Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sixth Grade Awkwardness

It is not easy being a sixth grader. Your body is changing, other people's bodies are changing. You've got your girl drama and although most people don't believe it, you've got boy drama too. I should know as the mama of three sons. Sometimes your nose is outgrowing the rest of your body, an occasional blemish will show up unexpectedly to your horror, I bet we all are glad to be over and done with sixth grade, right? 

My youngest OS is a little sixth grader who is looking forward to school today. He normally simply tolerates school. My bookends, the oldest and the youngest OS, are certainly different from one another. Nate's at West Point, doing extremely well in every aspect. Ike's in middle school. He has to work hard to maintain good grades and would much rather be on a basketball court or at a friend's house. Poor Isaac, his dumb parents stress the importance of education so he has no choice but to do homework and keep learning. Woe is he. 

Today is an extra special day because in Science class, they are going to suture a pig's foot. They are studying skin disorders and a special guest, Dr. Saad will show the sixth graders how to do it. Ike's teacher, Mrs. Hamo thinks that the students are mature enough to handle this. Ike thinks otherwise. Although he is confident he has the intestinal fortitude to handle the procedure. "If it were a liver or something, that would be disgusting," he commented to me just before leaving for school, Ike has heard that people have passed out AND thrown up in the past. I can't wait to hear about all the theatrics quite honestly. 

Ike stated that suturing a pig's foot will definitely be a step above one of the most recent lessons in Mrs. Hamo's Science class.  Again, the class was studying skin but this time they learned about...are you ready? Do you think you can handle this? Are you sure? Ok, it was on...(begin rolling eyes)...mammary glands. 

Did you know that mammary glands are only found in females? True! Ike said he didn't necessarily know that helpful fact but I think my 12 year old could have lived a LONG time without that piece of knowledge. Apparently he wasn't alone because the entire class erupted into laughter. Can you say AWKWARD!

Why, I can still fondly recall the special assembly at Jefferson Junior High in Naperville, Illinois. No boys were allowed. It was just for girls  and we watched a movie in the gym. It was about menstruation and I seriously wanted to die. If my memory serves me right, I think there was a girl riding on a horse and after that, everything was a blur. She seemed so happy even on her period. "Kill me. Kill me, now," I desperately pleaded as I sat on the aluminum folding chair. 

I'll let you know how Ike handles today and I suppose I won't be able to use actual names in the post though for fear of even more sixth grade troubles. 

Does anyone else have a special middle school memory that just won't leave your mind no matter how hard you try? 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chaos and clutter, order and wonder

It's incredible the feeling of freedom and empowerment a person can feel from a calendar. About two years ago my organization consultant turned me on to an old-fashioned concept. Little did I know the changes it would bring and how the trickle-down effect would help two other people in the process.

Prior to enlisting the help of Geralin (who by the way is one of my besties although she doesn't really know it), I was a cluttered mess. I suppose in utero, as the Lord was knitting me carefully in my mother's womb, He gave me an overabundant love of words and virtually no innate gift of organization. 

For years, I have survived without a calendar. I'd make an appointment at a doctor's office, get the little card detailing the date and time and then promptly lose the business card. This meant, either

1. hoping I had the date tucked securely (yeah, right) in my brain or 
2. calling the office to get the information every.single.time. This is a picture of chaos. 

Then, upon getting the information, I would go to my computer, log on and enter it into the calendar program. Maybe. If I were in an especially organized mood, I might even print out the calendar sheets and then stuff them into my purse/plastic bag/whatever. The process failed miserably. 

But somehow, miraculously, I plodded along assuming my life was doomed to chaos.

Enter Geralin...I truly believe the Lord put her in my life because she gave me the impetus to transform many aspects of my harried my home office went from this

to this...

As I allowed her to investigate other aspects of my life, she asked me how I kept track of appointments and important dates. With a shameful gulp, I attempted to explain my paltry system which she quickly poo-pooed (sp?). Instead of my completely unreliable technique, Geralin told /urged /forced /suggested /recommended these guys and their products.

