Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Good or Bad Cry...

So, I'm reading "Running With The Demon" by Terry Brooks. I have to read myself to sleep. Don't ask me why. I finish the second chapter, and put the book down. I turn out the light. Curl up next to Eric. Even though he is sound asleep, he puts an arm around me. The thought jumps into my head, about him, "You are mine." And I start to cry. I cry because he's given me Sean. Sean and his pretty red hair. Sean who is so beautiful and loving and cuddly. Sean, who reminds me of Matt. Matt, who I yelled at just before he went to bed. I yelled at Matt because I'd made myself some tuna for dinner. Tuna with too much Miracle Whip and a little bit of sweet pickle relish. On high-protein wheat toast. Open-faced because I knew that if I put the tuna between two pieces of toast, it would just ooze out onto the plate. So, there's my tuna, sitting half on one piece of toast, and half on another, and I'm signing a progress report for Matt to get extra credit and he takes it upon himself to put the two pieces together. The tuna oozes all over the plate... only a smidge between the bread and the rest in a pile around it. And I jump Matt's shit because why did he have to touch my dinner? Why? What the HELL was he thinking? He gets mad at me and I get madder... and I know I shouldn't, but I can't seem to stop myself or shut up. Now I'm mad at him and mad at myself for being mad at him for something so stupid. And six hours later I'm lying in bed crying for being such a horrible parent.
I should be happy. I'm steadily losing weight. I feel better about myself than I have in over twenty years. My financial life is miserable, but crying won't change that.
I live in a house with three guys, they all love me, and all I can do it cry about how wonderful my family is. Quietly. All of a sudden I realize that I'm warm. I feel flushed and for the first time in six months my feet, face, hands and ass are all warm at the same time! Crying did that? Shit! Is it worth the headache I'm going to have to have a warm ass? Damn straight. So, I'm going to go back to bed and cry some more, get my feet warm and cry myself to sleep... sounds like a plan.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Nature or Nurture?

At some point in almost every parents’ existence, they realize that they have adopted some or all of the same mannerisms that they disliked so much in their own parents. This can come in the form of yelling strangely catchy, but benign phrases that we have no intention of following through on, or on the opposite extreme, it might be physical abuse.
This dissertation in poor parenting skills focuses on the former, though may touch on the latter.

Before you scoff and yell at your monitor, “Not ME!”, really think about it. Do some soul-searching. You may have pushed it to the back of your over-taxed brain, but it is there, in a dusty corner, ready to rear its’ ugly head when you least expect it.

For me, these moments come when I’m chastising one or both of my mutants-from-hell. As if from a distance place, phrases like, “Don’t MAKE me come in there!” pass my vocal chords. Or, one of my favorites, “I’ll put something on you that AJAX won’t take off!” My kids don’t even know what Ajax is, not to mention what kinds of stains it removed from bathtubs in commercials from the ‘60’s. Now, to be perfectly fair, this is more likely to be a case of nature, rather than nurture. I mean, my Mom said the first phrase quite often, but I can say with a clear conscience that she never once uttered the words, “I’ll beat you like a redheaded step-child!” together in a sentence. Especially THAT sentence.

I, however, have and do. Being a redhead myself, that was one of those phrases that made me raise an eyebrow at the person who had uttered it. I was an adult before I realized what the significance of being a redheaded stepchild was. I am no one’s step-child, and my youngest son is also a redhead, so you might think I’d avoid hackneyed euphemisms like that one and many others.

But NO. I can’t remember where the disgustingly graphic [warning!] idiom “You are slower than owl snot dripping off a doorknob!” came from. My father frequently intoned, “I’ll skin you alive!”, but in the twenty-first century that phrase has lost its punch. From a refrigerator magnet I stole: “I’d slap you, but shit splatters”, but that makes me feel guilty for swearing, and my rug-rats are still too young to grasp the visual images that it raises for someone who has been hit with fresh manure.

I do a fair imitation of a growl, deep in my throat, like a mother tiger warning her cub not to use its’ claws. That only seems to work on the cat, though. Unfortunately, this unsuccessful threatening behavior - like the sentences in quotes preceding - generate nothing more than giggles. My kids think I’m hilarious. Nothing puts a damper on righteous anger faster than children pointing and snickering behind their hands.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Who Needs Resolutions?

Well, I suppose that I should have made a New Year's resolution to keep up on my blog, but I didn't make ANY resolutions this year.

After my major surgery in May of '05, I already knew that I would have to take better care of myself, including eating better foods, taking a regular regimen of vitamins and supplements and of course, exercising.

