Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Walking for a cure?

Last Saturday I participated in a Walk to End Alzheimer's.  While walking with Brad and one of his friends we were talking about how we "use" to be.  There was a time in Brad's life that he was very athletic...I use to have a soul.  Brad's friend, who is older and wiser (and has two kids in their 30's) gestured to our kids in the stroller and remarked that 'this' was the stage in life we are in. 
We are parents of young kids, that's what we are. There's no escape.  We all know kids our are going to grow up and be some kind of messed up. As parents we are trying to contain a potential giant mess into a little mess they will be able to neatly take care of in their early twenties.  (Hopefully without a lot of expensive therapy and drugs). The rest of our time is spent trying to keep some sort of spark in a marriage that has two small kids.  A tiny spark can be extinguished pretty damn fast by a midnight session of kid puke in the face!  This stage is going to take over our lives for a few more years and by the time we can concentrate on ourselves we'll be so out of shape that getting back to being some sort of an athlete is going to be difficult to say the least. 
I looked at Brad's friend and said we needed to put together a Walk to End Children...then I realized what I said and changed it to a Walk to Cure Parents.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy-ish place?

There are times in life that the place where you are is not the place you want to be (Dr. Suess-ish don't you think?). One of my friends recently told me where she goes when she's in a not-so-happy place; she goes to her.....HAPPY PLACE, genius right?  Then she asked what my happy place was.  I thought for a second and realized that I don't have a happy place.  Everyone else has one, what's wrong with me?  I began to focus on this and wonder what could explain my lack of imaginary vacation. I know I have the imaginative capabilities to make the best happy place ever, what could be standing in my way?  I made a list:

1. I am just that damn happy.  I don't need to be taken away to a blissful vacation spot in my mind, life is all peaches and cream for me....bawhahahahahahahaha!
2. I already live in a fantasy world and don't know the difference.
3. I am a realist and want to deal with the unpleasant situation as soon as possible so I can go to a real happy place.
4. I am a complete pessimist and like to wallow in my despair.
5. I am a complete optimist am sure this won't last long enough to imagine myself away.
6. I don't know the feeling of happiness.  I can imagine an amazing place in my mind and it has all the great characteristics of a happy place minus the actual feeling of happy.  (Holy shit, how sad is that one?!?!?!)

I've TRIED to have happy places, I have!  When I was little and was afraid to go to sleep because I might have a nightmare, my mom told me to think of things that made me happy before I fell asleep.  I distinctly remember thinking of Carebears sliding down rainbows.  I tried this last night and had a nightmare. (There's something very scary about brightly colored bears with belly tattoos sliding down a rainbow at neckbreaking speed headed straight for you with a deliriously happy smile on their furry little faces).
I might have a happy "thought" instead of a happy place....just one  One happy thought is all I have...
No really, I remember driving home from Colby, KS when I was about 19 (If you've ever been to Colby I know you're thinking this can't possibly end in a happy thought, but bare with me). It was almost time for the wheat harvest and the wheat was so gold and it was blowing in the strong Kansas wind.  At that moment I realized what it meat to see "amber waves of grain" it was so beautiful.  It was pure gold moving in WAVES.  Like a freakin' miracle!  Then I saw a field with a bunch of cattle grazing.  They were just some giant beasts roaming around in green grass surrounded by an ocean of gold! Throw in an apple tree and it was like I was in the freakin' Garden of Eden! 
I have been amazed by the beauty of Kansas many times since then. But none left such an impression on me as when I realized I got to grow up in such a beautiful place and how lucky I was.
So I guess my brand new happy place is this....Looking out across a field of golden wheat, the wind in my hair.  A big beautiful farm house behind me with some chickens in the yard.  An almost empty interstate highway to my right and some cows grazing in a field to my left.  One of the cows lazily looks up at me and seems to understand.  She kind of smiles and takes a step closer.  A few more steps.  A little faster now, is she running to greet me?  Oh shit, she's really moving!  I think that bastard is charging me!!!!  RUUUUUUNNNNNNN!!!!!!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

We are fam-i-ly!

