Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Mindless meanderings.

I did a bit of Spring cleaning today, but not as much as I'd have liked. I took the curtains down above our bed and vacuumed off what had to have been a 1/4" of dust. I'm still coughing from it. I don't know why I never think of wearing a mask until after I've inhaled a cup or more of dust. Maybe next time.

After I got the curtains washed, I sewed a piece of fabric that I'd had to cover the wood above the window air conditioner. I've just draped it over the curtain rod for years, but it's never laid right. So today I put a couple of casings in the ends, so I could hang them on the curtain rods, and it would look like a curtain that belonged rather than a random piece of fabric with frayed edges. It looks nice, and it covers the piece of wood we have atop the air conditioner to seal off the window. One more small thing checked off my very long list of things to do.

I also used some of that yellow expanding foam and filled in all the areas that air, dust, or bugs (including the yellow jackets!) could get through. It doesn't look very pretty, but it did already seem to make a bit of a difference in how cool the house stayed. I'm not sure why I was afraid of doing it in the past, but I'm glad I it's done. It's nice to know creepy crawlies aren't going to creep and crawl through the window above my head when I'm sleeping. And another thing of my list.

I'm feeling very thankful today that Hopper is feeling better. Her appetite is almost back to normal, and she didn't put herself to bed early this afternoon like she has been. I'm so relieved. In my opinion, one of the worst feelings in the world is when your child is sick, and you can do nothing but sit back and watch. I always feel so worthless as a parent when I can't do something to help them.

My little garden plants are loving the sun. They're getting roughly 16 hours of sun each day now that the tree is gone. They only got 5 to 6 hours of direct sunlight when the tree shaded them so in the afternoon. I hope it means that they'll flourish as much as I'm thinking they will. I did noticed that I lost a couple of plants the other day. I think it had to do with the 70mph winds we had. It's also why I planted something like 22 peppers, 20 tomatoes and 8 strawberry plants. It doesn't bother me as much when I lose one or two when I have this many planted. I'm hoping for a good harvest. Which reminds me...I saw a few red strawberries today. I'll have to pick them tomorrow, if the birds haven't gotten to them already.

I noticed apples on our apple tree today, too. I'm hoping we can get some decent apples this year. Some years they do great and others there's just nothing there, or we lose them to the birds and squirrels. Someone told my husband that, if we feed the squirrels nuts they'll stay out of the fruit, because they like the nuts more. I'm not sure how much truth there is to it, but I'd be willing to give it a shot. Especially, if we get anything on the peach tree this year. The squirrels and birds like our peaches even more than they like our apples.

I think I'm just going to shut up now. I'm just rambling, and nobody really wants to listen to that. ;o)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A little of this and alittle of that.

What a beautiful day it was here today. The weather was gorgeous. Mild and cool with lots of sunshine. Sunshine just makes the biggest difference for me. It is just...good.

Hopper felt much better today. She and Scooter helped me plant the last of the tomatoes, peppers and strawberries today. We even got the onion sets planted. I really crammed the onions together, because I planted them at the base of the umbrella planter with the Clematis and in a pot. If I'd had a plot ready, they'd have been spaced out more and in the ground. Maybe next year. The thing is, it doesn't really matter how big onions are. They taste good no matter what, so if they're a little cramped it won't matter to us. We'll still eat them.

So this is a picture of our V Trees. From the angle I took the picture, it's actually sort of hard to tell how far down the left tree was leaning. It was actually leaning quite a bit more than the picture shows. The tree on the left was the one I was worried about the most, because if it had not fallen correctly, it would have landed on the bitter widow's fence, and we likely would have been sued.

Thankfully, it landed no where near her property.

The tree making the right part of the V was the one that was pulling towards the power line. The powerline was behind the shed several feet, but the tree was tall enough, and the wind was strong enough that it caused a few tense moments. They'd tied the rope about 6 feet above the roof of the shed and pulled toward the house. They knew, if they could get the heavy part of the tree to fall, it would fall straight down. It did.

Our backyard now looks like a jungle, because we still have to finish cutting the wood up. The hubby got a couple wood chippers from Craigslist today. Seemed to make more sense to buy a used one than to rent one for almost $200 a day after paying tax on it. One is a bigger gas chipper, and the other is a smaller electric one. Our plan is to use the gas one to clean up all the branches in the backyard that we're not giving for firewood and then selling it again. We'll keep the smaller one for things that may come up over the years. At least that's our plan for now. We'll make a final decision in a year or so.

It was a quick but productive weekend for us. Hopper did feel much better today, but she went to bed on her own around 4:00 this afternoon, so she's still not up to par. Hopefully, tomorrow will be her best day yet.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about our military. Those Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen that gave their lives to keep our country free. Those that made the ultimate sacrifice for us. We are so very grateful for each and every one of them.

We will remember.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

To V or not to V. That is the question.

I am so glad today is over. Well. Over except for relaxing with my hubby for awhile. It was just a really long day.

Hopper still isn't feeling 100%. She's not feverish or anything, just a bit lethargic and not hungry at all. I'm hoping she'll be worlds better when she wakes up in the morning.

Scooter was in a bit of a mood again today. Not entirely sure why, but she was. Did what she could to push buttons and be naughty. If either is going to do the Button Pushing Boogie, it's Scooter, but I am glad it doesn't happen often. She went as far as undoing her seatbelt 3 times today while we were driving 55 down a main road through town. Did I mention I'm really thankful she isn't like this often? I'm sure it will be at least 6 months to a year before she starts messing with her seatbelt again.

I can't explain adequately just how stressful it is to hear Hopper say that Scooter's undone the seatbelt yet again. Of course there's never anywhere for me to pull over, because I'm in the middle lane of traffic, and I have to rely on Hopper to get the seatbelt latched once again. Tonight Scooter has seatbelt welts on the side of her neck where Hopper pulled a bit too quickly and forcefully to get her sister secured, but I'd rather see a couple of seatbelt welts than to see a crumpled little body should we get in an accident. And I am so very thankful that Hopper noticed it immediately and was able to help me out from the backseat.

Got more D-Ribose today when we were out. I know it'll take a few days to kick in again, but I'm glad I have it. Hopefully, I'll never allow myself to run out again. The fibro is out in full force in my neck and shoulders tonight. I'm hoping, if I turn my heating pad on and lie back in the chair a bit while I'm relaxing with hubby some of the pain will go away. Heat always seems to help.

A guy that my husband works with came over today and helped fell a couple of trees. I did take some before pictures to show how bad the V they were growing in was. It seemed a bit Gothic in style. At one point, my hubby was on the ground holding onto a rope trying to pull this very large, very heavy portion of the tree toward him. His buddy was up the ladder with the chain saw.

And as the wind picked up, it started blowing the part of the tree my husband was trying to control away from him and toward the nearby power lines. Yeah. That's something you want to see from the kitchen window! I went outside to help pull, but his friend had come down from the ladder by the time I got outside, and they both collapsed on the ground as the tree broke free and fell where they needed it. I collapsed from relief. On the inside.

We have a lot of cleanup to do tomorrow. We have a lot of branches to get out of the backyard as well as all the wood that someone else from work will be using in his fireplace come Fall. Now we just have to figure out a way to help hubby's buddy out. He wouldn't let us pay him. He did more to help us in the hour it took them than he can ever imagine! I'm so thankful that the hubster works with such amazing people!

Tomorrow we'll be busy. We'll probably have a hard time even moving by the end of the day. But we are both so relieved and thrilled that these trees are down! It has a great big check next to it on The List Of Great Big Things To Do That We've Put Off For Way Too Long!

Friday, May 28, 2010


I cut back a little on the cola today. I the equivalent of 2 cans instead of the typical 3. It has already seemed to make a difference with the neuropathy. I only took 1/2 of 1 vicodin all day, and although my toes are a tingling they're not hurting like they have been. Although, the toes on my right foot are a bit more miserable than they were after Scooter decided to grab on and twist them, because she decided for some reason that was what she wanted to do. Little stinker.

Hopper was feeling much better today. She was sick all day yesterday. Woke us up getting sick to her stomach and then went back to bed. She didn't get back up until this morning, having slept 40 hours straight. It's just how she handles being sick. She needs to sleep whatever it is off. It still a bit unnerving, though. It was good to have her back to her chaotic loud little self today.

Didn't get a lot of anything done today but some laundry and dishes and resetting the breaker. The little window air conditioner keeps popping the circuit. I'm not sure, if we can get something to plug in that would trip the outlet only and leave the circuit working. It kept shutting the computer off after I'd been on for only moments. I really don't want to ruin the computer by having the air conditioner pop the breaker when the computer is on. I'll be leaving the computer off during the day until we can figure something out.

I'm beat tonight. I feel like I've come through the worst of the last couple of weeks and that things will only get better from here. It can be draining when things just play at your mind and body all the time. Glad the focus is coming back in, in spite of the fact that I'm sure I just sound like I'm rambling tonight.

I'll take that as a hint.

I'm off to bed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I wasn't onto anything.

Several weeks ago, I thought I was onto something. Turns out I wasn't.

For years, I drank a 2 liter bottle of caffeinated soda every single day. Sometimes more. According to the pulmonologist, it likely helped keep my asthma from getting out of control over the years, so I didn't feel too bad about drinking it.

However, 3.5 years ago, I gave it up completely. I felt fine. It took me a few days to get through the headaches, but my energy level stabilized, and I didn't feel bad for having stopped drinking the caffeine. Last October, when we got sick with the Swine Flu, and my asthma went way out of control, and I had to be put on steroid after steroid after steroid, I started drinking cola again. And it definitely helped with the breathing. I have no doubt in my mind that it did.