I consider myself to be a fairly technologically savvy person but she urged me to employ a time-honored tradition...a paper calendar (I really like this style) and, get this, a pencil!

Since I devote a lot of my professional life to speaking, I can't tell you how much easier it is for me to see when/where/if I can speak by simply leafing through my calendar. And it's equally exciting to use a pencil because I can effortlessly changes dates without leaving inky scribble marks all over the place.

My co-worker now uses the same method. I love it when we are together and we can check our schedules with a mere turn of a page.

But the really exciting person for me to introduce this method to is my mom. She had several doctor appointments today and the physical therapist commented to her, "Wow, you are really organized!" Now I have her set up with a calendar and a binder to store all her important paperwork. And at the risk of sounding braggadocious, I even scrap booked the front and back of her binder with some treasured photos I had around the house. 

Yes, having a calendar and being aware of one's life, the comings and the goings has brought freedom and control into my scattered brain. I highly recommend it - Hail to the Calendar and the Pencil!

Friday, April 24, 2009


Like all good daughters, I have subscribed a number of MY personal issues onto my mother. Because of my mom, I (fill in the blank)______________. Many of you probably can relate and would admit that the mother/daughter relationship thing can be hard and complicated. Maybe that's why the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, choose to bless me with three sons! To demonstrate, here is but a small list of the things I have blamed my mother for in the past:

I lack athletic prowess because my mom didn't stress the value of sports.
I don't know how to swim because my mom never took me for swimming lessons as a small child.
I am bad with money because my mom didn't teach me the value of a dollar.

And the list goes on and on...I will stop there as to not further embarrass myself. 

But yesterday, I found myself humbled and blessed. Something that has long been on my "list" needs to be removed.

For decades now I have told people that there are not a lot of photos of me when I was a child. If you and I were in a random conversation and you happened to mention something about pictures of yourself as a kid, I would probably have sighed heavily and told you of my picture woes. (Strum sappy violin music). When I was a girl growing up in Wheaton, Illinois, we had a flood in our basement and it destroyed, among other things, boxes and boxes of pictures. I recall the soggy, blobby paper mess and the dismay I felt in my young girl's heart as I saw my memories destroyed. Who was to blame for the flood? Well, it honestly didn't matter, I knew the culprit. I suspect you can guess my prime suspect. Yes, it was my mom. 

This week, following a meeting with my favorite organization consultant, I began the necessary and tedious task of de-cluttering my home. In various closets, possibly in every room there is a box or basket full of pictures. This week I have begun to weed through them, tossing out the bad photos, hanging on to the good ones. Geralin has a theory about pictures which I now claim as my own. She says, "if I don't look good in the picture, then it goes." Geralin's my girl, one of my fab five, as my youngest OS would jest.

I am amazed at the scads of pictures we have EVERYWHERE! The stockpiles of pictures blurred my head as I tossed one photo after another into the trash. It has been freeing to re-claim lost closet space and re-discover sweet pictures of days gone by.

And last night, I believe the Lord healed a part of me because in the frenzied mass of photos, I am finding a lot of pictures of myself. There are many of me as a little girl on random Picture Days, a couple of me walking up the sidewalk for my first day of kindergarten, a few particularly unflattering pics of me blowing out candles on a birthday cake as a pimply teen, you get the idea. 

Oh, dear friends, I have found me. 

My past was not completely destroyed in that basement. There were salvages of my life still preserved, in greater proportion than I ever realized.

And so in the tv room, after everyone was in bed, I held picture after picture of myself in my hands and drifted back to those moments. They are not gone. They are preserved both in these pictures but also within me. Sorting through all the clutter and getting rid of the unnecessary, buried among it all, was Cindy. She hadn't dissolved away into nothingness. As I make room in my home, I am finding new places in my spirit as well.

