Saturday, October 31, 2009

Humbled by H1N1...

Wow, was I stupid and prideful. I wanted to be the family who could say that none of us ever got the Swine Flu. I wouldn't have been obnoxious about it. I wouldn't have shoved it in people's faces. It would have been more like an internal joy and satisfaction thing, the pride staying deep, deep down inside myself. I thought if we did all the right things, tried not to touch any unclean surface, used perfect personal hygiene techniques and took all the healthy supplements out there, we'd dodge the influenza bullet...WRONG!

My orange haired, freckle-faced OS has the flu, most likely the H1N1 Piggy Flu. Poo. The symptoms began the day after his 13th birthday. We didn't make a cake for him on his birthday because we were waiting to celebrate with our extended family. Now the thought of cake, even the family favorite cake, Mint Chocolate Torte, reviles him.

It appears that someone gave our OS a most vicious birthday present. I didn't see it enter the house. It wasn't wrapped, there was no bow, I didn't see him even open it up. Nonetheless, some ruthless soul gave him a whammy.
This morning, while in the middle of a dramatic and very strange dream, snuggling next to the Hubs, all of the sudden, this strained, forlorn voice breaks into my slumber, kind of like those Emergency Service Announcements on tv which always scare me. "Mom, Dad, I'm feeling really sick," our newly crowned teenager groaned as he made a place for himself in our bed.

By 6am, the Hubs and I were at the grocery store buying orange juice, water, more hand sanitizer, anything we could get our hands on to get us through this trial. The one thing they were sold out? Masks and I'm not talking of the Halloween kind. Ike coughed brazenly in our bedroom and I told him, "Dude, you're gonna take out the whole family!" We shall see if I was prophesying the future. (I don't want to prophesy the future!)

We had been hoping to get together with the fam. The Gooey Guys and their sweet sister Rachel along with other important relatives were scheduled to stop by but those plans have been thwarted. No one wants to see us. It's like we are social pariahs or something. What have we ever done to those people??? Zheesh! Poo.

So here we sit cloistered in our home. Not sure if we all are doomed. Ike was typing on this very keyboard last night...Does that spell disaster??? I did go to sleep and wake up with a headache. Can I just say that my personal experiences with flu were horrible? I prayed for a swift and untimely death which sadly did not come to pass. I'm not trying to make light of flu, I really just wanted to be out of my misery.

Friends, stay tuned. This was a post I did not want to write but I have been humbled and now I must sanitize my entire house...especially this keyboard.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Living in a material world and I am a material girl

I love fabric. Sometimes before I go to sleep at night, (and I share this without a hint of embarrassment or awkwardness), I will place different swatches on my bedroom carpet floor and imagine. As my mind unwinds from the day, I move the squares around and see the different patterns I can create. The Hubs will walk into the room and ask me, "What are you doing?" He doesn't get it as he just sees a junky mess. It's a fabric thing. And I have a ton of it. Yeah, I am a material girl.
This past weekend, I journeyed to one of my favorite places. Mary Jo's in Gastonia. It is the promised land on earth for someone who finds fabric fascinating.

Thankfully Mary Jo's is conveniently located only an hour away from some of my favorite people on the earth. I have a large extended family in South Carolina and although they alone make the trip worthwhile, Mary Jo's is a must-stop on my emotional map. And I am equally blessed because I have two of the most awesome OS a girl could ever have usually traveling with me. The reason for their respective awesomeness is that is I have trained them on how to behave at Mary Jo's.

The rules are quite simple.

1. Don't bug Mom when she is shopping for material.
2. Don't ask her when she thinks she is going to be done.
3. Cheerfully hold the fabric bolts for Mom and don't drop them.
4. Keep annoying jokes to a minimum.
5. Encourage Mom when she is shopping. Compliment her fabric choices.
6. Smile when Mom wants to take pictures of you holding the fabric bolts.
7. Don't tell Dad how much Mom spends.

These seven simple rules allow us all to maximize the Mary Jo's experience. This time, as an added bonus, we also found material for the OS. Aaron and Ike both selected fabric for me to make them unique, one of a kind pajama pants for Spirit Week 2010. I can't wait to reveal their fancy pants in the future. I assure you no one else will have these pajama pants...stay tuned sometime in February for their unveiling.

You've got to love a store that has everything. You can upholster your couch, make a bathing suit, sew one of those horrible, overly frilly beauty pageant dresses for a little girl, design your own wedding gown AND buy fabric of nearly every vegetable imaginable. I saw garlic fabric, eggplant fabric, grapes, corn, olives, lettuce and more.

One day I'm going to make my own dream skirt...I want to make a salad skirt, no joke. And I know exactly where to go and two of the coolest, most secure with their masculinity guys to take with me. Sorry ladies, they aren't for rent, them's boys are mine!

