Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Best Laid Plans

There was so much laundry to do on Sunday morning. Actually, the laundry pile was so high, I started it Saturday afternoon, getting two loads washed and one dried before bed on Saturday night. I planned to do the rest (probably seven or so loads, there were blankets and sheets in there to be washed) on Sunday before and after Alyssa’s band/choir concert.

Alas…the best laid plans are just waiting to be derailed.

Friday night I noticed that Olivia sounded congested. I asked her if she felt okay. She said she felt fine. Saturday dawned and she still sounded congested and wheee, let’s add a runny nose to the mix just for fun.

We did our usual Saturday errands and by the time we got home, she was achy but not feverish. I got her settled and did those couple of loads of laundry, adding her sheets to the pile because germs.

I noted in the night that she actually sounded better as she slept. I’d given her some night-time Mucinex in the hopes of letting her get a decent night’s sleep.

When she woke up at about 8:15 Sunday I knew from the first few words out of her mouth that whatever was making her congested was settling into her throat and chest.

I also knew that a trip to the doctor/Urgent Care was in our very near future.

Tom was already gone for the day, taking care of family business, so I put O in the shower, woke A long enough to tell her I was taking her sister to Urgent Care and asking if she wanted to stay home alone (hello, she’s almost 16 years old!) or if she wanted to go with us.

She opted to stay home. Smart girl.

Olivia got out of the shower, I told her we were going to see a doctor and she asked, “What about breakfast?”

Obviously the gunk in her head was not affecting her appetite. After eating three blueberry Eggo waffles, away we went. We left at 9:40am, after I’d put a load of laundry in the washer.

We arrived back home at 12:50pm with an antibiotic, some nasal spray and three boxes of tissues.

Tom was on his way home to stay with Liv while I went to the concert Alyssa’s high school band and choir was putting on.

I managed to switch the clean laundry to the drier and start another load before heading to the concert.

I got home from the concert at 3:30. Tom told me there was no need to rush to the basement to check on the laundry because he’d already transferred what was in the washer to the dryer and started another load. Then he left again to return to his family business.

I made Olivia some hot tea, swept the kitchen floor and vacuumed, confident in Tom’s ability to load a washing machine.

When I finally made my way to the basement, both the washer and dryer were finished with their cycles. After emptying the dryer, I opened the washer. It was so stuffed full of towels I kind of wanted to slap someone. Alsas, Someone had already left the building. So…I stupidly put ALL the towels into the dryer and started another load to wash.

Three dry cycles later, and the freaking towels were finally dry. I’d actually had to separate them into two piles and dry each pile separately, hence the three cycles. By then, I’d managed to wash two more loads of laundry, so they sat in baskets, damp, waiting for the dryer to be free.

I did tell Tom later about how much he’d over-filled the washer. I tried to say it kindly because that’s how I’d want to hear it if I did it.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big a deal if the laundry is finally folded and put away on Monday instead of Sunday. The important thing is that Olivia is on the mend and eventually, the laundry will be done, until the next load, which is currently being worn by my entire family. Sigh.

Monday, December 10, 2018


I don’t think I’m all that stubborn. I don’t argue for the sake of arguing. I mean, that sounds exhausting and if I don’t feel strongly about something, I don’t usually want to put forth the energy necessary to fight about it.

But I suppose you could say I’m contrary. If someone tells me I should try something, my automatic response is to not want to try it. For example, most week nights after I’ve made food for Olivia, I’ll be scrounging around the cabinets and fridge looking for something to stuff into my own face. Tom’s learned not to make any suggestions whatsoever because whatever he suggests I will scoff at and not eat. I don’t do this on purpose. It’s not a conscious decision to NOT eat what he suggests, but my subconscious doesn’t want to be told what to do.

I do realize how childish that is but after 40+ years, I don’t see myself changing in that aspect. Lucky for me, it’s become a running joke in our house.

I do like to be right. In fact, I don’t usually argue unless I know I’m right.

I refuse to argue about opinions because there’s no proof either way. You have your opinion, I have mine, we can almost guarantee that no one is going to change anyone else’s mind, so why argue?

