Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Warning for Travelers

So here's one that all you heavy travelers of the air probably already know. But I didn't. And it was a very expensive lesson. Which is why I'm passing it along to the handful of you that visit me regularly.

When you book a round trip ticket, if you don't show up for the first leg of your trip, the entire "itinerary" is cancelled. In other words, they cancel the whole round trip ticket. BUT - mind you - you are STILL charged for the whole thing. If you don't show up for the return leg of your trip, they don't care.

I've been told this all plays into the stepped up security measures blah blah blah. Which is fine. It should just be publicized more. In all honesty, who reads all the fine print? I used to. Sometimes I still do when I'm signing up for something I've never done before. But plane travel, I skim the huge thing you're supposed to read and say you agree to. I look for headings that I've never seen before. But if you sit there reading the whole thing, you will be there for about 2 hours. And in that time, you will have timed out and lost the flight you wanted in the first place. So I guarantee you, only a handful of people read that stuff. Or we all read it once - a million years ago. And it obviously changes.

Whatever. It's in the fine print of the major airlines, the bulk suppliers like Expedia, my work's travel website. It's there. I checked.

So my latest work trip to Hartford was booked way before Grandpa Larry died. When he died, I quickly booked a trip up to New England. I figured I'd rent a car to drive from NH down to CT. No biggy. The last time I called an airline to tell them I wouldn't be on a flight I had already paid for, they told me I didn't have to call. It's just a no show and someone can go stand-by in my seat. That was probably back in 2005 or 2006. So the rules have changed. Bummer.

Anyway, I finished my classes in Hartford and got to the airport early (thankfully!). The computer check in couldn't find my itinerary. The lady at the counter couldn't either.
Lady: Oh it is! But it's been cancelled.
Me: Cancelled? That's silly.
Lady: Well, you didn't fly on the first leg of the trip so they cancelled your entire itinerary.
Me: Oh. Ok. Well, can you reinstate it? I mean, obviously I'm here.
Lady: Oh no. We can't do that.
Me: ...

Long story not so short: she gave me the 800 number to the airline. Do you know how fun voice automation is over a cell phone in a noisy airport? Yah. I had to state my last name (I have two). So I picked one and stated it. The AVR system said, "I think you said 'Monkey'. Is that right?" *sigh* So after a few prayers to keep me calm and a million minutes later, I got a human. Who very kindly listened to my story about my original trip and the funeral and now I'm here and need to get out of here before the snow storm from hell arrives the next day. Nothing she can do. But maybe I can try my work's travel agency. Right. Because if the AIRLINE issuing the ticket says no, I'm SURE some corporate travel agency can make them change their mind. But I call them anyway. And I was right. Nothing they can do.

SO...I go back to the nice lady at the counter. And I'm trying hard not to cry. I ask her to book me on that same flight. You know, the one I already paid for? Yah, that one. So she sucks air through her clenched teeth and goes, "'s going to be about $950. Is that ok?" Not particularly. I'd really prefer you just give me my original ticket. So I tell her try a round trip. She goes, "And when will you be returning?" Here's me giving her a blank stare. "Any day. It doesn't matter. I'm not coming back." "Oh...right..." tappity tappity tippity tap. "Oh...look at that! It's only $630! I didn't know you could do that. That's really cool." Yes. It's so cool to only pay $630 that I don't have as opposed to $950 that I don't have. Very cool.

I won't even bother going into how I handed her my one credit card and it was declined. Oh yah, I had put the emergency trip to NH on that. And the rental car. And any food I had bought while there. And a few other sundries. And it was pretty topped off to start with. Dang. So on my American Express it went. Which I have to pay at next billing. Yah. Good times.

I was so stressed on the plane. I wanted to just panic and cry. How will I pay for the lawyer who wants another retainer? How will I pay for Lil' Bro's preschool? How will I blah blah blah blah? I've prided myself on doing this single mom thing SO WELL. I was paying for everything - covering everything alone. And now I had gone and stepped right in a big ol' pile of it. I think my pride was hurt more than anything.

Then I thought, this is exactly what I'm supposed to turn over to God. What am I doing freaking out and wanting to puke? So almost the whole flight to Dallas I prayed. Ok God, I've gone and done it here. You've always said to bring these things to you. And I trust that you'll work it out. You always have. I don't know why I'm panicking now. But please help me to recover from this. Please give me wisdom so I spend wisely and make it through the next few paychecks. Please help me find hidden money somewhere to get my bills all paid.

I made it home very late. I was stressed but I don't think it was over the money. I think it was over the whole funeral/traveling/training classes thing. I was tired.

Well, I ended up putting off my bill paying for a few days. I didn't want to face the reality. But finally, last Saturday, I had to buy groceries. I had to see just how much I'd be buying. I sat down with my checkbook and my bills and said, "Ok God. Let's see where we are."

I paid every single bill. Granted, I pulled padding from my savings account. I squeaked by on minimums on most - I hate doing that. But I paid them all. On time. I haven't gotten the American Express one yet. That one will hurt. And I'm paying Lil' Bro's preschool tuition later than I normally would (with the next paycheck). On Friday, I get paid again. So God and I will sit down again and do my bills for that half of the month. And I'm thinking he'll squeak me by again. I'll send the lawyer a small amount with every paycheck and that should work.

My goal is to not borrow anything from my mom & dad or my sister (she already offered). Part of this is my own stupidity for spending a bit too freely with the last paycheck. I should know to keep my savings padded more. But at least it was padded this time. And that's what the padding is for. Now I have to squeak through the next few paychecks and slowly build up that padding again.

God so totally rocks. Airlines?....not so much.

Monday, February 25, 2008

My Last Conversation With Grandpa Larry

I kept meaning to post about this. Here's a huge testimony to God's amazing orchestration skills. Well, to me it's huge. Take it how you will.

So back in Rocktober of last year, I thought I was pretty close to wrapping up the stupid divorce thing. I had verbal agreements from future ex on all sorts of things. We were putting it into writing and getting it ready to sign. The end was so close I could taste it.

Very early in that same month, I was informed that future ex had procured a lawyer. After months of me doing all the work and paying for a lawyer (future ex and I had wanted to do the whole thing as cheaply as possible), here he comes with a lawyer? His dad was footing the bill. As you can imagine, this soured me greatly on the subject of his dad. I could totally see why he might do this. But at the time it sent me through the roof. I was SO mad at Larry. On so many levels.

I eventually got over the rage. It simmered down to a low boil but it stayed there. I'd have periodic moments of feeling like oh who cares anyway. I mean, if it drags on for 5 years, that's really future ex shooting himself in his I-can't-wait-to-marry-my-new-girlfriend foot. But it still made me incredibly mad on other days.

His action of hiring a lawyer for future ex brought all of our contact to a finish. His wife - my wonderful neutral mother-in-law - tried to keep the family bonds there and the lines of communication there. She made a valiant effort that I hugely appreciated. I love her dearly for that. But in my mind, every time I communicated with her, I wanted to rave about her husband. I didn't. It wasn't her fault.

