GUESS WHAT?

My dad found out today that he passed his stress test.

Do you know what this means? It means he’s healthy enough to withstand a kidney transplant surgery!

I’m sure there are a few more hurdles to jump, but it’s looking like I’ll be minus one kidney in the coming months and my dad won’t have to spend three hours a day, three days a week in the dialysis center!

I’m excited, and a little scared. But mostly excited!

Can I get a do-over?

I’ve been cheated out of a weekend. I want a do-over.

Ok, in all honesty, it wasn’t a total loss. Just a 50% loss. It started out well enough.

Friday night, Kacey and friends were making grand plans for Saturday to go hang out at the new Nickolodean Universe at the Mall of America (which is really just Camp Snoopy with a facelift.) The dad of one of the girls was going to drop all the girls off and set them free in the big mall, then pick them up hours later when they were done there. Mark was really uncomfortable with this idea, the mall being notorious for its large crowds of visitors, the fact that it is minutes away from the airport,  and its history of crime. The girls are, after all, only 14 and 15 years old. After Kacey’s plans were made, Mark started tossing out comments such as, “I think I might just take the girls out there and stick around.”

Translation: “WE will be joining the girls at the mall. WE.”

I wasn’t opposed to going to the MOA and in all honesty, felt like a slightly bad parent for not being the first one to voice some parental concerns. I was however, profoundly aware of the fact that spending the day at the MOA meant none of the domestic duties would get done on Saturday and I’d have to do all the cleaning and such on Sunday instead. Oh, well. It was a small price to pay to make sure my daughter was safe.

So we all packed into the car and headed to the mall where one of those robot war-type competitions was being held, adding to the already massive crowds, which I’m sure, were already larger than normal thanks to the return of cold and snow on Saturday morning. We set the girls free at the amusement park, making Kacey promise to stay in touch via her cell phone. Then Mark and I headed to Underwater Adventures to pay twenty bucks a piece to view some pretty cool marine life from a tunnel inside a massive aquarium. It was mildly impressive, but I was disappointed that the lighting and the curved glass of the tunnel did not allow for very good photos and that the tour was over much sooner than I would have expected. I took a pass on petting the stingrays. Icky!

After the aquarium tour, Mark and I wandered the many levels of the mall and did a little shopping, then headed to the food level where a woman tried to take me out in the line at Panda Express. She kept pushing me from behind and I whispered to Mark that she was invading my personal space. As Mark was paying the cashier, I moved ahead of him to grab some straws for our drinks and some napkins and when we began to move towards the seating area, I heard him say, “Pardon me! I hope I’m not in your way or anything,” in a somewhat sarcastic tone. I shushed him, because I am not one for confrontation, even when it’s called for in a situation like this. But he told me she nearly knocked the tray of food out of his hands. No worries. She didn’t seem aware in the least that he was addressing her anyway and I suspected she might have been challenged in some respects. Sometimes I really don’t like people.

About this time, Kacey called me to check in and it turned out the girls were just a little ways away from where we were sitting. They had all bought pizza and were looking for a place to sit. They came over and joined us and Mark teased them, asking which of them was most impressed with the live male model standing at the entrance of Abercrombie & Fitch. Natalie blushed while they all pointed to her. I told them I hadn’t noticed his six-pack abs in the least. They didn’t believe me.

I wasn’t impressed with our food and Mark ended up eating most of it. After lunch, we let the girls go off on their own again while we toured the rest of the mall, then caught up with them at the park and snapped a few pictures of them having the time of their lives. We headed back home in the late afternoon, in time for me to get to church and then call it a night rather early for me.

I should have known something was up. I wasn’t hungry for lunch on Saturday, although I hadn’t eaten breakfast. I went to bed before 10:00 on a Saturday NIGHT! I woke up Sunday morning with my back aching. I’ve started to get back into a walking routine but skipped a few days due to the weather. I figured I just needed to get out for a walk to loosen up my back and feel better. So I bundled up to face the 30 degree temps and headed out for a walk, but I felt like I was battling the cold wind the whole time. I was exhausted by the time I got home and now every muscle in my body was aching. I thought maybe a shower would make everything better, but no. By the time I dressed and dried my hair, I felt even worse, just aching all over. I told Mark I was going to stretch out in bed for a while and three hours later he was poking me on the shoulder, waking me up and asking, “Are you ok?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

I managed to crawl out to the family room, only to collapse on the loveseat for the rest of the day with a blanket. Mark and the kids made a valiant attempt at cleaning the house to par while I spent the later part of the day emptying the contents of my stomach. Today, I think I have some bathrooms to scrub yet and the litter boxes were disgusting when I got up this morning. But I put them off for the time being, doing exactly what I complain about others doing. I went to work anyway, even though it was debatable as to whether I should actually should show my face. (I probably caught the bug from one of the many people at work who have been sick in the past weeks anyway!) I DO feel much better now though AND I didn’t have to waste an entire PTO day. I just hope no one else catches my bug!