However, I've also had problems with it. I've been having problems with peripheral neuropathy when I drink the caffeine, and I'd totally forgotten that I'd discovered it quite by accident last summer.

We were out of town, and it was breathtakingly hot outside, and I was so thirsty that water didn't seem like it was cold or wet enough. So I got a raspberry iced tea. And man, did it taste good! We got home a short while later, so I filled up my mug with ice and cold water and continued drinking nothing but water for the rest of the day.

However, later that evening, I noticed that I was having problems with peripheral neuropathy. It was like I was being stuck with pins and needles indiscriminately all over my body. Like someone was doing a bang up job on a voodoo doll, and I was the intended target. And I never would have thought of the caffeine or the tea, except that I was paying attention to my body for a different sort of reaction from the tea. I don't remember now what it was, I just remember being surprised when I put 2 and 2 together and came up with caffeine = pain. And I didn't drink anymore tea or anything with caffeine in it until we got sick in October.

Then when my asthma went haywire and I started drinking the cola, the neuropathy didn't bother me at all. It's like my body used all the caffeine I'd ingested to help with my breathing, and it didn't bother my nerves. And I've been drinking the equivalent of 3-12oz cans of cola every day since then. That's about the same amount of caffeine in a single 8oz cup of coffee.

The last several days I've been getting sharp shooting pains like one gets when their feet get too cold in the wintertime, and you come indoors and they start to thaw. I've hardly been able to make a fist with my hands from the pain in my forearms. And even though it's been near 80 in the house, I've had to keep a sweatshirt on at all times, or I ache all the way through to the bone. I have to sleep under thick heavy covers, or the pain wakes me up.

I know that some antibiotics have the potential to cause peripheral neuropathy symptoms. In fact, I started one such antibiotic before I'd finished my steroids the other day. So here I've been thinking this whole time that my problem has been with the antibiotic. And it may be partially to blame, but I think it's more likely the caffeine. I've taken this antibiotic in the past with no problem whatsoever. The pain has come just from the last couple of times I've taken it. And both times have been while I've been drinking the cola.

I have been breathing much more freely. The bronchitis appears to be gone. I think that at this point my body just doesn't need the caffeine, because the steroids worked, and I'm breathing better. That in fact it's trying to tell me to stop with the cola. I'm listening. I've had to take a half a vicodin every 4 hours today to keep the pain manageable, and even then it hurts.

Yep. I'm listening.

The message is loud and clear.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Of Scooter and beds.

I've been very careful lately about buying anything and adding to the mess. However, Bugster and her new husband did pick something up for me tonight from Craigslist. I found a pair of pretty solid wood headboards to make into a bed for Scooter. She's still sleeping on the bottom half of the bunk beds the girls used for years, and I want to sell them and get them out of my house!

The headboards are both 4' tall. We'll be cutting the legs down on one to make it into a footboard. I'll be using a bit of elbow grease to get some purple crayon marking out of the filigree-like pattern on one board, but once it's done, I'll prime them and paint them white. Then, we'll attach the springs that are part of the trundle bed that we brought in from the side of the house, and we'll slide the trundle underneath. It will be so nice to have it done, and I have no doubt she'll love it. It's not the biggest priority right now, but I will work on it as I get time.

I know it sounds counter intuitive to go ahead and buy this right now with all we have going on, but the timing is right. I've been looking for several weeks for something that would work. We needed something that matched, that looked good, that was in decent shape, that was a good price, that didn't look super outdated, and that didn't have holes already drilled in them, or that didn't have places for the slats to slide in. To be able to get all of that for the price we needed was difficult.

The timing was right. The price was right. The person wanted $35 each for them, or he'd sell them 2/$60. However, when the kids got there, Bugster said she could tell he realized she might not take them. So she asked, if he would go to $50 for the pair, since there was more crayon than she expected, and because there were some small dents in them and a slight chunk out of the one. He went to $50, so I told her we'd split the difference. We were both happy.

I'll probably paint on it as I can in the next couple of weeks. I still have some painting to do on furniture that we're using in the basement. And since things are still set up down there to paint the furniture, I'll be trying to get the painting done as soon as I can. That way, the furniture can be moved into place, and we can get the storage unit unpacked and put away before the end of July.

I'll also be taking before and after pictures of it. It may take me months to get the pictures up. But I will.

It will be a visual reminder that things don't have to stay the way they were.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How Un-flipping-believably-scary!

I try not to be on the computer too much, because I find that I get stuck on here and can't seem to get off. So I try to only get on once a day. If my back is killing me, and I need to sit with my heating pad, I am more likely to turn it on and try to relax. Long story short, I check my news on my phone, so I'm less apt to get stuck in the sticky World Wide Web.

I was so saddened when I saw this article show up on the local news on my phone this afternoon. Apparently, an elderly couple in Chicago were found buried under mounds of debris that they'd hoarded over the years. They hadn't been seen in roughly 3 weeks when a neighbor called in a welfare check on them. They were found alive, although one of them was only semi-coherent, and they've been hospitalized in critical condition. There were several citations written against the house, so that emergency cleanup could begin. I just pray that all works out with them. I just can't even imagine.

Or maybe I can to a degree. Maybe that's what scared me so much when I watched my first episode of Hoarders. That 'thing' which made me go back and watch every episode I could get a hold of as quickly as I could. That 'thing' that made me identify with the people on the show and see myself in their situations.

It doesn't take much for grief, an injury, or an illness to sideline a person, so they can't keep up with everyday life. We've sort of struggled with that our entire married lives together. Twenty four years and counting. Our lives have been filled with more stress than the average. And while it was coming hard and fast at us all the time as our children were younger, it was easier to handle. It was once things settled down, and we found ourselves in a life of relative ease with the girls that the struggles seemed to slow us down more.

So 3 years ago when our lives were flipped upside-down by Scooter's back surgery, my dad's death, my back injury, my young nephew's unexpected and tragic death amongst countless other things, life slowed to a crawl. Grief and stress were so encompassing that things piled up incredibly quickly. Before I knew it, we were dug so deep in a hole that I wasn't sure we would ever be able to get out.

However, I will never allow things to get that bad. I can't. My family depends on me. So as hard as it is to take the before pictures, the after pictures will be easier. And as much as my body aches to get through some days, I'm getting through them. And as hard as it is to breathe some days, we're already breathing easier with what we've gotten done since we started this journey back in January. It's much easier to breathe and to live and not just survive when you don't have so incredibly much weighing on your shoulders.

I want to breathe.

I want to breathe life in deeply.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Steroid induced incoherent ramblings. My apologies.

It seems like today has been horribly long. But being souped up on steroids to get the breathing under control results in very little sleep. Four hours to be exact. And I feel like I could fall asleep and sleep until next week right now. Except that I still have a dose of steroids to take, and it'll keep me awake again. So. Yeah.

I explain none of this to whine. Only to show that I have a totally reasonable reason for rambling tonight and being totally incoherent, or if you understand any of what I'm writing, I suppose I'd go for being semi-coherent. Hah.

Went to the doctor this morning. I'm on a short course of antibiotics again to try to get this under control. I think they'll do it. I feel like I just need a little extra push to get me through it, so I'm hopeful. Had good news on the TB test as well. It was negative. As hard as it is to know that my husband was exposed to TB, it's a great relief to know that he didn't expose us. To have 4 of us on antibiotics for 6 to 9 months straight could be nerve-wracking to say the least. So we are both quite thankful.

Stopped at a couple of thrift stores while I was out today. I haven't been in a thrift store in months. I almost got some suitcases, because we do need some, and all we have are duffel bags. However, they weren't sporting a clearance/markdown tag, so I passed on them. They were still a good buy. Only $7 each, but I just decided to skip it. I did get 4 pieces of stemware to go with our good dishes. A couple of ours got broken while the good dishes were stored on the kitchen countertop for the last year and a half.

The new glasses don't really match the ones that broke, but they coordinate, so they'll work. The ones we had were solid blue. These are a clear glass with a blue foot and stem. They'll work. And when we have the newlyweds over, we'll all be able to share a little sparkling apple cider or SquirrelAide. SquirrelAide has been a holiday tradition in our house since we got married. It's just half Squirt and half KoolAid, but it's just so yummy! The grapefruit flavor of the Squirt gives it a nice little kick that other lemon-lime sodas don't. We'll be set for our next holiday toast as soon as I get the glasses washed, bleached and put away with the holiday dishes.

I spied a really big bag of all sorts of craft stuff for $4.99 at the one thrift store. It had a myriad of craft goodies in it. A new roll of magnetic tape, a couple skeins of new raffia, several yards of 3"wide lace, lots of pony beads, a couple new rolls of metal raffia and lots and lots of buttons as well as several other tantalizing tidbits that I was drawn to. I'm always attracted to craft stuff. I'm physically drawn to it and visualize everything I'm going to make with it within seconds of seeing what I have to work with. I looked at the bag of goodies for less than 30 seconds and decided to put it back. I have enough craft stuff in the storage pod on the driveway to last me my entire life. So I put it back and walked out with nothing from the second thrift store.

I still want to get the suitcases this weekend, if they're still there, because they'll be 50% off, but I don't need anything else. And I'm not going to feel bad, if I can't find suitcases right now. Duffel bags will work fine until things settle down. Eventually, though, I'd like to get some hard sided suitcases and paint pictures on the outsides for the girls, so they'd have very unique suitcases for when we travel. It will happen. Someday. I'm okay, if it's not anytime soon. I have enough on my plate right now.

