Sunday, June 30, 2013

Come thou fountains at World's Fair Park...

Today our new minister preached her first sermon as our new associate. I thought she did a great job...more guts than I have, that's for sure. She and I went to the same church growing up and I've known her parents for a while. Contrary to popular rumors, I did not change her diapers when she was a baby. Her parents were some of my youth middle school counselors and were wonderful. After church/work was over, I went home and prepared the children for the last fun with cousins activity. It was a warm enough day that we put them all in their swim suits, yet again, and took them to the fountains at World's Fair Park. Just as with the local high school football game or state fair, you see all kinds of people from all walks of life. The cousins had lots of fun and spent time lamenting the fact that they live so far apart. They spent time people watching and trying to figure out people in bathing suits that should never be seen in public, understanding the confusing homemade tattoo found here and there and attempting to figure out why grown humans would choose public hyper chlorinated fountains to commit PDA. After wearing themselves out a good 87%, they stopped to drink and snack to refuel before the playground. Quite honestly, I'm not sure what the boy was sipping:

Kids. They start the hard stuff way too soon.

We said our goodbyes, stopped to pick up a jug o milk and went home to wash the chlorine out and eat leftovers. I then went to check on the garden's progress and ran into the very rare Tennessee Hooded Dollar Tree Cobra...deadly:

Luckily it likes our family and leaves us alone. Now if it would just pollinate our squash. Monday is quickly apporaching and the sun is setting on this beautiful day. Enjoy the rest of your evening...I forsee an early bedtime.
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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Too tired to start over

Sooooo, my blog app just totally ate 3/4 done blog post for the evening. I am annoyed and so very tired, so I am not going to attempt recreate it. We had a normal Saturday, complete with a trip to look at campers:

That one was definitely not going to fit us all. The kids were not amused. Next we went to Mayo's to find out how to battle the blight on our tomatoes. I know everyone reading is so riveted at this point. I mowed the lawn and cried through half of it when I kept finding Cosby's toys in the yard. After I finished doing all that, we went swimming with cousins again. We were minus a couple who were missed terribly, but we swam and enjoyed the sunshine. The hub impressed the kids with his diving and cannonball techniques this time. Whatever it takes to keep the kids happy. I am currently flipping between unexciting movies on a dull TV night and finalizing plans for G's birthday. That's all I got, peeps. Living the dream.
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Friday, June 28, 2013

The things we do for family

The Virginia cousins are in for their traditional summer visit with their grandparents(my aunt and uncle). As is always the case, my children and my other cousin's children are summoned to the house to partake in yummy foods and various activities of fun with family. The traditional board game playing and water balloon fights took place yesterday, resulting in exhausted children and earlier bedtimes which made for happy parents. Today was swimming over at the neighbors' pool. Because I am a pretty strong swimmer, go ahead and laugh at that as you picture me in your head, but I am, I usually get in there with the kids. The other dads were working and my cousin's wife was taking care of the youngers and the new baby. My uncle is, by his own admission, not a great it was me. It took me a while to get in there. The water was only slightly warmer the slushy stuff in those bags they put on your ankle when you sprain it. The youngers thought it was fun to splash me, which only put their name on my list for later. Various games were playing involving the diving board and one jumping off and trying to catch others swimming across the pool. My 6 year old cousin B asked me to be the next person to be on the diving board and chase people. THe older kids laughed, thinking there was no way I could ever catch them. Oh you sweet, innocent young people. I caught two people without any problem. As I emerged from the pool, mouths were wide open with a little bit of new found respect. In a way, I felt like I in a drop the mic and walk off situation saying, "Cousin Jenny-out", with the mic being a pool noodle, but I didn't. I got back on the diving board to the cousins chanting "CannonBALL! cannonBALL!". I was not quite ready to pull that kind of excitement out of my bag of tricks, so I dove in and swam to the other end of the pool. Again their underestimations were unfortunate for them. Lastly, cousin B started the "CannonBALL! CannonBALL!" chanting again. How could I not? The kids were all pleased with the finishing splash and then we prepared to leave. Just as I said in an earlier post, I don't get in my swimsuit in front of just anybody. You do a lot for family that you might not do for others. Just don't ever doubt swimming ability due to size...or I'll have to drop the pool noodle on you too.
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rain storms and sippy cups

At approximately 2:28am, we got a visitor in our bed. Quite honestly, I had been awake for a bit and was surprised it took that long for sweet G to come visit. Even with her trusty thunder protector and ear protection, her trusty sleep mask was no match for the rapid fire lightening. Honestly, I had been up for a good 7 minutes checking the Weather Channel on my phone to see if we needed to carry sleepy children down to the basement. When I saw tornadic activity was not near, I hunkered down with the girl and helped cover her ears while she covered her eyes. She fell asleep quickly, while I was repeatedly slashed by her sharp big toenail. Note to self: find the nail clippers.

The kids spent a Cousin Day at their great aunt and uncle's house while I worked. Don't judge me, but I still can't bear being in the house by myself. The absence of that sixth heartbeat is too lonely and quiet to bear. After getting my head trimmed up from yeti to acceptable mom, I did some work and gave myself a special treat, but only after finding an unused Visa gift card I was given at it cost my family nothing. Bonus. I picked up three exhausted kids, took them home to shower a couple layers of crud off their bodies and proceeded to fix dinner. I know, riveting stuff. My friend A texted me informing me it was new recipe happy hour and could she bring me a sample. I declined since coming over to this house is like stepping into the lobby at a funeral home and I don't want to put that evil on anybody. A little bit later her husband and youngest show up in the driveway with a sample and a sweet homemade card. It brightened up an otherwise gloomy day...and provided a yummy punch to the tastebuds. Her husband was kind enough to take a gander at our garden and give us some helpful ideas. Thanks, A and C!

