Tag Archives: family

Being a Grown Up

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“When adult life becomes so overwhelmingly frustrating, I almost feel like I want to be able to remove the skin I’m in and step out of it, taking on a new reality just as I change duvet covers when the seasons change. I don’t itch, not in a physical sense… it’s like a psychological itch; a discomfort that almost, but not quite, allows me to understand why some women simply walk out the door and leave their home and family behind when the challenges of life are piled on top of them.”

I wrote this paragraph a couple of weeks ago. For the life of me, I can’t remember the precise details of what was stressing me so much that I needed to capture these feelings. Obviously, it was intense. And, just as obviously, it worked itself out and I’m still happily married and devoted to my children and husband. I think sometimes the collision of Things I Can’t Control and Things That Don’t Go As Planned just creates the perfect emotional storm, you know?

Do you ever experience these feelings of wanting to just lock the door behind you and walk away? What makes you stay? I think I may need to investigate a little deeper and pull a book idea out of this…

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Baby birds and healthy meals

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A couple of weeks ago now, I moved my oldest daughter into her first apartment. She packed up the boxes, I helped her unpack a few. We went shopping for some of the necessities of single-living that she wasn’t able to pay for right away – dish detergent, broom, etc… We discussed the best way to buy groceries on a (very) limited budget: meal plans. And then I came home to my house. That evening, as I prepared a yummy dinner that featured pork chops and organic veggies from my CSA bag, I was struck by an unexpected bout of guilt. Guilt that I was making a healthy, not-so-frugal meal that my daughter and grand-daughter were unable to partake of. They only live 20 minutes away. But their meals will be based around cheap staples, 101 ways to use ground beef, and probably not a ton of fresh (certainly not organic) veggies.

That feeling hasn’t hit again, thankfully, and I’ve even seen a post on Facebook that featured a decent meal she created all by herself. I’ve begun to feel a little more comfortable with the idea that they’ll be able to make it. And by “make it”, you know I mean “keep their clothing clean and ingest a vegetable at least once a week.” 🙂 Sometimes, it really is necessary for the baby bird to be shoved out of the nest.

I have wondered if my mother worried about these kinds of things when I moved out. I was single and living on my own for approximately two months before meeting my first husband, who promptly moved in with me. I had my oldest the next January. I figured out how to apply for WIC, how to deal with the county health department when I didn’t have health insurance, and how to appeal my denial for health insurance when I could finally afford it but it was outside of my employer’s “open enrollment” period. (I won.) I don’t remember asking my mom for advice for these things, but I also don’t remember her being much of a worrier. I think she just assumed all would be well. Of course, I was 25 when I moved out, and didn’t have a baby yet… but still. Surely she worried just a LITTLE.

Perhaps I should go dig out her journals and read a little about her feelings on the subject. Or perhaps it’s best to just keep looking forward and expect success. Seems like it worked for me.

 

 

Tools to keep us sane (relatively).

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I’ve shared before that my husband and I have been making some changes in our diets and activity levels due to my husband’s brush with high blood pressure and diabetes last year. I’m happy to report that the Hubs has been super-committed and has lost over 40 pounds just by exercising more and cutting back on his portion sizes and intake of starches. He’s been using an Atkins-inspired diet plan and I’m so proud of his progress so far. His A1c level has gone from 10+ last year to just over 5 in January.

I doubt I’m the only wife who feels like they have to be prepared at any moment to step in and rescue our husbands when they have neglected a Very Important Thing. Sometimes (most of the time, probably) the Very Important Thing isn’t potentially life-threatening… picking up milk on the way home, or scheduling an oil change. But sometimes the Very Important Thing is, in reality, VERY IMPORTANT.

Now, any given day at my house, we’re looking at this pile of laundry… (yes, that’s a pool table underneath… we’re busy around here!)

Laundry makes me crazy

… and this selection of medication on my husband’s side of the bathroom vanity (yes, that’s the 9th Dr. overlooking the scene – we’re busy geeks around here!).

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So, you can imagine that when I find an app that I can load on my phone and that will make a Very Important Thing in my life a lot easier, I’m all about it.

One particular panic moment occurred soon after my husband’s diagnosis with diabetes. He was already headed out of town on a business trip and realized that he hadn’t ordered a prescription he couldn’t afford to miss. He was kind of freaking out, but I remembered that I had the Walgreens mobile app loaded on my phone. I told him to just get on his flight and let me take care of it.

