Friday, August 29, 2014

What Do You Say?

When you discover, by accident, that your daughter shared this with a friend:

"My Mom is dying from congestive heart failure and liver disease.  I don't know how I will live without her."

I know the kids know. I know.

But what do you say? How do you assuage their fear?

Sometimes I mitigate my illnesses by reminding myself that the older kids are established. Own homes, are engaged, working their careers. . .

And then I look at Evie Lou and remember.  She hasn't been given the same amount of time with me, and she is truly scared.

I forget that Evie is only [soon to be] 17 years old, because y'all know she is my partner in crime, my foil, my best friend and I can't get outside of these four walls most days.

I have never wanted one of my kids to be a *friend*.  I am the mom. They are the kid.  Friends come later.  When they are growing up it is parent and kid.  There's a difference.

I like that.  It has worked well....but Evie?

Things changed.

I don't want to leave anyone. I think of them, each, individually.  It breaks my heart to know I am letting down all the kids and Steven.

But I especially don't want to leave my ViVaLyn alone without me.

The words she wrote to her friend scared me more than anything I have ever experienced in my entire life.

And? What do I say?

It's 3:49 AM Do You Know Where Your Skippy Is?

In front of her computer, of course.

I know you probably aren't surprised Tadpoles, considering how you know my woes of insomnia.

But?  I have to tell you - since I got back - I have been sleeping an inordinate amount of time.  From 10ish at night until the rooster [across the street] crows. And then, after I got everyone out the door, I would collapse back into bed and sleep until 3 or 4 pm.

It was the best thing in my world.
Sleep. Glorious sleep.
The kind of sleep where you drool and wake up stuck to your pillow because you are so exhausted you didn't move in over 6-8-10 hours.

I haven't had that but once in a hoodle in over a decade.

And yet?  I had it for almost a week.

The thing about sleep, we all know, is that it does rejuvenate a body. Does it not?
However, you can't make up for lost sleep by sleeping extra after a few days of lack of sleep.

For example - say, you pulled 4 twelve hour shifts and only slept 5 hours a night that week.  You would be dragging at the end of that week, but sleeping for 15 hours on Saturday isn't going to make up for the sleep you lost working those shifts.  It doesn't work that way.

Ha.Ha. My body didn't get that memo and decided that "Oh! Lucky charms! She IS going to feel better if we put her in a semi coma for a week."  I can't describe what it is to be without sleep, but you do get used to not sleeping and you get accustomed to the tiredness and fatigue that goes along with bad body parts, especially when one of those is your heart. You compensate, I suppose.  I usually fade around noon, from pain and fatigue and then by the time bedtime rolled around - bedtime for the family - I was too exhausted and in pain to sleep.

Then came the sleep-a-thon week.

Which did cause a few problems.  I started to laugh as I wrote the last sentence imagining y'all saying "Where is the 'BUT' Skippy?"  Yes....I know. And that introduced it, did it not.

After the past few weeks of being immobile and stationary, then finally able to sleep the sleep of a Disney princess, I had so much energy.  SO much energy.

Here is my failure. It is fake energy.  It is pretend. It is any word you want to pull out of your thesaurus that means it can disappear in the snap of your fingers.

The one thing I crave, desire, want so much is to be the old me. Even after years of dealing with this and experiencing getting worse, I still want to be me.  Y'all have heard this refrain too many times. I know.  I can accept a lot of things [don't get me started] but not this.

Fake energy being what it is I was running around, literally, driving Ozcarz, grocery shopping [alone!] at more than one store, laundry, cooking, baking. . .you name it, I did it. Like the old me.

And the family noticed.
And the family was happy.
Happier than I had ever seen them in quite a few years.
"Look! Old Mom is back.  Doesn't your laundry smell so much better when Mom does it? No wrinkles too."
"Oh...fresh bread with dinner, everynight!"  "Pie! How many pies has Mom made?"
"Who mopped the kitchen floor? Mom? Really?"

Then last night it started.  The pain. The ache. The one thing I can't escape, nor fall asleep to, unless I pass out from exhaustion. Every bone, joint, muscle, follicle screamed when I laid down to sleep.

I can wait for the exhaustion part. I have done it before. I get goofy as sh*t, but it does come, eventually and I get a few hours to reboot.