We are now relaxing for the evening, I am checking the Weather Channel while writing. Just trying to decide whether or not to clip the kid's nails now or when she gets up tomorrow. I wouldn't mind a good heavy rain to sleep by, but I could do without the dramatic sound effects. I'll let you know how it goes....

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Doughnuts and Fireflies

I have a friend who has a food blog that I can't hardly bear to read. It makes me too hungry. Her recipes are heavily French, but she has a wide variety of delectable delights and mouth watering pictures accompanying them. Today I decided to make one of her most recent ones: doughnuts. When my mind is full or my heart heavy, I often turn to the kitchen to make something and take it to somebody for a treat. This recipe was quick to make and, most importantly, was baked in the oven. I have an unreasonable fear of hot oil and will probably never deep fry anything. Bock bock bock. I put these doughnuts in the oven and they were far enough in the baking process for the tasty smell to be wafting through the house when S's teacher arrived. As I pulled them out of the oven and dipped them in melted butter and cinnamon sugar, I looked up to find S and Mr. F looking at me with tummies rumbling. How lucky I was to have a built in taste testing crew. I couldn't taste them since I was numb from getting my new crown earlier...and almost reflexively biting the hygienist, but that's another story for another time. I got four thumbs up and a request to put that in the recipe rotation.

Tonight we stopped in at my aunt and uncle's house to drop some things off and see our Virginia cousins who are visiting this week. It did our hearts good to see the kids smile for the first time in a few days, to have deep belly laughs and to run and play with their dog and tell her what was heavy on their hearts. They caught 10's of fireflies and filled jar after jar. Their twinkling lights thrilled them and took me back to the summers of my childhood. We'd play all day, stopping only for meals and hydration. We'd catch jars of fireflies, watch them glowing while sitting next to a pungent citronella candle whilst eating a popsicle. Good times...good times.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Day After

No, this is not a post about the very terrifying at the time 80's movie about nuclear death and destruction starring Jason Robards:

It is more about the equally depressing aftermath of grieving the death of Cosby...although the tension and grief in the house today just about equals nuclear war. It is true when it is said, "The silence is deafening." I almost opted out of staff meeting today, worrying that I would make a complete fool of myself crying like a baby. We decided to go after the children each spent time, unaware I was observing them, standing in the spot where her bed once sat...the spot where they said their goodbyes yesterday. The room felt so quiet and empty. We just couldn't take it. We went to church, I to staff meeting and the kids to play with the big girls. Distractions all around. I still managed to boo hoo in staff meeting during prayer requests, but heard several stories from others on their love of the canine companion. Afterwards I got what work I could get done done before the big girls had to leave. We then left, got a pathetic lunch and took the boy to the barber shop, stopping first at Walgreens. We walked in to find a display of dog biscuits with a yellow lab on the front and all proceeded to burst into tears. Sorry, Walgreens. We left and entered, red eyed, into Jerry's. Always deceptive, you never know how many people are really in line ahead of you. We ended up being there two hours. Sweet Jerry kept apologizing for our wait, but I was grateful. I told him the events of last night and he understood our need to be away for a while. The boy was shorn and we left to return to that place we dreaded to be. S immediately ran in habitually calling for Cosby and immediately collapsed into a heap of tears at the realization that her absence was indeed a reality and not just a bad dream. We were a joy to be with today.

We will get through this. Life will go on and the agony will be reduced to a beautiful ache that only comes from experiencing the loss of one who loved and was loved so deeply.
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Monday, June 24, 2013

A life well played

I have dreaded having to talk about this from the moment we made the commitment 15 years ago. The hub, having never had any kind of pet other than that of the bring it home in a bag of water variety, and I decided that we wanted to take the plunge and get a puppy. After hours of over-researching, we found a breeder that we liked and got on the list to have first pic of their litter of lab pups. They were protective of the little babies, but let us come and visit at two weeks since we did not have any pets of our own to bring illnesses to them. We arrived to find them all in a blue plastic wading pool nursing. Her ear was not bigger than a quarter...cutest thing ever:

We took her home at 8 weeks of age and have had a wild ride ever since. She has eaten CD's, numerous socks, Easter candy and various other weird things. Training turned her into a master frisbee catcher and roller over-er. She mothered our children, protected us when she was concerned and sat on our feet when it thundered. As the years went on and her gait slowed a bit, we looked with dread upon the future. The furry matriarch of our family was aging and it was tough to watch. Last summer we were sure she was cashing it in and she rallied. She gave us an extra bonus year of love. What a gift!

Today she just seemed extra tired. Not the spunky senior we have been living with for so long. So when we came in from swimming, S checked on her to make sure she was okay. I went about putting groceries away, noticed she had not gotten up and started my usual routine. I got her leash to lure her off her bed, but she was not moving. As i went to pick her legs up and move her, I noticed that she was wet and had soiled her bed. I tried to use the sling to pick her up, but no luck. I looked in her eyes and saw the look of, "Enough. I'm just done." I knew we couldn't prolong this anymore. Our vet was backed up until Wednesday, so we called another hospital that has vet who attend our church. They told us to come on. Panic set in as to who would watch the kids. I couldn't drive sobbing. How was S going to deal with this? She adores that animal and calls her a best friend. Our neighbors and my sister in law came to watch the kids while my brother drove Cosby and me to the hospital to meet the hub. We got there and I carried her in, holding her and sobbing, making a spectacle of myself. They took us back and gave us a warm towel to cover her and keep her comfortable. Dr. McLeod came in and explained all the options we had before us, stroked her head and proceeded to get started. Her first injection helped her relax. She was pretty much asleep and didn't seem to bothered by the fact that I was sobbing and drooling all over her golden hair. He then came in and shaved a place on her leg and started the final injection. I placed both hands on her body, whispering my deep gratitiude for the love and protection she provided us, the companionship that would never be equalled, the spirit that could never be replaced. Her breathing slowed and finally stopped. It was excruciatingly beautiful. This precious being I held in my two palms at 2 weeks and now I was there to witness the end of her physical life and the beginning of her heavenly reward, walking around to give pleasure to all who have gone before us. It is a sweet agony I will never get over.Godspeed, my sweet Cosby. You have changed our lives forever and left your paw prints on many hearts. We are heartbroken.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Scooter wrecks and Dinner game decks

