Survival Training

So, kind of out of left field The Man says, “Its a nice day. Get dressed we’re gonna do something.”

I asked, “Does this SOMETHING involve the Outdoors?”

“Yes.”

“I’d be fine with the Outdoors if only they weren’t outside….” Continue reading

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Attitude of Gratitude

‘Tis the season and all that, so I’m starting my 30 days of Gratitude early.

Because I am.

Grateful.

Things may not always go the way I hope they will and they definitely don’t usually go the way I plan them to, but in the end everything seems to work out all right. Last year was a better one for us than most…right up until November when Matt had a heart attack. It’s been an interesting ride since then, that’s for sure.

Grateful: HE’S STILL HERE.

Grateful: He’s able to do most of the things he could do before the heart attack.

Grateful: He’s back in school working on his degree.

We’re struggling financially right now, but that is due to a fluke in his financial aid, and we should be back on track in January when the Spring semester begins.

Grateful!

We’ve had to lean on our church who was generous enough to step in and pay our water bill and get our water turned back on (that was a very long week!!)

Grateful!

A month after getting water we had to ask them for help with our rent and they stepped right in and took care of that so we wouldn’t be evicted.

Grateful!

Our truck was about to explode…literally. We couldn’t keep water or coolant in it and you could see it run right through. His teachers stepped in and got our truck fixed so we wouldn’t lose our transportation and Matt wouldn’t have to stop going to classes.

Grateful!

And, we’ve discovered not every human being is…well, you know. We have restored faith in humanity.

Grateful!

And, we are being exposed to more professional and personal opportunities to grow through his college and his involvement with the Student Government Association.

Grateful!

And, because we’ve discovered what our church is doing to help others we have to opportunity to be on the front lines to help other people which is lending faith, grace and humility to our souls.

Grateful!

And, when all this started one of my internet friends whom I’ve never actually met and who is living day-to-day, paycheck-to-paycheck like the rest of us sent us money which helped us meet our rent a few months ago. Out of the blue. Because she could.

Grateful!

While we’re still a bit stressed at times, I am surprisingly calmer about a lot of things because I know we walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death. We don’t take up camp halfway in, and we aren’t expected to visit and take pictures and send postcards home….we walk through….to get to the other side.

For the chance to keep walking with the man I love by my side and our sweet little tornado trailing behind us….

I am so very, very grateful.

We got this.

2am Insomniac Musings

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It’s 2 am. Why am I awake?

I seem to be asking myself this a lot lately. I have fibromyalgia. I have severe flare ups when the weather changes in Spring and Autumn and the past month has been hell. Almost literally.

As you know, I have a bouncy, energetic, very snuggly four-year-old and lately I have to remind her not to touch me. Or climb on me. Or try to sit on me. Or keep her elbows away from me. This is hard on both of us. She’s just being herself and I’m just being a crotchety old fart who is practicing for the NO FUN award. :/

The good news is, well, I can’t be sure of this, but the good news is that it should be going away as soon as the weather makes up its mind to either be warm or cold. This back and forth stuff is nuts. The longer the atmosphere twirls and spins the longer I suffer.

That’s a horrible word and I don’t like it. I know there are other people who have it worse than I do. Probably MOST people. I’m not whining…I guess I’m just admitting out loud I have limitations. And reminding those of you who love me that “Hey, I have limitations!”  LOL

Right now (and during other flare ups) I am tired all the time. Except bedtime apparently. Sometimes I can’t lie down because just having my body touch things hurts. Some people ask if it’s muscles or ligaments or bones and right now I hurt so much I couldn’t begin to figure it out. What I can tell you is…

I walk like my 85 year old neighbor who probably thinks I’m making fun of her. 😐

I’m not, of course. Funny though….I go over there to help her because she can’t do a lot of things like she used to. I feel like a fraud though because most of the time she’s in better shape than I am. And then I have guilt.