MaryJo's + Aaron + Ike + camera + credit card = Happy Mama Sew Much Fun!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bus driver, move that bus!

The clock ticked away and the vision of Aaron's room materialized. Surveying the house, I began collecting items that matched the room decor. I just love "shopping" in my own house for treasures! So does the Hubs!

With Ike and the Hubs essentially done with painting, my job began. I got to do the fun stuff. The poster of Aaron's favorite
music group Switchfoot was placed in a frame, a vast improvement from the previous method of display, plastic tacks stuck on the wall. I assembled photos of Aaron's mission trip to Guatemala and put them in another frame. On his dresser, I placed a cool percussion instrument I had given him from El Salvador. We have an old globe which looked perfect in his room. A horribly ugly clay vase I made in middle school
surprisingly matched in Aaron's new room. And Aaron's cherished photo of him and his dad when he was a little boy, found a prominent place on a wall.

This picture is one Aaron used to carry around whenever the Hubs was angry at him and Aaron was feeling guilty. All these little touches gave the room a cozy feel.

Isaac suggested painting a kitchen stool for his brother's room. The stool had been taking space in the garage and with a few coats of spray paint, Isaac's ingenuity led to Aaron having an awesome place to sit while playing his guitar.

The Hubs did one more thing before Aaron arrived home. Using a special paint, Mark made a chalkboard on his wall. We knew he would love that extra touch.

And then there was the coffee cup. I can't tell you how many times my OS has told me how he loves that nubby, bohemian mug. It was incredible how Aaron's favorite coffee cup perfectly matched his room! I think it served as the inspiration to the entire room. The thought of my OS sitting in his room, having a candle lit, sipping on some Peruvian coffee served in the world's best coffee cup doing his homework, man, if that ain't the coolest thing! I was so eager for him to get home to see the drastic change!

As we toiled away on this project, I seriously thought about God. Without trying to be overly spiritual, I feel that my OS's room was a perfect representation of what the Lord did for me, for my family, even for you...

Aaron didn't do anything special to merit a drastic room change. And we didn't spend a fortune on his room. We probably spent about $150 to do everything. Yeah, his room had been a mess but something overtook my desire to merely clean the room. It was love. Aaron didn't get straight A's, or accomplish some magnificent feat. We did it because we loved him. Plain and simple. I felt like we totally poured ourselves out for Aaron. Doing this made me think about Jesus and what He did for someone as unworthy as myself.

Aaron knew we were going to be decorating his room but he had NO idea we were going full-out for him. "Wow, that's a whole lot better than I would have done!" Aaron said as he looked around at the freshly painted walls, his treasured guitars secured to the walls, all the sweeping changes.

This Bible verse ran through my mind as we unveiled the room to Aaron for the first time, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory..." Ephesians 4:20-21

Tell me what you think about our Extreme Makeover!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Part Two - The room begins its transformation

With Aaron's room now fit for habitation, I decided that though it was clean, just being clean wasn't good enough. The walls were pocked with holes and the room was bereft of any personality. And if you know my middle OS, personality is something Aaron has in abundance.

It was at that moment, that I decided we (as in the Hubs and Ike) were going to undertake yet another doozy of a job. We were going to give Aaron's room an Extreme Makeover a la Wal-Mart style. Our deadline was to be finished by the time Aaron returned from a weekend trip to the mountains with a friend and his family. To my delight, everyone was in agreement.

Although I'm not a big fan of Wal-Mart and have rarely shopped in one for years, they have recently built one nearby and I must say, it is really nice. I felt certain that we could find something that could work without spending a fortune. I know better than to even walk into a Pottery Barn store, my flesh is weak enough that I'd surely find something wayyyyyy out of our price range. So the Hubs and I left the OS with the dirty kitchen to clean and found a bedspread, a rug and a few incidentals for Aaron's room in short order.

I wasn't sure exactly what we were going to do but then it all began coming together. Soon, the idea of transforming his room into a coffee motif of sorts drifted into my brain. There was some left-over paint in the garage and we decided to use a warm tan on three of the walls and to paint one wall a contrasting color, sort of like a dark turquoise. The once drab room was developing a personality!

Just to clarify, I must say that Aaron wasn't a slacker. Prior to leaving on his mountain camping trip, Aaron exerted some effort into his room. He had patched up and sanded some of the holes on the walls but he wasn't home for long to do much. Friday night the Hubs and my freckle-face, orange haired, nearly teenaged OS faithfully worked on Aaron's room with nary a peep or complaint the entire weekend. Ike sanded, painted, even suggested decorating ideas which we actually implemented. As I looked around the house, I found things which would make the room flow even better.

Could we meet our Sunday afternoon deadline? Would the room look as cool as it did in my mind? What would Aaron actually think about the drastic changes we had made???