Today was a run of the mill Sunday. I conducted most of my worktime in a very professional way: barefoot. I did wear my Chacos today, but hit my limit on footwear very early in the day. The kids loved it, but some of the adults gave me the side eye off and on during the morning. Barefoot innovative new concept. After checking in all the pagers and cleaning up the last of the nursery aftermath, I drove home to see what the family was cooking up. Not much, so we decided to go get some energy burned off in a non insanity producing way. So we took them to the soccer fields to ride their scooters, watch the dogs at the dog park and just generally wear themselves out. I walked around in the parking lot while the kids scooted around and screamed their lungs out. G had a scooter-tastrophe and wiped out at the bottom of the hill. SHe took some nice chunks out of her palms and her knee. The battle scars of summer. Somebody has to draw first blood, so she took one for the team. That kind of put a damper on her desire to scoot anymore, so we left and watched all the wild dogs at the dog park. That helpd their attention for exactly 3.5679234 seconds until the boy started riding his scooter down the drainage ditch. Luckily we stopped him before Children's officially named a wing after us.

After we returned home, rehydrated and the hub repaired the tomato plants, we ate dinner while playing with the Kids vs Parents deck of cards. I learned that the fathers of modern flight were Omnis and Willis Wright and that UFO's are Uniformed Frying Oddballs. My parental failures run deep...go ahead and judge.

I am now going to watch Pitch Perfect while I kick myself for taking a 10 minute power nap at 8:20pm. I will be wide awake for a good chunk of the night. Enjoy sawing your logs, everybody.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Camper damper

We had a very lazy morning. I think the kids are still trying to recover from Bible school. The way I talk, it sounds like they went through boot camp last week. Not quite, but it was a marathon for sure. Anyway, the boy got up at 8 and the girls got up at 9:20. Can you believe that? I can't either. He and I watched a good portion of "The Right Stuff". Never too early to introduce children to the beginnings of the space program as depicted by Hollywood. He was a fan of John Glenn and Chuck Yeager...or Ed Harris and Sam Shepherd, not sure which. After getting ready and breakfasting, the hub and I decided to go on a little adventure. We both grew up in camping families, first in tents and then in pop up Starcraft campers. Some of my best memories involve that camper and the neatest camping spots ever. Or popping the camper up on our carport and having slumber parties in it in the summertime. Strange but fun. We looked at some pop ups and then the salesman took us to look at their next level campers...which led us to looking in a Winnebago...which led us to look in a motor coach, just for kicks. The kids were most in love with the Winnie which contained bunk beds with their own personal flatscreen TV and two or three additional flatscreens. They tried their best not to hear the fact that it also cost 3/4 of what our house costs. It was a bit of a sad fall when they realized that the Winnie was not to be a member of our family unless, of course, we win the powerball or a large inheritance from an unknown affluent relative. So cue the sad trombone, no Winnie for us.

This afternoon we went to celebrate the life of a dear family friend. It was a lovely and very fitting tribute to a lovely life, well lived. The number of people who came to celebrate on a sunny Saturday afternoon was a testimony to how loved Sandra was. There is a large void in our church family, but a wonderful addition to our Heavenly one. I can only hope my life will be half as fruitful as hers. God bless you, Sandra. You are missed and loved.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

3D glasses, one boy and two lasses

After running to work to do catch up work neglected from a week of VBS, I ran back home, used the facilities and hopped in the car with family. We all headed to the early, early showing of the movie "Monsters University". The kids had been anticipating the release for over a year and , frankly, so have I. I love the first one, so who wouldn't love a prequel? We hadn't been to the movies as a family for a good while, so the kids were thrilled. I will say it was a bit strange eating buttery popcorn at 11am, but we powered through. My stomach still rejected it early in the day as well. We all enjoyed it, even the hub who still has trouble sitting through a movie theatre movie with his bad back. After the insanity of VBS week, we all needed a lazy day. I will admit I took two power naps and I will probably go to bed by 10. Jealous? Yeah...I didn't think so.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ingrown drama

My child has an ingrown toenail. An ingrown toenail that looks red and hot and nasty and painful. In addition to that she is exhausted. Completely and totally exhausted. So when the hub and I decided to do some home surgery on the toe, at her request, it was a horrible screaming way. My father used to do surgery on my toe. Soak it in Epsom salts, shove a big wad of cotton under the nail. If that didn't get it all the way, a sterilized needle stuck into the bad part to relieve the pressure. It hurt like, well it hurt a lot, but it worked. So when she requested the needle treatment, we looked at her to make sure she was serious. The next ten minutes included screaming and attempts to squeeze my fingers off my hand and allegations of abuse and thanks for pressure relief. What a fun way to spend the evening after a hard day.

Our favorite radio personality, Frank Murphy, is leaving our favorite morning show. He isn't leaving the area, but we are heartbroken. The hub has followed him since he was in the DC area on the Don and Mike show. We will still follow him on Twitter and his blog and find him at locations if he is there, but it won't be the same. This is a good opportunity for him and we excite in his promotion. But a bright light in our morning has dimmed...sigh.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My son, the six year old Barry White

I love my son. I love all my children, I do. But that boy comes out with some of the strangest and funniest things and I really have no idea from where they come. He's quick and smart. Again, not playing favorites, but he just is on a whole other plane of something than most people.