Anyway, this simmering fester pot went on in me for months. Not good. I prayed quite often - don't get me wrong. I wasn't just sitting on it. I kept asking God to help me forgive and let go. He did get me to a place where I could at least understand how a father would try to help his son, stupid or not. But I was still indignant.

When Larry got sick, I wasn't really that worried. And I don't mean I was cold. I just honestly knew he'd be fine eventually. He's a rock. You can't bring that man down with some abdominal infection. Even when it became a tumor, I knew he'd be back in top form in a year or two. But I knew at that point that we were dealing with risks and fears that go beyond an infection that won't go away. Although I felt he'd be fine and we would all look back on our panic and laugh some day, I felt it was the right thing to do to honor the severity of the whole issue. To do something. But I wasn't sure what would be the right something, given how I knew we probably felt about each other.

I talked to The Nurse in law about it. She suggested sending a card. I'm so not a card person any more. No. I was going to risk it. I was going to call him in the hospital. I mean, the worst he could do is be gruff and brief.

I called the hospital and he answered. He was pretty sick at this point and warned me he might throw up during the call (the tumor was pressing on his stomach). I told him I thought of sending a card but decided to call in stead. I said something to the effect of knowing he might not want to hear from me but too bad - here I am. He was genuinely happy to hear from me. Which surprised me but didn't.

I told him that I was sorry he was so sick and I was praying for him and knew he'd get better. We were having a pretty nice conversation. Then he said, "I'm sorry I got in the middle of things. I didn't want to get involved. But I just couldn't watch him...just standing there!" That blew my mind. I hadn't expected an apology at all. I had thought we'd avoid the subject altogether. If we did discuss it, I had expected to hear his justifications of why he funded a lawyer for future ex. And this man hasn't exactly tossed the apologies around with me and future ex.

And at that particular moment, it was like it all snapped. Like clarity hit me - a total peace. I said something to the effect of, "Larry, you're a dad. You did what a parent would do. I mean, I'd probably do it for my kids if I had to." I meant it, too. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, who cares who gets what stuff or what cash or whatever. I just cared that Larry got better. So I told him that. I just wanted him better. Then we talked about the boys. They were in the kitchen with me so he could hear them a bit. I gave him an update on each one to bring him up to speed on what his grandsons were up to. Pretty soon into that subject, the boys started getting restless and I had to go address dinner with them.

For one of the only times in my entire experience with Larry, I ended the phone call. That was weird. He's famous for abruptly ending a phone call with, "OK then, goodbye," and hanging up. Literally that abrupt. I felt bad when I had to tell him the boys needed me and I wanted to go because he really seemed into talking. But he was still pretty sick and the rest would probably do him good.

After that, my mother-in-law told me that our conversation had meant so much to Larry. And to her. When he passed so suddenly (well, to ME it was sudden), I thought, "Wow. God orchestrated that conversation." I've been thanking God ever since.

There you go. That was my last conversation with Grandpa Larry. For now.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Me and My Big Stupid Good Intentions

I have had so many thoughts and stories I wanted to share with you guys lately. But I'm preempting all of them to bring you this interesting exchange I had with Pokemon Boy last night.

Last night, both boys stayed up late since it was Saturday night. They would have stayed up later but Lil' Bro had a slight fever and was paler than pale. Pokemon Boy was bummed because the plan had been to pull out the fold out couch and all fall asleep watching TV. Another time, kiddo.

Lil' Bro was in bed. As Pokemon Boy's consolation prize, I allowed him to sleep in the bed in my office. Somehow, that was thrilling to him. Good. Saved me some trouble of pulling out and setting up his tent in the reading room. As we were getting him settled, he asked me a very interesting question. "Mom, do you love God more or me more?" Good grief. How does a completely imperfect human mom answer that?

I mean, if I say I love God more, will he understand that? If I say I love him more, will that diminish God in his mind? And it was a scary question because I sat there thinking...hmm...I'm supposed to love God above all else. But do I? I mean, it's so hard to say - for me, anyway.

With Pokemon Boy's anxieties and worries, I went the safest route in my mind. I would give him the answer to make him feel secure in his mother's love. "Well," I started, "I know I should love God more than anything. But the truth is, I probably love you and Lil' Bro more than anything." I thought that would make him happy. I thought that would be the end of it. I couldn't have been more wrong.

"Oh..." he hesitated. He started talking about my answer. I honestly can't recall what he was saying. But I noticed his face looked like he was going to cry. I said, "Hey, what's upsetting you? You look really upset." The floodgates opened. He started crying. And I mean big gulping sobs. Wow. This is not at ALL what I was expecting. What in the world had I done?

"Honey! What's going on? Why are you so upset? Was it something I said?" He shook his head but kept crying. "Then what's making you cry so much?" Finally, through gulping sobs, he got it across to me that he was worried I didn't love God enough. Oh good GRIEF! Me and my big stupid good intentions! I immediately regretted my answer and having attempted to give him an answer I thought he wanted to hear. I should have taken the risk and told him the truth - that God is the center of my world now. That I love him more than I ever thought I could. That he's the first one I turn to when I'm scared, anxious, happy, sad, worried, whatever. I just thought he'd be so hurt that I would have chosen some invisible God over my physically present son! GAH!

So I had to back pedal and eat crow all at the same time. All the while, silently apologizing to God for sticking my big stupid foot in my mouth. I explained everything I've pretty much written above. I told Pokemon Boy how God was the center of my world. How I put him first (or tried to) in all things. I even went so far as to tell him how God totally saved me and carried me through 2007.

After doing a lot of talking, he was a bit more mellow but still very upset. After another session of 20 questions, Pokemon Boy finally told me that this subject upset him so much because he was worried I might not go to heaven. Wow. Talk about a way deeper Saturday night than I ever thought possible! He was worried that, if I didn't love God enough, God might not love me. I was flabbergasted by the depth of his concerns. But this I had answers for. Or maybe that's when God said, "Move over L.y.n.e.t.t.e. I'm taking over now!" I started explaining that I knew for a fact that God loved me. He loves me tons. And here's why... I started telling him a Readers' Digest version of my whole life. Pretty much all the God-orchestrated milestones in my life. And only the biggies. I would have been there all night giving him the life-time testimony.

I told him how I was put up for adoption by a loving mom who wished she could keep me. And God made sure to put me with my adoptive family, the E's. I told him, "And you know who God already had in that family? Your aunt [Big Sis]!" He seemed intrigued. "And she turned out to be my best friend for the rest of my life." I went on to tell him how I started having major life threatening medical issues at the age of 7 months. And God made sure the E's had the resources (both parental and financial) to cover my hospitalizations. God pulled me through multiple surgeries. I almost died after at least one - from pneumonia. I told Pokemon Boy that lots of people prayed for me and God pulled me through that, too. I told him how God always surrounded me with tons of loving family, church family, friends, neighborhoods, school mates. I told him how I prayed almost every night for YEARS as a kid to find my "real" parents. I told him that God, in his timing, worked that out. How two days after my 20th birthday, my birth-mom called me! God brought HER to ME! And how that reunion was awesome and my birth mom and her family has been so special to me ever since then. I told him that God brought me the most love I'd ever experienced when he brought Pokemon Boy into my life. And then Lil' Bro.

