Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Cure for Anxiety

Do not watch Oprah on days when she features MRSA.......a deadly bacteria that grows rapidly in your body and kills you within days. It kills over 19,000 people a year. It's a form of strep and it's rampant in sports gyms, hospitals, bathrooms........spread from person to person.

19,000 a year?

And we're worried about Swine Flu? That's only a flu bug? And victims are still in the low 100's?

This is the stuff anxiety is born from.......and so I thought I would tell you about my journey on the Anxiety Road, 1986 through 1994.

I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks after my first baby until well after my 3rd child. I finally got a handle on it in my mid 30's but not without a lot of prayer, a change in some habits and a small dose of antidepressants from a very wise female doctor who completely understood. My anxiety was always directly tied to my cycle but it didn't happen every month and I certainly had "triggers."

My triggers were watching shows that featured rare illnesses.......I would immediately take on the symptoms and wonder who the hell was going to finish raising my children. The thought of Chuck dressing them would send me into a complete panic attack.

Okay...I'm teasing a little here.......but NOT much. Hi, my name is Mizjuney and I'm a Type A Control Freak.

The thing about anxiety is you aren't aware that you aren't really breathing right. Then your hands become numb and tingly.....and if you are me, you are sure you are having the first signs of MS. And before long, you have yourself in a wheel chair begging Chuck to divorce you and get remarried to someone healthy. I know... a little crazy but honest. It's so real when it's happening......then a few days would go by, Aunt Mary (code for you know what) would come to visit and I would be fine. For awhile.

I worried so much about dying or my kids dying that I did not really enjoy my life or their life, for that matter. I could rarely take them to a park, without a video playing in my head of them falling and their head cracking open. I was a little bit like Kate Gosslyn.......if you ask my kids....exactly like her. Really? I was a controlling, germ freak bia? For the record, I was not a germ-freak.....but I did want everything in its place or I could not sit down and relax. And I would hurry through all happy moments so those things could get back in their place.

Both of my daughters have their own anxieties.....and I beg them to keep up with their cycles and at least let that be a guide of sorts as to when they may be worse. But you also have to figure out your triggers and remove them if you can.

For me, it was watching the news, reading the news, watching medical shows. I just could not hear the stuff like a normal person could. Interestingly enough, my favorite show at the time was Trauma in the E.R......I was so addicted to watching those car wreck victims being brought in to the E.R.....had to give it up. Gave up newspapers and Oprah. That was the early 90's when Oprah always had the saddest shows on. Way before she got into feeding her spirit with happy shows.
I also read a book called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. This is a book of chapters.....each chapter about a different type of "worry." This was a real turning point for me. I've even bought this book for a few anxiety ridden friends in the past.

One particular chapter was about facing your fears head-on. Just go ahead and accept the worst that could happen and deal with it. For me it was dying/leaving my small children. When I really faced that head on........I knew that they would be loved and taken care of and they ultimately belonged to God. Their clothes might not match, and surely Chuck's new wife could never love them like I did, but my mother would be there to tell them how much I had loved them and my sister, Catha, would see to it that they were smothered in gifts on their birthdays. Okay....I started calming down some.

When I faced the fear of something happening to my children, I realized that I had to start enjoying them. In the moment. In the 24 hour period. Because, if the worst happened.....if something did happen to them..........I would have never forgiven myself for not enjoying them. I was spending more time preparing for something awful to happen than I was living with them. I am not suggesting for one second that I would handle this worst thing actually happening well but I was spending ALOT of my time thinking about it. So unhealthy. And not near enough laughter. I'm all about laughter now.

Believe it or not, I actually started enjoying doing the dishes......because if you stay in that moment at the sink, it's not so bad. There is a Buddhist saying that goes something like,

Washing dishes, while washing dishes.
Change this to work for whatever....Doing car duty, while doing car duty.

I work with some young teachers now that are also moms of young kids. I see the anxiety creeping up in them. I see their sleep-deprived, teary eyed moments when they are feeling so overwhelmed, so tired, just trying to get through the day, the week, to get to the weekend for that longed for nap. We read blogs (I got them hooked....ha!) and there are some sad, sad stories out there. We are praying for very ill babies that we don't even know! I have told them they need to stop reading them everyday. I've been there. It's addicting but before you know it........it will send you into a deep anxiety ridden depression.
Recipe for anxiety/depression: Take one ovulating, sleep-deprived, control freak mom of children under 5, then have them watch, read or tell them every horrible thing that could possibly happen to them or their child. Repeat this several times until they start to worry and take on all the symptoms. When their hands are numb, they are almost done. Continue to stress them out until they are in full blown anxiety and depression.

