Sunday, November 27, 2011


Hey Peeps—

I believe there are two kinds of people in the world:  Those that buy their dogs sweaters, and those who do not.  I happen to fall in the second category, in case you were wondering.   The holidays are right around the corner, and our dog Spencer will not have any gifts under the tree.  Don’t feel sorry for him though.  Our three cats won’t get anything either.

Today my son Jack asked me, “mom, when are we putting our tree up?”  I replied in a highly irritated, sing song tone, “Well, Jack, in case you didn’t know, I’m in Nursing school, and putting up a Christmas tree isn’t at the top of my list of priorities.”  Instantly I was sorry for being such a jerk, and tried to explain it in a nicer way.  “See honey, the thing is, I’ve worked really hard for 14 weeks, and I only have two weeks to go, before I get a break.  When that break comes, I promise the tree will go up, and you guys can help us decorate just like we do every year”.  Not surprising, Jack had moved on by the time I finished answering, and was no longer even aware that I was speaking.

My conversation with Jack got me thinking about our Christmas traditions, and I thought it might be fun to share a few of them with you. 

The first one, naturally, is to put up a Christmas tree.  While we pass out the ornaments, the Christmas music cheerfully plays in the background.   The kids fight over who gets to put on certain items, while Billy talks to himself while lying under the tree trying to figure out what light bulb is causing all the lights to be dead.  Usually before the tree is done, I have to send one or all the children to their rooms, , to “think about how sad they’ve made baby Jesus” as they fight over the tacky Mickey Mouse ornament that’s missing a foot.  Once everyone loves each other again, it’s time for the culminating moment.  The final glorious decoration is an angel we place on the top of the tree.   Once she is positioned properly, we all gather around and admire the splendor of Christmas.  By Dec. 26th, I’m sick of vacuuming fake pine needles and I can’t wait to take her down.  The children cry and beg us for a few more days of decorations, so I bribe them with a movie and popcorn, while Billy and I furiously work to get our house back to normal.  

Another fun tradition we have around here is reading a book called, “One Wintry Night” by Ruth Graham Bell.  We begin the first week of December and try to read a little bit every night, ending climatically right around Christmas eve.  Some years we forget to read from about Dec. 2 through Dec 22, so that final reading tends to take up a good chunk of our day.  That’s okay though.  The story is simple, yet beautiful, as the author takes the reader on a journey from Creation, through key moments in the Old Testament, and ends with the birth of Jesus.  Every year as I read this adventure to my kids, I see they are beginning to understand the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  They still talk about Santa and toys of course, but hopefully deep down inside their entitled little hearts, we hope they are learning that the gift of Jesus is way better than any Lego set or American Girl could ever be.  Also, Billy, you aren’t getting a new TV, so stop asking me about it. 

The last few years on Christmas Day, we’ve had company over to eat dinner with our family.  I could lie to you and say I was a great cook—that I wake up at the crack of dawn to baste a turkey and remove its giblets.  Unfortunately I don’t know what either of those things even mean, I just heard about it one time while setting the store bought rolls on the counter at my mom’s.  My main dish always comes from the Honeybaked Ham store, and please know, I’m not proud.  However, I do make a few side dishes, and throw in a couple Marie Callendar pies that I get at Kings Soopers for BOGO.  Last year I even bought a tablecloth and placemats that match, so the pretty presentation distracts our guests from the gold tinfoil that surrounds the ham.  The great thing is that we don’t focus too much on the food part.   We mostly just enjoy hanging out, laughing a lot, and reminding our kids to be thankful. 

By the way, if your dog is wearing a sweater, I hope you’ll still be my friend.  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baby Ruths and Biohazards

Hey Peeps—

I love November.  My kids made a haul on Halloween night raking in the candy, and because of that, we have two huge bowls full of candy sitting in the armoire.  The kids take a piece or two every day—one for a treat at school, and one for dessert after dinner.   I sneak my own treasure, when no one’s looking, enjoying the hunt for the perfect thing to fit my mood.  Smarties are best while I’m studying.  Tootsie rolls a great for a quick pick me up.  And the other day I stumbled upon a Baby Ruth.  I’ve avoided the Baby Ruth since some time ago, in the 1980’s after that particular candy bar was used in a movie to reference something highly disgusting.  But the other day I thought it was time to let go, and give it a try.  Who knew?  They are amazing.  Billy said he likes them too, so when he wasn’t home, I went through both bowls and  grabbed every Baby Ruth I could find.  They are now well-hidden, and I will savor them for at least another week.  I am such a hoarder. 

My guess is that you feel sorry for Billy.  You are correct to do so.  I’ve openly admitted more than once, that he is a much better person than I am.  I know for a fact that if someone handed him a bag of Baby Ruth candy bars, he’d turn around and give me the whole thing.  I really have no idea why God gave me such a good and decent man, but He did, and I have made it a habit to thank the Lord on a regular basis for my man gift.

Speaking of Billy, he came through for me again this week, as I am wrapping up my second semester of Nursing school.  It seems everyone in my cohort has had the opportunity to place a Foley catheter, and insert an IV in one of their patient’s arms.  Lucky for me, I did get to do a Foley on a real patient this week for the first time, because let me tell you, Billy’s a nice guy and all, but there was no way we were going there. He was also quite tentative about allowing me access to his veins, but when my friend Shahara told me I could use her husband’s arm, Billy changed his mind, and said I could try to do one in his arm.