I was doing all right when all I had to worry about was my house and my family. And I totally agreed to take on her house and her family (to a small extent). But there are days I kick butt at her house and come home and nap or just sit around because I can’t do anything else. My house suffers…which means The Man comes home to a dirty house. (I hate that.)

The pain is distracting. I forget things. Like where I put my house keys. Or my reading glasses (those are new too…I’m so old) or I forget to make tea. Worse…there are times I’m staring at something and can’t think how to work it. Like the coffeemaker. Or the toaster. Or I can’t remember what I have to do to brush my teeth and I stand in the bathroom staring into space because it’s right there but I can’t find what I’m trying to remember.

I am a Christmas tree.

During flare-ups I have to think of my body as a Christmas tree. My head is the star on top and my arms, out a small distance from my body, are the “tree”….and during flare ups I can’t lift my arms higher than the “tree”. It hurts. Lifting things hurts. I can’t get things out of cupboards. I can’t pick up the bag of sugar off the counter. God forbid Abby wants me to hold her. I have to tell her I will, but she has to come in the living room where I can sit down first.

I feel like I’m trapped in a 90 year old body. Some mornings I awake to discover that I must have died while I was asleep because rigor mortis has set in and I can’t move or straighten out or bend my appendages. Lately my “Good days” are when OTC pain relievers actually relieve some of the pain.  I have other days where I’m pushing them in my mouth like M&M’s.

So, it’s 2 am and I’m awake. Hoping for relief. And sleep. And the energy and movement that will allow me to take care of my family. There was a time I didn’t think that was too much to ask.

The Year of the Novel

Before you begin:

Set up writing area, stock supplies of “thinking juice” (coffee, cocoa, etc), inform friends, family and professional contacts you’ll be BUSY WRITING during the day and to please call only after 4pm. Catch up on correspondence so you won’t end up forgetting to contact someone when you’re BUSY WRITING. Pay necessary bills now while you’re thinking of them so that when you’re focused and BUSY WRITING no one turns off your water. Or worse, your electric. (Where would you be without your computer????)

Day One:

See spouse off to work, children off to school, set up small children with fun activities they can do with little supervision and take “thinking juice” to office to begin your eagerly anticipated day of BUSY WRITING. Turn off cell phone, turn off ringer to house phone. Set notepad next to keyboard so you can write down new ideas that come to you while you’re BUSY WRITING your current stream of thought.

Get up and go potty so you’re not interrupting yourself.

Stare at blank page in Word.

Take deep breaths and begin being BUSY WRITING.

Fifteen minutes later stare at first sentence “The…”

Decide these curtains really should be washed.

Get shower curtain from bath because it should be washed too. While in bathroom decide a shower will help you think better. Cleanliness is next to novelly-ness.

Run load of light laundry.

Blow dry hair because you can’t think with water in your ears.

Play with small child who is now finished with fun activity and needs you to entertain her. Make lunch.

Clean up from lunch. Bring small child with coloring accessories into office so she can draw pictures while you are BUSY WRITING.

Play solitaire until you can form an idea, because it’s totally missing from your brain. Your story was great…but how to form it?+

Throw clean wet laundry into dryer.

Stare at “The…” in Word. Delete and start over.

“I am…”

Change pants of small child who said “I have to go potty” as she began to water the carpet at your feet.

Soak up puddle on carpet. Spray carpet. Drag out carpet shampooer and shampoo carpet.

Decide while you have it out you might as well do all the carpets.

Fold and put away laundry, rehang curtains and shower curtain.

Decide while making dinner not to inform spouse you won four hands of Spider Solitaire.

Week Two:

You can’t possibly get BUSY WRITING in this environment. The office feels old and tired and is making you feel the same. How can you be creative and be BUSY WRITING if you’re wishing you could lie down all day?

Put small child in car and drive to hardware store for paint.

When spouse comes home to freshly painted bedroom he does not ask how your writing is going.

Month One:

The entire house is clean, everything that could be laundered has been, all carpets/ upholstery are spotless, kitchen sparkles, bedrooms are tidy and smell good. You sit in office trying to be BUSY WRITING.

