My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Birthday Wrap Up

Last night we had a great time at Spice-55 - a Thai restaurant in Helen. We had - seriously - the most enthusiastic waiter of all time. I have never had anyone sing "Happy Birthday" to me with as much - well, enthusiasm. He was a hoot! He giggled at everything you said and had a huge smile! The food was great. Austin was able to get sushi (which he loves) and the girls were able to get "Cody Special Fried Rice" - fried rice with no vegetables. That's how my Cody always orders it.

I had pad kee mao. It's my standard "go to" meal at Thai restaurants because the first (or maybe second) time I had Thai food I asked the waiter what his favorite dish was and that's what he recommended. I'm always worried about it being too spicy but it wasn't - it was perfect. I also ordered basil rolls which are always good and seem to be a healthier choice, maybe? They are rice noodles and cucumber with a big basil leaf wrapped in rice paper. It comes with a spicy sauce. I know I always feel like Thai food is lighter than Chinese food.

I'll sprinkle a few pictures throughout this post for your viewing pleasure.

One of the funniest things was the Asian Muzak they piped into the restaurant. We were sort of playing "Name That Tune" trying to figure out the songs. Sarabeth was able to pick out several but then Madonna's "Like A Virgin" came on. She said, "what are they saying? who is that?" Her mom just said, "You wouldn't have heard it before". And we tried to stifle our giggles. When she's older I'll tell her about the Madonna concert that Aunt Heather went to in 1985. Angie, Jamie and I embarrassed Sarabeth by dancing in our chairs to YMCA. Good times.

"you're HOW OLD????"
I had the best time last night because I got to be surrounded by the kids. It seems like wherever I sit it ends up being the kids table. I can't even pretend that it bothers me... I mean... I'm the cool aunt and my kid always chooses to sit beside me... so I can't complain. Although, to be honest, my kid sits beside me because he knows I can't eat restaurant portions and he likes to be close enough to "help me finish". It goes both ways... he had a sushi roll that was called a bagel roll that had salmon and cream cheese and a crispy layer... and I snagged a bite or two. I left his octopus alone. Not a fan.

Pain wise - I took a percocet so... it wasn't pain free but it wasn't miserable either. There's a lot of stuff I could do if I was willing to take a lot more drugs but... it's a balancing act. I wasn't driving or drinking or making any legal decisions so it was ok to go out "under the influence". The sad truth is that it doesn't really alter me. If anything, when the pain is eased up, I feel like I can think more clearly. I won't drive under the influence of pain meds but... it's a shame there's not a way to make the pain go away AND be able to function at the same time. It's rare that I HAVE to go out to eat and I certainly can't afford to treat myself to a nice meal out. We have a lot of great meals here at the house - and all of us can cook - so it's not like we ever HAVE to go out to eat to have a decent meal. But it's nice every now and then. I appreciated having my family gathered around.

My sister-in-law the air drummer - she's actually a real drummer, too.
Poor Austin entered the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes this year and has been getting tons of spam mail from them telling him that these things will "improve" his chances at winning. He has been diligently responding to all of these emails and really believed that he had a very good chance of winning. The announcement was supposed to be today - although it seems like they have other times of the year they do it? Right? For the past month he has been talking about how he will spend the money. He even set his alarm this morning so he could be awake and dressed if they came here. I never want to be a dream buster but you always want to help your kids be realistic about things. I told him many times that it wasn't likely to happen and his answer was always, "but it COULD happen" and you can't argue with that. Since they didn't show up in the driveway today with his roses and the big fake check, I think he's a little disappointed. He also burned his hand cooking dinner so he's uncomfortable from that, too.

My nieces and I watched The Muppet Movie (the 2011 version) yesterday and today and they had to leave this afternoon with only 2 minutes and 49 seconds to go but they want me to wait to watch the end with them. They have seen it before - they want to see my reaction to the end. Jamie is LOVING the plush rug that Cody and Marquee got me for my birthday and spent her afternoon making handprints and playing tic tac toe in the rug drinking her hot chocolate that Mawmaw made her. We love spoiling them when they're here.

