Recent Posts

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Visitation

We attended a visitation last night.

This wasn't the "usual" kind where someone was old or sick had passed.

This was for an 18 year old, senior in high school,  that was murdered last weekend.

He was the son of A-man's baseball coach and the big brother of his teammate.

We were in shock when news came out.  Heartbroken for their family.  Rainman and I kept saying things like, "I can't imagine...."

And, we really can't.

I was actually holding it together pretty well, until  I saw the slide show with pictures of his life. Santa pictures.  Pictures where he and his dad had fallen asleep in the hammock.  Pictures of him blowing out birthday candles.  Pictures of him up at bat.  Pictures of him gently touching his new baby brother.  I honestly had to stop watching.  I couldn't take it anymore.

We stood in line for 2 hours because there were so many people there to see his family.

One of our pauses in line, we ended up next to his grandparents, who we had seen casually at baseball games, but never had a real conversation with.

The grandmother slowly looked each of us in the eye, then looked again.  She said, "I just want to remember your faces.  I want to remember who came here for him.  It means so much to us."

The grandfather told us that he looked pretty good.  That they had done a good job getting him ready.  He did have some bruises, he warned us, from both the fight the night he was killed and from his new found passion for MMA grappling/wrestling.

Once again, I had to bite the inside of my mouth to stop myself from crying.  Normally, I am a big eye contact person.  I like people to know that I am listening to them and paying attention.  But, I just couldn't look at him.

Then, A-man's teammate spotted him in the receiving line and weaved his way through the pews and people to come over and say hi.

Let me tell you, two 11 year old boys spontaneously hugging each other when it isn't because of joy of a game won, is heart wrenching.

They hugged. They put their heads on each others shoulders.  They stepped apart and did sort of a manly shoulder pat before standing their awkwardly for a bit, because.....what do you say?

We finally made it to the front of the line and A-man's coach was standing at the foot of the casket and the mother was sitting at the head of the casket.

Visitation had started at 5:00.  We got there at 7:00 and finally made it at almost 9:00.  We asked  A-man to go first in line, because we weren't sure that the coach and his wife would recognize us in the throng of people, but we knew they would recognize A-man.

The coach took one look at A-man, held out both arms and pulled him in for a huge hug.  A-man quickly turned his head away and hugged him back.  He later told me he had to turn his head away so he wouldn't cry when he was looking at his coach.

They hugged.  Coach whispered something in his ear.  Then let go, held him by the shoulders and looked him in the eye again and told him how happy he was that he had come for "his boy".

Rainman and I took turns hugging too.  As he pulled me in, the coach asked me "How are you holding up?"  I said, "I am barely keeping it together, so I cannot imagine what you are going through."

Coach let go and turned to our whole family and talked about how when they had first arrived at the funeral home today.  He couldn't stop crying.  He talked about his chest actually literally being in so much pain he didn't think he could do this.  Then the people started coming......and coming.....and coming.   He said, he realized that all those people were coming for "his boy" and it made him proud to have been his dad.

Rainman and I told him that he should be.  He was a good kid.  Yes, he had gotten into some trouble and made some stupid choices.  What teenager hasn't?  We talked about how funny his son was, how nice he was to the little siblings of the boys on the baseball team.  I mentioned that he was a little bit of a smart alec.  The coach said, "A little bit?!?!"  We chuckled.  Coach said that  he couldn't believe that this happened to his family, and that now their job had to be keeping the people that did this in jail and make sure they stayed there.

It is hard to know how to end one of those kinds of conversations, but, there was still a ton of people behind us, so, Rainman gave him one more hug and we moved on past the casket to his mom.

Back in Minnesota, I used to sing at a lot of funerals and I learned early on, whether I knew the deceased or not, even if they were a close friend of the family, that I couldn't look in the casket because then I would cry and not be able to sing.  It became real then.  The person in the casket was somebody's.....something.  It was real.

So, once again this night, I just glanced in the casket.  His grandpa was right.  He looked pretty good.  He had on his ever present baseball hat.  He looked.....young.

A-man once again was the first in line to the mom.  She too, looked him straight in the eye and pulled him in for a huge hug.

