Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Lesson

On Sunday afternoon, my mom drove me to the ER. I was having severe back pain, so much so that I couldn't sit, couldn't stand, couldn't lay down...I could just get down on my hands and knees and cry. It was hard to breathe, and I could barely tell her how I was feeling. The pain eased up just enough for me to make the trip to the hospital. After several tests, I was diagnosed with pancreatitis, and a ultrasound the next day revealed that I had gall stones. I was there for two days as an inpatient.

Not a pleasant experience...except for the sweet nurses and excellent care I received at PCRMC.

By Monday afternoon, I was feeling a bit better. I was in the room without a roommate the first night, but by the next day, a female patient was in bed 1. Since I wasn't as bad as the day before, I was more cohearent and could tell how horrible she was feeling...and I felt bad for her. She came in for ulcers, but eventually her migraines started to really get to her. She would cry, throw up, and cry more. She wasn't loud or anything, but I could just hear that she was hurting.

Josh was with me one of the times when her husband came to be with her. Right from the start I became irritated with my roommate's husband, and I know I shouldn't be that way, but I couldn't help it. She would cry or hyperventilate, and he would say, "You just have to calm down, Debbie. I can't do anything for you, and they can't do anything for you if you don't calm down." He just kept telling her to calm down. SHE WAS IN PAIN FOR GOODNESS SAKE. I looked over at Josh and said, "Honey...if I'm not feeling good...don't tell me to calm down, ok?"

As if to play along, he didn't say anything...just nodded. :)

She occasionally would snap at him, probably because he wasn't being very sensitive, and then he would say, "Don't bite my head's not my fault you're in here."


So after both Josh and I got to hear all of this, I knew that it would be a lesson for both of us.

I was discharged on Tuesday at 11:30, and I was ok for a bit. Then my nausea began to set back in, a symptom I got to control while in the hospital because they could quickly put Zofran in my IV! I keep a hospital throw-up container with me (I don't know the technical term for those!) and just vegged on the couch...feeling miserable.

When I rushed off to the bathroom to puke, Josh calmly followed me. "What can I get for you, Chrissy?" he said sweetly. "Just...a...cold...wash...cloth," I tried to say between heaving (sorry for the details). He rinsed cold water on a wash cloth for me, and put it in my hand. He put his hand on my back and gently started to rub. He did not say anything, just stayed by my side...even though I was crying at this point more than puking. When I knew I was ok, I had to pee. I turned around and sat on the toilet, and just rested my head on his hip...still crying. He kept rubbing my back, not saying anything. He didn't tell me to calm down. He didn't say I'd be fine or any of the cliche things he could have said. He knows I don't like that, and after the lesson in the hospital, I think he heard what it sounds like when someone says that to someone who is sick.

I am sometimes a baby when I'm sick. I'm glad I have someone to take care of me...who knows what not to say.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Under Construction

As you may have noticed, there have been a few changes around my blog. I've been wanting to make these changes for a while, so now they are finally here! I'm still wanting to change a few more things, but overall, this is what my blog will look like now.

Change is good sometimes.

Smart and Trendy Moms

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The News

The news we shared with the kids today:

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Yesterday I traveled with my mom to Springfield. She had to replace a part in a projector for school, and we did a little shopping here and there as well. One of the places we stopped at was this super huge teacher supply store called IPA. Oh. My. Goodness. Mom said it was like crack for teachers! It was so fun, I wish I had a bulletin board just for the cute boarders and posters they had.

I even thought of you, Bethany, when I saw tons of wooden toys.

As I glanced through a few things, I stumbled upon something that made me laugh.

I first laughed because it was on clearance. I generally don't talk politics on here, but I'm not one who would consider herself a democrat, so it was easy for me to poke fun at this poster...thinking, "Of course it's on clearance, who would want it?!" :)

Then I started thinking, "How exactly is this school appropriate?" I mean really, no matter which party it would have represented, can you imagine walking into your son or daughter's classroom and seeing this proudly displayed on a bulletin board?

I don't get it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Anti-Bullying Starts With Me

It seems that there isn't a day that goes by that I don't hear about anti-bullying. Usually it's on the news, something about new rules in a school district, new legislation, or a new case that has to do with someone being bullied to the extreme. We say we won't tolerate it. Teachers do what they can, parents have new programs on their computers to track what their kids are doing. We know their passwords and we check their phones. We want to make sure our kids aren't being bullied. We ask them about their day, we want to know if someone is hurting them verbally or otherwise.

But this doesn't address a key factor. Maybe I missed it somewhere, but in all the stories I've heard about parents checking on their kids, it's always about making sure they are the ones not being bullied. What if my child IS the bully?