Depressed Dachshund - Mawmaw and Pop left him for a little while
I've had a bit of birthday whiplash today. I'm dragging. I was badly out of breath this morning but determined to accomplish the only two tasks that I HAD to do today early on. The humidity is high so it took twice as long to straighten my hair and it didn't work. I'm still a frizzy mess. I'm not in absolute misery but I don't feel great either. Somehow, though, hurting after a few good days is less frustrating than hurting for no good reason. I'm gonna float on that for awhile.

That's about all for today! Happy Wednesday, y'all!

"Cody Special" fried rice... too hot with a little drama!

Being goofy with the kid

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Growing Older

A birthday many years ago... not sure if it was mine. 
I still remember... when thirty was old...
Who can name that tune? Hint: it's my karaoke standard.
Forty-six doesn't feel old. It just doesn't.
Or, actually, I feel old all the time, much older than my chronological age.
Today doesn't feel any worse.
I could pontificate further but I think it just is what it is. No age is bad because it beats the alternative.
I'm still on the right side of the dirt.

Pop made wild rice and mushroom soup for lunch. It was fabulous. I had two bowls.
I tossed in some fresh spinach that was picked this morning. It had a great, miso feel to it.

Tonight we're having Thai food.
I hardly ever go out to a restaurant because it just hurts too much.
Today is not a pain free day so far, what with the unstable weather and all.
I was awake at 3am aching from head to toe. My pinkies even hurt.
Killing the spider that had camped out on the toilet paper didn't help. I was all wound up.
I laid down on the couch and watched the weather channel until I fell back asleep.
My desire for thai food has to exceed my desire to be pain free.

Tomorrow I will crash.
After I stop by to renew my food stamps and go to the library to renew my books and go to the grocery store.
Then I will crash and not move again until my next birthday.
Assuming I can still move on my next birthday.

I'm really proud of Jessica Simpson. She's really lost a lot of weight and appears to have done it the right way. She's on tv a lot during the day.

Austin and I ran to the store to pick up some conditioner because I have squeezed every last drop out of the bottle I have.
Before we got to the main road a lizard poked his head out from under my hood and climbed up onto my windshield wiper.
At the stop sign Austin got out and tried to relocate him. He ducked back under the hood.
I thought he would be dead before we got back home but he hung on.
He climbed out when we got back home.
He was just along for the ride.
Austin insisted we name him... any creature that determined deserves a name.
We named him Larry.
Larry the Lizard.

When Oscar the dachshund gets to go with my parents they tell him he's a "Go Dog". When he has to stay at home he's a "Stay Dog".
Pop said Larry was a "Go Lizard".
Maybe you had to be there.

Grey's Anatomy starts over again in daytime syndication today.
I can't remember if this is the third or fourth rotation since we've been up here.
Fortunately my memory is so bad that I forget what happened half the time, even though I've already seen it.

And that's about it...
Birthday pictures tomorrow unless the weather makes my hair so frizzy that I'm embarrassed to show it.
Love and hugs, y'all.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Backyard

 I can't think of the word "backyard" without thinking of the adorable video of my niece Jamie singing the theme to the Backyardigans when she was about three years old. It's on my Facebook if you haven't seen it. Super cute!

Last night I changed into my jammies around 7pm and decided to take a tour of the backyard while the sun wasn't bright overhead. We wander around in the backyard in our sleeping clothes because... well, other than Google Earth nobody can really see back there. I mean, there's a view from across the lake but those folks are weekenders and hardly ever out there. And my jammies aren't too different from my normal daily wear anyways.

A new shipment of plants came the other day so there's a lot of new stuff in the yard. Austin spends a lot of time helping in the yard and he is always willing to give an official garden tour. When he saw me out back with my camera he was glad to show me around.

It's a huge relief for me. Last year was a constant battle to get him to help with the yard work. The only thing he hated more than yard work was being reminded to do yard work. Fortunately this year he's shown a much greater interest and has been much more cooperative.
 Despite my Southern heritage, I'm not one of those Southern women who can grow stuff in the dirt. Whatever the opposite of green thumb is - black thumb, maybe? - that's what I've got. And of course my inability to bend over without pain hampers things... but I definitely appreciate the amount of effort my parents and my kid have put into the backyard. I love the stuff that comes out of the garden and I really love the view from my nest.

