Adventures with Heather
In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m letting you in on the Secrets to Being a Good Mother.
Remember when I wrote her this? (sorry about the link. Everything got messed up when I moved to this site…)
So, without further ado..
More Things I Have Learned From My Mother:
1. Name your children good names. Or, name them names that will prohibit them from ever having a job which would scare the life out of a mother. Case in point: “Heather, Jack will never be able to be a pilot. His friends would yell ‘Hi Jack!’ and it would scare people!”
2. When your husband is rushed to the hospital via ambulance and you are called to be told he’s had a heart attack—RUSH to the hospital. When the doctor tells you he’s thrown his back out, and is not, indeed, having a heart attack: slap him (the husband, not the doctor).
3. The death stare is something to use only at appropriate times. Like, for example, when your 4 year old stands in the courthouse screaming that he’s not ever going home until you change his name to Luke Skywalker.
4. Erika Kane is not real, and we should not write to her as if she is.
5. One should never, ever tell small children to jump off the stairs in earshot of a mother.
6. It is completely appropriate to have your child and your husband sleep downstairs, wielding barn cats and tennis rackets, to chase the chipmunk out of the house. It is not appropriate for them to make fun of you because you’re afraid of said chipmunk (ferocious he was, I tell ya!).
7. When a very large man falls through your ceiling, and 4 other large men are standing all around him saying bad words, one should always be prepared to cry. Immediately.
8. As Youth Group leader, you cannot expect your own child not to be the protagonist. You should be proud that she could burp all 66 books of the Bible!
9. If your child calls you crying because she hit an opossum, then ran back over it because it was crying and miserable, you should probably not laugh and hang up on her.
10. One of my favorite things she ever did ever…when I was younger she would send me her used magazines–and she would write comments on stuff she liked or stuff she thought was funny (we should do that again, Mom!).
11. The Easter Bunny is a privilege, not a given. Just ask the child who locked his sister in the basement.
12. Everyone should own a terry cloth, one-piece, short, tube top jumpsuit. And NO ONE should ever make fun of them (My personal favorite was the white one with watermelons all over it!).
13. Regardless of what Pappy (my grandfather) tells you, Hippos don’t lay eggs.
14. If there is a large snake in your yard, send the children to kill it. Give Scared (me)a shovel, and Scared-er (brother)a gun. Let’s see how that works out.
15. Being a grandmother is bliss. Have your granddaughter paint your toenails while repeatedly asking her what she calls the Resident Groundhog! Then laugh. Until the tears roll. (J called it the Silver-Backed Beaver. She was 3)
16. At large family weddings, write notes to each other on the program. It’s probably better to not mention that your husband is wearing the same tie to this wedding that he wore to his firstborn’s baptism thirty years ago, though.
17. The correct response to all disasters is: “Oops, We’re gonna need another Timmy!” (extra points if any of you know what I am talking about!)
18. We shall Never speak of the Pepsi Can Incident of 1997 again.
19. My first grade teacher (and member of our church) asked me what lullaby my mom liked to sing to me, and I told her “3-6-9 the Goose Drank Wine!” Naturally!
Happy Mother’s Day Mom…I love you!
alternatively titled : “I’m not ready to write about anything else just yet.”
We purchased Fort Hopeful knowing full well that it needed quite a bit of love. Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally liveable, and I adore everything (even the parquet floors that everyone else hates). Well, mostly everything. I don’t like the giant heron etched on the shower door (it does cover your bits and pieces in case anyone’s looking though).
The kitchen, however, needed a touch.
So, I’m going to tell you how to make this:
1. Take a trip to IKEA.
2. Spend approximately 4 hours wandering around aimlessly (read: lost) and then stumble upon these gems. Buy 5 (that’s 15 at a cost of $25.00).
3. Buy a backsplash that you think is what goes with the above, and take it home. Then figure out that it’s not actually metal at all, and doesn’t actually hold the magnetic spices. Throw a fit, cry, and declare the day ruined. (Just kidding. I did NOT do that. I laughed. A LOT).
