Archive for January 2010

Spitting Mad

January 25, 2010

Last Saturday I went to a funeral that left me spitting mad.  Okay….so funerals are never anyone’s activity of choice and this one was especially a heart breaker.  A real heart breaker.  I think I expected the service to leave me with some sort of peace.  Some sort of resolution.  And it didn’t so I was mad.  And not just for me but for the family of the deceased.  They were robbed.  And cheated.  In more ways than one. 

On December 10th, the youngest daughter of friends of ours gave birth to their very first grandchild.  Jacob Owen Wayne Childers was a preemie with a precarious beginning.  He weighed in at 1 lb and 13 ounces and could fit in the palm of your hand.  Just hours after his birth he was whisked off to another hospital down town with a more extensive neonatal care unit.  And there he spent the next five weeks….growing, nursing, wiggling, winking, sleeping…all the things a newborn does best.  Not being a member of the family, I could only follow his progress via his grandparents’ Facebook status reports and pictures that were posted there.  He was doing stunningly well considering.  He was doing so well that a baby shower planned before his birth came off three weeks after he was born.  We ate cake, played the dorky games, oohed and ahhed as a mountain of gifts were opened and shown off.  Teeny tiny preemie clothes and diapers.  Larger sizes for ‘later.’  Strollers….travel beds….monkeys for a little monkey’s nursery.   A joyful event for family and friends alike.  

This baby was loved and wanted and adored and we couldn’t wait for him to be home where he could be shared.

But it was not to be.  Two weeks later, Jake was gone.  Its amazing how quickly a relatively healthy little guy can go sour in an incubator.  At 1 pm on Monday he was fine…moving around and doing what newborns do best.  By 4 pm something was happening.  By 3:30 am he was gone.

They said it was an infection on his…well, it really doesn’t matter.  Whatever it was, he wasn’t strong enough to fight it.  There was an autopsy so another preemie with the same condition might be helped in the future.  If that makes it any easier.

It doesn’t.

What should have made it easer – or at least provided some sort of ‘bridge’ for the family and friends at his funeral – was a service that honored Jake.  A service that let people know how important to his family this tiny scrap of humanity was.  How this little guy managed to trample his dinky little feet all over the hearts of his parents, his grandparents, his aunts and uncle, a list of extended family, friends and….neighbors.  How his birth enveloped them all in a bubble of caring and strength and affection and shared hopes and dreams.  It should have been said that they were proud of his fighting spirit and his strength to last as long as he did.  That they laughed at how big the tiny preemie diapers were on his skinny little body.  That they were tickled he was healthy enough to handle outside of the incubator….that they could even give him a bath.  This little guy was a miracle.

A miracle…and he is gone.  His Grandpa said to best in an email with the stunning information about his death.  “Its amazing how something so tiny could leave such a huge hole in your heart.”

My heart is breaking for them.  The loss of a first child – first grandchild – first nephew – must be especially heartrending because he will always be ‘the first.’  He was here for forty days …..and he will be there for the rest of their lives.  He has left a little bit and a little piece behind and forever changed all of us.  THAT is what should have been shared at his funeral. 

The fact that it wasn’t, has me spitting mad.  Even now.

Dude…..He did it again!

January 23, 2010

He dug out his video camera…..a gift from several years ago.  He is tinkering with getting it to work again.  I think we have a new hobby here.  Check out the latest Ninja ‘adventure!’

Martin Luther King Day Memory

January 18, 2010

Its not mine.  It actually happened in a Kindergarten classroom next to mine about 20 years ago.  I changed the names but you will get the situation.  Its my favorite MLK Day story….ever.

My teaching partner was trying to explain to her class about what the world was like when Martin Luther King Jr. was growing up.  She talked about discrimination in a way that five year olds could understand.  She explained that certain people were not allowed to ride the bus, could not attend the schools they wanted to and couldn’t even drink out of the same drinking fountains as other people.  They had to use different bathrooms and sit in special seating sections at restaurants.  She explained that some people looked at people differently back then…..because their skin was a darker color.   They were treated that way because they were black.  One child piped up, “Oh, like Ben!”