You sigh in frustration, although somehow you are at the end of Chapter Three. You decide since it was so hard in coming that you should reward yourself.

When spouse comes home to you trying to LOOK BUSY and sporting new hairdo he does not ask how your writing is going.

Month Two:

Spouse notices small child is happier and can now tell time, count money and recognize some words and does not ask how your writing is going.

Month Four:

Spouse comes home to find new car in driveway, enters house to find you’re the only one there. Does not ask how the writing is going.

Month Five:

You decide it would be so much easier to be BUSY WRITING if you brushed up on your typing skills, and find a typing program online. Spouse hears you tapping away on the keyboard from the other room and smiles to self, proud that you’re finally BUSY WRITING.

Month Six:

Spouse unimpressed you can now type 85 words per minute.

Month Seven:

You’re not allowed to have cocoa or other “thinking juice” until you’ve  written something. Spouse pushes you into office and closes door. You can hear him barricade it with heavy furniture before he yells, “You can come out when you have three more chapters!”

Spouse holds firm when you bang on door and cry pathetically because you can smell the fried chicken and brownies he’s made for dinner.

You yell at spouse through door and call for pizza delivery.

Delivery driver Marco arrives with pizza and you lower your INBOX tray out the window and ask him to put the pizza in it.

Marco becomes one of your closest allies. By month nine he’s parking a block away and sneaking right up to the house under your office window.

By month ten he’s also bringing dessert and the latest Harlan Coben novel.

Month Eight:

You emerge from your office after having actually been BUSY WRITING with your hair disheveled, your clothes rumpled and your small child asks timidly, “Mommy?”

You hand finished novel to spouse and fall across bed where you sleep for two days.

Month Nine:

Spouse approves and you send novel to agent. Agent sells book to publisher who assigns editor to tell you everything you’ve done wrong. Editor calls with requested rewrites.

Month Eleven:

You begin the process once again…on the book you’ve already written.

Month Twelve:

You find yourself wondering how you thought the new paint matched your old carpet…and you really do need some new bedding….

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Update and LIFE

Some people say LIFE is what happens when you make other plans. Some people say God has a weird sense of humor. Some people just shrug and say “sh** happens.” Whatever the case, it happened to us and that’s why I haven’t been here for the past couple of months.

On November 11, 2012, my health food nut-herbalist-wilderness expert-martial arts loving-fire breathing (no, I’m not kidding) husband had a heart attack. After I managed to get that to somehow fit into my head (“He eats fresh foods!” “He’s physically active!” “He’s in better shape than I am!”) I got stuck on “He’s only thirty-nine!”

Thirty nine. I mean…really? The past year or so he’d had higher blood pressure (not enough to be on medication). He has a family history of heart issues but he himself didn’t have a history of cardiac issues (that we knew of…more on that later). We figured eventually…someday….when he was older (sixty? Seventy?) he’d have trouble of some sort…but now? No. Now we are young (ish), we have a three year old we’ve only been together five years…we’re just starting out, really. Now?

He was transferred to a hospital in Georgia because our local hospital doesn’t have cardiologists. (This isn’t unheard of. Our local clinic doesn’t even have doctors.) Abigail and I stood in the parking lot of our hospital and waved to the ambulance as it was whisking Matt off into the unknown. Abby cried. I only wanted to.

When I caught up to him at the big hospital he was stable and didn’t look at all better. He was a strange shade of pale grey that just shouldn’t be seen on human flesh. There was no sign of his sarcastic personality or gleam in his eyes that let me know he was about to make a joke about something that was going on. He had no expression on his face at all. But he was stable. We’d take what we could get.

The next day he had an angiogram/angioplasty, angio-something. They blew his artery up with a balloon, promised to “unclog” any blockages found and possibly insert stents to get the blood flowing where and how it should.

What actually happened was that the cardiologist he had saw that some vessels had rerouted blood to that blocked off section of his heart. This told him that since his body had time to do that Matt had apparently had a heart attack already, years ago. The cardiologist stopped because “Hey, there’s blood getting over there somehow, so, we’re good.”

