My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Throwback Thursday - May 31st

As usual I'm using Throwback Thursday to look back over this day in the history of my blog. You can click the enclosed links to read the actual blog post if you like. I really enjoy them and I hope you will too!

The most recent May 31st blog entry was 31-derful things about May back in 2013. The whole post is worth a re-read if you have the time, just click the link here. I'll repost the last thing because it is especially poignant to me:

31. I think that in the future I will look back on this season of life... as a 45 year old single, empty nested woman, living in her parents' basement/converted garage, wearing the same maxi-dress and hoodie and the side braid that seems to be my go-to hairstyle lately... and I will treasure these days. Despite the uncertainty of the disability thing, despite the pain, despite the whole hermit lifestyle, for some reason, these really feel like good ole days.

And they truly were.

In 2012, things were a little less settled for me. I was making the move back to Riverdale, to my parents' house and trying to find a job with just enough hours for me to get by financially. You can click here to read the whole blog but the part that is particularly interesting for me to read, six years later is

What I want is my little cabin in the woods and a job that will allow me the right salary that will allow me to work the kind of hours that my back can sustain and ... well, that's not gonna happen... so I'm just thankful for the right kind of job (lord willing) with the right number of hours... with the right amount of responsibility that will allow me to be around people I love, have the respect that comes from gainful employment but not PAINful employment.

Yep. I did find that perfect job but what I gained most from that job was the understanding that even in the most supportive employment environment, I was no longer going to be able to stay gainfully employed. They were so kind to me and allowed enormous flexibility but I found that even just an hour or two of sitting was more than my back could take. Even now... when I find myself at dinner that runs a bit long... or a social engagement that doesn't allow me to sit as comfortably as necessary, I still end up in a lot of pain.

In May of 2011, I was about four months into the struggle with back pain. I was still trying very desperately to work full time and keep our little household running so that Austin could finish school in White County. The pain and fatigue were overwhelming but I still kept getting up every day and trying. I really admire that girl from seven years ago. So much uncertainty ahead. I'm not sure I could have handled the truth of what was coming but I know that in those days of struggle, things were lining up just as they were supposed to be. I was supposed to stop working, move in with my parents and spend some precious, precious time with my mom. I was meant to be in that place, in that season of life so that I could be with her at the end. I'm ok with how things went, even though it was really hard at the time. I said in that blog that:

You can like the life you're living or you can live the life you like. I think I do the first one. I could change a lot of things... if I wanted... but there are a lot of things I can't change and I don't stress over them too much.

I just kept living and eventually, things sorted out the way they were supposed to be. You can click this link here to read my blog entry from this day in 2011.

My blog post from 2009 is here... it was a weekend recap from the weekend that my sister-in-law, Angie, threw her parents a 40th anniversary party. We didn't know then how soon her dad would be taken from us and so ... in retrospect... I'm glad they had such a wonderful party. I guess that's the biggest lesson I learn in these throwback blogs... how very precious these little events in life will be for us one day. Yes, we appreciate them in the moment but I think we appreciate them so much more when we look back.

That's all I have for this day in blog history. I hope you enjoyed this little trip back in time. Thanks for taking the journey with me! Love and hugs, y'all!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Pain Doctor Visit and Other Current Events

Today was my pain doctor visit. I see him every other month. It's crazy... I've been going to him for over 7 years now. I joked with the receptionist today that I'm an OG (Original Girl). I don't love going. I don't love the expense, for sure but it definitely helps me to check in frequently and know that my pain is legitimate and normal (for me, with my diagnosis'). I generally see the PA, who I adore for all visits except for once or twice a year and then he consults with the doctor before I leave. I thought it might be helpful to start recapping these visits again so I can remember my progress (not sure that's the right word) and for those who may have similar situations to know what my experience has been for comparison.

My list of diagnosis' is in the sidebar. There's a lot of stuff wrong with my back, nerve damage, migraines, Fibromyalgia and something of an autoimmune nature that we have yet to specifically isolate. I'm on several medications to help with pain although I am hesitant to list them so as not to be at risk for drug seekers. I do have a narcotic agreement with the pain doctor that requires me to submit to a urine screening at each visit... so that's always the first step once the nurse calls you back. Sometimes they will want to do a pill check which involves me bringing in all of the meds I take for anything - including advil - to be reviewed and listed. This time they did not ask me to do a pill check. Some pain doctors will call you randomly at any time and ask you to come in within a certain amount of time for a pill count. This will usually happen if someone appears to be taking medicines inappropriately or perhaps if a medicine they are prescribed does not show up in their screening. That urine screening is so sensitive that mine got flagged once for ibuprofen use... which is something that is approved for me to take but it wasn't listed at that time. It is a bit intimidating to know that anything I consume could come into question but if the alternative is living with pain, so be it. Truly, if ever pain medication were to stop being available to me, I would start using marijuana, whether or not it was legal. It becomes a quality of life issue.

After the nurse reviews your medicines, she will check vitals. My blood pressure today was 156/96 the first time... she did a recheck but I don't remember what that one was. I am on three blood pressure meds and other than yesterday (which I spent with Cosy) I had been resting almost nonstop since last Thursday night. It's frustrating and concerning to me that it's remaining high... however... it's a very clear indication that I'm in pain and ... although I would love to not have to be concerned about high blood pressure, I appreciate the validation so... yeah, high five, high bp! Way to represent! My heart rate was also high but.. that's not uncommon as I also have tachycardia. The cardiologist has already determined that my heart beats fast but in a healthy pattern so... that's ok.

After vitals, the nurse will go over your intake forms - a little questionnaire that you get from the receptionist when you check in. Basically it asks you to rate your pain on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain you've ever felt in your life. I don't do well with this scale because I rated it really high in the beginning because it was, literally, the worst pain ever but... it's gotten worse so...? It asks specific questions about what hurts, has your pain changed, is it getting better or worse and so forth. These forms are extremely important when you apply for disability!!! Fortunately for me, I am naturally articulate and my medical records helped win my disability case. I make sure that I always fill those forms out as completely as I can and don't cut corners or downplay things. At the pain doctor it's ok to be a whiner. You pay him to listen to you whine. It helps him know how to treat your pain.

Once the nurse has reviewed everything, the PA - we call him Dr. Matt - comes in to chat. He is the one who will go over any new pain, worsening pain, problems, side effects from meds... basically anything going on with me pain wise. I have a good rapport with Matt and I trust him. Today he discussed my migraines and blood pressure and suggested that I see a neurologist. He has been referring me for a procedure where they squirt meds up your nose to help with migraines. I'm not necessarily opposed to it but... my co-pay isn't cheap and so I've been putting it off. I told him that I'm still not really set, budget wise, for that procedure but I will request a referral to a neurologist.

Although I see the pain doctor for pain... my migraines for some reason fall under treatment of my primary care doctor so I will need to request the neurology referral from him. As with anything else... I hate the process. I hate making an appointment, doing the whole new patient intake.. the cost involved... having to remember what all has been done over the course of time with each diagnosis. It's a lot and my memory is pretty poor lately. Anyways... once Matt and I have finished our chat, he will check to see which medications need refills and then he will go consult with the doctor to get those and see if he has any recommendations. Thing he brings out the prescriptions and walks me to the receptionist with my chart so that I can make my next appointment.

