Tuesday, May 26, 2015

These Days

I haven't written a post in a while that is simply a "what's been going on" post, so here it goes...

My kids got out of school last week. 
And we have three extra weeks added onto our summer in August because new schools are being built in our district. 
They don't go back until September 8th. 
As I write this, they are in the other room pretending they are in music class. 
And they are screech singing. 
And it's raining outside. 
Help me. 
Please. 


We saw the movie Tomorrowland yesterday. 
Very good film with action, explosions, and a message worth thinking about. 
That we, people of this planet earth, need to cut the crap and fix what has happened to our home. 
A few days before that, Chad and I watched the movie Still Alice at home. 
Wow. 
Scary. 
Early Onset Alzheimer's. 
An amazing performance and a film that made us both hope that that won't become our future. 
Because it was so scary. 
Scarier than the message seen in Tomorrowland. 

Even with the kids being out of school already and three extra weeks of summer break, when I look at the calendar on the wall it's so full. 
And I didn't really sign the girls up for anything.
They have a 3 hour camp on Thursdays learning about Lewis and Clark.  
Swim lessons on Monday and Wednesday mornings. 
They have sleepaway camp in July for a week. 
We need to get to Memphis in June. 
We are going to Michigan for a week in August. 
Our friends from Vermont are coming for a few days in July. 
We have a family wedding in August that the girls are in. 
I'm exhausted already. 

But today, I have absolutely nothing to do. 

We had a sick chicken. 
Took her to the vet and she's all better. 
We had a goat with a bloody horn a few weeks before that. 
Took her to the vet and she's all better. 
Here's hoping everyone else in the barn stays healthy. 

Speaking of health, Zoe had a blood draw last week. 
She has horrible veins.
They are deep in her arms and they hide as soon as she enters the hospital. 
It did not go well for her. 
Our nurse friends had to call in Dan. 
I don't know Dan, but we all certainly put the pressure on him to get blood from the girl who doesn't like to give up her blood. 
Dan the phlebotomist. 
He got the job done, but not before suggesting taking it from the big vein in Zoe's hand and her yelling NO!
She had that done once and vowed to never let anyone touch her hand veins EVER again!
Her blood, her veins, her choice I say. 


She (and her sister) raided the toy closet before we left. 
People donate tons of stuff to children's hospitals. 
Sometimes it's the only way people know how to help sick kids. 
Toys. 
After the hospital visit we headed to lunch.
A new place for us. 
Obed and Issac's Microbrewery and Eatery. 
Such a long name. 
A restaurant in a big house right in downtown Springfield, Illinois.  
A block away from Abraham Lincoln's house. 
We had great service and great food and will definitely eat there again. 
Since Abe's house was right across the street, we headed over for tickets to see inside. 
The girls have been inside twice before, but between their young ages and Zoe's chemo brain, they both couldn't remember taking the tour.  
Abraham Lincoln's home and neighborhood are the only National Park within the state of Illinois. 
It's free to get in, but you need a timed ticket and can only get in while on a tour given by a National Park Park Ranger. 
They even wear those cool wide-brimmed hats you see Rangers wearing at Yellowstone and those other parks with lots of trees and wolves and giant waterfalls. 
Each time my kids go into this house, even the times they don't remember, they giggle about the chamber pots under the beds. 






Wednesday, May 20, 2015

We Are Human

I was watching a show on television last week and they had an interview with the author Judy Blume. 
She's written a new adult fiction novel. 
But it's based somewhat on some factual airplane accidents that occurred in the neighborhood that she grew up in as a child. 
The neighborhood that inspired her to write teen novels involving menstrual cycles and letting boys touch your boobs. 
But she said two sentences at the very end of her interview that really struck me. 
Struck me so much that I searched for a pen to write them down. 
Two sentences that are basic yet so powerful. 
Two sentences that will mean much to anyone who hears them, I think. 

"There's joy in life after terrible things happen. 
We are human and we must go on."

I think of parents who have lost a child. 
Or children. 
A child who has lost a parent. 
Or parents. 
Great tragedy, I believe, really occurs when someone you love has died.  
Especially before you or anyone else believes that that person has lived enough life. 

Tragedy also comes with illness. 
From the trauma of a natural or man-made disaster. 
From horrific accidents or decisions that lead to despair. 
Homelessness. 
Drug addiction. 
Cancer in a child. 
Tornados and terrorist bombings. 