Ah, such a cliffhanger! I will tell you this, the whole idea was
inspired by this coffee cup...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Killing dust bunnies and other various enemies, part one

I now know where my oldest OS got his military ambition. Some of it came from his grandpa who is retired Air Force. The Hubs applied to the Air Force Academy (declined) and was a runner-up in at the Naval Academy, so let's say Nate's daddy passed on some military inclinations too. But I know where most of it came from. Friends, Nathan got his warrior mentality from me.

How can I say this with such bravado? I know this because last week I cleaned Aaron's and Isaac's rooms. They are 15 and almost 13. Cleaning their rooms requires a Soldier's strength.

Anyone with teenage boys knows what I'm talking about. I blithely walked into Aaron's room the other day, not looking for trouble and I was appalled to find it an utter mess. I can't even remember what I was looking for. But I do know this, I wasn't looking for the huge project which befell me AND the Hubs and even Ike. For when I saw the room in shambles, it was then and there, I purposed to do something about it.

Thankfully I did not find any food. No moldy sandwiches or half-eaten candy nor did I uncover anything really disgusting or smelly. One time I found my long-lost blue bra under a bed but that was a while ago!

But there was dust, disorder and decorating disasters everywhere. I was thick in the battlefield armed only with a vacuum, a dust towel and a computer which played soothing music to distract me. Oh, how I wanted to give up but as any good Soldier will tell you, you must destroy your opponent. And that I did and then some.

In my subsequent posts, I will show you the transformation. Aaron's room was defeated and I remain vainglorious (in a good way). Wait till you see how his room came alive!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

We love you dry ice

If you have a nearly 13 year old boy on your Christmas shopping list, have I found an inexpensive gift item for you! It's cheap, it's fun and slightly dangerous, what more could a nearly 13 year old boy want!

Ok, so here it is. Brace yourself, it's really special...

It's...drum roll, please...
Dry ice

Dry ice?? Yep, dry ice.

I wouldn't have thunk it myself but let me attest to how wonderful you will be in the eyes of an almost 13 year old OS if you get him a chunk of dry ice. I think if Ike could prepare curriculum for 7th grade boys, it would involve only two classes - P.E. and Dry Ice. The end. Class dismissed.

It all started when the Hubs, Ike and I went to work out and on the way home, we went to buy some lettuce. Excitedly, Ike begged and pleaded the Hubs and I to also purchase a bag of dry ice.

Oh, if you could have seen the look of utter joy as the dry ice went down the conveyor belt and our bag boy slipped the chunk it into the plastic grocery bag! I don't know if I've ever seen the child this happy even about ice cream!

We arrived home and Ike was eager to experiment. After placing the slab in a bowl, he went to work. In school, he learned that if you place a nickel on dry ice, it wiggles. The Hubs and Ike used a quarter and shazam, observed similar results. Then Ike marveled at the billows of cloud-like smoke swirling just above the bowl after putting water in the bowl. Another experiment involving dry ice and soap created foamy, dramatic bubbles.

He loved it so much, I think if Lebron James himself would have sauntered into the kitchen, Ike would have merely given him a passing nod, maybe a little, "Wuz up" which is saying something because Ike has already determined he WILL have a child named Lebron one day!

This past summer, Ike had a lot of fun making a brain but it smelled funny and what do you do with a mushy brain when you're finished with it? As long as you don't put your hand on it for long, I have learned the dry ice is pretty cool with no unpleasant odors.

Every thing about the dry ice produced a "Mom, come look at this!" moment! I will admit it was interesting. The only thing that was rather annoying was when we sat down to dinner. The dry ice had been placed on the table. We were bowing heads, holding hands and as we began to pray; gurgling sounds came rising from the bowl. The bubbling was so loud, it nearly went above the petitions we were making to the Lord! You know how your stomach sounds if you are having diarrhea-like symptoms or if you've had food poisoning? Well, those are the sounds of dry ice if you put a lot of water on it. Ultimately, it became so gross and disruptive, we had to banish the dry ice outside until we were finished praying and had had dinner!

For three hours, our almost teenager, played with dry ice. That had to be the best $5 I have ever spent on a child. Based on how much fun he had and apparently how much he learned about dry ice in class, I think we will be getting some again in the very near future!

It was fun seeing our boy wildly loving something as simple and cheap as dry ice. If you have been reading any of my recant posts, then you know "we" are having a lot of wild moments lately (if I could only blog about more of them!). A perfectly content, pre-adolescent boy is a thing of great beauty these days.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh what a beautiful day!

I am always confused on October 8. Do I feel sad? Is it okay to feel happy? Am I a bad person if I forget? Am I not moving on if I want to cry? It's 24 hours that I want to hurry up and get over with already.

October 8th is the day my dad died. It was 24 years ago.