Then I switched over to showing Pokemon Boy how I knew God loved HIM. I told him that all the doctors had told me I probably wouldn't be able to conceive. And for many years, that appeared true. After one miscarriage, I was told I couldn't carry full term. Then along came my pregnancy with Pokemon Boy. And God provided the most amazing doctors that monitored his development. And he was born - full term. Then he had kidney problems. And God sent us to one of the top pediatric urologists in the country - just "happened" to be on our HMO plan. I told Pokemon Boy how he had many tests and treatment and finally corrective surgery. And God brought him through all that as if it were nothing. I told him how God has surrounded him with a huge praying family, wonderful friends, a great neighborhood, a loving church family. I said, "Look, God has a reason for you being here. He went through a lot of trouble to get you here and make you healthy. I don't know what he has planned for you but it's GOT to be good!"

I have to tell you, this whole exchange probably lasted well over an hour. It was the most intense and amazing thing. I mean, about 3 weeks ago, Pokemon Boy had asked me how I knew God was real. And then had told me he wasn't sure if he believed. He told me, "I kind of like 80% think he's not real and 20% think he is." Now here he was terrified I didn't love God enough and might not make it to heaven.

During the exchange, I told him that I wasn't perfect. But I had read enough of the bible to know that God loved me. And as long as I kept trying to live my life with my eyes on God, I knew I had a spot in heaven. I assured Pokemon Boy that I'd be in heaven waiting for him once he got there.

Whew. We finally laid down together with the lights off. I put my arms around him and just prayed. I don't even remember what I prayed. But it lasted a good 15-20 minutes. I fell asleep with my arms around him. I'm pretty sure he fell asleep while I prayed.

So my advice to you is - when your kid asks you questions that might reveal your true spiritual beliefs? Don't try to color it any other way than truthfully. Because it will backfire on you. Maybe I'm just preaching to myself here. I'm just sayin'...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pokemon Boy and The Sub

In the documentary 'I Have Tourette's But Tourette's Doesn't Have Me', one of the kids says something like, "Tourette’s and substitutes: a bad mix."

Pokemon Boy is in the middle of 2nd grade. His teacher adores him. She understands him. She extends great patience with all of her students. She has a soft but firm hand with them. In his whole 2nd grade year, he has gotten perhaps one note home. She had to ask him twice to push in his chair. Scandalous. But that's Pokemon Boy. At school he is very eager to please. He loves learning. He has been every teacher's dream so far. He's a bit distractible - what 7 yr old isn't? I don't even chalk it up to the obsessive compulsive tendencies diagnosed as co morbid with his Tourette's. He's just a normal kid.

Well, Wonder Teacher left last week (when I was traveling) to have her baby. Yay on the arrival of Teacher Wunderkind. But I'm a bit concerned about the "long term" sub. This week, Pokemon Boy had three notes home. THREE. For minor infractions. Once he was singing during a quiet activity (he does this all the time - he usually has no idea he's doing it). Once for talking to a classmate in stead of completing the task just given by the teacher. Today it was for...good grief...I can't even recall. It was equally as small. But I do recall it boiled down to him needing to do what she asks, when she asks it. I have a feeling that their normal teacher allows for slips because she knows the kids. She understands the boundaries with each one.

I explained to Pokemon Boy that the three notes home do NOT mean he's a bad student (he cried for about 10 minutes when he got home and "confessed" to me). I told him the New Sub is just trying to set the rules and might be a bit heavier handed than Wonder Teacher because New Sub doesn't know them. I explained that New Sub doesn't yet know how great Pokemon Boy is. Once she gets to know them all, I'm sure it will smooth out.

The interesting thing, however: today he had a new audible tic. Brand new and very pronounced. It was a twist on one I've seen before. It's hard to describe. It's like a hard "th" sound but there's a flick of his tongue in there. And his cheeks puff a bit. He didn't even know he was doing it. Or maybe he did. I'm not sure. I noticed a few more soft grunting noises. The eye blinking was absent. Oddly. That's usually first.

For the last few weeks, he has been having anxiety episodes - I don't want to say "attacks". They manifest right after he's eaten. I'm still not convinced these are purely anxiety. I think they started out as true reactions to crappy fast food. But I'm wondering if his anxieties caused those same symptoms at other times. He gets incredibly worked up each time. He asks me or whoever he's with to go to the bathroom with him because he's convinced he'll throw up. I've pointed out lately that, in all the times he's felt like this, he has never thrown up. But he's convinced this time he will and he's all crying, shaking and panicked. It has happened almost every time we've gone out. At different places. Different foods. The last time it happened before my business trip, I almost lost it. Sounds awful, I know. But I was tired, emotionally drained, totally stressed. My parents took us out to dinner. Two bites into my food, he starts. "Mom! I have to go! I'm going to throw up!" and the crying starts. I wanted to chuck my whole plate of food across the room and scream at him. But I went with him and tried to calmly reassure him that he'd be fine if he can just get a handle on how upset he was getting.

I left for a week and this scenario was repeated with my parents. With my sister. With my brother-in-law. I felt so awful. It's very hard to know what to say to him. It's very hard to keep your patience.

My mom had success with getting rather firm with him. She recognized one particular instance as pure anxiety. So she had to get a bit firm with him and tell him to calm down. She said it really worked. Tonight, we went out with future ex. Sure enough, 3 bites into my salmon, he has to go. He's gonna throw up. But - thankfully - he wanted future ex to go with him. I selfishly wolfed down my food while they were gone, assuming I might have to do round two with him next.

They returned from the bathroom and future ex was surprisingly Zen. I knew he was annoyed but he kept it to himself. When we left the restaurant (Lil' Bro asleep in my arms), it hit again. Pokemon Boy started panicking and crying - he was going to throw up. I piled the sleeping Lil' Bro into his seat, buckled him in and talked to Pokemon Boy. I reiterated that he has never thrown up to this date. I went over how things worked while I was away - how Grandma got him to calm down that one time. How I knew he could do it again. I explained that his panic is making his muscles tense up and might be adding to whatever GI distress he might actually be having.

Once in the car, he worked very hard to calm down. I was impressed. He did it. We had a nice drive back to future ex's house. I don't really get what this is. But it clearly is related to anxiety or panic. I don't know if it's tied to the stress at school. With my travel and the New Sub, who knows. And I'm sure eating at home would benefit us anyway.

Just thought I'd give an update on Pokemon Boy.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Grandpa Larry's Funeral

I have many subjects floating through my head today. Let's see how many I can get to before I give up and hit bed.