Now, to be honest, as I'm sure most parents would say, I would be dumbfounded if I was told Caleb did something unkind to another student (or my other two kids, too, but let's stick with him since he's the only one in elementary right now). I'm not talking about not sharing (which we still have to work on) or cutting in line. I'm talking about malicious behavior, calling someone names, tripping them on the playground, those kinds of things. But I do think we need to be mindful of what causes a child to do these things. What about programs or material that tells parents what to look for at home that might mean their child is developing bully mentality?

What can I do to PREVENT bullying, not just sit by and waiting for my child to be bullied? We all think it will be someone else's kid. The truth is, it's going to be someone's kid...whose will it be?

And when teachers notice a child with these tendencies, I realize we should not tolerate it, but what can we do to rehabilitate their mind-set at an early age? Is it possible for the school to even help in this manner if the parent is in denial? Like I said, I can't imagine my children behaving in a bully-like fashion, but if it happens, not matter how minor, I would want to immediately figure out what to do - not shake my head and say, "Boys will be boys," or "Girls and their drama." That's denial.

What do you think causes bullying-tendencies?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thanks, C.S. Lewis

This short excerpt from Mere Christianity has probably affected me more than anything else in the last year.

Those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passion’s own nature: it is demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion of itself impels them to do.

And, of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry. But what, it may be asked, is the use of keeping two people together if they are no longer in love? There are several sound, social reasons; to provide a home for their children, to protect the woman (who has probably sacrificed or damaged her own career by getting married) from being dropped whenever the man is tired of her. But there is also another reason of which I am very sure…

No one in his senses would deny that being in love is far better than either common sensuality or cold self-centredness. But, as I said before, “the most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of our own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs.” Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last, but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state called “being in love” usually does not last… But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from “being in love” — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be “in love” with someone else. “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.

People get from books and plays and the cinema that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on “being in love” for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change — not realising that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last… The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there. Does this mean it would be better not to live in the beautiful place? By no means. If you go through with it, the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of interest. What is more, it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction…

This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go — let it die away — go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow — and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned person for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them.

C.S. Lewis

Book 3 Chapter 6, “Christian Marriage”
Mere Christianity

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hershey's Story

Erin and I have known each other our entire lives. Our dads grew up together, as kids we played together, and as grown ups we reconnected via facebook. She has a sweet family and adorable kids. So imagine how my heart sank when I heard the news about the Joplin tornado. Erin and her family lived in Joplin. Just a couple weeks ago, I had breakfast with her sister, and I listened as Maegan recalled the events of that day, Erin's perspective, and the perspective of those who were roaming the streets directly after it hit - I sat there in tears.

Her family adopted a lovable doggie after it's owner lost his home. I asked her to share about their current situation. Here is the story of Hershey.

Let me start by saying, Jason and I are not dog people. In fact, we used to mock people who treated their dog like an actual member of their family. And we used to roll our eyes anytime we'd hear about a dog having surgery. I've even said, "It's a dog. It's shouldn't be that expensive to have it put down. We have to remember there are starving PEOPLE and children who need homes. Really? A dog?" That's really how I viewed dogs.

Until the days following May 22nd, 2011.

My family survived an EF-5 tornado that blew through Joplin, and leveled houses just a few blocks from us. Needless to say, "the storm" was the center of every conversation throughout an entire day. And it was wearing on my kids. I could tell. Ryan- age 5, tried to be brave in his speech when recollecting the day in the hallway under the mattresses when trees hit our house and our roof was ripped off. Lauren- age 3, seemed to ask lots of questions about God, and good vs. evil because of our scary experience. (And Kate was only 4 months old. She didn't say much....except for screaming something to the tune of. "I don't care if you don't have water or electricity. I want a bottle, and I want it NOW." HA!) But needless to say, our whole family was a bit shaken, and anxious at the thought of any impending storm.

So, to calm myself, I browsed facebook (who me?). A friend posted a picture of a chocolate cocker spaniel with the caption "Help Find Hershey a Home." His previous owners lost their house in the storm and were forced to get a rental with no pets allowed. Awwwww, sad story. But I kept scrolling......remember, I'm not a dog person.

The next day, a new post, "PLEASE. Hershey needs a home." I got this hair-brained idea that if we got a dog, it would give my kids something else to talk about and focus on, other than devastation and chaos all around us. But I knew my husband would never go for it. AND I realized I was crazy, and very sleep deprived.

The next day, a new post, "Hershey is a good dog. He needs a good home." OK. Seriously. It was like this little ball of brown fur had these soulful eyes that were staring directly at ME! I mentioned the idea to my husband. He thought I was crazy....and wondered if I had Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. HA! (Did I mention that our 3-year-old daughter was terrified of dogs? Minor detail.) My husband thought I was crazy to think that getting a dog could help Lauren conquer her fear of dogs. But he did agree with me about giving the kids something to focus on, other than a tornado.

