Friday, November 30, 2007

Generally Uninspired

I am lacking in inspiration this afternoon. The gray day may be contributing to my general blah. The high point of the day is yet to come though. Katie will be back home from her three-day trip at 3:00! I am looking forward to hearing all about her adventures while she was away from us. I am so ready to see her beautiful freckled face.

I did get in to have my cortisone injected this morning. I did not enjoy the experience. (That's good since it's creepy when people enjoy pain.) Now I am supposed to "take it easy" for 24 hours. It's worth it to have the injections done because there is substantial pain relief and better mobility for almost a year afterward. (Yay!)

Last night was blissfully uneventful with the kids. Everyone went to bed without a battle. Evan and Erin did their chores with only token resistance. I was up for hours after the kiddies went to sleep on the phone with Dad, then Mom, then engaging in round two of post-infusion nausea. This is one of those infusions where stuff hurts and food is not my friend. I hope that does not last all weekend.

Good news from Dad: Aunt Retha's oxygen was turned off this morning, and she seemed to still be getting enough oxygen on her own. She may be breathing without the respirator today. She developed some secondary infections (allergies and bladder, I think) that were a concern yesterday. We continue to wait for more news and pray.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Follow Up

Several goodies today. The meeting at the school went well. Evan is doing what he is supposed to be doing. He instigated a "point sheet" that includes goals that he and his teachers evaluate daily to assess his performance. He accrues points for meeting goals, and he can earn treats or privileges like video game time or a library pass. I am proud of him for remembering that this system worked well for him in the past and suggesting it. His classroom teachers all report that he is keeping up and doing well. He has one B, and the rest of his averages are A's. He stumbled a bit getting caught up from his absences while he was in the hospital, but he is back on track now. The ARD committee (Assessment, Review, & Dismissal committee) will actually meet next Tuesday afternoon. Today we were just talking about the boy in preparation for the actual meeting. He has had some obstinate moments at school, but thankfully nothing like what went on at home during the holiday break.

Infusion is done. My hips are on fire. Some nausea this afternoon, but it was gone by dinnertime. The infusion was largely uneventful. I did zonk out the second I came back in from meeting with the teacher. It is time for more cortisone injections. I wish we had just done them the last time I was in the rheumatologist's office, but she said they would work better if we waited until the pain was really bad. Fabulous.


Everything hurts. I hate days like this, but I sure am thankful that they are infrequent now. Just have to get through the meeting at school and the infusion today.

Please pray for Aunt Retha who had a heart attack yesterday. She is on a respirator with congestive heart failure waiting for fluid to clear from her lungs and had three stents placed yesterday due to aterial blockage. Please keep her husband Randy and their grown children K.C., Jay, & Kim plus grandchildren in your prayers as well. We give praise for the immediate care she received as the heart attack occurred while Aunt Retha was being given tests at the hospital with the necessary doctors present. As Daddy put it, "She must be living right."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Broken Stuff

My IVIG has been postponed until Friday. For those of you just joining our program, I have an abnormal immune system. I am given a blood product every 4 weeks by IV. Last month was supposed to be the one month a year when I am given two infusions(every 4 weeks = 13 times a year), but there were issues with the insurance and getting the medication. (At over $5400 per treatment, we need the insurance to cover the IVIG, so we waited for the official authorization. That meant doing two treatments in November instead of October.) Now there is a scheduling error that means waiting three more days late this time. I am worn out, my joints are starting to cause pain again, and I'm concerned because we are running infusions late right in the heart of cold & flu season. I am tired, grouchy, and irritated with my body for not working correctly in the first place.

The Christmas tree toppled this morning. We have all hard floors. 14+ years of carefully selected and stored ornaments representing so many precious moments in our family's lives were broken or smashed. It's not just the loss of the pretty little things, but more of what each one represented. I have redone the tree with the assorted ornaments that are not breakable. I think it might be a little ugly. The good in this is that there is plenty of room for the gigantic kid-made ornaments that would have produced over-crowding previously. I'm still sad though.

