Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oh happy day!! You're a medical oddity...

So today is National Rare Disease Day. That's right. You're welcome. I bet you didn't even know. And who wants to pass up a celebration?? I learned this on the ITP website. For those of you who don't know...Lu has ITP. Which is idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. Yeah, say that three times fast. I dare you. This is a rare disease, therefore, today is her day.

I remembered this last night~

Me: Hey. You have to be nice to Lu tomorrow.

Sean: Why?

Me: Because it's National Rare Disease Day and she has ITP.

Sean: And?

Me: And what? It's not enough that your sister has a rare disease and has to see a Hematologist every couple of weeks? It's not enough that she almost bled to death from getting a tattoo?

Sean: I think you might be exaggerating again.

Me: Maybe. But just a little. Anyway, she does have a rare disease and she does have to take icky medicine and spend alot of time at the doctor's office. And be careful about drinking and stuff. So you could at least not make fun of her for one day.

Sean: I'll think about it. No promises.

Me: Do you think I should make her a card?

Sean: That says what? "I'm sorry you have a rare disease. Guess my genes suck?"

Me: Um. No. I was thinking more along the lines of "Congratulations!" and when you open it up it says "You're a Freak!! Enjoy your day!"

*Insert hysterical giggling on our parts*

Sean: I think you should probably not bank on a career with Hallmark.

Me: Maybe I'll skip the card. Do you think I can convince her that cake I baked for desert tonight was actually for her for tomorrow??

Sean: Sure. Who doesn't love to learn that a half eaten cake was actually meant for them?

Me: Huh. Maybe I'll just make her bed for her. Or do her laundry.

Sean: You always do her laundry.

Me: Yeah. Well that settles it...she's getting a hug.

And yes I'm joking. But then what's new? ITP is serious. We have an appointment at Children's in St. Louis next Thursday for a second opinion. Her doctor here wants to take her spleen out. I think removing an organ at eighteen is a little drastic. Especially when the odds are only 50-60% that it will even help the problem. And then there's the chance that even if it does work initially, the problem will return in two years. And you're immuno-compromised forever.

Last year in January, I had the Lumbar Puncture from hell in Springfield and Lu came up to visit me at my parents house and drive me back home (after a week of laying flat on my back and finally a blood patch). One morning while we were there she showed me these funny red dots all over her legs. They looked like tiny red pinpricks. They were odd, but really they weren't bothering her so we pretty much ignored them. In February she decided she wanted a tattoo. I went with her to sign papers and hold her hand. As the tattoo artist was working he remarked that she was bleeding more than was normal. Indeed, the tattoo welled up with blood droplets and he had to keep cleaning it off. He suggested we talk to a doctor. A week later we realized that her tattoo wasn't healing right and she had the red dots on her wrists as well. She was really tired and covered in bruises. Now if it seems like I'm a bad mom and didn't really take this my defense I was going through some medical problems myself and dealing with the final diagnosis. Also, Lu had probably been one of the most tired people I know for about the last two years. She'd seen the doctor several times and been told it was probably a virus.

But off to the Internet I went. Then off to the ER we went. I learned on the Internet that the red dots were actually petechiae and they were bad. They meant that her platelets were low and the blood vessels were actually breaking and leaking. The petechiae could turn into pupurae, which are larger and purple as the blood collects beneath the skin. As soon as we got to the ER and explained, the doctor drew blood and we waited for results. Lu, of course, went to sleep. I waited anxiously and berated myself for not taking things more seriously. The results came back. Her platelet count was 14,000. Normal is 150,000 to 300,000. Under 70,000 the risk of bleeding is so great that they won't perform surgeries. Under 10,000 requires a transfusion. Also, her hemoglobin was only 4. Normal is 12 - 16 for women. They didn't do much at the ER except give us an information sheet and set up an appointment with the Hematologist for the very next day. At least I had something to research. She'd had all the symptoms (she was pale, tired all the time, cold all the time, headachey, dizzy, and occasionally weak) for at least a year but unfortunately the doctors hadn't done the bloodwork that would have given us an answer. It still amazes me that it took so long to realize this is what was going on, but Lu had been sickly since 8th grade and I guess with so many problems, it's easy to overlook the most obvious and simple test.

The hematologist put her on massive doses of steroids, which is the usual line of first defense. The problem is, that for some unknown (hence the word idiopathic) reason her body destroys it's own platelets. The steroids reduce the bodies ability to make antibodies against itself. Unfortunately, they reduce the bodies ability to make antibodies at all. That and the side effects: hair loss, weight gain, moon-face, mood swings, ect. make steroids unpleasant to be on for long periods of time. As her platelet counts went up, they began to taper back the steroids. Unfortunately, she had a relapse and had to taken back up in dosage. She also has to take huge iron pills twice a day to keep her hemoglobin up.

Currently, she's off the steroids, but her platelets are again dropping. Last count was 130,000. With her doctor only offering the splenectomy as an option, we decided to get another opinion. There are other treatments. All of them have side effects, all of them have risks. Unfortunately, Lu is in those "childbearing" years so that has to be taken into consideration. They don't want to hurt her chances of conceiving or carrying babies full term or causing birth defects. Because of the chance of her platelets crashing, all of her pregnancies and recoveries will already be "high risk".

So while it's not necessarily "life threatening" on a daily basis, without proper monitoring of her blood work and some kind of treatment, it can get "life threatening" quickly. Lu doesn't like to think about it, much less talk about it. She's still having a hard time accepting that it's a lifelong issue. The hippie asks questions alot. He's taken her in for blood work. He now knows what to keep an eye out for and he makes sure she remembers her meds. Since she'll be living with him next year and not me, this eases my mind considerably. Definite points in his favor.

Fingers crossed for good counts next Thursday and a more acceptable treatment.

***There are also new posts up at The Gert & Hildi Chronicles and What Spot Saw. Don't miss a minute of my totally awesome life...check them out. =]

Saturday, February 27, 2010

And then she said...

So, I've been absent a few days and I'm so far behind in my blog reading/commenting. You guys should maybe stop being so prolific. I mean, if I skip a day even, I get behind. The other day I was even contemplating giving up an hour of sleep in order to catch up. And if you knew how much I love my sleep, you'd realize that this is crazy talk!! So stop blogging while I'm sleeping, it makes me feel lazy.

So I got the results of the gall bladder glowing x-ray. No, they didn't call me, I had to call them. The other nurse (the one who actually knows her shit) said the test came back normal. The doctor was out this week so no idea what the next move is. I told her I've been doing okay lately so I'll just let them know if anything gets worse. My bruise is till pretty. Although its not purple anymore, just browns, yellow and gray.

We got CJ on Wednesday and then took him back yesterday. We had an awesome visit and I will update you later with pictures. But today I'm exhausted. I stayed up way too late finishing the fabulous new Joe Hill book. And all the busy this week is catching up with me. So today I'm just going to give you some convos that I have rattling around in my head from these last few weeks. If they're as funny as they were to us at the time, you may want to set your drink down...

Driving to pick up some food in Myrtle Beach after shopping all day~

Lu: I'm really thirsty!