Now, you notice that I didn't say exercising MORE. Up to January of last year, the only exercise I got was shopping at wale-Mart and it would almost kill me. I mean, KILL ME. I would start out okay, but Eric would have to drop me off in front of the door, and then he and the kids would park the car and they wouldn't have to walk far to find me. Assuming I made it past the hostess with the shopping carts (which I had to have so I'd have something to support me), then I couldn't be any further than past the check stands and panting in the cereal/magazine aisle. The rest of the shopping trip meant me, making frequent stops to mop the sweat from my face using the front of my size t-shirt. Yeah, big and sweaty. Just the kind of impression every fat woman wants to make, and what society seems to expect from us. Go figure.

Well, that's not me anymore. Uh, nope. Yesterday my two boys, Eric and myself decided that the clear blue sky meant that we'd get more than fifteen minutes reprieve from the rain, so we went Geocaching. Now, if you know about Geocaching, you know that they are rated on a one-to-five scale for terrain and difficulty, five being the most difficult. A 5 on terrain means that you most likely need sophisticated gear or a specialized vehicle (high-clearance 4x4 or a boat) to reach the cache. We picked three caches up in and around Brookings, Oregon, which is around 30 miles north of our house.

The first cache was at Harris Beach, and it was just above the high-water mark. Unfortunately, Eric decided I couldn't make it across the driftwood logs at the top of the stream. Granted, my balance isn't so good when I've been taking heavy doses of Sudafed, but he could have at least let me try. Instead, Sean, our 8-year old and I went and played in the tide pools surrounding the huge seastacks on the beach. Okay, Sean played. I BASKED. Yes, it is what lizards, cats and other lazy animals with low metabolisms do, and I was wearing black jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt and it felt wonderful. Eric and our oldest son, Matt, found and logged the cache.

Then, we headed up along the Chetco River to hunt for the Loeb Loop cache. This cache is rated a 2.5 on terrain, and I've done other caches over the past year that were rated similarly, but they were all long hikes on relatively level terrain. This cache led us to the Redwood Trail east of Loeb Park. The loop is supposed to be a mile long, and the cache description states that there are just enough elevation changes to "make you puff a bit". Well, the folks who placed it (Seahorse, Frogfish and Becky) have a gift for understatement, in my opinion. But it didn't stop me from going. And UP we went. The trail was a series of switchbacks, and there was at least an inch of leaves, debris and duff on the trail, mixed with the last 30 days of incessant rain, to make the going slick, squishy and, well, WET. Parts of the trail are narrow, and at one point there are steps cut into rock and the passage was too close to the edge of the cliff for my taste. Can you say "pucker factor"? Luckily, I took along my trusty walking stick. It's like having an extra leg, or the occasional extra hand to balance with.

About halfway up, I started to "puff", a bit. Being on the downhill side of pneumonia has its drawbacks, and one of them is the inability to completely fill one's lungs with that life-giving oxygen/nitrogen mixture known commonly as "air". But the words of a physician from many years ago kept coming back to me: "You need to get that nasty crud out of your lungs, so fill them with air and there won't be room for the crud." The stops I needed weren't long ones... a minute at most, but I instructed the guys to go on ahead. I think I made a total of 3 stops, and I still beat them to the cache. But only because Eric wasn't looking at the GPS and overshot the cache.

All in all, the hike was fun, beautiful and I really felt better when we were done. I'm not sure, but I believe the elevation change, however gradual, was over 500 feet and possibly 1,000. I can check the GPS to find out for sure. And the walk back to the car was almost all downhill (which lends its own set of problems in wet terrain). Eric actually felt worse than I did when we were done. Walking downhill is hard on his knees, and he's ten years younger me!

Can you guess what we did after this hike? Why, we went shopping at Wal-Mart, of course!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Feminine Protection

Well, I came home from my OB/GYN appointment today with photos in my hand and a song in my little black heart. It has been more than three weeks since my first major surgery since the C-Sections that brought Matt and Sean into my life. It was an "endometrial ablation". If you need more info on it, ask Web M.D.. I wouldn't want to bore you with details.

Suffice it to say that with the disease I have (ITP, for "idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpurea"), I bleed a lot due to a lack of the clotting agents known as blood platelets. A woman of child-bearing years who hasn't started menopause and has this disease may have a monthly crisis. So, my GP Doc sent me to a new OB Doc. I thought that he would suggest a hysterectomy and I know so many women who hate their lives since that happened to them. Instead, he proposed the endometrial ablation. It is non-invasive, I'll still have PMS (poor Eric), but none of the nasty keep-me-home-in-bed-non-functional aspects of, what is for me, an abnormal menstrual cycle.