Humans are resilient. 
Humans must move forward or they will cease existing in this world. 
And it may take time to pull your bootstraps back up. 
To get your sense of self back. 
To learn how to breathe again. 
But we do. 
We all do. 
Because there is joy in the world after terrible things happen. 

Babies are born. 
The flowers bloom with each spring season. 
The wind blows a cool breeze on your face on a hot day. 
You learn to appreciate the small things. 
The regular moments in life. 
You laugh at a movie. 
You hug a horse. 
You get a puppy. 
And life goes on...




Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Going Gray

I stopped coloring my hair. 
The gray has started to take over and I'm letting it. 
My husband has no hair, he started loosing it more than 20 years ago. 
But he has facial hair. 
Why he is bald on top and hairy EVERYWHERE else is a mystery to me. 
And him. 
His facial hair is more white than brown. 
And he looks so great!
Why do I need to color my hair to look great?
I have been noticing couples when I am out and about these days. 
Many men have gray hair. 
But their partner, when it's a woman, does not. 
It's rare to see a gray haired woman. 
They are there, but in small numbers. 
90% of the time she has colored hair. 
The brownest of brown. 
The blondest of blonde. 
The reddest red from a bottle.
These couple look mismatched. 
He looks his age while she's trying as hard as possible to NOT look her age.

I don't want to spend the money. 
I don't want to spend the time. 
I am not going to color my hair anymore.
I got it cut last week. 
I have always had short hair and get lazy between cuts, so I need to get on the ball with that more. 
I found a great stylist last week as my old stylist is moving to Florida. 
My new stylist is another mom from school. 
She has two boys around the ages of my two girls. 
And she did a great job when I went in and said...short, messy, feminine. 
And seemed pumped when I said I'm not coloring my hair anymore. 
Maybe not too pumped as I'm one less client she can persuade to get golden highlights. 
My husband seems to like it.
He told me "the gray looks sexy."
And I said "really?"
And he said "for sure!"
And I made googly eyes at him. 
And he made googly eyes at me. 
And my ten year old yelled "I'm sitting right here so stop it!"

Hair has been a big topic in our home for a few years. 
My oldest lost her hair three times between the ages of five and eight. 
And then we were told it may not grow past her shoulders due to the cranial radiation she had. 
Currently her hair is longer than anticipated (past the shoulders!) and a deeper brown than her "first" hair. 
And her blonde sister got her baby curls cut off about 6 months ago and now sports a cut deemed hipper for a six year old. 
Someday they may color or shave or dreadlock their hair. 
I say go for it. 
Hair grows back. 
Life needs to be full of variety. 

Here's to the gray. 
For taking my head into my own hands. 
For not bowing down to what women in their 40s are "supposed" to look like.
Who decides how we are to look?
Do we just follow our predecessors and peers?
I look like me. 
My gray kind of looks like highlights I think. 
Highlights of the life I've led. 
And I thank my friend Carla for starting this trend for me to follow. 
 


Monday, April 13, 2015

Can You Hear Me Now?

One-uppers. 
My conversations seem to be about people one-upping me. 
You know what I mean?
Here's the situation...
I try to tell a story. 
An event that's happened to me within my life. 
Boring or monumental. 
Each day is different, right?
People do this hundreds of times a day.
Have conversations with other people. 
Unless they are hermits. 
Hermits never see, let alone talk, to other humans. 
But I'm not a hermit. 
And I have conversations with real, live people and they seem to be listening but really they aren't. 
They heard two words probably. 
It's a one-sided conversation from the start. 
And I had no idea. 
This other person is thinking throughout our entire conversation about their turn. 
"Ohhhhh, when's it my turn???...my turn, my turn, my turn!"
And when you stop speaking, having maybe spilled out your heart, they immediately one-up you. 

You went to birthday party for a 95 year old woman?
They know someone who's 96!
Planning a trip to NYC?
They just got back from London!
You had a chemo treatment?
They know someone whose dog had a brain transplant!
You are thinking of getting a shingles vaccine?
They are working on an AIDS cure!
Sigh...

Kids do this too. 
A lot. 
I wonder where they get it from?
As a parent, I'm raising a portion of the future. 
A very small portion, but a few can change the world. 
And I'm trying to help my daughters navigate through the *intelligent and thoughtful conversation* protocol. 