Sean: Me too.

Me: I know right?! I'd kill for a fountain coke (my weakness) right about now.

Lu: Why do people say that? I'd kill for something. I mean, would you? Really?

Me: Um. Yeah. I think I would kill for a Coke right now. I mean, not someone I liked. But someone I didn't like. Like J** E***? I'd totally take him down for a fountain Coke right now.

Sean: You scare me.

Lu: I get you. I guess there's totally people I'd take out for a Coke right now.

The other morning, right after I got up and stumbled in to get a cup of coffee, as I passed through the living room on my way to the family room~

Sean: So I guess the faggots only killed black cats.

Me: (completely appalled at his use of the word "faggots" and also completely confused as to what he's talking about) What?!

Sean: (a little slower) The faggots only killed black cats.

Me: Why would faggots kill cats?

Sean: What faggots?

Me: Exactly?!!

Sean: Omigod! I said the VATICAN only kills black cats.

Me: Oh. Well that's not what it sounded like. But that does make more sense. How do you know?

Sean: I watched a program on history channel last night.

Me: Oh. Huh. (and I walked off).

After dinner the other night, as we're clearing up and talking about getting our vehicles fixed~

Lu: well Porky needs to look at my car. I really need that new blower motor because I don't think mine's working at all. I drove the whole way to work this morning and the car never heated up.

Me: Really? It was cold in there the whole time? Because it was making noise when I borrowed your car, but the heat seemed to be working.

Lu: Well the temperature thing never did get all the way to where it usually does.

Hubby: (with a slightly perplexed look that was mirrored by Sean and I) what temperature thing honey?

Lu: You know! The one that says "H" and "C" and has the little read needle. When my car is warm it's usually between the "H" and the "C", but today it barely got above the "C".

Hubby: (desperately trying not to laugh) Honey, that gauge measures the temperature of your engine, not the inside of your car. It was extremely cold this morning so your engine never warmed up all the way. That has nothing to do with your heater or blower motor.

By now, Sean and I are convulsing with laughter and Hubby loses it too.

Lu: STOP making fun of me!! It's not that funny!

But it really was. She was so mad she went to her room and slammed her door. All night long the rest of us could barely look at each other without laughing again. But because I'm a good mom, I did go talk her out of her sulk. But?? Buahahahaha.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend. I fully intend too!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

So I'm pretty sure aliens stole my gallbladder...

The week before I went on vacation I had two tests done...a brain MRI for the headaches I was having. My doctor said it might be an aneurysm. Really? Who picks that as the first choice?? Give him a choice between a horse and a zebra and this doctor always picks the zebra. But he has been right a majority of the time so I go along.

The other test was a gallbladder ultrasound. I've been having some stomach trouble for a couple of months now and he's convinced it's my gallbladder. I don't care anymore, I just want it to stop. I really really like to cook and eat and I don't like feeling horrible after I do. He said if the ultrasound came back negative, he wanted to do a fluoroscopy. Mmmmk. So I had my tests and I went on vacation. And I forgot to call and get the results. I figured if it was anything serious, they'd call me. So last week, after getting back and settling in I called the Doctor's office. And it went like this~

Me~ Hi *nurse*, it's *me*, I had a brain MRI and a gallbladder ultrasound two weeks ago and I was just calling for the results because I haven't heard anything.

Nurse~ um. OK. when did you have those?

Me~ February 4th.

Nurse~ okay. Let me see here. Give me a minute. Can you hold?

Me~ sure. (I'm smart enough to use the 800 number when I call so it's free.) Lalalalalala. (insert some humming, some talking to Sean)

Nurse~ okay. I have them. I'm looking at the MRI. Did you have an appointment to discuss these results with him?

Me~ um. no. that's why I'm calling to get them. (Duh?)

Nurse~ oh. well. I'm going to have to call you back.

Me~ um. ok.

I hang up and pretty much begin freaking out. Why does she have to call me back. What's up with that MRI. Do I really have an aneurysm?? Have I been walking around with a ticking time bomb in my head for two weeks??! Why didn't they call me?!
The nurse calls back~

Nurse~ Okay, I talked to the doctor and the results of both the brain MRI and the gallbladder ultrasound are normal.

Me~ (WTF?!! You had to talk to the doctor to tell me that?! I worried for 20 minutes that my head might explode because you couldn't tell me it was fine??!) Um. Ok.

Nurse~ So is there anything else?

Me~ Well he said if the gallbladder thing was normal he wanted to do some radioactive xray.

Nurse~ huh. Well I'll have to talk to him and call you back.

Me~ Of course you will. Ok.

I'm a little perturbed. Really? Is it that hard to get all your eggs in one basket before you call the patient? Aren't all my records on the computer anyway? And why didn't they send me the "your tests were all normal" letter in the first place?? She calls back~

Nurse~ Okay. I have to call the hospital to set this up, can you hold while I have them on the other line?

Me~ sure. (She clicks over. I stare at the walls.)

Nurse~ oh hey, do you still have your gallbladder?

Me~ (omigod. Did she just for real ask me that?? Seriously? She just gave me the results of my gallbladder ultrasound ten minutes ago. This whole test is for your gallbladder. WTF?) um. pretty sure that's why we're doing this test...

Nurse~ okay. (she clicks back over)

Me~ (to Sean) Dude!! She for real just asked if I still had my gallbladder!

Sean~ No way! She just gave you the results of your gallbladder test!

Me~ I know right??! This is not instilling confidence in me.

Nurse~ Okay, so we set it up for next Tuesday morning at 8am. I'm going to give you the list of instructions, so write it down.

Me~ okay. (I'm so not writing this down)

Nurse~ you can't have anything to eat or drink 6 hours before.

Me~ no snacks after 2am. got it.

Nurse~ bring a list of all your current meds.

Me~ uh huh.

Nurse~ you can't have any retained barium...

Me~ (the hell is that?? waiting for her to continue. Long silence...) Are you still there?

Nurse~ yes. I was waiting for you to say okay.

Me~ I don't even know what that is.

Nurse~ Like if you'd had a barium xray the day before or anything.

Me~ (wouldn't you have been the one to schedule that?? Is that even an issue??) Mmmm...okay. No barium for breakfast. Got it.

Nurse~ No Demerol, nubain, or morphine for five hours before. I don't think you're on any of that...

Me~ um no. Pretty sure those are mostly pain shots given at the hospital...

Then she makes me repeat the list back to her. Which I can do perfectly because it's sooo bizarre!! The whole conversation has been bizarre. I'm wondering if she's on medication.

So today was the fluoroscopy. I got there at 8am. They called me back and I hopped up on one of those flat metal xray tables. The tech started and IV and explained that they would be giving me an injection of radioactive isotopes. These would show up on the camera. First they'd highlight my liver, then drain into the gallbladder and small bowel. There were a series of pictures every five minutes for the first hour. Then they would start an IV of meds that would cause the gallbladder to contract and empty the isotopes completely into the small bowel. That would take continuous pictures for thirty minutes. I began to wonder what I got myself into.