Benjamin A. – whose mother was Black and whose father was East Indian – straightened immediately, a frown creasing his dark forehead and his brown eyes flashing. 

“I am not Black!” he retorted.

So Benjamin H. immediately dipped his red head and studied his freckled forearm with interest.

“Well, I must be then…..”

Slightly Bonkers

January 18, 2010

It’s been a yucky weekend thus far.  Warm enough outside to melt our hard earned snow into that cruddy, muddy spring like mush.  I mean, the dog will actually GO outside with little persuasion.  Not too cold.  Its the kind of weather I hate.  The ONLY weather in Michigan that I abhorr.  Warming but too muddy to do anything outside.  The television has been running constantly.  The kiddos have been running constantly.  So what’s a bored out of her skull lazy Mom to do???


I pulled out my mini Lego collection.  The container that I got from the Lego store at Down Town Disney after Christmas….and another one I filled three years ago.  What fun.  I started to build but then transferred my efforts to this:

There is something decidedly comforting in sorting all the little pieces into color groups and then style groups.  I think.  Maybe it’s just the former Kindy Teacher in me.  I tend to relish order in some things….small things.  Like cross stitching floss and silver ware drawers.  And while I was working and watching television I was transported back to memories of the play I saw in NYC a year and a half ago. ..Three Changes by Nicky Silver.   Laurel (played by Maura Tierney) does a little monologue where in she describes giving her husband (played by Dylan McDermott) – who is depressed after losing his job – a button box.  She describes how he pours them out on to his bed and then sorts them.  By color and by style.  Then he pours them back onto the bed and starts all over again.  Okaaaaay.  So it creeped me out a little.  Especially since I was doing the same thing and HIS character falls off the tracks.  Literally.  Being glad there is no subway in my midwestern piece of Americana, I gathered up the Legos and put them back into these:

367 pieces.

Two containers.

$7.99 each

And it was scarey that except for one teeny tiny clear orange piece and one teeny tiny round blue piece, I had an equal, even number of every single style.  Yikes.  I was counting?????  Isn’t that a sort of symptom of….something????? 

And so I moved on.  To this:

Thanks to three trips of my own to the Down Town Disney Potato Head kiosk and one enthusiastic birthday gift shopping trip by my brother in law, I have an awesome collection of Mr. Potato Head stuff. 

I have this:

Pirates, Mary Poppins and a clone trooper…..

Mickey, Lady Liberty and Davy Crockett

I also have Tinkerbell, a Princess and half of Darth Vader.  (Long story) And these….

Disney tourists that can hold balloons, cookie sheets, cameras, drink cups, autograph books, magic wands, ‘plush’ Mickey dolls, pizza slices video cameras, tickets, etc.  My favorite is the Mickey shaped ice cream bar with a bite missing.

And thanks to a Grandma who provided preschool games to the Prince and his cousin….

I even have little Spud heads!

This used to be a favorite play center for my Kindy kids.  I didn’t bring it out that often so they knew it was special and needed to be taken care of.   Now I am in need of a bigger box to store them.  And someone to play with them with me. 


I think tomorrow we will drag the Prince’s soccer stadium Lego set out from under his bed. 

That should take us hours to sort…..and assemble.


Out of the Box

January 17, 2010

And here I thought he was so restrictive.  So in line with maintaining his composure.  So not cool to thinking…or being….’outside of the box.’   He spent an entire afternoon and evening at a friend’s house doing this.  He was a little….mournful….that we insisted on him coming home at 9 pm.  On a weekend.  Grrrrr.

But here is the result.

I am just so proud.



January 14, 2010

There was an earthquake in Haiti yesterday.  The capital city of Port Au Prince has been virtually destroyed.  American Embassy personnel are being airlifted to ships at sea and priority has turned to helping the injured and the dying.  Old people, young people and children being told to stay away from buildings so they huddles in the streets.  Pictures from the disaster area are overwhelmingly depressing.