My freshman year of college I didn’t work the first semester. My grades reflected the fact that I had too much time on my hands.

I ended up starting to work at the cafeteria in my residence hall during the spring semester of my freshman year. My neighbor worked there and it seemed convenient. She’d told me how awful the dish room was and how everyone hated it.

Guess which job in the cafeteria was my favorite? Yep, the dish room. It was away from the public (my own peers) and I was able to just go in, rinse dishes, load and unload the huge dishwasher as needed and get through my shift with little to no interaction with anyone except the others who were working that shift in the dish room. It was awesome. And I can’t say whether my innate contrariness was what made me like it more than say the serving line (which was awful because college students are assholes) or even the check-in station where you had to swipe every ID card for every student coming in to eat that meal. I hated that one because the person manning that station was supposed to stop people from taking food out of the cafeteria. I’m sorry, but most 19 year old college students aren’t going to stop their peers from taking a freaking apple back to their room. That seemed like a lot of work for someone who was not at all invested in the process.

When I took the year off between high school and college, I knew I’d go to college. I just wanted to stay home for a year and help my mom with my littlest brother, who started kindergarten the fall after I graduated from high school.

I have a cousin on my dad’s side who is old enough to be an uncle. This cuncle (Ha! I just made that up and it cracks me up because it fits Phil perfectly) declared that if I didn’t go to college immediately after high school, I’d never go. He told me more times than I can count that I was going to waste my intelligence and that if I don’t go to college RIGHT THEN, I’d end up working production in a factory at 30, divorced with three kids. Now, I admit that Phil is a dick even on his best days but his insistence that I would never go to college was probably a big part of why I did go. I would show him, I thought in a state of contrary indignation. No one was going to tell me how my life was going to go!

And off to school I went that very next fall. Thank you, Cuncle Phil for pushing me to reach beyond that dire future you laid out for me.

Now, there are times when I probably come across as a pushover because I just don’t care enough about something to stand up for myself or others.

I’m working on that. I don’t want to come across as being spineless just because I don’t think something is worth a small argument.

I admit that even at 48, I still have a lot of growing up to do. I feel lucky that I am still here to do just that.

Saturday, December 8, 2018


I think…I feel like I’m healing. I thought about our old house, the one we brought Olivia home to twelve years ago today. She was so tiny; she’d finally gained back to her birth weight of 5lbs 2oz. She was on monitor that tracked her heart rate and her breathing.

We were all finally under one roof and it was terrifying.

Christmas was right around the corner and while the tree was up (that’s what had me thinking about the old house, I found myself trying to remember where we’d put the tree in that house. I did remember and it brought feelings of happiness instead of sadness or regret, so I’m taking that as a healing moment.) but not a lot of presents were purchased or wrapped.

Alyssa was going to be four in just over a month. She’d ‘helped’ with the tree. See, I hadn’t had a chance to put a lot of ornaments on it that year. I’d put it up, strung the lights and then…it just sat there. So sweet little Lyssie had decorated the tree with her toys that year. She put puzzle pieces on the branches, sat a few tiny stuffed animals on other branches. At the time, I broke my heart. Now…I see it as a chance for a little girl to make the tree her own.

Last weekend we put our tree up. We bought a new tree and it is much smaller than the old one. It’s also prettier and easier to manage. We started putting it up on Saturday afternoon. I got the lights on and we put in a Christmas movie (A Christmas Story) and we dug into the four boxes of Christmas decorations we have collected over the years.

Last year, I didn’t get into all the boxes of ornaments. Chemo and all that entailed just kept me from doing all that would have in the past. I did move furniture the day after chemo and put up the tree because, hello steroids! But once the steroid high moved on, I didn’t have the energy to put all the ornaments on the tree.

Sunday morning found me back at the tree. The girls had done a pretty good job but there were some spots that still needed ornaments. Alyssa looked up at her phone at one point and said, “You’re really the only one who puts real effort into decorating for Christmas. We’d be lost without you.”

It was as if she’d read my mind (or my blog) recently.

I just smiled and said, “I’m glad you have me then.”

She smiled back and went back to her phone.