My bad attitude is driving me nuts. I cannot get away from me, and I am driving me crazy. I wonder if a nap will chill me out? A walk did not help... I think it just gave me an opportunity to get more worked up. Argh.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Plan

Evan is now totally ticked at the therapist. He is not speaking to Dr. Dan. So Dr. Dan asked to talk with me instead. He seemed a bit bewildered by the total turn-around in Evan's behavior toward him. I explained that Evan is now blaming Dr. Dan for the level system instead of blaming me or Don. Dr. Dan responded that this is not usually the way the level system works. Normally, parents would introduce the level system. Then the kid goes in to tell Dr. Dan about the crazy new thing the parents are doing. Dr. Dan can listen and offer sage advice to help the little darling begin to accept responsibility for their actions and see how their choices are leading to their consequences. That sets the parents up as the bad guy, but Dr. Dan is at least able to offer counsel. In this instance, the kiddie is ticked at Mom & Dad for enforcing the level system and at Dr. Dan because it his system.

Dr. Dan responded to my displeasure with the introduction of the level system by saying that he has never presented the level system to a kid himself before--- and our current situation is why. He did not apologize for painting any potential for failure of the plan as the fault of Don and I last week, but I am satisfied without an apology. The reason for Dr. Dan's presentation of the level system is because Evan had provided such a glowing version his life that it absolutely threw Dr. Dan to hear about what we have been dealing with at home. We are now wondering how much purpose there is to keeping the next appointment if Evan will not talk with Dr. Dan. I figure we will keep taking him to the appointments for a few weeks. If he still refuses to talk to Dr. Dan in 2-3 weeks we can revisit whether or not to continue. We will keep him on the level system as it is set right now.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


In the early years of our marriage, I was accused of nagging. I never have caught on to why it is "nagging" for a wife to tell her husband what she wants or needs. If she tells him more than once, wouldn't that seem more like an issue on his end since he's the one who's ignoring or putting off a request? In the middle years of our marriage, Don began to change his views on my requests. I would ask him to "take care of" something, and if he did not--- let the consequences fly. I developed the habit of greeting him on the phone or at the door with the words, "I told you so," until the words were no longer necessary, and the look said it all.

It is not fun at all to recognize that a spouse actually has free reign to do dumb stuff, and that there is nothing one can really say or do to avert the potential comedies, tragedies, and inconveniences that will occur as a result. (Kids are different. If we succeed they will eventually set up housekeeping somewhere else. Friends and relatives are different. Their lives are not tied to our well-being in the same way.) We morphed into our latest stage a couple of years back. I have not heard the word "nag" from Don in reference to me in years. He does not even require the look anymore. He just does whatever I ask of him, tells me when he will get around to it, or lets me know that he is not going to do it at all so I can take care of whatever it may be myself. He is developing the ability to read my mind with at least 60% accuracy which is all I ever really wanted from him. He recognizes that the "We" in "We need to [fill in the blank]," is literally translated to "He" or "You". This seemed to be working well for us until very recently.

In the last few days, the nagging has returned. Here's the catch: I am nagging in my sleep. Last Wednesday night I was sound asleep, but asked Don over and over again if he thought the turkey would be cold enough. (The bird was in a brine, and it was iced down. It was fine. The night-time nagging stopped after I got up in the wee hours to check the bird.) I laughed it off thinking it was a strange thing to ask him about over and over again in my sleep. Then he came in from playing late last night to snatch a few hours of sleep before he left to go play at church this a.m. The electric blanket was not warming, and he had paid for it so I had no idea where the receipt was in case it needs to be exchanged. I was soundly sleeping under a pile of blankets by the time he came in last night. Yet I still managed to ask him again and again about the receipt and explained that the blanket that was not warming. He eventually just got out of bed and fixed the blanket. Apparently I quit asking him about the blanket after it started warming. I was pleasantly surprised to find it working when I awoke this morning.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Level Up

Ugh. Last night was infuriating, heart-breaking, depressing, and generally not my cup of tea. The boy succeeded in getting dropped all the way back to Level 3 (in his room) again. He threw things, tore up a wall, growled and spit, the usual fireworks. He decided to blame Dr. Dan instead of me for the Level System. That's new. The level system was all my fault a couple of days ago.