After picking up G from her class today, she proceeded to tell me about the fact that she and her classmate, and lifelong friend, are boyfriend and girlfriend again. Apparently on the trip over to class, the two of them had a deep discussion chronicling their history, including supposed break ups and reconciliations. An aside...I am one of those strict moms who does not encourage all that stuff and has not let my middle schooler date. There is time for that business down the line. I was not allowed to date until 16. Period. I digress. Her friend's family and I have know each other since his mother and I were their age, so we both understand the innocence in the relationship. When G told us that they were together, the boy said, "Did you both agree to this? Was it mu-tu-AL?". When she said that they had both agreed to the relationship, the boy said, in his best future first grader Barry White voice, "Guuurrrl. Why you have to grow up so FAST?". Let me say, I don't make a habit of playing Barry White(though I like him just fine) for them, but they have heard me sing "Your my first, my last, my everything", more than once. Then he said, "Love is in the air...very young love." Luckily we were coming to a stop at the light or I may have run off the road. Between that light and the next, he used the terms "metaphorically speaking" and "persistent cough"...correctly. My head hurts. Too many potential comments and no way to get them all out. Soooo, I'll go to bed. Night all.

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Location:Fenwood Dr,Knoxville,United States

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Try me, kid

Day two off VBS and I am not in jail. I kid...I kid. The second day is always a bit calmer than the first day. We are well into our snack preparation, outfitted with a well-oiled machine of a team, a few new ones happily joining us and a few of the faithful sorely missed. We made Shield of God cookies today. Knights had shields...not sure they were shaped like Captain America's, but the kids could care less. They had icing on them and that is really all that mattered. Tomorrow, jeweled brownie crowns. We've had fun.

Today was a true monsoon day and I was exhausted when we got home. Lunch was consumed and then we all snuggled up on the couch to enjoy a movie while in was dark and rainy. I may have checked my eyelids for holes, waking up just in time to discover the kids had flipped channels and found "Bridezillas". Luckily they were only about 5 minutes in and I quickly saved the day, and what was left of my parental credibility, and turned on Monsters Inc.. Insert sigh of relief here. After dinner I discovered that, while feeding the 300 at VBS, I had limited resources for feeding the 5 at my own home. The kids were a bit squirrely from their rainy day inside time, so we figured the little jaunt would do them good. It turned, instead, into a "Let's touch everything in the store" episode again. I should know better than to involve them in serious shopping when they are overtired. After the display of Kroger brand Zyrtec was caught right before it hit the floor(which was a legitimate mistake), I looked at the offenders and said, "You reach that arm out again and you'll pull back a bloody stump." So, I tend to overdramatize for the effect it sometimes gives. Everyone was included in the gory warning, whether they were involved or not. The girls looked disturbed and genuinely concerned. The boy, who was sleepy to the giddy point, started laughing. "I do NOT know what that means, but you said 'stump'! HAHAHAHA!!!!".

Stick a fork in me. Mama's done.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

Tennis elbow? No, VBS hip

The first day of VBS has come and gone. It is always a bit chaotic that first morning, but we powered through. I did have to reimagine snack for one of the children. They have decided to bring snack from home and I can't say I blame them. The allergy to eggs was described as making them throw up from their toes. Pretty harsh, I must say. I don't want any part of making that happen, so I spent some time at the grocery store this evening looking for alternatives. We'll see if she likes them.

Tonight we got to sample offerings from the garden at dinner. Just herbs, but yummy just the same. We had cold cucumbers with vinegar and fresh dill:

It was a hit all the way around. We have a tin full of different dinner games that my sister in law gave us and use it quite often. After a rousing game of seeing who would falter first naming the most presidents(one of the kids faltered by saying "William Henry Seacrest"...I'll let you guess which one while I taste the failure of my parenting skills), they decided to play telephone. The girls got so into coming up with phrases to say:

The boy has lots of gifts, but this game is not one of them. When your personal whisper is the same volume as most people's stadium voice, you never get a messed up message. Either way, the kids were rolling and red faced with laughter when the final message was announced. It doesn't get much better than that.

VBS day two is coming up. I may try to get a sympathy foot rub from my dear sweet husband. The crazy snack lady works on unforgiving floors. My feet feel as though they may fall off soon. Night all.
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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Calm before the castle

As I sit here watching an extra bloody and gross season premiere of True Blood, I am enjoying the last bit of calm before the storm of Kingdom Rock hits our life. Being in children's ministry at the church, this is kind of our Super Bowl. We have prepared for a long time, planning knight and medieval type decorations, turning our sanctuary into a castle. I am once again the crazy snack lady, desperately trying to make food that goes with this theme as well. I decided to forgo the Black Plague pudding pop and instead make a Medieval Mix and other strange concoctions. We'll see how it is received. Right now, I am enjoying the calm before the storm.

Considering what day it is, let me just say how lucky I am to have had such a wonderful father growing up and have a husband who is such a wonderful father to our children. Today did not turn out to be the Father's Day I had hoped to give the hub, but it included time spent at church and as a family, talking to our families and laughing together. It was just what we needed.

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Rushing to the Farmer's Market

Happy Saturday evening to all of you. I hope your day has been sunny and full of fun. Not much to report from here. We went to return S's rented school instruments to the music store. Luckily for the hub, I forgot that the checkbook was in my purse. I tend to lose my head when in the music store. All the books and fiddly school instruments and reeds and picks and ukuleles and, oh my goodness, I have no control. We got out of there with just my purchase of a new penny whistle and a snare drum purchase for S. the real purpose for our trip was to find Father's Day gifts. There haven't been many ideas swirling around, so we decided to take him to a store he likes and force him to make choices. Mast General Store is like shopping crack for the whole family and we were there for a long time. It takes a lot out of kids to be good, so they were rewarded with some Cruze Dairy Farm ice cream at the Farmer's Market. Uh, yum. Purchased some more tomato plants at the market and then left to get home and out of the heat. The kids worked fervently on their Father's Day offerings and, well, they are too cute. We then went out for a drive and witnessed a minivan rear end a motorcycle. No one was hurt but the vehicles. So very glad that it wasn't any worse. Makes you take a moment to think about how careful we all need to be around motorcycles.