I'm learning that I can no longer blame my mom for a lot of things I have done in the past. Honestly, I have been aware of that for about 12 years now since asking Jesus into my heart and looking squarely at my own contrition and culpability. But how immature I have been to blame an act of God like a flood on my poor mother. I mean really. For goodness sake, she had no control over it no matter how much power I think a mama can wield. 

I hesitate for a moment and wonder to myself. Actually, a jab of anxiety wafts over me...what will my OS blame me for? What will be something that they say I should have done differently? Will we just laugh about it or will I carry around grief and guilt. Ew. What salvages of their own shortcomings will they try and attribute to me, their mom who, like my own, is trying the very best she can to make a sweet and wonderful life for them?

That is not something that I can answer. Today I'd rather focus on what I can claim victory over. I found me. I, or rather, remnants of me, weren't swept away in an unpredictable flood.  And if all the pictures were gone, I now admit it wouldn't have been my mom's fault in the first place. 

When we went out for a late-night run to the grocery store to buy dish washing detergent, (doesn't that sound like a fun outing!?), I decided to release this guilt from her once and for all. She has been staying at my house recovering from surgery on her wrist and a bout of pneumonia. The healing process has been painful and discouraging but last night, I believe both of us got healed in a way we weren't expecting. We got in the car and I couldn't wait to tell her my revelation. It wasn't a gushy moment but I felt a weight off my heart and I noticed she had a look of contentment on her face and it wasn't because we were going to buy dish washing detergent at 10pm! 
Guilt and blame, in all of its forms, are as destructive as a flood. Forgiveness and grace, on the other hand, fellow imperfect mamas of the world, well that can wash over a multitude of sins. 

Hallelujah, grace like rain, washing down on me...


Monday, April 20, 2009

Homage to our friend, the stomach

I could blog about the weird dream I had this morning involving me in college where I lived in a dorm building and there was this elevator and for some reason, never explained in a dream sequence, a glass roof was installed in the dormitory building at my college which was poorly constructed with a one-inch gap between the elevator and my dorm room floor and then, out of nowhere, my stepfather magically appears. In the dream, my dorm room was on the top floor and therefore I could see lightning strikes and I wasn't sure if I could deal with those living conditions. As someone who is afraid of heights, I spent most of the dream terrified about how to negotiate the one-inch gap between the safety of the elevator and the security of the floor and I'm still thinking about it! I awakened this morning scared and in need of a hug which my husband gladly supplied. What the heck did any of that mean? No clue!

OR I could blog about how I visited five medical office buildings today and how my mom's wrist is doing better following surgery but now she has pneumonia; how my son has a cold/allergies and that there is a good chance I have a micro-fracture on my stupid tooth and might need a crown. 

But instead I'd rather tell you about the best brochure I've ever seen about an organ in the digestive system, the stomach. 

And I'd like to brag about the creator of this amazing brochure, my youngest OS, Isaac.

In his sixth grade English class, the students had to create a travel brochure for any part of the digestive tract they had recently studied. Among the choices, Ike could select the esophagus, the stomach, the liver, the mouth, the gall bladder, the small intestine, the large intestine and let us not forget, the anus. (I never thought I'd be writing that word on my blog!) Remind me to tell you something about that word in a minute. But my little, orange-haired OS knew instantly what body part he was going to pick = the stomach. I think this might have been his favorite homework assignment ever and he attacked this project with vigor.

This brochure was so good, I think it should be at every internist's office. The headline was:

The Stomach - if you like getting dirty and slimy, come have some fun with us!

You open the tri-fold brochure and inside you see an "illustration" of the stomach. Isaac's teacher thought the diagram was kind of weird because there is no face on the drawing. She said usually you have a face but apparently Ike wanted all eyes on the stomach. I think it worked quite nicely. 

Continue reading the contents of this stomach travel brochure and learn about:

Imports and Exports  - 

Favorite line in this paragraph, "There is only one way into the stomach and two ways out." All-righty then...