When it was my turn, I lost it.  I couldn't be calm, cool and collected anymore.  This was this woman's baby.  We both just held onto each other and cried.  I just told her that I had no words, just love.  Because, again.....what can you say?  Nothing.

She squeezed me tight.  Kissed my cheek and thanked us for coming.  She too, looked us all in the eye before letting us move on.  I think she was trying to stamp in her brain the faces of all the people that came for her baby boy.

I left and was weepy on and off the rest of the night.  I just kept picturing the little bronzed baby shoes and the pictures of him opening presents on Christmas morning.  I looked around at my babies....and just  This shouldn't happen.

We are all heading over to D-man's campus later today.  I want to give him a hug.  I want to eat a meal with him.  I want him to be a smart alec and annoy me.  I want to see him give A-man a choke-hold and then a proper hug when we leave.  I want to see him walking along the street holding V-girl's hand.  I just want all my babies together and to hug them.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Changes All Around Me

I haven't written a new blog post in a really long time  Partly because we have been busy and partly because I was trying to sort of refocus on our life and not think about posting or writing.  One of my things I have been trying to do is focus more on me (which is actually harder than you would think!)

You see, there are changes happening all around me.  Some are good.  Some are not....good....but, not necessarily bad. They just.....are, which requires a full reset of my mind, my time, my habits, my mood.

We had road trips and family reunions.

We moved D-man into his college dorm room in early August.

A-girl and L-girl started a new school also in early August.

We now are only homeschooling 3 of our 6 kids. (Plus an occasional extra little cutie)

It is strange.

We have had changes in our schedule of watching extra little people.

All adjustments to our "normal".

Lots of the changes have been an emotional roller coaster for many of us.  Life is hard.  Teenage girls are hard.  That is all.

All of these changes come at a time when I am trying to focus on myself a bit more.  Trying to be okay spending a little money on me.  (so far, I have gotten a new expensive bra, gotten my hair cut/highlighted, placed my first ever order at Zulily, and given myself permission to use the Plexus products that are making me feel fantastic - even though I was sort of annoyed that they worked!)

Basically trying to spend enough time and effort on things that make me happy and healthier.

So, for those of you that tune into this blog to see cute kids.  Never fear, you will still see some of that, but not so  much of my big kids. (It is hard to balance their desire for privacy and whether or not they feel like they look good enough in the picture) I suspect you will also be climbing inside of my head a bit more, as I work towards being okay focusing on me and what I want/need in this life, which means that I am sure there will be rambling posts where you take a trip through my psyche.

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Want, Not A Need

I got myself a "want" today.

Something I wanted, but did not "need".

It was hard.

As we were leaving the store, I said to Rainman, "I feel sort of sick to my stomach."

He said, "Why?  Because you spent money?"

Well, yes, actually.


It is funny, because you work and work to get to the point where you can buy things or spend money in life without guilt, or without going into debt.  Then, when you get there (if you are me) you have trouble actually doing it!

Want to know what I got?

First let me give you a little background story about how I even came to the point were I could sort of justify spending money on a "want" in the first place.

Remember, when we moved into this house, I hated the kitchen?  Rainman assured me that we could remodel it someday.  We had visions of blowing out walls, flipping the sink around so I can enjoy the gorgeous view of our backyard through the big picture window and building our own super long farm table that would fit all of us, and eventually spouses and grandkids.

Flash forward a few years and we have paid off our credit cards and are starting to have a little freed up money for projects.  We decided that now was the time to get the kitchen some help that would make me happy.  We have a really good friend who is a contractor, so I asked him to come over and take a look at some of the things I was hoping to do, so he could tell me if they were even possible, and get a really rough ballpark figure of what it would cost for someone to complete the work. was a huge, astronomical figure.  A "NO WAY" figure.  So, I let go of my dreams and told Rainman that if I could have some money to paint the cabinets and get a gas stove, that I would be happy.

He happily agreed to that one.

I have started painting, but still haven't been able to find the time/energy and gumption to pay the $70/gallon for the Benjamin Moore Aura paint that I plan to use on the cupboards.