Back in the Day

As you can see below, I have been playing with pictures. I have never owned a scanner and I finally got one for the low, low price of… FREE! (Almost.) All I had to do was install a new printer for my mom and dad and the old one was mine for the taking. So I hauled out the collection of photos of my younger days. Check it out!

Gaaaahhhhh!

Help! I’m drowning in this sleeper!

Check out my mom. Is she not a BABE? I like this shoe. I think I’ll keep it. Big Sis does not appear to be using it anyway. And can someone explain this serious lack of hair?

Is a picture of the child wearing Daddy’s shoes a requirement for all parents?

Do you love my yellow hair ribbons?

Plaid. What not to wear.

There may be more, eventually. I’m not sure. The gangly years were not pretty.

Ups and Downs

Proving that my life operates under the principals of Murphy’s Law, the last couple of days have been a series of ups and downs….

Ups:

  • Yesterday was my day off – serving to give me a break from the constant bad news we hear at work about the student loan industry.
  • Kacey’s school softball team finally had a game scheduled on my day off.
  • Parent teacher conferences went well. Jake’s grades are impressive and it looks like he might be able to avoid summer school for the first time in four years. Kacey’s math teacher noted that she is “an A-Number 1-Prime Candidate” for accelerated math next year. (Where the hell she got her math skills is beyond me. I’m a language girl, myself.)
  • Someone tapped me on the shoulder while I was at conferences and complimented me, “Nice ass!”
  • Mark and Jake went to a Duck’s Unlimited banquet last night and Jake came away with a big prize. He’s thrilled beyond belief.
  • The weather has been in the high sixties and seventies all week!

Downs:

  • Yesterday was my day off and the temperatures were around seventy degrees. Of course, it rained ALL day. And I do mean ALL day. It started at 7:00 am yesterday and is still raining this morning.
  • The softball game I was finally going to see was cancelled due to the rain.
  • In spite the math teacher’s impressive assessment of my daughter’s skills and future in her math studies, Kacey’s reaction was, “I’m not taking Acccerated Math! That’s a lot of work!” I told her the conversation’s not over. We’ll be revisiting this issue soon.
  • The “nice ass” compliment came from my friend Megan. And in all honesty, I’m GLAD it was just her!
  • Jake’s big prize was a gun. A 20 guage, I think. Because we need more guns in our house. (And yes, we do have a gun safe and they stay locked up at all times until they’re ready to be used for a hunting trip.) As much as my boys love to hunt, I will never get over worrying about them handling guns or being around others with guns.
  • The temperatures are dropping into the thirties tonight. Snow is predicted for later today and tomorrow. Just a guess, but I’ll bet this weekend’s softball tournament gets cancelled.

But HEY! It’s Friday. So I’m putting all the “downs” behind me and looking forward to making the weekend a good one!

Trouble in Paradise

My husband just expressed a bit of annoyance (or could it be jealousy?) because I said (about sixteen hundred posts ago) that if I were stranded on a deserted island, I would like to be stranded with Bear Grylls. (This decision was made purely for survival purposes and has absolutely nothing to do with Bear’s hotness. Really! How shallow does he think I am?)

I’m sorry, Honey. That was really insensitive of me. If I were really and truly stranded on a deserted island, there’s only one person I’d really want with me.

Now, shall we talk about that little “thing” you have for Heather Locklear?

So tell me. With whom would YOU want to be stranded on a deserted island?

Confession Time

I have a confession to make.

I am not June Cleaver.

I know. I know! You’re understandably disappointed. I know you all had visions of me in heels and pearls, running the vacuum around my perfectly tidy, well organized and tastefully decorated home while the aroma of a delicious, hot, well-balanced dinner fills the air, ready to greet my family as they burst through the door in the evening, anxious for a nutritious meal and some quality family time. But I must confess, before my secret is uncovered, it’s not true.

I had to admit to my facade before someone else uncovered the scandalous truth…. a truth that was about to be exposed by my daughter’s homework.

Who’d have thought there’d be homework in FOODS class? When Kacey first announced she had a “Foods” assignment, I thought we were going to be required to prepare an edible creation at home. I could deal with that. We could perpetuate the myth of my Cleaverishness and pull off an elegant and edible  masterpiece. I DO have the talent, just apparently not the time or energy most days. But it’s not that simple. NOOoooooo. That would be TOO easy.