Other than running to the doctor, doing a little window shopping at the thrift stores and picking up my medicine, I didn't do too much today. The wind was whipping up really bad, and it took several neighborhood trees down. Didn't feel like being under a tree when it snapped, so I just grabbed my unplanted veggies that had fallen and put them in a safe place out of wind's way. I did get a couple of loads of laundry done and some heavier cleaning in one of the bathrooms, but nothing impressive.

Oh. And I got to watch the LOST series finale. I'll miss the show. It's a wee bit like saying goodbye to a friend. Not a sad goodbye. Just a goodbye.

I'm hoping I'll have gotten some sleep tonight and can get a bit more accomplished tomorrow. It's the last day of school, so I'll take the girls somewhere for ice cream, as is the tradition, and do what I can when we get back home. And I'm even okay, if nothing gets done tomorrow. I'll be spending some time with my girls.

Funsies to all!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

*Good googalee woogalee!

Today was a long and productive day. So long I had to record the series finale of LOST on the DVR to watch as I can this week. Shh! If you know, please don't tell me what happened!

I took a couple of Benadryl last night, and it helped me to actually get some sleep! I woke up every hour on the hour, but I was able to drift back off within minutes, and I'm so very thankful. I desperately needed the sleep. I'm wide awake now, though, and I don't know that I'll have as much success sleeping tonight.

Bugster came over, and she helped me plant most of the tomatoes, strawberries and peppers in the buckets on the umbrella planter. I still have to find one more bucket to drill holes in and get it filled with plants, because the only other one I have that has a hole in the bottom doesn't have a handle. The first buckets I'd painted and made wire handles for, but I only got 4 finished. I need 8, so I have one on each tine of the umbrella planter, but it won't happen until next year that I have all matching bucket planters for it.

I really enjoyed the planting, although I probably should have worn a mask. I got some planting soil that was full of fertilizer to use to give my plants the best shot, but boy did that stuff stink! I've spritzed my nose with saline several times, but I feel like I am still smelling that stuff. Yuck! But if it means we get bigger tomatoes and peppers, I can deal with it. I'll just wear a mask when I finish up the rest of the planting.

We've got to cut a big tree down in the backyard, because we lost a major branch of it during a wind storm last fall. It's going to mean a lot more sunlight to help out my upside-down tomatoes and other plants, but it also means that there will be a ton more sun and heat on the little window air conditioner that we had in the dining room window. So we took it out and put it on the other side of the house that only gets the morning sun. Hopefully, it will still cool enough of the house over there to make it worthwhile. It was quite the undertaking, but it's in place now, and we'll be able to start working on cutting the tree down in the next week or two.

Hubby cleaned up the side of the house that the code enforcement officer mentioned needed done. He got the trundle beds sprayed off well with water and then doused them with a bug spray to kill any spiders/critters that might be hiding in the springs once they dried. They're now securely under the beds in the house, and it's a big relief to both of us. Just one more thing off the list of things that need done.

Our bitter neighbor lady can't complain now. We have until the end of July to get the storage unit on the driveway unloaded, so I'll be concentrating on finishing the basement as quickly as possible after I finish planting the rest of the garden plants. I am anxious to get things together down there, so we can start using the basement like we envision. It will be nice to have a place to hang out and have a craft area and a place to work out. We're very much looking forward to it.

I have a few projects other than housecleaning/dehoarding that I have to work on in the next couple of weeks as well.

It's going to be a busy summer.

*I told my husband that I couldn't think of a title of the post. This was *his* idea! :D

Saturday, May 22, 2010

How embarrasing. I'm red in the face!

When I saw my doctor yesterday to get my TB test, I decided to have him listen to my breathing. We've been sick with a lot of coughing around here, and it's been really hard to try to get under control. He said that I have asthmatic bronchitis. He figures it's viral, but he also doesn't want it to get any worse. So I'm back on steroids and a cough suppressant. The last time I had asthmatic bronchitis and it wasn't bacterial I ended up in the hospital. No sense in repeating that!

Unfortunately, the meds are keeping me wide awake. All. Night. Long. By the time I'm done with the meds in a few days, I'll be a walking zombie. While the meds keep my mind awake, they don't give me any energy. And they make me more than a bit irritable. And they make me gain weight, which I really don't need. I've gained close to 30 pounds in the last year due to steroids. It packs on a lot more quickly than it comes off. But they're a necessary evil. I'd rather gain a little weight and still be breathing and not in the hospital.

And although I didn't get sunburned when we were out shopping for garden plants today, the medicine makes me look like I have a 3rd degree sunburn on my face. It feels like one, too. So tomorrow when I go out to plant my upside down tomatoes and my strawberries and my peppers, I'll be wearing sunscreen, a big old floppy hat, and a great big grin!

After we took Hopper and Scooter to have their TB tests read, (thankfully, they were negative!), we went garden shopping. I found some small tomato plants packed in 9 count containers for $3. They're pretty small, but they're easier to use in the upside down planters anyway. I got a few larger ones as well, so we'll have staggered harvests. And I got a few varieties of peppers we haven't tried before. All in all, we got chocolate, purple, red, orange, yellow and green bell peppers as well as some banana peppers. Decided to try some yellow tomatoes again this year, too.

Lastly, we got some strawberries as well. We couldn't find any bare root strawberries, but I did find some 4 packs of 5 to 7" tall plants for $4. The one nursery was charging $4 for a single plant, and strawberries typically take off pretty well, so I think we made a good choice. The Bugster* got the holes all filled in the crown moulding and baseboards downstairs today, so I'll have her help me outside tomorrow. We'll have to drill more holes in some of the buckets to make them into strawberry planters, but it will be nice to keep them on the umbrella and out of the squirrels' reach!

Hopper begged to get some onion sets, so we could plant some onions, so of course I obliged! She LOVES onions just like her mama. When I was little, I used to sit on the counter and talk to my older sister while she watched dishes. I would enjoy her company and eat an onion like it was an apple. Hopper is the same way and always has to have several bites of onion when I'm slicing or dicing them for cooking. Onions also help with asthma, so I'll have to make sure we baby those little sets until they're big juicy onions ready to enjoy!

I'm so looking forward to fresh veggies from the umbrella garden this year! It's hard to beat fresh veggies grown in your own backyard!

*I changed our oldest daughter's nickname to The Bugster or Bugster. If you're interested you can read why here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Bugster*, Hopper and Scooter.

I have to say that I really struggled when I wrote the post about the code enforcement issue. It's such an embarrassing thing to have them called on you. You know? But I am wanting to be honest about being a hoarder - even the hard and embarrassing things. Because I need to remember them, so once I've gotten my house cleaned out I never go back there again.

And I have to say thanks to all of you who have supported me through this and haven't judged me for being in the mess I'm in. It's not been easy, but all of you have made it easier for me to make the changes I need to make and to know I can go on and reach my goal.

I've made a decision to change something about my blog. Instead of constantly referring to 'our oldest daughter', 'our middle daughter' and 'our youngest daughter', I will now be referring to them by their nicknames. It just gets a bit too wordy the way I've been doing it.

Our oldest loves ladybugs and always has. Thus, she will be 'The Bugster*'. Besides, she's really good at bugging me, so it fits on two levels.

Our middle daughter will now be referred to as 'Hopper'. We can be downstairs, and all of the sudden we hear her hopping on the floor above us. It's totally random. I usually have to say something at least 4 times before I catch her attention and get her to stop. Still. It's a cute quirk she has, and she loves when we call her by her nickname.

And our youngest scooted for years before she could ever sit up. She did the backstroke to get from room to room. As a result, she had no hair on the back of her head. She had it on the tops. She had it on the sides. And she even had some under the bald spot on the back of her head. I used to pull it all together for a long, but quite thin pony tail to sort of cover up the lack of hair. That is until Hopper was 3 and grabbed her by the pony tail and dragged her like a little cavewoman into the kitchen, so I would get finished with the bottle I was feeding! Shortly after that I cut her hair, but she still kept scooting. Thus, she will henceforth be known as 'Scooter' on my blog.

Tomorrow, The Bugster is coming over to help fill the holes in the baseboard trim and the crown moulding in the basement. She'll be coming on Sunday to help finish it all up. I'm hoping it will be all finished by then, anyway. It just kills my neck to look up all the time, and it kills my back to get on my knees to fill the baseboards. So I'm thrilled that Bugster is going to be helping me out. In return, she and her new hubby get the china hutch we bought when she was little. I think she thinks she's getting the better deal, and I think I am. so I think it's a pretty fair trade.

She helped me out a bit tonight, too. Since it's been so warm since I painted the umbrella planter
except that we got torrential downpours for a solid hour about 3 hours after I put the second coat on). Bugster helped me get the clematis started up the pole again. I lost several shoots from it which is upsetting, but I'm really hoping it just causes it to grow in overdrive. It stretches about halfway up the pole now, and there are several buds waiting to spring open. I'll get pictures and post them when it starts blooming. I'd love to see it grow all the way up the pole and go down the tines eventually. I think that would be absolutely gorgeous!

We'll be taking Hopper and Scooter to get their TB tests read. So far they're showing not showing much of a reaction at all. Although Scooter seems to possibly be getting eczema at the injection site. I'll ask about it in tomorrow. I'm just praying that they both have negative tests. The antibiotics that they would have to take, if they tested positive are some pretty serious and nasty drugs.