But, I have started the process and even with just messy primer on them, the kitchen looks tons better to me.

So, one day last week, a friend of D-man's who works at a big box electronics store and somehow knew that one day I wanted a gas stove, sent a message that they were having a 4th of July sale and some of the stoves were 40% off.


I like a good sale.

Rainman said we had already set aside money and budgeted for it, so I should go for it.

I hemmed and hawed for a bit because I didn't "need" the stove yet.  My cabinets weren't painted yet.  there wasn't anything wrong with the flat top electric stove.  I just hated cooking on it.

But, Rainman kept encouraging me to go for it.  So, I spent hours researching stoves on-line, comparing features, reading reviews and felt ready to make a somewhat educated purchase. I decided on this one.

It is a Whirlpool 5.8 cu. ft, 5 burner gas stove with a convection oven.  I am quite excited that the 5th burner is oval shaped, so I can use my big past iron rectangle skillet for pancakes again.  I am hoping I can just leave it sitting on top of the stove all the time, like I could I at our last house.

Sadly, I forgot to factor in taxes and the $140 installation fee, so I still had sticker shock at the check out counter.  I started backtracking saying that we could get the cheaper model and that if I got the expensive one I wanted I would have to cook more, so maybe I shouldn't spend such a big chunk of money on something that was only going to create more work for me in the end.

The ever so helpful young man that was checking us out, just laughed and exchanged a knowing look with Rainman.  I assume he hears this kind of panic a lot when people are getting the big ticket items.
Rainman is still laughing at me, because I really do feel sick to my stomach.  Really.  I am sure that I will love it when it gets here and is installed and everything, but for now, I still feel a little sick to my stomach because it feels like such a frivolous thing to spend money on.  You know?

You know how you always say things like, "If only we were rich...." or "it must be nice to have money"?  I have decided that I am just not built to be rich, because it is waaaaaay too hard for me to spend money,....and it actually makes me sick.  LOL

Monday, June 20, 2016

Thinking About Me

I have been thinking about myself quite a bit lately.

Want a little glimpse into what happens in this brain of mine?!?

If your answer was yes, read on!  If your answer was no, check back soon because I have graduation pictures and other stuff like that I will be sharing soon.  So, go ahead and scroll down for some pictures and ignore all the rambling thoughts I am about to share.

There is a constant mental conversation  (about me) happening inside of my head, but it gets shut down because stuff.

Which leads me to these kinds of questions:

At what point in life or motherhood is it bad to think about yourself?

At what point in motherhood is it bad to think about your own goals?

Your wants?

Your wishes and dreams?

Even though I think about "me" all the time, it is still sort of hard for me to think about me.

Hahahaha....did you follow that train of thought with me?  Did I lose you?

But, like I said, I have been thinking about myself and my wants more and more lately.

Part of my thought process is that I am starting to feel my age.  Realizing that I am officially a middle aged person.  That I am not necessarily the "young mom" anywhere I turn.  I am the veteran now.

When did that happen?

I have wrinkles.  Rainman and I both just recently looked at a picture of us and said, "Wow....we look old!  When did that happen?"  We were both sort of shocked and sad.  (Me more than him, FYI)

I get that because of my age, I am not expected to be fashionable or to look like a Hollywood mom.  But, a little part (sometimes a big part) of me wants to be fashionable and praised for my style and looks.  I don't want to wear the "mom jeans", elastic waisted slacks (uggg) or those patterned shirts with the big prints.

Yes.  I am shallow.

I am also thinking about myself more lately because of a conversation I recently had with a friend. We were talking about the doctors telling me that part of the management of the pseudotumor cerebri thingie that I have,  is getting my weight down and keeping it down.

We were commiserating about how hard that is and she said something that really stuck with me.

She said, the problem with someone telling us that we have to lose weight is that the act of losing weight and everything that surrounds differently.....exercising, etc., requires a certain level of selfishness and self focus - something we moms are horrible at.

Now, I am not one of those completely selfless moms that bends over backwards to do everything for my kids and make things easy for them.  I pride myself on helping create fairly independent, self sufficient children.  That being said, I am still a mom to 6 children (with 3 extras a few days of the week).  I love them all....dearly, whether they are my biologically connected people or not.