4. Instead, take a trip to your local Mecca of Home Improvement. After paying homage to the Maker of all things porcelain, stainless steel, and concrete, ask someone to show you to the sheet metal. There on the end, they should have little pieces already cut. There are various sizes available so measure your backsplash before you choose. (cost: $12) Also purchase one tube of Liquid Nails, and some painters tape—explaination later. (cost: $8 combined)
5. Head to the tile center. Purchase enough tile and grout to surround your metal as a border. For us, it took 6 sections of fancy bath tile. They cost anywhere from $1-$20 a section, so you can choose however fancy you would like. Buy extra always, because you never know when an issue could arise–and you wouldn’t want to have to run back to the store five minutes before they close, covered in dirt, smelling like….oh wait. Just buy extra. OK?
6. Once home, carefully measure your space. Do NOT just slap your metal on the wall.” Measure twice, fit once” (Mike Davis, 1984). Use a level to make sure you’re not going to have a lopsided spice rack either.
7. Once measured, carefully outline your metal piece with a pencil so you know where to put it back up. Slap a bunch of liquid nails on the back and allow to sit for a few minutes. Carefully place the metal within the pencil lines. Tape up on wall with painter’s tape and allow to harden for 24 hours. (The wait, it’s awful!)
8. After 24 hours, tiling begins! Carefully measure this as well, because you really don’t want it to look horrid. If you are uncomfortable with tile, talk to your tile expert at the Home Improvement Palace, and they will certainly guide you to Tile Freedom. It’s really not hard. Do not be intimidated by the tile.
So at this point, you should have something resembling this…
9. Once the tile is on the wall, you have to wait another 24 hours for the glue to stick.
10. Grout that puppy! Grouting is fun. If you had fun making mud pies as a child, you will love slapping some grout on tile!
11. Return to the magnetic spice holders. Grab your handy dandy label maker (or a piece of tape and a sharpie) and put the names of the spices on the backs–because sometimes the Italian seasoning looks like basil. Or so I hear.
12. Put your spices in your new shiny labeled spice holders. Stand in awe of their beauty. Arrange them in alphabetic order. Then take them down and arrange them in color order. Then try again and arrange them in order of importance in your own personal cooking… Or, just do whatever you want.
13. Stand back and high five your DIY partner! You did it! You made beauty! Hooray!
Usually, by this point in the year, Non was in her glory. She would get up early in the morning and work tirelessly…baking cookies. She would mix and stir and roll and cut until she had every square inch of her house holding boxes of cookies. I’m not even kidding. She would stuff her freezer with them, hide them in the attic, and store them in closets. All this preparation for the Christmas season. She presented families with plates of cookies for years, as a selfless act of love.
And heaven forbid if each cookie presented to us kids did not have the same amount of sprinkles on it…
This year is rough, I’m not going to lie. I miss her like crazy, and I am not sure how to go about moving without her. I mean, I’m still finding socks stuffed in casserole dishes from our last move!
And, much like my mother, and her mother before her…I love Christmas. I love to decorate. I love the smells. I love the food. I love the traditions.
I have a deep and abiding love for advent wreaths, chocolate Christmas countdown calendars, and snowmen.
This year is different. Everything I own is in storage. We think that we sold the Christmas tree at a yard sale last year, but none of us can truly remember if we did or not. I haven’t bought many Christmas presents, because I don’t know where I’m going to be living. I feel disjointed. And being the somewhat neurotic creature of organization and routine that I am, I then feel guilt. Guilt for not doing the right things or being the right mom…
Anyway, let’s not go there right now…I’ve got bigger fish to fry.
Friday, Jack had a procedure done to see what is going on with his g-tube. He’s been complaining that it hurts a lot, and I’ve had all sorts of trouble replacing it (which is not typical—I’m a super tube changing rock star!).
He wooed the nurses with his long eyelashes and dimpled grin. He took his IV like a champ, while we talked (and only one little tear escaped his eye) about his desire to grow up and be a StormTrooper. We kissed and whispered ”I love you” to each other over and over as the anesthetic took over his body.
Then I barfed in the waiting room (I’m sure you’re all super shocked by that).