Accomodations - You can stay in one of the best hotels ever, it is called the Stomach Hotel. This hotel has big beds, big rooms and lots to chow on. You will not be disappointed, trust me!

Dangers - The stomach does have some dangers. If the stomach has a virus  you are likely to be shot out of the stick-like tube and out the mouth. Also if you eat too much you may be thrown up. 

Why should I come here? - Well, if you have had a long week you can come here and enjoy a nice hot tub and be massaged by the best massagers in the stomach called Peristalsis Massagers.

What happens here? - Lots of things happen here. You can get a massage or go in a nice hydrochloric acid hot tub. The possibilities are endless. (I seriously wanted to book a weekend at the Stomach Hotel!) 

If there was any confusion, Ike was gracious enough to include directions in the stomach:

1. Enter the mouth
2. Go down the esophagus for four seconds
3. Then you enter the wonderful stomach

I was delighted to learn that Isaac got a 98%! Yay! There had been no need to pester or prod Isaac to finish this homework and then to see his creativity in high gear and the resulting high marks made me forget that weird nightmare and the rest of my harried day.

Oh, and the thing about that aforementioned word...ahem. Isaac informed me that he had learned that there are actually two sphincters in the human body in class but he didn't even know the word "sphincter" existed until last year. Ike went bowling with his two older brothers just prior to Nate's high school graduation. My three awesome OS were enjoying special brother time and at the bowling alley, throwing balls down the lane, when suddenly his oldest brother, the West Point-bound son and role model, Nathan, decided to change Isaac's name on the electronic score board to "Anal Sphincter." 

So charming! Let's all give it up for the Amazing Stomach! Woot! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Angels Unaware

When my OS began his exploration into attending West Point, so did I. We were about to embark on an exciting journey and I had no clue what he was getting himself and the entire family into! I was so clueless about West Point, the United States Military Academy, I had to google it. Where is West Point anyway? That's when I found it is far away. Far away as in New York. Far away as in a 10 hour drive, but about 15 hour of driving time if I'm in the car accounting for potty breaks and not including an overnight stay at a nice hotel. Yes, I am ever so slightly high maintenance. 

It just so happened that the Lord had placed in our lives a great couple, Gigi and Eric. Eric is a professor at West Point and we met here when he was in our state completing his doctorate degree and attending our church and Sunday School class. When the family left for a two year assignment to Korea, we thought we would never see them ever again, this side of heaven.

But that was not the Lord's will and soon, they will return to West Point. We will re-connect with them! When our son was accepted at West Point, Eric called us all the way from Korea and lovingly, honestly explained what R-Day was going to be like for us as parents. In a word - HARD! After speaking with him on the phone, I literally collapsed on my carpet, unsure of how I was going to handle parting with my treasured boy. And not only saying goodbye but doing it in under two minutes. Enjoy this picture I took thanks to my Mac Photo Booth aptly conveying my sentiments last year. Very attractive, huh?  

Since then we have pressed on. And we have been blessed. We have met amazing people who have extended themselves in ways I never expected. I see how the Lord's hand has linked us up with caring families who have been there for us and our OS.

For example, Peggie, a West Point mom whom I never met when I called her because we have a mutual acquaintance. Peggie allowed me to cry on her proverbial shoulder. I barely got one sentence out of my mouth, before the Lacrimal Glands got activated. She was such an encouragement and she listened like a mama who's been there, done that. And she still spoke in full sentences which gave me hope that I could actually live through this experience with some semblance of sanity. 

Then there have been the Hoffman's who take Nate out regularly when they visit their plebe at West Point. Patti gives our OS an obligatory hug from me and has loved my boy as if he were her own. This family knows no bounds of kindness. Such a beautiful lady who even did an eyebrow trim for my husband when we were all together at Plebe Parent Weekend! I love these people! How many of your girlfriends can you ask to trim your husband's eyebrows??? Those friends are few and far between! 