He said he was never going to talk to Dr. Dan again. I said he didn't have to talk to him, but he was going to go to the appointment scheduled for Monday either way. Katie very helpfully informed Evan that Mom and Dad didn't like Dr. Dan either because of the levels. (Ugh. Me and my big mouth.) I explained that we like Dr. Dan just fine, but that we very much fail to appreciate Dr. Dan telling Evan about the Level System and saying that "parents just don't stick with it" without bothering to give us a head's up that he would want us to start the program as discussed weeks ago. Our objections were to the lack of forewarning and to the statements made to Evan with me present about parents as if they all are lazy people who can't be bothered to take responsibility for discipline. I treated the statements made as if they were challenges, but I was not pleased by the derogatory nature.

Yesterday was a mood swing festival of crying jags, screaming, yelling, pounding, and grousing. Today we were able to mitigate his restriction by taking him out for a long walk in the cold followed by our shopping trip. We also decided that we were going to tailor Dr. Dan's plan to better work for us. Instead of the 24 hours required to move up from each level, we are going with 12 hours. Evan's patience is far less than what one can reasonably expect from someone his age. He is doing better this evening. I think I would be ready for a commitment hearing myself if we had replayed last night's behaviors from the boy.

So tonight he has electronics, and he is out of his room. On Monday, Don or I will be having a few polite words with Dr. Dan regarding dropping bombshells like the Level System plan on Evan without preparing him for change. Change is not good for Evan, and a dramatic variation in discipline at home was not the way to go. He usually has a hard time handling the holidays, and the level system definitely exacerbated the usual issues. We are trying to do what we are "supposed to do" by having the boy see a therapist, but thus far I have yet to see any notable benefit to Evan or our family.


We spent our morning out hunting a Christmas tree that would suit us all. Once the silver and white ones were nixed, the kids turned their considerable energy to picking out a green one. (The fresh ones are unwelcome because we already have enough shedding around here with the animals.) Don wanted a hinged tree that came pre-lit. I wanted a skinny tree that would take up less room and a small tree on which to hang the excess ornaments that will not fit on the slimmer tree. (I collect Hallmark ornaments, and the kids each receive and/or make several new ones each year. The numbers are legion.) We eventually agreed on an anorexic tree, bought separate iridescent faceted light strings (because I liked them better than the regular naked bulbs), and added a second small tree.

Now we just have to make a trip out to the dump with the Mother Tree. It's mammoth, and it has served us well for the decade that it has been in use. We have added a child, a herd of pets, a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law, both of our dads have retired and our moms gone back to work full-time in the years that the old tree has been with us. I wonder what the new one will witness in the coming years?

Friday, November 23, 2007


I am one of those lunatics who will head out shopping this morning. I popped up out of bed at 2:30 this morning to make coffee. I've already scoured the ads with Katie to plan a shopping route based on opening times and what we are hoping to purchase. This morning's Black Friday (aptly named since this is the day when many retailers hope to "be in the black" and to gauge holiday sales) adventures will include one of my daughters for the first time. It's something of a milestone in our family. We are not those people who have matching sweatshirts made up to identify one another as they gambol around the stores fighting for one of the limited to 50 larger-than-life-size Santa blow-up yard decorations for 19.99 available only from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m.. Those people are crazier than us. (I know I'm okay as long as somebody else is still crazier.)

The first year I went along to this madhouse we lived in Midland, TX and I was in high school. My cousin John and I were both along with our mothers and Mammy. I was only along because John was going along with Aunt Sue. John was going because his Mama wanted him along, and he was more patient than anyone else on the planet with Mammy's shopping techniques. Mammy's technique was to very slowly peruse every single item in any given store. (This explains how Papa patiently spent years of his life sitting in the parking lots of K-Mart, Wal-Mart, and craft stores all over Texas and parts of New Mexico in the years before cell phones made it possible for our loved ones to track us down after we disappeared through the automatic doors.) It became a running joke as to who was going to be tagged to take Mammy to the store. John Paul was acknowledged by most as the very best shopping buddy for Mammy, and I began to aspire to his extraordinary patience. It was not an exercise for the hurried, but it was a delight to learn to see the standard aisles of your mega-mart as an adventure unfolding before the wheels of your cart.