Honestly, most visits the entire process is less than twenty minutes from in the door to out the door. If I'm scheduling a procedure it takes a good bit longer as there is always a wait to see the lady who schedules those things. There's a bit more involved such as getting insurance approval and determining the co-pay (and she's a bit chatty). For each visit to the pain doctor Medicare is billed $800. The agreed rate is much cheaper but it's still a few hundred and it does occur to me that there is a financial incentive for the pain doctor to keep me dependent on his care. At the end of the day, he's in business for a financial gain. All that being said... he is the doctor who has been involved in my case the longest and I do trust him, as much as you can trust someone who makes money off of you. When I was waiting for my disability to be approved he gave me samples of a lot of my meds, saving me literally hundreds of dollars a month. He started very conservative with my care. His office worked very well with my disability attorney and all of that matters to me. Would it be wise to maybe see another doctor for a second opinion on things like... would surgery help, etc? Maybe. The doctor who performs surgery has a financial incentive to recommend surgery so... who do I trust? It's hard to know.

At any rate... doctor visit done and dusted, I headed south for my weekly date. My guy also had a doctor's appointment this morning so I dropped off prescriptions at the pharmacy near his house and then met him at his house to store my groceries (I always bring yogurt and powerade and something to eat for dinner when he's working) before heading back out to his doctor. His visit went better than mine, fortunately. I haven't asked if it's ok to share what his medical issue has been lately so I will just say that he has given me a big scare in the past month. I am definitely glad to see him on the mend. We went and picked up my prescriptions and then headed out for lunch.

We love going to a place called Rico's World Kitchen in Buford for lunch. You can click the link to check them out. They are pricey but they have lunch specials that are affordable and we have never had anything there that wasn't absolutely amazing! We ate outside today although it was a bit humid, it's quieter out on the patio. Marvin loves this place because he can get Cheerwine there... if you're not familiar, Cheerwine is a cola that tastes a bit like Dr. Pepper but better. It's native to North Carolina which is where he was born. I like it ok... but carbonated beverages don't sit well on my stomach so I usually just get tea. Today he had a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant and I had a cheeseburger. We both got the house made potato chips... they are really yummy... and we shared an appetizer of fried green tomatoes. We probably go to this place once a month or so together and he goes by himself every now and then as well.

Once we got settled in back at his house we started watching the Netflix series Altered Carbon. It's ... futuristic and science fiction-ish and... two episodes in, I'm invested in the plot but I don't love it. Then Marvin left for work ... and I had my usual Wednesday night soak in the bathtub and watched One Born Every Minute on my phone while I soaked in the tub. Tonight's bath bomb of choice was cherry blossom from Walmart. Not my favorite but at least there wasn't any glitter in this one. My back has been bothering me quite a bit today so the hot bath was nice. I carried Cosy up the stairs yesterday because she had a hurt toe - the tiniest little injury is a big deal when you're a three year old little girl and I'm a sucker for baby-ing her when she has a booboo. I even made a big deal of bandaging her toe. She calls bandages "bambages" which is freaking adorable! Anyways... I know better than to carry her ever, especially up stairs so, it's my own fault.

I guess the most prevalent current event today is this Roseanne Barr thing. From my point of view, it's not ok to call someone an ape. Name calling is never ok. I'm not ok with the name-calling of our President, even though he's not my favorite person and... he does a fair amount of name calling himself. Two wrongs don't make a right. Ambien will for real make you lose your filter but ambien doesn't make you racist. The real tragedy is the rest of the cast and crew who have lost their jobs and it makes me sad when anyone says or does something that will forever haunt them. This is a life changer for Roseanne. And that's all I have to say about that.

Anyways... that was my Wednesday. Marvin will be off work in about twenty minutes so I'll get this posted and get my laptop tucked away for the night so I can enjoy his company. I have another Throwback Thursday blog post ready for tomorrow... although y'all aren't seeming to love those so... I don't know if I'll keep posting them after this week. Let me know what you think! Love and hugs, y'all!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Alice Clow Pennington - Genealogy

Alice Susan Clow

BIRTH 25 NOV 1882  Bangor, Marshall, Iowa, USA

DEATH 16 AUG 1963  Siloam Springs, Benton, Arkansas, USA

This photo was probably taken in Iowa about 1882. The man is believed to be Ezra Clow who was born in Ontario and died in Oklahoma in 1907. The two girls and boys are his children from an earlier marriage. The lady holding the baby is Lidia Worden Clow, the current wife who died in 1931 and is the daughter of the older lady, Susannah Peet. Susannah is the widow of William Worden who enlisted in the Federal Army from Wisconsin and died at Rome, GA in 1864. The baby is my mom's paternal grandmother, Alice Clow Pennington (1882-1963). The young boy is Calvin Clow who was killed in WWI. 

When we remember our deceased military on Memorial Day, William Worden and Calvin Clow are two of many I think of...

Here is a picture of Ezra and Lidia Clow, Alice's parents, in later years:

Alice married William Judson Pennington in 1905, in Miller, Missouri.

Here is a photo of Alice and William that I believe was taken on their wedding day. 
The 1930 Census shows them living in Hurlbert, Oklahoma. It's a small town even today. The last census showed around 500 residents. The 1940 Census is almost identical. In both reports he was listed as the Proprietor of a Filling Station. I know from my Uncle that the Clow family ran a restaurant/grocery store and if I remember correctly, the filling station was at the same location. 

And here are Alice and William Pennington in later life... 

Alice and William had three children:

Clarence, born in 1908 - my grandfather, my mom's dad
Zelda, born in 1910
Clyde, born in 1914. 

I was born in 1968 so I never met Alice Clow Pennington. I don't remember any stories that my mom shared about her, except that they would travel as children to visit. Eventually I'd like to put together a list of family members in a nice, neat book of some sort to pass down to the generations that follow me. There are a lot of us so it will take awhile but... what better place to begin my compilation than here? Hope you enjoyed! 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend TV Viewing Recap - Girls Only Edition

Oh, what a blissful holiday weekend this has been for me! Y'all may get tired of hearing this but Austin being able to drive has CHANGED MY LIFE! Not only do I not have to take him to work but I can send him out to pick stuff up for me. Consequently, I have not left the house since Friday morning. It's glorious!

Because I have literally done nothing this weekend except watch tv and lounge about... there's nothing really interesting for me to share on my blog. Since I'm grasping at blog-writing straws, I thought it might be fun to look back over my recent television viewing history in case you're looking for something to watch - or something I would recommend you NOT watch. As always, I love suggestions about shows that you're enjoying so feel free to share those... and for the record, because this comes up every time I do a post like this, I have already watched Frankie and Grace, Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey. Bonus points for correctly choosing those as shows that I would enjoy watching because HECK YEAH!

Here are some things I've watched recently by myself - these are chick flick / girly / I'm just a geek programs.

Tulip Fever (movie from 2017) and because I watched that I fell down a rabbit hole of researching stuff on the bursting of the "tulip bubble" in the Netherlands in 1637. Yes, this was a major historical event. I watched two documentaries on Amazon Prime Video - Tulipmania and The Tulip Bubble.

I watched a documentary on Amazon Prime about West Point (the military school). That's the title of the documentary, by the way, West Point.

I started watching The Good Wife. I know a lot of people love it but I'm not really... I'm in maybe the tenth episode and... meh.

Every now and then Netflix or Amazon Prime will mess with me and suck me into a show that isn't in English. In that vein... I started watching 3rd Reich Mothers.... about women who were intentionally impregnated to breed for Germany during Hitler's reign and... then I realized it was in German. It had English subtitles but that's just too much work.

This weekend I have started about a dozen shows that didn't catch my interest. I may go back to them but... we'll see. Being Ginger was one. I started watching Band of Brothers and fell asleep. Monument Men - The Road to Rushmore... zzzzz.... Same with Eric Brown, A Pilot's Story. I'm going to feel really bad if someone google searches their show that they worked for years to develop and put out there and I'm categorizing it with ... too boring... my apologies to any film makers that I'm offending with this blog post. Honestly, what do I know?

