Thursday, November 29, 2012

How much is too much?

  Every year I swear I am going to cut way back on gifts and instead focus on building memories and character. Every year I end up thinking I am not providing the "magical" Christmas experience that is expected by our society. Why do I do this? Every year I disappoint myself. My kids? They don't seem to care about the gifts really. Once they open them, it's game over.

  This year is going to be different. I booked us on the Polar Express train on the night before Christmas Eve. It is a real train that looks just like the train in the Polar Express movie. All the kids wear pajamas and watch the movie on the ride. The train travels out into the country about 40 minutes during which they serve hot cocoa and cookies and perform the song and dance for it. Then you reach a magical North Pole that is all lit up and get to meet Santa. He will have a special gift for my kids. Then we travel back to the station watching the second half of the movie. The best part? Kaytee and Ashley will be with us and I got all 5 kids matching holiday pajamas to wear. We are all so excited for this!!

  We have gingerbread houses to build and decorate. Giant gingerbread men I will bake and we can decorate and eat. We will be adopting a needy family and shopping together for them. Plus for the very first time we went to a tree farm and cut our own live tree. (Levi cut it down!)

  I am going to decorate much less, only put up the truly special decorations. Nothing outside this year. Frankly, with school and work plus being a Mom and wife, something has to give. The outside decorations are for others to see. We live on a cul-de-sac with no traffic. No one sees our decorations except us, and then only as we drive up to the house.

  My most memorable Christmas memories are of me, my mother, my Aunt Judy and my Grandmother coming together for a day of cookie baking. We each had baked some cookies to share and brought lots of dough. All day we laughed and baked and hugged and shared. Those are my best memories of the holidays. That is what I want to create for my children. Even now when I think about it I get teary eyed. I live so far away, my grandmother has passed, and the tradition is gone. But I have my memories!

To Memories!!!! A lifetime of hugs and smiles.....

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


  There have been two very disturbing events in our neighborhood in the past few days. We live in a suburb of Houston in a subdivision of large lots (2-10 acres) with several lakes, a golf course and horse trails. The houses are big and the neighbors friendly. It's the quintessential Texas neighborhood.
  We have a lot of deer that live in our subdivision and everyone feeds them. They are practically tame and this time of year they are fat and happy. There are some huge bucks that are absolutely gorgeous animals. Huge antlers (horns? racks??) that spread out like giant trophies. Which brings me to disturbing event #1. Saturday night about 10:30 pm, the sound of rapid gunshots rang out by our next door neighbors house. It sounded like automatic pistol fire. A quick 8-10 shots. Then quickly several more volleys of 8-10 shots. Then silence.
  The next day our neighbor went out to get their newspaper and found blood splattered across her driveway. She followed the trail and it led up the street and into our yard. I went out to help her but we lost the trail in the grass. The blood drops were fairly large and close together, meaning something was losing a lot of blood. We didn't find a blood pool or a body, animal or human. We can only assume someone was trying to kill a deer and either it ran far enough away and died in the woods or they took it. This absolutely infuriates me! It also scares the living daylights out of me. Where did all those bullets go? What would have happened if they went through my front windows into my sleeping sons' bedrooms? What if they had hit the horses? I am so angry and yet there is nothing the police can do except do more patrolling in the neighborhood.
  The 2nd disturbing event happened Monday night. I was coming home late from work, it was dark, and the  that goes in front of our neighborhood is unlit, 5 lanes wide and 55 mph. Just as I was turning into the entrance a large truck pulled out. He didn't see the small car on my left and pulled directly in front of her. I watched in horror as they smashed together, ripping the back tire off the truck and spinning both vehicles all the way around. The small car had awesome airbags all the way around or it would have probably been a fatal wreck. The driver was injured but okay. She was covered in radiator fluid and we had to wedge her out  from behind the wheel because it had been shoved backwards. (Yes we moved her, since gas was also leaking out all over and the risk of fire/explosion was great) The pickup was full of teenagers who were shook up but not hurt (Thank God!) They had all been wearing their seatbelts. It reminded me of the night of Kaytee's wreck when she was 14. The sirens, the lights, the emergency workers. It still gets to me when I think about how close we came to losing her that night. I went on home, hugged my husband and poured a glass of wine.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In the weeds

  You know how it feels, to be ahead of the game, to know that you have worked hard to be all caught up and are then able to savor a little free time? Yeah, that's where I thought I was. Then the Reality Fairy smacked me hard upside the head.

Graduate School: Three separate assignments this week. Two papers and a discussion post. And not fluff papers either. Papers involving advances in preclinical studies, compare and contrast different research areas of the NIH and how the Common Fund initiative is changing clinical research. I also have assignments next week. No holiday from school.

Work: I worked more hours this week than last. Long, hard days filled with very complex patients. I seem to have ended up with all the really challenging patients lately. Brain injured patients fill my Tuesdays and Thursdays. I love the challenge but am worn out by the end of the day. I also have to cover for more senior therapists this week, which means I will not have a day off until Thursday.