No, the assignment requires the students to keep a food journal for three days. My daughter has to record everything she eats and drinks for a full three days. The impact of this assignment slowly dawned on me as I realized this would not prove to be impressive. The journal began today. Here’s what we have so far:

Breakfast

  • 1 Strawberry-Cream Cheese Toaster Strudel
  • 1 individual carton of Dole Orange Pineapple Banana juice

Lunch

  • 1 individual cheese pizza
  • 1  bottle V8 Splash

Snack (at the softball game)

  • 1 – 17 oz. bottle of water

Dinner

  • Spaghetti noodles with alfredo sauce
  • 1 – 17 oz bottle of water mixed with a Crystal Light On-The-Go packet

Do you notice a shortage of any of the important food group items here? Maybe…. Milk? Fruit? Vegetables? Protein?

Kacey mentioned that after the assignment is turned in, the teacher promised that she would be calling the parents of any student whose eating habits seemed to be seriously lacking in nutrition. I wonder if it would be bad if my response to her news is, “Yeah. I know.”

We don’t eat well here, which is really sad considering that when I ran my home daycare, every meal consisted of a meat, a bread, two fruits and/or vegetables and a serving of milk. Snacks were nutritious. Since I’ve gone back to work full time, I give myself a pat on the back if the meal is hot, even if that means grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup or ….. yes, I admit it… Hamburger Helper. I have stooped to Hamburger Helper on ocassion. (Seriously, that Cheeseburger Macaroni is GOOD!)

Too often, the dinner plan ends up being “anything night.” Anything night means that everyone eats anything they choose at whatever time they happen to stroll through the door. Jake will most likely melt some cheese on some tortillas, roll them up and eat them dipped in taco sauce. Kacey might make some kind of pasta. Me? Cheese and crackers.

The kids eat breakfast (if they bother to eat it at all) after Mark and I have gone to work. I let them choose things at the grocery store, even if they don’t look nutritious in the least, just because I’ll at least know they’re eating something if I let them do the choosing. Breakfast foods now consist of those Hot Pockets breakfast pocket thingies, Pop Tarts, and cereal bars. (And not the “good” cereal bars either. Have you seen those Cinnamon Toast Crunch breakfast bars with creme filling in the middle? Yeah. They’re the equivalent of eating Oreos for breakfast.)

Lucky for Kacey, there might be hope for her food journal yet. It just so happens that I put a lasagna together tonight for dinner tomorrow. So what if it’s a totally Americanized lasagna made with Ragu, (vegetable equivalent?) and mozzarella cheese which I bought in a bag because it was already shredded (translation - more preservatives than shredding a block of cheese myself.) So what if I used the regular lasagna noodles instead of a healthier variety? I cooked the sausage and ground beef myself. That must count for something! Right? Right?

Ok, maybe I can redeem this meal if I make a salad. We actually HAVE salad. I bought two bags of the pre-mixed stuff at the grocery store yesterday! (It is really beginning to dawn on me just how pathetic our eating habits are!)

Ok, so I’m not June Cleaver.

Oh god… I just realized…. I’m ROSEANNE!

I wonder if we can earn extra credit if we actually sit down and eat at the table. All of us. Together. At the same time.

Beautiful Sunday

The sun and warmth made their return today. IT. WAS. BEAUTIFUL!

For some reason, the wait seemed so much longer this year. I thought the winter would never end. And even when winter did finally fade away, the gray skies and chill were hell-bent on overstaying their welcome. But the sun kicked their asses today!

It was a car washing day…

a playing catch with my daughter day…

a boys fishing at the pond day…

a clean up the gardens day…

a taking a walk day…

a barefoot in the grass day…

a “wonder if anyone would notice if I sunbathed naked?” day… scratch that! Bad idea!

a pleasure to feel the sun on your skin day…

a grilling out day…

a drive with the windows wide open and stereo blasting day…

a sing along with every song day…

a hangin’ with the neighbors in the driveways day…

It was a long-awaited, happy to be alive, celebrate the sun day!

SO Weird!

I went to church tonight (for the first time in months.) I decided to go to the non-denominational church that I’ve gone to on several ocassions. I like this church immensely for several reasons. The pastor is extremely passionate and I always feel like he is talking right to me. He always seems to connect the message to real life. This church is energizing. The services are much longer than anything I’m used to, but I always feel like it’s over before I know it. That’s how much I enjoy it.

And the music! The music is loud and energetic. Music speaks to me. At this church, there’s a full half hour of worship music before the sermon even begins. I love it! But tonight, in one of the songs, something sounded oddly familiar. (Emphasis on oddly.) As one of the songs began, I knew I had heard it before and I was trying to place it. The song they ended up singing was Let My Words Be Few, but the intro…. I was almost sure it was Led Zeppelin! When I came home, I pulled up Led Zeppelin on imeem and sure enough, the intro I had heard in church was Kashmir! I can’t say that I’ve ever sat in church and contemplated the mysteries of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page before tonight. Weird.