When we're done there, we'll be dropping off some stuff at a friend's house. Just things from the girls' bedroom that I think they can use. So we'll be completing a bit of dehoarding tomorrow by getting it out of the house. That always helps.

And then we'll stop at Home Depot. We've got a gift card we need to use, so it doesn't expire. I'll be buying tomatoes and peppers and strawberries, if they have them. If they don't, I'll be getting some bare root strawberries somewhere else, if I have time to get them planted. I'm thinking of just drilling extra holes in some of the bucket planters I use for the tomatoes and peppers. Not sure exactly what I'll be doing, but I'll be doing it with a smile.

I'm just glad I'm going to have a mini garden this year. There's something so fulfilling about it, and it helps take the mind off the neighbors!

*Edited after the comment by Amanda. Didn't even think of that, since I'm not from England, but thanks for pointing it out. I thought of a couple other names for her to choose from (The Bugster and Buggerina), but she didn't care which I used. So her daddy got to vote, and he liked The Bugster best. So our oldest will now be known as Bugster or The Bugster from now on, because truth be told, she's always loved all bugs and not just ladybugs. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

An update here. An update there.

We never got a call back yesterday from the code enforcement officer. It must have been a really busy day. It made for a restless night last night. Very little sleep. However, the phone rang at 7:45 this morning, and it was her.

When my husband explained things to her, (that the neighbor was upset about dandelions more than anything) she was very understanding. She extended the time we have to the end of July without hesitation. Apparently, the 'setback' that was mentioned in the letter just meant that the storage pod was too close to the street. However, it's not blocking the sidewalk or anything, so she said she can let it go until we get it emptied out. We will be done for sure by the end of July. She'll come back out and inspect then.

She also said that the next time the woman next door starts giving us grief about things in our yard to just call her, since we have her phone number. She said that it's almost always someone who's mad at someone else who makes the calls. And she said she doesn't have time to deal with dandelions. She also said that the pile of pallets we have stacked up on the side of the house can stay, if it's 'usable wood'. It is.

I was talking to a friend about the whole situation today, and she said someone called on them a few years ago. She happened to go outside when the code enforcement officer was there to talk to her about things. The woman was very friendly and gave her an extension as well. She said that in her case the person who was calling was likely a realtor. Apparently several houses up and down the street had been reported, and when that happens it's usually a realtor who's trying to sell a house.


Breathing a little easier from the whole code enforcement situation.

Holding our breath on another.

My husband tested positive for TB when he had his physical a few days ago. We got the results right before the close of business yesterday. So we had to take the girls in to be tested this morning, and I'll go tomorrow. We won't have all the results until Monday.

Apparently, the positive result just means that he's been exposed to tuberculosis not that he has an active case. His chest x-rays must have shown that he does not have an active case, because the doctor said he's not contagious. Regardless, he has to be on antibiotics for 6 months in order to eradicate it. Even with antibiotic treatment there's a relapse rate of 2 to 5%. Not too bad, I suppose, but he'll have to be monitored with x-rays for the rest of his life.

It makes sense that he was exposed to it given his line of work, but I was surprised to find out that the bacteria can live for several months in the dust and air or on a hard surface. Makes those antibacterial wipes at the grocery store they put out to wipe your cart down even more appealing, doesn't it?

Onto a totally different subject...

I'm very thankful somebody mentioned D-Ribose for my fibromyalgia. Between that and the L-Theanine my friend mentioned, my fibro is not flaring. And considering the stress we've been under the last few weeks, that's absolutely amazing! So thanks to both of you!

My body and I appreciate it more than you can know!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bitter little women.

So I'm starting this post on Tuesday night. I can't sleep. My head hurts. I either have the end of a really nasty cold trying to finish up or the beginnings of a nasty sinus infection getting well rooted. I can't tell for sure just yet. So I continue to rinse my sinuses and drink plenty of fluids. But the headache. Well, yeah. I don't think water's going to take care of it.

We have a crotchety old neighbor lady. She has one friend on the entire street and I think that other than that, only one other neighbor and myself are nice to her. She likes to stick her nose into everyone's business, and she's gossipy. She rarely has a nice word to say about anyone, so people just avoid her.

I sometimes think that she's bitter, because she's alone now. Her husband died shortly before Christmas 6 years ago or so, and they never had children. So she's very much alone. But she was bitter before he died. She was constantly telling me what I needed to do in my yard. She has a beautifully coiffed lawn with gorgeous flowers. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see it in a magazine. Her husband spent countless hours gardening and tending those flowers from his mobility scooter before he died. And I'm sure that she feels that she needs to keep it up for him. I understand that. I really do.

The problem is that she feels that we need to keep our lawn up to her standards. And she's nasty about letting us know. Granted, we have a horrible yard. We know that. It's mostly weeds with grass in between in the front yard. Every year, we dig the weeds out the best we can, but we haven't had the money to lay sod. I don't see it happening anytime soon, either, land we'd need so much weed killer we'd have to sign over our firstborn to pay for it. We keep the lawn mowed, but the last couple of years, the elm tree sprouts have gotten out of hand. My husband spent an entire weekend a few weeks ago cutting them all down and wiping them with poison to hopefully keep them from coming back again.

So we do try. Honestly. But we inherited a horrible yard with no sprinkler system, and when you're raising a family on a single income, sod and sprinkler money can be hard to come by. And when you're raising two children with special needs who frequently need constant supervision, and you're dealing with medical problems on top of medical problems time can be hard to come by. Factor crazy work hours by the husband and you're looking at very little time for both of us to work in the yard together. There just aren't enough hours in the day.

About a month ago, she called me up after 8p.m., asked how things went with our daughter's wedding and proceeded to light into me. She didn't let me get a word in edgewise to try to explain everything that had been going on. She just started berating me. Then she threatened to call code enforcement on us. Out of total frustration I told her that in spite of the fact that her dog yaps at all hours for 20 or 30 minutes at a time, that we've never once complained. That we could easily have called in for a noise complaint, but we didn't. Not once.

Her answer? The dog barks because of us. We apparently have cats in our yard at night, and the dog goes nuts to try to chase the cats out of our yard. Mind you we don't own any cats. We never have. But the neighborhood cats that people let out of their houses to run around are apparently our fault as well, and that's why her dog barks. It's our fault.

After listening to her rant full throttle for 10 minutes, I told her I couldn't do it anymore. I was done. I told her, "I can't do this right now. I've got to go. Goodbye." And I hung up. I didn't feel that I hung up on her. I told her goodbye. She knew it was coming. I can live with myself over how I handled it. I didn't want it to escalate, and I knew the way I was feeling it was going to. I'd say something I regretted, and I caught myself before I did.

No sooner did I hang up the phone than she called again. She hung up without leaving a message. She apparently thought better of it and called back immediately. She started ranting on the answering machine yelling some more. She was quite ugly and said that I "didn't have to be so nasty." It went on and on.

So I told the hubby about it, and he called her once he calmed down. Told her that, if she had a problem that she should call him, and he gave her his cell phone number. He explained that with his work hours and my health and the girls, it's been difficult to get much done, but that we are working on things. He told her that he would be out of town the following weekend, so he wouldn't be able to do anything until after he got back home. She said she understood and would give him time to get things done.

He worked outside all weekend Mother's Day weekend (the weekend after he got back home), and all weekend last weekend. However, we found out that the bitter widow from next door called code enforcement anyway. In fact, they apparently came by and inspected things the Monday after Mother's Day. So she obviously did it out of spite, because she didn't give him time to get anything done.

The thing is, she is complaining about the backyard, which is in bad shape. The back porch is covered with stuff we need to get rid of, but it hasn't been nice enough outside for me to go out there with my husband and go through things. Even cool weather makes me ache from tip to tail, but when it's cold it's like I'm frozen stiff. But from our understanding code enforcement doesn't inspect backyards. It inspects what can be seen from the road.

And we do have something stored at the side of the house that they can see. We've been meaning to get it out of there for awhile. It's a trundle bed frame. I know it shouldn't be there. We've been waiting for a clear space to be able to bring it in, so we can use it. And now that the girls' room is finally clean, we have a place we can put it. It will be sprayed for bugs this weekend and brought in.

We also have 4 pallets neatly stacked on the side of the house that I had every intention of using for raised garden beds. They're made of 4x4x12' pieces of untreated solid oak. They'd be perfect to use, because they wouldn't leach any chemicals into the garden, etc. However, they've been neatly stacked there for several years, and we have used them to store the trash cans in the past as well. They're not an eyesore. In fact, they look like they're part of the house. But now we either have to get rid of them completely, or at least break them down and stack them up in a smaller area. We haven't decided 100% what we're going to do.

And while those are easily rectified situations, the other thing that code enforcement apparently has a problem with is the storage container with all our stuff from the basement that's on the driveway. It apparently "does not meet setbacks". So it's either too tall for the area, or it doesn't leave enough room for firefighters to get through, should we have a fire. We're not exactly clear on it.

According to the letter, we have 10 days to comply. Like I said. The two things are really no big deal. We can do them without a problem this weekend. However, we are not going to be able to unload the storage shed yet. So my husband is going to call in the morning and talk with the code enforcement officer. He's going to ask, if we can have a couple of months to get it unloaded and explain the situation. We already had plans to work on the basement and the back porch this weekend. Looks like those plans may be put on hold for a bit.

It's just been frustrating. We are working on things. We've made huge strides. But because they're strides that our meddling neighbor can't see, they're not good enough for her. And now my husband wants to find out, if the backyard is controlled by code enforcement. If it's not, (I believe it's only what can be seen from the street), he wants to pile the stuff that's at the side of the house right by her yard. Just to give her something to think about. I'm trying to talk him down, although I've had visions of white dandelion puffs and a leaf blower headed in her direction!