The Walgreens app allows users to load prescriptions for other people – perfect for parents, spouses, or caregivers who are taking care of someone else’s prescriptions. I pulled up my husband’s prescriptions, found a Walgreen’s near his hotel, and sent the Very Important prescription he needed there. He picked it up after dinner that night and never missed a dose. I think he was fairly impressed.

I’ve added my husband’s prescriptions to my account on the app (easy to do – just follow directions on the app) and I can pull his list up on my phone with a simple drop down menu:

Walgreen's Prescription App Family Member RefillOnce the prescription has been filled and is waiting for me, I get a text message on my phone to let me know – these alerts are easy to set up in the app as well:

Walgreen's Prescription Alert on iPhone

You can also schedule reminders to nudge you to get your kids vaccinated on time, and even set a timer to remind you to take your meds every day. What do you bet someone’s wife came up with this app?? LOL! #Happy#Healthy

Before I headed to pick up my prescription I also used the shopping list available on the app to remind myself that it’s time to touch up my roots and I needed to pick up some sugar-free candy for my office (low carb, remember?).

Walgreen's App Shopping List Feature

But I’m not saying this wasn’t tempting… Damn you, Easter Bunny!!

Easter Candy at Walgreen'sI found these warmers at a ridiculous price and had to pick one up. I’m sorry, but less than $6.00??? Um, YES.

Harmony Home Warmer Sale Walgreen'sI checked my Walgreens Rewards Points and kept an eye out to see if anything I had on my list had points available. Most of the items that offer points do so by 1000-2000 at a time, and you only have to reach 5000 points to get $5.00 off your next purchase.

Walgreen's Rewards Points AppMy youth-in-a-bottle didn’t have any points attached today, but it’s a couple of dollars cheaper than I see it elsewhere, so I’m still happy. 🙂 Mission accomplished, and I’m able to check a few things off my to-do list. But of course, the laundry is still on the pool table… 🙂

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and Walgreens. Even so, the opinions are my own and I use the Walgreens Mobile App for realz. #cbias #SocialFabric

Tell Me A Secret

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We all have secrets. Some of us keep secrets from our spouses – the fact that your credit card balances aren’t quite as low as you claimed, or maybe the fact that you were engaged to someone else before you met them. But what about secrets that would be appreciated, or even cherished, by someone else… but you decide to keep them to yourself. Have you ever been selfish with a memory?

As my husband has been receiving updates from his step-mother and watching his father suffer what is probably his last battle with a lifetime habit of cigarette-smoking, we have talked about his feelings and how I can support him through the child’s journey he’ll be taking as his dad goes through treatment. One evening we reflected on my mom’s cancer battle, and he suddenly said “There’s something I haven’t told you before.” Obviously, in other circumstances, I might worry about this statement, but in context I simply wondered what he could be referring to.

His tears welled up a little as he confided a secret he’s kept for over 3 years. The night before mom died, as my siblings and I wrapped up an evening spent laughing (loudly) and telling stories in her hospice room, we each said our good-nights to her and headed out the door. Rick was the last to bend over her and give her a kiss, and he told her he loved her. She was heavily medicated to relieve the seizures she was experiencing due to her brain tumor, and had not been responsive or able to communicate for a couple of days. We were hopeful that she was able to hear us, but unfortunately we didn’t get to hear what she may have wanted to say to us. But when my husband said goodbye, she responded to him. He doesn’t recall recognizing any words, but she mumbled. She recognized that he was communicating with her, and she let him know.

Mom was probably the closest thing to a real mother that my husband had, but they had only a short time together – almost exactly 6 years. She was never one to mince words, nor did she hold back when heaping praise. She took Rick in when he moved here, unemployed and broke, from Colorado to marry her daughter and be her grand-daughters’ step-dad. They had so much in common it was kind of funny. I used to joke that he married me for her. 🙂

We left my youngest brother with mom that night to spend the night in the room with her, and around 6 a.m. he let the rest of us know that she had died in the night. I suppose I could be upset that my husband never told me about that night. Some people would be, I’m sure. I mean, she was my mother, afterall. I certainly would have enjoyed knowing that she recognized him. But, I know she thought he was pretty great, and I’m so pleased that her effort to say something to him at least confirms that she knew we were there. I hope that she heard our laughter and knew that she had done her job in this lifetime… she raised four children who will care for each other and be there for each other in her absence. She taught us how to remain positive and move forward through difficult times with determination.