I am going to end this post with a visual........from the book that I highly recommend to anyone suffering from anxiety...

Each day is a 24 hour period and you know we are told to stay in this day. This has helped me to accomplish that.
You are in a space between 2 brick walls. One wall is midnight from the day before. The other brick wall is the midnight at the end of this day. You are in this space. Stay in this space. You cannot go back over last night's wall..........and you can not get over this midnight's wall.

Stay in this day.

And remember, this is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it.

And never underestimate the power of prayer and an antidepressant. I've been there.

And never one to let go........one more thing from the book that stays with me that I want to share. There is a chapter about thanks and appreciation. While that was not an obvious problem for me, the chapter certainly spoke to me and stayed with me. And I even had to use that tool last week when I was feeling just a little under appreciated.

The gist of the chapter is about doing for others and not being thanked. Feeling under appreciated. Whoa. You mean like changing diapers and fixing bottles and doing laundry and cleaning up 5 people's worth of stuff on an hourly basis? While either not getting paid or getting paid very little? And then you turn around and the mess is back, the diaper is dirty and it's time for another bottle?

Dale Carnegie drives his point home like this; Do things because you want to. Because another cannot do it for himself. But never do it for a "thank you."

Jesus did what he did out of love and never turned around and waited for a "thank you." (Dale's words.)

Takes doing the laundry to a whole 'nother level.......wouldn't you say?

Let me go do some laundry for Chuck. For him.

This post has been brought to you by me for you and your mental health. No thanks needed.

Did you know about this?

Well, I didn't know about this until last week. I usually put Chick-fil-A's coleslaw on my sandwich. But last week, a very good friend of mine told me about this.

Her: Taste this.

Me: What is it?

Her: Chick-fil-A sauce.

Me: What's it called?

Her: Chick-fil-A sauce.

Me: I know, but what's it called?

Her: Chick-fil-A sauce.

This friend could have messed with me for hours....she's funny like that....but I finally got it. It's a Chick-fil-A sauce CALLED Chick-fil-A sauce. It's Honey Mustard married to a smoky BBQ flavor.......quite possibly the best sauce I've ever had on a sandwich. If you know it's loaded with calories, do not tell me.

Try it next time you go there, if you haven't already. I may be the last person on Earth to not know about it. But if there are any other slackers out there, I'm trying to help you out here.

On another note, I put a counter on my blog. Chuck really misses a counter on here. He frequently ask me if I am ever going to put another one on here....after the old one went away.
I suspect he only visits this blog to check for a counter. I could start it at any number, so I picked 3000. Why? Because I have 3 kids? Because I have 3 dogs? Because I feed 3 cats? Because I was the 3rd child? No.......because I know Chuck has hit this site at least 3000 times since the old blog counter went away.

What number would you have used?

Still raining.....

.....but not pouring. The waters are receding.

Still looking at blogs.

My mom called. Chuck filed her taxes for her using Turbo Tax. She owed the government a little bit of money....a 3 digit number ending in an odd number. She said she got a refund yesterday. For one dollar. $1.00. Really? We are guessing Turbo Tax rounds up or down in the opposite way of the US government. I am trying not to think about how many people it took for that $1.00 check to get generated, typed, stuffed, and mailed, flown across the country and pushed across moving belts, sorted, and delivered.

My No Complaining may have to start tomorrow.

Sent Will out to get Chick-fil-A for us....with instructions to turn around if he saw high water. His new car is very tall. And it was Chick-fil-A. Apparently, that is a life or death situation for me and Will.

When he came in he said, "Mama, I just did the most embarrassing thing."

He said he was talking on his cell phone, so when he pulled up to the window to pay, the lady at the window/cashier reached her hand out to him (to take his payment....) but he was not paying total attention so he just took her hand in his. For a few seconds, he was holding her hand! Love it.

Then he came to and realized what he had done. Handed her his debit card and got out of there as fast as he could.

And just in case you haven't smiled today, Jordan sent these photos to me, sent to her by a friend and I must share. I cannot help but smile when I look at these. Click on them to enlarge. You must.

Perhaps they're in Music Class playing a game.

The goat is on the cow, the goat is on the cow.....

hi ho the dairy oh, the goat is on the cow.

The cow does not mind, the cow does not mind...

hi ho the dairy oh, the cow does not mind.

I suspect the game's over when it's the cows' turn to get on the goat.
It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.