My parents spent 5 weeks in Germany this summer.  I was in town for a funeral and I stopped by thier house to get something.  After I was done I went to the freezer to get an icepack and when I opend the freezer...BAM! I got punched in the face!  I shut the door.  I slowly opened it again and my nose began burning, my eyes were greeted with the moldy, maggot filled mess that the freezer had become.  I shut the door tighter.  I checked to see if it was plugged in...yep.  I opened the fridge and my worst fear was confirmed.  The light inside came on but there was no cool.  The next few hours were spent with a lot of squirming, gagging and cussing.  (My guess is that 5 minutes after they left for Germany the fridge went "kaput".) At one point I picked up what had been a pound of hamburger and the paper disintegrated and a pound of happy-to-be-alive maggots fell out onto my arm and did a happy dance!!! My only defense was to think of something else and to begin blaming others.  Naturally, I thought of my siblings. I began to imagine what each one of them would have done had they been in my shoes.
John: 37 years old, married 13 years and has two preteen kids.  He is a large person.  One would think he could just tape the doors shut and carry the whole mess to the back yard with one hand.  That is not what I imagine John would do.  I think he would taste something.  I have no idea why.  I don't usually understand him. I do think he would have a solid explanation/justification for why he chose to taste something.  I'm guessing moldy, maggoty beef is a delicacy somewhere and what better opportunity for him to feed his curiosity than this.  He would have been proud of himself.
Peter: 35 years old, 4 kids ranging from kindergarten to high school, a self described knuckle-dragger with a degree.  He's an animal. Not like a wild, crazy eyed animal but like a giant mass of meat.  Working out is his love.  Not cardio, weights.  I think he would have called some meat-head friends, grabbed some beer and somehow made a game of who could lift and carry the damn thing out into the yard.  He wouldn't have taped the doors shut.  Shit would have spilled.  It would have been a bigger mess when he was done than when he started but he and his friends would have had the time of their lives.  He might have laughed hard enough to puke but no one would even notice given the rotten smell and the smell of sweat that would have already filled the house. He would have been proud of himself.
I'm next in order and you all know what I did.  I took care of that shit. I cleaned out the fridge, got help moving it to the back yard. I made sure someone would come pick up the old fridge, the garbage truck would make a special trip to pick up the trash and a new fridge was being ordered and would be in place when my parents got home. I rock. I am proud of myself.
Matthew: 29 years old, married 4 years and has a newborn baby girl.  Matthew would have shut the door quietly.  Made sure that his photographic mind placed everything exactly where it was when he walked in.  Wiped the whole house down so there was no prints and gotten rid of any DNA evidence he was ever there.  He would have spent more time and effort making sure there was no sign of him than he would have if he had just taken care of the fridge mess.  No, he would have disappeared and been shocked when he "found out" that the fridge quit.   He would have been proud of himself.
Hannah: The baby of the family, 26 years old.  She would have opened the door, closed it again and immediately called Dad and told him to come home from Germany to take care of the mess.  He would have been there in minutes.  He would have taken care of the mess and then cooked her a nice meal and thanked her for her quick thinking. They would both be proud of her.
As hard as I try, I can not imagine what would have happened had my parents found the mess.  My best guess is that Dad's head would have exploded and Mom would have chalked it up to a character building experience.

Friday, August 12, 2011

1,2,3 Not It!