So as to not be boring. . .allow me to continue

The spasms came next and those are their own special treat.  They are a newer occurrence, since last summer, and are a progression of the disease[s] which haunt me.  Imagine a charlie horse, in your calf, then multiply that from your calves to your ankles, feet, toes, hands, fingers, wrists - aw hell, I had my jaw lock up on one side the other day while talking to Steven on the phone.  Name a muscle in your body and if it can clamp up? My body knows how to do it and has.

I had a whole week without this. A whole week!

Everyone takes for granted going to bed and falling asleep, only to be awakened by an alarm clock, a baby crying, a bump in the night or a rooster, right?  Then there are those of us that lay down and hold perfectly still hoping that if we don't move a single muscle those muscles that inhabit our bodies might not notice and won't spaz [or pop, as I say to Steven.]  I know many, many people suffer from insomnia, as I did too - and lack of sleep can be one of the most debilitating things to a person.  Sleep is as valuable as air, water and food to our health - yet, it isn't insomnia that is keeping me out of bed now.

Tonight, and for the past year, with brief respites, it is because the only way to find relief is to sit or stand upright.  But I am too tired to do any of the things I want to do.  Like laundry [yes, I am the only woman in America that actually wants to do laundry, go figure] or bake or cook.

I still do those things, but it swamps me.  I can't NOT do it. It makes Steven and Evie too happy.  They don't realize how their wonderful reactions hit me deeply. I want this everyday. I want to hear how great it is not to have to do their own laundry or mop the wood floors or drive to shop.

But it ruins me.

Shuts me down and keeps me in my chair.

Two, three days?  I am done.  For a week. Or two.  And then it all piles up. [Laundry metaphor Tadpoles. You're welcome. hee ]

My PCP tries every remedy he has in his arsenal, but to no avail. My former RA doctor simply patted me on the head and said "It has reached your back and with your other conditions, what did you expect?"  Hence why the bitch is my former RA doctor. And yes, this woman, who is young enough to be my daughter PATTED me on the head.  I damn near bit her.  It was the one appointment that Steven couldn't attend. It was also my last with her.

I could take oodles of narcotics to give me relief and quit my own bitchen', but there are a few problems.  There are very few drugs I am willing to take for fear of compromising my heart and liver. The doctors toss this sh*t at me and say things like "Well....[long pause]. . . it will relieve your pain. Don't worry about the death it might cause." I kid you not.  Not those exact words, but they figure I am going to die anyway, why not practice medicine on the sick chick. It drives me nuts. I am waiting on a transplant, yet, she is trying to move me up the transplant list faster? If I hit the top 10 I still may not receive one, especially if I damaged myself by agreeing to her voodoo. It doesn't make sense.

Then there are the things they have prescribed I can take safely and tho' they worked, the side effects ranged from sheet thrashing nightmares ["Why suffer from regular insomnia when we can keep you up for days with one little pill!"] and copious vomiting.  I don't say that lightly.  I know the step count between my chair, the kitchen sink and the bathroom.  I know how long it takes me to get to each.

A few months ago I told Steven "I miss our old powder room [sink and toilet]."  He asked me why and I replied "It's the only place that when I was sitting down to go potty I could rest my chin on the edge of the sink to throw up at the same time."  Yes, he did laugh. But it's true. That was one damn small bathroom. giggle

It's now 5 am  and time for me to push Steven out the door to work. Thank goodness it's Friday of a three day weekend.  I have coffee to perk and kisses goodbye to give.

Gang?  Hang in there - it isn't easy, but it is a helluva' lot of fun if you let it be.  I know this post might not illustrate that, but in my heart there is more to be grateful for than to allow your world to be colored dark because of it.

I try to explain myself, but since none of you is sitting directly across from me listening to my deep voice, tinged in southern drawl, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

I am just tired and rambly.  Then again, when aren't I? ::grin::

Smile loudly, life is a gift!  We'll see you on the flipside.

Love and hugs, Janine








Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wouldn't It Be Nice

If I posted something?