In the meantime, I've blocked her phone number. If she tries calling our house, she'll get a message that we're not accepting phone calls. The last thing any of us needs right now is her calling the house and going off on us.

Who needs the added stress?

My husband, the hero.

Apparently after I was in bed last night, my husband sat down to the computer. And guess who decided to say hello?

That's right. It flew right into the back of his head and then started circling the ceiling fan lights. He was not happy. He took his hat off, hit it hard, and it fell the the floor. He said it was still moving, so he carefully took it to the restroom to see, if it would pass a swim qual. It didn't.

I'm okay with that.

Really. I am.

However, I didn't know this bit of information this morning when I fired up the computer. I saw that he'd hung the yellow jacket trap up to catch the bugger, if he started buzzing around when we were in bed, so I didn't realize he'd already killed it. The morning was very overcast and muggy and foggy and dark. So I decided to take my chances and get online for a few minutes.

I couldn't relax, though. I kept listening hard for the faint buzzing that is the tell tale sign of one of our flying friends. I never heard it, but my neck and shoulders were tense nonetheless. I just couldn't seem to relax and enjoy myself. So I got off the computer and tried my best to get rid of my headache.

A bit later, the hubby arose from his slumber and padded out to the living room. He proceeded to tell me what had happened. He also informed me that the trap he got said it won't trap wasps. It will only trap hornets and yellow jackets. So I immediately got back on the computer, since I knew there would be no yellow and black blur dive bombing my head and headed to Google.

There, I looked up pictures of wasps and yellow jackets. I do know we have paper wasps around here. I've seen their empty little nests that they've vacated after they've moved out. However, we also have yellow jackets. And while paper wasps typically aren't as aggressive, they will sting, if they or their nest is threatened. Yellow jackets, on the other hand, will go after a human just for being human.

And when I looked at the pictures of the paper wasps vs the yellow jackets, I realized instantly that what had made it's way into the computer room was indeed a yellow jacket. I'm sure they're coming in from the attic. I think they sometimes go in there to make their nests, because the vents at the end of the house under the gables are open. It wouldn't matter, if they were open or not, though. They can squeeze through a rather small hole and make themselves at home.

So that yellow jacket trap that is now hanging above the bookshelf next to the computer will be going to the attic in the next few days. Hopefully, if they have the trap to go to, we'll be able to keep them up there instead of inviting them in to spend time with our family.

We may have to invest in a few of the traps to hang in the attic.

It will be money well spent.

Monday, May 17, 2010

'Twas a wasp.

My post will be quite brief tonight. As I sat down to the computer a few minutes ago, I thought I was hearing the buzzing of a bee, but it was so intermittent that I wasn't sure. Plus there was nothing flying around.

There was nothing flying around, because the wasp was hanging on the chain to the ceiling fan directly above my chair. It was holding on with only it's rear legs as it leaned back chillaxin and cleaning itself. It looked like it was hanging out in its own little invisible recliner. Of course I swatted at it. And of course, I missed.

Go ahead and roll your eyes.

I did.

When I hit at it, I turned the fan on which I haven't dusted for a few months. Huge chunks of dust went flying everywhere, and in the confusion of watching them drift about the room, I lost sight of the wasp. I keep thinking I'm feeling him crawl up my leg or into the neck of my shirt. I'm getting a little itchy and even more weirded out as I sit here.

So yeah. Between the wasp, the headache, the cough and slight nausea I think I'm going to call it a night. At least my bedroom is nowhere near the computer room. I may actually get some extra sleep tonight.

I'm really hoping I don't hear any buzzing. We've had a problem the last several years with wasps coming into our bedroom. I hope there are none tonight.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

What's an umbrella have to do with anything?

Thankfully, the sun did come out and dry up a lot of the humidity today. It was quite the relief. It was dry enough for my husband to mow an entire yard full of dandelions and fill 3 huge trash bags with clippings. If they were actual grass clippings, they'd go in the compost pile. Or at least some would. But I don't put weeds in there. I don't want weeds planted accidentally any more than I want them planted voluntarily.

We desperately need to just regrade the yards and save up the money for sod. I don't know that grass seed would even work. We mostly just have weeds or dirt in the backyard. It was like that years ago when we bought the house. Having dogs running back and forth for several years just made it worse. And now that the dogs are gone, the damage remains.

I need to look up what all needs to be done to regrade a yard. Maybe we could at least get that part done on our own. Of course, if we got sod for the yard, we'd attempt to install that ourselves as well. However, before we laid any sort of sod for the yard, we probably need a sprinkler system installed. That's even more money. So yeah. We have a yard of dirt and weeds. It will be that way for the foreseeable future.

While the hubby was mowing, I decided to paint a coat of Rustoleum on the umbrella planter my hubby and I made a few years ago. It was starting to rust through the rust-proof spray paint I painted it with when we put it up. I'm hoping the paint I used today with the brush will last a little longer, since it goes on thicker. I don't think I'll be able to paint it once the clematis really gets established.

We made it in memory of my dad who passed away three years ago and for my nephew who died just a short few months later. We planted a purple clematis at the bottom, so it could climb the chicken wire we stretched around the pole, because purple was one of my dad and my nephew's favorite colors. It's made of rake tines from an old hay rake that used to be used in the fields. They use different equipment now, but you can still find the rake tines from time to time.

We call it an umbrella planter, because it looks like an umbrella that's lost all the fabric, and all that's left is the frame. Daddy had made one in his and Mom's backyard, and I just fell in love with it. So it just seemed like a fitting tribute to his memory.

Daddy also loved to grow tomatoes, so I had to try my luck at growing upside-down tomatoes. We cut holes in the bottoms of 3 gallon buckets we'd gotten at the supermarket bakery and planted tomatoes to grow out the bottoms of the buckets. Peppers are planted in the top, so the soil isn't as apt to blow away in the wind, and we can have peppers, too. This picture was taken the first year we had it up right after we planted the tomatoes and peppers.

I'm hoping to get my tomato and pepper plants this week. If I don't, I don't know that I'll be able to get anything planted this year at all. The stores will likely be all sold out by the end of the month. Although, this Spring has been a bit cooler, so I may still have time. People tend not to get their plants right away unless it's consistently warm at night. There's nothing quite like losing a garden (hanging or otherwise) to a frost. It's just such a disappointment!

We have cut that stupid tree that's between the planter and the window down several times. We're hoping that the stump killer we'll be putting on it this year when we cut it down will kill the thing. We also will be cutting down a really tall tree in the backyard soon, too. It's the same type of tree, but it's not the most stable thing. We lost a rather large branch in a big windstorm last Fall, and we just don't feel it's safe anymore.

So with those trees all out of the way, my tomato and pepper plants should really take off. I'd love to get 4 more buckets and get all 8 tines filled with upside-down tomatoes this year. I may just have to stick with the 4 that are hanging right now, though. I would just love to have enough to can some. There's nothing like tomato soup made from tomatoes from your garden in the dead of winter!

Eventually, I'll have a large garden, but it may be a few years off. Still. It's fun to plan it in my head. What about you? Do you garden at all?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Help! I don't like hum a dity!

The humidity has been horrible today. We've had heavy rains off and on and just a general thickness to the air. I don't like it when it's muggy. It makes it harder to breathe. Add the cold we have on top of it, and yeah. I'll just be glad when the sun dries up the humidity. Hopefully tomorrow. And I really am thankful for the rain. We needed it desperately. It just doesn't take much moisture in the air to feel like it's too much when one lives in a steppe climate.

Ok. I'm done with my whine. I've already finished my cheese. So..onto other business...

In spite of the humidity and overall blechness to the day, we got a little bit accomplished. The hubster and I finally installed all the light fixtures we bought almost a year ago for the basement. In fact, we just finished. They look so nice! They have an iron vine design that wraps around the light fixture. We got 5 fixtures plus a lamp all in the same design for less than $150 last summer. They were being clearanced at one of the local hardware stores, and we'd already decided that was the style we wanted, so we were thrilled when they went on sale so cheap. They should have cost us right at $300 total. It was a nice little savings for us.

Eventually, I'll get a picture up. Right now, though, I'm going to go relax with my wonderful husband and my trusty heating pad.

The powdered sugar has been retired to the freezer for when we need it again. Thankfully, my knee is back to normal.

Friday, May 14, 2010

To burn or not to burn.

I spoke with the superintendent of special services today about the sunscreen issue. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to talk to both teachers about it, because the one was ill and had called in sick, so she wasn't there when the superintendent went to speak with her. However, she did address the issue with our middle daughter's teacher.

She explained that you can get sunburned on a cloudy day, and that they must put sunscreen on the kids, if they're going to be out for any length of time. They must put it on 20 minutes before going out, and they must reapply it, if they go swimming, or if they're out all day long. She also explained that windburn can not account for everything that happened with our daughter's face. That it was sunburned as well.

To be fair, our middle daughter is a little windburned on her nose, and even her cheek feels chapped in places. But her forehead doesn't, and it's still quite pink, as is the rest of her nose and her cheeks. Her faces is not quite as warm to the touch today as it was, though, and it doesn't seem to be hurting as much. Honestly, I think she's just so miserable from the cold she has that she isn't really thinking of her face.

I think there's a difference between how people view the sun and sunscreen as well. Our middle daughter's teacher is a young man who tans very easily. The sun is not going to affect him as much as it would someone who is very fair skinned, as our daughters are. Also, he doesn't have children of his own. As a result, he's not going to see a child needing sunscreen in the same way that a parent of a fair skinned child is going to. That all makes sense to me, and I understand that.