So, two days ago Nadia woke up at 6:30 and came into our room. I made her a cup of milk and told her I'd go sleep with her for a while since it was too early for her to be awake because she went to bed so late. We went into her room and snuggled up but she just kept messing around so I turned my back to her thinking she would get bored and go back to sleep. As we were laying there I began to smell something that can only be compared to cat sh!t! A little stronger and a little stronger as the minutes went by. I thought Nadia just had gas so I fanned out the covers and told her to go to sleep. After a minute I heard "uhhhUHHHHT" She GAGGED!! It was a tiny version of my own loud, embarrassing gag.  It's so funny to hear her little gag and the thought that she gagged on her own stink was almost too much for me! It really did smell awful though. She looked at me with her nose pinched tight by her little finger and said, "I just can't sleep with all this stink!"  Just then Luka popped his little head up and said, "I POOPED!!!" Sure as shit it was terrible diarrhea, I had to take him to the shower and hose him off.
Yesterday was pretty uneventful until last night when I was so exhausted I decided to go to bed at 8:30.  Brad and I were watching a Louie C.K. stand-up special when Brad when out to get something to drink.  He came back in and said the kids were yelling at him to get them a drink.  (He ignored their pleas).  A little while later Nadia came in and asked for a drink, immediately, before he could think I called "not it" so he had to take care of it.  He then asked me how it was fair that I could call "not it" and it was just up to him...I didn't answer and pretended to be asleep.  While he was out getting a drink for the kids I heard Nadia coming back into our room.  I quickly covered my head and played possum once again.  She tried to pull the blankets away from my face and was saying something I couldn't understand when, in slow motion sound, I heard the sound of giant pukingness.  Yep.  That's right.  She puked on my head (thank God there was a sheet between my face and the puke!!!).  I peeked out and it was everywhere.  All over my bed, my nightstand, my shirt, my pillows and my sheets...EVERY where.  I was paralyzed.  Paralyzed for two reasons; one, I was in shock and two, if I did move I was very likely to get puke on face.  I called to Brad to come help me (I really don't know what happened to Nadia at this time because, let's face it, I was focused completely on myself.) Brad was no help.  He saw the mess, started to gag and used only the tips of his fingers to throw tiny washcloths my way.  The whole time complaining about how gross it was. Really?  You think????
I was finally able to get out of bed and get the bed stripped when I realized we didn't have a back up pair of sheets.  Brad suggested we just sleep in our sleeping bags for the night. He had recently bought me a nice 'mummy' style sleeping bag and I hadn't tried it out yet. I assigned him the task of sleeping bag duty. Then I went to check on Nadia.
When you're a mother you plan for the worst, or at least I do.  So I needed to make sure Nadia's bed was ready for a 3 a.m. puke session.  She needed a puke bucket and extra towels.  I got her bucket set up and went to the laundry room to get her towels.  Just as I turned on the light I stepped in a squishy, pile of warm vomit.  Warm vomit between my toes. Yum.
I got it all taken care of, crawled into my sleeping bag and realized they weren't kidding when they named the bag "mummy".  I got back up, grabbed a sheet and instead of crawling in the sleeping bag, used it as a blanket.  I turned over and told Brad in the kindest voice I could muster, "That's why I get to call 'not it'."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Remembering Bryan

I have had such a mixture of feelings since hearing of Bryan's death. There is a group of us who knew Bryan best before his deployment. He was fun. He could laugh so easily. I had so much fun with him and Jess as a couple and have some really great memories of the two of them (whether they were on-again or off-again). One of the ways he touched my life was with his understanding and patience.
Bryan and Jess showing their mad skills at my house after his first deployment

After his second deployment he was a changed man. It seemed like he cut his oldest friends and family (Jessica and Braydon) out of his life.  It seemed like he started a new life as a different person.  After reading all the posts and memories from his Army friends I have realized that his personality didn't change... he had been changed.  His Army family knew the same silly, fun Bryan that we knew he just couldn't be that person with us anymore.  The difference was that after being deployed Bryan knew things about life that the rest of us, safe and unaware in Hays, KS didn't know.  He looked at us through different eyes.  He had seen the world and it's harsh reality. And we didn't make sense to him anymore. He had an unbreakable bond with other Army soldiers who had witnessed what he had witnessed.
After my first husband was taken from me by a traumatic brain injury I looked at my friends and wondered how they could be so clueless.  Thinking their problems were so important I couldn't relate to them.  I had seen a much bigger and painful picture of the world.  I could see things that only experience can show a person. 
Bryan had experienced something that we could never imagine.  And after that he found a comfort in his Army family that he could never find in the people he grew up with.  Once he was able to surround himself with people who were like him he was able to form a bond with Braydon and they were closer than ever before.
I am finding comfort in hearing what a great friend and brother Bryan was.  I am sorry that I never took the time to think about what life might have been like for him after being deployed and I am sorry I misjudged him for the past few years.  I am sorry but I don't feel guilty because there was no way I could have known this until reading all the posts and stories that are being posted about him by the people he spent the last few years with.  He was the same fun, caring, person, just with a different group of people.  People that had an understanding of him that I couldn't possibly have had.