Grandpa Larry's Funeral
Last Thursday, I flew up to New Hampshire. My sis-in-law and her hubby met me and took me to their house to unwind. I adore them. She's a nurse and he's a fireman/EMT, among other things. But I think of them mostly as The Nurse and The FireGuy.

On Friday, we made the 3 hr drive up to Vermont to attend Larry's viewing. He was cremated so there was, thankfully, no casket. Just his ashes, some flowers and a ton of pictures. My mother-in-law was there and doing amazingly well. Larry's brother and sister-in-law were up from Boston. Future ex was there. And then we got there.

Paying respects is never a cake walk to begin with. I walked in wondering just exactly how I was being included or excluded. I was very afraid of those possibilities. I should have known better. Future ex can be a real moron but this event transcends the day to day idiocies. He was gracious and very much like his former self I used to love a lot. My mother-in-law included me in the family pictures and the obit. That last bit floored me. I loved it. It meant so much to me. I was secretly thrilled to see that I was in so many of the pictures up on the mounted collage. The whole extended in-law family was just glad I was there and welcomed me thusly. They rock, those people.

We all went out to a family dinner during a break in the viewing. The Nurse, The FireGuy and I were all included. It wasn't even a question. I love that. The Nurse, while being future ex's sister, is not Larry's daughter. But he always tried to include her and her family in his life. So my mother-in-law introduced her to everyone as her step-daughter. I thought that was really sweet and very cool.

The funeral was Saturday afternoon. The Nurse, The FireGuy and I all decided that Larry would have wanted us to go into Montpelier early and generate the economy. So we did. Apparently, Larry wanted me to buy a really cool silver ring, a cute black short-sleeved baby-doll top and a killer sleeveless multi-colored top that could be a dress for a more daring girl. I was happy to oblige the imaginary posthumous wishes of my father-in-law. Oh yes, he also wanted us to have Ben & Jerry's ice cream but it was just crazy cold and we couldn't bring ourselves to do it.

The funeral was amazing. It was held in the church that I believe they had many of their AA meetings in. It was almost full. I have to tell you that this fact showed just how little I knew my in-laws. I knew they had their friends around town. I knew they knew most everyone. But I hadn't understood the strong bonds they had forged. And the HUGE impact they have had on that town. At the funeral, the family was allowed to step up to a microphone and say a few words. Mother-in-law did, future ex did, Boston Uncle did as did all his kids. And then I did. I may be stepping back a bit into the shadows of being an "ex". But not quietly.

I didn't say half the things I intended. I was able to say how Larry and I had pushed each other's buttons. How he had been a giant pain in my ass (yes, in those a church - but anyone who knew him laughed). And how I had returned the favor. I also mentioned his incredible generosity. How, at one time, he had been my confidant and best friend. And how, in the end, we had one last conversation (timed by God's own hand) to set things right between us. I ended up crying through most of my statement. Yah. That not-pretty crying while I talk thing. Nice. I'm sure it would have made Larry laugh.

But it wasn't so much the family statements that impressed me. After we finished, the pastor opened it up to anyone. And they came. Old timers. A 20-something kid. It spanned the whole age line. Person after person got up and just floored me. They talked about this caring, sensitive, empathetic, gentle bear. Many were AA folks - fellow addicts taking each day at a time. But many had been inspired by someone like Larry getting sober. And that was huge. Larry was a hard-core drinker. An ugly drunk. He got sober after his doctor told him he'd die if he kept it up. One guy said he heard about Larry getting sober and he thought, well, if Larry can do it, I can. Then he went on to say he'd been sober for 25 yrs and Larry had saved his life. Almost every single story had us all cracking up at one point or another. Larry was a character and a very funny guy, amongst all of his other traits.

We heard stories about how this man I thought of as a giant ball of grump would visit someone every day in their store to make sure they were ok. If someone was down, he was there. If someone was worried, lonely, hurting, whatever - Larry was there. I couldn't really reconcile the stories I was hearing with my own personal experiences. But then again...I kind of could.

So it made me think about this: a prophet is never accepted in his own home town. We were his family. We were too close to the baggage, the history, the pain, the ugly. Unfortunately, for some of us, that defined what we knew of Larry, with nicer bits filling the gaps. But to the outsiders in Larry's life, he was able to transcend his uglier start and fulfill his potential as a loving nurturing person. It's tragic that sometimes it's your own family that just can't allow you to move up and over your mistakes.

That funeral was a gift from God. To me, anyway. I was forced to look at Larry in a whole new light. I've been spending many moments since asking God to take away any resentment I had toward the man. To help me to truly and wholly forgive him for the hurts I may perceive he did me. It's a hard thing. I imagine I may have to work a while on this one.

I talked to future ex about this today. He agreed. Funerals trigger that selective memory. As they should. What good does it do anyone to stand around bitching about the dearly departed? We all collectively celebrated the goodness Larry did in his life. And really, celebrated his victory over that dark addiction. But future ex and I are wondering how it will hit the people that felt hurt by Larry. When the selective memory fades and the hurts are still there - how will they wrestle them down? I know I won't wrestle them. I'll keep turning them over to God and asking for forgiveness for my unforgiveness. I'm not sure how future ex will deal with them.

Anyway. Larry was much more amazing than I ever knew. That actually makes me sad. That I missed out on that. It wasn't all my fault. I get that. He really was a pill to me and future ex for years. Even sober, lots of people still screw up with their own families. But I'm just glad to know that he was able to be such an amazing man. And to help so many people. What a gift - to have walked his hell and retain a soft heart for addicts. I personally have very little patience for them. For many reasons. Which is why I'm glad people like Larry and mother-in-law exist. To smack me upside my judgmental head and remind me that addicts deserve love and patience just like any other idiot (include me in that last lot).

It was both nice and annoying to watch future ex get so much support and love from everyone. Any person deserves that kind of unconditional love when they lose a significant loved one. Especially a parent. But the part of me that still struggles against hating him...that part of me rankled at his special treatment. The bitch in me wanted to scream at them all, "What are you coddling this idiot for?! Do you know what he's DONE?!!!!" Fortunately for me, I was raised a smidge better than that. And I pray a lot. I think God will be working on my anger for quite a while yet.

Bottom line: Larry's funeral was truly the way it should be done. With lots of love and lots of laughter.

That's about it. That's all I can write at the moment.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Still in New England

Thanks for the sweet notes everyone. I just got down to Hartford today. Drove from NH today - through some amazing fog. Got here early and had a nice walk around downtown. I have 3 days of classes here and then will head back to TX on Thursday.

I'll tell you more later. But Grandpa Larry's funeral this past Saturday was awesome. I love when a funeral is a real celebration of how someone has affected so many people's lives. It was not morose on any level. Made me ashamed to have not really known that side of him. There was a lot of love there. I'm glad I was a part of it.

Anyway, I have to head to bed. I have no idea what these classes will entail so I better get some sleep in case it actually requires brain use.

