Updating at Warp Speed

Several things have happened since I last saw you. So without further ado, here’s an update:

Halloween came and went.

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I added a new bear to my collection and he promptly took over my favorite place to hang out:

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My oldest son turned 19. He still doesn’t have a job.

My next oldest son was promoted from freshman football to varsity football and he got to play in the last two varsity games. He would have played in the final varsity game, but he was sick all week and missed two practices so he couldnt play. We can’t wait for next year. He will be the only Sophomore on the varsity team.

Everyone got sick with some weird stomach bug. I hope it was H1N1 because if so, we all had it and survived and should be good to go for the rest of the year. Right?

My kitchen cabinets have three shelves. Well, one cabinet now only has two shelves, but that’s ok because I don’t have nearly as many glasses as I used to since that one shelf decided it was tired of holding up all of those glasses.

At least 3 times in the last two weeks, I haven’t had more than three hours of sleep because my husband snores and when the weather changes, his snoring gets worse. As soon as I drift off, he wakes me up. Poor guy, he doesn’t do it on purpose, but one of these mornings, he’s going to wake up with tampons shoved up each nostril and a sock in his mouth.

Most nights, I only sleep about 6 hours anyway.

We had record heat. It was ni the 90’s all week. It’s November.

We had our fiscal year end at work and that inculded taking inventory. I worked 12 hour days and weekends.

Somewhere in all of that, I worked, slept, ate, cleaned, laughed, cried, lived life, made decisions and talked to my family.

At least I assumed I did all of that. I don’t remember much of it in the blur of my life.

So, I’m back now, but quite frankly, next week doesn’t look much better.

Finally, do you guys miss my posts or me coming to visit you and leave comments?

 

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Back to school!

My kids went back to school this week. This time of the year is very stressful for me. Not only is there the expense of buying new clothes, backpacks, and supplies, but there’s also the emotional hold of letting go of my children a little more.

Each school year means they have grown up and away just a little bit.

My daughter started the third grade and she’s still only seven years old until Monday. She’s the youngest in her class and the youngest in our family. My only daughter. The one who takes my kisses, peels them off her face, puts imaginary glue on the back, and sticks them back on her cheeks to keep them forever.

My third son is a walking brain, always thinking and continually questioning the world around him. He’s already determining what his science project will be and tickled that his teacher always gets all of the “smart kids”.

My second son sailed through gifted classes and now finds himself taking advanced placement classes as he enters high school as a freshman. He’s also over 6 ft tall and as cute as he can be with long dark hair and big brown eyes. He’s preparing to play football knowing that it’s a pass to play situation where if he isn’t passing his classes, he can’t play football. This is going to be a tough year for him, but he’s ready for the challenge. As long as some girl doesn’t side track him, I think he will do just fine.

Finally, my oldest son is finishing up his college classes and I hope he will be able to find a job out in the real world.

I watch the kids grow up measured by a calendar based on new clothes, pencils, and teachers. A school year paused by a summer break where kids can just be kids before they leave again to return to the educational institution and remind me how fast they are growing up.


A Grand Birthday

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My birthday party this year was a grand event.

The day started bright and early with my family of six piling into my truck like sardines. We drove for four hours, the wind coming in the windows growing considerably cooler as we drove north.  The speakers maintained a continuous stream of music ranging from brand new pop music that made the teenagers happy to the classics that make my husband and I feel young while at the same time, reminds our children how old we are.

The Grand Canyon is incredible. 

We left the Natural wonder of the world at 9:30 pm and didn’t arrive home until nearly 2 am. The radio crooned quietly to not disturb the sleeping children, both big and small alike and the wind through the windows changed from chilly to fiery as we drove south.

I’m sharing some of the pictures, but this post isn’t about the beauty of the grand canyon.

This post is about spending over seventeen hours in close quarters with my husband and children and enjoying the experience.

It was a great birthday.

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One Long Exhausting Week

The week simply started bad. Sunday evening, we were putting away laundry and preparing for another week of  school and work, when my daughter looks at her pile of clothes and says, “I can’t breathe.” She’d had a cough at night for a few days, but she hadn’t complained at all and she was very active during the day. I had already planned to call her doctor for a checkup if the cough didn’t go away, but my plans changed as I asked more questions.

Does your throat hurt? Does your chest hurt? What about your ears? Nose? Tongue?Eyes? What about your big toe? How’s it doing these days?

She said her chest was scratchy, her throat hurt kinda, and her ear hurt if she stuck her finger in it. The big toe, thankfully, was fine. This is the same kid who came to me over a year ago and said, “Mom, my tongue hurts.” I looked at it with a flashlight to discover that it wasn’t her tongue, but her tonsils that hurt. They were the size of grapes. That resulted in a trip to the emergency room. She hadn’t complained about it at all before that.

While I was taking her temperature, her nine year old brother coughed. I said, “Oh no you don’t. I know that as soon as I get her healthy again, you’re going to end up at urgent care with the same bug. That’s it, you’re going, too.”

Instead of going to work on Monday morning, I waited four hours with a very sick little girl, and a threatening to be sick little boy at urgent care. I never understood why it’s called urgent care since nothing there is ever done urgently.