Well, if you don't live in the Houston area, you may not be aware that we have been pummeled by thunderstorms for the last 18 hours. Especially the northwest area that I live and work in. Because Houston and the surrounding areas tend to flood if someone has a good cry, it was determined by many important people in the wee hours of the morning that my school district would be closed today. I got an automated phone call at 6 am that schools were closed.

Ahhhh, I could roll over and go back to sleep.

Except....that dang adrenaline that was sent into my body with the 6 am phone call made me jump in the air and there was no way I could fall back asleep. So I got up and watched all the weathermen telling us how dangerous it was out there. (They live for these days....24 hour reporting about the same thing.)It really is bad out there..lots of flooding and silly drivers going to work driving into water and stalling. Duh.

Two observations I want to make:

1) We were under a Tornado Warning yesterday evening around 5 pm........and the weather outside was far worse than anything I saw during Hurricane Ike. Scary, dark. Sheets of sideways rain.......not near as soothing as the little vertical drops. Trees bending is always a little freaky to me. Wind you can't see, but bending trees?

Must be some mighty wind.

My street and back porch flooded.

Trash cans floating down the river yesterday afternoon on my street.

I signed up with our local Channel 11 KHOU awhile back and I get automated phone calls from them when my address is in a Tornado Warning. Somehow that's very reassuring. But then I don't really know what to do with the information....do I clean out the center hall closet? Prepare to hunker down. Or do I go back and forth and stare out of the windows looking for the funnel? Or eat? Because maybe I won't be able to eat for awhile. Which is a better use of my time?

2) Chuck went to work this morning even though every news station was screaming


Well, I guess now we know. For Chuck, his work is a life and death situation.

3) I've spent the last couple of hours reading blogs. Blog hopping. I read a favorite, then I pick one of her favorites, then one of their favorites......until 2 hours have passed and nothing else has been done around here. But my laundry and dishes are very loyal to me.......they wait. They would never let anyone else touch them. Awwww.

And so I came across this on one of the many, many blogs I read this morning. I copied it to bring in over here and I clicked away from the site before I could note where I was.
I don't think it's illegal to not give credit,
it's probably just good blog etiquette.

Can I do this? Uh, I am sure I can. But it would mean many, many bites on my tongue and staying away from certain people. No, I can do this. Can you?

(of course, it's going to be a very quiet week.....)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Money on my ears

If you read my last post, then you know I was in a tee, tiny bit of a foul mood on Friday....
because of some unbendable, nonflexible
rules at my school....and one certain rude person enforcing that rule.
I say that in the nicest way. As I am sure, without a doubt, that this person lives to be known as the most rule following person in the world. No hurricane could make her bend. So surely a low-paying servant such as me could not get her to be flexible even in a moment of a personal crisis. She probably spends countless, sleepless nights thinking about where she will display her gold trophy for carrying out the rules to the inth degree. I could tell her where to put it.
But I'm not still angry.

I'm not still angry because the day ended well for me and especially for Will. And Friday afternoon, as I was driving back from the Medical Center, I remembered something that had happened earlier that morning in Music Class. And I laughed just thinking about it.

I had on some earrings very similar to these.......

Big as quarters, silver, round and shiny.....

The kindergarteners were sitting in a circle on the floor, along with our fabulous Music Teacher, playing a game. There is a "bear" curled up in the middle of the circle......one student is tip-toeing around the circle while we all sing. When we get to the word "cave," the walking student stops in front of a sitting student in the circle and the sitting student gets to stand up (while the other takes his place in the circle) and go tap on the bear and wake him up! Then the tapping student sits back in the circle....and we're all still singing. But the bear can't look until we stop singing and then he has to try to figure out who picked him.
Oh...such singing and suspense at the same time.
I am sitting in a chair at the circle's edge. My job is to put people in time out for telling the bear who tapped him. They say things like......"purple shirt" or the actual name of the tapper or point to the tapper or do things with their eyeballs towards the tapper......always a cheater or two in the bunch. They sit out for a turn and get to go back in the game again.
But rarely are they rehabilitated.

At a very quiet moment, when the "bear" is trying to figure out who tapped him...

E asks loudly to me from across the room: Mrs. H, why do you have money on your ears?
The game stops, they all look at me.
And our wonderful Music Teacher allows the moment to take place.
Love her. She gets 5 year olds.
Me: E, these are earrings. But they do look like coins, you're right about that.

Oh, E, you precious baby. You who have the attention span of a gnat. You made my day. I was still thinking about you on Saturday, when I put the money back on my ears. I really didn't want to leave you (and all the kids) at noon when I didn't need to leave until 2:00.
Because I love my job because of moments of sweetness and laughter with the kids.