No matter how yucky I feel, at least once a day I go out on the back porch and just take it all in. Little Kitty loves for me to hold him and carry him outside with me. I don't let him down because I'm afraid he'll run off but he loves to be outdoors. During the day he spends a lot of time in the screened porch or on the shelf by the back door where he can see outside.
 My parents have always had a fairly well tended yard. Cody said that some tulips bloomed this Spring at the house in Riverdale - bulbs that had been planted several years ago and never came up! They were mine originally, so, go figure. Black thumb strikes again. There were fruit trees in the backyard there that I don't remember ever doing much, probably because of the dogs and the kids and so forth. There were roses along the fence that my parents transplanted up here - and all but one looks to have survived the trip. The yard there was 75 feet by 200 feet - this yard is much, much larger.
 I don't remember exactly what these things are... they're planted along the wood line. Hopefully the deer will leave them alone. They tend to congregate by the woods, which are fairly dense on both sides of the backyard. I can't tell what kind of landscaping has been done next door but they do have some really pretty red azaleas that are blooming. I tried to capture them in pixels but you can't see them that well. I'm reluctant to violate their privacy as they seem to be a little ... um... weird. Austin says they grow their own marijuana but that is entirely his conjecture, not based on any evidence. If they do, they're really dumb since the county sheriff lives on the other side of the lake.
You can just barely see a little dot of red in this photo...
 What I'm enjoying right now is the various shades of green. It seems like in the Summer it's all the same color. In the Winter it's all brown except for the pines. In the Fall we get some color but somehow this seems more intense than even the Fall colors. You can see our little dock with the tiki hut and the across the lake neighbors. They are weekenders and usually only come up on holiday weekends.
 This gives a better idea of the scope and slope of our backyard. I'm close to the wood line on one side. Austin is standing in front of my sliding glass door. The two raised garden beds are across the yard from me. Sarabeth sets her driving range up at the top of the hill, just right off the bottom patio. My porch swing is closer to the raised bed gardens. I can sit in the swing and supervise the backyard activity. We also have two rocking chairs back there. We have to be alert in the area under the screened porch because Lily, our old dog, is fairly incontinent and if she doesn't think she can wait for someone to let her out to the Poop Pen in front of the house, she just pees on the back porch. A couple of times a day Mom dumps soapy water down there to clean it. If the pee doesn't get you, the shower will.

Mom and Dad ordered a peach tree and I requested a fig tree. I got a fig bush. I don't care, as long as it puts out figs at some point in my lifetime. Right now it's a tiny twig, so small that you can't even see it at this angle. It's planted right beside the shed, right outside my door. I can taste the broiled figs with goat cheese.... mmmm! One day. Before I die. Last Summer I didn't track down any fresh figs and I'm determined not to let that happen again. With all the rain and the really poor growing season nobody every got them in.
 With our access to the backyard we tend to accumulate necessities for wandering outdoors. Right inside the sliding glass doors are several pair of my shoes - crocs and other slip ons - and several pair of my moms. If she forgets hers she borrows my crocs - even though her feet are two sizes larger (snicker). It's the only thing small on me - my feet! I also keep a sweater there to grab on the way out when it's chilly. Mom collects walking sticks to aid in going up and down the hill to the dock. Eventually there will be some kind of established walkway that will be easier for old folks.
I love how green everything is right outside my back door. There are a few bulbs that were transplanted that seem to be struggling but several plants - like the rosemary and parsley - that are doing really well. Last night was overcast so things seemed even greener.
 These are some of the roses transplanted from down south.
 My favorite thing out of the garden so far this year has been radishes. Pop planted some more in the smaller raised bed garden and they're already sprouting.
 One of the plants we ordered was a chinese lantern plant. I've never seen one before but Austin was really interested in them. So far it's just a little sprout.
 Little Kitty was in the screened porch while I was outside. He hardly ever meows loud enough to be heard but he was frustrated that his mommy was outside without him and put up quite a fuss. He couldn't figure out how to get to me from up there.
 Still April and we already have a lot of stuff growing!
 cabbage and pole beans
 More of the beautiful palette of greens in the backyard... this is from the other side of the yard.

Hope you enjoyed the tour of the backyard. Stick around... it changes every day! We're expecting strong storms and heavy rain over the next few days. I'm hoping there won't be water in the basement... but at least I'm in the safest part of the house if we do get a bad storm! There was a big pine down up the street yesterday. I've got a feeling that we're going to see some trees down somewhere up here... I just hope we don't get any tornadic activity.