However, we still don't want it happening to our daughters again.

The superintendent of special services did instruct him once again on sunscreen procedure. However, he will not be our middle daughter's teacher next year, so it will only help for the rest of this year. So the superintendent will be reinstructing all of the staff that works with the special needs children on a daily basis how to handle the sunscreen issue. She was not able to speak with the aides yesterday, but she said she will be talking with them as well as the teachers at the beginning of the school year next year.

And as much as I really do appreciate her help in this, I can't help but think I may still need to get it in writing. I will likely be having the IEPs amended next week, so they're in place next year when school starts. It's not that I don't think the teachers and aides will take the sunscreen protocol seriously. I just want them to take it seriously enough and not forget to use the sunscreen even once after the school year starts next year.

I so appreciate everyone's support on this issue. I also know that in order for me to maintain a good relationship with the teachers and aides, I really don't want to go in and raise all sorts of trouble. If I treat them with respect, they'll be much more likely to work with me and with my girls.

And after all, it's all about our girls.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

In case you were wondering.

When I started this blog, I had started keeping track of the things I'd gotten rid of over in the right side bar. I decided a couple of weeks ago to take it down. I found that I was feeling guilty, if I forgot to write something down, and there were times I just couldn't keep up, because I was getting rid of so much. Taking it away makes it easier for me to concentrate on things.

I did leave the shredables count up, but I'm not sure, if it will stay. I just thought it might be interesting to know how many bags of paperwork I had gotten rid of over the course of the dehoarding. I know that paperwork has been the bane of my existence. I can never seem to rid my life of excess paperwork strewn around. To have a mental picture of how much I've gotten rid of might be helpful, so I might just keep it after all.

Everyone is sick around here with a heavy duty cold. So we're taking advantage of our beds and getting plenty of rest. Hopefully, with enough rest and fluids we'll get over this quickly. Hopefully.

I spoke with the teacher this morning about the sunburn. He said that it was windburn. That everyone who went to the track meet ended up with it. I didn't argue with him. I know that the teachers and aides were going to be spoken to about the sunscreen issue today. I'll be talking to someone to get an update about it tomorrow. I figured I could wait until then. We want their IEPs amended to include sunscreen application by an adult anytime they will be outside for more than 15 minutes. I don't think that's unreasonable.

In the meantime, I did take pictures of her little face. She's miserable. Between the coughing and the sunburn, she's just feeling punky. Hopefully a couple more days of good solid rest will help.

Speaking of rest...I need mine, too. Off to bed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'm alive. Isn't that enough?

At least for today and tomorrow and this weekend?

Our middle daughter came home from school today coughing her head off. And she was sunburned. Again. Every year at the beginning of the school year we buy a fresh tube of sunscreen for the kids to use at school. Every year the teachers or aides 'forget' to use it, and one of them comes home sunburned. I'm beyond sick of it.

She was crying tonight, because her face hurt. I put a thick lotion on it hoping it will keep it hydrated and help with the pain. I gave her ibuprofen, too. I remember how painful sunburns are. They're horrible. And while she hasn't yet, I will not be surprised, if she blisters. Her skin has a purplish hue to it. She's normally very pale.

Last year, the teacher told us that she was responsible for putting the sunscreen on herself. We went to the district superintendent of the special services, and we were told (as were the teachers and the aides) that they must help the kids. Obviously nobody even got the sunscreen out for her today. It was overcast and supposed to snow today, so I'm sure that plays a major role.

But so does the fact that they spent ALL day long outside competing in Special Olympics! They were out there for hours and hours. They should have had sunscreen applied before they left the school and at least twice while they were at the meet. I'm taking pictures of it tomorrow. She's just miserable. And I want to have documentation, because she's not going to be in school the rest of the week. No sense in sending her to cough all over everyone else and have the pain of a sunburn while she's there, too.

It happens to be that this is one of several things that are going to be addressed tomorrow with the teachers and the aides. I hope that somebody actually listens this time!

We're fuming. This coming on the heals of not knowing, if the Mickey Mole was malignant or not just isn't good timing. We're very thankful that the mole wasn't, obviously, but I don't know how many more sunburns they'll be able to take before they do have skin cancer. There just is no excuse for a child to be sunburned in this day and age.

This will be added to the IEPs for next year. It's not going to happen again.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ugh. I did it again.

I forgot that I wasn't signed in with my blog account and hit 'Publish Post' which of course erased the entire thing for me. So, I'll start again...

Last night I felt fine one second and the next second I felt the cold that our youngest daughter had come on me very suddenly. Thankfully, it doesn't seem quite as bad as some of the respiratory things we've had this year, but it is a bit on the bronchitis side of things. I'll stay on top of it. I'd rather we not need yet another set of antibiotics or steroids this season!

Several years ago, my husband hurt something. I can't remember for sure, but I think he had tendinitis. He was told to use heat and cold packs to help it heal, and he was sent home with this awesome cold pack. It worked wonders, and we wore that thing out! Eventually, there was blue powder leaking from the seams, and no amount of tape would keep it sealed.

It was too large to fit in a gallon-sized freezer bag, so we'd try to wrap it in other types of plastic bags, but it would still leak. We eventually threw it out after I had to keep cleaning blue powder out of the freezer. And off the clothes. And off the furniture. After all, we had no idea what the blue powder was, and if it could be harmful.

I hadn't thought of that blue ice pack in years. At least not until yesterday. I'd been using one of those blue gel ice packs. You know. The kind that you use in your cooler to keep your picnic supplies cold? The kind that freeze into a hard glob that has no give whatsoever. The kind that make it impossible to get your entire injury cooled, because you're freezing yourself in one spot while the other spot cries for attention. Yeah. That kind.

It made me think of the soft blue powder that so comfortingly filled every nook and cranny of the injured area to bring sweet, cool relief. So I called my darling husband and asked him to pick up some powdered sugar on the way home from work. As soon as he got home, we tossed them into the freezer after putting them in gallon freezer bags. And I've used my powdered sugar ice packs off and on all day today. They're a lot cheaper than the expensive blue powdered medical ice packs. I don't have to worry about frostbite, but they cool the area completely just fine. And how handy is it to have powdered sugar in the freezer and ready to go when I decide to make homemade fondant like my friend Portia did.

And saving the very best for last...

Our youngest daughter's dermatologist called today with the results of the Mickey Mole. Remember how there were four ways it could have turned out? It could have been totally normal, abnormal, severely abnormal, or malignant. Well, her mole was normal. Meaning she's going to be fine. Meaning we can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Meaning we'll sleep well tonight!

Praise be to God!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Around and around we go. Where we stop, nobody knows.

Not sure how much I'll be getting done over the next couple of days. I tweaked my right knee. It hurts toward the top of my knee cap when I touch it, and it aches all the time. So I will be avoiding the stairs at all cost over the next couple of days, and I'll be doing my best to ice the knee and keep it elevated as much as possible. I am really hoping it just stops hurting on it's own, if I rest and ice it frequently.

Our youngest is still not feeling that hot, but she's taking it well. We've always marveled at what good senses of humor the girls have. They love to laugh and play jokes and tease. Earlier this evening was no exception. Our youngest daughter was doing a nebulizer treatment before she went to bed. The part of a nebulizer that holds the medicine can vary from machine to machine. Some just have a mouthpiece, and others have a mouthpiece attached to a T-shaped tube with a long accordion-looking tube attached to the other side of the T. (Look at the top picture here, if you don't know what I'm talking about). That's the style the youngin was using for her treatment earlier.

She likes to chew on the somewhat soft plastic of the accordion tube when she does her treatments, but we do try to get her to turn it around and use the mouthpiece. So when I noticed toward the beginning of the treatment that she was goofing around and chewing on the tube, I told her to turn it around. She did, and she put the mouthpiece in her mouth and breathed the medicine in.

A few minutes into the treatment, I went into the other room, and when I came back, the nebulizer was backwards, and she was waiting for my reaction. We find it funny that she can communicate so much with her eyes, in spite of being nonverbal. Tonight was no exception. I asked her to turn the nebulizer around. So, with a twinkle in her eye and a slight smirk on her face, she did. And then she did again. And again. I couldn't help but laugh.

She finished her breathing treatment, but she did it her own way. With the wrong end in her mouth, a twinkle in her eye, and a smirk on her face. That's okay. It wasn't an important battle to win. The medicine was getting to her lungs anyway. It's just that a tube that's been bitten isn't quite as effective at getting the medicine to her as one that doesn't look like a bent straw. They still work. They just take a little more effort. And if I feel she's not getting enough medicine, I'll pull out the nebulizer that only has the mouthpiece for her to use tomorrow.

Tonight, I'm just going to savor the fact that she can tease.

And I'll laugh at her jokes. :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My first Mother's Day as a mom-in-law.

Our youngest went to bed last night with a horrible cough. I can tell the chest congestion is thick, and she's definitely struggling. She had to do a breathing treatment today, but she did seem marginally better when she went to bed tonight. Even so, she won't be going to school for a couple of days. You know how when you have kids at least one seems to love naps and the other doesn't? She's our non-napper, but she napped for a couple of hours today. She is just not feeling well, the poor thing.