There was an earthquake of sorts in my family room tonight.  She took his  i-pod cord without asking and an argument ensued.   An adult stepped in to run interference and came nose to nose with an angry teenager wanting to know what he was going to do about it if he DID hit her.  A mental picture of the family room scene was overwhelmingly frightening.

There was an earthquake of sorts in a house in Florida where a lonely man waited all day for an anxiously awaited visit from a favorite niece.  A late in the day phone call reported that she was there but ill and would come NEXT week instead.  I can imagine the dejection and the picture of that is overwhelmingly sad.

There was an earthquake of sorts in a room in a Daytona rehabilitation hospital.  Weeks and weeks of hospitalization and medications and catheterizations and IVs and physical therapy came crashing down around her.  Depression is rampant and we are miles away.  The picture of that is overwhelmingly heartbreaking.

Let it be known……..that I hate earthquakes.

Christmas 2009…Part 5….Better and better…..

January 5, 2010

It wasn’t until the Sunday AFTER Christmas that all of her doctors and nurses consulted and were finally able to get my mother off her ventilator.  By that time the sedation had worn of…sort of.  She managed to maintain a steady oxygen level on her own.  She was fighting the vent.  So they did it.

And dang, if this tough old bird hadn’t used up ANOTHER of her nine lives.

She was hungry.  And she let everyone know it.  She wanted her Christmas presents.  And she let everyone know it.  And she wanted to see pictures……of what she had missed.

Her color was so much better.  Her demeanor, even more so.  She kidded with her doctors, teased her nurses and verbally sparred with all of her visitors.  THIS was the mother I knew best.  She was moved from the ICU to a step down room so it was easier for people to come and see her.  And remember that stint in the sleet while I was boldly protecting my guys from traffic as they changed a flat tire??  Gave HRH and I both a cold.  I was diligent about wearing a mask in my mother’s room so as to not compromise her precarious health.  Breathing in those very germs that I would usually have been fighting off.  Sniff…cough.  But, life was good.

Until our attention turned elsewhere…..

The Princess has suffered from asthma for about six years now.  Its usually seasonal.  Happens when there is an irritating change in her world.  She uses an inhaler and a nebulizer which generally accompanies us on overnights.  On rare occasions we need to se the doctor for steroids.  Heh.  Left her meds at home… we charged from cold and snowy midwestern winter to cool and damp southern winter.  Off we went to the ER – with my sister at the wheel – at the very hospital my mother was at.

For three hours we dealt with intake exams, albueterol treatments, prednesone pills and chest x-rays (to rule out pneumonia).  She totally charmed her nurse, the respiratory therapist, the x-ray technician (‘feel better sweetheart’…aww) and her very young, gorgeously tanned and handsome doctor who took one look at her tee shirt, shoes and clothes and asked if she liked color or something. : )  All the while she was playing with her i-pod touch and the hospital’s WiFi.  We did Bible verse searches where I managed to amaze her by pinpointing where a verse came from.  Thank you required Christian College Bible Classes!  And we had a blast sharing  our favorite scenes and lines from her new favorite movie – ‘Miss Congeniality’ with Sandra Bullock.  I seriously do NOT know how this one slipped by my tomboyish FBI agent wannabee.  She found a video tape in my parents’ collection and had watched it pretty continously in the prior days.  And just in case it slipped by you as well, the movie is about a tomboyish FBI agent turned beauty pageant contestant who manages to make friends and save the world from a mad bomber.  And you really haven’t enjoyed the movie till you have heard this 14 year old purr the Bullock lines  “You liiiikkkkke meeee….You want to daaaate me…..” and then chortle with laughter when she tells how Benjamin Bratt’s character unwraps a Snickers bar and stuffs it in his mouth in response.  Hilarious.

Christmas 2009…..Part 4…at last!

January 4, 2010

I am so not good at keeping secrets.  But this Christmas I totally out did myself.  At last I can share the details behind two very special gifts that were made possible by two very special friends.