I have not mentioned any real names here because I want to keep my little low-paying job. I just want a certain someone to............(I'm going to stop here, before I fill in the blank.).

Friday, April 24, 2009

black & white & red.....huh?

This week was brought to me courtesy of the colors black, white and red.

And the letters....G and R as in GRRRRRRRR.

If you are weak when it comes to gorey details....too bad......keep reading.......just have the trash can near. And if you don't want to hear me get all revved up about working for the state government......sit back down and hear me out....you will either empathize with me, cause you work there too.....or you will thank your lucky stars that you don't.

Let's see.....where to begin........I work in an elementary school. I love my job. Love. Passionate about those kids. Laugh every day. It's my ministry. But there are times, when my real life gets in the way. Like this week. And God forbid your life gets in the way of your job.

Will has been having nose bleeds all week. Since Monday, he has had 3 or 4 a day. He has had a couple of them at school, been woken up by one at 3:00 am on Tuesday morning, sent home from work with one on Tuesday afternnoon (donchoo be gettin yo blud on them spensive clozzzzze.), but the worst one was yesterday morning.

I am getting ready for work, when I hear this scream/cry/yell......."MMMMAAAMMMMAAAA!

I thought Will had found one of the dogs dead........but instead he ran down the stairs holding a towel to his face as blood was coming out of his nose AND EYES.

This has only happened one other time to him, but he was too little to remember. Will has always experienced nose bleeds.......but usually only 1 or 2 at the beginning of winter when we turn the heater on for the first time. One time, when he was about 5, I was pinching his nose up to stop the bleeding and the blood starting squirting out of his tear ducts. Yes, I said tear ducts.

YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN A BIGGER BUNCH OF SCREAMING IDIOTS THAN ME, CHUCK, JORDAN AND CAMERON ! We were all screaming and freaking out and yelling and gagging and I was screaming "hand me the damn phone "(cause I am one handed and attached because I am holding a towel to Will's nose) and Chuck is standing there gagging and frozen and I continue to scream until the phone is given to me and then I dial and .........blah, blah, blah....leave my number for the doctor to call me back because of course, it's after office hours. Because life only happens after office hours.

Once the doctor calls back and I start to tell him .....he interrupts "and then the blood came out of his tear ducts?" (He says this in the same voice he would say, "I'll have an ice tea." to a waitress). So his calmness, calmed me and my calmness, calmed the other idiots.....not really.......they had already left the room by now....and by the time the doctor called me back the blood had stopped squirting. Show over, everyone left the theater.

So thankfully, when Will was so upset yesterday, I remained very calm. It took 45 minutes for his nose to finally stop bleeding and I will not tell you that when he pulled the towel away, out came a clot the size of a hot dog. I'm sorry, but you have got to be here with me emotionally when I get to the black & white part. That was the red part.

During the 45 minutes we are waiting for Will's nose to stop bleeding, I am calling his school to report his tardiness, emailing my school to let them know I will be there, but not on time. I am writing a note to the attendance office.....because the phone call is not enough for them. Throwing blood soaked towels away. Washing the blood off both of my arms. Then calling Chuck to scream at him for having a real job. A real job where he can just push away from his computer and leave the building. A real job where he carries a blackberry so he is on call 24 hours.......so no problem if he has to step away for a moment.

I beg him to take over, call a doctor, get Will an appointment because this is the 12th nose bleed Will has had this week and something is wrong here. Kick in. (Really, I think I am being mean to him, but he never seems to have to witness the bodily things I have to witness AND clean up....so a little meanness is the least I can do to feel like it's equal here.)

He gets Will an appointment, takes off work (just has to walk past his admin. assistance's desk and say as he is walking past her, "I'm leaving.") comes home, gets Will to the appointment. The doctor sees an ulcer/sore/open place and a blood vessel very near the surface in his upper left nostril. It needs to be cauterized. He needs to see a specialist. That would be today at 4:00 p.m. in the Medical Center (an hour or more away). Good. That's what I wanted.

Then Chuck tells me he can't take off today because he has a meeting with the blah, blah, blah, important, blah, blah, project, blah, blah. So I email the decision makers at my work and let them know that I will be at work today, but I need to leave at 2:00 to get my son to a specialist in the Medical Center by 4:00.

I get an email back telling me I have to take a half day off because I don't have any compensation time. A half day means leave at 12:15. But I don't need to leave at 12:15. I can stay and work and do my hardest duties (lunch and bathrooming 60 to 120 five year olds). And comp time? Hello? I stay every day until 4:10 or 4:15 loading cars while others walk away at 4:00.