Especially when you consider some of the shows that DID hold my interest... things like The Grange Fair - An American TraditionThe Tents (about the history of fashion week in NYC) Chicken People (about people who raise and show chickens), Men of the Cloth (documentary about tailors in New York City), Dealers Among Dealers (about the diamond trade), Inside Asprey: Luxury By Royal Appointment and lots and lots of episodes of Lock Up. Lock Up is my default program that I have playing at night while I'm sleeping.

I watched a documentary on World War I because, you know, Memorial Day. For giggles I watched Ali Wong's new Netflix special and Tig Notaro's comedy special. Both were edgy but funny.

West By Orphan Train was interesting. Did you know that for a period of about 75 years, kids from orphanages back East would be put on a train and sent to the West / Midwest to work on farms? The vetting process was random and not closely supervised and I just can't imagine what horror some kids must have faced.

I can still see some of the shows I watched last weekend... there was definitely a British Royalty theme at work:
Whatever Happened to The Windsors
Princes of the Palace
Prince Harry at 30
Fergie: Downfall of a Duchess
Princess Diana - A Life After Death
My Mother Diana - Prince William's Story of the Princess Diana

So... I know you're thinking I should probably get a hobby and you're probably right. There are a lot of days for me that pain makes it too hard to concentrate on anything like embroidery or genealogy and physically I just don't feel like moving. Laying still and half watching/half listening to the tv is about all I can manage at times and this weekend was one of those times. I'm also using my down time at home when I don't have Cosy - because it's a completely different viewing lineup when she's around - and when I'm not with Marvin, because he's a guy.

What did you do with your long holiday weekend? What are you watching when it's just you? Leave a comment here or on the Facebook link?

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Reasons To Love Summer

It's the Sunday of a three day holiday weekend which... doesn't mean as much to me as it used to but I do appreciate that for many of you the three day weekend is still important. I love holidays, don't get me wrong, but I cringe at the thought of Memorial Day because it means we have the long, hot Summer stretching before us. I know that technically, Summer doesn't start until later in June but in my mind... and temperature wise where I live... Summer is from Memorial Day until Labor Day.

Summer means sweaty thighs and heat migraines and feeling miserable every time I step outdoors. It means having to remember sunscreen when I go outside. It means bugs. It means frizzy hair. It means kids out of school, roaming the streets and making things more crowded. Because I live in a tourist destination it means traffic and longer lines and not being able to go anywhere near Helen. Out of all the seasons, I like Summer the least.

And let's be real, the past few Summers have majorly sucked for me. I had a hysterectomy. We had to fight for visitation with Cosy. My mom got sick around this time last Summer and never got well. I haven't mentioned this publicly but Austin got in some legal trouble last Summer that caused us all a lot of frustration. Summer has not been good to me but Summer is here, just like a Monday and must be lived through, no matter how I feel about it. So just like Monday... I'm going to dig deep and find a few Reasons To Love Summer! Here goes:

1. Fresh produce. I love a good farmstand with freshly picked, local produce. Our produce around here in the off season travels further since we are further from Atlanta, the nearest transportation hub and therefore isn't as fresh as I would like. But our local, homegrown stuff can't be beat! There are a few farmstands around and a farmer's market on the town square every weekend and even the bakery sells fresh produce! Corn and watermelon and peaches and tomato sandwiches... yum! A sub-category to that would be boiled peanuts but you can really get boiled peanuts year round... and I learned how to make them in the crockpot so I have them whenever I want.

2. I know I mentioned my frustration with tourist traffic but honestly, tourism is our bread and butter up here. Austin works for the Old Sautee Store and Market which probably has a lot more tourist customers than locals. He's getting longer hours and more workdays while business is good so... tourists = money. I'll eat at my favorite local places during the Winter.... and they'll still be in business during the Winter because of the tourist dollars that keep them running year round.

3. Tourists come here because this is a lovely place to visit... and you WOULD want to live here. Even just a little grocery run reminds me how much I love this little corner of the world. It's small and quaint and charming. People are friendly. The pace is slow. Even though we have traffic - especially during the weekend - I've learned the times that I can go and not have to deal with crowds. And our traffic doesn't even begin to compare with Atlanta traffic so... I really can't complain.

4. Now that Austin is driving I rarely have to leave the house. I literally have not stepped foot outside since Friday morning. I won't hibernate ALL Summer but I can try to avoid the hottest days, at least the hottest part of the day since I don't have to take Austin and pick him  up. This weekend my blood pressure has been up so I'm trying to rest as much as I can and I'll have to check with the doctor on Tuesday.

5. Lord willing and the creek don't rise... this will be an easier Summer than the last two. In 2016 we went two months without seeing Cosette and it shattered my heart in pieces. Last Summer my mom was sick and passed away in August. We worked so hard to take care of her. I can't even fathom a Summer that could possibly be as hard as the past two. I don't feel like I'm tempting fate by saying, it can't possibly be worse.

6. I'm looking forward to good times with Cosy and Oliver this Summer. She FINALLY is no longer afraid to get in the water. Now that Austin can drive, I can be away from home more so I can spend more time with Oliver. I can do things that I haven't really been able to do the past few Summers because I had to be around to keep the household running.

7. At the end of the Summer I'm getting  a brand new niece and I have plans to travel to New York City to spend some time with her family when she gets here! Nobody loves Gant babies more than I do! My sister-in-law is really good about posting photos and videos of my nephew, Finn and I'm telling you, that guy has the BEST LIFE! He's a real New Yorker and I just love seeing him out and about in the city. Being able to see another little one just like him - hopefully with the same curly red hair- is going to make it double the fun for me!

8. My Winter uniform is basically hoodies and leggings. My Summer uniform this year is this dress from Walmart. I have four of them: black and white striped, grey and white striped, pink and orange striped and olive green and white striped. They are only $9.96 and I love the fit on me. It's the softest material you can imagine. Packing for my time with Marvin is easier because I just throw a few dresses in my weekend bag. (Although, to be accurate, since I've started blogging I also take my laptop to his house and that sucker is heavy so... weight wise, my bag is about the same.) I usually wear this dress with keds... which are also part of my Summer uniform. I have them in white, grey and red for this year. I also have a couple of maxi skirts and a few other dresses... but definitely my Summer uniform means wearing pants as rarely as possible.

9. My final (and maybe biggest) Reason to Love Summer this year is my sweetheart. We didn't really start seeing each other until mid-September last year so this is our first Summer together. He hates Summer almost as much as me, as far as the heat and humidity are concerned. This is a man who sleeps with a fan on himself year round so I know that as much as he can help it, we won't be hot when we're together. I'm looking forward to our adventures together this Summer. When you're with the right person, even the bad times aren't so bad.

So what about you? Do you love or hate Summer? What are you looking forward to this Summer? Let me know in the comments below or on my link on my facebook page. Love and hugs and Happy Memorial Day, y'all!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Few of My Favorite Things

It's been a long time since I've talked about the things I am loving so I thought maybe I should share... and let you become addicted along with me! Try not to be too amazed at the high quality photos included in this post... I literally just snapped a few quick pics on my phone to give you an idea of what things look like... I made zero effort to get nice, bright, quality photos. You know, professional blogger that I am.

the fire stick is in the middle
Amazon Firestick - So..two and a half years ago I bought a smart tv because I watch a lot of internet driven content. From the very beginning the sound would periodically go out and I'd have to unplug and plug back in to get it back. Then... about a month or so ago we had a power outage and it screwed up the internet capability of the tv. Basically, my smart tv became dumb. You know how it is with these modern tvs... it costs more to fix them than to buy a new one and I just don't have the spare cash for a new one. I spent a few weeks being really bummed about having to watch broadcast tv or navigate my laptop hooked up to my tv to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime... then I realized that an Amazon Firestick could bring the smart back to my tv. It's relatively cheap around $40 - in comparison to a new tv, anyways - and it allows me to again watch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video and YouTube on my tv easily. I just know enough to navigate so I'm probably only making use of a fraction of the things the Firestick can do BUT... It has changed my life. I'm not good with technical things but this was easy enough that I was able to install it myself.