Now I do have a pretty valid excuse for disappearing there for a while - two weeks - but no reason to go into all of that. I'm back and I guess that's good enough for me. Hope it's good enough for you too. ::smile::

Right now I have a very heavy heart - and to be honest I don't really feel like talking about it. I spent yesterday crying and I know if I proceed to explain my sadness it's just going to be a big 'ol snotfest again. And the truth is - the reason for my tears has absolutely nothing to do with me.  Just a very much loved and admired friend and Tadpole.  I want to do our friend justice, but today just isn't it. Okay?

How's that for honesty?

However I did receive some outstanding Tadpole news - two things, in fact - but for now I am sworn to secrecy by both of my friends, but I have to say both of your "shares" really made my day - and I was able to smile at your happiness. So, win-win there.  I promise to tell as soon as I am given the green light. And don't try and guess the rest of you froglets - there is absolutely no way I think anyone could. heehee

Now I will share some pics - nothing much but it's an exciting time in the pond as we have two seniors in the family. Emily graduates from JMU in December of this year and Evelyn, our baby, will graduate in June 2015.

And then?  That's it.  Come August 2015 we will have an empty nest. I think Evelyn will be the hardest, because she just seems to BE here all the time with me - and then there will be no more "best part of my day" when she walks in the door, no more lunches, no more late night, early morning card games/baking sessions/trouble making/trips to McDonalds.  Ah well...I can worry about that when the time comes - but I do keep threatening her that I am going to homeschool college. We'll call it "Skippy U" or "University of Mom".  As it stands she is leaning hard towards Clemson U, so all my South Carolina Tadpoles get ready. If she is accepted our baby will sweeping your state in a years time.

Oh - the pics?  These are proofs of Evelyn's candid shots for her yearbook. We have yet to get the final set - these were taken Sunday - but we were pretty excited so far.



Please note the wearing of the Converse tennis shoes in the second pic.  We had to convince her that maaaaybe it wasn't such a good look with the dress in the first.  She is her Momma's girl tho'. ::grin::

Yesterday was "National Dog Day". Which, really? I find ridiculous, because?


And finally today is Weenie Wednesday, as so lovingly pointed out by my great friend Mare on FB today. She also has a blog Mare's Updated Nest [but SOMEONE ::ahem:: hasn't posted in a while*.]  I guess it could mean our wiener dog - but no - it's a hot dog kind of day.  I was a little tired of cooking so tonight it's simple hot dogs, baked beans and macaroni salad.  I always throw in a few easy nights - heck most of what I make isn't hard, but I do tire easily - so it's nice to know after a day full of making spaghetti sauce and loaves of french bread yesterday I get a break tonight. YAY!

Now, I think I am going to institute Weenie Wednesday and buy these shirts for the family. If they don't wear 'em they don't get fed.  heehee


Hope you all have a great week.  Y'all are in my thoughts and always in my prayers.
Love and hugs - and don't forget "Smile loudly - because LIFE IS A GIFT".

See ya' on the flipside.

*I know, like I should talk. :D

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Inspired Cooking

Sometimes I look at the food in my fridge and whine [to myself, like a 4 year old] "But I don't want to make that!"  Meaning the dish I had planned when I bought that meat, cheese or veggie.

Today's quandry?  I have a heckuva' lot of fresh veggies from my beloved FIL's garden.  And? I don't want to make that.  Whatever that may be. heehee

I have zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, snap beans, onions and garlic Very exciting, but sort of overwhelming.

I usually will take the zucchini, squash, 'maters, onions and garlic and saute them in a pan and serve them as a side for dinner.

But today? Nah. . .that isn't working for me.  Knowing how much my family loves my [completely made up recipe] spinach lasagna and yesterday being National Lasagna Day [who votes for this stuff?]  I decided to make the saute and use that in lieu of the spinach and white sauce I use in the spinach one.

In a large skillet I melted a few TB of extra virgin olive oil and 2 TB of unsalted butter.  Into that I tossed the sliced zucchini, squash, diced onion and minced garlic. [I know, I know - I should do the onion and garlic first, but I like to just let this all simmer. It keeps me from hopping up and down to check it. And I'm not just standing there watching a pot boil.]  Let that cook down until the onion is translucent and the zucchini starts to soften.  Throw in a few diced tomatoes [about two cups - no need to peel, but you can deseed if you like] and cook through.  I also used salt, pepper and dried oregano to taste.  Let simmer, covered until everything is soft and the tomatoes are cooked down.