Guess what? No favors given for going beyond the call of duty. It's all very black & white. My hours are from 8:00 until 4:00. I get 30 minutes for lunch. I can leave 1 hour early each school year, up to 3 1/2 hours, without being counted. I can take that 1 hour up to 3 1/2 hours...but never more than 1 hour at a time....never earlier than 3:00......that's it. IT. Now you must take off a half a day. Even if you only need 2 hours. Or if you've never even taken 1 of those 3 1/2 hours. Huh?

It's the rule. Black & white. The rule. Whether it makes any sense at all.


And the thing is, I am a rule follower. But life isn't black & white.
Dear family. Please get sick on the weekends, school holidays or after 4:15 p.m.

Post Note: Just returned from the specialist....... a place on Will's septum was cauterized. Hurt like the dickens but he was very brave. He's on the mend although a little sore. After a very long scope went up his nose, they pronounced his nose as "looking good."

When I was adding to this post, I noticed that it is Post # 201....which means the post about Paul was #200.........I think that was a sign. Because awhile back, I thought to myself that I was almost at my 200th post.....somewhere in the 180's...then went about my business and forgot about it. Just now when I was updating this post, I had to go to Edit Post. That's when I saw 201 and realized Paul's was 200.

I had thought I might do a give-away on the 200th post, like alot of the blogs that I read do. But I think I got the gift.

Okay, maybe it wasn't a blatant sign, but Paul was very quiet and understated. He would send a sign like that. I'm sure of it. Or maybe I just want it very badly.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Because of him...

I've been feeling a "little blue" the last couple of days...functioning, but with a nagging in my soul, because of this.....on the cover of a rag magazine which caught my eye while in the grocery store line checking out. It looked like Paul....but it wasn't.....

It's Patrick Swayze. And although I'm very sad about Patrick Swayze, it's not because I know him, but because I know his disease. I know that disease that takes a hunk of a man in his middle years and starves him beyond recognition. The disease that takes months to diagnose and less months to kill....

Because of him....

Paul Timothy Green

My cousin Paul.

Paul and his family lived with my paternal grandmother for most of his childhood. We were only 6 months apart and inseparable whenever together. When my family went to visit my grandmother, I went to visit Paul. I made a bee-line for him as soon as we arrived and never left his side for the entire visit. Paul and I were the end of the line of the grandchildren on my father's side. There were 12 grandchildren in all spread out over about 15 years. My grandmother was most likely "over it" by the time I came along. ( I say this because I really don't remember being loved on by her but I do remember her yelling at us for running and slamming doors....not that I blame her.) But because Paul lived with her, he was her "favorite" of the younger ones.

When the visits occurred during the Christmas holidays, the air was filled with the yummy, goodness of Juicy Fruit gum.....because Paul's stocking was always full of dozens of packages of it and he was able to keep a least 3 or 4 pieces in his mouth at all times, as well as share some with all of his visiting cousins. He and I played endless hours of cops and secretaries out to arrest the criminals. Endless hours. He was better than the brother I didn't have. He was my cousin and we never fought. Never. It was a love that I can't really explain. I certainly didn't feel this love for my other cousins. Not that I didn't adore them or look up to them. But the bond wasn't there like it was with Paul.

Here we are setting up the scene for the next "action shot" where we will chase the criminals, arrest them, then go upstairs to the typewriter so I can "type" the police report as he dictates it to me. Paul impressed me with his knowledge of police terms and I impressed him with my imitation of typing fast.

Paul, Catha (my sister), Carolyn (cousin), and me.....taking a moment out of playing in our grandmother's backyard for the camera. This was actually a still shot taken from a film...the old kind on reels which has been converted to a dvd....right before this, Carolyn had pulled Paul's thumb out of his mouth. He was a thumb sucker...I was too, but by this time, I had given it up.

When I was in first grade and my family moved to the Bryan/College Station area, the visits to my grandmother became few and far between. Mostly because of distance and finances, as my father had returned to graduate school and my parents were both working hard to put food on the table. A long drive to west Texas just wasn't an option. So there were a lot of years when I didn't get to see Paul much.

When Paul was in upper elementary, he moved to Dallas with his parents. I did get to spend a week or so with him in the summer when we were in junior high. We picked up right where we left off. Although, we were very aware that "playing" was nerdy by then.......we still played. But we also hung out at a bowling alley......which was way more appropriate for our age.