Blue Diamond Almond Crackers... love these with roasted garlic and fresh mozzarella - but I had to give up garlic because my sweetheart could smell it on me days and days later, even after brushing and mouthwash and... well, I choose kisses over garlic but they are amazing with chicken salad. Or spinach dip. Or hummus or just by themselves. Love love love!

bathbombs - we have two bathtubs at the house here at the lake. One is too shallow for me to properly submerge and the other is in my dad's bath so I don't use it. But Marvin has a great soaking tub and I enjoy a nice long bath every time I'm at his house. I had heard so much about Lush bathbombs but had never tried them. However, when I noticed that Walmart was carrying bath bombs I picked up a few and YES! Best bath ever! Tasha gave me several for my birthday and now every week I really look forward to my bath bomb bath. I would recommend avoiding any with glitter in them as you will get out of the tub looking like a kindergarten craft project. A month later and I'm still cleaning glitter out of Marvin's tub. I think I need to order a few Lush Bathbombs still... and if I do, I'll review those for you.

Bolthouse fruit smoothies - I don't eat a balanced diet. I love fruit and veg but I just don't ever cook. Fresh produce goes bad so quickly in our house because it doesn't get used fast enough SOOOO... I try to have one of these smoothies every day. They have 2-3 servings of fruit in them and even though they are not low calorie, I feel like it's worth the extra calories for the nutritional benefits.

powerade - I must drink powerade every day of my life or I will get a migraine, plain and simple. I've tried NOT drinking it and the results are the same every. single. time. I don't know what it is that makes the difference but something does. It can be either powerade or gatorade but usually powerade is cheaper so...

ELF cosmetics - I love makeup. I love wearing makeup. I love trying new makeup but it's expensive and because I only wear makeup 2 or 3 times a week, it's not worth spending lots of money on stuff that will eventually go to waste. Then I discovered ELF Cosmetics. They are sold at Walmart and the Dollar Store and online. Products are priced ridiculously low... seriously... $1 for the mascara I use! Twice now I've seen them have 50% sales online and you bet your bottom dollar that both times I stocked up. That 50% sale may still be going on if you want to check them out. Their makeup remover wipes smell fabulous. I love their creamy eyeshadow sticks because the colors stay on ALL DAY for me which few products ever do. But the best thing for me is that I can afford to try new things and not worry that I've wasted big money if I don't like it or it doesn't work for me. If you're curious, ELF stands for Eyes, Lips Face.

photo of my actual refrigerator
Chobani Flip yogurt... I COULD LIVE ON THIS STUFF! Actually, I sort of do. I end up eating two of these a day most days. It's greek yogurt with a little side car of stuff that you add to the yogurt... usually nuts and chocolate bits and... really good. I also add extra almonds, chocolate chips and butterscotch chips to mine because if a little is good, a lot is DIVINE! My favorite flavor is Almond Coco Loco but I also love the Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake and Nutty for Nana and there's a Salted Caramel Crunch one that is really good... seriously... running out of these = running out of toilet paper. It's that big of a crisis in my book.

Good Thins Beet Thins - if you like pickled beets... which I do... you will love these crackers. If you don't like pickled beets, you will think they taste like dirt... which Marvin does. They're a favorite snack for me and I always have them on hand. I eat them by themselves but I can see how they could be yummy with maybe some goat cheese or cream cheese based spread.

Voltaren Gel. This stuff has changed my life. When my pain doctor realized I had a new area of pain related to ulnar nerve damage, instead of increasing pain meds he prescribed this cream for me. It is like bengay on steroids. But there are no steroids. I use it on my back when the pain is bad and I'm in between doses. I use it on my elbows (where the ulnar nerve is). I use it on my boyfriend when he has aches and pains. It's just an extra weapon in my arsenal for me to use in my never-ending fight with pain. Ask your doctor for it! It's amazing!

Thus concludes this round up of my favorite things... I'd love to hear a few of your favorites! Comment below or on my Facebook page.

Love and hugs, y'all!

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Week In Review - Reflections on Things

Me and my sweetheart... New Orleans 12/17
Check out my comments on the post about the Royal Wedding. I thought there was great input there regarding the minister in the Royal Wedding from my cousin Melissa (who knows these things). My friend Stacey who is  a home ex teacher backed me up on the fit of Meghan’s dress, so yay! My blog community is a vast sea of knowledge and I’m just a dinghy in the midst. On the Facebook link my dear friend Linda called me out on the naughty meme with the Queen. I know. It was borderline inappropriate but that’s what makes it funny. I warned you that fifty year old Heather is a bit more edgy than the previous, younger versions. It's inevitable.

My week with Marvin was a bit different than usual. Softball was postponed so he picked up an extra night hosting trivia on Tuesday night. I was able to go with him and y'all... he does such a great job!  It was my first time going with him because it is a lot of sitting for me. I didn't really know what to expect and went alone (well, alone with him but he was on stage and I was sitting at a table by myself). I, of course, had my phone to keep me company and worked on some blogging and other things. I didn't play the game because it was just me and... I'm only so-so and I wasn't sure if it was kosher since I was with the host and... all that... but I did enjoy being there and chatted with a few people who were playing. The food was awesome... the venue was sort of loud and there were a few drunks who were giving my guy a hard time which I did NOT appreciate. He's used to it and just ignored them. Usually Tuesday night date night includes a softball game or two (for him while I watch) and/or dinner. Going to trivia was like softball without the dirt and with food. It was a little rough on my back and I crashed as soon as we got home but... still really glad to go with him. I would totally go again, especially if I could convince a friend or two to tag along with me.

Sidebar: IF YOU ENJOY TRIVIA... I'm playing an online trivia game called HQ. Games are played at 3pm and 9pm Eastern time, Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday they play at 9pm but don't play the afternoon game. They ask a series of multiple choice questions and you have 10 seconds to pick your answer. If you get all the questions correct you win... the prize is usually $5000 but that pot is divided between all the people who win. Occasionally they do games with a larger prize amount. I think the most they've done is $250,000. Sometimes they play until there's only one winner. It varies. Today they did this thing where you could see your friends' answers - which would have helped me immensely because I only missed one question and it was a sports question so Marvin would have almost certainly known the answer. You can play by downloading the HQ app. Enter my name as your referral and I will get an extra life (it will make sense when you play). My screen name is just my real name - heathergant . Then you can friend me on there and whenever they do the special "friends games" like today, we can help each other out. More often than not, Marvin and I play together so if I'm sharing my answers, I'm sharing HIS answers and he is GOOD with trivia! 

Anyways... back to my week. On Wednesday, Marvin usually just hosts trivia in the evening and has the whole day free for us but this week he pulled an extra shift delivering pizzas during the day. Obviously, I was bummed not to have as much time with him but I will still take a day in the cool, quiet of his nest over my noisier, busier nest. It feels like a vacation to be curled up in his bed, even when he's not with me. And the bonus of being here, even when he's working is that he comes home eventually and we get to have some quality time together, even if it's not quantity time together. Here's the thing... I'm never gonna get upset with him for working. He's a hardworking man. That's just who he is. I respect the heck out of his work ethic. We make it work when he has to work, plain and simple. He brought me breakfast in bed before he left for work... He brought me dinner in bed before he left for work in the evening and I had my usual Wednesday night spa night with a nice soak in his big bathtub while he was gone. I feel so spoiled when I'm at his place.