For the lasagna I prefer the regular, cook first noodles, but you can use the no cook ones too.

I mixed about 2 cups of ricotta with one egg and more dried oregano.  I also use 2 - 3 cups shredded mozzarella.  I also prefer to shred my own in my ninja [mini food processor]. So much better than the pre shredded stuff.

In a lasagna pan [that's what I call my deep 9 x 13 inch pan] I ladled 1/2 of the veggie mix on the bottom. Then I layered the cooked noodles.  Next I covered the noodles with the ricotta mix. I am a sucker for all cheese, so I put the ricotta on thick.  I then ladled about a cup of the veggie mix followed by a few handfuls of mozzarella. Repeat until you run out of . . .something.  I usually go about 3 more go rounds. Finish with the mozzarella.  It makes A LOT of lasagna for a family of 3 [2 actually because I probably won't eat this, although I want to], but I will just cut up the leftover, freeze in single serving containers and Steven will have lunch for 5 days.  I don't know how long it will last in the freezer because everytime I make lasagna and store the leftovers they never make it to freezer burn stage because he and Evie eat it so fast.

I will bake this at 375 degrees for approximately 45 minutes covered, taking the cover off for the last few minutes of baking.

Thanks to everyone who voted for Bizzy yesterday. The voting continues for the Extended Stay America Recipe Contest - and you can vote once per day, per email address until August 22.

Happy Day All!  See ya' on the flipside.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Awesome Friend, Awesome Cook, Awesome Contest

Our great pal Bizzy, over at  My Bizzy Kitchen, is a finalist in the Extended Stay America Recipe Contest.

For those of you that don't know our beloved Biz, she is quite the cook. She is also a very dear, kind and loving friend who means so much to so many. I can't tell you or begin to explain the support and love she has given to not only me, but so many of the people in her life.

Her husband "Tony" is undergoing tests and treatment at the Mayo Clinic, which is hundreds of miles from their home.  While at Mayo, they are staying at Extended Stay America and Biz is working her magic in the fully stocked kitchen their hotel room/home away from home provides.

I love Biz and Tony like family and would love to see her share the goodness of her cooking with the world by helping her win this contest.  She is absolutely one of the most upbeat people I have ever met and I know it would just be a topper during an otherwise difficult time for her and her family.

So Tadpoles, if you would be so kind, do you think you could click the link and enter your email?  You can vote once a day, from each email account you have.  It is SO easy and they won't contact you with ads or spam or nuthin'.  And you get a really cool recipe out of the deal too!

Could you do this for our buddy Bizzy? Please? This link goes directly to her recipe:

Apple Honey Mustard Sauce and Rosemary New Potatoes

OMGOSH, does that not sound delicious? It's a winner for sure gang! If we all vote it'll be a landslide victory.

Thank you for all you do Tadpoles.  You know how much you all mean to me and my family.

Hugs and love, Janine



Who DOES That?

Well known to most of you is the fact that, oftentimes, I have to use a wheelchair.

Now, I don't like my wheelchair, nor my cane on better days, because . . .well. . .I just want to be me and not some "lady in a chair". I hate being stared at and I hate the pity looks. But?  I don't have to use it all the time, and for that I am very blessed and thankful.

This story involves my chair.  A few weeks ago Steven and I took the girls to Richmond, VA to see our local AAA baseball team, the "Flying Squirrels". Great name, right?  Knowing the car ride was long and there would be a lot of walking involved we took the chair.
At the game. I always "cheat" and pull my mask down a bit for pics' ::wink::

We purchased handicapped accessible seats and took the elevator.  [It was kind of a sketch elevator, I must say, but since no one plunged to their deaths - we're cool. heehee] When we arrived at our seats we discovered they weren't accessible for my chair.  Couldn't exactly figure out what the stadium considered "Handicapped Accessible" but whatev'.

Okay.  No problem.  I can walk, it's painful, but I can and I am glad I can.  So, I did.  I had to leave my wheelchair on the concourse with a promise from the usher that it would be well guarded.

As long as it wasn't stolen I thought "Okay." Said "Thanks." and we went to our seats.