And that's about it for today... love and hugs, y'all!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Birthday and Other Stuff

Yesterday the family *surprised* me with a birthday cookout including some of my favorite people on Earth... Cody and Marquee, Jim and Angie, Sarabeth and Jamie, mom and dad and Austin and my granddoggie Sammy. It was a *surprise* because my mother is the worst at keeping secrets. She can't help but drop hints and I'm fairly sharp. By the fourth or fifth time she mentioned missing Sammy and Cody and Marquee I caught on... actually, I caught on last weekend when Cody called and mom asked dad "what are we doing next weekend?" and then I overheard her mentioning things that I wanted for my birthday. So, yeah. Not a surprise but still fun.

Alice Clow and William Judson Pennington, 1905
My Grandma Pennington, may she rest in peace, was not really known for her cooking skills. Truthfully, I believe she was so poor for much of her life and probably not a little bit overwhelmed trying to feed seven kids that she didn't really have time for her culinary skills to evolve. However she did make a really good rhubarb pie and that's what I would ask for every year for my birthday. If you're not familiar with it... rhubarb is a reddish stalk that looks sort of like red celery. It has a sour flavor and is really best when paired with another fruit. When it's cooked it looks sort of like snot but trust me, it makes a really good pie. Grandma told me that her mother-in-law had rhubarb growing in her front yard, lining the way to the house. I don't know if we have my great-grandmother  Alice Clow Pennington to thank for my love of rhubarb pie but regardless, it's my favorite way to celebrate a birthday. (Followed closely by Purple Michael's carrot cake with cream cheese frosting).

So we had grilled hamburgers and hot dogs with chips and then rhubarb pie and jello cake for dessert. It was the kind of mild, sunny Spring day where you get a little bit pink without realizing you've been in the sun too long. Sarabeth hit golf balls toward the lake and Jamie enjoyed loving on the doggies (to whom she is highly allergic). I'm always grateful that my kids are willing to travel to see me especially since traveling is not my forte at the present time. Cody and Marquee got me a plush rug to go in my living room - this being a basement the floor always feels cool, even with carpet and I wanted a little comfy island to go beside the stone hearth.

The last of my new Spring dresses arrived in the mail giving me three new dresses and two new skirts to get through the warm weather. One sundress needed taking up in the straps. I'm not a great seamstress but I can make little adjustments so I worked on that this morning while watching PBS. It's a PBS watching day for me - two documentaries on Queen Victoria's children and a few episodes of Downton Abbey.

Mom, Dad and Austin are out planting today. Next weekend the homeowners association is having a work day and Austin is going to let the neighbors know that he's available to help in their yards. He's learned a lot this Spring working with his grandparents outdoors. I should have known that his being a Pigpen, not afraid of getting dirty, would have some benefit. His buddies have all been busy with jobs and babies lately and he's been sort of lonely. I feel bad for him but also know that this is part of life. Maybe it will encourage him to chart his own path in the world the way his friends have done. In the meantime, it's good that he's willing to help outside.

More pictures from yesterday...
long narrow box that one of our new fruit trees was shipped in... it's a great kitty hideout. Little Kitty and Sammy love to chase one another and yesterday Kitty confused Sammy by disappearing and coming out on the other side of the box. I could amuse myself for hours watching them.

Eddie cat sunning himself yesterday morning. We get a nice patch of sunshine around 9am and the cats rather enjoy it.

She has to be really careful around dogs because of her allergies but Jamie loves the pups. She was cracking up because Sammy likes to clean Lily's ears... imagine a little dachshund jumping up to reach a big dog's ears.

Cody, Marquee and Jamie

Bethy is training to be the next... gosh, I can't think of a single female golfer... shows how much I know about the sport. At any rate... she's got a really strong swing. She's working on connecting with the ball better but her cousin Auggie was doing everything he could to distract her yesterday. Her dad was the first one to hit a practice ball into the lake but Sarabeth came close, even with the wiffle balls that she uses. Jamie will hit a few every now and then but it's not her thing. Sarabeth is also doing great at basketball. She got 8 points in her game last week (out of 22 for the team) and Jamie got 6 in her game.