Merrily is a gem too. Although recently faced with the loss of her husband, she is a resilient mama of a very fine plebe. That lady is someone that from the minute she called me on the phone one day after communicating via her husband's blog, I felt an instant connection to and we ended our first conversation saying, "I love you" and meaning it. 

And then there's Kim. Kim works at West Point and she's a grad. Very huah but in no way obnoxious. Kim understands what it's like to be a cadet and she's a mother which is a perfect combination. 

When Nate's birthday rolled around on April 12th, Kim dropped off in our son's room, a bouquet of balloons, a big birthday card and an ice cream party certificate. She has offered to take my OS out for pizza, invited him to an Easter dinner, truly extended herself in ways I could have never imagined. And we have only met once when she recognized me at A-Day. I had a broken foot and a scooter, so I was an easy target and she has been reading my blog for a while. I felt so fancy when she came up and introduced herself! Since then, we have kept in touch and when I have offered to reimburse Kim for her generosity, she quickly rebuffs my offer, saying she does these things gladly and free of charge. Oh, how I am blessed!

I am reminded of the Scripture found in Hebrews 13:2 "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." 

I reflect on this journey thus far and sometimes can't believe how fast my son's plebe year has passed! I praise the Lord because we have survived, occasionally even thrived. We have all learned things about ourselves, our strength, the importance of faith and prayer and developing an extended sense of family. 

Y'all, I am meeting angels. Not the fluttering kind with halos and wings but still divine messengers of God who have lighted this path with compassion. I hope you have been meeting some along your way as well, wherever it may be...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A phunny theeng happened while on the way to Bible study...

Yesterday while driving my son to a teen Bible study, we got stuck in traffic. Just down the street from our house, there had been a terrible accident. Sirens were blaring and it sounded like the entire town's emergency response teams were in motion.

The police had created an alternate route and Aaron and I joined the long line of cars filling the street. I saw a traffic sign blinking information and wondered if the signs mentioned anything about the accident. I began reading the sign but became confused. I have been reading for a really long time and have an extensive vocab but I couldn't figure it out. It's not because I'm stupido either, folks. Heck, I even taught myself to read before I started kindergarten. I started with the Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat Dictionary and it's been uphill since then. But still the sign didn't make any sense. 

So I was reading the traffic sign and this is what it said. 


Thank goodness I had my camera in my car. I had brought it with me because I had a dentist and a doctor appointment and anticipated some bloggable moments. Praise the Lord, I had no worthwhile bloggable moments, glory!

What is a road construction being? Is it a monster like a King Kong? Should we be evacuating the area immediately! YIKES! Run for your life!

But since I am an avid collector of typos, (I have collected them from several countries, thank you very much) I told Aaron, "Quick, get the camera and take a picture!" Aaron took a picture but I didn't think it was a good enough shot so I did what a fine purveyor of typos does. I did a quick U-turn so we could get back in the traffic to take another one. 

Don't you think this picture is much better? 

Can I give you a piece of advice? If your middle OS is going to a teen Bible study and he is worried about getting there on time, just know it will tick him off if you turn the car around just to get a picture of a typo. For a short period of time, you will experience tension but he will get over it, especially if you get him there on time. Just a helpful little FYI. Consider that my public service announcement for the day. 

Well, I have to go now. My mom is out of surgery, her wrist has been fixed. I'm sure I'll have more typos to share in the future...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April 12th

Nineteen years ago today, I became a mom. At 6:17pm after an expedient but immensely painful four hour labor, without the epidural I begged for, I held a precious cone-headed boy in my arms. My baby. Who cared if he had a cone-head, he was stunningly perfect. And he was mine to love forever. 

Nineteen years later, the head is back to its normal shape and size but he will always be my baby. You know what is even better? He still lets me call him Baby. He even responds to it. My baby who is now a young man. Strong, handsome, honorable, intelligent, funny, the adjectives pour out of me, I am crying as I write this.

My son, aptly named Nathaniel, means Gift of God. And like all good mommies, I have loved this child from the moment I heard I was pregnant and shake my head in wonder how someone like ME and my DH were bestowed with such a blessing.