YES! We called our friend, Steve, and went to look at the dog. (Meanwhile Lauren was taking short, shallow breaths and trying to remain calm.) Something about that Hershey dog....we knew right when we saw him that he was going to be good for the kids.....or for Ryan anyway.

But we decided that a dog was not in our budget (and seeing how my husband had just lost his job with Joplin schools being closed.....ADDING to the budget was just plain dumb!)

But there was something about that dog.

We agreed to make it work, and give him a home. That's when our friend Steve handed Jason $100 to get Hershey's shots and food! What a blessing. So far, having a dog hadn't even effected our budget.

It took Lauren almost two full weeks to warm up to Hershey. She talked about him A LOT, and mentioned how she "wanted" to pet him, but she just couldn't do it. Then one evening, the family took Hershey on his nightly stroll through the new neighborhood.....and Lauren worked up enough courage to pet the poor soul. The rest was history. She loved on that dog like he was a new, plush Build-a-Bear. My husband and I stood wide-eyed, as if it were just a dream.

It was good timing. The very next day, we had a thunderstorm. Nothing major, no reason to be alarmed.....normally. But every person (and dog) who was in Joplin on May 22nd felt a sense of alarm and panic at any sound of thunder. Hershey, who was outside when the tornado leveled his house, was terrified of the thunder. Jason (my husband) was pacing the house, gathering flashlights and bottled water. I could see the anxiousness of the kids, and the constant asking about the weather radar on the TV. We needed a distraction (or I was going to throw up). So I told the kids their job was to get Hershey to calm down. We had brought him inside (which I would have never done in the past. Dogs belong outside. Humans belong inside.) But the poor guy was trembling with fear. The kids hovered over him, pet him nervously, and repeated to him that he was going to be okay and that he didn't need to be afraid. Funny thing happened, they started to believe it. They calmed down. *Thank you, Hershey*

Jason and I knew that Hershey was going to be a blessing in helping the kiddos with their new-found fear of storms.

After Uncle Hershel had been in our family for about a month (and had acquired 42 nicknames), we entered into one of the hottest summers Joplin has ever seen. Heat indexes of 113 degrees most days. Poor Hersh-Diggety, stuck outside, lethargic under the back steps....the coolest place he could find.

I dared to ask my husband about making Hersh-Diggs an indoor dog. He s

hot me a look of disbelief. And later wrote his facebook status as, "Who is this woman I'm married to?" HA! But once I pulled the kids in on it, Daddy was toast. There we all stood, big brown eyes, pouty lips, begging the head of the house to let the dog live inside.

The next day, a friend gave us an extra kennel, and I got Hershey's bed all set up inside! :) (Sometimes, big brown eyes and pouty lips can be such a handy resource!)

It wasn't until we "lived" with Hershey, that we realized just what a good doggie he was. He would lay by Ryan and watch him play legos.....wanting so badly to nose his face around in the bucket of tiny blocks.

And he would lay on the bed, wearing a pink princess cape that Lauren adorned him with, and watch her twirl around the room. (Although, when I took his picture once, he looked at me like, "Oh great. Please don't show this to Nigel." our neighbor's dog who had quite the alpha-male battle with Hershey at times.)

Hershey even let the baby swat his face and pull his whiskers. Yeah, I know. We didn't know how we got so lucky to get such a good dog.

Then, last Tuesday, my husband woke me up well before the sun came up. "Honey, I need to tell you something. Last night, Hershey chewed up part of Lauren's tea-set. I scolded him and tossed him outside. When I went to call him in, I noticed he had broken the fence to the garden and got in it. He dug up all the pepper plants and most of the green beans. I was so irritated with him. He came flying out of the garden and his paws were matted with mud. He came running inside the house and jumped up on the couch. When I called him to go outside, he peed on the couch. I'd had it. I lost my temper and I threw him outside. His leg hit the step and he yelped pretty loudly. He's not putting any weight on his leg now."

My first emotion was anger. How hard did you throw him? Why did you let your temper get the best of you? What are you gonna tell the kids? Can I keep Hershey and find you a new home? (only kidding about the last one....kindof!)

I went to check on Hershey and he wouldn't come out of his kennel. I made an appt with the vet and thought his hind leg might be dislocated. Meanwhile, my husband couldn't eat breakfast. He said he felt like a monster. I told the kids that Hershey ran out the back door and slipped and hurt his leg. We would take him to the vet as soon as we could.