She gave me the injection and I felt nothing. I watched the lights coalesce on the screen. She pointed out my liver. Then she pointed out the small bowel. The gallbladder was taking it's time getting to the party. After about twenty minutes she asked~

Tech~ Do you still have your gallbladder?

Me~ (omg. for real?? Did another person just ask me that??! Why the hell would I be here if I didn't?!) Um. Yeah. Unless the aliens stole it.

She looked at me like I'd lost my mind. But seriously, if one more person asks me that, somebody's getting decked. I just have to wonder if there are actually people who've scheduled this test and didn't have a gallbladder??! Finally my uncooperative gallbladder showed up to the party. But not as well as they wanted so I had to roll on my right side so hopefully the isotopes would drain into it. She left for fifteen minutes. I dozed off. She scared the shit out of me when she woke me up.

At last we got to the second part. She warned me that some people said the meds made their gallbladder hurt. Just to try to lay still. By this time, I couldn't move anyway. My hip joints and back don't take kindly to two hours on a metal table. It didn't hurt, but it did make me pretty nauseous. My gallbladder continued to glow. Now that it had the stuff, it seemed reluctant to give it up. Way to go gallbladder. You keep the glowing stuff all to yourself. Selfish bastard.

Finally we were done. Apparently my doctor's office will call me with the results. Yeah, right. I'll hold my breath. My body protested the journey off the table. I was stiff and sore, I'm sure I looked like a little old lady hobbling along. The tech took the IV port out and had some trouble with the bleeding. Apparently, my blood was thin today. She bandaged it and let me put my sweatshirt back on and leave. As I walked out, I could feel blood dribbling down my arm so I hightailed it to the nearest bathroom. Sure enough it was a mess. Quite possibly that sweatshirt is ruined forever. I got it stopped, got cleaned up and hit the grocery store before heading home. Guess we'll see what the results are. I'd like it to be something simple like the gallbladder. But remember my intense fear of surgery. ANY surgery. And how I never heal right?? Maybe, I can just stop eating. Then I'd lose weight. That's a win/win right? So, just to prove all this really's a photo of the amazing bruise the IV left on my arm. I'm sure tomorrow the colors will be even better. Lol.

And thank you to everyone for the amazing outpouring of support and friendship and love yesterday. You have no idea how much it means to me. I feel so blessed. I wasn't feeling so hot after the test today so Sean and I are going up to get CJ tomorrow. I can't wait.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Remember that one day we got snowed in? Oh was today.

So I'm snowed in today. Yeah. For real. I was pretty sure things were headed that way yesterday when the snow just would not quit. I'm not sure all total how much we got...maybe 8 inches? And we already had some. They cancelled school for today at 8 o'clock last night. I texted my foster son and told him there was no way his car was making it home from town so he could stay with friends. My husband said on the news this morning they showed their "sky cam" pictures and the town was pretty much not moving. But out here...nobodys moving. That's the beauty or curse (whichever you prefer) of living off the beaten path. I mean...way off. After you turn off the drive eight miles down a little two lane blacktop. Then two miles up a hill and around some curves on a narrow gravel road. Then another 1/4 mile gravel driveway to my house. My husband plows the drive, so it gets done relatively quickly, although it's bad to drift. The other gravel road? Last road in the county to be plowed because it's the county line. Sometimes it's plowed before 3 in the afternoon. Sometimes not. And the blacktop. Well it's kind of a crap shoot too. So today? No one's going anywhere.

This is the deck in back. The railing...all fresh snow.

This is the front yard. Poor pine trees. It's really a heavy wet snow.

More front yard. Want to swing?

The dog's roof to her pen collapsed under the weight of the snow. Luckily, she was in her house. Hubby and genius boy went out to rescue her and make a new roof. Lu's cat wanted to go outside when I opened the door to take pictures, until he realized the snow was deeper than he was. Yes, Sean and I did laugh at him.

Ordinarily? This would be my dream day. I love being snowed in. Really. I keep my freezer and pantry stocked well (you know, in case of the zombie apocalypse) so we don't need food. We have a fireplace, in the event we lose power. I got videos from town yesterday. And Lu was already off work today. So it would be a good day to be snowed in. Except that I had somewhere to go today. Lu and I were going to pick up CJ and bring him home for a few days. We were so excited. We haven't seen him in a couple of weeks. But even if we could get out to the highway...the highway takes a southerly turn and they got hit worse than we did, oddly enough. And this highway is notoriously bad for being icy. They never seem to get it cleared well. Even if I wanted to risk mine (I would) and Lu's (I would not) lives to get there, I most assuredly would not risk his to bring him home. Lu is disappointed because it's her only day off this week and she wanted to spend it with her brother. It gets harder and harder to coordinate every one's schedule so that I can bring him home when everyone can spend time with him. The only saving grace is that I hadn't notified his school yet that I was coming to get him, so he doesn't know and won't be disappointed. He'll still be happily surprised if I show up tomorrow instead. But I'm in tears.

Some of you reading my blog are probably lost right about now. CJ is my nineteen year old son with autism. Not the kind of autism you see on TV. Not Aspbergers. More severe. He is nonverbal. He understands what we say and we back it up with some sign language but he can't talk back. He uses some signs (mostly when we insist upon it) and somehow gets his message across most of the time. He is amazing. He has the best most infectious smile of anyone I know. And big expressive eyes. He's friendlier than most autistic children and people fall in love with him easily. He loves to be cuddled, he gives kisses, and his sister is his favorite person in the entire world. He likes spongebob and jump ropes. He can Rollerblade with amazing agility and grace. He bikes so slow that the bike wobbles from side to side and I am amazed that it remains upright. His favorite food is frozen burritos. He can eat a whole bag in a day, if you let him. He loves candy and can sniff it out no matter where I hide it. He hates crowds and loud noises. When he's frustrated he bites the back of his hands. They are permanently scarred. Sometimes in frustration and anger he lashes out. You must be vigilant for the "head butt". My nose has been broken, my cheekbone and jaw fractured. Concussions also suck. He hates the time out chair. He loves playing in the snow.

He's been attending a residential school since he was nine. Do not judge me for this. I remember thinking once, when I was at a conference, that no way would I ever let CJ move from home. No one could take better care of him than his family. Didn't that mother love her child at all? But what I came to realize was that sometimes loving your child means doing what's best for them no matter how it breaks your heart. The difficult and continually painful decision to let him attend a residential school stemmed from the fact that our school district did not have the resources to provide him with the services he needed. Nor could we off the level of routine at home that he requires to make him feel safe. His increasing level of frustration put his sister and brother in danger as well as himself. The school he attends is amazing. While they accept children of all disabilities, in the last several years their focus has been autism. He receives cutting edge therapy from the SIU school of medicine. His teachers, aides, and homeworkers have all been trained and continue to be trained in helping people with autism. He lives in a group home setting with other boys his age. He gets to go on field trips and do activities on a regular basis. They have a set routine so he knows what to expect. There have been a few problems through the years, but they've been dealt with swiftly and mostly to our satisfaction.