Dr. GI came out and sat with me. We talked for a good while. He said his tube looks great. But the rest of his innards are a little wonky. He showed me places on Jack’s esophagus and stomach that have ulcerations (which he biopsied). He also biopsied a lesion in his small intestine. This was totally not at all what either of us expected—but Jack has always been our little enigma. If the answer is to be black or white, Jack will find a way to make it orange.
It’s a talent.
So, we now wait.
And I know, somehow, that in all this waiting—for the move, for the results, for my life to get back to “normal”—I am learning to be more faithful, more patient, more humble.
But, dang…it’s hard.
A year ago, I told Non a big secret…the truest desires of my heart. I then told Sebi and we promised each other to make it work.
We stepped out in faith and trusted God to do the rest.
This is the truest love story….and it began with Non.
We decided to sell our house. We figured that the smart thing for us to do would be to sell our current home and look for something with one floor (especially in light of Jack’s uncanny ability to roll down the stairs head first on an almost daily basis). We rented a truck, emptied out our house of all the non-essential and began our life of paper plates, plastic silverware, and paper towels. The troops were restless in the beginning, because they missed their “stuff.” But we found other things to do…we went for walks, played games, and danced to loud music at noon in our pajamas!
Unfortunately, we couldn’t sell the house. Due to the lovely state of the housing market, our house has dropped in price dramatically, and we would lose money to sell it. So, we resigned ourselves to stay. But we left our stuff in storage.
In August, Sebi had an interview for a fancy job in a large city. This would have put us very close to Ronca, the Brother in Law, and the nieces. We were pretty sure he was destined for greatness….but we had the wind put out of our sails. I cried. A lot. I really wanted to be there…where Jack would have more choices for his care, there are more specialists, more opportunity. J could swim year round. We’d be a whole and intact family.
(enters: the mourning period)
This is not where the story ends, though.
(this is like the Ewoks saving the day in Star Wars…)
There was word from the Boss that there was another job on the horizon. Sebi interviewed and prepared his case as to why this would also be a good option.
You see…after six years of living in Savannah, we are finally going home.
Schmoo. Ronca. Mel. Beloved. The Withag’s. Angela. The family that we made when we were there just us. But now, we go home to that family, and our family. My parents are there, as is my brother. For the first time since we’ve had Jack, I will be able to have help if I need it. We are just over the moon about this…albeit stressed! We have a few weeks in which to find and secure housing, so if I’m not here, you’ll know why.
Two By Two (this might give you a clue…)
Fort Hopeful is headed South! It feels good to finally be able to say this all out loud…I’m SO not good at keeping secrets!
Non-i-licious was the premier chef. She made Martha look like…(well, I take that back. Non had a huge love for plastic flowers (circa 1964)).
This is the woman whose vegetable soup is legendary in most of Pennsylvania, and a portion of Central Florida. She worked as a butcher and as the school lunch diva. She could literally take any remnants from the fridge and make something delicious. For crying out loud, she could take bread, meat, and cheese and make a sandwich that could make you cry!
After S and I got married, she began to send me recipes. When she stayed at my house, she tried, really tried, to teach me to cook.
I, unfortunately, lack the patience to sit there and measure stuff to the exact level and make homemade pie crust. I much prefer Heather’s Patented (only not really) Dump and Dine Technique. This technique is quite elaborate. You dump the ingredients in the crock pot and turn it on. 8 hours later, there’s dinner!
Non, I’m sure, is weeping in heaven for my lack of cooking skills. She is probably asking JC and all the saints to send me some cooking ju-ju. I’m not a complete disaster (I mean, I can boil water), but I’m not at all good. My most famous claim to fame is salad dressing. And a crock pot chicken recipe that I invented–which I have used to “cater” a wedding and several church dinners.
However, I recently hit the trinity. My third worst cooking disaster ever (actually, now that I think of it, it’s my fifth).
1. When we were first married, we ran out of aluminum foil, so I put plastic wrap on top of pork chops. I placed said pork chops in the oven. When I opened my oven, I could no longer find the plastic wrap. I phoned home. My father answered the phone and laughed at me for 20 minutes. When he caught his breath, he told me not to eat them, or else I’d kill us both.