I think it’s better that she didn’t respond to me, because I probably would have wanted to make her say something… I would have asked the doctors if perhaps she wasn’t ready to go. I would have hung on, even when it was obvious there was no point. It was time to let go. She said what she needed to say to the person who needed to hear it. I’m glad he has that special memory… but I’m also glad he finally told me about it.

The After Times

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The After Times

When my mother died I was devastated for myself. I lost a business partner, a confidant, and the biggest cheerleader for me… for everything I did in my life… that I would ever have. I lost the person I went to with any frustration or life-question. I lost my best “girlfriend”… the person I went to when my spouse drove me nuts, when my children left me speechless, when I had a life-decision to make and wasn’t sure which road to take.

I have a wonderful husband who has picked up the slack in some areas. I have had to learn to go to him when I am frustrated or confused, and he does a great job, but he doesn’t fill the entire void. My sister covers a lot of ground in other areas, because she has become my road-trip partner and let me rant to her when I am going nuts at home and just need to feel sorry for myself.

But the biggest source of sadness I have is actually not about me. It’s about her. My sister. She was, in many ways, an only child from late elementary school through college. Even though my mom remarried, they were kind of a dynamic duo. Mom was able to share many experiences with my sister that she couldn’t with her older kids. When mom died, one of my first feelings of sadness was for the many, many experiences that my sister was still going to have that our mom wouldn’t share with her. My brothers and I had had weddings, children, career successes, and hobby successes that my sister had only started to set goals for when she died… I hated that my sister would not have our mother here to share these things as I and my brothers did.

Last week, my sister lost one of her close childhood friends to an untimely death. Mom knew the young man’s family (I say “young man”… he was 31, so I guess he was actually a Man) so her number should have been the first my sister called. They could have shared a common history as they discussed the news. They would have been able to remember some great moments together. Mom would have offered to go with my sister to Dallas for the funeral. Instead, I got the phone call. I am sympathetic, of course. I even cried as my sister told me what she knew about what happened. I remember her friend, and met him once or twice, but it’s not the same. Not even close.

I knew when mom died that I would be taking mom’s place for my sister in many ways. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy when it has to happen. I am happy to do it, of course! But I hate with every cell of my body that I have to.

Some things get easier with time, but I don’t think this will. Ever.

Stuff that I love

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There are a lot of things I love. Some things I don’t love so much, and interestingly – those are listed in BIG LETTERS in my tag cloud over there —->  Guess we don’t always write about what we love. Sometimes a blog gets populated by a whole lot of stuff that pisses us off.

But in the case of CANCER, the thing I love so little that I might actually use four-letter words when I refer to it in conversation, that thing has actually brought a wonderful thing along… a really strong relationship with my sister. Don’t worry, this isn’t going down the two-hankie-blog-post path. I’m just saying… I mean, get over it. Just briefly: our mom was diagnosed with brain cancer in September 2008 and passed away in August 2009. In those 11 months my sister and I developed a bond that can only be understood fully by other people who have shared in the work of caring for a dying loved-one and then spent another year and a half figuring out what to do with all their stuff including a house that was built by their grandfather and which ended up in foreclosure. And also including three beloved cats. Yeah… THAT kind of bond. I have a tattoo to prove it.

So, back to the stuff I love… one of those things would be Dave Matthews Band. Another, understandably, is my sister. Another is road trips. And finally, another (the actual list, which includes this photo of my brothers, would be ridiculously long…) is junking/thrifting/scrounging/treasure-hunting. This week the stars are aligning just as they do in super-cool documentaries about the Mayan Calendar and the future of the Universe and things like that, and my sister and I are taking a road trip to see Dave Matthews Band at one of their summer Caravan festivals – as well as a crapload of other awesome bands. On our way, we are certain to be lured to the roadside by junky buildings overflowing with stuff other people would throw in a dumpster or on a burn pile. And we

CAN

HARDLY

WAIT!!!

Okay, I’m not skilled on WordPress and can’t make that centered text look as intense as the waiting actually feels.