But, that love makes it hard to focus on me.  Just me.  There is just too much constantly swirling around me (diapers needing to be changed, somebody needing to be dropped off or picked up somewhere, meals to be made, cleaning to be done, boo-boos to be kissed, disagreements to be refereed) to really just focus on me.

And, to be shallow again for a moment, if you think for a second, that even in my late 40s that I do not want to turn heads and have strangers check me out, you would be wrong.  Completely, wrong.

No, I don't want to be harrassed, or objectified, but, I want that slight hesitation when I enter a room, a quick appreciative gaze and the sense of power that accompanies that feeling.

I remember that feeling.  It is a heady feeling.

(Apparently, I liked that moody/smirky look into the camera without smiling look back then!)

Have I just taken the advances of womankind back to the 50s?

The start of the whole pseudotumor cerebri thing started with a trip to the eye doctor to try and get fitted for contact lenses.  Why?

Vanity, that is why.

It started with a girls trip to Minnesota with my sisters and my mom.  My sister took my picture and we were getting a weird glare from my glasses, so she suggested I just take them off for the photo. When we looked at them later, I thought, wow....I look pretty.

I haven't seen myself as pretty for a very long time.

Which got me to thinking.....yes....about me....again.

I started wearing glasses exclusively when we moved to Georgia.  I started getting more and more creative with my frame choices too.  I saw it as a way to show creativity, quirkiness and some personality.

But, I think my glasses also became a way for me to hide when I started gaining weight. (As crazy as that sounds since I do not pick boring frames).  Maybe it was a a way to distract "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain", Wizard of Oz kind of a way that said...."pay no attention to the girth you see down below....eyes up here, everyone!"

My best friend just recently told me that she has never liked my blue/aqua glasses because she felt like they took over my face and hid me.

I think subconsciously, that is exactly what I was going for.  Giving people a way to describe me "The lady with all the kids and the aqua glasses." Instead of, "The big lady with all the kids".

There is this little sermonette floating around on FB about the devil and who he chooses to try to work against......and why.  This clip is a might long, but she is pretty funny, so it is worth it, if you have the time to watch it (especially if you happen to have sons....).

I sort of love her tough, no nonsense approach, don't you?

Anyway, that got me to thinking.....about my kids and who they will be....but, about me....and who I am supposed to be.  Or, who I was supposed to be.  Know what I mean?  Am I Sarah Connor?

Am I her?  Or, have I let myself be distracted and derailed away from who I was supposed to be, by doing something stupid like getting fat?!?

Am I supposed to be the fit, fabulous lady with a bunch of kids that can go to a waterpark with them and actually put on my suit and join them and not just hold all the purses and towels?  Am I supposed to be the fit mom that can share clothes with my teenage girls.  (that thought just made me laugh - because my girls would be horrified!)  But, you know what I mean.  We have seen those moms out there that can pull it off.

Or, is it time for me to let go and just be about my kids?  Is my purpose here to raise amazing and awesome little people that will grow up and do spectacular things?

I don't know.

I just know that I want to be, if not skinny, then.....skinnier.  Normal sized, not super sized.  I want to feel pretty.  I want to feel powerful. I want to take moody/smirky pictures staring into the camera and like what I see when I load them on my computer.

So, yeah, welcome to the inside of my head.

Fun place, right?!?!

So, do you want more glimpses into my head or do you want D-man's graduation pictures next?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Prom and Then, Prom Again

Prom was a busy weekend for us.

The prom for D-man and A-girl's school was on a Friday night.  Then, the prom for J-girl's school was Saturday. Then, Sunday, was Youth Sunday at our church and D-man delivered one of the sermons.

Originally, D-man and J-girl had talked about saving money and just choosing one prom, but in the end, they decided it was their senior year and went to both.

But, I am going to start with A-girl.  They went with a group of kids.  A-girl went with her friend, C-girl.  (much more relaxing way to enjoy prom than on an awkward date with a boy you hardly know)

I  was so proud of her and her dress.