Jamie asked if she could put whipped cream on my nose (it's what they do at the local Mexican restaurants). I said, "sure" because I couldn't think of any reason not to and she really thought it was funny.

That's my birthweek thus far... Tuesday is my actual birthday and we're planning to go to the Thai restaurant that I mentioned the other day. Very excited about having Thai food! 

Hope you're having a great weekend! Love and hugs, y'all!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Road Trippin'

Little Kitty demanded that I get up at 7:00 this morning. All those years I had kids and a job and responsibilities that meant that I had to get up a few hours before dawn to have any time to myself... and now I can sleep as long as I want and my CAT won't let me. Yeah, I could shut the door and not let him in but he's so sweet sleeping next to me. Even though I would have loved a little more sleep, it's really better not to get in the habit of sleeping the day away. On the flip side, he always gets pushy once it's time to go to bed at night. I don't need a clock.

The other day when I went to the doctor my drive home was an absolute delight. The wisteria is in bloom and the air smelled so sweet (except where farmers have fertilized their fields - manure does NOT smell sweet)... it was truly a tonic for me. Again on the next day when my mom and I ran a few errands - Spring is everywhere and it's a pleasure to be out and about. So yesterday when the sun was out and I was feeling really, really sluggish, I thought a little trip to town might do me well. And although I didn't feel great and I didn't go far or do much, it was good to get out.

As most of you know, we live just a few miles from Helen, Georgia, a little tourist town in the Northeast Georgia mountains. It's designed to be Bavarian with lots of "alpine" and "mountain" in the names of businesses. The roads are "strauss" instead of "street" and it's kitschy and touristy and for most of the year we avoid the heart of town because of the traffic and the tourists. Not that we don't love tourists - we appreciate your patronage that helps plump up the tax base around here - but they do tend to drive slow and walk slow and wander randomly into traffic. It's still fairly slow around here so Austin and I rode into Helen and went to visit Betty's Country Store

I've blogged about Betty's before... it's a small little IGA (Independent Grocers Association, I think?) that has a big selection of odds and ends and unusual items. I picked up three candy sticks - for twenty cents each - and Austin got a coke. We spent maybe fifteen minutes in there but it was a nice diversion and since it's off-season we could actually park right in front - in my standard Princess Parking spot. There's only one there, I think, and I've never been able to access it before.

Other than the fact that I've been through Helen a gazillion times and am not in the market for a beer stein or a quilt or other overpriced tourist items, the parking is the biggest reason we avoid town. There are a few places you can park without paying - not a lot but a few - but there are hardly any handicapped places. By the time I walk to town from my parking place, I'm in pain. So I don't go often. If you stay toward the south end of town and on the back road (Edelweiss Strauss) (I'm not joking) and it's not a busy weekend you can park near the Dollar General or La Cabana and a few other places but by and large, there's rarely a good reason for me to go to Helen. There is a newish Thai place that I'm dying to try but by my disposable income is non-existent and it's pricey. I'm thinking of just grabbing some basil rolls for takeout and having a picnic beside the river one day before it gets too hot.

At any rate, I'm determined to get out of the house more because it does give me a huge boost of happy even when I'm not feeling great. It's a shame to live in such a beautiful place and not take advantage of it more than I do.

And then there are days like today where it feels like I have lead weights attached to my ankles and every step is an ordeal... which makes me realize that on the days I CAN, I absolutely SHOULD. It's going to be really hard this Summer while my nieces are away at church camp and music camp and basketball camp and vacation because they motivate me to get up and out of my routine while they're here. Maybe I should have an Aunt Heather Camp so they'll hang out with me?

I am now three days Debbie free - yesterday I had raisin bran with a few walnuts tossed in for breakfast - and a few black grapes, a yummy salad (greens topped with egg salad, sunflower seeds and cheese) for lunch... these really awesome pita crisps with hummus for a snack and then pizza from Papa's for dinner. The pizza wasn't exactly diet friendly but I felt better about eating it knowing that I had come close to getting in the recommended produce servings for the day. I also had a ice cream bar while watching Grey's Anatomy.

Can I just say how frustrated I am with Grey's? They've had this big "Farewell to Christina" push all month and then last night was NOT her last night because they showed the preview for next week and she's in that too. I was all prepared to say farewell and had gone through my grieving over her story line coming to an end. They shouldn't toy with our emotions like that!