After talking to his sister we discovered that Matt had probably had his first heart attack shortly before meeting me. WHEN HE WAS THIRTY FOUR.

There is so much that just wasn’t fitting in my brain. Thirty four??????

He regained some strength and a bit of color and was released from the hospital after four days.

One month later he wasn’t any better off than he was the day he had his heart attack. He made some calls and switched cardiologists. The new doctor was appalled at the actions of the first doctor and scheduled Matt for stress tests and a new angio-whatever procedure. This guy actually opened up the blockage and inserted stents.

Yes, there was blood getting in, but it was a trickle carried in by blood vessels and not at all the amount that an artery had been providing. Matt felt much better almost immediately, although he had chest pain for another month or so, and still feels it when stressed/upset or exerting himself.

He’s got a new job (one less physical and less emotionally taxing) and is taking night classes to get the degree he didn’t finish (because he fell in love and moved to the Great White North to be with this crazy chick). He’s back to living his life instead of lying around the house worrying about whether or not he’s got a life, so it’s time I pick back up too.

Times were tight without him working and we don’t have internet at home right now, so I’ll be writing at home and posting whenever I can get to an internet connection.  Thank you and SO MUCH appreciation goes out to those of you who’ve been following along via frantic texts or rare Facebook postings. Neither one of us could have gotten over this particular hurdle without knowing how many of you were out there caring. We love you!

What Are S’Mores Good For?

S’Mores are good for…

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Breakfast!

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Lunch!

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Dinner!

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Camping!

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Brownies!

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People who love power tools!

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Christmas!

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Cookies!

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Lovers!

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Cupcakes!

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Candles!

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Schmancy dinner parties!

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Easter!

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Ice Cream!

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Halloween!

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Keeping pyromaniacs busy!

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On a stick!

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Pie!

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Sharing with friends!

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Treats!

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Work!

and last but not least…

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…Uh…?

A day without laughter is a day wasted. –Charlie Chaplin

Sunday morning I woke up about 3:00. (I can see you’re jealous.) I laid in bed until I couldn’t stand it anymore and moved into the living room and flopped on the couch to play on the computer. Around 4:00 I heard a noise outside and decided to sneak to the window with my stealthy ninja skills to peek through the blind and see if I could see anyone out there.

I quietly set the keyboard aside and got up…and fell off the couch.

(Ninja!)

Matt laughed later and said he could hear the Mission Impossible music playing “Dadadaaaaa……dadadaaaaaa” then the music would stop and you would hear THUD! as I hit the floor.

(He’s so supportive.)

He laughed for twenty minutes.

Then we were driving around to flea markets (having given up on yard sales) and there was a realtor sign in the ground. I don’t remember the name of the company, only that I misread it as “Superhero lots for sale.”

I said, “Oh! We should buy that. Start a farm. Grow superveggies.”

He mumbled something about Jim Carrey.

I said, “Our doorbell will go ‘DA dada DAH!”

He spit on the windshield. (One point for me!)

I should tell you that I am the blind one in this relationship. I have no idea what my sight is without contacts, but it’s bad. Very, very bad. So I’m the one who misreads signs, buttons, teeny instructions on boxed food, etc.

But later that day he misread something.

“Wow. And you’re the one that’s supposed to have good eyes…”

(long pause)

“…like they do in Australia.”

He looked confused. “What?”

I smiled and waved, “G’day!”

He laughed, kissed my head and said, “You’re an idiot.”

All is well in Elisaland. 🙂

I Just Want To Lie Down

ImageBeing a homemaker is nice. I like it. Except for the dishes. And folding laundry. Overall, I like it. Being half of an US is great. I like it. It’s more work than people tell you. It’s more work than you think. It’s definitely more work than you’re prepared for by your parents or school or life.

Being a mother is grand. If you have a uterus I highly recommend using it. If yours doesn’t work, you can adopt. No problem. Mothering is great. Motherhood is a blessing. Being a mom is…

…tiring and I want to lie down.