Love you all.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Grandpa Larry


This is so surreal. My father-in-law died this afternoon. My sister-in-law called me as we waited at the barber for haircuts. He had taken a turn for the worse. They had stopped "heroic measures" and were now starting "comfort measures." Keep him comfortable while he's with us. Future ex didn't know yet - he was still on his way home from work.

I packed the boys back into the car and told them we're going to see daddy. "Why?" Yes, we don't go see daddy in the middle of the week. "Well, grandpa isn't doing well." Dumb of me. They have three living grandpas still. They assumed it was MY dad. "Then why are we going to see DAD?" So I explain which grandpa and I start preparing them telling them that Grandpa Larry is not doing well at all. And this means he could die. "Oh." So I told them we'll go be there for daddy.

I called future ex and left him a message saying the boys and I were coming down to Austin and would he like to go to dinner. He called back and sounded psyched to see the boys. Ugh. He asked why we were coming in to Austin. Oh we just wanted a drive, says I.

The whole way down, I just prayed. Praying for Nana Linda. Praying for Grandpa Larry. Praying for future ex. Talking to God saying things like, "I totally don't get what you're doing here. I'm really looking for one of those really big miracles here, ok? Just be with Linda. Just make Larry ok." I keep thinking this huge healing will be some kind of life changing event for everyone and they'll all see God is real. Or actually, I think it was more selfish than that. Sure the man majorly pissed me off by funding a lawyer for future ex a while back. But come on. He's my father-in-law. For many years, I considered him one of my best friends. I used to call him all the time and talk to him about all sorts of stuff. I confided amazing amounts of stuff to this man. He had a unique world view that couldn't be found in anyone else. He was gruff, grumpy, a giant pain in the ass at times. But he loved his son with a ferocity. And in turn, he loves MY two sons with an even greater ferocity. So yah God, I want this man around. I just don't understand the timing of all of this.

So the whole drive down, I'm still thinking this will just be a lot of emotional drama but he'll pull through somehow.

We pulled up to future ex's apartment complex. I told the boys, look, don't mention Grandpa because I'm not sure daddy knows yet. Let daddy tell us. When future ex opened the door, he was still in his jacket, he was on the phone and his eyes were red and puffy. Yah. He knew. But *I* didn't know.

He hung up and said, "Come here." That's when he told me his dad had just died. Hand to the mouth - gasp! Impossible! I just prayed the whole way down here!! This man - this force in our lives - he can't be dead. I mean, honestly, just three weeks ago, was it? Three weeks ago we find out it might be cancer. And he's DEAD? This is insanity.

You think stupid things when life gets weird. You think things like, maybe I didn't pray sincerely enough because my prayers were tainted with my own emotional baggage. Thankfully I have people with brains around me to remind me that the God I serve doesn't work that way. I'm not sure why this is happening right now. It's part of the mystery of life, eh?

Well, I was glad I was there. When things like this happen, they tend to put the whole dumb divorce thing in perspective. I was there to comfort him. And my boys. We were able to tell the boys together - as a family. The way it should be done. Lil' Bro is 4. He doesn't get it. He's wide eyed and has that kind of hidden smile you get when you know something is very serious but you feel kind of like laughing anyway but you know you can't. Pokemon Boy seemed to understand the gravity of it but it didn't touch him because he hasn't see Grandpa Larry since 2005. So future ex and I sat there talking with the boys nearby. And then it hit Pokemon Boy. The floodgates opened. I knew they would. He is the sensitive one. He's intuitive and empathetic. He has memories of Larry. He knows this is his dad's dad. He saw his dad cry and me cry. He got it. And he let it out. Lil' Bro found other things to distract him while Pokemon Boy let it out and let me fold him up on my lap. I'm glad we were all four there.

After the shock had some time to settle in and get us all numb, we all decided to go out to eat. So I took future ex somewhere nice but mellow. We all ate. We all supported each other. Pokemon Boy asked me, even though I'm getting divorced, am I still part [his surname]. I told him that even though I go back to using my own last name, I will always be part [his surname] because he's part of me and I'm part of him and that family will always be a part of me. Hopefully that was what he needed to hear.

Anyway, future ex told me he has appreciated all the prayers I've been telling him they've been getting. He really does. I can tell. Maybe this unconditional love he's received from tons of people who, in any other reality, would go out of their way to make his life hell...maybe that's what God is doing here. Maybe that's what future ex will take away. Who knows. Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.

It's so weird when people are taken from you suddenly. Honestly, I figured Larry would be here for a long time - part of the boys' lives for years. Wow.

I sure am glad I called him when he first was in the hospital and we knew it was pretty serious. I'm glad we had that conversation that cleared the air. My mother-in-law told me he really appreciated that conversation and he felt it put things straight between us. Man, I had no idea how important that one conversation was. Who knew it would be my last one with him. I'm glad I told him I love him. Because I do. And it hurts that he's gone. And it hurts even worse that I have to participate in such an awkward fractured way.

At this point, I plan to head up to the funeral. There's no way that man is leaving this world without me being there. I did ask future ex - I mean, it really is his call at this point. He may be a jerk sometimes but he knows how important Larry is to me. He expects me to be there. Good. Because I'd really hate to have to pummel a man who just lost his father.

So that's today. I'm numb. And terribly sad. And full of things I'm feeling I could have done differently. I hate that part.

12-28-2003 - Grandpa Larry meets 6-day-old Lil' Bro

Friday, February 08, 2008

Trish's Bloggy Smack Down And Other Thoughts I Thinked

Trish's Bloggy Smack Down:
It seems that Trish, in all her cold medicine stupor, threw down some kind of gauntlet in her last post. Apparently, my recent poke at pageant moms has stirred up the Baton Twirling Lioness in Trish. I hear bookies from coast to coast are already figuring the odds on our next confrontation. It really is hard to know who would meatloaf whom when you pit amazing hair, the perfect husband, a dog with questionable breeding, a savage sense of style, Baton Twirling and fringe against a voice that needs no microphone, cynical divorce humor, a larger than average head, two wikkid adorable boys and a great dye job. Who would win.

Trish, you're out of your head with cold meds and antibiotics. I forgive you. But really, that post was funny as hell. Meatloaf indeed.

My New Favorite Singer In The Entire Universe:
Holy guaca-freakin'-mole. I sent out an email to all of my Christian and/or musical friends asking them to list their favorite God/worship songs. I'm rather new to this whole Christian music scene. Well, newly returned, I should say. I left that kind of music behind in the late 80's. The players (most of them) have changed. And I don't know much of anything beyond regular rotation on KLOVE or what they sing in my church (the majority of which are Vineyard songs). I love all of that stuff. LOVE it. But I just don't know all that's out there.