Today is Nathan's birthday and it is Easter and he is not here and that kind of stinks for two reasons.

1. I am used to having my son home for his birthday. 
2. I am used to having my son home for Easter. 

As I was decorating my dining room table, tears welled in my eyes realizing there is one less plate around the table. My baby is where he belongs. He is at West Point. 

I don't want to sound maudlin, although I do really like that word. I also don't want to look ahead either because I know once my OS has graduated from USMA, he will be serving our country elsewhere. And it's the "elsewhere" part that can really get my Lacrimal Glands going, if you know what I mean. I don't need to borrow trouble. 

Like most WP moms/dads/families who celebrate Easter, my cadet is there and I am here. We have to get used to this, buckle up our boot straps, put our big girl panties on, blah, blah, blah, but y'all, I'm still sad and wistful. Thinking back to all the April 12ths where I woke up and hugged my boy tightly as he rolled out of bed, where did that time go? Or the April 12ths when I scooped him up out of his crib wondering if I would ever get a good night's sleep.  Poof, they are now history.

And as is our family custom, in all the subsequent April 12ths, Nate would have finely festooned presents awaiting him at the kitchen table. One year a Barney, another year a dollhouse (it's a LONG story and for the record, HE didn't want the dollhouse), a bike but this year, I sent his presents away. My kitchen table has the Sunday paper and is decorated with crumbs and cereal bowls. Sigh. Poo. 

My friend Beth Anne gave me a present last year as we were preparing for Nathan's departure to West Point. I have such kind and loving friends, I actually got presents at Nate's farewell party! But my friend Beth Anne gave me something that will sit atop the dining room table this Easter dinner. I placed it there last night and of course, the Lacrimal Glands activated. They are in full activation mode as I write this, folks. 

To me this little figurine describes how I feel. I hold my Soldier close to my heart wherever he is. Now it's West Point, one day it will be "elsewhere." I hold all my OS intimately in my heart and praise the Lord, the other two are still home to annoy/love/pester/snuggle/amuse me.

Today I celebrate two things which have changed my life.  Nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus, the perfect, matchless Son of God rose from the dead to give me and the entire world, eternal life and victory over sin. I asked Him into my heart 12 years ago and have never been the same. 

And the other blessed event happened a fleeting 19 years ago when that same Jesus allowed me to become a mother to my Gift of God. Happy birthday Baby!

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Own Good Friday

When I was in middle school, back then called junior high, I had a fleeting moment of courage, when I stood up for someone and risked it all. Her name was Carol Plalonski (I have slightly changed her name but it sounded pretty similar) and Carol was the "new girl."

Not the prettiest girl, Carol was tall, rather clumsy and plain. As I recall, she had a slight curve to her back and her shoulders slouched forward and well, Carol didn't seem to worry herself about the really important things in life like boys, flavored lip gloss, blue eye shadow and mascara. 

Almost from the moment Carol walked into Jefferson Junior High, she became the target for all pre-pubescent angst and torment. Kids would tape words on her back and she would just lump down the hall while everyone pointed and laughed. Oh, how I hated seeing her with the words "DOG" and "WOOF" affixed to her. I seethed with anger and felt entirely helpless but what could I do? I had my own problems! (See self-explanatory photo)

It was scary because if I did something then everybody might turn on ME and then I would be the source of scorn. But one day, I mustered up the courage and said "enough is enough" and as Carol walked down the hall with one of those words on her back, in a moment of brazen anger, I ripped that nasty message of her back. Whenever I think of myself as being a wimp, I summon up that memory of taking a stand, fighting for the honor of another person and taking a risk.

My middle OS has been doing something similar and today I was deeply blessed to receive a message from a dear mother who wanted to let me know that my son was a fine young man of God. She sent this to me on facebook so now I shall forever use that message as the reason I need to check my facebook 800 times a day, but I digress. 

