though the people support the government; the government should not support the people. 
Grover Cleveland 

You don't lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership. 
Dwight D. Eisenhower 

I have one yardstick by which I test every major problem - and that yardstick is: Is it good for America? 
Dwight D. Eisenhower 

We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen. 
Calvin Coolidge 

Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character. 
Calvin Coolidge 

May God save the country, for it is evident that the people will not. 
Millard Fillmore 

A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. 
Gerald R. Ford 

Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter. 
James A. Garfield 

Hold fast to the Bible. To the influence of this Book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization and to this we must look as our guide in the future. 
Ulysses S. Grant

America's present need is not heroics but healing; not nostrums but normalcy; not revolution but restoration. 
Warren G. Harding 

Conscience is the authentic voice of God to you. 
Rutherford B. Hayes 

To vote is like the payment of a debt, a duty never to be neglected, if its performance is possible. 
Rutherford B. Hayes 

Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt. 
Herbert Hoover

Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body - the producers and consumers themselves. 
Herbert Hoover 

Prosperity cannot be restored by raids upon the public Treasury. 
Herbert Hoover

A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities. 
Thomas Jefferson

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. 
Thomas Jefferson 

To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical. 
Thomas Jefferson 

I hold it the duty of the executive to insist upon frugality in the expenditure, and a sparing economy is itself a great national source. 
Andrew Johnson 

The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men. 
Lyndon B. Johnson 

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future. 
John F. Kennedy 

Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right. 
Abraham Lincoln 

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg. 
Abraham Lincoln 

Our differences are policies; our agreements, principles. 
William McKinley

If we take the route of the permanent handout, the American character will itself be impoverished. 
Richard M. Nixon 

Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged. 
Ronald Reagan 

We should measure welfare's success by how many people leave welfare, not by how many are added. 
Ronald Reagan 

A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education. 
Theodore Roosevelt

When even one American - who has done nothing wrong - is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth - then all Americans are in peril. 
Harry S. Truman