Disclaimer: I joke with him that I'm hesitant to brag on him too much because I don't want to make him look TOO attractive to someone who might want to steal him away from me. I should probably list a few of his faults here so that I don't face any competition... but honestly, whatever shortcomings he may have are just between us and I'm hoping he'll return the favor. He could probably complain that I just lay around in his bed all day while he's working... ha! But I'm also gonna keep the BEST stuff private just in case. *wink*

Another disclaimer: this is why this whole part-time gig is working for us. I'm pretty sure he'd get sick and tired of my broke down self lounging in his bed 24/7 and honestly... the fun of being in his space would get old if it was the only thing I ever did. I like the balance we have ... a little bit of my world with my White County family, my kitty cat and the rotten little dog. I like being a small town girl and I love living on the lake and keeping close tabs on Pop and Austin and Cosy. At the end of the day I'm still an introvert and I have to isolate myself a bit to recharge my batteries. We're old dogs and as much fun as it is to be together, being apart some every week just works for us. We talk every day, several times a day so I feel like we're always in touch. If something happens good or bad, he's the first one I tell. I say all of this just to say I spent a lot of years avoiding any relationship at all because I know that I'm a lot to handle. When one partner has to have mandatory down time just to function, it can really drag you both down. I just never wanted to drag anyone else down. If you're intentionally isolating yourself because you feel like you don't have enough to offer someone else, maybe you just need to think outside the box. I don't know if this will reach a point where it no longer works but I don't let the fear of that possibility steal the joy I have in this season of life. And the bonus for him is... if you're not feeling good or want to have a lazy day, I'm your huckleberry! Nobody excels at resting more than me.

Tuesday night we finished watching Evil Genius on Netflix. It's the story of the pizza deliveryman who had a bomb strapped around his neck when he robbed a bank in 2003 in Erie, Pennsylvania. This show digs into whether the guy was a participant in the crime or a victim. It's really interesting! Then we started watching a show called, Safe, staring Michael C Hall (from Dexter) about his teenage daughter going missing. We had two episodes left when I left his house yesterday and I was going to wait until next week to watch the rest with him but he said I could go ahead and finish it. IT IS SO GOOD! Safe has so many twists and turns your head will spin!

Thursday was my mom's youngest brother, John's funeral. It was held in Okeechobee, Florida, too far of a trip for me and Pop to make although we were certainly with the family in thoughts and prayers. Uncle John was such a character! One of my earliest memories of him was going to the grocery store with him when I was maybe 8 years old. He was an egg farmer. He asked if I knew how to tell if an egg was fresh (obviously, I didn't) and he took one out of the carton and dropped it on the floor letting it do what raw eggs do when you drop them. It was so funny / shocking / crazy... I'm not sure I ever got the point but it was definitely memorable.

He was such a Godly man and devoted so much of his life to helping others. He suffered from the after effects of Agent Orange from his service in Viet Nam and ultimately, that is what cost him his life. Mama always loved John dearly. John had three sons, one of whom I've become closer to over the past few years. I have literally dozens of first cousins... so many first cousins once or twice removed... countless second cousins... and I'm in touch with many through the magic of Social Media. I have several cousins who have lost a parent in the past few years and my heart breaks for them to walk that path of grief, so I am particularly sad for my cousin Jason to go through this. We believe that we will be reunited as a family one day in Heaven and that hope sustains us, of course. You just miss 'em, you know? John's last visit up here... we knew was probably his last visit. Mama was not well either, so we knew it was probably their last time together on this earth. They fished... and had a decent catch... and fried 'em up... and those are memories I will cherish. We will probably catch more fish from our lake and we may even cook them but they won't ever taste the same.

Thursday Marvin slept late and then we went out for brunch at Waffle House. I'm not sure you can consider Waffle House "brunch" but we had breakfast at noon so... there's that. I needed to pick up a few things at Walmart so we shopped together and then went back home to "Netflix and chill" some more. Yes, I know what it means. All too soon it was time for me to head back home. I was really dragging so I sent Austin out to pick up dinner. OH MY GEEEEEE how much do I love that Austin can drive? It's the best thing ever!

This morning I set my alarm for 6:30 so that I could do a food shop before Austin went to work. I'm set for the weekend. I don't HAVE to leave my house again until... well, until next Wednesday when I have a doctor's appointment. My blood pressure was pretty high today so I definitely need to take it easy. They added a new blood pressure med for me a month ago and apparently, it's still not enough.

Today I finished watching Safe, I watched Mamma Mia and I've watched a few random documentaries. I completely forgot to post this blog until just now even though most of it was already written. I hope you had a great week and I hope you have a fun/peaceful/restful holiday weekend (except for Wendy in Oz because... well, it's not a holiday for you but I hope you have a good weekend anyways!) Love and hugs, y'all!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Throwback Thursday - May 24

It's that time of week again... time to look back over my blog history and see what was going on in my life that was blogworthy on this day.

If you take this link from this day in 2009, it will let you follow a link to an old Youtube video of my niece Jamie singing the Backyardigans. She was home sick from church and I was watching her... and she was just so darn cute! She's already, just nine years later, become quite the performer and I am proud to say I have a video of her way back when she was just an adorable little four year old who already had perfect pitch!

On this day in 2011, I was already struggling with the back pain and struggling with my responsibilities as a single mom. Fortunately Austin was helping out a bit and I was as grateful then as I am now. We have had to lean on each other a lot and it doesn't always look pretty but it works.

In 2012, we were looking forward to Austin's graduation from high school. I wrote my own commencement speech and I still think it's pretty durn good advice. You can read it here.

On this day in 2013, I was adjusting to disability and mom was adjusting to life at the mountain house. It breaks my heart to pieces that she had such a short time in this beautiful house and was sick for so much of the time. She worked so hard all of those years in the little house on Sherwood Drive and finally she had the time and space to do whatever she wanted. As much as I miss her... I'm more sad for what she's missing. And of course, she probably has so much better now... it's selfish of me to want her back but I can't help it.

We had a brand new Cosette back in 2015 and I was struggling with migraines... as usual.

I don't know if any of you are following these links to read the old blog entries.. I know it's quite the rabbit hole to chase... but for me, it's good to look back. I've had a hard time lately allowing myself to feel all the feels because it does hurt to not have my mom around any more. But it's good to see how precious those last few years with her were. Thanks for allowing me to reminisce a bit! Love and hugs, y'all!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Cute Cosy Moments

 I took Cosy to Dunkin' Donuts on Tuesday morning to get our usual... iced coffee with hazelnut for Nana and a pink donut with sprinkles for Cosy. I have a blue tooth apparatus in the car I'm driving because it allows me to do handsfree on the phone and also play the iPod that Marvin has fixed up for me over the car sound system. When I first turn on the car the blue tooth says, "pairing... pairing... pairing" until it matches with my phone and then it says, "paired." When we got in the car as we were leaving Dunkin' Donuts the blue tooth started up with it's, "pairing... " and from the back seat Cosy hollered, "PAIRED!!!". It totally cracked me up.

Marvin started this game with her in the car when we got through traffic lights. If it's red he will say, "goooooooo green!" and it turns green. The trick is that he watches when the other side is changing and doesn't say, "green" until just before it's about to turn green. This absolutely amazes Cosy! She is sure that Marvin is magic. Even if Marvin isn't in the car with us she will say, "goooooooo.... green.... gooo... green..." until it turns green. If it takes awhile she will say, "Marvin says.... gooooooo green" and usually by that time it does turn so she is convinced that Marvin has done it.