I am going to brag on her a bit.  She put this dress together for $15.  The top part was a dress she found on clearance at a local boutique.  The bottom tulle was from a different dress in our stash of clothes for repurposing for the fashion line she and L-girl have.  She sewed the tulle onto a separate underskirt, so she didn't have to alter the knee length dress at all and it could still be a little black dress for later in life.

Voila.....old Hollywood glamour for $15!

She was able to borrow earrings from my friend, Alex.

I wanted her to have a little something special for her first prom and since she wouldn't be getting a corsage from a boy, I made her a hair comb.  (I just noticed that it is sticking out a little funny in this picture, but you get the idea.)  I went to an antique store and found the sparkly leaf pin and then just used invisible thread to sew/attach it to a hair comb.  She will be able to wear it as a brooch (if she ever wants to).

D-man and J-girl:

I love that crazy haired man/boy.  He has a great group of friends.


A good time was had by all.

Onto prom weekend, Part II.

 She adores her big bro.  She has gotten to the point where almost daily she will ask when he is leaving for college.  Then she sort of reassures herself that it is still a long time away (in her mind this mom's is coming up alarmingly fast)

When D-man and J-girl went to prom last year, I went with him to pick out her corsage at a local florists shop.  The lady behind the counter whipped around her shop, grabbing this rhinestone bracelet and that ribbon and said, okay, that will be.....$90.  I gulped   I looked at D-man.  He looked at me.  I said to the lady, "Is there anyway we can bring that price down some?"  She said we could take off the rhinestone studded bracelet and that would bring it down to like $75.

I looked at D-man and said something like, is that the amount you had planned to spend?  Is that in your budget?  That kind of thing.  I was trying to give him a graceful way to get out of this completely stupid expense.  He was offended/embarrassed that I had said anything and huffed at me, "Yes, mom, that is fine."  Took out his wallet and spent stupid money.

As we walked out to the car, I couldn't keep my mouth shut.  I uttered phrases like "complete and total rip off!"  "what a racket!" "Why would you think it is okay to spend that much money on flowers that are going to die?" "I could make something like that for under $20."

D-man, in turn, uttered phrases like, "Why did I even bring you with, mom?"  "Enough, mom, I get it!"

I made him promise me that next year (which is now this year) he wouldn't be so stupid with his money and would at least consider letting me make something for him.

As prom weekend was getting closer, I finally said to him "So, are you going to let me make J-girl's corsage this year?"  He said, "If it will save me money and still look good, then yes."

So, I did.  I had some ideas about what I wanted to do and put out a call to my friends to see if they had any costume jewelry or brooches that people didn't want or were just sitting in their drawers.  My friends Paula and Alex came through and gave me all kinds of stuff to choose from.

This started as one of those headbands.  I added an old earring in the center of the flower and the dangling key.

I made his boutonniere too.

Not sure if you can see it, but I cut apart a necklace that had hearts and keys and attached the heart to D-man's and the key to J-girls.

In the busy-ness of the weekend, I forgot to get close-ups of the ones I did for their second prom. This one shows them off pretty well though.  For this night, I gave her the heart hidden in her corsage and him the key.  I also went to an antique store and found a brooch/pin for the center of her flower.  So, she can leave it as a corsage, but also take it off and wear it as a pin somewhere down the road.

I was actually really proud of how they turned out.  I used stuff we already had, borrowed some ribbon from my friend, Sherri, had the jewelry from my friends, Alex and Paula and bought Dollar Store/Walmart flowers.  Seriously, I probably spent like $22 total and that covered A-girl's hair thing, plus 2 nights worth of corsages and boutonnieres.  .

J-girl says I should go into business making these next year.  She didn't realize that I had made them until Sunday when D-man told her.  (Thankfully she hadn't make any bad comments about them before she knew I had made them.  Whew!  She liked them, she really liked them.....)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lest L-Girl Be Forgotten

L-girl also had an April birthday, amidst all my doctor's appointments last month.

We have the no cell phones until you are 16 (and can pay for it yourself rule) and we also have the no devices like iPods until you are 14 rule.  Here is A-girl showing L-girl all the ins and outs of her new to her iPod in the wee, small hours of the morning.