2. Turkey, 2010.
3. Ham, 2010. After Thanksgiving, I figured I was done with turkey for a while. My parents were coming for Christmas, so I got a ham. It was funny, you know, when I opened the ham at 5 AM to put it to cook—I thought maybe it smelled a bit off. By the time my parents arrived at 7 AM, my whole house smelled a bit, shall we say, rancid. My dad helped me move the bad ham to the back yard, where it froze solid and stuck to the inside of the pan (for a very long time–we were a hit with the neighborhood cats).
4. 2 weeks ago, I decided to make fancy chicken for dinner. Fancy means I actually cook it in the oven instead of the crock pot. So, I took the chicken out of the freezer and popped it in to the microwave to defrost. Funny thing about defrost on the microwave—you have to actually push it to make it work. So, rather than pushing defrost, I hit cook, and literally blew up the chicken. I’m not talking mild popping sounds…I’m talking I BLEW UP THE CHICKEN (like blow open the microwave door…).
5. Finally, I think this one is the nail in the coffin of Heather’s cooking career—I burnt dinner in the crock pot. I literally forgot the food was in there, and…well, you can actually make jerky in the crock pot.
Poor Non….she totally tried.
I’m usually a very level-headed, hardcore, perfectionist, who plugs away at the tasks at hand with no thought of quitting.
Well…I’ve been so stinking distracted as of late, that I can’t seem to get anything done. Actually, that’s not true. I’ve gotten a lot done. I’ve just gotten it done completely wrong.
For example, the other day, I managed to blow up a chicken in the microwave. When I say blow up, I’m talking I thought the house was going to fall off its foundation.
See, what happened was….
I got some frozen chicken breasts out of the freezer and placed them carefully in a microwave safe bowl to defrost. Somehow, my little distracted soul thought “cook” meant “defrost” and 18 minutes later, I was throwing children in the closet and yelling “COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS AND DON’T COME OUT UNTIL I TELL YOU!”
That’s when I tiptoed in to the kitchen (because, I guess maybe I thought some random intruder planted a bomb in my microwave), to discover that I had successfully Salmonella’d (it’s totally a word) every square inch of the kitchen. And a good portion of the ceiling.
The very next day, I thought I could redeem myself by placing some meat in the good ol’ crock pot, in order to fix Get a Husband Brunswick Stew.
I put the meat in to cook…and forgot about it. When I remembered it, it was something like a cross between jerky and charcoal. I mean, seriously, who burns meat in a crock pot?
The stress, it’s eating me alive.
However, there is one, tiny thing that makes me think I’m not that bad off. A few Easter’s ago, my best friend decided that she thought it would be a great idea to microwave her eggs in boiling water to hard boil them.
If you put an egg in the microwave, when you crack it, it explodes.
It is hard to get egg off a ceiling.
I’m avoiding the kitchen at all costs…lest I cause pigs or fish to fly!
When I was 8 years old, I fell at recess at school and broke my arm in to pieces. It was pretty serious and I spent a good deal of time in surgery and in the hospital. Non hung out with me during the days (and she used to yell at the mean nurses AND eat my lunch for me—she really rocked!). My entire family felt really bad for my sorry self, so they offered me anything I wanted in the whole world.
I yearned. I coveted. I daydreamed of only one thing. One magical thing that would make hours of physical therapy and three surgeries, plus days in traction and a few steel pins, better.
I needed a Cabbage Patch Kid.
BUT, it was the beginning of the Cabbage Patch craze, so there were none to be found anywhere.Trust me, word went out across the entirety of Pennsylvania and most of Ohio, as well as New Jersey, that a Cabbage Patch Kid was needed in order to cure my deep pains. Upon the realization that every Cabbage Patch on the East Coast was sold and waiting in parents’ back closets for Christmas (it was October), my Aunt Judy, Queen of Awesome, agreed to find me one. Rumor has it she got it from the Black Market Cabbage Patch in upstate New York. I’m almost not kidding.