Anyways... the weekend is here and even though I don't have the huge excitement that I USED to have about Fridays, I'm still happy for those of you who look forward to and need the break! Happy weekend, love and hugs, y'all!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kicking Debbie To The Curb

My snack basket. Minus the perishables. 
Yesterday while I was at the doctor the nurse called me back and asked me to get on the scale. I joked, "you know... you're supposed to take my blood pressure first before you get my weight, otherwise the number on the scale makes the blood pressure go up..." She laughed. All 88 pounds soaking wet of her. The number wasn't a huge surprise and I didn't *really* get stressed out by it. I don't LIKE it but in the grand scheme of things being overweight/obese/freak show fat is just a small part of the problem.

The really weird thing is that I like good food. Not greasy food. Not fattening food. I much prefer clean eating. Given the choice I'd much rather have a bunch of grapes or some sliced radish than a Little Debbie any day. The problem is that Little Debbie is just so gosh darn shelf stable and available. She's easy. She doesn't require a trip to the store every couple of days or a trip upstairs to the fridge. It's ironic,  isn't it, that eating food that doesn't ever deteriorate advances the deterioration of our health?

Easter corsage in a teacup because... why not?
I'm not in the position to get back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon. I'm taking some meds that are contrary to weight loss and there's just no way to justify an expensive program in which I can't really succeed. I can't exercise, other than maybe swimming or walking really, really slowly for very short distances. Even though there's a lake right outside my door, I don't trust what lies beneath the surface. I'm not big on swimming with snakes and frogs and fish and... who knows what else. I stretch a little here and there but I pay a huge price for it. Seriously I'm handicapped in what I can do toward hard core weight loss but I CAN make better choices without suffering.

Austin's flip flop holder. He made it himself. 
So I've broken up with Little Debbie. I'm giving up my juice addiction and filling my big sippie cup with ice water instead. I'm investing in some foods that aren't shelf stable and trying not to eat foods with words I can't pronounce. I'm not weighing in but I'll be able to tell if stuff fits better. At the end of the day the number on the scale doesn't matter as much as how I feel. I can't fix my back but I can reduce the demands I'm making on it. I'm significantly heavier than I was when my back first started giving me trouble. That just doesn't make sense. Something doesn't work right so you ask it to do more.

For dinner tonight Austin made macaroni and cheese steak. He mixed in steakums with regular boxed macaroni and cheese. It tastes better than you might think. I tossed in some freshly picked spinach from the garden for a little green something-something. If I could get my recommended servings of fruits and veggies in every day I wouldn't have as much room for the bad stuff. I'd have no trouble kicking Debbie to the curb. Lunch today was salad with spring greens with fixins from the salad bar at Ingles. Snack time was pita crisps with carrots and hummus. Breakfast was a solitary fig newton. I know. Not a great breakfast. Mom and I had some errands to run in town so I just ate enough to give the pills a place to land without eating a hole through my stomach.

I went to the library today and picked up three new books: one about Ruth Graham (Billy Graham's wife), one written by the girl who was having an affair with Scott Peterson at the time he murdered his wife and one about backstage at The Grand Ole Opry. I'm still working on Arnold Palmer's autobiography but every time I lay down in bed to read Little Kitty plants his furry butt right smack in the middle of it. Also, there's been a lot of good stuff on tv this week so I haven't read as much as usual. I still read several hours a day and I read ridiculously fast.

There's lots of biological stuff going on outside. I'll wander out there and snap some photos tomorrow. My trusty digi-cam is working again. I don't know how or why but I'll take it. Mom planted a new tree today so there's lots of good stuff to see! There's also a huge box that the tree came in for the kitties to play in. I'm telling you... never a dull moment here!

My favoritest blog mommy ever, Grace of Camp Patton delivered her fourth little bundle of joy this morning. I'm totally smitten (via blog reading) with baby Phoebe Anika and can't wait to watch her grow. Grace has Julia who is 3 1/2, Sebastian who is 2 1/2, Theo who is sixteen months old and newborn Phoebe. That kind of line up provides endless blog hilarity! Oh, and the baby daddy is an Ob/Gyn resident so four kids, frequently on her lonesome makes Grace a funny camper. They're just a sweet, very real family and if you need a giggle, check out her posts about the things that Julia says.