L-girl was also stuck me me for her birthday lunch this year.

I have to put this one in here because it makes me laugh.  We took pictures across from each other at the restaurant where L-girl likes to order fried green tomatoes (Yup...we live in the south now)  Anyway, she took this picture and said to me, "Umm.....maybe you should put your arms down and behind you, or something."

Don't my arms and hands look huge?  I am sure it is partly a perspective thing....and partly real life.  Reminds me of "man hands" from Seinfeld.

Anyway, I complied and put my arms down and it looked much better.

These pretty flowers were along the street by the restaurant.

We stopped and surprised a friend from church who is L-girl's birthday twin.

We opened gifts.

J-girl works at a local monogram store, so my girls have been in heaven with their gifts!

Rainman and I got her a new tennis skirt and a beauty box, since she loves to experiment with make-up and watches countless make-up tutorials.

L-girl has been my biggest challenge in finding a traditional birthday "cake" that she gets excited about and loves.  We have tried and rejected many cakes (she just doesn't have much of a sweet tooth).  She have tried a few fruit type pies.  They were okay.

This year, I think I may have hit on a winner though.  She loves Jell-o.  Her favorites are orange and raspberry, so I tried to do a fancy layered Jell-o pie.  My layers didn't really stay separate the way they should have, but it was a hit anyway.  I think I know what I did wrong, so next year, hopefully my layers will be separate and pretty.

Happy Birthday, my beautiful 14 year old.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How Social Media Can Be A Big Fat Liar

Remember A-girl's birthday post?

Remember this picture?

A-girl posted this on-line and she got all kinds of comments from people we both know about how great we looked.  Lots of comments were about how great I looked.  Comments about me being a "hot mama", for instance.

But, let's look a little closer.

Notice my sweat pants....the little bit of blue you see behind my arm is actually my pajamas....notice the strategically placed hair and birthday presents.....meant to hide the fact that I am not wearing a bra.  And, if you look closely at my face, you will notice my slightly red nose that would tell you that I had been crying a large portion of the afternoon.

A-girl and I had both gone to the eye doctor for contacts.

I ended up being called back first.  I told the doctor and his staff that I knew my prescription had changed because more often than not, I just take my glasses off when I am trying to see something and that I have been getting headaches - probably because I was making my eyes work so hard...either by wearing the wrong prescription, or not wearing any glasses at all.

I noticed a few whispered conversations after they took the initial look at my eyes and printed out the little paper thingie that tells my basic prescription.

The doctor turned down the lights and had me do the annoying thing they do where they ask you if 1 or 2 is better.  I always feel like I am somehow failing a big exam at this portion of the eye exam.  Always.

Then he turned on the lights and asked me if I had ever been diagnosed as having diabetes.  I told him I had not.  He then explained that my eyesight had changed so significantly, so quickly, (basically from near sighted to far sighted) that he was somewhat alarmed.  He said that is usually a sign of diabetes and that I should see my doctor and have blood work done right drive over to his office right now.  I told him that I have my blood work done a lot because of the problems they have had with the thyroid medications.  I had my blood work done about a week before and everything was fine.

He decided to just see if he could get pictures of the back of my eyeballs without the dilation (since A-girl doesn't have her license yet) and see what would happen from there.

They successfully got pictures....and more whispered, slightly frantic conversations ensued.  He said he was going to call a retina specialist friend of his and see what he said.  I asked them to get A-girl taken care of because I didn't want to ruin her birthday.

They took her into the office by a different door and had me wait in the waiting room.( First I had a good little silent sob session in the bathroom.) A little while later, I was sitting in the waiting room (without my glasses) and out waltzed A-girl in her new trial pair of contacts.  She was practically glowing.  She was so happy.  She looked so good.

She blinked at me a few times.  I am sure she was thinking that I was also sitting there with my trial lenses too.  Then, she looked a little closer and asked me what was wrong.  I tried valiantly to assure her that all was well.

It was like she literally matured over night and wasn't just a teenaged girl getting rid of her glasses. She looked right at me and said, "Mom....what is it?  What is wrong?"