Babyland General Hospital is where all Cabbage Patch Kids are born (Actually, that’s a big, fat lie..because Jack’s CPK has the words “Made in China” emblazoned on the back of his head). Babyland General Hospital also happened to be really close to where we ran away to last week.
Coincidence, I think not.
As any good child of the 80′s, I was completely giddy about this adventure. Friends were texting me so they could live vicariously through my Cabbage bound self.
We drove 5 hours and 18 minutes to the exact spot where Babyland General was…only it wasn’t there. We couldn’t find it. It was missing.
My heart broke.
Then we realized that they actually built a new and improved–modernized—Babyland General Hospital 3 miles up the road, and life was better.
This place is palatial. Not even kidding. It’s part plantation, part castle. Unreal, for real!
You enter the front doors (while angels sing) and are greeted by 2 lovely older ladies, wearing retro nursing scrubs, complete with white hat. Upon signing in, you are ushered to a giant, plush Cabbage, where they will take your family photo. J pitched a fit and refused to sit on the Cabbage until I cried about how this was a childhood dream coming true, and “Hello? I took you to a giant HIPPO conference and never batted an eye!”
I now have a lovely photo of her sitting with me and Jack in a giant, plush Cabbage.
Post Cabbage photo, there are glass cases of original Cabbage Patch Kids that are for sale, for the mere price of $15,000. (Um, Timothy Herman, where are you?) From there, you wander through the nursery until you reach a big atrium.
It’s Cabbage Patch Mecca. There are literally hundreds of heads popping out of Cabbages to choose from. These Cabbages are all around a humongous tree. And they move. So, you’re watching a bunch of Cabbage’s with heads of dolls…moving back and forth.
This was when I started thinking maybe this was a bit strange.
Just as I am telling S that I think we should just grab Jack a baby from a Cabbage and run, the loudspeaker says, “Dr. Blake, Mother Cabbage is 10 leaves dilated. Return to the tree STAT!”
No…NO! They were NOT going to birth a baby from a Cabbage in front of me.
(oh yes they were.)
Dr. Blake explained all that he was going to do to the Cabbage in graphic detail. Such graphic detail that I was borderline uncomfortable. He even shot a laser down the Cabbage’s vajay-jay and the tree turned BLUE…indicating that Mother Cabbage was birthing a boy. However, Granny in the front row, paid $200 for that baby fresh outta Momma Cab, so it miraculously changed genders before emerging.
It’s so surreal, we took video for you viewing pleasure (And because I know you secretly want to go to Cabbage Patch Land too…).
(Also, can I just say—all my intentions of teaching Jack about adoption went out the window when I reached the Land of Mother Cabbage…Non was right–some things are too priceless to ruin with too many words!)
After hounding working hard to advocate for Project Lifesaver for the past few months, we finally received word that Jack’s number had come up on the waiting list!
Last Friday was our appointment. The local news showed up to do a follow-up story (which meant Jack got to spend some quality time with his girlfriend, Meredith!) and Sergeant Awesome drove up in his Police SUV.
After hugs and introductions (as IF I wasn’t going to hug the neck of the man who was making my life better!), we got down to brass tax. He required specific information on Jack (such as full name, pet names, names he calls people he loves, favorite movies and toys, what medications he takes and dosages, etc.). He then got in to the contract.
Can I just tell you? That contract…40 eleven hundred pages long. And, sadly, there is a clause in it that says that the parent is not to use the bracelet as a substitute for parental supervision. That means, somebody must have done it! Can you imagine? GAH!
Anyway, after all the contractural stuff, he affixed the bracelet to Jack’s ankle, and showed me how to check it daily.
We wrapped things up and everyone headed out of the house. Jack was blowing kisses and everyone was having a Big Fat Love Fest.
Except my neighbor….who, upon seeing the police and news at my house, came running to make sure we were OK.
I politely informed him that Sebi had tried to do me in the previous night, but all was well.
Everyone got tickled, except the neighbor. Sergeant Awesome told him the story—which is not near as exciting as axe murder evidently!