Well, today while we were on the way home from Dunkin' Donuts, as we approached the intersection at the Courthouse the light was already green. Cosy said, "THANK YOU, Marvin!!!". Because he is, after all, the keeper of all traffic lights everywhere. As we were driving away I said, "Did you know that Marvin is Nana's boyfriend?" Cosy responded with, "Did you know that Marvin is my BEST FRIEND?"... Of course he is! He's the Magic Man who pulls the car off the road when we pass pastures with horses and cows so she can get out and see them. He took her to see an emu and a Brahma bull and then... on her birthday he took her to see all the fishes at the Georgia Aquarium (all of us took her but he drove...) So there you go... want to be Cosy's best friend? Show her lots of animals and make the traffic light turn green for her. It's all she requires.

Another really funny moment for us... I got partials Monday, which somehow Austin didn’t realize were false teeth until that day (that's a funny one in itself)... on Tuesday I was showing Cosy how I can take my teeth out. She studied on it for the longest time and kept trying to figure out how to pull her own teeth out. When that didn’t work she tried to take her dad’s teeth out to no avail. Then Pop pulled his out and really blew her mind. I’m not sure how long it will take her to sort it out but it’s sure a fun party trick! Later that night her mom told me she asked mom to take Cosy's teeth out after she brushed them. Ha! That kid is a deep thinker, I'm telling you.

I also love that she knows our small town really well. When I pull up in the Ingles parking lot where our little in store Starbucks is located she starts asking for Starbucks. When I turn on the dirt road she lives on she tells me that her mama lives on that road and starts looking for her house. She asks to stop and see the horse who pastures near our house and if she can't find it, she tells us to shhhhh! because the horse is sleeping. If Pop's car isn't in the driveway she says, "Pop's playing golf" which, about 80% of the time is correct. If she hears a car in the driveway she runs to the window to see who is there... and if it's Pop she has to run downstairs to give him a hug.

She's definitely a bright spot for all of us and I feel so blessed to be her Nana. I'll put together some Oliver stories for you soon! I'd love to hear your favorite kid/grandkid moments! Love and hugs!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

When Harry Married Meghan

Oh, dear, I do love a good Royal Wedding, don't you? The way I see it... the next big televised wedding will be when Prince George marries which... he's turning 5 this year so probably in nearly thirty years, which would make me 80 so... who knows, this may have been my last. If we're still around for the next one, let's get together to watch it, ok?

My first Royal Wedding was Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer back in July of 1981. I was 13 and still believed in fairy tales. Di was only six or seven years older than me which seems insane... such a baby. Of course, I was 17 at my own first wedding so... eh.

I know I watched Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's wedding but I don't remember being particularly moved by it. It happened just a few months after my own first wedding so maybe I was beginning to get over the whole fairy tale thing by then, who knows?

The truth is I am pretty much a devoted Anglophile. I'm interested in all things royal, even way, way back in history. I can trace my lineage back to a few direct ancestors who were queens and kings and things and quite a few more Lords and Ladies and such. There is something about the tradition and history of it all that appeals to me, although, I'm sure in reality... if I were paying taxes to support them and such, I might not exactly love it. Benefits of my ancestors having left the Island many centuries ago, I suppose.

My impressions of Harry and Meg's wedding are as follows:

  • Getting up at 4am is harder than it used to be.
  • I was insanely excited and did a lot of pregaming the day before by watching lots and lots of documentaries on the British Royal family.
  • I watched the coverage mostly the BBC America channel but also some CNN and some of the E! coverage. Too much fluff on the second two channels, more straight to the chase on BBC. Maybe that's what I like about Brits. No, honestly, if you've read my blog you know I'm way more fluff and bother than I am likely to get straight to the point. Who am I kidding?
  • If you watch my Instastories, I did a little coverage during the wedding. I made a point of explaining why Marvin wasn't joining me for the viewing party... because he DOES NOT CARE.   I said that because he was so very much over hearing about the Royal Wedding that he started playing me this little soundbite from... Kevin Meaney's stand up routine... of him singing this "I don't care..." song. I don't mind him not caring. Obviously, I want to date a man, not a clone. I hope this link will work for you, if not, try this 
  • I was really, very sad for Meghan about how her family acted in the week before the wedding. Maybe they did need a bit more public relations training but honestly, her half sister and half brother are perfect asses. Her dad had known about his need for surgery for quite a while and even had the surgery scheduled for the week after the wedding. With family like she has, who needs enemies? I can absolutely understand why she only invited her mother. 
  • Seriously, with her father... as a dad you have ONE JOB on your daughter's wedding day, ok, maybe two jobs... write the check and walk her down the aisle. Since he didn't have to pay for it he had ONE JOB and he couldn't manage. That's poor planning. 
  • My stone cold heart toward Prince Charles melted a tiny bit at him walking her down the aisle. It melted a good bit more at him escorting her mom and Camilla the Hun out afterwards.
  • I'm sorry. Camilla is still the Other Woman in my book and her hat was completely excessive. Too extra, as they say these days.
  • The Duchess of Cambridge, on the other hand, (Princess Kate for those who aren't up to date on these things) was completely gracious. She wore a dress that she has worn in public at least three times before, way to go not trying to upstage the bride! She did look a bit puffy still but she has just had a baby in the past month sooooo... I'll give her some leeway.
  • How much do you love Princess Charlotte's outgoing personality? I love that George is reserved and shy and Charlotte is waving like a queen. It will serve her well.
  • Kudos to Prince Philip for recovering from hip replacement well enough to attend. He's aces in my book. 
  • I didn't love Meghan's dress. I would have like to see it fitted a bit better. It seemed like the fabric in her arms and torso was a bit too loose. Maybe that was the look they were going for, what do I know about such? I just liked Catherine's wedding dress better. 
  • I wish the television coverage had shown more of the children in the wedding. 
  • I also hate that the television coverage missed Meghan's curtsy to the Queen after the ceremony. That's a big moment and it made it seem like Meghan DIDN'T do it when reportedly she did. 
  • I loved Meghan's low, loose bun. I thought it was a good look for her. Some people were bothered by the loose strand of hair but I thought it made her look more relaxed and natural. I also thought her makeup was good. 
  • While I thought the chapel was beautiful, I missed them being at Buckingham Palace on the balcony afterwards. Those photo ops after Royal Weddings are iconic. Yes, the kiss outside the chapel was lovely but it wasn't the same. 
  • I liked her second dress more than the first. 
  • I know lots of people loved the American preacher but ... meh. I thought his energy was fun but his remarks wandered quite a bit, in my opinion. 
  • I also didn't really love "Stand By Me". It was too choral. 
  • I'm really happy for Harry. He's always seemed a bit lost since his mom died. I watched a documentary from last year where he said he had only cried a few times over his mom's death. That seems terribly unhealthy to me. I cry a few times a week over my my mom's death and I'm grown and it wasn't a shock and... well, you get it. The same documentary really made me feel that William and Harry HATE the press and who can blame them... except I feel like the press is for us, the weird Americans that go nuts for the Royal family which makes me feel guilty and a bit rejected. 
  • I fully expect them to have a baby in the next year. 
  • As much as I love the big royal affairs, I fear that the next big thing will be the Queen's funeral and that makes me sad. And then of course, King Charles' coronation and I'm still not over him not loving Diana like he should have. I'll be happier at William's coronation if I'm still around for that but I realize that makes me sound like I want both the Queen and Charles to be gone and that's not true at all. I love the Royal Family. At least I love watching them.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about the wedding, Harry, Meghan and all things royal. Love and hugs, y'all.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Reasons To Love Monday

This Monday started too durn early after too little sleep. I was dreaming that I was working at State Farm and it was close to the end of the day. A client's family came in wanting to add coverage for a newly acquired vehicle and had lots and lots of questions. In my dream I didn't remember how to work the quoting system and all my co-workers had left/were leaving for the day. I panicked and then remembered I just had to wake up to get out of the situation. Ahhhh!