While Mammy is no longer with us to cruise the aisles of our local discount retailers, the men who marry into the family have noted an interesting phenomenon. All of the women in the line seem to develop this see-it-all tendency and become ever slower as the years pass. My mom needs something in the neighborhood of 40 minutes to "run in" after one or two small items. I have a compulsion to wander away from my targeted shopping in case there is a "deal" available on the back end of an aisle somewhere. I walk into a store and my focus becomes fuzzy and eventually dissolves entirely. Mom and I are only a few decades into our lives. Mammy had 74 years in which to perfect the art of becoming distracted and to develop a pace as unhurried as molasses running uphill. Despite marrying into a clan where shopping is not so much a leisurely stroll as a timed test, I continue to grow slower with each passing year.

Today I will pass the torch. Kaitlin turned 10 last Spring, and I have noticed that she has lost the urge to rush in and out of a store. She now lingers. She suggests we check out "one more thing," and she is no longer able to resist the siren song of a clearance rack. The signs that she is maturing into her birthright are present.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


A whole day devoted to giving thanks, pie, good food, pie, family, football, and pie. (The boy should also be out of his room again, too.) Well, we'll probably skip the football (Yeah, yeah, I know that is sacrilege.), and pie will be a higher priority; otherwise, the preceding should describe our day.

There will only be chocolate or pumpkin pies offered today. I know it doesn't sound right. Don's the only one who likes pecan pie, and I'm the only one who likes apple pie. A whole pie that only one family member will eat seems like an expand-o-matic waist waiting to happen. Let's just not go there.

I am thankful that I can walk for miles... quitting only because I am bored with walking or short on time. I am thankful for the giant blond dog who is laying at my feet because he thinks I need guarding when I wake up at 2:30 in the morning, and for the foolish kitten making guerilla attacks on his wagging tale. I thank God for the four other people sleeping soundly while I am awake listening to the wind blow in the trees.

I am thankful for the family and friends who share our lives, and for Christ who gives us all purpose and hope. I am thankful for Oren who will receive his Master's in a couple of weeks, for Lou who already did, for Jim who completed his Air Force training, for Evan who is back in school, for Erin who remains the family comedienne, and for Kaitlin who chooses not to grow up quite so fast. I am thankful for Mary Ann and Daddy who always answer the phone. I am thankful for Sylvia, Ally, and Meera who almost always know the answer---even if that just means knowing when to admit there is no answer. For Neely's Aunt Worma who keeps going. For Cindy who turns 30 today. For Mom who took off work to come. For Don's excisions, Daddy's washes, answers and grace for Cindy & Oren, and my IVIG. For a year without a near-death experience. Brittany who was baptised on Sunday. Our Life Group. Loving Your Husband AGAIN with Sarah and Brittany. The list goes on and on. The Lord is good to us.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Well, the boy is parked in his bedroom for 24 hours. He reset to another full 24 hours at 10:30 this morning because he was banging on the walls. Thanks very much, Dr. Dan, for telling Evan about your disciplinary plan for him when he was going to be home for a full nine days. Dr. Dan is not very high on my list of people I like right now after he introduced his system to Evan along with the issuance of a parental challenge to "make it work" without any warning to us that he would be doing so. Better still, we actually pay Dr. Dan to be a pain in the rear.

Dr. Dan's brilliant plan involves a "Level System" where the boy forfeits any time with friends including phone privileges when he gets put on level one. Level two is where electronics go away. Level three involves Evan hanging out alone in his bedroom except for potty breaks, bathing, meals, church, and any exceptions granted by Mom & Dad like school or a doctor's appointment. Evan is put "on a level" for any behavior, words, or expressions that are deemed disrespectful. He remains on the level for 24 hours. If he has a separate incident, we either reset him to another full 24 hour period at the time the incident ends at the level, or we can bump him to the next level.