In typical, yet disappointing 9th grade fashion, some of the guys in my OS's class are pretty rough on the girls. Countless times my son has come home and told me about the insulting comments his peers say to the ladies in class. One time, a guy ticked Aaron off so badly, Aaron smacked his binder into the guy's nuts which I believe must have made quite a statement. 

Recently, another freshman girl, Lauren (not her real name) stood up in class and articulated her concern about all the high school drama and tension. She announced that something had to change. Then Aaron, with the teacher's permission, stood up and addressed his classmates. He challenged the guys in the class to "step it up" and start acting like "real men." I only learned about this after the fact when Aaron came home and said he had a cool story to tell. He hadn't planned on doing that but I guess he had his own "Carol Planonski" moment.

Now he and his friend Zack have begun a freshman Bible Study on Wednesdays. Boys that previously sat outside the classroom and chided the kids, actually attended this week. Aaron's charisma and transparency with his own struggles are making a difference. This week when a classmate began teasing one of the girls about her really curly hair, Aaron turned around to the kid, looked him dead in the eyes and said, "Andrew, shut up!" Normally I do not condone those words but I believe, in this instance, they qualify as "words aptly spoken." (Proverbs 25:11)

This mom wrote me to say that her daughter is amazed how the Lord is leading through Aaron and Zack. Her daughter can't wait for the Wednesday Bible Study and it is showing her that God can use just one person to "change the tide."

As our family prepares for Easter Sunday, I can truly say that it is a Good Friday. To God be all the glory and honor and praise. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The bruise from "you know where"

Last Friday, my oldest OS was trying to be a nice guy so he went to give blood at West Point. While there, the nice lady asked him if he wanted to give blood or platelets. My OS said, "blood" but then the nice lady suggested he give platelets because they help more people. Being a nice guy, he threw caution to the wind and agreed. He had no idea he would soon regret his decision. 

They inserted the needle and the process began. It was taking longer than he expected and Nate noticed that his arm began to hurt. It hurt just a little bit but then the pain increased to the point where he summoned one of the attendants. Immediately they took out the needle and shortly thereafter my son left the center.

He called and told me that he had given platelets. I complimented him on being such a humanitarian and caring about others. Then he said his arm was hurting and he had a bruise.

I have given blood (for medical tests) and I too, have had some minor occasional bruising. My DH is a regular blood donor. We like helping others and believe giving blood is a very good thing. Being a dutiful mom, I casually mentioned that I was sorry he had a bruise. Poor baby. 

Then he called me a couple of days later and said his arm was still hurting and he still had a bruise. "Ok," I thought to myself, "that stinks but those things happen."

Yesterday he sent me an email. This time he included a picture. It was of his arm. And the "bruise." 

HOLY SMOKES!!!!! That's not a bruise, that's a 

It looks like after Nate gave blood someone ran over his arm with a truck! And then put the truck in reverse and ran over the arm again!!! This picture was taken five days after he had given platelets!

My eyes bulged out of my head when I got the picture. Without a second thought, I googled American Red Cross. I got the number and called to get some advice. Honestly, I wanted to drive all the way to West Point, pick up my boy, his mangled arm and take him to Panera Bread because that makes everything better. I wanted to take care of him but it's a 10 hour drive. They suggested he see a doctor (yeah, right) and apply warm and cold compresses to the bruised area (yeah, right).

Apparently it's true, these things happen. They said my son's veins might not have been able to tolerate the procedure. My OS who excels at nearly everything, apparently did not do so well when giving platelets.

It stinks too, because he has a very important upcoming physical fitness test and he has been unable to work out since his arm has been hurting so badly.

And everyone is noticing his disfigured arm. He's in class and his fellow cadets say, "Zheesh, man, what the heck happened?" or "Dude, what did you do to your arm?" or other things I have chosen not to print because they contain cuss words and some Army guys cuss. 