Why can't people hear you anymore?
Just hear what you have to say and accept it. 
To say wow, great story. 
To be empathetic.
Sympathetic. 
Nope. 
Always have to one-up everyone. 
I'm trying to be more cognizant of this. 
And I hope I'm not doing this. 
I'm sure I am at times. 
So, I'm nipping it. 
Where are the snippers?
Nip, nip...I want to hear what YOU have to say. 
And I hope you can stop to hear me, too.

 
...photo credit goes to my friend Mark, he captures my best moments. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Typical Tuesday

I like to take random photos of my family. 
Not just posed shots where "everyone is smiling and heads are up and both feet are on the ground, stop wiggling!"
But real life moments. 
Captured forever. 
Or if I look like I have three chins, then quickly deleted. 
I hope my children will one day look at these everyday events that I have saved for them and remember our journey together. 

This picture says many things to me. 
It was taken on a recent Tuesday. 
We met my husband at the university where he works to eat dinner. 
This happens most weeks. 
Then the girls have piano lessons across campus. 


Zoe had some math homework that she brought with her. 
My husband is Math Man in our house. 
I'll help you with your spelling. 
They sat together discussing the problems at hand. 
He's a very hands on father. 
A father who never wastes a moment with his children.  
He seems a bit tired and is working hard on concentrating. 
Fourth grade math can be a doozy in the 21st century. 

And look way in the back of the photo. 
At the tall tables. 
The girl who has a lot of anxiety in new and stressful situations. 
But who feels very comfortable at this university. 
And she often likes to take her dinner and will eat alone on the other side of the room from us. 
To feel her need for independance warms my heart. 
She and I are a lot alike. 
We are loud and energetic and independent. 

My family. 
In a photograph. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Blood, Pain, Love

Thursday didn't go as I had planned. 
Not that I had had BIG plans for the day. 
It was the first day of Easter break for the kids. 
They were to spend the night with grandma and grandpa Wednesday night. 
At ten, I would pick them up. 
The mall would be our destination where I would proceed to spend my birthday money on some new pants and hopefully a black swimsuit top. 
We would then meet cousins at our favorite pizza place for lunch. 
Then head home where I would put some poultry in the crockpot for lime chicken tacos that we would consume for dinner. 
It didn't happen. 

Wednesday.
11:37 pm. 
My lovely deep slumber was obliterated by the overhead light coming on and the shifting of the bed as my husband sat on the edge putting his socks on. 
"Didn't you hear the phone ringing?"
"Umm, why would I hear the phone ringing?  I'm sleeping."
"Well, your mom has been calling. Gigi is throwing up, has an earache, and wants to come home."
Crikey...I wanted to go to the mall tomorrow. 
He left and I rolled back over trying to sleep for two more minutes. 
Because my parents only live two minutes away. 
Before I could snooze off they had returned. 

She seemed fine in the morning, but definitely had the look of a virus about her. 
No mall. 
No lunch with cousins. 
So, I decided to make a banana cake with the overripe fruit that was staring at me from the counter. 
Gigi sat on the couch watching movies while I fetched her stuff. 
Around lunchtime I headed to the barnyard. 
The water trough was getting low and the rain we had been promised by the local weatherman hadn't come. 
So I needed to pull the hose out to it and fill it up. 
The goats were in a very playful mood.
Racing through the stall. 
Head butting one another. 
As I sat and watched the water level rise in the big drinking bowl, I saw the blood. 
Blood on Tulip's head. 
Blood on Yogurt's head. 
Her horn!
What had happened to Tulip's horn?
Our unicorn was broken.

Somehow, in her playful romp with her sister, Tulip had broken off her horn. 
The only horn she had. 
She and her sister were de-horned as babies, but one of hers grew back. 
Our unicorn was now just a goat.  

I called the vet.  
Told them the situation and they said bring her in. 
Part of her horn was still attached so it was dangling from her head. 
And a bloody stump was showing. 
I managed to get the rest of the horn off. 
I had called both my dad and husband to come help with her. 
My dad got ahold of her and I pulled it off. 
It was hollow. 
It was as if I had tore my fingernail off and the bloody underlay was present. 
That's what was happening to Tulip. 
Buttercup was very curious about what was going on. 
At first she was looking into the barn with her entire head over the Dutch door. 
But she soon became nervous. 
And only peered in. 