 

Like mother, like daughter… but not quite.

My cell phone rang as I was on my way home from work. The voice on the other end was that of my almost 15-year old daughter.

“The game just got over. You can come pick me up whenever you’re ready.”

I told her I was on my way. I was only minutes away. I knew I’d have to wait a few minutes for her as she gathered her gear and grabbed her back pack. I pulled up in front of the school behind a line of other cars, all driven by parents waiting to pick up their kids from their after school activities. I had a book in my car and I read a little bit as I listened to one of my favorite songs on the radio. I had had a great day and I was looking forward to seeing my bubbly daughter.

Little by little, the other cars had departed. I wasn’t surprised to be one of the last ones waiting. Kacey is a straggler and that can be attributed to the fact that she’s usually so busy socializing with everyone she can connect with, that she ends up being the last one out the door. Finally, I saw her making her way towards the front exit of the school.

The first thing I noticed as she came through the door was the scowl on her face. She wasn’t skipping along in her usual teenage fashion. Her shoulders were slumped and her softball bag was almost dragging on the ground. I popped open the trunk and she jammed her gear in the trunk and slammed it shut again. When she got in the passenger side of the car, she immediately slouched in the seat, pressed her head back against it and turned to face the window. Something was obviously wrong.

“Did you lose your game,” I asked?

She half-heartedly replied, “No. We won.”

“You don’t look happy,” I said. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I played really bad.”

I asked if that was all. This didn’t seem like her.  She’s had bad games before and it’s never had such an opressing effect on her. But she insisted that was all. As we started driving home she was uncharacteristically quiet. I tried to get more out of her.

“Did you get yelled at? Did the other girls come down on you for not playing well?”

“No.”

“How bad could it have been? You won the game, right?”

“I’m just crabby. I don’t know why.”

She obviously didn’t want to talk but alarms were going off inside me. I was sure something much more serious had happened.

“Are you having a problem with one of the girls? Several of the girls? The coach?”

“No, no, no.”

“There must be something going on. What is it?”

“I don’t know,” she replied.

She didn’t know? Something just didn’t seem right. It’s my habit when the kids have a problem to keep digging until they spit it out. My instinct was to keep pressing her, but something inside told me to just let her be. She obviously didn’t want to talk. I wasn’t sure what to do next, so I just drove in worried silence while she continued to sulk and stare out the window.

After we arrived home, she climbed into the chair that sits in front of the living room window. She sat on her knees, hung her arms over the cushioned back of the chair, and absentmindedly grabbed the cord for the pleated shade, dropping it so that it banged against the window. She did this over and over again while just staring out the window. I was getting really worried. REALLY worried. But I left her alone and started cooking some dinner.

After a while, she quietly walked to the table and crossed her arms on top of it, resting her chin on her arms. I waited.

“My arm really hurts. I think I pulled something,” she said.

“Would you like an ice pack or a heating pad,” I asked?

“I’ll get an ice pack.”

She got the ice pack and sat quietly for a while again.

“The ump at our game was SO unfair,” she stated.

“Really? How so,” I asked?

And then it all came spilling out. The ump had an easier strike zone for the other team’s pitcher than he did for her team. The girls had yelled for one of their own players to steal and their coach had yelled at them because HE is the only one who should be telling players what to do. She couldn’t make a throw to get a player out on third because the batter wouldn’t move out of her way. The ump waited until the play was missed before explaining to the batter that she had to move out of the catcher’s way.

Her math teacher gave them homework PLUS an assignment to cut out six pages of teeny-tiny little squares which they may or may not use. Why do they have to cut out all those squares if they might not use them?

Their was a substitute in her foods class and subs aren’t allowed to let the class cook so they had to watch a movie on melons instead. The sub yelled at her friend for “sleeping” when she wasn’t even sleeping.

One of the girls on her softball team was badmouthing the rest of the team.

So THAT’S what it was! She’d simply had a bad day. She was crabby because she’d had a bad day. I realized how much she reminded me of…. ME. The sulking. The silence. The internalizing. Just like me when something is wrong. What have I taught my daughter?

We ate our dinner together while she continued to talk. I could see her beginning to resurface through her words. After dinner we had to rush out the door to get her to her Confirmation class. When we got in the car, she was back to her bubbly self.

“I feel so much better,” she said. “I think I just needed to eat and vent. I feel SO much better.”

Huh!

She’s a smart kid. She didn’t let her problems eat away at her for long, like I would have. She didn’t take it out on everyone around her and continue to refuse to interact, like I would have. She worked it out and got on with her business.

I think my daughter just taught me an important lesson.