Not Phoebe
Austin's friend Fat Pat brought his little boy over to visit last weekend. He was such a cutiepatootie, even if he did put up a fuss when we pulled him out of his carseat. Pat's stepfather won $500 on a scratch off ticket two weeks ago. He bought another one with the money and won $1000 which had to be redeemed at Lottery Headquarters. On his way he bought ANOTHER scratch off and won $340,000! These people really have had a hard time financially. They work as painters and handymen and sometimes have a hard time finding work. With the money they won they were able to buy new vehicles and pass down their vehicle to Pat and his baby mama. He was driving an old pick up truck that hardly ran and was a big gas guzzler. They also bought a new double wide for Pat and his baby mama (and her grandma) to live in... Pat spent most of last Summer crashing with us because he didn't have anywhere to live. I'm not a big fan of the lottery because to me it seems like a stupid tax - no offense. It's just that the people who spend a lot of money on it are usually the people who can't least afford to waste it. It's nice to see some good come from it. Bless his little heart!

I guess that's about all the news that's fit to share today and some that wasn't. Can't believe we're midweek already and six short days away from the anniversary of my birth! Happy 450th birthday to William Shakespeare and Happy Wednesday to you! Love and hugs, y'all!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Tuesday

I'm in a bit of a fog thanks to a head cold/allergies (not sure which) that has me spinnin'.  My niece Jamie was miserable yesterday because of (I think) the pollen. She laid down on the ottoman in front of the tv with a roll of toilet paper and just kept wiping her nose over and over and over. I said, "do you know who else had bad allergies?" she said, "Marquee!" Yes. Her cousin-in-law has to buy tissue by the case.

Today I went to the free clinic. The good news is that they can monitor my blood pressure and COPD and prescribe meds as needed. The bad news is that they don't have the resources to do the full workup that I need to diagnose and treat the "evil gut pain".

It was very telling that the parking lot in front of the free clinic was packed and the parking lot at the nice, new doctors office building where my regular doctor is located was practically empty. Supposedly seven million people are now insured through Obamacare. Apparently not in White County, Georgia. To be fair, Georgia did not expand Medicaid which could have helped a lot of people like me but... I'm not sure that Medicaid expansion is the answer.

My nurse at the clinic has some similar back problems to mine so she was sympathetic to my pain. She was also sympathetic about the cost of the pain doctor. She told me that her lab charges are over $2000 per visit. LAB CHARGES! Say what you will about the insurance industry being evil... how can a blood screening cost that much? Between big pharm and the cost of providing medical care (that gets passed along to consumers) ... our health care delivery system is screwed up in this country. Insurance premiums are high for a reason.

My blood work from last week wasn't great and most of it was expected... you know, the whole cholesterol thing. I've got a new (cheap) med to help with that. My liver enzymes were elevated which could be because of the pain meds or it could be from being overweight or it could be related to the evil gut pain. They'll repeat labs in a month for comparison and go from there.

Ironically the doctor that was volunteering at the free clinic was the same doctor my parents paid to see this morning at his office. Small town life.

We had a little scare Sunday night with Little Kitty. Grandma had given my mom a shamrock plant and Little Kitty made a snack of it. It turns out that it can be dangerous to pets. After consulting Dr. Google and doing more research than I ever thought about doing on plants that are poisonous to pets, I got an idea of what to watch for. Other than being a little more affectionate than usual, he seems to have been unaffected. Curiosity didn't kill the cat this time, thank the Lord. Trust me, many prayers were sent up about my little friend. I don't know what I'd do without him.

New mind candy on tv tonight - True Tori. I know it's complete junk but there's a part of my heart that can't help but feel bad for women whose husbands cheat. Granted... every woman should know that what he does WITH you, he will do TO you... and Tori started out as the other woman... but man... he's a dog. A low-down-dirty dog. I'm hoping the therapist rips him apart.

I'm also enjoying Chrisley Knows Best about the Atlanta family of a millionaire patriarch. News reports suggest that he isn't as wealthy as the show makes him out to be but the family interaction is fun to watch. Southern families are funny, whether or not they have money. Families with a lot of kids are funny (to me) and they have five. Trust me, the dynamic between that many moving parts is interesting.