We had transported the other goat to our vet once when she was younger. 
Usually the vet comes to us. 
Our farm vet is 30 minutes away and we were going to try to get Tulip to them.
In our dog crate. 
That we hoped she would fit into. 
That we hoped she would go into. 

So instead of a leisurely day of shopping and lunch, my husband and I were loading a bloody goat in a dog crate into the back of the minivan.


She was a good goat all the way there.
Upon getting out of the crate in the large animal room of the clinic, she became nervous. 
And the blood began to spurt out of her head. 
And Gigi started to cry.
Zoe walked to the window to look out at the gravel parking lot. 


The vet and her assistant got the bleeding under control. 
Bandaged up her head and gave her two injections. 
One for pain and an antibiotic. 
At this point Tulip was exhausted and done with everything. 
She let out a few horrible loud screams which made Gigi cry again. 
They suggested we separate Tulip from Buttercup and Yogurt for a few days. 
They were afraid they would bother her bandage, try to eat it off. 

Gigi wanted McDonalds.  
So, with a goat in the back of the car we headed to those nasty golden arches. 
There goes my taco dinner. 
When we got Tulip back to the barn, her sister and friend steered clear from her.  
She looked funny. 
She smelled funny. 
No one was going to eat that bandage off. 
Separation wouldn't be necessary. 


Our goats are our pets.
We don't milk them or plan to eat them. 
Their sole purpose has been to be companions for our pony. 
A pony who came to our home because a girl with cancer wished for her. 
So, if one is sick or hurt we treat them with compassion and help with their pain.
And on Thursday that meant forgoing my trip to get new clothes and instead hauling a goat 30 minutes away to get her injured head treated. 
Because this goat means a lot to us. 
She was brought here to help heal our daughter. 
Gigi is feeling better. 
I'll go to the mall tomorrow. 


Monday, March 23, 2015

Grateful For Catitude

Barn cats are a tough breed. 
We have four specimens of this special breed. 
And I'm always amazed they are still with us at age four. 
Yes, I just knocked on wood. 
The out of doors is a rough place. 
Country life involves foxes, stray cats, and the sheer idea of becoming lost. 
Which I'm positive happened to one of our boys a few years ago.
Missing for two weeks. 
He's never strayed again. 
Our troop grew up in our barn that sits about 30 yards from our house. 
They began residing there at eight weeks of age. 
Acquired on Independance Day. 
Hence their names. 
Firecracker. 
Popcorn. 
Jumper. 
Cali. 
I don't know how that last name came to be as the others are all BOOM related. 
BOOM as in a firework sound. 
They were named by the kids. 
Zoe was in the middle of her two years of chemo. 
She usually got anything she wanted. 
Bald and walking around in a chemo haze, she was easy to please. 
You want some kittens?
Sure thing kid!
We went to grandma's friend's house that steamy July day to get ONE kitten from the litter that was living in her shed. 
But we couldn't pick just one. 
Too. 
Much.
Cuteness. 
So, we brought all four home. 
And surprised my husband with our loot. 
Good thing he likes cats. 


As they grew older and braver they began wandering closer and closer to our house. 
And the girls eventually brought them into their domain. 
Where they were coddled and kissed and put into doll beds. 
These four siblings are by far the sweetest, most trusting felines I have ever seen. 


And I've seen many cats. 
A decade and a half of veterinary techiness behind me, I am one with cats. 
And seem to prefer their ways more so than the dog way. 


Today was shot day. 
I prefer to give these barn cats their annual vaccination to prevent feline funkitude. 
It can be pricey to take four cats to the vet's office for vaccines.
I can't by law give a rabies shot, so our horse vet does that when she comes out. 


They were all neutered, with one spay thrown in, at about 4 months of age. 
I didn't do the surgery though. 
Our vet did. 
And they still joke at their office how Popcorn lost his kernels that day. 


On cold days they tend to stay inside. 
Inside our house. 
Snuggled on our laps or on a bed with one of our two housecats.  
Sometimes we even see them snuggled up next to a dog. 
I have the honor of saying that we have the best group of cats on the planet. 
There are no fights. 
Lots of head licking. 
The barn cats exit at night to go on the prowl. 
We find dead mice sometimes. 
That's their main job. 
Mouse control. 
In warm weather they are outside all day and night. 
Lounging in the barn. 
Sunbathing near the barnyard water trough. 
Relaxing on our pool deck as children run past them to cannonball into the cool relief of water. 
Barn cats are the best. 
Well, mine are anyway...