I am so grateful to be here to do for my family. I’m grateful that Olivia is doing so well, that we came through our NICU experience intact, that while there are scars, they’ve scabbed over through the years and even those Christmas Tree cakes don’t trigger me like they used to do so. I can buy a box with barely a shrug to the significance of them and the season.

We’re all growing around here and that’s a really good thing.

Friday, December 7, 2018


I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that God hears all prayers and He answers them. He may not give us the answer we wanted, but He listens and He loves us and when we’re broken He puts us back together. Sometimes, He puts us back together here in this life. But sometimes, we have to go to Heaven for Him to fix us.

I felt all the prayers that were said for me last year when I was got my diagnosis and was going through treatment. I joke that I was probably on the prayer lists of all the churches in a thirty mile radius of my house but honestly? That’s probably not a joke. I worked with about 40 people and they lived and worshipped in a lot of different places. My dad attends no fewer than three churches himself. I was lifted up in prayer by so many strangers and I’m so grateful.

I know that God hears even the smallest, loneliest prayer but I also know that there is strength in numbers and those people were so kind to say my name in prayer, to ask God for healing and strength.

My step-daughter could use some prayers. She’s struggling again (still?) She’s hurting so much and she’s so lost and it breaks my heart to know she just wants love. She seeks love in the worst ways, the least loving ways.

She visited us last Friday. She was fragile and broken and lost.

Her mom called me while J was at our house. She wanted to let me know that J can’t be trusted, that we shouldn’t let her stay at our house more than one night because it wasn’t actually safe for me and the girls to have her there.

Imagine feeling that way about your own child. I know that J is thirty-one years old but she’s still Tom and D’s child. She has a hole inside her that she’s trying to hard to fill with things that are so bad for her.

So I pray. I ask God to hold her tightly in His arms, to show her the way, to give her strength as she fights the demons that threaten to overtake her.

I’ve asked my mom and her sisters’ to pray too. J needs some prayer warriors right now so much. We need to shout her name to God, to remind him that one of His weakest is lost and needs His light, His love, His strength as she fights to find her way yet again.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Just Like Old Times

Olivia finished antibiotics for an ear infection a couple of weeks ago.

Sunday night/Monday morning around 2am, I woke up to the sound of Alyssa’s voice. She was telling me that she couldn’t sleep.

She asked me if the medicine I’d given her that evening had caffeine.

Now, wait just a minute. Let me point out that when I gave her the generic Excedrin, it was noon. When she took more of it, of her own volition, I would like to point out, it was about 8:30pm. So, while yes, technically, the medicine I gave her did have caffeine but when I gave it to her, it wouldn’t have affected her sleep. When SHE took it again, all by herself, because, let’s remember this ‘child’ is about six weeks out from turning SIXTEEN YEARS OLD, yes, it was going to affect her sleep.

Whew, enough backstory? Okay, then.

So it was 2am and she knew that 6:45 was coming fast and she was stressed because she couldn’t sleep. She told me there in the dark of my room that she’d even cried a little because she was so tired but couldn’t sleep.

I rubbed her hair as she talked and told her that taking a PM medicine probably wasn’t a good idea because at 2am, it wouldn’t have time to wear off by the time it was time to go to school and she’d be groggy. Then I skootched over and suggested she lay down with me for a bit. She was asleep in five minutes.

And this, my friends, is how a family ends up co-sleeping well into the teen years. Because Mom is freaking tired and the kids wake her up and she’ll do anything, ANYTHING, to just go back to sleep, even inviting her teenager to sleep in her bed just so everyone can go back to sleep.

She stayed there for about an hour and a half before heading back to her own bed and sleeping until her alarm went off. She woke feeling remarkably refreshed and got through the day.

When we all got home on Monday evening, though, she said that her throat still hurt. She’d taken the generic Excedrin because of a sore throat. (I know…)

Tuesday morning, after a good night’s sleep, it was decided that her sore throat isn’t getting better and so Tom will be bringing her to town and I’d meet them at Urgent Care after school/work.

Yes, winter has arrived and with it the germs and lowered immunities that we all dread. Wheee!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Alyssa loves to read stories to me or share videos with me about conspiracy theories and moments that people are sure they’ve experienced a glitch in the matrix.