The summer we were both 19, Paul and his parents took a trip to California and I was invited to come along. We went to L.A., took the Hwy. 1 up to San Francisco, then the train to Reno, Nevada. It was a great trip.....one that I probably didn't appreciate enough at the time. Most 19 year olds don't really appreciate the value of a dollar. What I remember most about this trip was that I convinced Paul....a most picky eater.....to try scrambled eggs from the buffet in one of the casinos in Reno. He tried them.......he liked them. His parents could have saved alot of money on me.......they could have just taken me and Paul to a local Denny's....for all I remember about trips.

Oh, 1977......Dorothy Hamill haircuts...on both of us, it appears.

Fast forward through our 20's and 30's........he was single and climbing the ladder of success at his job, I was single, then married, then raising kids. We probably only saw each other 4 times...mostly at funerals. Funny how people will drop what they're doing, take a few days off of work and make it to a funeral. But just can't seem to find the time for a good visit. I'm guilty, too........just saying.

The summer before 9-11.....that's how I will always remember this trip......my family and Catha's family went to Washington, D.C. and Paul met us up there. His older brother (also my cousin, but 14 years older and not close at all) lived in the D.C. area and we all met up for a day or two of touristing. It was so good to see him, but our lives were so different by then. I loved that he got to be around my kids and that they got to be around him.

Paul never married and I was up to my eyeballs in domesticity. There wasn't a lot to say, but just sitting by him still felt right. I am going out on a limb here to say that he was a soul mate of sorts. Not the kind you fall in romantic love with and become intimate with in the usual "soul mate" way. But the kind that feels like you/your inner most being has always known this person........and will always know this person. I just cannot find the words to describe this love.

Anyway, I hosted a family reunion Labor Day weekend, 2001, for my paternal side of the family. Paul was there as well as about 25 other family members. It was a great weekend.........one full of reminiscing and partying and laughing and tears. By 2001, my father and 2 of his 3 siblings had passed away. Only one aunt remains......and it was in honor of her that we hosted this gathering. Little did we know that the youngest of this line would be the next to leave us.

After that wonderful weekend, Tuesday morning changed us all. Tuesday morning, 9-11-01. I saw Paul that fall when I was in the Dallas area for Jordan's drill team competition...and he was ready to kick some a$$......some terrorists' A$$....he had been a Marine and his Marine self was in overdrive. He honestly talked about re-enlisting....and I, being the most confident chicken shit you will ever meet, just could not believe anyone would enlist or re-enlist to go to active duty. (I change the channel when those war scenes come on) So we definitely had our differences.

......That's the last time I saw him healthy.

Fast forward to September of 2003......I got a phone call from Paul's oldest brother telling me that Paul was very ill. I called Paul immediately and told him that I was there for him in any way he needed me. He was being tested for Pancreatic Cancer and he was trying to make a decision if he would go to Johns-Hopkins in the Baltimore area, where his brother lived......or M.D. Anderson. I assured him that if he came to Houston, he would stay with me and I would get him to every doctor's appointment necessary.

He did come to Houston in early October and by the beginning of November he was hospitalized until he returned to Dallas, to his apartment with hospice care, in December. His older brother was also here and took care of Paul's finances and medical decisions. I spent that Christmas and New Year's with Paul and then returned to my family at the beginning of January '04....because Paul's father, step-mother and brother were there for him....and his 1 bedroom apartment was getting smaller by the day. I went back to Dallas when I received a call from Paul's brother that hospice thought Paul wouldn't make it the next 24 hours. I left immediately........got there.......and he lived another 2 weeks. Two " horrible to watch" weeks. Two of the longest weeks in my life. Two weeks that I have spent the last 5 years trying to forget. Two weeks in which I have never felt so close to God.

I will not bore you with the details of those last 4 months or the horrible details of Paul's last 2 weeks, but I will tell you that it was an honor to be with Paul in the last 4 months of his life. I did what I could for him.......and most of the time, all I could do for him was hold his hand. Or take his laundry home and return it clean to the hospital the next day. Or crawl in the hospital bed with him and hold him (the him that was left....). Or deflect the tension between his brother and father. (Another story....one that I will never tell because I couldn't even begin to make it sound as ridiculous and dysfunctional as it really was. And if I ever told you some of the stuff that I saw his brother do, I would probably be sued by this brother for some sort of slander even though every bit of it would be true.....yep, he's an attorney.)

Chuck was supportive of my time with Paul, my mother didn't really understand it, and there were times even I felt like I should step aside. But once I was in......I was in it until the end.

Once he was back at his apartment, I cleaned for him, cooked for him, sat with him, talked to him. Told him a million times how much I loved him. And we both agreed we had never been mad at each other. Ever.