Dr. Dan's plan is based on the methods used in the mental health hospital setting. It works. Of course, in the hospital setting there are lucid adults who are not personally involved or invested in the kids available 24 hours a day (secure in the knowledge that another shift will arrive to relieve them every 8-12 hours).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Making Do

Hmmm. The heater is out. Yes, I kow we should get that fixed. I also know the heater is not going to be fixed for the money we have available for that purpose right now. We'll get it done. We will not get it done before the temperature drops this week. I consider an air conditioner to be necessary in Texas. It is conceivably life-threatening to go without a/c in a Texas summer. Our winters are generally pretty mild, but I am concerned about our projected drop to freezing this week. That might not be fun.

This afternoon we all piled in the truck to head for Wal-Mart to look for ways to keep warm over the coming cold snap. Sarah's suggestion of electric blankets was inspired, so we made sure that was on our list for the kids. Thermal underwear for everyone seemed like a good idea to me. (The girls were offended by the appearance of the long johns. I confess to rolling my eyes a time or two over their concerns with color and pattern.) A few over-sized fleece blankets, extra gloves, and dorky hats for all went into the cart as well. (Our photos on Thanksgiving Day are going to be funny if we actually get cold enough to wear those hats inside. I am half-way hoping it does get cold enough.)

While a space heater seems like an obvious solution, I just cannot make myself purchase or borrow a space heater. I've just seen too many episodes of the evening news where houses burn down thanks to a space heater. I really cringe at the idea of a space heater with the kids and pets. It takes no imagination for me to envision a child draping a blanket over a space heater or an animal knocking one over. We will just have to bundle up, hang out in the kitchen, and snuggle up.

One More

One more is a recurring them around here. Today we celebrate one more birthday. This morning there is one more kid on-hand. I need one more cup of coffee. I hope I don't have to go back to quiet the boys' noise level one more time. (I could hear them from next door while talking with Mrs. Carol & Mr. Art after our walk.) I am being asked one more question by one more child...

Don turns 35 today. The day will be otherwise ordinary. He picked out his own gifts over the weekend, and there was no point in wrapping them. He feels like there have been too many sweets and meals out recently with Erin's birthday last Thursday. My in-laws called to wish him a "Happy Birthday!" which is apparently to be the only celebratory moment. I did not even realize today was the 20th until he mentioned that his mother called and why. It seems wrong to have a birthday just pass like any other day, but that is what we are doing.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cheap Pie

Whoo-hoo!!! The super-shopper strikes again! Tonight I outdid myself on baked goodies. 4 pies, 4 dozen rolls, and a tub of Cool Whip for $5.75... and the cashier then printed me out a coupon for $5 off my next shopping order. Yay!!! My cheap little heart grew three sizes today.

I think my children may have been switched at birth. I baked an apple pie. An ooey-gooey, warm-from-the-oven apple pie for their dessert. The friend who was sleeping over proclaimed, "It's PIE! Don't ask questions. Just eat it." (That's a smart one there!) My lovies tasted the pie. Both girls put it aside after a single small bite. Evan inhaled the crust and topping, but left behind the cinnamon apples. How can they not like apple pie?! (I am convinced that is somehow un-American.) They have suggested we have pumpkin or chocolate pie in the future.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I almost never saw her. I was watching for trouble on my left and from the rear while trying to gauge the speed of those ahead as I prepared to enter the highway at a steadily increasing speed. The lunatic in the Honda came out of a parking lot across a couple of lanes and the solid white line to enter the highway. While I was impressed by the level of creativity her driving showed, I was definitely not pleased to discover another vehicle about to plow into the side of mine where Don was riding! I figured my parents were probably having a stroke since they were following us and likely had a far better view of our new friend than they wanted. I also wondered if the officers who came to the scene would accept my parents as witnesses that this lady t-boned us on the access road. Fortunately, we did avoid an accident today, but it was a near miss.