I told her that they thought something was wrong with my eyes  and were waiting to hear back from a specialist.

They called me back and asked questions about whether I had been getting headaches.

I had.  Almost daily since before Easter.  At first, I had thought that I was reacting to the pollen.  It is seriously crazy down here with everything covered in a thick coating of green pollen.  I said that many days I woke up with a headache.

Then he asked other questions like was I ever seeing flashes  of lights or vision changes.  I was sometimes seeing "sparkles"....if I stood up too fast or changed from light to dark or vice versa too quickly.

He asked if I ever had ringing in my ears.  I told him that I did sometimes hear whooshing, like I was hearing my own heartbeat.

He let us leave and promised to call when he heard back from his friend.  He reminded me to head to the hospital if my headaches or vision got worse.

I left super scared and was trying desperately not to ruin A-girl's 16th birthday.

They got me in with the retinal specialist on Monday morning.  Rainman came with me for this one.  Lots of eye drops and tests later.  He declared my retina healthy, but said there was swelling at the back of my eyes at my optic nerve.  I even had a hemorrhage in the back of my left eye.  It was serious.  Very serious.

He took out his cell phone, took a picture of the picture of my eyeballs and texted it to a friend of his who was a neuro-opthalmologist.....while he typed out his message, he said, "I don't flipping care about HIPA right now".

Then he looked at me and said, I don't even know you, but I am taking this seriously, so you had better take this really seriously.  He asked what I did for work.  I said I was mostly a mom and took care of a few extra kids during the week.  He told Rainman to dust off his child care skills because I needed to make this my only priority until it was taken care of.

He got me in to see the neuro-opthalmologist the next day.

You know when doctors can see you too quickly how you sort of panic?

Yeah, me too.

Everyone was getting me in right away.

Rainman luckily had the day off, so he took me to this appointment too. This doctor gave us pretty much the same information as the one did on Monday, but he had a much different delivery.

As we were leaving, Rainman turned to me and said, "Somehow I feel like we just got the best diagnosis ever."

I had to laugh, but it was true.  He told us the same slightly scary stuff, but his delivery was more matter of fact and assured us that it would be treatable, but I would have to remain vigilant for the rest of my life.  I will have to take medicine and lose weight.

In order to accurately diagnose me, they ha to eliminate other possibilities, including a brain tumor.  So, I was scheduled for a brain MRI late last week.  Rainman couldn't come with me and  my friends were busy.  So, I went by myself.

Huge, huge mistake.

Let me just say that I didn't really think I was claustrophobic.  I mean, I have never really liked bunk beds and I really didn't like those elevator pods that take you to the top of the St. Louis Arch, but I really didn't think I was claustrophobic.

After I took like 5 nervous pee trips to the bathroom, I was called back.  I was told to take off my bra and my glasses, but could keep the rest of my clothing on.

She got an I.V. port ready on my arm for when they would inject the dye during the second portion of the MRI.  She explained a few things, had me lay down, gave me a little panic button to squeeze if I needed anything and in I went.

It was awful.



Now, granted, I am a big lady, so I had to sort of squeeze my arms in while I went into the tube.  She assured me that I could relax and rest my arms against the sides when I got into place.  But, really, I felt like I was being squeezed by the tube.

Also, I should have kept my eyes closed like my friend, Sherri, told me to.  I am just naturally curious and I like to learn things.  I thought I would just glance around a little in there and see what it looked like.

Holy cow!

It was just mere inches above my face.  Like, at the most, 2 inches from my nose.

I panicked.

Like, total meltdown kind of panic.

The nice tech asked if I needed to be taken out of the tube.


I can sort of laugh about it now...but....I cried like a a crazy person.  I also kept apologizing.  I kept saying stuff like, I am sorry I am messing up your schedule.  I asked if I could just be put to sleep (and figure out a way for somebody to come pick me and my van up somehow).

This facility didn't have a doctor there to administer medications.  She said I could call my doctor, have him prescribe a Valium, drive over to the pharmacy, get the medication, take it, and wait in the waiting room for it to kick in and they would try again.