Had a nice and fairly quiet Mother's Day. I got a beautiful flowering plant from my husband as well as a Collin Ray CD that has the "She's With Me" song on it that I posted about earlier. I highly recommend seeing the video, if you haven't already. It's beautiful. You can see it here. You can also see a picture of our girls from 15 years ago on that link. They were and are such beautiful little people. I am blessed beyond measure to have them call me Mom. :)

I wasn't able to reach Mom today by phone. She can be hard to reach on holidays, because we have so many in our family calling her. I left her a message and I'll be calling again tomorrow. I don't like special days going by without touching base with her. I'm just glad she knows how special she is to all of us. My mom really is the best I could have!

Our oldest and her hubby came over for the afternoon/evening. We really enjoyed their company. They brought an adorable card and flowers in a really neat little chalkboard vase with messages all around it from them and our youngest two daughters. There were 3 lavender roses and 1 peach representing each of them. They are very sweet, and I hope it stays cool enough in the house that they don't open too quickly. I may have to put them in the refrigerator, if it gets too warm.

The kids brought over a couple of movies to share, so we watched Avatar and Sherlock Holmes with them. I'm surprised, but I liked Avatar better than Sherlock Holmes. I loved the colors in the film. It wasn't as dark as SH was. I don't do well with dark movies. Even when the movie is only filmed as though it is nighttime in the story, I don't really tend to care for them. I'm sure that's one reason I liked Avatar better. In spite of it being predictable, it was good.

Once again, I've waited to write my blog until the stroke of midnight, so my post will be late. I really do need to try to get to it earlier in the day, but this is the first the computer's been on all day.

I hope all the mothers that read my blog had a wonderful Mother's Day today with their children in some way or another!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I confess...

I rescued my dolly from the stuff we were giving away. I realized I do need to have a toy or two left over for our future grandchildren to be able to enjoy, so it's going to be her. I also set aside a couple of outfits for her to be changed into, since babies do need to have a change or two of clothes. If I change my mind later on, I can get rid of her then. However, if I did give her away, I would have no way of retrieving her. So...she's back home for now.

Speaking of future grandchildren...we find it absolutely hysterical that the pressure for the newlyweds to start a family is not coming from us. Instead, it's coming from our middle daughter. Now that they're married, she wants them to have a son, and she has mentioned it on several occasions. We have no idea where this is coming from. We just find it hilarious that it's coming!

In the meantime, the hubby dropped off the rest of the things at my friend's house. So this is the second load that pretty much filled up the back end of our little station wagon. I feel bad in some ways for dumping it on her, but it will give her some new toys for her little ones, and she said she'll just get rid of what they don't want. Works for me. And I very much appreciate her willingness to take care of it.

Scary thing happened to our oldest daughter's boss's daughter last night. Ok. Did you follow that? It happened to the daughter of the people our oldest works for. She and her female cousin were out clubbing. The cousin started throwing up and she started going into a major rage. It sounds like she attacked her father and a police officer. They took her into the hospital for evaluation, because they had no idea what was going on with her.

Her urine tested positive for GHB. It's one of the date rape drugs. Thankfully, she is fine now, but she doesn't remember anything that happened last night or how she was acting. It's really pretty scary. So, sorry, but I have to put a little reminder here: If you are out in public don't ever leave your drink unattended. Keep it in your hand. And don't forget that someone can slip a date rape drug into any kind of drink. It doesn't have to be an alcoholic beverage.

Thankfully, sometimes people do step forward to keep things from happening to women on dates like GHB. In fact, a waiter at a Ruby Tuesday in Colorado stepped up a couple of years ago and took the woman's drink from her, after he saw her date drop something in it when she was at the salad bar. They'd met online and decided to meet in a public place for dinner, because she felt it would be safest. You just can't be too careful. And the waiter? In my eyes...he's a HERO!

Laundry calls. Besides, it's probably time for me to step off my soapbox about now anyway.

Stay safe now, ya hear?

Friday, May 7, 2010

How do I say goodbye?

Today, we finished going through the last of the boxes from the girls' room. One was the box of dress up clothes. The girls have grown so much that nothing really fit them anymore, so I'm giving the majority of them to a friend who has younger girls who still like to play dress up.

I only saved 4 things from the box. Two were Gunne Sax dresses and one skirt. I figured I'd wash them up and try to sell them on eBay. A lot of them go for an amazing amount right now, so I figured it would be worth sticking in my eBay stash. If I change my mind at some point, I'll go ahead and give them to my friend.

The 4th thing I saved back is a pink dress I'd picked up at a thrift store several years ago for them to play with. It has an off-the-shoulder bodice, but it's stretched out enough that particular part of the dress would fit a linebacker. However, the skirt is in good condition. It's a pretty satin circle skirt with a bit of a pattern in it. I decided I'm going to cut the skirt portion of the dress off and make our youngest a skirt she can twirl in, if she so chooses. There's just nothing like a circle skirt to make a little girl smile!

The other box was the box of dolls. They were all baby dolls of assorted sizes. The girls never really got into dolls much, but they still got them over the years. It wasn't too hard to get rid of them, because the girls never really played with them. A complete lack of memories with an item definitely makes it easier to get rid of things. No doubt about it.

When I got to the bottom of the plastic storage box that held the dolls and their memories or lack thereof, I was taken aback. Just a bit. There, at the bottom of the box, was my dolly from the year I turned 7. I loved that doll. Obviously, or I wouldn't have hung onto it all these years. My mom knew I wanted this dolly for Christmas. I think it was the only thing I asked for. I just knew she would complete my life, if I were to be blessed with her as a gift.

I believe we had Christmas Eve at my grandparents' house, because I'm pretty sure I had this dolly before Santa came on Christmas morning. And I was in Heaven! Imagine my utter disbelief when I found my little dolly's cousin with much darker skin in my stocking the next morning! I had TWINS - one little black baby and one little white baby! I was beside myself with joy! How could any one child ever be so lucky?

They were so realistic looking, and they felt more real than any doll I'd ever had before. They weren't made of hard plastic, but instead were made of a soft rubber, and because they were rubber, they had a little extra weight to them. They were as close to the real thing as I could get without monopolizing my nieces or nephews.

I don't remember what the argument was about, but one day, my younger brother and I each had hold of one of my black dolly's legs. As the argument grew more heated, so did the strength in our little hands. I don't think either of us realized what happened until I let out a scream. My little black baby that meant the world to me had been split almost up to her belly button. I was horrified and heartbroken!

As a result, the little white dolly became even more cherished. She's been with me since I was 7 years old. She's lived with us in 5 different states, several cities and countless houses over the years. Today, I made the decision to give her up for adoption. But now I'm second, third and fourth guessing myself.

She was taken to the car to spend the night with the other toys looking for a loving home. I took a picture of her before she was taken away, and that's all I have left. I've been wondering, if I made the right decision to give her up. I have wondered all afternoon, if I should dig her out of the stuff in the back of the car before it's dropped of at it's destination. It's hard to know what to do.

She's been a constant in my tumultuous-at-times life. Every time I've come across her over the years, I've known she wasn't going anywhere. I wasn't going to have to say goodbye. There's a bit of emotional security in knowing she wasn't going to go anywhere. But things are different now.

After all, I have a picture. And nobody can take away my memories.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I. Am. SO. Impressed. Part 2.

I tackled the closet in the girls' room today. Our middle daughter helped when they got home from school. She's not capable of figuring out what to do with things or where to put them unless I tell her, so I told her. Most of the time, she willingly worked and helped out. A couple of times (when she was missing her favorite television program that she's likely already seen a thousand times) she'd get a bit frustrated. It didn't happen often, and she got to watch her show when we took the boxes from the closet to the living room to sort.

Once again, our youngest would sign that she was "finished" with something, if she no longer wanted to keep it. I had to have her set some stuff down, because her hands were so full she was having a hard time signing. And our middle daughter was gladly saying "Keep it NO more! No more keep it!" I wish I could bottle her enthusiasm and use it on days when it's hard to get going. I'm totally in awe of both our girls. They amaze me.

Unbelievably, we sorted through almost as much as we already went through the other day in the bedroom. I am in shock. I honestly think that with everything we went through today, the two plastic storage containers that we still have to go through that contain dollies and dress up clothes, as well as what we already gave away, I think they probably only have 1/6th of their toys left! Seriously.

I don't know what's more shocking. That we got rid of so much, or that they had that much in the first place. Probably that we were able to get rid of so much. Ready to be shocked again? This does not include the copious amounts of toys in the garage, in the storage shed on the driveway, or on the back porch that I have yet to go through. By the time I get rid of all of them, we will probably be down to 1/12th of what we have had around here for toys.

I have really struggled with getting rid of toys. For so many years, the kids were at the same level developmentally without showing much progression. As a result, we had to come up with more toys for birthdays and Christmas, etc. that they didn't have but that would help them learn. To say that we ended up with too many toys would be an understatement. And while I've gotten rid of many of the toys over the years, I obviously haven't gotten rid of enough.

There was only one thing I hung onto for myself in all of this. I was able to part with a couple of stuffed parrots I had in my own bedroom as a teenager, but I couldn't give a little pillow away. My memory is a bit fuzzy on it. I don't remember, if I made it for our oldest, or if my niece made it and mailed it to her. But it's a little Precious Moments pillow made from a panel of fabric. I just couldn't let it go.

I have a picture of our oldest as a newborn with it. She was 3 weeks old in the picture. And she was smiling at the dolly. And I'm going to keep it for now. I can't bring myself to let it go. Not yet. Besides. How cute would it be to get a picture of her baby beside the same pillow some day?

Yeah. That's what I thought. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Mickey Mole

Today's been a long day emotionally. Isn't it funny how emotions can be so heavy on a person?