Surgery wasn't too bad. Hell, I was out for it! Recovery SUCKED! Hear that nurses at Sutter Coast (commonly known as "Cut 'Er Close")? Yeah, I was the surgical patient who you put in a room and forgot about? Left me there without even a call button, but insisted I let you know when I was ready to get up and pee... oh-kay. Had they got me up and moving I would have blown that popsicle stand at 6 p.m. Instead I ended up getting Eric up out of bed (worried sick, I might add) to come get me at 9:30!

Anyway... today the OB Doc says that they took photos of my innards before and after surgery, and he printed up two sets and gave me one! How thoughtful. I've got my Christmas card photo! He did say that my baby-making equipment is still in pretty good shape, though now that I've had this surgery, the baby-option is out. That, and the fact that my tubes were tied right after they yanked Sean out of me.

Now, here is the trick: I've spent the past week bitching at everyone, crying when I see certain commercials (Nexxium? WTF?!), and trying to quench this overwhelming craving for anything made with pasta or chocolate. Sounds like PMS to me, too. This is the time I usually start feeling uncomfortable. I let you know if the surgery was a success...

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Children and Time...

Today Eric and I found ourselves alone. I don't mean that we made some incredible discovery. No, we spent the evening by ourselves. No kids at home. Weird.

Matt is on a two-day camping excursion with his sixth-grade class to study biology. Hopefully it doesn't turn into a human biology lesson. Yeah, that is how MY mind works. Neither Eric or I have any recollection of our respective junior high schools sending us anywhere overnight. Hey, if there are chaperones, I'm all for it. He's not in Boy Scouts, and we haven't done any real camping so far. It may be a good experience.

Sean is spending the night at the neighbor across the street's house. I wasn't supposed to be home tonight. I should have been in Santa Rosa, giving a presentation on Geocaching to the Sonoma County Radio Amateurs. My hemotologist preached long and hard on the dangers of my taking any long car trips, especially if I would be the one driving. Since we had already made the arrangements for Sean's stay at Brandon's house - and I made the mistake of telling him about it - we were kind of locked into letting him have his stay. Thank God for Evelyn Cole!

So, tonight Eric and I ordered Chinese take-out and watched a CSI-athon ("CSI:" reruns on Spike, followed by new episodes of "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: NY"). We made the mistake of ordering the same amount of food that we would have if the kids had been home. I made the mistake of perpetually listening for my boys' regular noises. "Mommy hearing" isn't a myth or exaggeration... it is a known fact that every woman who gives birth develops a significant increase in her ability to hear her child sneaking spoonfuls of sugar from two rooms away, and can tell when one of her kids is pulling off far too many sheets of toilet paper than necessary.

All of this has made me realize how truly small the amount of time is each day that we spend with our kids. Really. No, think about it:

When our babies are born they are practically still attached to us - nursing, being changed, burped, nursing, sleeping in our arms. Over the progressing years we don't allow them to stray far because danger is lurking around every kitchen sink and heater grate and we always have at least one eye trained on their every move. They become more independant, not needing to be under our watchful gaze all waking hours, and that is when we begin to realize that we need to wean ourselves from them just as they do from us.

By the time they start school they are only truly in our presence for a few hours a day - awake, anyway. My two are in grade school, and leave in the morning without much help from me. They come home in the mid-afternoon, ready to do homework and chores, then run out and play with their friends. Before I know it, dinner is over, they are putting their clothes out for the next school day and it is bedtime. From three p.m. until eight p.m., time RACES past me in a blur, and the next thing I know I am doing the late-night Mommy Hearing tune-up while listening to them settle into their pillows.

When they are home I can't hug them enough. It shocks me. This love is so deep that I want to crush them into my chest, inhale the scent of their hair, relish the feel of their small bodies in mommy hugs, only to have them push away and make that "Geez, Mom!"-sound that means I've embarrassed them.

But tonight they aren't here. Matt is eighty miles away and Sean is only across the street, but they aren't HERE, where I can peek in and listen to them sleep. My pain is horrible. I feel like the large carnivore mothers who frantically search for their baby even though it has only wandered down the path a few feet further than they. I think the term I've heard for a frantic mother bear is "bawling". Yeah, that fits.

Tonight I am child-less. Instead of relaxing it is stressful. For me. Eric is sleeping like a lump. Since Matt was born I began using the phrase, "Time Flies When Your Having Kids". Never has it been more appropriate than tonight.

Good Night, my babies. I love you, wherever you are.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Mr. McGrew?