Well my pastor (who is a youngster - well, younger than me) sent me a song for my list - 'How He Loves Us' by John Mark McMillan. First off, I found John's version out on YouTube where he explains how he wrote it the day after his best friend died. The story is very involved but extremely moving and inspiring. He talks about how he wants this song to start a youth movement. Oh it can. I have no doubt of that. Then he sings it, starting out in tears. Gah! I was crying. But the version my pastor sent me is by a woman Kim Walker. Good GRAVY people. This girl is stellar. Talk about God's gift to singers! And let me tell you, I've mentioned before I'm a vocal snob. So I don't toss praise around lightly. This girl has the CHOPS. Chops straight from God, dudes.

I have listened to this song multiple times every day since the good pastor sent me the link. I've had to reboot my machine often because multiple plays of YouTube tend to clog its arteries or something. Today I finally went to iBethel and ordered the CD that this song version is from. I also ordered Kim's solo CD. I'm also thrilled to see she is going to play in Dallas in May. Hear that Kendra? I'll be planning a trip up to see you. And I will drag you and Monica to see this girl!

Anyway, here's the video. She starts out low and kind of mellow. To the point I thought, "Ok, this is nice but..." But wait for it. Man, when it kicks in, WHEW! I heard this for the first time around midnight while I was researching songs for that music project I mentioned. I stopped everything. I just leaned back in my chair and was blown away. I wanted to just stand up in my office and start worshipping. Not sure why I didn't except that my shades were up and figured my neighbors might think I'd been drinking. *Kidding* Anyway, I hope you like it.

I hope God gets your blood pumping with this song as much as mine is right now listening to it as I type this.

And As For My Song List:
Oh, and as for my song list: right now I have 17 really strong inspirational songs. I keep hearing more. Heard about 3 off Mandisa's CD today that would be amazing to do. Almost everything I hear lately seems to inspire me. I'm going to end up with a list of like 952 songs I want this new project to do. But I figure, I'll keep compiling the list and then get the cast of characters pulled together and see which ones they get excited about.

So, if you have any songs that particularly move you, let me know. This project will be putting the message of God out there. It won't be my formerly watered down version of faith. I won't mince words. But I am totally open to secular songs that totally point me to God. I have a couple on my list so far. But if it has moved you and/or it totally rocks out and/or has an amazing rhythm and/or killer harmonies, let me know about it!

Rock on, my wonderful friends. Rock on.

I didn't walk today. In stead, I drove to Office Depot and got ink for my printer. Then I went to the Family Christian Store 2 doors down and got Mandisa's CD, a MercyMe CD and a Newsboys CD. But I will walk again. Oh I will be walking.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I Have No Pithy Title For This One

That title presumes all (or most) of my previous titles have been pithy. What a presumptuous little title.

So check THIS out. Today, both kids were FINALLY well enough to return to school. And I was FINALLY well enough to get out the door and resume my daily lunch time walks. About freakin' TIME. I will tell you that I was partially motivated by Pokemon Boy periodically poking my still sizable belly and saying things like, "You should exercise more, mom." You should invent teleportation, kid, but you don't see ME pokin' YOUR tummy about it, DO you!!

But he's right. Litigator, personal stylist, personal trainer. Why didn't I get one of those kids that could care less?

Anyway, today I got off my duff and walked. Which is going to be hard to maintain. The new work project I'm on is made up of people I've mostly worked with before. They're the kind that start work at some unheard of early hour and are usually still logged on as I disconnect. They are the kind that see no problem in scheduling lunch meetings. They're the kind that book my programming resource time at about 120% on a regular basis. I'm working 100% on this one phase and I found out today I've been lent to the next phase at 50% resource time. As a former math major, I can clearly see that isn't likely to work. Granted, I dropped out of college. But I'm still pretty confident that those numbers don't quite work.

Wow. I am Tangent Girl today!

Back on point: I walked today. Weeeee! I headed out that door with a vigor and excitement. And in the 60-something weather, I just wore 2 shirts and no jacket. Ok, you wise guys, I wore pants and shoes, etc. But no jacket is the point here.

I wasn't ambitious enough to tackle my old hour-long trek. Not yet. I have to work up to that route. So I walked over to the high-end outlet mall that I like to think of as being in my front yard. IKEA would be in my...I'm picturing a side yard, I guess. So I walked to the outlet mall with some cash in pocket thinking I might treat myself to a little sum-sum.

I got to the mall with that burning itch to spend. I hate that itch. There needs to be a cream for that itch. I usually come home with more toys my kids don't need. So I thought, well, I need to get new shorts for summer because my old size 14s will fall off this size 12 frame! Yeee HA! But thennnnnn...I thought about it. If I'm gonna get serious about this walking...why box myself into size 12 shorts. Why not see how serious I can get with this. And then buy shorts when I really NEED them. And maybe...just maybe...maybe I could get...size...TEN! No that's just crazy talk. Nuts. But then...who knows...

But it made sense not to go nuts buying 4 new size 12 shorts before knowing exactly what size I'd be when the hot weather hits (which down here will be soon). So I'll keep you all apprised of this.

Having dodged a spending frenzy in the first store I encountered, I figured, well, let's see how far I can walk through this mall without spending. you know how hard that was? But I figured, hey, I'm gonna exercise my body AND my will power! [I'm a dork.] Let's see if I can just keep my money in my pocket. Along with my debit card.

I walked around that big ol' mall two whole circuits (it's big) and only bought one ID case. That I really did need. Because as I was checking my cards in my ID case (which is well over 5 yrs old - maybe even over 10), it fell apart and all of my gift cards, license, debit cards, credit cards, pictures of the boys and other cardish sundries went willy nilly (whoever he is) all over the mall sidewalk. To which I announced to no one in particular, "Well THAT was lovely! Nice. Very nice job." This happened right next to a place that sells purses and wallets and such. In other words, a place I would never normally enter unless such an event forced my hand. So now I have the cutest litte red suede ID case with all my cards tucked neatly inside.

But that's it. I walked past the Vans store (looooooove their sneakers). I went in the Disney store but purchased nothing (don't tell my boys). I walked past the high end ladies' clothing stores that made me think of my initial impression of Trish. I walked past the chocolate stores, Starbucks (ouch) and all other purveyors of all things snacky. I also passed the Converse store but those red plaid high tops were calling me. I easily walked past the Bose store as I don't have an extra $500 to toss away on very tiny sound components. I did wish I had my camera with me as I gleefully noticed that the Lane Bryant store was situated right next to the Petite Sophisticate Outlet. I mean, come ON. Did they plan that so I could send it in to David Letterman??? And who named that store? The Petite Sophisticate? Why not just call it The Tiny Snob Outlet? Seriously. I highly doubt they had size 12 of anything in my shortness.

Again. I digress.

So I spent a little under an hour walking around this mall. I made no food purchase. No expensive coffee purchase. No impulse buys. No new clothes. No toys. You need to know the inner workings of my addiction to know how huge that was. And then to add to that that I WALKED for an hour? It was a good day, people. A good day.