Well, that sounded awful too.  So, I said that I wanted to try again.  She suggested covering my eyes with a washcloth, so I couldn't look even if I wanted to.  She gave me earphones (because the machine is really loud while it is is doing its thing).  I asked for a Pandora station that played massage music. (Remember, I am/was a massage therapist)

I breathed deep.

I prayed...and prayed some more.

I was able to survive my MRI because I gave myself a virtual massage, stroke by stroke, while she did the tests.  I was in the machine for a total of about 45 minutes.

Honestly, I was shaky and weepy the rest of the day.

Rainman called me afterwards to check on me and I started crying in the parking lot.  It was awful.  Really.  But, if you have never been inside one of those machines, I don't think you can really explain it in a way they will understand.

If I ever have to do another one, I will make sure I am adequately medicated ahead of time.  I will also make sure that Rainman is there waiting for me to give me a big hug. Sometimes it stinks to have to act like a big, tough, grown up.

Long story short, I have something called Pseudotumor Cerebri.

I am waiting to be scheduled for a spinal tap/lumbar puncture sometime in the next week or so.  That should help with my headaches.  I will start medications after they make sure that the spinal fluid doesn't show any other weird infection or something.

Then, I will try to lose weight.

Most of the people diagnosed with Pseudotumor Cerebri are apparently middle aged, over weight women.  They don't know why.  Obviously, not every overweight, middle aged women have it, but statistically it is me.  Losing weight helps and they don't exactly know why.

That is fine.

I wanted to lose weight anyway.

But, well, you takes a lot of thinking....and food is my.....thing.  My - go to thing - when I am happy, sad, tired, depressed, scared.  You name it.

I have already started trying to be extra smart about my food choices, but it totally bums me out to have to think so much, instead of just feeding myself and my family.  But, as annoying/depressing as that is, it would be way more depressing to actually lose my eye sight.

So......there you have media can lie....big time....and mislead you about the fabulous things happening in other people's lives.

Because on this day, I was just trying to keep my head above water and not ruin my daughter's memories of her 16th birthday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A-Girl Turns 16

Bright and early for her birthday pancakes!  (Oh, by the way....look what I have started on my cabinets!!!)

She also chose me for her birthday meal (Rainman was working, so she would have had to wait...and she isn't really a patient girl)

We went out for burgers at her favorite place down here.  Honestly, she has eaten there for everyone of her birthday meals since we moved!  (They were out of fried green beans though....a yearly tradition...we were both equally bummed.)

From there, we went for eye doctor appointments.

Woo Hoo!  Right?!?!?

See, part of A-girl's Christmas present was that Rainman and I would pay for a contact lens eye exam.  She would be on her own for buying contacts, but we would pay the money for the exam.  We don't have eye insurance, so it can get pretty expensive.

I have been having trouble with my prescription and ever since my girl's trip last year to Minnesota when my sister had me take off my glasses for pictures, I have been mulling over the idea of getting contacts again we went.

We left the eye doctor successfully with contacts for A-girl!  She looked so beautiful and so grown up.  I think she looks awesome in glasses too, but I know sometimes you just want to be able to see the world without frames (plus prom was coming up).

We did gifts after Rainman got home from work (and I just realized that A-girl's contacts were bothering her by now, so she had changed back into her glasses for these pictures!)

I didn't have time to make her actual cake on her birthday, plus we were still eating S-girl's birthday pie.  A-girl didn't care, she got a few of the gifts she really wanted....a phone (we make them wait until they're 16 and they have to pay for it themselves) and contacts.  So, she was happy.

They played a crazy amount of loud, raucous games of Jenga! Seriously.  They are loud.

We finally did her cake a few days later.  Usually, I do a Peeps cake for her.  But, this year, I found a 9 pack (like 9 of the 4 per pack) of the different Peep flavors at an after Easter sale for like $5 and decided to show her and see if she would rather just have them to eat without being on the cake.  She thought that was a good idea.  So, this was her boring cake.....

 I promise she really did get contact lenses.  It just took her a few days to get used to wearing them.  I have some great prom pictures coming soon of her without her glasses!