We bring CJ home for visits as much as we are able. He goes everywhere with me when he's home. Grocery shopping, out to eat, ect. We get stared at alot. It's odd to see a nineteen year old holding his mother's hand or dropping it so that he can pirouette for no apparent reason. But we are used to the stares and pay them no mind. I use sign language in public to alert people that there is more going on than meets the eye. We plan alot of family activities when he's home so that he has a chance to be with us all. And when the visit's over and I take him home, I cry. It's like leaving a part of me behind. When we first took him to the school, I slept with one of his sweat jackets for weeks. Now I content myself with a pillow. I can't explain to you how gut wrenching it is to leave him behind. Mostly, he seems okay with it and doesn't seem to mind, but there are occasional times (mostly few and far between now) that he will keep hold of my hand or his sisters jacket and we barely make it to the car before bursting into tears. So don't doubt my love for my child.

CJ has taught me so much. He's taught me that love really can be unconditional. Because his is. He taught me about appreciating people of all abilities. He's taught me to be completely secure within myself. Not to worry what other people think. And that the most important thing is to be able to look at myself in the mirror each night and be able to say "I did my best today". Because in the end, that's what matters. That I do my best. And take responsibility for it. He taught me not to judge others. He taught me that laughing is better than crying. That I can't control what the universe throws at me, I can only control how I react. He taught me that my husband's love for our children is just as strong as mine. That we may express it differently, deal with it differently, but that doesn't mean he doesn't feel it. He taught us to be partners. He taught us not to blame each other for things beyond our control. He taught us that life is rarely fair, but that we could persevere through the bad times. He taught us that pain makes the good times that much sweeter and more dear. Without the rain, you wouldn't know to appreciate the sun. He taught us to live for the moments that take our breath away. And that life is a never ending journey of learning and discovery and growth. He taught me to not be ashamed to ask for help when I need it and to never turn down another's plea for help. And he's taught my children these lessons too. I firmly believe that the higher powers put people like CJ in our lives not as a punishment but so that we may learn from him.

CJ and Lu

CJ jumping on the trampoline with Sean and Lu

Me & CJ at his prom last year. Sean, Lu & I were all there.

This has been a heavy post. Thank you to everyone who's kept reading til the end. I've been crying steadily the entire time. Lu stopped in to see what I was doing and started crying too. So in the interest of not leaving anyone in tears...I'm going to include an anecdote that makes us laugh. It illustrates how humor has always gotten me through...

One day when CJ was about six, I took him shopping while the younger two were at preschool. We'd run several errands and it was nearing time to pick them up from school. I don't remember why CJ wasn't at school that day but he was definitely getting tired of the shopping. He'd recently started opening the door and escaping the house if my attention was distracted. I cannot tell you the fear that struck in my heart. So my last stop was to Shopko where I was picking up some hook & eye latches to place on the door, well above his reach. I promised him a bag of skittles if we could just get through this last stop. I quickly found what I needed, got in line and placed them on the conveyor belt, along with a bag of skittles. CJ kept reaching for the skittles and was growing more and more frustrated that I wouldn't let him have them. The lady in front of me was taking her sweet time paying and the store was crowded. I pleaded with CJ to be patient and give me a few more minutes. But I could tell we were rapidly approaching meltdown.

Finally, he could take no more. In an effort to convey to me his supreme frustration, he picked up the package of hook & eye latches and hurled them. They sailed over my cashier's head and landed on a register three lanes away. Everyone stared at me open-mouthed. I briefly considered explaining, which was my usual mode of operation, but I was almost as tired and frustrated as my child, so instead I sighed wearily and said "Do you suppose someone could pass those back, because I really need them." And that was it. They got passed back. The cashier quickly rang us up and finished the transaction. People continued to stare and I could almost hear the thoughts of "why didn't she yell at that kid. what a horrible mother! why can't she make him behave?". But I honestly didn't care. Because the only one I was responsible to was myself and CJ. I handled it the best I could at that exact moment. I don't owe anyone an explanation. And yeah, I still gave him the skittles.

I promise to be funny tomorrow...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Of engagements, racism, and freezing my butt off...

So I'm sitting here waiting for Lu to get home from her future in-laws house. They live about an hour and a half north of us in Iowa. She went up for a the wedding of one of the hippie's best friends. And then stayed the night. I texted her this morning to tell her we were getting a buttload of snow today so they should probably hit the road. Her back here and the Hippie another 3 hours northwest to his home. And yes, did anyone notice that I said "future in-laws"? I'm not going to give a whole update on the loves of Lulu here, but they returned from their overnight trip on Thursday morning to announce that they were "engaged to be engaged". Meaning that she has a ring (a claddaugh of course) and she's wearing it in the "engaged" position but there will be another ring coming and a more formal announcement. Currently they've even set a tentative wedding date for August 27, 2012. They will both have graduated college by then although Lu will still have to take her boards that December to practice in a medical facility. Yes, I'm happy. The Hippie was not my first choice but he has definitely stepped up to the plate. And Lu is ecstactic. That's enough for me. And the fact that they're giving us two years to save up for the wedding. Lol.

But now back to the trip...

The day after we got there we walked down the beach about a mile to the Cherry Grove Fishing Pier. And out onto said Pier. It was freezing!! The sun was bright but the wind chill was in the high 20's. And the wind was so strong it nearly pushed us over. And we had to keep turning around to avoid the sand blowing in our faces. And yet, we still had fun. Although it took 20 minutes in a warm shower for me to feel my fingers again...

It looks warm, doesn't it??!

My new friend, Bob.

The endless ocean

My folks and Lu. Why yes, that is my mother's impression of an Eskimo at the beach!

Sean alone braves the wind at the rail.

The long trek back. Lu kept walking right past the condo. We laughed at her.

My children are always amazed at how different my folks are from myself. Sometimes the differences are subtle, sometimes more pronounced. My parents have always been racist. I once even had to announce that we didn't speak like that at our dinner table and since it was my house I'd like for my wishes to be respected. But when we're on their turf, all bets are off. I understand that they were raised in a different era, ect. But still. Lately my mother has taken it to a whole new level. After one tirade~

Lu: How is it possible to hate an entire race of people?

Sean: Don't be silly Lu, grandma hates way more than just one race.

Me: It's true. She's an equal opportunity hater. I don't think she likes anyone anymore.

And my father was talking about where they might travel to next and was discussing climate in the southwest and then all the people there.~

Me: Well I don't really know where you can go Dad. I mean everywhere you go there's going to be at least one group of people Mom doesn't like. I seriously doubt any white supremacist groups are offering vacation packages, but it sounds like that might be your best bet.

At this point in time, it's easier to diffuse the situation with humor and have open discussions with my children later. And be thankful that my children are appalled by the behavior. Sometimes, I really think I'm doing this parenting thing right...

more ridiculousness and photos tomorrow,

Friday, February 19, 2010

Why Lu rocks and a desperate plea for money...

We interrupt the regularly scheduled programming....more on my trip tomorrow, pinky promise, with photos. But I promised Lu that today I would do some begging for her. And since it's for a good cause I won't even feel the least bit bad.