It’s amusing and fun and sometimes a little eerie.

I was driving home from work the other day and took a back road instead of the main state road to get home. This back road takes me through the little ‘town’ I grew up in. I put town in quotes because this place is more like a village in the middle of nowhere. There are houses, churches, cemeteries, a volunteer fire department outside which stands a Pepsi vending machine, the sole source of commerce in the entire community.

I lived in four different houses in this square mile village. My dad still lives there. Well, he has a house he visits daily. He actually sleeps at my sister’s house each night.

So I took the Metz Road home. About a mile down the road, I noticed that a house I’d looked at when I was house hunting had a truck parked outside it. “Oh,” I thought. “Someone finally bought that green house.”

Except, wait. That house is now blue…did they put on new siding? Weirdly, I don’t think so. It doesn’t look new. But I’m sure the house was green when we looked at it. And now it’s blue. The blue is not a modern, edgy blue but the baby blue of days gone by. If someone had put on new siding, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have chosen that color.

So…what the hell? Am I losing my mind? Was it always blue or did the matrix glitch and I’m remembering the green of the pre-glitch days?

I plan to ask my mom what color she remembers that house being. That ought to be fun. Just recently she insisted that my car is a 2014. It’s a 2012. I told her I was pretty sure I knew my car’s year but she was just sure it was newer than I was saying.

I finally called Tom to prove myself right.

Guess what? I was right. I do so love being right.

I’m just so sure that damned house was green. It was an ugly light mint-ish green. Now it’s an ugly light, sky-ish blue. So yes, still ugly.

My reason for not buying the house wasn’t the ugly color of the exterior so much as it was the odious man who was selling the house. When he heard that we might have to build a pole barn on the property to use as storage for Tom’s business stuff, he immediately declared, “Oh no. I won’t allow that. I’d have it stipulated in the purchasing agreement that no pole barns will be erected.”

Okay. Bye. No sale for you. I was not going to buy a house that he was asking WAY too much for to start and then have the old owner tell me what I could and couldn’t build on my own property. No thank you.

We kept looking and found our enormous yellow house…at least, I think it’s yellow. It was yellow when I left his morning for work. I wonder what color it will be when I get home this afternoon…

Dun dun dunnnnnn…

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Falling Apart

Okay. I started meds on Saturday for high blood pressure. Ugh.

I feel like this is the start of my decline.

I know. It’s so stupid. I mean, I fought cancer over the last year. You’d think I would have felt like August 21, 2017 was the start of my decline. That was the day I was diagnosed with cancer. That should be the day I felt like my life and my body was falling apart.

And yet…this feels bigger somehow.

I have to lose weight. I just do.

So do it, right?

Sure, it’s that easy.

Actually, I know it is that easy. I just have to DO IT.

I read the warnings about the medicine I’m going to start taking. It said not to start a low salt diet while on the medication. Okay.

Except, what if I want to try and lower my stupid blood pressure through diet and exercise (Ha! Exercise, hahahaha. But yeah, what if?)

Do I start the medication anyway since that’s what my doctor told me to do? Do I wait, try and change my stupid diet and try to add even a little exercise into my routine and see what my stupid pressure is in a month?

The doctor wants me to have a pressure check after a month of the meds. Do I cheat, not take the medicine, change my diet, exercise and then have the pressure check?

I don’t know if I’m disciplined enough yet to do that. That’s the problem. Heck, I’m not even sure I’ll be able to remember to take a stupid pill on a daily basis. Fine, I probably will. I’m not actually an idiot even if past behavior might say otherwise.

I guess a big part of it all is that I need to grow up. I need to develop the palate of an actual adult instead of an eleven year old who’s been left alone with Mommy’s credit card and sent to the grocery store where she gets a bunch of junk because lettuce and pistachios are gross.

I need to find an exercise that doesn’t feel like work.

I remember as a kid playing outside for hours, hitting a tennis ball against the roof of the house, swinging on the tire swing. I was so strong, so fit. I never felt like I was exercising.

But I know that adults don’t actually get to just play and magically get their exercise. I know this. So…we’ll see. I’ll try. I have to.