The aforementioned sister has been putting together a mix tape (shut up – if I want to call it a mix tape I will!!!) of a bunch of the bands we’ll see over the three day festival. We have been doing stupid little wiggly dances for at least the last two weeks every time we are together and one of us mentions the trip … we have saved our pennies and are making lists of the things we need to take and have a cheap ass hotel room in the ghetto reserved in our name. The countdown is on and this time tomorrow we’ll be lying in our beds unable to go to sleep.

We will be posting pics. We will be slapping on the sunscreen and using our refillable water bottles. We will also be eating cheap food in Chicago that quite possibly will taste better than anything we’ve ever eaten in our LIVES simply because we’re on a road trip.

And that, my friends, will be something to love.

The end of an era.

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In 1966 my grandfather built a house on some property that my grandmother inherited. My mother had already married and moved away, but my siblings and I spent most Christmases and weeks every summer there.  We explored the woods, climbed on limestone bluffs full of fossils, picked blackberries, helped plant the vegetable garden, harvested the produce, learned to paint with my grandmother, rode in the back of grandpa’s pick up to feed the cattle, gathered eggs, fished in the river, roasted marshmallows in the fireplace… so many of our favorite, formative memories and experiences were created there.

On the eve of the property being sold on the courthouse steps to the highest bidder, I thought I’d put down a few of my favorite memories…

My grandmother was an artist. She took lessons from one of the leading tole-paint artists in the 1970s and sold her beautiful items at craft fairs throughout the Ozarks for years.  She had a room in the house dedicated to her painting. It was a delightful room full of paint, brushes, bookshelves full of books, and had a large bay window. I loved to watch grandma paint, and have a few things that she let me paint alongside her. One day she invited my brother and I to gather flat river rocks from the gravel driveway and let us paint little faces on them. I was impressed and a little jealous that my brother’s rock faces had better eyes than mine did. No wonder he went on to be a brilliant illustrator.

Walking through the woods in the spring looking for fern fiddleheads and wild violets.

During the summers before central air was installed it was seriously warm at night upstairs where the bedrooms were located. A box fan was placed at each end of the hallway outside the bedroom doors and the windows were opened to allow air to circulate through the house. The fans created a hum that harmonized perfectly with the raucous noise of the cicadas that started up at sundown each evening.  I will always enjoy the sound of tree frogs and cicadas at night – it’s not just a memory but a sensory feeling of peace and security that settles within me when I hear those noises. It’s a sign, to me, that all is right with the world.

Christmases at the farm, when we were there before the 25th, involved scouting out the perfect tree. Very often, grandpa had already located a contender and we would trek with him through the woods or ride in the back of his pick up to the bottom pastures to offer our approval and beg him to let us help with the sawing (the answer was always – appropriately – no). Cedar trees often grow along fence lines on farms in the south, and the aroma of fresh-cut cedar will always be a favorite of mine.

Fresh tomatoes, still warm from the vine, sprinkled with sugar. Mmmmmm….

Another scent that stays with me is a combination: fresh sawdust and cigarette smoke. My grandpa was a Marine in the South Pacific during World War II. Along with all the other GIs, he was provided with free cigarettes on a regular basis. I’m not sure what the reasoning behind that was, but the result was that he started smoking. I don’t actually remember seeing him smoking often, but I know he did while worked in his woodworking shop on the farm. When I went to see him in the shop there was always a specific smell that permeated the air. It was also in his shirt when I hugged him goodnight. It doesn’t sound like a smell that would be pleasant, but I love it.

Helping grandma hang clothes on the line outside the pump house/laundry room.

My grandmother made fantastic home-cooked meals that included a huge selection of vegetables from the garden, canned tomatoes, and beef that was probably raised on the farm. Whenever she made pie crust she cut the scraps of pastry into little strips and sprinkled them with sugar and cinnamon. The pies were wonderful, but the little strips of baked pasty were perfect.

Grandma used to put on rubber boots at dusk and beat the bushes around the patio with a hoe to chase out the copperhead snakes so she could mangle them.

Helping grandma hang clothes on the line outside the pump house/laundry room.

It’s ironic, I think, that on the day that the property will leave our family the trees are bright green from the recent rain, the iris are blooming and the woods smell fresh and musky. It’s one of my favorite times of year there, and every spring I’ll wish I could go back.