Lu has been contacted by the Muscular Dystrophy Association about their annual fundraiser. She will be removed from work and "locked up for MDA" on February 25th, frantically calling friends and family to raise her goal- $1500. Someone anonymously gave them her name and when they called, she graciously agreed to participate. Any and all disabilities are important in our home and anything we can do to raise awareness and money is important. We do not have anyone in our family or extended family who have suffered with Muscular Dystrophy, but one of Sean's childhood friends, Jordan, had MD and passed away last year. She was a beautiful little girl with the heart of a fighter and the soul of a poet.

Both Lu and Sean are counselors during the summer at a camp for people with disabilities. Lu is their supreme autism handler. Of course, after living with CJ, she's got that down! And all of her Campers adore her. Two years ago they had a new twelve year old boy come to camp for the first time. He was autistic and very close on the spectrum to her brother CJ. They had many of the same characteristics. His parents were very nervous about leaving him at camp, in someone else's care. He was assigned to Lu and she spoke to his parents every day on the phone to reassure them. He returned eagerly last year.

Lu and her camper

Sean is often given the less manageable campers because of his size, strength and infinite patience. He deals with wheelchairs, spasticity, and frustration. He is amazing with these campers. And they also adore him. He too, works well with autistic children.

Sean and a camper

It's no wonder the girls he works with at camp fall for him, huh? Both of them have been this way from a young age. When Lu was in 3rd grade and Sean in 2nd, I got a call from the school principal because they'd ganged up on a kid who was bullying a deaf child at recess. Guess who didn't get punished? However, they did get a lesson in the art of verbal warfare. Why use fists when you can skewer them with your words?

So on to Lu's latest endeavor. She can collect money before the actual "lock up" as well. And so I'm including this link:

Unfortunately, you can only donate by credit/debit card. But even if everyone who reads this donates $1 it will help. Thank you in advance. And the video is kinda cute and clever. =}


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Road trip conversations or random shit we talked about while sleep deprived and stuck in a tiny car...

So as we hurtled through the alternately snow filled, rainy, foggy, where the hell did the sun go twenty hours it took us to drive to Myrtle we had some interesting fascinating completely random and ridiculous conversations. And some jamming out. Which is also known as singing loudly and off key.

We started the trip with me driving, Sean navigating, and Lu in the backseat comatose. But before she zonked out we were all in a good, okay maybe slightly hysterical mood. So as we sucked down chocolate milkshakes and hurtled forth into the night, she cranked the knob on the stereo and ordered us to "jam out". The song? "Don't stand so close to me" by The Police. Lu only knows the chorus so she chimed in there. Sean sang (and by "sang" I really mean emitted a torturously brutal and completely off key noise that probably had dogs for miles around attempting to cover their ears and whimpering) all the words and I sang along. At which point, Lu turned to me in exasperation and said~

Lu: Stop singing pretty mom! The point of jamming out is to be loud. And since you're singing with Sean it doesn't matter if you hit a single note correctly because you can be damn sure he won't.

Me: Oh. My bad.

And then later, much later, in fact I have no idea when just somewhere during the interminable car ride~

Lu: I'm going to get some Aviator sunglasses. What do you think?

Sean: That you'll look stupid. No one who's not in a uniform can pull off Aviators.

Me: except Chris Mallams. (A friend of ours and super cool guy).

Sean: True.

Me: And Captain Kirk.

Sean: He's wearing a uniform. And why would he be wearing sunglasses on a star ship?

Me: Because he can. He's just that badass. Besides those freaking stars are bright dude.

Lu: And what if they get to close to the sun? Then it would be really bright!

Sean: Our sun?

Lu: Any sun.

Me: I'm pretty sure if they get that close to a sun they're in trouble. I think it would be too hot before it got too bright.

Sean: besides, they'd just go into warp speed and get away.

Me: Wait!! Are you saying that they use warp speed to run from trouble??! Like if they're confronted by the sudden appearance of an alien ship, they'd warp away?

Sean: Only to sneak around and approach from another direction.

Me: Oh. So the aliens are like 'is that that wussy spaceship who just ran away from us? Or is it a completely new bad ass spaceship??' And then Captain Kirk comes over their screen wearing his Aviators because he could totally rock those.

At a gas station somewhere in Tennessee...Lu and I get out to pump gas and Sean goes ahead inside to use the restroom. Then comes back out.

Sean: Pipe's broke. The restroom's out of order.

Me: That's not funny Sean. You have no idea how badly I have to pee.

Sean: I'm not kidding. It's true.

*Lu and I regard him suspiciously because this is just the kind of joke he'd play*

Sean: Seriously! The guy told me I could go out back if I wanted but I said you two had to go to and you probably wouldn't be cool with that.

Me: Probably??! So not cool with that. *so we had to drive to another gas station just to use the restrooms. Awkward.*

And at a gas station somewhere in Georgia...where I was the only one who had to pee~

Me: *upon returning to the car* OMG!! Could you have picked a grosser bathroom?! I feel like I need to Lysol myself after that. There was black mold growing in the grout. *shuddering* And worse...there was this huge sign on the door that read "WOMEN ONLY!!! Men- do NOT use!!". Why would you have to put that sign up?? I swear I heard banjos!!

Lu: *giggling uncontrollably* I hope you paddled faster!

Me: Let's just say if there was an Olympic event for speed peeing, I just took the gold!

And then as we neared our destination, we were all once again in our original positions. It was dark and foggy and Sean and I were trying to navigate the twisty two lane roads to the condo, we decided to serenade Lu awake. We gave her a brilliant startling rendition of REO Speedwagon's "Keep on Loving You". Which she totally under appreciated.

More ridiculousness is headed your way tomorrow. Because that's how we roll, yo.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Road trip? You mean grueling descent into hell? Oh sure, I'm in!

Okay...first "whew", *wipes sweat off brow*, No one unfollowed me!! Or unsubscribed from Kindle! I gotta tell you I was sweating it with taking a week off. I meant to blog. I sat down to blog. I wrote blogs in my head. I just didn't get them blogged. We had a super time in Myrtle Beach. And stayed busy. And busy for me = super tired. Plus, my parents really don't get the whole "blogging" thing. So they talked to me while I was online. And they're my parents, so it's not like I can ignore them like I do my children or hubby. So without further ado...

Road trip has always equaled fun in my book. Until now. The trip to Myrtle Beach, SC from Mendon, Il a week ago Monday was pretty much like a glimpse into hell. It's a long trip to begin with...17.5 hours straight through. 17.5 hours in a Grand Am (Lu's car. Better gas mileage). 17.5 hours with my kids. 17.5 hours of rest stop/gas station bathrooms. 17.5 hours of junk food. 17.5 hours of sharing the road with semi-trucks. What the hell was I thinking??! I've made the trip 3 times before, but always with another adult present. This time? Me and two quasi-adult teens. Probably, someone should've slapped some sense into me. But, well, no one did.