But I don't want to talk about the strangeness of the day. It is what it is and I muddle through it one way or the other. Rather, I want to share with you how the Lord smiled on this day, thanks to a magnificent day at Duke Gardens and two of my awesome OS.

Early this afternoon, Aaron, Ike and I journeyed to enjoy 55 acres of horticultural heaven. There wasn't a place on the premises that wasn't breathtaking and inspiring. With my guys home for Fall Break, I wanted to do something today but I wasn't certain they would consider hanging out with me, in a garden no less, to be their version of fun. What a blessing when Aaron, my 15 year old OS enthusiastically announced that he wanted to go!

Ike brandished the camera and took most of the shots. We saw the coolest pond with remarkable water plants. I was walking to the pond when the OS motioned for me to pay attention. I hadn't seen the blue heron directly ahead. It was perfectly motionless, as if it were just waiting for its picture to be taken. Then suddenly, it stealthily inched forward and nabbed a goldfish in its pointy beak. My orange haired, freckle-faced nearly 13 year old OS captured the moments as the heron gulped the goldfish down its skinny neck! What a sight to see! I also think we heard the heron burp!

We loved the bamboo plants, the American Beautyberry with its juicy purple berries, the Zig Zag Bridge, really everything. And I just wished we had Smell-a -Vision because y'all, our noses were equally delighted with fragrances of apricot, roses and gardenia filling the air.

There are moments when being a mom is truly wonderful. If you have read some recent posts, you are aware that I have also recently experienced days when mothering has been grueling!
Throughout our two hour stroll, I had been saying that the Lord had truly blessed this day and to my delight, Aaron offered a heartfelt "Amen!" to my comments.

And I laughed when I started to complain that my rickety knee was annoying me and Aaron echoed that his hip was bothering him and Ike chimed in that his ankle was beginning to hurt! How splendid that we all made it through the afternoon nearly pain-free!

So I approached October 8th with some trepidation but saw that the Lord allowed me a joyous day far beyond what I could have expected. If you are like me, you probably have a day or two which you dread, may this post offer you a new perspective.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rain on my soul

Writing is often my healthy outlet for expressing my feelings. Tears stream from my face as I sit in the Critical Care Waiting Area at the hospital. My mom is having heart catherization in a matter of moments and for some reason, I am a wreck.

I feel like I'm going to lose it. My brain seems to be detached from the rest of my body. In the last four weeks, I have been to three different hospitals for three different people, one of them being myself. I drove to the hospital and missed the turn. When I came to the familiar intersection, I had to call my husband to ask him which way to turn.

I got into the parking lot and don't ask me how, but I found myself driving against the arrows. When I finally pulled into a parking spot, I was completely confused. I tried to walk down a flight of stairs but they were blocked. It was as if the hospital had moved from the time I had entered the parking lot!

I walked into the hospital and began looking for my stepfather. The ladies at the front desk asked me if I was having any flu symptoms. I told them no and asked them if they are now having to inquire everyone about this. I didn't ask this in a sassy way but perhaps, I sounded a little frazzled. It was interesting that they said no so I'm wondering if I was acting so weird they thought something must be wrong with me!

Praise the Lord a kindly volunteer escorted me to the Heart Catherization Area. I shutter to think of where I would be if he hadn't shown me where to go.

Then I saw my mom and I don't know why but I struggled to keep it together. The nurses were going to show her a video about the procedure and I knew I couldn't handle it. So here I sit by myself, watching Judge Mathis, writing to you, whoever you are.

It is a rainy day. My dad died 25 years ago on October 8th. Maybe that's the reason I am having a rough time...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

One of those days

I called my sister Denise last week and the sounds of one of my adorable nephews made our conversation brief. Two year old Josiah was wailing, the agony so loud you would have thought his arm was being amputated without anesthesia.

"Wow," I thought to myself as I hung up the phone. "Am I glad those days are over!" A twinge of pity and relief waft over me as I went along my merry way.

No sooner had I taken that trip down Memory Lane when I found myself metaphorically speaking, driving down that
once familiar road. Only I wasn't with a toddler but with my orange haired, freckle-faced nearly 13 year old OS. At the end of the day, as I tucked Isaac into bed, I was glad the day was over. Tears streamed down my face as I prayed over my boy. I was as weary as I was when he was a feisty toddler.

I'm not complaining, it's just I guess I was a little surprised to have one of "those" days. I can never give up on raising my OS, even on days when I feel like a failure. I must be resolute in all things. Despite the drama of the day, I was grateful because I recognized that we still have more work to do in the lives of our OS. Soon I will be the mama of three teenage sons. The job of mother gets easier on some level but more difficult on others.

I don't really consider myself a very strong person, physically or mentally but this I know with all my heart. I will never give up on this job. On the days where there is boy drama (and there is boy drama) or bad grades or poor choices, I know where my strength comes from.

Psalm 28:7

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song.