The last few days, I did things for Paul that no one should ever have to do for another person. Things that would take your dignity away. Things that I did because I loved him.........but I was secretly glad that he was too ill to know I was having to do these things. Let's just say, the circle of life isn't just a cliche......we do return to infancy........if we live long enough.

So I have been down a little........because when I saw that photo of Patrick Swayze, I saw Paul. But Paul after that wretched disease stole his muscle mass and his laughter and his sweet smile and his career and at least another good 40 years on this side of the bridge.

One day in the hospital, when Paul was very, very scared of dying.....I asked him if he would save me a place up there. And send me a sign. He asked me if I really believed that.......and of course, I said, "How could I not?" And he asked me what kind of sign.......and I said, "You pick."

I look every day for his sign. I pray: he's there, he's okay, he's out of pain, he knows how much I loved him, he's saving me a place.

Cancer........the long good-bye.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Silver Bella 2009

Registration began last night for Silver Bella 2009 here. And I didn't sign up. And I'm very restless about this decision. Very.

I really want to go again because it was such a great retreat.......full of crafting, conversation, laughter and glue guns. My kind of fun.

Last year I made friends there that I would love to see again. We've visited each other on our blogs but it's not the same as sitting at a table with them.

Last year the registration was on June 30 if I remember correctly. This year it was bumped up to April 13. I think that's part of the hesitation. I just wasn't ready to think about it.

Last year was a no-brainer because my idol Mary Engelbreit was the guest speaker. I got to be in the room with her! This year it is the editor of an arts magazine....someone I'm not familiar with.

This year my good friend has invited me to visit her in London....where her husband is working and they have a house. I know my limits. I can't do London AND Silver Bella. But why do I have to choose.......why can't I do London AND Silver Bella? Oh, yeah........money and time off work.

But I really, really want to go to Silver Bella. I'm not sure I can deal with this. What would you do?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bluebonnets and Oliver

All 3 kids are home. ALL 3 VERY LOUD KIDS. I was expecting 2 of them at home for the Easter weekend and then Jordan flew in to surprise me. It's been fun and LOUD. I know I say that every time.....but it's just that my house has gotten so quiet the last year that the increase in noise is quite noticeable. Even Will gets loud when the girls are home.

On Friday, we drove less than an hour up 290 towards Brenham and took pictures in a field of bluebonnets....the state flower of Texas. There are fields of them everywhere but we chose the one with the red barn. It just said "Texas."

We took lots of pictures of them (3 cameras worth)........

Stretched out in them......

Posed in them....

Lay in them some more....

Ran through them....

Got close to them....

But we didn't pick them. That's against the law.
An update on the cat, Oliver....the cat that Cameron found near her apartment last December and saved. The cat that we have put some money towards saving (shots, de-wormed, neutered, an absess treated and healed, food, litter box and tons of litter, etc.). The cat that is stealing our heart. Oliver is living at our house now....at least until August. Cameron hasn't paid a pet deposit to her apartments and they do "walk throughs" looking for pets. If caught, it's a steep fine plus a pet deposit. He was spending alot of time at Cameron's boyfriend's place...but now that boyfriend is not a boyfriend anymore. So somehow we got talked into keeping him for awhile.

He's inside.

He's outside.

He's inside again.

Oliver figured out the doggy door. I think he may be part dog. He comes to us when we call him. He lets us pick him up. He lets us lay him in our arms like a baby. I have said this before.......I do not like cats. But I may be changing my mind.

Five minutes of some quiet in a field of bluebonnets.

Latest book pick....

The Book Club picked The Reader for our next month's read. The novel has gotten very good reviews and now it is a movie. So if we run out of time to read it, maybe we can fast forward through the flick.
One of the books I had picked up as a choice was The Commoner.....historical fiction based on the Imperial family of Japan. The main character is a Princess Diana type....a commoner married into the royals. She is not treated well and the story follows the family through several decades. It also got great reviews....but I'm starting to think that has nothing to do with whether I will like the book. One of my favorite blogs is Mama's Losing It. She had to put this book down as she could just not finish it. That bad. However, I realize others probably enjoyed it. Sometimes I'm just not in the right mood for pages loaded with heavy 3 and 4 syllable words. And I suspect that this is one of those.
Hopefully The Reader will be a good one. Have any of you read it?

Friday, April 10, 2009

uh......what the HE**?