I'm having a great time following Will and Kate's tour of New Zealand and Australia. I think Prince George is hilariously adorable and they seem like great parents.

I'm bummed that this week will be the last one for Christina on Grey's Anatomy. It won't be the same without her.

And... I guess that's about it for now. Love and hugs, y'all.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter 2014

Happy Easter, y'all! I hope that in addition to the peeps and the chocolate bunnies that this weekend has been a time of appreciation for the hope that is offered by Spring... and by the Savior that we remember today.

We've had a full weekend of family, food and those sort of fun things.

Pop sprung Grandma from the "home" (the assisted living place where she now lives) and she was able to spend the weekend with us. I think she enjoyed herself and we are always grateful that she is still with us.

Last night Jim, Angie and the girls along with Angie's mom Trudy came for dinner. The girls and I dyed Easter eggs and had a really good time visiting. This morning my mom said she felt bad because I didn't have dinner at the table with the adults. I ate out on the screened porch with Jamie and we had a great time. Given the choice I'll always pick the kids table!

Dying eggs with girls is very different from dying eggs with boys. They didn't realize until last night that you could dip the eggs in every color and come up with a swamp grey looking egg. Then eventually we poured all the dye into the same pot. I waxed a little MacBeth, "bubble bubble toil and trouble..." and Sarabeth pronounced the pot our "cauldron of dye".  I told her it was ok to dip the eggs in with her fingers and she had a great time getting her "Easter Egg manicure". I think that's the biggest difference between boys and girls: with girls you have to give them permission to make a mess, with boys you have to convince them it's ok to occasionally be clean.

Austin couldn't resist making us a nervous wreck by juggling the eggs. He's actually very good at juggling which is hugely ironic considering that his poor small motor skills give him the handwriting of a six year old. He can juggle three things in one hand and even though he didn't drop an egg, I wanted to knock him over the head for stressing me out.

The girls and I decided that we would employ the whole WWJD - what would Jesus do - mentality with Austin. If they ask themselves, "What Would Austin Do" and do the opposite, they'll be fine. Austin objected with a few examples of things that he does that they could imitate but by and large agreed with the premise.

I told the girls that they were going to have to watch over Austin after I'm gone. They both said in unison that I was going to have to live for a long, long time! Jamie said, "Aunt Heather, please don't die... ever!" But they love their cousin Auggie and giggle like crazy at the things he does... like throw a hard boiled egg off the back porch. Little girls miss out on how insane boys can be when they don't have a brother.

Pop is starting to teach the girls how to play golf and they had a little practice green set up in the backyard. I told them that GOLF stands for "gentlemen only, ladies forbidden" which is true - that's where they came up with the name for the game. A little while later when Austin tried to join in on the fun Sarabeth told him they were playing LOGF - "ladies only, gentlemen forbidden". Ha! They're witty ones.

I don't think I've had five minutes pain free all weekend. I've got the evil gut pain on the left and my right hip is inflamed, which is new. Normally I can ease the pain on the left by laying on my right side but right now that's even worse. It's exhausting and frustrating. At least the damp weather cleared up, that helps. I still had to really push myself to be sociable. It was definitely easier to be out back with the girls, moving around a lot rather than getting stiff and sore. Pop got all the ladies a corsage to wear to church today and I had hopes of going but before I even opened my eyes this morning I knew that sitting in a regular chair for even just a few minutes wasn't going to be possible. I'm so relieved to be going to the doctor on Tuesday, hoping to get to the bottom of a few of these pains that are "outside" of my known diagnosis'.

Pop took Mom and Grandma to our church and then slipped out to go up the road and sing at the Presbyterian church. He has been going to help with worship services at the local nursing home (assisted living facility, whatever) and someone heard him sing there and asked him to sing at their Easter service. He sang and then went back to our church for the rest of the service. Both churches are in "downtown" Helen and even with the holiday tourist season hasn't really swung into full gear yet so it was easy to get back and forth.

Now my parents are on the way to take Grandma back home and Austin is babysitting the dogs so it's just me and the kitties enjoying a quiet afternoon. Life is good.

Wishing you lots of love and hugs! A few more photos.....