So aside from my son entertaining himself by dancing in front of the three way mirror at Mast, watching himself and drawing a crowd, it was a pretty dull but nice day in our neck of the woods. I think it is time for bed now. Last night's burger out did not sit well and made for a sleepless night. TMI, but you gots to be smart about meat safety at the restaurants. Blurg. Sweet dreams after that thought....

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Appointment-ed to exhaustion

We had a lot of places to be and not quite enough arms, legs and family to get us there. Thankfully a friend offered to keep some of our brood while I took S to another check up with the GI doc. When I see all the little people in there who very obviously have severe issues, it is very humbling to know that S's problem is temporary when so many have such a long road ahead of them. Dr. Al-Tawil greeted S with the love and enthusiasm of a father seeing his child after a long trip...lots of hugs. Love him. He got to hear about all the bizarre preservative allergy business and gave his blessing in agreement with the other doctors. He wrote orders for more blood work to check her liver function after the allergic reaction. Next visit will be at the beginning of August. We did a little happy dance with that news. We then transferred one child to another engagement and then S and I went to my dentist's office. The black hole looking tooth in the back of my mouth was actually a black hole of exposed stuff where the temporary crown used to be. They were all very patient as I squirmed from the sensitivity and pain of the open, exposed tooth. Let's hope I can keep this temporary until the 26th when the porcelain one comes. Yeesh. Than it was back to the hospital for another scheduled blood letting. Never fun, but we got to watch Toy Story 3 for the 17,000th time. Excellent. Then I picked up one child and then went to pick another one up. The kids were invited to play in the community pool for a bit where they burnt their bodies up in the sun. Mother of the year right here.

On a somber note, it is my my sad duty to report the passing of our family friend I spoke of last night. Cancer is a horrible spectre that cannot be gone from our existence soon enough. Sandra was a sister friend to my aunt for many, many years and a well known fixture at church. I ache for the family's loss, but I rejoice that she is no longer in pain. So, in your bedtime prayers, say an extra one for the Hatcher family. They've lost their warrior, but have gained a guardian angel.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

I'm falling apart...

This is to be a short post, friends. I have been at church since 10am, with the exception of a 20 minute visit to our Physical therapist guru friend, preparing for VBS. My legs, tooth and arm are killing me. I believe, during the course of the day, that I lost my new temporary crown. Not sure what gave it away other than the excruciating pain when eating or drinking. I also did something to my shoulder, probably doing something stupid, and have janked up my rotator cuff. Good show, Jenny. I am a walking Operation game, complete with the Charley Horse and red nose. What a mess.

On a serious note, please pray for the Hatcher family tonight. I have known them most of my life, as they are the best friends of my aunt and uncle. Their children and I have know each other for a long time. The matriarch of their family has pancreatic cancer and has, after a fierce battle, decided to stop her very aggressive chemo and enjoy her days not poisoned by the very meds trying to help her. She is a fixture in our church and community. I just pray that she can be without pain and enjoy her family. God bless you, Sandra, and all you mean to our family.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Send me to Africa

Tonight, S and I went to meet our church conference missionaries in Zimbabwe. Ishe Anesu is a program that provides meals, schooling, after school care and a host of other things to children orphaned due to the AIDS epidemic or abandoned due to different familial issues. Maria and Bill Humbane spoke to us tonight about the work they are doing there, partly thanks to the funds and resources our conference provides. It was heartbreaking to hear the circumstaces some of these children come from and how hard their lives are. I wasn't sure, honestly, if S would be able to hang throught the whole program, but she did. It was a two hour presentation. She soaked up every word, shocked and heartbroken hearing about the children with bellies swollen from parasites and worms gotten through scrounging through garbage to find food. It was a shocking picture. By the end of the program, she and I both wanted to go and visit this place that is doing such good in the midst of such sadness. Maria is going to set the kids up with pen pals they can talk to through email. They are so excited. I truly hope we can go one day. It would be an amazing experience...just as tonight was.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Getting older kind of stinks

I turned 41 today sometime in the 11am to 12:30pm time frame. In 1972, I interrupted a shmancy brunch picnic that my mom was planning for lots of friends at their house. My "Aunt" Joan had to come over and entertain the guests, and my brother, while Mom and Dad ran to the hospital just in time. I came out feet first, ready to take on the world with a shock of orange hair. Even the hospital janitor knew about my crazy hair and came to visit. An exciting birth day for sure.

Today I woke up to three, no four, precious faces bringing me a traditional breakfast in bed. After the hub let for work, the kids and I enjoyed a little movie watching before starting the day:

We then went to Starbucks to get my free birthday coffee which turned out to be a total bust. They did not know how to deal with the info on my iphone app and so I left with a sad face. Many hours were spent working on VBS prep and refereeing fights between children who had no desire to be at work with their mother. While all this was going on, my mother was having surgery on her knee. The parents said not to come, there was no need for an outpatient surgery. Easier said than done. She made it through fine, but had a reaction to the anaethesia(sp). My dad called a bit ago needing help finding Pedialyte because she is sick. I wish I was there right now. The hub did a wonderful job of grilling a wonderful dinner and we dined with my brother and sister in law. We talked about a wide array of subjects including magicians, animal trapping and the Apple Dumplin' Gang. Never dull around here.