Took our middle daughter to the doctor for her physical. All is well. She got the last of the immunizations she needed, and we all (her, me, the doctor and the nurse) survived. It's a relief to just have it all done and know she doesn't need to go in for another 5 years for boosters. There will be the annual flu shot, but that won't be too bad. Hopefully.

Took the youngest in for her appointment with the dermatologist. She said the mole needed to come off. She did reassure us that melanoma is very rare at this age, especially since our daughter loves to wear leggings, and her legs are typically protected from the sun. However, it doesn't mean she's in the clear just yet.

If I understood the doctor correctly, the biopsy can have a few different results. The first would be total normal cells that would be benign. Another, somewhat benign finding would be that the cells were abnormal, but she said the removal of the mole would take care of this completely. The third finding could be severely abnormal cells. In this case, she said they would treat it just like they would a melanoma. They will call us back in for more tissue to be removed from around the area of the mole. Then the last finding could be melanoma, which they would need to treat further as well.

I'm not overly concerned about it. At least I don't think I am. Maybe I am and that's why I'm so tired tonight. So I'm off to bed, but I leave you with:

The Mickey Mole.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I definitely overdid yesterday, but it was so worth getting the stuff done and out of here! However, I couldn't stand completely upright this morning. So after we got the kids off to school, I took another muscle relaxant and slept. I felt much better after waking up, and I've actually been able to get quite a bit of laundry done today. I have plenty more to do, but I'll do one last load before I go to bed just to get it out of the way.

I have to admit that when I've needed inspiration, I've gone in the girls' room a couple of times today. It proved to me I can do this. I'll be glad when more of my house is inspirational. It will be in time. I did take before pictures of the girls' room, and I will eventually post them. I'll probably end up posting 'after the after pictures', too. You know...after I've finally gotten around to painting the bedroom and getting it all dolled up like I have it in my mind.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. Our middle daughter has a physical in the morning. When we're done with that, we'll come back to the house and get her younger sister ready for her doctor appointment. She has a Mickey Mouse shaped mole on her thigh. We're of course hoping it's just that she has a couple of moles really close together instead of anything more serious. My brother had a malignant melanoma removed several years ago, and he's fine now, but that's some scary stuff!

It's off to bed for me. Beauty sleep does me no good, so I'll just opt for health sleep. :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

I. Am. SO. Impressed.

We had a Monday Morning Meltdown before school today. Our middle daughter was upset she couldn't help her younger sister get ready for school and raged for a full 30 minutes. Her meltdowns are brutal. She gets right in your face, turns different shades of red and purple and yells, "NO!" as though she's been through a self-defense class and has actually been attacked. The yelling and crying is accompanied by clenched fists and the occasional hop up and down as she tries to get herself together.

She tries to keep herself under control and not hit me, but this morning she was so angry she shoved me by the shoulders while I was sitting down. I felt her fingerprints for several hours due to the fibromyalgia. The meltdown lasted lasted for 30 minutes straight. There is no talking with her. No reasoning. She is out of control when it happens. When anyone does try to say anything to her they are met with an ear piercing, "NO!" If she starts moving towards her little sister, one of us moves between them. She's never attacked her sister (only me and her dad once), but we know she could do serious damage, if she did.

We're breathing a collective sigh of relief that it's over. We're hoping it means she's done with meltdowns for another month. We're hopeful that by then the Theanine will have reached it's full potential, and she won't have another episode. That sounds... heavenly.

Her meltdowns drain me physically and mentally both. So this morning, I went back to bed for awhile after we got the girls off to school. When I woke up, I got busy in their bedroom. When they got home from school, I had our middle daughter help me finish things up. Then all 3 of us went through almost everything that had been in the bedroom and sorted it.

Our youngest, who is non-verbal would sign her version of "finished", if she no longer wanted an item. She put the toys she wanted to keep in a basket. Our middle daughter is verbal, but she does struggle with words and how to say things. So if she didn't want to keep something, she'd say, "Keep it. NO more!" and wave her hands in her way of she was done with it.

I was in shock and so very, very proud of them. I made sure I told them. Often! They easily got rid of 2/3 of their toys! (1 huge box that we sorted when my mom was here that was 2' cubed, another box that was at 75% the size of the first box, a big black garbage bag of toys (I ran out of boxes) plus a sizable box of wooden blocks. They also got rid of at least 15 pair of shoes, flip flops or slippers.

Things that they were never able to part with before were gladly put in the box of toys to donate. The hardest thing for me to see go was a little die cast dump truck with Big Bird at the wheel. It was our oldest's favorite toy when she was tiny. All 3 of the girls played and played with it, and I was shocked when our middle daughter said, "Keep it NO more!" It's the only thing they got rid of that I thought twice about.

And I've thought more than twice about it. It's one of only 3 or 4 times I've had physical symptoms when getting rid of something. I'm still contemplating having it returned to me. I have slight heart palpitations knowing it's gone, and my mind keeps wandering and wondering, if I made the right choice to give it away. I may just ask the person who has it now, if they'd mind taking a picture of it and emailing me the picture. I really should have done that before I let it go out the door, but I didn't want the girls to see me struggle with it. I didn't want them to see me search through everything they'd given up only to retrieve it.

Our oldest and her husband came over, loaded all that we'd gone through into the back of our car, and dropped it off at my friend's house for her and her kids to go through and take what they wanted. They will pass along what they don't want to friends or family or donate it for me.

It is no longer my problem.


I am so excited and happy about dehoarding their bedroom. I still have to clean out the closet and a small toy box, but compared to what we've already gotten rid of, that ain't nothin' but a thing!

And I am so impressed with the girls and how they shone that I don't have adequate words!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A thrilling Sunday.

Hubby made it home safe and sound, although he endured snow, rain and drowsiness after only getting 4 hours sleep before he left. The trip that took him only 9.5 hours to make on Friday took over 11 hours to finish today. I told him that I'd much rather it take him longer to get here and for him to get back home safely than for him to hurry and get in an accident.

So he's home safe. The kids are thrilled he's home. I'm thrilled he's back. And he's beyond thrilled he's not sitting in a low-slung car that feels like you're trying to get out of a hammock when you exit the vehicle. He hurts from sitting and driving for so many hours straight, which is understandable.

So now, he's sitting on a very firm couch that supports his aching bones and doesn't make one feel like they're stuck in a hammock enjoying some well-earned rest. As soon as I hit 'send', I'll be sitting there with him.

Hope you've all had a thrilling Sunday like we have! :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Outlaws are wanted.

Sometimes I wonder why it's so much easier to forgive my parents/family for little things than it is for me to forgive my husband's family for little things. Although, I have to admit that the problems always seem bigger somehow with them.

I know that his parents love us. I do. But I never, ever feel good enough in their eyes. And I know my husband struggles with this as well. Because they're 'just' my inlaws and not my parents I don't think it affects me as much as it does my hubby, but it still affects me negatively. And when they are not supportive of my husband or my children it bothers me much more than when I'm on the receiving end. Maybe it's because I know I have the support from my own family and especially my husband.

My husband is out of town this weekend to see his parents and to attend a surprise birthday party for them. He said that when he walked through the door and they greeted him, the first thing out of his mom's mouth was, "Oh my god!" She was aghast at his beard. He has a beautiful white beard that he keeps neatly trimmed, (although to be honest, it does currently need a bit taken off the ends), and it suits him. Well.

The first several minutes of conversation were about his beard. He was told/asked (by his brothers, their wives and his parents):

1) It made him look 10 years older than he is.
2) They wondered what *I* thought of it, and thankfully, one of his sisters-in-law piped up and said she remembered having heard me say many times that I like it.
3) Doesn't his employer have a problem with it??
4) Doesn't he care what anyone else thinks about it or how he looks?

He hadn't seen his parents in 18 months, and he hadn't seen one brother in 3 years - the other in over 5, and he drove over 600 miles to see them yet this is how they greeted him. Not a single positive word about it except the one SIL saying that she knew I liked it. She also told him that he wouldn't want her trimming it, because she'd cut it off. She's a hairdresser. And I'm sure being as fashion conscious as she is, she couldn't stand the thought of it not being close shaven.

If it hadn't been his beard they picked to shreds, it would have been something else. Over the years they've done things that have hurt to the core. Things that I don't even want to think about, because I don't want to dwell on the feelings that they bring up. Things that would cause friendships to end and people to never speak to one another again.

I often marvel at how he is so different from his parents and wonder how they did such a good job raising him. Honestly, I can't fathom how they did it, because he is so kind-hearted. He would never, ever do the things that they have done over the years. He is mindful of the fact that actions and words can wound the spirit, and he doesn't want to do that to anyone else.

Given my hormones of late I'm glad we didn't go on the trip. I don't know, if I'd have been able to keep my mouth shut and not defended my husband. It's not that he needs defending. He can stick up for himself. But I'd be likely to put my 2 cents in to let them know that they were being rude and hurtful and to let him know I had his back. And yet they wonder why we don't spend much time at their house when we visit.

Today was hard on our middle daughter. She did end up finally having a meltdown, but it only lasted about 5 minutes or so, and she was done. I think things were just building for her, and she needed to let the stress out. Still, 5 minutes meltdowns are a vast improvement over 20 minute or 2 hour meltdowns.

Our youngest chimed in for a minute or so as well. They are very in tune with one another, and if one is upset the other one is as well. It is a rare thing when an aching heart doesn't spread from one to the other.

We are all looking forward to tomorrow. My wonderful husband, the kids' wonderful daddy will be home.

The hours won't pass quickly enough.