My life doesn't involve dealing with last-minute demanding customers any more... it doesn't involve co-workers who sneak away leaving you to deal with stuff beyond your pay grade... would I trade all of this fabulous life of living with pain for the opportunity to work again? In a heartbeat.

But then I got up and took the pain meds I need to even think about getting out of bed... I realized that once again I'm starting my day with a migraine for the upteenth day in a row... and I remembered that line from Les Miserables that says, "Truth is given by God to us all in our time, in our turn."  I'm living the life I was meant to live and therefore, even in the painful, early mornings, I need to find reasons to embrace every day as it comes... I need to find reasons to love Monday.

  • 1. Today is THE DAY I get my partials. After years and years of smiling very carefully to try to keep people from seeing gaps in my teeth... after lots of pain and lots of dollars, today I'll leave the dentist office with more teeth than I went in with. That's a good feeling. I know it will take some getting used to. I just feel very blessed to have been able to get to this point. I will be grinning like a Cheshire Cat in future photos. Hope you don't mind. Somebody needs to buy me a steak this week! 
  • 2. I have to take Austin to work this morning as we're a two car family and have to go in three different places this morning but that won't always be the case. Matter of fact, I could just have him run me back home after my appointment and then he could have the car for the rest of the day and drive himself home. He's doing a great job and growing in confidence and I'm confident in him. It's a whole new world for us! 
  • 3. I am starting the day with a headache but once the dentist appointment is over, it's a quiet day for me. I can rest and maybe this series of headaches will end. If not... I'll be heading to Urgent Care tomorrow for a toradol shot - or something - to get this thing in check. And for once in my life, if I'm not well enough to drive myself there, Austin can take me! 
  • 4. Tomorrow is Tuesday! There have been several moving parts as we looked forward to this upcoming weekend (which starts on Tuesday night for Marvin) and fortunately, his schedule works out this week that if I can't go to him, he will come to me. We've only done that a few times over the past 8-9 months that we've been hanging out. I usually go to him because it's easier... he's usually playing softball on Tuesday night and working Wednesday and Thursday night but this week he can come up on Tuesday night and I love that our weekly date night(s) are important enough to him that if Mohammed can't come to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammed (metaphorically speaking). He's a good egg. I'm glad that our time together means as much to him as it does to me. That's the part that warms my heart the most. Most of my past relationships have meant me working my butt off to keep things together, putting the other person first but not being put first. I don't feel that way with this man. I feel like he works just as hard (probably harder) at making sure we have time together, whether on the phone or in person. It means a lot to me, maybe even more than he knows. 
  • 5. Barring another migraine, tomorrow is another Cosy day. We had a really great time with her yesterday (Sunday). She did a great job going potty. She helped her dad wash the car which made for an adorable photo op for me. She is just an adorable, funny kid. I feel so blessed to be her Nana. 
  • 6. I'm also still basking in the joy of a great FaceTime with Oliver last night. He had tried to pull his shirt off and it got stuck on his head. I got tickled at him and the more I laughed, the more he performed. He has a brilliant sense of comedic timing and he is also a very, very, funny kid. I posted a picture on Facebook and Instagram of his predicament. Marvin said his favorite part of the picture is how much I'm laughing... I love that even at a very young age my grandkids have a good sense of humor and actually like making me laugh. What a treasure they are to me! 

Although I'm going boldly forward in optimism, embracing the new week... it's with sadness in my heart. My mom's brother John passed away last night. He is the fourth of her siblings to die. I'm glad that he is reunited with mama and David and Linda and of course, their amazing parents... but I'm sad that Uncle John is lost to us here on Earth. I'm sad for his kids, especially my cousin Jason who I have had the opportunity to get to know better and visit with in the past few years. I'm sad for my sweet Aunt Ginger who has lost the three siblings closest to her in age in the past three years. I'm sad for John's lovely wife, Gerri, who has been such a joy to him in his later years and such a blessing to our family. I'm sad to lose another link to my mama, who I miss more and more every day. Marvin called right after I got the news last night and I was a tearful, snotty mess. He and I have had to walk through so much death in the short time we've been together: his son, my mom, his grandma, my Uncle... and I know that we are at the age and stage of life where that happens more often... and I'm glad that we have each other to turn to in those moments. My biggest RTL this Monday is that I'm not walking this path alone... I have my sweet man, who brings me so much happiness... my hilarious grandbabies... so many loving family members and now, once again, I feel reconnected to all of you. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you'll find plenty of your own Reasons to Love Monday this week!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Weekend Recap

Yikes.... I didn't blog yesterday! I had things swimming right along last week, with all of the weekday blogs written by Monday afternoon and then... Harry and Meghan got married and I was so caught up in the magic that I couldn't even stop to blog. That's not entirely true. Last week I struggled quite a bit with migraines. I had a significant headache almost every day. FORTUNATELY... I had already written several blog posts so it didn't matter. I did not have one written for yesterday and I had a miserable headache so... there ya go. Real life strikes again.

Today my head is a tad bit better but there's still a headache lurking. I can function to a certain degree with a headache but one problem I have is that I can't focus my vision. This makes blogging or reading really tricky. Please overlook any spelling mistakes in this blog post. I have a theory that every time I stop drinking powerade/gatorade, I get headaches. Last week I thought I'd try flavored water instead and... it may very well be a coincidence but all I know is I have had a headache every day. You better believe I'm pounding back the powerade today!

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this in my blog - I've definitely mentioned it on Facebook - but Austin got his drivers license last week! For so many years he has just not felt confident enough to take the test and all of a sudden on Monday he decided to go the next day. He was off on Tuesday so we picked up Cosy and headed to Toccoa, a small town near us where there is a Department of Drivers Services office. Honestly, I thought... no way he goes through with it... but he did. And I thought for sure, if we just show up without an appointment there is no way they'll fit us in... but they did. And then we realized there wasn't current proof of insurance in that car but they gave us a fax number and I was able to call one of my lovely former co-workers at State Farm who kindly and quickly faxed over proof of insurance. I figured with as little experience as Austin has had driving, he surely wouldn't pass but I hoped that they would help him know what he needed to work on and we could return in a few weeks but... he passed. He actually did very well, including parallel parking which he had never done before. And lastly, I thought that even if he passed he would probably not be ready to start driving right away and would still take quite some time yet to be confident enough to drive independently. Well, that has just not been the case at all. He has driven himself to work and back twice, he has driven to friends' houses, he has gone into town a few times and he even picked Cosy up this morning all by himself.

Austin driving is a GAME CHANGER for me! I have struggled so much over the past few years with  being unable to take medication on schedule because I had to wait until after I picked up Austin as a few of my meds make it impossible to drive. I have had so many days where I really just had to suffer until he got off work. In turn, he has had many days where he would have stayed later at work but he knew I really needed to be "finished with my day". My dad helps some, especially if I'm struggling but my dad is gone ALL the time! He plays golf more days a week than not and he has so many obligations at church and in the community that he's just not available a lot of the time. It has been such a blessing the past few days for Austin to be able to get himself where he needed to be because my head has hurt so bad and driving was not going to be safe or comfortable for me.