Ryan was home from school with strep throat. So I loaded the two older kids, the baby, and the dog into the van and headed for the vet's office. We had to leave Hershey there, and the dr was going to look at his leg in-between surgeries. As we walked out of the vet's office (and after I spilled an entire cup of coffee into my purse), Ryan got really upset. "Mom, we can't leave him here. What if they cut his leg off?" TRUST ME, SON. THEY WON'T. "But what if they do? I don't want them to cut Hershey's leg off." After I reassured him MANY times, he settled down and we headed home.

Then, I got the call that afternoon. "Hershey hit his knee at just the right angle. It broke the bone and the femur right above the knee." Then the word.....amputation! I lost it. Ryan and Lauren were staring at me, knowing that whatever was being said on the other end of my phone, wasn't good.

I was a mess. I was so sad for my kids. But I was also so mad at my husband. (Even though I threw Hershey out the back door once when Baby Kate crawled up behind Hershey while he was eating a bone. His instinct took over and he growled at her. I grabbed his collar, scolded him big time, and tossed him out.) But this time, this time was different. Hershey was hurt. Bad. All because my husband lost his temper.

I called Jason. On the other end of the line....silence....then sobbing.

I talked logistics. I said, through sobs, there was no way we could afford the $900 amputation fee. It would cost $40 to put him down. We had no other choice. Jason.....wept! He said he would sell anything and everything and he would come up with the money. But in the end, there was just no way to pull it off.

I hung up the phone and went to talk to the kids. I told them that Hershey WAS actually going to have to get his leg cut off. Then, I saw my son's face. I lost it. He'd lost trust in me.

I told them it was very very expensive to have Hershey's leg taken off, and Mommy and Daddy were trying to be wise with our money and get our family out of debt. So, the dr would give Hershey some medicine to help him fall asleep, and he will stay asleep forever. Both of my kids started crying. Ryan pleaded, "You can have our piggy banks. Honestly, everything in them. Right Lauren? Can she have yours too?" "

Yes. Yes. Take my piggy bank, too. Just don't let them make Hershey go to sleep. Please Momma, please."

I walked out of the room, got on the computer and looked up numbers for every vet's office in the 4-state area. Finally, I found a dr who said she could amputate his leg for $400. Done. I'll figure out how to find an extra $400 somewhere, anywhere.....just please don't take my kids' dog away.

So, after talking with the kids about the new plan to pay for the surgery...they wanted to help raise some money. (And I didn't have the heart to tell them that doing extra chores still came from MY bank account. HA!) So we put our headstogether and thought of an idea.

Jason is going to build them a "lemonade stand" and they will sell homemade dog treats and cookies with HERSHEY kisses on top. They have been rolling dough, cutting bone-shaped treats, and bagging the baked goodies ALL DAY in preparation for Saturday's sale. 'Hope for Hershey' might not raise enough money to cover the entire vet bill....but it's a start. And a great lesson for my kids!!!

And speaking of husband says he'll be sharing his house with a 3-legged dose of humility every day! ;)

Thank you, Hershey. You're a magic dog.

Erin's most recent status update: "THANK YOU to everyone who helped make 'Hope for Hershey' a MAJOR success!!! The kids are going to count the money when they get up from rest time. But I peeked, and ummmmm......Hershey's vet bill will be paid in FULL!!!! Thank you for blessing our little family!!!!"

I think that's pretty amazing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dinner Dilemma

When I was growing up, the dinner mom made was the dinner we got. If we didn't like it, that was too bad. For the most part, I don't remember having trouble eating whatever she made, though. Vegetables might have been a different story, but overall, we all sat down, had dinner, and then continued down to the family room to watch Nick and Nite together (back when Mr. Ed and the Donna Reed show were the main shows).

She was not a short-order chef. She did not make something different for me and my sister. We had to eat what was on our plate.

I assumed that things would go the same for me when I grew up and had a family.

Because of my upbringing, I do not feel I should make something else if one of the kids doesn't like what we're having. I've tried to just do what I've read - if they don't like it, they don't get dinner. I don't make them sit there until it's complete, if we're all finished and they still haven't eaten, I will tell them, "When it's 8:00 and you're still hungry, you'll need to just remember that you had your chance to eat dinner." More often than not, I will not clear their plates. I will leave it at the table, and when they're hungry enough, they will come back.

But every now and then, even if it's 8:00 pm and they appear to be starving, they will not eat it. The other night, both Sarah and Gabriel did take one bite, which is what I require of them. They have to at least try it! When they've taken a bite and I can tell they genuinely don't like it, that's when I have a hard time not making them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or something. There are foods that I can't stand, too, and I know that if I had a choice (for example) of sauerkraut or going to bed hungry, a growling tummy is what I'd have that night!

So what are your dinner rules? Do you ever "give in" and make something else? Should I stick to my guns and just let them go without eating?