Kids: Levi spiked a fever Wednesday evening and has been battling it for four days. Tests for the Flu and Strep were negative, but the doctor said it is a flu-like virus. Just one that they can't treat. Nice. When the fever meds wear off he spikes up to 103F. His eyes are all swollen and he looks like he lost a prize fight. His fever is lower today, running about 100F but enough that he can't go to school again tomorrow. They have to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school. This morning Ahren told me his throat hurts and he had a headache. No fever (yet) so we will see.

Thanksgiving: There is a bird that weighs more than half as much as Seth thawing in my refrigerator (it was free), I bought frozen rolls, frozen pies and canned cranberry relish. Something had to give. Quality from-scratch foods lost out. I doubt my kids will even notice.

I spent Friday tearing the house apart preparing for company. I need to get a bedroom and bathroom cleaned for guests. I had a mountain of laundry and had a mountain of bedding and towels still in the laundry room. I worked yesterday until 2pm and when I got home I discovered that our social worker was at our house making a surprise visit. There were cleaning supplies all over the counters, breakfast dishes still on the table, brooms, mops, swiffers and assorted cleaning tools leaning against the back door, and piles of clean laundry folded but not put away. Ahren and Seth had been to a birthday party and all they had eaten for lunch was cake and ice cream. And someone had been collecting rocks and they were on my kitchen counter. Surprise! Just shoot me now!!!!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


  I have been absent for so long, and only minimally here before that. I lost the urge to blog and I just didn't know why. It came to me recently....everything is good. Not just good but great. I have always used this blog as my outlet, my mental health caretaker, my way to seek out advice and help from others.

So now, this is going to be a pretty boring, plain old family blog. Pics of dirty kids, complaints about the amount of laundry that is piled up in my house, and the occasional rant about the car rider lane at school.

And so, here is where we are all right now:

  Kaytee is a junior at Texas A&M, majoring in psych and on the Dean's List. She is also working 20 hours a week. She voted for the first time in this election (they cheered for her and gave her a sucker LOL!) She is a ball of nerves most days, just like her Mama. We live on stress.

  Ashley is a senior in high school. She goes to a special school in Dallas that is for students wanting to go i not medicine. She has already earned her CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and is working on her EMT and Pharmacy Technician certificates. She is the first person in the school's history to be able to earn all three before graduation. She will graduate with just over one semesters worth of college credits.

  Levi is still a straight A, GT (Gifted and Talented) student but he is also becoming a total social butterfly. I swear I am his social secretary. It is not unusual for me to be handling three play date requests for him each weekend. He has a wicked sense of humor and impeccable timing. (He is so much like his Dad that is is scary!)

  Seth is a different child than the one we brought home almost three years ago. He is calm, happy, funny, bright and charming. He almost never gets in trouble, especially at school. Something clicked inside him in the past 8 months and it is a miracle. He is now securely attached, understands when I tease him, loves us with abandon and feels totally safe. I was not sure we would ever reach this point and I am not sure how we got here, but I thank the Lord every day for this miracle child. Oh, and he is growing like a weed! He is in size 7 pants now and just a hair shorter than Ahren. He has gone from a 2T to a 7 in less than 3 years. It must be all the bacon. LOL!

  Ahren is holding his own. He has gained some balance and core strength from therapeutic horse back riding. His fine motor skills are still poor but he tries hard. For the first time ever we went to a bowling party and he made it through an entire game! He has always quit and given his turns to someone else before. He is the happiest kid and very bright. He and Seth are both ahead of the expected math and reading levels in school. Only his handwriting scores below level and that is to be expected.

  Chris, my amazing spousal unit is happy, healthy and just as sweet as ever. He is a super trooper when it comes to helping around the house. Whenever needed, he cooks, he cleans, he does laundry and he cares for the boys. He helps with homework and stands guard over shower time. (God Bless him for that!) He makes me laugh and he loves me even when I am cranky and unloveable. He is either insane or the best hubby ever. Ladies, all of you who passed him by, you lose!

  Me? I am fat and happy. The fatness is a total pitfall of being happy. Oh well, I guess I can deal with it.... Besides working nearly full time, raising all these kids, taking care of the house and hubby, I am also in graduate school. Yep, insane, that is me. I am getting a graduate degree in Clinical Research Administration. I am loving school. I feel challenged and energetic and refreshed mentally. Oh, and I managed to get my certification as a Vision Therapist last month. Nine long papers including re-writes, a written test and oral interview after three years of experience. I passed!!!!! What does that mean? I get a title, a raise and new business cards! And a huge sense of satisfaction. I did it!!!!!!

  Life is great here. A bit chaotic, full of laughter and pranks, not a quiet moment until the dead of night,  and just about the best thing I could have ever hoped for.