I am definitely struggling with letting go of my last baby. I've been responsible for my kids for nearly 32 years now - literally my entire adult life. I don't know how to NOT have to worry about getting folks where they need to be. It's an empty nest syndrome that I wasn't prepared for because I truly had no idea that Austin would be driving NOW all of a sudden. I've had to be more involved with Austin than the others and I've had to be involved so much longer but he is definitely ready. I was a bit bummed last night when Austin told me he was going to pick Cosette up this morning because... that's MY THING... getting my sleepy girl first thing in the morning and having our little chats alone in the car on the way home... it's a very precious time for me. I felt... like nobody needs me anymore. But Marvin was sweet and practical and reminded me that I am still very much needed in their lives and of course, today Cosy ran straight to my room as soon as they got her and I still dressed her and fixed her hair and helped her go potty today (no accidents the whole time she was with us! Yay!). It's an adjustment but it's time for me to be able to take care of myself (and maybe finish the embroidery project I started for Marvin back before Christmas...)

Yesterday while I was feeling so awful Austin was able to run to Walmart for me. It's been so long since one of my kids has been able to do the shopping for me. Pop picked up meds for me this weekend while I was feeling poorly but I hate to send him with a list, especially a specific, picky one. I literally took pictures of the products I needed Austin to buy for me and, of course, he shops with me frequently so he knows what I buy and roughly the price range I find acceptable. He's a good shopper. I had thought so fondly of the potential of not having to take him back and forth to work but I completely forgot about the awesome aspect of having someone to run errands for me. WHAT a bonus! And as much as I love my sweet time alone with Cosy when I pick her up... by the time I take her home I'm usually absolutely wiped out. To get a break from THAT chore is awesome! And... also good for her to have time alone with her dad which is really, really rare.

Tomorrow I have a very important appointment that I'll talk more about when I blog in the morning! Hope you've had a great weekend. Tell me about your own empty nest moments... when that last little chick stopped needing you as much... love and hugs, y'all!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Questions And Answers...

I thought it might be fun to use a few questions I found on the internet as a writing prompt for blogging. I don't always wake up feeling creative with the words just pouring out. In fact, today I woke up quite sick from a migraine so my only thoughts were ... ugh. Fortunately, I had written this blog a few days ago. Hope you enjoy! I'd love to see your answers to the same questions!

1. If you had the opportunity to change one thing in your life, what would that be and why?

Just one thing? Can I make my one wish to wish for a thousand wishes? If not... I would wish to be really wealthy. Although my first thought is, "I'd like to be healthy and strong," I feel like having money gives you opportunities to improve things in your life. I would be able to have access to better doctors (no shade toward my current doctors intended there) and possibly find answers to some of my health challenges. I would be able to afford people to do some of the things that cause pain for me. I could afford someone - a chef, maybe, or even just one of those meal subscription services- to help me eat better and possibly lose weight which obviously would make life easier. My back needs less of a load to carry. Money could change some of the situations that bring me stress. I could make it so that Marvin doesn't have to work as much - or at all, up to him - and we could travel or... just hang out together more. I need a car in a bad way as the one I'm driving is difficult for me... it's hard to turn and I feel exhausted from driving it.. grateful to have it but you know, if I'm wishing... I would have the best mattresses to sleep on and massages and ... oh, I think I need an inversion table. It seems shallow to thing that money could change everything because, obviously, that's not true but it could make some things easier...

2. What do you find yourself thinking about the most?

I definitely can't make this just one subject. I think about Oliver and Cosette every single day... and my nephew Finn and his baby sister due later this year... and how much I want to love these babies the way that my mom would have loved them if she had the chance. I think about Marvin and how he's feeling... if it's a rough day for him emotionally or physically. I think about our relationship uh LOT... not in a "where is this going?" kind of way, not like you might think... I think about things we can do together, even as simple as where we might go to lunch this week. I think about how I can be a good partner for him and what would make him happy. I think about my kids and each individual relationship... not just my boys but also my girls... Ryan's fiance Sara and Cody's wife Marquee... and also Tasha, even though she and Austin aren't together, she's the mom of my granddaughter so I think about how she is doing. I think about my dad and his happiness... his health... and so forth. I think about my brothers and their families. My nieces and nephews are so precious to me and as they're getting older I get to communicate with them on a more adult level. It's quite a lovely bonus. Sarabeth has a blog you can click the link to see it (be kind if you comment) - it's amazing considering she's grown up on my blog. My nephew, Cory just recently got married and we've enjoyed a much closer relationship as he's gotten older. And of course, watching Jamie blossom as a performer has just been such a joy for me. I think about all these moving pieces to our family.  I still think a lot about my estranged brother and his family and how much I want them to return to the fold, so to speak.

But there's so much more... I think about my friends, in real life and people I know only (or mostly) online. When one of my online friends went through a hard time recently there were about a dozen ladies who rallied around her and prayed for her and encouraged her and just really cared on such a deep level. I realized how invested we are in each other's lives and how unique that is to our generation and the ones that follow because of the relationships we've been able to form online... and it made me want to nurture those relationships more. Whether friends or family... I think about whether or not I'm giving people enough love and support. But I also think about whether or not I'm being kind to myself, remembering my limitations and respecting my boundaries. I have a tendency to push myself too hard when I have the chance to be with others and then I end up feeling very isolated and lonely when I am in too much pain to keep up.

I also think about a lot of superficial stuff like the upcoming Royal Wedding and who will walk Meghan down the aisle if her father doesn't. I think about the political climate and racial issues and just all the hate there is in the world toward people who don't think like us or look like us or love like us. I think about what makeup colors I want to try and whether I have enough yogurt to get through to the next day when I feel like going to the store. I think about whether my meds are all filled and if they're working. When I talked about my schedule I talked about staying mentally busy and this is exactly what I mean... my brain is never quiet until the ambien kicks in at night and then, and only then, does my mind stop racing.

3. What are the things that bring you the greatest pleasure?

The things that bring me the greatest pleasure aren't things, they're people. It's weird because as an introvert I so greatly value the time alone to rest and recharge but I love the time I spend with the people I love. I love texting with people... and facetiming with Oliver... and the long talks Marvin and I have on the phone when we're apart. I LOVE being in my nest but I also love the nest I have at Marvin's and how safe and loved I feel there. I love every single minute with Oliver and Cosy although I am definitely worn out when they go home. I love hearing from friends (I love it more via text than on the phone, though... ) But I also love a good meal out... (or in)... going to concerts with my honey because it makes me feel so alive... I love traveling, even if it's not a major travel destination. Marvin and I took an overnight trip to this place in East Nowhere, Tennessee to handle some business he had. We did no sightseeing (there were no sights to see) ate in a really average BBQ place, spent the night in a basic hotel and it was just fun to have a change of scenery... although I am 100%  homebody and love to be in my nest. We had a really good time.

4. What is your biggest accomplishment in life?

Bringing my children into the world and helping my mom leave this world. It all took so much strength and courage and faith... and in all of those moments I felt so empowered and capable. Those events make me believe that I can do anything. I also feel like having the courage to wake up every day and keep going is a huge accomplishment. There are a lot of things that have happened to me that should have taken me out of the game... made me bitter and jaded... and I feel like the fact that I don't allow myself to feel defeated is a battle I win every single day.

5. Where are you most comfortable?

Two places: my nest at my house and my nest at Marvin's. They are the places I feel the most calm and relaxed, the places that I have the least amount of pain... they are the places that allow me to be my most authentic self and to take the time I need to introvert and recharge.

I would love you for you pick any or all of these questions and answer them! I know it's easier to comment on Facebook, rather than on the blog and that is perfectly fine. I think we all would draw strength from seeing each others answers and it's a really cathartic exercise to stop and think about these things. I've got more questions like this if you're interested in seeing my answers... let me know! Love and hugs, y'all!