D and I have been email/web board/FB buddies for about three years now (or is it four?) Our friendship began with a mutual interest in ‘ER’…and Maura Tierney’s work.  She has been a god send in being a totally non-involved friend that cares.  Someone to grouse to.  Someone to share things with.  Someone to have dinner with and go to a play with in NYC a year ago.  I remember thinking that our first face to face meeting was going to either make or break our friendship.  But  it was like we had been friends forever.  Seriously.

When the Prince received his varsity letter for soccer in November, we told him that he would have to wait until his February birthday for his jacket.  The going rate for such a jacket was in the $300 to $400 dollar range.  We were looking at a trip to Florida to visit my parents after all.  And he was okay with that.  But D wasn’t.  She wanted him to have it for Christmas.  Well, actually SHE wanted him to have it for Thanksgiving!  Thanks to her husband’s line of work and a few phone calls to the local pro shops that provide these things, a jacket arrived in my school mail in November.  Free of charge.  A gift from a friend.   All we had to do was get the letter and the patch and the soccer ball and words stitched in place.  And all the while we kept telling him that a varsity jacket was not possible until February so what would he like instead?  Imagine his surprise….

My sister and I have been fans of Ree Drummond’s web site for several years now.  She is an Oklahoma cooking, homeschooling, ranching wife, mom of four who writes   She has been working on her cookbook for a while now.  It came out in late October and she has been doing the ‘Griswold Book Tour’ thing for months.  She didn’t make it anywhere closer to my state than Chicago.  So, in September, I cooked up this diabotical plan to have a friend in Oklahoma stand in line – in late October –  to get an autographed copy as a Christmas gift for my sister.  Unbeknownst to me I was taking my friend (and one of her friends) TOTALLY out of her comfort zone to do this.  And neither of us had ANY idea that she would be standing in line for over six hours with 500 other people to meet someone who was getting a freaking ‘Christmas list from everyone she talked to!’  But she did it for me.  Because she knows how much I love my sister.  The really funny thing is that about a week after I had made the arrangements for C to do this for me, my sister emailed me and told me NOT to buy the cookbook because she was getting it for me for Christmas.  I told her that I only wanted an autographed copy. 

And I stood my ground about that.  Hee hee.  She was so worried about my gift.  In fact, she almost autographed it herself!  It was fun to have her open her own copy….to find the autograph (“Are you KIDDING me?!”)  and a Christmas card from C…as well as a copy of the email outlining the evening C  had spent bringing  my diabotical plan to fruitation. 

Oh there were a few other neat things.  My dad looks forward to the book I select for him every year (Ernie Harwell’s Biography) and the Princess got clothes and a new snowboarding  jacket and enough money from enough directions to get the same i-pod thingy that her brother had sprung for.  The hospital had WiFi and things were awfully quiet when they had their thumbs going.  And the doctors were bringing my mother out of her sedated state very slowly.  Her surgery to remove the infection was sucessful and she had color in her face again.  All in all, a great Christmas Day!

Christmas 2009…Part 3…The Drive In Church

January 3, 2010

Because we knew she would want us to, my sister’s family and mine attended the Christmas Eve services at the Daytona Beach Drive In Christian Church.  My parents joined a more conventional congregation when they first moved to Florida but lately, this has been the church they have more regularly attended. 

The drive in church is exactly what its name suggests.  You drive in, receive your order of worship and communion from the greeter at the gate, find a place to park, tune your radio to the correct station, sit back and relax as you meditate and worship.  We have worshipped there on the few occasions that we have been visiting my parents over a weekend.  My children love the ritual of stopping by a fast food joint (or a 7-11) for breakfast (or a Slurpee) on the way to church.   They – we – also love the minister.

Reverand Larry Deitch has been extremely supportive to my mother in this illness and the one in ’06.  Not a day has gone by when he hasn’t visited her in the hospital.  When she was ventilated and sedated he would hold her hand and pray for her.  When she was in isolation because her infection hadn’t been identified, he donned the gown and the gloves and the face mask along with the rest of us….and still came to her bedside.  When she was awake and getting fiesty, he told her to get dressed so they could ‘break outta there and go get something to eat.’ 