So I think that, for a while, I will end a blog or two every week with a notation of my progress. And it will deal with my size. Weight doesn't usually matter to me. I wish I had a tape measure. I'd rather chart my shrinkage in that way. But since I was just at the doc office this week, I happen to know that I'm down to 174 lbs. While that places my 5'3" frame in the "obese" category to some twisted and evil magazines, keep in mind that I was topping 200-210 back in 2006. And was a size 16 (and I recall a couple of size 18 items, too).

Today I am:
174 lbs
Size 12 jeans

But I kept almost all my money in my pocket or my bank.

T'was a good day. (Leans back in chair w/ hands behind her head) A good day indeed.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Allie's Home Made Meme

Here's a meme that Allie made up. Just 10 random things I think are the most.

1. Most Vocal-Cord-Shredding Song:
Let It Rise by Big Daddy Weave. I’m not saying that this is some screaming metal version of the song. I’m saying that this song just totally inspires me. I get so totally pumped listening to this song. I really can’t listen to it unless I’m alone in my house or car where I can crank the volume and belt it at the top of my lungs. One time, I kept hitting repeat on my way to small group. By the time I got to my pastor’s house, I could barely speak. Seriously, this song is probably my favorite worship song in the world right now.

2. Most Decadent Pie:
Chocolate Chess Pie. Or I like to call it, “Heart Attack In A Pie”. It’s butter, eggs, sugar & chocolate in a pie shell. Need I say more?

3. The Most Adorable Boys Ever (that came out of me):
Now that I avoided angering all the moms of adorable boys out there, I think you know who I’m listing here. Yup, Pokemon Boy and Lil' Bro. They still amaze me on a daily basis. No, probably on an hourly basis. Pretty much any time I'm not yelling at them, I'm staring at them in wonder. Yup. Them's my boys.

4. Most Fantabulous Parents:
Mine. If you recall from some 2007 posts, this is what last year looked like for them:
April-May – mom left dad, flew out here, cared for my kids, cooked, cleaned and held me together for 7 weeks. Dad decides they need to move out here to help me and my boys.
June – dad (who is almost 80 at the time) packs up his car and drives ALONE all the way from Florida to Virginia to get their house ready to put on the market.
July – mom finally heads to VA to help dad sell the house. They clean, purge & pack.
August – still purging and packing. Oh and house hunting out here through my realtor-friend.
September – they drive out here with the moving truck, their mini van bulging with stuff. They move into my development.
October – unpacking and setting up the new house. They take me and the boys out for dinner constantly.
November – they are my main backup for child care. They are my constant source of support. They take the boys as often as possible.
December – dad is in the hospital 3 times: twice for his heart and once with pneumonia.
Yah. My parents ROCK.

5. Most Amazingly Funny and Gorgeous Neighbors:
My Chick Nite Girls. If I didn’t think they’d shoot me, I’d post pictures of all of them. Back when I didn’t want to put my future ex through a wall, we used to joke that he hit the gold mine of neighborhoods. All of the ladies in my ‘hood are gorgeous. I love that most are brunette (and the ones that aren’t get the blond from a bottle, thank you very much). These ladies have bailed me out in my times of crisis. They have taken my children on a moment’s notice. They help my mom out when I travel. They all offered to help my parents move in or to help my parents at any time. We dish and laugh. But we also really really support each other. I’m not kidding when I say it is a very unique neighborhood.

6. Most Likely To Make Me Pass Whatever I’m Eating/Drinking Through My Nose:
This is really a tie. And not just a two way tie. The Princess of Pawtucket and Lisa McC regularly make me cry from laughter. Trish & Sarakastic’s blogs usually have me in stitches. And Jane on the phone – I’m usually dying!

7. Most Beloved City In Which I Don’t Currently Reside:
Boston. Hands down. Then London. Then San Francisco. Now, granted, I haven’t traveled the world – or even the U.S. – much. So that top three could very easily change once someone wants to step forward and fund my life of leisure and world travel. Anyone? Anyone?

8. Most Desired Travel Destination:
(International) New Zealand. And when I typed that, I pronounced it “New Zilland” in my mind. Allie has posted enough pictures to make me totally want to go here. Plus, I am hoping I can run into this guy while there.
(U.S.) Well, I keep bugging Jane about going to Las Vegas. And I do want to go there. But Jennie has me totally in love with Colorado. Those gorgeous mountainous pictures have convinced me. I need to take a 3 month vacation there.

9. Most Terrifying Concept:
Big haired, football-loving pageant-moms dressing me in formal evening wear with high heels and full makeup while forcing me to listen to their political views. Yup. That’s pretty much my idea of hell. [For any of you really nice pageant moms, that's just a joke.]

10. Most Time Consuming Guilty Habit:
This. Blogging and reading all of your blogs. I know some people think it’s for freaks. And we’re obviously not disproving that theory. However, I love this community of Awesome Blogger Chicks we’ve built here. I love reading your thoughts on life. I love watching the amazing love unfold on some of our sites. I am constantly amazed at the beauty and strength I witness in all of you. I love the cathartic nature of my typed purging. And I am bolstered by your comments and support. And where would I be without the lessons and pearls of wisdom from bloggers like Beck, Stacy, Trish, Sarakastic, and Allie? Not to mention the vocabulary expansion I’ve been forced into with all you pretentious writers tossing around your $7 words. Dang people. Lighten up. I come here to shut the thinker off. *I kid*

Ok. That's all I could think of. Rather lame. But I liked Allie’s home-made meme. Thanks for creating it!!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I've Got Good Blood

Well the blood work came back today. The nurse called and said everything came back normal - including the hepatitis test. YEAH! I'm not did yet. (Thanks to Allie for that one!)

We're still waiting on the parasite tests. I told them, yah, I've got parasites. But only two and they're very cute and loving and they make me laugh.

They didn't get it.

Nyuk nyuk.


The lovely Sarakastic asked about my new (first and only) tattoo. Here 'tis:

It is ancient Hebrew for Yeshua or Jesus. Now, I don't profess to know whether it is actually oriented properly - as Hebrew is read from right to left and this certainly looks left to right. But I didn't put it on my arm for Hebrew scholars. I put it on my arm because God/Jesus totally walked with me through all of 2007. He has been amazingly faithful to fallible, angry, hurt me. He has blown my mind with amazing answer to prayer of late. As stupid as it may seem to some, this tattoo is my way of labeling myself. A physical reminder of whose I am. That, and I love tattoos. I think they can be gorgeous. I love this one. For many reasons.

The young guy who did it for me liked the symbols. He said, "What's it say?" I just answered, "Yeshua," and he just nodded and accepted that. But later, about halfway through, he said, "So what does this mean?" I told him. It means Jesus. The only man's name worth putting on my body. I told him I was celebrating a new found freedom in my life. That he had saved me in 2007. It didn't go much further than that. But I asked God to make that kid curious.

Anyway, I got the tattoo on Dec 29th - my Christmas present to me with some of that Christmas money my friend gave me. It was the day my dad went into the ER with pneumonia. I finally showed it to mom after dad got out of the hospital. She didn't disown me. I figure in all of her experiences as a mom (with 6 kids), she realizes that a tattoo of Jesus' name is definitely not the worst thing that could happen.