Hey, if you know me, you know I'm a Geocaching whore. Well, a Geocaching First Finder Whore, anyway. There IS a difference, as "Duck" of the Geocaching team of Duck-n-Deedy tells me. Since he's publicly admitted that he's one (a GFFW), then I guess I can come out from behind the LED headlight and admit that I am one, too.

So, you'd be surprised to find us (me, Eric and the kids) going on long day trips into the unknown to find old in our area and cleaning them off of our "to do" list, right? Yeah, I thought so, too, but we're doing it.

We spent one afternoon two weeks ago heading up Little Jones creek, where we found three caches, culminating at a cache at the GORGEOUS Sanger Lake. This lake is on a mountain top, almost literally. The views from all around are spectacular.


This is a photo taken from the "Rock, Rock, 'Til You Drop" cache. What a view!

The boys had a great time, and for late August the weather wasn't too hot at the higher elevations. At one point we were up on the plus side of 4,000 feet.

After making this trip, we decided to do a cache that we'd been promising ourselves to do for a long time: Mr. McGrew, along the McGrew Trail in Southern Oregon. Prior to the Bisquit Fire, the only way to access this cache was with a hardcore, dedicated rockcrawling 4x4. During the fire, dozers were brought in to level the road so that fire fighting equipment could get there and to dig fire breaks. This made the trip accessible for less than hardcore vehicles. We learned this when others who had normal, daily-driver 4x4's were finding the cache. If they could do it, we could!

Of course, that was when we owned the '00 Ford SuperCab 4x4 pickup. Now we own a '03 Ford Expedition. Two Wheel Drive. First time I've owned a non-4x4 since I traded my '73 VW Super Beetle for a brand new 1980 Toyota 4x4 pickup. BUT... I figured that with the total years of four-wheeling that Eric and I have between the two of us, we'd be able to make it... NO PROBLEM, right? Not only that, but using our MapSend Topographical software, we could map out the most logical route for the family "tank".

It worked! It took a long time, and the scenery was both spectacular and humbling. This is one of the most gorgeous areas on the face of the planet. The trees are huge, impressive and abundant. The trail took us to places we didn't think we'd ever see without the aid of a helicopter.

This is an image of the summit at Mr. McGrew. You can see some of the burnt trees, and beyond those the mountains surrounding us.

It was humbling to see the damage, even two years later, of the Bisquit Fire. Along the route there we saw evidence of equipment that had knocked over burnt trees to help build the fire breaks, dug ditches, and have since been back to build berms in the roads and do maintenance to prevent erosion. The berms made the road like riding a little kiddie roller coaster. At the top, one can see the devastation for miles.

Nature has interesting ways of putting us tiny humans back on our rung of importance along the Ladder of All Things.

My best-friend Dave was told about our desire to do this, and he and his son Travis and a few other assorted friends decided to make the trip from the opposite end of the trail - the one that the dozers never made it to. We sat at the summit for about 90 minutes waiting for them to crawl over the VW-sized rocks and through the dried creek beds along the true 4x4 trail. Dave came in his '01 Ford F250 4x4, complete with his pop-up cabover camper. His son Travis came in his beater Toyota 4x4 p/u.

They had a much tougher time of it, but they followed us out the way we came in. What a day! Oh, and we found the cache!

Friday, August 20, 2004

Dren Happens...

I've been watching a lot of Farscape. I love that series. It took awhile for it to grow on me, but having always loved Muppets, it was a pre-ordained love. I find it amusing that they have different words for "familiar" swear words. Isn't it true that one usually learns the swear words first in any new language? Ha! I won't print a compendium of them here, but I'm sure one exists somewhere. Suffice it to say, "dren" has an obvious meaning. "Frell" or "frull" seems to be a combination of "hell" and my favorite "f" word. I suppose that it doesn't matter what language one cusses in... they are still cussing, right? I'll never give up my evil, base language capabilities.

Well, all of this maundering about "dren" is due to my starting to bleed again. All of the stress of the past weeks has evidently made my platelet levels plummet. The nose bleeds are easy to keep control of: a little ice pack on the back of the neck and never moving without a partial roll of toilet paper in my hands seems to work. It is the female bleeding that really has me peeved. Four days? Yeah, that would be inconvenient but do-able. Even five days I could live with, but twelve!?! Frull that! I can't leave the house! I haven't been able to get out of bed for nearly a week without wrapping myself in maxi-pads. My wonderful Doctor Grossman has made me an appointment with a local OB/GYN. We'll see how that works and if he wants to pull the plug on my plumbing.