I went to bed last night.....exhausted........from staying up late the night before, preparing the appetizers and dessert for my Book Club gathering....then having great conversation and a couple of glasses of wine, appetizers and dessert at the gathering. I was in a very deep sleep when I heard Cameron come in sometime around 1 a.m. and say, "Hi.....I'm home." (She was supposed to be driving in today from A&M, not last night)

I said....."ughhh.......hey....what are you doing here...snore.......see you in the morning." Then rolled over and went back into the deepest sleep. (yum.)

So I woke up this morning and felt a little guilty for not getting up and hugging on Cameron last night in the middle of that deep sleep. I went upstairs to give her a big hug. I did. I hugged her.

And smelled her.......oh, I love to smell my children. Especially their hair. Where was I? Oh, then I decided to head downstairs to get the coffee going and let Cameron go back to sleep.

As I was walking past Jordan's room (my craft room), I saw that the door was cracked open. I instantly got a little mad....because the 4 legged family members always find a way in there to Pee. I almost went into nag mode.......nag, who left the door open, nag? But I saw that something was in the bed........I thought Will? Why is Will in that bed?

I go in and .........

Me: "WHAT THE HELL?" (uh, huh......that's what I said.)

Look what the Easter Bunny brought early..........


I didn't see that coming! Apparently the whole family knew (except Will) and kept it a secret from me. She flew in last night and leaves Monday evening. It's going to be a great Easter weekend. Thank you Easter Bunny.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

...nothin' to say.....

She said: Why haven't you updated your blog?

I said: I ain't got nothin' to say.

Well, the reality is, I don't have any pictures. Admit it. We all read People for the pictures and we want pictures on our blogs. Things are always going on around here but I don't have anything to show.

Will got a new car on Saturday. A new pre-owned (who came up with that term? It's the new way to say USED.) Nissan Exterra. We said goodbye to the Mazda that all the kids drove. It was 9 years old and had more miles than we ever thought could be put on a car. So we paid off Cameron's car and replaced it with a car payment for Will.

While Chuck and Will were out car shopping, I went to Roundtop...by myself after Cameron backed out on me. But that was perfectly okay. She deserved to sleep late and I love shopping Roundtop by myself. It sounds so selfish but there are miles and miles of tents and I don't like keeping up with someone or someone trying to keep up with me. (Like Chuck....who would ask...."what are you looking for?") I am in such a zone when I'm there......somewhere between euphoria and panic. I have to drive away at dusk knowing that there was a bajillion things I didn't get to see. But oh, so content.

I went to Barnes & Noble to pick out my Book Club selections on Sunday afternoon. The hostess (me this time) chooses about 3 books that the group then votes on one to read. The unchosen books go on a "summer read" list. I'll let you know after Thursday what book we chose. In the past, I have usually picked books that I have read so that I know they are a good read. But this time, I just picked some random ones. A little scary. I know as I'm reading the next month's selection, I will be wondering if everyone likes it. And if not, I will be feeling some guilt. What the heck is that about?

The kids are wired up in kindergarten. Post-Spring Break, pre-Easter weekend....just imagine. Remember how fun Easter was when you were a kid? Fun. I pass through classrooms all day and it never fails that one of the kids will catch my eye and tell me something. Something very important. Like.......Mrs. Hackney, Did you know it's almost Easter? And the grin on their face is ear to ear. Coming out of their seat grinning.

Today, I was reading with a group of 3 boys.......

Me: (after one of them read a sentence....a very simple, simple sentence) Oh, my......you are getting so good at reading!

Him: (grinning) I know....it's like you're teaching us!

uh, hello?

And from a little girl the other day......as I passed her while she was waiting in line to go to lunch...

Me: Wow, you're getting so tall!

Her: I know....and I've got hand gel! (as she pointed to the small bottle of Purell hanging from her lunch box.)

uh, okay?

That's all I got. I'm going to take some pictures........

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I'm pregnant!

April Fools

When the kids were young, I would always call Chuck on April 1 and tell him I thought I might be pregnant. I could never come up with anything more original. He may have fell for it the first time....but 3 or 4 years in a row, he caught on.

One of the teachers told me that
one of her boy students came up to her today
and said, "Ms. P, April Fools! You have a hole in your pants!"

He has the concept down, just needs to work on his delivery.

Things I love about April:

1. Things are blooming and turning green....
gone are the depressing brown landscapes.

2. Easter that reminds us of the promise of everlasting life.

3. Chocolate bunnies.

4. My sister and nephew,
brother-in-law and father-in-law
all celebrate birthdays this month.

5. It's my turn to host Book Club....so I get to go out and look for some interesting books.

7. Less than 45 days left in the schoolyear.

Happy April ....fools.