Anyway Sarakastic, there you go.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Some Updates and My Weekend

Update on the father-in-law:
The F.I.L. has been transferred to a different hospital for dialysis. His kidneys obviously aren't doing so well. They had to go back into the abdomen to check out some dangerous stuff that was coming out of him. He is very sick. He is still in ICU in critical condition. The ventilator was put back in to keep the abdomen more relaxed. The future ex is flying up there tomorrow. He's going to stay up there as long as his job will allow. It's not a good situation. I can sense the anxiety in his voice. This kidney issue is pretty scary. If they don't work, the options are not so great. So prayer on that one would be great.

Update on my cousin's family:
Today was my cousin's memorial service. I haven't been able to talk to any of his family yet. My mom spoke to my aunt earlier on the weekend and she told my mom not to leave my dad to make the long drive. All I can do is pray God's peace on that whole family. I thought of him a lot today. And all of them.

Update on me and the future ex:
God rocks. And he answers your prayers. How do I know? I gained a huge sense of peace about the whole early departure thing over the weekend. So THAT'S how I know he answers your prayers. I have been praying so hard and so long about this whole situation. So have many of you. So if he ends up leaving early? There's a reason. God set me up in this amazing neighborhood and gave me really cool friends here. Not just friends but other parents that get what my little family is going through. They are constantly offering and delivering support for us. God got my parents here and provided buyers for both of their other houses in a horrid housing market. God put me in the most rockin' little church with a bunch of people that would bend over backward to help me and my boys. God set up a network of friends up in Boston that still act like family. Over the weekend, I got Vince Lombardi pep talks from my mom, Big Sis, future ex's sis, and The Princess of Pawtucket. It's pretty amazing to hear that people really think you're strong enough to do this single parent thing truly as a single entity. It'll be by the grace of God - and his huge freaking network he built for me. Verizon's got NOTHIN' on God.

My Weekend:
I have to tell you about my weekend because it totally rocked. I was so emotionally wiped out by the time Friday rolled around. I was probably verging on being a bit depressed. So this weekend was awesome.

- Friday - Chick Nite with the ladies in my 'hood. I had probably invited about 10-ish ladies for the Chick Nite. We ended up just being four. Which might sound like a total bummer. But not with the 3 that showed up. It was just so much fun. We missed the absent. But these girls know how to make me laugh. So we sat around my kitchen table for about 3 or 4 hours. Which is funny because those chairs are not the most comfy things. We had a little wine or a little beer. We had chips & fresh salsa and a sliced baguette with 3 different cheeses. Later, I pulled out a bunch of fresh fruit and whipped cream. We never even touched the veggie platter.

We told stories and laughed. I learned more Spanish words that I will never be able to remember. We talked about how unique our almost-all-brunette neighborhood is in this part of bleach blond Texas. And then we laughed at how my kids are like the only blond kids in the 'hood. And look at their mother!! But it was just so good to sit around with women who just make me laugh. Oh man, it was great.

- Saturday - I tried to sleep in. Parents of young kids know how nigh impossible that is. But I made it to about 9am which is HUGE luxury for me. I got up and just puttered slow. My only plan was to get to Austin to get a missing piece to one of my new earrings. Never did get that errand run. I watched some bad TV, took a long shower, went grocery shopping for the church food supplies, made a sandwich for lunch. Very very lazy. Just not something I usually do.

Then I went down into Austin and met Big Sis and Tall Hubby. I got to see my nephews, Sid (the wee dog) and Simon (the not-so-wee cat). We hung out for a while and then went to have some hors d'ouvres at their friends' house. We hung there and chatted and noshed on wonderful stuff like cheese, bread, some kind of plum and something else paste, olives, hummus, and grilled veggies. After all of that, we weren't really hungry for dinner. But we went forth and tackled the dinner task at a great place, Kerbey Lane. Yum - shrimp scampi! These four are great company and are gracious enough to allow me to frequently be their fifth wheel. I made it home just after midnite. Just in time to prep all the church food and watch a really really awful movie.

- Sunday - Probably my favorite day of the week. It could only be made better if they pass a law to make Monday a non-work day. I woke up in time to make myself presentable. Drove down to pick up the boys from future ex and went to church. I got to sing again this week and the songs Mr. Music Director picked were all just fantastic. I mean, in their message and their fun-factor for those of us that get to actually play/sing them. Plus, the singing bass player was there so we had 3 part harmonies which I just LOVE. To me, there should always be at least 17 harmony parts. Would that it were possible!

The lesson was awesome as usual. One point the pastor made that has stuck in my head is this: even Jesus had to pray twice. He was talking about how we tend to just send up one request and just dust our hands off like, "Well, I tried!" But sometimes we have to go to God multiple times. And he pointed out, in one story in the gospel, even Jesus - God on earth - had to pray twice. He prayed over a blind man and then asked him, "Tell me what you see." The man said, "I see men that look like trees." So Jesus prayed over him again and then the man saw clearly. I find that really profound. I've been learning to not give up in prayer. I'm always talking about "pestering God" on some issue. But when I heard this I thought, wow! There was at least one time where even Jesus had to pray twice. That is VERY cool. So now I'm redoubling my efforts to remember to keep asking God. Keep filling that bowl with prayers until it overflows. Anyway, that was one thing that stuck in my head. Also, I started talking to a few of the people at church about that music project I talked about a couple of posts ago. There are quite a few people very interested. So I imagine I'll be posting more about that.

That was my awesome weekend. Fun, fun and a great topper with my church family.

Today I got sick again. This GI problem I seem to have isn't giving up easily. I've had it in one form or another since Jan 14th. Today, I got violently ill again and thought, I am SO done with this. So I called the doc. They are running a bunch of labs on me to see if it's a particular bacteria they can attack with specific meds, if it's a virus, if it's a parasite or what. They're testing for a host of things just to rule them out. One of which is hepatitis. I doubt I have it. But seeing as how I got a new tattoo just after Christmas, you just never know. Wouldn't that just be poetic justice, eh? And if all those come back negative and I'm still having this much trouble, they'll probably do one of those really fun GI scans where you drink the orange barium drink. I've had one. Even the thought of smelling that orange stuff can make me gag. Ugh. But my theory is, I got virus A in Boston. I came home and Pokemon Boy had virus B. I got that. And my immune system is just too weak to fight it off. The doc office was booked solid today. I got in due to a cancellation that happened just as I called. They tell me there are just super GI bugs and bronchial infections going around right now. Lucky us, eh?

Anyway, that's my yammering for today.

Thank you all for the wonderful loving and supportive thoughts you left on the last post. I have no doubt that many of you are a huge part of my survival - through your prayers. And I can assure you that many of you are a huge part of my survival just for the sweet notes you leave me here.

Rock on, my people. Rock on.