I had my daughter Abigail when I was forty. Well, forty and a half. Don’t laugh. That half matters. I was that much older. I can’t speak for all women, but at that age I totally underestimated the effects of sleep deprivation. I hadn’t even considered the effects of endless nights of interrupted sleep. I also hadn’t counted on receiving an angel from Heaven who disliked sleep. I mean…who knew?

Of course I knew I’d be waking up with the baby. We’ve heard stores about those three o’clock feedings for years. I mean, even with a puppy you have to wake up every two hours. I get it.

I thought I got it.

After a few weeks with Abigail in our nest even Matt said “They tell you babies sleep eighteen hours a day, but they don’t tell you it’s in fifteen minute increments!”

Seriously? Oh. My. God.

I pressed onward, night after interrupted night, day after no sleep for me day, telling myself that soon she’ll sleep through the night; her naps would be longer during the day. I’d be able to lie down. Or wash dishes. Or shower. Or pee.

But as the months wore on the only one in our house getting any sleep was Matt. He used to joke about knowing how many times Abby was up at night by how many piles of formula were on the kitchen counter. When I stumbled into bed just as his alarm clock rang in the morning, he’d look at my mussed hair, my closed eyes and laugh. I was a living zombie.

I was about as cute and dressed just as well.

Months went past and I told myself to hang in there because she’s got to sleep through the night eventually, right? Any minute now….

But we had gotten Angel Abigail, Anti-Sleeper of her Mother’s Demise. She was just over sixteen months old when she slept all night. SIXTEEN MONTHS! And even then it was hit or miss for another four or five months. Just before her second birthday she was sleeping all night every night. Finally….

in OUR bed.

She’s three years, two months old now. She’s still sleeping in our bed. (She will sleep in her bed sometimes, but come in with us before morning, but mostly we just all pile in bed together and go to sleep.) And it’s been so long since I’ve had a solid nights sleep that I can’t sleep all night…even if no one needs me. Even if left to my own devices, I am awake every few hours.

I’m over forty-three and a half now…and I’m so tired. There are a few nights that I might have been able to sleep all night…but Abby had a bad dream…or called me in her sleep…or (now) the puppy barks.

Some of my friends are fantasizing about cruises, second honeymoons or the young guy who helped them with their groceries or who cleans their pool. Me? I just want some quiet, a big fluffy bed, and a world without alarm clocks, puppies, and “Whatcha doin? You sleepin;?”

Did I mention I just want to lie down?

And They Call It Puppy Luh-huh-huh-hove

[Apologies to Donny Osmond.]

Because we’re busy, because we can’t afford it, because we felt we needed a challenge or because we’re just insane

One of those is the reason we got a puppy. I’m not sure which one exactly, but one of those.

The thing is? So far she’s awesome and has fit right in and she’s less like a pet and more like Matt and I had another baby. She is SO good tempered! She does puppy things, like chewing on your hand (because either that’s just what puppies do or because she can detect the lingering aroma of a Baconator) and trying to run off with whatever she can reach. But, really? She’s barked a high pitched feeble bark twice. Once because she pooped (or because she pooped and then ran out of things to do on her own and wanted someone to play with her) and once because she discovered she was too small to hop up on the couch on her own.

She hugs (HUGS!!) Abigail, plays with her, lets Abby feed her and, uh…pose her (don’t ask. Soon this may also involve purses and my dress shoes). She is sweet, friendly and so stinking CUTE.

We named her “River.” We drove up River Road to get her, the song on the radio said something about the river and today Matt told me it’s her soul’s name, trust him. And honestly? It seems to fit her. She also answers to it, which is something because the people we got her from were calling her “Daisy.” She’s not a Daisy.

She’s the Anti-Daisy.

[There. Now you know. The opposite of Daisy is River.]

Right now the only item of furniture she can sit on is the loveseat (it’s the same height as the couch??) so she laid on it next to me this morning and dozed while I watched the news. She’s so CUTE!

And we own a carpet cleaner, so all is well. 😀