Unfortunately, I no longer have the best balance and this older stadium is quite steep in the stairs and the seating.  We did make it to our seats with me holding onto Steven.  Beautiful night, wonderful view - I love me some baseball Tadpoles.  Heck, the whole family loves baseball.  We tend to get excited when rooting for our team.

Let me rephrase that. Mom tends to get excited, too excited when rooting for our team.

In the second inning I stood up to cheer [bad idea] lost my balance, due to me and the steepness of the rise, and began to take a full header into the second row.  Steven shot his arm out, across my chest and grabbed my left arm to keep me upright. It did, but I hurt myself doing it.  Not bad, but enough to warrant going to the ladies' room to check it out.

Emily agreed to go with me and helped me up the stairs and out to the concourse to find my chair.

We walked out onto the concourse and what should we find?

A man, SITTING IN MY WHEELCHAIR, eating nachos.

Who in the hell does that?

Phyllis the security lady saw me coming with Em and turned to go and bring me my chair.  Imagine her surprise when she turned around and saw him sitting in it.

When she told him to vacate it he had the nerve to ask "Why?"  Um, dude? Asshole It is MY chair and doesn't belong to you.  The security lady just said "Get out. Now."

He stood up, nary an apology upon seeing me and walked off.

Grrrrrrrr.  Are people nuts? Isn't sitting in someone else's wheelchair akin to sitting in, I don't know, their car?

I understand there isn't a lot of seating in the concession area and gee, wouldn't it be nice to enjoy stale chips with day glo cheese in the comfort of a padded seat with wheels?

But the simple fact remains, It.Does.Not.Belong.To.You.

I should've brought my cane too.  I might've been able to smack the stupid out of him.

And with that thought. . .I am off to Confession. Have a great day Tadpoles.

Life is a gift and I am so very lucky to have you guys in it!

See ya' on the flipside. Love, Janine

And Jules?  If you're counting? Yes this is the second time in as many weeks that I have wounded myself at a ballgame.  Steven has decided "No baseball FOR YOU." [me.] heehee





Friday, July 25, 2014

And the Results are IN!

Woohoo!  The judging is over for the Orange County Fair and may I just say we have one happy little girl.


This pic' was drawn with charcoal on newsprint.  It is from a pic' her friend gave her. He wanted her to draw it.  He will receive it after the fair.
This one cracked me up.  It is pastel [again on newsprint] and the photo quality is bad, but?  It is a vivid purple orchid with antlers. Don't ask.  Like I always say "It's Evie."
 My favorite.  Acrylic on canvas. The glare is from plastic sheeting they placed over it due to rain, and the gray, black and white you see on the far right is not part of it.  It is an overlap from another painting.
 Family favorite.  This was also shown in our town art gallery and the owner offered to allow Evie to sell her work there because the owner loved this one so much.  It is Evie's Grandfather's day present. He has had to wait a bit.  It is scratchboard.
 Pencil on paper.  Evie didn't expect this to place and is happy for the ribbon. She told us the 1st place was amazing.  And it was! :)
 Colored pencil on paper.  She named this "Victoria".
The pictures aren't the best - but you get the idea.  Five 1st place and one 2nd for her art.

As for her 9 pictures?  She placed in every single one - YAY! ::skippyhappydance::

First place ribbons were awarded for the following:
The fence with the blue sky [everyone seems to love that pic' :) ]
The black and white of the boy with bowtie and his girl friend
Sun over the lake
The pond in the field
And Momma's favorite - the Ferris wheel

Second place ribbons were awarded for the pics:
Roller Coaster in sunset
And the self portrait of the butterfly and converse

Third place went to:
The two friends on the dock
And surprisingly?  The steps with the flowers.  She very happy with a third, but that is the second pic' everyone seems to love so much. :)

All totalled?  She entered 15 pieces and won 10 1st place, 3 2nd place and 2 3rd place.

I have never heard her happier.  And that? Makes me the happiest Momma in the world.

Thank you SO very much for your support here and on FB. Tadpoles she shower her with so much love and confidence boosting I can't imagine that she wouldn't have grown in her skill and passion without you.

Steven and I thank you.
[Evie too! Big goof smiles so big whenever she reads my pages and your comments. heehe]

Hugs and love, Janine