My OS was complaining to one of his roommates about his arm and at first his buddy thought Nate was exaggerating a bit. Then he saw how Nate's entire arm was covered in these horrible hues of red, blue, purple, green and mustard yellow and realized Nate wasn't being a baby. 

I completely support being a blood donor but I like my boy's arms in their normal, lovely flesh-colored tones.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Adventures in Babysitting, Part One

I warned them the minute I walked through the door. "If any of you here do anything crazy or cute, I WILL blog about it!" I have been blogging for a while so my family knows I mean business. I'm always on high alert looking for a bloggable moment. Armed with my computer and my camera, I was ready and my subjects were willing participants as you will soon see.

This morning I got to babysit my two darling nephews and my mother. My mother broke her wrist very badly on Saturday and will need surgery on Tuesday. She is pitiful, quite honestly and needs some supervision right now because there's not a lot she can do by herself. While awaiting surgery, she is convalescing at my sister's. So since Mimi aka Grandma's unable to care for the boys on her own, I volunteered to watch the kids so my pregnant sister and her husband could go to her doctor appointment. 

I would not say I am a natural when it comes to babysitting but this aunt stuff is money (you will recall from a previous post, money means "good.") I didn't get paid in money but in laughs, snuggles and a poopy diaper. It was strange but appropriate "currency."

I have a lot more to post but since I'm trying to learn iMovie, I thought I'd give a stab at making a little film about my time. Hope you enjoy, I sure did! 

Monday, April 6, 2009

True Confessions - I am not a perfect mom, I don't have a perfect family

It might sound like I'm patting myself on the back or something but I'm not. It's just that this weekend, my DH and I had an epiphany. We re-learned some ancient truths I must seek to remember all the time and I want to share them with you. It's good to feel like I'm in the TMZ (Total Mama Zone). Click here to read about another time I felt like I was in the TMZ

Our family has been very fussy lately and that's putting it politely. It's almost Easter but it seems like we have been walking around on eggshells for a while. Every single one of us seems poised for a battle. Not constantly but consistently, I have been discouraged about the tension and intensity
displayed in my family, maybe with the exception of our oldest OS and his only excuse would be that he's at West Point dealing with his own issues! Just being real here. 

Saturday night we had a family meeting. We gathered around
the dinner table and aired our grievances. I thought I was the only with the legitimate issues but it became apparent that Aaron and Ike had been itching for a chance to get a few things off their adolescent chests too. I don't mean to say they were rude, it's just that they needed to voice some concerns they, too were having with the way our household was being run.

Truly the Lord blessed the time. There was no anger, no bitterness. We engaged in
healthy, respectful conversation. Dare I say, I think we even negotiated a little. And here are some of the things that I realized.

Children like boundaries. Duh. I see kids all the time that have no supervision. Our guys are well-monitored but they still needed more boundaries in some areas of life. 

Children like bedtimes. Even at age 14 and 12. When things are loosey-goosey around here, we fall apart. Isaac even commented, "I want a bedtime!" No eruptions or hissy-fits, things became instantly calmer which shocked and blessed me.  These bedtimes are not rigid so there is some flexibility but in our family, frankly, we all need bedtimes, including the Hubs and me.  

Children like knowing what's expected of them. I will soon blog about two "seminars" I have conducted with my OS which were met with some level of joy. Not oozing, over the top joy but it was surprisingly fun!

Children like security. They like it when Mom and Dad get along and seem to be able to work things out. Mom and Dad get along when Mom thinks the kitchen is clean and things are running efficiently. Dad likes it when there's no yelling. Both attainable goals that give our home a sense of normalcy, even though we pride ourselves on being a little weird.

After the meeting, the DH announced that any good meeting has food. While the boys cleaned the kitchen, he ran out and got our favorite ice cream. Our meeting was a success! 

I leave you today with a verse of Scrip- ture which as usual, has relevance in our daily lives..."Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

Raising a strong family isn't the easiest thing but I'm glad we are putting in the time to try, with God's help, to do it the best way we can.