I focused a lot today on how it wasn't ideal for me. Working on my birthday. Refereeing on my birthday. Wah wah wah. So it wan't exactly what I wanted, selfish baby that I am. But I so realize how very blessed I am. I received texts and tweets throughout the day. My sweet husband worked so hard and gave me such a nice evening. My sweet G worked so very hard to wrap my presents. I am a blessed woman...and it took a different kind of day to put my mind in the right place. And I am grateful for all of it.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Dental work blues

I went to have crown numero dos this morning. Can you tell how excited I am? As I have stated many times before, I love my dentist dearly, but I'd much rather see him at church or at the grocery store. All I have to say is when your day begins with these: can only get better.

VBS is next week, so the children's ministry staff at church are in full blown blitz mode. S and I went pricing food items for snacks next week. $500 for 400 snacks a day for 4 days. We'll see. Since our Bible school is medieval themed this year, I am trying to make snacks that go with that theme. At the craft store, the kids and I found some castle and crown cookie cutters. They'll work out for us for sure. While there, we hit the jackpot as far as the kids were concerned. As lots of us are aware, mustaches are like one of the in things with the kids...that and bacon themed stuff. Well, this display sent my children into hysterics:

Mustache heaven AND there were three other sides to the display. It's the little things in life, friends.

I bid you all a happy goodnight. I plan to take several motrin and lay down with a hot rice bag on my cheek. Living the dream.
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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday gone dark

Today was a typical Sunday. Worked. Played beautician for a 2 year old's doll having a bad hair day. Had to explain to an elementary schooler why you can't kiss the girl you think you love...especially on her face in front of her mother. Comforted some little people when the power went out and made church all dark and eerie with the constant battery backup beeping that will give people facial tics. It was just the excitement I needed to take my mind off the fact that I had been crying like a, well, like an almost 41 year old who had sprung a leak over the fact that our friend and minister preached her last sermon today as one of our associates. The blessing and curse of being a member of a Methodist church. Pastor Melissa will be missed, but she can't get rid of us that easily. People come and go from our lives every day, but our pastors hold an extra special corner of our hearts. They rejoice with us in our best times and are on their knees with us during our lowest lows. A bond that can never be gone...even when they have moved on to many other congregations. Rev. Spurgeon McCart gave me my very first grown up bible. He has long since retired and is living in my parents' neighborhood, but I will never forget his strong handshake and advice to use it as my guide for everything. So as our ministers are currently in the opening of Annual Conference 2013, I hope they never forget, in all their responsibilities, how much they mean in the lives of those they serve every day.

After leaving the emotional, and beeping, church building, I spent some time outside with the children and sidewalk chalk. The boy, as always, got a little out there with his art:

This is somewhat hard to see, but it is his "portrait of himself as a teenage girl with a cell phone". I'm not sure what James Joyce would say about this, but it made for interesting conversation. The portrait was sadly washed away when Sunday went dark for a second time as the monsoons entered the area. We got inside Kroger just in time, me in my Anchorman tshirt, the kids in their probably covered in dog pile shoes from the dog park, and watched several waterfalls pouring from the skylights. We looked a fright, but so did everyone else...drowned rats pushing carts everywhere.

Have a wonderful dark Sunday night, friends.
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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Lemonade is exhausting

Well, the big day arrived. The highly anticipated lemonade stand, highly anticipated by my children only, came to fruition on our happy little street. I must admit that I was a bit of a pessimist in regards to projecting their success when I walked outside to a sad gray sky. While the sales team grabbed a few more z's in preparation for the big day, I took off to out Kroger store to buy some dry ice. While I do admit our family has a strange obsession with the substance, there was a legitimate reason for buying it. You see, in addition to the four types of beverages the kids were selling, they were also in the frozen pudding pop business. The dry ice allowed us to keep the pops outside all nice and frozen instead of turning into gross gelatinous pools with popsicle sticks floating in them. Nice visual, I know. As I returned from the Kroger jaunt, I noticed a neon green sign in our neighbor's yard pointing up the hill to a yard sale. Yippee! We had the possibility of second hand customers. S walked up and asked if we could put a sign up with their yard sale. Luckily we know the neighbors who are very kind people. They also ordered some lemonade as well. Nice. The kids were ready before their advertised time and made about $5 presale:

They have decided that they are going to do projects throughout the Summer that would benefit different organizations. This lemonade, and pudding pop, venture would benefit Wesley House. They are trying to raise a substanial amount of money for a new facility. They help kids and seniors in an inner city area of Knoxville. They do wonderful work. To learn more about what they do, visit their website I doubt the link will work from the actual post. I don't have the type of skills to make that happen. Anyhoo, they jumped up and down for hours with their larger than life glass of lemonade on a stick, complete with straw. Can't you hear the ice clinking? Some friends came over and the kids all worked together in the advertising department. We had some fairly good business. We had a lot of confused people looking for the yard sale up the hill only to find glasses, screaming kids, a donation jar, copious amounts of coolers and a bottle of hand sanitizer. Some had pity on the kids and bought, whilst others waved, shook their heads and drove off quickly. Our friends were very brave to take two pudding pops in the car with them. They get the medal of bravery for the day for sure. We did find, in our very unofficial survey, that luxury car owners will not stop at lemonade stands, but people driving with their dogs will. Also, we found that motorcyclists will stop and donate to the cause but, limited to their driving circumstances, will not partake in the peddled goods. What this has to do with anything, I don't know. The kids made these discoveries.