I was dreading the drive all weekend before we left. Mostly because it's incredibly long. But also because the weather has been so bad this winter and they were predicting a snow storm for our night of departure. So I plotted a southerly route to hopefully avoid alot of snow. Because, while I love snow, I don't like driving in it. And we're talking tiny Grand Am, not a four wheel drive anything. So our route takes us across the bridge to Hannibal, Mo. Then down to St. Louis, and back into Illinois. We cross through southern Illinois into Kentucky, down into Tennessee. Through Nashville and Chattanooga, into Georgia. Through Atlanta and Augusta and into South Carolina. Then across SC through Columbia to Myrtle. We've been this way before. Sometimes we go through Tennessee to NC and down, but there was a rock slide at Asheville and the interstate is still closed. Plus I was worried about snow in the mountains between Knoxville and Asheville.

Figuring that at some point in time, on the drive, my children will begin to make me crazy, I plan a little revenge. And by revenge, I totally mean torture. Torture in the form of two 80's CDs. Filled with songs that I love. Therefore, insuring they won't. Or so I thought. Damn them. Turns out they liked a lot of the songs. Sean more than Lu, but then that figures. Neither one of them was really down with the Tears for Fears or Pet Shop Boys. But the Police? REO Speedwagon? Madonna? Right up their alleys. And of course I'd thrown in some Simple Minds and Cutting Crew.

So we start out on our journey (read: descent into hell) at ten pm on Monday night. Sean and I had loaded down the vehicle and picked Lu up from work. We got milkshakes and gas and we were on our way. I started the driving, with Lu as a backup driver and Sean firmly ensconced in the navigational seat, armed with MapQuest directions and a trusty Atlas. Into the snow filled night we went. And went and went and kept going. It snowed all the way to Nashville. And not just snowed, but blizzarded at times. I literally drove 30 mph for part of the way. When the semis slow down, you know you better slow down too, because nothing scares those guy. At one point, a red car went blazing past me and the semi I was following (at a safe distance of course). We saw him later in a ditch on the side of the road. I saw lots of people in ditches on the side of the road. I was white knuckling it, let me tell you. At 4:30, I finally drove out of the snow, or so I thought. I whipped into a gas station in Kentucky and after filling up, and hitting the restrooms, Lu took over driving. Both kids had been asleep, Lu for the nearly the entire time, and Sean off and on. I hit the backseat and was out like a light. For 40 minutes. That's when Lu woke me up and said she couldn't see. Yeah, it was snowing again. Alot! So at the next gas station, we switched again. I may or may not have been extremely cranky by this point. I drove on til 8:30 and an hour north of Chattanooga. The snow had finally turned to rain about the time we hit Nashville. We stopped for McD's, gas and restrooms. Then Lu drove and I got some much needed sleep.

We didn't see the sun until we hit the SC border. I'm pretty sure angels sang. I hope Booshy heard me yell "hi Booshy!!" when we passed through Atlanta. Lu drove all the way to Columbia and I took over for the last three hours of the trip. It was dark by the time we got close to Myrtle, and the directions took us on some curvy foggy roads. But finally we arrived at 7 pm SC time. Which means the trip actually took 20 hours. Un-freakin-believable.

That night we unpacked, ate, showered and fell into our beds exhausted. The trip was grueling. But of course, we had some fun too. And that, my friends, is tomorrow's blog...


Sunday, February 7, 2010

I hope it's not chicken. Or ham. Is there going to be alcohol?

So last night we had to attend one of those fabulously boring dinners that go along with hubby's job. I was dreading it all week. Then I was dreading it all day. Dreading it when I talked to my friend on the phone, who's advice was to stop at a gas station and buy those tiny bottles of vodka to spike my drink with. Dreading it as I showered. Dreading it as I gave myself a mani & pedi. Dreading it as I picked out my hubby's and my evening attire (no, he can't do it himself. Bad idea, trust me on this one.) Dreading it as I curled my hair and applied makeup. And the whole time I'm giving myself the "ways I need to behave in public" speech in my head. You know, like don't call anyone asshat to their face. Smile and be gracious even if you hate the person. (this one is easier if you pretend you're a secret agent. Or a ninja and you don't want to blow your cover). No matter how stupid what they're saying is, smile and nod. Don't give them "the face". (Hubby & Lu say I make this face that says "you're a complete moron and I don't know why they let you live". I have no idea what face this is as I don't consciously make it.) Finally we head out the door.

As we drive the hour and fifteen minutes it takes to get to the place where the dinner is held, I pepper Hubby with relevant questions~

Me: Is there going to be alcohol there?

Him: Well, I think they finished building the bar in the hotel, so there will be alcohol somewhere.

Me: Yes, but can I go get a drink and bring it in?

Him: I guess so honey. I don't think it's against any rules. You are over 21.

Me: I know that. I just don't think it will help you professionally if everyone decides I'm a lush.

Him: No one thinks you're a lush. Everyone thinks your fun. And outgoing. And a little wild.

Me: A little wild? See, that means lush. Or stripper. I don't know, but I don't think it's flattering.

Then we get a text message from C. He's already there as he had to go early and set up some OA merchandise to sell. He took up four of the youth members with him.

C: You guys want to sit with the cool kids or do you have to sit somewhere else?

Me: We are the cool kids so wherever we sit is the cool table. But I don't think we have assigned seats.

C: Okay. How many chairs?

Me: Two.

Then I get a text from D, one of the youth members and a friend of our kids~

D: Pretend you're going to sit by M, and then say something smells and move.

Me: Why? That's really mean.

D: Because it will be funny!

Me: I'll think about it. (of course I won't do it. How rude!)

So finally we get there and I carefully traverse the parking lot clinging to Hubby's arm. Heels + ice = broken hiney. But I had to wear the heels because they're cute. And because the tattoo on my foot shows and it was my one concession to the real me, not the business dinner me. We get inside and start doing the meet & greet thing. Boring. Hubby points out the bar, but I don't want to be the first to carry in a drink so I decide to wait for K, my partner in crime at these things.

I go over to say "hi" to the youth members at their table of merchandise. I tell M that I was supposed to tell him he smells. He laughs and gives me a hug to prove he doesn't smell. I get the story of why Mutt is grounded. And I agree that I probably wouldn't have grounded my kids for the offense. He says it's because I'm cool. I don't disagree. Then D says that Mutt's mom is hott. Mutt blushes. D says that I, of course, am a 10, but Mutt's mom is definitely a 9. I roll my eyes. Then P says that he's been winking and shooting me kissy faces and I'm not responding. I tell him it's because nothing flirtatious registers for me unless it's coming from someone over 21. I try not to let him see how badly he's creeping me out. Seriously dude. Stop. I go find my hubby.