So, we are wired! It’s a wonderful feeling to know that someone’s got my back if we get in to a precarious situation with Mr. NoOneIsAStranger.
After everyone left, Jack had an opthamology appointment. He’s now sporting the cutest glasses ever, making him the most handsome boy in the entire universe (if I do say so myself!).
I’m going to start backwards, because that’s how I do things–the hard, arduous, backwards way!
On the 12th day of Christmas The Universe Dumped on Me:
12 loads of laundry,
11 cups of coffee,
10 trips to Kroger (because I can’t remember to get what I needed the first 9 times I went!),
9 degree weather in Georgia,
8 days until Christmas (Oh Gosh, I still have so much to do!),
7 Specialists this week,
6 brand new extension sets,
5 hours of sleep (I wish!),
4 cases of Pediasure,
3 more trips to Kroger,
2 fighting children,
1 life that I wouldn’t change for anything!
Merry Christmas to all, may you sleep through the night!
(written as part of the Special Needs Blog hop)
Happy Leftovers Day!!!
Thanksgiving is so fun. It’s really a great holiday! No worries about gift buying. No expectations that will go unmet. No great hype. Just a time for a lot of food—what could be better!
Speaking of food…did you hear the one about the lady that tried to kill her family with a turkey?
You’re about to…
Around 11 on Wednesday, I decided it was high time for me to drag the turkey breast out of the fridge and put it in its brine. So, I (with the help of my lovely assistant J!) started dissolving the salt in the hot water, chopping herbs, and humming Christmas carols. We tossed that sucker in and continued on about our business.
Only the turkey wasn’t quite covered with water, so we started with the whole dissolving salt in hot water business again. And again. And again.
After that was done, I started to think about my fear of Salmonella.
And that, maybe—I should have used cold water instead of hot.
So, J and I emptied all the ice from the freezer in to the giant pot of turkey brining solution.
As per usual, I started to worry incessantly about if I was about to kill my family for Thanksgiving. I mean, I really love them a lot–and more than that, I like them! So, the thought of hospitalizing them unnecessarily was quite unappealing.
Not knowing what sort of a quandary I was in, I turned to my best Twitter pals.
Tiruba told me to buy more toilet paper just in case…
I freaked Dolores out so bad, that she swears she’s never brining again (I think I ruined her)!
Roxanne (who does not in any way resemble the girl in the song) sent me the Butterball hotline phone number.
Brilliant! I’ll call the Butterball hotline.
“Ring..Ring.. Hello, you’ve reached the Butterball hotline. Press 3 for Turkey Help. Press 4 to talk to a home economist. I’m sorry, our Home Economists are currently busy helping other people not kill their families, please try again later.”
So much for Butterball saving my… breast!
I don’t blame him.
Meanwhile, poor Dolores is breathing in a bag, popping a xanax, the Butterball help line isn’t talking to her either, and she is packing her turkey in ice.
But wait! Casey says she’s going to call me.
She does. She’s like the turkey queen of Indiana. She tells me I’m probably good to go. She asks me how big my turkey breast is.
I don’t actually know that answer, but what is one supposed to say to the QUEEN OF ALL THINGS TURKEY?
So, I say: “34C”…
(yeah, that went well…)
I then, in my vast wisdom, decide this is ridiculous and totally counter productive…not to mention my anxiety is through the roof.
I decide to chuck the turkey and go to Kroger, the day before Thanksgiving, for a new turkey.
I drive through the parking lot for 684 hours to find a parking spot. I park. I get in the Kroger.
I left my wallet at home.
Drive home, get the wallet, parking nightmare, lather, rinse, repeat.
Grab a new turkey breast (32D) and head to the register where I am 87th in line for the Express Lane.
The angels sing, and I finally reach the check out lady…who promptly tells me my turkey has no tag on it. So, she takes my turkey and huffs off to the meat section in the back of the store. You know, while the 98 people behind me in line are forming a lynch mob…
In the end, Thanksgiving was a success. We smoked the turkey (mom, sorry, but I inhaled), made a ton of sides, and reveled in a tryptophan haze for several hours.
But most of all, we were just thankful to be together.