I didn’t want to traumatize our children, so we decided to experiment on our husbands while they were at school.  Shahara and her man came over to our house, supplies in hand, and we went to work at our kitchen table.  Billy was concerned about the “sterile field” when he saw us place paper towels under Cory’s arm, rather than a nice blue pad like you get at the hospital.   Shahara went first, because she’s a phlebotomist and seemed to know what she was looking for.  Cory sat still, grimacing a bit, as she plunged the needle into his arm.  Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead, as she wiggled it around a bit, trying to locate the vein.  First attempt:  no success. 

Next it was my turn.  I used the tourniquet, tapped his arm, pretended to know what I was looking for, and prepped the area.  I was nervous and ripped my gloves as I pulled them on. I tried very hard to not scream and yell, “CRAP!” as I proceeded.   This did not put Billy at ease.  Slowly I eased the needle into his skin.  It did not seem I was in the vein, but rather had gone through.   No success.  Billy and Cory ate graham crackers and drank some water, trying to act tough.  I noticed Billy’s forehead was white, and he admitted that he felt queasy.  I gave him a cold washrag for his head and made him rest.  By the time Shahara worked on Cory’s other arm successfully, Billy had recovered and was ready for me to try again as well.  I’m happy to report the second time went well—Billy didn’t pass out, and I got that needle right in his vein!  I might just become a real live nurse after all!

I’m happy to report our kitchen table has been cleaned up, and is once again a place for eating, and is no longer a biohazard zone. Billy only has one small bruise, from my first attempt, and has fully recovered from the trauma I inflicted upon him.  Not that it’s a competition, but he’s still in first place for “best spouse”.  I think I’m catching up though.  I gave him two Baby Ruth’s after dinner, from my hidden stash, just to say “hey, thanks for letting me stick a needle in your vein”.   Now that’s what I call Love. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My list of trauma

Hey Peeps—

I did something today that I swore I would NEVER do.  I popped my son’s pimple—right on the tip of his nose.  It was disgusting as you might imagine.  If it were anywhere else on his face, I would have let it fester and run the proper course acne must go through, but you can’t let a 6th grade boy go about life with a little pimple staring you down.  And just because I like to keep it real, I feel I should share with you about a few other things I’ve done lately that have taken me out of my comfort zone. 

In order of most traumatizing to least, it goes like this:

1. I ran out of antibacterial cleanser
2. I sat with my son Jack in his school cafeteria while 55 6th graders “ate” lunch.
3. I let my kids carve pumpkins and make carmel apples at Fancy Boot’s house. 
4. I held a woman’s leg back for her while she gave birth. 

(And yes, that list really does go from MOST traumatizing to LEAST)

Today I had a choice—After my Nursing school duties were done, I had the chance to go home to my quiet house, and take the first nap I’ve had in 14 bazillion years, or I could surprise Jack at school and attend his Greek Symposium.  Most mothers would have no trouble making the decision to be there for his son.  Good for you.  Your crown will be super full in heaven.  I, on the other hand, really wanted a nap.  You’ll be happy to hear I chose to go to the kid’s school and watch Jack participate in his Greek Symposium.  I had no idea I’d be early enough to “enjoy” lunch with Jack before the big event.  I was pretty sure 6th grade boys were disgusting, but after sitting near a few of them today during lunch, my I feel my theory was proven. One kid kept shoving peas/chicken/rice into a water bottle filled with red juice.  I threw up in my mouth a little bit, and tried to focus on how happy Jack was to see me.  After lunch, we headed down to his classroom and prepared for the Symposium.  I was content to sit quietly on the side of the room and watch, however, Jack’s teacher was not about to let me be a bystander.  She handed me a toga and said, “here, put this on!”  I ended up helping serve the children some Greeky kinds of food, and then listened to them discuss topics most of don’t dare to bring up in public.

I’ve always been impressed with the teachers at our school, but this was extraordinary.  The teacher and her aide addressed the children in a way that made them feel their ideas were important.  They asked them things like “What is truth? What’s the difference between faith and knowledge?  And what is wisdom?” I loved sitting and listening to the kids answer thoughtfully, knowing that their opinions were valued and respected.  And somehow all of this was lighthearted and fun.  My decision to attend was absolutely the right one. 

The next event that took me completely out of my comfort zone involved all three of our children.  Our friends invited us over to their house for a little fun Halloween celebration. Of course we said yes, as Fancy Boot’s is a great cook.  I discovered she’s also totally into making huge messes, and completely okay with allowing young children to use carving tools, and other sharp implements.  There were three moms supervising nine children and three dads. It’s a miracle someone didn’t end up at Urgent Care.  I was traumatized by the viscous, ropy pumpkin guts everywhere, and of course Billy had to sift through the mess to gather seeds he wanted to bring home and bake in order to give the children the full experience.  After the pumpkin hoopla was cleaned up, Fancy Boot’s pulled out the caramel apple fixins’.  All I have to say about that is that my idea of torture is being forced to sit at that same table, constantly putting my forearms down in the sticky mess and never being able to clean them off.   The only saving grace is that none of this occurred under my roof. 

The third and final event that has taken me out of my comfort zone recently was being part of an OB clinical rotation and participating in three amazing births.  The first two I was more of a bystander,  and the third time I was told to “grab a leg and don’t let go”.  Wow.  Having a baby is way different than WATCHING someone give birth.   It truly is a miracle, and I was grateful for the opportunity to learn, watch, and witness such a special event.  I was also happy I didn’t pass out, or get sprayed by someone else’s bodily fluids.

I hate to admit my issues of course, but the overriding theme here is avoiding messes, and needing to be in control.  All these events are so important for me to remember because they remind me that real living happens when I experience new things, and instead of being afraid of failing or getting my hands dirty, I can be proud of simply trying.