Anyway it happened, the kids made $72 to donate to Wesley House. Whether that buys a brick, a few school supplies or items for a snack, know that the funds were raised with love, enthusiasm and the hope that they will help in some small way. And for that reason, I am proud...and a little sticky from the aftermath.
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Friday, June 7, 2013

Dog bath drama

So tis the time of the year when kids and dogs get cruddy and stinky. They go out in the morning and come back at dinner time grungy and ready to be hosed off. This afternoon Cosby dog's dirty level hit a new high which meant one thing: the front of everybody. Oh, how humiliating. Before the hose came out, the hub had to use the shedding tool on her to get the extra hair off. No point in washing hair that will fall in the floor. This is what it looked like:

She was not pleased. At all. But this was nothing compared to what was coming. The hose came on and the oatmeal shampoo came out. The look on her face was of complete disgust. The neighbor dog was barking in protest of the atrocities being committed in her presence. But she was getting clean AND we found a tick:

And then it got really interesting. Because Cosby has always been lively and exciteable, she has always worn a choke collar. Nothing cruel, but necessary. It was being held while she was getting hosed off and dried with towels. She stood and took it like a champ and then, all of a sudden, a strange, loud groan came out from what seemed like her bowels. And then she keeled over. Hub and I looked at each other with the look of "S%^&! She's dead." Then all of a sudden, she blinked her eyes and shook her head. She still was on the ground, but she was alive. Then we remembered that she had done this once before at the vet's office. She pulls too hard on her chain, cuts her air off and passes out. Talk about the family of freak occurrences.

I swear it is never dull around our house. Ever.
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Swimming pool protocol

Our church had its family swim night tonight at one of the community pools. While we usually provide the food in the style of hot dogs and fixings, this year was a bring your own picnic kind of deal. Hey, friends, I can rock a picnic dinner no problem. What I cannot seem to do is get into a bathing suit and be seen by half the church whilst in it. I have to work there and maintain some sort of level of respect from people. Now vacation was a different animal all together. Aside from the freakish encounter on a childhood family trip to Europe where we ran into a former coworker of my father's in an Italian hotel, I doubt that we will run into many of the people who stayed in the Animal Kingdom Resort any time soon. If I go into the vacation pool, who cares? No one is going to see me walking around the streets in my Tennessee town...or at least they won't recognize me. But bathing suit with my church family? I love 'em but, no way.

After spending nearly three hours in the pool, I can only imagine that this will be an interesting night at our house. G kept count and went off the high dive eighteen times. Just the high dive. If she is able to crawl out of her top bunk with ease tomorrow, I will be shocked. S went off the high dive several times, with her final dive turning into a bellyflop off the high dive. Yowch. THe boy? Well, the boy has a distinct swimming style that involves imbibing half the pool while he moves about. Sure he stays hydrated in the summer weather, but when his bladder finally lets loose he could pressure wash the sidewalk. Sorry for that visual. It was unnecessary but extrememly accurate. Needless to say, we may have some unexpected wardrobe changes in the night. I'm watching an always scary episode of Hannibal, so I may be up contemplating giving up meat as I always am after witnessing what Dr. Lecter does every episode.

Sleep tight, gentle readers. Dr. Gideon just massacred an ambulance of men. This is going to get interesting.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Can you fill the tub tonight...

I am emotionally wrecked tonight after our roast and toast of my dear friend and pastor who will be leaving us to transfer to a new church. All a part of being a Methodist, but not a fun part.

So to add a little levity, I will give you a tiny vacation story. We were fortunate enough to stay at the Animal Kingdom resort while visiting the mouse and even received a free upgrade to a savanna room that provided us a view of wild animals(giraffes, zebras, ostriches, antelopes, etc)from our room balcony. Because everything in the facility was African themed, there were a lot of Lion King touches. Above the kitchen sink, you found this:

Carved into the headboard of the bed, you found this:

And in the shower you found tiling with this:

Of course, we live in an older home with old frills. Many new homes have soaking tubs with jets and all that fancy stuff. My poor neglected children, cough cough, know nothing of these fancy ways. So when they found our fancy shower/soaking bath with jets, they went a little crazy. Most nights were shower worthy. Come in late from watching a movie while in the pool, yes IN THE POOL, and throw them in the shower to wash the chlorine out and then straight to bed. One of the nights was an early one where they were able to use to the fancy tub. I filled it to what I thought was the appropriate level of water, covering the jets. For whatever reason, when I turned the jets on, it shot water out and all over me. Nice. Add more water and start again. The jets worked nicely, so I left one of the children to enjoy the experience. I won't say which one, other than they were under the age of 13. I then took a glass of ice water in a feeble attempt to rehydrate and went out on the balcony to watch the Elands lock horns on the savanna. That lasted for maybe 5 minutes when another child came running out to report the bathing one was screaming for a parent. Seeing as how I am sure the other guests would not appreciate screaming, especially those in the super duper expensive Kilamanjaro Club above us, I quickly reported to the bathroom and pulled back the curtain. That is when I saw a strange sight. There were bubbles everywhere and the tiny top of a head in the center. "What did you do?", I yelled. "Nothing." I cleared my throat a bit. "All I did was add a few squirts of shampoo." There you have it. Operations child extraction and bubble removal began. The whole time we were cleaning the suds out of the tub so another child could go in there without getting lost of slipping to their death, we kept referring to ourselves as the "country mice". Maybe we'll stick to boring tubs next time. Hakuna matata.
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Swimming pool psychology

First off let me get this out of the way. Not trying to go blue on the blog, just stating the facts. Ate some raw cookie dough today and it has wrecked my stomach this evening. This may be a short post tonight. Sorry for the TMI, but that's life. And, yes. It was very good, so it was almost worth it. Adding to my tummy upset is the fact that I am watching Deadliest Catch and a guy just had a mortar firecracker thing blow up in his hand. Tendons cut in two and major fractures being set. Blurgh. Chew on that as you enjoy your crab legs.