K is here!! We immediately head to the bar. We find some of the younger guys in there getting drinks but then they stand around a table. We order ours (god bless vodka) and before we can leave K's husband comes in. He's a couple of steps up the ladder from my husband, professionally. And he's a good guy, but more professionally concerned than my hubby. And without actually coming right out and saying it, he lets us know he'd prefer we stay here with our drinks. Okay, but you made me chug it. Not my fault. So I knock it back and then go back to the banquet room. I strike up a convo with one of the new girls they've just hired. She's twenty two, just graduated from college and landed this job. She's a little overwhelmed. And lonely because she had to move up there to work out of that office and she doesn't know anyone. She's actually from around here, in fact her sister went to school with my kids. And oddly enough, she dated Lu's DEBF during one of his and Lu's break-ups. Which I find hilarious. I already knew this because we actually met in the line for the midnight showing of the last Harry Potter movie. Small town, you know.

So then we sit down for dinner. And I am pleasantly surprised! It's not dry tasteless chicken. Or icky ham. It's pork loin in mushroom gravy, bacon cheddar mashed potatoes and seasoned corn. It's tasty for a change! Woo hoo. As we're eating, we're chatting. We are sitting at the table with C, who is the new OA advisor, having been a past chief himself, the four youth members who range from 20 to 17. And my husbands new supervisor S. Who I'm really beginning to like, as opposed to the Executive, who I avoid like the plague because I think he's an asshat. Dinner conversation is funny. They talk about Mutt's grounding and someone else who is always grounded. I say I grounded Lu once. It lasted five days. Grounding to me always seemed like I was punishing myself. I mean, sure your kid can't go anywhere or do anything, but neither can you. Because you're stuck being the warden to a cranky pissed off teenager.

Then I tell P to stop posting all his silly farmville stuff because it fills up my entire home feed on fb sometimes. I don't think you're super awesome because you got a virtual ribbon. Then we have to explain farmville to S, who offers to pay camp staff in "virtual dollars" since they like them so much.

Finally, the program part begins. This is the uber boring part, where I want to gouge out my eyes. Or be slightly tipsy. Or take a really long bathroom break. Like at the bar. They have bathrooms in there, right? They do a bunch of business stuff. Introduce people, yada yada yada. I sit there quietly, with a vacant smile on my face, writing this blog post in my head. P leans over and points to a guy in a suit a couple tables from us and whispers "do you think that's a toupee?". I try not to giggle and whisper back "yes, a really really bad one." Then it's time for them to introduce the guest speaker. He's an eagle scout from one of our camps, who served as chief of the OA lodge in the seventies and then went on to be the personal aide to president Bill Clinton. Holy crap, it's toupee guy. P & I share a raised eyebrow look. He's actually a really good speaker. Toots his own horn a bit, but hey small town boy made good so it's excusable. What I didn't find excusable was the slide show of pictures of him with various famous people. Like the Clintons, Bono, and the King of Spain. Dude, I get it. You hung out with famous peeps. Do we really need to see you cheesin while you shake their hands? Also, a lot of name dropping. Although I did enjoy the story about Ronald Reagan. He was an entertaining speaker, obviously he had lots of practice. But then it happens. I knew it would. I was waiting.

Invariably, when people speak at Boy Scout functions, they talk about how much they love helping the youth grow and change and become better individuals. And invariably, it comes out wrong. Like once the guest speaker was introducing someone else and he said "nobody loves little boys like him". Seriously, I almost had a heart attack trying not to laugh out loud. And the weird part? Almost no one else bats an eyelash. It's like me in a room full of stiffs. So I'm listening to his speech and he says "There's nothing so great as being able to touch young boys". My hand flew up to my mouth. I nearly spit water out my nose trying to stifle my giggle. I looked at C, who had his head down and his hand on his mouth. He looked at me from the corner of his eye and nearly lost it. I look around. No one else looks fazed. So I compose myself and fire off a text "Dude. He just said 'touch young boys'". I get back a couple of responses. But I wait to read them until after, for fear of giggling. Now, I do know that he meant touch their lives. Make a difference. But still, it just sounds wrong. After it's done, we get up to mingle again and E comes over to me~

E: so I saw you trying not to giggle. What was that about?

Me: You know what it was about! The thing that kills me is that no one else seems to notice.

E: they notice, they just don't think it's funny.

Me: I'm not sure they notice. Maybe everyone is zoned out. Or *shrug* maybe I'm just super immature. *and I walk away*

We congratulate the Silver Beaver award winners. This is the highest honor a volunteer can receive. It's for a lifetime of service to scouts. The honorees get a silver beaver medal which you wear around your neck. A framed certificate and a pin. The spouses get a rose. Seriously?? I mean these people (mostly men, but a few women) get to do all this volunteer work because their significant other picks up the slack elsewhere. Runs the household, ect. And all they get is a rose??

Me: I don't think it's fair that the wives only get a rose.

Hubby: Why?

Me: Um. Because the reason those guys have all that time to volunteer is because their wives supported their activities. They took up the household slack. They ran the show when he was off camping or whatever. I think they deserve more recognition than a rose. If you ever get the silver beaver...

Hubby: I can't get it. I'm a paid scouter. It's a volunteer award.

Me: Well, like when you retire. If you still do volunteer work and you get it, I want something more than a rose. I want a freakin diamond ring. I mean, I'm the woman behind the man. I make you awesome.

Hubby: *chuckles* yeah. Good luck with that.

But you notice he doesn't deny the whole "I make him awesome" comment. Because it's totally true. We mingled some more. I talked to wives I don't know. I talked to important people whose names I don't recall. I'm pretty much an expert mingler. I remind hubby how lucky he is to have me. Really, I'm such an asset. Finally we got to roll out of there. Whew. I think I'm good for a couple of months again.


PS- I'm going to Myrtle Beach for a week. Leaving Monday night. I will probably post tomorrow but I apologize in advance for next week. Don't know how much I'll post. =]

Friday, February 5, 2010

Burn, baby, burn.

So it's been a busy week. I've been to town three times this week, when normally I shoot for once. Tuesday was grocery shopping and dr. appt. Wednesday was job hunting with Sean. And Thursday was a dr appt for Lu and two medical tests for me and a job interview for Sean. Like I said, busy, not much fun and I'm exhausted. I'm also trying to get all the household things taken care of so I can leave for Myrtle Beach on Monday night. Where I plan to spend a week doing not a whole hell of a lot. Should cancel out the suckfest that was yesterday.

But Wednesday night, hubby had to burn down an old picnic shelter. They are making room for a new archery range to go in that spot and the old shelter had to go. He'd already dropped the roof, so basically it was the roof on top of the concrete slab with brush between and brush piled on top. So he texts me at 5:30 "Are you coming down to watch? We're ready." Um. Not really what I wanted to do, I mean it's really cold out, gonna be dark soon, and I don't feel well. But in the interest of being supportive and since he obviously wanted me too, I went. Couldn't talk Sean into it though. So I pull up and park on the side of the road and then walk out to the shelter. It's him and his volunteer F. Then some other people show up who wanted to come out and watch. So he lights it. There's no whoosh and it explodes in flame. I guess that's just in the movies. In fact, it's burning so slowly that I completely understand why the local fire department didn't see the need to be here. I'm bored. And thinking about the fact that I still have to make supper when I go in.