While the congregation has been in place since 1953, Reverand Deitch has been there since 1995.  He is their third pastor.  It is amazing to me that they have created a church that passes beyond what it could be.  People meet and talk with one another at their car windows instead of in a church foyer.  Offering is taken by by helpers who go from car to car.   They actually know people – or at least their dogs – by name.  Sunday School meets in the rooms beneath the altar.  The “Family Life Center’ is the building that would normally house a projector and snack bar.  This is an active church, people.  And they are all about giving back.  In fact, for three nights before Christmas Eve, the congregation created a ‘Drive Thru Bethlehem’ that saw 25 to 28 THOUSAND cars passing through.  (Pop forgot to mention it to us so we missed it!)  On Christmas Eve there were 625 people in attendance at the evening service.

We were all given one of those glow in the dark sticks with our communion and Order of Worship.  The service began with music that sounded a bit tinny coming through the radio but was up lifting never the less.  There was a children’s choir that ended their gusty repetroire with ‘Feliz Navidad.’   The huge advent wreath was lit.  We partook of communion, shared our offering, listened to a wonderful sermon that was thought provoking and then got out of our cars.  There, in the middle of down town Daytona Beach, with the sound of ocean waves on both sides of us and the glare of the hotel strip behind us, we snapped our glow in the dark sticks and held them high as lights were turned down and we all joined in with the song ‘Silent Night.’  Probably your standard Christmas Eve service…..but oh so memorable for us in 2009.

Christmas 2009….Part 2

January 3, 2010

  My mother had triple by pass surgery on November 12th.  She had been complaining about how difficult it was getting back from that surgery for weeks.  My sister  (who teaches school in SC) and I (who teaches even farther away than that) had been goading her and pressuring her to keep at it.  To keep trying.  To keep pushing herself.

When I called her several hours after leaving to let her know that we were on our way, she mentioned that she was feeling  a little nauseous.  I told her to eat some crackers.  Several hours later, she said she had been throwing up and was on her way to the ER per instructions from her home care nurse.  I called her again when we stopped for the night just a bit north of Atlanta and she was waiting for a room at the hospital.  Later, a telephone call from my sister revealed that Mom had been admitted to the ICU with an infection in her healed surgical incision.  She gave me the hospital’s number and a PIN number that would allow them to give me information about her condidtion.

Now I was in a quandry.  Should we pack up and head down?  Should we stay the night in the hotel and THEN leave?  My teens had been cramped in the back of the truck since 4:30 am.  They needed to stretch…and relax.  We had searched for a hotel with an indoor pool because of that.  HRH had gone to bed.  Bless his heart.

At 2:30 am, HRH was shaking us awake and packing things up.  I called the hospital and usee my PIN number to learn that they had put my mother on a ventilator around midnight.  She was going down hill fast.  HRH went to check out at the hotel desk and the night manager opened their complimentary breakfast bar 3 hours early so we could have something to eat before hitting the road.  By 3 am we were on our way. 

By 3 pm on Monday I was walking into my mother’s hospital room to find her vented and heavily sedated.   Not a good sight at all.  I sat at her bedside for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  My sister arrived around 5:30. 

Basically, my dad, my sister and I were told that my mother had an infection that would have to be removed.  They scheduled that surgery for Wednesday afternoon.  It was decided that since she would need to be vented for the surgery, just to keep her sedated and on the current vent until then.


Wednesday evening she was taken into surgery and the infection removed.  The wire used to close her sternum was also removed.  One side of her sternum had basically melted away anyway.  There was lots of  conversation about this flap and that flap and abdominal tissue being pulled up to provide support.  She had four drains which would be in there for a while.  But she was doing well. Very well for someone who had been so ill.

Still sedated and still on a ventilator, the next day was Christmas Eve.