I wonder what I am not seeing in life that will blind-side me later? I wonder if there is something streaking toward us as we blithely move through our day that will force us to slow down and re-evaluate... spin us out of control in a series of slow-motion heartbeats... or bring us to a grinding halt.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Today Erin is 7 years old. Wow. She's the Queen of the World today. Actually she's running around the house with a cat and a blob of pink play-dough--- I hope it's play-dough and not gum. Tonight we will celebrate with a party at the Zone where she and her friends and siblings can bounce to their hearts' content on giant inflatables. Then we will feed them all pizza and cake and send them home sugared-up with play-dough.

Mom and Dad are here so we drove to Arlington to visit my Grandma Pat (Dad's mom) and Uncle John Hayden (Dad's uncle). We had lunch and took pictures with scare crows. We hit Bass Pro Shops and headed home to pick up the kids as they get out of school. Now the party favors are stuffed, and we have to go pick up a neon pink 3-D Barbie cake before meeting Miss Erin's guests.

I realized today that this is not only Erin's 7th birthday, but it is also the 7th year we will celebrate with the Reeces. That's almost as much of a "Wow." as Libby turning 7! Here's to long-time friends in our transient world.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Optimism is what I have been asked to bring to my marriage today. My husband needs optimism. Optimism as in "an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome" according to Webster's Dictionary. He has a best-case scenario outlook on life. I do not happen to share this perspective. Interestingly enough, he does appreciate that I am purposeful in most of my words and actions while he finds himself to be more lackadaisical in his approach to life in general. I foresee difficult days ahead.

That lack of an expectation that "All will be well." is precisely what drives me. I am constantly fighting the entropy in our lives. Entropy as in Webster's "a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder". I fight chaos. I thought that his relaxed approach and my need to plan worked rather well together, but apparently my concerns are weighing more on his happy than I realized. I am completely at a loss for how one can function without the driving need to hold the world and its craziness at bay. Hmmm. This request will have to be put to prayer. I have no idea how to meet this desire he expresses. It is utterly alien to everything that I am.

His glass is half full, but the waiter will be by at any moment to fill it back up. My glass is half empty, but I am carefully guarding it against evaporation and spills. I think my glass may actually be a sippy cup.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I think the kitty may be brain damaged. She chews on electronics. She perches on the top of the bedroom door. She thinks the tail of a 90 lb male lab is a toy and that the dog it's attached to is her "snuggle buddy". Don just returned her to me after he found her... in the oven. Most disturbing, she does not flee the children. That is not the brightest kitty.

I do not really know why we have added the kitty to our menagerie. We pull into the church parking lot to retrieve Miss Katie who is volunteering in the nursery playing with babies. She climbs into the car and Don spies the sign reading "Free Kittens". The free kitten needed litter, a box, a too-big collar she has yet to grow into, a litter scoop, more food, a kitty dish... and she needs shots and fixin'. The jury is still out on whether or not she will keep her claws.

It took several days to arrive at her name. There were many suggestions from the oh-so-original "Kitty" and "Cat" to the spice family of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, etc. (I started to wish we had brought home the black kitten that was missing part of its foot so we could call it "Lucky".) I thought maybe "Brin" since the cat was a brindle, and Don suggested "Fender". Eventually it became obvious to me--- and I was doing the naming--- that the hairball's name was "Bella". She looks a bit like a "Bellatrix", but since the Harry Potter character was evil we're saying it's based on Spain's Queen Isabella as in the mother of Katherine of Aragon (Henry VIII's first wife) and the grandmother of Bloody Mary.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Hmmm. A blog was suggested, and now I am getting around to it.

Today I am all about the chilis. Well, the dried chilis anyway. I have discovered the wonder of ancho chili that I can shake out of the jar. (Are anchos dried habaneros? I think so, but I am not sure. Sylvia is bound to know because I am pretty sure she is an expert on habaneros.) It makes a nice addition to the regular Cayenne, Garlic, and Cumin. I kept adding the chili powder waiting for the taco meat to be just right. I may have been overenthusiastic in my use of spices; however, Evan (who complains bitterly about regular pepper being too spicy) asked for seconds so it must not have been too hot. The real test will be Katie. That child can detect the slightest variation in food. It's both a source of pride and a major annoyance.