I took the children to the Y to have a dip in the pool this afternoon. It never ceases to amaze me what people choose to do whilst in public, soaking wet and in tight, stretchy material. From the public displays of affecion that force me to have yet another conversation about bodies and touching and, oh you understand, to parents spanking their children right into their fluorescent colored swimmies and full body flotation suits. I did get asked to do a job while watching the kids swim: I held the lifeguard's rings while she touched up paint on some wooden Cornhole things. The other guard was too busy grumping at S about having a bandaid on her leg to watch the 5th grader who had my son in an underwater head lock. It isn't always this way, but of course our first trip had to be a doozy. I decided to be the extra cool mom and take the kids to Sonic afterwards for a happy hour treat. "Slushies all around," I yelled. The glee factor was high in the Sequoia, until... Well apparently this particular Sonic did not desire to really make money this afternoon, because all they had to offer was iced tea. I'm no dummy. My sweet, innocent children looked up at me with those cupie doll eyes and said, "We'll have tea. That's fine." You could see the firelight of excitement and opportunity on their little faces. Like Oliver holing up his bowl for another helping. Yeah right. My momma didn't raise a dingbat daughter. As soon as the caffeine in that tea activates, so will my kids. Boiling spaghetti and peeling a 6 year old off the ceiling is not my idea of a sane afternoon. So I spun tires out of Sonic and they got sugar free fudgesicles, probably slightly freezer burnt, at home instead of slushies. Sorry kids. I'll pay for the therapy.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Stitches and pins and balloons...oh YES!!

So today is our first official day of the regular old summer vacation grind. Classes for the youngers started today at the exact same time S was to get her biopsy stitches out. My aunt and uncle kindly fed the youngers a tasty breakfast and took them to class while I drove to see what the doc had to say this time. Um, shortest doctor appointment ever. Actually, I could leave doctor out of it entirely. The nurse came in, cleaned her stitched area with alcohol, took them out in 2 seconds and sent us on our way. Okay. I guess we are so used to sitting for hours at specialist appointments and having two or more doctors gawking at the mystery of her conditions that, well, a short appointment is rather unnerving. Oh well. We'll get over that. Quickly.

This afternoon we readied the house for S's first visit with her homebound teacher. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect. He visited with us briefly the day school ended for the summer, but that was it. Luckily, our house was in good shape and all of our luggage had been unpacked and put away. My sense of smell is fairly faulty, so I felt the need to spruce up the bouquet of our I baked cookies. The man has been teaching all day, so he needed a snack. I prepared myself to not be insulted if he chose not to partake. He doesn't know us from anyone, so he may think I pulled some old treats out from under the couch cushions. True story from my social work days. Someone did that to me. I need to get that thought out of my mind, so back to the boring details of our day. The teacher came, so I was charged with the task of keeping the others from distracting the two hour school session. Luckily a happy gift arrived in the mail. I like to call them legal Disney crack. Just like with patches at Boy Scout functions, Disney has collectible pins for every possible character, event, ride, date and park. The kids got into the collecting and trading aspect when we were there. They even got to me "King Pin" and trade with him at the hotel:

The pins are not cheap, so I turned to ebay once we got home and found a few very affordable lots. The first of two lots arrived today. My gracious the kids were thrilled. If only we had a pin trading store, forget that. We don't need one. They need to see the light of day at some point this break. The pins saved us from an educational incident today and for that I am truly grateful.

Tonight brought the treat of all treats. When S was sick, our friend was going to come over for a visit and entertain her a bit. She spiked a fever and we decided it would be best to postpone the visit for another more, um, hazmat suit free time. Today turned out to be that day. We have friends from church whoare some of our favorite people. G was blessed to have the wife as her second grade teacher and I was blessed to work with her at preschool a few years ago. Her husband is, among other things, a magician and balloon artist extraordinaire. They came tonight to visit and Ed told stories and made balloon creations for the children:

What a treat! The boy asked for and got a frog:

G asked for and got a mermaid:

And S got Mike from Monsters Inc.:

We had an evening full of laughs, learning and jumping(from a few popped balloons). We learned about the scrutiny magicians experience in airports when carrying on their equipment, now termed the "Frisk and sniff".

A busy but lovely day. So very thankful for all the kindnesses we've been shown through this whole process. There are no words, really....
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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sharing talents

Tonight was a talent show fundraiser at church for Imagine No Malaria. G sang a duet she had previously done with her little singing group. Lots of her friends sang and played instruments and danced. They raised over $400. At least 40 lives saved. Pretty incredible. I thought about preforming, but one can take hearing the theme to "Greatest American Hero" so many times before they would have run me out of the place. Hey! And I could have played my penny whistle with it or my melodica or my accordion. Okay, the accordion would have been a no go since I am still learning how to play it. The show was enough of a success that I think they will probably do another one. Watch out, friends. "Believe or not, it's just me..."

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Unpacking torture

After arriving home at 10:00pm last night from twelve hours of driving, the last thing I wanted to do was unpack. Okay, I unpacked enough to find toothbrushes, medicines, face cleaners and that is it. The kids fell into an instant exhaustion coma as did the husband, but I couldn't do it. The piled up suitcases and bags and crud kept staring at me. Luckily I finally conked out, only to wake up with luggage staring up at me. I successfully avoided them using a pancake breakfast, shopping and driving around neighborhoods casing out yard sales, but it was all for naught. It finally happened: the kids needed to get out of their pajamas. Luckily our hotel room had a washer and dryer, so we had only a small handful of dirty clothes. Once you get the clothes out, you might as well hang them back up and put the socks and underwear away and put the shoes in the closet and, well, you get it.

I must go to bed, but I hope to relay to you the excitement of our trip to the land of the mouse. While most of our friends knew we were going to be gone, I felt the need to not advertise it. My parents generously stayed at our house with the dog. She is too old to stay at the kennel anymore and they had a place to stay whilst visiting with family all week. I am not confident like so many people on Facebook who freely advertise the fact that they will be on vacation to the rest of humanity and then wonder why their house is cleaned out when they get home. Now that we are back, I will share the fun details. But right now I ready myself for bed. Work at church will come fast and early tomorrow. I better get a jump on sleep...this will be complicated by the fact that I fell into a super coma nap at about 5pm today. Smooth move, exlax, as we used to say in high school. This calls for a nip of Benadryl. Night all.

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