So I ask him "Is this it?". And he tells me no. Just to wait and eventually it'll get going really well. Then I tell him he should have reminded me to put long johns on because it's really cold. He assures me that soon the fire will be keeping me plenty warm. Yawn. Sure. But eventually one side catches really well and if you squat down and look through the rafters you can see the fire being sucked to this side. That was pretty awesome. And the next thing I know, it's really burning. And flames are shooting up in the sky. And I'm not cold. In fact, I've taken several steps back. And then some more because the front of my jeans are really hot. Now the fire is going in earnest and it is a sight to behold. I'm mesmerized. And then I remember that I'm scared of fire. Like really scared. Like I think it would be one of the most horrible ways to die ever. I think I might have died in a fire in a previous life. Probably I was burned at the stake. Then I think about this movie that I watched when I was younger called "The Legacy". And how this lady was standing by the fireplace and the fire leapt out and got her. I take several more steps backwards.

But honestly, the fire is beautiful. It is a wonder to behold. Looking at the burning rafters, it's almost like the flames are performing this intricate dance. They look like their moving in slow motion. It's almost hypnotic. And in places where it burns through the roof, the tar from the shingles catches and it rains down through the other flames. Little bright pieces of flame dripping down. Then I remember that hubby said we couldn't roast marshmallows over this fire because of the shingles. Not to mention, you'd need like a ten foot stick, because no way you're getting closer than that. So I find hubby.

Me: What about the shingles burning? Is that smoke dangerous?

Hubby: Well, I think it's okay as long as you don't go over and snort up a bunch of it.

Me: Really? Wow. Because that was totally my plan. Snort massive lungfuls of black poisonous smoke. Thanks for clearing that up.

He just looked at me. By this time the flames are shooting so far up that they are taller than the tops of the trees. I'm surprised the neighbors aren't worried and haven't called the fire department. Apparently they're used to it.

Hubby: Well, now it's a fire!

Me: Really? What was it before? Because it's looked like a fire to me the whole time.

Hubby: It was just a baby fire. Now it's as big as the ceremony fires we have for the OA.

Me: But it's summer time when you do those!!

Hubby: Yeah.

Me: But it's like super hot standing here now. It's like 90 degrees then!! Are you standing this close??

Hubby: No, we're standing way far back, but we're still sweating our balls off.

Me: Um. Why? (Wondering why the male species does strange things)

Hubby: Because it impresses the ordeal candidates. They talk about it for years.

Me: Really? Remember that time we were at the OA camp out and the fire was so huge that we were sweating to death and you got heat exhaustion? Yeah...good times. *shaking my head* Do guys ever think that bigger might not be better?

Hubby looks at the other two guys standing there. They all shake their heads.

Guys: Nope. That's just crazy talk.

Soon after I left and went home to make dinner. I left the guys standing around, staring at their handiwork, smoking cigars and patting themselves on the back.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I got a text today from Roxy, who reads my blog and it said~

"What's up slacker? No new blog in three days. I'm disappointed. Lol."

And she's totally right, I have been slacking. So I started asking myself why I was slacking? Usually, writing my blog is my favorite thing to do! And I did have a couple of valid excuses...

I wrote the last blog late on a Sunday night so I left it up Monday so that everyone would get a chance to see it. Yesterday I spent almost all day in town and by the time I got home all I did was fall asleep on the couch. And today...I had to get up and go to town early as well. And then I had to assist Sean with some online job applications. But still, I could have fit a blog in there somewhere. If I really dig comes down to being kind of annoyed with blogland. And yet, I didn't want to rant. My rants aren't funny. Some peoples are, but not mine. And yet, I feel the need to get this out.

First off, why does everyone blog? I know I started G & H because Hildi and I emailed a lot to keep in touch and they were pretty funny. So I thought "why not share"? And it was okay if we had no followers because mostly it was for us and our families. I started this blog when I was going through a difficult time and some of the first entries aren't funny at all. But the point was for me to get my feelings out. Then somewhere along the way, I started to get funny. And then I started to branch out and read other blogs and make comments. And then other people started to read my blog and comment. And that was awesome. I mean, really? Who doesn't like to get comments and see that more people are reading your blog? It's instant gratification and trust me, there is nothing better for a writer. It's validation. And I do enjoy seeing that follower number grow! Or having someone say "wow. I just found your blog and I really enjoyed it. I'm going to follow you now." Everyone wants that. But maybe for different reasons, I don't know.

Lately, blogland has been reminding me of high school. All about the popularity. I've seen bloggers do giveaways just to get more readers. Really? You want people to follow you because you bribed them?? Is that follower number really that important to you?? I'm talking about the giveaways that state "if you mention my blog on your blog and send readers my way, I'll enter you in my giveaway." Um. No thanks. In fact, if you do that, I don't give a crap how good you are, I'm not following you. I'm not even visiting your blog. And yeah, I know some of you are saying "but Spot! What if they're a really good writer??" They might be the best writer out there, but to me, they're doing it for the wrong reasons. And I want no part of it.

I'm stubborn, you say? Dang tootin!! Always have been. A bit of a snob? I won't deny it. Hates to follow the crowd? I will run the other direction. I don't read books because Oprah tells me to. I don't pick a candidate by which celebrity endorses them. I don't hang with the "cool kids" unless they have more going for them than trendy clothes and money. I could be wrong. I could have too much "rebel attitude". My dad always said I'd "cut off my nose to spite my face". Maybe. Maybe I just don't like being told what to do. Maybe I just don't want to follow the crowd. And maybe I don't want to read and follow your blog because you are a shameless self promoter. I want to discover your blog through a comment on someone else's that makes me laugh or think or I can relate to. Then I want to follow your blog because the content is good and holds my interest. Not because you told me to. Or someone else told me to because you begged them or bribed them. What happened to integrity? Is this really about who has the most followers??

I also don't mind discovering blogs because someone commented on mine so I took a look at theirs. Or if I'm on a blogsite I like and see and an interesting blog on their blogroll. I got an email today from a blogger who said he'd found my site through a comment I made on another site. Now he's a follower. Would I mind checking out his blog? Well of course I checked it out (and follwed). Because he wasn't bribing me or demanding me attention. I'm not above returning a favor.

Anyway, maybe this makes no sense to anyone but me. And maybe I'm just rebelling against the status quo. Maybe I missed the memo where this is a popularity contest and I'm just bitter because I'm not on the homecoming court. But to me this is about connecting with people. I've gotten to know alot of my followers and my frequent commenters and I consider them friends, not fans. I tune into their blogs because I care what's going on in their lives and I feel like they care about mine. And I love it when something I've said touches them or gives them a laugh for the day. Anyway, it took Angelia to restore my faith in blogland. She's offering a giveaway. But you don't have to pimp out her blog to enter. Just leave her a comment. And she's just doing it because she likes to give. That's the kind of person I want to be friends with and follow.

Thank you to the followers who found me through comments on other blogs. I'm unbelievably happy that you chose to stay. And I'm happy that I got to view your blogs too! And to those who have me on your blogrolls...thanks!! I'm honored. Truly.

Sorry if I offend anyone. No. I'm really not. I think that integrity is important. Thanks for letting me rant.