With a diagnosis of bronchitis for each child as well as a double ear infection for my daughter, we left urgent care to go to the pharmacy and fill five prescriptions. I then packed my little sicklies back in the car and I drove to work to trade kids for work. Luckily, or unluckily some days, we work at the same place. So, I unpacked the kids from my truck straight into my husband’s car, he took them home and I worked the rest of the day.

Husband stayed home Tuesday and I stayed home Wednesday with the kids. Thursday, everyone went to school and work like usual except that I was totally buried in work just from missing one and a half days.

Monday night through Thursday night, my husband takes our oldest son to his night classes at 6 and I pick the kid up at 11. In other words, I literally sleep about 5 hours a night. Throw in a couple of coughing kids and I’m lucky to get 3 hours of good sleep.

Friday was the last day of school and included me racing from work  to an eighth grade graduation for son number two.

Saturday, they’re all hanging out in the pool and I’m exhausted.

Finally, on Sunday evening I start feeling human again. Then, my daughter coughed. I told her if she started feeling bad at all, she had to tell me right away so I could take her back to the Dr because I didn’t want her to get pneumonia. She and my youngest son both listened with rapt attention as I explained how I barely survived a bout of pneumonia as a child.

It started with my grandfather falling asleep on the lakefront. My 7 year old brother and my 5 year old self were swimming in the lake at the time. Except, I couldn’t swim so maybe wading is a better term.

We were wading in the lake. Actually, I was just walking in the water until the surface dropped off. Then I was under the water and sinking like a stone.

My brother thought I was kidding. I could see him through the murky water. At least until everything went black. When I came to, vomiting up most of the lake, some teenager had pulled me out, someone had roused my grandfather, and my brother was completely awed. “I thought you were dead! Man, that was cool!”

Soon after this mishap, I got sick, except my mom didn’t believe I was sick. She thought I was faking to get out of going to school.

Do kindergartners do that? Really?

When I stopped getting enough oxygen and I became lethargic and unresponsive, my mother finally decided it was time for me to see a doctor. The diagnosis? Walking pneumonia. The doctor told my mother I was very close to death and it’s a good thing she didn’t wait a minute longer.

When I finished telling my children this story, my son said, “Wow Mom, you saved millions of people.”

Understandably confused, I frowned and said, “How did my nearly dying save anyone?”

“Because,” he replied, “you have four kids, and we could each have four kids, and they all have four kids. That will be millions of people!”

I looked to my daughter for help.

She stared back at me innocent and wide-eyed and said, “Did you live?”


To Be Tattooed

I woke up this morning with a tattoo. It’s a fluid , graceful horse head sitting delicately on my right ankle. It’s lovely.

It wasn’t there when I went to bed and I don’t remember going out and getting drunk. If I did go out and get drunk, I would  remember some of it – wouldn’t I?

I stumbled out of my room blurry-eyed and headed for the coffee pot. At least my new body art didn’t hurt. Or maybe I was really really drunk. As caffeine coursed through my blood, I became aware of giggling coming from the living room.

There sat my eight year old son and seven year old daughter.

Or at least I think it was them.

It was hard to tell through the tattoos covering them from head to foot, but the giggles sounded familiar. My husband reclined on the couch, his right arm tattooed clear down to the hand holding the remote. I guess I should consider myself lucky that only my foot and ankle were accessible to the tatoo bandits giggling on the living room floor.

When they saw me watching, the little tribal covered beings chased after me , each with a sponge in one hand and slips of plastic coated paper gripped in the other. I barely escaped into my bathroom with my coffee before the sponge slapped wetly against the door and the giggling fiends went in search of another victim.

I think I heard a cat yowl.

Should I tell them I don’t have any rubbing alcohol to remove their decorations?
No more sleeping in for me if it means my husband has to take the kids to the store with him. Who knows what they will come home with next.

Knowing my luck, my husband will decide to let them play doctor and I will wake up strapped to the bed by bandages. And with my luck, the tattooed cat will be in there with me.


On Any Given Sunday

In today’s busy world, many of us flit from one activity to another without taking the time to reflect on the small events that shape our lives.

Last Thursday after working all day, I drove home in rush hour traffic, picked up my second oldest son and took him shopping with me to buy all of the pieces to make Easter special for my family of six. I raced through two stores, buying eggs, Easter basket goodies, groceries, coloring kits, and the other miscellaneous items on my list. I arrive home and unload groceries while my husband begins dinner. My evening slows down just as it’s time to get the little kids in bed. I repeated this entire scene again on Friday, this time returning to the store with my daughter to purchase the items I forgot to purchase on Thursday as well as birthday presents for parties on Saturday.

During all of this, I received a message from a dear friend who told me to “Enjoy the joys of my little ones.”

That thought gave me pause.

My seven year old daughter has been excited all week. Saturday, she went to her very first birthday party that her brothers were not invited to. In her eyes, this was her first show of independence, that she got invited to a birthday party with other little girls, and her brothers couldn’t go. She’s watched with envy for years as her popular older brothers went to parties and had friends come to the house. She and I went shopping alone on Friday. She picked the birthday present. She picked the wrapping paper, the card, and the bows. Early Saturday morning, she was dressed and ready for the party before her brothers were even awake. She behaved well all morning in spite of her bubbling excitement. I thoroughly enjoyed my daughter’s joy.

So this Easter Sunday, or on any given Sunday, or any moment that you can, enjoy the joy of those you love.

 

Claire Collins is the author of Images of Betrayal and Fate and Destiny.